First thoughts on Fenix 7X SS

I just couldn’t stop myself from trying the new and shiny Garmin Fenix 7x…actually that wasn’t that easy, because I had to decide for the same (insanely high) price between 7X Solar Sapphire and Garmin Epix 2 Sapphire.

Finally I decided for 7X, not because I’m an ultra runner but more for the peace of mind of not having to worry about the battery life and charging so often [this was a bit of an annoyance with Polar Vantage V2, which in all other respects was a great partner]. I also have some spare bands I could use from my 6X and that was also a plus for choosing the 7X.

Garmin FENIX 7X Solar Sapphire (with

So … after using Fenix 6X for the last two years and also the Polar Vantage V2 in the recent year, what can I say about the new Fenix 7X in the last month:

Insane battery life – you can easily forget your charging cable because for at least 2-3 weeks you don’t need to charge it, even if you have daily outdoor activities using GPS for 60-90 minutes. I haven’t yet seen the practical advantages of the Solar charging, maybe when I’ll be more out during the sunny days, that will change. A downside (?) is the time to charge .. it can take 2 hours to fully charge it so you need to be pacient [especially when compared with the Vantage V2 for example]

Fenix 7X battery life – I charged it 3 days ago, had 2h:20min full GNSS activities outdoor since then

Very good GPS tracks – since the battery is so good, I’m using the “All Systems + Multi-Band” setting for GNSS, even though I’ve seen on various forums people who are very happy with just GPS on. I also rely on my Stryd footpod for distance, pace and actually wasn’t so much upset with my 6X tracks as I didn’t paid so much attention to the track.

I couldn’t help but notice that the tracks were much nicer and accurate than what I’ve seen with the 6X; I don’t live in a city with skyscrapers or go into canyons so I’m not pushing my watch into extreme situations from this perspective, but still .. it’s nice to see the tracks being much better. Also, I’ve noticed that the connection to satellites is so much faster, like up to 5 seconds, a lot faster than Polar Vantage V2 or even Fenix 6X.

Tracks with 6X (orange) and 7X (blue) – 1 sec recording on both
Tracks with 6X (orange) and 7X (blue) – 1 sec recording on both

Even though I wouldn’t qualify the 6X GPS tracks as garbage, they are usable, I can see the improvement brought by 7X. Does the improvement come from the multi-band or the availability of other satellites for 7X, I can’t tell, as I didn’t try a comparison with the exact same settings but with “the best” of both.

The other features brought by 7X like touch screen, stamina are ok and interesting but didn’t influence my decision to upgrade. The led flashlight light it’s a nice gimmick, you can easily get used to it … but would I consider that a factor for upgrading? nah..not quite, although I admit that I use it from time to time, since I have the watch all the time on my wrist..but not a phone or proper flashlight in my hand.

The 7X SS is lighter than the 6X Sapphire I used previously, but not dramatically, at least I can’t actually feel the difference, but maybe for some that might be an advantage.

I won’t mention wrist heart rate accuracy since in my workouts I use external HR monitors – Polar H10 or Polar Verity Sense, they are both better than what the OHR sensor on Fenix 7X can produce, especially in more intense workouts, because Fenix 7X is a large watch and even with a tight band you might get weird readings. Anyway, I don’t have complaints regarding the Elevate V4, I just don’t rely on it during my workouts.

Is sapphire affecting the screen readability? Somehow, but not dramatically, I mean I got used to that because the 6X was also a Sapphire edition, so not a change there for me. I still prefer the durability of Sapphire over the worry of adding screen protectors.

Another change with the Fenix 7 series (Epix 2 included) is the ability to change the watch settings on your Garmin Connect app, complementary to the watch. The full setup can still be done on the watch, but going through all the menus and remembering what you’ve changed where is a challenge and the fact that you can do it on you mobile is a good move.

Change all the settings of you Fenix 7 on the mobile – easy and convenient

So, all great and fine, but you need to adapt because for example I was used to go to the Connect web to adjust the heart rate zones and it was easy and intuitive. Now, that option is not longer available and you need to rely on the mobile app which is not at least in this specific area (setting the HR zones) that flexible – you can do the job, but you have to know what you’re doing [at least that’s my feeling].

The device settings option is not longer available on the web

Anyway, all in all, the Fenix 7X is a solid device, I had no issues so far and I’m happy to use it. I still wait for Garmin to add the native running power support, but that’s kind of it.

The other question is .. is it worth it to upgrade from 6X to 7X? Hmm, that’s a personal question to answer .. objectively, no, unless you were in a desperate need to those extra hours of GPS life during an outdoor workout [not my case], or touchscreen is something you value so much [I didn’t, so I disable it] or having the best GPS track is very important to you, or a nice and little flashlight. But, anyway, I did it anyway because having new devices motivates me to be more active [new shiny toys for big boys].

