The Garmin Fenix 7 is designed for anyone who gets a thrill from competition and wants to push themselves to hit a new high – whether it’s a cycling sportive, a half marathon, an Ironman, or the gruelling sweat of a CrossFit competition. The Fenix 7 doesn’t assume that you’ve already nailed down a full training plan and know exactly how to balance work and recovery though – it gives you tools that will help you understand your current fitness level, set a realistic goal, and train in a way that will help you achieve it.
It packs the same advanced workout tracking and training tools that made the Fenix 6 the best multi-sports watch around back in 2019, but also introduces some new features that make it all more accessible to new users.
These include a new real-time stamina meter that shows how your energy declines during a workout so you can adjust your effort accordingly, plus an on-screen race predictor that estimates how your current training regime will affect your 5k, 10k, and half marathon race times.
The Fenix 7 has a similar robust design to its predecessor, but the case now has a thinner bezel, and although the watch still sports a transflective memory-in-pixel display (which is less power-hungry than AMOLED) it’s now touch-sensitive when you’re not actively tracking a workout.
A watch like the Garmin Fenix 7 takes time to thoroughly test – it’s so packed with training tools that have to be used for a prolonged period to fully assess them. We’re holding off on giving our final score until we’ve put it through its paces for a little longer, but this hands-on review should give you a good impression of what it’s like to train and live with. Check back again soon for our complete review and star rating.
Price and release date
- Available to order now
- Costs more than Fenix 6
The Garmin Fenix 7 series launched on January 18, 2022, with prices starting at £599.99 (about $820 / AU$1,200) for the standard version. That’s a significant increase from the Fenix 6, which started at £529.99 / $599.99 / AU$949 when it launched in 2019.
However, it’s much less than the Garmin Epix premium everyday watch, which launched the same day starting at £799.99 (about $1,000 / AU$1,500).
- Touchscreen and physical buttons
- No increase in weight
- Premium materials
The Fenix 7 comes in three sizes (7s, 7, and 7X), with standard, Solar, and Sapphire Solar variants. We tested the Sapphire Solar edition, which is the first watch that combines the advantages of its sunlight-harvesting Power Glass with tough crystal.
Our review watch has a graphite gray titanium case, and a black silicone strap. The silicone is a good choice for sports, easily repelling sweat and dirt, but you can switch it for one of Garmin’s premium metal, woven or leather bands, which are available to buy separately.
The Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire weighs 73g with the silicone strap attached, and 50g without. That’s almost exactly the same as the Fenix 6 Solar, which comes in at 72g with its strap, and 49g without. It’s impressive that Garmin has managed to keep the weight consistent while increasing battery life substantially, and improving the screen technology.
The Fenix 7’s interface will be immediately familiar to Fenix 6 users, and consists of five physical buttons together with a touchscreen that locks automatically during activity tracking to avoid accidental pausing or cancelling of activities. If you’d prefer to stick with just the buttons, you can choose to disable the touchscreen completely. It’s also possible to switch it off during sleep to avoid accidental touches at night, but we didn’t find this to be a problem.
Rather than equipping the Fenix 7 with an AMOLED screen like that of the Venu 2 and Epix watches, Garmin has stuck with a transflective memory-in-pixel display. It’s a sensible choice that helps conserve battery life, though it’s not as bright we might have liked.
The screen is easy to read in most lighting conditions, but we found it a little lacking in contrast compared to watches like the Garmin Instinct Solar, and often needed to use the backlight. This is likely due to the fact that the Instinct has a monochrome display, while the Fenix 7 is color.
The Fenix 7 uses the same proprietary USB cable as all other Garmin watches released during the last couple of years. This may come as a disappointment to anyone hoping for contactless charging this time around, but the cable is easy to use and plugs securely into the back of the watch.
The Fenix 7 is water resistant to depths of 100m, making it suitable for pool and open water swimming, plus activities like kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding (all of which have their own profiles), but for diving you’ll want a specialized swimming watch like the Garmin Descent Mk2.
