Image source: Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2: comparison feature

The Forerunner 955 has arrived a few days ago. Garmin lovers are now spoiled for choice. There are a few great options out there that include the latest high-end Forerunner, Fenix 7 and the fancy version of the same called Epix 2.

With each passing year the company is adding new functionality and performance metrics. The acquisition of Firstbeat Analytics a while back is certainly helping with this. These watches are now a must have for anyone who takes their athletic pursuits seriously. A few years down the line Apple might catch up, but it will need to solve the miserable battery life before then.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Having said that, if you are after a smartwatch there are better options than Garmin. However, if you’re after a sports or adventurers timepiece, you’ll struggle to find something better from another brand. Garmin is setting the standard. And arguably, the best of their crop of watches right now are the Forerunner 955, Fenix 7 and Epix 2.

What exactly is the difference between these three devices? Read on to find out.


Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2: Specs

Look & feel

When it comes to watches, Garmin seems to have moved away from the square form-factor. It had a handful of wrist devices with this shape a few years ago, but in recent years all we’ve seen are circular timepieces. The Forerunner 955, Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are no different. They all sport the same general look, as well as the five physical button configuration. But there are important design differences between them you should be aware of.

Starting off with build, it is no surprise that the pricier Fenix 7 and Epix come with more premium materials than the 955. You can pick from stainless steel or titanium. There are also Sapphire iterations which come with scratch-resistance sapphire faces.

The 955 has a more plain and less exciting fiber-reinforced polymer case and bezel. This has several benefits. The obvious one is that it makes the watch less expensive. Another one is that it makes the device lightweight. At 52 grams, it weighs about 15 grams less than the Fenix 7 or Epix 2.

Also, the 955 has slightly smaller dimensions than the other two. Not that you’re likely to notice because the difference is tiny. And while the 955 and Epix 2 only come in one size, you can pick between three different sizes of the Fenix 7. The 7s is for those with small wrists, there’s the mid range which is the subject of this article, along with 7X for those with large wrists.

All these watches are robust and can take quite a beating. They also come with excellent water-resistance. 10 ATM in the case of Fenix 7 and Epix 2 and 5 ATM for the Forerunner.

Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin Fenix 7 | Image source: Garmin

An important upgrade on the latest Fenix and Forerunner watch is a touchscreen display. This functionality is also present on the Epix. To the relief of most, Garmin has opted to retain the same physical button configuration. These work exactly the same as they had on the predecessor generations. But now you have the option of using them in combination with touch.

If you prefer, you can switch off entirely the touch functionality. And we wouldn’t blame you if you did this. Or limit touch to certain use-cases. For example, it should be useful for those that use maps a lot for navigation.

Moving on to the display, and the Epix 2, mid-range Fenix 7 and Forerunner all pack a 1.3 inch screen. The first has a AMOLED with 416 x 416 pixel resolution. The other two have a sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) with 260 x 260 pixel resolution.

The quality of the display is the main distinguishing characteristic of the Epix. MIP screens are great as they don’t use up a lot of battery and are always on. But AMOLED screens are better looking and more impressive.

Garmin Epix 2
Garmin Epix 2 | Image source: Garmin

Under the hood

There are few differences under the hood. The trio comes with the latest Gen 4 Elevate heart rate sensor, in addition to an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, thermometer, Pulse Ox and barometric altimeter. Worth a mention is that Epix is the only one with an ambient light sensor. But the Fenix and Forerunner don’t really need this due to the type of their display.

Beyond that the watches have an NFC chip for payments on the go and build-in memory for up to 2,000 songs. The latter should be enough for even the most hard-core music lovers.

An important difference is to do with sattelite connectivity. While all three watches have built-in GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, the Forerunner 955 comes with dual or multi-frequency GNSS. This means multiple frequencies from each constellation for improved positioning where obtaining a sattelite signal is challenging. This should give fairly good gains when it comes to speed of connection and GPS accuracy. The Sapphire editions of Fenix 7 and Epix 2 also have multi-frequency positioning, but not the regular variants.

been good. Those that wear a heart rate strap for activities will be less excited about the upgraded sensor.

Garmin Forerunner 955
Garmin Forerunner 955 | Image source: Garmin

Sapphire models also 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. Interestingly, the Forerunner 955 matches the sapphire models when it comes to build-in storage space and maps.

