High Style, High Performance! The Ultimate Sports Watch?

By Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Garmin Epix (Gen 2) Sapphire Titanium White ($1000)



Introduction/First Impressions


Sam: The Epix Gen 2 is the pinnacle of Garmin sports smart watches featuring a titanium bevel, 70g weight, every Garmin feature imaginable, long battery life, and for the first time in a top end Garmin, a high resolution AMOLED display.  At $1000 its design, features, and performance clearly make it both a high style and high performance option that has not left my wrist for a minute since Garmin sent the sample for test. With my testing and now Jeff’s, we have had it on wrist for all day and all our running  for several months and are ready to provide a full overview of this remarkable watch

The Epix is in all respects a Fenix 7 with a different display. It features an AMOLED display that essentially “lights up” instead of using a combination of trans reflectivity and backlighting as the Fenix uses. 


The Epix is unlike other AMOLED watches (Apple Watch, Wear OS such Suunto 7, etc..) in that my testing has shown that Garmin has managed to conquer the 2 major weaknesses of such watches: battery life and legibility in bright light compared to transflective based watches such as the Fenix.  While not quite at the incredible battery life of the most recent Fenix or COROS Vertix 2 it is far more than adequate for even ultra racing (up to 25 hours battery in Best Multi Band Mode) and in everyday use it has orders of magnitude longer battery life than other AMOLED watches as I saw between up to 20 days with the display set to light when tilted and up to 9 days with the dim Always On watch face activated, again tilt to light fully. And when the night is young or light dim, unlike transflective display watches, you will get a crystal clear view of your activity data, notifications, time and more.


More remarkably in those daylight conditions where the transflective displays are mediocre such as with bright sun at your back or dawn or dusk, I found a far more consistent view of my data on the run. 

Indoors, at dusk, and at night the view is vibrant.

In bright sun with the trans reflective titled just right, sure the Fenix type display will outperform but the Epix will be more than adequate and is always consistent in legibility, regardless of light conditions and especially as shown below with bright sun at your back.

Of course the Epix is loaded with every Garmin sports tracking, everyday use feature you come to expect from the brand and includes mapping and navigation on the high resolution 416 x 416 screen (the Apple Watch is 430 x 352 by comparison) and we also note that the Fenix 7 screen is considerably lower resolution at 260 x 260. 

This higher resolution is quite frankly most noticed in everyday mode via the watch face and widgets while on the run the high resolution translates to sharper digits on what is after all a non transflective screen that is lit from behind and does not take advantage of ambient light.



Jeff V:  Having reviewed the Fenix 5X, Fenix 5 Plus and have been wearing the Fenix 6S Pro for the past 2.5 years.  The Fenix 6S Pro has been an amazing watch, but for some time, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the Fenix 7 and very few details or timelines were available (none really).  Eventually we started to hear some rumblings, plus mention of the release of the EPIX 2 with AMOLED display.  Being so focused on Fenix and sort of dismissive of AMOLED screens for a serious outdoor adventure watch because of battery life concerns, I barely paid attention to the Epix.  However, after conversations with Garmin and attending their product release webinar, I learned that the Epix is essentially a Fenix 7 with a fun, vivid AMOLED screen AND 20-30 hours of GPS range/6 days average daily all around use.  I was almost in disbelief.  


Offered in only one size, 47mm, the same as the mid sized Fenix, the 1.3” AMOLED screen is a masterpiece.  It is bright, easy to read and only in the most blinding sunshine is it less easy to read than the normal transflective display found in the Fenix line, but only slightly less so and still very easy to read.  For any other condition outside of direct sunlight on the brightest days, the Epix is much easier to read, be it running at night, mornings, evenings, shady sections of trail and especially just daily wear.


