Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6 smart watches

Fenix 7 has been released by Garmin. It is a natural upgrade from the existing Fenix 6 series smartwatches. We look, in detail, at the differences between Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 smartwatches. For the purpose of this study, we are comparing the standard editions of Garmin Fenix 6 and Garmin Fenix 7.


Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6 – Costs

Comparing the costs of Fenix 7 and Fenix 6, you will be paying almost $150 as incremental cost for getting a new Fenix 7. Fenix 7 is currently out of stock as the initial orders seem to have surpassed the expected levels of market orders. Is Fenix 7 worth the extra costs? Especially, when the Fenix 7 was expected to meet the customer expectations of an ECG on the device and an LTE model to allow using the Fenix 7 without keeping the phone in tow. Both expectations have not been met by Garmin, as of now. So, what could justify the incremental costs of a Fenix 7? Given the fact that nothing much has changed between Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 in terms of:

  • display resolution – almost similar on Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 smartwatches.
  • band size – almost similar on Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 smartwatches.
  • screen size – almost similar on Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 smartwatches.
  • weight of the two watches – Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 – almost similar on Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 smartwatches.
  • color of both watches is almost similar – Fenix 6 standard edition comes in silver bezel with black band and the Fenix 7 has a silver bezel with graphite band.

We look at the differentiators between a Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 standard edition watch.


Touchscreen – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

Fenix 7 has touchscreen functionality. Fenix 6 does not have the touchscreen function. Unfortunately, the AMOLED screen still remains missing from the Fenix 7 watch. Fenix 7 works on the same MIP or memory in pixel screen that powered the Fenix 6 watches. Fenix 7 also continues to have 5 click buttons which come in handy during difficult terrains and difficult weather conditions. If you wish to just stick to a button based usage of the Fenix 7, you could disable the touchscreen functionality on the Fenix 7 smartwatch. You could also disable the touchscreen functionality as per your convenience, when you may feel that accidental touch may cause disruption of tracking on the smartwatch. Or, perhaps when you are going to sleep with your watch on.

Some people do have a gripe about an expected upgrade to the AMOLED screen on the Fenix 7 smartwatch, that seems to have been given a miss. Incidentally, the AMOLED screen does find a place on the EPIX smartwatch of Garmin. EPIX starts at $899, a good $200 over the standard edition of the Fenix 7 smartwatch.


Battery backup – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6 smartwatches

Fenix 7 has augmented the battery backup time by a bit. The upgrade in battery life can be treated as a marginal improvement over the backup offered on a Fenix 6 smartwatch. We list the battery improvements from Fenix 6 to Fenix 7 below:

  • Smartwatch mode – 14 days on Fenix 6; 18 days on Fenix 7.
  • Battery saver watch mode – 48 days on Fenix 6; 57 days on Fenix 7.
  • GPS mode – upto 36 hours on Fenix 6; up to 57 hours on Fenix 7.
  • Max Battery GPS mode – 72 hours on Fenix 6; 136 hours on Fenix 7.

For outdoor tracking, running, or expedition, the battery backup improvement is a positive augmentation from Fenix 6 to Fenix 7.


Internal storage – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

The standard edition Fenix 6 has a disappointing internal memory or storage of 64 MB. The usable space is even lower. I am glad that the Fenix 7 standard edition has bridged this gap. Fenix 7 standard edition offers 32 GB internal storage. 32 GB internal storage is sufficient to store up to 2000 songs on the device. On-device music allows you to play music right through the watch and a Bluetooth speaker. For marathon runners, hikers, long distance runners and people on the expedition, the incremental memory space on Fenix 7 standard edition makes for a compelling upgrade over the Fenix 6 smartwatch.


GOLF mode – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

One of the best improvements in Fenix 7 has been the set of expanded features on the Golf mode. For amateur golfers, the Fenix 7 offers the following improvements over the Fenix 6 smartwatch:

  • Fenix 7 comes preloaded with 42000 Golf course maps. Fenix 6 can use Golf maps through the paired smartphone.
  • Fenix 7 also offers full vector map on the smartwatch.
  • Aside from the preloaded Golf maps and full vector maps, Fenix 7 has custom targets, PlaysLike distance, touch targeting and tournament legal.

Golf mode has definitely seen a better set of features and in-built support for the Golf course data from all over the world. For preventing the hassle of downloading the Golf course maps on Fenix 6, a Fenix 7 device justifies the incremental costs for Golf players.

You can also pair your Fenix 7 with the Garmin Golf app, a feature unavailable on the Fenix 6 smartwatch.


ConnectIQ and Wifi – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

Fenix 7 comes with in-built wifi support. So, you can download the apps from Connect IQ directly on the watch. WIFI on the Fenix 7 will allow you to connect to the Connect app store and download the ConnectIQ maps directly on the watch. We save the hassle of using the paired smartphone to download ConnectIQ apps and synchronize with the Fenix 6 smartwatch.


Health Monitoring – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

A couple of health monitoring improvements have happened from Fenix 6 to Fenix 7:

  • Health snapshot gives you a broad overview of your health parameters in a single consolidated dashboard.
  • Blood oxygenation sensor allows you to take real readings of the oxygen saturation in blood.

Fenix 7 has an in-built blood oxygenation monitor sensor to track SpO2 levels in your blood on a real-time basis. The readings are pretty accurate as well. Fenix 6 has an oxygen tracking feature, which works on a spot check basis or on an acclimation basis. Perpetual SpO2 level tracking on Fenix 7 is a positive way forward.

