If the leaks are mainly correct, the fenix 7 series will be another incremental update (and the epix2, an AMOLED offshoot) – but I may finally want to go for one of those watches.
One of the reasons may be understandable for many, one goes against many wishes/criticisms one hears online.
Features over Features
Garmin has developed its watches very nicely; they are feature-packed so that a price-feature comparison goes in Garmin’s direction very easily.
If I have still preferred Suunto, it’s because I have a long-standing relationship with that company, as a user and external tester, and I have liked their designs and focus.
Garmin has been a little too Garmin, too mainstream, for my taste – and it didn’t help that their watches not only allow, but also demand, that everything be set on the watch, not in the app, where many things would be much easier to set up.
The fenix 7 series may change that; it sounds like settings (at least) should become editable in the ConnectIQ app. That would take care of one of my misgivings.
Garmin being the (much) more mainstream of course also means that they have a much more active “ecosystem” of developers (for ConnectIQ apps, not least).
Things with ActiveLook are still far from where I’d want them to be, but the Julbo EVAD-1 is already more usable with a Garmin watch than any other, and they have few reasons to create compatibility with anything else (given the dominance of Garmin).
Supersapiens, for example, can also work with Garmin watches already.
Solar charging, which was added to some of the fenix6 series models, still does not convince me, but it could help in longer outdoor pursuits; if it can now combine (sensibly) with sapphire glass, that would be nice to have.
Whether it will combine with sapphire glass and/or a touchscreen still remains to be seen; things are uncertain regarding this issue, so far.
The Thing: Touchscreen
What really makes me consider finally getting a fenix, now that we are reaching the fenix 7 generation, is the same new feature that many criticize: the possible introduction of a touchscreen.
Many people hate the very idea already. Their reason is understandable; touchscreens are problematic on outdoors devices, as they can easily cause erroneous behavior of the watch or simply make it unusable when they get wet.
But, BUT, if Garmin is half as good as Suunto or COROS when it comes to interaction via a touchscreen (plus buttons)–which I would very much expect!–, then the touchscreen should not be a problem in sports/outdoor use, it should be a real boon to interaction with maps on the watch.
Why? Because of Maps
My biggest dislike for the fenix watches (well, all Garmins with inbuilt maps, but I didn’t use maps enough on my Forerunner 945, the one Garmin I do have as my own watch, to care) has been with that: You get maps that you can even use for route suggestions right on your wrist, which should be interesting – but then, even just to pan left or right, up or down, or zoom, you need several button presses.
Compared to the interaction with maps on the Suunto 7 (or any other WearOS watch), that just didn’t do anything for me, except make me angry.
I’m hoping that a touchscreen will make that considerably easier. And in cases where I need to consult a map on a wristworn device, I will be dry, get the watch dry, take the time to consult the map well. At least, if interaction with it works more easily than it has done so far.
I’ll even take a touchscreen over solar charging, any day.
To date, I still prefer the Suunto 7, especially because of the maps, which have just been too fun and useful, over any other watch.
I don’t usually go on expeditions, won’t be gone too long now that we have a baby coming – and I managed a 24 hours hike with the Suunto 7, recharged over night!
The fenix 7 series still has a good chance of being crippled so that it cannot display Chinese characters and of having map material that makes it of little use in a place like China (not exactly the smallest place or one with the easiest geography), but since I cannot foresee a return to China anytime soon, I will need maps of the Alps much more, anyway.
So, let’s see what Garmin announces, how true the leaks are, and where we go from there.