Garmin Fenix 7 Review
Shorter than normal, here’s a quick review of the all-new Garmin Fenix 7 getting straight to the key points, the first of which is that the Garmin Fenix 7 is the best sports watch ever made, although lovers of a pretty screen will agree with this review and acclaim the Garmin Epix 2 as the best ever.
Garmin sells millions of Fenix watches and at up to about $1,000 a watch, that’s a lot of money in total. So much money and so much profit that Garmin easily affords to re-invest significant chunks of it in R&D. As a result, every year you get a steady stream of new features and every two years, or so, you get a mostly new watch on the inside that just so happens to look very similar to the previous one on the outside.
This year is no different, although Covid has made us wait a little longer than we would have liked.
The Garmin Fēnix 7 is the best ever and it is worth the upgrade if you have a Fenix 5 Plus or older, or from any other Garmin watch. Even with a Fēnix 6, you should be tempted to upgrade too but it’s not so clear-cut there.
It’s an expensive leap if you want to change to Garmin from your Coros Vertix 2, Suunto 9 Peak or Polar Grit X watch but there’s no real point in doing that unless you are really missing something important to you in your current watch.
Must Read: Lumen Review – the Fat & Carb Metabolism Burn Monitor links to your Fenix
Garmin Fēnix 7 – What’s New?
I’m excited about this. Garmin has done more than enough to get me to buy the Fenix 7.
No Garmin freebies here folks, I buy my own.
Despite looking the same, it’s the hardware that makes up most of the changes that enable greater levels of performance – from a longer-lasting battery to a better heart rate monitor and a better GPS chip. The meaningful sports software features are the same as the Fenix 6 but with a few extra nuggets.
That’s normally the end of the one-paragraph summary. Except today’s announcement also marks major moves forward for Garmin, this time in a new direction. Firstly, the Garmin Connect mobile platform is changing to allow settings to be made on the phone rather than on the device. Secondly, the Fenix menus and screens are improved in numerous places. These might sound trivial to you but it shows that Garmin is finally addressing its Achilles heel USABILITY. It was crazy buying the most-featured watch ever but being unable to either find or understand the features you paid for. That’s now significantly positively changing for the better.
Verdict: Clearly the best outdoor, multisport watch ever.
Price - 70%
Apparent Accuracy - 87%
Build Quality & Design - 90%
Features, Including App - 99%
Openness & Compatability - 98%
Garmin’s Fenix 7 is the most advanced multi-sports & expedition watch to date, but it includes the widest possible range of tools for athletes in virtually any sporting discipline.
New & existing stats like VO2max, lactate threshold detection, stamina, training load and training focus are but a few of the many gems that are well-presented and straightforward to interpret.
For once, a touchscreen is added that boosts general usability rather than hindering your sports performance where others become responsive in the wet. But you still won’t miss the 5-buttons if that’s what you prefer.
Battery life is ridiculously good to the point where you will be enabling every last feature just to try to prove Garmin’s claims wrong.
The new touchscreen is a bonus for browsing through menus, though fans of the Fenix series’ five-button navigation can choose to disable it and stick with what they know. Battery life has received a big boost with no added weight, and mapping tools are greatly enhanced. The only conspicuous absence is a microphone for using your phone’s voice assistant and taking calls, but hopefully, that will come in a future Fenix 7 Plus edition.
- It really does everything a sports watch ever needs to do, as a tech-laden performance triathlete I can vouch for that. Garmin is the make-sure watch to make sure you have every feature.
- Durable for adventures and light enough for serious sports
- Size, solar, sapphire screen ruggedness and beautiful screen (Epix 2) options include everyone
- Comprehensive, free global maps
- Connects to every sports sensor…ever
- Free training plans and links to all the leading training platforms
- Usability has markedly improved but Garmin must continue the journey to further improve
- No pinch zoom on the maps? Really? Garmin will probably add this as it’s such a glaring omission
- It doesn’t work as well with the connected smarts of your phone but it’s a sports tool first and foremost.
- £$£$£$£ – it all comes at a price
Let’s crack on with the new highlights. The Garmin Fenix 7 review will come later and cover in more detail what new Fēnix owners need to consider.
Key Talking Points
- New Garmin Elevate Gen 4 optical heart rate monitor – more accurate and more battery-friendly than before. SpO2? You got it. HRV? You got it. EKG/ECG? Hmmm not yet.
- Latest internal architecture – A complicated way of saying it’s faster, better and more future-proofed for Garmin apps (CIQ).
- Larger Solar cell area – Giving a c15% bigger solar boost than before.
- Better Battery Life – Ignoring Solar, battery lives are c25% better across the range.
- New red/white LED light (Fenix 7X only)
- New Touchscreens – Touchscreens are standard on every model, you can disable them but you will want to use them when interacting with menus and maps. No pinch-zoom though.
- AMOLED Model – There is a new AMOLED model called Epix Gen 2. It has a very pretty screen and shorter battery life, otherwise, it’s the same as F7.
