Is it worth upgrading to the Garmin Fenix 7

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Yesterday, Garmin finally announced the new Fenix 7 series alongside the new AMOLED based Garmin Epix 2.

I have noticed a lot of mixed reactions online. Some people think it is a fantastic upgrade and well worth upgrading from recent devices such as the Fenix 6, but many others are disappointed, thinking it is just an incremental upgrade.

One issue worth taking into account is that as a product range matures, each release becomes more iterative rather than massive generational upgrades. This is one of the reasons why I have found most phone launches to be boring in the past few years, it’s just a better camera and chipset each year.

Therefore, with the Fenix line being quite old now (first launched ten years ago), the new launches are becoming less exciting. They already have an amazing product, now it is just perfecting it.

For me, upgrading from the Fenix 6 Pro is a hard sell. I’d be tempted with the Epix, but I am due to have an operation soon, so no point spending nearly a grand on something when I can’t use it properly.

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6 Pro – Reasons to upgrade

This list isn’t exhaustive, but the main points that would convince me to upgrade (or not).

  • Touchscreen – This is perhaps one of the biggest selling points. Probably not much use during exercise but good for day-to-day smartwatch use and navigation.
  • New Elevate Gen 4 sensor – improved heart rate accuracy is always a good thing.
  • Significantly improved solar area (though if you already have a Solar, I wouldn’t say this is worth bothering about)
  • Better battery – I hate changing my watch, so this was quite a bit upgrade, is about 25% better before you factor in charging.
  • New GPS chip by Airoha/Mediatek provides multi-constellation on all models and dual-frequency GPS on sapphire models. Initial reviews indicate accuracy is superb. Personally, this isn’t that much of a selling point.
  • CIQ store on the watch – Some apps will be available for direct download. I am not that bothered about this one
  • Real time setting sync with all watch settings on the Connect mobile app. This is probably one of the main features I want from the Fenix 7 series.
  • New stamina metric – which should help pacing yourself, especially in long events. I am not confident on how accurate this would be, but it sounds impressive.
  • Visual race predictor – this shows a trend of your finish times for your target distance which could be handy.
  • Up ahead – Information on up coming points of interest. This would be of limited use for me, but handy for long endurance events giving you an idea of aid stations etc.

Overall, there are a lot of changes, but nothing I am desperately in need of compared to the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. I’d love the settings sync, but I’m not paying £600+ just for that.

The Garmin Epix 2 is a bit different though, I think the AMOLED display is a significant change that makes it worth considering. As much as I loathe charging watches, you still get around 6-days battery life with the always-on display, its not like you are charging it up every day like the Apple Watch or WearOS.

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 5 (plus) – Reasons to Upgrade

This one is a bit easier to justify, and it is well worth considering if you have a Fenix 5 or even the Fenix 5 Plus.

You have all the upgrades listed above but also:

  • Bigger display – which is a bit improvement, especially for data fields
  • Elevate heart rate sensor would be jumping up two generations, so the performance difference should be significant.
  • Mapping as standard – maps are region-specific depending on your model – I don’t actually use this that much, but I use it for running when travelling as I can plot a route easily, and it has worked well for this.
  • Garmin Pay – I have only ever used this once, it’s a nice idea, but my phone is always in my pocket.
  • Music – Another one that I thought Id use and just don’t. I don’t like going for runs without my phone as I am paranoid of getting injured, so I always use my phone for music.
  • WiFi on all models – this is handy for when the Connect app is being painfully slow to sync. I put the watch on charge, and it auto-syncs over WiFi
  • Lots of new health and fitness metrics such as body battery, training load, race time predictor, plus the new features that the Fenix 7 has over the Fenix 6.
  • Much better battery life, the Fenix 6 had better batter than the Fenix 5

I wouldn’t go as far as saying the Fenix 7 is a must-buy for any Fenix 5 owner. Don’t go spending money you don’t have, the Fenix 5 is still an excellent multisports watch.

However, if you are considering the upgrade, I think you will be very happy with it.

I’d still buy the Epix, though.

