Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) Review - 51 mm Sapphire DLC Titanium Edition

 Article by Jeff Valliere

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2) - Sapphire Edition | 51mm - Carbon Gray DLC Titanium 

$1,100 as tested, versions at $899 - $1100 depending on size/base/sapphire - ti


The Garmin Epix 2 Pro is the update to the Epix 2, Garmin’s flagship AMOLED display rugged sports watch (essentially a Fenix with an AMOLED screen). The Epix, as with the Fenix line, now comes in 3 sizes (42mm, 47mm and 51mm), and includes a host of other hardware and software upgrades.  

I had thought of the Epix 2 (RTR Review) as perhaps the ultimate sports watch (at least for my uses) because it's AMOLED screen is so vivid and practical for daily use as well as sport use and especially for maps. It has long battery life (good for most watches and incredible for an AMOLED screen), exceptionally accurate multi-band GPS (on the Sapphire/Ti model), accurate optical heart rate, touch screen, easy map downloads, lightweight along with  a “million” other sport and health related features.  

The new Pro version has all of that and lots more new and useful.l After 2 months of testing, I am confident that this is the best running sport watch on the market!  Please read on for the details and my analysis of many of its key features and capabilities.

While the Epix Pro comes in 3 sizes, each size has a “Standard” version and a “Sapphire” version.  This was the case with the Epix previously, where the Standard version did not have multi-band gps and had only 16GB of storage vs. 32GB of storage.  

But now, the Standard version has mult-iband gps as well as 32GB of storage with no bump in cost.  

The only differences with the upgraded Sapphire version are the materials, featuring a sapphire crystal screen (vs. Corning Gorilla Glass) and a titanium bezel (vs. stainless steel).  

The Sapphire 51mm version is 10 grams lighter than the Standard, which does not sound like much, but is quite noticeable.  Additionally, if you still prefer a more traditional screen and even longer battery life, you can opt for the Fenix 7 Pro series, which are identical to the Epix Pro series aside from the screen (and cost a bit less).

What’s New: 

  • Offered in 3 sizes (42, 47 and 51mm), same as Fenix with 1.2”, 1.3” and 1.4” screen sizes also the same as Fenix.

  • New Garmin Elevate V5 HR Sensor

  • Built in flashlight in all sizes

  • Physical hardware to support ECG monitoring (if Garmin is able to become certified for it)

  • Increased onboard storage to 32gb on all models (previously only available on Sapphire version)

  • Multi Band/dual frequency GNSS included on all models (previously only available on Sapphire version)

  • Faster charging (twice as fast)

  • Better battery life (the 51mm has the same battery as the Enduro 2)

  • Software updates such as Endurance Score, Hill Score, Weather overlays, Shaded relief maps, Split screen, New sport/activity profiles


Ultra crisp and vivid AMOLED screen

Long battery life

Accuracy (GPS, OHR, Altimeter, training, health tracking)

Maps with shaded relief and navigational features

Map download access

Built in flashlight

Size options

Reasonably light weight IN Sapphire/Ti version

Fast charging


Feature rich


Price:  $899+ is a lot to spend on a watch, but you can be certain that your money is well spent on the best sports watch out there and the base model now comes with multi-band and 32gb storage without having to pay extra)

Screen visibility in direct sun

LTE cell access would be nice to have

Including a nylon band is called for (none provided), especially at such a premium price point


A partial list of specs below, but you can see the full list here:  


Unboxing the Epix Pro was a sublime experience for me, as there are few things as exciting to a GPS nerd/run geek like me than opening a premium Garmin device.  Included in the box is the watch of course, USB-C charging cable and a basic users manual.

Before I get to all the details here are some key new features I particularly appreciate as I run mostly steep trails.

Hill Score:

Hill Score is probably my favorite new software feature as most of my running is steep vertical. According to Garmin:

Hill Score measures your capability for running uphill and evaluates your progress over time based on your VO2 max and training history.  It measures your running strength on steep ascents and running endurance on long ascents and provides a score based on your performance over time.”  

How accurate is it?  It is hard to tell really, but vertical is my thing and my most valued metric (as mileage is for many), so I find this fun to track.  Apparently I still have some work to do...

Endurance Score:

Another new software feature, Endurance Score “measures your ability to sustain prolonged efforts and combines training data from all your athletic pursuits to help you understand how training impacts your overall endurance. This dynamic measurement uses your VO2 max, short-term/long-term training loads and other factors to gauge your fitness progress beyond just VO2 max.”  It is hard to really judge accuracy here, but it's another fun metric to track over time.

