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Garmin Fenix 7 Series In-Depth Review

Today Garmin has announced not one, not two, but like 287 watches. Technically speaking they’ve announced two core product series – the Fenix 7 Series, and the Epix series. I mean, ignoring the fact that Garmin previously announced an Epix unit 7 years ago. For the new Epix Gen 2 though, check out my full in-depth review over here. Essentially, the Epix Gen 2 is an AMOLED display version of the Fenix 7, but with still very respectable battery life.

This review is instead focused almost entirely on the Fenix 7 series, which includes the Fenix 7S, 7, and 7X models. These units get a slate of new features (depending on which exact model you choose), including everything from workout stamina tracking to free downloadable TopoActive maps. And the 7X even gets a flashlight, which might sound gimmicky at first, but seriously – it’s mind-bogglingly useful and way more advanced than ‘just a flashlight’. It can flash white and red as you run, matched to your cadence – specific to showing white lights while forward-facing, and red lights rearward facing. Yes, actually switching and matched to each footstep. Or, you can signal for SOS with it when you’re out of ice cream.

But we’ll get into all those details and plenty more throughout this review. I’ve been testing the Fenix 7 for quite some time, and have put in countless hours to figure out what works well…and what still might need some love. This includes all three core models, as well as its Epix sibling. And this includes a wide variety of conditions from riding and running up volcanos, runs in freezing temps, openwater swims, cities to mountain passes, and everything in between. Oceans, forests, deserts, and more.

As usual, this watch is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Garmin shortly. This review is not sponsored (nor does any company get to preview anything I review), and I don’t take any advertiser money from any companies I review. And as regular readers know, if something is crap, I’m gonna tell it brutally like it is – no matter the brand. Once this unit goes back, I’ll go out and get my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s new:

Garmin-Fenix7-WhatsNew

Now, there’s a lot to take in, both in features, but also in decoding Garmin’s wide array of SKUs here. Basically, before even considering color/material combinations there are 8 different Fenix 7 units, plus two Epix units. Including color/material combinations, there are 22 Fenix 7 SKUs. But in short, everything gets boiled down to this:

– Fenix 7 Base (7S/7): Music, Garmin Pay, WiFi, downloadable maps, 16GB storage, touchscreen, plus all software features
– Fenix 7 Solar (7S/7/7X): Base + Solar panels built-in, and the 7X has the flashlight
– Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar (7S/7/7X): Solar units + multi-band GPS, 32GB storage, Sapphire glass, titanium bezel (7X has flashlight too)

Pricing-wise, here’s where things stand (USD, EUR pricing is parity – e.g. $699USD is 699EUR):

– Fenix 7 Base (7S/7): $699
– Fenix 7 Solar (7S/7/7X): $799 for 7S/7, and $899 for 7X
– Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar (7S/7/7X): $899 for 7S/7, and $999 for 7X

In addition, there are some crazy-pants Titanium SKUs for the Sapphire Solar that reach up to $1,199 – more on those prices somewhere in a chart down below.

All units get all software features, and all units get mapping. The difference is that only the Sapphire units have the maps pre-downloaded for your region (e.g. North America, Europe, etc…) – whereas the base & base solar units do not. Instead, you simply connect to WiFi and download what you need for your region (though, that does take a while). That’s because pre-loading all the maps per region would add too many SKUs for Garmin to deal with (since they’d need 4-5 different region models for each model they have, quickly escalating to something like 20-30 additional SKUs to stock).

Anyway, here’s what’s new:

– All Fenix 7 units now get free worldwide downloadable TopoActive maps using WiFi (Sapphire units have pre-loaded maps)
– All Fenix 7 units now have pre-loaded Skiing & Golf Maps
– All Fenix 7 units now have music, WiFi, and Garmin Pay support (previously base Fenix 6 Series did not have this or maps)
– Added touchscreen display (and can still use buttons for every function)
– Added multi-band (aka dual-frequency) GPS to Fenix 7 Sapphire units
– Revamped ‘GPS only’ mode for far more battery life savings
– Added Garmin ELEVATE GEN 4 optical HR sensor
– Switched to glass-covered optical HR sensor (versus plastic with a coating), which increases durability
– Added flashlight to Fenix 7X model, which includes SOS mode, strobe mode, and running white/red mode
– Added Garmin SkiView, now includes resort names & slope names
– Added Cross Country Ski Trails to maps
– Added new “Map Manager” feature for managing/downloading maps from your wrist
– Added ‘Up Ahead’ feature for distances to predefined markers like aide stations, climbs, etc…
– Added RealTime Stamina feature, which is used during runs & rides to try and leave nothing in the tank (or, properly manage a workout)
– Added Race Predictor historical trendlines (to see if you’re getting faster or slower)
– Added new Kiteboard Sport Type
– Added new Windsurf Sport Type
– Added new SpeedPro function for Windsurfing (primarily for speedsurfers)
– Added new graphical charts as data fields
– Added scrolling charts in a variety of places, including widgets
– Added finally, for the love of all things holy, the ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from your phone
– Added Garmin Connect IQ store on wrist (well, a limited version of it anyway)
– Added Health Snapshot feature (includes HRV data)
– Added New Sleep Manager Settings for customizing what the device does while you sleep
– Added HIIT workouts (meaning, they’re giving you structured workouts, not just a sport mode)
– Added Automatic Run/Walk/Stand graphing within a workout (see sports section for details)
– Revamped the user interface a fair bit (not a major overhaul, but definitely far cleaner)
– There’s now always solar in the Sapphire editions (previously there was not)
– Increased solar surface area by 54% (specifically comparing 6X to 7X)
– Increased solar efficiency of the panel itself
– Increased power efficiency of the base unit compared to Fenix 6 Series, which in turn increases battery life
– Increased overall Fenix 7 Solar battery life by 33% (7S vs 6S) to upwards of 68% (7X vs 6X) – full chart below
– Added ‘button guards’ around all buttons, which reduce accidental presses with things like jackets
– Added metal/titanium (depending on model) lugs covers – see unboxing section for details.
– Slightly thinner and lighter (see exact charts in unboxing section)

Got all that? Good. Here’s some charts to help you make sense of it. First up is the battery comparison chart:

Battery-Fenix7SeriesBaseline

Next, we’ve got the crazy pricing chart. You’ll probably need to use a magnifying glass. Or, a tissue to wipe those wallet tears away.

And finally, a simple chart that relatively easily shows which features which watches get:

Fenix7-Series-VS-Epix-Comparison

Now, there are some notable omissions here, especially coming hot on the heels of the Venu 2 Plus release two weeks ago. There is no voice assistance, or speaker/microphone for making/receiving calls. Even more, despite Garmin releasing the FR945 LTE last spring, there’s no LTE edition of the Fenix 7 either – a seemingly bizarre and odd gap. Nor is there an LTE version of the Epix Gen 2 either.

In the case of the microphone/speaker, Garmin says that the higher waterproofing standard of the Fenix series (100 meters) versus the Venu 2 series (50 meters), makes this challenging at this time. On the LTE front, I asked Garmin why there was no LTE option given it’s been a while since they launched the theoretically inferior FR945. It was the singular item they provided a ‘no comment’ on, out of the arguably 50-70 questions/details I’ve asked over the past two months.

Undoubtedly, Garmin will eventually come out with an LTE Fenix/Epix series. Where that’s just an Epix LTE, an Epix Plus LTE, or down the road in a Fenix 8 or Epix V3 (or whatever they call it). I don’t know, but as you’ll see – what’s here today is undeniably cool. But it’s also hard to reconcile this missing bit with one’s purchasing considerations.

Finally, those of you with Fenix 6 series watches are getting many, but not all, of the new software features in “an upcoming update”. Many of these were actually released over the weekend, but some are still outstanding. The specific list of features coming to the Fenix 6 series devices is:

– SkiView Ski maps (with the new resort/runs/XC ski trails features)
– Health Snapshot (including HRV data)
– Run/Walk/Stand Detection (in a workout)
– HIIT 2.0 Activity profiles and Workouts
– Better PulseOx error handling and spot checks
– New Activity Profiles: Adventure Race, Wind Surfing, Kite Surfing, Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Snowshoe
– New Bike Profiles: eBike, eMTB, Road, Mountain, Indoor, Gravel, Cyclocross, Commute, Tour

Notably missing from that list is the new Stamina and Up Ahead features. Both of which I’d imagine could easily run just fine on Fenix 6 hardware, so it’s a shame to see those not being added. I suppose on the bright side, Garmin does seem to slowly be getting better about adding features to older watches. Baby steps…I guess.

In the Box:

Garmin-Fenix-7-Unboxing

The box for the Fenix 7 series mirrors that of not just the Fenix 6 series, but basically every other Garmin watch in the last half a decade or so. It’s grey and simplistic. While all the box contents for all four units I tested were identical (Fenix 7S/7/7X/Epix), keep in mind that some higher-end fancy-strap editions do have secondary straps in them. I didn’t have any fancy-strap editions. Thus, rather than repeat a series of unboxings, here’s just one sampling:

First up, once you remove the lid, the watch is hanging out looking at you, complete with a sticker of what it imagines it’ll look like:

Garmin-Fenix7-Sapphire-Unboxed

Inside you’ve got the watch, a standard Garmin watch charging cable, and a safety manual + quick start guide:

Garmin-Fenix7X-Sapphire-Unboxed

The charging cable is identical to virtually every other Garmin Fenix, Forerunner, and Vivo/Venu series device made in the last number of years:

Garmin-Fenix7-Unboxed-ChargingCable

And the manuals are equally as unexciting:

Garmin-Fenix7-Sapphire-Manuals

However, here’s a pretty shot of this watch before I slaughter them for 6-7 weeks. After this point, any scratches on them are probably well earned in my testing.

Garmin-Fenix7X-Front

The band itself can unsnap easily to be swapped out, if you perhaps want a fancier band for non-sport usage, and then quickly swap to the silicone one for sports. They feature the standard Garmin quick release system, and there are three sizes depending on whether it’s the Fenix 7S/7/7X:

You’ll notice the new protected lug design on the Fenix 7 series, where those top parts are covered up better now. Here it is side by side with a Fenix 6 series watch (blue button):

Garmin-Fenix7vs-Fenix6-Lugs

There’s also the new button guard on the start/stop button, which Garmin says will reduce accidental starts/stops by jackets or such. It’ll probably take you a day or two to get used to this (at least it did for me), but now I don’t even think about it. Here’s again, a comparison to the Fenix 6 (blue button).

Garmin-Fenix7-vs-Fenix6-ButtonGuard

With that out of the way, the Fenix 7 series retains the same case sizes as the Fenix 6 does, which are:

Fenix 7S: 42mm case
Fenix 7: 47mm case
Fenix 7X: 52mm case

However, they are now slightly thinner in most cases, being:

Fenix 7S: 14.1mm thick (was 13.8mm for Fenix 6S, and 14.7mm for Fenix 6S Solar)
Fenix 7: 14.5mm thick (was 14.7mm)
Fenix 7X: 14.9mm thick (was 14.9mm)

Here’s a shot of all of them together:

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Group-Shot

Wait, you wanted weights? Here’s the official unit weight listings:

Fenix 7S/7S Solar: 63g (case only: 47g)
Fenix 7S Sapphire Solar: 58g (case only: 42g)
Fenix 7/7S Solar: 79g (case only: 56g)
Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar: 73g (case only: 50g)
Fenix 7X Solar: 96g (case only: 68g)
Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar: 89g (case only: 61g)

Ok, with that, let’s get into the basics.

The Basics:

This section is all about the non-sport features of the watch. Thus I’ll cover basic usability, as well as daily fitness features like sleep, health, and activity tracking. However, if you want an even more in-depth walk-through of these features, check out the video above, which is a long-form tutorial/guide/user interface deep-dive of the entire watch. Step by step, feature by feature. Go ahead, press play.

Starting with the hardware, the Garmin Fenix series watches have five buttons, three on the left and two on the right. In general, the upper right button is your confirmation button, and lower right is your back/escape button. The left buttons are for navigating in the menu. And you can long-hold any of the buttons to either access different menu items, or assign quick-access buttons.

Garmin-Fenix7-Buttons

Meanwhile, the touchscreen allows you to swipe through and tap menu items just like you would any other touch device. It works reasonably enough while sweaty or in the rain, though precision tends to be slightly less. In general though, as you can see in the video, it’s pretty responsive. Note that no function requires touch, so you can go pure button if you want to. Or inversely, you can get away with mostly touch if you want to (save starting/stopping an activity, and pressing the lap button).

Garmin-Fenix7-TouchScreen

By default, virtually all sport profiles have touch disabled, and then you enable it on a per-profile basis. You can also tweak whether or not touch is enabled/disabled during your sleeping time periods, through a new Sleep Mode manager interface:

Garmin-Fenix7-Sleep-Mode-Timings

Stepping back though, we’ve got the watch face. You can customize this to your liking, either using the built-in watch faces, or, downloading one of thousands from the Connect IQ app store. Each of the data bits on a watch face can be tweaked or customized to show the exact bit of data that you want, and where you want it.

Garmin-Fenix7-WatchFace-Customize

Within the Connect IQ app store app, in addition to the 3rd party free watch faces, you can also create your own watch face, such as with photos or the like:

clip_image001 clip_image001[6] clip_image001[8]

The Fenix 7 Series follows that of the Venu 2 Plus two weeks ago, which allows you to long-press on any data in the watch face and be brought straight to that widget for deeper data. For example, if you long-press on the steps, it’ll bring you to the steps widget. I demonstrate this within the user interface video above.

Speaking of widgets, these show all manner of data from your watch, such as steps, the weather, your sleep, training status, and so forth. You can also install 3rd party ones too. You’ll simply swipe or press down from the watch face to access the widget glances:

Garmin-Fenix7-Widget-Glances

And then from there, you can tap into any given widget to see more details on it. For example, here’s the steps widget, which in turn has three more data pages on it with more data.

Garmin-Fenix7-Widget-Steps Garmin-Fenix7-Steps-Details

And all of this data is ultimately synced to Garmin Connect where you can dive into days/weeks/months/years worth of data. For example, here’s my steps data on Garmin Connect Mobile (the smartphone app):

clip_image001[10] clip_image001[12] clip_image001[14]

Here’s a small gallery of a pile of widgets and my data from them:

In addition to the step tracking, stair tracking, and every other metric is heart rate tracking. This leverages the optical heart rate sensor on the back of the watch. The Fenix 7 uses Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor that was introduced on the Venu 2 last spring, and is now also on a variety of other watches including the Forerunner 945 LTE.

Garmin-Fenix7-OpticalHR

That sensor does 24×7 monitoring of your heart rate, as well as workout heart rate, and even pulse oximetry (blood oxygen levels). The green light is for regular heart rate readings, whereas the red light is used for Pulse Ox.

It uses this sensor to drive a slew of data points, for example stress and breathing rate. In general, I actually find the stress estimates reasonably accurate. And it’s an easy way to glance at how the day might have gone, or how it might contribute to my Body Battery. Body Battery is basically your energy level. You recharge it every night, and then decrease it during the day, or during periods of relaxation (like sitting on the couch watching TV).

clip_image001[18] clip_image001[16] clip_image001[20]

While not perfect, Garmin has continued to make strides here, and I find generally good correlation in most cases between my perceived energy levels and what it estimates. Just because I went to sleep, doesn’t mean I’ll automatically wake up with 100% Body Battery. In fact, that’s exceptionally rare. Sleep quality will drive how much body battery you wake up with. The scenarios I find it tends to have trouble with are exceptionally hard/long days, or days with exceptionally poor sleep. It’ll usually estimate correctly on the poor sleep, but then has challenges figuring out how to give you a crap score, and then still give you an even crappier score by the end of the day. You can’t go below zero. Still, I think at that point both you and the device are aware of the situation: You feel like crap.

Ok, speaking of sleep, it’ll automatically track that too, and give you detailed information about your exact sleep quality. I’ve been impressed with Garmin’s continued improvements in the written explanations of how your sleep was:

Garmin-Fenix-SleepStats Garmin-Fenix7-Sleep-Reasoning

Take this one from a few nights ago, this is about as succinct an explanation of my sleep as I could write. And it’s literally spot-on perfect. Yes, it was long-ish sleep, but it was crap sleep.

IMG_8058

I spent considerable time the last few months comparing side by side a slew of sleep trackers for my Whoop 4.0 and Oura 3.0 reviews, and in general Garmin almost always nailed the time you went to bed and when you woke up. However, it does not track naps in any way, which is unfortunate. Further, I find it can occasionally have trouble with cases where I fall back asleep after being briefly awake between 6-9AM. It’ll often just end my sleep at say 7:10AM if I was awake/up for a couple of minutes, rather than realizing I’ve gone back to bed for 2-3 hours. Note that I have no accuracy opinion on sleep phases, as in general even medical-grade devices aren’t crazy accurate there. Further, there’s often little real-world actionable things you can do based on that.

Now, to briefly touch on Pulse Ox, which is Garmin’s blood oxygen readings. You can configure this to be off, during sleep only, or 24×7. It has two basic purposes in a Garmin wearable, one is around sleep (as potentially an indicator of sleep-related issues), and two in high altitude environments as an indicator that something is about to go horribly wrong. Two totally different use cases (note: medical folks and such also monitor blood oxygen levels too for other reasons). For the first one – sleep – you can track your Pulse Ox readings each night. It’s the red light that’ll light up on the back of the watch.

Garmin-Fenix7-PulseOx-LED

This will consume additional battery, lowering your overall battery a fair bit. Though, not as much as the 24×7 mode, which consumes a crapton of battery. I don’t use either due to battery draw, but only utilize it in spot-checks with respect to Health Snapshot (more on that in a second). However, in terms of accuracy, I find that if you treat it the same way you’d do an actual blood oxygen test with an approved/medical-grade device, you’ll get good results. Which is to say, sit still. It’s as simple as that (below is a certified device):

Garmin-Fenix7-PulseOxComparison

And that’s the exact same way the FDA certifies blood oxygen medical-grade devices: Sitting still. If you swagger around, you’ll either not get good devices, or, Garmin these days won’t even give a reading. They (and others) have gotten smarter with just giving you a warning that there’s too much movement for a valid result.

Now as I mentioned, there’s the new Health Snapshot feature. Well, new to the Fenix 7 series that is. This was introduced on the Venu 2 last year, and it takes five core metrics and distills them down into a single 2-minute measurement period. All you need to do is sit down and relax.

Garmin-Feinx7-HealthSnapshot

During the 2-minute period it’ll measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, stress, and HRV (heart rate variability). The idea being you can consistently do this, ideally at the same time each day, and start to get a bit of a snapshot of how things are trending. All of these metrics are already tracked by Garmin more deeply in the app/platform, but this aims to put it on a single plate (so to speak). You can then export it into a single PDF if you’d like as well.

Garmin-Fenix7-Health-Snapshot-Recording

Once the two-minute test period is over, it’ll give you a summary of that info:

Garmin-Fenix7-Health-Snapshot-Summary

And then you can also see this in Garmin Connect Mobile afterwards, which is where you can spit out a PDF copy if you like:

clip_image001[22] clip_image001[24]

The one downside here is that ostensibly the main reason you’d do a Health Snapshot on a regular basis is consistency in timing of the readings. Meaning, everything except for HRV is automatically captured 24×7 anyway, and plotted 24×7 up to monthly and more if you like (assuming you’ve enabled SpO2). However, HRV is not. And arguably the ability to trend just these Health Snapshot readings by themselves, would be pretty useful. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that currently. You can only look at a single reading at a time.

