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.
Garmin is doing a splendid job at churning out new products on a regular basis. And not only for the Fenix range. A recent addition to its stable of watches is the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE – a cellularly-enabled version of the 945.
It has been a full two years since the launch of Fenix 6. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure out we should be getting the next iteration soon. Having said that, we did get a Solar Fenix 6 last summer.
Many of us are thirsty for the Garmin Fenix 7. Some have opted to skip the sixth generation so are wondering what the next generation will bring. And then there are those who don’t want to spend money on the 6 if the 7 is releasing soon. A slightly obsessed Redditor says “I honestly have been checking Garmin website for the 7 multiple times a day for two months, I don’t even know why I do it but I guess it’s part of me now.” We’re sure he’s not the only one.
Unfortunately, there really has not been that much so far in terms of leaks. But things are starting to turn.
Garmin, of course, has not said anything. Some were hoping the company would make some sort of mention at its Developers Virtual Conference in October. But there has not even been a hint of an announcement. Then again, Garmin never provides info ahead of an official launch preferring to keep its plans under wraps.
Well, actually the only mention of Fenix 7 by Garmin pops up in a Google meta description. But you can pretty much ignore this. Fenix 8 is mentioned there as well! It means absolutely nothing.
So we’ve combined what we’ve heard so far, plus a list of features that would represent a logical progression, and threw in some of what we would like to see. The recent crop of devices also provides a clue as to what to expect. 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 have been a few tweaks along the way.
Having said that, Garmin appears to be adapting a similar design across its latest crop of sports watches so it is unlikely it will stray very much from that. We, therefore, don’t expect to see any drastic changes on that front or a new look with the Fenix 7.
It might be limited to reducing the size, thickness and weight, and perhaps improving screen quality a bit. Along with some design tweaks which are always possible. The one important upgrade might be an AMOLED display but this is supposedly coming to a separate model called Epix.
As always, expect to see the different sized models, including some more premium editions. And lots of options in bands, different colors and watch faces.
Further slimming down of the body
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 variant – a smaller Garmin Fenix designed with the female sports enthusiast in mind.
The latest Fenix 6 range brought in some more 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 along with a few grams of weight.
Despite these changes most people would agree the watch is not really that stylish. It’s not exactly as if it has been hit with an ugly stick but this is 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.
And this brings us to a very realistic possibility – that Garmin might reduce the size of the watch further by making it slimmer. This would make it more appealing to a wider audience.
Below is a picture that was posted on Reddit. It is not the actual image of Fenix 7, but is based on a supposedly leaked photo. This is the mid sized Fenix 7, so not the 7S or 7X. As you can see it looks fairly similar to the current model. No info on actual dimensions, though.
Transflective memory-in-pixel display stays but there may be a separate AMOLED model
Battery life is why we think Garmin will retain the sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP). AMOLED is much more power-hungry so not kind to battery life. We don’t see any change there although there is talk the company might introduce a fancier display. Recent Venu devices have shown it is possible to do this without compromising battery life too much. But we’re not sure how well that would go down with Fenix fans. They want something durable, dependable, an outdoor watch with long-lasting battery life.
The majority of sources are saying the MIP will stay, with the same resolution and sizes. However, a model called Epix 2 will reportedly be introduced that would sport an AMOLED screen. This sounds like a plausible scenario. Garmin did the same with Vivoactive and the fancier Venu. Presumably Epix 2 will be released a few months after the Fenix 7.
We also see Garmin retaining the same five button configuration. 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 setup works well so why change something that works. Perhaps Garmin might provide the best of both worlds – introduce touch capability whilst keeping the current functionality of the buttons. Epix 2 would certainly be a good candidate for that and perhaps even the Fenix 7.
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The mid-sized Fenix 6 runs an impressive 2 weeks in smartwatch mode and 36 hours with “normal” GPS switched on. As mentioned, Garmin knows the awesome battery life an important selling point. So whatever design changes it brings, it will make sure it doesn’t compromise the length of time between charges. Having said that, the battery life would not be as good on Epix 2 due to the AMOLED display.
Solar as standard on Fenix 7
On this topic, the solar feature is an interesting add-on to the Fenix 6. The range has a more pricey variant with 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 as evidenced by Enduro.
This will reportedly come as standard on most Fenix 7 models, perhaps all. The feature is not a must-have, but it is a nice-to-have. At the moment, the solar is way too small to make much of a difference. There’s talk that the solar ring will be about 3x larger, so much more effective than on the Fenix 6.
In addition to this, the latest Fenix brought customisable power-management modes for the first time. 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.
An also frequently mentioned feature in the comments below is wireless charging. Will Garmin listen?
Garmin Fenix 7: Features we’d like (are likely) 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 are likely to 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 are moving or not.
While impressive in its specs, the Fenix 6 is by no means perfect. Improvements in GPS and the ANT+ antenna are always welcome. Fenix 6 has Garmin’s ELEVATE heart rate sensor, but this is V3 – we are now up to V4. So further upgrades on this front are to be expected. Not to mention that 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 bunch of 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. Other recent additions include Daily Workout Suggestions and improved Recovery time (that takes into consideration rest).
