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Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Watch In-Depth Review

Garmin Fenix2 with wetsuit

It is closing on nearly two years since Garmin initially announced the first generation Fenix in June 2012.  Since then the watch has transformed from what was originally seen as a hiking focused unit, to more of an ultra-runner’s unit, to finally settling in on a full-fledged multisport watch as seen now in the recently announced Fenix2.

I’ve spent the last six or so weeks with the unit, putting it through daily activities across a wide variety of sports.  Last week, the Fenix2 started hitting retail outlets as the firmware moved into the production state.  In the past week alone however, even further unannounced additional features have been added.  Nonetheless, it’s time for my full in-depth review.

To be clear, Garmin sent me over a Fenix2 to start testing with until retail availability.  Like always, I’ll be shipping that back to them in Olathe, KS, in the next few days and going out and getting my own via regular retail channels.  That’s just the way I roll.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed. So – with that intro, let’s get into things

Unboxing:

Garmin Fenix2 Boxed

The Fenix2 comes boxed in two variations: One with just the watch, and one with a heart rate strap.  Specifically, the HRM-RUN.  I’ll dive more into the HRM-RUN later on, but it’s an important distinction compared to previous ANT+ enabled straps, as far as enabling advanced functionality on the Fenix2.

Garmin Fenix2 Boxed

Inside the box splits into three pieces, two of which contain the goods.  The third just sits there and looks pretty.

Garmin Fenix2 In Box

If you dump out the contents of those two boxes to the left, you’ll see the below.  Note that the non-bundle version does not contain the heart rate strap (the two left pieces).

Garmin Fenix2 Unboxing

I’ll go ahead and walk through each of the components in the box.

First up, the power adapters.  Note that some readers have asked what the difference is between the US and European editions are.  It’s simple: It’s just the power adapter for the USB power block.  That’s it.  You can still use your Fenix2 with any USB port in the world, and you can still use the power adapter with a 99 cent adapter in any outlet in the world.  So don’t fret too much there.

Garmin Fenix2 Unboxing

Next we’ve got the HRM-RUN heart rate strap.  This ANT+ capable strap transmits your heart rate strap to the Fenix2 (as well as any ANT+ device in range that’s been paired with it).  In that way, the HRM-RUN is just like any other ANT+ strap.  However, it also has a secondary private channel that carries with it additional information only accessible to Garmin devices, that constitute the Running Dynamics pieces.  So while you can use the Fenix2 with any ANT+ strap, you won’t get some of the Running Dynamics pieces without it.  Also, it’s $40 cheaper to buy the bundle than the two separately (usually, it’s a wash price-wise).

Garmin Fenix2 HRM-RUN

Next, Garmin decided to toss in a fabric strap.  This can be used with the screws and pieces seen below to replace the plastic strap.  This is useful because it goes quite a bit larger, enabling you to place it over ski coats and the like.

Garmin Fenix2 Wrist Strap

You’ll use these two little incredibly sharp screwdrivers to remove the pins.  It’s a two hand job.  Ok, I guess that came out wrong.

Garmin Fenix2 Wrist Strap Tool

Finally, we get to the watch itself.  If you’re a past Fenix/Tactix user, you’ll notice a few changes up front.  First, the buttons have been changed around.  This (in my opinion) makes the flow much cleaner, and much easier to navigate.  It also mirrors the Garmin Forerunner line.  Second, you’ll notice the display is ‘inverted’, which means its white text on black background.  This is non-changeable.

Garmin Fenix2 Sittin' Pretty

On the back, you’ll find the charging pins.  The unit connects to a USB charger I’ll show you in a second.  The reason the Fenix2 (and most other well waterproofed watches) use contacts like these to charge versus using a standard micro-USB or mini-USB port is for waterproofing purposes.

Garmin Fenix2 Backside

Here’s the USB charging cable.  The cable can be used both to charge the unit, as well as to transfer workouts/tracks/routes/waypoints/maps/etc… Garmin provides apps for PC and Mac, but the device enumerates as a standard USB mass storage device, so that functionality will work fine on other operating systems like Linux.

Garmin Fenix2 Charger USB

The clip snaps onto the back, thus it would be able to pass the ‘ceiling fan’ test, which tests whether or not the charging clip is strongly enough attached to the Fenix2 to tie one end to a ceiling fan and turn it on.  Aside from being fun, the more practical implication of this is that you can charge it on the go, without worrying about a finicky connection.

Garmin Fenix2 Charger Clipped on

With everything unboxed, let’s see how it stacks up against other units.

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

As always, I’ve combined all the competitive units in the running and triathlon segment together for you to get a feel for how they compare size-wise.  Roughly speaking, the bigger ones are on the left side – and those are the ones we’re mostly comparing between.

Below, from left to right: Adidas Smart Run GPS, Suunto Ambit 2, Polar V800, Garmin Fenix2, Suunto Ambit 2R.

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

Next, I’ve flipped it over so you can see the depth of the units themselves.

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

If you look at the Fenix1 and Fenix2, you’ll see they are virtually identical.  After all, they are basically twins, just not identical twins.  On the visible side, the button layout changed.  On the internal guts side, the unit received a slight change in the accelerometer to enable the swimming tracking scenarios, that wouldn’t have been fully possible with the same level of accuracy with the accelerometer that’s contained in the Fenix1/Tactix units.

And remember, these watches are part of a longer line of siblings that share nearly identical physical hardware, but change in software – from the Quatix for marine use, to the D2 for pilots.

Garmin Fenix2, Fenix, Quatix

For those that haven’t followed along on the Fenix journey, the Fenix1 actually has received substantial updates over the last 4-5 months.  In fact, outside of multisport mode, power meter support (cycling), and swimming support – the Fenix1 gains almost all the features of the Fenix2.  Even things like mobile phone uploads and satellite pre-caching.  These features were introduced in beta recently, and will ultimately be brought to full production status on those units as well.  However, neither the Fenix1 nor the Tactix will get the Fenix2-only features like swimming, multisport or power meter support.  Expect to see Garmin cease manufacturing of those units by summer.

One minor little tidbit that I thought was interesting – the Fenix2 strap is slightly longer than the Fenix1 strap:

Garmin Fenix and Fenix2 Comparison

Next, while you’ll see the watch on my wrist throughout the review, I did briefly want to include what it looks like on a smaller female wrist – in this case, my wife.  She’s tiny, and her wrist size is 14cm (or 5.5 inches).

Garmin Fenix2 on small women's wrist

Garmin Fenix2 on small women's wrist

She found it heavy for her, but I pretty much said the same thing when I wore it initially. She hasn’t spent any time running with it though, nor getting used to it.

Finally, when it comes to weights, here’s a lineup of the devices you’re most likely to compare:

Garmin Fenix2 on scale

Garmin Fenix1 on scale

The key difference in weight between the Fenix1 and Fenix2 really comes from the change to the back plate on the unit.

And for fun, here’s two more units you’re likely to compare:

Garmin FR910XT on scale

Suunto Ambit2 on scale

As you can see, weight-wise they’re all basically in the same camp.  Note that for the FR910XT, I had the quick-release kit on there, which likely adds a tiny bit of weight.

With comparisons done, let’s head onto actually using the product.

Running:

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start

Without question, running is one of the most fundamental features of the Fenix2.  And in that respect, the Fenix2 has come a long way in the running feature category since the initial release of the original Fenix.  So while it’s easy to compare the initial review of the Fenix1 to the Fenix2, in general, all of features discussed in the first two chunks of the running section (Basics & Features/Functionality) are on both units.  Where the features become Fenix2-only is within the Running Dynamics portion, and then the subsequent recovery/VO2Max/etc… pieces (separate sections).  Don’t worry, I call those out specifically.

The Basics of Running with the Fenix2:

To start any activity, you’ll put the watch on and tap the red button in the upper right.  This brings you to the sport selection menu.  Don’t worry, you can lock the screen by simply holding down the upper left button (light), to prevent accidental sport triggering.

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start

Once you’ve selected the sport, in this case running, the unit will search for any paired sensors – such as a heart rate strap.  It’ll iterate through each one until complete, and then move onto satellite reception.

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start Searching Heart Rate

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start Searching GPS

The Fenix2 automatically caches the satellite location data based on a download from Garmin Connect that occurs both via USB with Garmin Express, or via Bluetooth Smart and the Garmin Connect Mobile app.  This satellite caching data helps to allow the unit to very quickly find satellites.  In general, if I move to a new location on the globe and have up to date satellite cache data, it is in general taking me about 15-45 seconds.  For example, two days ago in Mexico City, after walking out of the hotel and across the street, that’s how long it took.  Whether or not the 27-story building was impacting things is unclear to me.  If I haven’t moved to a new location and just walk outside my house and start the unit, it tends to find satellites in about 2-5 seconds (as it did about an hour later in a test in the same general area).

Once you’ve got satellite reception, you’re good to go, and can press the red button to start the activity recording.  During activities, the red button is the start/pause button, and the lower right button is for creating a lap.  Meanwhile, the bottom left buttons are for changing the view.

While running the unit will show you any data fields you’ve configured (see the Data Field section of the review).  But in general most folks will use fields like pace, distance, heart rate, and time.  For me, I prefer the lap variations of those.  So I’ve got Lap Pace, Lap Time, Lap Distance, and then Heart Rate.

Garmin Fenix2 while running

But, I can simply tap the up/down buttons and change to a different page, such as this one showing the Running Dynamics page:

Garmin Fenix2 while running with Running Dynamics

Or this one showing my total run time and distance:

Garmin Fenix2 while running with total fields

The unit will use GPS when outdoors to track your distance.  In the event of a tunnel where GPS signal is lost, the unit will switch to using the internal accelerometer to measure distance and pace, and then upon exiting the tunnel it’ll switch back to GPS.

When you’ve completed your run, simply tap the red button again, which puts the unit into a paused state.  At this point a menu is given for you to decide your next step.

Garmin Fenix2 save and pause screen

You could resume it (if you plan to start running again), or you can save it.  You can also discard it, as well as use the ‘Resume Later’ option, which is my favorite option for long activities.

Garmin Fenix2 Resume Later

With the resume later option, it’ll turn off the GPS to save battery, but will keep the activity without ending it.  This is ideal for multi-day hikes, or places where battery life conservation is critical.  Also of note is that if you were to run out of battery, the unit will automatically put the file into the ‘Resume Later’ state.  To access it, simply tap the red button and you’ll see the option to resume/save/discard/etc…

Running Features and Functionality

I’m going to run through (no pun intended) a number of features the Fenix2 has.  This isn’t really exhaustive, since there are so many smaller features that it’d be hard to include every single item.  In general, these features are actually available across most sport profiles, but I’m just putting them in the running section for simplicity’s sake.

Auto Lap: Perhaps my favorite feature, auto lap allows you to automatically create splits based on a predefined distance – such as every 1-mile.  I tend to use this on long runs where I’d like to more easily compare splits over the course of the run.  On the flip side, I turn it off for interval runs, where I’m manually controlling my splits (or, having the automated interval or workout function do it for me).  You cannot specify auto lap based on time, nor by position.  It’s distance only, but in either kilometers or miles.

Garmin Fenix2 Auto Lap

Auto Pause: This is useful for city running where you may stop frequently at stop lights.  The unit automatically pauses the recording when you come to a stop, and then will automatically resume it when you start running again.  The auto pause on the Fenix2 isn’t configurable, so whether or not the trigger point in pace is right for you might vary.  Despite living smack dab in one of the biggest cities in the world, I personally tend not to use it, as I mostly just run a different direction when I hit a stoplight.  I don’t much like stopping mid-run, as it simply lengthens the time I’ve gotta wait till I can eat cookies or something.

Garmin Fenix2 Auto Pause

Virtual Partner: Virtual Partner allows you to specify a target pace that in turn acts like a virtual running friend.  The Virtual Partner does not stray from the pace (even for hills), so it’s best used for flatter courses.  As part of the Virtual Partner feature, the unit will show you how far ahead or behind the Virtual Partner you are – both in distance and in time.

Garmin Fenix2 Virtual Partner

Note that you’ll enable the Virtual Partner through the menus, but you’ll need to also add the Virtual Partner screen as a data page to your sport profile (just as if you were configuring other data fields/pages).

Alerts: Alerts allow you to set high/low thresholds for various events.  For example, you can create an alert when you run 10 miles.  Or an alert when your heart rate goes above or below a given threshold.  Alerts can be defined for proximity, distance, time, elevation, navigational arrival, speed, pace, heart rate, cadence, and battery.  While alerts might seem appealing (and they can be in certain scenarios), for most athletic pacing and or training efforts, it’s usually better to use custom workouts (see later section).  That’s a much more refined way of doing it, whereas alerts are very basic.

