Garmin launch days are the best days, and today is a particularly excellent day, thanks to the launch of two new Garmin watches, the Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro. The latest outdoor watch cohort from Garmin is exciting for a number of reasons; however, here, I wanted to talk about how the two smartwatches compare, considering the similarities in design and features.
For instance, the Fenix 7 Pro and the Epix Pro both use the new Elevate Gen 5 bio-sensor, have two brand new features added (Hill Score and Endurance Score), integrate a physical flashlight into the watch case, and more. Which one should you get, though? I was sent a sample of both a little over a week before the launch, and after spending some quality time with them, I think I know the answer.
Before you scroll down to see the verdict section of this comparison (I know what you're like), make sure you familiarise yourself with the predecessors of the watches in question by reading my Garmin Fenix 7X review and Garmin Epix Gen 2 review. Also, it wouldn't hurt to check out T3's best Garmin watch and best outdoor watch guides, either.
(watches first compared May 2023)
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro vs Epix Pro: price and availability
The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro was launched on 31 May 2023 and is available to buy now directly from Garmin UK, Garmin US and Garmin AU with prices from £750/$800/AU$1,350. Available models include Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm, Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm and Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm, with options for standard and Sapphire Editions.
The Garmin Epix Pro was launched on 31 May 2023 and is available to buy now directly from Garmin UK, Garmin US and Garmin AU with prices from £830/$900/AU$1,700. Available models include Epix Pro – 42mm, Epix Pro – 47mm and Epix Pro – 51mm, with options for standard and Sapphire Editions.
Winner: Garmin Fenix 7 Pro. if you're not super keen on the AMOLED display, the Fenix 7 Pro offers better value for money for outdoor athletes.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro vs Epix Pro: design and build quality
The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro have very similar builds and come in three sizes, which is new for the Epix line. Having three different case sizes (42 mm, 47 mm and 51 mm) allows people to enjoy the best Garmin adventure watch experience regardless of their wrist sizes.
Another new addition to the Epix Pro is the physical flashlight, which is also a new feature on the Fenix 7 Pro in the sense that previously this was only available on the largest model (Fenix 7X) but is now available on all three sizes. It's yet to be clarified whether this LED flashlight is the same as the Enduro 2's, which is said to be 50% brighter than the one found in the Fenix 7X.
One big difference between the Fenix 7 Pro and the Epix Pro is the solar-charging display, which can only be found on the Fenix 7 Pro. This photosensitive ring around the display not only harvests sunlight to help extend battery life but acts as an ambient light sensor, too. The Fenix 7 Pro also has an updated Memory-in-Pixel (MIP) touchscreen display, which is said to be more readable in bright lighting conditions.
The Garmin Epix Pro might not have solar charging, but it has a full-colour AMOLED screen, essentially the same as the one found on the Epix Gen 2. The touchscreen display is bright and makes it easy to read the information on the watch even in broad daylight (you might struggle to do the same even on the new MIP display of the Fenix 7 Pro).
Both watches have a fibre-reinforced polymer case with stainless steel/titanium bezels (dependent on the model), the classic five-button Garmin layout, a durable lens and more.
Finally, another major update over their predecessors is the addition of the Elevate Gen 5 optical heart rate sensor. The new bio-sensor is said to feature an improved optical layout with more "spatially diverse" sensors for better accuracy. The algorithm has been tweaked, too, to provide better estimations.
Winner: Tie. Both watches have their merits as well as being similar in design.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro vs Epix Pro: features
From a features point of view, the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and the Epix Pro are identical. They have all the health, wellness, performance and smart features of the watches they succeed, and then some.
The most notable new additions are the Hill Score, and Endurance Score features. Hill Score is running-specific – Garmin claims running is the most popular sport among their users – and both provide new ways to understand performance.
Hill Score comprises two metrics: Hill Endurance and Hill Strength. Hill Endurance looks at performance over gradual ascents, while Hill Strength measures efforts on short, steep climbs. Combining the two will give you your Hill Score, which is a number between 0-100. You'll need to use the watch for training for two weeks for it to start providing a Hill Score.
Endurance Score measures how easy it is to sustain prolonged efforts and is designed for, err, endurance athletes. Garmin says this new metric will help athletes better understand their endurance, as two people with similar Vo2 max numbers might have completely different Endurance Scores. It looks at all activities and highlights the 'top contributors' to the score at the bottom of the screen.
Both watches inherited the Up Ahead mode from the Enduro 2, providing running points-of-interest checkpoints, like aid stations, right on a map to get a better understanding of what’s ahead. The maps on the Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro now feature weather map overlays (to see upcoming weather conditions) and relief shading options. Relief shading provides topographic info on the maps to show where shades are most likely to occur at that time of the day.
One Garmin Epix Pro-specific new feature is the Red Shift Mode, which changes display colours to shades of red to help you "better acclimate to darker conditions" and reduce sleep cycle disturbance. This feature might be familiar to Apple Watch Ultra and Huawei Watch Ultimate users, although Garmin has also been using a similar feature for years in their Delta smartwatches.
Winner: Garmin Epix Pro. The two watches are identical in terms of features, but the Epix Pro has the Red Shift Mode, which can't be found on the Fenix 7 Pro.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro vs Epix Pro: battery life
Ever size the Apple Watch Ultra announcement, where the Cupertino-based brand clarified the 36-hour battery life of the Ultra, Garmin never misses an opportunity to say they "measure battery life in days, not hours."
Indeed, both the solar-powered Fenix 7 Pro and the AMOLED Epix Pro have long battery lives (see the chart above). One thing I found interesting is that the longest battery life in smartwatch mode belongs to the Epix Pro – 51 mm, not the Fenix 7X Pro. It's worth mentioning that the largest Epix Pro's 31-day battery life isn't with the screen being always-on.
Both watches have impressive battery life (not as impressive as the Enduro 2, but still) and will last for weeks between charges. Even the smallest models will outlast most multisport watches made only just a few years ago, thanks to the algorithm updates and features such as SatIQ, which automatically switches between different satellite modes to conserve power without sacrificing accuracy.
Winner: Garmin Fenix 7 Pro. Once you factor in solar charging and the always-on screen, the Fenix 7 Pro becomes a clear winner of the battery race.
Garmin Fenix 7 Pro vs Epix Pro: verdict
I wrote an article over a year ago about why the re-introduction of the Garmin Epix franchise might spell the end of the Fenix line of smartwatches, but it seems Garmin is keen on keeping both of them alive. In fact, the US-based company is seemingly closing the gap between the two franchises, adding more features and improving the software and hardware. Garmin's motives are becoming more apparent with each iteration.
The Garmin Epix Pro is not here to kill the Fenix 7 Pro but to live alongside it as an AMOLED option, offering an alternative to people who might choose the Apple Watch Ultra because of its pretty display. There is no need; Garmin has an option for you with the same screen but longer battery life, better performance features, improved bio-sensor and more.
On the other hand, the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro ensures that athletes who prefer always-on screens aren't forgotten, either. Many people I know prefer MIP displays, as they find AMOLED screens too garish and intrusive. The Memory-in-Pixel Fenix 7 Pro is the better choice for them, especially now that all Fenix 7 Pro sizes include the flashlight feature.
Should you get the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro or the Epix Pro? It really comes down to your display preference. The Fenix 7 Pro is marginally cheaper, but I feel that people who are happy to splash out on a £750 Fenix 7 Pro won't have trouble paying an extra £80 to get an Epix Pro. So, what's it going to be: MIP or AMOLED?