Garmin Epix Gen 2

Garmin Epix 2 Review: A Better Golf Watch than the S70?!

If you told me a year ago that I’d ditch my Apple Watch Ultra for a different smartwatch?

I’d have said there is absolutely, positively, no way that will happen.

I’m deeply engrained in the Apple eco-system, and the idea that another smartwatch could offer enough value over the Apple Watch to get me to switch?

It honestly, seemed downright impossible.

Fast forward to May of this year.

I ventured out to Missouri to meet the Garmin team to get a firsthand look at their new Approach S70 golf watch.

Its golf features were a notable improvement to the previous GPS watch champ the Approach S62, but that’s not what makes the S70 so special.

Rather, it’s the updated screen and heavily updated fitness features that made the S70 the best golf watch I’d ever used.

In fact, the health and fitness features are so good on that watch, it got me to ditch the Apple Watch entirely.

The major reason I adopted the Apple Watch was to help my fitness motivation. And for 3 years, the “rings” and activity tracking did that. But eventually, it got to the point where it felt like it was lacking. 

When I started using the Garmin, it did the same thing the Apple Watch used to do for me: it made me want to get healthier and be more active.

After a few months of using the S70, I continued to love it. But as I dug deeper into Garmin watches, I discovered the Epix 2 Pro.

It features even more health and fitness features than the S70, and it still has nearly all of the golf functionality as well.

So, I put my Approach S70 in the drawer and for the last few months have used the Epix 2 Pro as my daily wearer and golf watch.

I also recently received a Garmin Epix Gen 2, which sits between the S70 and Epix Pro in terms of cost.

In this Garmin Epix 2 review, I’m going to cover everything you could want to know. I’ll detail the health and fitness features of the watch, the usability of it, how it compares to the S70 both on the golf course and off, as well as the major differences between the Epix 2 and the newer Epix 2 Pro.

My goal here is to help you decide which of these 3 watches you should consider, if you’re looking for a golf watch that can do more than just give you numbers on the golf course.

Whether you’re a golfer or not, if you’re in the market for a high-end feature-heavy fitness watch, you’ll definitely want to read this review.

First Impressions of the Garmin Epix 2 Watch

So, I’ve now had two different Epix models for review: a 47mm Epix 2 and the larger 51mm Epix Pro.

For the purposes of this review, I’m going to focus primarily on the original Epix Gen 2, as it’s the closest in price to the Approach S70. I’ll do a separate review of my experience with the Epix 2 vs the Epix 2 Pro and what that means for golfers.

From a size perspective, the two watches feel nearly identical. Both are 47mm wide, although there is a smaller 42mm option on the S70. If you opt for the newer Epix Pro, there’s also a smaller 42mm, as well as a larger 51mm option.

While they feel very similar, the Epix is slightly thicker at 14.5mm thick vs 13.4mm on the S70.

Apple vs Garmin Watches

From left: Apple Watch Ultra, Epix Pro 51mm, Epix Gen 2, Approach S70

It’s enough to be noticeable when looking at them, but they both feel similar when wearing.

The biggest difference between the S70 and Epix you’ll notice out of the gate is the 3 button layout of the S70 vs the 5 button layout of the Epix.

At first, I found myself preferring the simpler approach of the S70. However, I realized that this was more due to my familiarity of the layout than anything else.

After getting used to the Epix for a week or two, I found myself loving the ability to use the bottom left two buttons for scrolling up and down through menus vs. doing this via touch on the S70 (which you can also do on the Epix if you prefer).

Overall my initial impressions of the Epix 2 is that it’s definitely a utilitarian watch. The Apple Watch Ultra has some serious style, and you don’t get that as much with the Epix 2. It looks and feels very similar to any other Garmin watch. For some this will be a good thing, but despite loving this watch, I don’t necessarily love the fact I feel like I have a big black strap on my wrist at all times.

S70 vs. Epix 2 vs. Epix Pro

From top to Bottom: S70, Epix 2, Epix Pro 51mm

If I were to do it over, I’d probably pick up the steel bezel model, rather than the black one.

But as you’ll see, it’s what’s inside that has led to me converting from Apple to Garmin full-time.

Golf Features of the Epix 2 vs. Approach S70

If you’re not a golfer, you can skip this part. But since this is a golf site, I wanted to make sure I covered the major differences between the S70 and Epix 2 early on, since many of you will be debating between these two watches.

When the Approach S70 was released in May, it had an updated Virtual Caddie features that no other golf watch had. It could take into account not just distances, but wind, elevation, and your personal strengths and weaknesses to make a club recommendation.

Now months later, Garmin has updated both the Epix and Marq golf watches to have these same virtual caddie enhancements – which is awesome to see.

It’s pretty remarkable that a watch that no one would consider a “golf watch” could be such a good golf watch. 

