Until now, the Garmin Epix has been the company’s high-end, high-spec adventure smartwatch. With a bright, AMOLED display, a large 1.3-inch screen, and an impressive battery life, it’s topped the list of best Garmin watches since being released in January 2022. Now, Garmin has a new and improved version with the Epix Pro series: available in three different sizes, to suit every wrist size.
To find out more, I strapped the Garmin Epix Pro to my wrist on a number of hikes, runs, and workouts. I’ve looked at how it compares to some of the best running watches and best smartwatches on the market, and some of the other Garmin watches in the brand's line-up. Read my Garmin Epix Pro review below to find out more.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Price and availability
The Garmin Epix Pro is available from 31 May, 2023. The series of watches come in different specs and sizes, with the cheapest Epix Pro watch starting at $899/£829. The highest-end model, with a sapphire-crystal lens and titanium case, will cost $1,099. The sapphire glass is much harder wearing, and therefore a more premium watch.
Here’s a breakdown of the pricing information for the entire Garmin Epix Pro line:
|Header Cell - Column 0||Epix Pro 42mm||Epix Pro 47mm||Epix Pro 51mm|
|Titanium Sapphire screen||$999/£999||$999/£999||$1099/£1099|
All of the watches are compatible with Garmin's Quick Release bands, which come in silicone, leather, and metal.
This is around the same price as the Garmin Epix series, although you might be able to find the older watches at a discounted price, now that the Pro series has launched. The cheapest Epix Pro is around the same price as the Apple Watch Ultra, which costs $799/£849.
If you're looking to upgrade your running watch and you've found a good deal on the Garmin Epix 2, we've put the Garmin Epix 2 vs Garmin Epix Pro here.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Design and display
The Garmin Epix Pro looks very similar to the Garmin Epix 2 — both have a bright, AMOLED touchscreen display that makes navigating around the watch a dream. The touchscreen display is automatically disabled in workout modes, and you can still use the five buttons — three on the left and two on the right to start, stop, pause, and lap your workout.
However, unlike the Garmin Epix Gen 2, the Epix Pro is available in three different sizes — 42mm/1.6 inches, 47mm/1.8 inches, and 51 mm/2 inches. The Epix 2 only came in one, 47mm size. So there is now a smaller option, for adventurers with petite wrists, and a larger option for those who prefer a chunkier watch.
Another key design change is the built-in flashlight — a feature we saw with the launch of the Garmin Fenix 7X last January. 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.
I’m a huge fan of the built-in flashlight, which you can activate by pressing twice on the light button on the left-hand side of the watch. Of course, I’ve been testing the watch in the summertime, in one of the warmest months of the year in London. But I like the idea of using the flashlight as an extra safety feature when running in the dark — there’s even an SOS beacon flashlight mode built-in.
As well as the LED flashlight, the Epix Pro series also has Red Shift Mode, which changes display colors to shades of red, reducing sleep cycle disturbance if checking your smartwatch at night.
Garmin has also updated the heart rate monitor in the Epix Pro — Garmin says the “enhanced optical sensors and sport-specific algorithms offer improved performance tracking for a wider variety of activities.” It's not clear whether this is Garmin's Elevate V5 sensor, but we do know it has twice as many LEDs as that of the Epix 2, spread over a wider area. According to Garmin, the "more spatially diverse" sensors and updated algorithms result in more accurate data.
During testing, the wrist-based heart rate monitor on the Epix Pro has taken similar measurements to my chest heart rate monitor, so I'd say it's slightly more accurate, although I've never had an issue with Garmin's older sensor.
While testing the Epix Pro, I’ve been impressed with the bright screen, and the smaller bezel, especially on my petite wrist. While the 42mm Epix Pro isn’t designed for women specifically, I appreciated how well the watch fit.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Health and fitness tracking
From a fitness perspective, Garmin has added some new activity profiles, including football, basketball, racquet sports, and horseback riding.
There are two new running features — hill score, which shows you how easy it is to run uphill, without the need to look at your phone or a map. 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. 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. These new training features will also be available on the Garmin Epix 2, and all of Garmin's high-end watches in a later firmware update.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Battery life
Of course, the battery life changes slightly depending on the size of the watch you buy, here are all the key facts:
|Header Cell - Column 0||Epix Pro 42mm||Epix Pro 47mm||Epix Pro 51mm|
|Smartwatch mode:||10 days||16 days||31 days|
|Smartwatch and GPS mode:||28 hours||42 hours||81 hours|
As you can see, the battery life jumps massively with the larger version of the Epix Pro. During a week of testing with the Epix Pro 42mm for a week, doing a run or walk most days, and am currently on 52% — not as impressive as it would be if I had the huge 51mm watch strapped to my wrist, but still far better than the likes of the Apple Watch Ultra. None of the Epix Pro watches have solar charging capabilities, due to the AMOLED screen. If you’re looking for a longer battery life, it’s worth checking out the new Fenix 7 Pro series.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Smartwatch
One area where Garmin often falls down compared to the likes of Apple and Samsung is in it's smartwatch capabilities. Whereas the Apple Watch Ultra is like wearing an iPhone on your wrist, the Garmin Epix Pro is still very much a sports watch, although this is by no means a bad thing. I'd argue you don't buy an adventure watch like this to check your WhatsApp notifications on the move, but if you're comparing this to the Ultra, there's a lot more to be said for Apple's 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.
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.
Garmin Epix Pro review: Verdict
If you already have a Garmin Epix 2, you probably won’t be that excited by the Epix Pro — in fact, you can probably save your money and just buy a flashlight. That said, if you don’t, or you’re thinking about upgrading from an older Forerunner, this is an excellent smartwatch, which now comes in three different sizes to suit different wrists. If you can't afford it, however, I'd take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 965, which is around $300 cheaper, and has a lot of the same features.
Garmin’s new heart rate sensor is an update worth mentioning, and I’m looking forward to doing some more testing with it. But I still wish Garmin had added a skin temperature sensor, for more accurate health and menstrual cycle tracking (here’s how to use the menstrual tracking feature on your Garmin watch).
With the new advanced training features, this is still one of the most impressive smartwatches from Garmin. It looks beautiful, and it’s got an excellent battery life. It’s still a stunning wearable, and now it comes in sizes that’ll make it even more appealing if you can afford the price tag that is.