As we round home, it’s worthwhile noting that the Fenix 7 and Epix series watches are the first to have the new on-watch app store. This means that you can install Connect IQ apps directly from the wrist, versus having to grab your phone. Garmin outlined this feature last fall as part of the Connect IQ Developer summit. And, as outlined then, it’s pretty darn basic.

To access it, you’ll go into the sports menu (I know, it’s technically the apps menu, but honesty, this doesn’t make much sense for it – it should probably be in the widgets area). Once opened it will load up some recommended apps. Five at the moment, plus showing the two music apps I already have installed (allowing me to uninstall those):

Garmin-ConnectIQ-App-Store Garmin-ConnectIQ-App-Options

I can tap on one of the recommended apps, and then install it. At which point it’ll at least be honest that it’s gonna take forever. And it’s not that the entire process takes more than 1 minute, it’s just that it feels…painfully clunky. Why not pre-cache the download files for these whopping 6 recommended apps? I mean, that’s gonna take all of a few megabytes, and would make everything super clean and snappy feeling.

Garmin-Fenix7-CIQ-App-Install

Again, this is super basic at this point. But as Garmin outlined previously, it’s merely the starting point here.

Finally, while it probably won’t matter to many people, do note that in general, virtually all of the functions that involve a smartphone require internet to function. Meaning that while the watch will happily collect data without internet, and do so for a very long time, it won’t sync to the phone without internet. That’s because the Garmin Connect smartphone app itself is merely showing data from the Garmin Connect online platform. The exception to this would be if you use the Garmin Explore app (also free), which then does allow syncing of data (namely tracks/routes) back and forth to a phone that doesn’t have internet. And again, this has no impact on viewing any of these stats on your watch itself, but only if you were spending extended periods of time without internet, analyzing your stats on the smartphone Garmin Connect app would not be possible. You can however still plug in your watch to a computer, and download the workout file and analyze that.

Solar Features:

Garmin-Fenix7-Solar

This next section is specific to only the Solar editions of the Fenix 7, as only those editions have solar panels in them. Solar capabilities was first introduced on the Fenix 6 series, and then later added to the Garmin Instinct and Enduro series. In the case of the Fenix 6, it added almost negligible battery life for most users. Whereas in the Instinct series in particular, the impact could be quite significant. Keep in mind that while many watches, like Casio, have had solar for years, those watches tend to be super basic in their functionality, and thus in turn, require less power to operate.

The Fenix 7 series significantly increases the solar capabilities over the Fenix 6. It accomplishes this in three basic ways:

1) Increased the overall surface area of the solar panels on the watch by up to 54% (e.g. Fenix 7X vs Fenix 6X)
2) Increased the efficiency of the solar panels themselves
3) Decreased the power draw of the watch as a whole (through both different chipsets, and firmware)

To talk through this, the Fenix 7 series (like the Fenix 6) has two basic solar panels:

A) A thin rim surrounding the inside edge of the display, which is easily seen
B) A layer below the glass but above the display, that is essentially invisible to you

While the thin rim around the Fenix 6 wasn’t as obvious, the much wider rim on the Fenix 7 is clearly visible. Though, I guess I’ve just gotten so used to the look that it doesn’t bother me any. Here’s that identified:

Fenix7-SolarStrip

The thin stripe around the edge of the display can collect 100% of the sun’s rays. Well, technically it’s of course less than that, but in terms of simple relativity here, we’ll go with that being 100% from a Garmin spec standpoint. Meanwhile, the portion under the glass can only receive 7% – but the surface area of course is massive. Note that the 7% figure is down from a 10% claim on the Fenix 6, which Garmin explains is because Sapphire is normally less clear than regular glass, so by reducing the solar layer, it increases overall clarity (compared to keeping it at 10%). And of course, the under the glass portion (officially called Power Sapphire, now) is the entire display surface.

On a solar series watch, you can check the current solar ‘income’ either through various watch faces or widgets. You’ll see for example this little sun icon, which is broken out into 10 pieces, each indicating 10% of full intensity. Technically speaking, full intensity is considered 50,000 lux conditions. Once you get to 100%, then the full sun icon lights up.

Garmin-Fenix7-Solar-Hike

However, 50K lux actually isn’t super bright. For context, on a mildly sunny day in January in the Netherlands, it’s 10-40K. Similarly, a summer day in the Mediterranean and I’m easily clocking in 100k+ lux. Last week in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, I ranged from 60K to 150K in the sun (mostly in the 60-100K range). All of Garmin’s figures for battery assume 3 hours a day at 50K. So in the winter that might be tough for folks, whereas in the summer on vacation, that’s probably trivial. Garmin notes that if you go beyond the 50K conditions, it’ll leverage that power – even though the icon itself won’t show more than the full sun indicator.

Here’s the official solar-related battery chart of the Fenix 7 series, and how it compares to each iteration from the Fenix 6 series:

Battery-Fenix7SeriesOverFenix6

As you can see, it’s quite significant – again, assuming you have the solar power. But this is only showing that 3 hours. So imagine you’re hiking in the summer across a mountain range. In that case, you’ll likely have both far more than 3 hours a day in the sun, and depending on the weather, you’ll also have way more than 50K lux conditions. Garmin says that in none of these scenarios are they claiming ‘forever power’, but the reality is, if you turn off certain features, then you can basically get there with even just a few more hours of summer sun conditions. Inversely, if you’re hammering offline music + multiband GPS in a winter snowstorm with the optical HR sensor enabled doing PulseOx 24×7, then solar isn’t gonna net you much.

The Flashlight (7X Only):

Garmin-Fenix7-Flashlight

Before we dive into sport usage, we’re going to briefly cover the flashlight. This is one of those features that’ll probably seem Inspector Gadget-ish at first, but in practice is actually surprisingly useful. I just wish it wasn’t limited to the Fenix 7X.

The Fenix 7X contains a three-LED flashlight at the top of the unit. Two of those LEDs are white, and the third is red. There are basically four core scenarios for the flashlight here:

A) Day-to-day usage where you just want a flashlight: For example, getting around in darkness, illuminating a small space, surprising someone in the middle of the night with a bright light to their eyes, etc…Basically, the same scenarios you’d use your phone’s flashlight for, except you don’t have to hold your phone

B) Sport visibility scenarios: This is any scenario you want to leave the light on in a simple on/blinking/pulsing case (there are different modes) to be seen. For example, I used this at the end of a ride one night two weeks ago when I came back a bit later than I had planned. I didn’t need it for my own visibility, but just so others could see me.

C) Running-specific cadence visibility light: In this scenario, when enabled in running you can actually have it flash such that when your wrist goes forward, it’ll show a white light, and when it goes backwards, it’ll show a red light.

D) SOS Beacon: This will flash the actual S.O.S. signal, and concurrently display emergency contact information on the watch face itself (in case someone then finds you unconscious)

First though, to turn it on, you’ll just double-tap the upper left button, which will turn it on to the last intensity level that you left it on. Quick and simple:

Garmin-Fenix7X-Flashlight-On

However, you can adjust that intensity level by going into the flashlight menu. By default you do that by long-holding the controls button (upper left), and selecting the flashlight. But you can also assign a direct shortcut to another button to take you straight to the flashlight controls. Once there, you’ve got the ability to select from four different levels of white brightness, plus one level of red brightness:

Garmin-Fenix7-FlashlightControls Garmin-Fenix7-Flashlight-Settings

Here’s how the brightest setting compares to the brightest setting on my iPhone 13 Pro:

Garmin-Fenix7X-FullBrightness Apple-iPhone13Pro-FullBrightness

And here’s the red light, which is obviously less bright than white, but also useful when you don’t want the full intensity of white. I’ve actually found the red light more useful at night around the house, than the white light. Merely because it’s much more subdued. Note that even on the lowest white-light settings, it’s still fairly bright, and uses both white LEDs.

Garmin-Fenix7-Red-Light

Now that’s the basic flashlight mode. However, in all sport profiles you can then assign a specific always-on or blinking pattern instead, which can be configured to be either always-on in the sport mode, or only after sunset:

Garmin-Fenix7X-Light-Settings Garmin-Fenix7X-Flashlight-FlashSettings

These modes include blink, pulse, beacon, blitz, and cadence (which is for walking/running). Further, there are options for speed including slow, medium, and fast. And finally, you can choose the color (white or red) for each one.

Next there’s the running mode. In this mode, it’ll automatically flash the white light for when your arm is forward, and the red light for when you’re arm is backwards. Here’s the visual theory, from Garmin:

RunningCadenceLight-Fenix7X

In practice, it’s a bit more imprecise. First, you’ll need to be certain that the wrist setting (which wrist you’re on) is set to match your actual wrist. This isn’t a big deal for most, but just something to be aware of. Once that’s done, you’ll see it’ll flash twice white, for each one red. At least in my experience. I’m not super sure it’s really flashing each color at the right position precisely, but honestly, I don’t think it needs to be super precise – the point is the same, it makes you visible, and indeed, it does. You can see that it does – there’s a video of it on a trail within my main video at the top of the page.

In terms of using it to see where you’re going while running, it’s perfectly fine for that at night, depending on your eyes. In my case, I’ve got reasonably good eyes, so just a bit more visibility to pick out harder to define tree roots on a dirt path is really all I need. But if you were running deep woods trails, you’d undoubtedly want to have something a bit brighter.

Hopefully, we’ll see this feature expand to the rest of the Fenix series in the Fenix 8. Or, to other Garmin watches. As with every Fenix series, the ‘X’ variant (e.g. Fenix 7X) always gets some new experimental feature first, and in the case of the Fenix 7 series, that’s the flashlight.

Sports Usage:

Garmin-Fenix7-Sport-Stamina-Section

There’s literally no watch on this planet that has as many sports features built-in as the Garmin Fenix 7 series does. I don’t think that even if you downloaded every app on the Apple Watch store that you could cobble together every last nuanced sport and fitness feature. Of course, as always, that’s largely been Garmin’s thing in life: A gazillion features, of which you might only use 2-5% of them.

But, inversely, everyone’s 2-5% features are different. I use sports features every day that others never use, and vice versa. It’s fundamentally why they lead this category. And perhaps more importantly, over the last few years the software quality has increased substantially, largely through open firmware beta programs that go on for months.

In any case, the Fenix 7 introduced a handful of new sport modes as noted earlier on, but no matter which sport you choose, it’ll all start by pressing the upper right button, which shows the sport listing:

Garmin-Fenix7-Sport-Modes

The sports available on the Fenix 7 series are (some are technically not sports, but fall under the apps list, like Map Manager):

Run, Hike, HRV Stress, Health Snapshot, Bike Indoor, Treadmill, Bike, Open Water, Navigate, Expedition, Track Me, Map, Map Manager, Connect IQ Store, Multisport, Trail Run, Ultra Run, Virtual Run, Track Run, Indoor Track, Climb, MTB, eBike, eMTB, CycloCross, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, Pool Swim, Triathlon, Swimrun, Adventure Race, Strength, Climb Indoor, Bouldering, Ski, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski, Snowshoe, SUP, Surf, Kiteboard, Windsurf, Row, Row Indoor, Kayak, Golf, Tempo Training (Golf), Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Project Waypoint, Walk, Cardio, HIIT, Yoga, Breathwork, Pilates, Floor Climb, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Jumpmaster, Tactical, Boat, Clocks, Other

You can customize this sport listing on the watch, or from the smartphone. In fact, now’s a good time to talk about that new phone-based configuration. This is the first time we’ve seen Garmin introduce this level of customization from the phone. You can tweak almost every setting on the Fenix 7 from the phone. Be it sport/activity profiles, data fields/pages, or things like widgets or deeper system settings. There’s only a handful of things that must be done from the watch – for example downloading maps, or adding new sensors. As with before, you can always change all the settings on the watch itself if you want – handy when you’re out on the trails without a phone.

On your phone you’ll go to the device settings, and you’ll see a slew of settings like before. Some of the new settings features are shoved into the existing categories (for example, Connectivity now includes details on smartphone notification settings), whereas there are totally new areas like the ‘Activities & Apps’ section, where you can choose which sport profiles are listed, and then tweak them:

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A good example of where Garmin seems half-way on this is the Sensors & Accessories section. You can see here that you can tweak all the onboard sensors (like whether or not your heart rate broadcasts), but you can’t pair any external sensors from the phone, you’ve gotta go to the watch. I’d imagine over time these will converge.

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I actually don’t mind that this is clearly a V1 of phone-based settings. I’ve argued for years that Garmin needed to stop trying to boil the ocean on this, and instead, just start somewhere. Anywhere! Forget the past, pick a newly launching watch and add phone-based configuration. Start small and build up. For example, you can’t import/migrate settings from other devices (like you can on a Garmin Edge device). And similarly, for the most part, the settings here just feel like Garmin built all the plumbing, but it’s sorta a maze of depths to find them all. But again, for now, I’m good with that. Boiling the ocean never works, perfection is the enemy of progress. I’d rather progress.

Once you’ve got your settings sorted, head back to the watch and pick said sport. In my case I’ll pick a run. Of course, sports have different profiles for a slew of reasons. Those can be specific data fields for a sport (like strokes for paddling, or cadence for cycling), as well as sport-specific calorie burn, or the sensor types which they connect to. On this page here you’ll see the upper portion of the page showing the current sensor status, as well as GPS status. Your data pages are displayed behind it.

Garmin-Fenix7-Main-Sport-Ready

If you tap the up button you can add a course (or other routing, more on that later), structured training, or change the power profiles. I mean, frankly, you can change anything from this point. For example, you can see how many hours of GPS life you’ll get with your current settings, and then there’s some pre-canned options which show higher GPS levels if you realize you’ll need them. Or, you can go rogue and create your own battery profile:

Garmin-Fenix7-PowerMode

(Note: The above photo is showing the real-time estimated hours remaining based on the current battery, which at the moment this photo was shot was 46% on a Fenix 7.)

We’re gonna accept all that though and do an interval workout. That’s because that’ll be an easy way to show the new Stamina features. By default, Stamina will be shown for running and cycling activities. It doesn’t display in all activities, for example you won’t find it in hiking, but will find it in trail running. In any event, once we press start, the watch will start gathering data from our workout, showing pace, distance, time, and any other data fields you’ve added, depending on the sport.

Notably absent though is there’s no wrist-based running power like COROS and Polar have. If you want running power, you’ll need some sort of external sensor – either from a 3rd party (Stryd), or paired with Garmin’s HRM-RUN, HRM-TRI, HRM-PRO, or RD-Pod units – for Garmin’s own running power data field. Nothing has changed there.

As we begin our workout, we can switch to the Stamina page, which shows how much energy potential we have for this workout. The top portion of the page, titled Stamina, is your short-term potential. In other words, how much can you give right now at this second. This is the most notable one for intervals, because it’s going to go up and down. As you finish an interval and start recovering, it’ll go back up. So here’s just before I pressed start on this run. It happens to be at 100%, but you won’t always start at 100%.

Stamina-Fenix7S

Whereas the middle-left one is your Potential, which is your long-term potential. How long can you maintain this interval workout for, or, in an endurance event – how much gas is in the tank for the entire day. This will steadily decrease over the course of the workout.

However, you’ve also got two additional data fields you can add: Distance and Time till empty. These two fields look at your current intensity and then figure out when you’re going to collapse. You’ll see a few minutes into my casual warm-up, it projects that at that pace, I can do 22KM or 1 hour and 45 minutes. Both short and long term are currently equal, cause things haven’t got crazy yet.

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Later in the workout, you can see that my short-term Stamina as I end a brief interval is now down to 47%, whereas my long-term potential is 56%.  The red arrow indicates it’s trending downwards.

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Here’s a chart (it shows this later in Garmin Connect, both mobile and desktop), showing this workout of 800’s and how it played out. In some cases, the interval wasn’t as impactful – such as those last two longer ones, largely because I was struggling to hold the same intensity levels (HR’s).

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All of this is based off of a blend of your estimated VO2Max in conjunction with aspects of Body Battery and recovery from the previous night.  As such, it’s moderately important to get at least a few good hard workouts in on the watch, so that it can approximate your VO2Max. Else, the data will mostly fall apart.

Now, as fun as it is to do this for 800’s, the real intent here is longer-term endurance workouts or races. The idea being to help you figure out if the pace/intensity you’re at is sustainable for the required duration. For example, check out this 7-hour ride I did last week (well, it was a 7-hour workout, there was some momentary food/photo stops along the way):

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Yes, I seriously managed to turn down the road to my hotel with 0% remaining, and 1% potential. Here’s what the watch said:

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So how close was that to reality? Well, reasonably close. In my case the ride finished on a 1.5KM 12% climb, which I dutifully hammered. So by the time I got to the finish point, I was baked. But was I absolutely 0%-1%? Probably not. As any endurance athlete will tell you, much of sport is mental as much as physical. In my case, I was shot, but I suspect if push came to shove I could have done another 5-10KM (after doing 118KM with 10,000ft of climbing). Probably not at any meaningful intensity though. Still, I was beyond-done mentally, and certainly in most other respects too. So to that end, it got things more than close enough.

Next, going back to that interval workout, there’s a new feature that shows up on Garmin Connect afterwards, which is walk/run/stand detection. This will automatically detect, during a workout, what you were doing. You can see how that looks here:

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This actually does then auto-categorize the interval run times and paces – if you check out the gallery of screenshots from Garmin Connect, it has a line item called “interval run pace”, so that’s kinda neat.

This is one of those things that at first glance didn’t make a ton of sense to me. I mean, yes, it was spot-on accurate, but why bother to spend the time on this was quirky to me. In asking Garmin, they said the intention was that for certain racing/training, such as steeper incline training, it allowed folks to start to analyze whether or not the pace/HR tradeoffs were worth it on walking versus running. Since you can overlay all those stats atop it, I can see the logic there.

Ok, so wrapping up the workout, you’ll get a new set of summary pages. They aren’t drastically different than in the past, but they do add some polish and make things like the display of heart rate zones more clear.

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Here’s a simple gallery of them:

As usual, all your workout stats can then be displayed on Garmin Connect or the smartphone app (Garmin Connect Mobile). Here’s a slate of those screenshots as a sampler:

All of these workouts are also then transmitted to any 3rd party apps you’ve configured/authorized, including Strava, TrainingPeaks, and other platforms.

From a sports standpoint, every workout you do is being tracked from a training load standpoint. You’ll have seen how that given workout contributes to your load in the workout summary screens above. There’s both a specific training load value (e.g 110), but also a given training effect focus, such as base or VO2Max. These all get worked into whether or not your training is productive, and if not, what you’re doing wrong. You can see this from the widgets menu quickly:

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Productive

Then you can look at your VO2max value (for running and cycling), as well as your 7-day load. I find the 7-day load one of the best ways to quantify how much I’ve been working on over the past week (trailing 7 days). Especially where I might not have a set schedule I’m following.

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-TrainingLoad

You can then look at the 4-week load focus is to see how those numbers trend, where it also shows your breakout of the core workout type areas (anaerobic, high aerobic, and low aerobic), with optimal target ranges for each:

Garmin-Fenix7-Seies-Targets

I think in general, as much as it pains most of us endurance athletes to admit this, Garmin is usually right here. When it says I’m short in a given category, the reality is that if a coach had laid out the plan, it’d have been more balanced than my ad-hoc workouts.

