Garmin Fenix 5 Review

Garmin Fenix 5 Review

The Garmin Fenix 5 is by far one of the most powerful outdoor watches available on the market that sports a perfect mix of detailed metrics in one tech gadget. The Garmin Fenix 5 is an upgrade of the popular Garmin Fenix 3 HR which has been one of Garmin’s best sellers. As a matter of fact, Garmin only needed to make minimal simple upgrades from the Garmin Fenix 3 HR to give us the Garmin Fenix 5. The design and the size are the main features that have been slightly tweaked. The Garmin Fenix 5 has also been designed to make better use of the Garmin Connect IQ so as to provide an even better-personalized feel.

But do not just take our word for it. Read the detailed review to get a clear picture of what the Garmin Fenix 5 has to offer.

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Design and Screen 

The design of this watch is rugged which is fitting for an outdoor watch. This rugged look makes the watch feel as though it could hold its own against some considerable level of abuse. To hold the bezel in place are 5 screws. The watch features 5 buttons ringing the display; two on the right and three on its left side. Unlike other smart watches, the Garmin Fenix 5 comes with two bezels, an inner one surrounding the screen and an outer one. The two bezels measure about 0.5 inches though it’s hard to detect this amidst all that is going on in the exterior.

Garmin has deliberately designed the Garmin Fenix 5 without a touchscreen option and favored the buttons lined on the sides of the display as it was with the Garmin Fenix 3 and many other Garmin Smartwatches. The buttons on the right are made for the back and enter functions while those on the left handle the scrolling and backlight. For those used to a touchscreen design, this may feel like a downgrade but when you actually think about it, it would be hard to use the touchscreen with gloves or sweaty hands. It is much easier to use the buttons, once getting used to it becomes really intuitive and easy to use. Also, and this goes without saying, the Garmin Fenix 5 is water resistant. But what you did not see coming is the depth of its water resistance – a whopping 100 meters which is mind blowing in comparison to the 40 meters offered by other watches including the TomTom Adventurer.

Garmin designed the new Garmin Fenix 5 with three flavors. The smaller Garmin Fenix 5S, the mid-sized Garmin Fenix 5, and the larger Garmin Fenix 5X. The Garmin Fenix 5 and the Garmin Fenix 5S feature the same screen size at 1.2 inches while the Garmin Fenix 5X has a 1.9-inch display, 0.6 inches thick and 3.5 ounces heavier.

Moving on to the display, the Garmin Fenix 5 features the Always-On Display technology with a complementary transflective surface that takes advantage of the sunlight for a brighter display. When under a shade or indoors, the brightness will be significantly reduced. The unit features a backlight to help with this. The downside of this technology is a reduced refresh rate and resolution. The finer texts and graphics will appear unrefined and jagged on the display. But nonetheless, looking at this watch at arm’s length, this low resolution will matter less.

The LCD display comes with a resolution of 240 X 240 which is an upgrade from the previous 218 x 218 display. As for the colors, they do not show up all too often on the interface though they will be found on some menus, graphs as well as on some watch faces. Speaking of which, the unit comes with 9 preloaded customizable watch faces. There is also the option of downloading more from Garmin Connect IQ app.

The straps on the Garmin Fenix 5 have also seen a change in design as well as their term to QuickFit which better elaborates their design and technology. With the Fenix 3 HR, you had to faff around with the bolts and the screws to change up the straps. With the Garmin Fenix 5 however, a simple press on a depression in the shape of a button is all it takes to take off the strap and replace it. In addition to the design of the straps being changed up, the materials used have also seen their fair share of change. The strap on the Garmin Fenix 5 is less stretchy and less prone to damage.

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Honestly, the Garmin Fenix 5 is not the most feature-packed Smartwatch on the market. However, the gadget steals the hearts of many with its sports tracking abilities. Setting up the watch for the very first time, Garmin Fenix 5 will have you choose an activity you desire to have included on your menu. The options are insane and range from running (trail, indoors or outdoors), cycling (mountain bike, road and indoor) as well as swimming (in open water and pools). Other sports include the triathlon, skiing, golf, Stand Up Paddle, and much more and what we liked the most is that you can download and install many other sports from the Connect IQ store as Surfing.

It is very hard to have a sport that the Garmin Fenix 5 has not been designed to track. The great thing is that you can select your favorite sports and have a more personalized menu even after the first setup, also one of the features that we loved of our Garmin Fenix 5 is the way it tracks your sleep, using the HR and the accelerometer it can break your sleep in deep sleep, light sleep and awake. But in addition to the fitness and sleep tracking, the watch does a great job in complementing the smartwatch. As Expected you can connect your watch to your smartphone via Bluetooth or WiFi in the Fenix 5x When connected, the watch can pull and push notifications, get info like weather and you can even use it to control the music app from your phone. Be warned that you may find it hard to read these out in full.

