Stop ? Before You Buy – the Garmin Fenix 7 – think Sapphire

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Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire

It seems everyone is scrambling around trying to find the Garmin Fenix 7 or Garmin Epix Gen 2 they want. There are so many SKUs it’s confusing.

If maps, durability and accuracy are your concern, there is one KEY thing you need to know before the links start popping up on the major retail sites (some Amazon and Wiggle links are already up as pre-order)

Must Review: Garmin Fenix 7 Review & Thoughts

As you know, there is no PRO model this time around but bear in mind that the Sapphire model has different features:

  • Only Sapphire models have the dual-frequency GNSS reception from the Airoha chip (MediaTek). All models have dual-constellation but that’s always been the case. Perhaps non-Sapphire models retain the Sony chip? (Edit: dc rainmaker sources confirm only Airoha, as expected)
  • Sapphire models have twice the storage at 32Gb which means you get all maps pre-loaded. With non-sapphire, you have to add other regional maps manually (free)
  • Sapphire models have a slightly more brittle but more superior, scratch-resistant lens. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting a stronger case but at the extremely high prices these watches are going for, get the Sapphire if you can. A scratched lens is certainly not within the Garmin warranty
  • The Titanium case option is only available with a Sapphire lens

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Adding Solar, Sapphire and Titanium each bump up the prices. You should seriously consider sapphire to protect the lens and Sapphire is the ONLY way to get the dual-frequency GNSS goodness.

  • Fenix 7/7S – prices start at $/Eu700 (£600) up to $/Eu1000 (£860)
  • Fenix 7X – prices from $/Eu900 (£779) to $/Eu1100 (£1050)
  • Garmin Epix 2 – prices from £800/$900/Eu900 to £900/$1000/Eu1000

19 Jan 2022: The UK/EU links are all now working but everything is sold out and you will need to pre-order – I recommend Garmin, Wiggle, BackCountry or REI.

USA appears to be lacking listed products that are truly in stock. When available (now looks like late Jan 2022 onwards), this single link clicks to a choice of retail stores in your country eg Wiggle, PowerMeterCity, Amazon, REI, B&H, Walmart, Competitive Cyclist & Backcountry

On launch day no country site is stating next day delivery. That might change. USA is saying 3 days for Epix (as of 19 Jan) and the UK longer for all SKUs including Epix, with several weeks for some SKUs.

Note: Some retailers DEFINITELY had stock, albeit limited in number (edit: but it’s all gone, everywhere, so it seems)


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21 thoughts on “Stop ? Before You Buy – the Garmin Fenix 7 – think Sapphire

  1. I agree! If you’re already paying €800 for a watch, then a €100 extra is okay (in my opinion) for some extra durability and features (dual-frequency GPS and more storage). Bought a Fenix 7 solar sapphire this morning! Sadly the shipping time is 3-5 weeks, so a little more patience is needed…

    1. But guys, why are you buying on Garmin website? I bought my Epix 2 Sapphire at retailer yesterday late evening, and I am going to get the package tomorrow. Price is the same, and even this particular retailer is giving additional year of warranty after Garmin’s warranty has passed.

  2. I’ve purchased every Epix and Fenix to date (not always on release day) and have always sold them on at a decent price thanks in no small part to them looking immaculate despite heavy usage. I thanks the sapphire glass for that and would not even consider purchasing one without that. I’ve forgotten to take the watch off when welding and I’m sure it’s brushed off welding spatter!

  3. I don’t know. I have a few issues with sapphire. For one, pretty much all of the sapphire SKUs in these new models have coated metal bezels. I’ve never scratched a crystal on any watch I’ve ever owned (except for vintage watches with acrylic crystals), but I scratch bezels all the time, and when you scratch a coated bezel, it looks absolutely terrible because there’s so much contrast. I’d much rather have just a raw titanium bezel where the scratches are less prominent (and where they oxidize over time).

