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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. Also, I’m going to add more sets today and over the following days. Some comparison sets are not included here for devices not yet released, whereby the secondary device was still unreleased. Hang tight!

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.

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!

While optical HR works on some newer Garmin watches, if you're looking for higher levels of accuracy, the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM are less expensive than the HRM-PRO, but lack the Bluetooth connectivity and a few other features.

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.

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!

While optical HR works on some newer Garmin watches, if you're looking for higher levels of accuracy, the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM are less expensive than the HRM-PRO, but lack the Bluetooth connectivity and a few other features.

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.

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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655 Comments

  1. Dave Lusty

    Finally! Must have been a frustrating morning for you, I’m surprised your site kept up with my refreshes 🙂

  2. João Cravo

    Hi Ray

    Do you know if The ” Added finally, for the love of all things holy, the ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from your phone” will be extended to obter watches like the 945?

    Thanks.

    • Nemo

      Or the Fenix 6 (or really any other Garmin)? Seriously this is probably the best feature in this whole update!

    • Joss

      please.. say yes!!!
      im soooo looking forward to customize from the phone

    • Playback

      I would say yes. Ray hasn’t responded to a few of these questions (or similar) and if it was a 100% no then I’m sure he would say. And if it was a yes then he is probably under a NDA so can’t answer. A ‘lets ignore the question’ non response leads me to the latter.

      I suspect the configure aspect via Connect will arrive on the Fenix 6 Pro series at some point.

    • I’ve asked for clarity on the Forerunner side. Sorry, just trying to keep above water…

      There wasn’t any plan for the phone config to come to the Fenix 6 series when I asked.

    • Joao Cravo

      Thanks Ray,

      Could you please add some info if you get the clarification from Garmin on the Forerunner?

      Unfortunately I don’t have much hope they will do it but let’s wait and see. Is there any technical reason for this feature don’t work in older (Fenix 6 or forerunner 935 / 945) models?

      Thanks again

    • Yup, will do once I hear back!

    • Playback

      I bought my 6 Pro in the black Friday sales knowing the series 7 was coming and all the rumours.

      The only rumour I was looking forward to was the phone confing. But the black 6;ProbFriday price compared to series 7 price wasn’t worth it.

      Guess I’m stuck with one watch config.

      And thanks Ray for your great reviews and analysis.

  3. Kada

    There’s a typo in the link to the Epix review (02 vs 01).

  4. fitz

    That stamina depletion workout and 1.5 km at 12 percent to the hotel sounds awfully lot like Tenerife

  5. Frank

    Thanks for the review!

    Wish they had released a smaller Epix 2S, would have been instant buy for me. Will go for the 7S instead.

  6. David E.

    When Ray goes somewhere warm in January, there’s a review that has to be finished. . . 😉

  7. Marty McFly

    “There’s also the new button guard on the start/stop button, which Garmin says will reduce accidental starts/stops by jackets or such.”

    And make it more difficult to start/stop with gloves/mittens. 🤦‍♂️

  8. md

    Since I got a 6 pro for 410€ on black friday Amazon.de deal, it’s probably not worth the extra 380€ upgrade right?

    Maybe I missed it, but how much better is the battery life of regular 7 vs 6 pro?

    • Florian

      Just going by Garmin’s own numbers it’s a pretty drastic improvement in GPS mode (36h Fenix 6 Pro vs. 57h in Fenix 7), and perhaps diminishing returns in Smartwatch mode (14 days vs 18 days). Not aying 4 days isn’t a big improvement but perhaps not as important as 2 weeks is already quite long.

    • md

      >Smartwatch mode (14 days vs 18 days)

      Ah, well with pulseox overnight and constant BT it’s 11 days for me (vs. 5-6 days on FR45 I upgraded from), but I consider anything over a week pretty much fine and probably doesn’t make sense for the money difference to get those couple days more.

      Might be the same argument then Rays Epix vs. Fenix 7, where AMOLED battery life is now good enough that it’s not an inconvenience.

  9. Steve

    Ray please tell is sapphire version of Fenix 7 have worse screen contrast comparing to classic non sapphire (gorilla or solar glass) Fenix 6 or 7?

    • Honza

      Yes, this is deal-breaker also for me. In 6-series there is a huge difference. But the Power Sapphire is genuine new so we need a comparison of reflection on 7-series solar sapphire vs solar non-sapphire. Thank you!

    • vision is worst with the Sapphire glass ? thanks

  10. Ray M

    Hey Ray,

    Just wondering if Garmin are killing off their other speciality Fenix based watches, eg the Quatix etc? Have not heard any talk of them being refreshed as well – seems from that list of sports covered by the Fenix they’re not really required?

    • Dave Lusty

      These are made by other departments so probably will continue in many instances. They’ve all been refreshed to my knowledge. The Quatix has specific marine MFD integrations, the D2 had some autodetection of flights in it, the dive watch obviously needs additional sensors and waterproofing. These are sometimes things that need specific firmware and sometimes hardware but generally justify a different model from the different business unit at Garmin. I’d expect them to start arriving in a few months though, and the dive watch maybe in a year or so as it’s “just” been refreshed

  11. Jackaroo

    Ridiculous, beyond overkill for 99% of the consumers it’s targeted at.

    • Leo

      Not really. It’s targeted at people who want the longest feature list and don’t really care if features are useful or accurate.

      People who look at want they need and not wat a watch can offer will skip this one when their current watch isn’t broken.

    • Theo Larkin

      Probably true. Same goes for 99 percent of smartphones and many other devices. I am 99 percent sure 😀

  12. Vincent

    Hi. Pretty cool. Any info on power/stryd native support coming?

  13. Tomas

    Thanks for the review!

    I have owned a FR745 and am currently using a F5X plus. One thing I’ve noticed is that the signal strength or whatever is the key factor when it comes to power meters is really bad. I get dropouts when I put my watch on the trainer table and must keep the watch approx 20 cm closer on the left side of my handle bar (left only 4iiii precision power meter). I’ve heard that this is a garmin issue (friends have dropouts with Edge computers but not with Wahoo for instance). Is this something that might have been enhanced with the F7?

    • Brecht

      I’ve read somewhere that this is more an issue of ant+ over bluetooth. If your powermeter supports both. Try pairing it using Bluetooth and the dropouts should be history.

  14. John Stuart

    Is is possible to connect a HR strap whilst doing the health snapshot to get more accurate results?

  15. Dave

    “…The ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from your phone” – burying the lede. This is the most important feature they’ve added in years

  16. Falconeye

    Hi Ray, Thanks for your wondeful review. Is the flashlight having an impact on the Fenix 7X toughness ? Having this “fragile” part on the watch makes me affraid.

    • It’s in a crazy-safe place, basically wedged in behind the two lugs, and seemingly covered with some sort of plastic. The only way that’s getting damaged is if your hand is concurrently getting horrifically damanged. :-/

  17. Rash

    Thanks Ray. Epix is it for me! All I needed was your recommendation.

  18. Nathan M.

    Anyone seeing the SKU’s on major retailers? Amazon for me here in the US has no units up online yet, best buy only has the 7X up online so far, still trying to find out where to snag one!

    • I’d give it a few hours. Hopefully, I’ll have some REI, Backcountry links shortly that’ll also help support the site. 🙂

    • Nathan M.

      Thanks Ray! It looks like Garmin direct website is sold out through 5-8 weeks already. I also noticed the Titanium DLC SKU for the Fenix 7 and the Stainless Steel DLC SKU for the Fenix 7 (both sapphire solar editions) are the same price. I guess Titanium DLC isn’t a premium charge on those SKU’s at least anymore?

    • Dave Lusty

      There isn’t a DLC coated stainless model as far as I can tell. Do you mean Silver Ti? There certainly isn’t a stainless steel sapphire solar, those are all Ti

  19. Teddy

    Awesome review Ray! Question about LTE support: you seem convinced (from your words here and also your prior articles about Garmin’s LTE strategy) that LTE support is going to come to Fenix and other watches, and that it’s just a matter of time. Is there a chance that the 945 LTE is just an experiment (sort of like the vivoactive 3 music) and the watch will remain an oddity going forward? I certainly hope you’re right, but curious if you think Garmin’s LTE strategy is a given.

    • Nah, I don’t think it’s an experiment. I suspect they’re trying to slightly pivot how the product (945 LTE) was received to cover the added scenarios folks required.

    • Teddy

      Interesting, got it. Thanks for the reply!

