Android & iOS App & Software Review

Garmin Epix Pro review: smaller size, bigger appeal

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The opposite day, sleep-deprived and dreading my morning run, I glanced at my wrist and thought my Garmin Fenix 7S Sapphire Photo voltaic Version seemed humorous. The pre-workout hadn’t kicked in, so it took me a second to appreciate that I might learn the display in a darkish workplace with no gentle on. Then, I remembered Fenix watches don’t have OLED shows. What I used to be carrying was the $999.99 Garmin Epix Professional Sapphire Version. I used to be shooketh. Lastly, I understood why my colleague Thomas Ricker had been so excited when he reviewed the Epix final yr.

For years, the Fenix line has been the crème de la crème of Garmin smartwatches, brimming with probably the most superior coaching options and battery life measured in weeks. Then, the brand new Epix rolled up final yr and threatened the Fenix 7’s entire schtick. It was the equal of claiming, “Maintain my beer. I’m gonna offer you every week of battery life with an OLED show, and guess what, nerds, I bought every thing the Fenix 7 lineup has.”

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Intellectually, I understood the attraction. Today, most individuals wouldn’t thoughts paying just a little extra for a contemporary OLED show in the event that they’re not sacrificing a lot for it. I felt lukewarm towards the Epix as a result of it felt like carrying a mini hockey puck, and in contrast to the Fenix collection, I didn’t produce other measurement choices. However the calculus has modified now that the Epix Professional and the Fenix 7 Professional are within the combine. Garmin’s added extra sizes, upgraded {hardware}, and managed to maintain the bottom mannequin worth the identical. This assessment goes to concentrate on the Epix Professional, however suffice it to say, this yr, I’m having a more durable time selecting between the Fenix 7 and Epix lineups.

Good issues are available in small packages

My largest grievance with the Epix 2 was that it solely got here in a single measurement: 47mm. That was odd contemplating Garmin’s by no means been one to scrimp on SKUs. The Fenix 7 lineup, for instance, is available in 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm.

To be honest, 47mm is a reasonably customary measurement for a multisport watch. I’ve bought petite wrists and have worn equally sized watches and haven’t been bothered. However the second-gen Epix wasn’t a type of chunky watches that wears small. It comically overpowered my wrist and was so thick and heavy that swinging my arms whereas operating felt like mini-weight coaching. It additionally wasn’t one thing I might put on to a proper event, particularly if that event concerned carrying a summer season gown or any sort of tight-fitted sleeves.

However the Epix Professional I examined is 42mm. What a distinction it makes. It’s nonetheless the identical 14.2mm thick, however it’s not fairly as noticeable when the watch itself doesn’t take up as a lot house. Plus, the Sapphire Version I reviewed has a titanium case that solely weighs 58g with the straps. (The usual chrome steel model is 5g heavier.) The common Epix weighs 53g for the case alone and 76g with the straps. I can nonetheless really feel the Epix Professional weighing down my wrist once I run, however it’s not distracting for my on a regular basis runs. I solely actually get distracted if I’ve to ebook it throughout a dash.

My issues with the 47mm and 51mm Garmins don’t apply to everybody. For some wrists, 47mm and 51mm are extra snug than 42mm. The purpose is not any two individuals have the identical physique, fashion, or preferences. Garmin generally errs on the aspect of overloading you with choices, however I’d moderately have too many decisions than be successfully excluded from instruments which will assist me due to issues I can’t management.

Ah, the distinction a mere 5mm could make between the 42mm Epix Professional (left) and the usual 47mm Epix.

Design-wise, the Epix 2 Professional is okay. I wouldn’t name it distinctive, however it’s inoffensive sufficient to mix in whereas additionally providing you with some personalization choices by way of its swappable 20mm straps. They’re proprietary Garmin Quickfit straps, that are, in actual fact, fast to placed on. The official ones start at $50, however there are many third-party options as nicely. Simply do your homework with the latter to ensure your machine is suitable.

I see the sunshine

The Epix Professional isn’t an enormous improve over the Epix (gen 2). Garmin doesn’t actually gatekeep options to units as long as they’ve the required {hardware}. However there are two issues that the Epix Professional — and the Fenix 7 Professional — has that its common counterparts don’t: a brand new coronary heart price sensor and LED flashlights.

The brand new optical coronary heart price sensor is, as you may guess, meant to enhance exercise monitoring. However one other vital factor to notice is that there’s a notable change within the Professional’s sensor array design. There are a number of extra LEDs and what appears to be like to be EKG electrodes surrounding them. Extra sensors usually imply higher accuracy, whereas the latter hints that EKG options could also be within the Professional’s future. (Proper now, solely the Venu 2 Plus helps EKGs for atrial fibrillation detection, however Garmin has acknowledged it hopes to increase the characteristic to different units down the road.)

