Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Garmin Epix Pro have officially been announced, and both watches boast new features including an adjustable LED flashlight for training in the dark, and two new training metrics: the Hill Score and the Endurance Score.
Both available in three sizes - 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm - the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro are, like their predecessors the Garmin Fenix 7 and Garmin Epix (Gen 2) virtually the same watch inside (and outside, as you can see above), albeit two of the best Garmin watches you can buy. Both sport the same titanium bezel, colorways, and size ranges.
The few differences are mainly that the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro has Garmin's battery-extending Power Glass solar technology built into its economical memory-in-pixel screen, whereas the Garmin Epix Pro sports the impressive AMOLED display seen on previous Epix models and this year’s Garmin Forerunner 265 and 965 models. While the screen is sharper and brighter on the Epix, that means no solar.
The flashlight, too, has been seen on the Fenix range before, notably the big 51mm Garmin Fenix 7X Solar. Set into the watch’s bezel, users can opt for a softer red light to avoid compromising their night vision, or one of four levels of bright white LED light. An eye-catching strobe mode offers additional safety.
As it was previously only available on the biggest, most expensive model, it’s good to see the flashlight filter down to all sizes, even the dinky 42mm Fenix 7S Pro and 42mm Epix Pro, which are the watches we tested. What is brand new, however, are the Endurance Scores and Hill Scores. The Hill Score is a new metric based on power output that, put quite simply, rates your ability to run uphill.
Below the surface, you can use your hill score to uncover a lot about the kind of power your legs can generate for short periods. Your Endurance Score is a measure of your ability to complete sustained exercises such as longer runs and rides, and uses several statistics to calculate this including your VO2 Max score. Both features need at least two weeks of run data before providing a score, so we weren’t able to test during our brief hands-on of both devices.
There are a few cool new features such as Up Ahead, which will automatically flag points-of-interest checkpoints such as aid stations during races, and additional preloaded activity profiles ranging from soccer to whitewater rafting. Both devices are getting updated heart rate sensors said to be comprised of “spatially diverse optical sensors” and new topographical map overlays to signify weather patterns, so you can see what’s coming at a glance while you’re out on the trail.
The Epix Pro series starts at $899.99 / £829.99 in the US for the 42mm model and 47mm model, and $999.99 / £929.99 for the larger 51mmm model. and the Fenix 7 Pro series starts at $799.99 / £749.99 in the US for the Fenix 7S Pro 42mm model and 47mm model, and $899.99 / £829.99 for the 51mm Fenix 7X Pro. Australia prices are forthcoming but were not available at the time of writing.
Analysis: Two amazing watches just got better
After the sudden arrival of the latest Garmin Forerunners this year, we were expecting a fully-fledged Garmin Fenix 8 model to appear soon after. However, the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro series have arrived instead, and the mantra from Garmin seems to be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
The TL:DR of it all is that two of Garmin’s best watches got slightly better, with two new scoring tools, a bunch of new workout profiles, the Fenix 7X’s LED flashlight, and improved heart rate sensing. We’re not yet sure what effect the flashlight will have on the device’s infamously powerful battery life, but the 7S Pro is said to last 14 days in smartwatch mode, while the 51mm model is said to last an impressive 37 days.
I am excited to see the effect Hill Scores and Endurance Scores will have on my Garmin Connect workout profile as a whole. What many people don’t realize is that all these Training Readiness Scores, VO2 Max, recorded workouts, Sleep Scores and so on end up building a comprehensive picture of health, a picture that becomes more detailed with each new widget added. A good Endurance Score can’t be measured without weeks of sustained heart rate and power output information.
But I’m even more excited to go running at night with the flashlight on. We’ve only had a brief test of both watches so far, but rest assured, we’ll be testing both best running watch contenders more thoroughly in due course.