There is something about a Garmin watch that piques an athlete’s curiosity. It’s no-frills, trustworthy, durable. But the brand’s newest launch has made many sit up—there is so much more on offer, though at a steeper price.
Last month, Garmin launched the Fenix 7, Fenix 7 Solar, Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar and Epix. I tried out the Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, a premium activity tracker. Sturdy in design, with accuracy that cannot be faulted, it’s probably the best activity tracker you could get at this point.
It’s a smooth enough transition for anyone who has used a Garmin earlier, with the basic buttons in place; the novelty is a touch feature that can be turned off during activity.
The 24x7 fitness tracker can give you insights into your activity, recovery status, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, etc. This in itself is not unusual: Other fitness watches have similar features, though only the premium range offers recovery and oxygen level trackers.
What is absolutely great is the battery life. The smartwatch can run 18 days on a single charge (22 days if you combine solar charging) and up to 57-73 hours in GPS mode. It automatically uses solar power to charge the battery when you are in the sun. So morning runs or rides don’t sap the battery—something which is unique to this watch. The main solar panel runs around the watch face as a red line, and the display glass also soaks in energy from the sun.
The design is chunky and might not work for you if you like something sleek that can go with formals as well as athletic wear. Nor is Garmin a lifestyle watch. So, if you are looking for something flashy, super colourful or fun, this is not for you. The Sapphire glass screen is scratch-resistant, with the titanium body adding to the toughness. The watch is tested to US military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance. And it is comfortable. I wore it for three days straight and at no point during or between activities did it feel itchy or uncomfortable. Sleeping with it on could be a bit tricky, though, given the chunkiness.
The features I really like include Garmin’s trademarked body battery energy monitoring. This calculates energy level based on recent activity, sleep, heart rate and stress levels to tell you if you should take a day off, take it a bit easy or go full throttle. Stress monitoring, in fact, can be found in many wearables now, including those from Apple, Garmin and Fitbit.
There is also a sleep tracker which offers information on daily sleep, including REM and deep sleep, and gives you a sleep score. A trademarked pacepro feature lets you set a pacing strategy for select distances (5k, 10k, half or full marathon) and guides you during the race. There is also a recovery time adviser, a real-time stamina check, VO2 max readings, barometer and altimeter, compass and gyroscope, updated map and navigation tools, etc.
The Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar has built-in features for bike rides (indoor and outdoor), swims, duathlons and triathlons, cardio, strength (with visual guides for each exercise on the watch itself), as well as less mainstream activities like indoor climbing, bouldering, snowboarding, XC skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing, kayaking, surfing, and more.
The only downside is the price. At ₹93,990, it is one of the brand’s more premium watches (the Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar starts from ₹98,000). It makes sense to buy it if you are a serious athlete who loves data, does more than one sport or is training professionally to beat your previous time.