So, this is the brand new Garmin Fenix 7 Pro. That’s right, they’ve now added a pro model to the Fenix 7 lineup. So, what does that Pro actually mean? Well, the Fenix 7 Pro has a brand new Next Generation heart rate sensor, which is supposed to deliver even higher accuracy.
They’ve also upgraded the memory pixel display with something that’s a lot brighter and has a lot more contrast. There’s also new training feedback with new Hill score and endurance score metrics. There are new shaded relief map overlays, and get this, there are also weather map overlays for stuff like rain, cloud cover, and wind. But there’s even more.
So, Garmin has always had three different sizes of the Fenix lineup, going all the way back to the Fenix 5. But with each release, there’s always just one feature that was reserved just for the largest excise models, the latest being the very useful dedicated LED flashlight that was only available on the Fenix 7x. But with all three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pros, all of them get the dedicated LED flashlight, and an improved flashlight at that.
Now, the Fenix 7 Pro isn’t the only new watch that Garmin is launching today. They also have their new Epix Pro lineup with many of the same features that are being introduced on the Fenix 7 Pro.
And in this Fenix 7 Pro review, we’ll go over all the new software features, like the new map overlays. I’ll be going into a lot of detail with the new endurance score and Hill score training feedback features.
All the little tweaks and additions to the user interface. And we’ll talk about the flashlight and how that’s changed from the Fenix 7x. And of course, we’ll talk about real-world sports performance in regards to GPS accuracy, with a big focus, of course, on heart rate accuracy with that brand new 5th generation heart rate sensor.
But I also wanted to talk about if you’re someone who’s now considering getting into the Fenix lineup, which one you should get, the original Fenix 7 or the Pro model. Because the originals have actually been discounted quite a bit. But I also wanted to talk about if you already own a Fenix 7, whether the Pro is worth the upgrade.
Design And Sizes:
Alright, so with all that, let’s get into everything new with the new Fenix 7 Pro lineup. So, first up, just like the original Fenix 7s, there are three sizes to choose from: the Fenix 7s Pro at 42 millimeters, the Fenix 7 Pro at 47 millimeters, and the largest Fenix 7x Pro at 51 millimeters. And the dimensions and weight are basically exactly the same as the original Fenix 7, so there’s really no difference there.
The one in particular that I’ve been testing is the 47-millimeter Fenix 7 Pro, and this is how it looks on my 185-millimeter circumference wrist. And I don’t have the 42-millimeter or the 51-millimeter Fenix 7 Pros on me, but this is how the original Fenix 7s look on my wrist. And then, this is how the 51-millimeter Fenix 7x looks.
Just like before, there are both stainless steel models with a Gorilla Glass lens, and there are also titanium models with a sapphire lens. They do have just one 42-millimeter version that has a stainless steel bezel with a sapphire lens, but the reason they have that option is just that they wanted a particular finish on that bezel.
And with the original Fenix 7 Series, there was a difference when it came to the satellite chipset as well as the internal storage between the stainless steel models versus the titanium models.
But with this Fenix 7 Pros, there’s no difference here; where all of them get the multi-band satellite chipset, and all of them do also get 32 gigabytes of storage. And then, all of them have solar charging.
Now, what’s kind of interesting, though, is that they aren’t increasing the price of these new Pro Models; they’re actually the same price as the original Fenix 7s when they first came out. So, the 47 and 42-millimeter stainless steel models are around $799, the 47 and 42-millimeter titanium Sapphire models run $899, and then the largest Fenix 7x is $899 for the stainless steel models and $999 for these Sapphire titanium models.
For the hardware, the first big thing that they upgraded is the memory and pixel display with this Next Generation display that has a much brighter backlight than before, and it also has much more contrast, and the colors just pop a lot more too.
Now, what’s nice about this new display too is that it’s supposed to be more power-efficient, so you’re getting a display that gets a lot brighter without really taking a hit on battery life.
Another nice thing about this new brighter display is in regards to Sapphire lenses. So, Sapphire lenses are awesome for their scratch resistance, but one drawback to those is that they aren’t quite as clear as Gorilla Glass, and this was kind of noticeable with the original Fenix 7s.
It’s not like it made a huge real-world difference, but it was noticeable in some situations. But this new display kind of solves that issue because it’s just so much brighter than before.
Another trick with this new display is that the Fenix 7 Pros now have an auto-brightness feature where it’s designed to adjust the brightness based on your lighting conditions. And get this, they actually use the solar panel as the light sensor itself to make those adjustments. That’s kind of neat.
What I found, though, is that even with the highest brightness setting when you’re using the auto-brightness feature, the display can seem a bit dim in some scenarios. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not so good. And I think there are probably some tweaks that could be done to make the auto-brightness feature adapt a little bit better.