The Epix Professional (and Fenix 7 Professional) has a brand new sensor array with extra LEDs and potential EKG help down the road.

A brand new coronary heart price sensor for Garmin is value noting. Whereas Garmin’s health and coaching options are nice, its well being options don’t all the time hit the mark. Sleep monitoring, as an example, is okay for total period, however its sleep phases can fluctuate broadly from what I get on the Oura Ring. A extra correct sensor must imply higher well being monitoring since you’re getting higher knowledge — however two weeks of testing isn’t lengthy sufficient for me to note a dramatic distinction simply but.

Extra thrilling is the LED flashlight. After I heard Garmin launched this on the 51mm Fenix 7X (and solely the 7X), I used to be bummed since I wasn’t going to sacrifice consolation if I had the choice. It’s since arrived on different Garmin watches, however this has been my first probability to attempt it out, and it’s low-key the most effective characteristic on the Professional.

This flashlight can get fairly shiny, which is helpful in a darkish room, particularly because it permits you using your arms and doesn’t require swiping to activate.

I believe Darth Vader would put on this watch. Sith vibes while you use the crimson flashlight. It’s much less intense while you’re simply making an attempt to get to the lavatory in the midst of the evening.

The sunshine shines out the highest, so that you may really feel like a Secret Agent Man whereas finding out your cables.

Technically, it’s meant that will help you see higher at evening on trails, or you need to use the strobe impact to maybe sign for assist. There’s even a operating characteristic the place it flashes white in your arm’s upswing and crimson on the downswing so motorists can see you higher at evening. (For security causes, I don’t run alone at evening, so I wasn’t capable of put that to the take a look at.) You’ll be able to select between crimson or white gentle, and at most brightness, it’s corresponding to my iPhone 14 Professional Max’s flashlight. However the level is that it’s hands-free and helpful outdoors of health.

Did the cat bat my hair clip underneath the mattress at 4AM? I can double-press the top-left button, and voila. I’ve each arms and a light-weight to seek for the dang factor. Must redo cable administration behind the TV or beneath my desk the place no gentle touches? Bam. Useful flashlight, and I don’t have to stay a penlight in my mouth if I need to use each arms. I positively didn’t count on to make use of the flashlight as a lot as I did, particularly since my Apple Watch Extremely additionally has a flashlight. But it surely’s simply really easy to double-click a button, whereas you must both swipe to get to the management middle or program the motion button to get the identical impact — whereas maybe dropping a extra most popular performance.

Software program and coaching

I’ve used extra Garmin units than I can depend, and but, with every new assessment, I uncover one thing I’ve by no means seen earlier than. Typically it’s a genuinely new characteristic. Different occasions, they’re issues that’ve been there all alongside and buried in some menu or setting I wasn’t conscious of.

This time round, the brand new metrics are Hill Rating and Endurance Rating. After two weeks of operating outdoor, the Hill Rating will enable you gauge your means to run up hills, steps, and climbs. I’ve been operating commonly for the previous two weeks, however the Professional has but to indicate me a Hill Rating. Not that I want it to. I do know it’s going to be one thing alongside the strains of Nelson from The Simpsons pointing and laughing at me. That is pretty typical and never essentially a con until you occur to be a reviewer — I had a equally longer-than-average wait time with the HRV Standing metric whereas reviewing the Forerunner 255S.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I already ran a half-marathon this yr, I’m operating a 10K this weekend, and a full marathon is presently not in my plans for 2023. Leisure suits.

Thanks. Besides you’re saying I’m overreaching in my coaching readiness, so I really feel like I’m getting blended indicators right here.

The Endurance Rating takes your VO2 max and coaching hundreds throughout a number of actions and spits out a rating that signifies… nicely, your endurance. Mine’s not very spectacular — I’ve been banished to the border of “leisure” and no matter comes after that. It’s honest. I haven’t had an incredible yr performance-wise. On the flip aspect, the characteristic says that, over the previous 4 weeks, my VO2 max is at a superb degree with a strong base to enhance my rating. I’m not fully certain what to do with the rating, nevertheless. I’ve sufficient endurance to run for about three hours, and if that’s leisure, then cool.

The opposite new options of notice are overlays for topographical maps. For instance, you may see the temperature, precipitation, cloud protection, and wind. You’ll then have the ability to see a nifty little animation forecasting situations for that overlay over the subsequent few hours. It’s neat, however just a little complicated, too. You’ll be able to solely entry overlays from the climate widget in the primary menu — not from the wrist throughout an exercise as you usually would. I’d say that is extra of a characteristic for prepping for an outside exercise than navigating one. Once more, this was one other “neat” characteristic that I don’t essentially see myself utilizing quite a bit, however I might see it being good for hikers. I would like maps on my wrist so I don’t have to tug out my telephone mid-run. If the climate overlays are for prepping and planning, then… I’ve greater ones on my telephone.