    • Trent Ryan

      I love my 945 LTE but the epic w/ LTE would be an instant buy for me. I don’t need more than 5 hours of GPS time and I would love a AMOLED screen. :/ Oh well, I guess I just saved 1000 dollars!

    • Jason

      Hey Ray, did you ask if the 945 LTE will be getting the F7 features, particularly the Stamina feature? They have the same Gen 4 sensor and I imagine the same or similar processor.

    • I’ve got another question:
      do You see a possibility that they will add LTE with option to SMS and call and solve the issue with waterproofness with… headphones?

      Instead of placing a mic/speaker on watch it could be required to use headphones for phonecalls same as it goes for music or pacing information…

      Just a thought.

    • Ok, got back some clarity on Stamina and phone based config and whether they’ll come to the 945 LTE.

      Garmin says that they’re hoping to add both Stamina and phone-config to the FR945LTE in a firmware update. The current plan, assuming no unexpected technical issues, puts the release of those features in the Q2-Q3 range. As one might expect, the logistics of the phone data field configuration are pretty substantial and thus plans may shift or not work out at all – but that’s the plan for now.

    • Andre

      Thanks for the review and also for this clarity on the future of 945 lte. downloadable TopoActive maps using WiFi would be also great, but no deal breaker.
      Regarding size and weight the 945 lte is for me a winner (had the F6S sapphire and was unconfortable for me), it would be awesome if he could get those features.

    • MikeD

      Garmin was hoping to add running dynamics v2 to EpixGen1 and it ddint happen. So i would not get hyped. It wil be done when it will be done 😉

  20. Wanderer

    As someone with a Fenix 5, I have been waiting to decide if to go for the new Fenix 7 or the Coros Vertix 2 ? Looking for battery life btw.
    thank you for the excellent review as always.

  21. Drew

    Notably missing. ECG/EKG

    I think that’s a miss.

    • Sean

      Absolutely agreed, was really hoping to see this. Smart watches are essentially becoming health monitors and this is a must in my view.

    • Out of curiosity, how often would you use the ECG function?

      It seems like folks fall into either one of two camps:

      A) Those with a medical issue, that do frequently use it (my guess is low-single-digit percentage of purchaser)
      B) Those without a medical issue, that use it once for fun, and then never again.

    • Andrew HUSSEY

      I bought a Withings ECG watch some time back and it didn’t work very well at all. I returned it. I now use a Withings Core in bed first things in the morning when the readings are meaningful and as such am not bothered about doing it in the pub on my watch with my mates peering over my shoulder.

      Which is a convoluted way of saying I don’t see it as a deal breaker. I’ve ordered an Epix for the second time and looking forward to it arriving.

    • Nathan M.

      As an exercise physiologist in this field, I have a number of clients who are some of the fittest people I know, but, they have a-fib. There is an incredible booked called “the haywire heart” that basically states that being involved in extreme endurance sports such as cycling and ultrarunning puts you at a higher risk of developing a-fib then the general population. I think a company like Apple with their automatic detection system as well as the ECG system makes ECG a really compelling feature. I think Garmin, being endurance based in particular, has even more of a marketing legt to push ECG as a “screening” tool. Now, thats a lot of pressure to put on device manufactures and we saw with the Withings Scan Watch just how long the FDA can take to approve a device to tell you that you have a-fib. There are ton’s of room for error. I think Garmin will head in this direction, but, ECG can be a huge feature. Because I hear way to many stories of cyclists, runners, and athletes having a-fib later in life and they have no apparent underlying health issues. They just were extremely active.

    • Dan

      100% agree. This is being marketed at the top end of the spectrum, and was essential in my mind for this iteration. It is a huge oversight for folks who really want to feel they are being as complete as possible with their overall health monitoring. Given this is in the Vertix 2, Fitbit Sense, AW7 etc. Some people have said the HRV reading is close to the same output – it’s purely how it is then graphically represented, but I suspect there is more to it than that – and perhaps the issue is the effort required on Garmin’s part to get regulatory approval in multiple geographies being seen as a cost that impacted the bottom line too much? I’m very much back on the fence now having been super excited for weeks about this launch.

    • Andrew Ziminski

      It’s like apple bringing back the SD card reader as a “feature”. But, in the 1/1000000 chance it saves your life, it certainly makes the feature worth it.
      Unfortunately apple is the king of marketing, so when they add a feature it is a differentiator that is suddenly a must have for more people than those who really need it.
      Same with Pulse-ox, hardly useful, until it is

    • Drew

      I think it’s true, most athletes diagnosed with a condition are more interested. I can tell you in my circle of athletes it’s become more common than I would have thought that at on point they have had issues related to “athlete heart” (as my cardiologist put it) where there is a trend of people who pursue high endurance activities as a lifestyle developing conditions. An as noted here:

      “Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in athletes, especially in middle-aged athletes” – link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

      But if Garmin in some respect is eyeing what may be a competing point to the AW it seems like a no brainer market grab to include somewhere in their line even if it isn’t the Fenix series.

    • ermi

      I am not sure hoe ECG/EKG got so popular,
      Blood pressure seems like a lot more useful features

    • Apple Heart Study was actually published in best-in-the-world medical journal (NEJM) and the watch is considered to detect a-fib good enough.

      As others have already partially said:
      – a-fib is the most common arrythmia
      – a-fib is not the most dangerous arrythmia
      – every watch-only ecg will be a 1-lead ecg (v. poor quality in easy words), however – if we would add another strap on the other wrist and/or electrodes on chest strap then we are going into a direction of a 6-lead (I, II, III, aVF, aVL, aVR) – and this would be something
      – sudden cardiac death is a serious problem for professional atheletes as well as normal people – unfortunately we hear of infarctions or other types of cardiac arrests during marathones or triatholnes. let Christian Eriksen be an example.

      So summing up – while it may not be a crucial feature at the moment it is definitely a direction to go, and garmin knows it what is proven by the RCT that they have registered at clinicaltrails.gov

      Possible uses are vast.

      HRV is not the same thing, same pulse is not. Fot those of You that haven’t had the chance to get to know this:
      We have to distinguish 2 things:
      1/ pulse – i.e. the wave of the blood pushing thorugh the veessles which can be deteceted by a pulsometer or pulseoxmeter. its a direct derivative of effective heart contractions that push blood out of left ventricle
      2/ heart rate – i.e. rate of electrical activity of heart which can be detected by ECG or quasi-ECG like the HRM-Run/Pro chest strap

      Both of these are important health measures that we (physicians) assess when examining the patients. They should and usually are corresponding, but may not – for example in the mentioned a-fib.

      Another story may be that heart rate and pulse are corresponding but the source of electrical activity is not in the sinus in the atrium but in the ventricle. While some number of such heart evolutions per day is within norm (its called a premature ventricular contraction) if its too often or happens too many times in a row is considered a pathology and can be even life-threating.
      That is another thing that could be easily detected by an autmated 6 lead ecg.

      Just wanted to put some medical context into the future of watch based ecg. For me its gonna have to be combination of watch+chest+possibly antoher band on second wrist (but not necessarily).

      Cheers,
      PS

    • Sean K.

      Absolutely agree. My father has been endurance running most of his life and developed a-fib. It’s been corrected twice with Electrical cardioversion. As this is a concern of his and he still very much enjoys running, he has an AppleWatch and a Garmin 745. He uses the AW and of course regular visits with a cardiologist and physiologist to provide warning of another episode.

    • Regarding blood pressure though,

      I cannot see a reasonable technical possibility to actually measure blood pressure through a watch – at least using oscillometric method. Maybe the newly researched laser method would be a possibility.

    • as a MD I don’t like the Heath development of smartwatches/weight scales. Medical litterature is also not really positive on these aspects of finding atrial fibrillation in someone who complains of nothin, big medical questions ahead of us…

      TL;DR This EKG function in watch is false reassuring IMHO

    • Rtellis

      Thanks for this. I’m a marathoner who’s pushing 60, fortunately without any heart problems, but a lot of people think if a person works out then they are immune from these types of medical issues.

      Let’s not forget that a top pro triathlete recently had a heart attack during the bike leg of a full IM.

    • Tams

      The technology is just not there, so what you want (or seem to almost be demanding) is just plain unrealistic for now.

      Sure, some other watches have ECG/EKG. It’s not very accurate, or at least I wouldn’t rely on it. Not to mention that it’s no automatic (as that technology isn’t there) as you have to hold a contact and stay still to use it, so not very useful.

