Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) review: overwhelmingly good

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

MSRP $999.99

“The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is a superb sporty GPS smartwatch, with masses of features and ability, and a durable, stylish design. Just make sure your lead the lifestyle to enjoy it to the fullest.”


  • High quality materials
  • Durable construction
  • Hugely customizable
  • Comprehensive sporting platform
  • No subscription needed


  • No Qi wireless charging
  • Operating system takes some learning

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is one of the more challenging wearables I’ve reviewed, simply because (somewhat embarrassingly) I don’t think I could ever physically do enough to push the smartwatch to — or beyond — its limits.

Apart from telling you something about my own prowess when it comes to sporting endeavors, this should also tell you plenty about the astonishing breadth of the Epix Pro (Gen 2)’s ability. Here’s what it’s like.

Quality materials, cool looks

The "Good Morning" screen shown on the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ve been wearing the Sapphire Edition of the Epix Pro (Gen 2), which has a titanium bezel and a tough silicone strap in the Whitestone color. It’s the 47mm model, but you can also choose it in a smaller 42mm case size or an even larger 51mm size. There are different finishes and straps available for each case size, giving you plenty of choices. Alternatively, you can select it with a stainless steel bezel and Gorilla Glass over the screen, which works out a little cheaper.

The case is made from fiber-reinforced polymer, and it’s sandwiched between the titanium bezel and a stainless steel case back. The 47mm case is 14.5mm thick, making the Epix Pro (Gen 2) a very big watch. It’s my 6.5-inch wrist in the photos, and you can see how it dominates. However, I’ve not found it jarring to look at, and the white case and strap help lessen its impact. I also think the use of titanium and its subtle, not-too-polished finish helps calm the looks down, and I imagine the black versions are considerably more noticeable.

The side of the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) worn on a person's wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It weighs 70 grams and is surprisingly lightweight. During the day, I’ve had no major problems wearing it, but I have needed to adjust the strap often during some hot weather, as it seems to get sweatier under the case than many other smartwatches. However, I’ve found it impossible to wear the watch overnight and track my sleep. It’s not too heavy, but it is noticeable, and I find it distracting, plus the hotter nights recently have exasperated its tendency to get sweaty under the case and silicone strap.

But the Epix Pro (Gen 2)’s substantial nature lends itself perfectly to what it’s designed for, which seems to be every activity under the sun. I have never worried about knocking it, getting it wet (it’s water resistant to 10 ATM), or possibly snapping the strap.

The side buttons on the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It looks and feels very durable, the adjustment in the strap means it’s happy to be worn tightly against the wrist or over the top of a thick jacket sleeve, plus the big buttons mean it’s easy to use with gloves or wet fingers. The quality of materials and sensible construction is confidence inspiring.

The really clever part is all this overt toughness hasn’t converted into a utilitarian, or ugly design. I’ve happily worn the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) in all situations, and I’ve not felt it looked out of place at all. I’d go as far as to say I’ve worn it proudly, which isn’t common at all for a sports smartwatch.

It does so much

Outdoor workout data shown on the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)’s careful design is excellent. I really appreciate the way it’s clearly a smartwatch but made and shaped by a team that understands watches. The Epix Pro (Gen 2) is a great alternative to Garmin’s luxurious Marq range for those who can’t stomach the very high prices this models attract. I’ve happily worn the smartwatch — but what about the functionality?

This is an outdoor, adventuring, sporting smartwatch. It’s not an Apple Watch Series 8 competitor or really even an Apple Watch Ultra alternative. If the Series 8 is the base tier for activity tracking and the Ultra goes one step beyond, the Epix Pro (Gen 2) goes further again. It’s designed for the serious, competitive, dedicated, and focused sporting person. If you want to simply track your workout at the gym, then it’s not really for you. Instead, it’s aimed at people who are already fit or experienced, already take training and their chosen sports seriously, and want to understand personal performance and where to improve.

It’s designed for the serious, competitive, dedicated, and focused sporting person.

For example, tracking a basic strength gym workout on an Apple Watch is a simple, one-button-press affair. On the Epix Pro (Gen 2), you can just let the workout tracking run in Free mode, but it’s really designed to make counting reps and rest periods simple. There are training plans built in, too, with on-screen animations showing the exercises, complete with rest period tracking. While other smartwatches have these features, they’re often hidden or part of a third-party app. It’s front-and-center on the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2), and by not using them, you won’t be getting the most from it.

The golf mode tracks a round of golf and doesn’t include a mode tracking a driving range visit. Visiting a course shows how fast the smartwatch catches a GPS signal (in the open air, it’s mere seconds) and how accurate it is at recognizing the course itself. It shows plenty of data, including yardage to the green, stats on strokes and putts, maps, hazards, and so much more. For runners, it has profiles for different running activities — including outdoor, trail, and the treadmill. Data on display includes ground contact, vertical oscillation, running power, and a new Hill Score.