A thing that we loved of the old Garmin Fenix 3 and that we still love in the new Fenix 5 is that you can completely use your smartwatch without connecting it to your smartphone, it doesn’t need to use any of your phone sensors.

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Optical Heart Rate Sensor

First I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of optical heart rate sensors in watches, in order to get a perfect measure they need to be really tight and sometimes sweat can cause misreadings. So I always try to use the chest strap which is much more accurate and I can get measures even when I’m not wearing the watch on my wrist like when I’m cycling that I like having it on my handlebar.

The Garmin Fenix 5 uses the company’s Elevate optical sensor as in all other Garmin devices, which has had some trouble in the past and sadly they haven’t come to a perfect sensor yet. You can get good resting Heart Rate measures which can be useful for example as a Sleep tracker but if you go out for a run you’ll observe some peaks in the readings.

With this being said, taking into account that the Fenix 5 HR is primarily designed for outdoors and sports we have to say that the HR is poor, in order to get accurate measures when practicing sports you’ll have to wear a chest strap.

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Garmin Connect Smartphone App

This smartwatch is compatible with the iOS, Android as well as Windows 10. In addition to this, Garmin made available a web interface that can be accessed from any computer to unlock all the features of your activity tracker. While the Garmin Connect is convenient and provides you with data on your wrist, the web interface is where the beef is. This contains all fitness data available.

The smartphone application is designed to be used for viewing all the data after any activity or to check how well your sleep went but if we want to go deep in metrics and stats and want to compare our activities with past workouts we should go to the web interface where we’ll find much more detailed and complex data, you can even schedule training plans, build running or cycling routes and many more in a simple and intuitive way.

The mobile app isn’t the easiest and most intuitive app amongst all others out there. With so many menus to scroll through, and so many data to be absorbed, the learning curve is pretty steep but after getting used to it you’ll enjoy it, at least we do.
You can create yourself an account and connect with other Garmin users and set challenges to see who has run more miles, who has climbed the steepest slope, and whatever challenge you can think of, it is a great way to keep you motivated in your sport objectives

Another great feature that we love about this Garmin Fenix 5 is that you can connect it with other activity tracking platforms as Strava and directly upload your activities

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Battery Life

The Garmin Fenix 5 Watch would not be a complete sports and fitness watch if it only lasted for a couple of hours before it requires a recharge. That said, many people have fallen in love with this unit specifically because of the fact that one does not have to worry about running out of juice when out hiking or skiing.

If you will not be using the heart rate monitor and the GPS, if you will have the watch in Smart Mode, the Fenix 5 will last for a total of 2 weeks. But if you’re outdoors practicing any activity and you use the Watch in full GPS and HR the battery will only last for about 20 hours. But this is still twice as long as the TomTom Adventurer provides. Turning on the UltraTrac mode where the watch will still have the GPS tracking active but only pinging the satellite once every minute as opposed to every second, the Garmin Fenix 5 will last for a cool 60 hours.

One of the thing that Garmin has improved in the Fenix 5 compared to the Fenix 3 is the charging dock, in the old Fenix 3 you needed a big dock to charge the watch which was a bit too much when traveling, now in the new Fenix 5 there’s a new charging cable much smaller and convenient, like the ones used in the new forerunner models.

Garmin Fenix 5 Rivals

The Polar M600

If you are looking for a regular smartwatch that heavily focuses on your sports and fitness, then the Polar M600 will work perfectly for you. The android wear comes with a fitness tracking inbuilt in its design. If you are an Android user, then you should give the product some serious consideration. The only bit that the Garmin Fenix 5 conquers is in the battery life. This Smartwatch will only provide you with two days of battery life.

Suunto Spartan Sports Wrist HR

In this list of rivals, this is by far the most direct competitor of the Garmin Fenix 5. The soon to be released Spartan Sports Wrist HR is expected to offer superior accuracy heart rate tracking. As a matter of fact, the company claims that the data delivered will be very close to the data provided by the chest strap HR monitors always.

9 Total Score

The Garmin Fenix 5 is the new version of one of the greatest multi-sport smartwatches, the Fenix 3. Again Garmin Has developed an amazing piece of tech that will make every sport lover want it

  •      A durable design
  •      Long battery life
  •      Customizable Display
  •      Outdoor readability
  •      Build Quality
  •      Price
  •      Low Screen Resolution
User Rating: 5 (1 votes)
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