Garmn-Fenix7-Series-Training-Advice

The scenario where I find it gets things wrong is when I’ve had a quiet week of training, and then quickly ramp up. In these scenarios, it will often say I’m ramping up too fast. Part of me knows that’s true, but part of me also knows that my body can usually take it. Most of the time anyway. Similarly, there’s the recovery suggestions:

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Recovery-Suggestions

I’ve long found that Garmin tends to overshoot here. Nonetheless, there’s also some misunderstanding on this from many users. This item isn’t actually saying not to train, it’s saying not to go out and do a hard workout. Thus, within the context it’s usually not too bad, though I think it still tends to err on the side of keeping you healthier rather than pushing your body closer to the breaking point.

Ultimately though, that’s no different than any other coaching relationship. Some coaches push athletes closer to that edge, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The results range from winning a race to getting injured. Everyone has different things that do or don’t work for them.

Speaking of structured workouts, each day the watch will offer up structured running or cycling workouts, as a suggested workout, based on your current training and recovery. It looks at your recent load and training focus areas, and figures out what the next logical workout should be to slightly increase your fitness. Then, it suggests that daily workout:

These workouts can be downright beastly when Garmin chooses to get spicy. Seriously, I’ve seen multi-hour interval workouts show up. Inversely, if you’ve had a hard few days of training, or, really poor sleep, it’ll simply tell you to rest. In fact, if you really get it upset, it’ll actually flash a warning to you mid-morning that your day isn’t going well and that it’s going to basically cancel your planned workout. In general, I’ve found that when the watch gets this upset, it’s almost always legit. Usually something like back-to-back poor sleep combined with a hard workout tossed in the day prior, and maybe showing high stress.

Garmin-Fenix7-Recovery-Time-delayed

In any event, if you do go ahead and choose a workout, it’ll iterate through each step with the exact targets displayed on the screen in real-time. None of this has changed from how it works on past Garmin watches over the last decade or so.

With that, we’ve covered the majority of the core sport-specific features. It’d be impossible for me to outline every single nuanced sport feature. For example, I could dive into things like the metronome, or PacePro, or pre-canned interval workouts, Strava Live Segments, Lactate Threshold tests, racing past activities, and training calendars. All of which have even more features within them. But none of which are new to the Fenix 7, so for now we’re going to keep cookin’.

Mapping & Navigation:

Garmin-Fenix7-Mapping

Mapping and navigation related tasks are a big part of the Fenix series, which contains far more mapping/navigation features than you’d likely ever use. For example, there are common ones like following routes, then semi-common ones like creating one-off spontaneous routes, and then lesser-used features like calculating the area of a plot of land. For this review, I’m going to focus on the core route following components including features like the new Up Ahead function, map manager, ClimbPro, and map/route-following practical stuff.

First up is the new map manager feature. Up until now, when you bought a Fenix series device, it included the maps for your region (e.g. North America or Europe), but not other regions. For that you either had to pay $20-$30 to download maps from Garmin (which was cumbersome, at best, using a desktop computer), or, you had to download similar free maps – which was also cumbersome. But the new map manager makes it all free, and directly on the watch.

In the case of the Fenix 7, the non-Sapphire editions include 16GB of storage, and the Sapphire includes 32GB of storage. For Sapphire units, they’re preloaded with global maps. However, for the base units, they aren’t pre-loaded, and you’ll need to download the maps using the watch. To do so, on the watch you’ll go to Settings > Map > Map Manager:

Garmin-Fenix7-Map-Manager

This is where you’ll see two sections. The first is the TopoActive Maps, which are the main maps that you want for sports/adventure navigation. However, there’s also entries below it for SkiView and CourseView (golf), plus a vert basic worldwide base map (it’s useless). The SkiView and CourseView maps are preloaded on all units, because they’re relatively small (23MB for SkiView, and roughly 200-500MB for each continent’s golf courses).

However, it’s the TopoActive maps that are where the goods are. When you open that, it’ll show you which maps you’ve installed as well as the size. Or, you can choose ‘Add Map’, and it’ll connect via WiFi and show you additional map regions to download.

Garmin-Fenix7-Map-Updater

For context, here’s the current sizes of these maps. These will undoubtedly change slightly over time, but shouldn’t change too dramatically over the years:

TopoActive North America: 8.9GB
TopoActive Europe: 11.6GB (*See update below for added Europe breakout)
TopoActive THID: 2.5GB
TopoActive MENA: 1.4GB
TopoActive Australia & New Zealand: 1.8GB
TopoActive Africa: 4.4GB
TopoActive Japan: 3.8GB
TopoActive Hong Kong & Macau: 17MB (yes, megabytes)
TopoActive South America: 6.0GB
TopoActive Taiwan: 96MB
TopoActive Korea: 213MB
TopoActive SGMYVNPH: 1.3GB
TopoActive China Mainland: 663MB

Remember that the size of the TopoActive map is less about the size of the region, and more about the density of things in the region (roads/trails/cities/POI’s, etc…). You can also update a TopoActive Map from there as well. Now, once you choose to download a map, you’ll select it, and then select ‘Download’. It won’t download though until your device is plugged in, but basically puts it in a queue. Also, note that plugging in means to a regular USB power port, not to a computer.

Garmin-Fenix7-MapDownload Garmin-Fenix7-Maps-Downloading

Downloading takes a long-ass time. To download the TopoActive Europe map (11.6GB), I timed it at somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours (I went to bed at 4hrs with it at 90%). Seriously. You can alternatively use Garmin Express on a computer, which tends to be a crapton faster, since it’s transferring USB. Remember that in general the watch uses a lower-power consuming WiFi chipset, so it’s not downloading things as fast as a phone or computer. In other words, do this the night before you leave for a trip, and let it sync overnight. Or, let it sync while you make a 12-course dinner or something.

Note, that in February (a month after this review went live), Garmin has now split it out into three different regions, to allow you to pick just one region, saving you space – especially notable for non-Sapphire SKU’s. This is only available when using a computer with Garmin Express, though, that’s massively faster than WiFi (most of these took less than 10-15 mins for me to download, compared with hours on WiFi, since the Fenix/Epix units don’t have very fast WiFi connectivity).

Europe: 11.5GB
West: 6.3GB
Central: 6.4GB
East: 6.2GB

I don’t know why individually these add up to way more than just downloading Europe as a whole, but, that’s the actual sizes on the watch, listed on Map Manager for the TopoActive Europe region, within the watch itself, after the download of each Europe region. I’ve added all of these regions below in a gallery, so you can see exactly which countries are part of which regions:

Note, bizarrely, you can only toggle one of the Europe regions, or all of Europe. So it’s either all of Europe, or just a single region. I suppose since two regions takes up more than the total download, I guess that’s why.

Ok, with the maps downloaded, let’s set out on an adventure. In today’s case, I’m using a route created on Komoot. But you can also create routes in Garmin Connect directly, or other 3rd party apps or files. For example, if you have a GPX/TCX/FIT file of a route, you can import them in. The easiest thing to do is import them into Garmin Connect, which then allows you to sync them to the watch. But, to show you the new Up Ahead feature, I need to use Garmin Connect to tag the waypoints with standardized icons. So I’ve imported this Komoot route to Garmin connect:

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Now, I’m going to add a few waypoints here. Waypoints in files of course aren’t new. They’ve been around for a decade or two. In this case, Garmin calls them Course Points, but it’s effectively the same. You can tap on your route and add these points from a list of about 50 different standardized icons.

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You can give them any names you want:

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Continue doing that till you’re done. Garmin says that they’ll soon support enumeration within Up Ahead (explainer in a second) from 3rd party files. But in the meantime, you need to use either Garmin Connect or Garmin Connect Mobile to tag these locations.

With that set, we’ll get out to the trail and load up the course. You can choose any GPS sport mode you want (hiking in my case), and then from there choose Navigation and Courses. This allows me to load up my course. When I do so I’ll see map options, elevation, as well as ClimbPro. Note that ClimbPro isn’t enabled by default on all sport profiles, so you may want to enable that within the sport settings (I do – it’s one of my favorite features).

Garmin-Fenix7-Map-Loaded Garmin-Fenix7-Series-ClimbPro

The ClimbPro pages will automatically figure out each climb (both ascending and descending, though descending also isn’t on by default), and the distances/altitudes for each. Then as you climb, you’ll see your position and related data till the end of the climb.

Fenix7-Series-ClimbPro

Meanwhile, Up Ahead is the new Fenix 7/Epix feature that shows your upcoming waypoints (aka course points) in a glanceable page. You’ll see the immediately next waypoint listed (distance), with its name and icon. After that are the next three waypoints.

Fenix7-Up-Ahead-Waypoints

It’s simple. This isn’t some crazy complex feature. And in fact, it’s roughly like what COROS added for navigation. The difference is a bit more polish. Garmin added standardized icons, and the fact that you can easily glance at it on a single page, versus having to scroll through a list.  No matter who does it, I found this incredibly helpful on my recent hikes. Mainly just for quick context. The distance is, as expected, using the course route.

For lack of anywhere else to mention it, the Fenix 7 series has new graphical data fields, that allow you to stick little charts in there, but just like assigning regular data fields. This one I created has my heart rate up top, and my altitude down below.

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Also, for fun, here’s a side-by-side example of the visibility differences between equally configured Epix & Fenix 7 units, the AMOLED Epix is at left, with the Fenix 7 Sapphire at right.

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Now as you route you’ll get both turn notifications as well as any off-course notifications. I turn off turn-notifications though, because otherwise every switchback my watch is beeping. Whereas off-course navigation is pretty straightforward.

One thing that’s grown on me as more annoying is the lack of arrows or chevrons on the Fenix series routes. Garmin added arrows for the route direction on the Edge series this past year, like many other vendors have had for years. While this doesn’t matter for many course that are clear-cut, it does matter for courses that may intersect, like a figure-8 course I did on Thursday. In that case, when I got to the crossing point, I tried to decipher which way to go, but Garmin wasn’t clear. In fact, it seemed to tell me to go one way, but as I’d learn some time later – that was the wrong way. Unfortunately, because I was technically on the course, I never received an off-course warning. As such, ClimbPro was also broken because it kept thinking I’d be turning around going the other way.

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Now again, I’ve also gone years without this functionality, but it seems time to at least have the option for arrows. After all, Garmin has approximately 9,238 other routing-related options. In any event, that largely self-owned failure aside, I’ve had no issues with navigation across a wide variety of hikes, runs, and bikes over the last 6-7 weeks.

Next, speaking of that map, there’s the new touch capabilities. By default, all sport profiles have touch disabled. And unfortunately, there’s no separation between touch in the rest of the sport profile, and touch in just the map. So you’ll need to enable that for map touching. Once enabled on that sport profile, within a map you can touch to move around the map, or double-tap quickly to zoom in.

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You can also the buttons next to the + & – on the left side to zoom in, in conjunction with that. Responsiveness is very solid here. It’s not quite instant Google Maps on a phone, but it’s pretty close – far faster than either the Fenix 6 was, or the COROS Vertix 2 is. I show this in my user interface video.

Remember also that you can change the map sets shown. Within the TopoActive map, there are different map layers, including high contrast ones, night ones, even popularity routing (heatmap) ones. I find I tend to prefer the popularity one the most, but the one titled ‘System’ is the default.

In terms of details offered, the maps between the Fenix 7 and Epix are technically identical. What’s not the same though is the visibility of features at different levels. Meaning, due to the better display of the Epix series, you’ll see more details at a higher zoom level because there are more pixels. Here’s a simple comparison of what you see over the same spot and exact same zoom level (200m), between a Fenix 7 and an Epix series watch:

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And in the above case, the Epix backlight is automatically on, however, in the below photo, here you can see that even with the backlight off (dim), the Epix display is far easier to read than the Fenix 7 Sapphire.

Garmin-Fenix7-vs-Epix-screen-Backlight-Off

Plus of course, the Epix display itself is far brighter and more clear (even in direct sun) than the Fenix 7 display. That’s even more true at night/dusk, when the backlight is more crispy on Epix. Nonetheless, I used both just fine and didn’t get lost in the jungles, mountains, or volcano lava rock.

Music & Contactless Payments:

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The Fenix 7 contains virtually identical features to the Fenix 6 series in terms of both music and contactless payments. Meaning that these features are basically the same across all Garmin watches. In order to play music, you’ll need to pair up some sort of Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speaker. Then, you can download music and play offline Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, as well as any of your own MP3s. Meanwhile, on the contactless payments side, that continues with Garmin Pay, where you can load your bank cards – assuming they’re supported. These days, the biggest banks in the US and many other countries are supported though.

Starting on the music front, you’ve got a couple of different ways you can access music. In my case, I primarily use Spotify, so it only took a few seconds to link up my Spotify account. A Spotify Premium account is required though for doing offline music to your watch (thus, no phone required). Once connected though, you can choose which playlists you want to sync.

Garmin-Fenix7-Music-Download

You can also use Spotify to download podcasts, which is a handy way of doing it versus the regular Garmin podcast feature that requires a computer to sync the podcasts. With all music streaming services it’ll leverage WiFi for the music sync. In general, the simple math is about 5-10 seconds per song to download (so about 10 songs per minute (speed varies based on the length of the song and other factors. You’ll just choose which playlists you want, and then it’ll go off and download them. As long as the Spotify app checks in once per 30 days, your music stays valid.

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Track-Changes

Behind the scenes, the Spotify app will also update the music list over WiFi when you connect your Fenix 7 to a charging cable, so that it’s always in sync for dynamic playlists that get regularly updated.  You can download multiple playlists from multiple services (plus manually load music on the watch using a USB cable, such as MP3 files. The base model of the Fenix 7 series have 16GB of space and the Sapphire units have 32GB of space, but you lose of course plenty of space to maps, depending on what you’ve downloaded.

You can pair/save multiple headphones/Bluetooth audio devices if you want, such as a pair of sporty headphones and then non-sporty ones. The music menu will automatically prompt you to do this, or you can always manage headphones in the sensors menu (the same place you’d manage heart rate straps).

Garmin-Fenix7-Pairing-Headphones

Once you’re ready to play music, you can go to the music controls from numerous ways, such as a shortcut button, the controls menu, or the music widget. Once inside of that, you can choose the playlist you want, and skip songs. You can also play/pause and change volume, and change the play order (e.g. shuffle, repeat, etc…). This is accessible both within a workout and outside of it in regular smartwatch mode (such as just sitting at your desk).

Garmin-Fenix7-Change-Music-Volume

I haven’t had any skips or dropouts in either casual listening to music at my desk, or in workouts using the Beats Studio Buds. I’m not a huge listening to music while working out person though, but I find in general these days Garmin and others seem to have compatibility with headphones pretty well sorted out (compared to devices from a few years ago being some of the first generations to have wearable music support, and often had connectivity issues).

Now, switching gears a bit you’ve got contactless payments. These use NFC, and in Garmin’s case their payment platform is called Garmin Pay. It’s essentially no different than Apple Pay or other payment platforms, and is generally supported anywhere you go as long as the card itself is supported by that merchant. And in fact, that’ll likely be your main limiter in terms of usage: Whether or not your credit card is supported.

For this, you’ll need your bank to be supported by Garmin. That’s many of the big banks in the US, but beyond that it varies quite a bit. It’s hit or miss. A full list is here.

In my case, my Netherlands bank (ING) isn’t supported (still). However, my US Visa credit cards (Chase) are supported. My French Bank account (HSBC) isn’t supported, nor are some of my US local banks. Ultimately, this requires Garmin going to every single bank worldwide and get them onboarded. It’s not just a blank Visa/AMEX/Mastercard type thing. Hence why it’s hit or miss.

In any case, adding a bank takes about 2-3 minutes, so I added my US Chase card instead. As part of the setup process you’ll create a pin code to use when making a payment. This pin is only used when you actually go to tap and make a payment, so it’s not something used throughout the rest of the day. And as long as the watch stays on your wrist, it won’t ask you for the pin for another 24 hours.

Garmin-Fenix7-Wallet-Passcode

You can access the wallet either from the controls menu, or by assigning a shortcut key to it.

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Wallet

After which you’ve got 60 seconds to complete your transaction by tapping the NFC reader:

Garmin-Fenix7-Pre-Tap-Purchase-NFC

After which it’ll give a successful green ring of win, indicating the payment completed.

Garmin-Fenix7-Purchase-Complete-Wallet-GarminPay

While you won’t get any payment receipt on the watch, you can see it later in the Garmin Connect app under ‘Recent transactions’ within the Garmin Pay details.

For most people, they tend to use this type of functionality on their watches for well-known establishments that support contactless payments. For example, at a certain café or coffee shop they might stop at after a run (skipping bringing a wallet or smartphone). As always with contactless payments, I wouldn’t depend on an unknown shop/merchant supporting NFC payments – since ya never know what will actually be available. Inversely, this is also handy simply as a backup in case your phone dies and you don’t have a credit card on you.

Multi-Band Satellites Overview:

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-GPS-Options

I had considered placing this section within the GPS accuracy section, or perhaps within the sport section. But both were already pretty long. So consider this a shorter primer to a slate of changes Garmin has made. There’s actually more than just the addition of dual-frequency (multi-band) GPS here. Garmin has also revamped pretty significantly both its base GPS mode for big battery life savings, as well as gotten rid of the GLONASS/GALILEO options. Sorta.

First up though, let’s explain what multi-band GPS is. At a non-technical level, it’s been touted as the holy grail of GPS accuracy. But technically, GPS is the wrong word. That’s because GPS is actually a ‘brand’, whereas this is officially just an umbrella of GNSS’s (Global Navigation Satellite System). But we’ll set aside the Kleenex argument for the moment. The theory behind dual-frequency GPS is that you can connect across two different frequencies to the satellites, thus if one frequency is having connection or visibility troubles this would mitigate that by providing not just a secondary frequency to validate against (L5), but a frequency that’s 10X greater. Thus, instead of perhaps 20-25 satellites, there’s now upwards of 60+ satellites your watch can see. And by seeing more satellites in addition to increasing the signal and varying the frequency, it allows your watch to better mitigate signal obstructions and increase accuracy.

Garmin is hardly the first company here in this space. While Garmin did roll-out multi-band GPS to some of their hand-held devices a year ago, the Fenix 7 & Epix are the first wearables to have it (despite rumors to the contrary, Garmin says the Tactix Delta nor any other wearable from them had multiband prior to this). In any case, the first endurance sports watch to add it was the COROS Vertix 2 this past summer, and then more recently Huawei has touted it in their GT 3. In my testing of the COROS Vertix 2, I didn’t see holy-grail-like results. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the promised land either. Of course, the tech is new, and thus we’re likely to see (and have seen) firmware updates rapidly that’ll improve that. More on that in a minute. In the case of COROS, they’re using the MediaTek/Airoha chipset (AG3335M), and Garmin confirmed they are also using Airoha as their supplier. Prior to confirmation from Garmin, this made sense in my testing, as in almost every scenario over the last 6-7 weeks, the Vertix 2 and Epix/Fenix 7 units made the exact same errors in virtually identical ways (and inversely, did things correctly in near-identical ways). Garmin also confirmed that both Sapphire and Non-Sapphire units across all Fenix 7 and Epix units are using the same chipset supplier (Airoha).

First though, on the Fenix 7 and Epix series, Garmin has revamped the GPS selection process. There’s two places you can change satellite things:

Entire watch (System): This is a system-wide setting across all sport profiles, and is considered the default for any sport profiles unless otherwise specified
Per-Sport/Activity Profile: This allows you to increase (or decrease) GPS accuracy on a given sport, likely in exchange for battery life.