- When compared to Fenix 6 and 6 Pro, all Fenix 7 models are effectively PRO models in the sense that they come with Music (inc Spotify), Multi-Continent Topo Maps, Payments & WiFi.
- Sapphire models – have twice the storage (for pre-loaded maps) and also only the Sapphire models support dual-frequency GNSS
- New Airoha/MediaTek GNSS/GPS Chip – Multi-Constellation (all models), Dual-Frequency GNSS/GPS (Sapphire only models) is the next step for Garmin toward better positional accuracy. Maximum accuracy settings approximately halve battery life.
- Numerous aesthetic changes are made to the watch interface and, surprise! they’re generally pretty good.
- Real-time settings sync – Make changes to watch settings on the Connect app, ability to configure and hide groups of settings on the smartphone app. #Sweet
- Limited Garmin CIQ Store on the watch
- CIQ now supports data from VO2max, Stress & Body Battery. CIQ ‘4’ (API level 4.0.0) is used.
- Also added are several new Fenix 6 features like a HIIT sport profile and on-screen animations
- Just to remind you also get these and more: smart trainer control; PacePro; round trip route creator; trendline popularity routing; VO2max for the trails; daily workout suggestions; recovery advisor; many performance metrics; ABC sensors; battery power manager; body battery; advanced sleep tracking; respiration metrics; hydration tracking; and app notifications.
Here are the new, key sports-related features
- New Stamina Metric which gives you live insights into the depletion of your remaining energy reserves. I’ve found it reasonably useful but others report a large degree of inaccuracy in predicting what they really had left in the tank at the need of the race.
- Visual Race Predictor – Historical trend data for finish times of your target distance as you get fitter.
- UP-AHEAD – Information on upcoming POIs along your route eg distance to aid station, fuel station, finish, checkpoint.
- SKIVIEW Maps – 2000 ski destinations
- Health Monitoring Activity (Wellness feature) – Quickly track daily biometric/wellness trends
Accuracy – Is The Garmin Fenix 7 Accurate?
The GPS-only mode is perfectly accurate for painting that pretty picture on Strava and the new All-Constellations GNSS mode is more accurate than that, in fact, it’s pretty good on the accuracy front and compares well enough to any other watch. You still won’t get a perfect GPS track and distance/pace will be incorrect in difficult reception conditions just like pretty much all other GPS sports watches…buy a footpod, like Stryd, for super accuracy.
I’ve not yet completed the new dual-frequency tests but this post gives an interesting look at GPS vs All Constellation accuracy if you want to read more detail.
I’ve been slightly disappointed with the latest optical HR from Garmin. I could equally show you bad tracks and good tracks. It doesn’t really matter as optical HR performance varies by individual and I just happen to be a bad case…you may be too…or not. If you want super-accuracy then buy the excellent Garmin HRM-PRO/TRI strap.
I’ve found resting HR and overnight HRV to be little different to what Garmin has given us before. ie it seems accurate enough.
Finally, elevation tracks have been especially good for me. I think the trick here is to enter a manual elevation outside your front door and then forevermore Garmin will always use a starting calibration based on that before you head off on a workout.
Garmin Fenix 7 – Key Specs & Options
|Garmin Fenix 7S (small)||Garmin Fenix 7 (normal size)||Garmin Fenix 7X (big)|
|Resolution||240x240px @200PPI||260x260px @200PPI||280x280px @200PPI|
|GPS Hours (+Solar)||37h (+9h)||57h (+16)||89 (+32h)|
|Non-Solar, Solar, Sapphire+Solar, Sapphire Solar Titanium||Non-Solar, Solar, Sapphire+Solar, Sapphire Solar Titanium||Solar, Sapphire+Solar, Sapphire Solar Titanium|
|various colour & band colour options||various colour & band colour options||Solar Titanium: Blue, Black/Grey DLC coating|
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Garmin Fenix 6 – Should I upgrade?
It’s probably not really worth the upgrade as the Fenix 6 is a perfectly fine watch. However the Fenix 7 IS notably better and whilst you won’t notice too much difference in the featureset you will notice a smoother, faster watch that’s packed full of upgraded bits that enhance your sporting experiences.
Particularly I like the ability to make settings on the smartphone and the improved menus on the watch. It’s just more intuitive and quicker and cleaner to use.
Is it more accurate? Nah, not really! I mean it is more accurate but you probably won’t notice its improved accuracy when compared to other watches. That said my F6Pro has not too great GPS, so maybe you will.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Garmin Forerunner 945, 935 – Should I upgrade
The Forerunner 945 was essentially a plastic Fenix 6 aka a lightweight, sporty one. Hold tight and don’t upgrade yet as a Forerunner 955 is due very, very soon. It’ll probably have a new feature or two even compared to the Fenix 7 but don’t worry, they will eventually get rolled out to the Fenix 7 this year.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Apple Watch 7 – Which is best
I use my Apple Watch 7 as my 24×7 watch it simply has better and much deeper integration with an Apple iPhone. It’s pretty too. The restricted battery life of the Apple makes it a no-go-zone for some multi-day adventurers. But even then a decent Apple app or two, a sturdy strap and the judicious use of a battery pack will mean that casual adventurers will be fine with the Apple.
