Garmin brings touch to fēnix series rugged smartwatches
After numerous leaks and months of rumor, Garmin has finally pulled back the curtain on the next generation of premium multisport wearables. The fēnix 7 series adds touchscreen interaction, ups the solar charging capabilities and even brings a flashlight to the watch party.
As before, the series comes in three sizes: the 7S with a 42-mm case; the 7 with a 47-mm case; and the 7X with a 51-mm case. And there are standard versions, solar editions and scratch-resistant sapphire solar flavors.
The housing is home to five buttons with metal guards, but now there's a touchscreen display up top for quick navigation of menus and zooming in on maps. The solar-enabled models benefit from an increase in solar surface area for the potential of going longer between charges – with the 7X Sapphire Solar Edition, for example, users could get up to five weeks in smartwatch mode with help from solar charging, or up to five days in GPS mode.
Garmin boasts that the 7 series watches support all major satellite systems, plus gain the L5 frequency range for "improved accuracy in challenging environments." All models come pre-loaded with SkiView maps, with TopoActive maps available for download on the standard and solar editions. The sapphire solar versions come with pre-loaded regional TopoActive maps (though other regions can be downloaded). And a new Up Ahead feature can let you know the precise locations of trails, turns and aid stations.
Athletes looking to train after dark can take advantage of the built-in multi-LED flashlight with red or adjustable white light, plus a strobe mode can match a runner's cadence "so they can see and be seen."
On the app side of things, there's a new stamina tool that enables monitoring and tracking of exertion levels during a run or while cycling, a race predictor can offer time estimates and training insights based on running history, and a recovery advisor estimates the optimum number of hours needed to properly recover based on such things as training intensity, stress, daily activity levels and sleep.
The fēnix 7 series wearables can track vitals like heart rate, respiration, stress and blood oxygen saturation, as well as monitor sleep, provide personalized insights and more.
Notifications from paired smartphone can be disabled during an activity, and the smartwatches can send a message to emergency contacts in the event of a detected incident.
The fēnix 7 series multisport watches are available now, with prices starting at US$699.99.
Those smartwatches are aimed primarily at serious athletes, but Garmin has also revealed an update to 2015's epix model for everyday wear. The smartwatch shares much with the fēnix 7 series, but comes with a 1.3-inch always-on AMOLED touchscreen display instead of the transflective memory-in-pixel panel.
It also lacks the built-in flashlight and doesn't support solar charging, so users can expect up to 16 days of per-charge battery life in smartphone mode, or 42 hours in GPS mode.
A number of sports apps are included covering such things as gym workouts, tennis, climbing, golfing, surfing (it's waterproof to 10 ATM) and skiing. Garmin reports that there's enough onboard storage for up to 2,000 songs, and the wearable can receive smart notifications when paired to an iOS or Android smartphone.
The epix is available in two model flavors, starting at $899.99.