That said, if you’re looking for a dedicated golf watch, there are definitely still reasons to go for the Approach S70.

Three of them to be exact.

1. User Interface is Better for Golf on the S70

With the latest update to the Epix, I was expecting the user-interface to be updated to be more in line with the S70. It wasn’t.

While the Epix golf interface is perfectly serviceable, the S70 is a much more refined golfing experience. You notice this most when inputting data like whether or not you hit the fairway, or how many putts you had.

It’s both easier to see and more pleasing aesthetically on the S70.

Inputting numbers on the Approach S70 is cleaner and looks better than on the Epix.

Inputting golf stats on the Epix Pro 51mm.

The S70 also has hole numbers located around the bezel. After each hole, it will add a color next to it to indicate your score. It’s a seemingly minor feature, but I really found myself enjoying the easy ability to glance and see how the round has progressed.

This isn’t to say the interface is bad by any means on the Epix. It’s actually very good, and when it comes to looking at yardage data and hole maps – it does a fantastic job. The graphics aren’t quite as nice as the updated S70 graphics, but it’s better than any other Garmin golf watch that has come before it.

The one usability feature where I give the nod to the Epix is in the extra buttons. Being able to easily scroll through hazards on hole for example is faster and easier with dedicated buttons as opposed to swiping the screen.

2. The S70 Has Enhanced Plays Like Functionality

While the Epix got updated Virtual Caddie features, it still doesn’t have the same level of “plays like” distances that the S70 has.

It will give an adjusted distance based on slope, but it does not take into account wind or elevation like the S70 does. 

3. The Approach S70 is Less Expensive than the Epix 2

Finally, the 47mm S70 costs $699. If you want to pick up an Epix, the cheapest version is $799, and climbs up to as high as $1099 if you want the Pro Sapphire model in the 51mm variant.

So if you’re solely looking for a golf watch and don’t care about anything else – the S70 is the way to go.

If you’re looking for a health and fitness watch that also has golf functionality, keep reading and hopefully by the end of this review you’ll have a sense of whether or not one of these watches is right for you.

How is the Screen on the Epix vs. Epix Pro vs. S70?

Garmin’s latest AMOLED screens are fantastic. While for outdoor athletes the transflective screens used on most other Garmin watches are better in bright sunlight, I’ve never loved them.

After using both the S70 and 51mm Epix Pro for months each, I expected the screen to be pretty much the same on the original Epix – and it almost is.

The S70 has a pixel density of 454×454. Same goes for the 51mm Epix Pro.

But on the original Epix 2, it’s only 416×416.

Garmin Epix Gen 2

Epix 2 on left and Epix Pro 51mm on right.

You don’t notice it much when it’s fully illuminated, but when the screen dims, you can just barely start to make out individual pixels on the Epix 2, more than you can on the others.

It’s still a very good display, but it’s not quite as good as the 51mm Pro, the S70, or frankly any Apple Watch.

I’d expect this to be the same on the 47mm Epix Pro Gen 2 as well, as it has that same 416×416 screen.

Best Fitness Watch
Garmin Epix (Gen 2) GPS Fitness Watch

The Garmin Epix Gen 2 is the ultimate fitness watch. But it ALSO has nearly all of the golf functionality of the dedicated golf watch: the Approach S70. The Epix Pro is even better, but a couple hundred dollars more.

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Day-to-Day Functionality of the Epix Gen 2

Everyone who buys and wears a smartwatch will have their own reasons for doing so.

Some do it for the health and fitness tracking features.

Others do it for the “smartwatch” features like making payments, getting notifications, taking calls etc.

And others simply want a dedicated watch for their activity of choice (like golf.)

From the standpoint of someone who has been wearing the Epix 2 on a daily basis for a few months now, it’s a perfectly serviceable smartwatch.

I get notifications mirrored from my phone, the “Garmin Pay” features work similar to how “Apple Pay” works, and I can easily set timers, get weather, and so on.

It’s good enough.

But compared to the Apple Watch Ultra? The Garmin Epix Pro doesn’t hold a candle to it in terms of being a high-end smartwatch.

The Apple Watch’s deep integration with the iPhone is impossible to beat. And I’ve definitely found myself missing things like easily being able to control Spotify from my wrist, using Siri to dictate text messages, and having direct integration with Arccos Golf.

So if you’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to just being a smartwatch, for as good as the Epix is, it’s still not an Apple Watch.

Why I Switched from Apple to Garmin

However, despite not being as good as a smartwatch, the Epix series is quite simply the most amazing health and fitness watch I’ve ever used.

And this is the primary reason why I’ve switched from Apple to Garmin.

Right now in my life, tracking my health is more important than smartwatch convenience. 