That is the temperature overlay on a topographical map. It’s solely accessible from the climate widget, although.

These software program updates aren’t unique to the Epix Professional — they’re out there on the Fenix 7 Professional lineup. Plus, Garmin isn’t one to gatekeep software program options. Hill Rating and Endurance Rating are more likely to make their technique to different Garmins earlier than lengthy, as long as they’ve the suitable {hardware}. What is distinctive to the Epix Professional is a brand new crimson shift mode for higher nighttime visibility. It… turns every thing crimson and is just about the identical because the characteristic Apple launched on the Extremely. Once more, I attempt to not stroll wherever alone at evening, which is when this may be most helpful. As a substitute, I sat in a darkish closet and might affirm it’s readable. It is a characteristic I’m extra inclined to attempt on my subsequent climbing journey, away from New York Metropolis gentle air pollution, earlier than I cross judgment.

These are simply my ideas based mostly on two weeks of use. Typically these varieties of coaching options and metrics take time to disclose their usefulness. Different occasions, they’re simply… not all that helpful. I’ll have a extra concrete concept of how I really feel about these options after I’m executed testing the Fenix 7S Professional proper after this. That mentioned, I query what number of extra options Garmin can add at this level. The Garmin Join app is already cluttered with extra knowledge factors than I do know what to do with, and whereas I discover a good variety of them useful, my mind hurts interested by all of them.

Good instance: this factor additionally has a jet lag advisor. It’s supposed to present steerage on how finest to recuperate from the accursed affliction. I haven’t crossed a number of time zones these previous few weeks, nevertheless, so it’s one other characteristic I haven’t gotten the possibility to check out but and can promptly overlook about earlier than I do.

Garmin has a ton of coaching options I really like and a number of other others I don’t all the time know what to do with.

In any other case, coaching with the Epix Professional has been precisely what I anticipated — typical Garmin dependability, an overstuffed app, good restoration options, so-so sleep monitoring, a wide variety of exercise solutions, and nice GPS maps. The Epix Professional additionally has multiband GPS, on prime of all-systems GNSS, so I by no means actually apprehensive about wonky maps. (Although, we’ll see the way it fares at my 10K this weekend. Race day GPS jitters are actual for smartwatches, apparently.)

As with the Epix, battery life is sweet. With the always-on show enabled, I bought about 3.5 days with a median of 30–45 minutes of GPS exercise per day. Not wonderful however strong when you think about that is the smallest 42mm model. Garmin says the bigger 47mm must get six days with AOD on, whereas the 51mm will get as much as 11 days. (Larger watches do benefit from bigger batteries.) After I turned AOD off, I bought a way more spectacular 9 days. The 47mm will get an estimated 16 days, whereas the 51mm can stand up to 31 days. So I made some tradeoffs in choosing the extra snug possibility, however it’s one the place I really feel I nonetheless come out on prime.

To go Professional or to not go Professional

I truly can’t give a ultimate ultimate verdict but. I’ve bought the Fenix 7S Professional on deck, and there’s an opportunity that its improved memory-in-pixel show and the potential for longer battery life will win me over. However should you don’t have already got an Epix or are petite-wristed, I like to recommend the Epix Professional as a substitute. You might be primarily getting the identical watch with higher sensors and extra flexibility with regard to consolation — plus a really helpful flashlight. Until you discover a killer markdown throughout a sale, the Epix Professional is the higher worth.

If — and provided that — you’ve gotten the means, I believe that is a type of multisport watches you may deal with your self with.

I’d additionally advocate this over the Fenix 7S — the non-Professional one, a minimum of. The battery life isn’t nearly as good, however my largest difficulty with that watch was the show was onerous to learn indoors. The Professional is way simpler on my eyes for on a regular basis use.

If you happen to’ve already bought a 7S or Epix, this isn’t a vital improve. It’s solely been a yr, Garmin has a repute for rolling out software program to each potential eligible machine, and the Epix Professional is an incremental {hardware} replace. That’s the wise recommendation I’ve to present. But when I’m sincere, this watch tempts me to be much less wise. For me, the dimensions higher fits my smaller wrists, I get a lot use out of the flashlight, and its new sensors are extra futureproof than the usual Epix or Fenix 7 watches. As long as you’re not placing your self in a nasty monetary scenario (or should you discover a good sale), I believe that is one occasion the place it’s okay to indulge a bit.

Pictures by Victoria Tune / The Verge

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