- Largest model lasts up to five weeks
- Customizable battery saving settings
- Solar and Solar Sapphire versions available
Many of Garmin’s high-end sports watches are also available in solar-enhanced editions, and the Fenix 7 is no different. The model we tested was equipped with the company’s Power Glass, which harvests energy throughout the day to keep the watch’s battery topped up. You’ll still need to plug the watch in occasionally, but the solar glass extends its battery life significantly.
Garmin estimates that Fenix 7X Solar can last up to five days in smartwatch mode, and up to five weeks in GPS mode. This assumes at least three hours per day of decent sunlight exposure, but since we were testing the watch in January in the UK, it often received much less.
After a week of regular use, with an average of one GPS tracked activity per day, night time SpO2 monitoring enabled, and regular use of the watch’s backlight, the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire still had 10 days of battery life remaining, and enabling the watch’s Battery Saver mode boosted that to over a month, which is very generous.
You can toggle the general Battery Saver mode on and off through the watch itself, or make more specific tweaks through the Garmin Connect smartphone app by disabling certain tracking metrics.
It’s now easier to see the remaining charge level; one of our chief complaints with the Fenix 6 Solar was that you could only see power remaining measured in days, but the Fenix 7 gives you the option of checking the percentage as well. It’s a small but welcome touch.
- Excellent GPS navigation tools
- On-board music storage and Garmin Pay
- No microphone for hands-free calls
The Garmin Fenix 7 features all the sensors you’d expect from a top-end smartwatch, including the company’s latest Elevate 4 optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, SpO2 sensor, and temperature sensor.
SpO2 monitoring can run continuously, overnight, or only on demand during spot-checks. The Garmin Fenix 6 recently received a firmware update that alerts you if you move your wrist too much while the watch is taking an SpO2 reading, and that’s a feature you’ll also see here with the Fenix 7.
On the subject of travel, the Fenix 7’s multi-band GPS and mapping are excellent. The watch recorded our pre-measured 5km test route to within 50 meters, which is a margin of error easily accounted for by its use of public footpaths rather than a track. You can use the watch for regular everyday navigation as well, removing the need to have your phone out and clearly visible in an an unfamiliar place where it could be easily stolen. The Fenix 7 can even highlight points of interest for you, such as stores and cafes. It’s well thought through, and really enhances the Fenix 7 as a watch for everyday use rather than just sports.
If you’re tired of your usual running, cycling or walking routes, you can use the course creation tool in Garmin Connect to create a new one; just select a starting point, a distance, and an overall bearing (north, south, east, or west) and the app will generate a suitable route in a couple of seconds. You can then sync this to your Fenix 7, which will give you turn-by-turn directions as you go.
There’s also Garmin’s extremely useful TracBack feature, which lets you tag your starting point and then directs you back there once you’re ready to finish your walk, bike ride or run. It’s ideal for occasions when you want to go on a little adventure, though if you’re out hiking or orienteering then you should always have a paper map and compass to be safe; the Fenix 7’s multi-band GPS is excellent, but no device is infallible.
There’s storage for music, or you can use the Fenix 7 to listen to songs, podcasts and audiobooks through your phone’s default media player.
When you’re on the move, you can use Garmin Pay to make contactless payments in stores and pay for public transport in many locations. Sadly our UK-based bank isn’t one of those supported, so we were unable to put it to the test, but it’s valid on Transport for London services, so we’ll be trialling it there very soon.
One feature that’s conspicuously lacking from the Fenix 7 is the microphone featured in the recently released Garmin Venu 2 Plus, which allows you to receive phone calls and use your phone’s voice assistant directly from your wrist. It’s an extremely useful feature to have at your disposal mid-workout, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that Garmin might introduce it at a future date in a Garmin Fenix 7 Plus.
- One of the most accurate GPS watches we’ve tested
- Real-time stamina tracking to help with pacing
- Training load guidance for balancing rest and work
The Fenix 7’s upgraded training tools help you balance work and recovery, and make the abstract concept of training load easy to understand. It’s still a watch tailored to serious athletes, but Garmin’s advanced features are now more accessible for those taking their training to the next level.