So the idea being that you can perhaps use higher-level dual-band accuracy on an openwater swim or a mountain bike ride through difficult terrain, but then go with less-battery-draining options for a road bike ride, which is typically one of the easier things to track GPS-wise.

Next, there’s now four GPS settings you can choose from (only Sapphire/Titanium editions have Multiband):

GPS Only: This is the base GPS-only option, however, Garmin says they’ve drastically increased the battery life here compared to the past GPS-only option, and indeed, you can see that in the battery chart.
All Systems: This confusingly named option is dealers choice between GLONASS and GALILEO, and Garmin is the dealer. As a user you can’t choose which one to use, but instead, Garmin is now switching between GPS< GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, and QZSS based on the quality of the satellites from each, determining “which to prioritize”
All Systems + Multiband: This is the new dual-frequency option that everyone has been waiting for, which combines the All Systems option, and then makes it multi-band across both L1 and L5 satellites. As a result, this burns a boatload more battery, and in theory is the most accurate.
UltraTrac: This setting is for crazy-long adventures, whereby it reduces the GPS update rate significantly. Do not ever use this setting unless you absolutely need it, you’re GPS tracks won’t be pretty. Think of this as the emergency option.

Note that the usual smart-recording or 1-second recording option is still in the settings (and still annoying defaulted to ‘Smart Recording’), but that has no bearing on the GPS reception timing/display, it’s purely what it writes to the recorded file.

Here’s the battery chart for what each of these options do, depending on which model you have.

Battery-Fenix7SeriesBaseline

Keep in mind that this chart is really a starting point. Using the Power Manager feature, you can get crazy detailed on which features you care about (for example, toggling off optical HR sensor and connecting to a chest strap saves a boatload of battery), and thus can easily extend these. Or, inversely, turning on the flashlight while playing music will decrease them. Use your powers wisely.

For super simple context compared to the other top-dog in the battery space, the COROS Vertix 2, their key claims are:

GPS-only: 140 hours
All Systems – GLONASS/GALILEO/BeiDou/QZSS: 90 hours
All Systems GPS + Music: 30 hours
All Systems + Multiband: 50 hours
Ultra mode: 240 hours
Day to day smartwatch: Up to 60 days

One thing to keep in mind is that Garmin does track vastly more health stats behind the scenes that COROS does and at a higher rate too, which certainly has a big battery drain component. You can turn off some of these though, which would increase the battery life further on the Garmin.

Though, the GPS battery life one-upmanship is quirky. From a sport standpoint is largely only impacts the upper tier of Ultra competitors. However, from a practical day-to-day standpoint it simply means you charge your watch less frequently.

GPS & Altimeter Accuracy:

Garmin-Fenix7-Barometric-Pressure

There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS or heart rate accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years, I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I don’t place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. Instead, I’ll often carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration pack or backpack.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy.

So, we’re going to start with a feast of watches on a route that’s both easy and extremely challenging. I start off along some canals and farms, and then eventually wind my way down through a long skinny street of 12-18 story buildings on both sides. For this test I had the Fenix 7S on my left wrist, and the Fenix 7X on my right wrist. Then, in each hand I was carrying a COROS Vertix 2 (right hand), and an Epix (left hand), plus also a FR745 in the right hand. All these were separated and stable, as to not impact each other. I carry them the exact same way companies themselves do GPS testing:

IMG_8111

So, here’s that data set, and at a high level, things look pretty similar. All Fenix 7/Epix/Vertix 2 units were set for multiband GPS, and the FR745 was set for GPS+GLONASS. All the units had no problems in the openness sections:

Epix-Fenix7-GPS-ZuidRunOverview

However, as we approached the first set of light buildings and bridges, the impact of multiband GPS became apparent, with those units plotting slightly clearer tracks. For example, the FR745 in pink turns way too early under the bridges, whereas the rest got it right.

Zuid-Run-Bridges

I’d also see some minor differences between the COROS Vertix 2 and Garmin units. For example, here the COROS Vertix 2 incorrectly gets frisky while going under a tunnel, sharply meandering off to the side. However, a short bit later, the Fenix 7X then did some less sharp but longer bushwhacking away from the path. Which is interesting because in general I saw that most of the time if the Vertix 2 made an error, then the Fenix 7 and Epix repeated it.

ZuidRun-Tunnel

Fast-forwarding into the downtown sections with tall buildings on both sides, we can very clearly see the FR745 struggles slightly more here, it’s the unit without multiband. Which however, isn’t to say it was horrific, nor to say that the others were perfect. The multi-band ones were simply a *TINY* bit better. But all the units traded having GPS tracks that blasted through the sides of buildings. Let’s be clear about that, this isn’t some holy grail we hoped for (just as it wasn’t and still isn’t on the Vertix 2).

Zuid-Run-BuildingSet

The rest of the run was largely boring and consistent. In one other scenario where I passed under a giant chunk of the Hospital, the FR745 zigged, while all the other units zagged. Practically speaking, neither was perfectly correct, they were just wrong in opposite directions and the multi-band units were clearly just very slightly less wrong. Barely.

ZuidRun-Hospital

That said, do understand I’m nitpicking here. I’m finding some of the most challenging scenarios I can, and then criticizing their performances. There’s also some interesting nuanced patterns with slight differences depending on which side of my body the units were on, relative to buildings I passed. In every scenario, the units on the more ‘open’ side of my body did better than the units facing the building side, regardless of brand.

Next, let’s head into the jungle for a hike/trail run. This one had it all! From deep woods, to dense trees, and towering cliffs. Here I was comparing the Garmin Epix on my left wrist, the Fenix 7 on my right wrist, plus both a COROS Vertix 2 (right hand) and a Forerunner 745 (hydration pack).

IMG_7346 IMG_7311

Here’s the high-level GPS data and track, which from this perspective looks near identical:

Jungle-High-Level

And as you get into the weeds, literally, of the jungle, it’s hard to see much difference. Meaning that the three units are nearly identical in every scenario (within 1-2 meters of each other, wobbling along), except that the COROS seems very slightly more smoothed. That has pros and cons. The benefit is that it tends to clean-up the GPS tracks a little bit in tougher areas, but the downside is that it also incorrectly cuts some corners and such that you actually hiked – as it doesn’t seem to be 100% certain between a short switchback for a couple of meters, and a GPS error.

JungleTracks

I’m not saying Garmin is right here, but I am saying that based on all my test data both over the last 6-7 weeks, but also from this past summer/fall with the COROS Vertix 2 and multiband, that it tends to over smooth in areas where the going gets tough. That in turn tends to result in lower overall distances. On a tree-dense route like this, or frankly, any ultra route, it’d be nearly impossible to know the exact actual distance you went. Even a measured trail course isn’t going to know whether you took each corner a foot or two wider (which would add up considerably over a longer route).

Jungle-Smoothing

In a lot of places though, it’s just virtually identical:

Jungle-Coastal

It is also true that both the COROS Vertix 2 and Garmin Epix/Fenix 7 units in multiband, outperformed the FR745 (using just GLONASS). One can see that in numerous occasions. However, keep in mind that extra unit was largely on my backpack shoulder strap, which has body-blockage effects.

Jungle-RockFace

Meanwhile, if we look at the elevation profile of all those units, they’re scary similar.

Jungle-Elevation

The total spread in ascent between all those units is 27m (out of 1,341m), which is a max spread of 2%. The COROS Vertix 2 seems to start off however about 20-25m higher than the other units, but over the course of five hours, drifts closer to the other units. Given there was no absolute known good reference point along the trail to compare against, it’s hard to say exactly who was perfect. But I think it’s fair to say that any unit would have been more than sufficient in this scenario.

Anyways, enough of that, let’s look at a long ride with extended very tall pine tree sections, plus some cliffs and such. This ride was 118KM long:

LongRide

The best way to look at this one is random spot-checks along the course. For example this particularly dense section of tree and switchbacks:

VolcanoRideSpotCheck

Or up against large rock cliffs:

CliffEdges

Or fast descending switchbacks in the forest:

LowerForests

Or down through small towns with plenty of turns and power lines at reasonably high speed:

LowerTowns

All of this is spot on. However, it’s not as if they’re on the correct side of the road (or consistently on any given side of the road). So that’s where we need to park the Holy Grail GPS Bus, and remember that hasn’t arrived yet:

Close-uproad

Then we’ve got an openwater swim. This is pretty impressive for both Epix & Fenix 7, though we see slight differences. For example, the Fenix 7 seems very slightly more smoothed than the Epix, though, it’s not clear why as both were on identical settings. My guess here would be this is actually a stroke difference in how high up my right hand/wrist goes compared to my left wrist, which could definitely have a slight impact. But still, there are astoundingly close GPS tracks here to the reference units on the swim buoy.

OpenwaterSwim

Here’s another openwater swim, this time directly comparing the Epix to the COROS Vertix 2 on opposite wrists. Sure, no Fenix 7 here, as I only want one unit per wrist. You can see the Vertix 2 is slightly more wobbly, and the Epix also overshot very slightly on the corner. Though, this was also a month ago, so things have undoubtedly changed in GPS performance (as we see above):

OWS-December

No matter which sets I pull up on the Epix or Fenix 7/7S/7Xfrom the last 6-7 weeks, the overall GPS tracks look very good. Are they absolutely perfect? No, but they’re on par or better than anything else I’ve seen lately. And as I alluded to elsewhere, I thought it was interesting that if I compare the most recent Vertix 2 tracks to the most recent Epix/Fenix 7 tracks, they’re nearly identical in many cases. Both making the same errors and non-errors at the same time when worn together on workouts. The only difference being that it appears COROS applies slightly more smoothing in a variety of situations, which has the previously outlined pros and cons.

Altitude-wise, everything is virtually identical between units, and seems to correctly lock onto the right altitude (when known – such as at the beach). All of the linked sets can be opened up and you can peak at this altitude graphs further.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, running power, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Heart Rate Accuracy:

Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Next, note that because the Fenix 7 comes in three different sizes, they *WILL UNQUESTIONABLY* result in different levels of accuracy. As a general rule of thumb, the lighter/smaller a watch is, the more accurate its optical HR sensor will be. Of course, that doesn’t mean a small watch is automatically accurate – but rather the same sensor placed in three different sized watches will almost always result in the smallest unit being the most accurate. Which in turn means that the added weight/size of the Fenix 5X/6X/7X/etc… will usually result in it being the least accurate due to bounce on your wrist.

As such, I’ve tested all three Fenix 7 series sizes in my workouts.  These workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing.  Swims, bikes, runs, hikes, indoor workouts, and more.

Meanwhile, for HR accuracy testing I’m typically wearing a chest strap (either the Polar H10 or the Garmin HRM-PRO), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the bicep (mostly the Polar Verity Sense, as well as the Whoop 4.0 band). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner of the charts below are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

We’ll start off with something relatively basic to get warmed up, in this case an indoor 45-minute treadmill workout, compared to a Polar H10 and the Fenix 7. As you can see, it’s virtually identical. The only bobble actually comes from the Polar H10 in the first 30-40 seconds, with what appears to be an incorrect half-hearted spike ahead of the warm-up, and then it corrects. Here’s that data:

Epix-HR-Treadmill-Jan5t

So, let’s break things a bit and head outside. Here we’ve got a 75-minute ride, starting off relatively easy, then a bunch of climbing, before looping back around again. You can see that anytime I had intensity, things were great with Epix, but when I stopped or was descending – in particular the descending, it got messy. This is pretty common for optical HR sensors – but was worthwhile noting here. Here’s that data:

Epix-HR-Short-Climb

Thus, increasing complications again – a 7-hour ride up and down a volcano. This is notable because it shows how things handle in particular ascending versus descending, but also some longer sustained periods. At a high level, things look a bit fuzzy, but clearly we’re seeing some trending alignment between the chest strap and the Fenix 7 & Epix units on opposite wrists. Here’s the data:

VolcanoRide-HR-Wide

I want to zoom in though on one of the longer sustained climbs of about an hour or so. Here you can see the Epix has a bit more wobbliness than I’d ideally like to see. Notice how that green line spikes and drops a bit here and there, whereas the yellow line of the Fenix 7 is far more tame.

VolcanoRide-HR-Interval

Now there isn’t in theory a good reason for this, given that these are identical sensors in virtually identical casings. But, this can just go to show some of the challenges of measuring optical HR even on different wrists of the same person.

Meanwhile, while descending, things separate pretty considerably, which is pretty much my experience across most wrist-based optical heart rate sensors. Especially given this was an hour-long descent in relatively cold conditions up top.

Volcano-Fenix7-EpixDescent

Finally, here’s a long hike/trail run, which had some larger sustained efforts that more easily show up on the charts:

Epix-Fenix7-Trailrun-HIke

You’ll notice that for the first 2 hours and 42 minutes, things are generally very close, with only relatively minor disagreement when walking downhill (moderate in that we’re at 100-110BPM, so it frankly isn’t going to matter much if one is 103BPM and the other 107BPM). For virtually all uphill/moderate/intense segments, it’s identical. That straight-line section is when I was filming, so things are a bit wonkier there – don’t worry about that. Then after that, things snap right back to it. The drop-out line around the 4:30 marker is simply me taking off the watches to take a few photos of the displays.

Oh, and lastly note that while the cases are different, this is the same sensor as the Epix with the same firmware, so you can also check out that in-depth review to see how things handled there, since in all likelihood it’ll mirror it here.

Next, we’ve got a set from Sunday, which was an interval workout on a chilly afternoon. In this case, I didn’t wear long-sleeves, and instead just took one for the team. Generally speaking, cold conditions reduce blood flow in the wrist area until warmed up, which in turn tends to reduce optical HR sensor accuracy. So, I wanted to see if that held any implications if I compared the Fenix 7S on my left wrist to a Fenix 7X on my right wrist. Plus then a Polar H10 chest strap, Polar Verity Sense on the bicep, and Whoop 4.0 on the other bicep. Here’s that data:

Acccuracy-Fenix7S-vs-Fenix7X

Now, it doesn’t take much of an expert to see that the Fenix 7S struggled immensely here. Surprisingly, the Fenix 7X largely nailed it. That was entirely backwards of my expectations. But, during the run I watched it happen in real-time, and most notably, watched the impact it had on Stamina data during the intervals. There was no logical reason for the Fenix 7S to have such trouble. It was nice and snug, away from the wrist bone, and it should have been happy. There’s really no reason to analyze that data set in more detail – the previous four sentences tell you all you need to know.

So, then out of curiosity, I equipped my (much smaller wristed) wife with the same setup again just a few hours later for a workout she was doing later that night. This included the Fenix 7S on her left wrist, a Polar H10 chest strap, and then the Fenix 7X on her right wrist. Keeping in mind, the Fenix 7X is hilariously too big for her tiny wrists. She normally wears a blend of a Fenix 5S (yes, 5S, non-Plus) and a FR945. Here’s that data set:

BobbieTreadmill

As you can see, it was very solid, and virtually spot on. As was, also surprising to me, the 7X given her tiny wrists.

In fact, even during the strength training (lifting) – it was largely better than I expected. Where you see it differ from the Polar H10 chest strap she was wearing was in the recovery from each set, in which case the chest strap recovered far faster than the optical HR sensors did. That’s not surprising, though, it was a bit laggier than I usually see. However, I also suspect those drops in the middle may not be accurate for the Polar H10 – they’re just too fast up and down for most humans (even her) to do.

BobbieLift

Then the next night, I threw the same pairing on her again. This time for her indoor bike workout, also then followed by another lift. Here’s the indoor bike:

BobbieMondayNightPeloton

Again, zero issues. I don’t quite know why the 7S struggled for me on the interval workout while the 7X did perfectly fine. I’m reasonably certain there was no light leakage coming in, as it was plenty snug. As with any testing, with so many models and so many potential workout scenarios (indoors, outdoors, differing sports, night vs daylight, etc…), you can go in circles trying to figure out which scenarios might be gaps.

Then followed again by the lift – and this time we’ve got ourselves a proper mess. Though, if you kinda squint it makes sense. What you’re seeing is depending on which arm she’s using, that particular unit struggles more than the other side, which is why there’s a bit of a see-saw effect, and also something we almost always see in lifting with wrist-based optical HR sensors.

Bobbie-Tues-Lift

So if we look at the sensor, what we see is pretty much what we expect. Overall I had good luck with it when there was intensity, even high intensity – with the exception of a single workout where the Fenix 7S totally lost the plot. However, areas like descending on a bike caused inconsistencies, as did some lifting (but not all).

Looking at things at a high level, the Fenix 7 Series & Epix workouts have shown pretty solid heart rate alignment that covers the vast majority of scenarios, and seems to be at the higher end of wrist-based optical HR sensors these days. I think in general, the Apple Watch Series 7 is probably the best workout optical HR sensor, but even with that, I’ve had a bad workout or two. Ya win some, ya lose some.

Fenix 7 vs Epix:

About this point, you’re probably trying to decide which watch might make the most sense for you (if either). I’ve got an entire dedicated video on that above, but an even more crazy-detailed post that’s constantly updated with all the silly differences that might be discovered down the road.

I go through everything from real-world side-by-side battery life on long workouts, to how the screens differ in real-life usage, plus aspects like map differences, graphing details, and more. It’s more than just the display! You can find the full Fenix 7 vs Epix post here.

Summary:

Garmin-Fenix7-Series-Group-Shot

Like any product series, the longer the product is in the market, the less revolutionary the changes to each iteration become. As the product, or even product category, matures – the step-up in changes tends to decrease. While the Fenix 7 is theoretically the 7th generation, in reality, it’s closer to the 8th or 9th generation. There was no Fenix 4, but there was both a Fenix 3HR and Fenix 5 Plus, which were both substantially new generations of devices under the previous generation’s name.

Virtually every aspect of the Fenix 7 is better than the Fenix 6 in my testing. Both the tangible things like GPS, barometric altimeter, and heart rate accuracy – but also much of the day-to-day bits around user interface design is more polished. Or even seemingly minor things like the button guards (though, those do take a day or two to get used to). Tasks that used to be a headache, like loading maps ahead of a trip, are now trivial. And for those 7X owners, the ability to light your way through an unknown hotel room in the middle of the night is handy. Plus the myriad of other sport-focused uses for the flashlight.

In terms of stability and reliability, it’s been very solid for me overall. As noted, almost all of my workouts had very strong heart rate accuracy, with only a singular hard interval set going askew in colder weather. On GPS, I had no major failures, or really even minor failures – as seen in all the sets above. It was as expected/good, and in some cases really good. Software-wise I’ve had no problems on this final firmware version that the unit is now shipping with (any previous bugs were on beta firmware).

But as good as the Fenix 7 may be, it’s not what I’d buy for myself. I’d buy Epix: Any day, every day.

As I sit here typing this on my laptop, I’ve got Epix on my left wrist and the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar on my right wrist. And there’s simply no comparison in the display. Even with the Epix display automatically dimmed because my wrist isn’t facing me, it’s still easier to see than the Fenix 7 on my other wrist. Of course, this Epix lacks ultra-long battery life, either in standby watch mode or GPS mode. But frankly, I just don’t need that. Sure – I’d *like that* if it could be with an Epix display, but I’m very consistently getting 6 days of Epix battery life over the last 5-6 weeks. That’s in always-on display mode with roughly an hour of workouts per day (and usually longer on weekends). A blend of GPS and non-GPS.

