Garmin Edge 840 vs 530: Is Now The Time To Upgrade To Touchscreen?

At first glance, this comparison seems a bit weird: pitching the previous generation button-only Edge 530 against the new touchscreen Edge 840.

But wait, there’s a small nutsack of sense in this flippant whimsy. Because… the Edge 840 crimps in both bedpans.

Unlike the Edge 830, the newer 840 is fully operate-able (surprise! not a word) with buttons.

Perhaps you picked, or stuck with, the Edge 530 over the 830 because you couldn’t entirely get on with a touchscreen. Now you can buy the Edge 840, with all Garmin’s whizzo new features, dip your finger into the screen of touch, whilst knowing you’re millimetres from a satisfying physical button press, should it all get too much.

So, what are those whizzo new features, how else do the Edge 530 and 840 differ and, importantly, which should you choose? If your name is MacDuff, read on. Everyone else can do one. Thanks.

See My Credentials, Hear Me Roar

I bought the Edge 530 back in November 2020 and I wrote a detailed review here (which has also become a somewhat-watched YouTube video). Previous posts have seen me compare it with virtually every device short of your dad’s ANT+ jiggle balls.

I’ve been using the Edge 840 since April 2023 and have already held it to account versus the old skool 830 and the new age (phunk) 1040.

So whilst I may possess little talent in the bailiwicks of endurance training and bike technology, I have at least used them a bit. As far as the internet is concerned, that makes me an expert. So here’s some expertise in your eyeholes.

Garmin Edge 530

High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.

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Edge 840 Versus Edge 530: Plenty In Common

Let’s be clear from the start. If we zoom out, as I say all day and every day in my corporate job, the Edge 530 and 840 do ostensibly the same thing.

Despite one being a few years older than the other, we’ve not see light year improvements in bike GPS technology in that period.

Both devices are sophisticated (and compact!) GPS units that sit neatly on your handlebars or in an outfront mount, merrily recording where you’ve cycled, how quickly and how high you were at the time (the type that can be measured in feet or metres). Oh, and eleventy throusand other data points*.

(* Slight exaggeration-cum-literary-flourish)

Edge 840 data screen

All the training, navigation and safety features that any velo-king-or-queen (right up to pro level) might require are found on both the devices. (I reserve the right to be proved wrong by someone piping up with an esoteric must-have that only the 840 provides).

Display wise, they’re very similar. Despite the difference in age, the 840 shares the same 2.6″ screen and the resolution remains identical.

The 840 device is slightly wider, I think to accommodate the solar charging, er, sensors (?), even if you go for the non-solar version. This gives it a more stocky, technical look (marginally… if we squint).

There’s not much in it though: both devices sit firmly in the compact bike computer category.

Edge 530 data page

So, to be clear, there is no need to pick the more expensive one. Or to upgrade from one to the other.

But I know that won’t stop you.

We may as well press on with the differentials.

The Edge 840 Has A Touchscreen (And The 530 Doesn’t)

No sherbert, Dangermouse. That’s the whole point of my faec…. thesis… blog post.

And actually I’ve always got on with the Edge touchscreens, certainly in recent incarnations. They’re not smartphone responsive or precise, but then they have to work in wet conditions, deal with being chucked about a bit more and, importantly, not draw too much power from the battery.

Garmin Edge 530

High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.

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Not everyone is a fan though. “Working in wet conditions” is subjective. For some it seems … not to.

So, with the 840, you can now try out a touchscreen. But the point is…

The Edge 840 Has Buttons (And The Edge 530, er, Does)

Or more correctly the Edge 840 also has buttons. And unlike the Edge 830 with it’s measly 3 buttons, the 840 rejoices in five. Which is the same as the Edge 530.

[I will press you to get to the point Mr Montgomer-ahhh]

The 840 now has sufficient buttons, and an updated user interface (“UI” to us tech folk), that allows it to operate entirely in button-only mode. Anything that you can do or select via the touchscreen can also be done with buttons with a similar amount of ease*.

Edge 840 quick start menu

(*The slight caveat to this might be the ‘Start/Stop’ and ‘Pause’ functions which remain easier to do via the buttons on the front edge of the device. But who cares-THIS-IS-MY-BLOG, also this is exactly the same as the 530 so not a difference).