      Omron are the only ones who have made a watch that is semi-decent in that space, but that needs a massive band to compress your wrist. And it’s still not as good as compressing your upper arm.

    • Tams

      Edit: Sorry, got BP mixed up there.

      But I still don’t think that ECG/EKG (or even BP) measurements in such small devices are accurate enough to be useful yet.

      Anyone who has issues that needs to measure their heart that way, should be getting tests with tried and true machines.

      So, I don’t think it’s need for those metrics to be measured on devices like watches until the accuracy can be improved. I’d even go so far as to say offering them *now* is a bit irresponsible.

    • Ben Burrows

      Not really enough leads on a watch for a meaningful ecg. 1 lead rhythm review ie sinus or not, but no more.

    • Phil S

      I respectfully disagree with this.
      I’m 40 year cyclist and runner currently recovering from an ablation after being diagnosed with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibriliation/Atrial Flutter. I collect ECGs on my Apple Watch and also have a Kardia Mobile Device.
      Whilst undoubtedly a 12 lead ECG in an Emergency Room or a multi-lead Holter Monitor is more accurate/useful for diagnosis, to be able to capture irregular rhythms outside of the Emergency Room has been invaluable. A number of times, I’ve been in fibrillation for 30 minutes+ but wasn’t able to get myself to an Emergency Room in time for it to be captured on a hospital grade 12 lead machine before it reverted to sinus rhythm. My Apple Watch and Kardia Mobile ECGs have been very valuable in my diagnosis, both in terms of naming the condition and the regularity of the condition.
      Further, for people with no documented history of arrhythmia, to be able to go to a doctor with an ECG captured in the moment is much more useful than turning up and saying ‘I feel like I had palpitations last Tuesday’. Yes, an Apple Watch ECG should not be used as the sole basis for a corrective procedure, but it is certainly useful in the early stages of diagnosis.
      For many, it’s not a feature that’s useful. But as with many things in life, it’s only not useful until it’s very very useful.

      There is a different discussion around whether it is mentally healthy to be able to take an ECG on demand. I seem to remember a recent Week In Review DCR post with a story of someone who took hundreds of ECGs in a year. I can certainly relate to that. But that’s an entirely different topic.

    • MikeD

      i am using 3rd app for this on FR945 quite regulary. It is additional metrics to watch ourselv against overload and to catch up incoming illnes.

  22. Sebastian

    Hy Ray,

    do you know if there are any plans for boddy battery sync between mulitple devices? Eg. wearing a vivosmart at night and a fenix 7 daily.

    best regards
    Sebastian

  23. NickM

    In the 50-70 questions was there any mention of ECG or is that something either to be enabled or to follow on Fenix/Epix plus model?

  24. Griff

    Amazing watch! But sooo expensive!

  25. DC

    I am looking at my Fenix 3HR Sapphire on the table and said “nah” 🙂 , so expensive

  26. Nathan M.

    How about the velcro bands from the enduro? I’ve been waiting for Garmin to release 22mm versions of these for the fenix line. There are limited third party options, but, a watch band and comfort has been a big deal for me. I can’t wear the watch for more than a few hours without the velcro bands which are so much more comfortable than rubber ones.

    • CoachieRichie

      As a coach myself I totally agree with Nathan’s comments. Actually I was talking to my cardiologist about ECG on the Apple Watch and he said that was a really good feature, far more than a gadget. There are many very fit people with undetected heart issues (not necessarily a-fib) and I am sure smart watches will open more options in the future. The heart of an endurance athlete is different in many ways to one of a “normal person” – later in life this can cause a few issues to watch.

      On the Garmin 7 itself, I just think prices have gone crazy, and even a long list of features cannot justify entirely the price. Garmin in particular are inflated their prices by probably 10%/ year due to their dominant position. Makes an Apple Watch 7 almost cheap by comparison for a far more polished interface…I agree it is not the same device/ market but profit margins at Garmin must be astronomical!

    • Nathan M.

      I am glad that you see the value in ECG as well! I just placed an order for an Epix 2 DLC and I can say my stomach feels bad. I am already going back and forth in my mind about it. Is it really a $500 improvement over the black friday deal I got on the Fenix 6 solar? I think very clearly, it’s not. I still want to test it out though.

    • Ian S

      I’d have liked to have seen an ECG feature but I have to say that all master endurance athletes should go and see a cardiologist for a yearly checkup. You’ll get a 12 lead ECG, (Apple Watch is 1) and an ultra sound. It’s well worth an hour of your time

  27. Aurimas

    I’ve dreamed of a safety flashlight on the front of Edge devices, but they’ve put it on a watch

  28. Thomas

    I really hoped the they would release a 51mm amoled version – what do you think the probabilities of that is down the line ? I have a lot of 26mm bands and like big & rugged but would like you prefer the better screen…

    • Jeremy

      +1 although I guess it is unlikely. I would also be interested in the real useable screen size difference between the 7XSolar and Epix given the real estate consumed by the solar ring.

    • Roughly speaking (within half a millimeter of my measuring abilities), the 7X screen (readable portion) measures ~35mm across – the solar strip adds another ~4-5mm beyond that. And the Epix readable portion is ~33mm. For comparison, the Fenix 7 Solar readable screen portion measures the same ~33mm.

    • Peter Blair

      How about the 7s readable portion vs the 7 Ray? The screen sizes look very similar on photos I’ve seen

  29. Dino

    Hi Ray
    As always, I appreciate and thank you for your in-depth reviews. Does Garmin have any info on EKG? I bought the Apple Watch specifically for that as I have gone into Afib before and I train for Ironman. Do you think it’s just an app they will add? Thanks for any thoughts.

    • Drew

      Same, I waited and they didn’t bring it on the 6. Finally last month my cardiologist said “stop waiting and get an Apple Watch it truly is a good ECG device”. Given the number of athletes who develop/experience this issue I was really hoping they would be able to compete with Apple on the health front. So I have been switching between AW for daily use and Fenix for activities. So in no way will I ever be able to justify spending money on a new Fenix until that is added. Oh well, time to plug in the Apple watch to charge cause it’s 10% yet again 🙂

    • Nathan M.

      Full disclosure, I work for this company, but, you should check out the Frontier X by Fourth Frontier. You can record your ECG while exercising and you can view it afterwards. They just launched the ability to connect up to three Bluetooth devices at once. I use mine with my Garmin Fenix 6 and Edge 530. Rather than taking an ECG at rest, you can take an ECG up to 24 hours similar to a Holter monitor and see your ECG during workouts. It’s been a game changer for me.

    • Kaz

      Looks cool – priced as it looks as well. 🙂

      But how about getting Ray one and then provide us some (big) discount vouchers .. *G*

      /kaz

    • Dino

      I am in the same exact boat Drew. I exercise with my Fenix 5 and wear the Apple Watch the rest of the day. The Apple Watch is spot on with optical HR as far as I am concerned where the Fenix 5 optical HR is simply not correct unless you are wearing a strap.

    • Robert Eubanks

      Nathan,
      I have been looking at the Frontier X. Does it highlight potential aFib the same way an Apple Watch does — i.e., will it highlight / alert when it believes the user is in aFib?

    • Nathan M.

      Robert,

      As of right now the Frontier X does not have FDA approval for telling you if you have a-fib (which apple watch has) in an automated way, however, it does offer some feedback on cardiac rhythm via ECG “markers” that show if your rhythm is not regular. It’s not a perfect system and the AI can pick up on a lot of noise and sometimes there are out of place heart beats when there really are not any. We do offer a subscription tier to the device that includes essentially endurance training recommendations/ advise along with feedback on a weekly basis on your heart rate data with an exercise physiologist like me. Some people also use the device to share the data with their own cardiologists but this can be overwhelming to some peoples doctors (and probably annoying for their doctors to be honest). I think that’s why the heart subscription exists, to allow people to connect with experts who can look over the hours worth of their data week to week to let them know if something concerning was detected. That’s what I do for people.

    • Tom Jacoby

      I’m a happy Frontier X client – way more visibility into arrhythmias over a long workout than any other option out there. if only it supported ANT+ so I could synch my wahoo fan too it.

