When Garmin launched the long-awaited Fenix 7, it was joined by the all-new Garmin Epix.
To understand the Epix, it's best to think of it as a supercharged Fenix, with most of the same features, but a full AMOLED screen for a much improved look.
We've been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of testing time with both sports watches, and we've already reviewed the two new Garmin watches (links below).
During that testing time, we put the watches up against each other to get a better sense of how they operate and what you'll seek to gain or lose going for one or the other.
How we tested
All of our reviews adhere to our strict in-depth testing policy. We test every aspect in-depth, and benchmarking against key competitors so you can make an informed choice. You can read our editorial policy to find out why you can trust Wareable reviews.
Michael Sawh is Wareable's running and testing expert and has reviewed nearly every fitness wearable over the last decade.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Pricing and models
We'll start by saying that these watches are seriously expensive. Far more than an Apple Watch or even a top-end Garmin Forerunner.
Plus, when it comes to case size options, the Fenix 7 is the clear winner. There's 22 different ones in total. So, here's how the prices compare:
Fenix 7S (42mm): From $699 - $899 / £599 - £879
Fenix 7 (47mm): From $699 - $899 / £599 - £879
Fenix 7X (51mm): From $899 - $999 / $779 - £1,049
- Garmin Epix (47mm): From $899/£799.99 - $999/£999
The biggest takeaway from those figures is that the cheapest available Fenix 7 model costs $200/£200 less than the cheapest Epix model.
Let's get into exactly what you're paying more for.
At a glance: Fenix 7 and Epix*
|Standard models and settings*
|Garmin Fenix 7
|Garmin Epix 2nd Gen
|416 x 416 pixels
|47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
|47 x 47 x 14.5 mm
|Smartwatch battery life
|GPS battery life (All Systems)
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Key design differences
Garmin Epix (left) and Garmin Fenix 7 (right)
The main and key difference is the screen – so let's get onto that right away.
All Fenix 7 models use a transflective display, but the Epix features an AMOLED screen for the first time. And the difference is transformational.
AMOLED screens are usually found on smartwatches such as the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 or something like the Huawei Watch GT3.
The screen on the Epix is more colourful, vibrant, and offers good visibility indoors and outdoors. It makes using the Epix more enjoyable, and improves the experience of using full the mapping.
You can use it in an always-on mode or use the raise wrist to wake gesture mode instead, but the former will have an impact on battery life.
There's a few reasons why Garmin has continued to use the low-resolution transflective display on its Fenix 7 series. The first is that it saps less battery life than an AMOLED, and also offers strong viewing angles in bright outdoor light.
It certainly delivers on those two fronts and we think it works a bit better in terms of visibility in water as well. Those transflective displays are in always-on mode at all times and manages to help make sure the Fenix deliver more battery life (more on that later).
We also have to talk about touchscreen functionality, which is available on both and allows you to scroll through the same look user interface, through messages and can be enabled during tracking mode to scroll around maps.
The responsiveness of the touchscreens are strong on both fronts, so if you were worried they'd be laggy, it's certainly not the case on either of these watches.
Size, build and materials
Now while Garmin technically refers to these watches in slightly different terms, there's a lot of similarities in terms of how they look.
The Fenix range, like previous ranges, comes in three size options - the Fenix 7S (42mm), the Fenix 7 (47mm) and the Fenix 7X (51mm). That gives you 42mm, 47mm and 51mm size case options.
The Epix in contrast comes in just the one size and that matches the 47mm case you get on the Fenix 7. They're the same 14.5mm in thickness and roughly around the same weight coming in at around the 70g weight mark.
All offer the same style QuickFit straps with the Epix matching the Fenix 7 with 22mm sized straps.
Where things can differ is case, bezel and lens materials. The Epix's case options are fibre-reinforced polymer with steel rear cover or if you go for the pricier Sapphire edition, it's a fibre-reinforced polymer with titanium rear cover.
Garmin Fenix 7
On the Fenix 7 series, you're just getting that fibre-reinforced polymer with a metal rear cover and that's it.
Then you've got the bezels, which can influence the weight of these watches. The Epix comes in stainless steel or carbon grey DLC titanium and pure titanium on the sapphire editions of the watch. The Fenix is available with stainless steel, stainless steel PVD and titanium DLC options.
When it comes to lenses, the Epix is offered up with Corning Gorilla Glass DX or the more expensive Epix model will get you a Sapphire crystal to offer more protection.
