Image source: Apple

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 7: which is right for you?

Yes, it is time for another features and specs comparison article. This time we are pitting two heavyweights against each other – the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix 2 vs the Apple Watch Series 7.

All of these are great sports watches in their own right but they are not cheap. You can check the current prices out on Amazon (links: Fenix 7Epix 2, Apple Watch Series 7).

The first two were released earlier this month, the Apple Watch has been around since last September. But which is right for you? Here’s all you need to know on how they stack up.


Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 7: Technical specs

The Fenix 7 is the daddy of Garmin watches. It comes with multiple design options along with some other improvements over the Fenix 6 such as a touchscreen display. Now we also have a more fancy version of the same called Epix 2.

The Apple Watch Series 7 is also far from being a slouch. It, too, comes with lots of great functionality for sports lovers. It is not without reason Apple’s device is the best selling smartwatch in the world.

Design

Put the Fenix 7 and Apple Watch Series 7 next to each other and you’ll notice lots of differences. In fact the two look nothing like each other.

The most obvious difference is the shape. The Apple Watch comes with its trademark square-ish look whereas, just like pretty much all watches in Garmin’s range, the Fenix 7 has a more “traditional” round form-factor. Epix 2 also comes in the circular design.

Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin Fenix 7 | Image source: Garmin

All of these watches are built from premium materials. In Garmin’s case this includes stainless steel, titanium or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium – depending on the model chosen. In Apple’s case its aluminium, stainless steel and titanium, again depending on the model.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Larger differences between the three are to do with the display technology. The lowest spec of the lot is the Fenix 7. It comes with an always-on transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display with 260 x 260 pixel resolution. It works well in the sense that it is easy to read outside and is not very power hungry.

Epix 2 has a much higher quality AMOLED touch display, which sports 416 x 416 pixel resolution. The Apple Watch is right up there with Epix 2. It has a LTPO OLED Retina touchscreen with 1000 nits of brightness. The resolution of the larger Apple model comes in at 396 x 484 pixels.

Garmin Epix 2
Garmin Epix 2 | Image source: Garmin

The Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are much more rugged, thicker and heavier than the Apple Watch. While Epix only comes in a 47mm variant, you can pick up Fenix 7 in regular (47mm), S (42mm) or X (51mm). All of these measure around 14.5mm in depth, while the weight varies between 63-89 grams depending on the model chosen.

The Apple Watch Series 7, on the other hand, comes in two size options (41mm and 45mm) which measure 10.7mm in thickness and just over 30 grams in weight (for the Aluminium version. This makes Apple’s device more suitable for those with slender wrists.

The trio has excellent water resistance. The Fenix and Epix 2 10 ATM and the Series 7 watch 5 ATM. This should suffice for most people.

Battery life & sensors

Battery life is where Garmin trounces Apple. So much so that it is almost pointless to compare. All Apple watches keep going for around 18 hours which means you will be charging them on a daily basis. It remains a sticking point.

The Garmin Fenix 7 will keep going for 18 days in smartwatch mode and 57 hours with GPS switched on. It also comes with customisable power-management modes. Tweak the settings and the device will show you exactly how much battery life (in hours) it has left.

Of course, there’s also the Fenix 7 solar variant. It comes with a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. This converts the sun’s rays into energy which provides you with an additional 20-25% (roughly) battery juice. Apple clearly has lots of catching up to do when it comes to battery life.

Epix 2 doesn’t have a solar option, but even with its AMOLED display it trounces the Cupertino outfit in terms of battery life. It will keep going for 16 days on a single charge and a respectable 6 days with the always-on screen option switched on.

Under the hood you’ll find largely the same sensors. What you’ll uncover in all these watches are an accelerometer, heart rate sensor, Pulse Ox, gyroscope, GPS and compass. Apple’s party trick is the electrical heart sensor. This lets you take an ECG on-demand. There were rumors this would be coming to the latest Garmin watches but this did not pan out.

Here’s a run-down of the differences in design and hardware. We have also thrown in the older Fenix 6 if you are considering that model.

