At the start of 2022 we received the latest iteration in the Fenix range. It might be early days but that shouldn’t stop us from looking forward to Garmin Fenix 8, its possible tech specs and potential release date.
The Fenix line has become a preference for sports and outdoor enthusiasts over the years. This is a great wearable which contains most things you would want for fitness training plus feature sets for outdoor navigation. A device for those who are into multi-sports and want to be able to track absolutely everything. It’s no wonder there is always much interest about the next iteration in the series.
Essential reading: Garmin Forerunner 955 vs Fenix 7 vs Epix 2 – which to go for?
After a slow 2021, Garmin has picked up pace once again. This year we saw a plethora of launches such as the Venu 2 Plus, Fenix 7, Epix 2, and more recently the Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 955. And we do not expect things to end here. Later in 2022 we are expecting Venu SQ 2, Austin, Vivomove Trend, Instinct Analog and perhaps a few other devices. The info for this comes from a local Garmin authorised distributors list we stumbled across a couple of months back. It will definitely be a busy year!
But many are looking beyond these editions wondering when we’ll see the Garmin Fenix 8. Competition is stiff, so it’s a fair bet that the company will set its aims high once again. There have been no leaks so far so what follows is what one could reasonably expect based on the development of the line so far. As and when we hear more, we will update this article.
Garmin Fenix 8: Possible design and tech specs
Despite multiple generations Garmin has retained the flagship design of its Fenix line. The circular display, the five physical buttons have consistantly made the cut in recent years. However, there have been some changes along the way.
One of these is the introduction of multiple sizes – so now there’s something for everyone. This is likely to continue with the next generation and we see Garmin introducing three current different sized options, once again.
Another change this year is the introduction of Epix 2. The watch is pretty much the same as Fenix 7, with one important difference – it comes with an AMOLED display.
Ultimately, these types of displays will become power efficient enough to replace the transflective memory-in-pixel display (MIP) of the Fenix and Forerunner watches. But that might still be a few years off for these two product lines.
The same can not be said, though, for Vivoactive. In our view we’ve seen the last iteration in that series – and going forward we will only get new versions of the Venu range. But that is an all-purpose watch so quite distinct from the Fenix and Forerunner series. It is Garmin’s answer to the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch.
One thing we would like to see with Fenix 8 is a slimming down of the form-factor. The device is currently quite thick. This ranges from 14.1mm to 14.9mm depending on the size chosen. Whether we see a less chunky Fenix 8 really depends on how much it would effect battery life. A smaller physical space can fit a smaller sized battery.
The mid-sized Fenix 7 runs an impressive 18 days (22 days with solar) in smartwatch mode and 57 hours (73 hours with solar) with GPS switched on. The 7S and 7X also perform well on this count. Garmin is unlikely to downsize the battery capacity as it remains a very important selling point.
The same consideration applies to the possible introduction of a more high-res screen. Having said that, one could reasonably expect the same or similar type of MIP display but with more pixels squeezed in.
What we like about the current edition is the newly added touchscreen functionality. Garmin has, quite rightly, opted to retain the two physical buttons on the right and three on the left. But now you can use this in combination with the touch-display to navigate the menus. Best of all, this is customisable so you can turn on or off the touchscreen for certain use cases. Perfect.
A decision to offer just a touch screen would not have been a good one. It would not be practical because athletes would find a touchscreen difficult to use in wet weather or when swimming.
Garmin appears to be adapting a similar design across its latest crop of sports watches so it is unlikely to stray very much from that. Why change something that works? We, therefore, don’t expect to see any drastic changes in the looks department with the Fenix 8.
In any case, expect to see different sized models, including some premium editions. And lots of options in straps, colours and watch faces.
And while those looking for a radically different design might be dissapointed, something around the corner may pique their interest. A device called Garmin Austin will reportedly launch in the months ahead. Just like Fenix and Epix, this is classified as an outdoors watch. What exactly we get remains to be seen. A outdoorsy timepiece especially designed for women? Something with a totally different form factor? It’s anyone’s guess.
Garmin Fenix 8: Functionality we expect, would like to see
Fenix 7 is a very capable multisport GPS watch. You can use it for cycling, open water swimming, cross country skiing, climbing, indoor run/bike/swim, hiking and much more. In addition to heart rate tracking from the wrist, the watch provides advanced running metrics and outdoor navigation. 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 3-axis electronic compass keeps your bearing whether you’re moving or not.
We have always been impressed with the Fenix model and iteration number seven has brought some nice upgrades. This includes the addition 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.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
While impressive in its specs, the device is by no means perfect. For example, users have reported ANT+ reception problems so a better antenna is very likely on Fenix 8. As is a new heart rate tracking module and other sensor improvements.
More training metrics
The watch also has lots of training metrics. At the time of writing this article, the Forerunner 955 actually has a few more metrics as compared to the Fenix 7. But have no worry if you have the latest Fenix, it should get the Training Readiness Score, HRV Status and all the other performance metric extras from the Forerunner 955. It might take a few months, though, until Garmin gets around to releasing the firmware update.