    • Ian S

      I’ve checked out the website and the product looks interesting but I’d like to see a bit more information on the certification you’ve received and also be good if someone independent reviewed it. I can suggest someone if that helps 😉

  30. Paul S.

    Ray, I know you personally have never used it, but can you ask Garmin if cross country skiing power is on the 7/Epix series? I have a 5+ so I’ve never used it, either, but I’m curious whether Garmin considers it a success or a failed experiment that’s being dropped.

  31. Ari G.

    Hey Ray,

    Do you think Garmin will ever initiate a trade-in program? I still have an old Fenix 3 lying around from the time I upgraded to the Fenix 6 and I guess that will be placed in a bin when I upgrade to the Fenix 8. Apple is a leader in this trade-in and recycling program and while I love Garmin for its features it is a bit irritating that they aren’t thinking about the environmental impact of new tech, even in the slightest. Any thoughts?

    • Mats

      Hi Ari,
      I agree. I am sitting on a bunch of HR training watches that no longer fill any purpose. Re-use, give away or recycling initiative from Garmin hereby requested!

    • Anthony Craig Rowe

      I sell my old ones. I have had an original Fenix, Fenix 3, Fenix 3HR, Fenix 5x+, and Now Fenix 6x Saphire. I usually try to sell them right after I purchase the new one to offset the cost. I just cant decide if I am going to pull the trigger this time or wait for the 8. If I do, I will sell the 6x Saphire and get at least 300 for it, which will make the 7x solar saphire 700 instead of 1000. Still dont know though. Kinda wanting to ask Ray if it is worth it.

  32. Michal

    Hello Ray,
    is there still the limit of 2 CIQ data fields in the activity with Fenix 7? Thank you.

  33. Jeremy

    Cheers Ray, hugely appreciated. As always an absolutely fantastic review.

  34. Pavel Vishnyakov

    I’m curious – will the interface changes (new post-workout screen, map manager and others) trickle down to Fenix 6 as part of the 20.30 firmware? Or is it just new sport modes and bugfixes?

    • Jozko Panacik

      Garmin doesn’t care about their customers who don’t update to the latest device. So I would not count on back-porting new features to Fenix 6.

      That’s my personal experience, I have FR645 and Garmin literally ignored after FR245/945 were released. And none of the new features available on cheaper 245 was back-ported to 645.

      That is the point where I have finished with Garmin. They may have the best hardware and features, but you have to be fortunate enough to buy right product and basically just after its release.

    • Pavel Vishnyakov

      645 is a VERY different device. Despite sharing that x45, it’s not really part of x45 lineup which is why it’s lagging behind.

  35. CJ

    Typo: “If you swagger around, you’ll either not get good devices, or, Garmin these days won’t even give a reading.”

  36. Grant

    Thanks for the awesome review as usual.
    I was wondering about upgrades:
    It is worth the upgrade from the 5 or 6? It seems like a lot of extra cash for marginal upgrades- biggest probably being the battery?

  37. Borp

    Can you tell me the lug to lug length of the 7X?

  38. gingerneil

    Some excellent features and some long awaiting app changes (data config etc).
    Hopefully not too long to wait for this to be repackaged in plastic and stamped with ‘955’.

    (‘Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.’…. kidding, right?! 😀 )

    • TheWhiteRabbit

      I hope for the same, I hear stories for years about that ‘most accurate 955’ watch that would come.. Actually, I think Stryd would be necessary for accuracy even a person does not train on power no matter what chipset they invent.

    • gingerneil

      The 945 has been excellent for me – but I don’t expect many of these new features to trickle down. Solar on the 955 would be excellent, but I don’t expect to see it.
      The fenix series is just too chunky when I’m running (and I’m a 6ft2 85kg bloke!). It bounces around too much.

  39. Chris

    Hi Ray – been waiting for this one, madly refreshing just like everyone else I imagine aha

    Quick one on the models you tested, trying to get a gauge of just how silver the standard bezel is, have you featured it in the review?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  40. Niels

    Hi Ray, thanks for this review! Love it!

    Just 1 simple question: is it necessary to wear your watch so tight around your wrist to experience good 24/7 heart rate monitoring results?

    Thanks!
    Niels

  41. Frank

    Thanks for the review.

    Do you know by any change if the ‘up ahead’ datafield is coming to the Fenix 6 watches as well?

    Thanks

  42. Michael

    Thanks for the in depth review. As always a very good and informative read.

    I think your final comment about the Fenix 7 versus the Epix is very interesting.

  43. Kyle

    Ray, is the “up ahead” feature only for course points? I’m curious if I start a navigation route on my watch without doing the course points, if it will automatically do the waypoints that are on the topomap already? Also is that by any chance coming to the F6 models?

  44. Matthew B.

    Ray – for watches without multi-band, is there ANY customization to GPS settings? AKA, just GPS only? Or does it allow all systems as well? Any testing on the non-sapphire versions?

  45. GREGORY

    Do you know if any features will go to the 945lte? Like new ski mode or maps?

  46. Juri

    Awesome reviews like always! two little questions:

    Does the Fenix/Epic still only allow 2 Connect IQ datafields during an activity?

    Do both Watches share the same codebase, or do you think one will get slower/less beta updates then the other? (fenix 6 and 945 were supposed to be same(i think), but fenix got waaay quicker updates)

  47. Steve

    Hi Ray, any info from Garmin whether Fenix 6 owners will be able to download maps worldwide for free?

    • eelay

      That’s what I was thinking as well. The map manager seems interesting. The Fenix 6 Pro has 32GB of storage, would love to get the worldwide TopoActive maps and not hassle with the OSM…

  48. Allan Brink

    Hi

    Thanks for the review on Fenix 7, and maybe i missed something, but what about ECG on Fenix 7 ?

    Br Allan

  49. Nick Z.

    Thanks for this Ray! Amazing review as always.
    Do the Standard/Solar versions use the same Airoha (i.e., Nediatek) chip as the Solar Saphire just without the multiband, or are they using the same Sony chip from the 6 series? Thanks!

    • Arne

      I am also wondering about this. Same chip but multifrequency disabled?

    • All Fenix 7 series/Epix watches use the same Airoha supplier (they confirmed that). Whether or not it’s the exact same chip with the multiband disabled in there, I don’t know (and Garmin certainly wouldn’t say). I suspect we won’t know till someone tears apart a few units.

      I don’t really have the technical skills to do that. Well, I mean, I do to tear it down, but putting it back together not so much.

    • Brian Reiter

      I was wondering if this was a Covid chip supply problem. You can have X of the new chips and 10X of the older one because we have stock on those or whatever.

      Not a problem for Coros volume but a problem for Garmin fenix volume.

  50. XG

    There is a typo in the url for epix review

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    should be jan 01 instead of 02.

  51. Graham

    What are the chances the “Garmin Connect App configuration” will trickle down to something – seeing what will be comign to the Fenix 6 makes me pretty pleased, but that feature.. that has me drooling

  52. Nick Jacobs

    @Ray, for the issue you face around Garmin Pay not supporting your Dutch or French accounts, try Revolut. You need to pre-load it but good enough. In my case, living in Singapore and not having either my local Singapore or Australia (home country) accounts supported, Revolut means I can activate and use Garmin Pay (though you have your U.S. account which is lucky/useful). It has worked flawlessly for me thus far.

  53. Dmitry

    So basically its all about flashlight…

  54. madmalkav

    If anyone can test if the new models can display japanese characters in messages and song titles I would really appreciate.

  55. SirRasor

    Something’s up with the Elevate 4.0 and the S versions. I bought and returned a Venu 2S, because it was a mess for running. Stick to my beloved Venu SQ 🙂

  56. eivind

    Disappointing. Without LTE and ECG I see no reason to upgrade from tactix delta. Speaking of which, when will tactix echo arrive? I prefer the tactix design over fenix.

  57. GK

    Hi, Comparing the fenix 7 / epex 2 and venu 2 plus what would you suggest >

    • Chris

      Think Ray’s summed it up in the final para – Fenix 7 is good but he’d go with Epix

      “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.”

  58. Henrik Christensen

    Any news of an updated Connect app (iOS)? Hopefully one that works better with Apple Health…

  59. Martin Giavarini

    I’m on the verge of updating my Fenix 3 HR. Would you say it’s worth it going for the 7X Sapphire Solar or should I hop onto the Epix 2 train? I had an Epix (og model) and it was trash from software to hardware, sold it 6 months after buying it, and I’m afraid to make the same mistake again. The same cannot be said with my 3 HR, the ABC sensors have been failing for the last 2 years but everything else works as expected (of course there’s some battery aging), but I would like to get a better screen with more res, bigger size and better refresh rate.