Garmin Fenix2 Alerts

Running Dynamics:

Running Dynamics is Garmin’s term for a number of new metrics that were added to Garmin’s top-tier running watch, the FR620 earlier this fall, and have now found their way to the Fenix2.  These metrics attempt to capture various running efficiency data.

There are as of today three specific pieces of information that’s being captured:

Cadence: Total steps per minute – this has previously been available on the footpod, but this brings it internal to the HR strap (and inside the Fenix2 itself).
Vertical Oscillation: This is measuring the ‘bounce’ in a runner’s torso within each step. This is vertical motion, measured in centimeters.
Ground Contact Time: How much time your foot spends touching the ground, measured in milliseconds

Cadence has long been available on Garmin devices with the footpod, but the FR220/FR620 added it to the unit itself, using internal accelerometers.  Then, Garmin extended that into the Fenix1 and Tactix watches, and now, it’s also in the Fenix2.

The other two, Vertical Oscillation (VO) and Ground Contact Time (GCT) are new to the FR620 and Fenix2, and not available on other units (nor coming to other units, such as the FR910XT).  To see these metrics, you’ll need to ensure the Running Dynamics page is enabled on your Fenix2.  This is done via the data pages settings in the running profile.  Once that’s done, you’ll see this screen:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics

While running, the unit shows values for each of the three running dynamics pieces.  Meanwhile, the edge of the screen will turn into a little needle, indicating whether you are at a low/high value for that particular parameter (i.e cadence).

You can change the upper value by holding down the menu button for a second, which allows you to select a different primary value.

This data is then recorded on Garmin Connect for you to analyze later.  It is interesting in terms of correlation of fatigue to your values, or the impact of intervals or other varying workouts.  For example, here’s a long run:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics Charts

And then here’s an interval workout:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics Charts

Like many new metrics captured by sports technology devices these days, there remains to be a clear-cut reason on what to do with these metrics (VO/GCT).  Sport scientists don’t actually have any hard data or studies to clarify how best to use them.  Thus, while it’s ‘geeky-fun’ to look at the data, there isn’t anything clear-cut as far as training guidance that either Garmin or anyone else will tell you to do with these.

Cadence is a bit more clear-cut given it’s been around for years, and there’s plenty of documentation on ideal cadence ranges to get the elastic recoil effect that high performance runners aim for.  But when it comes to the other two metrics, VO/GCT, it’s still the wild west a bit.  Note, do not confuse VO with VO2, as they are two totally different things.  Speaking of which, now’s a great time to discuss VO2Max.

Race Predictor, Recovery Advisor, VO2Max Estimates, and Training Effect:

Like the FR620, the Fenix2 carries with it a number of new training progress functions.  These functions aim to give you feedback on rest, recovery, and estimates on where you might find yourself on race day.  To start, the quick list:

VO2Max Estimation: This utilizes information from the heart rate strap and heart rate variability (HRV) to determine a VO2Max estimation.  This is then displayed following each run.

Race Predictor: Race Predictor uses simple lookup tables to take your VO2Max combined with age/gender and determine ‘best possible’ race times.

Recovery Advisor: Recovery advisor gives you the estimated time until your next hard workout.  This counter is always available on the watch to see how much time is left.

Recovery Check: This status is provided about 6-10 minutes into the workout, and tells you how recovered you are from a previous workout.

Training Effect: Training Effect provides a score of a given workout and how impactful that workout was on your body.

All of these metrics depend on the heart rate strap, which is analyzing heart rate variation (HRV) data using algorithms by FirstBeat, a Finnish company that specializes in heart rate and calorie metrics.

The VO2Max piece is likely the piece that fascinates most athletes, primarily due to the ones-upsmanship game that people want to play on who has a higher VO2Max value.  Ultimately though, there’s actually little that you can do to influence this number, as it’s largely genetic.  And in that same vein, while an untrained person would see immediate and sharp increases in VO2Max over a short period, a well trained athlete won’t.  And in fact, the more that athlete trains – the less likely this number is to fluctuate.  Effectively, you plateau from a VO2Max standpoint.  After all, if you could keep training and increase the number – we’d see everyone with a VO2Max in the 90’s, or beyond.  Ultimately there are only a handful of people on this earth anywhere near that.

Garmin Fenix2 VO2Max

Which isn’t to say that your training or your race results will hit a plateau.  As there are many things that impact your race day results.  Looking at those results in the next feature – ‘Race Predictor’.  This feature does a very simple lookup of your VO2Max estimation and compares it to tables of records of people of the same age and gender, and then gives you the race estimates.  In reality, this should really be called “Race Potential”, which would line up with what it really is.  It does not take into account any training you’ve done from a mileage standpoint, nor a pace standpoint.  It’s purely based on the VO2Max value meshed with data from the Cooper Institute.

Garmin Fenix2 Race Predictor

Next we have the ‘Recovery Check’.  This check is done about 6-10 minutes into your run, and gives you feedback on how recovered you are, such as ‘Fair’.  Ultimately however though, I’ve only ever seen ‘Fair’ or ‘Good’.  In part, the challenge here is twofold.  First is the science of it.  For that, I think in general Garmin/FirstBeat probably have that figured out.  The second part is the delicacy of it.  Meaning that if you return a message such as ‘Terrible’, people get offended.  No really, they do.  I had people complain in the FR620 review because of seeing lower status on both the Recovery Check and VO2Max.  Personally, I put that in the category of “Life’s not fair”.

Garmin Fenix2 Recovery Level

Following along the recovery trail, we’ve got ’Recovery Advisor’.  This value is a post-workout value that lets you know how long you should wait until your next hard workout.  Now listen triathletes, read the previous sentence again.  Which parts did I put in italics (hint: hard workout).  Which isn’t to say that you can’t have a bike workout, or a swim workout, or even an easy running workout.  It’s simply focusing on running, because that’s the only thing that the Recovery Advisor tracks today.  It doesn’t take into account anything else.

Garmin Fenix2 Recovery Time

In general, I find that the Recovery Advisor is a bit cautious, but actually not too far off the mark for what my schedule would have in it recovery-wise.  Remember that your muscles only get stronger when you allow them recover, not when you workout hard every single day (go ahead, you can Google it).

Finally, we’ve got ‘Training Effect’.  Training Effect is designed to give you a rough estimate of how ‘impactful’ that workout was.  This helps you to structure an overall workout schedule with varying types of workouts that help to put in place a more cohesive training schedule.  You’ll see it listed as TE on your summary screen:

Garmin Fenix2 Summary Page

Below, the table of those levels, from the Fenix2 manual.  Note that these values take a few runs to calibrate, so don’t freak out if it says your 20-minute easy run was disastrously high.

Garmin Fenix2 Training Effect

Now, as I alluded to above – all of these features are run-specific, except training effect.  They aren’t included on any of the other sports profiles at this time – just like the FR620.  So keep that in mind from a training standpoint.  If you run 20 miles on Saturday, then go ride 112 miles on Sunday plus a swim in there somewhere, by time you get to Sunday evening, the unit is really only aware of the 20-mile run from a recovery standpoint.

Treadmill Usage:

Finally, the Fenix2 supports the ability to run indoors on a treadmill – either with or without a footpod.  In the case of without a footpod the unit will use its internal accelerometer to determine pace and cadence.  It does this by ‘learning’ your pace and cadence while outdoors on GPS runs.  It does this over time, across different pace ranges.  So it’s not a one size fits all approach.  Nor should you immediately open your Fenix box and go straight to a treadmill and expect accurate data.  The more miles you have outside, the better.

Thus, in order to really put it through its paces, I’ve been running for weeks outdoor across pace ranges from 4:30/mile up to about 10:00/mile (+ some at walking paces).  Hundreds of miles worth of data.  In order to keep things as consistent as possible, I was the only one who wore the watch, and I always wore it on the same wrist.  Thus, in theory, it’d be the most perfect data set possible.

So this week while in Mexico City I hit up the treadmill at the gym to test things out.  Like most of my treadmill tests, I find a simple pace ladder or pyramid the most effective way to test accuracy.  And thus, the results:

Garmin Fenix2 Treadmill Pace

Looking at the paces, I had done a ladder starting at 5:30/KM (~8:50/mile), and going down to 3:30/KM (~5:40/mile) every 60 seconds, in 15-second/KM increments.

Above, is the Fenix2 pace using the internal accelerometer, and below with a standard footpod.  In this case, you can see my increases in pace each minute (below), whereas above it’s a bit muddled.  It appears there’s some smoothing added, likely to filter out things like touching the treadmill. I actually consider this a good thing, so I’m not complaining too much there.

Garmin Footpod Treadmill Pace

The paces tracked very well in my ‘primary’ running zone (of about 6:30-7:30/mile), and tracked ‘fairly well’ outside of that, perhaps 5% off at the high/low end.  In this case, the Fenix2 internal pace seemed to top off at around 5:55/mile, so a bit off, but again, in the ballpark.

This is a vast improvement over what I’ve seen both in other Garmin products (FR620 at release) as well as even earlier versions of the Fenix on a treadmill.  In talking with them, they’ve spent a fair bit of time in this area.  The data looks rather clean.  It’s notable that while I didn’t do much with my left arm (where the unit was) as far as touching the treadmill, I did occasionally wipe sweat off without any impact to pace.  Also of note was that for this test I actually did NOT wear the HRM-RUN strap, so everything was inbox.

Ultimately, for pace on a treadmill, I’d give the unit a “B+” rating currently.  It’s not perfect, and does require a bit of outside running to fill in the pace tables for calibration, but it’s pretty close.  And quite a bit better than what I’ve seen previously, which I would have given more of a “D” rating.

Now, the next piece is cadence.  I had a look at this a few times recently with the Garmin FR220 and FR620, both of which can measure cadence internally.  With the Fenix2, like the FR620, it comes from one of three sources: The internal accelerometer in the watch, the accelerometer in the HRM-RUN, and a separate ANT+ footpod.

Each measurement place has minor pros and cons to it.  For example, on your wrist you’ll be prone to see small drops/spikes when you take a sip from a water bottle, or when you change the treadmill’s speed, as you’re impacting the motion detection there.

In my case, I’ve done a lot of comparison of data – and ultimately for cadence I see all three methods producing near identical results.  As I noted, the only variation I see is in a scenario without the HRM-RUN using just the internal accelerometer and doing something with your arms that impedes measurement.  But given that’s likely only a brief moment compared to your entire run, I’d really look to skip the footpod if your focus is cadence.

Swimming:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool

Probably the most significant addition to the Fenix2 is its ability to support swim tracking – both in a pool as well as in openwater.  The unit utilizes much of the same functionality as found within the Garmin FR910XT for swim tracking.  To enable swim mode, you’ll press the red button and go to Swim.  At which point, you’ll choose either Openwater or Pool.

Pool Usage:

Pool should be any pool, be it indoors or outdoors.  When in pool mode the unit uses internal accelerometers (not GPS) to determine your stroke and distance information.  It does this by knowing the pool length, and then measures each time you push off the wall at either end of the pool.  As such, inputting in the correct pool size is critical, which is why it’s the next question the unit will ask you:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Size

The Fenix2 offers a few common pool sizes – like 25y/m, and 50m.  But it also allows you to create custom sizes.  Within this menu you can select any size between 18M/20Y and 150Y/M.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Size Custom

With that set, it’s into the pool we go.  You’ll press the red button to start tracking.  Because the unit is using accelerometers, it’s important to keep activities strictly swim-focused while the unit is recording.  For example, if you stray to flirt with the life guards, pause the unit.  Especially if there’s a lot of arm flailing going on.  Same for jumping out and making a quick escape to the bathroom.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

The unit has a number of swim related metrics it can display (see full listing in ‘Data Fields’ section later).  The core one most folks tend to use is swim pace, which is typically given in time: 100y or 100m depending on the pool length.  For example, you might have a pace of 1:30/100y.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

In addition, the unit will track lengths (or straight distance, if you prefer), as well as time and splits.  In this case, a ‘lap’ is really more like an interval, as it’s the time since you last pressed the button ‘Lap’.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

You can create these laps to separate out different chunks of the workout. For example, I would create a split/lap for my warm-up, and then another one for each segment of the workout (such as 10×100).  The lap button is used when you want to enter a rest break.  This will automatically create a rest on the unit visible later on Garmin Connect between the intervals:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Charts

When on Garmin Connect, the unit will show your different sets, including paces for each one.  You can dive down into per-length splits if you want as well.  It’ll also attempt to identify the stroke.  In my case, I keep my stroke attempts to purely freestyle, so I can’t really comment on the accuracy of other stroke types.

