Garmin Fenix 7 – is ‘All Satellites Mode’ More Accurate?

Garmin Fenix 7 accuracy gps ohr

Garmin Fenix 7 – is ‘All Satellites Mode’ More Accurate than GPS?

Must Read: Garmin Fenix 7 Review

In late 2021, the Coros Vertix 2 debuted the Airoha/MediaTek AG3335M GPS chip and, more recently, the Garmin Fenix 7 saw Garmin ditch the Sony chip in favour of Airoha, presumably, for the exact same one that Coros uses.

Every new sports watch and GPS chip seems to claim to be more accurate than the previous one but the truth is far from that. Indeed, over the last 5 years or so the focus has been on sports watches using components that use less power and hence extend battery life. As a result, accuracy has suffered, my Fenix 6 Pro (six) being a prime example of accuracy meh-ness.

Much talk has been made on how case materials and antenna design affect accuracy. Whilst true, there are many other factors at play including GPS algorithms and the use of available power.

Multi-constellation & Multi-frequency GNSS?

Airoha brings us two things of note that should increase accuracy – multi-constellation GNSS and multi-frequency reception.

Multi-Constellation GNSS accuracy is what this post looks at. My Fenix 7 is a non-Sapphire model and, as such, it does not have multi-frequency reception. I’ll save a look at multi-frequency accuracy later for my Garmin Epix 2 Sapphire.

Multi-constellation GNSS previously meant either GPS+GLONASS or GPS+GALILEO. Both combinations simply offer more satellites for your watch to find…the more the merrier when it comes to delivering accuracy in dicey reception conditions.

Well, now the Fenix 7 now has PLENTY of satellites to choose from. Probably for simplicity, Garmin gives Fenix 7 users the choice of GPS-only or GPS+every other constellation.

The Chinese Beidou satellites are now a global system and they are added to the full list that includes satellites from GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russia) and Galileo (EU) and if you like in India or Japan you might also benefit from NavIC and QZSS satellites.

To reiterate: multi-frequency is only on the Sapphire models. Multi-frequency improves accuracy differently to multi-constellation. Each satellite also transmits at the L5 frequency which is a different frequency to the L1 frequency. These different frequencies will be refracted and reflected differently to each other so if your watch finds a mismatch from any one satellite in the distances reported by L1 and L5 then information could be disregarded as being inaccurate.


Garmin Fenix 7 Accuracy

OK, I’ve bored you enough with satellite stuff. I’ve performed some workouts this week where I repeated a route with GPS-only and a  comparable ‘best’ mode with the Coros Vertix 2, Garmin Fenix 7, Apple Watch 7 and the 935. So for the Vertix 2 & Fenix 7, I used All constellations, I used the only available mode on the Apple Watch 7 and the 935 used Galileo in the hope it was better than GLONASS.

Test 1 – Suburban Grid – All Constellations

These are all fairly decent-looking tracks at a high level but the red (935) strays off the course more than the other 3 so I’ll remove that track for the subsequent zoom-ins.


Here are some more details where Fenix 7 (green), Vertix 2 (Yellow) and Apple Watch 7 (blue are compared). Of these 3 they are sometimes equal but on many of the corners the Vertix let me down slightly. The Fenix 7 probably edged out the Apple Watch 7 here and so was the best. I was surprised on two fronts. Firstly that the Apple Watch 7 (seven) performed well as I’ve found it to be not as good as the Apple Watch 6 and secondly that there was a clear difference between Coros and Garmin.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not belittling the Coros 2 or Apple Watch in any way. These 3 watches are some of the most accurate on the market today. I’ve done this test route many times and I’m pretty sure that the results you see here are generally superior to anything else currently sold by any other vendor’s watches.




Test 2 – Suburban Grid – GPS Only

This is the exact same route, in reverse and with GPS-only.

At a high level you can again see 4 similar tracks. You might even think they are not that much different from the previous test! And certainly, if all you are looking for is a pretty track on Strava then GPS-only is the de-facto recommendation.


Zooming in closer it was again the 935 that was clearly less accurate so I omitted that once again just to make these charts more readable. This time the winner is less clear cut but it is still the Fenix 7 with the Vertix 2 dropping slightly further behind.




