The advantages of a multisport watch, which is also wearable and usable in everyday life, are quite obvious. With its fēnix series, Garmin has achieved a strong position in the multisport watch market and is currently launching the sixth generation. The focus of the enhancements has been on more battery capacity and improved training functions such as an optimized heart rate measurement on the wrist. In addition, thanks to a PulseOx sensor, the watch offers weather and altitude acclimatisation functions as well as numerous other applications for body monitoring and training control. Our electronics specialist Guido has taken a closer look at the details.
Guido‘s watch review: Garmin fēnix 6X PRO
“Finally: Garmin has released the sixth generation of its fēnix series, and I’ve immediately been given the chance to test it for you. For over a year now, I’ve been wearing the fēnix 5X Plus, which makes it easy to compare it with the new fēnix 6X PRO. No novelty, but still worth mentioning: The watches are stylish and can be worn on a daily basis, allowing them to demonstrate their full range of functions in the first place.
A matter of settings
Setting up the new watch and connecting it to the Garmin Connect app was incredibly quick and easy. My settings from the fēnix 5 were quickly transferred to the fēnix 6, meaning I could get started in just a few minutes. Overall, it‘s not very difficult to set up the watch according to your personal preferences. The new, more intuitive menu navigation makes things even easier in my opinion.
Focussing on: battery life
One of the most important things athletes expect from a GPS watch is a long battery life. At least that’s definitely true for me!
Through various improvements, Garmin has been able to increase battery life for all models. Especially interesting: With the new PowerManager I can define different energy settings for each workout, which makes it impossible to give an accurate overall running time for the battery. This depends very much on your own individual choices. In Smartwatch mode, the fēnix 6X PRO is supposed to have a running time of up to 24 days. My first test can’t confirm this, as I frequently used the GPS and training mode during the test period. But even in this case, I only had to recharge the watch after 19 days. This is a significant improvement compared to the fēnix 5X Plus.
What else stands out? The optical pulse measurement features new LEDs. Now it’s no longer three small LEDs, but two larger LEDs that, according to Garmin, are supposed to offer much better pulse measurement at the wrist. With the fēnix 5X Plus, the differences between the optical measurement and the one with the chest strap were often significant, so that I never really used the optical measurement alone.
That’s why I was very interested in this particular point. I was curious to see whether the differences in the measured values were smaller with the fēnix 6. A roller trainer session proved to be very useful in this context: The values were almost identical. However, it is important to keep in mind that exercising on a turbo trainer offers almost perfect conditions for optical pulse measurement. There is hardly any vibration, so the watch always stays in place on the wrist and offers reliable values after the warm-up phase. Things were a bit different while running. There were slight deviations during training, but in any case much smaller ones than with the predecessor. And for me they were rather insignificant.
The new design of the fēnix 6 models offers more room for larger displays. The fēnix 6’s screen has been expanded to 1.3 inches, the fēnix 6X even features a 1.4 inch display. It’s immediately noticeable, of course. The display performance has also been remarkably improved. The resolution seems to be much higher and the contrasts are stronger. This is probably due to the new display cover material Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which is used for the PRO models. The side buttons are also much more comfortable and functional. Not that they didn’t work on the fēnix 5, but somehow the fēnix 6X PRO ones feel much better.
Navigation: The fēnix watches of the PRO series come with a pre-installed TopoActive Europe map which will guide you to your destination from the top of your wrist. The only thing I have to object to is that the display of a wrist watch is always rather small for this function.
Emergency function: The emergency function automatically informs predefined contacts via a connection to the smartphone. In case of an emergency, live tracking is automatically activated to enable a fast localization. The function is triggered automatically in special situations, but it can also be started manually. It originates from the Garmin Edge devices and also works perfectly with the clock.
But be aware: This useful service can be very annoying sometimes! With the watch I only need to jump down a wall and the watch identifies it as a fall. However, you always have enough time to terminate the emergency call manually. Therefore everything is still fine.
ClimbPro: A very nice feature that stems from the new Egde 830 models is the ClimbPro function for cyclists. It helps me to be better prepared for upcoming climbs on a tour. In order to benefit from this function, the watch must know the route beforehand, i.e. you need to follow or define a specific route. Then the clock will show me how many more climbs I have to master. As I climb, it displays exactly where I am how long the climb will take me. The multi-coloured display of the elevation profile is also a very nice feature. From green (flat) to dark red (very steep) I can easily see what still lies ahead of me and pace myself accordingly.
And many more functions: In addition to the integrated heart rate measurements, the watch has a pulse-ox sensor that determines the oxygen saturation in the bloodstream. This is achieved with red and infrared light, sensors then analyse the saturation. Typically, the measured values lie between 85 and 100 percent (mostly 95% and higher). However, this can vary due to numerous factors such as altitude and load.
From heart rate and oxygen saturation, the watch generates data for innumerous training and health related features. In addition, services such as Garmin Pay, Smart Notifications and Music offer plenty of practical functions.
As usual with Garmin, the workmanship is premium class. What’s more, the battery performance has been increased considerably, the optimized pulse measurement offers better values to work with. The new LEDs of the third generation represent a real improvement here. However, I would recommend the use of a Garmin chest strap to those who want maximum accuracy and do running sports. Numerous functions and smart features such as the payment service Garmin Pay, Music, Smart Notifications and the compatibility with various other Garmin product lines make the fēnix 6 a true multi-talent!
However, the price is rather high, but the watch is definitely worth the money if you want to use it on a daily basis and profit from lots of its functions. This is when the beautiful and clever design of the watches starts to pay off. They look great and can be transformed into a completely different watch by changing the display or replacing the wristbands with the familiar Quickfit system. They look great and can be transformed into a completely different watch by changing the display or replacing the wristbands with the familiar Quickfit system. For sports enthusiasts with a penchant for technology, this is a great gadget for training and leisure.”