I guess though, with the Garmin it’s just all there on the watch/app. Whereas with Apple’s Watch you will have to spend hours searching for apps.
That said, the Apple Watch is bizarrely slightly more accurate for both GPS and heart rate. Who would have thought that? But it is.
For sports though, I would ALWAYS use a sports-focused watch like a Forerunner or Fenix. So if you consider yourself a wannabe athlete, you know what to do. Go Garmin
Garmin Fenix 7 Opinion
I love highly capable sports watches and Garmin Fenix 7 undoubtedly gives me that.
In the round, Fēnix 7 is simply a better piece of sports kit than anything out there. But that comes at a significant cost that will deter the faint-hearted. Sure you can wait for prices to fall but as we’ve only recently seen with the Fenix 6, waiting for the more significant price falls could keep you waiting for 2 more years.
If you are looking for new navigational or sports features then you will probably be a little disappointed. There is little to see in those respects.
Fear not. More features will follow in 2022/23. Sure the Fenix 6 will also get most of them but the older your existing Fenix, the less likely it will be given the newer feature or, indeed, it may simply be unable to run them.
As a Garmin user for over 10 years, I know exactly what to expect from Garmin’s sporting prowess and it is comprehensively good, Fenix has ALL of that goodness.
So what excites me the most are the performance and benefits offered by an optional touchscreen plus the high-resolution screen of the Epix Gen 2 version. A quality screen and improved interface finally move the Fēnix closer to the smartwatch superiority of the Apple Watch.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pricing
Adding Solar, Sapphire and Titanium each bumps up the prices. You should seriously consider sapphire to protect the lens plus Sapphire is the ONLY way to get the dual-frequency, multi-constellation 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
I recommend Garmin, Wiggle, BackCountry or REI where first-time customers are usually prompted to get a 15% joining discount/bonus. Nice, if you can get it. This single link automatically clicks to a choice of retail stores in your country eg Wiggle, PowerMeterCity, Amazon, REI, B&H, Walmart, Competitive Cyclist & Backcountry
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106 thoughts on “the Garmin Fenix 7 Review ☀️ Hype? Or Best Ever? Solar too”
Ridiculous that those with test units like Ray can’t post yet. Good to see you’re not yet ensnared in their nonsense.
Really disapointed that the Epix doesn’t have a colour compatible with metal bands. Either have to have a black watch with grey band, a steel watch with Ti band, or a silver ti watch with white plastic. Someone at Garmin should be fired for that given the target demographic for Epix. Even on the Fenix 7 range there’s no longer a bundle with silver metal band, and having had the 3 sapphire, 5, and 5 plus all in DLC grey I am SO over dark watches at this point. Men wearing dark things is such a boring cliche at this point.
Aside from that this looks like another big step forwards. You said it’s worth the upgrade from 5+ but I’m going to disagree and say 6. Lazy journos (no offence!) say there’s no need to update from the previous version for no other reason than that’s what people with the old one want to hear, yet every single Fenix I’ve ever had (and I’ve had them all) has been a massive step forwards (if I ignore the Solar which was just a minor hardware tweak). This looks to be just as big a change to me and well worth the upgrade from the 6.
i was in two minds to say upgrade from F6…so maybe you are right !
I genuinely think it’s another big step. If they’ve done touch well it’ll be huge like you said mapping will be awesome with good zoom.
That said, there’s a few hours until embargo and I imagine several reviews will be changing from positive to really, really negative right now. I can almost hear the keystrokes from here 😀
“… Garmin sells millions of Fenix watches…” source of this statement? Your mind or any published data? Or just made it up?
it was reported a couple of years ago when they first hit 1million unit sales for F5 (IIRC). I could google it…but so could you.
Thanks for the summary, it will indeed be interesting to see if the internals have been improved enough to allow for acceptable map scrolling speed, especially with the touchscreen. Apparently the FR945 was already better than the F6 for scrolling.
One important think to note is this:
Multi-frequency Positioning yes (Sapphire Editions only)
Yep, oddly that’s only for the Epix though, all F7s have dual frequency.
Also, some EU shops would be appreciated (blame Brexit). I don’t see epix available on any retailers yet.
yes. they have been told to honour the embargo
if they don’t do that I guess they risk not getting any more stock
Czech retailer pulsmetry.cz have them in stock https://www.pulsmetry.cz/garmin-epix-2/, they are saying “Shipping in 19.1. / 20.1.” (depends on the specific version). I pulled the trigger, let’s see if they can keep the promise 🙂
You are from Czechia I presume, since they do not ship in the EU sadly.
Epix Slate/Steel variant is already available on various Amazon EU sites (.pl, .de for example).