  60. Paolo

    Hi, for a FR 935 owner, Fenix 7 or Epix 2 ? main sport is running half, full marathon and some ultra (50/100 km..about 12,5 h) some HIIT, tennis and Core…will battery support me on my long distance run ? My FR935 has great battery even after 2 years use.
    thank you

  61. MikeD

    dang, no version for me 🙁 I was hoping for 1.4 display with touch but without solar and sapphire. I will wait for fr955 maybe

  62. Seet

    Here’s one for the money…would the Fenix 6 Pro family be good value performance wise, especially at the soon to be reduced prices?

    • RMTL

      Same boat here.
      Got the Fenix 6 Pro, on sale for 390EUR/440USD tax in.
      I have until Jan 31st to return it and I was waiting for the new Fenix.
      Like other, I was expecting LTE and EGC for the new model…

      Not sure the new model is worth twice what I paid for the 6 Pro.
      1/ Keep the 6 Pro
      2/ Return the 6 Pro, take back the Fenix 3 from the drawer and wait for the Fenix 7 with EGC and LTE ?
      Decisions, decisions…

    • Kennn

      Yes. Fenix 6Pro is where the value is.
      The question is when will the prices will drop and by how much.

      I’m hoping for soon and more than they did on Black Friday…

    • Seet

      Pro or Sapphire models at 350 USD would be a definite clincher.

  63. Victor Reid

    Thanks for another great review Ray. I have long lusted for a Garmin Fenix with an Amoled display. I am heavily leaning towards the Epix.

    • Aaron

      Same boat, picked up the 6 pro from Amazon for $400 returnable until feb1. The Fenix 7 seems just great just the value proposition isn’t there. Honestly I agree with Ray given how I usually use my watch at this point the Epix is more compelling as an upgrade for the screen but at that point it seems the software feels limiting. The biggest issue I have with Garmin at this point is app ecosystem, customizability, and API and that can’t be solved easily without probably upending everything.

  64. Nico

    Great review Ray!
    Can you update the comparison image here link to media.dcrainmaker.com
    It’s really low res and I can’t read much of it even when zooming in.
    Thanks!

  65. Gryphon

    Ray…Many asking some variation of the following condensed question: any trickle down to the FR945 (non-LTE or otherwise)? Thank you!

  66. Mike

    Brilliant as always, the question is should I upgrade from the 6 😀, as you are not a golfer you never cover it, but I’m thinking touchscreen could work really well when looking at the hole information and take it closer to the dedicated golf watches.

  67. Julien

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks again for this usefull review – full of details and christal clear!

    Quick question : what about the compatibility with the other Garmin devices. I’m thinking about the garmin edge 530 and the training load. One of the biggest issue I have with my Fenix 5+ is the non-transfer of load from my Edge to my Fenix. W

    Will this be ok with the Fenix 7 (and the Epix 2t thus).

    Thx in advance!

  68. Serafin Corral

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for the fantastic review as usual!!!!

    I have noticed that you were in Tenerife!!!!! Pity not knowing It had been a pleasure spending some time with you showing the Island to you

    Let me know, if you plan to come back!!!

    All the best

  69. Fabio

    Hi Ray,
    great review.

    what disappoint me a lot is that i like the 51mm display of my fenix 6 and now if i want that size i’m forced to choose a solar or a solar/sapphire model..same thing for the multiband gps where even the solar model is not enough.

    is there a reason other than ‘marketing’ in your opinion ?

  70. fritsiexx

    Does it add VO2max points though? When spending that kind of money I’d like to see my performance go up :-p

  71. Arne

    Garmins web page says yes:
    XC SKI DYNAMICS
    When paired with the HRM-Pro™ chest strap (sold separately), the ski power metric helps measure the actual exercise load of your cross-country workouts.

  72. Tyler

    I’ve long wanted Garmin to include the flashlight (er, headlight) feature on their bike computers.
    Seems like a no brainer, with the small size, and ever increasing brightness/low power needs of LEDs.
    Would at least give a daytime running light functionality, if not full brightness trail headlight.

    I hope they start integrating in all of their bike computers and watches.
    I’d use the watch based one regularly at my work, and/or for supplemental lighting for non-artistic photography.

  73. Tom

    Disappointing that they have not included power on these watches. It’s not like they need to add hardware.

  74. Tina

    How precise are the new Fexises on a measured route? GPS accuracy looks nice, but how well do distance/pace fit with reality on a measured route? I’m asking this because my 6s solar is totally rubbish in that respect. On measured distances of just 5km it might be off by 160m to a whopping 320m on bad days. Also, pace would occasionally just drop out randomly when running at constant pace. When I do intervals the watch doesn’t really notice this but keeps pace on slow while I sprint my lungs out, etc. Quite a few other people have reported similar findings on the Garmin forums. The general consensus seems to be a) gps antenna location and b) algorythm not quite suitable for running. My old Vivoactive 4s is doing a much better job here.

  75. Olivier C

    Great review. Thank you !
    I am curious the previous generation, up to the 6 has a severe issue with the wrist HR. If you would press Stop / Start a few times during an activity, the HR monitor would drift dramatically (I had differences of more than 50) and would never recover. This can easily happen if you want to stop your timer when crossing a street for example.
    I am curious if you observe anything like this.
    Thanks,
    Oliver

  76. Brian

    Was really hoping for this to have voice/speaker like the Venue 2Plus to replace my aging Fenix 4. Now thinking about a two watch strategy of Venue 2 Plus for everyday and Fenix for workouts/hiking/exploring, etc. Will this properly sync total steps/sleep/heartrate between the two watches?

  77. Great review (as always)

    After reading the review I must be going to switch from Fenix 6x sapphire to Epix (Gen 2) Ti sapphire.

  78. Huge disappointment regarding availability of multi-band GPS only for Sapphire models. The only hope is Ray made a mistake (not possible 🙂 ) since on the official Garmin page the specification says it is available even for the simple model, e.g. Fenix 7 standard: MULTI-FREQUENCY POSITIONING – Yes.
    Reference:
    link to garmin.com

  79. Michael Jenkins

    Thank you for the review, lovely write-up!
    Has the memory for the number of structured workouts you can store been resolved? My biggest issues with a $1k watch is it only has capacity for 4x structured Strength workouts

  80. Rainer

    Thanks for the again excellent Test Review.

    You last comment gives me the hint to take the Epix 2 into the game to replace my Forerunner 235
    (Big Upgrade) … But the price hurts a little bit , especially when I see what I will use from the whole huge feature set.Maybe Venu 2 would be enough , but in terms of the build quality and battery life the Epix 2 is for sure in a other level.

  81. Mark

    Ray,

    Apologies if I missed it in the in-depth review, but for the Fenix and Epix watches, how long does a batter charge take? Is there a fast charge feature that takes it to 1 or 2 days battery in 10-15 minutes or similar? Or are they similar to the Fenix 6 series from that perspective? I love not charging my Fenix 6x that often but annoyed that it charges so slowly.

    Thanks!

  82. Adam

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks, great review as usual.

    Do you expect some of the software tweeks to be added to Fenix 6 / FR945 later?
    I mean features like:
    Up Ahead, Race Predictor trendlines, HIIT workout and most importantly the ability to configure activity profiles and data fields from your phone?

    Regards, Adam

  83. CR

    I have the Garmin 745 and bought it, as at the time (Nov 2021), it was rated as the best GPS accuracy of all garmin watches (besting even the Fenix 6 & 945). But….the multi-frequency on the 7 Sapphire makes me seriously consider switching. I know the watch literally just came out, but do you feel the 7 multi-frequency mode GPS is ‘better’ than dual band GPS of the 745? Accurate GPS is my number one requirement for any GPS watch.

    • Dmitry Pupkov

      If pace/speed accuracy is your number one requirement, you’d better buy Stryd. It will give you ideal pace in any condition – outdoor or indoor. And you won’t need to dump another 800$+ on a new watch.

  84. Volker

    Map download via map manager: has the device plugged to a wall charger?

  85. Solomon B

    Hi Ray,

    I don’t see a mention of the health snapshot coming to the 945 as it is with the Fenix 6. Do you have a comment here? My assumption is that the existence of the 945 LTE (which has it) is the main reason for this omission. I hope I’m wrong as I have loved the addition of new features over time (like HIIT).