This ultimately means it comes down to what you prefer: Significant battery, or better display. And ironically enough, that’s pretty much been the same choice consumers have been trying to decide for the last few years, the only difference is this time the battery trade-offs are far less drastic (or far more acceptable) for most athletes.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

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Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Fenix 7 Series or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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710 Comments

  1. Vincent

    I wonder if the solar panel actually charges the watch battery or if the watch uses the solar panel to power it.
    The latter option would imply that the battery doesn’t age quite as much and would also explain that it is unable to work indefinitely using solar power, even in battery saver mode.
    Does anybody know how this actually works?

    • Since we know that the sun can power a dead battery (if you leave it out long enough, it’s slow, but it gets there), I’d presume then that the solar charges the battery.

      There’s two reason it doesn’t work forever:

      A) The most important, is that it actually can. But that’s not Garmin’s claims. Garmin’s very specific (more reasonable) claim is 3 hours of 50K Lux sun. Which, in the summer is a low-trivial amount if you’re outside. I got readings anywhere from 100-150K last week in the sun in the Canary Islands. And for far longer outside. Garmin says it’ll use that extra capacity if it gets it.

      B) The second is simply that there’s not enough solar surface area to cover the entire needs of the device depending on usage. Again, at least not at 3hrs/50K a day. It’d be like sticking just 1-2 solar panels on top of your house. Sure, if you turn everything off and get solid long sun, you’ll be good. But for day to day consumption and varying conditions, less so.

      Whereas something like Casio’s solar power, is really only applicable for their non-GPS watches. Their GPS watches that have it, it does literally nothing of value. It blows through that like nobody’s business once GPS is powered on.

    • Vincent

      Thanks for the explanation!
      I understand that the power draw is simply too high for Garmins statements regarding 3hrs/50k lux of sun. I am simply wondering what the priority is when there is power from the solar panel and if the battery might degrade faster of it being under “constant” slow charge from the solar panels.
      If the priority is to first use the power from the solar panels and secondly the power from the battery, the possible degradation would be less.

      I’m no expert on this subject, though. I don’t even know if the charging from the solar panels would degrade the battery (much) faster than simply age of the battery and charging it as usual.

  2. tunner-33

    One question on the 945 LTE: You mentioned in your review this watch that Garmin is planning “plenty of updates” for this watch. Will all the Fenix 7 features that are coming to the Fenix 6 also get ported to the 945 LTE? Or even more – like stamina – since it’s a newer premium watch? Just to make sure the 945 LTE won’t be that middle child…

    • Ppavel

      Thanks at dcr for the fantastic reviews. I would be interested in this as Well. The More i read the Reviews the more i get the Feeling that the Fenix 7 will quickly be superseded by a new Version with ecg, larger Display, better GPS, smaller bezels/black rings, possibly true LTE. Can anybody say Something about garmins Future Plans? To me the entire top Lineup seems to be a stopgap measure.

    • Convel

      Garmin releasing an out-of-cycle refresh as significant as described is highly unlikely. If history is any indication, major changes shouldn’t arrive until the Fenix 8 drops in roughly two years. We should see a Forerunner 955 this year, traditionally around late April, though new products still aren’t quite on track due to COVID. The Forerunner 9XXs are mostly smaller, lighter, slightly more affordable non-metal alternatives to the Fenix series, so you shouldn’t miss out feature wise. Software features tend to get backported. I would also expect a new LTE watch, whether it turns out to be a Fenix 7 or a Forerunner. I can’t see Garmin abandoning what they introduced with the 945 LTE and, in my mind, an LTE Fenix still makes more sense.

      I wouldn’t, however, expect Garmin’s focus regarding LTE to change drastically from the 945 LTE. They’ve already given a cellular watch a try with the vívoactive 3 Music LTE on Verizon and it wasn’t much of a success. By limiting data usage to Live Track messages and inReach/IERCC functionality, they don’t need to rely on carriers the way smartwatches do. I think messages outside of Live Track would also make sense given the low data usage and practicality, especially now that the watches have touchscreens to type on, but we’ll see.

  3. Luca

    How many data fields per page in the Fenix 7S? Is it 8 like the Fenix 7 and 7X or less?

  4. Tom

    Hello Ray,

    one thing I believe you did not mention was when you “endorsed” the Epix. Aside from the battery some people actually may appreciate the Fenix 7S size, especially wearing it at night some people are not comfortable with the bigger size.

    Tom

  5. Tomas

    Is there any change in settings of phone notifications? Two vibrations for an incoming call is just not enough. Is it possible to choose different notification pattern?3 vibrations, 5 vibrations, vibrations until picking up the phone call, etc…?

  6. Dan Springborn

    Thanks for the review.
    So how long till the Fenix 6 price gets lowered and goes on sale? I’m looking for a new watch for Ultra running in the mountains. I have an old Ambit3 that I’m ready to part ways with. I don’t need much in terms of bells and whistles. Just basic GPS functions. I had a Coros apex and the HR was so bad that it was useless and I ended up selling it. Any suggestions??

    • Itsmeken

      @Dan Springborn I have a like new Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire Carbon DLC I am selling for $549. If interested hit me up on Garmin 6X or 7X forum or here.

  7. C.Sco

    I tried to post a comment before but apparently I wasn’t logged in so it got lost 🙁
    Just wanted to say thanks, Ray! Awesome article as always.

    I ended up picking the 7X Sapphire, rather than the Epix, purely because of its ability to handle multi-day adventures without needing a recharge, and with plenty of battery left to spare. I’m holding out hope that they might eventually make a Epix “2X” (or even a “2X Solar”) someday, that can cover that use case. In the meantime, I can’t wait around for it, so I’m happy with my 7X. Just got it yesterday, and so far, it feels like an excellent upgrade from my old 6X sapphire!

    I’ll be honest, I ordered it before this review went live, so it didn’t influence my decision, but it did reinforce it after I read it later 😀

  8. Antonios

    Hi, Thank you for your excellent work, I would like to ask you if any Garmin watch support wing foil or if you know any other sport watch that support wing foil. Thank in advance for your help.

  9. Lucas

    A few others have asked this, but I too am curious when/how I can buy the versions with the leather band and lighter rim color shown as being available via “your watch your way” in the graphic that shows all of the models. The Fenix 7 series isn’t available in their customizer yet, and a Garmin chat rep couldn’t tell me if/when it would be available.

  10. Eric Buxton

    Was just notified that my 7X will ship soon. Can’t wait. My 5X battery life has taken a hit and the watch itself was scratched up after a bike crash (but sapphire screen intact) and I’m looking forward to updating.

  11. Dave

    Hi, is it possible to copy all of my config/setup from my fenix 6 to a fenix 7?

    • Sadly not. While that feature does exist for the Garmin Edge series, Garmin hasn’t yet implemented it on the Fenix series. It sounds like that’s in the pipeline, but didn’t make the cut for launch.

      Now, some folks would say you can technically move certain files over from unit to unit (and yes, you can). But every conversation I have with Garmin basically has them saying “Please, please, please don’t do that”, as it can (and often does) introduce bugs. Usually, these bugs don’t show up immediately, but some time later in random/unexpected ways.

      Literally, every time I file a bug the very first thing they respond with is “Did you copy your old files from an older/other unit over?”.

      That said, I’m hoping at some point we get such an option. It’s badly needed.

  12. Michael

    Cannot change background color during activity with EPIX GEN2 from black to white as described in manual and fenix 6x

  13. David C

    Ray – will the watch charge under regular light if it is close a bulb or will it only charge via sunlight?

  14. Rick

    I was surprised to see the very long/extensive list of course point types in your screenshot. I do my course planning in Garmin Connect via computer in the Google Chrome browser. The list of course point types in the browser is only 7 vs. the extensive list of (50?) in the mobile app. Do you know if Garmin is planning to update the web version of Garmin Connect to include this more comprehensive list of course point types?

  15. David C.

    Thanks for a great review Ray. Do you have to have sunshine with solar or will indoor lighting also charge the solar?

    • Real sunshine essentially.

      There’s probably some lights that work well, but right now sitting below a dining room light, the unit is pulling in a whopping 0.1K lux. For comparison, a sunny winter day around here is 50K lux, and a summer day at the beach was 100-150K lux. So basically, this isn’t doing anything – I’m burning far more than I’m gathering.

      Now, there may be lights that do transmit better or are different. I haven’t done much research there.

  16. Andrew M

    Another great review. Not sure if I’m ready to make the upgrade from my 935, but the features of the newer Fenix series and the Epix are providing some strong arguments.

    Quick question – what is the name of the watch face shown at the beginning of “The Basics” section?

    Thanks!

  17. Dani B

    How did you build your own 8 data fields per page?

  18. Convel

    Do the push-pin bands of the 745 and 945 LTE fit on the Fenix 7 or has Garmin reverted to QuickFit only?

    Also, does the newer underlying hardware see a bump in bluetooth support? Bluetooth 5 is ubiquitous for music now that true wireless earbuds are the norm. Some people reported issues on the Fenix 6 and 945, but I haven’t had issues on my 945 LTE. Granted, I’ve barely tried music playback from the watch.

  19. Mehmet

    Hey DC thanks for the excellent review.
    Are there any improvements on the sound quality for music or its the same as 6 series? Thank you

  20. Michael Irmer

    Hi Ray, excellent review as always.

    One question about the ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from GMC.

    Are the activity profile data fields synced to the other watches via GCM?

    I edited the data fields of the run profile of the Fenix ​​7 with GCM.
    After that, the run profile datafields were exactly the same on my Forerunner 945. All other activities profile Datafields were on default then, like on the Fenix 7.
    To me it looks like it’s very easy for Garmin to set up in GMC for other watches too.

    Can you check this?

    • Michael Irmer

      By the way, I returned the Fenix ​​7 Solar (non sapphire). The display is much worse than that of my 945. Hard to read. I think the touch layer makes the display so much worse. The Fenix 6 Solar are much better.

    • Correct, the data fields are configured on a per-device basis, with no syncing across devices (nor migration across devices, etc…). It sounds like all of that is the longer term goal (for example, the Garmin Edge device supports migration of data fields/sensors to a new device) – but for now, this was the starting point.

      Other watches will come, for example the FR945LTE they’re aiming to add later this year. Though it sounds like it’s a bit more complex under the hood to add new watches than we (or they) want it to be, in terms of watch firmware. Those watches were never really designed to pull in settings from the phone app. So tweaking that entire process takes re-engineering.

    • Michael Irmer

      In my case, the settings were definitely transferred/synced from my Fenix ​​7 to my Forerunner 945. I changed data fields in the GCM of the Fenix ​​7 run profile and these were afterwards on my 945. But if I understand you correctly, that’s not how it should be. Right?

      What about the 945 (non LTE)? Are there any new features to be expected from the Fenix ​​7 like “up ahead”? The 945 should also get CIQ 4, so some features are possible.

    • Will

      “The 945 should also get CIQ 4, so some features are possible.”

      I don’t think so. Where did you hear this?

      Garmin has already said that any watches which didn’t launch with Connect IQ 4 won’t be getting it.

      Don’t confuse CIQ 4 with “CIQ System 5”.

      System 5 is:
      – CIQ 3.3 (or higher) for devices currently on 3.x
      – CIQ 4.1 (or higher) for devices currently on 4.x

      It’s a shame Garmin has really messed up the messaging behind CIQ versions. It’s more confusing than ever. They obviously did this because they wanted to reserve the major version number (e.g. the 4 in CIQ 4.1) for big changes, but still be able to apply the same smaller changes to multiple major versions.

      But it’s gonna be really confusing if and when CIQ 5 comes out. System 7 (or whatever) will probably encompass up to 3 different CIQ versions.

    • Yeah, Garmin really needs to reset their thinking on the CIQ versioning situation. It’s a nightmare even for technically minded people to keep straight, let alone consumers. I’m not 100% what the solution is, but whatever it is this isn’t it.

  21. Jaime Lopez

    Things I noticed using 7x sapphire solar after my 6X. Buttons feel really cheap. Plasticy/cheap versus metallic feeling. No widgets? I cannot add some widgets I had on my 6x. In the IQ store, you cannot find widgets for the 7x. No category for it. No option for it. The flashlight is awesome. Wrist HRM still acts up after about 45 minutes of use. Jumps for no reason by about 20 bpm. Have to turn it off/on in settings. The display looks better. Touchscreen is good except while showering.

    • With the CIQ store, it basically takes time for developers to approve their widgets for use on newer watches. Honestly, the whole thing there is a bit silly.

      One thing to double-check though is that your firmware is fully up to date – it should be 7.20 right now. Out of the box it’ll be some old sticky 6.6ish firmware (depending on exactly how long ago it was made).

      The buttons feel pretty normal to me on the 7X Sapphire Solar I have. :-/

    • Will

      “In the IQ store, you cannot find widgets for the 7x. No category for it. No option for it.”

      That’s because for CIQ 4 devices, device apps and widgets have been merged into a single “super app” category”.

      What this means is that:
      – Apps can be launched from the activity/app launcher, as usual
      – If the dev wants their app to show up in the widget list, they have to implement a widget glance. If you launch an app from the widget list, it acts just like a widget, in the sense that it times out after 2 minutes of inactivity. (I assume it will also have other widget limitations, such as being unable to record an activity.)

  22. jaja01

    How many Connect IQ data fields can be added to the activity? Still only two?

  23. Panos

    Does anyone knows is Fenix 3 is same dimensions with Fenix 7X including the lungs? I know that both are are 51 mm.

  24. Get

    Does the Fenix7 have “auto wake up” option? Let`s say when the body battery is charged 70% can the watch wake me up, no matter how many hours of sleep I had?

  25. Philip King

    I guess the follow up question would be: do you think they will come out with an Epix in a larger size like the F7x? That would be a game changer for me.

    • jaja01

      Yes, but you have to wait until next Christmas. 😉

    • There’s no doubt that we’ll eventually have a 7X-sized AMOLED screen. Just a question of when, and what, it’ll be called.

    • Philip King

      That will be the one for me. I have a F6x, so I don’t see the need to upgrade to the F7x or the Epix 2, especially with many of the software features coming to the F6x.

      But as soon as they introduce a F7x sized watch with the AMOLED display, that’s the one I will buy.

  26. Gareth Mills

    Great write up once again.
    I know you can’t test this but do you know if the new heart rate monitor works better with tattoos? I have tattoos on both wrists and I have the garmin 945 which really struggles and mostly can’t read my HR from the wrist.
    Wondering if it is worth the upgrade so I have 24/7 HR monitoring etc.

    • Gareth

      HI Ray – did you see my query about the HR sensor and tattoos? Do you have any information from Garmin relating to the new sensor and whether it works better with tattoos please?

    • Sorry.

      I haven’t heard of any changes there. The FR945 you have uses an older generation sensor as you know. The Fenix 7/Epix/FR945 LTE/Venu 2/Venu 2 Plus/Vivomove Sport all use the newer Gen 4 sensor that came out last spring.

      I haven’t heard much one way or the other, but if you were looking for research with respect to tattoo’s, those are the models that have the Gen4 sensor.

  27. Will

    “One thing that’s grown on me as more annoying is the lack of arrows or chevrons on the Fenix series routes.”

    That’s weird, as my 945 LTE has arrows on courses, and I always assumed that the 935 was basically Fenix 5 and the 945/945 LTE were basically Fenix 6 as far as software goes (I know there’s some minor differences.)

  28. Tom

    Has anyone else noticed that HIIT workout profile is missing?
    I have just got a Fenix 7 solar, and there is not HIIT activity mode. I’ve checked on both the watch and the Garmin connect app.

    I watched the dc rainmaker beginners guide and tutorial and I noticed it is present on the app list on the 7X when ray scrolls through the apps.

    My firmware says it is up to date (v5.35).

    Anyone else had this issues or got any tips?

    • Tom

      Solved my own issue already. Left the watch a few hours and then it showed new firmware (7.20) was available. This solves the issue.

    • Yup indeed! As a general public service announcement, watches were manufactured starting back in November – so depending on when your watch was made, the level of stink will be high. Everyone wants to be on 7.20 (or higher, depending on when you read this) for all the features.

      Otherwise, things like sport profiles, phone config, and plenty more will be missing.

      As noted, it’ll update itself in the background over the next few hours. However, if you want to force it quickly, the very fastest way is to use Garmin Express on your computer. Plug it in, add it to your account, and then it’ll say it’s up to date. Unplug it, and *THEN* it’ll actually install 7.20 (or rather, prompt you). It won’t show it till after you unplug it from the computer.

      Cheers!

  29. Tobias

    Currently Zwift on a Tacx Neo 2T with a Garmin HR sensor and get rides recorded to Garmin Connect and Strava. I also soon will have a Fenix 7 or (more likely) Epix. Is there any advantage to (and easy way to) ALSO wear the Fenix during Zwift workouts to record metrics that are not captured by the heart rate band and the Tacx? Can anyone point me to where this is explained? Cheers

  30. Steve

    Hi Ray,

    Excellent review. With the new multi-band GNSS are you planning to do some further detailed tests on instant pace, for example fenix 6 vs fenix 7? My 6 solar doesn’t do the best job of instant pace and sometimes drifts to 45-90/s per mile slower than ‘real’ pace – Does the fenix 7 improve things much in this regard?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Philipp

      I would be interested in this question as well.

      I don’t care if the track on the map is off a bit. But I care about the instant pace when I’m doing a pace specific training. And this was horrible on the Fenix 6. Running at a constant pace, the pace was suddendly dropping 30-120s per km…

      I fixed this problem by buying a Stryd pod, but I was very disappointed that this is necessary for a 600$ sportwatch.

    • Jakob Heitz

      I have the same problem. Pace is pretty useless. Has multiband made pace useful?

  31. Ben

    Right, it’s decided, I’ll go and bite ! But which one..? I am absolutely stuck!
    Let’s assume I want to spend $900 and not more, should I go for :
    – Fenix 7 sapphire: dual band GNSS (not interested in Ti case, sapphire screen, or solar charging)
    – Fenix 7x solar: bigger screen, bigger battery life, flashlight
    – Epix: AMOLED screen
    Please help me choose 🙂

    • Jeff

      I know Ray did a video where he ran through the differences between all of them. The Epix screen is sweet, but I think I’m going to go with the Fenix personally.

  32. John Faith

    Thanks for another great assessment and review. I’ve had my 5x for more than three years now and the 7x seems like a worthwhile upgrade.

  33. Gabriel Mejias

    Dude, do you have any intel or info on availability? Fenix 7X Sapphire in the US shipping slipped to 3-8 weeks. REI. Backcountry out of stock.

    Otherwise, great review, thanks!

    • I haven’t heard one way or the other. I would caution slightly though that Garmin.com availability is always a poor indicator of planned availability. The reason is that Garmin always prioritizes their retailers first, over Garmin.com – as such, it’s almost always faster to find a trusted retailer that has a specific date in mind, as usually that retailers knows their planned shipments.

      Given Garmin has been manufacturing these units for months already, they’re likely at the point of production and schedule stability. So I wouldn’t expect any surprises there in terms of last-minute delays. However, Chinese New Year is around the corner, and that would impact shipments from Taiwan (where Garmin makes these units).

      Ultimately, I’d just keep checking! Maybe I’ll add the stock-alerts for the Fenix 7/Epix series if there’s interest. The backend system does it already for trainers/smart bikes, so it’s easy enough for me to do it on other units.

