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Garmin Fenix 7 review – I am Fenix the 7, and who is better than me?

Tags: Review | Garmin | Smart

12.4.2022 | 18 MIN

The Garmin Fenix 7 is the best sports smartwatch in the world. That's all you need to know. Are you in doubt? I guarantee this review will convince you of that. Because actually, Garmin did it.

What do you need to know about the Fenix 7 from the beginning of this article:

  • all variants have a touch screen
  • models with a silver bezel are made of steel and have the standard Gorilla Glass
  • models with a black bezel (PVD modification) have a solar battery
  • models with sapphire crystal can receive multi-frequency GPS reception (increases accuracy)
  • all variants with sapphire crystal have automatic solar charging
  • Fenix 7X is the only one with a LED flashlight (that is awesome)

Garmin, if you are competing for the most confusing way to divide watches, I have to congratulate because you are winning. But the watch is so luxurious that I forgive you.

Garmin Fenix 7 – Buying guide
Garmin Fenix 7 – Buying guide

What I like the most about Fenix 7?

I consider the new GPS chipset as the greatest move as it is able to receive signals in more frequencies from every satellite at once. The accuracy of the scanning reaches a completely different level.

Likewise, I am also very pleased with the new heart rate sensor, which took another step closer to the accuracy of a chest strap.

I am also enjoying the LED fleshlight, which I use daily.

Although I hate to admit it, I got used to the touch screen that I've been opposed to for a long time.

And, of course... The battery life. Garmin shook the competition again, as this is the most equipped sports smartwatch, and its battery life reaches between weeks and months.

What disappointed me a little about Fenix 7?

I was hoping that Fenix 7 might be a bit smarter and with the touch screen opens the possibility of an open answer to notifications (typing it on the keyboard).

The absent phone calls. Something people wanted but didn't get. And it looked so promising after the release of the Venu 2 Plus. I personally don't need to make calls with a watch, but I am sure hundreds of thousands of people would appreciate it.

The watch display still doesn't have as many pixels as it could. The pixels are the same as in the previous generation, and the comparison to Epix 2 is the same as if we compared Fiat to Ferrari. But if I had to choose between a nice display and a battery life, I'll always choose the battery life.

Metal now covering lugs of the Fenix 7

In terms of appearance, not much has changed on Fenix 7. But like... Why change something that works? The most significant change is probably the metal extension to the lugs. I don't know if it has functionally-wise any huge advantage, but I think there is never enough metal. After all, it is a stronger material, and it fits outdoor watches like a glove.

The smallest version, the 7S, has the cleanest appearance. This variant is the only one with metal screwed in from below and not from the top. Versions 7, and 7X have screws in the front part and I have to say it added to the outdoor look.

The bezel received small grooves that the previous model had only around the buttons. Now there are 6 of them evenly distributed throughout the bezel.

A stylish wall protects against unwanted pausing of your training session

Another detail is a "wall" leveled with the upper right button. That should prevent unwanted pausing of a training session. This problem was, until now, being solved by a double seal, as can be seen in the Forerunner series. But the solution for the Fenix is a little more elegant. Plus, the button received small grooves around the whole circumference and an engraved Garmin logo on the top. Functionally it doesn't bring anything, but it looks good.

Some color variants have the button in color.

The largest 7X model also has something really unusual. A LED fleshlight. Some may think it doesn't shine as much but hold your horses because it is not the case.

You can choose between four intensities of white light and one intensity of red light, which shines similarly to the second level of the white light. I set up a shortcut to activate the flashlight by double-clicking the LIGHT button. Extremely quick, extremely practical. I haven't used my phone flashlight since.

You may be thinking... What am I going to use the flashlight for? Honestly, it is one of the tweaks I use the most. When I go to the toilet at night, my headlight stops working, or a coin falls behind the car seat. Analogous situations form more than you'd think during the day.

Pretty cool is also the "Flashlight Strobe" function. The flashlight alternate white and red light while you are running. You can then feel a bit safer on the road. This feature has several modes, I like the cadence mode the most.

The heart rate sensor doesn't get scratched while placed on a table

Not much has changed on the bottom part of the watch. The heart rate sensor changed, but I will talk about that later. There is now metal protection around it. When I examined the transition between this protection and the sensor with a magnifying glass, I found out the sensor is slightly recessed. So when you place the watch on a table there is only a very tiny chance of scratching it. This is really useful since the scanning works on an optics basis.

