Image source: Garmin

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: should you upgrade?

Garmin has made live on its website today the much anticipated Fenix 7 range and its more fancy brother called Epix 2. These are the successors to the Fenix 6 which was released over 2 years ago. You can buy the watches on Amazon (links: Fenix 7, Epix 2) and Garmin’s website.

Lots of leaks and rumours in anticipation of the big day have been flying around so many of the specs were known ahead of time. But there were some bits and pieces which remained under lock and key until today.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The Fenix range is for those that want absolutely everything Garmin has on offer. Whatever athletic pursuit or adventure you are into, there will be a Fenix for that. The watch is for hard-core athletes and the adventurer types.

It is no wonder the device is pricey. Now with the more fancy Epix 2 variant, there’s an even costlier option. But existing Fenix owners know why they paid so much for their watch. Because it is worth it if you are serious about tracking every aspect of your health and fitness.

With Fenix 7, it is not just the specs that have changed. Garmin has done away with some models. Which might at first glance seem confusing. Hopefully, this article will help to clarify.

Read on to find out how Fenix 7, Epix 2 and Fenix 6 differ, which timepiece you should go for and whether it is worth upgrading for existing owners.

Jump to

Making sense of the various models
Design
Under the hood
Battery life
Activity tracking and smart features
Price, choosing the right model
The bottom line


Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: Design and hardware

Making sense of the various models

The Fenix 7 comes in the recognisable Garmin design. Not much has changed at first glance. It is the look that the company has also made standard for its Forerunner range. But don’t fool yourself. Garmin has made some pretty handy upgrades this time around.

The same three different size options are still present. In fact, they are unchanged between Fenix 6 and 7. You have the regular variant which comes in at 47mm, the 42mm S model for those with small wrists and the 51mm X size.

What’s interesting, though, is that Garmin has managed to shave off a few millimetres of thickness. For example, the standard version now measures 14.5mm in depth vs the 14.7mm of Fenix 6. Not a huge deal but anything that makes the watch less bulky is a positive thing. Of course, the thickness varies across the three different models but the reduction has been achieved across the board. The weight has also come down fractionally.

One important thing to note is that the company has done away with the Pro model. That one comes as an option on Fenix 6 (base and small) for those that want built-in music, maps and WiFi connectivity. Now all iterations come with these features.

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6
Image source: Garmin

As far as Epix 2, think of it as Fenix 7 but with an AMOLED display. Most other specs are the same, apart from a few small differences which we will go into later in the article. In a sense, the relationship between Epix 2 and Fenix 7 is a mirror version of the one between Vivoactive and Venu.

Garmin seems to be dipping its toes in water with the Epix. It has adopted a cautious approach in order to gauge how much demand there is for that type of watch.

Hence, the Epix 2 only comes in one size iteration, the 47mm. You also don’t have a solar variant but you do have the option to purchase a model with Sapphire Crystal lens material. The important difference to note, if you choose Sapphire for Fenix 7, it automatically comes with solar built-in. Fenix 6 comes with both a solar and non-solar Sapphire model – but Garmin has done away with that.

Hope all of this makes sense. Here’s a table to clarify the various options.

Fenix 7
Epix 2
Fenix 6
42mm
Yes
No
Yes
47mm
Yes
Yes
Yes
51mm
Yes
No
Yes
Standard
Yes
Yes
Yes
Solar
Yes
No
Yes
Sapphire
No
Yes
Yes
Sapphire Solar
Yes
No
Yes
Pro model
No. Features built into all models.
No. Features built into all models.
Yes

You might be wondering, who is the Epix 2 aimed at? We did a separate piece on this that you might want to check out.

The MIP display is great, particularly for outdoors. But watches with AMOLED are beautiful, and much easier to read indoors. Having said that, in sunny, outdoor conditions the memory-in-pixel display of the Fenix has the edge.

A target for Epix 2 will be those that want a Venu but don’t want to give up rich features of the Fenix range. The Epix 2 is definitely more fashionable. Although with a 47mm diameter, the watch is pretty large for those with small wrists.

Design

The Fenix and Epix watches are very robust. All of these are built from stainless steel or titanium (depending on which version you choose). The Sapphire variant also features scratch-resistant sapphire faces. The range is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.

The watches come with a 10 ATM rating, which means you are ok to dive with them down to depths of 100 meters.

Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin Fenix 7 | Image source: Garmin

An important upgrade on the latest Fenix watch is a touchscreen display. Don’t worry, you still have the five physical buttons for navigating around. But now they can be used in combination with a touchscreen. It is a wise decision to keep the physical buttons. If you’re doing a run it might be difficult to navigate a touch display. This is also the case in the water or if you have your gloves on in cold conditions.

But the touchscreen is a nice feature to have. It will be particularly beneficial for those that use maps a lot.

Garmin Fenix 6 vs Fenix 5 Plus vs Fenix 5: the battle of the all-rounders
Garmin Fenix 6 | Image source: Garmin

The other aspects of the display are unchanged. The Fenix 7 model comes with the same sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen. Comparing the mid-range Fenix 7 and Fenix 6, they come with the identical 1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter, 260 x 260 pixel display. The same is the case with the other size models.

As mentioned, the highlight of the Epix is is gorgeous AMOLED display. It has nearly double the resolution of the Fenix – 416 x 416 pixels – which will be tempting to some.

Garmin Epix 2
Garmin Epix 2 | Image source: Garmin

Under the hood

The sensors are the same across the whole Fenix range. So you get the full gamut which includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, thermometer, Pulse Ox, barometric altimeter, Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor and GPS/GLONASS/Galileo. There’s also NFC for payments on the go.

Of course, with each subsequent generation that will be certain improvements. So on Fenix 7 and Epix 2 we get the new Elevate 4 heart rate sensor along with the newest Sony multi-band GNSS chip. The Elevate 4 heart rate sensor has made its debut in Venu 2 Plus and Forerunner 945 LTE and reviews about its accuracy have been good. Those that wear a heart rate strap for activities will be less excited about the upgraded sensor.

The Sapphire editions of Fenix 7 and Epix 2 also have multi-frequency positioning. This means multiple frequencies from each constellation for improved positioning where GNSS signals are weak. This should give fairly good gains in GPS accuracy over the single-band versions of the non-Sapphire and earlier Fenix models. Garmin says this is technology previously only available to the military.

Sapphire models now have 32GB of storage and come preloaded with global topoactive maps. The non-sapphire models have half as much storage and only come preloaded with topoactive maps for your specific region.

Here’s a table illustrating the hardware differences between the mid range Fenix 7, Epix 2 and Fenix 6. All of these are the 47mm variants. We’ve also thrown in the Fenix 6 Pro – as it represents a more realistic comparison with Fenix 7 considering the Pro features now come as default.

Fenix 7
Epix 2
Fenix 6 Pro
Fenix 6
Lens material
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Sapphire Editions: sapphire crystal
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX or Sapphire Crystal
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Bezel material
stainless steel
passivated stainless steel
Sapphire Edition: carbon gray DLC titanium or pure titanium
stainless steel, titanium or Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
stainless steel
Case material
fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
fiber-reinforced polymer with steel rear cover
Sapphire Editions: fiber-reinforced polymer with titanium rear cover
Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Strap material
silicone (22mm)
silicone (22mm)
silicone, leather, titanium or nylon (22mm)
silicone (22mm)
Physical size
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
47 x 47 x 14.7 mm
47 x 47 x 14.7 mm
Touchscreen
Yes
Yes
No
No
Display size
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
Display resolution
260 x 260 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
Display type
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
AMOLED (always-on)
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight
79 g (case only: 56 g)
76 g (case only: 53 g)
Sapphire Editions: 70 g (case only: 47 g)
Steel: 83 g – case with silicone band (case only: 60 g)
Titanium: 72 g – case with silicone band (case only: 49 g)
Steel: 80 g (case only: 57 g)
Water-resistance
10 ATM
10 ATM
10 ATM
10 ATM
Memory
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
32 GB
64MB
Sensors
Heart rate, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2
Heart rate, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2
Heart rate, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2
Heart rate, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2
Ambient light sensor
No
Yes
No
No
Satellite connectivity
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
Garmin Pay
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Connectivity
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Bluetooth, ANT+
Music storage
up to 2,000 songs
up to 2,000 songs
up to 2,000 songs
No
Solar option
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Price
starting at $699.99
starting at $899.99
starting at $649.99
starting at $549.99

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: Battery life

Another difference worth mentioning between the various models is battery life. Unlike Apple, with each subsequent generation Garmin is making healthy advances.