Here’s a table illustrating the hardware differences between the Forerunner 955, the mid range Fenix 7 and Epix 2 and Fenix 6.

Forerunner 955
Fenix 7
Epix 2
Lens material
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Sapphire Editions: sapphire crystal
Bezel material
fiber-reinforced polymer
stainless steel
passivated stainless steel
Sapphire Edition: carbon gray DLC titanium or pure titanium
Case material
fiber-reinforced polymer
fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
fiber-reinforced polymer with steel rear cover
Sapphire Editions: fiber-reinforced polymer with titanium rear cover
Strap material
silicone (22mm)
silicone (22mm)
silicone (22mm)
Physical size
46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
Touchscreen
Yes
Yes
Yes
Display size
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
Display resolution
260 x 260 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
Display type
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
AMOLED (always-on)
Weight
52 grams
79 grams
76 grams
Sapphire Editions: 70 grams
Water-resistance
5 ATM
10 ATM
10 ATM
Memory
32 GB
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
16 GB
Sapphire Editions: 32 GB
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, Ambient Light sensor
Ambient light sensor
No
No
Yes
Satellite connectivity
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO
multi-frequency positioning (Sapphire edition only)
Garmin Pay
Yes
Yes
Yes
Connectivity
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FI
Music storage
up to 2,000 songs
up to 2,000 songs
up to 2,000 songs
Solar option
Yes
Yes
No
Price
starting at $500
starting at $700
starting at $900

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2: Battery life

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

All these watches come with at least two weeks of juice between charges with typical use. In the case of Epix 2, this falls sharply to only 6 days if you choose the always-on display option. As mentioned, these types of screens are very power hungry.

With GPS on, you get around two days of battery life whichever of the three options you choose. This is more than you get on an Apple Watch in smartwatch mode (without GPS).

Worth a mention is that Fenix 7 and Epix 2 also offer Power Modes or customizable in-activity battery settings. The functionality gives you more control over how much battery power is being consumed by various functions of the watch.

Certain improvements come with the solar variant. Fenix 7 comes with this purchase option, as does the 955. In fact, this is the first Forerunner with solar charging.

The functionality increases the price of the 955 by $100. Is it worth the extra costs? Well, this depends. If you spend a lot of your time outdoors in sunny locations – it might be worth the added expense.

To remind, solar variants come with built-in Power Glass which is a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. The ring cell area captures the sun’s rays and converts this into energy.

The gains are not that huge. In an ideal scenario you should get an extra 5 days on the Forerunner 955 and an extra 4 days on the Fenix. But solar charging has become more than a gimmick.

short of a week in smartwatch mode. Switch it off and you’ll get a whopping 16 days.

Here’s a table illustrating the battery differences for the Forerunner 955, the mid-range Fenix models and Epix 2.

Forerunner 955
Fenix 7
Epix 2
Smartwatch mode
15 days / 20 days with solar
18 days / 22 days with solar
16 days (6 days always-on)
GPS only
42 hours / 49 hours with solar
57 hours / 73 hours with solar
42 hours (30 hours always-on)
All satellite systems
40 hours
32 hours (24 hours always-on)
All satellite systems + multi-band
20 hours/22 hours with solar
20 hours (15 hours always-on)

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2: Functionality

Most of the differences between the Forerunner 955, Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are to do with build and display quality. The underlying sensors and functionality is largely the same. There really is very little to separate them. At the time of writing, the Forerunner 955 does come with some nifty performance metrics that cannot be found on the other two. But these will arrive to all three of these models.

Our guess is that in another 2-3 weeks Garmin will add the functionality to Fenix 7 and Epix 2 via a Beta firmware update. Which should transition to a public release during the summer. All watches with the Gen 4 heart rate sensor will benefit from the new performance metrics. This also includes the Forerunner 945 LTE.

So what extras do you get on the Forerunner 955?

The headline grabbing new features that can be found on the Forerunner 955 are HRV Status and Daily Training Readiness. The first keeps tabs on your heart rate variability (HRV) during the night. When you wake up in the morning it shows your average HRV for the night, along with your 7 day value. It also compares this to your long-term baseline HRV, established over three weeks and more.

