Garmin Fenix 7 Solar review: Can touch this

6 months ago 118
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(Pocket-lint) - Garmin has go the go-to sanction for fitness tracking smartwatches, solidifying its presumption successful caller years by offering a plethora of models to screen circumstantial marketplace requirements. There are Forerunners for runners, Vivo for mundane fitness, Venu for a much accepted smartwatch feel, Instinct for classical integer ticker vibes, positive galore more. 

But if there's 1 bid that's precise overmuch seen arsenic the all-action hero, it's the Fenix. It does beauteous overmuch everything, with the series' 2022 update - present successful its seventh procreation - adding a touchscreen for the archetypal clip successful the product's history. Does this much hands-on attack marque the Garmin Fenix 7 the top-tier multisport ticker to beat? 

Fenix aesthetic 

  • 47mm case
  • 22mm QuickFit strap 
  • Waterproofed to 100m
  • Stainless alloy bezel and back
  • Finishes: Silver, Carbon Grey, Slate Grey, Mineral Blue & Titanium

Every clip a caller Fenix ticker is released Garmin doesn't conscionable motorboat a mates of antithetic sizes and telephone it a day, it creates a mini scope of products with antithetic features, sizes, colours and materials. There's nary alteration to that attack here. 

There's a regular Fenix 7 with a 47mm case, the smaller Fenix 7S with a 42mm case, and the larger 7X with a 51mm case. There are besides Solar, Solar Sapphire and Pro Solar editions with antithetic combinations of worldly and star charging capabilities. And if you opt for immoderate of the 7X versions, you get a built successful LED flashlight too.

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For this review, however, we'll beryllium reviewing the Fenix 7 Solar. It's the middle-size oregon 'regular' model, but with added star charging. Material and design-wise it's identical to the Fenix 7, it conscionable has longer artillery beingness acknowledgment to the summation of the Power Glass and a star charging ringing wrong the display's bezel. 

For anyone acquainted with erstwhile Fenix models, the 7 bid volition look instantly familiar. It's got that chunky outdoorsy look, with a metallic bezel (stainless alloy connected this model) and exposed screws.

However, determination is simply a flimsy quality for the seventh-gen model. Rather than person those exposed screws successful the bezel astir the display, Garmin has extended the metallic sheet to screen the ticker strap bezels and enactment the screws successful there. It's a much symmetrical look, meaning the lugs are present much protected from the unsmooth and tumble of your adventurous lifestyle. 

Apart from that, from the beforehand and the sides, the Fenix 7 looks mostly the aforesaid arsenic the Fenix 6. But determination are different subtle differences: the reddish accented protective constituent that sits astir the start/stop fastener successful the apical near is simply a alteration from the exposed button; the scale astir the show has acold less lines connected it, present lone signalling seconds/minutes, further adding to the cleaner look. 

The underside is mostly the aforesaid too, featuring the classical Garmin pill-shaped connector for charging, alongside a stainless alloy plate. What's antithetic is the optical sensor layout: it's been upgraded to the Gen 4 edition, which has much diodes/sensors successful it and arranged successful an 'X' shape, alternatively than a stack of sensors successful a consecutive enactment of the earlier generation.

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As for the strap, again, Garmin has stuck to its usual: the 22mm QuickFit system. This is some bully and bad.

Good, due to the fact that removing the strap and switching it retired for different (which you mightiness already own) is truly elemental and conscionable involves pulling backmost connected a drawback and past clicking the caller 1 into place. 

Bad, due to the fact that it's a proprietary mechanism, truthful the fig of compatible third-party options is slim. Garmin's ain options travel successful a fewer antithetic colours and materials, but nary of them are easy affordable. If you privation a leather one, for instance, you're looking astatine £70+ successful the UK to get 1 with the Garmin QuickFit adapter built in. 

Our portion shipped with a achromatic rubber band, which is simply a harmless choice, implicit with a creaseless decorativeness and strap holes extending from close adjacent the extremity to astir 20mm beneath the lugs, truthful it's bully for beauteous overmuch immoderate wrist size. 

Touchscreen navigation

  • 1.3-inch transflective MIP panel
  • 260 x 260 pixel resolution
  • Touchscreen capable
  • 33mm diameter

The biggest alteration from erstwhile versions of the Fenix is really invisible: its touchscreen. While it inactive retains the 5 fastener strategy that allows you to power each the layers of the interface, you tin present besides pat and swipe connected the surface if you wish.

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Being a Fenix means the show itself is simply a transflective MIP (memory successful pixel) display, which brings a mates of cardinal characteristics. Firstly, and astir important, is that it's ever on. Secondly, if you person bully airy astir you - for lawsuit you're retired successful agleam daylight - that makes the surface much visible, not less. Thirdly, it's highly efficient. It doesn't suck a batch of artillery beingness - due to the fact that it doesn't trust connected backlighting - and truthful enables long-lasting artillery life. 

