The Garmin Fenix line has become a preference for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. This is a great smartwatch which packs a whole lot of of fitness, sports tracking and outdoor navigation features. A wearable for those who are into multi-sports and want to be able to track pretty much anything under the sun.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Garmin is doing a splendid job at churning out new products on a regular basis. And not only for the Fenix range. Just in the past few months we saw the launch of Vivoactive 4, Venu and Vivomove 3. Plus earlier in the year we had the Forerunner 45, 245 and 945.
And yes we know the Fenix 6 just lunched last August. But that doesn’t stop us from looking forward to what comes next.
Some have opted to skip the sixth iteration so may wondering what Fenix 7 will bring and if there will be an interim device. We’ve already had one of two leaks and rumours. We’ve combined that with a list of features that would represent a logical progression, along with our own wishlist of what we would like to see. Competition is stiff, so you can bet the company will set its aims high once again.
Garmin Fenix 7: Design expectations
The overall look of Fenix watches has remained fairly consistent over the years. But there has been progress.
With the Fenix 5 line Garmin has managed to slim down the body a bit. This version also brought in three different sized options for the first time including the S iteration – a Garmin Fenix designed with the female sports enthusiast in mind.
The latest Fenix 6 range brought in some changes on the design front. Most notable is the larger display, something that was done by reducing the bezel size. Now there’s no rim separating the screen from the edge which allows for more room for customisable data fields (six data for Fenix 6/6S and eight on the 6X). Whats more, Garmin has managed to shave off another millimetre from the back of the watch and a few grams of weight.
Despite these changes most people would agree the watch is not really stylish. It hasn’t been hit with an ugly stick but it’s clearly a sports watch designed as a rugged all-rounder and this shows. Plus, despite Garmin’s efforts, the wearable is still bulky and heavy.
Whether we see a further slimming down of the form factor and how much really depends on the effect on battery life. The same consideration applies to the possible introduction of a high-res, touchscreen similar in quality to the one found on Garmin Venu.
While a better display is a possibility, the company will be careful not to compromise battery life. The decision to opt for physical buttons for navigation is practical because athletes would find a touchscreen difficult to use in mid-exercise or wet-weather. The current configuration works well so why change something that works.
The mid-sized Fenix 6 runs an impressive 2 weeks in smartwatch mode and 36 hours with “normal” GPS switched on. Garmin knows the awesome battery life an important selling point.
On this topic, the solar feature is one of the most exciting things to come out of the Fenix 6. One of its variants sports a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. Garmin calls the tech Power Glass. It adds a bit more juice in all battery modes by converting the sun’s rays into energy. This is a nifty add-on which we are sure will filter down to other iterations in the coming years. It might come as standard on Fenix 7.
In addition to this, the latest Fenix brings customisable power-management modes. This allows users to actually see how various settings and sensors impact battery life. Very useful when you are trying to figure out when you’ll need to reach for the charger.
Garmin appears to be adapting a similar design across its latest crop of sports watches so it’s unlikely it will stray very much from that. We, therefore, don’t expect to see any drastic changes on that front with the Fenix 7. It might be limited to reducing the thickness and weight, and perhaps improving screen quality. Of course, surprises are always possible as Garmin has demonstrated with the Solar variant.
As always, expect to see the three different sized models, including some more premium editions. And lots of options in straps, colours and watch faces.
Garmin Fenix 7: Features we’d like to see
Garmin Fenix is one of the best multi-sport GPS watches around. You can use it for cycling, open water swimming, cross country skiing, climbing, indoor run/bike/swim, hiking and much more. The watch provides advanced running metrics and outdoor navigation in addition to everything you need for monitoring fitness. And finally, while not the most user friendly, the Garmin Connect software is top notch whether you are utilising the smartphone app or the even more comprehensive web dashboard.
All Fenix watches come equipped with ABC sensors to provide relevant real-time information. The built-in altimeter provides elevation data, while the barometer can be used to predict weather changes by showing short-term trends in air pressure. The electronic compass keeps your bearing whether you’re moving or not.