The Fenix 6 base model has enough juice for around two weeks on a single charge in smartwatch mode and a day and a half with GPS switched on. This has been boosted on generation 7 to 18 days and 57 hours respectively. Nice!

Other improvements come with the solar variant. To remind, this has a built-in Power Glass which is a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. The ring cell area that captures the rays is larger on Fenix 7, which keeps the battery going for longer.

For example, you get 2 extra days in smartwatch mode with solar on Fenix 6 Pro. But for Fenix 7 you get 4 extra days. Battery life differs depending on the model that you choose but the solar option is definitely more than just a gimmick this time around.

As far as Epix, it also comes with decent battery life. But this is largely dependent on whether you choose the always-on display option. If you do you can expect just short of a week in smartwatch mode. Switch it off and you’ll get a whopping 16 days.

Here’s a table illustrating the differences for the mid-range Fenix models and Epix 2.

Fenix 7
Epix 2
Fenix 6 Pro
Fenix 6
Smartwatch mode
18 days
16 days (6 days always-on)
14 days
14 days
Smartwatch mode with solar
22 days
16 days
Battery saver watch mode
57 days
48 days
48 days
Battery saver watch mode with solar
173 days
80 days
GPS only
57 hours
42 hours (30 hours always-on)
36 hours
36 hours
GPS only with solar
73 hours
40 hours
All satellite systems (with solar for Fenix)
40 hours
32 hours (24 hours always-on)
All satellite systems + multi-band
20 hours (15 hours always-on)
All satellite systems and music
10 hours
10 hours
Max Battery GPS mode
75 hours
72 hours
72 hours
Max Battery GPS mode with solar
136 hours
93 hours
Expedition GPS
40 days
14 days
28 days
28 days
Expedition GPS with solar
74 days
36 days

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: Activity tracking and smart features

The biggest differences between the various Fenix models and Epix 2 are to do with design and technical specs. But there’s actually little to separate them when it comes to activity and sports tracking. Particularly now that Garmin has done away with the Pro model.

What’s more, some of the features that come when you buy the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 will eventually come as software upgrades to the Fenix 6 model. For example, owners of this watch have recently benefitted from a massive firmware refresh. It adds support for HIIT and a number of other activity profiles, improves altitude calibration, Lactate Threshold and Altitude Acclimation algorithms and more.

So what extras do you get on the latest models?

Garmin Stamina

One of the new metrics is called Real-Time Stamina. The idea here is to present something that helps you pace yourself. You can use it to track and manage your exertion during running or bike activities. That way you can finish just as strong as you started.

Garmin Health Snapshot

Then we come to the Health Snapshot. This is a screen that gathers everything you can do yourself via the individual health stats widgets. But it also adds heart rate variability (HRV) as RMSSD (route mean square of successive differences in milliseconds) via the optical sensor rather than having to put a strap on. This is different to stress as HRV is only a contributing factor to stress. The Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are the first Garmins to report the HRV metric – before you could only do it by installing ConnectIQ apps and with heart rate straps.

Garmin Fenix 7 flashlight
Image source: Garmin

The Fenix 7X model also comes with a built-in LED flashlight. This is actually not a novel idea – we’ve seen quite a few fitness tracker and smartwatches that can illuminate the surroundings. Switch it on and it will help guide your way in low-light conditions. The feature provides quick access to a bright, steady beam of light.

Moving on and the next difference is the addition of realtime settings sync with Garmin Connect Mobile / On-device Connect IQ store on Fenix 7 and Epix 2. This should make the watch easier to use and manage as you can connect to the IQ store from the device itself. Plus you can make changes to watch settings on the Connect app.

There are few other upgrades in functionality on the latest generation watches. For completeness sake, we list them below. As mentioned, some of this will likely come to the older models with future software updates.

Fenix 7
Epix 2
Fenix 6 Pro
Stamina metric
Yes
Yes
Health snapshot
Yes
Yes
Up Ahead (at-a-glance awareness for selected POI checkpoints ahead). Summary of key trail points coming up.
Yes
Yes
Golfing features (touch-targeting; Tournament legal)
Yes
Yes
Pairs with Garmin Golf app
Yes
Yes
Outdoor recreation profiles (hunting, kiteboard, windsurf, snowshoe)
Yes
Yes
Connectivity (smart trainer control)
Yes
Yes
Built-in LED flashlight
Yes
Ultra running
Yes
Yes
Vo2 Max (Trail run)
Yes
Yes
Realtime settings sync with Garmin Connect Mobile / On-device Connect IQ store
Yes
Yes

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: Price, choosing the right model

The Fenix 6 starts at $550 and goes up from there depending on whether you choose the pro, solar, sapphire – and depending on the build that you choose and strap option. The Fenix 7 starts at $700 but it wouldn’t really be fair to compare that with the base Fenix 6 model. A more fair comparison is with the Fenix 6 Pro model as it comes with its features. Which means the price difference is around $50, which is not too bad.