Test 4, 5, 6 – Cycling

There’s nothing to see here folks! These 3 rides are all perfectly acceptable with only one glitch from the Wahoo Bolt 2. One ride is the Richmond Octopus which is 8 short but could-be-hard hill reps in a suburban town centre area, another is a 4 hour+ Surry hills ride with trees and hills and the last is a tempo ride from London to Windsor with no GPS challenges other than bad, bumpy roads.

Test 7 – Tall Buildings – All Satellites

Running close by tall buildings and encountering 6/7/8-storey high buildings in nearby Kingston is the closest I’m going to get to downtown Manhattan.

This image shows a bit more of a spaghetti mix of competing tracks and there is no clear winner at a high level despite them all just about agreeing on the approximate route. Even where the blue line appears to differ from the others it doesn’t mean it’s wrong in fact sometimes the blue line was correct and the others were not, although sometimes it was wrong as well!

One of the issues we look at in built-up areas is that of the effect of reflected signals from tall buildings. Just like your image appears to be behind a mirror so the GPS track is similarly affected by tall buildings although not quite in the same way. You will often find that if you run past a tall building on one side and a road on the other side, your GPS track will have you thrown out into the middle of the road. This is the effect of reflected signals.


The 935 (red) was close to the others this time but it was just the worst so, again, I’ve eliminated it to give clarity.

I can’t really decide which is best here. I’ve marked where tracks are in the wrong place or correct.

Apple Watch 7 (Blue) vs, Fenix 7 (Green) vs Vertix 2 (Yellow)



Test 8 – Tall Buildings – GPS


Here are the same watches and the same route, this time with GPS-only. Apple Watch 7 uses the same satellites as the previous test.



The yellow (Vertix 2) and Green (935) tracks are slightly worse so I’ll remove them for the detailed look which, remember, compares Fenix 7 GPS (Red)  to Apple Watch (Blue), the latter in ‘best’ mode. The Apple Watch probably does win this but it should as it is using a supposedly better mode.



Test 9 All-Satellites 10-mile test

Finally, this week is my formal test over a 10-mile route that has some quite tricky GPS reception issues in places.

The Fenix 7 turned in the second-ever best performance from a Garmin watch. The best is the 745. The performance is definitely not as good as the Ambit 3/Polar V800 from pre-Industrial Revolution days but Garmin has quite clearly closed the gap, as has Coros. With a bit more accuracy tinkering applied to their algorithms, Garmin and Coros might, just might, be ale able to match those old Polar and Suunto performances from years ago at some point toward the end of this year.

Full Methodology, results and data files here.


Clicks to interactive map on DCR Analyzer


Test 10 – GPS-Only 10-Mile Test

Here’s the exact same test but on a different day and with GPS-only used. There’s not too much difference at first sight! In some cases, the GPS-only track is better. However, my strict scoring regime for key points on the route gives 73% for GPS-only (very average) and 81% for all-constellations (quite good). That might have been a bit harsh on GPS-only but All Constellations is a little bit more accurate.

Clicks to interactive map on DCR Analyzer


So What?

Technology seems finally to be catching up with history.

Airoha probably has a chip that can match the performances of yesteryear, although it’s not quite there yet.

Will you get accurate instance pace? Hmmm. Probably not always, but you will start to get it more often. As always, if you want consistently accurate instant pace and distance then you need to use Stryd, if you want a pretty Strava track then do yourself a favour and save some battery juice and use the GPS-only mode. Those recommendations are unchanged.

I’m being a little unkind as Garmin really has made some quite significant strides here. Clearly, GNSS accuracy is now something they are focussing on and when Garmin focuses on something they eventually get it right. But the current situation is that Garmin’s GPS accuracy is probably pretty similar to everyone else right now rather than previously when it was a bit behind the competition.

Garmin product execs have recently been talking publically about their devices now having spare power to throw at the GPS chip. This is an important point, as with the spare power that is now available, Garmin and Coros can start to interrogate the chip data more intensively and use clever methods to weed out bad data points. The result is more accurate instant pace and distance.

This generation of chips might start to give us decent accuracy in forested areas but accuracy in urban canyons is probably still a tantalising step away from where we are today.