I was similarly pleased that the sensor cover is now made of glass and not plastic. Glass is a slightly harder material and is, therefore, less prone to scratches. Especially now, when it's recessed in the case back.

Garmin Fenix 7S
Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin Fenix 7X
Case Size 42 mm 47 mm 51 mm
Case Thickness 14,1 mm 14,5 mm 14,9 mm
Strap Width 20 mm 22 mm 26 mm
Display Size 1,2" 1,3" 1,4"
Display Resolution 240 x 240 px 260 x 260 px 280 x 280 px
Case Only Weight (Steel / Titanium)
47 / 42 g 56 / 50 g 68 / 61 g

Otherwise, not much has changed on the Fenix 7 compared to previous generations. I might actually call the overall grinding of metal parts a higher quality, and the same applies to the PVD treatment. The matte finish added a flair, and the watch looks a little more exclusive.

Touch screen? On a sports tester?

Say what you want, but I praise the choice to put a touch screen on the Fenix 7. I was worried that the rendering performance of the LCD won't be fast and it won't keep up with my fingers, but that's not the case. This problem is common with Suunto or Polar watches, as some of the watches have a touch screen, but the display control is not the best.

So yes, the touch screen added to the speed. I use the touch screen for normal use during the day (to check my heartbeat, sleep, see the notification, etc.). But during sports, on the other hand, I would not go with the touch screen in my life. I mean... Except for one thing.

I will never ever control the map with buttons. The touch screen is perfect for viewing the map, and it pulls a huge thorn from the heels of all Garmin users. The only thing that teases me a little is the touch screen setting during the activity. To control the map by touch during a sports activity, you have to activate the touch within the entire monitoring (swiping between individual data fields, etc.). But I would like to have swiping between data fields by buttons and the map by touch. Which is not possible. So all or nothing. Shame.

But it's great that if you need to type in the Wi-Fi password, the name of the saved position, etc., you can use the retro keyboard that you know from button phones. The one where you click three times on the upper-middle button and get "C." The only disgrace is that Garmin didn't go with the option of an open answer to a notification. Yes, it is not completely in the normal Garmin specialization, but a boy needs to dream.

The Fenix 7 cannot be controlled by a touch completely

The truth is that even though a touch screen is awesome, you cannot rely on it 100%. You can use the buttons to open the sports activity selection, shortcuts, and settings. All of these operations can be only done by touch. And yet, swiping left or right doesn't do anything. Holding it for a while doesn't do anything. Double-click, triple-click... There are many ways to create a path, but unfortunately, Garmin didn't create it.

1 - Podsvícení / Dlouhým stiskem otevřete zkratky, 2 - Nahoru / Dlouhým stiskem otevřete Menu, 3 - Dolů / Dlouhým stiskem otevřete hudbu, 4 - Potvrzovací tlačítko / Spuštění monitoringu sportovní aktivity, 5 - Zpět / Manuální zaznamenání kola

1 - Backlight / Hold to open shortcuts, 2 - Up / Hold to open the Menu, 3 - Down / Hold to view the music controls, 4 - The Select button / Starts monitoring of a sports activity, 5 - Back / Manual recording of a lap

We didn't even get a small pixel packet

It is a little sad that the 7th generation didn't get any extra pixels. In comparison to the Epix, which received AMOLED and a beautifully sharp image, the Fenix looks like a Peugeot in a Porshe meeting. But when I look at the battery life of this new Fenix 7, I have to say I don't even mind the pixels.

Displej Epixu 2 je trochu jiná písnička.

The display of the Epix 2 is another story.

The sensor equipment upgraded in quality, but not in quantity

Close to the release of the Fenix 7, people speculated that the new watch might receive EKG, measuring blood sugar, and other tweaks. But in the end, the "only" upgrade was the heart rate sensor and the GPS receiver.

Across all forums, the answer is clear. The heart rate sensor Elevate 4, which is in Fenix 7, is much better than the older Elevate 3. There are almost no deviations from chest strap measurements. Yes, during the day and while running, I sometimes saw a higher heart rate, but I assume it will be solved with a software update.

The GPS is simply an upgrade big as an elephant.

I když běžím po malých stezkách v hustším lese, tak hodinky nemají žádný problém.

Even when I run on small trails in a dense forest, the watch has no problem.

