Garmin fenix 5 Review


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The best GPS running watch available

It’s been a few months since Garmin used the wraps off its three new fitness watches, the fenix 5X, fenix 5S and Garmin fenix 5. Even though these are a few of the most successful, feature-packed GPS running watches available on the market, they only give a handful of notable improvements over their predecessors in the fenix 3 lineup.

When you’re at all familiar with the fenix 3 HR, you’d know that it was a bit too cumbersome for some people out there, mainly due to its size and design. Those points have now been addressed with the new fenix 5 lineup, so let’s get down to it. Is the fenix 5 worth the excessive price tag? Find out, in our full Garmin fenix 5 review.

Garmin fenix 5 Review – Specification

Operating System: Proprietary OS
Display: 240 x 240 pixels
Memory: 64 MB
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion, 24 hours in GPS mode, 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 75 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode
Sensors: GPS enabled, Heart rate sensor, Compass, Gyroscope, Altimeter, Barometer
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Garmin fenix 5 Review – Design

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The Fenix 5 is significantly lighter and smaller than the Fenix 3 HR and is certainly simpler and more pleasant to wear. At 47mm it’s still large, however not quite as unwieldy.

Whereas the Fenix 5 delivers plenty of advantages for all-day wear, it’s still hardly a looker. Industrial and bulky, there are 5 actual screws in the bezel. However the lighter and smaller design does mean that you can get away with all-day wear, and people who identify by their love of the outdoors could turn it into their permanent watch.

There’s still a color screen, and the visuals look a tad sharper, thanks to the latest resolution of 240 x 240. At first look you might not notice the colors – they’re used sparingly yet to good impact in screens like heart rate zones and menus.

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Garmin fenix 5 Review – Display

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The fenix 5 has an always-on color display (a plus) with a transflective surface that uses sunlight to make the screen brighter. I never had a downside reading the display, even in direct sunlight. However, if you’re indoors, the screen, whereas still viewable, is much dimmer than you will see on most smartwatches. It does have a backlight, though.

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Garmin fenix 5 Review – Software

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Garmin Connect is the place you’ll be spending most of your time, as it’s the central hub for your entire data.

It’s suitable with Android, iOS, Windows 10, and there’s also a web interface that you can access here. It took me awhile to accept this, however here’s what you should know when you’re planning on essentially using the app for all of your fitness data: the app is a more slimmed-down experience, whereas the Garmin Connect web interface houses pretty much all the fitness data you could think about.

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Garmin fenix 5 Review – Features and performance

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As I talked about earlier, I’ve been using the standard fenix 5 (Sapphire Edition) for this review. However, there are two other models you should know about – the fenix 5X and fenix 5S. The fenix 5S is a smaller, more suitable version of the fenix 5 built for individuals with more petite wrists.

The fenix 5X is the strongest model in the lineup, measuring 51 mm and sporting a handful of different features that outdoor fanatics will truly appreciate. 5X owners will get to take advantage of TOPO US mapping, routable cycling maps, and different navigation features like Round Trip Ride and Round Trip Run.

No matter which model you end up choosing, you’ll be able to track pretty much each different performance metric that you’d find on any other fitness tracker on the market: steps taken, calories burned, floors climbed/descended, distance traveled, intensity minutes, heart rate, and sleep.

Above all else, the fenix 5 is a running watch, and it’s a darn good one. If you’re on the run, the watch will display (by default) your distance, time, pace, lap distance, lap time, lap pace, heart charge, heart rate zone, as well as the current time. You’ll be able to remove any of those data screens from the watch in the settings menu or add issues like a map, compass, music controls, and more when you’d like.

Aside from all of the standard metrics listed above, the fenix 5 also does a nice job at making sure you’re developing over time. It does so with a few different features, similar to Training Effect and VO2 max.

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Garmin fenix 5 Review – Battery Life

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One of the reasons I favor wearing Garmin’s watches over smartwatches is that I rarely have to worry about recharging. For those who’re not using GPS or the heart rate monitor, the fenix 5 will last up to two weeks. Which means when you forget to bring the charger on a trip doing more than a day, you won’t have an unusable hunk of metal on your wrist. If you’re using GPS, the battery is considered to last up to 24 hours, that is more than double what the TomTom Adventurer (11 hours) provides.

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The Garmin Fenix 5 is a still an excellent multisports watch, which successfully packages up every element of Garmin’s unbelievable array of specialist devices. For individuals who demand the most effective from running, cycling, swimming, hiking and even golf it’s an unbeatable device. Of course, there are downsides. The first is the price. However, the Garmin Fenix 5 is essentially a 6-in-1 device – more when you count the options provided by Garmin Connect IQ. Our exclusive real gripe is the optical heart rate sensor, that unlike every other phase of the Garmin Fenix 5, is not the gold standard. However, for the truly active, the Fenix 5 is the most effective available on the market.

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Review Score

8.9 Total Score
What Compsmag Says....

Garmin's fenix 5 is filled with features, sensors, and will track just about each exercise under the sun. With its GPS tracking and stellar activity, two-week battery life, 10 ATM water resistance, and slimmed down design, we can honestly say that is the most effective GPS running watch out there. If you can get to the high price point, we expect you will be very happy with whatever the fenix 5 has to offer.

Battery Life
  • Incredible array of data
  • Every imaginable sport
  • Slimmer and lighter
  • Optical HR not the strongest
  • Recovery advice a bit conservative
  • Easy to accidentally pause workouts

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