Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix up the ante with endurance features, mind-blowing battery
These adventure smartwatches are designed to survive even the toughest workouts and warn you if you're about to burn out.
Lexy SavvidesPrincipal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
ExpertiseWearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive roboticsCredentials
Garmin is overhauling its sport smartwatch line with the Fenix 7 series and a new high-end outdoor watch called Epix. The announcement comes just weeks after Garmin launched the Venu 2 Plus, a $450 (£400, AU$699) smartwatch comparable to the Apple Watch Series 7 and Galaxy Watch 4 with a speaker and mic onboard.
Both the Fenix 7 and Epix are rugged sports watches, but they have different features and finishes that set them apart. The Fenix 7 adds a touchscreen along with buttons. You can swipe around the screen to navigate the interface and look at maps, but if you prefer the traditional button control of Fenix watches, turn off the touchscreen altogether.
There's also a tool called real-time stamina to help you avoid burning out during your workout. Think of it like a fuel tank. It lets you know how much you have left to give at different stages of your run or bike ride, either as a percentage, time or distance. Potential stamina shows your capacity at moderate intensity before you start, while current stamina is what you have left at your current intensity.
The Fenix 7 Series comes in three different sizes, each with reinforced lugs and metal button guards to help them survive tough workouts. Each size also has a solar edition that charges from the sun and boosts the battery life even further than the numbers stated below. Here's the rundown:
Fenix 7S: 42 millimeters, 11-day battery life in smartwatch mode or 37 hours with GPS only.
Fenix 7: 47 millimeters, 18-day battery life in smartwatch mode, 57 hours with GPS only.
Fenix 7X: 51 millimeters, 28-day battery in smartwatch mode, 89 hours with GPS only. Built-in LED flashlight for everyday use and for safety.
The flashlight on the 7X matches your cadence while running: When your wrist swings forward it shines white, and when it swings backwards it shines red.
All watches support major satellite systems and you can download additional map regions over Wi-Fi. Garmin is also offering a sapphire solar model for each size of the Fenix 7, which has a scratch-resistant sapphire face and solar charging capabilities. Pricing for the Fenix 7 series starts at $699 (£599, AU$1,049) and goes up to $999 for the Fenix 7X sapphire solar model.
Watch this: Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a solid fitness smartwatch
Garmin Epix 2: A new watch with crazy battery life
Mix many of the features from the Fenix 7 series with a 1.3-inch AMOLED display and you get the Epix. Garmin's first-gen Epix was launched in 2015 with a color touchscreen and mapping capabilities onboard. The second-gen Epix is a round watch, just like the Fenix 7 series and shares most of the same features including real-time stamina and navigation tools. It doesn't come with the LED flashlight like the Fenix 7X, and it doesn't have solar charging.
Used as a standard smartwatch, the Epix nets you six days of battery life with the always-on display, or 16 days with raise-to-wake. I'm not sure what alchemy Garmin is pulling with the processor and battery performance here, but getting an AMOLED always-on display to last almost a week is wild, especially considering most other watches can barely make it to two full days under similar conditions.
The proof will be in real-world testing, so stay tuned for results once we can test an Epix. Pricing starts at $899 (£899, AU$1,399) for a glass watch face and steel frame, or $999 for sapphire glass and a titanium frame. Unlike the Fenix 7, the Epix only comes in one 47mm size. Stay tuned for our hands-on with both the Fenix 7 series and the Epix.