    The other issue with sapphire for smartwatches is that screen visibility is significantly worse than with mineral glass. Maybe it’s not an issue with Epix, since the AMOLED screen is so bright, but with the standard Fenix series, going back to the F3, the sapphire crystals have always looked dark, with low contrast.

    I also think people generally underestimate the scratch resistance of other synthetic crystals like Gorilla Glass. They are pretty close to the hardness of sapphire, and there are very few substances you’re likely to come into contact with on a regular basis that are capable of scratching these surfaces. (Crucially, they’re harder than quartz, so you don’t have to worry about sand.) It’s not like it’s the 1970s and we’re comparing hesalite and sapphire.

    1. fair enough. ultimately for me personally a scratched lens drives me crazy and i notce it every time. i only remembering scratching a 935, AW SE and AW7 – all were the cheaper glass. and i accept that something like the apple watch offers zero protection to the lens afforded by a metal bezel to initially take any knock

    2. Let me correct you…Gorilla glass is same as your smartphone’s and if I look at mine after 2 years is fully scratched, I don’t put anything on it…it’s a company phone that makes no difference how I return it after 3 years)l, but my Fenix 6 Sapphire… Is mine ? i wear it 24/7 and it is a tank.

  4. If they are using different chipsets, I wonder what that does to software updates? I also wonder if they’re keeping the same weird .FIT file changes they do with the F6.

    I didn’t/don’t want an all black watch, or a white watch, and you’re pretty much stuck with those colors if you want the dual band GPS. Not a fan of that but that’s also classic Garmin so not something new. Like lookingF7 Solar Sapphire gets you what looks like all black or carbon gray. F7 Solar you get slate grey with a red guard around the top right button. Epix 2 you get black titanium with a red ring on the top right button. All of these look black on their website at least.

    Ray’s review seemed to say the non sapphire Epix 2 did not get multiband. Garmin’s website doesn’t remove multiband from the specs page though.

    Kind of a mess, but again also kind of how it’s always been.

    1. i suppose software updates could be on anohter path? but you can see anyway that the gps software has its own version in ‘about’ so i would imagein can be updated independently

      1. It would be easier to support only one GNSS chip and limit multi-band functionality in software. I haven’t found any teardown photos yet.

      2. Buy me a Fenix 7, and we’ll have enough teardown photos in a few days. 😀

        We don’t have them in stock near here and they’re super expensive…

      3. I mean FCC photos, but they don’t upload pictures lately because they were out prematurely.

  5. Also better wait a half or a full year until most bugs fixed and/or “missing” features added. Some used will also appear. Why bother with new, but half baked thing?

    As many times as I’ve bought “latest and greatest” (also very fresh) I regretted it. It is quite universal across all software driven products.

  6. This is why I have a fenix 6 metal bezel protector. Not a single scratch on the sapphire lens but the bezel is all scratched up already!!

    1. Did you have a specific scenario where worse range and lower penetration of signal would be useful on your wrist watch? The Fenix doesn’t have the throughput to handle more bandwidth and doesn’t have the space for MIMO antennas so adding 5GHz would be a marketing move at best. I wouldn’t compare to Apple Watch, there seems to be a migration away from that right now as it doesn’t do much when compared to Garmin and the battery life is terrible. Lots of forums have threads about this.
      The hardware is almost certainly compliant with current Bluetooth, but Garmin never really implemented much of the stack there anyway since they only really need headphone and sensor support. They certainly failed with multi-channel headphones (aka truly wireless where left and right have independent connections) but I feel this was a processor issue not a Bluetooth issue. Hopefully this will be sorted on the new generation as it’s been embarassing for both Garmin and for the reviewers who consistently pretend it’s not an issue, usually by focussing on a single known good headphone model.

  7. Was able to order from in the US early yesterday morning, pay $15 for 1-day shipping and my 7X Sapphire is arriving today. Still showing 1-3 day availability for 7’s and Epix…

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