The latest model in the Garmin Fenix range has arrived amidst a lot of hype and anticipation from the brand’s fans.
Solar charging, bigger screens, better control over battery life, a more accurate heart rate sensor and a host of new functionality are the big news in a the Fenix 6 – a smartwatch that will impress fitness fanatics and extreme-sports fans in particular.
The Garmin Fenix 6 has been a long time coming, eagerly awaited by many Fenix 3 and 5 owners. Garmin seems to have listened to previous criticisms – possibly a little too much, as the watch appears to be trying to please everyone. This has resulted in a confusing array of variations that could get you stuck in analysis paralysis while trying to figure out which option suits you best.
The top of the range model, Fenix 6X Pro Solar, sports special glass that soaks up the sun’s rays to charge your watch. This can add a whopping three days to the already impressive 21-day battery life – so long as you’re outdoors a lot, of course.
If you’re a runner, you can look forward to the new PacePro, a first-of-its-kind feature that adapts to elevation changes to keep a runner’s pacing on track. It also lets you plan your running course in advance and then guides you on your actual run. For avid marathon runners, this feature is especially invaluable as proper planning could make or break your race.
The Power Manager feature allows the deactivation of certain features to preserve battery life, and gives an instant estimation of the battery life in hours – a very welcome improvement on the usual percentage indicator. An extreme power saving mode is available when you need to squeeze out the last bit of functionality.
Your typical Garmin was not made to be flashed at a black-tie event. The Fenix 6, although a bit lighter and a little less bulky, still has the same robust outdoorsy feel as its predecessors.
The casing of the Fenix 6 is only a millimetre or so slimmer than the Fenix 5, but the difference can be felt on the wrist thanks to a weight reduction of around 7g.
The Fenix 6’s display is 17% larger (now 1.3 inches) than the 5 plus, whereas the 6X boasts an increase of 36%. These increases not only assist with readability but also provides more data per screen. The slightly more expensive Sapphire edition boasts a heavy-duty screen that offers more scratch-resistance.
A wider variety of band options allows you to either add a touch of elegance or more durability, depending on whether you opt for a leather, titanium or nylon band. New rose gold, champagne, and grey casings add to the customisation options. Optimisation of the Garmin Elevate Optical Heart Rate Sensor means that a chest strap is no longer needed.
Garmin claims that the Fenix 6 is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance, so a few bumps and scratches shouldn’t harm this durable sports watch.
As well as daily activity monitoring, the Garmin Fenix 6 caters for almost any type of sport:
The Fenix 6 now supports optical heart rate while swimming, a feature first seen on the Forerunner 945. Another new feature is the built-in PulseOx sensor that measures blood oxygen saturation levels. This comes in handy when picking up sleep-related issues and also works at high altitudes to determine how well your body is acclimatising, making it a potential lifesaver.
- Power Modes – customisable in-activity battery settings
- PacePro™ Pacing Strategies to assist runners, especially during races
- Underwater wrist-based heart rate monitor
- Incident detection during select activities
- PulseOx sensor’s ability to measure blood oxygen levels
- Glanceable widgets to view more data at once
- Solar power feature only available on the expensive top range model and only adds about three days to battery life.
- The more affordable Standard models don’t include WiFi connectivity, maps or music
- No touch screen
How does the Fenix 6 Compare to it’s Competition
|Feature||GARMIN FENIX |
|POLAR VANTAGE V||SUUNTO 9 BARO|
|Battery Life (GPS)||24HRS-75HRS||25HRS-148HRS (DEPENDS ON MODEL)||<40 HRS||<120 HRS|
|Download customer apps||YES||YES||NO||NO|
|Running Dynamics||With Rd Pod, HRM-TRI or HRM-Run||With Rd Pod, HRM-TRI or HRM-Run||NO||NO|
|Race Predictor||YES||YES, Plus Pacepro||NO||NO|
|Record HR Underwater||With HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with Optical-HR)||YES (With Optical HR OR HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM)||YES||YES|
|Follow GPS Track||YES||YES||NO||YES|
It’s easy to see why this new release is set to become a firm favourite for keen sports-people. It may even get a few couch potatoes dusting off their trainers to head outside to enjoy the myriad of fun functions on offer.
If however all these features are making your head spin and you’re after a little less functionality plus a little more affordability, browse our online store to view a broad range of incredible smartwatches.