The Garmin Fenix 7 is the new and upgraded version in Garmin’s Fenix lineup of rugged multisport smartwatches. The upgrade brings with it an even longer battery life, a touchscreen in addition to the buttons, a led flashlight, and some new software features.
I think we all hoped that the Garmin Fenix 7 would have a SKU with an AMOLED screen. It kind of did, but it’s called the Garmin Epix Gen 2 which was released on the same day. What Garmin didn’t include is LTE functionality and voice functionality which Garmin previously added on the Venu 2 Plus. It remains to be seen will Garmin later release a new SKU of Fenix 7 with these features included.
Check the current price of Fenix 7 on Amazon.
Check the current price of the Epix Gen 2 on Amazon.
The release date for the Garmin Fenix 7 was on 18.1.2022. The Garmin press release for its flagship Fenix 7 can be found here.
Garmin Fenix 7 – Should you upgrade?
If you already have a Fenix 6 Pro the Fenix 7 basic version provides a touchscreen, more battery life, and some new software features. The upgrade might not make sense if you are already used to the buttons and don’t really miss a touchscreen. Personally, I don’t yet see the full value of the new software features in my limited use case.
However, I see a lot of value in the led flashlight and combined with the incremental other upgrades it helped me make up my mind and decide to order the Fenix 7X.
Based on comments on my youtube channel I know many have been quite bummed out by the screen in the Fenix 6 Pro and they have been really waiting for an AMOLED screen. So for that group of people, I highly recommend the Epix Gen 2 which basically is a Fenix 7 with an AMOLED screen. You do sacrifice some battery life with the AMOLED screen but it still beats pretty much any other smartwatch with an AMOLED screen.
In the below video I cover six reasons to buy the Fenix 7 over the Epix. You can also read about it from the Fenix 7X point of view in my other blog post or from the Epix point of view in this blog post.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro
What you need to know about the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro is that there is no Pro edition in the Fenix 7 lineup and most likely that’s because Music and Maps are considered standard features on the Fenix lineup. Since many people have enjoyed the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro they are looking for the Fenix 7 Pro. There still is a more premium option in the Fenix 7 lineup and that’s called Sapphire.
The Fenix 7 Sapphire editions give you 32GB of storage instead of 16GB and in addition, you get a Sapphire lens and the case has titanium instead of stainless steel. Also, the multi-frequency positioning is currently only available on the Sapphire editions. On the Sapphire edition, maps are preloaded. Since 16GB is not sufficient to have all the maps preloaded you need to download the maps manually (they are free though).
Check the current price of Fenix 7 Sapphire solar on Amazon.
In my opinion, just the Sapphire glass or the added storage aren’t really crucial factors but combined all of the factors might make it worth the extra price. The titanium on the case is kind of nice though and knowing that you have the best is a kind of nice feeling if the high price isn’t an issue.
New Hardware features on the Fenix 7
The most expected update on the hardware was the addition of the touchscreen. This is really intuitive to use and very helpful when using for example the maps. Garmin still kept the five buttons as before and you can still use all the functionality via the buttons which is great for swimming and while wearing gloves.
A feature that we didn’t expect is the led flashlight which is included on the Fenix 7X. I personally find this the most exciting feature on the Fenix 7 and this alone is the reason I chose to get a Fenix 7X. Unfortunately, it’s only on the 7X and can’t be found on the Fenix 7 or Fenix 7S.
There is also a red LED for some use cases.
Garmin also implemented a running mode for the flashlight which shines the white light forwards and the red backward lighting the trail and also helping you be seen from the front and rear.
The Fenix memory in pixel conserves power and no matter how bright it’s outside the screen is visible.
Fenix 7 Battery life
The battery life on the Fenix 7 has been significantly improved compared to the Fenix 6. I’m not sure if this is only due to saving power with a more efficient chipset or did Garmin manage to squeeze in some additional milliamperes into the battery.
In addition, the solar feature has now a wider solar panel and is more efficient in extending the battery even further in sunny conditions.
My real-life test results for the Fenix 7X Solar
The battery life result was 24 days with my usage in the below test which I consider a great result. Garmin states Fenix 7X has up to 28 days of Battery life in smartwatch mode. Naturally, I didn’t use it only in smartwatch mode, but instead, used the GPS for activities and also used the LED flashlight (mainly indoors in the evening for short periods) I also enabled Pulse OX for the night (by default this is off) and automatic backlight after sunset when turning my wrist.
During the test period from 29.3 to 21.4 (22 days) I recorded 19 activities so almost daily something. The activities were typically from 1 to 2 hours long. Out of those activities, 7 used GPS and the total GPS time was 412 minutes so close to 7 hours.
Since it’s the solar model the solar charging aspect does also have an impact but for this test, the solar part had a minimal effect since most days I had only 0-5k lux hours of sun and one day 80k lux hours. Considering that you need 150k lux hours every day to get an extra 4 days of smartwatch mode I consider the effect of solar small in this test.
I used the Battery Graph widget to help me to measure the battery life and to plot the result.
Charging the Fenix 7X took 2h 25min for a full charge from 6%. Looking at the graph it was around 30minutes from 6% to 25%. So we could say one gets 10% in a 15 minutes charge which should give you more than 2 days of usage so plenty to go out for a run.
Fenix 7 case size
The Fenix 7 still comes in three case sizes to suit different sizes of wrists. The Fenix 7S has a 42mm case, the Fenix 7 a 47mm case and the Fenix 7X has a 51mm case.
Other new functionality
Up Ahead feature.
Realtime stamina is a new feature powered by Firstbeat Analytics which Garmin previously acuired.
Realtime settings sync allows the user to change settings on the smartphone instead of the watch.