The Garmin Connect app, linked to the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It goes equally in-depth with swimming and cycling, plus there are multiple other activity tracking modes with everything from bouldering to motocross and surfing to skiing covered. The GPS’s speed and accuracy make it great for hiking, and again, the data is comprehensive. There’s a track back feature, reference point information, real-time trails on the map, and complete topographical maps too. Outside of the specific activities the smartwatch tracks, it collects data from the onboard sensors to show your VO2 Max, recovery time estimates, training readiness, and heart rate zone information.

While I’m not out there pushing my limits, other members of the Digital Trends team have been. If you’re a bit sportier, replacing your Apple Watch with a Garmin can be a legitimately great idea.

Is it overkill?

Screenshots taken from Garmin's Connect app.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Personally, there’s no way I’d ever effectively try out all these features, but what I can do is talk about how the smartwatch is to use. It’s all very well, having dozens of features, but if the user interface is a dog’s dinner, then no one will want to use it, and the in-depth platform will be useless. There’s a very clear learning curve with the Epix Pro (Gen 2), and if you’re a newcomer to Garmin’s adventure watches, it’s quite steep early on.

The touchscreen is only one part of the way you interact with the Epix Pro (Gen 2), as it also has five buttons on the side of the case. The layout and basic functionality are clear, but it does get confusing as you dig into menus, and when you press a button in an activity expecting it to do one thing, it does another. The on-screen details are often confusing, too, with acronyms used or numbers presented without much explanation.

Screenshots taken from Garmin's Connect app.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s here we come back to your own familiarity with the activities it tracks. Newcomers will need to explore and learn as they go, while the experienced will feel more at home more quickly. It’s the same with the general operating system. This isn’t a Wear OS smartwatch, and the menus are numerous and dense, with several hidden behind different, fairly illogical button presses. Changing the watch face is a long press on the Up/Menu button, but the actual menu for other features is found after a long press of the Light button.

I’ve pressed the Back/Lap button during an activity hoping to go back a step, only for it to activate the lap feature instead, leaving me confused as to how I go back. At least starting and stopping an activity is simple, but you have to add often-used activities to the menu, as there isn’t a quick list of recently used activities to speed the process up. Everything about the Epix Pro (Gen 2) is set up for people who know what they want and do them often.

Does it work as a smartwatch?

While the Epix Pro (Gen 2) has been made primarily for the very sporty, it’s still a smartwatch, so how does it perform as one? The 1.3-inch AMOLED screen has a 416 x 416 resolution and is clear, detailed, and bright. There are various different watch faces to choose from, each with an optional always-on mode, and I’ve not had any problem seeing the time, activity data, or notifications. The new Epix Pro (Gen 2) has 32GB of storage space, an increase over the generation one model.

The watch has been connected to an Android smartphone while I’ve been using it, where it requires the Garmin Connect app. Set up was fast and easy. Notifications have been reliable, and they look great, too, with all using a large font and custom logos to make understanding messages easy at a glance. Not all are interactive, but entire messages can be displayed.

You can tailor the software’s look to your own preferences and lifestyle.

If you miss a notification and want to retrieve it, you have to once again grapple with another menu. This time you swipe up on the screen to show Glances, Garmin’s interpretation of Wear OS’s Tiles. Glances aren’t quite as intuitive or fast as a watchOS or Wear OS’s systems and are really tiny snippets leading to more detail after a tap. Data shown in Glances includes step count, Garmin’s excellent Body Battery stat, weather data, heart rate, and more stats related to specific activities.

New for the Gen 2 watch is a Hill Score and an Endurance Score, both of which it proudly pushes as default readings in Glances. Both require two weeks of tracking relevant outdoor activities before they will display any data. If these don’t align with your activities, the entire list of data and information can be customized, from the order things are displayed to the information shown, so you can tailor the software’s look to your own preferences and lifestyle. If you want Glances to work in a general fashion, it can, or if you want it to show your cycling ability and data from your last ride, along with a compass and an altimeter, it can do that too.

The Epix Pro’s newly optimized heart rate sensor also measures blood oxygen levels, plus it tracks sleep and stress, respiration rate, and resting heart rate. Results have matched those I’ve seen from my Oura Ring and Apple Watch. In addition to the GPS (which also uses Multiband GNSS, GLONASS, and GALILEO), the smartwatch has a compass, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a thermometer, and an ambient light sensor. There’s even a tiny flashlight built into the case, which can blink, strobe, or show a red light.

How long does the battery last?