The Fenix in contrast offers strengthened glass on its cheapest 7 and 7S models and then its Power Glass lens or new Power Sapphire lens. Those Power Glass and Power Sapphire lenses bring the solar battery powers to the Fenix, which you don't get on the Epix on any models.
To boost things on the visibility front, the Fenix 7X (only) offers a built-in LED flashlight, which offers white and red LED lights that can be customised to flash or pulsate during your low light training time. It might not be a dealbreaker for everyone, but if you like the idea of having a flashlight on your watch, then it's the Fenix 7X you want.
There's no surprises on the waterproofing front. Both carry a 10ATM water rating, making them both safe to be submerged up to 100 metres depth with profiles for both open and pool swimming supported.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Sports tracking and wellness tracking
Garmin Epix (left) and Fenix 6 (right)
The Fenix 7 and the Epix are two of Garmin's most feature-rich watches when it comes to tracking outdoor activities, indoor exercise, helping you train, telling you when to recover and even helping you navigate your way on full color maps.
Basically, everything you get on the Fenix 7 you'll get on the Epix. That means you get the best of what Garmin has to offer, which ever device you choose.
This includes sensors where you're getting ABC (altimeter, barometer and compass) sensors, Garmin's latest Gen 4 Elevate heart rate sensor and a Pulse Ox sensor to measure blood oxygen levels during sleep and when you hit altitude.
We found heart rate monitors worked best for continuous monitoring and steady and moderate intensity workouts, but you'll need to grab an external heart rate monitor for high intensity workouts and heart rate fuelled training insights, which is supported on both watches.
Garmin Fenix 7
If you care about having the most accurate outdoor tracking accuracy, both the Fenix 7 and the Epix offer Garmin's new multi-band GNSS support. This is available on Sapphire editions of the Epix models and on Solar Sapphire versions of the 7/7S/7X. This will essentially let you make use of multiple frequencies from multiple satellites to improve tracking.
The Epix and Fenix models outside of that get GNSS support, under the All Systems setting. This will combine GPS with GALILEO or GLONASS for increased accuracy and should offer great accuracy for most.
The key thing to remember though is that using that more accurate tracking method does impact on battery life, which will make more of a mark on the Epix than the Fenix 7, which has a bit more battery life to play with.
New running-focused features are available across both watches. That's the same running profiles and metrics on offer to delve into post and during a run. So new real-time stamina insights can help give you a better understanding how much you have in your tank to run a certain distance. This is based on historical workout data and running metrics like pace and heart rate.
Both get the new visual race predictor, which adds graphs to predicted race times to help you see how your training correlates with your most recent race prediction times.
The way these features operate on these two watches don't feel different enough to be reasons to go for one over the other. We'd say core run tracking performance and for activities like swimming and performing HIIT workouts, you can expect similar stats on these two watches.
Mapping and navigation features
When it comes to mapping and navigation, you're getting the same support. There's full color maps with both getting multi-continent Topo maps preloaded or downloaded (model dependent) along with maps for golf, skiing and trails.
For navigation, both offer real-time breadcrumb trails, back to the start mode, the useful trackback mode, improved ClimbPro ascent planning and point-to-point navigation. You can upload routes and create routes on Garmin Connect to sync over. Garmin's new Up Ahead feature, which lets you see key points of interest ahead of you in routes, is available on both watches.
Garmin Fenix 7
We'd say the mapping experience is very similar. You can use touchscreen controls to scroll through maps but you still need to use the physical buttons to zoom into maps. Those maps do certainly feel nicer to view on the Epix's screen. They're brighter, more vibrant and pick out more detail in routes in a more useful way.
Activity tracking and wellness features
Garmin Fenix 7
Again, these watches are level pegged in this department too. They won't tell you you've got a serious heart disorder or will let you track your blood pressure, but they will let you count steps, track sleep and monitor things like respiration rate and stress via heart rate variability measurements.
Garmin includes its Body Battery energy monitor on both watches and the new health snapshot feature, which debuted on the Venu 2, letting you measure for heart rate, stress, respiration rate and blood oxygen from a single measurement.
Core tracking performance across these watches felt very similar to us. If you want super accurate GPS, you can get that on both watches. Heart rate monitoring accuracy felt similar across the board and we did enjoy using the mapping and navigation features on the Epix thanks to that color screen.