Advanced training features also 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.
Recovery statistics seem to be all the rage these days. Even Fitbit has joined the fun with its Daily Readiness Score. Not exactly a Whoop killer but it does present competition.
Garmin has a Body Battery feature that lets you know when you are good to train by using a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data. But there’s still lots of room for improvement. Letting the user see raw HRV data would be a good start.
There are also other Firstbeat metrics which could find their way to the Fenix 7. Particularly as the Finish outfit is under Garmin’s wing now. You can bet they have lots of new goodies under development!
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 lots of headlines in the last couple of years. It is more a health than a fitness feature but why not add ECG functionality to a Garmin watch? The tech seems to be here. Does it really belong on a sports watch? Maybe not.
But ECG is definitely coming soon to a Garmin smartwatch near you. How do we know? Because Garmin has been testing a watch that has this capability. It is a proprietary device with AFib detection. A Clinical Trial was concluded in July. It is quite possible the sensor might make its debut on an all-purpose-watch, instead. For example the Garmin Vivoactive 5.
Other sensors are becoming an increasing possibility. This could include a blood-pressure sensor as the next big thing. Samsung was one of the first to demonstrate that it is possible to take such a measurement by using the optical heart rate sensor. Other possibilities include sweat analysis, glucose, hydration and more. There have been movements in this area recently that suggest that sort of tech is not far off. It is likely to hit the mainstream in late 2022, so perhaps something for Fenix 8 rather than Fenix 7.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen something truly revolutionary on the sensor front. But we may be about to enter a period where we see huge changes.
Dual-frequency GNSS chip
This has been around for over a year now so the high-end Fenix is a great device for this to make its Garmin debut. The dual-frequency GNSS chip allows for better positioning, particularly in environments such as dense forests, around high-rise buildings, etc.
A cellular model is looking increasingly likely – better safety features
A cellular model next time around? Before we would have said – unlikely. With the release of the 945 LTE, this is looking very likely now. Probably a Fenix 7 with cellular and a version without. So you’ll have a choice. Perhaps a Pro LTE model?
This will most probably mirror the functionality that is currently available. The 945 LTE allows you to send SOS messages, tap into a 24/7 emergency service, and stay in touch with your friends and family with Livetrack, Spectator Messaging and Live Event Sharing. The company has recently bought GEOS Worldwide, so may be looking to make more of these emergency features. Accessing this without your smartphone nearby would be ideal.
There’s currently no ability to make phone calls from a Garmin watch. But this is edging closer. Probably not for Fenix 7 but definitely one day.
The Connect IQ platform has already seen improvements recently, but expect more work on bettering 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. There has been talk of this at Garmin’s Developer Conference last month.
As mentioned, improvements to GPS and sensors are always to be expected. There’s also the likelihood of a new Sony chipset. The other possibility is running power from the wrist, similar to the high-end Polar range. This shows athletes how hard they are working — a nice addition to standard heart rate tracking.
Garmin Fenix 7: Expected release date
In reality no one knows for sure apart from Garmin when Fenix 7 is going to get released. But perhaps history can provide some clues.
This year has been difficult for wearable brands. Not many devices were released due to a combination of factors including chip shortages, the pandemic, along with energy supply issues in some countries. And than there was that ransomware attack about a year ago that is fresh in people’s memories. It might be still messing with R&D as well as manufacturing and logistics.
Garmin Fenix 5 was announced at CES 2017 and rolled out a few months after. Fenix 6 saw the light of day in August 2019 but there was also an interim version in July 2020. The company usually only has major updates every other year but at this point it’s safe to say we will not be seeing Fenix 7 in 2021. Don’t be too surprised about that.
Garmin doesn’t strictly follow a pattern on their hardware releases like some other companies do. Releasing a device at the end of November or in December would not make much sense. Garmin almost never does this.
Our money is that we will hear some sort of announcement at CES 2022 in Las Vegas. The event is returning to a physical gathering after a virtual-only format last year. Then later in Q1 actual availability might start. There is even talk on Reddit that JB HiFi in Sydney is showing that Fenix 7 will be in stock in January 22nd. We were not able to find the actual listing but it is something to keep in mind. It would fit in with a CES 2022 announcement. As mentioned, Epix 2 will most likely follow a few months after.
The other possibility might be that we see the Forerunner 955 ahead of Fenix 7. In that case it might be that one that makes its debut at CES. It would make a nice launch platform for the official Fenix watch unveil, which could follow in the months after.
Here are the release dates of the recent Fenix line:
- Fenix 5 – March 23, 2017
- Fenix 5 Plus – June 18, 2018
- Fenix 6 – August 29, 2019
- Fenix 6 Pro Solar (6/6s) – July 6, 2020
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. Particularly if there is a LTE variant.
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?
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