 

Garmin Connect (as well as the unit) will also show metrics like SWOLF, which is literally derived from SWIM + GOLF, and assigns a score to the number of stokes for each length.  In my case, my pool is a bit messed up (dozen plus people per lane), so my SWOLF scores vary quite a bit depending on how many backstrokers I get stuck behind on any given length.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Charts

Ultimately though I’m able to very easily and accurately track swimming with near 100% accuracy across many workouts.  The most important tip I can give on getting accurate results is to remember that everything the watch measures is based on motion.  Thus, making a crisp and firm push-off the wall each length is important (you can do either flip or open turns, it tracks both fine).  Additionally, stopping mid-length in the pool will confuse it.  Try and avoid that (seriously, people have e-mailed in to complain that other units don’t track their mid-pool stops).

Now, since my initial post exactly 30 days ago on the Fenix2, there’s been a lot of feedback around adding in the FR910XT’s ‘Swim Alerts’ (which enable alerts on things like time or distance while swimming), as well as adding in the Garmin Swim’s ‘Drill mode’.  I’m happy to report that the Fenix team has heard your feedback, and both will indeed be coming to the Fenix2.  Here’s a shot on a recent beta firmware showing the Swim Alert piece just starting to be coded in:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Alert Mode

Finally, note that no Garmin watches support the creation of pre-defined workouts for swimming on Garmin Connect.  Meaning unlike running or cycling, you can’t create a workout on Garmin Connect and then transfer it to your unit to iterate through.

Openwater Usage:

Me exiting the water after freezing my ass off

Next, is openwater swimming (OWS).  This mode is for any outdoor body of water that’s not a pool.  For example, the ocean, a lake, or a river.  Generally speaking, the body of water should be non-frozen for a successful swim.

In this mode, the unit uses both the GPS as well as the accelerometer.  It uses the GPS portion to track distance, and uses the accelerometer to track stroke information.  It merges the two together for certain data fields.  In an openwater swim scenario, the GPS is constantly losing GPS signal each stroke (as it goes underwater) and then trying to regain it each stroke (above the water).  As such, the unit gets rather messy data to work with.  Data that might be off +/- 3-meters or 100-meters.  So instead of giving you a precise path, it gives more of an estimation.

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming

It looks at the general splatter of the direction of points and attempts to determine where you’re going and the distance associated with it.

While doing so, it’ll give you details such as pace and stroke rate as well as time and other common distance fields.  You can create laps if you’d like (such as at a buoy or turning point).

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming Pace Field

Because it’s still sorta winter in Europe, my time with openwater swim mode has been slightly limited.  I’ve had a couple of swims with the unit, but the most recent one has been a few weeks back in firmware.  Thus my testing is limited, and I’ve been told the algorithms have been further refined since then.

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming

Still, the results were generally positive.  For my tests I wore four units.  I used a Garmin FR910XT, Suunto Ambit 2, and then the Fenix2.  I then added a Garmin FR620 as a ‘reference’ distance onto a little swim buoy floating behind me.  This keeps the unit above the water at all times and records a perfect track of where I actually went to compare against the units on my wrist.

Garmin GPS Accuracy Testing while openwater swimming

Below, you can see the results of this:

Suunto Ambit2: .52mi
Garmin Fenix2: .68mi
Garmin FR910XT: .62mi
Garmin FR620 (REFERENCE): .58mi

Overall, the results are roughly about what I’d expect (sorry, it’s fuzzy, it looked much clearer in the camera lens when I came out of the water).

Garmin GPS Accuracy Testing while openwater swimming

In general, I look for about 10% error rate with openwater swim units, though at shorter distances it’s harder to assign a number as it usually starts to get closer the more you swim.  Sometimes it’s spot-on scary, but sometimes it’s a bit further away.  Thus, if using the unit on your wrist and then doing a race, don’t be upset when the distance don’t match.  In all likelihood, the swim course wasn’t measured correctly…and your unit didn’t measure it correctly on top of that.  It’s actually quite rare for most non-Ironman triathlon swim courses to be accurate.

When it comes to data afterwards on Garmin Connect, you’ll get maps of where you went (which are smoothed), as well as some basic information like stroke rate and distance/pace:

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swim Map

One strength of the Fenix unit is the much strengthened wrist strap.  I’ve often stated that I’d be hesitant to use some devices on the market in the swim start of a triathlon due to the band being somewhat fragile.  And ultimately, people have lost other units to the bottom due to such.  In the case of the Fenix2 however, I’d be reasonably impressed if you could snap it off.  The pins are beastly, and screwed in from both directions.  I think it would basically take getting run over by a boat to pull it off.  I suppose we’ll see by the end of the summer.

Cycling:

Garmin Fenix2 Cycling

The Fenix2 greatly extends the Fenix/Tactx cycling support, primarily in the area of power meter capabilities.  As part of adding full triathlon support, the cycling mode was further beefed up to include full ANT+ power meter compatibility, including the support of the latest left/right and related metrics for power meters from Garmin, ROTOR and others.

From a logistical standpoint, you can wear the Fenix2 either on your wrist, or on a bike mount for your bar.  Garmin sells a simple rubber one for $9 that fits the bill.  You can find a similar ones branded by other companies that all basically do the same thing.  For triathlon bikes, you can use a solution like the profile designs one seen here, or, some of the newer Barfly options (Universal Mount).

Garmin Fenix2 mounted to bike

When it comes to sensors, you can pair any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor, including both speed-only and cadence-only (as well as speed/cadence combo sensors).  This is done through the sensors menu:

Garmin Fenix2 Speed/Cadence Sensors

It’s in this area they you’ll define wheel size for usage either indoors or outdoors.  You’ll also see an option as to when to utilize the speed/cadence sensor.  This is somewhat interesting as this option isn’t found on most of the other Garmin cycling devices.

Garmin Fenix2 Speed/Cadence Sensors Settings

When it comes to power meter support, you can pair your ANT+ power via the sensors menu.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Pairing

In doing so, you’ll also be able to set options including crank length (critical for Garmin Vector):

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Configuration

You can trigger calibration (zero offset) via this menu sub-area as well.

Within the power meter section you’ve also got the option to setup your power zones, as well as your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  Setting the FTP on the device is critical to getting the same Training Peaks values on the device as you’ll get on Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.  For example, if I set my device to an FTP of 315w, but then I set Garmin Connect to 275w, I’ll see differences when I upload.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Zone Setup

Speaking of which, the unit supports all of the power-meter driven Training Peaks values of TSS/NP/IF (Training Stress Score, Normalized Power, Intensity Factor):

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data

When it comes to on-bike display, the unit allows you to select up to four fields to display concurrently on a single page.  And just about as many pages as you’d like.

Garmin Fenix2 Cycling Data Field Options

I cover all these later on in the ‘Data Fields’ section.  These data fields include the left/right power meters:

Garmin Fenix2 Left-Right Power Data

Indoors on a trainer, you can go into indoor mode for cycling, and thus disable the GPS and get speed/distance data from an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor:

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data

Afterwards, on Garmin Connect, your data is available for you to view.  Or, you can take the .FIT file and upload it to any 3rd party site – such as Strava, Training Peaks, or Sport Tracks.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data Garmin Connect

Finally, it should be noted that the singular omission from the Fenix2 is the lack of bike profiles.  Meaning, you can’t have a road bike and a triathlon bike.  You’d have to re-pair the sensors for each one individually.  And unfortunately, there isn’t any mechanism to manually enter in the ANT+ ID’s like other Garmin Edge/Forerunner units.  So you’ll have to ensure no other cyclists are around when you make the switch and re-search for sensors.

Multisport Mode:

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode

The core differentiator when it comes to a ‘multisport watch’ and a watch that happens to do multiple sports is the ability to have a multisport mode.  This is essentially a fancy term for ‘triathlon mode’, without making the duathletes feel insulted.  What it means though is that in a race (or training) you can seamlessly transition from Swim to Bike to Run (or, back to Swim) – all as a single cohesive activity.

The Fenix2, like the Garmin FR910XT/FR310XT/FR305, contains a multisport mode.  Within this mode you can take any of the different sport profiles (or your custom profiles) and mash together a multisport event.  Note however that at this time you cannot add a pool swim to multisport mode.

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Config

For example, the traditional swim/bike/run threesome:

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Enable Transitions

When in multisport mode, if you switch from swim to bike, then all your normal bike pages are displayed.  And then the same when you go from bike to run, then showing all your run pages.

You can specify whether or not to include transition times in this.  Note that as it stands today, upon uploading to Garmin Connect each of the sports are broken out individually into separate activities.

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Transitions

So the real benefit of using multisport mode is the quick transitions from sport to sport, and that it’ll show total time (such as in a race) from the first sport leg until that point.

Battery Life:

Of course, for many endurance athletes, the next question that follows is what does battery life look like.  The unit supports multiple battery modes.  At one end you’ve got 1-second recording with constant GPS on.  This is the mode that most athletes will want to be in, as it updates most frequently (every second).  This is especially true of anyone using a power meter, where 1-second data is critical for accurate analysis.

In 1-second mode (with GPS on and ANT+ sensors enabled), Garmin states about 16 hours with “good satellite reception”.

I’ve done two tests thus far that pushes the battery boundaries.  For both tests, I use the ANT+ simulator to simulate sensors being used.  In this case, I went with the ANT+ HR strap, but there’s no difference in battery consumption between one and multiple ANT+ sensors, it’s all the same.  Next, I completed two scenarios with the watch.  For the first, I placed the GPS inside, where I’ve got a GPS repeater hooked up outside a window.  It’s not super-great satellite, but it does the trick.

For this first test, I hit just over 15hrs of battery life (15:07:40).  The fact that I had less than ideal GPS coverage no doubt reduced my total time.  The unit automatically went into standby at 13% of battery.  The activity was saved, and I was able to resume it upon adding more battery.

Battery Life Test

For the second test, I put the GPS on top of my roof, and then connected a lanyard to it, as I was somewhat concerned the pigeons wouldn’t take it (seriously, these pigeons are vicious).  I changed though from using a HR simulator to the Tempe ANT+ accessory.  The reason for this was I was having some minor difficulties in ensuring clean ANT+ signal on the roof the entire time, which would adversely impact battery life.  I validated with Garmin that the battery burn profile between the Tempe ANT+ accessory (which I could leave next to the unit) and an ANT+ HR strap is identical from the Fenix2 standpoint.

Garmin Fenix2 Battery Life Test

For this test, I just left it up there all night long, and the battery lasted about the same – 15:00:10.  The unit automatically went into standby at 13% of battery.  The activity was saved, and I was able to resume it upon adding more battery.  For those curious, you’ll see a tiny shift in elevation as the pressure changes.  In my case – about 5ft in total.

image

So both of those modes are likely suitable for the vast majority of iron-distance athletes. If you need to increase battery-life for an Ironman to cover the maximum allotted time of 17hrs, you could reduce the GPS sampling rate for one of the sports.  I’d recommend lowering the rate for running, since the reality is that you’re walking the run if you’re finishing in 17-hours (simple math makes this a fact), and thus, it’s of less importance to have 100% up to the second data.  Though, you’d be losing any heart rate sensor data – since that isn’t enabled in UltraTrac mode.

Next, there’s the ultra-long battery mode, which gets the unit up to 55 hours of recording time.  In this mode, the unit samples GPS every 60-seconds.  This means that it only gets a GPS fix every minute, and records it then.  As such, this is not really ideal for running events, but is generally perfectly suitable for walking/hiking events.

Garmin Fenix2 UltraTrac options

To understand why this is the case, I’ve gone out and wore two Fenix units.  One with 60-second sampling, and one with 1-second sampling.  Then, I simply did a quick wander around the neighborhood and some of the curved little streets.  Here’s the results:

Garmin Fenix2 Sampling 1-second

Above, is normal GPS mode, which samples every second.  Whereas below is UltraTrac mode, which samples every 60-seconds on GPS by default.  Note this has nothing to do with recording rates.  It’s purely how often the GPS is enabled/polled.  You can configure UltraTrac for any polling interval you’d like – such as 20s, but how that impacts battery life isn’t fully clear.  However, be clear that in UltraTrac mode sensors are not enabled – so there is no ANT+ data.

In the normal mode above you can see my wanderings around the streets (and people/cars/busses).  However, below, you only see it picking up points every minute, cutting off entire sections of the route.  As a result, the distance was substantially less as well (.42mi vs .55mi).

Garmin Fenix UltraTrac

Finally, for those who really need even more battery – you can combine the Fenix2 with a portable battery charger, or solar charger.  This works with any device that simply provides a charge (but not a computer, which switches the modes).

