Despite being leaked to hell and back, the Garmin Fenix 7 series was a no-show at CES 2022. That’s because Garmin decided to wait until today to separately announce its revamped multisport GPS smartwatches. On top of an updated flagship Fenix 7 lineup, Garmin is also launching the Epix — a rugged outdoors smartwatch with an always-on color display.
Some things with the new Fenix 7 smartwatches will be familiar to Garmin fans. There are still three sizes: the 42mm Fenix 7S, the 47mm Fenix 7, and the whopping 51mm Fenix 7X. The Fenix 7S and 7 will come in “regular” versions made of fiber-reinforced polymer, but there are also Solar Editions and Sapphire Solar Editions for all three models. Additionally, the Sapphire Solar Editions upgrade the materials to titanium and a sapphire display for extra durability.
As the names suggest, Garmin is also adding solar charging capabilities to all three sizes. Garmin says that compared to the Fenix 6X Pro, these watches have 54 percent more solar surface area — and that purportedly translates to longer battery life. With GPS enabled, Garmin says the max battery for the 7S is 90 hours and 162 hours with solar charging. The numbers jump up for the 7 from 136 hours to 289 hours with solar. For the 7X, Garmin says you’ll get 213 hours or 578 hours with solar. Of course, these are all estimates, and what you actually get will heavily depend on your individual usage.
The Fenix 7 watches will all support every major satellite system but also add the L5 frequency range for better accuracy in “challenging GPS environments.” L5 is one of three “modernized” GPS signals for civilian use that, according to the US government, have “higher power, greater bandwidth, and advanced signal design.” The lineup also gets touchscreen capabilities — but don’t worry, Garmin isn’t getting rid of button controls. (In fact, it’s actually adding button guards to the start and stop button to minimize accidental presses.) The idea is to offer multiple ways of navigating through menus, such as scrolling through your settings or zooming in on GPS maps.
The 7X also has a shiny new hands-free LED flashlight feature with adjustable red or white light to help multisport athletes see, and be seen, during nighttime activities. Garmin says it’s activated via a double-tap and works for both left-handed and right-handed users. It has an optional strobe mode, where the flashlight matches a runner’s cadence, too. Basically, it’ll flash red when your arm swings down and white when it swings up. Garmin says it functions like head and tail lights on cars so that others have a better sense of which direction a person is headed.
For software, Garmin’s adding a Real-Time Stamina tool to help you compare the potential stamina you’d have at moderate intensity versus your stamina at your current effort level. The company’s also adding a new mapping feature called Up Ahead, which tells users the location of aid stations, elevation climbs, water, and other points of interest on a particular course.
Meanwhile, Garmin’s finally refreshing its Epix smartwatch, seven years after it was first introduced in 2015. The new Epix is basically what you’d get if you took the Fenix 7 and asked, “What if I swapped out the transflective screen for a 1.3-inch always-on OLED display?” It comes in three 47mm models and includes many of the same features as the Fenix 7 like buttons, touchscreens, and Real-Time Stamina. The main difference between the two lineups is the Epix doesn’t have the new LED flashlight or support solar charging. As for battery life, Garmin claims the Epix can last up to 16 days on a single charge — and an impressive six days with the always-on display enabled.
Both smartwatch lineups also support push notifications, Garmin Pay, music storage, and safety features. They also come with the usual Garmin health features, like heart rate monitoring, respiration, stress tracking, body battery, fitness age, and sleep tracking.
The Fenix 7 series cost a pretty penny, but that’s par for the course for Garmin’s flagship GPS smartwatches. While it depends on which materials and models you opt for, the Garmin Fenix 7S and 7 start at $699.99 and go up to $899.99. Meanwhile, the 7X models range from $899.99 to $999.99. The Epix is similarly priced, as Garmin considers it a premium multisport GPS watch. It costs $899.99 for the slate and steel model and $999.99 for the white and black titanium models.