Weather Overlays:

The weather map overlays are kind of nifty. You can activate a moving timeline as you would with a Doppler radar app., choosing from precipitation (shown above), cloud coverage, temperature or wind.  While it is somewhat of a novelty to have this on the watch, the data presented is reliant went linked to your phone and having cell reception. Most of the time I find it easier to whip out my phone and check one of my weather or Doppler radar apps to see which way storms are moving (something I actually do periodically when storms are in the area).

GPS Accuracy:  Like the Epix Gen 2 accuracy is amazingly good, utilizing GPS, Glonass, Galileo with Multi-Frequency Position and SatIQ Technology.  

Having used the Epix Gen 2 and now the Epix Pro for well over a year, I can report with confidence that accuracy is as good as it gets for a GPS watch. I primarily use the ‘all systems + multi band’ mode for maximum accuracy, especially when I know I will be in dense trees, canyons and among large rock formations, but also often utilize SatIQ, an auto select mode, which automatically selects the GPS power needed depending on terrain.  

I have also tested ‘all systems’ and ‘GPS only’, which are also very accurate and preferable for cycling or when your activities are in the wide open without any challenging reception conditions or to extend battery life. While GPS only is not as reliably accurate as ‘all bands + multi bands’, that difference only presents itself (and minimally at that) when topography is a challenge, but is still quite good.  If I were doing a very long event, or just wanted to milk as much battery life as possible on a trip, I do not hesitate to select GPS only. 

When wearing both watches side by side, they alert each mile either in unison, or within just a few seconds of one another.  In the end, distances show as the same or within just a few hundredths of a mile difference.  

When comparing my track over satellite imagery, the Epix Pro lines up very close, if not on top of my actual steps taken for the most part, with only the occasional and very minor drift to the side as I have seen on all GPS watches.  

Source map above, DC Analyzer tool in satellite view

Above, the 47mm Epix Gen 2 in purple, Epix Pro 51mm in blue. They parallel just about exactly.  The ability to track switchbacks and even in the shadow of ~1,000 foot slabs of rock (asabove) is unrivaled.  I have tested in deep canyons, thick forests (redwoods and rainforests of PNW), in cities, tall rock formations, high mountains, etc… without ever having a glitch or questionable track.

Optical HR Accuracy:

The Epix Pro features the latest Garmin Elevate V5 optical heart rate sensor.  I have tested it extensively side by side with the Epix (Gen 2) 47mm that uses the Elevate Gen 4 sensor and find accuracy to be very comparable between the two.  

When I selected the 51mm version of the Epix Pro, I worried that because of my thin wrists and it being the largest version of the watch that I might sacrifice OHR accuracy, but so far that has not been the case.  Both watches track within a beat or two of one another on my runs, be it uphill, downhill or on the flats.  Overall HR average at the end of the run is almost always the same, or within a beat.  

I have also compared against a chest strap and the results are the same, comparably accurate within a few bpm (usually within a beat or two), though occasionally they may differ by 3-5 beats.  Overall at the end of a run, the overall average difference between the Epix Pro and the chest strap synced with the Epix or Fenix 6S Pro is also within a beat or two which I find to be quite remarkable given my experience with wrist optical heart rate with other brands and older Garmin where I often saw very high readings on trail steeps that were beyond my actual heart rate.

AMOLED Screen: 

I cannot rave about the AMOLED screen enough!  It is bright, crisp and clear, easier to read than  transflective displays almost all of the time in all but the brightest direct sun, which for me is almost all of the time.  

Even in direct sun, I have not trouble reading the data screens and the only time I need to work a little harder is when I am reading maps in direct sun, where I may need to pause and rotate the screen so I can find a shadow (usually the shadow of my body), but I often slow or stop anyways if I need to interpret the map anywhere beyond just following a line or checking Next Fork. 

Resolution is as follows: 42mm 390x390 / 47mm 416x416 / 51mm 454x454.  

The AMOLED screen is a huge advantage in all light conditions outside of the above bright sun scenarios, be it wearing around the house, running in the shade or for dawn/dusk runs.


L to R - Fenix 6S Pro (42mm), Epix Gen 2 (47mm), Epix 2 Pro (51mm)

The big question for me from the start was which size to get.  I have exceptionally thin wrists (5.5” / 13.5 cm circumference) and in the past I have tested all 3 Fenix sizes, 42mm, 47mm and 51mm.  

