Garmin Fenix 7 Review
Cons: App could be better, calibration of ABC difficult, expensive
Compare to Similar Products
Garmin Fenix 7
$700.00 at REI
$700.00 at REI
$779.99 at Amazon
|$399 List||$200 List|
$200.00 at REI
|Pros||Excellent battery life, great interface, advanced health metrics, beautiful screen resolution||Durable, incredible battery life, large screen, great app||Leading UI for a smartwatch, great design, excellent health metrics||Good battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great value||Low profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost|
|Cons||App could be better, calibration of ABC difficult, expensive||Heavy, expensive, limited touch function, resume later function not enabled across all activities||Short battery life, poorly designed data screen, expensive||Lacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicks||Minimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction|
|Bottom Line||The best GPS watch for everyday use and extended adventures in backcountry terrain||The most rugged expedition-ready watch we tested with insane battery life in a large 51mm case||A high level of smartphone integration while paired with an iPhone allows this watch to do a multitude of tasks without ever having to pull out your phone||A fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user types||A fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value|
|Rating Categories||Garmin Fenix 7||Coros Vertix 2||Apple Watch Ultra||Coros Apex Pro||Coros Pace 2|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Ease of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Garmin Fenix 7||Coros Vertix 2||Apple Watch Ultra||Coros Apex Pro||Coros Pace 2|
|Watch Face Material||Corning Gorilla Glass DX||Sapphire Glass||Sapphire crystal||Sapphire glass||Corning glass|
|Bezel||Stainless steel||Grade 5 titanium alloy with PVD coating||Titanium||Titanium Alloy||Fiber reinforced polymer|
|Case||Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover||Titanium Alloy with PVD Coating||Titanium/Ceramic||Alumnium||Fiber reinforced polymer|
|Strap Material||Silicon||Silicon or nylon||2L woven textile||Silicon or nylon||Silicon or nylon|
|Tools Required to Change Band?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Size Tested||47mm||One size only||49mm||47mm||One size only|
|Measured Main Body Size (diameter)||47mm||50mm||49mm||47mm||43mm|
|Measured Screen Width||33mm||35.5mm||44mm||33mm||32mm|
|Measured Weight||2.75 oz||3.17 oz||2.2 oz||2.0 oz||1.2 oz|
|Measured Charging Time||168 min||128 min||150 min||80 min||80 min|
|Battery Type||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion|
|Measured Battery Life With GPS On||56 hours||135 hours||58 hours||36 hours||29 hours|
|Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life||Smartwatch mode: 18 days;
GPS: 57 hours
|Smartwatch mode: 60 days;
GPS: 140 hours
|Smartwatch mode: 18 hours;
Low Power mode: 60 hours;
|Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
|Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
|Navigation Built In?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Satellite Networks Used||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS||GPS, GNSS, Galileo, BeiDou||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU|
|Maps?||Yes - detailed||Yes - detailed||Yes - detailed||Yes - basic||No|
|Back to Start Navigation?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Water Resistance (max depth)||100m||100m||100m||100m||50m|
|Music Storage?||Yes - 1000 songs||Yes - 32gb storage||Yes||No||No|
|Daily Fitness Tracking?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Main Software App||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features||Coros App||iOS||Coros App||Coros|
|Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Out of all the watches we tested, this model felt the most refined and offered the best user experience. Garmin has really nailed the user experience for their products, and the Fenix 7 is no different. Advanced health metrics offer useful and easy-to-understand info, often with scores and helpful descriptions to help you analyze stats. Additional features such as Garmin Pay and on-screen music storage make it easy to leave items at home and go light. Navigation features can help in tricky terrain where visibility is low, and the screen looks amazing; black and crisp, with numbers that pop out even under intense activities. Battery life and the touch screen are also excellent, and there are dedicated buttons for sure-footed interaction even under high movement or intense activities. If you are looking for the best GPS watch, we suggest looking no further.
You're buying the best at this price point, so we expect the features to align with that cost — and they absolutely do on the Fenix 7. There is something for everyone in this model, no matter how you see yourself using this watch. Pairing excellently with a smartphone, you can access notifications and store music or use services like Spotify. Using Garmin Pay, you can add credit cards for use around town for places you know accept contactless payments.
Garmin implements both stat widgets and various easy-to-access tools. These are customizable and accessible anytime when using the watch. Having the ability to access these tool settings quickly is fluid and extremely useful. For example, turning on battery-saving features or enabling or disabling the touch screen. The widgets allow for rich data visualization or interaction with paired tools such as a Garmin inReach. On adventures with potentially higher consequences, having the ability to remotely control and send messages right from the watch offers a piece of mind you can't get on other models.
- Heart rate monitor
- Several activity profiles
- Pedometer and calories burned
- Sunrise/Sunset information
- Breadcrumb navigation and topo maps
- Course creation and upload options
- Customizable watch faces
Take a look at the Garmin website to see the full scope of all the offered features.
Health stats are extensive on the Fenix 7 — everything from sleep metrics and scores to stress and energy levels. While the importance of these varies from person to person, it's nice to have these, even if you only glance at them every once in a while. Navigation features are rich, and the topo maps are downloadable over wifi but aren't included by default as they are on the Coros Vertix 2.