So, if you’re finding it to be not as bright as you need it to be, I’d suggest just go ahead and turning that setting off and then using the manual brightness setting like before, where you can really see the full glory of that new display.
5th Generation Heart Rate Sensor:
And then, another big upgrade with the Fenix 7 Pros is a brand new 5th generation heart rate sensor. And the biggest change you’ll notice is that the surface area is much larger than before with three times the amount of LEDs, and this allows for a much larger area where it can take samples.
But along with that, the sensor itself also sits just a hair taller than the previous generation, so it sits deeper into your skin for better contact. But it’s actually not noticeable when you’re wearing it.
And in addition, there are also some metallic contact points that surround the entire sensor, and then it basically looks like during just normal everyday use, it uses the two middle sensors. And then, during workouts, it fires up the outer LEDs for higher accuracy in those scenarios.
The previous generation’s Elevate heart rate sensor was a pretty good sensor, but it could sometimes struggle with some activities that pose challenges for wrist-based optical or highway sensors, like mountain biking, weight training, as well as high-intensity interval training.
And that’s a big goal with those new sensors: to deliver higher accuracy with those kind of activities. And don’t worry, we’ll be diving really deep into how it actually performs here in just one bit.
Upgraded LED Flashlight with Various Strobe Patterns:
Another new feature, at least for the 47 and the 42-millimeter Fenix 7 Pros, is that they’ve now added the dedicated LED flashlight that was first introduced to the Fenix 7x. And I got to tell you, folks, that this is easily one of my favorite features that’s come out in a watch in a long time.
In fact, it’s the reason that I’ve used the Fenix 7x as well as the Enduro 2, even though I tend to prefer a smaller watch. It’s really that good!”
But now all three sizes have the flashlight. Now, when Garmin first introduced the flashlight with the Fenix 7x, they actually kind of wanted to make it subtle and blend in with the case. So the lens is actually a little cloudy or tinted, I guess you would say.
And with the Enduro 2, has the flashlight as well, but they weren’t as concerned with hiding it on that model. So you’ll notice that the lens is clear, and thus the flashlight is actually brighter on the Enduro 2 versus the Fenix 7x. And that’s what they’ve done now too with the Fenix 7 Pros.
They just chose to use a clear lens rather than hide it, so it’s a slightly brighter flashlight than what was found on the original Fenix 7x. But they’ve also changed the LED configuration around slightly, where the LEDs are now closer together.
And I’d have to guess that the reason for this is that it fits easier into the smaller case sizes. But with the largest Fenix 7x, it actually has a wider lens, which allows for a wider beam.
And then, just like before, you can quickly access the flashlight with a quick double press of the upper left-hand button. And there are also settings here where you can adjust the brightness. And then, you can also shift it into a red color for use at night, which is supposed to be easier on the eyes.
But there are also different strobe patterns that you can use, like a blitz mode, a beacon mode, a pulse mode, a blink mode, and a custom mode. And you can even utilize the strobe feature during running activities, where you can set it to match your cadence. So, this is especially useful for all those late-night or early-morning runs, just for increased awareness.
They’re also introducing some new bands with the Fenix 7 Pro lineup. So, first of all, they have these little notches now on all the bands, which are designed to help them conform around the wrist a little bit better. But they also have these new two-tone bands that come on some of the models, and they have expanded the aftermarket band options with some of those two-tone designs.
And when it comes to battery life, the Fenix 7 Pro is basically the same as the original Fenix 7. So, you’re still getting that great battery life that comes with memory and pixel or transflective display technology.
But for a real-world example, for recording outdoor activities, on this hike, I was using the stock settings straight out of the box, using the auto-brightness setting for the display. I was using wrist-based heart rate, and I had it locked into the multi-band satellite system mode.
And another note is that it was a pretty sunny day, and also a very pretty day at that. And it was right in line with their battery claim, if not exceeding it just slightly.
And then, one more thing in regards to battery life is that the Fenix 7 Pros come with a USB-C charging cable now, versus the USB type A that was found before, with the other end being a standard Garmin charging port.
Software Updates: Shaded Relief Overlays and Weather Maps:
And then, on the software side of things, there are now new shaded relief overlays on the map page. And this help add a lot of context to the map page by showing you which areas may be steeper than others.
Contour lines are already super helpful, but it may not be obvious at a quick glance which areas may have steep terrain. And this shaded relief overlay just helps you visualize your terrain a bit easier.
But if you don’t want to have these shaded relief overlays on your map page, you still do have the option to disable them if you’d like and just use contour lines. But I did find them to be incredibly useful.
New Map Page Layouts: Split-Screen and Perimeter Layouts:
And then, another new feature with the map page are new layouts. So, you still have your layout options where you can have a completely clean map page if you like, and you can also have it with one or two different data field overlays.
