The new Garmin epix is effectively a Garmin fenix 7, but with an AMOLED display. There are subtle differences between the two (flashlight, size and power options, price etc) and for most people it will be hard to decide which is the right model to purchase.
Those who really do need a Garmin fitness watch will, however, know what they need and their decision will be based on the sports they enjoy, the battery life they need and the amount they are willing to spend. The epix I am reviewing here is £799 which is a lot of money and only the sapphire titanium editions (£899) and Sapphire – Black Titanium with Chestnut Leather Band (£999) top it in the range. Please do not consider the £999 option as you are paying for a leather band which is not overly impressive and especially so at £100.
On the fenix 7 side you can pay between £599 and £1,049 from a huge range, but comparatively the epix is approx £150 to £200 more expensive. I am not going to go into all of the differences because I would be here for some time (you would get bored) and most of the changed features are not too important, but the display on the epix is, to me, the reason why the epix shines above the fenix.
Smartwatches and fitness watches are rarely devices that can be worn daily without the sense that they are not real watches. Garmin has tried to address this with the crazily expensive MARQ range, up to £2,249, and so has TAG, but neither offers the sense that the pricing is worth the relatively limited time they are useful for. £2,249 for a very well made watch that will last two decades is justifiable, a fitness watch that will last five years is not.
So, the pricing is high for the epix and then I think about the Apple Watch, and the fact that there is a premium for ‘stainless steel’, a type of metal that is standard for all watches from £50 upwards. The Apple Watch can easily reach £600 and up in stainless steel with 4G etc, but I am not prepared to say it is expensive because it is so amazingly useful and offers so much utility, especially 4G which you don’t get with Garmin.
I have been using the epix for three days and I must say that I have been impressed in almost every area. It has a premium feel, the battery life is superb (six days always on AMOLED display- hello Apple?) and the fitness tracking is so far ahead of most of the competition that it is almost painful.
The display, however, is to me everything that puts it streets ahead of the fenix line. All of a sudden I can view the metrics comfortably on the watch itself, I can take full advantage of the myriad of third party watch faces and I can genuinely enjoy all of the features it offers. I love the fenix line, but there was always a sense to me that the display was holding what was underneath back all of the time. It was a bit like viewing a work of art through a steamy window. It’s still great but a struggle to enjoy.
Think of the epix as the fenix with a better screen and that is about all you need to know. This does not mean that it is for everyone and the battery life is shorter than the fenix by a margin, but at six days it is still easily enough for me. The fixed strap pins are a pain, but I managed to remove mine thanks to the various watch tools I own, and now I can add any strap I like which helps with wearability. This is a big watch and should not be suitable for daily wear, but I have had no problems so far.
For now, this is staying on my wrist and I am already exercising a lot more. It is staying on my wrist for now. For now…