Until now, Garmin could receive the GPS signal or the GPS in combination with Glonass / Galileo. But you could never run all three navigation systems at once. And that is exactly what you can now do. Of course, it improves the quality of the signal and the route drawing. Galileo is better in the city, Glonass in the mountains. But they are both the best when combined with the GPS.

And that is not all. You can receive the signal from all the navigation systems at the same time and also on multiple frequencies. A simple rule says that the more frequencies the device and the satellite use, the higher the chance of sending the most information. Underlined, summed up... The better your route drawing will be, leading to better tempo and distance calculation, and more.

Of course, the more the watch receives, the more battery life it consumes. I would also like to point out that multi-frequency reception only applies to the Sapphire version.

Overall, the GPS improvements are likely a response to Coros. Last year Coros proudly released the Vertix 2, which has the same ability.

Coros Vertix 2 review – I came, I saw, I won?
Coros Vertix 2 review – I came, I saw, I won?

In addition to GPS and a new heart rate sensor, the Fenix 7 also has an accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, compass, pulse oximeter, thermometer, and altimeter. I'm a little disappointed that there was no information about whether the watch has improved sensors such as a thermometer or a barometer. I assume there has been no change.

The competition can only see Garmin's back when speaking of the battery life

I could elaborately describe the battery life, but in this case, there is nothing better than a chart. The numbers in parentheses indicate battery life with sufficient light access.

Garmin Fenix 7S Garmin Fenix 7 Garmin Fenix 7X
Amartwatch Mode
11 days (14 days)
18 days (22 days)
28 days (37 days)
Battery Saver Watch Mode 38 days (87 days)
57 days (173 days)
90 days (1+ year)
GPS Only 37 h (46 h)
57 h. (73 h)
89 h (122 h)
All Satellite Systems
26 h (30 h)
40 h. (48 h)
63 h (77 h)
All Satellite Systems (multi-frequency)
15 h (16 h)
23 h (26 h)
36 h (41 h)
All Satellite Systems + music
7 h
10 h
16 h
Max Battery GPS
90 h (162 h)
136 h (289 h)
213 h (578 h)

Garmin now shoved the solar battery into almost every variant. The rules are the same for all Garmin solar models. If you want to extend the battery life during normal use, you must expose the watch to light with an intensity of 50,000 lux for at least 3 hours. If you want to extend the GPS mode, it must be exposed to the 50,000 lux throughout the whole activity.

To give you an example... In the Czech Republic, the legislative need for lighting in a workplace is 200 lux. So another 49,800, and you're good.

To give you another example... If it is cloudy in winter, the intensity of sunshine is 3,000 lux, while on a sunny summer day, the intensity reaches 100,000 lux.

I will be honest with you. Most of the year, you will not get the required amount of lux.

On paper vs. in reality

You know papers. You are buying a car, and the combined gas consumption on paper is about three times lower than the real one. It's the same with a smartwatch battery life because a lot depends on its user.

I am trying to train for about 8 hours a week, and I get to half of the battery life – so like 14 days (I have the7X). So if you train half less than I do, you can get to 3 weeks. If you train twice as much as I do, you probably get to a week.

Sure, more factors are involved in this. For example, dial selection. I am using the one from Garmin because I can be sure it was created to not waste too much battery. The Connect IQ developers don't really care about this.

But overall, this is a watch with really brilliant endurance.

And what about battery life with an active flashlight?

And how long does the watch last when the flashlight is on? That was the first thing I was curious about. By the way, it is amazing. If you have set the battery life widget on the main dial, it switches when the flashlight is activated, and it shows you the remaining battery life with the flashlight on.

So, there are four endurance intensities (1st degree is the lowest), and the watch shows this endurance:

  • 1. level – 6 days
  • 2. level – 20 hours
  • 3. level – 8 hours
  • 4. level – 5 hours
  • red light – 23 hours

So if the watch is fully charged and on, you can get 5 hours of endurance according to this.

But I measured the time it took for the watch to go down by 1% without active GPS, with the flashlight on level 4, and I got to precisely 2.5 minutes.

I wanted to heat up the watch a little more. So I turned on the GPS (all satellites, multifrequency) and the flashlight (level 4). I got to... 2.5 minutes.

The watch probably discharges a bit faster with active GPS, but apparently, it's not a factor that would affect it as much.

