In 2020, the Fenix 7 didn’t rise, with Garmin instead opting to update the Fenix 6 with solar charging capabilities after debuting the feature on the Fenix 6X.
So once again our attention turns to the Fenix 7. How will the best outdoor watch get better?
We take a look at what the rumor mill has to say, and look to the Garmin watches that have launched since to get an idea of what may lie in store.
Garmin Fenix 7 release date
So when could we see a new Fenix? The Fenix 6 series was launched in August 2019 with the solar versions of the 6 and 6S landing about a year later in July 2020. The Fenix hasn’t been mentioned in rumors of new devices for 2021 as yet, so if it was to get a release this year, we’d wager it would land in September/October.
If we go back to the Fenix 5 series, that launched in January 2017 with the Fenix 5 Plus editions arriving in June 2018. Based on that, we’d say if Garmin is planning to launch a new Fenix this year, it’s going to be around that summer period.
As for pricing, we expect it to be similarly pricey to previous models with the Fenix 7X being the most expensive of the bunch. Garmin always puts its latest cutting-edge features on the X version in its Fenix range, and that invariably pushes the price up.
Pricing for the Fenix 6 range starts from around $599 and can go all the way up to $1149. We don’t really expect any change in that price setup when the new one turns up.
Improved screen tech
With the launch of the Venu and the Venu Sq, Garmin has shown it can make a sports watch with a color touchscreen display that lasts for more than a couple of days.
There’s been no indication that this is a route that Garmin will take with the Fenix, but it has at least shown that it’s capable of offering a more vibrant display on its watches and it may be looking to add this to its other ranges.
If it did add a Fenix with a color display, then it will have to ensure that it can still deliver the kind of battery performance numbers that makes it possible to steer clear of a charger for weeks as opposed to days.
It’s also worth noting that Venu battery life can only go for a week when not used in the always-on display mode.
Adding features like solar charging along with the battery saver and power manager modes have helped up battery performance as Garmin continues to swell the features that sit on board its outdoor watch. It could be the time to match up that rugged, high grade exterior with a more fitting display.
Nylon strap option
The Garmin Enduro is very much a Fenix 6X Solar in new clothes, but the nylon strap was a brand new look for Garmin – and we loved it.
The high quality, sweat-proof band ensures a good comfortable fit and helps maintain good pressure for the heart rate sensor – and it looks fab too.
It seems likely that Garmin will roll this out to the Fenix 6 – helping evaluate the look and comfort of its flagship outdoor watch range.
New recovery and training analytics
In 2020, Garmin acquired Firstbeat Analytics, the firm that has been providing heart rate based analytics for many of its watches and has also powered similar features for the likes of Huawei on its most recent smartwatches.
With a good relationship prior to the acquisition, we anticipate that Garmin will be quickly putting Firstbeat’s expertise to use to fuel the next generation of training and recovery insights. It could look at providing new metrics for top-end watches like the Fenix.
Polar has jumped ahead with FuelWise, which can be a useful tool for those ensuring they’re taking on the right amount of carbs and hydration for long activities. We’d like to see Garmin build in this space.
And the Garmin Enduro made strides in adapting VO2 Max for trail runners, which is something we’re certain the Fenix will achieve.
With the Fenix built for so many outdoor activities, there could be scope to better shape its analysis when the training terrain and environment step things up in the challenge department.
Improved mapping support
On-board mapping is one of the Fenix 6’s best features – although you need to go up to the Pro version to get it. The Fenix’s mapping skills are in our opinion a step up from what you’ll find on the likes of Polar, Suunto and Coros, but there’s certainly still room for improvement.
While we found it a very solid performer in built-up areas with sprawls of roads, it felt a little more lacking in the wilderness.
We’ve already seen moves to improve this with the software update Garmin rolled out in 2020 making it easier to push routes to a Garmin from a third-party app.
One of the first third-party apps to offer that support is Komoot, a mapping app that Polar offered integration with on its Grit X outdoor watch and new Polar Vantage V2 watches last year.
It’s an app that feels better designed for outdoor adventuring, and we’d be keen to see if that integration and support for Garmin’s Fenix watches could actually lead to offer more detailed mapping for those times you’re off the beaten track.
Improved safety features and LTE
When you’re out adventuring solo, it would definitely be useful to have a way to raise the alarm if you get into trouble.
Garmin has already rolled out incident detection and assistance safety features on many of its watches, including the Fenix 6.
It also recently acquired GEOS Worldwide, a company that specialises in providing emergency monitoring and incident response services. So it could well be looking to improve how those features work.
Those safety features that do exist on the Fenix right now are reliant on having your phone nearby to make use of them. Adding LTE into the mix would be a way of offering those features without the heavy reliance on your phone being nearby. Garmin has already offered LTE support on one version of its Vivoactive series watch.
Back in late 2019, there was some speculation that a Garmin 955 LTE, a successor to the Forerunner 945, was in the works. Usually what happens on the high-end running watch finds its way into the Fenix as well.
As we’ve seen on LTE smartwatches, adding that functionality comes at the expense of battery life, so Garmin will have to make sure the battery doesn’t take a huge hit as a result of its inclusion.
Animated workouts on Garmin Vivoactive 4
Looking to the watches that launched after the Fenix 6 series, the Garmin Venu and Vivoactive 4 series added new animated workouts you could follow on the watch.
The Fenix 6 is already equipped with automatic rep counting, so adding another training-centric feature would help to make it a better workout companion when you’re not climbing up mountains.
We’ve already seen that Garmin has tried to be consistent about the rolling out of new features across its extensive family of watches. While animated workouts do feel like something it’s aimed at more casual fitness folk, we think it would be a useful addition to the Fenix too. Especially if it arrives as a richer, improved version over the one that landed first on the Venu and Vivoactive.
Smarter gym tracking
This is a bit lower down on our list of things we’d like to see, but it would be nice if the next Fenix worked better as workout partner as it does out exploring.
We’ve seen automatic rep counting added, though it still does feel like a feature that’s very much a work in progress. More recently with Garmin’s Venu and Vivoactive watches, it’s brought animated workouts, though we are thinking of something more in the way of way of what Polar has developed with FitSpark.
That’s a feature that appears on its Vantage, Ignite and Grit X watches where exercises are suggested based on the types of activity logged and the kind of recovery needed in between workouts.
Understandably, it’s a feature that takes a few weeks of logging activity to really reap the benefits of the personalised cardio, strength or supportive training exercises.
It does work well enough to be of use and it feels like offering similar recommendations on Garmin’s Fenix watches would give it more reason to keep it on for gym sessions and actually put it to good use.