Garmin Fenix2 Solar Battery

I’ve used both the little USB portable battery pack seen above, as well as the solar chargers sold by Garmin (made by PowerMonkey) at the end of the review.

Garmin Fenix2 Solar Battery

Note that you can indeed wear the unit while using the charging clip with the battery pack. One option would be to put the solar charger (or small USB charger) in a CamelBak/similar and then just run the cable down to your wrist. The other option (and probably what I’d do), would be to temporarily stick the watch + charger in my backpack for 45 minutes or so to let it charge. It’d still be running/recording, just would keep you from getting tangled in cables.

Custom Workout & Interval Support:

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Mode

The Fenix2 supports both the creation of custom workouts using a variety of parameters, as well as the use of simple interval workouts.

Starting with simple interval workouts, the Fenix2 can be setup on the fly from the watch itself to run you through a straight forward interval workout.  To do so, you’ll start from the Workout Menu, and then go into Intervals:

Garmin Fenix2 Interval Mode

From there you can simply start with the last interval workout you setup, or you can edit the workout. When you edit the workout you can define the work period (the part where you run hard), the rest period (the part where you lie on the ground gasping for breath), the repeats (how much pain), and then both a warm-up and cool-down.

Garmin Fenix2 Interval Config

For the work interval period, you can define it as either distance (miles/kilometers) or time, or, specify it simply as ‘open’, which means until you hit the lap button.

For the rest interval period, you’ve got the same options: Distance, time, and open.  The unit will combine the work + rest interval period together, and repeat them as many times as you’ve specified in the ‘repeat’ option.

Finally, for both warm-up and cool-down you can specify to turn it on or off.  There isn’t a pre-defined time with basic interval mode, it’s just until you hit the button again.

While in the workout the unit will walk you through each step and give you a countdown as you approach the next step.  It’ll automatically create laps for each segment of the workout, which can be reviewed later on Garmin Connect or any 3rd party app.

Next, we’ve got the much more advanced custom workout creation mode.  Within this mode, you can create an almost unlimited workout as far as complexity goes, with a slew of different steps and targets.  For example, you can specify cadence, pace, or heart rate targets, as well as durations including both time and distance.  Or, just until you’ve pressed the lap button to advance.

It’s easiest to create these workouts on Garmin Connect using a computer, and then transfer them to the watch using either your phone or a USB cable.  Here’s an example of a variation on an interval workout I created on Garmin Connect:

Garmin Connect Workout Creator

Once you’ve transferred the workout to the unit it’ll be available both on the unit as well as Garmin Connect forever.  So you can always come back and edit it later if need be.

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Selection

Note that you can’t edit the custom workouts on the unit itself, only from Garmin Connect.  But that’s reasonable, since it would be a bit of a mess to do so on the unit anyway.

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Targets

While in workout mode, the unit will walk you through each of the steps and the targets.  Now, at present there’s a bit of an odd bug where no matter what I define the step as (such as ‘Interval’ or ‘Rest’), it just spits it out as ‘Run’ on the screen.  Garmin is working on fixing this.  For my workout though, it still listed the targets (i.e. pace/cadence/HR), as well as times and distances.  Given I roughly knew the workout structure, I was able to easily figure out when I had to run, versus when I got to be lazy.

Note that workouts cannot be combined with multisport mode.

Finally, it’s worth noting that in addition to both interval mode as well as custom workouts, you can define basic ‘Alerts’ which are triggered when you hit certain criteria.  These alerts can be configured for any sport profile, based on the following attributes: Proximity, Distance, Time, Elevation, Navigational Arrival, Speed, Pace, Heart Rate, Cadence, and Battery.

Generally speaking, you can configure a minimum threshold, and a maximum threshold for most of the categories (such as heart rate).  The unit will beep and buzz when you go under/over those thresholds.

Mobile Connectivity (Live Tracking, Uploading, Text/E-mail Notifications, etc…):

Garmin Fenix2 Mobile Pairing

The Fenix2 builds slightly upon the mobile connectivity that was introduced in later beta firmware with the Fenix1 and Tactix units – which enables Bluetooth Smart connectivity to mobile devices for a variety of purposes.  This connectivity includes the ability to upload workouts, enable Live Tracking, as well as turn the Fenix2 into a smart watch with notifications from any phone app on your device.

As it stands today, mobile connectivity on the Fenix2 stems from three difference places:

Garmin Connect Mobile (App): Upload of completed workouts, download of scheduled workouts, Live Tracking, Transfer of courses
Garmin Basecamp (App): Creation of waypoints, viewing of tracks
Native OS notification functionality: Configuration of Fenix2 as a smart watch for notification alerts from any app (e-mail/text/phone/Instagram/etc…)

I’m going to briefly run through each one and the functionality.  Before that, it’s important to note that while the Fenix2 does contain Bluetooth connectivity, it requires a Bluetooth 4.0 or higher capable phone.  This is any iPhone 4S or higher, or any Android phone with Android operating system 4.3, as well as Bluetooth 4.0 on it.

When it comes to Bluetooth on the Fenix2, there’s a few modes you can configure it for.  These include leaving it on 24×7, enabling it only during an activity, enabling it only outside an activity, and enabling it briefly for sync only.  Because the Fenix2 wasn’t designed battery-wise for Bluetooth to remain on 24×7, you’ll likely want to focus on using it only to sync data, or for the period you’d want to use it for.  But more on that in a minute.

Garmin Connect Mobile:

Garmin Connect Mobile (GCM) is Garmin’s primary application for fitness focused devices to connect to phones, and integrate with Garmin Connect (the online site).  The app recently went through a bit of a refresh about a  month ago, which has increased the stability quite a bit after largely stagnating for a number months.

On the application itself, it’s roughly divided into four sections: Home, Community, Devices and LiveTrack.  Home is where you’ve got a bit of a dashboard into your overall Garmin Connect stats – dependent on which devices you’re using.  You can see some of these below:

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Next, there’s ‘Community’.  This is where you can look at people you follow and the most recent activities.  This is similar to how other social media communities work.  You can follow people, have them follow you, and restrict what they see.

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Then we’ve got ‘Devices’.  After we’ve paired up the Fenix2 to the phone, you’ll see it listed in the device settings.  It’s here we can also click on settings and configure whether to automatically upload completed activities to Garmin Connect.  Beyond this, there’s really not much more to configure specific to the Fenix2 itself:

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With that, let’s head over to ‘Live Tracking’.  This is where you can setup a live tracking session that allows others to follow your activity live.  This includes your location information, speed/pace information, as well as some basic splits.

When you setup a live tracking session, you can invite people who will receive a link to a site to track your activity.  Additionally, you can configure it to share on Facebook or Twitter.  Finally, you’ll see an option for ‘Extend Sharing’, this means that the ability to see your activity will last 24 hours, otherwise, it’ll end as soon as you end the activity. I recommend always setting this to ‘enabled’, otherwise your friends and family who joined late won’t be able to see anything.  Further, if you have a loved one following along they may become concerned when the page abruptly ends with no further information.

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Once you’ve configured your settings, you’ll go ahead and click ‘Start LiveTrack’, which will enable the session.  Note that this won’t actually start the activity.  It simply starts monitoring.  Folks can see a blue dot on a map of where you are, even before you start.  It’s at this point that the e-mail notifications/Tweets/Facebook posts go out.

After those have been sent, people can then click on the link which takes them to a page on Garmin’s site which shows them your current progress.

They can change from metric to statute, as well as zoom in on the map, switch it to satellite view and see some basic splits.

Note that in the case of the Fenix2/Tactix/Fenix1, you cannot concurrently stream ANT+ metrics like heart rate, power, or cycling cadence.  This because the chipset used in these watches does not allow both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to be used at the same time.

Said differently: If you want to display/capture/record heart rate data (or any other ANT+ data sensor), you cannot enable Live Tracking of that session.  It’s one or the other.  It’s a physical hardware limitation that will not change with a software update.  Note that this is different from the Garmin FR220/FR620 & Edge 510/810, which do enable you to stream those metrics at the same time.

Once your activity is complete, you can save it on your watch and have it automatically transfer.  You do not need to enable Live Tracking to do so.  In fact, I rarely do, but I do use the upload functionality.  When you finish the activity you’ll see an option that says ‘Sync’.

When this option is selected, it’ll temporarily enable Bluetooth Smart on the watch and connect to your mobile phone to the Garmin Connect app to upload the workout.  This is perfect for folks (like me) who want to use ANT+ sensor data during a workout, but still want to briefly use Bluetooth Smart to upload the data afterwards via phone.

Garmin Fenix2 Mobile Sync

Now, the only catch here is that in my testing the upload process from the unit to the phone is incredibly slow.  For example, a 40 minute run (with HRM-RUN ANT+ data), it took approximately 20-30 minutes. [Note/Update: Other users are reporting much faster times, in the order of a minute or less, perhaps it’s just me. Update 2: In the latest version, I’ve got my 2hr 30min run down to 8 minutes to upload…progress.]

In addition to uploading completed workouts, you can also transfer scheduled workouts to the Fenix2, as well as transfer pre-created courses.  Both of these must be created first on Garmin Connect – and then sent to the Fenix2 from the app.

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Lastly, by connecting to the Garmin Connect Mobile app, you’ll update the Fenix2’s satellite cache information, which allows it to quickly find satellites in a matter of seconds.

Garmin Basecamp:

Garmin Basecamp allows you to quickly create waypoints using online maps from your phone, and transfer those waypoints to the Fenix2 (or Fenix1/Tactix).  In addition, it allows you to look at tracks (saved courses) on your Fenix, as well as look at saved waypoints that have already been created on your unit.  Finally, it allows you to look at adventures from ‘Garmin Adventures’, which combine tracks (like hikes) with photos.

To start, you’ll need to kick your Fenix into Bluetooth enabled mode.  Then, you can search/scan from within the app to find the unit.  You’ll also want to sign into your Garmin Connect account, which enables you to save some items up to the ‘cloud’.

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Next, we’ll start with creation of an adhoc waypoint.  In this case I can choose to create a waypoint based on my exact location right now.  From there I can select an icon, choose a name, and also give it a description.  I can then push this immediately to the device, or save it for later use.

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I can also create a waypoint in another location – such as a few miles away, and repeat/do the same process there.

From the app I can pull up existing tracks on my device.  These are what Garmin Connect calls courses, and aren’t completed activities, but rather routes to follow.  Within this I can look at the track, zoom in, change the map type and even edit the name.  But I can’t edit the actual track itself.  It’s a look but don’t touch sort of thing.

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Finally, we’ve got Garmin Adventures.  This has been targeted at the hiking/outdoor segment, but allows you to combine a track/route with photos and other information for someone to follow.  Sorta like giving someone instructions with a photo book.  The app will automatically show you nearby Adventures, but you can also search other adventures.  You can pull up the photos from the adventure on the phone as well as any of the waypoints along the way.

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Once you’ve found an adventure you like, you can go ahead and transfer it to your device.  Once on the device, it’ll follow/navigate it like any other track (as discussed in the navigation section earlier).

Ultimately, the Garmin Adventures are ‘interesting’, but I’ve got the same complaint I did nearly two years ago: Why on earth isn’t it integrated into Garmin Connect?  It sits there like the bastard step child never really getting the attention it deserves.  I can only hope with the Garmin Connect overhaul there’s plans to pull it in, and integrate it.  In the mobile connected world, Garmin is leaving so much on the table here.  They could easily tie this into the phone app to allow folks to take photos, create an adventure and then send those to Garmin devices.  Tons of potential…none realized.

Smart Watch Mobile Notifications:

Finally, in addition to fitness focused functionality, you can configure the Fenix2 to display notifications from applications and OS services on your mobile device.  This includes everything from text message alerts, to e-mail alerts, to notifications that a friend has commented on a Facebook post.

You’ll simply pair the watch to your phone via the Bluetooth menu.  Once you’ve done that, you can enable the notifications prompt within the Fenix2:

Garmin Fenix2 Notifications

Apps then use the notification center to surface notifications to the Fenix2.  As noted before, this can be any application that you’ve enabled.  A notification can then trigger an audible alert, or a vibration alert.

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Garmin Fenix2 Twitter Alerts

The only challenge with this functionality is that the Fenix2 wasn’t really originally designed like a traditional low-power smart watch, from a Bluetooth notifications standpoint.  As such, the battery life here is about 24 hours in this mode.  So you’re basically charging it every day if you choose to leave Bluetooth enabled-on constantly.  For most folks, I’d recommend against this.

