Garmin Epix 2 Initial Impressions
The Garmin Fenix series was already the best premium multisports watch on the market. The Epix takes this to the next level providing users with a new beautiful AMOLED display. This will appeal to more mainstream users who want an attractive, smartwatch as well as a functional multisports watch. Garmin has also managed to keep the battery life impressively high, and it should be more than enough for anyone other than serious ultra-endurance athletes or multi-day hikers.
Overall - 90%
- Excellent display with multiday battery life
- Manage all your settings via the phone
- Improved GPS accuracy
- It's £800+
- Still uses that horrible charging cable
As I am not DC Rainmaker or a massive publication, I had to buy the Garmin Epix 2 myself and have therefore only had limited time with it so far.
This is therefore a partial review with a limited amount of testing which I will update the more I use the watch.
Display & Touch Screen
As a Fenix 6 Pro owner, the Fenix 7 didn't have enough of an upgrade for me to spend that kind of money. The Garmin Epix 2 is the watch that many Fenix users have been yearning for the past few years.
Based on the initial positive reviews, I set aside my desire for incredible battery life in favour of the new fancy screen.
So far, I am happy with it. The biggest concern is screen visibility during the day. Up north in January, I have not exactly had much chance to test this, but in every other setting, the display is fantastic.
I had to go on an early run on Friday, and the screen was much more visible in the dark. During overcast weather during the day, it is also much better than the Fenix.
With the touchscreen, this thankfully automatically disables when your start an activity, a wise decision by Garmin. I did notice the touchscreen activating things during a shower, it only loaded up some stats, so it wasn't a huge issue, but it does highlight some of the issues touchscreens can have.
Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 6 Pro – Battery Life
As much as I wanted Fenix 7 for its incredible battery life, the reality is I don't do anything that needs that sort of stamina. Charging every few days is acceptable.
The first day + one night of sleep, the Epix dropped from 100% down to 79%. This included having the always-on display enabled, but it dims on my DND hours, then also using the full GPS functionality for 70 mins.
The following day at 1pm I was on 71%, and Sunday morning I was at 62%, and I had used the GPS for an hour on a Saturday afternoon walk.
Initial impressions are positive, charging the watch up every 4 or 5 days works for me.
Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 6 Pro – GPS Accuracy
I have obviously had limited tests, but the results have been interesting. The Garmin Epix 2 seems to be considerably better than the Fenix 6 Pro. The Fenix may have been having a bad day.
On my first run, the Fenix had a lot of problems points, whereas the Epix looks almost flawless.
Going up and down a few streets, the Fenix regularly cuts into corners where gardens would be. Running down the promenade, the Epix has a nice straight line, whereas the Fenix is a lot more wobbly.
I then did a loop of a small building on the promenade three times. Just before that, there was a significant issue with the Garmin GPS, and then loops it plotted are not very accurate.
The end result was the Epix recording 6Km while the Fenix was 5.96km. A 0.66% difference isn't a huge problem for me, but it can add up.
My second run had similar issues, the above picture has the Epix tracking the verticle park path perfectly while the Fenix is a bit of a mess.
Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 6 Pro – Heart Rate Accuracy
Conversely, from the GPS results, the Epix had a few issues. I worse the Fenix and the left and Epix on the right. The placement was about the same height on my wrist with the same tightness. However, I have quite bony and hairy arms, and I HR accuracy is prone to problems based on fit.
The Epix deviates from the Fenix at several points, but there are two notable peaks where the Epix jumps up to over 170bpm while the Fenix is around 160bpm.
Moving on to my Tacx Neo Smart Bike, I used a chest strap with the Fenix and wrist OHR with the Epix. This time I wore the watch very tight, and in general, it did quite well, better than most watches on a bike.
There are two notable problems on this ride, I had a couple of short high power sprints towards the end of the ride. My heart rate went to 170bpm with the Fenix, but the Epix decided not to register the increased effort. In the second sprint, the Epix actually recorded a dip in my heart rate.
In my second run, I wore a chest strap on the Fenix. In this run, there are multiple points where the Epix jumps up, but in this case, most of them are only for a few seconds and only by a few BPM. So not too bad.
Overall, it's not perfect, but I have never found wrist-based optical heart rate monitors to be ideal. I only ever use it for walking and all-day tracking.
Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 6 Pro – Speed and Elevation
Interesting, there are some differences with speed and elevation data, this seems to favour the Garmin Epix.
My pace is all over the place with the Fenix, whereas the Epix appears to have a more naturally shaped graph.
For Elevation, the Fenix appears to show around 2 meters higher than the Epix throughout the run. Not that I am bothered about this.
Stamina is one of the big new first beat features, it could be amazing if it is accurate. Based on my limited testing, there is no way I judge how accurate it is.
However, there are a lot of variables that will affect your stamina that Garmin can't possibly predict. I have quit caffeine and been running a calorie deficit. I have also had a knee injury so not been running outside much recently. My 6km run felt hard towards the end, but the Epix said I had 78% stamina potential.
I don’t normally use mapping on my watch that much, just when I am running somewhere, I am not used to. However, the mapping on the Epix is much better, the touch screen makes a huge difference.
With the Topoactive maps installed, you get detailed maps that easy to scroll around with the touch screen. There is some lag with the map loading as you move about, but it is only a fraction of a second or so.
Setting Sync & On Device CIQ Store
The on-device CIQ store is basic. You get some recommended apps and the ability to manage your existing apps. With all the settings being available within the app, I'd prefer to manage everything that way myself.
As for the settings sync, this is one of the big upgrades to the Fenix/Epix series. The previous way of doing things was just poor design, in my opinion, so Garmin is just fixing something that should have already existed.
That being said, it works just as you'd expect. Managing your watch is now much easier. At first, I was dismayed as it seemed like you couldn't manage your ANT devices via the app, but I was wrong. With an ANT device actively paired, if you then go to rename it on your watch, it will load up a dialogue to rename the device on your phone. I am not sure how much that will affect some people, but I have loads of sensors paired, and it is very confusing if you don't rename them properly.
Another highlight is being able to manage the activity settings including the data fields. I always find it hugely annoying setting up data fields on my watch. You can have up to 8 data fields per screen on the Epix and then multiple screens.
The Epix Gen2 is the watch that most of us have been dreaming Garmin will launch. If you are half serious about fitness and are not into ultra-endurance type sports, it is the best watch on the market now.
It is the perfect hybrid of serious sports watch and smartwatch.
As much as I love the Epix, I am inclined not to keep it. Apart from the display, most of the features are incremental upgrades from the Fenix 6 Pro, and I am not personally that desperate for an AMOLED display to part with £800 for the upgrade. The Fenix 6 Pro is still an amazing device. While it may not be quite as fancy as the Fenix 7/Epix it still has plenty of life in it, and I can probably live with it for another generation.