    Edit: I am also asking because I noticed that the most recent sensor hub update was a pretty big jump, so wondering if I should read into that

    Thanks for the great written and visual content. I’ve owned the 935 and 945 but man that Epix looks pretty…

  86. Leo

    I still see batterylife differently than you, Ray.

    You say 16 hours batterylife is plenty. Sure, that’s when it’s new and fully charged. You might have a draw full of sportwatches and one of them is bound to be charged enough. I have only 1 watch and most of the time it’s not fully charged, Also you buy about a gazillion new watches every month or so, I still have a 5 year old forerunner 935.

    My watch started with 24+ hours of gps usage. Now it has only 10 hours left. If fully charged!
    That would mean if I buy a new watch that has 16 hours, in a couple of years only 7 or 8 hours are left. Even when fully charged not enough for a all day hike. When 50% charged not enough for a decent bike ride.

    Maybe it’s me and I should replace my old watch, although it’s broken and there aren’t any new must have features compared to my running watch.

  87. Scott K.

    Hi Ray, I am curious about your experience with the base model and the Corning Gorilla Glass DX screen. Did you pick up any scratches on the lens during your testing? I got a Fenix 6 Sapphire (titanium) for Christmas, but I’ve been on the fence about swapping it for the 7. To maintain the same price point I’d have to go with the standard Fenix 7.

  88. MTB

    Still no directional arrows on courses?! Come on garmin.. sticking with AW3 with workoutdoors

    • Sadly not. I made a reasonably strong case this time around, along with some added frustration. Given that the Edge series now has them (introduced last summer/fall), I’m hoping they make their way over.

      My figure-8 hike never should have ‘failed’ that way. First, it should have been obvious, second, it should have told me I was going the wrong way shortly after going the wrong way. And third, well…everyone else has it already.

    • Smul

      I also had this happen during a race. There was no warning from the watch that I wasn’t going the right way because I was still technically on the course. Frustrating. And bonus miles.

    • Linus

      The funny thing is, the Forerunner 945 LTE does have arrows while navigating 😀
      I was really hoping this would now come as standard on all future Garmin watches with mapping…

  89. Eric McGovern

    Is there any way to determine which golf features are included? Do they mirror those of the s62 or s42? The higher accuracy of the GPS data should be very helpful on the course.

    Or is an S64 soon to come out?

    It has to be painful to be sitting on these reviews when everyone was bemoaning the lack of fenix 7 at CES.

  90. Ray, thank you for the review.

    Need a comparison of GPS accuracy of the new 7 with the Fenix 6.
    I wonder how much accuracy increases with the GPS multiband.

    I was also surprised by the lack of LTE version.

  91. Tyler

    Which Fenix versions are pictured on your wrist in the review photos?
    I’m trying to grasp the size comparisons.
    I haven’t tried on any of the previous Fenix versions.

    It looks like there’s a rose gold 7S, but I can’t tell if the other photos are a regular or X version?

    Also, the one phoeo with the sleep message, looks like it has a red button on the upper rh side, and I don’t see any version like that on the Garmin page.

    I really like the flashlight feature, but don’t want an over-giant watch.
    Thanks.

  92. Sean K.

    Incredibly detailed review, Ray! This was a lot of work, and it shows. I like the 7 series, but is it enough of an upgrade over my Pro 6 Solar? I think I’ll wait a bit to see what the 955 brings. I was interested in running power and I already own a 945 LTE.

  93. Mr. Luke Cottam

    Great review as always Ray.

    Is there a difference in screen size / resolution between the F7S and F7 please?

    • Mike S.

      And is the resolution increased from the 6?

    • Convel

      The screen resolution scales with the display size. The 7S, 7, and 7X are 240×240, 260×260, and 280×280 respectively. There is no change in display resolution from the previous generation, unless you go Epix. The 6S, 7S, 745, 945, and 945 LTE are all 1.2″ and therefore have 240×240. The Fenix 7 is 1.3″ and the 7X is 1.4″.

  94. Ses

    Is Felix 7 compatible with Di2?

  95. Steven

    Hi Ray,
    If you have 3 different Fenixes, can you compare GPS quality in 3 different modes: GPS only, All Systems and All Systems + Multiband?

    Many people don’t know how much worth is Multiband vs classic All Systems or GPS only on Fenix 7 (not older watches).

    Is worth to choose Sapphire models for that (cost more and have worst screen brightness)?

  96. rarara

    Any report on how accurate the GPS looked for the non- Sapphire models, so not using multiband??

  97. Sean K.

    Ray,

    One other question. On the Wifi topic, will the Fenix 7 series now support 5 GHz? Or is it still a 2.4 GHz only device? The reason I mention this is that I’ve consistently had issues with connectivity to my Wifi 6 multi-band (yes it does also support 2.4 GHz) mesh network with both the Fenix 6 Pro Solar and the FR945 LTE to the extent that I’ve had to go out and buy a cheap 2.4GHz Wifi extender just to be able to sync Spotify music.

  98. Stanislav

    My main dissatisfaction with Fenix 6X that I have been using for the last two years is due to its pace and distance accuracy. I find the pace very unstable and biased towards slower than actual pace, often dropping as much as 2-3 min/mile below the perceived pace. Post run analysis confirms that indeed the pace often lags compared to how fast the distance increases. And the device distance is often way too short compared to the sum of point-to-point distances on the produced by the same watch in the same activity – 5% is typical on trail trail running activities, but I’ve seen even larger discrepancies. And even the corrected “sum of point-to-point distances” distance is usually too short compared to official distances and even to distances produced by other devices such as FR 745.

    This review is super detailed but it doesn’t cover any of the concerns I mentioned above. I literally searched for the word “pace”, and it isn’t mentioned even once in the context of accuracy. Also the distance isn’t mentioned when comparing GNSS accuracy between the units used in the review. Also it would be interesting to see whether Fenix still has an issue of the device distance being always shorter than the GNSS distance (i.e. the sum of distances between the points assuming 1-sec recording rate).

    Both of the issues above have been widely discussed on Garmin Fenix 6 forum, yet the review doesn’t touch those topics at all.

    • Kurt Garloff

      Indeed, I would like to second that question.

      When I look at the recorded course from runs with the FR945 (which is technically very much the same as the F6), it looks good. When I look at the pace, I see it going up and down, while in reality I run at a very constant pace most of the time. Also overall distance is ~3% short typically (compared to a measurement with OSMand) — varying b/w 1% short and 5% short.
      This is on even, mostly open terrain, some trees in some sections, mostly straight paths. So in no way particularly difficult terrain for a GPS device …

      I have not tried to export a GPX track from Garmin and use a third party tool to sum up the distance — I suspect the distance would be closer to reality than Garmin’s calculation of the distance. Your comment

      This is annoying me — if I know for sure that this is addressed in Epix2 / Fenix7 (with or without Multi-Band GNSS), this would be a good reason to get it. But it looks like we don’t know this yet …

    • Christian

      I’m also interested in pace and distance accuracy.

      I remember when I decided between the Polar V800, the Suunto Ambit 3 and the Fenix 3 back in the days. I must have looked like a fool running races with 3 watches on my arms.

  99. Bob190

    I am probably the only one, but was really looking forward to the Instinct 2 with CIQ support being released. Was thinking it was going to be released with the Fenix 7. I guess I will have to continue waiting patiently.

    • Ddf

      You are not alone 😁
      I am also waiting for the new instinct. 2.

    • psmith

      Dude, me too.

      The more I think about it, the more I basically want Instinct tech with a Fenix 6x/7x form factor. Maybe use that great big case size to put in a bigger gps antenna too.

  100. Eli

    Would be nice to see how much of a difference the hardware has from the Fenix 6. More memory? (I don’t mean storage) more CPU performance? It sounds like there aren’t that many differences from the Fenix 6 but if the fenix 7 is like the previous generation they will add stuff down the line. Does it have the memory and CPU gains to do more then the Fenix 6 or does it still have the same limitations? This is where looking at how the watches impliment Connect IQ is useful. Do connect iq apps have access to more memory? If you run a benchmark app on the watch how much faster is it than the fenix 6?

  101. Tomáš Stankovič

    Will be new device setting (activity screens etc) available also in Fenix 6?

  102. CR

    Is there a typo in the review when it lists which watches actually have the Multi-Frequency GPS? The specs above say only sapphire models have it. But I checked all the versions on Garmin site and it lists out the following as having it:

    7S 42mm
    Std No
    Sol No
    Sapphire Yes

    7 47mm
    Std Yes
    Solar Yes
    Sapphire Yes

  103. Trev

    Another excellent in-depth review, thanks.