I got a taste of what a Garmin watch can do with the S70, as it has some of the essentials that Garmin is known for.

A few favorites:

  • Body Battery – A real-time number between 5 and 100 of your “body battery.” It takes into account sleep, activity, HRV, and more to give you a surprisingly accurate representation of your energy levels and ability to perform.
  • Stress Tracking – A number between 1 and 100 of your current stress levels. It’s interesting to see how even after having a single alcoholic drink, you start to see this bump up.
  • Sleep Tracking – My favorite sleep tracking device I’ve used. Vastly prefer it to Whoop, and despite the tracking being very good on my Eight Sleep, I continue to wear the Epix because I want the watch to have as much data as possible.
  • Training Status – Are your current activity levels helping you get in better shape? Helping you maintain current fitness? Or are you being lazy and regressing? Training status will tell you all of this.
  • Jet Lag Advisor – Have a trip coming up? Plug in your travel details, and Jet Lag Advisor will recommend when to sleep, when to avoid light and more to help make the transition between time zones as seamless as possible.

I’m a pretty active person, and one of my favorite ways to exercise is to run.

As I dug into Garmin watches more, I realized that many of them have advanced features for tracking runs and other workouts, that the S70 doesn’t have.

The Epix truly allows you to track and customize pretty much any activity you could want to do.

Garmin Connect App

The home screen on the Garmin Connect app.

It’s Pace Pro and other pacing features have legitimately helped me improve my running and set new PRs for some of my favorite runs near my house.

The Apple Watch has made some strides here over the last couple of years, but it still pales in comparison to what Garmin offers.

The sheer amount of data that the Garmin Connect app gives you about your activities is staggering compared to the Apple Activity app.

So while Apple is a gateway to more casual fitness tracking, the Garmin Epix 2 has reinvigorated my desire to track my fitness and stay in shape.

The Epix 2 has all of the features I listed above, but here are some that it has that the S70 does not:

  • Training Readiness – Are you ready to perform? Do you need to rest? Are you in peak condition to go for a PR? Training status takes all of the elements above into account to give you an indication of your current performance ability.
  • Hill Score – How adept are you at maintaining endurance when running up hills? This number will give you an idea of where you’re at.
  • Endurance Score – This takes into account all of your fitness stats and training numbers and is a dynamic number that gives you an idea of how long you’ll be able to perform during an activity.
  • Tons of Map and Navigation Features – I honestly didn’t expect the maps to be very useful. But I’ve now been on a number of hikes where the trail maps proved way more useful than I expected. 
  • Pace Pro – No matter how you want to be paced during a run, the Epix is there for you. Not only can it pace you based on a time or a previous performance, but you can even go in and tell it if you want your runs to be faster or slower throughout different sections of the run. For instance, my normal loop is downhill for the first 2/3 and uphill at the end. So I have it set to pace me much faster for the beginning than at the end.

If you’re just looking for a golf watch or you’re not a fairly active person, most of these extra features in the Epix series won’t be worth it to you.

If you’re just looking for a basic fitness watch to track steps and activity, there are plenty of much less expensive Garmin watches to choose from.

But if you’re reading about some of these features and getting excited? Then I’m happy to report that the using them is both easy and genuinely useful.

Battery Life on the Garmin Epix

If you’re coming from an Apple Watch, the most immediate thing you’ll notice when switching to any Garmin watch is just how much better the battery life is.

It’s a little tricky to give an exact battery life number for Garmin Smartwatches, because it can vary by days, if not weeks, depending on your settings.

The Epix 2 has a battery life of 6 days in “always on” smartwatch mode.

If you have it in battery saver mode? This goes up to 21 days.

Here are more exact numbers for the Epix.

I prefer to use always-on mode, and I’ve been getting right around 6 days off a full charge on the Epix.

I noticed a considerable difference wearing the Epix Pro 51mm, which has a larger battery than others. I’d routinely go 9 or 10 days without having to charge it.

So while that watch is bigger and more expensive, if battery life is your primary concern it’s worth considering.

Regardless of which watch you get, battery life is great, and it charges quickly.

So if it does die, you can plug it in for 5 minutes and have enough juice to get you through whatever activity you have planned.

5 Additional Thoughts on the Garmin Epix 2

As I’m finishing up this review, I’m realizing there are a handful of things I haven’t mentioned that I think are worth bringing up. 

I love the ability to create “Hot Keys”

For the first few months of having a Garmin Watch, I was annoyed that it took so many button clicks to start a stopwatch or a timer.

Then I discovered “Hot Keys”.

This allows you to customize the watch buttons in the form of a long hold or a combination of two buttons at once to engage basically any function on the watch. They’re fantastic, and make it extremely convenient to get to the functions you use most often.

I like how easy it is to get the information I need

An example of some of the menu items you can easily get access to.