Sam/Jeff

  • The first watch with any light condition consistent legibility: on the run outside (night, bright sun, in and out of shadows) and in daily use (indoors)

  • Superb battery life not only for a GPS watch but especially for an AMOLED watch on the order of 2 x 4 times any other due to its “light bulbs” vs transflective display we have tested: 

  • Highly legible maps and data fields not only in  brightness but also in resolution: 

  • Highly accurate multi network satellite tracking: 

  • Improved wrist heart rate accuracy, no weird high cadence lock spikes

  • Very quick off route indication (60 feet or less) superior to competitors by a big margin 

  • Titanium version a very light 70g, relatively thin, and comfortable (even sleeping)

  • Complete Garmin training and every day ecosystem

  • Touchscreen is useful for everyday use and allows rapid map panning 

  • Map download/access:


Cons

  • Obviously at $900 – $1,000, a super premium price point.
  • Course builder can be confusing to use, requiring extra steps for each selected legs compared to some although improved. No indication on map app of the direction of travel selected. Sam
  • Compared, to Polar, weak Sleep and Overnight Recovery module Sam
  • Surprised there is no LTE capability at this price point: Jeff
  • Would be great to see 3 size options as with Fenix line: Jeff


Specs:



Features:

The features of the Epix 2 are practically endless as shown below!



Key New Features as  compared to Fenix 6 series:


  • Amoled Display

  • Worldwide Downloadable TopoActive maps using WiFi (Sapphire model comes with pre-loaded maps for your region)

  • New Garmin Elevate 4 optical HR Sensor with glass cover

  • Multi Band Dual Frequency GPS for Sapphire edition

  • Touchscreen

  • Ability to configure activity data fields from phone app

  • Realtime Stamina Feature

  • Race Predictor

  • Health Snapshot with HRV Data

  • Button Guards 

  • Garmin Connect IQ store from watch (limited)

  • Pre Loaded Skiing and Golf Maps

  • Garmin SkiView to include resort names and run names

  • XC Ski Trail Maps

  • Up Ahead Feature (distance to pre-defined points such as aid stations)

  • Graphical Charts for Data Fields (which can be easily scrolled when viewing such as in widgets)

  • Map Manager for on the go map downloads

  • Custom sleep manager settings


Official Garmin Compare Epix (gen2), Fenix 7 Standard, Forerunner 945, Enduro


Differences between Epix and Fenix 7 and the 2 Epix models:  


Jeff V: Outside of the glaringly obvious AMOLED display, the functionality/features between the 7 series watches and the Epix is essentially identical, though there are a few minor differences of note.  Solar is available on the Fenix 7 series in all 3 sizes, with improved solar efficiency over the previous 6 solar versions.  Additionally, the Fenix 7X (and only the 7X) feature a built in LED flashlight that is similarly handy such as the light on a smartphone would be.  Then of course there is the difference in battery life, with the Epix predicted at 30 hours using GPS only, or 24 hours with all satellites and 6 days on average, which is slightly less than the smaller Fenix 7S and roughly ⅓ of the 7X.  I think for the majority of users, this is plenty of battery life for typical day to day training, at least it is for me, as I personally do not run/exercise for 30 hours at a time and do not mind charging my watch every 4-6 days.  Not to mention, the battery life on the Epix is still an improvement over the 6S Pro that I have been using for the past 2.5 years. 


Build Quality, Fit, Size, Style:  

Jeff V: The build quality of the Epix is top notch and styling is exactly like a Fenix, with a rugged protective bezel in either steel or titanium.  As we have become accustomed to on the Fenix line, the watch band is Garmin’s quickfit with an endless array of options from the most common silicone (in a variety of colors), to leather, titanium, nylon and metal.  The size of the watch is identical to the mid size Fenix 7 with a 47mm case size, 1.3” screen, weighing in at just 70 grams for the titanium/sapphire model (76 grams for the steel version).  


Because of my small wrists, the smaller 42mm sized Fenix is more ideally sized, but the lighter weight of the titanium version Epix only adds 7 grams of weight over the 6S.  Because of the lighter weight, the larger size of the watch does not feel overly large, dense or bulky and is in fact surprisingly quite comfortable.  In contrast, the same size Fenix 5 Plus weighed in at 89 grams and the 5X was 99 grams and I was almost ALWAYS aware when either of those two watches were on my wrist, but I mostly forget that I am wearing the Epix, as it is exceptionally comfortable and light for the size.  The only time I really notice the added size is occasionally it catches in a sleeve or when putting on a backpack.  Comfort is also reasonable for sleeping, but in general, unless I am testing/reviewing, I prefer to sleep unencumbered by wearing a watch.  If I had a choice, 

I would have taken my normal conservative approach and ordered black, but Garmin sent the white version and it has quickly grown on me and find it to be quite classy looking.  The Amoled display combined with the Titanium bezel, this is in my opinion the most sleek, modern and classiest looking watch out there.

Left: Fenix 6S Pro Right: Epix 2


AMOLED Screen with Touch: 

Jeff V:  This is what sets the Epix apart from the Fenix and all other watches, to say that I am impressed is an understatement.  After seeing many photos and video of the Epix screen in action, I still was not prepared when I first saw it in person.  The Epix looks as though the Fenix has suddenly come to life, with a fun, almost animated presence, akin to the feeling you get when watching the Wizard of Oz for the first time, as the movie suddenly transitions from black and white to color.  

The 416 x 416 pixel display (vs. 260 x 260 in the Fenix 7) is exceptionally crisp and sharp, making for very easy reading of the text in messages, within widgets, watch faces and activity fields.  The improved resolution along with the increase in colors and vivid brightness, really stands out when viewing the maps, showing a higher level of detail and contrast.  


The brightness can be easily adjusted, as well as the wrist gesture settings, time out duration, or always on setting to conserve battery life.  Unlike some other watches I have tested with wrist gesture, the Epix wrist gesture strikes a very effective balance between being difficult (having to rotate in a specific way multiple times) and too sensitive where it is constantly false triggering.  I simply just slightly move my wrist enough that the watch face angles towards my field of view and it turns on.  


While the transflective screens on the Fenix 7 series are definitely easier to read in bright direct sunshine, the Epix is still very legible and in any light condition other than bright direct sun, the Epix drastically out performs.  For me, that time spent in lighting conditions “other than bright sun” is probably 95% of the time and 100% on most days where I run early in the morning.  The touch display is a really nice feature as well, making for very easy scrolling through the widgets, menus, controls and quickly clearing out messages and such.  Again, the touch screen strikes a very nice balance between being very easy to control, without any erroneous activations.  While I generally keep touch off while running, I find it very handy when needing to pan/scroll the maps.

Battery Life/Power Manager:


Jeff V:  Battery life for the Epix is perhaps one of the more impressive features.  While battery life is not as long as the Fenix series, for having such a bright AMOLED screen, the Epix blows away all other AMOLED watches that I am aware of, multiple times more than that of the Suunto 7, much more than an Apple watch, it just blows me away how good the Epix really is, to the point where I feel like I am getting away with something, almost too good to be true.  There are many factors depending on your screen settings, GPS settings (I have tried many different battery saving combinations).  I find myself favoring raise to wake for my day to day use and either GPS only or All Bands, where I can easily go a week with roughly 90 minutes per day of GPS use.  I can confirm that the advertised battery estimated below are accurate.

You can also set reminder alerts when the battery gets to certain levels from 12 hours to 5 days of general use (1 hour to 10 hours of GPS use) if you are one that does not pay close attention to battery life.  With the Power Manager, you can select pre packaged settings to utilize various modes to cater to your battery life needs.


While the most hardcore extreme ultra distance athletes may contest that this is still not enough battery life for them, the battery life of the Epix will be plenty enough for the remaining 99.9% of users.



Sam: I did extensive long term battery testing and am hugely impressed with how efficient the Epix 2 is given the typically battery sucking AMOLED display such as in the Apple Watch which will last 7 hours in GPS mode or the Suunto 7 just over 8 hours in its best mode.


The Epix 2 far exceeds other AMOLED screen watches, understanding that platform watches such as the  Apple and Wear OS Suunto 7 can have more non sport app activity back and forth to the phone.


What really kicks the Epix ahead is turning the Always On, a sort of useless shadowy mostly unreadable view to off.


I saw close to 20 days of everyday use with Always On off, and close to 9 days with it On which is still far, far ahead of the other two AMOLED watches.


I  got close to 25 hours of multi band GPS with Always On off, and 16 hours with it Onwhich is still far, far ahead of the other two AMOLED watches with the Apple Watch at 7 hours spec and Suunto 8.5 hours.

GPS Accuracy / Multiband / Satellite Acquisition:


Jeff V:  GPS accuracy is on par with the Fenix 6S Pro and the Suunto S9 Peak, the two watches I have run with on my opposite wrist to compare to the EPIX.  All 3 watches track very close to one another and accurate to where I ran on the trail, but as I expect with GPS tracks, they all can occasionally track a foot or two to either side of the actual path and do not always perfectly align with the rapid changes of direction of trailswitchbacks.  For example, it is common where on one switchback the EPIX might nail it perfect while the S9 is slightly off, then on the next switchback, the S9 gets it perfect and the EPIX is slightly off, but all in all, the EPIX is exceptionally good.  All of these watches can get a bit squiggly in deep narrow canyons and between tall rock formations the size of NYC buildings when I am employing all systems (GPS + Glonass).  I have used the Multi Band feature extensively and have noticed an ever so slight bump in accuracy in deep canyons and around the tall rock formations I previously mentioned, but would not say it is a significant difference. 


 I’ll need to perform further testing in deeper/narrower canyons and also on our upcoming summer trip to the Redwoods and report back.  Most of the time I use “All Bands” (GPS/Glonass), which I find to be the sweet spot for accuracy and reasonable battery life, but do find that GPS only is impressively accurate when compared to All Bands and All Bands + Multi, coming up with almost identical stats after each run when compared on the same Green Mountain loop.  The only inaccuracy that I noted when comparing the tracks is that GPS only would occasionally drift off the trail just a slight bit more than the others, but this was minor and infrequent.



Satellite acquisition is incredibly fast, locking into reception almost instantly and taking just 10 or 15 seconds at most (though still very rare for it to even take that long).


Fenix 6S Pro (purple), Epix (blue), both track very similarly accurately around the switchbacks that are in a deep canyon.


Fenix 6S Pro (purple) and Epix (blue), side by side with Epix utilizing Multi Band.  The Epix tracks this slightly better using Multi Band, but both are a little squiggly due to the deep inset nature of this vertical canyon surrounded by massive rock formations.


Another deep canyon test with the Epix (blue) running Multi Band, tracks more precisely than the S9 Peak (purple)


A few shots below of the Epix track running Multi band on a bike ride, where the track was impressively accurate on the entire ride, highlighted by the precision through tight switchbacks and holding a perfect line through bike path tunnels under the highway.





An up and back in tricky Fern Canyon with Epix running Multi Band, closer than any other Epix setting or other watch out there.


Sam: I conducted a number of tests of GPS accuracy including during a 25K trail race on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. In the views below I compare the Epix to the Suunto 5 Peak, a $300 watch. I had the Epix set to Multi Band and the Suunto to its Best Mode.


The DC Analyzer view above is set to a 5 meter resolution with the Epix in blue and Suunto 5 in purple. Arguably equal in following the single track. The total distance for the race was very close as well with Suunto 5 Peak at 16.61 miles and Epix 2 at 16.56 miles. 


Bottom line, and seen in multiple other tests with current watches,  all GPS chip sets from major brands such as Garmin, Suunto, Polar, COROS, etc..  now are in my view largely equivalent in accuracy for most uses and regardless of watch price. 

Altimeter:

Jeff V:  No surprises or real changes here that I can see, as the altimeter is as accurate as expected, with the normal corrections for shifts in barometric pressure.  Below is a comparison with the Fenix 6S, in perfect parallel (though not calibrated in unison at the start, so a slight difference in reading), both watches are very close to actual when calibrated (though both can easily drift if not corrected).




Map Manager:  

Jeff V: Previously in the Fenix series, 100k level regional maps were pre-loaded (N. America for US watches for example) and if you wanted more detailed 24k maps, you could buy them for an extra $99, which for example I had the Southwest map package that included Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, which adds to the expense on top of an already expensive watch.  Now, with the Epix and Fenix 7 series, you can pretty much download detailed, high resolution TopoActive maps for anywhere on the planet at no charge (though not all at once, so plan ahead if you are headed to Africa).  


The Sapphire units (such as our test watch) have maps already pre-loaded on the watch, whereas with the base model you have to upload them yourself.  


Additionally, the base unit has less storage at 16GB vs. the 32GB storage in the Sapphire model where you can store more maps and music.  You can upload these maps over WiFi, but the watch needs to be plugged into the power cable, but the process is very very slow, even slower if your WiFi is iffy.  Alternatively, you can plug into the computer and utilizing Garmin Express, perform these downloads much quicker.



Mapping and Navigation: 

Jeff V:  I’ll not go into deep detail here regarding the nuts and bolts of, or how to instructions, as we have covered this extensively in previous reviews, but the mapping and navigation capabilities of the Epix are the best on the market.  First, the ability to bring in TopoActive maps, at will and at no charge (as discussed above), is a HUGE advantage  and to have such detailed maps and to such a great extent already  loaded onboard, is a massive advantage.  

Second, the AMOLED screen with nearly double the resolution of the Fenix, really enhances the detail and legibility, making it much easier to read the map, in that you can better decipher detail and the greater/brighter color range enhances even further where details and features on the map stand out from one another.  Creating routes or “Courses”, Waypoints and importing GPX files either on Garmin connect on PC, the Garmin Connect app, the new Garmin Explore app are all very easy and intuitive, or even the Komoot mapping app.  

Another new advantage with the Epix, and also the Fenix 7 is the ability to pan maps with the touchscreen, which makes map use and navigating that much easier being able to quickly visualize and anticipate what is to come.


Turn by turn directions and alerts are accurate and timely, combined with the map are very easy to anticipate what is ahead.  This is of course especially handy when navigating no matter the activity or pace, but is even plenty adequate for navigating at hard race pace with ease.





Optical Heart Rate:


Jeff V:  Historically, I have often struggled with wrist based optical heart rate on most of the watches I have reviewed, but have had very good luck with the Fenix 6S Pro and have found the Epix to be equally good, if not just slightly better, always reading either accurate, or within a few beats.  

The Epix now features Garmin’s new Elevate 4 optical HR Sensor, which has a glass cover so as to be more durable and scratch resistant.  I tested OHR accuracy by counting manually and also comparing to a HR strap connected to the Fenix 6S Pro.  I am very impressed at how evenly they tracked.  Of course results can vary depending on the individual.  The graph below represents the Epix (blue) and the 6S Pro (purple), where they often track quite closely with just a few occasional disagreements.  


Most often on not just the run below, but with continual use, Epix OHR will most often be spot on, or within 1-2 bpm variance with the strap reading from Fenix.  When comparing OHR to OHR on both Epix and Fenix, they were always in agreement with a 1-2 bpm range.  

Daily HR tracking is spot on and as is typical with Garmin and essentially with no noticeable battery penalty.




Sam:

I too have been impressed with the optical heart rate accuracy which shows clear improvements over prior Garmin such as my lighter Forerunner 945 in its earlier days although recent firmware updates have also improved its accuracy. 


Shown below a the graph for my recent half marathon race where I did not push that hard leaving me with plenty of Stamina % left in the tank, maybe less than shown though. Note how regular the HR is after the first few minutes. This was a flat course.


And below for a recent 25K trail race with quite a bit of vertical where there were more high spikes than I would have hoped for.

Note the rapid drop in Performance Condition which right after the start which was all uphill. I am not sure algorithm takes into account vertical, if at all, in its calculations.

And the Stamina% below … While I ran hard for sure I had something left in the tank the last miles and was not running on empty!


Stamina: 

Jeff V:  The new Stamina feature predicts your energy potential for activity in the short term (top field), as well as your potential stamina for the longer term, as well as pace and heart rate.  This is based on multiple factors, such as recovery, sleep, previous workouts and your Vo2 Max, which takes a handful of previous activities to more accurately predict.  You can also add two additional Stamina data pages that predict distance and time till empty.  What does this all mean?  While it sounded interesting at first, I think any athlete with even minimal experience can interpret what their body is telling them and can only give so much, no matter what the Stamina gauge says.  Those with more experience, will need it less, but I found it interesting to observe and imagine is I didn’t have to get home for work, could I just keep going?  For how long?  Over what kind of terrain?  How would fuel, hydration, altitude and pace affect this?  Lot’s to ponder.


Night Mode/Sleep Tracking:  



Jeff V:  You can set the hours for your watch to go into night mode and customize night mode hours by night, which turns the screen down to a very low brightness and limited to just time/date fields.  Only activated by pressing a button or touching the screen, it is just bright enough to read and not bother anyone.  Additionally, if you decide to scroll through widgets for example, brightness is dimmed down quite low as well.  Sleep tracking is also very accurate, showing a great representation each night. Insights after each sleep are, well, insightful.


Sam: This simple feature is fantastic. The only disadvantage is that it is so low light that night trips to the bathroom using the screen as a “flashlight” are not advised!


Sam: While decent, sleep and recovery insights pale in comparison to Polar’s Nightly Recharge with its overall scoring and separate scores and deep insights into both ANS (autonomic nervous system so HRV, Resting HR, Beat to Beat Interval, and Breathing) as well as actual sleep quality. 

Pulse Ox:


Jeff V:  Getting a Pulse Ox reading is exceptionally fast compared to the 6S Pro.  Previously, it could take 30 seconds to a minute to get a reading and it would sometimes just error out if you were not perfectly still.  


The Epix takes just 10-15 seconds and the readings seem to be a bit more accurate, as the 6S seemed to read a little low for me when compared side by side with a pulse oximeter.  (photo below is Garmin file photo, as I do not leave Pulse Ox on for long enough to get a nice graph as it is a tax on battery life if left on continuously).

Training Status:

Jeff V:  Training status for me has become very handy, showing whether I am maintaining, peaking or decreasing in fitness, outlining my Vo2 Max, running 7 day load, 4 week load focus, recovery and acclimation.  I am not serious enough of an athlete anymore to live by this, but it is a nice guide and almost always coincides with what my body is telling me.



Just after this prediction reading for a 10K I in fact ran a 40:20 10K at high altitude in Boulder. 


Sam: I find the race predictor generally quite accurate in predicting my half or marathon time but consistently quite optimistic for 5k and 10K. I am not sure it accounts well for my age and lack of speed as well as it might.


Daily Workout Suggestions: 


Jeff V:  These are sometimes comical and I am sure Garmin is not picking up on the fact that I run on trails (even though I select “Trail Run” activity every time) and am 50, with one suggestion to do 3 x 15 minutes at 4:20 pace.  I am flattered that the watch thinks that I am that fit and I never follow the suggestions, but instead only use these suggestions as a general affirmation of how I am already feeling. 



Health Snapshot/Health Tracking: 

Jeff V:  The health snapshot feature is a quick 2 minute test to measure average HR, average oxygen level, average respiration, average stress and HRV.  You can save them, but they do not store for long nor go into showing  any kind of longer term trend.


Widgets/Apps/IQ Store/Customization:

Jeff V:  Widget glances are the same as with the Fenix 6 series and now 7, very fast response, but the AMOLED screen really brings these colorful widgets to life and combined with the touchscreen, are especially quick and easy to scroll through and then navigate within each widget and scroll graphs and data.  


With the Garmin Connect IQ store, you can easily search, select and upload a zillion different watch faces, create your own watch faces, widgets, apps, training apps, metrics, data fields, many of which are free.

Sport Modes and Configuration from App:


Jeff V:  There are a boat load of sport and fitness modes/features loaded on the Epix/Fenix series, enough to cover just about any sport or activity you can think of.  I only use a handful, as will be the case for most people, but the big story here however is the fact that data fields (and most watch settings) can be configured in the Garmin Connect app..  Previously, one would have to set up desired data fields by clicking through the menus on the watch, which is a nice option if you need to be in the field without app access, however, in app configuration has been around for many  years by the competition.  In app saves a lot of time and makes me more willing to make changes vs. just “going with it” because it is easier to not do it manually.


Use on the bike:

Jeff V: I often strap my watch to my handlebars to use as my bike computer, which generally works well, but have found that the usability of the Epix is somewhat limited in this scenario.  Generally, at least for me here in Colorado, the biking that I do (gravel mostly) exposes me to much more sun than my average run that often involves intermittent shade in the woods, so the screen can be difficult to read in the sun without being able to tilt to brighten or use the wrist to angle such out of the glare of the sun.  When mounted to the handlebar, you have to touch the screen and the level fixed nature of the positioning makes glare tricky, where I have no such problems with the Fenix and transflective displays.


Protected start/stop button:

I have always been a bit paranoid about accidentally stopping an activity by mistake after having it happen a few times in the past, almost always in the winter with layers of long sleeves, or when putting on a backpack, so I almost always lock the screen.  With the start/stop button now being protected, I have not yet had a mistake with long sleeves or putting on a pack.

inReach Integration:

Jeff V:  As was the case with previous Fenix models, inReach integration is really handy, being able to send preset messages from the watch through inReach when connected and with active plan, as well as read messages, activate tracking and send an SOS message if dire circumstances necessitate.  

Most of the time I don’t really think of using this integration, but I like that it is there if needed, especially since my inReach is often stowed in a pocket and not readily handy, so if an accident were to occur, triggering an SOS alert from the watch is a nice option.


You can also send preset messages. 


Music and Contactless Payments:


Jeff V:  As with previous Fenix and other Garmin watches that are music capable, you can connect to Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music (with subscriptions), or you can load your own MP3’s to the watch and then connect to wireless bluetooth headphones for having music/podcasts on the go sans phone.  I have tested this on previous models and it works great, but I always run with my phone, so I do not bother with music.


Contactless payments, also like previous, has become increasingly handy for me, as more and more vendors offer contactless payments, especially now in the Covid era.  It is easy to set up and easy to use, secure and quick and really handy if you happen to not have your wallet (common when out running).

Flashlight: 

While not quite the same as the LED light on the Fenix 7X, the Epix has an improved flashlight feature that is activated by double pressing the light button.  The AMOLED screen projects a pretty bright glow that can be adjusted up or down in brightness.  It not at all bright enough to navigate by outside, but it is really handy getting around a dark room without waking your significant other.


Summary:

Jeff V:  The Epix 2 is in my opinion the best sports watch on the market.  The AMOLED screen is just beyond description, as it is so clear, vivid, easy to read and has incredible battery life for such a screen and is enough to satisfy 99% of potential users.  GPS is as good, and in some cases better than I have ever seen, as is optical heart rate, pulse ox and all of the other vast list of health, fitness and training metrics.  Not to mention the access to highly detailed downloadable maps at no charge, the touch screen, seamless app integration, endless levels of customizability, deep selection of sport functions, the Epix 2 is tough to beat.  Of course the price point of $899 – $999 is a lot of money to spend on a watch and whether it fits your budget or not is a personal choice, but if it is in your budget, you can be absolutely certain that you are getting the best GPS watch to date.


Sam: The Epix 2 sets the super sports watch bar very high in many ways with not only customizable deep features for multiple sports and for everyday life but most significantly by offering a spectacular AMOLED screen. Unlike previous “platform” type watches with such screens the Epix 2 screen does not compromise battery life to the extent those watches do such with monitoring and charging the battery the “prime imperative”, detracting from practicality and user experience. Compared to its Fenix 7 brethren or any other watch with a transreflective screen, on balance across almost all light conditions, the Epix 2 display is superior in legibility due to its brightness (lighting method) and higher resolution. 

The Epix 2 basics of GPS and wrist HR can’t be said to be more accurate than watches costing a third or even less, but if the ultimate performing and also stylish sports watch is what you are seeking the Epix 2 is that watch. My only cons are its comparatively crude to any Polar sleep and recovery/ nightly recharge module.

Watch Sam’s Epix (Gen 2) Video Review (15:15)

The Garmin Epix 2 is available now! 

Please consider shopping for it at one of our partners below.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’

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