Apple Watch Series 7
Garmin Fenix 7 (47mm)
Garmin Epix 2
Garmin Fenix 6 (47mm)
Case material
aluminium, stainless steel, titanium
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
Physical size
45 x 38 x 10.7mm

41 x 35 x 10.7mm
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
47 x 47 x 14.7 mm
Touchscreen
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Display size
45mm: 1143 sq mm display area

41mm: 904 sq mm display area
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
Display resolution
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)

253 x 430 pixels (41mm)
260 x 260 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
Display type
LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display with Force Touch 1000 nits brightness
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
AMOLED (always-on)
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight
Case weight: 32 grams (for 41mm aluminium version); 38.8 grams (for 45mm aluminium version)
79 g (case only: 56 g)
76 g (case only: 53 g)
Sapphire Editions: 70 g (case only: 47 g)
Steel: 80 g (case only: 57 g)
Water-resistance
5 ATM, Dustproof (IP6X)
10 ATM
10 ATM
10 ATM
Memory
32 GB
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
64MB
Sensors
Optical heart rate sensor, Electrical heart rate sensor (ECG), accelerometer up to 32g-forces, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, compass
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
Yes
No
Yes
No
Satellite connectivity
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO/QZSS
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Connectivity
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Bluetooth, ANT+
Music storage
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Microphone and speaker
Yes
No
No
No
Battery life
18+ hours
Smartwatch: Up to 18 days/22 days with solar,
Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 57 days/173 days with solar,
GPS Only: Up to 57 hours/73 hours with solar,
All Satellite Systems: Up to 40 hours/48 hours with solar
Smartwatch: Up to 16 days (6 days always-on),
Battery saver watch mode: Up to 21 days,
GPS Only: Up to 42 hours (30 hours always-on),
All Satellite Systems: Up to 32 hours (24 hours always-on)
Smartwatch: Up to 14 days plus 2 days,
GPS: Up to 36 hours plus 4 hours,
GPS and music: Up to 10 hours
Solar option
No
Yes
No
Yes
Cellular option
Yes
No
No
No
Price
starting at $399 (cellular+GPS starting at $499)
starting at $699.99
starting at $899.99
starting at $549.99

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 7: Functionality

Activity tracking

Any of these watches are great for someone looking for a fitness or sports tracker. They’ll have you covered around the clock and can keep tabs on a wide variety of activities. These are not first generation devices so have nailed down the basics a long while ago.

garmin-fenix-7

Garmin Fenix 7
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Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Apple Watch Series 7: which to get?

But there are a few important differences to be aware of.

The Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are true multi-sport watches designed for those religious about their athletic pursuits. There is not much difference between them in terms of functionality. The duo can track pretty much any sport under the sun with appropriate data and detailed performance metrics. Stats lovers will feel right at home. Your runs and cycle rides will be dissected into minute detail.

Having said that, Apple’s device is also a perfectly decent sports watch. Just like the Garmin it has the ability to connect to external heart rate monitors and connects to GPS. This ensures more accurate tracking of stats. Sure you’ll miss out on some sports tracking functionality and performance metrics, but unless you’re a serious athlete it is unlikely to bother you much.

Outside of specific sports coverage, the Fenix 7 range and Epix 2 come with pretty much all the basic fitness tracking functionality you get on the Apple Watch. This includes blood oxygen readings and respiration rate. It even goes further than the Cupertino device in that it spits out 24/7 stress tracking data.

Where Apple shines is in health tracking. Its watch comes with the ability to take ECG readings, it will let you know if it spots heart irregularities (Afib) and it has the ability to detect falls and alert contacts. Garmin has closed the gap, though, on this last one with its own Incident Detection feature.

So while each device has some advantages in terms of fitness and health tracking, we would put the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 above the Apple Watch Series 7 when it comes to sports tracking. While all of these have lots of features which would suffice for most people, the Garmins are meant for those more serious about their athletic pursuits.

Even more importantly, until Apple manages to improve on battery life it will struggle to compete for the title of the best fitness tracking device. Something that keeps tabs on your health 24/7 should not need to be charged daily.