While impressive in its specs, the device is by no means perfect. Improvements in GPS and the ANT+ antenna are always welcome. Fenix 6 benefits from the new ELEVATE heart rate sensor, but further upgrades on this front are likely. Heart rate sensors that work from the wrist still have some catching up to do compared to chest straps.
More training metrics
The watch also has lots of features which tell you about your form and fitness including a total of 18 Firstbeat metrics. VO2 max, lactate threshold, recovery advisor, training effect, real-time performance condition and much more are on this list. The stats are now adjusted for heat and altitude acclimation status. Your performance metrics are no longer be influenced by environmental factors.
Advanced training features also now include something called Dynamic PacePro. This is “grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity”. It coaches you in real time so you can slow and speed up a run depending on your goal and race plan.
Then there’s the Body Battery feature we’ve seen on all recent Garmin watches. This lets you know when you are good to train by using a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data. And while this is a good start, it pales in comparison with detailed recovery stats offered by the likes of Whoop, Biostrap and recent Polar watches. So there’s still lots of room for improvement. Letting the user see raw HRV data would be a good start.
For example, the Suunto Fitness 3 is taking physiological analytics from Firstbeat to offer a 7-day training plan that is automatically created by the watch based on a user’s fitness level and overall exercise history. Miss a few sessions or push a bit too hard? No worries, the timepiece will adjust your training plan accordingly. This is the future.
As mentioned, the Fenix line of watches is not just for running. There are special features to help with swim training, cycling, golfing and skiing too. To list them all would simply take too long. But Garmin will continue to build on these which means we will see more niche sports and additional metrics tracked.
The Fenix 6 watch didn’t really bring anything new in terms of sensors. The only real change is that the PulseOx is now available across the entire range. The watches gauge your oxygen saturation levels at night, allowing you to better understand your sleep quality. You can also take readings on demand during the day.
ECG sensors have been making all the headlines this year. It’s more a health than a fitness feature but why not add ECG functionality to a Garmin watch? The tech seems to be here.
Other sensors are always a distinct possibility. This could include a blood-pressure sensor. Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible to take such a measurement by using the optical heart rate sensor. It has received regulatory approval for monitoring blood pressure measurements and this will launch on its devices in the months to come.
Other sensors could keep tabs on sweat analysis, glucose, hydrationand more. Any of these would be nice but they might be a few years down the line. It’s been a while since we’ve seen something truly revolutionary on the sensor front.
A cellular model?
A cellular model next time around? Who knows, its always a possibility. Albeit on unlikely one due to huge battery drain and demographic of the typical Fenix watch user. After all, you’re not going to try and call your office while on a run…. Perhaps a model with cellular, and one without.
The Connect IQ platform has already seen improvements this year, but expect more work on improving the user experience and an array of 3rd party apps on board. At the moment, Garmin wearables come nowhere near the range of apps that are available for the Apple Watch.
Garmin Fenix 7: Expected release date
Fenix 5 was announced at CES two years ago and rolled out a few months after. The company usually only has major updates every other year so Garmin 7 won’t likely arrive until mid-2021.
Having said that, there has been a recent leak that points to an interim Fenix 6 Sport version. This could possibly launch in the latter part of 2020. Garmin did something similar with the Fenix 5 Plus. It upgraded the original device with music storage, Garmin Pay, Galileo, pre-loaded topographical maps and oxygen saturation, so was a significant upgrade.
Garmin Fenix 7: Expected price
If you decided to skip Fenix 6 because it was too pricey, don’t get your hopes up that things will change. This will remain a high-end watch.
Is a budget edition possible? Probably not. In a sense the Forerunner 945 is the budget version of the Fenix 6 so the 955 will the the less expensive iteration of Fenix 7.
We should once again see different price points for different sizes. Including much more expensive premium and limited editions.
Whatever the final price, the Fenix 7 will be a great choice as it will still be one of the best smartwatches for fitness fanatics. And we suspect, the legion of existing Fenix users will remain loyal to the wearable which has already proven its worth.
So what do you think? What would you like to see on the Fenix 7?
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!