With the Garmin Fenix 8 and Epix 3 potentially on the horizon, we've officially entered the period of cautioning those about to pull the trigger on their next sports watch.
Rumors and leaks are still relatively non-existent regarding the next generation of the company's flagship device, but recent history does give us some very useful insight into what Garmin watches are being planned for 2024.
For now, we'll be diving into the past to help predict the most likely release date for the Fenix 8 and Epix 3, as well as covering the potential features and a couple of burning questions.
When will Garmin Fenix 8 & Epix 3 launch?
As Confucius once said, "To define the future, one must study the past."
And while the Chinese philosopher wasn't necessarily referring to Garmin product launch cycles, the logic does still very much carry over. So, let's look at the most recent Fenix/Epix arrivals.
- Garmin Fenix 7 Pro & Epix Pro (Gen 2) - May 2023
- Garmin Fenix 7 & Epix (Gen 2) - January 2022
- Garmin Fenix 6 Solar - July 2020
- Garmin Fenix 6 & Fenix 6 Pro - August 2019
- Garmin Fenix 5 Plus - June 2018
- Garmin Fenix 5 - March 2017
There were also plenty of Fenix releases before 2017, of course, and they loosely follow the same theme we can see from the above - a new generation or mid-cycle update every year.
We should note the fact that we didn't see anything in 2021, though - something we strongly suspect was influenced by the pandemic.
So, while it's easy to see that Fenix 8 and Epix 3 are very likely to arrive in 2024, predicting when in 2024 is much harder. Garmin is incredibly inconsistent when it comes to launch months for this line, as we can see.
Given that the mid-gen arrival only came back in May last year, we would say that the next pair of watches is pretty unlikely to land before May 2024.
This is about the earliest point we would see an announcement, though a summer 2024 launch is the most likely, in our view.
As we mentioned up top, we've not come across any database or leaked filings relating to either watch. These typically pop up a few months before release, which, again, would suggest an announcement isn't imminent.
Fenix and Epix: Could one be dropped?
This was a question that first popped into our heads when testing the latest mid-gen Fenix release, the 7 Pro.
The Fenix remains an incredibly feature-packed watch, but testing this model directly against the Epix Pro (Gen 2) illustrated how tightly squeezed the line has become. Its USPs are pretty tenuous at this stage; the Enduro 2 lasts longer and looks very similar, and the Epix (Gen 2) range is simply much nicer to view.
We think that the last release just about made sense, thanks to the new optical heart rate tech and flashlight support, but it's easy to see how Garmin will run into problems justifying the next generations of the Fenix, Epix, and Enduro alongside each other.
So, could we see the Fenix and Epix lines merge for the next generation?
We think it's unlikely, given enough people still probably crave the old-school MIP display (and the battery efficiency it brings), but it does create a bit of a marketing headache having both of these lines stick around long-term. We're watching this one with interest.
What's the difference between Fenix and Epix?
At the risk of missing the most obvious point here - one we have to clear up every time the Fenix/Epix question comes up when recommending to friends, reviewing, or comparing - we should note that the only difference between these two watch lines is the display type.
There is no Fenix with AMOLED display tech - and there likely won't ever be unless, as we discussed above, Garmin decides to shelve the Epix line and forego the option of a MIP display Fenix.
Fenix 8 & Epix 3: Potential features
With a 2024 release seemingly on the cards for the next generation of Fenix and Epix models, it's natural to wonder what features we might be holding out for - and whether they're worthy upgrades.
Our six predictions below are all (relatively) educated speculation. Some are based on patents, some are obvious next steps and the rest are just our pure hopes and desires.
1. Cellular support
We're pretty tired of taking our phone out on a Sunday long run for safety purposes and are thus begging Garmin to deliver proper cellular support in this next generation.
It's something we've not seen in a very long time - not since the Forerunner 945 LTE arrived in 2021 with some basic safety-related cellular features - and is extremely overdue.
We can understand Garmin's reluctance so far - its customers want a sports watch, after all, not a smartwatch - but it also feels pretty crazy for a 2024 watch this advanced to not offer the option.
2. More efficient and advanced Spo2 monitoring
While Apple is battling it out in court over the alleged infringement of blood oxygen tech patents, Garmin is filing technology that could help improve the accuracy of its SpO2 monitoring.
As uncovered by Wareable, the company envisions a system that will take measurements by using three different light sources. This potential method will compare the respective percentages of oxygen detected in the blood for more accurate measurements.
It may not be something that we see in the next generation of Fenix/Epix devices, but a boost to the technology and its efficiency would be welcome given the relatively significant battery drain of the current method.
3. Improved charging
We felt like the speedier, more convenient wireless charging method that debuted on the MARQ (Gen 2) - shown above - back in late 2022 was destined to be a feature of the mid-cycle Pro models of 2023, but it wasn't to be.
Garmin did refuse to confirm when we asked at the time whether this was a feature that would drip down to future releases - which is unusual - but so far that has unfortunately turned out to be the case.
The upcoming generation would seem a pretty good time to distribute it more widely, though - unless, of course, the company has worked to refine things further since the MARQ's arrival.
We'll take either, just, please, no more stick-in cables.
4. Boost the battery life
It almost feels a little trite to request more battery life, given the company's AMOLED watches are so far ahead of the competition when it comes to this area, but we do still think it's pretty much nailed on to be one of the improvements of both the Fenix 8 and Epix 3.
It coming to the latter would be more welcome, naturally, since it's the weaker of the two. However, getting the battery life up from around 5-6 days to 8-10 would also surely be the nail in the Fenix's coffin. We're curious to see how Garmin spins this one, should battery improvements arrive.
5. Display improvements
Improving the display of these two watch lines is a tricky subject, on account of the whole MIP vs. AMOLED differentiator we've detailed above.
However, we did see Garmin redesign the pixels and backlight on the Fenix 7 Pro to improve clarity, so it's not completely unreasonable to expect further refinement in this area (if we are to see a Fenix 8).
The Epix line doesn't struggle in this regard quite so much, due to the more advanced display tech, but we would happily accept Garmin pumping up the brightness and detail even further.
6. Overhaul the UI
We frequently shift over to the Forerunner 965 when testing out new Garmin features, and we're always struck by how stale the Fenix/Epix UI is in comparison.
The latest Forerunners look much more modern as a result of this UI change, and interacting with widgets, data screens or apps like Spotify is both quicker and easier.
Garmin will likely want the Fenix and Epix to run the same UI, and it's possible that the newer Forerunner UI won't transfer over to the MIP Fenix, but we hope some kind of update is in the works regardless.
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