I initially found 51mm to be way too large/heavy (Fenix 5X), 47mm to be pretty good, but still a touch large and 42mm to be ideal, both in terms of comfort and aesthetics.

However, last year I bought a nylon strap for the Epix Gen 2 47mm in Sapphire/Ti, where with the nylon band, weighs just a scant 52 grams, a whopping 18 grams lighter than with the stock silicone band.  Not only is it much lighter, but much more comfortable!

Discovering nylon bands was revolutionary for me and suddenly a larger watch seems more practical. This time around, I nearly opted for the 42mm Epix Pro, but when I considered the shorter battery life and smaller 1.2” screen, I flipped my mindset 180 degrees and figured why not go all out and try the 51mm for the incredible battery life and larger 1.4” screen.  

Another key part of this decision was that the body of the 51mm is just 60 grams, so with a nylon band, the entire watch weighs in at 64 grams (saving 24 grams down from 88 out of the box).  While the 51mm Epix Pro looks big on my wrist, as long as I have the nylon band, it does not feel excessively large, bulky or heavy (as was the case with the 98 gram Fenix 5X, which was quite clunky and heavy).  The 1.4” screen makes a difference and is nice to have larger digits that are easier to read on the run and is especially helpful when viewing maps.

Above are some photos of the 51mm Epix Pro on my 5.5” circumference wrist.  I’ll admit that it looks a bit extreme and perhaps garish in the photos, but looks more reasonable in real life and at just 64 grams feels surprisingly light and comfortable (though only with the nylon band, as it does feel a bit much with the stock silicone band).

L to R - Fenix 6S Pro (42mm), Epix Gen 2 (47mm), Epix 2 Pro (51mm)

R to L - Fenix 6S Pro (42mm), Epix Gen 2 (47mm), Epix 2 Pro (51mm)

For comparison above is the Epix Gen 2 47mm on my wrist.

And the 42mm Fenix 6S Pro

However, when I think back to what feels not too long ago when I had my first GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 305 (I went through 2 of them between 2011-2016), the 51mm Epix Pro with all the upgrades that it has to offer, suddenly seems very reasonable.  The photo above is not mine, but this is what the 305 looked like on my wrist (photo credit:

I purchased 3 nylon bands for $1.98 each from Ali Express, which are secure and of surprisingly good quality.  Of course, if you prefer an official Garmin nylon band, they sell them as well for $39.99, but I couldn’t compare.


As with the Fenix 7X and Enduro 2, the Epix Pro series (all sizes, as well as all Fenix 7 Pro sizes/models) feature an LED flashlight.  

The white light has 3 brightness settings, plus a red light option (for preserving night vision) that can easily be adjusted from the controls menu and turned on with just a quick double press of the light button.  

You can also adjust within your activity settings for the light to strobe for safety when you are running on road and also micro adjust to vary the strobe rate or even have it sync with your cadence.  

I have found the flashlight to be infinitely useful, navigating the house in the dark, searching for something that fell behind the couch, taking out the trash at night, locking up  the chicken coop after dark, the list goes on and on.  Most importantly though, it is a great backup safety feature if your headlamp ever dies, or you were caught out in the dark without one.  While I wouldn’t choose to use it as a primary light source of course, it is plenty adequate to confidently navigate through the dark, especially in a pinch.

Battery Life/Charging:

Battery life is excellent and especially so for an AMOLED display, so good that it took me a while to wrap my head around it, as I for some time felt as though there must be a catch, but there is none.  The Epix Pro 47mm battery life is the same as the previous Epix 2 and of course the 42mm is less given its smaller battery. The 51mm Epix Pro features the same battery as the Enduro 2 (although of course the Enduro 2 lasts longer as it has a traditional transflective screen).  

Variations in battery efficiency depend on multiple configurable settings: GPS settings, screen brightness, whether you select always on, or tilt to wake, use music, bluetooth, etc… 

I have found battery life to be exactly in line with the chart below.  

While one can still wring out more battery life by going with a Fenix 7X Pro, or Enduro 2, it seems unnecessary for all but the most hardcore long distance ultra athletes.  

Even the Epix Pro 51mm is way more battery life than I need, at 38/62/82 hours depending on GPS accuracy, I personally can’t see ever even coming close to needing that much in a single outing.  Instead, I just like not having to worry about recharging frequently, especially when traveling or camping.

The charging interface with the watch remains the same, though instead of USB on the other end, Garmin has gone to USB-C, which I have not really found to be any advantage.  New for the Epix Pro is fast charging, which essentially cuts the charge time in half (~1 hour vs. ~2 hours previously). 

