Android & iOS App & Software Review

Garmin Fenix 7S Pro review: too much of the same

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I’m simply going to return out and say it. The $899.99 Fenix 7S Professional Sapphire Photo voltaic Version is a superb multisport watch, however I’m baffled as to why it exists.

I’ve been sporting this look ahead to the previous month, proper after roughly a month with the $999.99 Garmin Epix Professional Sapphire Version. They’re, in lots of respects, the identical smartwatch, a lot that it actually appears like I’ve been sporting the identical watch for 2 entire months. They’re so related that I can sum up the distinction in a single sentence. The Epix Professional has an OLED display; the Fenix 7S Professional has higher battery life.

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As I wrote in my Epix Professional assessment, this makes Garmin’s high-end multisport watch lineup extra complicated. And I’m not even factoring in the usual second-gen Epix and Fenix 7 lineups, that are additionally similar to the Fenix 7S Professional. For those who depend all the assorted fashions and choices, that’s 22 variations of the Fenix 7 and 12 variations of the second-gen Epix for a complete of 34 watches which might be solely barely totally different from one another.

There are situations the place one watch trumps the opposite, which I’ll get into beneath. However, typically talking, there’s not sufficient of a cause to justify having 34 variations of the identical factor. It’s a difficulty I’ve had with Garmin through the years, however typically, there’s such a factor as an excessive amount of selection.

Fenix 7S Professional vs. Epix Professional: would you like OLED?

There’s little or no separating the Fenix 7S Professional and the Epix Professional. Not solely did they launch on the similar time, however their designs are related, they each include Garmin’s upgraded coronary heart fee sensor, they arrive in the identical three sizes (42mm, 47mm, 51mm), they usually each have a built-in LED flashlight. (As with the Epix Professional, this flashlight is low-key the perfect factor in regards to the Fenix 7S Professional.) They’ve the identical sensible options! That features issues like alarms, timers, notifications, Garmin Pay, and Spotify compatibility. Each additionally provide the choice of sapphire crystal and titanium for additional sturdiness.

The MIP is barely simpler to learn in dimmer settings. This was underneath a shaded arch.

So far as accuracy, wearability, and health monitoring go, the expertise on each watches was similar. I loved the Morning Report — which summarizes your general readiness and sleep, the climate, and provides you a instructed exercise — on the Epix Professional, and that didn’t change after I switched to the 7S Professional. Each have been comparable when it comes to GPS and coronary heart fee accuracy on my runs in comparison with the Apple Watch Extremely. Each have been iffy at sleep monitoring in comparison with my Oura Ring as properly, although to not the purpose the place it had a noticeably detrimental impression on coaching and restoration options.

And it virtually goes with out saying: there are extra metrics within the convoluted Garmin Join app than you’ll know what to do with. Each the 7S Professional and Epix Professional have the brand new Hill Rating and Endurance Rating, which let you know how simply you may run up hills or how a lot endurance you might have based mostly in your VO2 Max. In my case, each stated I stink at hills and have sufficient endurance for leisure coaching. That stated, by the point I examined the 7S Professional, my Hill Rating recommendation did sound much less condescending. Small wins. The updates to topographical maps are additionally the identical.

What all of this boils right down to is whether or not you need an OLED show. In each state of affairs, notifications, menus, and widgets have been simpler to learn on the Epix Professional’s OLED.

As I discussed, the Fenix 7S Professional has higher battery life. That stated, the Epix Professional has fairly spectacular battery life, too, when you think about that always-on OLED shows are usually energy guzzlers. With AOD enabled, the Epix Professional will get roughly 3.5 days on a single cost; with out it, it will get about 8-9 days. Both approach, it far exceeds what you’ll get on an Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Professional.

Conversely, the 7S Professional has a memory-in-pixel show, which has been improved since the usual 7S. It’s speculated to be barely extra readable in low-light circumstances, emphasis on barely. I nonetheless needed to squint very often when indoors to learn the show, and there’s no beating the Epix Professional’s OLED while you’re exterior at evening. In direct daylight, the Fenix 7S Professional’s MIP show should get you superior readability. In actuality, the Epix Professional’s OLED was loads shiny whereas open air. You’d need to be underneath essentially the most punishing summer time solar to note a lot of a distinction.

Warmth acclimation is useful however a type of metrics that may get buried within the labyrinthian Garmin Join app.

The place MIP excels is battery life — and I can’t deny that’s what you’ll get with the 7S Professional. My 42mm unit lasted roughly Sep 11 days on a single cost. Photo voltaic charging additionally performed a task on this, although it’s laborious to quantify precisely how a lot additional juice you’ll get. Typically talking, nevertheless, it is advisable to spend a very good chunk of the day exterior for it to make a noticeable distinction.

For instance, I wore the Fenix 7S Professional throughout a weeklong journey to Acadia Nationwide Park, logging roughly 10-12 hours of direct daylight on most days. I began the journey with about eight days of battery and ended the journey with 5 days’ price. Some days, I’d get up to seek out that I had the identical quantity of estimated battery life because the day earlier than. That’s spectacular. However you shouldn’t anticipate these sorts of outcomes if, like me, you spend most of your time indoors while you’re not on trip. Photo voltaic charging made a negligible impression on weeks the place my solar publicity was restricted to 30-45 minute morning runs or hour-long walks.