Another diagnostic is that it has rather a debased refresh complaint - compared to the OLED/AMOLED smartwatch screens - truthful erstwhile you bash usage the touchscreen, you don't get that ace creaseless and responsive animation that you'd get connected a 'proper' colour screen. It's ever truthful somewhat jittery if you look closely. Still, it's speedy capable that you're not near experiencing jarring levels of lag.

For the astir part, the touchscreen is simply a useful inclusion, but lone truly successful mundane beingness situations astatine work/home (both if they're the aforesaid place?). Using it to cheque your existent day's snapshots/glances, seeing what your slumber was similar the nighttime before, or, we imagine, scrolling done and deleting notifications (we accidental imagine, due to the fact that successful the tally up to launch, we weren't capable to link it to a smartphone - due to the fact that Garmin Connect didn't enactment the up of its authoritative launch). 

Where we've recovered touchscreens not utile is during activities, similar erstwhile moving oregon hiking. This is wherever the carnal fastener power strategy comes successful handy. You're not going to get accidental touches, oregon beryllium forced to effort and swipe connected a surface with a button-based system. It's the past happening you privation if you're hiking astatine precocious altitudes and are wearing gloves, oregon erstwhile you're connected a tally trying to dependable your arms capable to interact with a screen. 

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The bully happening is, Garmin knows this too, truthful erstwhile you footwear into an enactment specified arsenic running, you get a small connection up apical connected the surface informing you that interaction cognition has been disabled. What's more, if you don't ever privation touchscreen operation, you tin easy disable it wholly - it has a dedicated toggle successful the main functions menu.

Also wrong that menu, however, is the enactment to alteration touchscreen for activities (and per activity, it's granular), truthful if you privation touchscreen maps control, for example, that is so imaginable - which galore whitethorn find a precise utile diagnostic indeed. However, there's nary pinch-to-zoom successful maps, it's conscionable controlled via a small +/- power connected the screen, but fixed the standard of the show this is hardly a surprise.

Super artillery life 

  • From 18 to 22 days of artillery beingness (Solar model)
  • Up to 73 hours GPS usage (Solar model)
  • Up to 18 days artillery beingness (non-Solar)
  • Up to 57 hours GPS usage (non-Solar)

It's uncommon successful the satellite of wearables to person a ticker with a artillery that lasts for an age, to the constituent you could easy hide it needs charging astatine all. But that's what Garmin has managed with the Solar variation of the Fenix 7. 

In our investigating of the instrumentality a afloat artillery would comfortably get america to astir 20 days of usage earlier needing a refill. This was with two-to-three moving sessions a week - ranging from astir 40- to 60-minutes each clip - and this was with the ticker connected astatine nighttime clip tracking our slumber for four-to-five nights a week arsenic well.

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Again, it's worthy reiterating that this was with the ticker not connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone. We're unsure the nonstop interaction this volition have, but presume it volition mean the ticker volition drain a small faster. 

On the flip side, the investigating occurred during the shortest days of the year, betwixt Christmas and the mediate of January. That means astir of our runs were successful the dark, and we didn't get to payment from utilizing the higher star strength that would hap people successful the summertime months. So didn't get the extended artillery that would pb to, acknowledgment to the star glass. So there's much energy-providing imaginable there.

Fitness and wellness data

  • GPS, Galileo and Glonass navigation
  • HIIT workouts, Golf maps, MTB performance
  • PacePro, Body Battery, Garmin Coach, Suggested Workouts 
  • Breathing, sleep, stress, bosom rate, SpO2 humor oxygen measure

Garmin's strength, peculiarly implicit the past 2 oregon 3 years, hasn't conscionable been accurately tracking idiosyncratic and regular activities. It's utilizing that information to provender into a much holistic presumption of your body. It uses the metrics to recognize however good rested you are, however stressed you are, and has its utile Body Battery metric to bespeak erstwhile you're moving connected bare - and possibly should instrumentality a remainder day. 

It's a strategy that works truly good connected the Fenix 7, peculiarly erstwhile you usage your ticker to way exercise. For instance, erstwhile you usage it for moving it'll measurement however hard an enactment was, usage it to find your grooming presumption and however agelong you request to retrieve earlier attempting the adjacent session. With this effort and strength information processed alongside your regular 24 hr heart-rate and slumber tracking data, it understands erstwhile you request remainder and erstwhile you're bully to go. 

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Sleep tracking seems much reliable than it has been antecedently arsenic well. We've had nary instances of it mistaking sitting inactive (while bingeing Netflix) arsenic sleeping, with it  accurately determining erstwhile we enactment our caput down to slumber proper, and erstwhile we aftermath up. 

In the discourse of determining however good rested you are, that's an important metric. But adjacent if you don't privation to deterioration the Fenix 7 nighttime aft night, its quality to measurement and way your bosom complaint each day, each time volition springiness it a bully denotation of however tired/stressed you are. Good slumber information conscionable helps adhd to that picture. 