Maps/Enhanced Maps:

Also new are enhanced maps with shaded relief, which adds a bit of extra detail and perspective to the already exceptionally detailed comprehensive mapping package available on the Epix/Epix Pro/Fenix series.  

Shown above Topo Map View 

Left: Next Fork- distance to next junction and name of trail or road, no route load required

You can adjust Shaded Relief in the map settings to ‘Do Not Show’, ‘Show if available’ or ‘Auto’, where the enhanced maps will appear when available.


Split Screen/Data Pages:

Also new, you can configure the map screen to either be split as shown above, or show data fields around the perimeter as shown below.  

The data fields for either can be customized to your liking.  I personally prefer the data around the perimeter as it keeps the map in a less interrupted state vs. the 50/50 split screen, but will confess to not using either regularly beyond testing, as I want to see the largest map possible and am fine just scrolling the buttons to access the data screens I have on other pages.  But, the option is there if you so choose.


The Epix Pro series is a nice upgrade over the previous version. The 3 different sizes will be a critical decision making factor for those who have contemplated buying an Epix, or those who already have last year’s 47mm model and have longed for a 42mm or a 51mm version.  This alone would validate an upgrade for many, but throw in nice touches such as the flashlight, new OHR sensor, quick charging, enhanced maps, longer battery life (51mm) and a slew of other software upgrades, the Epix Pro is a tempting upgrade.  

While expensive, I appreciate that Garmin did not raise their prices and made multi band and 32gb storage standard on all models (again, without any increase in price for these added features).  

If you already have last year’s Epix, is it worth the upgrade?  That is a personal decision of course and I would probably suggest just keeping up with software upgrades and enjoying many of the same upgraded software features over time.  

If you are shopping for a top end watch and the Epix Pro is within your budget, I assure you that you will not find a nicer watch out there. 

 If debating between a Fenix and an Epix, the AMOLED screen in my opinion is certainly worth the extra money over the Fenix series, as once you transition, using a “normal” screen in any other conditions than bright mid day sun the normal screen will seem a bit dim, dated and archaic.  

I find the AMOLED screen so much easier and frankly more fun and enjoyable for 99% of my use day to day and on the run.  Of course the Fenix series are otherwise the exact same watch with a traditional screen and longer battery life.  No matter which flavor Epix you choose, I guarantee that you will be very satisfied!

All versions of the Epix Pro (Gen 2) are available at our partners






Tester Profile

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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  1. Jeff, a fair number of runners have complained that the AOD of the FR965 is too dim prior to wrist-flick activation to be useful in day conditions, and that the wrist-flick sensitivity is too low for interval workouts when one needs to see data without a deliberate wrist flick. Did you encounter such issues with the Epix?

  2. While I find that in bright sun I do have to do a deliberate wrist flick to better read the display, it has really not been a problem for me, at least reading the data fields or for my trail running use, but yeah, if running intervals and not wanting to do a specific move to better see the screen (when you are already kind of seeing stars from the interval), a Fenix might be a better choice here.

  3. Thanks, Jeff. I suppose I could retain my 935 for bright sun runs and intervals, and perhaps get a 965 for forest trails and rainy/cloudy days where the larger screen size and resolution would visually compensate for the dimmer AOD?

  4. A 965 would be a great pick (even though I have never seen one, it has just about everything the Epix has at a much lower price). You can always give it a shot and I'll bet you'll just quickly lose interest in the 935 overall, even for intervals.

  5. So you can actually read the data comfortably even with dim screen without wrist flick to light the screen? I use my watch (Fenix 6x) also on the bars when cycling for navigation so there is no possibility to light the screen with wrist flick.

  6. I noted in my review last year of the Epix (though did not write this time around for the Pro) that the Amoled display does not work well for cycling due to the time out and thus you have to use the light button to activate. Also, when biking, you are more likely to be in bright sun and less likely to be able to angle the watch to optimize readability. Thus I just wear the watch on the wrist and do not really look at it while riding, but should really seek out a Garmin Edge for this task.

  7. Would you consider the Sapphire option to be worth the added cost?

  8. Hi Jorge, thanks for reading. A personal decision and depends on budget, but I do think there is a solid arguement for going with the sapphire/ti if only for the weight savings. As I mentioned, I have a small wrist, so the lighter version combined with the utilization of a nylon strap was key for making this watch work for me. Hope that helps!

  9. Thank you for your prompt response and the thorough review, I found it quite helpful.


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