Last update on 2024-06-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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  1. I agree with many of the things you mentioned.
    Talking about my own situation i feel Garmin has nice upgrades on several watches that i would like to have but they didn`t put all of those in one watch.
    At this point in time i use a Fenix 6X pro and what i would like Garmin to make is a mix of 3 watches.
    I would like to have the size of the Fenix 7X with an Amoled display like the Epix and the phone making and answering features of the Venu 2 plus.
    And if i still may add on it would be nice to have the flashlight and the solar charging as well but it wouldn’t be a big deal if they wouldn’t implement this.
    So in short for me Garmin made some nice upgrades but they are spread over 3 watches and i cant have 1 watch that has them all.
    About the making and receiving phone calls on the watch i understand that they didn’t implement this do to waterproofing.
    The watches now have 100m waterproofing where as the Venu2 plus has 50m .
    But for a swim the 50m should be enough i think.
    I wonder if there is any one who is really going to dive with a Gamin watch.
    So is the 100m waterproofing really necessary ?

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, they do seem to hold back on throwing all the features into one watch. I guess it forces us into that regular upgrade cycle.

      As for waterproofing, the numbers are confusing/misleading. It doesn’t mean you can dive 100m and the 10ATM rating has different definitions between brands for Garmin 10ATM includes high-speed water sports and snorkelling, but scuba diving. 5ATM doesn’t include high-speed water sports. I think if you have an £800 fitness watch, most people want the reassurance it isn’t going to break on them

      1. Since my hobby is watch collecting i know 5atm doesn’t really mean 50 meter and 10 atm doesn’t really mean 100 meter
        But normally it is said 5 atm should be good enough for just a swim.
        And yeah i also agree for high-speed water sports 5 atm is not enough.
        Maybe they should just differentiate between yes or no high-speed water sports.
        Or better yet just like car manufacturers do.
        Leave the choice to the people which things you would like in your watch.
        The phone call making is something i would like to have but i can live without
        But really a Epix X would be great i like the bigger screen and with that will come a better battery life.
        And how hard would that be to make use the casing of the Fenix 7X and plant a Amoled screen on it and with that you have right away also the flash lights
        At this moment i don’t see a point in upgrading from my 6X pro

    2. 100m waterproofing is NOT really hundred mt. Deep. 100M Water Resistance: Wearable around sinks, during swimming, poolside, snorkeling 5ft max), but not while jet-skiing or scuba diving.

      1. Yeah man i understand that.
        But if you know Garmin you also would know that Garmin has already a watch specially for divers it is called Garmin Descent.
        So why not Descent for those who do a lot of water sports and make an Epix X with phone making and receiving for those that don’t do the highspeed water sports or diving.
        Other watches (Samsung – Fitbit – and even Garmin Venu2 plus) can go for a “normal” swim with 5atm watches.
        I really would like a Epix X and able to make and receive phone calls.
        A mix of Fenix 7X Epix and Venu2 plus would be the perfect watch for me.
        Bigger size for a longer battery life of the 7X the rugged build of the Fenix the beautiful screen of the Epix and the phone call making of the Venu2 plus.
        And again yes i understand it will be only 5atm but for me that would be enough and for those that need more waterproofing they can go for a Fenix or Descent

  2. Hi everyone. Great read, James. I actually have the Fenix 5 Plus Sapphire for… gosh… probably 3 or 4 years now. I bought it on close-out when the 6 hit the market.

    I guess I would really like to have the blood O2 sensor, slightly improved battery life (even though mine hasn’t seemed to diminish really at all even with daily wear and almost daily activities, some pretty long), the option of solar charging (does this feature really work all that great?), and all that jazz. Like you said, I just don’t think it’s a big enough jump to justify the cost, even from the 5 Plus Sapphire. Haven’t fully dove into comparing with the Epix or done my research on the Epix.

    A few things I wanted to correct, and it may be because I have the Fenix 5 Plus Sapphire with Gorilla glass (I play hard)…

    Garmin Fenix 5+ Sapphire (with Gorilla glass model) does have these particular functions you stated it didn’t:

    – Does have Samsung Pay
    – Does have a flashlight screen
    – Does have music storging and controls
    – Does have mapping of activities and “find my way home” (although the mapping of the 7 map be a totally different beast)
    – Does have wifi connectivity

    Some of the other features like body battery, training load, race predictor, etc I get from my Strava account anyway, so that’s less of a sell point for me.

    It’s just a heck of a chunk of money. So I guess I’ll continue waiting for the next latest and greatest… or until mine totally crashes.

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