Android Notes: As of today, all of these functions in the mobile action are limited to iOS devices and do not yet work on Android.  Garmin is currently planning these to be enabled on Android devices in in a few different pieces:

– Garmin Connect Mobile Fitness Features: Live Track, EPO (Satellite Pre-Caching), Activity Upload, Course Download, Workout Download – ASAP, could be any day, or any week.

– Smart Watch Notifications: This is the notifications piece for things like text messages. This is slated for “Q2 2014”, so anytime between April and June.

– Basecamp functionality: You won’t likely see a specific separate Basecamp app on Android, but rather, see those features surface into an existing app.  Which, is something I’ve somewhat argued for, for some time.  The timeframe for this is also more Q2.

Garmin Connect Website:

As previously noted, Garmin Connect is Garmin’s activity tracking log and website.  It’s where all data from the Fenix2 ultimately gets funneled to.  While in the previous section I talked about the mobile uploads, I want to briefly talk about the new Garmin Express desktop app.  This app aims to quickly upload your completed workouts to Garmin Connect, as well as keep your device up to date.  The app had some initial first week teething pains back a few weeks ago, but seems largely functional when it comes to the Fenix2.

Garmin Fenix2 Charging

While the device is plugged in it’ll show you if you have any updates pending to install, as well as if any items were recently sync’d (or still to sync).  When the device isn’t plugged in, it’ll remind you to update the device – a way of ensuring the unit is kept up to date.

Garmin Express with Fenix2

It’s from here that you can associate it to your Garmin Connect account, look at how full the storage is, and also transfer additional languages to it.

Garmin Express with Fenix2 Languages

While Garmin Express takes care of the ‘dirty work’ of uploading the files to Garmin Connect, you can still easily access the raw .FIT or .GPX files should you wish to.  For example, if you wanted to upload them to Strava or Training Peaks.  These are accessible just like any other USB thumb drive’s data would be, via the ‘Activity’ folder under ‘Garmin’.  These files work with pretty much any 3rd party application out there without issue.

Garmin Fenix2 Fit Files

Now that we’ve got the data up to Garmin Connect, I’ll give you a super-quick rundown.  I say quick, because I’ve been sprinkling parts of it throughout the review already in the relevant sections.  Further, as it stands today Garmin is part-way through a large overhaul of the platform, so showing you how it looks today will likely literally change next week.  In any case, here goes.

To start, you’ve got your main dashboard.  This is where you can see an overview of various activities and connections you’ve made (like social networks).

Garmin Connect Dashboard

Then diving into a given activity you’ll get an overview of all your stats for that particular run/bike/hike/swim.  Along the left is summary information, whereas the right is graphs/charts, and maps.

Garmin Connect Run Detail

You can click on any given chart to expand it, which allows you to also snip certain sections to zoom in on.

Garmin Connect Run Detail Elevation

Down lower along the left you’ve got your laps/splits (either via auto-lap or via manual lap button pressing), as well as details from the Running Dynamics components.

Garmin Connect Run Detail Graphs

Finally, towards the bottom you’ll see the device that was used, along with the firmware, as well as whether or not elevation correction was turned on.  In the case of the Fenix2, it will rarely make sense to turn on elevation correction, since it comes from a barometric altimeter.  However, at the moment there’s a bug with GC2 that doesn’t enable you to turn it off (nor, does it enable you to turn it on for devices that should need it).  There’s also a visible bug in the temperature, which appears to be showing Celsius but with a Fahrenheit label (well, actually, a Fahrenheit label and a random question mark…so even it knows it’s confused).

Garmin Connect Run Detail Temp and GCT

Despite it’s bugginess in the current migration from GC1 to GC2, Garmin Connect generally does a good job at showing you the main stats on a run, ride, or swim.  You can change mapping platforms between Google and Bing, so that you can find and see maps that make the most sense for your area.  You can also export data from here, though I wouldn’t recommend doing that, as some of the data (such as Running Dynamics) isn’t included.  Rather, I’d take the raw file off of the Fenix2 instead.

Garmin VIRB integration:

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB

The Fenix2 follows in the footsteps of the original Fenix and includes the ability to control the Garmin VIRB & VIRB Elite action cameras.  The Fenix controls the devices via ANT+, thus, the mode is not compatible with Bluetooth Smart enabled.  You can access the VIRB control via the Menu button, which allows you to search for a VIRB and control it.

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB Control Photo

Note that you’ll need to set the VIRB to be remotely controlled.  Once you’ve done so, you’ll have to basic options from the Fenix2.  First is that you can take a photo.  To do so, you’ll simply tap the left hand down button, which triggers the camera about .5 to 1.0 seconds later.  The VIRB will follow any of the photo settings you’ve previously defined (i.e. burst mode, etc…).

You can also start and stop video recording from the Fenix2.  To do that, you’ll press the start (red) button.  Once the unit starts, it’ll display a counter showing you the recording time.  You’ll also see the camera light turn to red.

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB Control Video

The feature is particularly handy on a bike, especially if you don’t have a Garmin Edge unit (which can also control the VIRB) to trigger the camera.  I only wish we’d see VIRB control also implemented on some of the other Garmin high-end running watches, such as the FR620.  It would only seem like an easy and logical move to increase adoption of the Garmin VIRB.

Ski-Board Mode:

Garmin Fenix2 Ski-Board Mode

The Fenix2 includes a new mode called ‘Ski-Board’, which automatically calculates and tracks skiing/snowboarding runs based on when you board a chairlift.

I previewed this when it first came out last year for the Fenix1 (and before it had a trendy name), but since then Garmin has been chugging away adding a number of features in this area.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fit in a skiing trip in the last 6 or so weeks, thus, I haven’t had a chance to test it (but one reader did this weekend and noted it worked flawlessly).  Nonetheless, here’s the low-down on the core features, which is known as ‘Ski-Board’ mode in the menu.

Ski Mode Run Detection: Each time you get off the lift and start to ski, it’ll automatically create a new lap within the unit.  In addition, there is a run counter, which shows you how many runs you’ve completed.

3D Speed and Distance: As I covered in my post last year, this mode takes into account the horizontal and vertical components within the speed and distance calculations – basically accounting for the drop in vertical.

Ski Mode Auto Pause: This will automatically pause the time and distance of the track file when you are sitting on a ski lift.

Ski Pages Know When On Lift: While on the lift, the unit will automatically switch to showing you stats about your last run, rather than just stats about the chair lift.

Beyond these core features they’ve also added in more ski-specific data fields, such as total vertical drop and run-specific details around max speed, vertical drop, etc….

As you noticed at the very beginning of this post, the unit includes a fabric extender strap – which is specifically designed to fit over bulkier winter jackets, typically worn while skiing or snowboarding (unless you’re in Dubai of course).  Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak in a quick getaway at some point to get some skiing in, though, at the moment my travel schedule doesn’t look good for cold-weather locales.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation

When the Fenix lineup was originally introduced nearly two summers ago, it was built as though it was a hiking/navigation watch, ideally suited for multi-day treks on non-paved terrain.  In fact, the team building the Fenix isn’t even part of the Fitness division at Garmin, but rather, part of the Outdoor division – which traditionally focuses on ruggedized handheld units.  Of course, over time the Fenix has grown to be more fitness-minded, adding in the swim/bike/run components we see now in the Fenix2.  But at its core, the Fenix2 hasn’t removed any of the navigation/hiking/trekking features that it started with or picked up along the way.

Waypoints/POI’s:

The Fenix enables you to navigate to predefined or ad-hoc waypoints, which are simply recorded locations.  When you navigate to a waypoint, the unit takes the most direct route – like the crow would fly (assuming the crow isn’t drunk).  It’s not like a car GPS that navigates based on known streets/trails (more on that in a bit).  This is just point to point.

You can create waypoints either offline (using a computer), or via your phone, or directly on the unit itself.  On the unit itself you can either program in coordinates, or if you’re staying at the spot you want to save for later reference, you can create that as a waypoint then.  To create waypoints using a computer you’ll use either Garmin Basecamp or Garmin MapSource.  To create waypoints using a phone, you’ll use Garmin Basecamp mobile.  I cover how the mobile piece works later in the mobile section.

Once you’ve placed the waypoint on the device you can pull it up via “Navigate | Waypoints”.  Or, if you want to navigate to a set of coordinates, then “Navigate | Coordinates”.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Entry

Once you do this, you’ll see a list of saved waypoints that you can select.  After selecting a given point, you can pull up additional information about it as previously defined, or you can navigate to it.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Selection

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Selection Details

When navigating to a waypoint you’ll be given a compass that you can use to follow the dots along the edge to the location.  Further, you can also engage the map as well (more on that in a bit).

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Map

Note that the compass in the unit is a magnetic compass, and thus would orient itself based on the direction it’s being held.  This is different from a digital compass, which requires you to actually make forward progress to determine the direction you’re going.

Routes:

In addition to navigating straight to a waypoint, you can also navigate along routes.  Routes are simply breadcrumb trails that you’ve loaded onto the device to follow.  Routes can be breadcrumb style, or a combination of direct-to-waypoint courses.  You can load these routes via a number of methods, from phone to a multitude of Garmin desktop-based apps.  For this section, I’m going to stick with the desktop app side of things.  However, down in the mobile section I talk more about those options there.

In order to create the routes, I generally use Garmin Connect (web site).  While I could use Garmin Basecamp (desktop app), or Garmin MapSource (desktop app), or 3rd party options, I find that Garmin Connect is the quickest and simplest.  Further, unlike Basecamp/Mapsource, I can use Google/Bing maps and satellite imagery, which makes it much easier.  While Garmin Connect is in a bit of a transition phase right now, you’re ultimately looking for the ‘Courses’ option, and then select to create a new course.

Garmin Fenix2 with GC Courses

Once you do that you can simply connect the dots, choosing to follow roads or not.  Obviously, if off-road on trails, you’ll probably not want to follow roads.

Garmin Connect Course Outline

Once you’re done, you’ll simply select to ‘Send to device’, and then select the Fenix2.  Alternatively, you could save the route/tracks (I’d do that anyway), and then transfer it from your phone directly – no USB required.  No matter which way you choose, once you get it on the device it’ll all look the same.  To access it, you’ll go to ‘Navigate’ and then choose the option to “Navigate | Tracks”, which enumerates up any courses sent to it from Garmin Connect.

Garmin Fenix2 Track Navigation

From there you can select one of the saved tracks.  When you do so, you’ll be brought to an overview page where you can get details on the track, including a map of where it is, as well as navigate to it.

Garmin Fenix2 Track Navigation

When you navigate along a given track you can customize different pages to show various navigational metrics, such as your ETA or distance remaining.

Garmin Fenix2 ETE

The map screen will show a dashed line for the route, which you can see below going upwards and then across the river:

Garmin Fenix2 Map Route

Meanwhile, on the compass, the two dots along the edge will indicate the direction of your next waypoint.  You’ll simply line these up with the marker at the top of the screen near the word ‘Garmin’ to head in the right direction.

Garmin Fenix2 Compass

Basic Maps

Finally, the Fenix2 retains the Fenix lineup’s ability to load a basic map onto it.  This feature was rarely (if ever) advertised, and even less information about how to accomplish it.  My goal here isn’t to provide a full technical overview of how to do so.  There are other, more capable, instruction sets out there already.  Rather, just to make you aware that you can do it.

The maps are available freely from 3rd party sources, though, you could technically load a paid map from Garmin.  Given the data quality though that the Fenix2 is able to present, I’m not 100% clear on the value of buying maps for the unit (versus using free ones).  At a high level, these are the steps to get the maps onto the Fenix2:

1) Install Garmin MapSource  application (PC)
2) Download applicable maps from free 3rd party site
3) Use 7-Zip (or similar tool) to unzip maps to a temporary directory (i.e. DesktopMaps)
4) Open temporary directory, use Maps Installer (see Step #2 for instructions).
5) Open Garmin MapSource application
6) Zoom in, and select tile area of interest, click Transfer > Send to Device
7) On the Fenix2: Add the ‘Maps’ data page to your data fields, via settings menu

Again, these are the high level steps, and this isn’t meant to be a tutorial or troubleshooting locale for loading maps onto the Fenix2.  The Fenix2 has the same amount of space as the Fenix1, about 25MB. In general, map sizes are 1-3MB at these resolutions.  For my entire region (Paris) of a diameter of about 50-miles, it was about 1MB.

In any case, once loaded onto the Fenix2 you’ll be able to access them after adding the ‘Maps’ data page to any of your sport profiles.  Once done, the maps page will show up, with the Etch-a-Sketch style map visible:

IMG_0781

You can zoom in by briefly holding down the Menu button, which activates Zoom/Pan options.  In cases where you’re navigating a track, or, if you want to see where a waypoint is, you can display those on the map.

