The Apple Watch Ultra may have convinced some outdoorsy types to switch from their Forerunner or Fenix, but Garmin could be about to fight back again with a flagship successor to its most powerful sports watch, the Garmin Epix 2.
According to rumors from The5KRunner and Gadgets & Wearables, a Garmin Epix 2 Pro is likely to arrive by the end of May, with the news coming courtesy of leaks from Garmin resellers and some recent regulatory filings.
And while the update will likely be a relatively minor one, a few new features could make it an even stronger Apple Watch Ultra rival than the current Epix 2. Firstly, the Epix 2 Pro could get a larger display that matches the 1.4-inch AMOLED we've seen on the Garmin Forerunner 965.
That would still put Garmin's new watch behind the Watch Ultra's glorious 1.92-inch screen (which has a brightness of 2,000 nits), but the Epix 2 Pro could trump its Apple rival in other ways.
On the fitness-tracking front, for example, the new Epix will likely pick up many of the features we've seen more recent on the Forerunner 965, like Training Load Ratio and Running Dynamics. The latter lets you track and analyze your running technique without needing an extra sensor like an HRM heart-rate monitor.
Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like the Epix 2 Pro will come with any new sensors that we haven't seen on its predecessor of the Garmin Fenix 7, but the rumors suggest that a flashlight could be included on the largest model. Speaking of which, it looks likely that the Epix 2 Pro will also be available in three case sizes (42mm, 47mm, and 51mm), with the current Epix 2 only available in the 47mm option.
Of course, these are all just rumors right now, but the imminent arrival of an Epix 2 Pro, with some relatively modest updates, currently looks more likely than a Garmin Fenix 8, which we aren't expecting to see until early 2024.
Naturally, the Epix 2 Pro is expected to be pricey, with The5KRunner predicting prices of €950 (around $1,050 / £840 / AU$1,575) for the 42mm version, €1,050 (around $1,150 / £930 / AU$1,740) for the 47mm version and €1,150 ($1,270 / £1,015 / AU$1,900) for the 51mm model.
If you want one of the most premium sports watches around, there will also be the usual Sapphire versions available for a small markup when the Epix 2 Pro likely arrives in late May or mid-June.
Analysis: A small but promising Epix update
Just as Apple has moved into Garmin territory with the Watch Ultra, the best Garmin watches have similarly adopted smartwatch features to make them better all-rounders – and the Garmin Epix 2 Pro could be its most powerful so far.
Of course, it may well be overkill for many people, with beginner-friendly models like the Venu 2 or Forerunner 45 sitting at the opposite end of its lineup. But if you're looking for a high-end sports watch and tend to do most of your exercise in the gym, rather than on day-long hikes, then the new Epix could be a good alternative to the Garmin Fenix 7.
We still rate the Apple Watch Ultra as one of the best smartwatches you can buy, and it could be the better choice if you're predominantly looking for a smartwatch that has tons of apps and a stunning screen.
But where Garmin watches still come into their own is with the depth of their fitness features, like the excellent Morning Report, and the Epix 2 Pro will likely get many of the ones we've seen on the Forerunner 965. Garmin watches also tend to have more buttons, which are better than touchscreens in many fitness scenarios, and connect to a huge range of training equipment using ANT+ and Bluetooth BLE sensors.
Given that our Garmin Epix 2 review called it "the ultimate sports watch" that is "fantastic for navigation", we're looking forward to seeing its rumored Pro successor and taking it for a spin in our cross-training sessions.