Perhaps the most best example of this real-time stamina tool, which shows how much fuel you have in the tank during your workout. This helps you avoid bottoming out, and lets you more accurately judge when to turn around during an out-and-back run.
It’s a practical addition that’s extremely simple to use, and accurately reflects your energy levels based on your training load. During runs on tired legs, our reported stamina drained much faster than when we were fresh, and we were able to adjust our training on the fly accordingly.
The watch’s heart rate monitor is extremely responsive, making this an excellent watch for high intensity interval training (which is now available as an activity profile). A colored bar at the top of the watch screen allows you to see your current heart rate training zone at any time, so you can increase the effort when you want to push to the next level, and see the effects immediately.
Once your activity is finished, the Garmin Connect app will reveal how your stamina decreased – and whether your effort matched your potential. It’s another useful insight that lets you know whether you’re pushing yourself hard enough, or holding back as you start to tire.
Another new motivational tool is the race predictor, which uses your current performance to estimate how long it will take to complete a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon based on your current fitness. It’s only an estimate, but a graph showing how your predicted time changes based on your training can really galvanize your efforts. It’s all available right on your wrist, so there’s no need to delve into Garmin Connect to find it.
You can see your seven-day training load at a glance on the watch face, with advice on whether you need to dial up the intensity, take your foot off the gas, or stay where you are for optimal results.
The Fenix 7 isn’t just a runner’s watch, though – it also has an impressive set of tools for cyclists, and can be connected with the company’s line of bike computers and lights. We’ll be putting its cycling features to the test in more depth very soon.
Sleep monitoring is also impressive, accurately detecting changes between sleep and wakefulness that sports watches often fail to differentiate. Each morning you’ll receive a sleep score, together with some tips on how to get a better night’s rest, but this data will also be factored into stats such as your body battery, which shows how you’re balancing work and recovery.
- All data presented clearly and explained
- Lots of extra tools including gear tracker
- Personalized workouts and training plans
Like all Garmin watches, the Fenix 7 syncs with the Garmin Connect app for iOS and Android. Connecting the watch is a breeze, and the watch syncs data automatically whenever you complete a workout, or open the app.
If you’re upgrading from an older Garmin device, all the data will be pooled together seamlessly, though selecting a training session will allow you to see which device recorded it.
Garmin Connect is one of the best developed fitness apps, and puts much more information at your fingertips than the likes of Huawei Health, or even the official Coros app. All your most recent stats (such as heart rate, workouts, sleep, and menstrual cycle) are shown on a central dashboard that you can rearrange and customize at will. Don’t want to see your step count? Just slide it to the right and it’s gone.
Tapping on any of these stats will allow you to drill down through the data in more detail, and every graph and table is accompanied by an info panel that explains exactly what the information means, and how you can use it. The app also provides suggestions where appropriate so you can improve your training habits.
Open up the app’s main menu and you’ll discover a huge array of extra tools, all specifically designed with sportspeople in mind. For example, there’s a gear tracker so you can keep track of how long you’ve been using your various pairs of running shoes and work out when it’s time to replace them, and you can set up emergency contacts who should be alerted if the Fenix 7 detects an accident.
You can connect with other Garmin users as well, though most users are more likely to make use of the app’s Strava compatibility instead.
There are customizable training plans for runners and cyclists, which set you certain sessions to complete during the week and adjust based on your performance, plus various Peloton-style instructor-led workouts. It’s all free of charge, and there’s no indication that Garmin plans to implement a Fitbit Premium style subscription to access it.
You can download third-party apps, new watch faces, and extra data fields (which are presented on screen during workouts) through a second app called Garmin Connect IQ.
There isn’t a huge array of apps to download, but many of those available have been created by passionate Garmin users and solve a real need – such as the unofficial Parkrun apps, which display your personal barcode so you don’t have to carry it on a keychain or wristband. There are also apps for popular services such as mapping tool Komoot, which are favored by runners and cyclists.
First reviewed January 2022