Ultimately, given the black and white display, and more importantly, the low-resolution of it, I find little usefulness in how it’s implemented today.  That said, down the road in a future generation I suspect they’ll eventually transition to a color display, which would ultimately provide more value.

Day to Day Watch Functionality:

IMG_0439

The Fenix2 can be used easily as a day to day watch.  With Bluetooth disabled, the watch can go weeks in non-GPS mode.

The unit’s home/default screen can be customized in a variety of styles to show different information, from the sunrise to moonrise, and from the day of week to the time of day in multiple formats.

Garmin Fenix2 Data Option

In addition, you can create multiple alarms.  Alarms can be one-time affairs, or recurring alarms.  In the case of recurring, you can configure it for daily or weekday alarms.

Garmin Fenix2 Alarms

When an alarm triggers, you can specify whether you want it to be ‘Tone only’, ‘Vibration only’, both, or message display only.

Garmin Fenix2 Timers

Finally, the unit also supports the timer function (simple start/stop, as well as reset, notification, and auto restart), a simple stopwatch function (including lap support).  Also in this menu area of the watch is the ability to configure alternate time zones.

Fenix2 Sensor Supportability:

Garmin Fenix2 Sensors

Below is a consolidated list of the different sensor types that the Fenix2 supports today.  I’ve covered virtually all of these sensor types in this first chunk elsewhere in the review.  But this just consolidates them a bit:

– Running Footpod (ANT+)
– Heart Rate strap & HRM-RUN strap (ANT+)
– Cycling Power Meter (ANT+)
– Speed/Cadence Combo, Speed-Only, Cadence-Only (all ANT+)
– Chirp Geocache Sensor (ANT+)
– Tempe Temperature Sensor (ANT+)

Now, while it does support all the above ANT+ accessories, there are a few things it doesn’t support on the sensors side.  The first is it doesn’t support Bluetooth Smart sensors (i.e. a Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap).  It also won’t support any non-ANT+ HR straps, such as ones from Polar or Nike.  And then there’s a few things on the ANT+ side it doesn’t support either, including both weight scales and gym equipment.  Given Garmin has moved away from supporting either of those in recent products, that’s probably not too much of a surprise.

To sum it up, the following are NOT supported on the Fenix2:

– Any Bluetooth Smart sensors (BLE)
– Weight Scales (ANT+)
– Gym Equipment (ANT+)
– Polar straps of any sort
– Nike/Nike+ straps of any sort

I don’t anticipate to see any of those sensors not currently supported, being supported in the future.  The one potential exception could be weight scale – merely because there’s still a small but vocal number of folks who have previously invested in ANT+ weight scales that request it often.

Data Fields, Pages, and Customization:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Customization

The Fenix2 offers a multitude of ways you can customize it, dependent primarily on which sport profiles you’re using.  Within the unit it contains a set of default sport profiles.  These profiles are as follows:

Profiles: XC Ski, Ski-Board, Mountaineer, Hike, Navigate, Trail Run, Run, Bike, Swim Open Water, Swim Pool, Workout (Interval or Custom), Indoor Run, Indoor Bike, Indoor Custom, Indoor Workout, Multisport

In addition to these profiles, you can create up to three custom profiles with a name of your choosing.  It could be called “Kayaking” or “Cowtipping”, totally up to you.

Each of these profiles in turn contains data pages.  These data pages contain data fields.  Each data page contains up to four pieces of information (fields).  You can have almost limitless data pages (no specific number was given, but the Fenix team has tested into the dozens of pages).

Here’s an example of a four-field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Four Fields

A three field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Three Fields

And a two and one field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Two Fields

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - One Field

Some pages can also have graphs, such as this:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Graphs

You can customize any of the sport profiles (in-box or custom) with any pages you’d like.  And in turn, any fields you’d like.  The following fields are available for you to select from (click to zoom):

image

Finally, there are a number of other areas that you can customize in the watch.  To cover all of them all would take pages upon pages.  But, here’s the most commonly requested items:

Sounds/Vibrations: Whether there are beeps/buzzes for everything from pressing buttons to notifications to alerts to the alarm clock.

Display: You can tweak how long the backlight stays on (and how bright it is), as well as the contrast.

Time Related: You can change how the default time page on the unit looks, as well as which format (i.e. 12hr or 24hr), as well as the date, or even if seconds are displayed on the default page.  Or whether sunrise/sunset times are displayed, or the date.  Tons of flexibility.  Finally, you can either go with automatic time zone, or override it to stay in a specific time zone.

Language: You can change the language to a slew of different languages.

Units: You can separately specify each how Distance, Pace/Speed, Elevation, Weight, Height, Depth, Temperature, Pressure, and Vertical Speed are displayed, with respect to metric or statute formats for each one.  For example, you could show distance in kilometers, but elevation in feet.

There’s many more little settings in there, from the GPS update mode, to alerts to data recording rate and whether distance and elevation is recorded in standard mode or 3D mode, to the method the compass displays degrees.  But the above covers the common requests.

Updating the Firmware:

Garmin Fenix2 Firmware Updates

The Fenix2 supports the ability to have its firmware updated.  This allows Garmin to both fix/address bugs, as well as introduce new features.

The Fenix team falls under the Outdoor division at Garmin, not the traditional Fitness division that devices like the Garmin Forerunner and Edge units come from.  Historically speaking looking at the first generation Fenix unit, the Fenix team has introduced a stunning number of updates and feature enhancements.  Even as recently as a week ago it was still getting new feature updates – for a product released nearly 2 years ago.  Hopefully that trend will continue with the Fenix2 and expansion of new features and bug fixes over time.

Updating the firmware can be done via Garmin Express, or Garmin Web Updater – both on a computer.  Additionally, the Garmin Connect Mobile app will also notify you of firmware updates to be installed.

Generally speaking the update process only takes 1-3 minutes, and is painless.  I haven’t seen a scenario yet in the last 4-5 weeks where I had to re-setup my settings or configuration.  All of that has been kept.

Bugs and Miscellaneous:

Garmin Fenix2 Bugs

As I’ve been doing on all reviews over the past year or so, I’ve been including a section on bugs and/or issues that I’ve seen within my timeframe using the unit.  Do remember that  a ‘bug’ is different than ‘by design’.  For example, the lack of a feature is something I highlight within a given section is considered ‘by design’, whereas something not really working right is considered a bug. In the case of the Fenix2, such bugs fall into one of two categories: The device, and the platform (app/site).

Looking at the device side of things, the Fenix team continues to be mind-bogglingly efficient at resolving anything and everything I see bug-wise.  Thus, after having the unit for well over a month now, any bug I’ve raised they’ve fixed.  They’ve also added many (almost every) feature/tweak that I’ve requested.  The vast majority of these feature requests were really requests coming from you (readers).

Now, there are a few areas that are potential grey-area bugs, where it’s likely a situation that they can’t do much about:

1) Phone upload times: This just takes a month of Sunday’s to transfer the file via Bluetooth to the phone.  I don’t think this is so much a bug, as just a case of ‘it is what it is’. Update: This has been improved dramatically in the months since my initial review.

2) Saving a workout: Same thing here as well, this takes forever.  In the grand scheme of life it’s not a big deal, but to wait a few minutes (or more) to simply save a workout can be a touch bit annoying. Update: This has been improved dramatically in the months since my initial review.

3) Swim does not show rest periods on Garmin Connect: This is part Fenix dependent, and part Garmin Connect dependent. Either way, it’s not showing the rest time (Added post-review).

Beyond that though, the device is really solid from what I’ve tested.  Note that it’s slightly challenging however in that the Fenix team has been iterating versions quite quickly – so re-checking every single item on firmware released as often as yesterday is impossible for me.

Next, we’ve got the app.  On the mobile app side, I’m just not seeing any issues functionality-wise there with respect to the Fenix2.  It simply works, from my use of the iOS app.  There’s the slowness piece on transfer I noted above, but beyond that – it all works.

Lastly, we’ve got Garmin Connect (the site).  I talked about this a fair bit last week in my Vivofit review.  As it stands right now, things are a bit of a mess in Garmin Connect.  They launched a new Garmin Connect interface about a month ago, and it’s still pretty rough.  In general, if you stay within the ‘classic’ mode, you’ll largely be fine.  And in due time this will sort itself out.  But for now, they need one of those 1990’s style ‘Under Construction’ blinky icons that web pages used to display.

Again, this doesn’t mean this is all the bugs out there.  These are just the ones I saw during my use.  As a single person I can’t possible test every possible feature in every possible combination to reproduce every possible scenario.  Sure, I’d love to – but companies have entire teams of testers and they still miss things.  So I do the best I can to note what I’ve seen above.  If you have bugs, please post them to the Garmin Forums, or report them to Garmin.  That’s the correct channel to get them fixed.

Comparison Tables:

Before we wrap things up I’ve put together the comparison charts of all the features of the Fenix2 and original Fenix, compared to the Garmin FR910XT, and Suunto Ambit 2 (closest competitors).  You can of course create your own comparison tables using this link with any of the products I’ve previously reviewed/looked at, such as adding in the new Polar V800, which is Polar’s upcoming tri watch.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 15th, 2015 @ 11:45 amNew Window
Price$399$299 (on sale)$319$399
Product Announcement DateFeb 20, 2014JUL 10, 2012APR 29, 2013OCT 4, 2011
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMarch 2014AUG 2012May 2013JAN-APR 2012
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth SmartUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSBANT+ Wireless
WaterproofingYes - 50mYes - 50mYes - 100mYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)50 Hours50 hours50 hours20 Hours
Recording Interval1S to Variable1s to variableVariable1s or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYes (as of Feb 2014)YesNo
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGoodGreatGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/VisualVibrate/Sound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesNoVia Wahoo Fitness Adapter
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesNoNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes (as of Feb 2014)NoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesNoYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesN/AYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesN/ANoYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYes (full support added Sept 2013)YesYes
RunningGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYes (internal accelerometer)Yes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)YesNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesNoYesNo
Race PredictorYesNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesNoYesNo
Run/Walk ModeYes (Added June 13th, 2014)NoNoYes
SwimmingGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for swimmingYesNoYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesN/AYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesN/AYesYes
Record HR underwaterNoNoNoNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesN/AYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesN/AYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesN/AYesNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoN/ANoNo
Change pool sizeYesN/AYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths18m/20y to 150y/mN/A15m/y to 1,200m/y20m/22y to 100y/m
Ability to customize data fieldsYesN/AYesYes
Can change yards to metersYesN/AYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesN/AYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesN/ANoYes
TriathlonGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for triathlonYesNoYesYes
Multisport modeYesN/AYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)NoYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)BarelyYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYes (Added June 13th, 2014)NoNoYes
FunctionsGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesNoYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesNo
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataYesYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)YesYesNoNo
GeocachingYesYesNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNo
NavigateGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYesNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startYesYesYes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesNoNo
SensorsGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric, GPS (FusedAlti)Barometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagneticGPS
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesNoYesYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoYes
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)YesNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoYesYes
SoftwareGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressBasecampMoveslink AgentGTC/ANT Agent
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectMovescountGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidGarmin Basecamp (iOS)Suunto MovescountiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoYes (profiles XML)Yes (online)No
PurchaseGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

The tables are updated dynamically and thus if/when things change that’s represented automatically in this section.  And again, remember you can create your own charts easily here with any product you’d like.

Which watch?

Garmin Fenix2 and FR910XT Comparison

Trying to decide which watch makes the most sense?  Well, there’s a lot of options on the market today, and almost all of them have a compromise in one way or another.  There actually isn’t yet the ‘perfect’ device in terms of taking advantage of all the technology advancements we’ve seen in the last 6-12 months.  Instead, the picture is still a bit fragmented.  That said, let’s look at the options in the same general price range:

Garmin FR910XT: Up until the Fenix2, this has been the most powerful triathlon watch on the market.  There’s no two ways about that.  The Fenix2 coming along snuggles up next to the Garmin FR910XT, but doesn’t actually blow it out of the water.  It adds areas like Bluetooth Connectivity – but at the cost of concurrent ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart (like the FR220/FR620).  It also adds/has integration with a slew of devices that the FR910XT doesn’t support (i.e. VIRB, Tempe, Chirp), as well as Ski-Board mode and navigation capabilities that far exceed the 910XT.  However, it does lack some smaller features currently, such as ANT+ weight scale integration.  For those with a FR910XT already, who are primarily using it just for swim/bike/run, I’d probably stick with the FR910XT.  However, if you wanted greater navigational features, Running Dynamics, or Bluetooth upload support – then I’d look more closely at the Fenix2.  Ultimately, there won’t be a direct FR910XT successor this triathlon season, so the options you see on the table now in this price range – are the options that are available for the season.

