Apple Watch 8 vs Garmin Fenix 7

Apple Watch 8 and Fenix 7 are two smartwatches that are on bucket list of many smartwatch buyers. How do you decide which watch will be a better option for your smartwatch needs? We look at the key aspects of Apple Watch 8 and Garmin Fenix 7 watches below. Hopefully, this would save your time and help you pick the right watch for your needs.

We have evaluated Apple Watch 8 and Garmin Fenix 7 on the following factors:

iOS vs Android

Apple Watch 8 is an Apple ecosystem product. So, an Apple Watch 8 only works with an iOS device. It is compatible with iOS devices with iOS version 16 or higher. You will need an iPhone to register Apple Watch 8. There can be no activation of the Apple Watch 8 without an iPhone.

Garmin Fenix 7 is compatible with iOS and Android mobile operating systems. It can work with iOS 14 or higher devices. On a similar note, Garmin Fenix 7 can work with Android operating system version 7 or higher. As of now, we are on Android operating system version 12.

If you have an Android device, you will need to make a transition to an iPhone before you can use an Apple Watch 8.

Display

Apple Watch 8 has an OLED display. OLED display implies better display resolution, much deeper color details and improved contrast ratio of the smartwatch display. Apple Watch 8 45 mm variant has a display resolution of 396 x 484 pixels. The 41 mm variant of Apple Watch 8 has a display resolution of 352 x 430 pixels.

Apple Watch 8 supports Always on Display or AOD. The screen can achieve brightness of 1000 nits.

Fenix 7 has a Memory in pixel screen or the MIP screen. MIP screens are usually used to provide optimum display while conserving battery life. Each Fenix 7 device has a robust battery life. But, when it comes to display resolution or clarity, a Fenix 7 watch will be no match for the Apple Watch 8’s display clarity and resolution. This fact is amply clear by the display resolution of Fenix 7 standard edition watch.

Fenix 7 standard edition has a display resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. Even if you were to buy a Sapphire edition Fenix 7 watch, the display resolution will still remain substantially lower than an Apple Watch 8.

ECG and Heart Monitoring

Apple Watch 8 has one of the best heart monitoring software programs. Apple Watches have saved countless lives through AFib or Atrial Fibrillation alerts. Apple Watch 8 also has an ability to take ECG readings (in supported countries only). If I had an elder at home, I would choose an Apple Watch 8 for exceptional and proven heart monitoring and ECG readings. We actually covered Apple’s ECG and AFib feature in detail on this page. You can find the actual case studies of people who have benefited from Apple Watch’s heart monitoring software program.

Apple Watch 8 has a third-generation optical heart sensor for achieving a robust heart monitoring performance.

Garmin Fenix 7 does track heart rate on a perpetual basis. It uses a Garmin Elevate sensor for heart tracking. But, ECG feature is not available on Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatches.

Swimming

Apple Watch 8 has an IP68 ingress protection rating. It also has a swim proof rating of 50 meters. IP68 rating means that the Apple Watch 8 has maximum possible dust protection and water ingress protection. You can read details about IP68 smartwatch rating on this IP68 page.

In terms of swimming, an Apple Watch 8 can be worn to a depth of 50 meters (or 165 feet) under water surface level (for brief periods of time). The swim rating makes Apple Watch 8 suitable for indoor pool swimming or shallow water swimming.

Fenix 7 watches carry a 10 ATM water rating. 10 ATM water rating means that the smartwatch can handle a pressure of 10 bars or 10 ATMOSPHERES. A pressure of 10 ATM is equivalent to water depth pressure at a depth of 100 meters or 330 feet below water surface level. Fenix 7 comes with pool swimming and open water swimming profiles.

Having said that, Apple Watch 8 and Fenix 7 edition watches are not suitable for scuba diving, snorkeling, deep water activities or high speed water sports.

Fall Detection

For elders, a fall detection feature can alert friends and family of a hard fall situation. With a compatible Cellular model of the watch, the fall detection feature of Apple Watch 8 can even send emergency messages to the emergency support services like the 911 number. The fall detection feature of an Apple Watch has had an exceptional performance record in the past. Amongst all the smartwatches available, Apple Watch’s fall detection is the most reliable and trustworthy fall detection or incident detection features.