Either way, if we work with the assumption of continuous loss... Well, okay, I won't use these words anymore. You will waste away all the percentages in a little over 4 hours.


During the day, the Fenix 7 counts steps, calories burned, floors climbed... The typical measurements almost any smartwatch can do. I use the most the Sleep Score (0-100) and the three sleep phases distribution. I also follow the Body Battery, a feature showing you your body energy on a scale from 0 to 100.  You "charge" yourself differently based on your sleep, and this number decreases during the day based on your sports activities, stress levels, and other factors. If you rest, the number can go up.

I was very pleased with the Health Snapshot upgrade. You will now get data on heart rate, blood oxygenation, respiratory rate, or heart rate variability (HRV) in milliseconds. No Garmin watch could express the HRV in milliseconds before. Based on HRV, you can estimate overtraining, fatigue, stress, and more. Generally, it is considered a golden value that can tell you a lot. I recommend you look into it! I elaborated on this in the article below.

Heart rate sensor – everything about it and how can it help you
Heart rate sensor – everything about it and how can it help you

Most importantly, take a snapshot of your health at the same time every day. I would recommend doing it right after you wake up. You can really see a difference. Try to measure it after a hard workout or some heavier alcohol intoxication. Then try to do it after a rest day with 0‰ in your blood. The difference is there. mySASY works on a similar basis.

Maps got into all of the Fenix 7 variants

Let's summarize the most important thing at the beginning:

  • the sapphire crystal version has a storage of 32 GB
  • the Sapphire version has pre-installed maps of Europe, but you can also install other parts of the world
  • the basic version (without sapphire) has a storage of 16 GB
  • the basic version doesn't have any map pre-installed, but you can install them yourself (you are limited by smaller storage)
  • a voucher for a topographic map of the Czech Republic goes with all versions

I think that this might be a slight reaction to Coros again as they offer the possible installation of maps of the whole world. Garmin did the same thing.

The watch now has pre-installed ski and golf maps. All you have to do is to stay near a field/ski slope to get a complete offer.

It's also cool that we can find the Map Manager directly in the watch, which means we don't need a computer to install maps. I mean... You still need a Garmin Express and a good old cable to install the Czech topographic maps.

Connect IQ now works in a similar (but limited) way. We can now find it directly in the watch. There is only a limited number, but that's still better than nothing because until now, we had to use a second mobile app to download.

The storage for apps is limited to around 20 MB. More would just tempt people to download useless things (as evidenced by my occasional visits to Facebook groups), and watch would get slow. This way, Garmin set a clear limit and can guarantee smooth running.

Yes, navigation must not be missing

Navigation is one of the key features that distinguish basic models from the more professional ones. Personally, I like to try new routes and I like playing with it in a way that I click points on Mapy.cz, export it and send it to my watch.

Nevertheless, there are easier ways to do it. You can either generate a route in Garmin Connect, click on a point on the map, or use the great "Round Trip" function. You add a number of kilometers and the watch creates a route that other Garmin users walk/ride most often and then takes you back to the starting point. If you are in a new place or want to try a new route, this is the ideal feature for you.

Almost any setting can be also done from your phone

Garmin has always been great in that you could set everything right on your watch. Widgets, data fields in the sports activity, anything. But... It wasn't possible to do it on the phone, which is definitely easier for many people.

But... Change! In Garmin Connect, you can now configure the watch's appearance, all widgets, data fields, favorite sports activities, and more.

What sports tweaks are we seeing in  a Garmin watch for the very first time?

I personally used the most the Real-Time Stamina feature. This feature shows you in real-time how much energy your body is losing. At the beginning of the activity, you usually have about 100%. Depending on your heart rate, the watch calculates the remaining percentage, time, or distance you are still able to run.

I am going to give you an example. When I ran a half marathon race, I started with 90%, and ended with 28%. I had an average pace around 4:00, so the battery went down quickly.

I had a party in the evening (yes, I drank), and I didn't sleep much (rating 32 out of 100). The next day I started with 52%, but I only ran a short distance (5k) at a slower pace (5:11), and the potential only dropped by 11%.

But overall, I think this feature makes sense for a marathon or shorter runs. Ultramarathoners would probably end up in negative numbers. Personally, my watch at a normal pace showed a maximum of 50 km.

I would call it such an anti-burn-out safety device. If you find out at the beginning that you are running too fast, you can slow down.

