In January 2022, Garmin unveiled the Fenix 7 range - its latest lineup of top-tier sports watches. The eight watches in the range all offer lots of new fitness training tools, improved heart rate monitoring, greatly improved mapping, and a refreshed design, but for some athletes, a watch in the older Fenix 6 range will be a better choice.
Although it'd now three years old, the Fenix 6 lineup has aged gracefully, and are still powerful multi-sports watches. In fact, in early 2022, Garmin issued a huge firmware update for the series, which adds profiles for sports including cyclocross and gravel biking, plus tweaks to make the interface more intuitive (such as an alert if you move too much while taking an SpO2 reading). They might not have the very latest hardware, but Fenix 6 watches are far from outdated.
Then there's the question of price. Watches in the Fenix 6 range certainly aren't cheap, but many retailers are offering significant savings now that the Fenix 7 lineup has arrived. The new watches are some of the company's most expensive to date, second only to the super-luxe new Garmin Epix.
If you've already made up your mind, then you can find the best prices on both the Fenix 7 and Fenix 6 lines right here. If not, read on for the full lowdown on all the key differences between the two.
Watch models and price
- 42mm, 47mm, and 52mm sizes
- Optional solar charging
- Optional sapphire crystal lens
First, it's important to know that the Fenix 6 and 7 aren't individual watches – they're ranges, with different sizes and specifications. At the time of writing, there are 13 Fenix 6 watches and eight Fenix 7 variations.
The Fenix 6 comes in three sizes – 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm – and there are multiple versions of each. The Pro editions have more internal storage, allow you to upload maps, and have Wi-Fi connectivity for faster data transfers.
The Solar editions have Garmin's Power Glass, which increases battery life by harvesting energy from sunlight throughout the day.
The Sapphire editions have tough sapphire crystal lenses rather than regular toughened glass, making them more resistant to scratches.
Here's how the Garmin Fenix 6 line stands in January 2022:
|Header Cell - Column 0||42mm case||47mm case||52mm case|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Fenix 6S||Fenix 6||-|
|Row 1 - Cell 0||Fenix 6S Solar||Fenix 6 Solar||-|
|Row 2 - Cell 0||Fenix 6S Pro||Fenix 6 Pro||Fenix 6X Pro|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||Fenix 6S Pro Solar||Fenix 6 Pro Solar||Fenix 6X Pro Solar|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||Fenix 6S Pro Sapphire||Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire||Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire|
The Fenix 7 is also available in 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm models. All of these are available in Solar, and Solar Sapphire versions, and the smaller two can also be fitted with standard Corning Gorilla Glass.
There are currently no Fenix 7 Pro watches, though this might change in the future. These are the different versions available right now:
|Header Cell - Column 0||42mm case||47mm case||52mm case|
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Fenix 7S||Fenix 7||n/a|
|Row 1 - Cell 0||Fenix 7S Solar||Fenix 7 Solar||Fenix 7X Solar|
|Row 2 - Cell 0||Fenix 7S Solar Sapphire||Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire||Fenix 7X Solar Sapphire|
- Both Fenix lines contain a range of watches at different price points
- Fenix 7 watches are more expensive than their Fenix 6 counterparts
Different watches in the Fenix 6 and 7 lines carry different price tags, with the basic models costing less than those with Sapphire crystal or Power Glass. However, all new Fenix 7 watches are more expensive than their older counterparts.
It's also worth bearing in mind that many retailers are now offering Fenix 6 watches at a substantial discount, so if price is your biggest concern then this might be your best option.
Garmin Fenix 7 watches start at $699.99 / £599.99 / AU$1,049 for the standard 42mm or 47mm version. The top-tier Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar is $999.99 / £859.99 / AU$1,499.
Garmin Fenix 6 watches start at $599.99 / £529.99 / AU$949 for the standard 42mm and 72mm versions, but you can often find them more cheaply, and Garmin itself has a sale on at the time of writing. The top-end Fenix 6X Sapphire is $849.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,399.
Design, display and battery life
- Fenix 7 has entirely metal face
- Different positioning of screws on watch case
- Fenix 7 heart rate monitor is in radially sealed glass
Both the Fenix 6 and 7 have a metal bezel and chunky lugs holding the quick-release strap in place, but look closely and you'll spot some differences. The lugs of Fenix 6 watches are made from resin, whereas those on the Fenix 7 are metal (either stainless steel or titanium, depending on the model). This metal is sandblasted and brushed for a smarter finish.
There's a new forged metal guard around the start button on the Garmin Fenix 7, which is designed to protect it from damage and help prevent accidental presses.
Watches in the Fenix 6 range have exposed screws on the bezel, while most Fenix 7 watches have screws on the lugs. This change helps make room for the larger solar cell in the solar and sapphire solar models. The exception is the 42mm Fenix 7S, which has a more streamlined design with no visible screws.
The Fenix 7 has a redesigned back as well, with the optical heart rate sensor now locked in radially sealed glass and protected by the metal case.
Whichever watch you choose, there's a wide range of different colors to choose from. Standard versions come with a silicone strap, but you can replace this with a leather, woven, or metal band purchased separately. Some Fenix 7 models come with an extra band so you can switch between the two for a different look.
The Garmin Fenix 7X has a flashlight that shines out of the top of the watch case. It contains both red and white LEDs, and can be used to help you see in dark conditions, or to make you more visible to others when you're running at night. Smaller Fenix 7 watches don't have a light.
- All watches have color memory-in-pixel screens
- No change in resolution between Fenix 6 and 7
- Fenix 7 has touchscreen
All watches in the Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 lines have color memory-in-pixel (MIP) displays. These aren't as bright as the AMOLED screens used by devices like the Garmin Venu 2 and Garmin Epix, but they use significantly less power. This results in longer battery life, which is a big advantage for watches built with extensive GPS use in mind.