The quick-view menus that you get to by simply swiping up and down (or hitting the up and down buttons) are great. You can customize which ones you see, so whether it’s fitness data, weather, my calendar, or whatever else – it’s very easy to access.

There’s also one watch face that I love that makes it very easy to get all of the most important numbers for me.


The watch faces could use some work

Generally speaking, I don’t love the Garmin watch faces. I’ve found the options Apple has to not only be more visually interesting, but I’m able to customize those more easily to my liking.

I mentioned there is one watch face I like on Garmin and I’ve enabled that with each watch I’ve had.

This face comes with both the S70 and the Epix Pro models, but oddly does not come with the Epix. 

I had to go to the IQ store where I was able to find one that was basically the same, but it’s still not quite as good as the built in one from Garmin.

Which brings us to…

The Garmin IQ App Store is Good, Not Great

I’m happy that Garmin has their version of an “App Store” but the experience, especially compared to Apple is lacking.

I’ve found apps like the Hydration Tracker, Spotify, and Sauna Tracker to be useful – but the integration in most cases is just so so. 

Also, most of the apps on the IQ store feel like they’re not as high quality as some of the big-budget apps you get from Apple and Android.

So it’s serviceable, but could certainly be improved.

The Number of Activities is Impressive

The level of data you can get about so many different activities is truly staggering.

Let’s just go back to golf for a second. The fact this is a dedicated golf watch that is better than 95% of dedicated golf watches on the market, and it’s simply a bullet point on their sales page is pretty wild.

Throw in the fact it’s also a dedicated ski watch, surf watch, running watch, swimming watch – the list goes on.

The fact it not just has these features, but has them in a well implemented and truly useful way is one thing that sets Epix and high end Garmin watches apart from other fitness watches.

Final Thoughts on the Garmin Epix 2 

A Garmin watch won’t be for everyone.

And more than that, the Epix Gen 2 won’t be for every Garmin user.

It’s a fitness watch that can provide detailed data for just about every sport, so much so that it will be overkill for most people.

If you’re a casual person just looking for a Fitbit replacement, consider the Venu.

If you’re a diehard runner, then save a few bucks and get the Forerunner.

If convenience and style is more important, then stick with an Apple Watch.

But if you want a watch that can track and support you in any activity you throw at it, while helping you become healthier in the process? I’m not sure there’s a better watch out there than the Epix line of watches from Garmin.

If it were me, I’d probably spend a few extra bucks to get an Epix Pro over the original Epix. It never hurts to future proof yourself, and the flashlight on the Pro models is legitimately useful.

If you’re a golfer and you only care about a golf watch, then stick with the Approach S70.

But if you’re a do-it-all kind of person, and you want a watch that can keep up? The Epix Gen 2 is among the best options out there.

Best Fitness Watch
Garmin Epix (Gen 2) GPS Fitness Watch

The Garmin Epix Gen 2 is the ultimate fitness watch. But it ALSO has nearly all of the golf functionality of the dedicated golf watch: the Approach S70. The Epix Pro is even better, but a couple hundred dollars more.

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Good Things

  • World class health and fitness tracking
  • Very good battery life
  • Beautiful AMOLED screen

Bad Things

  • Not quite as elegant as an Apple Watch
  • Expensive for casual users

The Breakdown

Personal Affinity

There are 4 comments

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    • Sean Ogle

      A few major things for me:

      Golf experience is better on the S70. The user-interface is more refined, and it just overall looks and feels like a dedicated golf watch (because it is). I cant speak to the 42mm versions, but when comparing 47mm S70 to Epix, the S70 looks just slightly better due to slightly better pixel density. But I imagine 42mm versions will likely be similar if not identical to eachother.

      But with Epix Pro, there are benefits. 1) Built in flashlight which I found surprisingly useful. 2) 5 buttons vs 3. You get used to whichever one you have, but having the option to scroll through menus using physical buttons I’ve found I vastly prefer. 3) More in-depth fitness tracking. So if you do other sports other than golf, you’ll get more data and have more options with Epix.

      My quick take: If it’s for golf only, go with S70. If it’s just for say golf and sleep tracking, go with S70. If you plan to wear it daily, do all physical activity, and really lean into the Garmin ecosystem, go Epix.

  1. Jeff

    Thanks for the quick reply! I went with the 42mm pro. I’ll give it a month or two and then go with the s70 if needed. Black Friday sale got me nearly all the way to the cost of the s70. Worried it is overkill but maybe it will drive me to better habits!

    • Sean Ogle

      That’s awesome! And honestly, the Epix has absolutely helped me build better health and fitness habits. My Apple Watch got me started with it, but the Garmin has been great for moving beyond “closing my rings” and actually making meaningful changes.

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