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  • Cheryl Tan

Garmin Tactix 7 Pro Review: Really Cool Watch, but Not for Everyone

The Garmin Tactix 7 Pro looks like a watch that you would see on the wrist of a Navy Seal or a military serviceperson, and if you're into that sort of aesthetic (which I certainly am), then you'll love this watch. But this watch has so many features that the average layperson would never really use.

Let's talk design first. The Tactix 7 Pro comes with two straps, a standard rubber strap and a nylon band that has almost the same handfeel as a NATO strap and feels great on the wrist. For most of the review, I used the nylon band and it's the one that's pre-installed on the watch as well.

You get five buttons all around the case, the one on the top right pulls up a menu where you can start different modes and workouts, navigate or pull up the GPS map. The bottom right button is a pure back button, while the top left is a multi-function button that either pulls up the watch's main menu with a long press and hold, turns on the flashlight with a double press or lights up the watch face with a single press.

The middle button pulls up the ability to change the watch face, alarms and clocks or expand into the settings with a long press, while a single press pulls up information widgets that you can edit, like heart rate, sunset timing, sleep data and more. The last button on the bottom left either pulls up the music feature with a long press, or goes into the same information widget screen, just from the top of the list.

All in all, the buttons are tactile and easily activated, although not to the point where you'll accidentally activate them. The buttons are also quite large and come with a diamond knurled design that provides friction. That being said, the Tactix 7 Pro actually comes with a touchscreen, which is excellent. I remember when I was reviewing the Fenix 6 Pro Solar that it didn't come with touch controls, and I had to consciously remind myself not to touch the screen. Here, the 1.4-inch display is responsive to touch and the watch itself is snappy and quick.

The bezel is made with titanium, and the cover glass is Garmin's Power Sapphire, which pairs a solar charging ring with a sapphire lens for protection. The body of the watch itself is made with a fibre-reinforced polymer and the caseback is made with titanium. The watch feels incredibly sturdy and durable; in fact, it's the only smartwatch I've ever tried (aside from the aforementioned Fenix 6 Pro Solar) that I didn't have to worry a bit about thanks to meeting MIL-STD-810 for durability. It literally feels like it can take a beating and keep on ticking, and seeing as this watch looks targeted at military personnel, this is an absolute plus.

But why does it feel like it's targeted toward the military? Well, the presence of a kill switch feature, for one, that wipes the watch. A Jumpmaster mode, for two, to calculate a high altitude release point for skydivers. Night vision capability for when night vision goggles are used. And finally, a stealth mode that disables wireless communications and stops sharing and storing the watch's GPS position.

For any general user, these are features that will never be used in their lifetime. I mean, I can't imagine I would ever need to use the jumpmaster mode, and that's honestly one of the biggest features of the watch.

But for others, sure, I can see myself using them, and there are some I love, even, such as the addition of a flashlight to the watch. This LED flashlight is integrated into the case at the top, between the top two lugs and provides the option of white or green light. The option to choose between the colours, or the intensity of the white light, though, is only available if you turn on the light via the menu instead of through the double press on the top left button.

It's a small matter, because the flashlight is truly useful. Walking through my house in the middle of the night, I can just turn that on instead of having to turn on an actual light and possibly disturbing my family members. Even at the second intensity level, the light is strong enough that I can read large words at a distance if necessary.

Battery life is also fantastic, with up to 37 days in smartwatch mode thanks to the solar charging feature. If you're unable to get the watch in the sun though, you can get up to 24 days in smartwatch mode, up to 63 hours with all satellite modes turned on, or up to 89 hours with GPS only.

And of course, the watch comes with the ability to connect to multiple global navigation satellite systems for accurate positioning, an altimeter for elevation data, preloaded TopoActive maps and more. I did notice that there was an occasion where my GPS stopped working and kept me in an old location, but a quick reset and re-pair with my phone fixed the issue.

For fitness tracking, aside from the workouts mentioned previously, Garmin has all the bells and whistles in the Tactix 7 Pro as well. Heart rate and heart rate variability, blood oxygen, stress, breaths per minute, sleep score and the same Body Battery feature which calculates how your energy reserves go up with good rest, and how it goes down when you're stressed or tired. It's an easy way to see how your body is feeling, whether you require a bit of a break in the middle of the day or if you're good to keep chugging along till the evening.

But there are cons to the watch too. First is the inability to reply to notifications. The screen is larger than most other smartwatches out there, and that results in very easy-to-read notifications, but unfortunately, there's not even the ability to use preset replies for messages and the likes. Secondly, it's the price. At S$2,019, this is truly one of the most expensive smartwatches I've tested so far.

The truth is, the Garmin Tactix 7 Pro isn't a watch for general users like you or me. It's a watch that's meant for a very specific group of people who have very specific needs. If you're in that group, this watch will be well worth the purchase. If you're not, well, look at any of the other more affordable consumer smartwatches out there.

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