Hard to find but enter the product SKU into the search (010-02582-01).
ty, edit: it’s here on amazon.de https://amzn.to/3A6IhO8
edit: all European (including UK) updated here https://geni.us/GarminEpix2 … USA not yet working
It will be very interesting to see if any references are made to the potentially missing EKG/ECG capability today. At this price, and give the emergence of it in competing products, I think it is critical that Garmin has it in these models. They may be shipping it in the sensor, but not yet switched on – if that is the case it would be good to know.
i thought it had ecg until very recently
It DOES use ECG, as did the original Fenix. Traditional HR straps are ECG. Apple’s in watch ECG is just one implementation and draws a pretty graph. It would be nice to see Garmin add it to the watch, sure, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker for most of their user base, and even on the Apple watch it’s mostly a trivial amusement rather than serious feature.
You cannot directly compare electrical ECG and optical HR. A pulsewave is not the same as an electrical cardiac wave. Sure, they correlate, but for example a heart attack, which can in many cases be measured in an ECG by ST-elevation, simply does not show up in a pulsewave.
Nobody was comparing those, we were all talking about electrical measurement. Unfortunately Apple did their usual thing of “inventing” a slightly worse version of something and pretending it was new. The only thing they meaningfully added was convenience and a pretty graph, but Garmin and especially Polar have had the hardware for years out in the field. Polar even have these for horses available at retail. It would be a trivial firmware update to record a higher resolution graph of the heart and send it over Bluetooth, but then all the fanboys would complain it wasn’t directly on the watch so they can use it in the pub.
I’m all for deferred gratification but only for other people.
Has anyone seen the Epix on any EU sites? I’ve ordered on Garmin but delivery is 3-5 weeks. On the plus side it’s £56 less on Garmin FR than on Garmin GB.
i suspect garmin will underestimate demand for Epix
i’m wondering where epix is fulfilled from?
in the USA the epix is coming in 1-3 days. so I’m thinking they haven’t got any over the Atlantic yet and/or if they do will it go to a European warehouse?
post-Brext shipping into the UK is actually fairly easy if you are geared up for it (I do it in my other job) and Garmin does this every day.
tho i was assuming it would be coming from Southampton
bottom line I’m hoping the stated figures are over estimates.
yeah delayed gratification is not for me either. 😉
I’m concerned by the Epix too. Just looking at the 4 colour options suggests they think Fenix will be a lot more popular. Personally I think Epix would have killed Fenix, but given the lack of commitment Epix may well die.
That could be by design, of course. They have previously done such things to stem demand while component ramp ups happen and niggles are stamped out of the manufacturing process. If that’s the case then Epix might be a one and done like last time then Fenix takes the AMOLED screen for the next iteration. At this point the Fenix screen and better battery life is an extremely niche requirement given how long the Epix lasts
Available on Cotswold Outdoor with next day delivery.
Just ordered from them (well snow and rock) will be interested to see if it actually arrives tomorrow. They are available on Quidco for 2.5% cash back as well, all helps
Be wary of import tax on EU shopping, sometimes it’s not included and the courier company add a nice surcharge onto your order
When buying from the EU, the local EU sales tax should not be charged by the retailer
instead you should pay a similar amount with import tax and duty (and an admin fee). I think schemes exist for larger companies to prepay this for you (eg maybe amazon)
however what should happen and what does happen are two entirely different things and you may well end up paying two lots of VAT…you will find it hard to get it back
I wouldn’t recommend buying to import into the UK, maybe consider amazon.de at a push. similarly those in the EU would be best not the buy from the uk
Epix is on Amazon Spain 1 day delivery
waiting for the white version myself as I have a F6 titanium with a matching band
do they have stock? breaking the embargo might mean they get none…or at least none early.
Ordered from Bikester (thanks for the link) 2.5 hours ago and the order status has just changed to “Sent” so either they had stock or are telling porkies. Hopefully the former.
My Epix arrived this morning; so two days from order. The display is lovely but it seems tiny after living with an “X”.
looks like he got an Epix media seed unit, some nice close-ups…not english commentary
PS Tip: only post one link to WordPress sites. WordPress automatically spams it otherwise
How come some random youtuber gets his media loaners but you don’t? Have you had some kind of conflict with Garmin, assuming you get Polar and Coros loaners?
I have had every Fenix since 3 maybe even earlier. The Epix2 with amoled had me very excited – but learning that is was limited to 47mm and not 51mm was very dissapointing.
I like large watches rough looking. There was rumours that the fenix would have voice/siri support – that would close the smartwatch gap to apple watch quite a bit. The second part I really miss is screen – I would sacrifice battery for amoled quality
47mm is normal size, 51mm is ‘large/F7X size’
LTE maybe on a special LTE version in the future which might make up the F& Plus…who knows at this stage? the feature is on Venu so it’s likely fenix will get it eventually.
51mm was the original fenix size until the fenix 5 redefined it as the 5X size. The f5 being smaller was a big marketing feature but it also messed up the RF — you may recall Stryd dropout and other accessories not working. The motherboard is connected by pins to the bezel which is part of the antenna system. They used to talk about the EXO antenna design and the diameter of the antenna was tuned for GPS reception.
The 5X was where it started being that the X one had something extra. Maps with the 5X — at expense of significantly compromised battery life. Much more battery range with the 5X plus and 6X. 6X had the *much* larger display and was the only mode with a solar option (gimmick).