Epix 2 is for those with deeper pockets. You don’t get as many options, and the cheapest Slate Steel will set you back $900. Choose the Sapphire version and this climbs to a whopping $1,000!

Fenix 7
Epix 2
Fenix 6
7s – standard – Silver with Whitestone Band ($700)
Slate Steel ($900)
6s – standard – White with White Band ($550)
7s – standard – Silver with Graphite Band ($700)
Sapphire – White Titanium ($1000)
6s – pro – Rose Gold-tone with White Band ($650)
7s – solar – Rose Gold with Light Sand Band ($800)
Sapphire – Black Titanium ($1000)
6s – pro – Black with Black Band ($650)
7s – solar – Slate Gray with Black Band ($800)
6s – pro sapphire – Rose Gold-tone with Powder Gray Band ($750)
7s – sapphire solar – Carbon Gray DLC Titanium with Black Band ($900)
6s – solar pro – Light Gold with Light Sand Band ($800)
7s – sapphire solar – Dark Bronze Titanium with Shale Gray Band ($900)
6s – solar pro – Amethyst Steel with Shale Gray Band ($800)
7s – sapphire solar – Cream Gold Titanium with Light Sand Band ($900)
6 – standard – Silver with Black Band ($550)
7 – standard – Silver with Graphite Band ($700)
6 – standard pro – Black with Black Band ($650)
7 – solar – Slate Gray with Black Band ($800)
6 – standard pro – Black with Black Band ($650)
7 – sapphire solar – Black DLC Titanium with Black Band ($900)
6 – sapphire pro – Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band ($750)
7 – sapphire solar – Carbon Gray DLC Titanium with Black Band ($900)
6 – sapphire pro – Titanium with Ember Orange Band ($750)
7 – sapphire solar – Mineral Blue DLC Titanium with Whitestone Band ($900)
6 – solar pro – Black with Slate Gray Band ($800)
7x – solar – Slate Gray with Black Band ($900)
6 – solar pro – Mineral Blue Titanium with Whitestone Band ($900)
7x – sapphire solar – Mineral Blue DLC Titanium with Whitestone Band ($1000)
6x – standard pro – Black with Black Band ($700)
7x – sapphire solar – Carbon Gray DLC Titanium with Black Band ($1000)
6x – sapphire pro – Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band ($800)
7x – sapphire solar – Carbon Gray DLC Titanium with Black Band ($1000)
6x – solar pro – Titanium Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band ($950)
7x – sapphire solar – Black DLC Titanium with Black Band ($1000)

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: Bottom line

The Garmin Fenix range is the ultimate outdoor adventuring device. It is for those who want to best sports watch money can buy.

The main difference between Fenix 6 Pro and 7 is the inclusion of a touchscreen, a better GPS chip and longer battery life. The gap is not huge and these are expensive features if they are the only reason to upgrade.

Of course you do get the Elevate 4 sensor which might be important for someone that wants to do serious hear rate work. But they could always opt for a heart rate chest strap. The Stamina and other software nuggets will likely come as a software upgrade. Having said that – if you are holding on to the Fenix 6 – the reasons for upgrading are more compelling as you get maps, Wifi and music.

If you are in the market for a new sports watch, you will not go wrong with the Fenix 7. It makes much more sense to buy that one as it will benefit from more software upgrades going forward. Unless you want to save a few bucks and get the Fenix 6 at a discount. Prices on that model will likely fall quite a bit in the coming months.

The Epix 2 is for those with deep pockets. You get pretty much everything that comes with the Fenix 7 range, plus a stunning AMOLED display. The caveat is that there’s only a 47mm diameter option and you do not get solar as an option.

You can buy the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 watches on Amazon (links: Fenix 7, Epix 2) and Garmin’s website.

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One thought on “Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Fenix 6: should you upgrade?

  • EXCELLENT write up. Gotta Fenix 6 sapphire and kinda want the Epix 2

    Reply

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