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.
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]
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.
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.
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].
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!