But now, there’s this new split-screen layout where you can have three different data fields on the left with a map page on the right. And then, there’s also another quite neat layout they have called a perimeter layout, where you can have up to six data fields that surround the outside of the map. And this is definitely a cool layout for all of us data freaks out there who want plenty of data but also want to view the map at the same time.
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Weather Map Overlays for Precipitation, Cloud Cover, Temperature, and Wind:
And yet another map-related feature and this is a pretty cool one, folks, are new weather map overlays for stuff like precipitation, cloud cover, temperature, as well as wind. So, what happens here is that in the weather widget, if you press the upper right-hand button, you now have these options to display different overlays.
So, if there’s rain around your area, those will display just like so. And then the same thing goes for cloud cover. And then, with temperature, it indicates temperatures with different colors, and it also shows the actual temperature in those areas. And with wind, it also shows arrows with the wind direction. I do think that the labels, though, could be a bit larger with both temperature as well as wind.”
And another thing I’d like to see is the information scale down a bit more at narrower zoom levels. So, like if you zoom in closer than a five-mile zoom range, you may not actually see the label. So, it’d be cool if they just kind of scaled down.
Considerations and Limitations of Weather Map Overlays:
Now, with both the shaded relief overlays as well as the weather map overlays, this will be a big difference between the Epix Pros and the Fenix 7 Pros, just because the displays in the Fenix 7 Pros don’t have as much resolution. So, if you’re curious about how these differ, go ahead and check out my Fenix 7 Pro versus my Epix Pro comparison video for all those details.
But there is one important thing to note, though, about these weather map overlays. They’re currently only available through the weather widget. These aren’t available on the map page during an activity.
And I did mention this is Garmin, and I think they realize it could be better. But one reason for this is that there’s a lot of information that has to be pulled down and drawn on top of the map that can constantly change orientation.
So, it’s likely really taxing in terms of processing power. So, I think there are just some limitations with this feature at the moment.
However, that does lead us straight into the next feature, which you’ll actually need during an activity to access those weather map overlays. And that’s a new recent menu function when you long-press the lower right-hand button.
Recent Menu Function and Accessing Weather Map Overlays During Activities:
So, before, when you long-press the lower right-hand button, the default behavior was it would go back to the watch face, and then you can scroll through to access all your widgets. But now, it brings up the most recent apps or widgets that you’ve accessed.
And I found this to be incredibly convenient, especially since it really is your most recent apps in order of which one you just used. You can still set the hotkey function, though, for the lower right-hand button to go back to the watch face if you’d like.
And additionally, you could set up any other hotkey combination to access your recent apps if you’d like.
Training And Performance:
Regarding training and performance feedback, a new metric called endurance score is being introduced. This metric focuses on your ability to sustain efforts over longer durations.
While data points like VO2 max and training load are valuable, they are more specific. The endurance score combines these metrics with your training history to assess your performance during longer activities.
The great thing about this feature is that it caters to all types of athletes. Unlike VO2 max, which is primarily beneficial for runners and cyclists, the endurance score works for anyone as long as the heart rate is recorded.
Whether you’re skiing, hiking, kayaking, weight training, or rock climbing—activities where VO2 max or training load may not be as useful—the endurance score remains applicable. Engaging in longer activities can significantly impact your score.
Interestingly, you don’t necessarily need to undertake excessively long activities to maintain or improve your score. Consistent training at higher loads can also positively contribute to your score.
For instance, one week resulted in a score of 92.52 with a total training time of 12 hours and 39 minutes, and a training load of 889. On another week, the score was 90.85, with a lower training time of 7 hours and 39 minutes but a higher training load of 1333. These examples illustrate how longer training sessions can increase your score, while consistent training can help maintain it.
It’s worth noting that your performance also plays a role in the endurance score. During a lengthy hike, the score may decrease if your performance is subpar. Simply engaging in long activities doesn’t guarantee a higher score.
The focus is on your ability to sustain efforts over time. Theoretically, there is no upper limit to the score, except for human potential. Elite triathletes, as a rough benchmark, may hover around the 11,000 to 12,000 range.
For first-time Garmin users, it will take a couple of weeks to establish a baseline. You’ll need to use the watch for a few weeks to receive feedback. Existing Garmin users will have their score based on the last 28 days of training, and it will continue to update over time.
Another training feedback metric introduced with the Fenix 7 is the hill score. This metric assesses your climbing ability during running, trail running, or hiking (not intended for cycling).
It provides an overall hill score ranging from 0 to 100, with classifications from recreational to elite. You can delve into the score to learn more about your hill endurance (long-term aerobic ability) and hill strength (high aerobic or anaerobic efforts on hilly or steep terrain).