Garmin Fenix 7 watches have an incident detection feature. This is akin to the fall detection feature of the Apple Watch 8. The incident detection feature of Fenix 7 smartwatch can alert up to 3 family or friends about a fall incident. When the watch detects a fall, it will seek a response from the wearer. If it fails to elicit a response from the wearer, the incident detection feature will send in a notification message with location data to the family or friends.

But, the bottom line is that Apple Watch 8’s fall detection is more refined, more reliable and more proven than Garmin Fenix 7’s incident detection feature. If you are looking for a watch for elders, Apple Watch 8 should be preferred over Fenix 7 for the fall detection feature.

Crash Detection

The crash detection feature has also been introduced in Apple Watch 8 that is based on watchOS 9. Crash detection helps in detection situations of car crash. Here is what Apple has to mention about the crash detection feature and the subsequent course of action taken by the watch operating system:

When your Apple Watch detects a severe car crash, it will display an alert and automatically initiate an emergency phone call after 20 seconds unless you cancel. If you are unresponsive, it will play an audio message for emergency services, which informs them that you’ve been in a severe car crash and gives them your latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates with an approximate search radius.

from Apple Smartwatch website

As of writing this, Garmin Fenix 7 does not have the crash detection feature.

Solar Watches

A solar watch can use sunlight to build charge of the battery. Apple Watch 8 does not have any solar variant. But, Fenix 7 does come with solar watch variants. The solar variants of Fenix 7 are either based on the Power Glass or Power Sapphire Glass to achieve solar charging for the watch. You can find more information about the Sapphire glass variants of Fenix 7 Solar watches on this page.

Battery

Garmin Fenix 7 edition watches are clear winners when it comes to extended battery life. The standard edition Fenix 7 can last for up to 18 days on the smartwatch mode. The more advanced Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar can last up to 37 days with a combination of normal and solar charging.

Apple Watch 8 has a battery life under one day (18 hours claimed battery life). But, the good thing is that Apple Watch 8 comes with fast charging. You can be back in business with over 50% battery charge levels in less than 45 minutes of charging. Plus, Apple Watch 8 does support wireless charging.

For tracking sports or running activities, Garmin Fenix 7 watches would be preferable over the Apple Watch 8.

Sapphire Glass

Apple Watch 8 does not have any Sapphire glass options. Fenix 7 has multiple variants with Sapphire glass. Sapphire glass is considered a scratch-proof glass for smartwatches. It can handle the normal wear and tear on the smartwatch very comfortably. Sapphire is the second hardest natural mineral in the world. You can read about Sapphire smartwatches in detail on this page.

Sapphire glass watches are in much demand by professionals who work outdoors.

Wireless Connectivity

Apple Watch 8 supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless protocols. For most practical reasons, these wireless connectivity services are sufficient for practical day to day requirements. Garmin Fenix 7 touts itself as a sports watch. So, Fenix 7 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless protocols. ANT+ is useful for relaying fitness data collected from the smartwatch to an ANT+ compatible receiving device.

So, you can pair your Garmin Fenix 7 device over ANT+ wireless protocol with an ANT receiver device. You can receive fitness data or the heart broadcast data on the receiving device. One such example is the ability of Fenix 7 to work with a compatible ANT+ indoor bike trainer program for tracking indoor biking performance and results.

Cellular or LTE Connectivity

Apple Watch 8 does have cellular options to connect to the cellular networks directly from the watch. The major benefit is that you do not need to carry the paired iPhone smartphone every time with Apple Watch 8.

Garmin Fenix 7 does not have any cellular or LTE variant.

Call Handling

Apple Watch 8 has an in-built speaker and microphone. This allows you to answer calls right through the Apple Watch 8. Garmin Fenix 7 does not have the call answering feature. On an Android compatible smartphone, you can send text message replies on the Fenix 7 smartphone. However, text message replies are not possible if Fenix 7 is paired with an iPhone.

Summary

Fenix 7 is more like a complete sports watch. Apple Watch 8 is an all round smartwatch that comes with multiple health tracking features and safety features. Apple Watch 8 stands out on account of the ECG feature and fall detection feature. The decision to pick an Apple Watch 8 or Fenix 7 would largely depend upon the smartphone as well.

You may like to read more about Garmin and Apple smartwatches below: