Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Which running watch should you buy?

If you’re looking to invest in a new running watch, you might be torn between the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro. Below, we put the two watches head-to-head to look at the similarities and differences between the high-end running watches. Ultimately, we'll help you decide which is best for you. 

Both watches made it onto our list of the best Garmin watches, and both will easily get you through your next marathon training cycle, or help you gear up for your next adventure. The Fenix 7 and Fenix 7 Pro are both high-end watches, jam-packed with features. If you’re looking for a more affordable watch or a more basic watch, it’s worth saving your money and looking at the Garmin Forerunner 55, or the excellent Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Price and availability 

The Garmin Fenix 7 is the older of the two watches, launched in January 2022, and currently starts at $499 on Garmin, as you can save $200 on the watch when you buy directly from Garmin. The Garmin Fenix 7 series come in a number of different options depending on your price point. Firstly, there are three different case sizes — the Fenix 7S is designed for smaller wrists and is 42mm, the Fenix 7 is 47mm, and the Fenix 7X is 51mm. 

The next choice is the different editions. The standard edition of the watch has a stainless steel bezel and a reinforced glass screen and is built for tough adventures. The solar edition has the same bezel but has a power glass screen that extends the battery life of the watch as it can charge from the sunlight. Finally, the sapphire solar edition Fenix 7 watches have a titanium bezel (which is stronger than the stainless steel bezels), as well as a power sapphire lens that also extends that watch’s battery life by charging from the sun, but is tougher than the glass lenses used in the other watches. 

The Fenix 7 Pro was released on May 31, 2023. There are also three different-sized watches in the range — the Fenix 7S Pro (42mm), the Fenix 7 Pro (47mm), and the Fenix 7X Pro (51mm). Unlike the Fenix line, there’s no standard model, all of the Pro watches have solar charging. The cheapest watch in the Fenix 7 Pro line starts at $799/£749. 

Confused? Here’s a table explaining all the different models, and how much they cost: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Garmin Fenix 7/Fenix 7 Pro pricing
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Fenix 7SGarmin Fenix 7Garmin Fenix 7XGarmin Fenix 7S ProGarmin Fenix 7 ProGarmin Fenix 7X Pro
Solar glass$699/£599$699/£599n/a$799/£749$799/£749$899/£829
Sapphire Solar glass$799/£689$799/£689$899/£739$899/£829$899/£829$999/£929
Titanium Sapphire Solar glass$899/£779$899/£779$999/£1049$899/£929$899/£929$999/£1099

Winner: Garmin Fenix 7 — if you’re on a budget, the Garmin Fenix 7 is the cheaper of the two watches. 

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Design and display

The Fenix 7 and the Fenix 7 Pro look pretty much identical in terms of design and display. Both models have a touchscreen, which allows you to swipe through and tap options like you would on any of the best smartwatches. That said, on both watches, the touchscreen is automatically disabled during sports modes, allowing you to start and stop your workouts, and navigate around the watch using the five buttons — three on the left, two on the right. 

Neither watch has the bright AMOLED screen we’ve seen on the Garmin Epix 2, and the newer Garmin Forerunner 265 and Garmin Forerunner 965. Instead, they both have an MIP display, which is still bright and easy to see, even in direct sunlight. The screen on the standard version is made from Gorilla Glass, which is still resistant to knocks and scratches. The screen on the solar editions is made from Power Glass, which allows for solar charging, extending the battery life of the watch. 

a photo of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Underneath the screen, the one key difference between the Fenix 7 and the Fenix 7 Pro is the heart rate sensor. The Fenix 7 has Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor, whereas the Fenix 7 Pro has the newest Elevate V5 sensor, which has twice as many LEDs as that of the Fenix 7, spread over a wider area. According to Garmin, the "more spatially diverse" sensors and updated algorithms result in more accurate data.

Another key design difference between the Fenix 7 and Fenix 7 Pro is the addition of a flashlight on all Fenix 7 Pro watches. In the standard Fenix 7 line, there’s only a flashlight on the Fenix 7X model. The flashlight can be used in situations where you might use your phone’s flashlight, but can also be used in certain sports modes, as the flashlight can blink or pulse on a bike ride. There is also a running-specific cadence visibility flashlight, where the watch will flash white as your wrist goes forward, and red as your arm moves back, in order to help keep you safe and seen.

Winner: Fenix 7 Pro — there’s not much in this, but the newer sensor and the flashlight win from a design point of view. 

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Battery life 

Garmin improved the solar capabilities on its Fenix 7 compared to the Fenix 6 — it achieved this by increasing the surface area of the solar panels on the watch by up to 54%, increasing the efficiency of the solar panels, and decreasing the power draw of the watch itself. Compared to the Fenix 6, the thin solar rim is much wider and more obvious, but it’s not off putting in any way. 

There’s not all that much difference in the battery life between the Fenix 7 and Fenix 7 Pro. The larger watches last longest between charges, so if battery life is essential for you, it’s worth looking at the Fenix 7 of Fenix 7X. 

A photo of the solar score on the Garmin Fenix 7

(Image credit: Future)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Garmin Fenix 7/Fenix 7 Pro Battery life
Header Cell - Column 0 Fenix 7SFenix 7S ProFenix 7Fenix 7 ProFenix 7XFenix 7X Pro
Max battery (smartwatch)11 days/ 14 days (solar)14 days18 days/ 22 days (solar)22 days 37 days 37 days
Max battery (GPS)37 hours/ 46 hours (solar)46 hours 57 hours/ 73 hours (solar)73 hours 122 hours 122 hours

Winner: It’s a tie — unless you buy the standard edition, the battery life is the same on the Fenix 7 and Fenix 7 Pro solar watches.   

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Fitness tracking and features 

Garmin released a few new features with the Fenix 7 Pro from a fitness tracking perspective, including two new running features — hill score, which shows you from your wrist how easy it is to run uphill. Garmin does this by measuring your running strength on steep elevations, and endurance on long ascents, as well as progress over time, based on your VO2 max, and training history. 

a photo of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro hill score and endurance score

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

There’s also a new endurance score, which is a measure of how easy it is for you to sustain prolonged efforts, looking at data like VO2 max, and your short and long-term training loads. Garmin has also added some new activity profiles, including whitewater rafting, motocross, and overlanding. There’s also the new heart rate sensor, that’ll make tracking the new activity profiles more accurate. 

That said, hill score, endurance core, and all of the new activity tracking modes are all expected to come to the Fenix 7 and other top-end Garmin watches with the next major firmware update.

Winner: It’s a tie — aside from the heart rate sensor, the two watches will be identical from a fitness tracking perspective, once the new firmware update rolls out.  

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Smartwatch features 

One area where Garmin falls short compared to the likes of the Apple Watch Ultra is from a smartwatch perspective. Whereas the Ultra is like wearing an iPhone on your wrist, the Garmin Fenix 7 and 7 Pro still feels a lot like a sports watch. There’s no voice assistant, and you can’t make calls from the watch. There is the option to mirror your phone’s notifications, but you can’t reply to messages from your wrist. Although I’d argue you don’t buy a Garmin adventure watch to check your Instagram notifications on the move. 

Both watches have Garmin Pay, allowing you to use your watch to make contactless payments on the move. They also both have the ability to download and play music from Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music. There’s also an on-watch app store, which means you can install Connect IQ apps from the watch, rather than having to sync from your phone. 

a photo of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro sunrise/sunset

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Winner: It’s a tie — from a smartwatch perspective, the Fenix 7 and the Fenix 7 Pro are identical. 

Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 7 Pro: Verdict  

So, which running watch should you buy? Both the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Fenix 7 Pro are excellent, top-of-the-line Garmin running watches, with just about every feature you could ever need, whether you’re training for a marathon, a triathlon, or a multi-day hiking adventure. Both have excellent battery life, and you could easily go away for a weekend without having to worry about packing a charger. 

The real key differences between the two watches are the new heart rate sensor and the flashlight. If you’re upgrading from a Fenix 5 or an older Forerunner, and you can afford it, you’re getting the newest sensor with the Fenix 7 Pro, and the flashlight is a cool addition. That said, if you already have a Forerunner 955, a Fenix 6, or a Fenix 7 on your wrist, I’m not sure it’s worth upgrading just yet. We’re still waiting to see Garmin add features like a skin temperature sensor, which could enhance menstrual tracking and health data, and I wonder if this will be coming on future models, like the Garmin Fenix 8. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.