With a touchscreen to complement its buttons, Garmin’s newest top-of-the-line Fenix 7 track-it-all adventure smartwatch offers a number of new features, better GPS, longer battery life, and improved technology. Starting at £599 ($699.99/A$1,049), the largest, most expensive version can cost £1,000 or more. However, the new high-end gadget does give us a sneak peek at what the company’s more affordable sports watches may include later in the year.
The Fenix 7 is available with full mapping in a variety of sizes, weights, materials, and with an optional solar-charging system. The new design appears to be an improvement over earlier Fenix concepts rather than a radical departure. The 7S, which has a 42mm case and 1.2in screen and is the smallest and sleekest model, is still unmistakably a sports watch. Despite being bigger, chunkier beasts than the 7 and 7X, they are still light and comfortable to wear.
The Fenix appears sleeker and more contemporary thanks to the new touchscreen. You can swipe through menus, screens, and maps, or tap and hold widgets on the watch face to jump directly to things like a graph of your heart rate, battery power settings, or notifications. It performs admirably for typical smartwatch functions.
But touchscreens are unreliable while being used, and they struggle to function while wearing gloves or in the rain. To prevent unintentional pauses of runs or other activities, Garmin has kept its excellent five-button control system and turns off touch when you start most activities. Everything can be controlled using either method, or both at once, thanks to Garmin’s clever integration of the touch system and buttons. It’s really fantastic.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Design
The first timepiece to combine the benefits of its sunlight-harvesting Power Glass with a robust crystal, the standard 47mm Sapphire Solar edition, is the one that we tested. Although there are numerous other colour options available, our review watch had a graphite grey titanium case and a black silicone strap. You can choose a watch that comes with a leather or woven strap in addition to the silicone band, which is a good option for sports and is easy to clean.
Garmin QuickFit bands are used on the watch, and they can be removed from the case housing by pressing down on a plastic clip. They can be switched out very quickly, but they cannot be used in place of the older quick-release bands, which are taken off by pushing a pin to the side. With the silicone strap fastened, the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar weighs 73g; without it, it weighs 50g. That is nearly identical to the weight of the Fenix 6 Solar, which weighs 49g without the strap and 72g with it. It’s impressive how Garmin kept the weight constant while significantly extending battery life and upgrading screen technology.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Display
The “Sapphire Solar” model that we’re testing has a solar-charging screen and ultra-tough Sapphire display protection rather than Gorilla Glass. The main solar panel, which is a thin reddish band, is visible around the edge of the screen. At a slower rate, the display glass itself absorbs energy from the sun. Garmin’s standard screen technology is used in the Fenix 7 series. This display is not a vibrant, smartwatch-style display with glaring brightness. It’s a transflective screen, and as the ambient light level rises, it becomes clearer.
To make the display visible in darker spaces, it has a front light that resembles a digital watch. If you’ve worn a smartwatch before and this will be your first running watch, the Garmin Fenix 7 will look plain to you. However, it’s still a remarkably effective display for use in the fitness industry.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Connectivity
Transferring the data to the watch after connecting. To assign various waypoints to various locations along your route, use Garmin Connect. Start your activity once your watch has synchronised the route. You can see the distance to the upcoming waypoints on the Up Ahead data page, and you’ll get a notification when one is passed. Connect IQ on-device is a brand-new feature for the Garmin Fenix 7 line of devices. As a result, the Connect IQ app store’s limited edition is directly installed on the watch.
It is one of those features that appears to be more appealing than it really is. The watch’s interface is very sluggish, and downloading apps takes a little longer than I would like. Additionally, it prevents you from browsing the entire Connect IQ store and instead forces you to focus on a small selection of suggested apps. Simply using Connect IQ on your smartphone is far preferable.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Fitness tracking
The improved training tools on the Fenix 7 make it easier to balance work and recovery while also making the abstract idea of training load understandable. Although it is still a watch designed for serious athletes, those looking to advance their training can now more easily access Garmin’s advanced features. The most effective illustration of this real-time stamina tool, which displays how much fuel you have left in the tank while working out. This keeps you from bottoming out and helps you decide when to turn around during an out-and-back run more precisely.
It’s a useful addition that is incredibly easy to use and accurately measures your energy levels based on your training load. Our reported stamina depleted much more quickly during runs on fatigued legs than it did when we were fresh, and we were able to modify our training as needed. High-intensity interval training is made possible by the watch’s highly responsive heart rate monitor (which is now available as an activity profile). You can always see your current heart rate training zone on the watch screen thanks to a coloured bar at the top. This allows you to exert more effort when you want to push things to the next level and feel the results right away.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Solar power and battery life
The Garmin Fenix 7 has a huge advantage over its rivals in terms of battery life, thanks in part to the range’s solar capabilities. The Garmin Instinct and Enduro series now include solar charging, which was first available on the Garmin Fenix 6 series. Th
e watches’ solar charging components consist of a layer beneath the glass and a thin rim that encircles the inside edge of the display.
According to Garmin, the watch’s solar capabilities have been greatly enhanced in the Fenix 7. According to reports, they achieved this by upping the watch’s solar panels’ surface area by up to 54%, boosting their efficiency, and lowering the watch’s overall power consumption. The thin solar rim is much wider and more noticeable than it is on the Fenix 6, but it is in no way unappealing.
The Garmin Fenix 7 has a huge advantage over its rivals in terms of battery life, thanks in part to the range’s solar capabilities. The Garmin Instinct and Enduro series now include solar charging, which was first available on the Garmin Fenix 6 series. The watches’ solar charging components consist of a layer beneath the glass and a thin rim that encircles the inside edge of the display.
Garmin Fenix 7 review: Price
Priced at £779.99, $899.99, or €899.99, the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar offers this functionality but at a premium. Right, let’s get to the cost. The Solar Fenix 7X starts at £780, while the standard Fenix 7S/Fenix 7 starts at £600. For convenience, I’ve listed these variations in the table below, but it’s important to note that only Sapphire Solar models come with multi-band GNSS (Garmin refers to it as multi-frequency positioning). The crucial question is which additional multi-sport watches you ought to take into account in addition to the Garmin Fenix 7 series.
Although none of them have the same level of features, some do compete on price and other factors like battery life and GPS accuracy. The only drawback is that this is an expensive purchase; even the least-equipped Fenix 7 costs £600, and the Sapphire Solar 7X model costs more than £1,000. The Fenix 6 has seen price reductions across the board with the 6 Pro now being offered for £440, which is good news for those on a budget.
We are the first to admit that we anticipated disliking the Fenix 7. A touchscreen, in our opinion, is something that no runner will ever need, and it typically turns me off of a watch. My beloved Garmin Fenix 6S and I have completed two marathons together, so it would take more than a touchscreen to convince me to store her in my nightstand. That said, I’ve changed my mind. Simply put, the Fenix 7 feels better. It’s simpler to use because of features like the ability to completely customise the watch from your phone and more aesthetically pleasing because of elements like the race predictor. Although I can’t speak to the flashlight’s functionality, it is unquestionably a clever addition that I hope is added to other Garmin watches. The GPS also connected more quickly, and the solar panels reduced the amount of time I had to wait for the watch to charge.
However, if you don’t have the money, the Garmin Epix is also intriguing, and many testers have praised the device for its beautiful design and bright display. Although the battery life isn’t as good, I’d argue that you’re never more than 100 metres from a plug socket nowadays, so unless you’re planning multi-day adventures, it’s probably nothing most Garmin wearers need to be concerned about. One of the best running watches on the market and something that is less expensive and lighter is the Garmin Forerunner 945. It also has a long battery life.