One happening we peculiarly emotion from Garmin is that you're not conscionable near to your ain devices erstwhile it comes to deciding what benignant of moving league you privation to do. You tin motion up to a Garmin Coach program - which we've done aggregate times implicit the past fewer years. You tin motion up to a 5K, 10K, fractional marathon oregon afloat marathon plan, and it'll physique a docket for you which mixes up agelong casual runs with interval sessions, cadence drills, elevation repeats and different sessions to physique your endurance and pace. 

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If you don't privation to perpetrate to a coaching plan, you tin conscionable usage the Suggested Workout feature, which tin beryllium accessed astatine immoderate clip erstwhile you statesman a moving session. This is based connected your existent fittingness level, however agelong it's been since your past run, and changes each day. 

Running acquainted routes that we've been investigating assorted watches connected - including the Fenix 7's predecessor - the caller exemplary seems conscionable arsenic reliable and close arsenic immoderate erstwhile Fenix. Heart complaint monitoring is solid, showing the expected levels of bosom enactment during the time and during circumstantial activities. We didn't look immoderate issues of it showing little oregon higher than expected beats-per-minute, oregon immoderate erratic jumping around.

GPS is likewise strong. On moving implicit immoderate of our astir worn moving routes, distances were adjacent capable identical to erstwhile efforts with different watches and the anterior Garmin model. More importantly, it was accordant with itself: we didn't spot immoderate antithetic oregon glaring irregularities with the distance, effort and gait information. 

Fenix isn't conscionable for runners though. It's good suited to immoderate outdoor (or adjacent indoor) sport, offering precocious information for MTB (mountain biking), roadworthy cycling and indoor treadmill/stationary motorcycle activities. It adjacent has cardio and HIIT enactment options. There's not a batch it can't track, connected oregon disconnected the track. Golfers are catered for too, with play maps disposable and the sensors capable to way and observe however bully your plaything is. 

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A large portion of Fenix's entreaty is besides its built-in maps and navigation qualities. Along with the aforementioned agelong artillery life, that makes it an perfect companion for hiking successful the mountains. If you're readying to beryllium retired each day, it'll much than grip it. Whether you privation to usage it to navigate a pre-planned route, oregon conscionable cheque wherever you are connected the built-in representation and find your bearings and way your mode backmost to the commencement point. Downloadable maps marque it adjacent much susceptible successful that regard. 

All the accustomed bells and whistles

  • Garmin Pay contactless outgo support
  • Smartphone notifications 
  • Offline euphony playback 

The Fenix 7 is Garmin's bash everything flagship, truthful that means it comes with enactment for a batch of manner functions that you'd expect from a modern time smartwatch. As we've said previously, however, we've been incapable to trial specified aspects since it's not been imaginable to acceptable it up without a telephone (this won't impact user units, however, it's conscionable we've been investigating anterior to authoritative launch)

However, they're each features we've utilized for a bully mates of years connected a fig of older Garmin models. You get enactment for offline euphony playback from Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music. With Bluetooth enactment too, you tin simply download a playlist of your choice, and caput retired with your favourite earbuds and perceive to euphony portion you enactment out. 

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You besides get contactless outgo enactment with Garmin Pay, though that's yet to person the aforesaid benignant of enactment from UK banks arsenic the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung's contactless outgo services. With Curve, Starling, Santander and Revolut supported, however, there's a bully fig of consumers catered for. 

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When paired with your smartphone, the Fenix 7 volition besides connection notifications connected your wrist, arsenic good arsenic calendar events and weather. 

Verdict

You often perceive the operation "the Swiss Army weapon of X" referring to a merchandise that does tons of things truly good - and the Fenix 7 decidedly fits that description. 

The ticker is truly good built and tin withstand thing you propulsion astatine it, whether that's moving implicit hills successful a rainstorm, oversea kayaking, oregon conscionable doing your marathon grooming successful the tallness of summer.

With each its precocious sensors for tracking your bosom rate, location, route, altitude and humor oxygen saturation, and what it does with each that data, you're going to conflict to find a amended wrist-worn fittingness coach. 

If you're a Fenix 6 user, there's nary existent request to upgrade to the Fenix 7 - arsenic it's mostly akin - but for anyone with an older model, you'll apt spot a sizeable quality successful features and show from Garmin's latest all-action hero. If, that is, you tin tummy the price.

Also consider

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Garmin Enduro 

Enduro is akin to Fenix successful design, but has ridiculously bully artillery life. With up to 65 days beingness with Solar enactment successful smartwatch mode, you'll lone request to complaint it six times a year. 

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Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar 

One of the things astir determination being a caller Fenix successful municipality is that the erstwhile procreation is typically disposable for a batch little than it was astatine launch. If you're blessed to miss retired connected a mates of caller features, you'll get an unthinkable astute sports ticker for little money. 

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Writing by Cam Bunton.

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