Garmin’s Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 have been out for a long while now. However, around this time each year the question of which Garmin you should buy seems more pressing.
These watches are often available at a hefty discount in pre-Christmas sales periods, making them approachable for folks who could never stomach buying one at launch pricing.
Today I’m looking at the core differences between the flagship Fenix models from this generation and the last. Garmin Fenix 6 watches are available as part of tasty deals right now. But are they worth buying? At the right price, sure. Here are the key differences between Fenix 6 and Fenix 7 to help you weed out the deal-breakers
Standard Fenix 6 lacks maps, music
One of the biggest moves made in the Fenix 7 series was to make super-premium features standard across the range. The entry-level Fenix 7 watch has 16GB of internal storage and support for both music download/streaming and on-watch maps.
These features are missing in the Garmin Fenix 6 because it only has 64MB storage, and are added in the Fenix 6 Pro. It makes the base Fenix 6 hard to recommend at this point, unless the discount is truly unmissable.
Generational upgrade in heart rate hardware
The Fenix 7 has an Elevate v4 heart rate array, the Fenix 6 an Elevate v3 one. Garmin’s older design arranges the LEDs and photodiodes in a row, where the newer models has four photodiode blocks surrounding the LEDs, forming a circle.
While Garmin’s heart rate performance is affected by software updates, to an extent that made like-for-like comparisons tricky, we do find that many Elevate v4 watches now provide chest strap-like results. We usually no longer see heart rate overshoots, overestimation of hR during warm-up walks and the like.
Running Power not coming to Fenix 6
Accessory-free running power stats have just been added to the Fenix 7, but they do not appear to be making their way to the Fenix 6 series. This is where your running efforts are measured in watts, rather than by pace or heart rate, and it accounts for changes in terrain.
While the Fenix 6 can display running power stats, it needs a Garmin HRM-Pro chest band to calculate them. This is because vertical oscillation is a component, and it is tricky to measure this using a watch’s motion sensors, given the dramatic motion of the wrist during runs.
Some Fenix 7 models have better GPS
Garmin brought multi-band GPS to consumer watches with the Fenix 7 family. You’ll find it in the pricey Sapphire Solar models of the Fenix 7S, Fenix 7 and Fenix 7X.
This will improve tracking accuracy in difficult environments, such as when running in a city packed with tall buildings. However, performance is going to be closer between generations if you compare the Fenix 6 to the standard Fenix 7, which does not have Multi-Band GPS.
Golf and hiking get bonus features in the Fenix 7
Garmin has done a great job of keeping the Fenix 6 series updated, and has added new features that might have been kept as exclusives for the newer generation elsewhere. However, there are a few bits and pieces that are found in Fenix 7 watches but not Fenix 6 ones.
One of the newest is Next Fork, which shows you how far you are from the next twist in the road on the map screen, when tracking a suitable activity. This should be useful for hikers, trail runners, and just anyone running a race route they don’t know.
The Fenix 7 also has Virtual Caddie, a golf mode that helps you to choose a club based on the specifics of the hole and how far you are from it.