Polar V800: Polar launched the V800 back in January, with the unit set to hit retailers later this spring (looks like May at the moment).  The V800 is purely Bluetooth Smart only, so there’s no ANT+ support for folks with existing accessories/sensors.  The exact specifications of the unit in a triathlon configuration remain somewhat murky though.  Initial plans around swim functionality (lap tracking, etc…) have been pushed to “later in 2014”, and many of the planned phone and navigation features have suffered a similar fate.  The unit’s built-in 24/7 activity tracker is a huge market differentiator to other devices on the market, however, the implementation of the device remains to be seen.  At this point, I really can’t make a recommendation one way or another on the V800, simply because I don’t know yet what’s going to be included within the unit upon initial availability this spring (and my recent repeated asks have gone unanswered).  And ultimately, that makes a huge difference in determining whether it’s basically just a waterproof Polar RC3 with Bluetooth Support/Activity Tracker, or if it’s a major new competitor in the market.

Suunto Ambit 2/2S: Suunto makes what is today the most direct competitor to the Fenix/Fenix2.  Like the Fenix, the Ambit started off in the hiking/navigation realm, and like the Fenix2, it wandered into the triathlon scene with the Ambit 2/2s.  From a swim/bike/run standpoint, the Ambit 2/2S is a very capable unit for racing and training.  It contains the ability to load small ‘apps’ onto it, developed for the Ambit.  Though, it lacks any of the Bluetooth capabilities, thus mobile connectivity is out.  From a hiking standpoint, it contains many of the same core features as the Fenix2, though most would argue that the Fenix lineup has a greater breadth of features.  Whether or not you (or most) need some of those features like ‘Man Overboard’ or ‘Area Calculation’ is likely a valid question to ask.

Garmin FR620: Let’s be clear up front, the FR620 is not a triathlon watch, and it never will be.  It’s a runner’s watch – and that’s it.  A really darn good one, but, still, not a device aimed at either triathletes or a hikers.  It doesn’t contain a barometric altimeter, or any of the navigational capabilities of the Fenix2 (or FR910XT).  it does however allow you to concurrently utilize Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, which means you can do Live Tracking while still using ANT+ sensors.  And that in and of itself is a huge thing.  While the unit will gain a cycling mode with ANT+ speed/cadence sensor support later this spring as part of a firmware update, however, Garmin has confirmed the FR620 won’t be getting any navigation related features this spring.

TomTom Multisport: The TomTom unit is a good option, but it’s also not really in the same price range as what we’re talking about.  It also lacks all of the advanced features.  If you were to put together a detailed feature matrix (even beyond what I have in the comparison tables), you’d find that the TomTom unit has about 5-10% of the total features of the Fenix2.  Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good triathlon unit – as it is.  Rather, the TomTom unit isn’t a good navigational/hiking/ultra type unit – it simply isn’t targeted there.  And that’s perfectly fine.

Summary:

Garmin Fenix2 connected via Bluetooth Smart to phone

Make no doubt about it, I’m impressed with where the Garmin Fenix team has brought the Fenix over the last 2 years, culminating in the Fenix2.  Many triathletes have asked Garmin to make a watch that doesn’t look like a bulky computer on their wrist, but still does all the swim/bike/run goodness.  Now they (mostly) have that.  By the same token, understand that there are tradeoffs right now in what the Fenix2 offers, especially around Bluetooth Connectivity.

The industry is simply in a slightly awkward phase where there’s a lot of new technology integration partly implemented and coming, but getting it all in one single killer device seems to be a bit elusive.  When I look at ‘new technology integration’, I’m talking about integrated Bluetooth & ANT+ support (concurrently), integrated activity monitor/tracker (24×7), optical heart rate, and phone apps that not only simply pair to the device – but extend the functionality.  In many ways, for any device on the market today you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

But at the end of the day, I feel it’s better to pick a device that fits 90% of the bill today, rather than wait a season or two for a device that does it all (or, does it all until you learn about some new ‘must-have’ feature).  After all, if the theory is that the device improves your training and thus your results (or simply brings joy), then waiting simply delays those training benefits.  Which isn’t to say you should or shouldn’t pick the Fenix2.  As the previous section outlined, there’s a lot of great devices on the market – all of them will help you train quite well.  It’s the details that differentiate them.  Hopefully, this post and its few thousand words on details helped illuminate those key device differences.

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP program you get a bunch of money-saving benefits, which you can read about here.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day US shipping as well.

Garmin Fenix2 without HR strap (Regular or Special Edition)
Garmin Fenix2 bundle with HRM-RUN heart rate strap (simply select from dropdown)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Fenix2 or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP programClever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 27th, 2018 @ 4:29 am
2014 Giveaway Extravaganza
2014 Summer Recommendations: Running Watches
2014 Summer Recommendations: Triathlon Watches
2014 Winter Recommendations: Running Watches
August 2014 Garmin Sale
Left/Right Capable Bike Computers
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Full Wheelset)$999 (full wheelset)
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)$790 (hub only)
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)$899
Chirp External ANT+ Geocaching Beacon$22.00
Fenix Black-colored Replacement Band/Strap$18.00
Fenix Charging/Download Cable$25.00
Fenix Leather Replacement Band/Strap$18.00
Fenix Olive-colored Replacement Band/Strap$18.00
Fenix Orange-colored Replacement Band/Strap$18.00
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1$37.00
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2$69.00
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3$50
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-Run$99.00
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)$28.00
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)$35.00
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)$10.00
Garmin Solar Charging Kit$71.00
Garmin Tempe External ANT+ Temperature Sensor$29.00
Garmin Vector$1499
Power2Max ANT+ Power Meter$970 (no cranks)
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power Meter$99
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterDiscontinued
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power Meter$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power Meter$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power Meter$699

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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3,466 Comments

  1. Chris

    May be a dumb question – but any chance the Fenix 2 will get access to “Connect IQ”? I would hate to sell my Fenix 2 to get a 920xt only to find out they allow me to write custom code for the Fenix 2 (like accessing Virtual Partner seconds ahead/behind as a data field instead of that dumb screen it’s on now)

  2. sf

    Hi all;

    After many, many e-mails to Garmin support and an exchanged (serial # begins with “3”) fenix2, I’m out. Ran yesterday and an 18km run displayed 24 on the fenix2…including a few 7-second kilometres. The watch has frozen on several occasions, failed to continue counting distance, time-travelled to April 2019 (with the wrong time as well), almost always shows my max cadence at 254 steps per minute (never 253 or 255 though). Most frustratingly, Garmin Support typically defaults to “this is the first we’ve heard of this issue” and have appeared to not take these issues seriously. At least they have acknowledged their absolute failure to deliver a reliable product, and after my original purchase in March of this year, are issuing me a refund (not through the retailer). For those of you who are frustrated (but are out of the return window), you might consider trying through Garmin directly. Naturally, they included the disclaimer of this being a “one-off” and “don’t expect it in the future” etc, but probably worth a try. Best of luck to you other fenix2 users out there…I hope you have a better experience than I have had. And thanks Ray for your great reviews.

    • Bart Bouse

      Wow! On Ray’s Fenix review another reader gave me a hard time about not calling support. Concerning the Fenix, I too got the “I could be in India and reading from a script” “this is the first we’ve heard of this issue.” Through two fr305’s I never considered calling support. Guess what, the 305 worked and did what they said it would do. Garmin apparently doesn’t know how to deal with a bad product(s).

    • Generally speaking if you are in the US you go straight to a person in Kansas, which tends to be quite good. In EMEA, it’s mixed. In AUS/NZ and some parts of Asia support is a nightmare.

      All that said – if you’re having issues with a product that the interwebs doesn’t solve (be it Garmin, Apple, or Polar), then actually talking to the human tends to be the fastest method to resolution.

  3. Riku

    Love the watch – but passed the age where reading glasses become necessity – sadly I cannot see a thing of that reversed display in particular while in bush and forest.

  4. Raj

    Hi,
    Greeting to you and thank you for the detailed review.
    In the past based on your review i decided and bought Edge 800 and am very happy with the performance of the device.Now, since i started running i again came here to see your review and bought a Fenix 2. Unlike the previous purchase, this time i’m very annoyed with the device, because the GPS is a crap on this device. wherein a 3.95km running track is measured between 4.48km to 6.11kms. I have bought it just 9days ago and definitely not feeling good about it. Is Fenix 2 having GPS issues???

    • p-middy

      Raj, sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Some people seem to have GPS issues with their Fenix2s but it’s not clear why. Theories abound and they are discussed extensively in the comments. For others (myself included), they have zero issues with the GPS or at least it’s within expected and acceptable limits.

      For those with issues, there doesn’t seem to a fix for it. I would return your watch for a new one, and if that has problems, I would just get a different watch altogether.

    • Raj

      Hi Middy, Thanks for responding. I think going with a different watch altogether is the best option. Can you suggest any model. My main requirements are for running, mountaineering, therefore also want altimeter, barometer and temperature. Would prefer to have it like a all day regular watch. Thanks.

    • Patrick Myers

      Unfortunately I don’t. But Ray has a comparison table that you can build to look at the different watch functionalities. I’d try that first. link to dcrainmaker.com

  5. Andreas Dittrich

    I’d like to second the latest comments by saying in my personal experience, the Fenix 2 has been the buggiest piece of sports hardware I have ever owned in the last 15 years. By far. Actually, maybe I was lucky but I never had any sports equipment that was buggy (ok, maybe the polar w.i.n.d. cadence sensor).

    If you’re like me, you train 8-12 times a week and you analyze the data from your devices during and after training. It is annoying to loose training data, as happened to me several times with the fenix 2. It is annoying having to re-pair constantly during bluetooth upload. It makes me angry if the watch freezes during training or shows empty data fields. But I can’t forgive if a watch lets me down during competition and that’s the reason I am only using the Fenix 2 for indoor swims and short runs. And even then, every 10 trainings or so there is a problem (the syncing problem is ALWAYS there).

    I already did the full cycle when trying to find solutions. I didn’t manage to work around the bugs of the platform. Actually, I am an IT guy myself and I begin to wonder whether there were some terrible design decisions hardware-wise (already the XOR bt/ant+ is questionable) when developing the Fenix 2 and whether that makes it almost impossible to program the thing. Because you would think that at Firmware 4.0, bugs would have been ironed out somehow.

    I am waiting for another watch that convinces me and then I am going to sell the Fenix 2. Which is sad, because I really wanted to like that watch.

    • Patrick Myers

      What I find weird is that some people can have such trouble and others have very little. I can’t complain about the BT sync because my phone isn’t one of the ones supported (and I don’t mind using the cable) but I also train around 10 times a week and have had only one major flub with the watch. Granted it was a pretty big one – it locked up during a race – but that was several firmwares ago and I haven’t had an issue since.

      It’s very odd how inconsistent the watch’s consistency is across users.

    • haroldo

      I would like to say I never had an issue. I train 8-10 times a week. Swim, bike, run and strength train and the occasional Spartan Race. Never had an issue. Either by BT or by cable or with the watch locking while training or on a race.

      But as its been mentioned before only the minority of people that get a good watch makes a comment as opposed to the majority of people who get trouble will write something.
      I am pretty sure this is not the only watch to go under such variable user experience. The same was said about the 910XT when it came out and etc…

      Some people say Garmin only releases Beta firmwares. Then updates it as problems come along.
      I don’t know if its true.

      I do understand the frustration of those that do get the problems though.
      I love data and can’t imagine doing a long run and then loosing the whole thing.

      The 920XT is coming out soon. I would expect the first 6 months to be full of bugs and that they will get fixed as problems arise.

      That seems to be the pattern.

    • Bart Bouse

      I just recently got a refurbished Fenix from Garmin to replace my first one. The first one would fail approx. 6 of 8 times I used it in one fashion or another. The refurbished has now made it through two runs and has uploaded using bluetooth both times without fail. This is a new record with my Fenix experience. But imagine that, a record of no fails after only two runs and two uploads. I don’t trust it and probably never will based on my experience with the first one.

    • Ken Cabeen

      That Suunto Ambit 2 with HR on clearance for $350 is looking better all the time.

    • Andreas Dittrich

      That is exactly the problem. You can never trust this watch. The RS800CX might have had some quirky user interface but it never failed on me, not once. And it did so without a firmware update, for years. I wouldn’t even think about trust issues with that watch. With the Fenix 2 you never know what’s going to happen next and even if it works fine, that’s too risky for me to use it in competition or any training session that is really important for me.