Smart functionality

The story is different, though, when it comes to smart functionality. On this count, Apple’s device trounces not just the Garmins, but all competition. You’ll find native and third-party apps for everything imaginable and watchOS 8 comes with some useful new functionality.

And lets not forget cellular connectivity. When you are away from your phone, the watch automatically switches to the cellular signal (for the GPS+Cellular version of the device). Third party apps can tap into this signal as well. You don’t get that with the Garmin.

Although it can’t really compete with the Apple Watch on this measure, the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 come with a few non-fitness features, too. This includes local storage for music, an NFC chip for contactless payments, text and calendar alerts, and a few other things.

Here’s a run-down of the differences when it comes to activity tracking and smart functionality.

Apple Watch Series 7
Garmin Fenix 7 & Epix 2
Garmin Fenix 6
Body Battery
No
Yes
Yes
Stress & recovery
No
Yes
Yes
Underwater wrist-based heart rate
No
Yes
Yes
Performance metrics: Vo2Max, Training Status, Training Load, Recovery Time, Training Effect, Heat & altitude acclimation, Training Load focus, Primary benefit (Training Effect labels) and more.
Vo2Max
Yes
Yes
Stamina metric, Health snapshot, Up-Ahead, Vo2Max (Trail run)
No
Yes
No
ECG
Yes
No
No
Irregular heart rate alerts
Yes
No
No
Fall detection
Yes
No
No
Music storage
Yes (stream Apple Music direct to watch)
up to 2000 songs
No
LTE
Optional
No
No

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 7: Verdict

Whether you choose the Apple Watch Series 7, Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix 2 – take comfort in knowing you are choosing the best of the best. Any of these will have you covered with pretty much everything needed for 24/7 activity tracking. The Garmins and Apple Watch, however, are quite different.

If you’re interested in both fitness tracking and lots of smart functionality it is a no-brainer, the Series 7 watch is the obvious choice. Those more serious about their athletic pursuits will be better off with the Fenix 7 or Epix 2. The range offers much more in terms of sports tracking and performance metrics. Plus you get awesome battery life.

Design wise, the always-on screen is where the similarity ends. Apple’s Series 7, with its subtle look and smaller form-factor, is more of a unisex device. The Fenix 7 is built to last and features a much more rugged design. The Epix 2 shares most things with the Fenix, the main difference being its fancy AMOLED display.

garmin-fenix-7

Apple Watch Series 7
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Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 vs Apple Watch Series 7: which to get?

So the choice comes down to whether you are interested in an all-purpose smartwatch or a sports watch. Preferences to do with design and price considerations will also play a role.

The Fenix 7 range starts at $700 on Garmin’s website. There’s a choice between three iterations to suit wrists of all sizes. If cost is not an issue, you can also pick up the solar option or Epix 2. The Apple Watch Series 7 typically starts at $399. You can check the current prices out on Amazon (links: Fenix 7Epix 2, Apple Watch Series 7).

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4 thoughts on “Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Epix 2 vs Fenix 7: which is right for you?

  • The Fenix 6 can be augmented with the Garmin Running Dynamics pod which clips to your waistband in the middle of your back and measures ground contact time, left-right balance, vertical motion and efficiency, and improves accuracy of cadence and stride measurements. It’s better than a personal coach reviewing film of your run.

    Three features of the Fenix 6 Pro that I’ve found very useful are: 1) being able to download courses to the watch and get turn-by-turn navigation; 2) racing against a previous activity, getting real-time info about your lead at any point in a run compared to the previous run; setting alerts for Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run(tm) style of running.

    I think you should also talk about the supporting mobile apps and websites.

    Reply
  • Comparing these two devices, Apple Watch cellular has the option to leave the iPhone at home and you can still be able to make/receive phone calls. Does the Garmin any such option?

    Reply
    • Not yet – it has cellular (Forerunner 945 LTE) but only for safety features – you can’t make/receive phone calls.

      Reply
    • You can have that kind of feature if you go to the LTE module, otherwise, it’s v the same as Fenix. Both you can leave behind the smartphone and track your activity.

      Reply

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