The hill score focuses solely on climbing and doesn’t factor in descending or running power. It combines the time spent climbing, total elevation gain, and intensity or exertion. As an example, starting with a hill score of 41, a three-and-a-half-mile hike with 1,790 feet of elevation gain resulted in a score of 45, with a hill endurance score of 18 and a hill strength score of 32.
It’s important to note that you won’t see your hill score or endurance score update in real-time during an activity. These updates occur after you save your activity.
The Fenix 7 Pros offer an extensive list of sports profiles, similar to the original Fenix 7. In addition to common activities like running, cycling, pool and open water swimming, triathlon, and various gym profiles, there are numerous outdoor recreational profiles, boating profiles, hunting and fishing profiles, tactical profiles, and jump master profiles, among others.
With the launch of the Fenix 7 Pros, over 30 new profiles are being added, with a particular focus on team sports. Contact sports like
And when it comes to GPS accuracy as I was mentioning earlier, all of these come with a multi-band satellite chipset. And they also come with their Auto Select or sat IQ mode, where it’s able to automatically switch between different satellite modes based on the quality of the satellite signal.
So, like if you’re out in the wide open where you have a clear view of the sky, it’ll likely use a lower power mode. But if you’re under some really heavy tree cover or around some really tall buildings where getting a satellite signal is a little bit tougher, that’s where it may switch to a higher accuracy mode.
And in regards to accuracy, the Fenix 7 Pros are just like the original Fenix 7s, where they’re very accurate. I think at this point in time, Garmin is absolutely one of the leaders when it comes to accuracy. And I had no issues at all with the dozens of activities that I did with it. And I should also mention that the Fenix 7 Pro did great with elevation gain as well.
And then the same thing goes for the finer detail, the GPS tracks. They’re totally rock solid. And that’s for activities out in the wide open. Tracks on tight corners and switchbacks are nice and crispy. And it also did really well under heavy tree cover. And I think at this point, Garmin has things pretty dialed in the satellite accuracy department.
Heart Rate Accuracy:
For heart rate accuracy, there’s an interesting aspect to consider with the Fenix 7 Pro. It features a new fifth-generation heart rate sensor, designed to be significantly more accurate than its predecessor. Now, let’s evaluate its performance in different scenarios.
During an indoor ride comprising intervals and steady-state sections, there was an anomaly at the beginning, possibly due to the chest heart rate app being dry or malfunctioning. However, once that is disregarded, the Fenix 7 Pro aligned well with the optical arm heart rate sensor and the other watch I wore. Throughout the rest of the workout, it delivered excellent responsiveness and consistency.
Moving on to a trail run, which poses additional challenges due to the rough terrain. The Fenix 7 Pro performed admirably, with only a minor drop in heart rate accuracy at one point. Overall, it remained solid.
Taking the test outdoors for road biking introduced further difficulties for a wrist-based optical heart rate sensor. Factors like gripping the handlebars and road vibrations impact accuracy.
However, the Fenix 7 Pro handled these challenges remarkably well. Although there was a slight delay in capturing the rising heart rate initially, which can happen with wrist-based sensors, it quickly stabilized. While there were a few minor blips, the overall performance was quite good.
Now, let’s up the difficulty with mountain biking, which, along with weight training, is one of the toughest activities for wrist-based heart rate sensors to track accurately. Constant gripping of the handlebars and the watch bouncing on the wrist due to rough terrain caused a few inconsistencies.
The elevation graph revealed that the Fenix 7 Pro excelled during climbing but showed a decrease in accuracy during descent. However, it quickly recovered and resumed tracking heart rate effectively.
When it comes to weight training, wrist-based optical heart rate sensors face challenges in maintaining accuracy. The Fenix 7 Pro demonstrated some inaccuracies during specific exercises like shoulder flies and battle rope workouts. However, it performed well during other intervals towards the end.
Overall, the Fenix 7 Pro proves to be a significant upgrade from the original Fenix 7. With its next-generation heart rate sensor, enhanced display, and the inclusion of a flashlight across all sizes, it further strengthens the Fenix lineup. The battery life remains the primary differentiating factor between the sizes, allowing anyone to benefit from the features regardless of wrist size.
Interestingly, the original Fenix 7 models have seen substantial price reductions recently. Although the Fenix 7 Pro brings notable improvements, the discounted prices of the original models make them an attractive option.
They offer exceptional value, with advanced sports tracking capabilities, durable build quality, comprehensive mapping features, solar charging, sapphire lens options, and access to new software features through updates.
The Fenix 7 Pro may be worth considering if you prefer the smaller 47 or 42-millimeter versions and desire the flashlight feature. However, if you primarily engage in endurance sports or cardio-based activities or prefer using an external heart rate strap for more accurate readings, the original Fenix 7 with its good heart rate sensor may suffice. These are just my thoughts, and I’m eager to hear your opinion. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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