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Tech & Wearables

Garmin Fenix 7 gets a touchscreen and a massive battery life bump

Epix 2 offers a refined appearance, a brilliant AMOLED display, and the latest 24/7 activity and recovery monitoring features.

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Garmin today announced two new wearables that offer days of battery life plus a slew of features that can be used for navigation, tracking your riding indoors and out, and monitoring your health and fitness.

The Fenix 7 updates the line of wearables that have been around for 10 years. The latest update to the Fenix line features a touchscreen that, with the existing five-button layout, should make it easier to use the watch while riding. Previous models of the Fenix are available with either the scratch-resistance sapphire crystal, or with solar charging, but not both.

The touchscreen functionality is new to the Fenix, which still retains buttons for dual utility.

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Fenix 7 battery life — days to weeks

The Kansas-based electronics giant makes the claim that with the addition of solar charging, the battery life of the Fenix 7 is five days in GPS mode, and five weeks in smartwatch mode. The caveat: you must wear the Fenix 7 in direct sunlight for at least three hours.

For the non-solar editions of the Fenix, battery life improved a claimed 28.5 percent and 58 percent in GPS and smartwatch modes, respectively.

Navigation, seeing in the dark, and bio-monitoring

The new wearable continues to leverage all major existing satellite systems (GPS, GPS+GLONASS, and GPS+Galileo) and the most recent updates now add the L5 frequency, which can improve GPS reception when signals are relatively weak. All Fenix 7 standard and solar models come with TopoActive maps — which use OpenStreetMap technology — for any region worldwide. This means you can use the Fenix 7 just like you would an Edge head unit to find and ride routable roads and trails, and still know where waterways, natural features, and buildings are, as well as elevation changes.

A new LED flashlight feature can be set for red or dimmable white. And if you’re out for a run training for ‘cross season, this LED can be set to strobe and alternate between colors in time with your cadence for increased visibility, especially in low-light conditions.

Along with hardware updates, the addition of several physiological measurements and monitors are included. The Real-Time Stamina tool allows one to monitor and track exertion levels while cycling or running. Garmin has also added a Visual Race Predictor function for runners that accounts for previous running history, overall fitness and fatigue, and offers insight into running progress.

The Fenix line already includes a massive number of performance monitoring features including heart rate, pulse oxymetry, respiration monitoring, and some physiological stress monitoring. These data points are analyzed and presented in Garmin’s Body Battery, Fitness Age, and Sleep Score tools, using the Gamin Connect app paired to a Bluetooth-linked mobile device.

Pulse oxymetry monitoring is taxing on battery life — requiring a full charge for a Fenix 6 after about 48 hours of use — so improvements in SpO2 tracking along with the addition of solar charging and battery life are promising.

Like the previous editions, the Fenix 7 gets Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity. If you already have a recent Garmin head unit, you can use the extended display feature to create a single, larger data viewing screen across your Edge and Fenix devices working in tandem.

Garmin has included cycling activity types for years in its wearables, including options for both outdoor and indoor cycling – the GPS antenna is not activated by default for indoor activity types. The latest update brings additional cycling-specific activity types including ones to separately track MTB, eMTB, ebike, cyclocross, gravel bike, bike commute, bike tour, and road bike. Ostensibly, the different activity types may, in the future, have different corresponding bike set-ups associated with them. Owners of previous versions of Garmin wearables, like the Fenix 6, may soon have these activity types available to them, too, in firmware version 20.30.

Fenix 7 sizes, color options, and pricing

The Fenix comes in three sizes — 42mm 7S, 47mm 7, and 51mm 7X — and multiple colors. The Fenix 7X is only available in the solar option; the other two come in standard and solar.

The watch body incorporates titanium and continues to feature a design with improvements to lugs and button guards to prevent accidental/unintended toggling. While the Fenix Pro 6 solar had a claimed weight of 83g, the new Fenix 7 solar loses a claimed 4g. The smaller, Fenix 7S has a claimed weight of 63g, while the largest Fenix 7X has a claimed weight of 96g.

Pricing for the Garmin Fenix 7 line starts at $699.

Garmin Epix 2

Garmin Epix 2
The Garmin Epix 2 is much more refined than the previous edition. (Photo: Courtesy Garmin)

The Epix 2 is a new addition to the Garmin lineup of wearables that bridges the gap between the ultra-premium Marq lineup — without a $1,700+ price tag — and the Fenix lineup of wearables.

The Garmin Epix was initially introduced in 2015, with a square form factor and touchscreen, but the product was discontinued after the release of the Fenix 5 the following year.

This latest re-entry of the Epix features all of the monitoring and navigation tools as the Fenix offers but in a less-sporty, more rounded, and more refined presentation.

One of the most notable features of the Epix 2 is the brilliant and always-on AMOLED display, a technology that’s new to Garmin’s lineup of wearables. This display is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and tucked into a titanium bezel.

Devices with AMOLED displays are brighter, can display with better clarity, offer the appearance of more depth, and has an additional layer of thin-film transistors than traditional OLED displays. The older, Garmin Fenix 6 incorporates a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, which offers color viewing in direct sunlight, but is not overly bright.

The battery in the Epix 2 is claimed to last for 16 days between charges in smartwatch mode, and for 42 hours in GPS mode. The Epix is not available in a solar edition.

The Garmin Epix 2 is only available in a 47mm size (with a claimed weight of 76g) in slate steel, black titanium sapphire, or white titanium sapphire editions.

Epix 2 pricing starts at $899.

Garmin Fenix and Epix accessories

Both the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Epix have quick-change bands that allow you to easily change the look and feel of the wearable and customize it to your own style. Add-on bands are available in a variety of materials, and pricing starts at $49.

For Garmin users who want to mount either the Epix or the Fenix 7 to their bike, Garmin makes a quarter-turn bike mount add-on accessory ($29) that allows quick, easy and secure mounting to a handlebar or stem.

WorldTour teams currently sponsored by Garmin (and Tacx) including Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Ineos Grenadiers, Astana-Qazaqstan, Canyon-SRAM, Lotto-Soudal, SD Worx, Team TotalEnergies, Trek Factory Racing, and Jumbo-Visma. They will all have access to the new wearable devices and accessories.

“With this technology, we are able to collect all the data that helps get our team to the best level possible. In 2022, our riders will start using Garmin wearables, which will enable us to collect even more detailed information on their daily sportive life, and these health statistics can support us to optimize training and performance,” said Jumbo-Visma managing director Richard Plugge.