    However, I would really like to see additional data relating to the accuracy of pace and distance (haven’t noticed anything about pace in your review). I’d especially like to see how the accuracy varies between the non-multi band (non-sapphire) and multi band versions and better still how they both compare to a stryd and a F6.

    Can we expect the same poor accuracy as the F6? If the standard (non-multiband) F7 is anywhere like the F6 then you’ll need a stryd ($$$) to get any meaningful accuracy.

    • Tina

      Yes, this! I asked the same above and hope that Ray has tested this. I’m also super unhappy with my 6s for the very reason. And I’m only running in towns with wide roads and good satellite signals, thus the results should not be so shitty.

    • Christian

      I’m also interested in pace accuracy. It always bugged me that I should buy a Stryd to get good pace for a 500+ Euro watch.

  104. Michael

    Can the native structured workout UI use running power from a Stryd yet? Or is that still just Wahoo?

  105. mmmm Oreos

    Hi Ray, great review as always (I think…still have more to go…then the Epix…)

    Any chance we can get the famed rolling pin test? Perhaps an Oreo comparison too? I’ll likely be getting one of these to replace an aging 735xt (unless i wait for the 955 with LTE (please let that happen)) and am a little concerned with how much bigger/heavier these are.

    Thanks!

  106. Jon Palmer

    Any word on if any of these new features are coming to existing Forerunner watches like the 745 or 945?

    • Gryphon

      This question has been asked, in one form or another, about a dozen times plus in this review. It is clear that Ray is not going to answer it. Based on running sites dedicated to future device rumors, it seems clear that the FR955 exists. I suspect that Ray and others in his space are testing it right now, with a release sometime in the upcoming months, some predict as late as second half of this year. It would make sense to me that they would hold back most of these new features to make the 955 a more attractive upgrade for current 945 users.

      However, it is all a guessing game at this point.

  107. Keith

    Ray, Garmin’s site says back of watch is fiber polymer with metal cover. What is the metal made of and where is it located?

    I’ve gotten some poor metal allergies when I tried first gen vivo (stainless and apparently don’t like nickel) but have been fine with the 745 since it’s all plastic.

  108. frank andreasen

    as allways a fantastic rewiev ray
    must say im disapointed that garmin didnt make a 7X model with sapphire glass and no solar
    i think solar takes up to much display space

  109. Francois

    If you understand french there is a pretty good interview of the french fenix product manager here

    link to youtube.com

  110. Ronny

    Hi Ray… Any future that the new F7 will have accurate Vo2max, Run estimating times and recovery stats etc when running on a treadmill? (with footpod/stryd etc) + when doing XC skiing?

    I only Ride Bike in summer and always very accurate stats, but they all drop way lower in winter season..

  111. evvopaul

    Would the switch to glass-covered optical HR sensor from plastic with a coating help with the issue of ‘cracked’ HR sensors; Garmin has suggested this is caused by applying chemicals like insect spray and sunscreen to the skin?

    • CJ

      “Would the switch to glass-covered optical HR sensor from plastic with a coating help with the issue of ‘cracked’ HR sensors; Garmin has suggested this is caused by applying chemicals like insect spray and sunscreen to the skin?”

      It is 100% NOT either of those two things: I own neither, nor do I swim with my watch (haven’t touched a chlorine pool in about 20 years). I’ve owned two Forerunner 935s with the HR sensor cracking issue. It’s entirely on Garmin for either the material (bad plastic resin) or design (not enough support) of the HR sensor. Glass probably fixes it because it eliminates variance in the sensor material.

  112. Caleb Edwards

    Will you be adding this and the Epix 2 to the comparison tool soon?

  113. Danzi

    As much as I liked the 6x pro solar’s hardware, at software update times I was loathing… and rightly so. Unfortunately I had to Fenix watches and sw update was never good enough. The last rendered the 6x pro solar useless in a boot loop. I am switching from Garmin for this single reason, but this is a quality review and yet again a good hardware.

  114. Matt Longacre

    I notice you mention that the Fenix 7 is an improvement from the Fenix 6 in virtually every aspect and I am looking to see if I should make that move from a Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire to a Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar. But your charts don’t have any Fenix 6 devices on them. Do you happen to have comparison charts from some other workout for that or some general comments on where the 6 might underperform that the 7 does not?

  115. TheStansMonster

    The year is 2158.

    You feel a vibration on your wrist. You glance at your Fenix 43 Epsilon and see a notification that there is traffic ahead, you tap the confirmation on the screen to automatically reroute your personal interplanetary craft around Europa to avoid the congestion.

    You type out a message on your Fenix with your thoughts to your running partner that you’ll be 5 minutes late for your workout.

    Your watch detects elevated levels of inflammatory markers through the ANT+ sensor installed in your liver. It automatically instructs the ANT+ nanobots circulating in your bloodstream to find and destroy the budding mild infection that is causing it.

    Smart-recording is still on by default.

  116. Ron Skyewalkr

    hey ray, have you heard anything about a tactix delta successor (echo?)? i’m assuming it’s in the pipline now that the 7 is released..

  117. Get

    Garmin keeps getting better and better, love their producs, will purchase the 7x version right away.

  118. Sam Crossman

    Any word or ECG OR EKG being added at a later date?

  119. Forrest

    Thanks for this!

    My ski pole straps hit the stop and lap buttons when I don’t intend to, any guess how well the button gusts might work for that?

  120. Alexander Momberger

    Hi Ray,
    thank you very much for the wonderful review.
    As an avid 6X Pro owner, the only thing I miss is the touch function when using map navigation. This feature is so important to me that I would have bought the 7X if I wasn’t so bothered by the design with the now much thicker bezel.
    Why is there also the outer black border with the inscription? Couldn’t they have simply left it off to increase the solar surface area?
    Furthermore, Garmin has now also added a horrible notch in the lower area to accommodate the logo. Terrible.

    Question: Has anything changed in terms of processor speed compared to the Fenix 6? Does the round trip calculation still take as extremely long as in the Fenix 6, or is the route calculation now comparable with the Edge 830?

    Thanks for the answer.

  121. Gregory

    How is the intensity of the vibration? Is it adjustable? I stopped wearing my 5X because the vibration is too light. I’ll sleep right through the alarm in the morning and I miss call and text notifications. I don’t have any of those issues with my Instinct Solar as the vibration is very noticeable.

  122. Andre

    Does anyone know how many data fields the Epix2 can display simultaneously? The Fenix 6X had 8, the one without X 6, the S4. That was the reason for me to switch to the 6X, because I like many data fields.

  123. Johan

    Thanks for yet a very good review! I have been looking forward to these models for so long and have basically been in constant “shut-up-and-take-my-money”-mode. But now when they have arrived and doesn’t have LTE (or ECG for that matter), I’m keeping my money for later and my old Fenix for now. I’m more than a little bummed to see Garmin underdeliver after such long waiting.

  124. Joss

    hi.. love the review!!!
    one question. will the 6 pro get the option to customize the sports option via mobile?
    that would be amazing!!

  125. Jane Saltzman

    I have the Fenix 6, my hiking buddies have the 6 pro. The elevation gain on the 6 doesn’t calculate correctly ( I’ve tried all the suggestions), the elevation gain on the 6 pro is accurate. On the 6 it’s spot on with the 6 pro and goes off and basically doubles the rest of the elevation gain. Can you comment on the elevation gain functionality on the 7?

    Thanks

  126. Tan

    may I know the strap on Fenix 6 (22mm) can be use on Fenix 7?
    6X (26mm) on 7X?

    thanks!

  127. Ironguy

    Although I have the Fenix 6S Sapphire I have been waiting for the Fenix 7S for a while. I was hoping more technical features such as wrist based HRV, all day HRV, running power and body temperature as in the other health wearables (whoop, Oura, Coros 2).

    Do you think Garmin will add some of these features as a software update or not possible without a hardware update that would require Fenix 8 or higher?

  128. Mike S.

    I wonder how much the chip shortage will affect Garmin.

  129. CR

    I’m going to totally let the haters hate this post, as well you should: I bought the Fenix 7 Sapphire as my work has a special program that will reimburse the full price of the watch. Didn’t have to pay a cent. Then, I saw the Epix 2 review. That SCREEN BABY! Drooling. So, while it’s $999 (for sapphire), we got a 20% coupon AND the company will reimburse me for the $800 spent.