  34. tim smith

    Why can’t Garmin automatically do the health checkup process while we sleep so we have these scores at the ready (and then cancel our whoop subscriptions)?

    • To be fair, that’s actually exactly what they do.

      The Health Snapshot piece is just taking everything they do at night/24×7, and making it a one-time one-off report. A literal snapshot.

      Veresus the watch already does all those things behind the scenes 24×7, and reports on them daily. The singular exception is HRV, which for some bizarre reason Garmin doesn’t allow you to see anywhere except the Health Snapshot (despite the fact that it’s the underpinnings for tons of things).

    • Lee Lewis

      So is HRV actually recorded 24/7? Garmin just doesn’t make the data available except as part of your sleep, stress, and body battery scores?

  35. Jeff

    Can anyone speak to whether the issue of the Fenix disconnecting from the iPhone has been fixed? I’ve got a Fenix 3HR, and I’ll sync with Garmin Connect in the morning, but then by the afternoon or evening, the watch has disconnected from my phone, meaning I’m not getting messages or the weather anymore. I don’t know that this is a deal breaker, but it’d definitely be something to consider. It’s actually one of the few reasons I’m looking at the Apple Watch as an alternative, but then the Apple Watch doesn’t do everything that the Fenix does.
    Thanks for any insight!

    • Yeah, I’m not sure what’s going on there. But what you’re reporting isn’t the norm (or at least, hasn’t been for many years) – so you don’t have anything to worry about in that realm.

      In general, the Bluetooth connectivity stack between watches (of all vendors) and the phone has improved dramatically in the last few years, as that use case has become the norm.

    • okrunner

      Jeff,
      My experience with the Fenix 3hr is that behavior is a clear indicator that you are having battery issues. I suspect that you have had that 3hr for at least 4 years if not 5 or 6. I speak from experience I have had the original battery die, replaced it with an aftermarket battery, which is now dying. Once it gets worse, you’ll like see the watch restarting without warning as well as huge drops in battery strength in a day. For instance you might see 3% drop one day then 20-30% the next for no reason. I suggest having Garmin change the battery if you intend to keep it along time. If not, it’s simple to put in an aftermarket battery just don’t expect the aftermarket battery to last 4 years. My two cents. YMMV

    • Jeff

      Hey guys, thanks for the replies. (Sorry I’m late in mine, they went to junk mail).
      Good to know that it isn’t an issue. Weirdly it seems like it has gone on for years now, and my wife had a similar issue with her Garmin. Looks like I’ll be checking out the 7 here soon, or at least once they are in stock consistently.
      Thanks!

  36. Erkki

    Anyone owning the 7x noticing any build quality issues? I went from 5 Sapphire to 6x Sapphire to 7x Sapphire Solar and this latest does not feel as rugged as previous versions. Especially the buttons are not as solid feeling, they feel a bit like plastic and not even working 100%, sometimes need to press 3 times before reaction.

    A bit disappointed since I was expecting same solid button performance. Did Garmin save costs on case and buttons to create touch screen?

  37. Stanislav

    The comment section seems buggy. It shows either the first 200 comments or the last comments starting from comment #399. But it seems there is no way to see comments in the 201-399 range.

    I looked back because I wanted to see comments regarding the pace and distance addressed, but now I can’t find those comments at all, likely because of the bug I mentioned above.

    • Hmmm….Are you on mobile or desktop? I’m currently seeing all 462 comments in one page on desktop: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Stanislav

      On desktop – running Chrome browser on the latest version MacOS. There are links to “Older comments” and “Newer comments” that are supposed to page the comments.

    • Brian Reiter

      I don’t see any issue in Chrome 97.0.4692.99 on macOS 12.1. Nor in Safari. Nor in Brave. I am seeing 464 comments just now.

    • Paul S.

      Something is going on. On my old MacPro running macOS 10.12.6 and Safari 12.1.2, I see 399-end on the first page, and “Older Comments” shows only 1-200, although a few minutes ago I tried and it showed 1-398. On my MacBook Pro (11.6.2, 15.2) 399-end on the first page, 1-200 for “Older Comments” but then toggling through again (Newer-Older), I see 399-end and then 1-398. Looks like a Heisenbug. I haven’t tried cache clearing or other browsers.

    • mjciv

      I see #399 and up (to #469 at the moment) on page load. Clicking on the “Older comments” link gives me #1 to #398.

      Chrome 97.0.4692.99 on Windows 10 21H2 (19044.1466)

  38. Erek Delin

    Love this article!

  39. Gary

    I’m a current used of a Fenix 5.
    I dont suppose there is any support for Sand Running now?
    At least two of my workouts in a week are now Sand Based, either intervals,steady or running up sand dunes. I assume this will effect all the projections.

  40. Bruno Medeiros

    Hi Ray,
    Based on your own experience, which satellite combination is more precise?
    I live in Brazil, and I just found that gps+galileo seems to be more precise here. Did you find similar results?

    Thanks
    Bruno

  41. Francisca

    Hello Ray, hope you well. Thank you so much for the review and your content on youtube. Felt really secure on my purchase thanks to what you share with us

    I have a question for you, and to the people reading the comments (maybe you have experienced this)
    For some reason I can’t see the stamina graph on my Garmin Connect app (using Iphone 12 pro max). I have had 2 runs with the watch, and for both I had the stamina data pages enabled (including the time and distance remaining). During the runs it worked great, could see the real time stamina just fine. After when I check the activities on the Garmin Connect app, I can only see the initial and final stamina on the summary, but no graph option (I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling the app, and I’m on the latest version)
    I tried chatting with support but they didn’t know, they said they would create a ticket :-/
    Might this have happened to you during your tests?

    • Huh, that’s weird. I haven’t seen that at all. So on the final tab (the graphs one), there’s no Stamina grab at all?

    • Francisca

      Exactly, no graph at all (thanks so much for replying by the way)
      There is at least one other person that has this issue on the Garmin forums and another one on reddit. I posted here:
      https://forums.garmin.com/outdoor-recreation/outdoor-recreation/f/fenix-7-series/283636/stamina-graph-missing—connect-app

    • Huh. That’s baffling. With a ticket in, I’m sure it’ll get quickly routed to the right spot (assuming you have a case number). If you don’t hear back within a couple days of them sorting it out, let me know and I’ll do some prodding.

      Does it show up on Garmin Connect (website)?

    • Francisca

      Don’t think I do, I asked the person on the support chat if there was number I could follow up with but he only said they would contact me if they had or needed more info. Thought it was weird but he disconnected before I could ask again.
      Thank you so much for your help Ray, I’ll let you know if I don’t hear anything

      Regarding the web, no it doesn’t show up on there either, but I think that’s a problem for even more users, also saw it on the forums link to forums.garmin.com

    • David W.

      Very strange because the stamina graph is there on my iPhone for my Epix2. See the picture. Right in the middle. Oddly, stamina doesn’t show up at all in the web version of GC. No numbers or graph.

    • Francisca S

      Yes I would say a minority is not seeing the graph on the app (two others on the Garmin forums and I think two more on reddit). And I think the issue on the web might be affecting even more people. Very strange indeed

    • Francisca S

      Hello Ray! Hope you are doing well 🙂

      Just wanted to let you know that I still can’t see the stamina graph on the app, but it’s now visible on the website (same for the others that were having this issue on the forums, visibility on website but not on the app).
      Haven’t heard from Garmin, but my guess is that it might get fixed when the connect iOS app is updated
      Just wanted to let you know, thanks so much for your reply and being so kind about it. Since I can see it on the website I’m pretty happy with that and hope that a future update fixes the app visibility

      Have a great weekend!

  42. Ben

    Super write-up as usual. I noted on the Garmin NZ site the 7X is listed as 16GB storage, is this correct? link to garmin.com

  43. RICHARD DAVIES

    How much of the 16gb memory is free before you download ay Topoactive maps ?
    i can’t find this information anywhere

  44. Rudy

    Hi Ray, thanks for the great review. One question: did you also test the accuracy of the optical HR sensor for swimming?

  45. spinnekopje

    A couple of questions:
    Do you know whether Garmin plans to split up the largest maps like Europe and North America? (like europe can be enabled disabled on the fenix 6x pro as east, west and central europe)
    Is it possible to enable/disable the touch screen using the quick access buttons? The same question for enabling/disabling sleep mode.

    • I haven’t heard of any plans, but it’s definitely something I’d love to see. I think it would make a lot of sense to just do what everyone else does: Allow per-country downloads, divided up first into regions.

      In looking at the Hotkeys options, both sleep-mode and Touch are options you can assign to hotkeys for quick enablement/disablement. Cheers!

    • Pieter

      Yes you can split Europe into three segments: West, Central and East. If you connect your Fenix 7 or Epix 2 to a Mac or PC, using Garmin Express, you have the choice to download Europe by segments (e.g. only West or a combination of West and Central)

    • Yup, it was added in February at some point. I need to update some of the pieces here.

  46. Soumyajyoti Haldar

    Thanks DCR for a nice review. Can you comment on the differences between power glass and sapphire glass?

    • I don’t have any power glass units on hand, but generally speaking, the Sapphire glass is more resilient to scratches, but inversely, it tends to be dimmer than power glass.

      Historically speaking, the difference in scratchablity/durability was greater between Sapphire and non-Sapphire units. But these days, I think that difference is almost slim to none, compared to the Gorilla glass that’s used.

      Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!

    • Mike

      Hi there,

      Aren’t there more differences with the GPS as well on the Sapphire vs the Power Glass? Multi-band GNSS. I saw a review on another site where the guy compared the gps tracks from a 6x to the 7x Sapphire with multi-band GNSS and the 7x Sapphire was a lot more accurate. (Can be read here: link to tinyurl.com)

      For me the GPS accuracy is quite important. Im coming from a 3HR so either way there will be quite a bit of improvement. Im just debating if the Sapphire version with the multi-band GNSS is the better option.

      Cheers,
      Mike

    • Mike

      with the image of the GPS tracks this time…

    • The Fenix 7 non-Sapphire isn’t using the older Sony chipsets, rather, it’s using MediaTek/Airoha chipset. Nobody has determined yet whether it’s using the exact same chipset as the Fenix 7 Sapphire (also MediaTek/Airoha) and simply software-unlocked, or if it’s actually a different MediaTek/Airoha SKU/model.

    • Mike

      Thanks. Yes I guess we have to wait and see.

    • Jerom68

      If the sapphire glass is as resistant to scratches as gorilla DX glass,

      it means taht on the trails the impact with rocks will be the same,
      and rocks won’t scratch the fenix glass.

      Do you agree ?

      Thanks for your help.
      (I already scratched a suunto 5 mineral glass at the fist bike fall on rocks)
      (I already scratched a suunto 5 mineral glass at the fist bike fall)

    • Matthew

      Has there been any update regarding if its just simply software locked and if multiband will come to the standard fenix 7?

  47. William Wilson

    Hi
    Are we still supporting In reach device with the Fenix 7X sapphire

  48. JB

    Hey Ray,

    Great review as always. Do you know if Run/Walk detection is or will be available on the 5X or is this just 7 moving forward?

    Also, you asked why it would be useful. For me when I run, I do run walk intervals. The only way for me to separate my pace for my run and walk sections is to press the lap button every time I get the signal. I am thinking the addition of the watch/Garmin Connect doing adding this feature would eliminate me from having to tap the lap button every time I change from walk to run or run to walk.

  49. Luca

    How many data fields per page in the Fenix 7S and Fenix 7? Are they 8 like the Fenix 7X and Epix or less?

  50. Mario

    Dear Ray,

    1. On my Fenix 7X battery saver mode is up to 89 days, maximum (all settings disabled) and not 90 days.
    Have you checked this on your Fenix ​​7X?

    2. Sleep mode cannot be disabled (even with disabled DND in sleep mode and system settings, and even with manual deactivation, the sleep mode is activated again automatically). Is this a bug?

  51. Joakim Ågren

    Hi One of my friends are reporting that his GPS accuracy goes down when using the flash light blinking mode on his Fenix 7X. Is this something you could test and see if it is the same on your unit? Otherwise his unit might be faulty if you do not experience the same issue.

  52. Miller Liu

    Nice to know that Fenix 7 series support Beidou positioning system. But it seems no clear wording shown on Garmin websites. Can you show some evidence to support the advancement ? screenshot or sales documents ?
    Thank you for details.

  53. Jim

    Does anyone have any experience with the non-sapphire? Does it hold up as well as the sapphire? Is the screen as easy to read as a sapphire? Thanks!

  54. Stephanie Henson

    Another fantastic review! Did you test the base Fenix 7 or Fenix 7s models? I’ve been leaning toward getting the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire, but wonder if it has more features than I need, and I’ve seen that the sapphire glass seems to make the watch face darker. I run, hike (out for 2-3 days for some hikes), bike, HITT, and occasionally SUP. I’m having the hardest time deciding between the base model and the Fenix 7SS. I love the 32 GB storage the F7SS has, but don’t know if I really “need” the all satellite systems+multi-band feature based on your review. Is the 7SS’ solar, the strength of sapphire, and the titanium worth the extra $200 US? Not sure how durable the base models are. I plan to keep the watch for at least 5 years, and will wear it 24/7 (aside from charging). Thanks in advance!

    • I tested the Sapphire 7X/7/7S, but not the non-Sapphire units. Once I get ahold of those, I’ll likely include some comparisons too, though I don’t expect any differences in either GPS or HR accuracy. The HR chipset is identical. And the GPS is confirmed by Garmin to the be the same chipset/manuf, and thus narrowing that down, is either the same exact chipse with a software block for multi-band, or, is the non-multiband variant they sell.

      It’s hard to say on whether it’s worth the extra $200. For Epix, I think it’s an easier choice, and is likely worth the extra $100. But for the Fenix series, that’s tougher. If you don’t travel a ton, then swapping maps isn’t a big deal (versus loading both). For multiband, I do expect longer-term that it’ll get better. We’ve seen that in just the last 6 months on what is likely the exact same chipset, with the COROS Vertix 2. And we know Garmin has significant pressure on GPS chipset makers to improve performance (we saw that with Sony, getting dramatically better once Garmin jumped onboard).

      Thus, in your case, if you’re looking at this as a 5-year investment, I’d probably go for Sapphire. Whereas, if someone was looking at this as a stop-gap until a Fenix 7/8-LTE or whatever, then I’d probably say to save the cash.

    • Stephanie Henson

      Thanks for your reply. Good to know that the multi-band will likely improve over time. Based on that and the advantages of sapphire glass and titanium, 7 Sapphire Solar it is!

  55. Slavomir Piskaty

    Hi DC,
    since I had some problems in the past I want to double check that ECG is not available on Fenix and this this link is not true?
    link to gadgetsandwearables.com
    Thanks
    Slavo

    • That post/site published a rumor 2 weeks prior to the device coming out.

      While it’s plausible there’s ECG capable hardware inside the unit that Garmin could unlock down the road, I’d doubt they’d keep that a secret. Instead, they’d do what Apple/Samsung/Withings/others have done: Say it’s pending certification.

      Thus, no ECG as far as we know at this time.

  56. Louis

    Thanks for the great review Ray! Anyone know how to get the new windsurf / kitesurfing sports on garmin fenix 6 pro? I can see other new ones like tennis or padle but not these. Thanks !

  57. Mark

    Hi,
    I know the screen res is the same but does anyone know if the 7X screen looks any better/crisper than a 6X when viewing the maps?
    Thanks

    • Stanislav

      From what I’ve read and seen on Garmin Forums and Reddit, 7X screen is noticeably worse. It is less contrast, more reflective, and less readable, likely due to the touch layer below the glass.

    • Mark

      No stores around me with stock of the 7X so I cannot check with my own eyes.
      I will stick with the Epix I bought which has such an easily viewable and readable screen, just not as much battery.
      Thanks

  58. Piero

    Sappphire vs no sapphire?

  59. Caroline Moore

    For those of use with more prosaic concerns, it is disappointing that the move alert is no longer followed by a red move bar of gradually increasing length. It says it is in the manual, and I contacted support who said that they will create a ticket.
    I also preferred having a bar to keep track of steps, rather than a number: a little more discreet and stylish imo.

  60. Nissim Yochai

    Great Review as always. Many thanks.

  61. Hi Ray,

    thanks again for this in-depth review!

    Coming from the Instinct (first version) I wonder about these things:

    * How is the altimeter on a day-to-day basis? Does it need a lot calibration? I understand it’s difficult in Amsterdam…
    * Is it possible to activate a height-lock for certain activities (openwater-swim, sea-kayaking) or is the automatic decent enough?
    * Any chance for more side-by-side pictures, especially with the non-saphire versions of the fenix7?

  62. WvdG

    It’s a real pity Garmin has still not added the MTB Jump metric to the Fenix 7.

    I understand that there might be challenges when the device is wrist mounted, but surely they can add a setting that indicates the device is fitted to the handlebar and only then enable the metric?

  63. Luke Gittemeier

    I got the the new fenix 7x ss.
    The blood oxygen and HRV measurements are junky/busted.
    I don’t know if it is a sensor issue or a software issue, but when I called Garmin, it sounded like something they had been hearing from others as well.
    Their best option was either I pay them a lot more money for a replacement watch and they ship it when they get it, or I go a month without a watch. Neither of those sounded very good to me, because I have a race in a couple months and this is my key training window.
    Anyone else had this issue?
    Or any good replacement watch solutions?

    • What specifically was the issue with the measurements? They seem to be pretty much in line with three other devices I’m doing spot-checks on, without issue.

    • Luke Gittemeier

      Out of 28 instances running the “Health snapshot” (yes, I am sitting down and being still), only 14 have registered any value for HRV. The rest say “–“.
      Pulse ox is a little better – it has recorded 20 values. But of those 20 that registered values, 5 of them were low enough to suggest that I need to immediately be hospitalized.

    • Odd. How snug is the watch?

      Either way, something certainly sounds amiss for sure.

    • Luke Gittemeier

      its snug.

      i could tell from the conversation with their support team that they had heard this complaint and don’t really have a solution. which sucks.

  64. Caroline

    My F7 worked fine for a week. Then suddenly the battery started draining very fast. Had it fully loaded yesterday afternoon to 18 days. This morning (after 5 hours of normal tracking – no activities, and 1 night on battery saving mode (no customisation) it had left 13 days.

    • Vidar

      I have just started experiencing the same. Lost 12% in less than a day. I have most stuff enabled but it should not be possible to drain that fast. I did not exercise in that time period. No updates to fw either. Did you fix it?

  65. borp

    Have you noticed how the F7x stops recording a GPS track if you open up a 3rd party widet in fullscreen?

    Thats a step back compared to the older F6.

    • Luke Gittemeier

      More issues with F7x SS.

      started a pool swim and it wouldnt record distance. Stopped the activity and started a new one. still didnt record distance. Restarted the watch, and it started recording.

      Then after, I noticed something wrong with the distances. I had the pool length set to 25 yards (double checked and confirmed). When the watch recorded the activity to the connect portal, it had changed the distance, instead recording 91 yards to each 100yard distance. I would guess this is a translation issue in the software. The label reads yards (in the connect app, for the pool swim activity, but it appears to be translating to meters).

    • Interesting. On my 6X the Walk Activity (and others) will stop recording the track if I move very slowly. This is very similar to ‘AutoPause’ even though that Auto-Pause is OFF in the settings. All the settings are setup to try to not let this happen. One second recording, GPS+GLONAS, etc. There is an active thread on this in the Garmin forums right now. Well documented and repeatable. Cadence must be below 60, ie 1 step a second and speed very low too. Happens to me every time I am walking up a very steep mountain-side so I am moving forward very slowly and have to pause sometimes to negotiate rocky steps.