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) on charge.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

How often you have to charge the Epix Pro (Gen 2)’s battery depends on what you do with it. I have worn it all day, but without sleep tracking, along with a workout tracked every other day for about 30 minutes to an hour, and at least a couple with GPS enabled, it has lasted for seven days. This includes continuous heart rate and blood oxygen tracking and the always-on screen active.

Garmin provides estimates based on specific uses, stating it’ll last for 42 hours with GPS-only tracking or up to 21 days with the Battery Saver mode on. It’s recharged in about an hour using a proprietary charger included in the box, which attaches securely to the pins on the case back. The connection is strong enough that it’s unlikely to come loose. There’s no Qi wireless charging support.

At least one of the watch faces provides a battery life remaining estimate, and it seems to be accurate. It has been almost four days since I last charged the battery, and it’s showing 52% remaining with three days of projected use. A full week should be easily achievable without sleep tracking, but this will change if you use GPS every day.

Price and availability

The case back and heart rate sensor on the Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is an expensive smartwatch. The 47mm Sapphire Edition, as reviewed here, is $1,000 (or 930 British pounds). The price stays the same for the 42mm version, but the 51mm Epix Pro (Gen 2) costs more at $1,100. The Standard Edition without sapphire or titanium starts at $900. All are available to order now through Garmin’s online store and various retail stores, including Amazon.

At this price, it’s more expensive than an Apple Watch Ultra, which costs $799, but they aren’t really in the same league. Those who will really make use of the Epix Pro (Gen 2) may not get the same value from the Ultra, but those who don’t stretch the Garmin smartwatch at all would probably be better off with the Apple Watch. It’s important to understand just how much the Garmin watch can do, and if your own activities match it, before committing. Another brand to look at if you’re after a serious sports smartwatch is Polar, and we’ve recently reviewed the Polar Pacer Pro, which adds its great platform into a good-looking case.

Challengers from within

Before you decide the Epix Pro (Gen 2) is for you, it’s well worth taking a close look at Garmin’s complete range, which contains many models that all do fairly similar things. The latest challenger to the Epix Pro (Gen 2) is the new $800 Garmin Fenix 7 Pro, with the biggest alteration being the switch to a MIP screen for longer battery life. The Epix Pro (Gen 2) looks and feels more like a modern smartwatch with its AMOLED screen though.

Then you have last year’s standard Garmin Epix (Gen 2) model, which again includes many of the same features, but isn’t built from the same materials. If running is your thing, the Garmin Forerunner 265 really impressed us, as did its more expensive sibling, the Forerunner 955. If you want an even tougher smartwatch and longer battery life, the solar charging on the recent Instinct 2X Solar will appeal. If you want a more lifestyle-orientated design and don’t need built-in GPS, take a look at the Vivomove Trend, which still has most of the activity tracking features and data, but in a smaller, much cheaper, and more stylish package.

The thing is, all these smartwatches use the same excellent Garmin fitness platform and the Garmin Connect app, so if one is “too much,” then another may be just right. For my lifestyle, the Vivomove Trend is ideal, but for Digital Trends’ Editor-in-Chief Andrew Martonik, who runs marathons, the Forerunner 955 is the sweet spot.

It’s not for me, but it could be perfect for you

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2).
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

My initial intimidation caused by the massive choice of activities and features available on the Epix Pro (Gen 2) was mitigated by the sheer amount of customization available. From the watch faces to the order of Glances, pretty much everything you see and touch can be altered to better suit your lifestyle. This comes back to what I said about it being for focused sportspeople because it can be completely tailored to measure and track your chosen sport (primarily running or cycling), and everything else can be minimized.

I haven’t scratched the surface of what the Epix Pro (Gen 2) can do, but because it hasn’t constantly pushed me to do anything, it has still been a friendly, reliable, comfortable, and informative smartwatch partner. This is important because it means you’ll be able to live with it on a daily basis. If you want motivation to do things, Garmin’s platform isn’t one to nag, and it expects you to want to put in the work. My short workouts, long walks, and golfing activities don’t stretch its ability, so it’s overkill for me, and if you’re similar, an Apple Watch Series 8 or an Apple Watch Ultra would likely fit your lifestyle far better.

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) has a flashlight feature.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The high price stings too, but there’s so much longevity in a product like this that it’s unlikely you’d need to upgrade for years. Garmin’s platform logs everything and shows your trends and key performance information, such as VO2 Max, so you can measure your improvements over time. Equally, if you own a first-generation Epix Pro, there’s not a lot here to convince you to upgrade.

The Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) is far more capable and has substantially higher sporting credentials than I. It’s hugely customizable, the Garmin platform is comprehensive and free to use, it’s built of high-quality materials, comes in different sizes, has a cool design, and is powerful enough to meet new challenges as your own goals evolve. It’s excellent, but make sure you’re really going to use it before paying the high price.

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