There is no need to describe the Up Ahead function lengthly. It allows you to enter points of interest on the map. Photographers can plan a route and create several points where they will want to pull out their cameras. Athletes can add points on the maps for example, to have a specific meal, or the times at which they want to get to a specific place to meet the target time.

I haven't used it personally and probably won't. Maybe if this function could deduct the number of calories burned and some recommendations on what I should eat at the next refreshment point. But the way it is now doesn't make any sense to me.

A feature for Indians

You say, "For Indians? What kind of nonsense is that?" I'll explain.

The Run/Walk function has been added to Garmin, which shows in a simple graph how much you ran, walked, or stood as part of the overall activity. This is ideal for all the fans of "Indian run" (an alternative to jogging, alternating running and walking). Or for anybody who runs longer runs, where they swich to walking.

Other sports features in the Fenix 7

The Fenix series has so many features that the average mortal will only use a few of them. I would say up to 5%. But the most commonly used are certainly these.

Daily Suggested Workouts will provide you with an appropriate workout for every day. The right training should be varied in terms of different intensities, lengths, etc. The watch will record your data and suggest a workout that should work the best.

Training Status is closely linked to training recommendations. The watch will tell you through the training status if your training is monotonous, you train too little or too much.

A somewhat of a standard is an estimate of the VO2 Max value. This metric calculates the maximum oxygen consumption during sports activity. The more oxygen an athlete can use, the more in shape they are.

What is VO2 max?
What is VO2 max?

The Finish Time is then calculated form the maximum oxygen consumption. Based on your condition, the watch can tell you what your finish time would be for a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, or marathon.

Of course, the golden rule is that the better the watch's sensors and algorithms, the more quality the results. Since the Fenix 7 upgraded the two most essential sensors – the heart rate sensor and the GPS – we can count on these metrics to work even better.

What sports does the Fenix 7 monitor?

Generally, almost any sport. You won't find specific sports there like cricket or belly dancing (which is often offered by Chinese competition), but there are all the classics.

So what does the watch monitor:

Running, Trail Running, Indoor and Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Climbing, Hiking, Walking, Biking, Mountain Biking  Indoor Biking, Golf, Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Triathlon, Swimrun, Strength, Cardio, Indoor Climbing, Bouldering, Skiing, Snowboarding, Off-Slope skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Yoga

The more specific activities are:

Adventure Run, Virtual Running, Gravel Biking, Ultra Running, Bike Touring, eBiking, eMountain Biking, Bike Commuting, Cyclocross, Tennis, HIIT, Breathing, Pilates, Floor Climbing, Stepper, Jumpmaster, Rowing, Snowshoeing, SUP, Surfing, Kiteboarding, Windsurfing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Elliptical Training, Pace Training

And as a rule, if you want something off this list, you will surely find it in some app from the Connect IQ.

The Fenix 7 is not really smarter than the Fenix 6

You can pay with the watch, you can upload MP3s or download playlists from streaming services, and you can view phone notifications. If you have an Android phone, you can use the pre-set answer. It's a pity that we cannot make a phone call or use the open answer option (type it on the keyboard). But I get it. It is still a sports tester.

Jen si to představte... Stojíte na balkónu, přijde vám zpráva a tak odepíšete. Škoda, no.

Just imagine... You are standing on the balcony, you get a message, and reply.

Contactless payment and music player – good old classic

Another classic in the Fenix 7 is the contactless payment. A huge move forward is that you can type the passcode on the touch screen. It is much faster than using the buttons, as it used to be.

In addition, you can store up to 2000 songs or use streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music. But you need to have a Premium account to download playlists to your watch.

Summary and alternatives

The Garmin Fenix 7 is the perfect piece. Yes, a common mortal might only use about 5% of the features, but one often does not buy things according to what they use them for, but for the potential. Even if you buy a Ferrari with a maximum of 350 km/h, you will still usually drive 50 km/h in the village. :) And the same applies to the Fenix 7.

Alternatives are hard to find, as the Fenix 7 can rarely be matched by any other device. Anyway, if we look for titans from other brands, it's the Coros Vertix 2 (has watt measurements), the Polar Vantage V2 (Polar has detailed monitoring of sports activities as well as wattage), or the Suunto 9 Peak (Suunto is famous for being a "keeper").

Garmin Tactix 7 Review – What do you see?
Garmin Tactix 7 Review – What do you see?


Watches mentioned in the article