      Here is a screen-cap of walking in the Highlands of Scotland yesterday. The straight line is where the 6X stopped recording to the .GPX file when going up a steep boggy slope up to a ridge line and our summit for the day.

      I could see the GPS knew where were every step of the way as I was using the map screen to stay on the path as it was a bit vague on the ground and easy to loose. We didn’t want to end up too much in the deep bog!.

      We came back down the same way and the wiggly track on top of the straight line is the descent. We were moving fairly quickly downhill, so the 6X didn’t auto-pause this time.

      So it’s nothing to do with GPS reception, just the algorithm Garmin are using to lay down track-points in the FIT file or GPX file. Every second should just mean every second, not when it feels like!!

      A big issue for us walkers, Garmin don’t seem at all interested in fixing this, it’s been known about for a long time.

      My whole route is public on Garmin Connect: link to connect.garmin.com

      I am still waiting for my all black Fenix 7X. So I will test it for this ‘feature’ and send it back if it behaves the same way.

      Would be good if Ray investigated this … if he can bear to do ‘slow stuff’ 😉.

    • PS … my post was supposed to be a reply to Borp, but I must have clicked on the wrong reply button 😱

  66. Ben Walker

    Got my 7X SS today. Was worried about size but it’s great. Love it. Noticed that the Start/Stop button is textured and turns one way, but not the other. What’s that all about?

  67. mhnguyen

    What’s the actual length from the tip of the lug from one side to another tip of the lug on the other side of the watch? (I’m especially interested in the information from Fenix 7s)

    Most of the watchmakers nowadays always miss this info, they only include lug to lug width from the same side of the strap and watch face which doesn’t indicate correctly how the watch will fit the surface of the wrist

  68. Ahmet

    Been trying to decide between Fenix 7x SS and Epix 2 for a few days and just ordered the Fenix. Since i came to a decision now it is time to find some reasons to regret this decision :). For me display size is important and that was one of the reasons i went for Fenix 7x SS instead of Epix but now when i look at the images it comes to me that the numeric rim+solar rim to be a bit tick so i wonder if the 1.4 inch display size includes the solar rim or not. I’d really appreciate if anyone clarifies that for me.

  69. Maria

    This might be a stupid question. I am a shift worker and am interested in my sleeping data. Coming from the Fenix 6 this has worked just fine. But I don’t understand “sleeping mode”. What is it good for?

  70. stan

    Hi Ray

    I purchased the 7x based on your review but i’ve noticed that the buttons on the 7x don’t feel as crisp or tactile as my fenix 6 pro sapphire i had. Is this a general issue or does your units also feel like this?

    Thanks

  71. Michael Roland Colton

    How long can you run the flashlight? I realize it will vary. The scenario I’m imagining is being out on a hike and finding myself without a light and needing to navigate back in the dark. So I guess I’d be interested in how long it lasts, assuming a full battery, at different illumination levels, with or without a GPS activity active. Thanks for all the great info!

    • Ben Walker

      I reckon 8 hours from full battery on3/4 brightness. When my torch is on 3/4 brightness at 85% battery my battery remaining says 7 hours.

  72. Tony HB

    Hi Ray, concerning the stamina feauture: there is the watch screenshot in your review on which you can see and the stamina % and the remaining distance and the remaining time.
    But I have software version 7.24 and there you have to chose between one of the 3 fields to be visible. Which is a pitty.
    Can you confirm this please?

  73. Rash

    Hi. I have an Epix and a 7X and like to rotate them for exercise and daily wear. I find that the body battery and training loads/status don’t match up. When I switch I make sure to make the one i am wearing – The Preferred activity tracker. Any help/advice to make this work seamlessly? Thanks

    • It can be messy. In general though, as long as both of them have the Physio True-Up toggle selected, they’ll usually sync the training load. The main thing to ensure is that’s enabled, and that you’re seeing activity history from the other one.

      However, Body Battery isn’t synced between devices. Sleep is, so that’ll help recovery stats a bit, but in a nutshell I find if you switch back and forth between watches daily, it’ll confuse some of those training/sleep suggestions/recommendations, unfortunately.

    • Rash

      Thanks Ray. Yes, Physio Tur-Up is enabled. This is a real bummer. All the information is in Garmin Connect so I wish they would allow it to sync over. Would help them sell more watches 🙂

  74. Andrew

    Hi Ray, my question is how many copied profiles (sports) can you create on Fenix 7? On Fenix 6 there is a limit of 3 copied profiles because after the recent addition of many original profiles like emtb, ebike, etc. the sports folder on the watch has now 57 original profiles (that aren’t deletable, not from the watch neither from pc cause the software restore them if you delete them) and I verified that there is a limit of 60 files on that folder that isn’t modificable in any way. On Fenix 7 there are other 2 new profiles Kiteboard and Windsurf so if all the fenix 6 profiles are present I think you can add only 1 copied profile and that is not a good thing for me since I create and use many run profiles for different kind of workout

  75. Nox

    Could you perhaps post a photo of the 7X on your wife’s wrist? Mine is 5.5″ around and the 47″ case is pushing it, but darnit I use the flashlight on my Apple Watch all the time so I’d like to consider getting the 7X if it isn’t utterly absurd.

    • Indeed, I’ve got them all lined up here for her to put on. Going to try and make that happen today (inclusive of about 10 watches including the Instinct 2 series units, COROS Vertix 2, etc…).

  76. Jose

    Hi!

    I have a question: has Garmin fixed whatever made the altimeter and barometer not work properly after logging a decent number of swim workouts?

    I have had this issue in my 935 and seen others comment the same on the fenix. I can’t trust the altitude on any run or ride and even worse, ski mode won’t work at all since the altimeter is not working fine.

    At this price mark, I would expect all sensors to work smoothly independently of what the use of the watch is…

    Many thanks!
    Jose

    • Simply put, it’s probably too soon to know. However, the swim workout piece was outlined last summer and they made changes as a result of that to ensure that the baro power-on issue with chlorinated pools wasn’t causing issues going forward.

    • Jose

      Great, thanks for the response!

    • Jose

      Any further thoughts on the altimeter issue now that a few months have gone by?

      Many thanks!!!

      PS: Can’t wait for the 955 to come out!

  77. Julien

    Hi,

    I’m currently torn between the 7S solar and the 7S solar sapphire. Price difference is not an issue because I intend to keep the watch for a long time. And since I want to keep it a long time, I don’t want to stick with a watch that is “not easily readable”.
    I don’t listen to music so 16GO should be enough. I have a stryd for running so multiband gps would be on only on small hike (and for geeking) because of battery usage. So this all comes down to the screen and which one would last more. And I’m not interested in buying the sapphire model only because it’s “the higher model”.

    I saw a lot of images on reddit and garmin forum where people were complaining about the glare on the sapphire screen. I’d like to know if the difference between sapphire/non sapphire is huge in term of readability. Did you find any cases in daily usage or during running/cycling were you couldn’t read anything at all (or hardly) ? Or was it solved every time by twisting your arm a little bit ?
    Also, did you put the watch on the handlebar of your bike, like a regular bike computer ? Is the sapphire version still easily readable ? And the non sapphire ?

    • Vincent

      Hi,

      I own a Fenix 7 sapphire solar. Before this, I owned a Fenix 6 pro sapphire. I also mount my watch on the handlebar of my mountainbike. I have never had an issue with the glare of the screen to be honest. Of there is some reflection, it’s always easily resolved by twisting your arm a few millimeters.

      I chose the sapphire model because of multi-band and the extra durability the sapphire screen provides. An added bonus I didn’t think of was the reduced weight of the titanium case.

    • julien

      Hi Vincent,

      thank you for the answer. People tend to overestimate issues on reddit, that’s why I wanted “honest” opinion on it.
      I don’t mind twisting a little bit the arm in everyday usage in order to read it. But I didn’t want to buy a sapphire version for harder scratch resistance and find it really hard to use when following route on map or reading data during an activity.

      Did you have the chance to compare with a non sapphire ?

    • Yeah, I don’t think the glare is a major (or even minor) issue for the most part. It’s one of those things that looks bad on photos, but in real-life isn’t something I noticed.

      My annoyance is far greater at the dimness of the Sapphire screen.

    • Vincent

      I did not compare the F7 with non-sapphire, but I did compare F6 with a F6 non-sapphire. Their reflections were less visible, which appears to improve contrast. Especially on a black watch face. With the white background during activities, this was never an issue to me.

      The dimness, as Ray calls it, is also not an issue to me. Appears to be similar to my Fenix 6 pro sapphire. Of course, when comparing with an Epix, this will be more obvious.

    • julien

      So you find it to be a problem during your test, too bad you didn’t have a non sapphire to be able to compare at those time.
      Well, I’m still hesitating between the 2…

  78. Constantinos

    Is the “Stamina” feature the same in Coros and Garmin? Does it produce same or similar results for guidance?

  79. I like the look of these and have considered one when I replace my 945

  80. Xid

    I wonder whether any criterion validity has been established for scores constructed from several model-based estimations of which each is prone to undisclosed measurement errors, such as Body Battery and Stamina.

  81. Stan

    What is the actual usable screen size (and not the watch size) of the 7XSS compared to the 7 and the Epix?

    I would presume that the extra solar bezel makes the screen size smaller that it would be without solar. Is the 7XSS usable display still bigger, and therefore easier to read compared to the 7?

    • Brian Reiter

      You misunderstand how Garmin created the space to add the solar ring. They did not make the 7X display smaller. It is 1.4” and 280×280 pixels — the same as 6X. They made room for the larger solar ring by shrinking the bezel under the glass and the external bezel around the display. The display area of a 6X/7X is about 8% greater than a 1.3” 6/7 display.

      The epix has the same 1.3” display area as the f6/7 but it has 1.73x the pixel density and the pixels emit light rather than reflect it.

    • JS

      Very nice this show off @ray ist this all thrue?

    • Yes. The larger solar strip comes at the expense of the bezel area, not the display area. The display remains identical.

  82. Hi Ray great review, just wanna point out that your main diff models comparison chart isn’t clickable.

  83. Paul Rushworth

    Excellent review as always Ray… thanks

    I have been using a fenix 6 Sapphire for about 2 years and had 2 units both with problems measuring elevation. They would calibrate before an activity correctly but the activity would report 20-60% increased elevation. Garmin replaced the first one unit after my reporting of this issue, but the second unit they sent me had the same issue.

    So thought that a fenix 7 Sapphire might solve this problem… got the watch last week and a couple of runs in and it’s the same issue with recording elevation. When I correct the elevation (on both Garmin Connect or Strava) it reduces the elevation gain by that 20-60%. I’ve tried several “solutions” but none have sorted this error. Not sure if it is something I am doing or it is specific to the watches I have bought! Either way it is annoying that I cannot get the watch to record correct elevation.

    Just checking if the DCR community has experienced this elevation error and any ideas on how to correct it.

    Thanks Paul

    • Paul S.

      It may not be an error. It depends on how “corrugated” the routes you’re running are. Small scale rises and falls won’t show up on the typical DEM (digital elevation map) that GC or Strava use. I’d always expect the watch to give more elevation gain than the “corrected” value, just because the watch “sees” what you actually did. 60% sounds a little much, though. If the watch reliably gives the same elevation gain (within a reasonable error) every time you do a route, then I’d believe the watch. If not, then there might be something wrong with the watch’s barometric sensor. In no case would I believe the “corrected” value to be anything more than a minimum.

    • Paul Rushworth

      Thanks Paul and appreciate your feedback on this topic.

      Given nobody else is reporting this type of deviation for the elevation I was hoping that my watch settings were incorrect. During calibration I get the correct value but during runs – flat course without hills the watch gives me 100 metres elevation. This was the same on the 2 fenix 6 watches that I had… again my thought is if all 3 watches I had have got this same problem it is more due to my settings than something all these units have…

      Will keep trying to see what the issue might be and I’ll correct elevation post-workout.

  84. Bercut

    Perhaps someone was posed with such a problem as the constant breaks in the connection of the Fenix 7 watch with the phone, and the phone can be at the same time with the clock. I tried to reinstall the application and reconnect the clock, nothing helps. How to solve this problem or is it a clock marriage?

  85. Ed Felker

    Ray — great set of reviews on the Fenix 7 series and the Epix.

    Could you in some future review go further into determining the best satellite combo on a given device? Is it just testing in a person’s location to determine if GPS + Glonass is better vs. Galileo, etc.

    I wish my Garmin devices (935, 530, 1030) would track through turns rather than sometimes cut them at a diagonal, even using 1-second recording (if that matters). This is in Washington, D.C. area, but it happens outside the city center.

    thanks!

    • Yeah, it’s tough. Historically the advice has always been GPS+GLONASS for Garmin, with the secondary suggestion of trying Galileo if the previous didn’t work well in a given area.

      Now, I think it’s pretty clear that Multiband is the way to go – though obviously, at a battery hit.

  86. Peter Blair

    Hi Ray. Any idea when we’ll see a Descent variant of the Fenix 7?

  87. Koen Van den Bergh

    I read somewhere that it is possible to only download parts of Europe (on a non sapphire edition). Since I won’t have enough free space with the full Europe map and some frikart maps on the watch I would like to know whether it is true and if yes, which parts and how large are they?

  88. James G

    I’ve had a very different experience with my Fenix 7X. Got mine a 4 weeks ago, and battery has been a consistent disappointment, so much so, I started to log the battery drain.

    I see a pretty consistent 30-35% drop in battery per day, with a full charge only lasting 3 days.

    I’ve tried everything including: Disabling wifi, pulse ox, GPS, and no backlight. I’ve also tried reverting to a simple time only home screen, and ensured no downloading of updates or map files. I’ve also performed a factory reset, and still battery drain continues even with no changes to the factory settings, including no pairing to phone.

    Anyone else experienced this? Perhaps I got a lemon. I’m not sure as the Garmin distributor I bought it from says I need to bring it back to their service center, but their service center is closed due to covid, so it’ll be at least 2 weeks more before I hear back.

    Am very disappointed, especially given how well my Fenix 3HR performed in the past.

    Here’s some examples: link to imgur.com

    • Yeah, something is definitely wrong there. There’s just no way it should be burning anything like that.

      What country are you in? You generally don’t need to bring it back to any retailer, you can contact Garmin directly. There are a handful of quirky country exceptions, but even those have mostly faded away in recent years.

  89. Arkadiusz

    Dear Ray,
    At first i’d like to thank You for very good review. But from my point of view one important thing is missing, DISTANCE MEASURMENT ACCURACY!!! my F6 distance measurment shows terrible! on distance 10k shows up to 5% less (in forest is the biggest what is obviues ). if You are runner You know how much important it is. to compare FR735XT it is day to night. In the same weather conditions measurmet error FR735XT is up to 1%.
    in my opinion would be nice to have possibility to compare to created path in courses or google maps or any different app

    • Hello-

      Every one of the data sets I show comparisons for also has a link to the DCR Analyzer, which shows the total distances as well.

      The reason I don’t try and make sense of that, is that in the overwhelming majority of cases (except road riding), it’s very difficult to know precisely which one is correct, unless there are substantial differences. So creating a running course in MapMyRun or whatever, the distances there don’t account for things like turn apexes on a road or such, which add up to a surprising amount. This old post actually covers it really well: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Whereas in general, if I look at the line, and the line matches where exactly I ran, then the distances almost always work out too.

      Cheers!

    • Arkadiusz Lewicki

      Hi,

      From Your point of view i can understand why You do not do this kind of compares. Unfortunately from my point of view it nothing changes. I could understand if measured distance would be reputable on the same rout, stadium track etc, but in F6 is not, always is less (less or more)… that’s why I am wondering if F7 is better because to spend 1000 euro for device which makes the same shit as F6 would be not worth. What is most funny if I use more GPS systems during run or walk deviation is bigger. BTW I created few courses using very accurate maps where I could include route side, cutting curves and there is no significant different compare to Garmin courses, Google. I could understand deviation 1% ( what is a lot in my feeling). anyhow I will read materials You sent and if I have questions I will back to You with questions.

      I really appreciate Your job.
      Cheers!

    • Oscar

      Arkadiusz Lewicki … that’s the main reason why I recently returned a beautiful Polar Grit X Pro. The GPS accuracy is horrible. Many people don’t care or notice because they never had an accurate beast like Polar V800 (I still have it and keep using it) … for the last 2-3 years the brands have been providing poor GPS accuracy to save battery in favour of wonderful screens, metrics and other stuff… but what’s their value if the main metric in an outdoor watch is WRONG !! In 10 KM runs, I had around 400 meters of difference… that’s too much, whereas my Garmin FR 630 usually has 20-30 meters of difference, which is really acceptable for the price. The funny thing is that I live in a quite open area, so it’s funny to see how these new watches get scared by random trees or small buildings around. 🙂 Have a good day !!

    • Jakob Heitz

      So check the distance on a course that does not create these inaccuracies. Run on a track. Run on a straight road. With another straight road right next to it so the software can’t cheat by sticking you to the road. These watches just keep adding silly metrics with software. The main reason I use a GPS watch is to see my pace. And pace keeps sucking watch after watch. Please measure pace, highlight it. Show how much it sucks. Impress it upon Garmin that this is a major issue. Stop being their lackey and smoothing over their incompetence.

    • Koen Van den Bergh

      It is strange to read about those wrong distances from time to time. When I create a course in Garmin Explore the distance on both my fenix 6x pro and fenix 5plus is almost spot on and both watches never differ more than about 50m. (the distance is also correct compared to other mapping tools).
      I just wonder what the reason is for those differences in experience on that point, is it a setting on the watches or something else?

    • Hey Jakob-

      You seem angry. Which, is fine. But frankly, I’ve gotten beyond the point of bothering to meaningfully respond to angry people.

      Still, I’m going to demonstrate how you’re wrong. First though, let me point out that the original commenter in this section discussed distance length accuracy, and then you misread that and got all bent out of shape on pace inaccuracy. Which, while related, isn’t actually the same. Certainly, since you have such strong words, you’d know that, right?

      A) I do actually include running track GPS testing in my reviews, but of course, that’s largely pointless these days, because most modern devices include track mode, which snaps to a track to produce perfect GPS/distances/paces.

      B) Measuring and then running on a straight road. Seriously? What does that even accomplish that my charts don’t already accomplish? There are plenty of straight roads in those charts, because there are plenty of charts. Either the GPS is on the road or it’s not.

      C) Pacing – Yet again, I include pacing bits in many of my reviews, especially if it’s of concern. I have no issues with pacing with the watch using GPS. Further, the challenge with demonstrating this in the real world in a video, is the way watches have worked the last few years – which leverage the accelerometer/gyro in the watch to stabilize pace. So by me holding it up for extended periods of time to ‘prove’ to you, it’s stable, it actually makes it unstable. It’s no longer real-world. It’s fakery to try and pacify an angry commenter. Thus, if it’s something I see of concern, I mention it. I’d also point out that it does seem to be semi-unique to a given person. In my case, I’m generally able to run with quite stable pacing, and thus i don’t have issues with pace stability on most watches.

      Look, if you’re gonna get angry about something – you at least need to be right. Else, you’re just incorrectly angry.