With that, happy running and be active!

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

11 thoughts

  1. when i am finally adopted by a rich family somewhere, i might upgrade to the 7X but as it is now, I will stay with my 6X which hasn’t disappointed so far.
    Good review btw

    1. I agree that buying an 7X over a 6X (series 7 over 6 generally) doesn’t make sense objectively, since the improvements alone can’t justify the money investment(for the vast majority of users), usually what you buy with that is a subjective satisfaction of using the lastest and greatest. The series 6 will continue to get updates and maybe some of the features of the series 7, so using a 6X will definitely give you satisfaction.

      1. I have close to 21 days of battery in smartwatch mode and I can do rides and runs without thinking about charge for at least 14 days which I think is quite fair.
        And you are right, unless one just wants to have a new gadget, there’s no good reason to upgrade

  2. I am disappointed with the Fenix 7. The GPS is the same crap like before. Even when I am using all satellites. The heart rate sensor on the wrist is so bad and everything relies on that data that I decided to send it back

    1. My experience with GPS is different, but I suppose this is also related to the fact I don’t put so much stress on the device because I don’t run so much in the woods or canyons. It might not be perfect, but what I saw (and others confirmed in their reviews) is that F7 is better than F6, even if it’s not better than Polar V800 for example. Regarding the WHR, I don’t expect wonders there – I’d suggest for workouts to have an external HR monitor (chest strap or at least an OH1, Polar Verity Sense), because those are capable of better measurements. For daily 24/7 wear I consider Fenix 7 to be similar to Fenix 6, reasonable but not exceptional, since it has the sensor in a “low consumption” state and it can miss the higher HR, unlike the activity mode.

      I understand that with such a high price, you could have high expectations from Fenix 7, but at the same time there are no perfect devices for everyone (add here any devices Garmin, Polar, Apple, Coros or Suunto – all have some limitations or flaws).

      Since you returned it, did you find a better alternative for you?

  3. I own a Fenix 7X Solar Sapphire and it’s an amazing watch. But I do miss native running power. I know there are alternatives with the Stryd App or even the 8020Endurance field, it’s still not ideal. I also own a Wahoo Elemnt Rival and a Polar Vantage V2. Perhaps Garmin will introduce it in an update to Fenix 7/Edge 2 when they launch their FR955.

    1. I agree that 7X Solar Sapphire is a sensational watch, not perfect though. They need to smooth out some edges of the firmware, but overall the watch is more than impressive. And yes, I’m also looking forward to seeing the native running power being available with Garmin.

    2. Since you have a Vantage V2 and a Wahoo Rival, what is your impression on those, compared to the Fenix? I know that Rival is not yet complete (in terms of health data collection – sleep, recovery data for example) but has a better integration with Stryd; I still appreciate the Vantage V2 for the looks, sleep analysis and the ease of use of the Flow platform, but there are so many other things Polar could have done better, some of them being low hanging fruits like gear management, multiple alarms just to mention some.

      1. As you state, the Rival is an incomplete product. While it does have native integration with Stryd, it lacks load, recovery, and sleep tracking. I thought at first that I would be content with using the Rival and workout sync with Training Peaks to track my performance and condition. However, I would prefer something like Polar Flow or Garmin Connect to have a more personalized picture of my performance/condition. So at this point, I see it more of a tool like a heart rate strap. If there is a new firmware update for the Rival, I will update it and try it out. But until then, it feels incomplete. I also feel it is somewhat cheap in materials when compared to say a Grit X Pro or a Garmin Fenix.
        I’ve owned a number of Polar watches/heart rate straps and have a fondness for Polar flow. Like you I find that they are very efficient and focused in what they do implement in the firmware. However, there is no ongoing quality of life improvements. Even little things are lacking like knowing that If I’m starting a workout on a treadmill and select a running favorite, to automatically switch to treadmill profile. Or simply supporting a wider ecosystem like FIT file format and interoperability with third party structured workouts. Even the little things like their selection of distance based running plans lack an option to pick Speed/Power instead of heart rate. How can they not have thought of that when they added Power to Polar Flow web? They also fail to build upon what they’ve already done. FitSpark is a good start, but why not let it grow with a greater variety of content. They are quite good at marketing, but once you dig deeper, the little things that matter are lacking.

      2. Thanks for the details on the Rival, I was tempted to try it for the exact reasons you mentioned, but I felt like it was missing (this is supposed to change this year) important aspects of recovery and 24/7 monitoring. As for Polar, they have a great history and potential, good marketing but sometimes I feel they are not moving fast (enough) in the software area (platform and device) to allow them to grow further. Or maybe they are just happy with their position on the market…an approach not wise in my opinion, with Coros moving so fast, with Apple eventually adding some battery life to their devices.

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