Ultimately though, if you're looking for the watch with the most features, it's hard to separate them.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Smartwatch features
If you care about smartwatch features, it's good news on both fronts. Both the Fenix 7 and the Epix give you the same smartwatch features here, with a couple of differences to point out.
You'll get the ability to view notifications and respond to them when you're connected to an Android phone. There's Garmin Pay, music player controls and built-in music player with support to drag and drop up to 2,000 songs or playlists from Amazon Music, Deezer and Spotify. As long as you have the right level of subscription with those music streaming services.
Both have access to Garmin's Connect IQ Store to download apps, data fields, widgets and watch faces. Interestingly though, if you want more storage, the Sapphire Edition of the Epix matches the top end Fenix 7X model with 32GB of storage. All the other Fenix models and the standard Epix models offer 16GB.
You do have touchscreen functionality on both watches and that does make them feel and work more like full fat smartwatches. It makes using music controls, scrolling through notifications and screens much nicer to do. That color display on the Epix does make things more feel smartwatch-like, but by in large you're getting the same features that work in the same manner.
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Battery life
Garmin Fenix 7
If you care about having big battery life, and we're talking potentially a month of battery life, then it's the Fenix 7 series you want on your wrist. In fact, the priciest 7X model will give you the most.
We'll start with the Epix (because it's easier to), and how it stacks up in the battery numbers department:
Garmin Epix battery in numbers
- Up to 16 days (6 days in always-on) in smartwatch mode
- Up to 21 days in battery saver mode
- Up to 42 hours (30 hours in always-on) GPS mode
- Up to 32 hours (24 hours in always-on) All satellite systems
- Up to 20 hours (15 hours always-on) All Satellite Systems and Multi-band
- Up to 10 hours (9 hours always-on) All Satellite Systems and Music:
- Up to 75 hours with Max Battery GPS
- Up to 14 days with Expedition GPS
No we can look at the Fenix 7, which is arguably be the most comparable model with the Epix to see how that stacks up:
Garmin Fenix 7/Fenix 7 solar battery in numbers
- Up to 18 days/22 days with solar in smartwatch mode
- Up to 57 days/173 days with solar in battery saver mode
- Up to 57 hours/73 hours with solar GPS Only
- Up to 40 hours/48 hours with solar with All Satellite Systems
- Up to 10 hours with All Satellite Systems and Music
- Up to 136 hours/ 289 hours with solar with Max Battery GPS
- Up to 40 days/ 74 days with solar with Expedition GPS
Just looking at the numbers, across the board the Fenix 7 comes out on top.
Add solar into the mix and you're getting a significant jump in promised performance. Though that's hugely reliant on you exposing that solar packing screen to enough sun on a daily basis to hit those battery numbers.
You can also see that tapping into the multi band GNSS support impacts on battery performance and you're looking at the same hit when streaming music and using all of those satellites to get the best outdoor tracking accuracy. In the case of the Epix, you can see what to expect when you put that screen into always-on mode.
Both have access to the really useful power manager mode that first debuted on the Fenix, so you can have more control on what's using the battery.
The Epix will put in a good showing and did in our testing going for over a week in heavy usage. The Fenix 7X we tested was able to go for 3.5 weeks and had potential to go further. So the Fenix will get you more in terms of battery.
Winner: Fenix 7
Garmin Fenix 7 vs Epix: Verdict
So if you've got the money to pick one of these two Garmin watches, which one should you be going for? Here's how we see it:
Buy the Garmin Fenix 7 if:
You care about having the biggest battery life of the two. The battery life isn't dramatically better on the standard versions, but the Solar Sapphire options are seriously improved.
If you go for the 7X too, you'll get that nifty LED flashlight as well.
Opting for the Garmin Fenix 7 will also save you $200/£200 on the cost of an Epix – and that is not small change for most of us.
Buy the Garmin Epix if:
If you're not out running or hiking for 10 or 20 hours in a single weekend, then the Garmin Epix offers a better all-round smartwatch experience thanks to the AMOLED screen.
It blends the power of the Fenix with a 'proper' smartwatch – and is the closest we've seen to a no-compromise option.
The only compromise is the cost – which can be more than $200/£200.
Outside of those things, you're getting the same in terms of tracking, analysis, external sensor support, power management features and smartwatch features. The color screen makes some of those features slightly nicer to use on the Epix, but these are two feature-packed Garmin watches.
How we test