We are big fans of the 'resume later' function on this watch. While perhaps not crucial for everyone, we love having a device that can still act as a watch during workouts. We appreciate that this feature is integrated throughout all of the different activity profiles instead of just specific types like on the Coros models.
The Fenix 7 doesn't have the best battery life out of the models we tested, but it is the best for the weight and case size. We really like the Garmin PowerManage* settings; you can turn on battery-saving modes for everyday use, or you can adjust the power mode when starting a workout. The differences between these modes are easy to understand, with pictures showing what is on/off during various activities. On a full charge, we used smartwatch mode with everything turned on for 18 days. Switching to 'battery saver,' we extended to 56 days.
Once starting an activity, you can expect 42 hours of multi-satellite tracking. Switch to 1 min-GPS with UltraTrac, and you can extend to 135 hours. If you feel like this isn't good enough for your use case, then the Coros Vertix 2 could suit you better. However, with the increase in battery life, you increase both weight and case size, which are noticeable when doing high movement activities such as running. We are glad that most watchmakers are making these switches in power modes easily adjustable and visual while providing the stats behind what you are gaining and losing in functionality.
Ease of Use
Garmin was the first to implement the tools and widgets we rave about in the features category, which also greatly increase the ease of use. In addition to that, we are impressed with the interface. The touch screen is excellent (even when wet) and is enabled throughout the entire watch, easily turned on and off from the tool screen. The movement between settings and menus feels natural, and we quickly learned the button layout.
Dedicated buttons make navigation easy even under intense activity or high movement. On other models, we needed to keep the watch locked, especially when wearing gloves or a jacket, to prevent accidental button presses or scrolls. This was just one extra step that made the whole experience feel a bit sluggish. Instantly interacting with your watch and having the confidence that you can look down during a fast mile and see the last screen you were on is a benefit of the Fenix 7 we can't overstate. If you use auto-scroll, this could be of less importance.
The Garmin Connect mobile application is not as user-friendly as the competitors, and we find it a bit lacking given the interaction between the watch and mobile app. While the watch is easy to use, the mobile app feels a bit dated when compared to the competition. That said, we had no issues syncing the watch even with our phone connected to 10+ watches in our test area, and the Fenix accepts both Ant+ and Bluetooth, which we appreciate. Ultimately, all the information you need can be found, and you will learn the application fairly easily, but we think it's one thing slightly lacking about Garmin products. If you use a third-party application like Strava, you may find you are only using the app for syncing anyway.
We are impressed with the accuracy of the Fenix 7 and think it's a great fit for those venturing into technical terrain. Thanks to the dual-frequency and MULTI GNSS capabilities, this watch could easily locate satellites, even in deep canyons that are notoriously bad due to their limited line of sight. We experienced no data inaccuracy, and when tested against our lineup, this model reached the same distance and elevation at the end of our test activity.
Heart rate capabilities are limited by the fit of the watch. The Fenix 7 fit our wrists great, so we were confident with the heart rate readings when compared to the data from a chest strap. If you are okay with being a percentage off here and there, you will be fine with the Fenix. If you seek the most accurate heart rate data, we would suggest pairing this model with a chest monitor.
With a metal bezel and metal back, this is one of the most durable models we tested, and we experienced no scratching of the glass. The screen bezels are small, and the watch face fills the space well. This is the brightest model we tested and features blacks/colors and edges that are more defined. Quick glances were more natural, and the data fields are sharper and easily readable even at high output. Some of the competitors required more focus when glancing at the watch — in technical terrain, while moving quickly, glances need to be precise and quick.
The removable watch straps on the Fenix 7 are comfortable, and the design feels good on the wrist, even when working throughout the day at a computer. We feel the 47mm case size is the sweet spot for most people, and we are glad that the standard version of this watch comes in this size. Ultimately you will have to decide what case size works best for you. When compared with a 51mm, we thought the 47mm was better for running and high output activities, whereas a 51mm may be better for activities with less arm movement, such as hiking. We wear our GPS watch every day, so we appreciate the nice materials and sleek look of this watch. If you find yourself wearing other watches throughout the day, you may desire a less premium-looking watch at a better price point.
GPS watches are an investment and should last you for many years to come. We wear ours every day, so the premium cost of the Fenix 7 is worth it to us. Not only does it look great and support our lifestyle, but it also helps keep us safe and make smart decisions in the backcountry. At this price point, you should consider if these features will be used by you or not. If you have a dedicated watch and this one would only be taken out for runs and shorter efforts, you may be able to get away with a cheaper model that does the basics almost just as well. If you want the best, this is the price point of today's market, and we think it's worthwhile.
We have always been impressed by the Fenix series, and this model has kept up. If you are looking for the best GPS watch, look no further. Scoring very high on all of our test metrics, we think if you could choose one watch, the Garmin Fenix 7 would be it. The internal system and design are both excellent and make our workouts and everyday life better. If you desire maximum battery life, there are better options, but for typical usage and watch 'workflow,' this checks all the boxes. We wish the Garmin Connect app was updated and a bit more modern, but we imagine that's coming in the future. If your wallet can afford this expensive model, we do not think you will be disappointed.
— Matthew Richardson
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