Garmin HRV Status
Garmin HRV Status

Daily Training readiness taps into this metric to spit out a score ranging between zero and 100 that quantifies your readiness to train. It’s a Whoop-type metric that lets you know if you should go out and exercise, or take it easy on a particular day. In addition to HRV, it also utilizes sleep, stress, Training Load, Recovery Time and more to arrive at its calculations.

Garmin Training Readiness
Garmin Training Readiness

Other functionality that is present on the Forerunner 955 and will arrive to the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 includes:

  • Race Calendar & Race Event Widgets
  • Acute Training Load
  • Morning Report
  • Improved Daily Suggested Workouts

Also worth a special mention is Native Running Power. Garmin has integrated this into the 955 but you do need an external accessory in order for it to work. This could be the Garmin Dynamics Pod or one of its chest straps.

The Fenix 7 and Epix 2 do not offer any real performance-type metrics advantages over the 955. It is just a matter of these two watches catching up to the Forerunner. And make no mistake. This will happen in the next month or two.

One thing that you do get on the Fenix 7X model is 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. We’re not sure why this was only included on that particular model. Perhaps because of its large size, Garmin deemed that it is the only one of the lot where it would be useful.

Garmin Fenix 7 flashlight
Image source: Garmin

As far as other differences, we suggest you have a look at the table below. There are some bits and pieces that are not the same, but to 99% of the people it will not make the least bit of difference.

One thing that is worth a mention is the 32 GB memory storage on the Forerunner 955. It matches what can be found on the Sapphire versions of Fenix 7 and Epix 2. The regular iterations of these two come with half as much as memory.

Forerunner 955
Fenix 7
Epix 2
Multi-frequency positioning
Yes
Yes (Sapphire edition only)
Yes (Sapphire editions only)
Indoor Climbing, Bouldering (gym activity profiles)
Yes
Pending firmware update
Pending firmware update
On-screen workout muscle maps
Yes
Pending firmware update
Pending firmware update
Morning report, Race widget, HRV Status, Training Readiness
Yes
Pending firmware update
Pending firmware update
Rest timer
Yes
No
Yes
Training status
Yes (Improved)
Yes (Pending firmware update)
Yes (Pending firmware update)
Running power
Yes
Pending firmware update
Pending firmware update
Built-in LED flashlight
Yes (Fenix 7X)
Golfing features (custom targets, full vector map, PlaysLike distance, Touch targeting)
No
Yes
Yes
Preloaded topographical maps
Yes
No
Yes (Sapphire Editions only)
Preloaded road and trail maps
Yes
No
Yes (Sapphire Editions only)
Preloaded ski-resort maps
No
Yes
Yes
Expedition GPS activity
No
Yes
Yes
Tides
No
Yes
Yes
Power Modes – customizable in-activity battery settings
No
Yes
Yes

Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2: Bottom line

Garmin has taken things to an even higher level with the Forerunner 955 release. With the new recovery-type metrics, the company now has Whoop and Oura squarely in its sights. It really has given them something to think about. Best of all, Garmin has no subscription model. You buy the device and can access all metrics it is capable of producing.

If you are after an outdoor adventuring piece – that is robust and comes with excellent build quality – go for one of the devices in the Fenix 7 range. Epix 2 is for those with deep pockets as it comes with the addition of a stunning AMOLED display.

The Forerunner 955 is the cheaper and less premium version of the Fenix 7. Which sounds strange considering that it has additional performance metrics that come in the form of HRV Status, Training Readiness, Native Power support and more. But make no mistake, these will come to the Fenix 7 and Epix 2 soon via firmware updates.

What will not transition over is the multi-frequency GNSS of the 955. For that you’ll need to opt for the Sapphire editions of Fenix 7 or Epix 2. At 32 GB, the other advantage of the Forerunner is twice the storage space. This is useful if you use maps a lot. Once again, it matches the Sapphire editions of the other two on that count.

The choice between these three watches really comes down to your particular need. The 955 is perhaps the best value for money sports watch that you can buy today. Fenix 7 and Epix 2 are great for those that want more robust devices that look great. The Fenix 7 is also a great option for those with small or large wrists as this is the only one of the three that comes in additional size options.

You can buy the the watches on Amazon (links: Fenix 7, Epix 2, Forerunner 955) and Garmin’s website.

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