The main difference is that the Fenix 7's display is touch-sensitive, whereas the Fenix 6 is controlled exclusively using the physical buttons around its bezel. If you'd prefer to stick with just the buttons, the Fenix 7's touchscreen can be deactivated by pressing the 'start' and 'down' buttons simultaneously, and by default it will be turn off while the watch is tracking an activity.
There's no increase in screen resolution for the Fenix 7. The resolutions for both series are 240 x 240 pixels for 42mm models, 260 x 260 pixels for 47mm models, and 280 x 280 pixels for 52mm models.
- Fenix 7 watches offer improved battery life
- Solar charging is much more efficient in Fenix 7
Battery life for Garmin Fenix watches can vary hugely depending on how often you're using GPS tracking, whether you're using all-day SpO2 monitoring, and (in the case of the Fenix 7X watches) whether you're using the flashlight frequently.
When used in the same conditions, watches in the Fenix 7 line offer considerably longer battery life than their Fenix 6 counterparts. Here are the figures for the standard 47mm versions.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Fenix 6||Fenix 7|
|Smartwatch mode||14 days||18 days|
|Battery saver smartwatch||48 days||57 days|
|GPS only||36 hours||57 hours|
|Max battery GPS||72 hours||136 hours|
|Expedition GPS||28 days||40 days|
When it comes to the solar editions, the difference is even greater. Garmin has equipped the Fenix 7 series with much larger solar cells, which can harvest up to twice as much energy for some watch models.
Here are the maximum battery life figures for the 52mm solar versions (without sapphire crystal). All of these times assume all-day wear with at least three hours outdoors in sunlight:
|Header Cell - Column 0||Fenix 6X Solar||Fenix 7X Solar|
|Smartwatch mode||24 days with solar||37 days with solar|
|Battery saver smartwatch||120 days with solar||1+ year with solar|
|GPS only||66 hours with solar||122 hours with solar|
|Max battery GPS||148 hours with solar||578 hours with solar|
|Expedition GPS||56 days with solar||139 days with solar|
Smartwatch and fitness features
- Fenix 7 can access Garmin Connect IQ Store directly
- Fenix 7 syncs settings between watch and Garmin Connect in real time
In terms of everyday, non-sports use, the Fenix 6 and 7 lines are very similar. In addition to wellness tools like all-day heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, there are women's health tools available in the Garmin Connect app and as optional watch widgets, relaxation reminders and breathing exercises.
Watches in both lines can receive smartphone notifications, and will alert you to incoming texts and calls. However, unlike the Garmin Venu 2, the Fenix 6 and 7 don't have microphones that allow you to answer calls from your wrist. You can, however, reject a call with a text message if you have an Android phone.
Both the Fenix 6 and 7 series let you control your smartphone's music player, and have internal storage for up to 2,000 songs. They also offer Garmin Pay, which allows you to make contactless purchases and access public transport. It's not as widely supported as Apple Pay or Google Pay, but if you're in the US then there's a good chance it's compatible with your bank.
There are a few differences, though. The Garmin Fenix 7 allows you to access the Garmin Connect IQ store and download extra widgets through the watch rather than using the mobile app.
Watches in the Fenix 7 also sync settings between the watch and the Garmin Connect mobile app automatically in real time. It's a small change, but one that makes fine-tuning its options a little more convenient.
- Fenix 7 watches have most accurate heart rate and GPS
- Fenix 7 line introduces new, more accessible training tools
- Fenix 7 watches have greatly improved mapping
All Fenix watches are packed with advanced fitness tracking tools for all kinds of athletes – particularly those who enjoy taking part in multiple sports, and who want to push themselves to achieve a new personal best.
The day before it unveiled the Fenix 7 series, Garmin issued an update for Fenix 6 watches that added support for lots of extra sports – from gravel cycling through to more unusual pastimes like Pickleball (opens in new tab). All of these tracking modes are also available on the Fenix 7, but it has lots of interesting new fitness features to offer as well.
First, there's the hardware. While watches in the Fenix 6 series have stood the test of time well, the Fenix 7 range have Garmin's most accurate heart rate monitor to date. They're also the most accurate when it comes to GPS, tracking your workouts accurately and providing excellent turn-by-turn and breadcrumb navigation.
Mapping received a big boost with the Fenix 7 series, which has a new map manager that makes it easier to organize them and download new ones over Wi-Fi. Watches in the line come pre-loaded with free Garmin maps, and there's a new navigation tool that allows you to see upcoming turns with distances to landmarks.
Another tool that's new for the Fenix 7 series is real-time stamina tracking. This lets you see how much gas you have left in the tank during a run or bike ride. If your stamina is running low, you might want to ease off the pace, but if you've still got plenty of energy left then you may choose to push yourself harder for the last part of your workout.
Another new feature for the Fenix 7 series is the ability to check your seven-day training load on your wrist. You'll get a lot more detail in the Garmin Connect app, but you can now see a bar chart showing your training load each day, the type of training (base, tempo, threshold, speed etc) represented by a color, and whether your tracked activities are having a positive impact on your fitness. You'll also see a number representing your training load that will help you judge if you're at risk of under- or over-training.
Watches in the Fenix 7 line can also display a visual race pace predictor, which estimates your time for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon based on your current fitness, complete with a line graph showing how that prediction has changed as a result of your recent training.
Both watches have a lot more than that to offer, though. In fact, there's too much for the scope of this article, so if you're still torn between the two then we recommend taking a look at our Garmin Fenix 6 review and Garmin Fenix 7 review to help make up your mind.
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