Fourth-generation Elevate Sensor becomes a part of Fenix 7. This optical heart sensor was being tested by Garmin to produce quality data about atrial fibrillation through continuous monitoring of the heart. It had already been added on Venu 2 and Forerunner 945 LTE. Elevate 4 sensor is designed to produce reliable heart readings. True benefits of the Elevate 4 sensor would accrue when ECG functionality gets added on the Fenix series watches. Together with the Elevate 4 sensor, the ECG software could give useful data around your heart health. The fact that the Elevate 4 Sensor is a part of the Fenix 7 makes me believe that the ECG software may be getting tested. Eventually, we will see an ECG app on the Garmin phones soon.


Fitness, Training, and Running features – Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6

Major improvements have happened on Garmin Fenix 7 for fitness, training, and running activities. An attempt has been made to boost the features for pros and amateurs alike. The following new features have been added to the Fenix 7 smartwatch:

  • Real-time Stamina – Real time stamina calculations come to the Fenix 7 smartwatch. The stamina helps you plan your exercise and running sessions, keeping in mind the energy levels and stamina scores. The scores are calculated on the go, to help you plan your on the ground efforts.
  • Addition of HIIT on the gym profile. This allows you to work with the HIIT workouts. HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training involves sporadic periods of intense physical activity with intermittent periods of rest. HIIT gym profile allows you to conduct a HIIT workout session and track it.
  • On-screen workout animations on Fenix 7.
  • VO2 Max on trail run. VO2 max allows you to find the amount of oxygen that your body uses when exercising intensively. It is an indicator of your fitness and tracks volumetric oxygen expended during hard physical activity.
  • Round trip course creator is a feature that lays down a complete course for you to run or cycle on. It takes inputs in the form of distance and navigation driection from you and lays out a coomplete round trip course for you to follow. The feature is available on Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6 Pro and higher models of the Fenix 6 series. Fenix 7 standard edition includes this feature as a standard offering. It marks an improvement over the feature set available on the Fenix 6 standard edition.
  • Trendline Popularity routing – This is a proprietary feature on Garmin operating system, that is a part of the Fenix 7 standard edition. TPR makes uses of existing user-provided data on Garmin connect to offer you multiple navigation routes. TPS is very useful in trail runs or cycling trips through unfamiliar areas.
  • Tracking running and Ultra running modes have been added on the Fenix 7 smartwatch. Other running modes from Fenix 6 get inherited automatically on the Fenix 7 smartwatch.
  • Pacepro pacing strategies find an integration on the Fenix 7 smartwatch. Pacepro can be applied to a training course. It will arrive at the correct speed of paces for you, based on the elevation data along the course. This is a useful addition for runners on any sort of outdoor running course.
  • Additional outdoor recreation profiles have been added on the Fenix 7 smartwatch. These include recreation sports profiles for Kiteboarding, Hunting, Windsurfing and Snowshoeing. These recreation profils puts Fenix 7 in the right hands of sports enthusiasts.
  • Up Ahead feature gets integrated on the Fenix 7 smartwatch. Up ahead uses existing data available to Garmin and shares information about what lies ahead on a specific route or road you are travelling. Data such as upcoming restaurants, rest rooms, or fuel pumps is shared on the watch for the route you are on. This could be very useful on cross country trips.
  • Climb Pro for runners and cyclists offers you insights about a mountaineous terrain. It breaks the terrain to give you elevation data and plan your climb runs through the terrain. Climb segments data allows you to plan your climb, based on the intensity of the effort needed. Climb data for upcoming or current climb segment is shared with the wearer of Fenix 7. On Fenix 7, the Climb Pro feature works much like a Fenix 6. The only difference is that on Fenix 6, you can only apply it on the preloaded course.
  • Future elevation plot works on Fenix 7 much like on the Fenix 6, except that on Fenix 6 it works on preloaded course data. Future elevation plot takes a course and shares elevation data through that course.
  • SkiView maps find an integration on the Fenix 7 watch. SkiView maps contain map data of over 2,000 Ski resorts from all over the world. It also contains names of runs and difficulty level data for each Ski resort so that you can plan your Ski trip as per your strength and interests.
  • You can also download cartography support for maps on Garmin Fenix 7.
  • Cycle maps get integrated on the device of Fenix 7. Cycle maps pull in maps from the community shared OpenStreetMap database and offers you maps to cycle through a course, area or terrain. The map data also offer insights into utilites like rest rooms and restaurants along a cycle map. This is a very useful feature for cyclists on the extended runs.
  • Smart trainer control feature also gets added on Fenix 7 watches. Your watch can connect to smart trainer programs with compatibility to protocols of Tacx, ANT+ FE-C. Smart trainer helps you conduct your training sessions and plan it based on intensity and resistance data.

Summary

So, is Fenix 7 worth spending an extra $150 over Fenix 6? We think Fenix 7 is very useful for Golf lovers, cyclists, marathon runners, runners, and hikers. There have been noticeable gains on the Fenix 7 for all these activities. On a broader level, the watch hardware has been boosted to afford better battery backup and on-device storage.

There is something for everyone with a Fenix 7 upgrade. The standard edition of Fenix 7 compares well with a Fenix 6 and makes a compelling case to buy for the incremental features for the training profiles.

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