I think to this day the 51mm versions have better RF and GPS reception.
So while the 47mm versions are undoubtedly more popular I think the “natural” size of the fenix is the 51mm. And that’s the one that always most targets the ultra, mountaineering, and through-hiking space most directly. The 47mm are more oriented for triathletes and others who want a more premium aesthetic than than the f9xx but aren’t impressed with the “ultra” features and put off by the bulk.
yep I kinda agree with most of that.
The 5X is definitely too big for most of those of use with smaller wrists. If worn over clothing I guess its different.
For anyone that is REALLY and ACTIVELY using a map on the wrist then the X size certainly makes a lot of sense.
I do remember the signal dropouts! #Disaster
… and no Solar version
yes no solar epix
i was pretty sure there was more than one Epix SKU though , so there is something strange here.
the other SKU(s) were not solar tho. just minor colour/finish variants
Is the DUAL-FREQUENCY really only in Saphire versions? 🙁
Not according to Garmin website
Yes, according to Garmin website Battery life item in top table…
Ordered a black sapphire Epix 2 for delivery tomorrow here in the UK.
More responsive mapping ie faster hardware in addition to a pretty screen. Look forward to putting it to the test myself!
In-depth review from the man himself
Standard and Solar 16GB, Sapphire has 32GB.
Standard and Solar you have to install the Topo maps yourself. Sapphire has them preloaded.
Can’t see many other differences between the models.
Hallo macht das einen großen Unterschied wenn man nur 16 GB hat? Bekommt man dann alle Karten darauf und hat man noch etwas Platz dann frei?
32Gb on the Sapphire holds all the maps
16Gb on non-Sapphire means YOU have to manage maps. but 16 will easily do 100% of Europe plus music storage
Nice job with all your predictions/sources!
Impossible question for you…if the hypothetical 955 actually comes later this year, with running power, do you think they’ll bring power to the Fenix too? I think that’s the only thing that’s holding me back from clicking the buy button this morning (and actually useful lte grumble grumble grumble)
hi, ty for your kind words
the 955 is real and NOT hypothetical!
it already has running power via CIQ.
NATIVE running power is NOT a cert to come but i think it will as sources say it will
It will then DEFINITELY go to F7/Epix2
Thank you for all your thoughts. Any idea how many CIQ fields can be used, is it still just two?
The main reason I want the native power support is to eliminate the CIQ field and presumably power-based structured workouts.
I’m convinced that the CIQ runtime interpreter uses a *lot* more power and memory than native code. It’s also not perfect for isolation. It’s possible for a flaky CIQ app/field/widget/face to burn a lot of power, hang, or even crash your watch. I think that’s why they limit it to 2 fields.
Note that the Descent disables CIQ entirely during dives — which tells you it isn’t entirely safe. They clearly don’t think it is ok for their liability in a safety-critical context, which should tell you something.
anecdotally I agree. CIQ could be an explanation for some of the worse than expected battery performances i experience (and still experience on f6pro)
I have the Fenix 6 pro and don’t really see the point in getting Fenix 7.
Most Software improvements will come to my watch too so in the end all that would count for me is better battery and GPS. But since I have also the Stryd Sensor, the latter is only for cosmetical reasons.
Could you please let us know, which software version is on your test unit?
There are vast amounts of complaints about GPS and pace accuracy on Fenix 6 Pro (and variants), which many people state are down to Sony chipset, poor antenna and software issues. Two years after release software changes never fixed it. My F6 returned for refund.
So interested to know about GPS improvements on F7. Any additional info on the changes? If no significant improvements, then at the price, I really can’t see the point in buying.
A significant part of this is because Garmin sells a vast amount of watches. Some devices have defects or manufacturing variability and some people are wankers who need to get outside more and worry less. See also the endless backlight whining.
GPS is frankly an astonishing technology if you stop and think about it. I think expectations are a little warped. Each point is accurate to around 3-5m. The survey maps also may not be perfectly accurately registered either.
In aggregate they tend to be accurate within 1% and pace at the granularity of 1km is excellent. Current pace at running speed is a problem. Overpasses, tunnels, urban canyon, real canyons, trees (full of RF-scattering water), heavy rain… these things are also challenges for the technology. That’s what dual-frequency and multi-constellation is working on.
I think the “current pace” problem is the inherently the least tractable in the list because it is sensitive to a small number of inaccurate points.
>>A significant part of this is because Garmin sells a vast amount of watches.
>>Some devices have defects or manufacturing variability and some people
>>are w****** who need to get outside more and worry less
Are you suggesting the problems are because of hardware defects introduced in the manufacturing process. Fair comment, so are you saying that if your tracks, pace etc are not accurate then Garmin should automatically replace your watch and if it cannot be resolved then you should be entitled to your money back? That would be acceptable.
There are a vast amount of complaints about pace and accuracy on F6. This isn’t just a couple of people moaning about nothing. Search for yourself and you will soon get an idea of how wide spread this is. the5krunner has even blogged that “Years ago I gave in on relying on Garmin for accurate pace from GPS (I use stryd)” and in relation to his Fenix 6 Pro says, “I’ve been a little bit shocked to be reminded of the consistent poorness of the track compared to just about all the other devices and I’m still not quite sure how Garmin has gotten away with this for so long.”
I appreciate the technology behind GPS, I realize the problems with overpasses, tunnels, canyons and the accuracy of maps. But you cannot blame overpasses, maps, the weather if other watches are consistently more accurate. If you were to go out with a running group and your F6 is the only watch that shows the problem you question why. So you look into it and find out there are a lot of people unhappy with the F6. It is an expensive watch so as you would appreciate it is somewhat unacceptable that it should be less accurate than a cheaper watch, especially other cheaper Garmin watches. If other watches are always more accurate then do we assume the F6 either has a defect or that it just was not designed very well?
It appears that some other manufacturers’ watches (and some other Garmin watches) have what is perceived as more accurate pace and distance. Yes, there are also watches that are worse and someone using a F6 after a worse watch is unlikely to be disappointed.
Searching around it seems that the 745 has more accurate pace/distance than the F6. I have read the possible reasons why – plastic case instead of metal etc. Of course, you could rightly say the F6 has maps and many other features, which justify the higher price, but it appears not to be as accurate. I question why so much more to get extras when the basics aren’t as good. Of course, if a buyer knows this in advance and it does not concern them then ok – it is their choice.
IDK whether Garmin has officially stated if the F7 uses a different chipset to the F6, or whether the antenna design is different or whether there are GPS software improvements compared to the F6 or whether the choice of material for the case means the satellite signals are better or whether any of this matters and actually leads to an improvement over the F6. IDK how the multi-band F7 compares to the ‘cheaper’ F7 versions. IDK if the cheaper versions use the same chipset as the F6? IDK if the cheaper F7 versions are as bad as the F6? If the cheaper F7 uses the same hardware as the F6 but is considerably more accurate can all those F6 owners who have a problem soon expect a software change which stops them from expressing their displeasure.
Anyway, blah blah blah, whatever… I, like many others, simply want to know BEFORE we even consider buying so we can make an informed choice so when we do “get outside more” we know we can “worry less”.
Hey get down off that fence and say what you think ! 😉
I agree with all that.
When spending $1000 on anything you expect it to be fit for purpose. in the UK a failure for a product to do that, i believe, is reason in itself to return it.
surely a top-end running watch should tell you how fast you are running. it is THE most basic thing. same argument for an optical HRM as a means of pacing, readiness and quantifying load.
I think the problem is more nuanced though. Garmin’s products are definitely not the most accurate but they are not that far behind in the circumstances in which i test them (I don’t test in mountains and need to test more in urban areas). so even if the Airoha chip, confirmed by DCR, brings more accuracy will it be just a ‘bit more accuracy or a step change?
I am just not convinced that Garmin will improve things that much (I’ll report back soon). If they wanted to I suspect they could match ambit 3 levels of performance but most people don’t really care about accuracy and that’s why they haven’t historically worried about it too much (I care, you care and Brian cares but LOTS of others don’t)
“chest strap and Stryd” is likely to remain my mantra.
having had my moan as well. I think this new chip CAN help matters in mountains based on what I’ve seen from Coros – and Garmin can certainly do as well there if they want to.
urban canyons are also tricky and there are still more GPS tricks that can be played beyond the tech that Garmin supports in F7. but we are running out of tricks that can be played
PS: Just to avoid doubt, my F6 Pro is particularly bad. The FR745 was particularly good.
I have had 2 fenix 6X. The first one started to have reduced battery performance after 2 years and then started freezing and rebooting during activities. The battery has charge cycle limits and that’s life. I believe that the gaskets were compromised and they led to the systemic failure. I had a lot of time in the mountains of Southern Africa with my 6X and it took some knocks. Never scratched or cracked the screen though.
2 years is about the life I experience and expect from these things. A little more would be nice but I’m amazed by people still rocking an F3 and it is in working condition
In any case both f6X I had had reasonable GPS performance. Better than the 5X which had one notable freak out of insanity during a race and would deflect notably with reflections of signal off of tall buildings or cliffs.
I’m not saying it is amazing. I’m saying acceptable and with the battery range at that generation of tech, it was top notch engineering trade-offs of battery, accuracy, and durability.
I gave up on the Garmin current pace long ago. Could Garmin do better — yes I think there are simple smoothing rolling average algorithms that would give better steady-state readings. But I don’t know if that would be a problem for interval paces? Anyway I use a Stryd on the road.
I don’t trust the wrist HR sensor for workouts. I have had too many occasions of total nonsensical readings for minute at a time. I use an H10 for every workout.
I use TrainingPeaks LT2 estimate (not Garmin’s) and the Joe Friel zone calculations, not Garmin’s. I have decided that Garmin is much better at collecting data than giving training advice. I think Polar is better as a first party but TP is the gold standard, unless you are going down the rabbit hole of Golden Cheetah and Kubios.
My sense is there are some people who are not pleased got bad units and those should be replaced under warranty. Some people are just unreasonable and will never be pleased (see also backlight-gate). If you sell through a lot of units those are large numbers of people. People with an axe to grind post a lot on forums while pleased customers are out on the trail, road, and bike.
I also have a strong suspicion, though no personal experience, that the 6 and 6S are worse at GPS than the 6X because they have smaller antennas. The original engineering antenna and case design were for a 51mm case and the bezel is and was part of the RF system.
I have had good and reliable but not amazing performance on the 6X with GPS+Galileo (the default) and GPS-only (although this was over Ultra distance in mountains so minor wobbles would not be that obvious. However I didn’t get lost which was a win.
If I was more price sensitive, I would probably be on the Coros Vertix or Vertix 2. There is no question Garmin is maximizing their ARPU by manipulating the fenix SKUs to bundle desirable feature in the more expensive models.
See absolutely nothing worth to upgrade, will wait for Fenix8. In general it looks like OHR technology and HRV based metrics reached its limits and there is nothing more to offer for better training…
for my current watch – the Garmin Fenix 6 pro – the improvements are not enough to make it worth buying. Simply better battery and GPS is not enough, since I also have the stryd running sensor which gives accurate pace.
could you tell us the software version used on the Fenix 7?
Thanks for the summary.
Do you know if the Fenix/Epic still only allow 2 Connect IQ datafields during an activity?
Need a Bluetooth connection to some brand of smart glasses, or better yet, smart goggles. Who actually reads maps and other information from a tiny watch face while running/hiking/biking/swimming/…??
Will reserve judgement on GPS improvements. All I know is that in urban environments it’s pointless due to scattering caused by tall buildings. Useless for pacing in marathons held in cities like Chicago, or New York. If nothing else, it should have a smoothing function and/or the ability to change/remove the jagged path that currently results. Maybe tie into 5G for better tracking in cities?
FORM Goggles do that ! same guys did a HUD for cycling. Di2 is also good for hands free control of head unit and i think Bryton do bike voice control of the head unit to a degree
GPS in cities is a problem – footpods and my features like Suuno ghost Racer could be a solution for some
So when are we actually expecting the embargo to be lifted for US/Canada and Epix and Fenix 7 to be available at the major retailers?
about two hours ago !!
I’m confused too
I was able to get on on the garmin.ca website (Canada), 7x solar sapphire, all black. Gray DLC all sold out.
Got on chat with the rep – he said some restocking would become available Feb 25, primarly the sold out EPIX.
Best Buy – our big retailer here – has them all Available for preorder
Release Date: April 15, 2022
That’s either a precaution until they get a firm date of a few days, or really bad that there is a 3 month wait for the watches….
i just tried best buy as well, as you say everything is sold out.
The one thing I noticed on Best Buy – and this might mean something so I suggest checking it out!
IF you click on the watch – ex. EPIX. It says pre-order for April 15, 2022.
However, some of the watches, like the black EPIX say – AVAILABLE 5. I just ordered one to test and now it says, AVAILABLE 4, so def my purchase.
Some of the SKUs don’t have that available number. So definitely something here….
I am hoping that they are taking pre orders but MIGHT have a few in stock, otherwise, not sure why they would state that. I will report back if I get a shipped (fingers crossed) notification!
OK, I’ve added the bestbuy link in here but can’t see it in stock myself, then again i can only see one SKU:
When looking at all the features today, I’m happy. I’m happy that I made the switch from Enduro to Vertix 2 a month ago (as Vertix 2 was on sale for 595 EUR!) and there is actually nothing big in F7 that makes me regret my move. After the “detox” from the Garmin ecosystem (and it was tough for a while), I like the COROS for some unknown reason 🙂
interesting, thank you
If you consume data mostly on the watch and never the app then I guess Coros is great for that. if you like the rotating crown…even better , as it works well.
I’m actually a big data geek (or thought I was), but the very basic info provided in the COROS app is actually 99% enough for me. The same is with COROS Training Hub. After living without Garmin for 2-3 weeks, I realised that I totally don’t need all the overwhelming data that Garmin provides. Sure, I miss body battery widget (and some other “nice to have” features), but that’s a Garmin’s black box stuff without some publicity available scientific backing. I have found that COROS morning HRV is much better indicator on my upcoming morning run than body battery.
I’ve more than half way through on putting together an extensive summary on how the transition from Garmin to COROS was for one local wearables / blog site and that has helped me to put my pros and cons in a structured way 🙂
yes, in principle, the single reading with coros is better than body battery. I’ve not especially tested the accuracy of the Coros HRV reading.
Hasn’t Garmin had HRV Stress test which requires a ECG chest strap and there is an option to log HRV. Presumably you then analyze those logs with Kubios or something. I don’t think Garmin does anything with that.
yes i think that’s right.
i dont know if body battery accepts readings from the strap (if it did it would be wrong as it would then not be comparing like with like)
either way most people will be taking the stress readings based on the oHR sensor (I don’t, but most do)
no support of ultrawideband, i guess. uwb is the next step replacing bluetooth first for audio, next for sensors. so i‘ll wait for next gen fenix 8 (i own a fenix 6 saphire)
The price so the watch upgraded a lot and is the most improved thing in F7.