      And ultimately, the Fenix 7 has been out two months now, and out of 612 comments here, nobody is complaining about pace stability here that I’ve seen. If it was a major issue for me or others, I’d have brought it up. At this point, you’re literally angry about an issue that doesn’t exist. And then for everything else, you’re simply wrong.

    • Nate C

      I find it funny how angry people get about GPS instanteous pace accuracy when the cheapest and most expensive watches can be paired with a $35* ant+ foodpod to get instant pace that works well even in environments where GPS struggles. Anyone who really needs to know whether they’re running a 6:15 vs 6:20 mile, would recognize that GPS isn’t designed to do it in all situations, especially with lower power chips and they should just get the pod. (*People should be angry that Garmin/Suunto/Adidas/Dynastream discontinued the footpods and they’re getting harder to find and in the absence of the cheap/accurate/reliable pod with easily replaceable batteries, they are left paying $200 for a Stryd with the rechargeable battery that degrades after a few years. )

    • Stanislav

      Footpods don’t work that well in multiple cases:
      – Variable terrain
      – Trail running
      – Rotating through multiple pairs of shoes

      Also, a foodpod is yet another device that needs to be charged regularly and may run out of charge unpredictably, especially when running ultra distances.

    • runner-33

      Instant pace is great for me on Fenix 7s. Maybe the best of any Garmin watch I‘ve ever had.

      This isn’t just a feeling. I can clearly see it in the DCR Analyzer speed graph. Every. Single. Time.

    • Jakob Heitz

      An update. My last watch was a Fenix 5X Sapphire. I finally lashed out for an Epix 2 Sapphire. The GNSS really is much better. Where the Fenix 5X would take large excursions, especially when running under a bridge, the Epix tracks very well. Not only does it stick to the trail I’m on, but also the correct side of the trail. The pace is also much better. I have not done an accurate study, but it just seems to track. When I speed up, it shows faster. When I slow down, it shows slower. I can actually use it to pace myself now. I have only used it at the highest setting: multiband. The Fenix 5X was abysmal. The reason I got the Epix rather than the Fenix 7X is that I found it difficult to see the Fenix 5X LCD display while swimming.

  90. Randell Cox

    I’ve been using a Fenix 5 Plus for about a year now. Overall, I’m happy with it but I do have one complaint. It relates to syncing. When I first started using it, Garmin Connect would sync in both directions; meaning that activities recorded with another device, like my bike computer (also a Garmin product), would be pushed to the Fenix, which would then include it in my Training Status/Load/Fitness calculations. At some point, that stopped happening. Now syncs only occur in one direction, from the watch to Garmin Connect. So if I don’t record the activity with the Fenix, it won’t see it. This is irritating because recording an activity with two devices results in redundant battery wear and extra weight. Argh!

    • Double-check that on your Fenix 5 Plus, the “Physio True-Up” toggle is enabled (you enable it on Garmin Connect Mobile). It sounds like that got disabled there somehow.

      If it shows enabled currently, go ahead in and disable it. Save the setting, force the watch to sync, then go back in and re-enable it, and sync the watch.

    • Randell Cox

      Awesome, thanks!

  91. Caridi

    What size of the fenix 7 is compatible with F945 quick release straps?

  92. Ric

    I gave myself a 7ss as an upgrade from a 6s-pro.
    Am really happy with it.
    In the beginning I had to use to the solar rim but now it is ok.

    I still get (smartphone) notifications during workout while I switched them off in the settings.
    On the watch itself and also tried it on the phone.

    What can I try more?

    • Ric

      Fixed in sw-version 7.35:
      -Fixed issue where some smart notifications would still alert, even though the setting was disabled.

  93. Willem

    Good review, thanks for this as it makes my choice to switch from the 6x to 7x easier….
    Just 1 thing is not clear for me; If I have “touch” enabled during a (trail)run for the ease of navigating in the map screen can I accidentally stop or pause the activity with a “touch”?
    Thanks again Ray

  94. Marc

    Hey Ray,

    Curious why you are staying on the 745 if you just bought a Fenix 7 and the Epix, 945 LTE, and others are out.

    • I like that it’s red. Also, the stock watchface with training load (oddly, not offered on any other Garmin watch)

      I buy most of the watches for inventory purposes, unless I’m *really* never going to write about it again (occasionally). That said, ironically I’m far happier with the display on the Fenix 7 base than the Fenix 7 Sapphire editions. Literally night and day.

    • Nate C

      This! I keep seeing that the visibility of the sapphire screens is much worse than non-sapphire and it’s frustrating that in order to get more map/music storage, or multi and GPS, you have to accept a downgrade in screen visibility and worse day to day experience.

      I haven’t owned a sapphire, but in years of ownership of Fenix, Fenix 3, 935, Fenix 6, with 24/7 use, I’ve never scratched the screen despite clumsily knocking it into stuff all of the time. So a theoretical improved scratch resistance doesn’t make the sale for me.

    • Keith Robertson

      Are you overthinking this? Much worse? Those are strong words. Is this by your own experience or from what other people are saying?

      For me … I had the non-solar sapphire 6X for over 2½ years so I can compare the old with the new. Super strong screen, not one scratch even after lots of abuse with falling rocks and things. It is slightly dimmer at certain times, but not a problem for me. Hardly noticeable…

      My 7X with sapphire and solar has been used now for about 2 weeks. One of which was winter mountaineering in Scotland. I found it works fine in the daytime. The solar just keeps things toped up nicely. Most days, after around 8 hours of GPS tracking the battery was at 75%, I think that was amazing, so I can’t complain at all! Multi-day GPS tracking without a re-charge should be possible. I don’t look at the screen all that much when out, but it’s perfectly visible to me when I do.

      I am used to much older Garmin hand-held GPS units where the screens were designed to be very frugal with power and so worked best when in direct sun. One, on the bike I think, (or maybe the kayak?) where your position is almost fixed, you could alter the contrast for the best looking screen. So these watch screens are fine for me.

      With the 7X, at night, in the dark or low light, I need the back-light, but that was the case most of the time with the 6X too. All engineering is a compromise. This is one I am more than happy to live with.

    • Julien

      Hi,

      can we expect a “deep and sincere comparaison” paragraph update between Gorilla Glass, Solar Power Glass and Sapphire Solar Glass ?

      Julien

    • I don’t have a non-Sapphire Solar unit at the moment. Just a regular unit and Sapphire units.

  95. Hi Ray,

    Which watch would you choose if these cases were to applied , Vertix 2 or Fenix 7 ?
    – High performance high volume training !
    – Detailed training analytics on hand / on computer / on phone!
    – Navigation and tracking !
    – Long long battery life !
    – Fast Phone upload !
    – Weather alarms !
    – Altitude data !

    I had the Fenix 3 / I have the FR935 . I prefer the 935 over any Suunto and Polar and their offwatch systems. However I was never satisfied ever with their phone GC app, nor the Garmin Connect Website. The watch shows also little in case of data. On all 3 platforms it is a pain in the ass the have for instance weekly summed up data. On the GC web platform you have to go through a series of complex manips, to get weekly, monthly, yearly training data. Filtering out activities and so on…pain in the ars.

    How is the Coros phone app ? Website is coming ?

    Thanks Ray

  96. Michael Smith

    Have they found a cause for, or fixed the hanging floor count ? Its been broken for multiple generations of garmin watch. Walked 76 floors today in 18 up and down blocks. . F6X counted 21 then hung, restart watch counted 8 more then count hung again – gave up.
    And does anyone really sleep with an FX series strapped to their arm ? I tried once – Its like having an anvil in the bed. The best model is a light weight strap for sleep monitoring that charges during the day, and a heavy duty feature rich attractive watch that charges overnight. The first company to do this (with a working floor count) gets my business.

    • Robin

      Each to their own but I regularly sleep with my mechanical watches which probably weigh between 3 and 4 times what a Fenix weighs…

    • Phil W

      I’ve worn a Fenix 6X during sleep going on for 2 years now. No issues whatsoever. I don’t feel it is there. I have been using the Garmin UltraFit Nylon Strap for the past year or so and it significantly reduces overall weight and I can better dial in the fit. This is the same strap that comes on the Enduro watch, Garmin part number 010-13075-01

    • JN

      I’ve been sleeping with the fenix X Series watches for several years. It’s not like the 7x weighs 1 lb. The weight of these watches is grossly overstated when it comes to sleeping.

  97. Miklos Gal

    I just received my 7X sapphire solar, but I can’t find Tennis at all. Am I missing something?

    • Miklos Gal

      I called Garmin, and the watch needed a software update. I had to use Garmin Express to update the software, the app on my phone said “no update available”.

    • Yup indeed. This article for more details: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • SteveG

      When did you place your order, if you don’t mind me asking? I placed mine Feb 22 and I just received an email from Garmin saying they won’t receive the units in their warehouse until mid June, then it takes another month to process them, then ship them out.

      Am I really going to wait 6 months? Maybe a new Fenix version will be out by the time I receive it.

      Thanks!

  98. John

    Do you have any insight on whether a new Fenix 7 means that a new Quatix is coming any time soon?

  99. Mika

    Hi,
    The biggest problem is the scheduled rest/sleep timing which destroy the whole user experience, is there anyway to turn that off?
    On 5X you were able get rid of that by just ignoring it on initial Connect setup.

  100. Joe

    Ray, if you had a Fenix 6s sapphire would you sell it to upgrade? Nothing wrong with my current watch, but adding solar, better GPS tracks, and obtaining a signal faster sound real nice. I’d prob be upsizing too to the 7x. Blue titanium finish is looking SWEET

    • I’d say in general, if you’re looking to sell a Fenix 6 – that it’s only going to decrease in value each month that goes forward (especially if Garmin decides to perhaps put the Fenix 6 on sale to reduce stocks of it).

      Thus, my suggestion would be that if that thinking is in your brain now – to execute on offloading that unit for the most money you can get for it now. In terms of 6s to 7X though, I’d be sure you’re good with that size change, as that’s a pretty big leap.

      Cheers!

  101. Koen Van den Bergh

    Is it possible for somebody to give me information on the sizes and countries included in the maps for Europe (west/east/central)? The 7x solar is in stock in several places with >100€ off from official price, but the sapphire isn’t and I would like to be sure I can load the maps I need before I order one.
    I just can’t find that information online..

    • I tested downloading each region individually to a regular 7 unit (non-sapphire/Solar), and then looked at the region size listed post-download on the watch itself:

      Europe: 11.5GB
      West: 6.3GB
      Central: 6.4GB
      East: 6.2GB

      I’ve added a section to the review which shows all the regions, and which countries are part of which Europe region. Just search for the word “TopoActive Europe” and you should find it.

    • Koen Van den Bergh

      Thank you very much, happy to get that information.
      I guess I have to wait until I can see a sapphire version available for sale (mostly sold out in shops I prefer). Looking at the map sizes of the frikart map I really like during walking I already have more than 15GB needed for the maps during a trip to Germany (B,NL,D+full topoactive) and that doesn’t include all other stuff on the watch like the system itself.
      (I prefer the topoactive when cycling, running, etc when I don’t need that much detail)
      Now I hope for a toggle to hide street names and map POI, because they can render the map useless sometimes..

    • Cheers!

      Yeah, you can save a tiny bit more if you ditch some of the other map components:

      A) SkiView: 23MB
      B) CourseView Golf EMEA: 222MB
      C) CourseView Golf Pacific: 175MB
      D) CourseView Golf Americas: 657MB

      So basically, another 900MB or so.

    • Volker

      Hi Ray,

      would be great, if you could ask Garmin, why the TA Europe region maps are so big.

      Btw: The map manager should be able to show the region name, at the moment it is only showing
      TA Europe 6,4GB (for the Central map) There should be shown: TA Europe Central 6,4.

      And the map manager should be able to download only a TA Europe region map, too.

      Thanks!

    • Volker

      I guess the TA E region maps are so big, because at the moment only the download of 1 TA Europe region is possible and the whole Europe DEM map is downloaded with each region, too?

    • Volker

      For a real map management, the user should be able to downlaod only contries that are really needed via Express or the MapManager (and only the DEM data for the chosen countries, too).This could be very helpfu,l especially on the 16 gb devices!

    • Yeah, in my mind they should basically adopt what Hammerhead/Wahoo does, which is choosing it at the country level from the smartphone app, and then the unit goes off and downloads it.

      That simplifies on-device map UI from having a giant cumbersome list of countries, and makes the downloads far smaller.

  102. Slav

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for, as always, a great review!
    I have just two questions:
    1. Do you think the Flashlight will impact the waterproofing of the 7x unit? I’m doing a lot of swimming, so I’m curious
    2. Would you personally go for 7ss or 7Xss?
    It is only a $100 difference, so the price doesn’t really matter; the same applies to size.

    Many thanks!
    Slav

    • Thanks.

      1) No concerns with waterproofing. As always, time will tell, but this isn’t an area I’m concerned about. Waterproofing aspects are fairly well understood by Garmin, and they easily pass all the tests I throw at it (including a waterproof test chamber that I have, though I haven’t put the 7X in there at this point, but have done OWS with it).

      2) Personally, as much as I love the flashlight, I just find the 7X too big for my preferences. But to each their own! So if size wasn’t a factor, I’d get the 7X.

    • Slav

      Thanks a lot!

  103. Terry

    Does anyone know, can the solar feature be manage with ability to enable/disable in Sapphire Solar edition?

  104. Geraldine Zingapan

    I’ve been waiting for a touchscreen version of Fenix. Finally.

    Ditto on the flashlight feature for the rest of the Fenix. I do pre-dawn runs.

  105. Phil

    Thanks for all the details. Just got my 7XS and I am so disappointed with readability compared to my wife’s F6. It is a huge step back. Huge. The contrast is comparable the the F5. I hope I can send it back.

  106. Francesco Biondi

    Hi, does anybody here have used a Fenix 7S SS for a very long run? Is the battery life as long as advertised?

  107. Ric

    Someone who knows what this symbol means?

    And is there an easy way to multi delete courses on the watch?
    (other than doing via the file-system)

  108. Ric

    Someone who knows what this symbol means?

    And is there an east way to delete multiple courses?
    (other than via the file-system)

  109. Antoine De Groote

    I’ve got a question regarding heart rate. It applies to all Garmin watches I guess.

    Here’s the scenario:
    1) I ride on my indoor trainer with a HR chest strap connected to my PC with Zwift or Wahoo.
    2) Simultaneously, I wear my Fenix (or Epix) and look at the HR provided by the optical sensor, without activity mode.

    HR on the watch is way off, like up to 40bpm too low.

    During my last session the HR was permanently round +/-130bpm (steady ride). On the watch, without activity on, it was moving between 80-130 and mostly at +/-110bpm. When I started an activity, it was only like about 2bpm different to the chest strap data. When I stopped the activity, it fell back to randomly move between 80 an 120 or so.

    I confirm that the watch data comes from the wrist sensor also during activity (the chest strap is not paired to the watch).

    This was not a single occurrence, it happens all the time.

    Thus my question: does the optical HR sensor work differently while in general use versus when in activity mode?

    I don’t seem to have read something about this (but maybe I missed it somewhere; sorry in that case).

    • Paul S.

      It’s common knowledge (which I learned at this site!) that wrist based HR often doesn’t work well for cycling, because your wrist is bent and under pressure. Since you’re on a trainer, one easy way to see if that’s the problem is simply to sit up and take your hand off the bars.

      You can probably connect the HR belt to your Fenix and get its more accurate HR and solve the problem that way. Unless you have a very weird HR belt with only one Bluetooth channel and no ANT+, HR belts can connect to more than one receiver. Chest belts are almost always more accurate than optical.

    • Antoine De Groote

      Well, that’s not really the point. I know that for indoor cycling it can be problematic. For me it’s not the case, it is very accurate for infoor cycling, BUT only in activity mode. If I don’t go into activity mode however, it is totally bogus, therefore I wonder if there are different algorithms or whatever in normal mode vs activity mode.

    • Paul S.

      Oh, now I understand. You’re not actually using the Fenix to record the activity. Sorry, didn’t notice that. Yeah, probably they’re using different algorithms, and only actually trying to measure HR on the order of every minute or so. The same thing happens with my Apple Watch series 7 when I wear it during a ride (indoors or outdoors). I record my HR using a chest belt on my Edge 830, and the HR recorded during the activity on my AW, which I never use to record an activity, is wildly off and never agrees. For example, yesterday I took my MTB up into the local mountains. My Edge says my max HR was 167, while my AW says that I reached a max of 105 yesterday. Maybe it just wasn’t recording at the precise right times, maybe it just wasn’t trying very hard. But, yeah, it’s not to be trusted during an activity.

  110. Chris K

    Hello,

    I understand that there is usually a lag between the release of the latest Fenix and a newer Descent model. Garmin also confirmed via email that there is no updated Descent version expected anytime soon.

    With that in mind, would you recommend a recreational diver to purchase a Fenix 7 + dive computer or a Descent Mk2i? It appears that the Descent Mk2i has many of the same features, but is missing the flashlight, touchscreen and health snapshot. The Mk2I also does not support solar. I previously owned a Fenix 6 and I liked it.

    Thank you,
    Chris

  111. Matt

    With regard to pre-installed analog watch faces, are the second hands able to remain on at all times? (Fenix 7 & Tactix 7?). My Garmin pre-installed analog watch faces on Fenix 5 plus keep ticking always & I prefer that.

    • Koen Van den Bergh

      I use the stock watch face. Just like on the 6x pro I have the problem that the second hand disappears from time to time for a number of seconds, which clearly is a bug. It is one of a couple of things I hope to report in the next couple of days. (I’m running the latest beta/release candidate depending on the new/old naming from garmin)

  112. Koen Van den Bergh

    Hey Ray,
    Have you tried using north up on the map? The arrow is always drawn in the middle of the screen, but when using data fields, navigation it can be very hard to follow a course. It is annoying that navigating south results in having a lot less distance visible and when navigating south west or south east with datafields it can be very hard to quickly see where to go to. I would love to see it just like on my fenix 5 plus: in the middle of the visible map. I have already mailed them, but you might have better ways to ask them.
    I use the fenix 7x solar sapphire..
    kind regards

  113. Daniel

    Perhaps very smart, but not very adventurous, this watch!

    (Disclaimer: this is my first smart watch, after using a Forerunner 220 for decades.)

    I am struck by how little the adventure/outdoor aspect is taken into account in the software of this watch. Battery life is impressive, but what about operations without (mobile) internet connection? When internet connectivity is gone, the Fenix 7 goes from “smart” to “dumb” quite quickly!

    Specific flaws in this regard:
    – Calendar doesn’t work when in flight mode or without phone synchronization. It doesn’t even show calendar items which were synced earlier.
    – weather forecast doesn’t work properly without regular (more than daily) sync.
    – Sync status is difficult to determine and syncing manually seems difficult (or I haven’t figured it out yet).

    I would imagine many users, especially hikers, mountaineers and adventure travelers will find themselves in places with little. patchy or limited mobile internet connectivity. You might be on a multi-day trek and have a weak internet connection only every other day, when on top of a summit. Instead of outdated calendar or weather info (which you could handle accordingly knowing that it’s not up to date), the Fenix 7 basically refuses to give you any information.

    I’m surprised that Garmin doesn’t have to designed the watch with this use case in mind. After all, in remote areas, it’s easier to access electricity (or at least a power bank) than reliable mobile internet connection.

    A lot could be done with some (presumably quite simple) tweaks to the software: larger cache of weather and calendar data which is fully used until the next sync; a simple way of manually triggering sync and optimization of sync for