You must also remember the fact that battery life is closely dependent in your particular person utilization. These outcomes have been based mostly on my settings and exercise ranges — primarily multiband GPS on, and 30-60 minutes of GPS exercises 5-6 days per week. For those who go for much less intense GPS settings or partake in longer out of doors exercises, your battery life may look fairly totally different. The underside line is for a weeklong journey or an ultra-long day of exercises, you received’t have to fret about battery life.

The health options are the identical because the Epix Professional. Precisely the identical.
Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

In my day-to-day life, the Fenix 7S Professional’s additional battery life didn’t trump the Epix Professional’s OLED show — at the least not on the 42mm dimension. With my dangerous eyes, I’ll take higher readability in all situations over just a few additional days of battery life. OLED additionally simply elevates your complete expertise and feels extra trendy. Beforehand, the Fenix 7 lineup had the sting as a result of it got here in three sizes, whereas the usual Epix solely got here in a chunky 47mm dimension. However the Epix Professional now is available in the very same sizes, in order that edge isn’t precisely there anymore.

For these causes, I like to recommend the Epix Professional over the 7S Professional for most individuals. Value-wise, you’re solely about $100 in financial savings by choosing the Fenix 7S Professional. Head-to-head, 7S Professional solely makes extra sense for those who often partake in multi-day endurance sports activities with out having to allow any low-power settings.

As soon as once more, the flashlight guidelines

However what for those who’re making an attempt to determine between a normal Fenix 7 and the 7 Professional watches? Until you discover an incredible deal — as in $200-$300 off — I like to recommend the Professional as a result of it will get you the higher worth.

My largest cause why is each mannequin of the Professional comes with the built-in LED flashlight, whereas it’s restricted to the 7X on the usual lineup. And I can not overstate this, however the flashlight might be the perfect function Garmin launched in latest reminiscence. I love this factor.

You may as well go for a pink mild at evening. Excellent for raiding the fridge with out waking anybody up.

Its max brightness matches the flashlight on my iPhone 14 Professional Max. I don’t want to surrender a hand to make use of it. In contrast to different smartwatches with flashlight apps, just like the Apple Watch, you may nonetheless entry different menus and apps. An actual LED mild is brighter and extra helpful than the white display that typical smartwatches use, too. To activate it, you simply need to faucet the highest left-hand button twice. It’s additionally adaptable to totally different situations; the brightness is adjustable, you may program strobe patterns for those who get injured throughout a hike, and you too can go for a pink flashlight at evening. For nighttime runs or walks, you too can allow a mode the place the sunshine flashes white in your arm’s upswing and pink on the downswing, so that you’re extra seen to vehicles.

I’ve watched too many true crime documentaries to run at evening or get caught within the woods previous sunset, however I take advantage of the flashlight virtually every day. I take advantage of it after I can’t see stuff in my automobile’s trunk or after I’m rearranging cables underneath my desk. It turns out to be useful when digging by means of my nightmare closet. It’s a useful nightlight after I don’t wish to get up my partner however the cookie jar is looking.

Another excuse why the Professional beats the vanilla Fenix 7: it’s extra futureproof, with newer sensors and doubtlessly the aptitude to at some point help EKGs. Proper now, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the one one that’s cleared for this function, however Garmin says it hopes to at some point develop EKG performance to extra watches. If and when it does, the Professional at the least has the {hardware} to help it.

The up to date sensor array has a brand new optical coronary heart fee sensor and, maybe at some point, EKG functionality.

That stated, I don’t suppose software-based options (e.g., Hill Rating, Endurance Rating, extra detailed maps, and many others.) are a professional for the Professional until you need them proper now. Garmin tends to deliver the most recent options to older fashions, and the whole lot the Epix Professional and Fenix 7 Professional have will probably arrive on the common Fenix 7 (and several other different Garmins) this fall.

To me, the flashlight alone is price the additional price, however for the budget-conscious, the usual Fenix 7 can prevent $100-$150.

Much less is extra

If I sound detrimental, it’s as a result of my mind hurts from making an attempt to recollect all of the totally different permutations of Epix and Fenix watches, their accompanying function units, and costs. However once more, I wish to emphasize the Fenix 7S Professional is superb, and by itself, I’ve little or no to complain about.

I simply don’t see how having a Fenix, Fenix Professional, Epix, and Epix Professional lineup is smart in the long term.

I’ve only a few complaints in regards to the Fenix 7S Professional other than the truth that it will get misplaced in Garmin’s cluttered product catalog.
Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

I get why it’s right here now. The Professional watches are the equal of an “S” 12 months iPhone. However going ahead, it’d do Garmin a number of good to pare down the choices. Perhaps stick photo voltaic charging with additional lengthy battery life on a higher-end Forerunner watch and condense the Fenix and Epix line into one OLED-happy lineup. You’d nonetheless have loads of selections to select from, however the whole lot can be extra clearly differentiated.

All this jogs my memory of an Amy Poehler interview I watched ages again. In it, she explains how her youngsters solely get two selections of ice cream flavors as a result of having too many taste choices holds up the road and results in evaluation paralysis. I would like Garmin to start out doing the identical factor — or at the least acknowledge that the extent of selection it is offering far exceeds what individuals really want. A number of sizes are nice. Having just a few traces within the way of life, midrange, and premium watch classes can be nice. However when you find yourself like Garmin, with 36 totally different product traces on the market, a lot of that are iterations on the identical factor? All this selection instantly turns into not-so-great.

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