You can switch between using either mode at any time. In the middle of scrolling down a menu with the touchscreen? No bother. Start pressing the uppy-downy buttons on the side (I think Gah-min calls them that) and the blue selecta-box appears and you’re in button mode. Sunday Monday Happy Days.

So, to complete the point I started in the last section, with the 840 you can try out a touchscreen, safe in the knowledge that the device also provides the calm, protected waters of a safe button harbour. Much like, whisper it, the Edge 540 (which is also an option if you absolutely, posi-tively, will not entertain the idea of a touchscreen anywhere about your person (ahem, bike)).

Now. While we’re still on topic of operating the damn thing.

You Can Update Edge 840 Settings With Your Smartphone

Another nuanced point.

You can also update Edge 530 settings via your phone (like the 840, using the Garmin Connect app). But only some of them.

Edge 530 using phone

The current x40 generation of Edges allow all settings on the device to be changed “in app”. I’ve found this most useful for playing arou… crafting my perfect data screens, changing the number of fields, twerking my favourite attributes.

It’s a little thing but one that does improve the Edge 840’s ease of use. It also brings it into line with the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT and ROAM, both of which make ‘ease of use’ one of their key calling cards (if a bike GPS can have a calling card).

The Edge 840 Has a Different Charging Cable (And Longer Battery Life)

Good grief. We’re going there already?

The Chinese may have awarded it to a rabbit, but 2023 is surely the year of the USB-C port.

Soon all of us Apple sheep people (“Asspeeple”) will move across. And when we do, we’ll be able to use our Edge 840 charging cable… because, get this!, IT HAS A USB-C CHARGING APERTURE!

Edge 840 charging port

Unlike the Edge 530 (and any Edge device before the 1040), which has a micro-USB port. Like 99% of the rechargeable (plastic tat) stuff that exists in the world.

You don’t need to preserve your soon-to-be-extinct 530 charging cable quite yet. But the 840 will, amp-for-amp, volt-for-volt, charge more quickly (maybe not amp-for-amp cos that’s probably the point). Which might be helpful if you find yourself with an out-of-charge device 15 minutes before a group ride. With the 840 you might get enough charge in to do the necessary job of work.

Staying balls deep in electricity (my favourite state), the 840 has a longer battery life than the 530. Garmin states up to 26 hours under intense use (the mind boggles), with a further (up to) 6 hours if you’ve picked the solar option and you’ve picked the non-cloudy location (longer in each case in battery save mode).

The 530 has a more than adequate for me 20 hours.

And no solar option, because that’s another new x40 generation development. Which probably deserves a new section but damnit I’ve already mentioned it now so we may as all move on with our lives.

Edge 840 solar charging

(The Edge 840 can be bought in a solar version which uses a sensor around the screen to extend the battery life in sunny conditions. It only seems to add a small amount of time though – particularly for me here in the UK – so for choice I wouldn’t pay up for the solar version nor use it as a reason to upgrade from the 530).

Let’s move on to something interesting…

The Edge 840 Has Different Features (Of A Software Persuasion)!

Let’s start with my favourite: ClimbPro.

This is a specific screen that kicks in when you’re, er, climbing. It shows a gradient chart specific to that climb as well as distance, height and average gradient remaining.

Both the Edge 530 and 840 have ClimbPro, but the newer 840 version is better.

Edge 840 ClimbPro on handlebars

The 840 gradient charts are more detailed with more granular colours. More importantly, they now appear as you start a climb, whether you’re on a pre-loaded route or not. ClimbPro on the 530 only shows up if you’re riding a course.

You can also use the 840 to search for nearby climbs and they’re identified on the maps as you scroll around them.

Edge 530 ClimbPro

To be honest, I’m most in need of ClimbPro (from a psychological comfort perspective) when I’m riding unfamiliar roads. And if I’m doing that, I’m likely to have plotted a route. So I could manage with the 530 but…

I really like the newer version with it’s (hashtag) ‘more pro’ gradient charts. And it is cool when it clicks into a climb when I’m going route-free (as well as pants-free).

So, in the mix with the touchscreen, a tick in the ‘you should pick this one’ (the 840) column.

This section actually plops in the middle of the software/hardware Venn diagram (my favourite of all the Venn diagrams).

The Edge 840 has some bingo-bango-better GPS chips (aerials? carrier pigeons?) which make for more accurate tracking, particularly under trees and in more built up areas.

