Garmin Fenix 7 – First Thoughts
Garmin sells millions of Fenix watches and at up to $1,000 a watch, that’s a lot of money. So much money and so much profit that Garmin easily affords to re-invest significant chunks of it in R&D. 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 Fenix 7 is the best Fenix ever and it is worth the upgrade if you have a Fenix 5 Plus or earlier. Even with a Fenix 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 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.
Finally, if all you ever want is the latest, greatest tech then you are just reading this article as a post-purchase rationalisation of the order you already placed at Wiggle, PowerMeterCity, Garmin.com or Amazon.
Garmin Fenix 7 – What’s New?
I’m excited by 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 another significant move forward for Garmin. The Garmin Connect mobile platform is changing to allow settings to be made on the phone rather than on the device. There’s more! as the CIQ store can now work on the watch with WiFi. This might sound trivial to you but it shows that Garmin is continuing to address one of its biggest weaknesses – a plethora of features that have been historically cumbersome to access on a complex watch menu system.
Let’s crack on with the new highlights. The Garmin Fenix 7 review will come later and cover in more detail what new Fenix 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, it seems
- 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.
- 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.
- All models are PRO models – Music (inc Spotify), Multi-Continent Topo Maps, Payments & WiFi are on every model.
- Sapphire models – have twice the storage (for pre-loaded maps) and also only 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.
- Subtle aesthetic changes are not worth expanding upon other than to say they exist.
- 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
- 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 – New screen to aid pacing in running & cycling
- 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
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 Opinion
I love highly capable sports watches and Garmin Fenix 7 undoubtedly gives me that.
In the round, Fenix 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 that sporty respect.
Fear not. More features will follow in 2022/23. Sure the Fenix 6 will 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 Fenix(Epix2) version. A quality screen and improved interface finally move the Fenix closer to the smartwatch superiority of the Apple Watch.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pricing
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
USA appears to be lacking listed products and is now sold out. 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 garmin.com 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)