A worthy upgrade

Garmin fēnix 6

Beloved classic

Garmin fēnix 5

If you want to take your tracking up a notch, you'll love the Garmin fēnix 6. It's relatively similar to its predecessor with some notable improvements. You'll now have a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation, battery saving modes, and the new PacePro feature that helps you keep your pacing strategy right on track.

$554 at Amazon

Pros

  • Onboard GPS
  • Two-week battery life & battery saving modes
  • 10 ATM water resistance
  • New PacePro feature, Pulse Ox sensor
  • Garmin Pay

Cons

  • Expensive

If you're not concerned about having the latest and greatest wearable, you might be content with the Garmin fēnix 5. It's got the essentials, like onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, in-depth activity tracking, and multiple sport modes. It doesn't have dedicated battery saving modes, Garmin Pay, or a Pulse Ox sensor.

$433 at Amazon

Pros

  • Onboard GPS
  • 2-week battery life
  • 10 ATM water resistance
  • In-depth activity tracking
  • Multiple sport modes

Cons

  • Lacks Pulse Ox sensor
  • No battery saving modes

Garmin is known for its high-quality fitness watches. No matter what type of wearable you're seeking, you'll be able to find a model that has the features and functionality that you desire. The fēnix lineup is a perfect example of this as there are multiple options to choose from.

These watches were built for outdoor adventurers who crave in-depth activity tracking, among other helpful features. If you're happy with the essentials, the Garmin fēnix 5 is more affordable and delivers on the basics and some other goodies. If you want to take it a step further, you might want to spend the extra money for the fēnix 6.

Extra perks

Fenix 6Source: Garmin Pictured: fēnix 6 Series

On the surface, the Garmin fēnix 6 and its predecessor might as well be identical twins. They both come in a 47 mm case that is compatible with 22 mm interchangeable bands. Additionally, you can choose between a metal and silicone band when you buy the fēnix 6. There are a few subtle differences to be aware of. The fēnix 6 has a higher-quality Corning Gorilla Glass lens, while the fēnix 5 only has a chemically strengthened glass lens.

Garmin fēnix 6 Garmin fēnix 5
Dimensions 47 x 47 x 14.7 mm 47 x 47 x 15.5 mm
Display 1.3" sunlight-visible, transflective display 1.2" sunlight-visible, transflective display
Sensors GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer
Water resistance 10 ATM 10 ATM
Battery life Smartwatch mode: up to 14 days
GPS mode: up to 36 hours
Smartwatch mode: up to 14 days
GPS mode: up to 24 hours
Garmin Pay ✔️
Pulse Ox sensor ✔️
Battery saving modes ✔️

While these two watches look the same, the Garmin fēnix 6 does have a leg up in some important areas. Some people might think that two weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode is more than enough. However, when you're out exploring the great outdoors using GPS and other features, your battery can drain pretty quickly.

On the Garmin fēnix 6, you can see and control how certain settings and sensors impact battery life.

Thankfully, the new customizable Power Manager feature helps with this. On the Garmin fēnix 6, you can see and control how specific settings and sensors impact battery life. Before a workout or trip, you can see how much battery is left in hours and days, so you're prepared. You can adjust your battery saving modes to disable specific features so you can extend battery life as needed.

This new edition also has a Pulse Ox sensor, which is used for altitude acclimation and sleep monitoring. It determines how well your body is absorbing oxygen. The Body Battery is another new feature, which uses heart rate variability, stress, sleep, and other data to help you determine when you're ready to be active or when you may need to rest. It also has the option to track hydration and respiration. Let's not forget you'll also have mobile payments with Garmin Pay.

If you're a runner, you'll love the new PacePro feature, which is designed to help you keep your pacing strategy on track with grade-adjusted guidance as you're running. You can easily create plans right on your watch or via the Garmin Connect app. While you're running the course, you can view your target split pace, the actual split pace, distance to the next split, and how much time you're ahead or behind on your target.

The simpler fēnix

Garmin Fenix 5Source: Garmin Pictured: fēnix 5 Series

There's no denying that the fēnix 6 is impressive, but the new features are geared toward a particular user. If you'd rather keep things a bit more simple with your wearable, then the Garmin fēnix 5 might be right up your alley. It's more than a basic wearable but still simple enough for most users to enjoy.

You can also monitor your performance, training, and recovery with the fēnix 5.

With the predecessor, you'll have all of the same essentials, like GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking 10 ATM water resistance, and 2-week battery life. You can also monitor your performance, training, and recovery with the fēnix 5. This is ideal for those who want to monitor their progress as they gear up for a race or training cycle. You'll be able to determine if you're training productively, peaking, or overreaching.

You'll also have multiple sport modes to choose from. Some examples include treadmill running and trail running, indoor biking and mountain biking, pool swimming and open water swimming, hiking, climbing, rowing, skiing, snowboarding, and more. As you can see, this model has a lot to offer many different types of athletes.

Bottom line

For most users, this decision should be an easy one to make as there aren't a lot of significant differences between the Garmin fēnix 5 and fēnix 6. With that said, many people need there to be some great reasons to upgrade. The price difference isn't massive, but it's still worth considering. If you're perfectly content with everything that the fēnix 5 has to offer, like multiple sports modes, in-depth tracking, GPS, heart-rate monitoring, 10 ATM water resistance, 2-week battery life, and then you may not be interested in paying more for the successor.

You get all of those same features on the Garmin fēnix 6 plus a couple of extra perks. This model is equipped with battery saving modes, a Pulse Ox sensor, Garmin Pay, and the new PacePro feature. If you simply can't pass on this trifecta, then the upgrade just might be worth your consideration.

A worthy upgrade

Garmin fēnix 6

Bonus features

If you're all about upgrades and extra features, then you might find the fēnix 6 to be a worthwhile investment. It's got all of the essentials as well as the all-new PacePro feature, a Pulse Ox sensor, battery saving modes, and more.

Beloved classic

Garmin fēnix 5

The essentials

Sometimes, the essentials are all that you need for a highly successful tracking experience. The fēnix 5 delivers onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, multiple sport modes, in-depth tracking metrics, and 10 ATM water resistance.

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