Seems a bit odd that the (upper model) Epix only gets a (boring) black and white model in addition to basic, non-sapphire versions. Any thoughts on whether more colors/alternatives could be expected anytime soon?
And for the missing ECG feature; would it in any case not make more sense to include this in a strap, which could then measure constantly while wearing during an activity? From a health/safety perspective this seems more useful than a brief reading while not in activity…
i see the Epix as more of a branch off the main hierarchy. so 7x titanium sapphire would be top.
ecg would only ever be a single point reading but placing a finger on the start button. it wouldn’t be a continual use thing.
the finger would form a ‘single lead’ (I think that’s the right terminology). medical grade devices have multiple leads effectively i think taking multiple simultaneous readings to build up a detailed and true picture of the beat…something like that.
Correct, which is why it probably would make more sense to incorporate a (continuous) reading into a chest strap HRM (third party exists already), rather than a gimmick-function on the wrist.
Would still hope for some more exiting colors of the epix for the fashion-oriented among us, even if the 7x is top (going for a 7/7x/s without Amoled is a no-go after seeing them next to each other).
There is a fourth epix coloroption on Garmins Norwegian site. Still black bezel, but the start-button is all black, markings on watch-face is silver instead of red and the band is leather. https://www.garmin.com/nb-NO/p/760778/pn/010-02582-30
Did the 7s really get thicker? That would be a serious step back as the 6s is not a thin watch already.
Very disappointed as I would buy something slimmer right away despite the so far disappointing features
Any idea if the new F7 features will make it to the 945LTE?
It has the same sensor and new chipset.
I think the most important features that everybody wants on his previous gen Garmin watch is the ability to customize sports profiles, settings…Etc on GC App.
And frankly, this is by far the biggest feature of the F7, as far as I can tell 🙂
(and even more importantly, it’s a hint that we’ll get his on Edge bike computers also for the XX40 series…probably with power glass on the 1040 too…)
do you expect garmin to release an update to the tactix delta (tactix echo?) soon in conjunction with the 7x?
I don’t know about ‘soon’ but I would bet they will release one at some point over the next 2 years. Check the delay from the fenix 6 to the Delta, it will likely be a similar delay to the Echo from today
Yes this one is the “Exclusice line” for watch dealers. I have one on order. It just looks gorgeous, doesn’t it 😉
Does the F7 Saphire have maps preloaded for the whole world? In Ray’s vid, the graphic of map sizes seem to total more than 32GB?
Hi! This is slightly off-topic, though it seems to affect basically all Garmin watches, either new or with new firmware, so that should include the Fenix 7.
As you seem not as affiliated with Garmin as some other well know reviewers (no names here), I thought you might be interested.
Garmin changed their altimeter / barometer calibration algorithm some weeks ago. In short, it sucks. It worked fairly well before, and it’s not easy to get that right, the watch must make some educated guesses based only on speed of pressure change and movement.
Apparently, many had criticised the Fenix beta because of this. Garmin still went ahead and pushed the release. Also affected are the Instinct line and probably the new Epix 2.
Now, just sitting in chair, your ‘measured’ elevation can change many meters in a short amount of time. Outside, these errors can be in the tens of meters in less than an hour.
Here are some links:
thanks Mike, Yes I was a bit aware of this and was looking into it as part of the review. I was a bit surprised as they seemed to have it working well enough for a couple of years
Exactly! There seems to have been no good reason to change this. Perhaps Garmin are trying to work around a patent?
The Fenix beta thread is full of this. Someone posted a before and after picture, it’s impressive and correlates with my own experience:
just a short shout out: Some Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are having massive problems with bluetooth audio quality on headphones. It seems to boil down to a HD-codec problem – SBC, the worse codec, seems to sound better than AAC.
I wish I could buy the F7 without music…then it would automatically attach to my PC as a proper drive letter.
Does it identify as a multimedia device, i.e. not as mass storage?
yes if a music-enabled device
there’s no easy solution…I’ve looked
That seems absolutely bonkers.
Shouldn’t it register as two separate devices? One mass storage, one media?
My old Oregon registered as two devices: Internal memory and SD card. Worked perfectly.
the f7 doesnt have an sd card…otherwise i think that would
I have an Epix Gen 2 and have zero issues with audio quality 😉
No pinch zoom is very strange. I had this on oryginal epix years ago and it was working ok 🙂
indeed so, very strange.
the screen is very sensitive. maybe it’s non trivial to get pinch zoom to work.? idk but it certainly needs it even though the screen area is very small
I bought the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar and i am returning it to Garmin for the second time. The DLC-Coating is very bad and detaches from the bezel without any hits or mechanical force. It seems that this happens to many users. There are also reports of issues with the knobs and some people report lekay watches. I had Fenix 6 and and a 5 before but never heard of such big quality issues.
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