Q: Is ‘All Satellites Mode’ More Accurate than GPS-only for the Fenix 7?

A: Yes, but it doesn’t really matter.



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9 thoughts on “Garmin Fenix 7 – is ‘All Satellites Mode’ More Accurate?

  1. And what about the performances of these watches in canyons, deep valleys or dense woods? Either in case of slow running or walking/hiking?

    The real question is whether All satellites mode of the newest Garmin watches just have clever analysis or are really accurate even in case of slow motion or in case of standing still.

    I mean the question for me. 🙂

    1. “all satellites” just means more available satellites, hopefully more will have a clear line of sight to the watch. Which means more probability that the +/-5m accuracy will be obtained.

      i can only test so many scenarios myself in my normal training. I have cycled through fairly densely wooded areas albeit on roads.

      that said the ‘all satellites’ does NOT appear to make any difference to the treatment of reflected signals. you get those reflections and well as obscuring signals in densely wooded areas. so i still expect +/-20m errors in some scenarios. that is consistent with some of the images shown above.

  2. Good test, thanks. It would have been interesting to include your old F6, it’s really night and day with the F7 ! Not difficult of course since the F6 was probably the worst Garmin ever released since the FR201 in terms of GPS performance.
    Having said that I’m pretty impressed as it’s even better (even in L1/E1 mode only) than the FR55 that had become my goto running watch after losing my FR935 and replacing it with an F6.
    They auto-lap at the same time (except once in an urban canyon run) even if the tracks aren’t as “clean” but that’s not a big deal TBH.

    1. i thought of using the F6 Pro but it’s just awful. far worse than the 935.
      check some of my recent tests for other devices. i use the f6 there. it’s just not good.

      1. I see…many people looking to get the F7 have an F6 so that would certainly be of interest to them, maybe not to Garmin though, which would explain why the main “reviewers” stayed very quiet about this…

      2. Wow. Why don’t You wrote anything similar about F6pro before? This is Yours the first crystal clear opinion how bad is F6pro. Dcr is still silent about this. I bought F6pro because Yours and Dcr’s reviews. Thank You.

      3. hi
        thank you for that feedback.
        my original fenix 6 review was based on a newly released 6pro in 2019. I got another F6Pro towards the back end of 2021 and didn’t use one in the intervening period. (I have one ATM)

        here is the review:
        here is the accuracy piece:
        here are GPS accuracy results for all devices, ever, scored:

        Here was my accuracy summary “Garmin Fenix 6 Review – GPS Accuracy

        “The Fenix 6 is generally fine for most people but runners who seek accuracy will be disappointed although perhaps not surprised. Galileo seems broadly similar to GPS-only in many scenarios and, in any case, is work-in-progress as Garmin endeavours to improve it. Both Galileo and GLONASS do seem sometimes better (eg in urban areas). As of September 2019, the Fenix 6’s overall GPS accuracy is similar to, but not better than, the accuracy of the previous Fenix 5 Plus, which was ‘good’ but not excellent.

        “Note: I am perfectly happy with the post-workout tracks that Garmin produces FOR ME. I can’t see ME ever relying on GPS-PACE from the current crop of Garmin watches and I will always instead use a calibrated running pod.”

        I **OFTEN** write about my general disappointment with Garmin’s GPS and ohr accuracy, I’d say that is one specific area where DCR and I differ.

        Accuracy does often seem a little worse now compared to when the F6 was released.

        You SAY “This is Yours the first crystal clear opinion how bad is F6pro” – please see the above info! The nuance depends on the purpose you are using it for. If it is for accurate instant running pace or navigating in certain circumstances then you are correct and i don’t recall every saying otherwise in numerous reviews and comments about garmin running watches. for people just wanting an approximate track for strava…it’s fine

  3. Hello, thanks for the reply.
    Believe me, I was (in some way) happy to see “just awful” about F6pro and realized I’m not splitting hair last two years. Garmin replaced it two times, still just awful.
    I agree, You are more critical than DCR about Garmin.
    F6pro accuracy is not “mostly good…acceptable”(DCR’s) but “runners who seek accuracy will be disappointed”(Yours).
    That should have been enough but I missed it. I’m sorry.

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