As far as the future, it is difficult to predict at this stage. Recovery was one area where Garmin has lagged in recent years as compared to the likes of Whoop, Polar and Oura. Now it has evened up the score. No doubt, there are additional goodies in store that will land in the years ahead. What exactly will likely depend on new sensors that might be built into the watch. Garmin has acquired the rights to Firsbeat Analytics technology, which puts it in a prime position to keep developing these types of metrics.
Sleep tracking that actually works
One sore point right now is sleep tracking. It is a weak point of all Garmin watches.
For some reason you need to define a window in the Garmin Connect settings during which you typically sleep. Not sure why that is necessary in 2022 as other companies do not require you to do this. Surely it can’t be too difficult to figure out when you are in a horizontal position, not moving.
Naps? You can’t track them on a Garmin watch. That’s not good enough from a company which prides itself on being one of the best in class.
For example, I tend to sleep 6-7 hours per night. But supplement this with an hour or two, afternoon nap. As far as Garmin is concerned I have only had one sleep session. Which throws the Readiness Score out of whack.
ECG sensors have been making all headlines in recent years. Why not ECG functionality on a Garmin watch? This is already in the works and the tech might be even be built into some existing devices. DC Rainmaker spotted the functionality in an early firmware version of his Venu 2 Plus watch. And we discovered a medical study last year that references a Garmin-made watch with ECG. Is this a must-have for the Fenix line? Not in the least bit. But it would be a nice-to-have.
Other sensors are always a possibility. In fact we seem to be close to the stage where there will be a radical shakeup of health tracking tech. A number of different companies are working on sensors that will track blood-pressure, sweat, glucose, hydration and more from the wrist in real-time and continuosly.
The only question is whether the tech will be ready to integrate in the next Garmin Fenix watch. Devices with these types of next generation sensors are expected to start dropping sometime in 2023. Exciting times ahead for us wearable geeks!
А better smartwatch experience
It is fair to say, the current Fenix line is very limited as far as smartwatch features. Particulary if you compare the device to the likes of the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch. Sure you get the basics such as notification support, music control and storage but it doesn’t go much beyond that.
Is that a particular problem? Probably not as the customer base of this type of device are fitness enthusiasts. But it would be nice to get a better smartwatch experience on future Fenix generations. Things that could potentially be added include a microphone and smart assistant voice control, better and richer third-party app support and more.
More fully integrated Garmin Pay support
Right now there is only limited Garmin Pay bank support. Hopefully the company will expand this in the future to more banks and financial institutions, across a wider range of countries
Multi-band GNSS only on Sapphire models
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Only the Fenix 7 Sapphire model (and Epix 2 model) has multi-band GNSS support. Which is kind of an insult to owners of other Fenix 7 watches. Why?
Because the Forerunner 955 model which was not expected to have better specs than Fenix 7 comes with this built-in. The functionality allows for multiple frequencies from each constellation for improved positioning where obtaining a sattelite signal is challenging. I have been wearing a Forerunner 955 watch for the past few weeks and the improvements are very noticeable, both when it comes to speed of connection and GPS accuracy. It is a certainty this will be built into the Fenix 8 watch.
A cellular model in the next year or so? This could even be released as an interim version of Fenix 7. Perhaps a Fenix 7 LTE. One could say that this is another feature the typical Fenix watch user does not really require. After all, you’re not going to try and call your office while on a run…. But it would be nice to have the option – one with proper cellular connectivity that doesn’t end with security functions. Perhaps a Fenix 8 model with cellular and one without.
Garmin Fenix 8: Potential release date
Fenix 7 was announced at the start of this year and made available for purchase towards the end of January. But what about the other iterations in the series?
Here’s the recent release schedule.
- Garmin Fenix 3 (January 2015)
- Garmin Fenix 3 (January 2016)
- Garmin Fenix 5 (January 2017)
- Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (June 2018)
- Garmin Fenix 6 (September 2019)
- Garmin Fenix 7 (January 2022)
This shows that there has been a bit of a gap between generation six and seven. But the circumstances were not normal. The coronavirus situation in recent years, coupled with chip-shortages and energy crisis in certain Asian countries have not made things easy for wearable manufacturers. We actually think the Fenix 7 was scheduled to be released in 2021 but was delayed due to the situation.
As far as the next iteration in the series, we certainly do not anticipate such a large gap. The earliest Fenix 8 could potentially land is the Summer of 2023 or perhaps IFA in Berlin of that year which falls in early September. Beyond that, the next likely good release window could be IFA in Las Vegas in January 2024. For now, our money is on the next generation or an interim device being launched in September of next year.
If you decided to skip Fenix 7 because it is way too expensive for you, prepare to be disappointed. This is a high-end watch after all, so Fenix 8 is likely to come in at a similar price. There is hope, though, as demostrated by the recent launch of the Forerunner 955. That one unexpectedly landed with a very budget-friendly price-line as compared to its immediate predecessor.
Nevertheless, we should once again see different price points for different sizes. Including much more expensive premium and limited editions, along with the standard, slightly more budget friendly models.
Essential reading: Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Fenix 5 vs Fenix 5 Plus
Whatever the final price, the Fenix 8 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 timepiece which has already proven its worth.
So what do you think? What would you like to see on the Fenix 8?
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!