    I’m going from a Forerunner 745 so it’s like a MASSIVE upgrade. I’m sooo happy. And, so you can hate even more, I can still return my 745 for full refund as it’s within the Amazon return window. Truly blessed that I waited and found my company’s deal for reimbursement.

    No, back to humble gratitude…..

  130. Brian Battaglia

    Was surprised to see the chevrons on routes with the 945 LTE after moving from the Fenix 6. Shocked the Fenix 7 doesn’t have them. I just assumed that was getting pushed to the Fenix line. They are so incredibly helpful on crossing routes.

  131. Toni

    But will it let me put together an open water swim workout?

  132. Don Rhummy

    Ray,
    These devices are getting incredibly expensive. Do you see this interesting or do you see some light at the end of the tunnel and a drop in prices back to the $500 price range for a top of the line watch?

  133. Hussam

    Would you kindly upload a higher-res image of the pricing chart and various configuration? Thank you!

  134. okrunner

    Will the Enduro get the same updates as the Fenix 6?

  135. Stan S

    when these watches will be compatible with smart trainers, it would prob be worth it.
    eg fenix 5x is not compatible with wahoo kickr.

  136. Sarumon

    i had compared fenix 5 with wahoo tickr heart chest monitor. during intense workout fenix 5 heard rate monitor is just inaccurate. wonder if they improved in fenix 7.

  137. Stanislav

    Hi Ray,

    Here is a question about creating course points and perhaps a bit of feedback to Garmin. Let’s say I am going to run an ultra-marathon and have a course in the watch for the race course with all aid stations as course points. Sounds reasonable, right? It is fairly common for the same aid stations to be used two or more times, for example on out-and-back sections of a race course.

    However in Garmin Connect it is impossible to create multiple aid stations in the same place corresponding to different distances. When I tap on an out-and-back part of a course, the Garmin Connect course editor always selects the smallest possible distance for that point. If I tap at that point again, it opens the already existing course point.

    That limits application of “Up ahead” feature for many races.
    Any way to influence Garmin to improve the course editor UI now that “Up ahead” feature makes course points more prominent?

    • Schlupp

      Stanislav,

      i guess you are right. In your case this should only be a Garmin connect issue as multiple Course points on a fit course on the same location should be differentiable by the absolute timestamp parameter that should be large on every additional course point. So maybe you need to select a different tool in the meantime.

      link to developer.garmin.com

      I remember i saw a list of waypoints/course points on the edge devices already, dont know if its still there. Buts seems to be the same feature.

    • Schlupp

      Just for documentation, classic course point page on the edge 830. I guess Ray somewhere already mentioned the Up ahead is just a bit nicer in visualisation taking all colour icons into account and not generated out of POIs from a map? As you would need to describe filter lists to decide what “not” to see in range.

    • Stanislav

      Yes, that is Garmin Connect issue – I understand that. Something like plotaroute handles it correctly.

      My point was that now that “Up Ahead” is a major feature, Garmin tools must support adding multiple course points in the same place but at different distances.

    • Interesting use case situation. I’ll bring it up. They literally have a person that’s responsible for these sorts of race use cases now, so seems an easy one to get some attention on.

    • Stanislav

      Thanks! And while we are there, Garmin should also take a look at Suunto App mobile route editor. That is an example of a functional and usable route editor unlike the one built in the Garmin Connect app. At a minimum they should switch from Google maps to Mapbox maps.

    • Matthew B.

      Add my voice in support of this. This is *incredibly* common and trail ultras.

      (I know you’re not Garmin, but appreciate your strong voice with them, Ray)

  138. Mitko

    Hi, thanks for the great review! How is the touch working in the shower? I’ve had a touch watch once and in the shower the water made it swipe and select things which made me switch to non-touch.

    • Zero inappropriate touches in the shower. I mean, with the display.

      Meaning, not once in 6-7 weeks now has the watch started doing the weird AMOLED shower display dance that others do. I have a sneaking suspicion Garmin is doing a few clever things there tied to being on the watch face (which is where you’d be likely if taking a shower), in that it requires a tiny bit more ‘forceful’ swipe (in terms of direction continuity, since it doesn’t “feel” anything), since I noticed that wet display conditions, getting from the watch face to the widgets usually took a bit more clarity on the first swipe, and then things were more responsive/normal after that.

      Just a guess though…

  139. Nate C

    Oh, the mixed excitement and disappointment!

    The new hardware hardly seems worth the $400-500 upgrade if I could sell the Fenix 6 pro for $300ish. Except the flashlight seems useful but have to get the 7x and solar charging and battery life would be better (consistently having to charge every 5 days with overnight pulse ox and an hour a day of GPS and indoor workouts).

    But other things like Stamina, phone settings updates, up ahead way points seem like entirely software things that could be enabled for my Fenix 6…

    And how are we still not able to have a native running power sensor pairing option and instead have to use up one of our precious few custon CIQ data fields?

    I think I will hold out for a few months to a year to see if anything trickles back to the f6p and hopefully find a decent %-off coupon during that time for a 7x non-sapphire, because I don’t think I’ll be able to hold off 3 years for an F8, and if I’m going to upgrade eventually I might as well get to enjoy more time with the new features once the initial firmware and bug fix releases have stabilized…

  140. Itai

    Great revire thank you!
    It is amazing that Apple has ECG and LTE + Cellular for years now and in the Garmins flagship watch that is released in 2022 it is absent

  141. Hello, thank you for the great reviews as always ! #GOAT

    Any information of max number of self designed workouts we can load in the watch ? There has been a stupid limit in the previous models. AFAIK after 15ish workouts you couldn’t upload more

    Thanks

    • Interesting, I wasn’t aware of any previous limit. I can give it a whirl later on. You just talking created from GC or such?

    • Tommy

      On the F6 you can store up to 25 structured workouts on the watch. But in order to get that many you have to remove a bunch that Garmin puts on there by default (Strength, yoga, etc.). So basically the total number of workouts that watch can store and guide you through is 25. Any more than that and you need to start deleting and replacing. Not sure why the limit is there and curious if Gamrin kept it or changed it for the new models…

      Thanks for any insight.

  142. Rob

    I don’t know what the gps accuracy of the 745 is, but the fenix 7 looks infinitely better than my fenix 6. Especially around tall buildings. My fenix 6 is all over the place, sometimes 20 metres off. The fenix 7 seems way more accurate and tighter to the roads.

    What about the comparison of fenix 6 and 7? Do you feel the 7 is really as improved as I’m seeing here?

  143. Nook

    Bought the Epix yesterday following this review and
    returned it after a few hours for the Fenix 7s.

    As much as I thought I would love the amoled screen
    for general use and activities, I couldn’t stand it
    when the watch was passive and utilising the always
    on display. Even if I turned the brightness to the
    lowest setting, I found the lights from the amoled
    display too bright, digital looking, and distracting
    (particularly in slightly darker environments) to
    myself and others. That is of course the same issue
    with other amoled watches like Apple Watch.

    I actually prefer the muted look of the transflective
    displays for that purpose – which at end of day is
    the primary purpose of a watch. It’s like e-ink to a tablet. Prob quite subjective at end of day and I have good eyesight and coming from a 935.

    The 7s screen also has some depth to it as there is space between the glass and screen. Makes it feel almost somewhat analogue. Not sure if that is across the 7 line or if it’s due to the solar ring, but i like it.

    • Thomas

      Funny you mention this. Just by looking at the pictures, I came to the same conclusion. I have the Venu 2 and the AMOLED display is great. But then again – after 3 months. Hmm yeah nice, but not deciding anymore. I actually went for the F7S too. Waiting to get later this week

    • Courtney Regan

      Did try setting it to gesture mode? And if so, turning the brightness down on gesture mode?

    • Keith Robertson

      Thanks for that. I was tempted by the Epix for the screen but have decided to go for the 7X, to update my 6X, for the amazing battery life. Multi-day hikes may now be possible without having to re-charge.

      At some point a 7X sized unit may be available with the AMOLED screen?

      The 6X is 2½ years old, so selling it should recoup a good amount of my initial cost to offset the cost of the 7X. Not too bad on a cost per year of constant use.

  144. Robin

    Any indication as to whether these features will role out to units like the FR945 LTE? Changing settings via phone would be useful, as would world wide maps (in theory).

    Thanks.