People in the know call this ‘GNSS’. I call it ‘a nice to have’ since I’ve not known my 530 to be noticeably embarrassed in the ride tracking accuracy stakes.

On the software side… the differences are less profound.

Both computers have onboard navigation, meaning you can plot a route to a place and re-route as needed, on the device.

The 840 is more flexible. With the 530, identifying a point to navigate to needs you to drop a pin on the map.

Edge 530 navigationOn the 840 you can type in an address or select a point of interest (with the x40 generation of POIs being more bike-specific rather than the car-flavoured ones on the 830).

The newer (and importantly, touchscreen) device is more convenient for mapping and route finding. Moving around a map is easier and quicker with touch. You can quickly get into the navigation features via a quick tap on one of the home page widgets.

THAT ALL SAID, if your main navigation requirement is to follow a route you plotted on Strava or similar, then the differences are less profound. The 530 is more than capable.

If navigation is a priority, I’d push you (gently, with a light caress) in the direction of the larger-screen Edge 1040 (or 1030 Plus). Probably a topic for a different post.

Training Features Are The Same But Different

What a helpful subheading.

Training features are similar between the Edge 530 and 840 in the sense that they perform 90ish% of the same functionality.

Both track fitness over time using concepts like training load and estimated VO2 max. Both give an idea of your current recovery status and readiness to train.

Edge 840 cycling ability

The 840 just has a few more higher end features:

  • Daily suggested workouts that can be tailored to a planned ‘A’ event (race, hard sportive, long ride to the pub), taking account of the recovery state you wake up in.
  • auto-calculating the fitness types a route requires: anaerobic capacity, aerobic endurance, mental fortitude (maybe)
  • estimating the amount of stamina you should have left for a ride

And actually as I re-remind myself about all the 840’s extra training glitterpops, I realise there are quite a few. Which, if you’re that way inclined, you’ll want to investi-xplore.

Edge 840 course demands

But that I had to revise makes clear that I don’t use them ‘on the regular’. Maybe I’ll use them in the future when I have more time and inclination for structured training. I’m the meantime it’s nice to know they’re there. I’ll leave to you to decide if the ‘nice to know’ aspect is worth paying for.

Also the graphics on the 840 seem more modern on the training screens and I prefer them. Which is as good a reason as any to drop a few hundred quid on a more modern model.

Edge 530 and Edge 840: Cost vs Value

To be honest, for most of us, the Edge 530 offers better value. The official Garmin price is (at the time of writing) $299 / £289 but it’s frequently on sale. I’d definitely be looking out for a deal in the upcoming October Prime events from Amazon and around Black Friday.

The list price of the Edge 840 in non-solar guise is $449 / £449, with a weirdly-inconsistent additional $100 or £70 for the solar versions (presumably reflecting that we small Englanders receive less sun).

Given that the 530 performs 95% of the things most performance-orientated cyclists want, it doesn’t make a great deal of value-sense to pony up an additional $150 (or £160 – more weird FX conversions) for the 5% of stuff on the 840 we may or may not actually use.

But pony up we will, as you, like me, will have likely already decided you need the shiny new thing. My precious.

Should You Be Choosing the Edge 830 Instead Then?

You absolutely could. It’s a great bike computer. I got on with the touchscreen, so I preferred it over the Edge 530.

Edge 840 next to 830

And helpfully (or not) you can triangulate a position based on two of my other posts:

Using complex mathematics – I think René Descartes refers to the technique as a perineal inversion – you can compare each post to this one and determine the truth of the universe. And which bike GPS to buy.

To Sum Up

There are likely more granular lists of all the minute differences between the 530 and 840 (or basically a list of all the new stuff on the 840). I like to think they’d be more tedious to wade through.

The 840 is definitely a better bike computer.

It’s newer, with a reworked UI which is recognisably Garmin but a little easier to navigate (more use of home-screen-located widgets; less use of text sub-menus within sub-menus).

It’ll stay current for longer, with more frequent firmware updates and perhaps a fewer extra features as Garmin creates them. It already has ClimbPro vBetter.

The 840 has two ways of operating: buttons and touchscreen. And it’s this aspect that might the touchscreen-curious (or perhaps touchscreen-sceptic) Edge 530 owner (or other button-only device) the slap on the buttarks to give it a go.

So let’s all get said buttarks out and prepare for a tickle. Safe cycling.

Garmin Edge 530

High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.

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Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

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