      I usually don’t like to rant. And I accept that there are people perfectly happy with the watch. But I also see that I’m not alone with my issues and this shows that Garmin didn’t do a good job in designing and launching this product which, in the end, is supposed to be the perfect tool for the adventurer endurance athlete. Think about trusting this watch when going on a serious hike… 🙂 Well at least you don’t care about Bluetooth sync out in the woods.

      Ray, just out of curiosity. From what you can see on your site, are there considerably more rants about bugs with this watch then with others or is it just the same?

    • It depends. If I start at the opposite end of the spectrum, probably the unit with the least complaints would be the FR10 (and largely the FR15), likely because the features are the simplest – but also well executed.

      As we add more features, you tend to get more complaints. Some of those are due to consumer confusion. For example, on the Vivofit/Loop products, you see people who believe daily activity trackers are an absolute perfect device that will nail every single step yet ignore every random movement. Some of those expectations aren’t realistic (and yet other complaints sometimes are).

      Next, you get to the high-end watches. This is where things get complex. For example, if I straight up compare the Fenix2 to the Ambit2, I see more comments/complaints on the Fenix2. Yet, that’s because if I look at sales, it outsells the Ambit2 4:1. Meanwhile, if I look at the Polar V800, it tends to receive a more diverse group of complaints than the Fenix2 (which are largely centered on activity recording failures, and/or GPS tracking). So for the V800 it’s mostly been compatibility/feature issues, and then recently battery/charger issues. Again, one has to look at sales numbers. The Fenix2 outsells the V800 about 8:1.

      Finally, I have to look at unique comments/complaints. By ‘unique’ I mean, ‘unique individuals’. In some cases, such as here, we have people that are repeatedly commenting – sometimes on the same issue. So it’s challenging for most people to separate that out. Heck, there’s even people that comment under different names trying to make it look like there’s multiple people (seriously, I’m in IT, it’s easy to spot). I clean up those though. Interestingly, I rarely see that on the V800/Ambit reviews, but do see it here. No idea why.

      Which, doesn’t mean folks aren’t seeing issues. Obviously, some people are in certain cases. The question is more of ‘How many?’. Is it 1%? 2%? 5%? I don’t know. I will continue to note that if you are seeing issues, but don’t open up a support case, it’s sorta like continually complaining about the election results but not voting. This site’s comments section isn’t a good avenue to the product group for enabling them to understanding where issues still lie. Just my two cents…

    • haroldo

      Excellent answer Ray.

    • Adam

      couldn’t agree more with Your 2cents.
      But we still need to keep in mind the price of each segment and related expectations. High-end devices with all their features are also very pricy and customers expect them also to ‘just work’. If these high-end devices don’t perform well, then well… vendors should not charge the customers premium prices…
      Anyway, I can see major problem seems to originate from quality control. If 95,96 or 97% or whatever percentange works well, why other 1-2-3% doesn’t??? It’s quality control problem. Quite common challange for products from China (or Taiwan or any South-East Asia). Same in other technologies: digital cameras with Nikon for example.

    • Malachi

      I agree, I had the fenix, tactix, and now fenix2, each one had problems.
      I had each one crash on my on a long adventure run … not so good when you’re in the middle of the mountains! In the end, I returned the fenix and the tactix.
      The fenix2 is the best of the three and hasn’t crashed in sometime.
      I really like the features if the fenix2, however, I need something that is stable when I’m in the mountains.
      I give it a few more tries on my upcoming long runs.
      In the end, I feel like I’m a beta tester!

  6. parmin

    I have just bought secondhand FENIX 2. I would like to ask, how to completely delete all data and settings from it. Mainly to reset data for calculating VO2Max Estimation, VO2Max estimation, Race Predictor etc.

  7. Dirk

    Does anyone else see a very big differance between the VO2 max astimate from this Garmin and that of a polar?

  8. Glenn

    Ray, wow. This is my first visit to your website, and won’t be the last. Thanks for the exhaustive review.

    I’m already sold on the Fenix 2, but wanted to know about the HRM Run. I don’t run anymore (knees) but hike and cycle. I have the strap and HRM from my Forerunner 610. Does the HRM Run add any functionality that would be relevant to hiking or cycling — or even walking?

    Thanks,
    Glenn

    • None to hiking or cycling, or really even walking. The VO/GCT charts on walking/hiking are kinda useless (actually, I also find them fairly non-useful in running too…but that’s a different thing for a different day).

      Thus, save your cash. 🙂

  9. Luis

    Very disappointed with the refresh rate speed and power data…
    Comparing with my old 310Xt it takes to much time to display correct data… when biking and after stop the 310 display 0km/h speed and the fenix is still displaying speed… 🙁

  10. kordi

    Hi
    I have a question. I haven’t seen any new posts on line about the fenix 2 freeze problem. (a lot of people has been complaining they it freezes after couple of hours work) Does it mean that the problem has been fixed by garmin or none has anything new to add in the subject?

    I am planning to buy a watch. i am deciding between fenix2 or new 920xt. Personally i like more the look of fenix 2 and if it hadn’t have the freeze problem i would choose it.

    Konrad

    • Joseph Patrowicz

      I’ve had the Fenix 2 since August 2014 and It’s has crashed on me 4 times, mostly within the last 6 weeks. I’m not sure why this is happening. But it’s definitely still a problem and very frustration. Luckily I bought this at REI. I may be trading it in for a 920XT if it happens again.

  11. Kay

    What are the charging pins made from? Is it hypo allergenic?
    I have an allergy on my arm under the pins.
    Garmin say all materials comply with REACH.
    My understanding of REACH is it concerns safe manufacturing and disposal of materials. Not Human allergens.
    Have photographs of the allergic reaction.

  12. Chris

    Can someone explain this to me – I had foot pod set to Always last night, but left the foot pod on my other pair of shoes so I skipped it during the start of my run. .25 miles later, my watch showed no pace, no distance etc. I stopped and turned foot pod to “indoor only” and it started recording distance. I am on FW 4.0 – is this normal behavior – it seems wonky that it wouldn’t record anything when I explicitly said “skip”.

    Thanks!

    • Normal behavior, even though it seems odd. It’s been this way since the earliest firmware. I’d like it to act more like it does with a speed/cadence sensor in biking, but it doesn’t.

    • goughy

      Actually it is behaving like the speed/cadence sensor. Chris said he has his footpod set to ‘Always’. If you do that with the speed/cadence sensors then go riding without them, you will still get a gps track recorded, but no speed or distance info. I found this a month ago when I rode a different bike that didn’t have the sensors on it.

      Pressing skip doesn’t mean it won’t look for the sensor. It just seems to get you past that stage and if the sensor later turns up it will pick it up.

    • Hm. Maybe I got that wrong. I know it always looks for speed and cadence when I cycle, and that it auto-calibrates the speed sensor, but I do have it set to Indoor and not Always.

      So good call. Expected behavior, seems odd, and I wish it would use sensors when available and GPS when not all the time.

  13. abby

    Hi.
    Please someone help me.
    I only have my garmin fenix 2 for about 4 months now. Yesterday when I saw that it had no screen display, I automatically assumed that it needs charging. Now, when i take it off the charger, the damn watch doesn’t display anything at all!
    It only displays when connected to the charger. I have tried doing a hard reset while off the charger, hard reset on the charger. The thing is once I take it off the charger, there’s a sliver of line that shows up and then nothing.
    Please help.

    • goughy

      You need to contact garmin straight away about that. If you’ve tried doing all the resets, and if it’s on fw4.0 then I’d be giving them a call, and letting them know exactly what you’ve tried. I’d expect you’ll be needing to send it back to them.

  14. Hi, i bought fenix2 with HRM, but cadence value show 0, i went for a regular outdoor run, i tried finding it everywhere in settings but no luck, any help

  15. foxyyy

    was wondering..how do i set the time spent resting during a run to not show up in my splits?

  16. foxyyy

    was wondering..how do i set the time spent resting during a run to not show up in my 1km splits?

    • Simply create a split at the start of the rest.

    • foxyyy

      i mean..every time i pause a running activty, the time i spent resting will show up in the data fields of my splits…although pace is calcuted once i start the activity again

      hmmm..checked garmin connect & strava..garmin has it displaying correctly my pause/start while strava is showing both the time i spent running & time i paused it..although the pace is showing correctly

  17. Dimitrios Athanasiadis

    Hi guys do you know how is it possible to see my heart rate when i pause a run? It seems that when i pause a run i can only save resume and discard my session but i was wondering if it possible to watch my heart rate that moment

  18. steve drew

    Does anyone have a problem with calibration for indoor treadmill runs ?. My Fenix 2 overestimates my distance each time by 13.3%. Is there a way to fix this? Thanks.

  19. AndreM

    I had 2 new failures of the FENIX2 watch back to back this weekend despite using version 4.0:

    1. After starting a RUN activity, and running for about 20 minutes, the watch stopped the activity and when i hit RESUME it resumed in BIKE mode instead of RUN mode. I saved the activity and started a new RUN activity to record the remainder of my run, and the watch would not show me the pace (set to show actual pace, not average). It did show distance and time elapse though.

    2. After starting a BIKE activity, and biking for about 35 minutes, the watch stopped the activity and when i hit RESUME it resumed in NAVIGATE mode instead of BIKE mode.

    This is my first GARMIN product, and needless to say, I am not impressed. I am really trying to like this watch but this is becoming extremely frustrating as the watch is malfunctioning almost every time I use it. Hopefully this is software issue with 4.0 and GARMIN will hopefully release 4.1 that addresses this. Unless I am missing something?

    • Mikael Klingbjer

      Unfortunately I experienced the exact same bug this summer (s/w v3.60). It only happened ones, but it looks like the bug is still there 🙁

    • mucher

      ..and then I saw somebody posting similar experience but moving from SWIM to RUN.

      My run got resumed as an …indoor bike ride (the watch was even looking for a spd/cadence sensor) – thankfully it was at the end and so far only happened once.

  20. parmin

    Hi guys do you know how is it possible? After starting a RUN activity and than syncing to Garmin Connect it shows as OTHER with no Running Dynamics Charts 🙁

    link to connect.garmin.com

  21. Axel Vuylsteke

    Dear DC,

    How do you use the last lap intervals in a pool swim. If I come to the border of the swimming pool and I press the lap button to indicate I start a new lap or I start my resting period. I want to see what time I did on the previous lap and my distance on that previous lap. However I have not found that yet.

    Greetings.

    Axel

  22. K Davies

    Allergic to metal charging pins.
    Using tape or sweatband beneath.
    When is Garmin going to come up with a solution? Eg plastic cover for the back to stop pins touching skin?

    • Honestly, I wouldn’t expect them to. If they had planned to, they likely would have done it years ago with the first Fenix watch, or for any of the other product lines that use that watch as the base (aviation/marine/etc…). Sorry!

  23. Hello DC, Ive heard several reviews regarding the watch freezing time and time again. Did this happened to you. Do you think this bug will go away. The watch seems awesome and im between Fenix 2 and Garmin 920, but if the Fenix fails as much as they say then,well its a no brainer.

    Regards.

    • Fabio

      Hi Santiago, I have the same question. I am between buying the Fenix 2 and 920XT, but it seems there are a lot more complaints with the Fenix 2 (not a lot of people testes the 920 yet). It seems to me the Ambit3 is more stable, but I have an Android phone. Would like to hear what owners think.

    • I haven’t seen a freeze-up on my units since last spring (per the review).

      In general though, I’d say that unless you really need navigation capabilities (as well as a heavy reliance on some of the altimeter features), then the FR920XT is a better unit for most athletes.

    • goughy

      I’m with DCR on this. I haven’t had any freeze ups on my F2 at all, which I’ve had since release. But if someone asked me my opinion I’d be telling them if you just want it for training only then I’d be getting the 920. The only reason I’m happy with the F2 over the 920 is because I was replacing my busted everyday watch at the same time and I think the 920 and any of the other sports style watches are ugly as. Yet I’ve gotten comments from people about the F2 when wearing it around. The only things I’m really missing is the ability to use pool swimming in multisport (really bugging me they won’t add this), I’d love to have the option to select a display type like the rest mode in pool swimming (I have no issues with viewing the screen anyway, I just think it looks cooler), and maybe a bit better gps signal at times. The very few times I’ve had an issue have been in national parks where my old 310 had zero problems but the F2 draws a track that looks like an infants scribble. Luckily, I train in those places very rarely.

  24. Haroldo

    General question to anyone who may be able to HELP!!!!

    My Garmin website counts each yard I swim as a mile. Consequently by swimming 3000 yards the website thinks I swam 3000 miles.

    Has anyone encountered this problem? Is it a problem with the Watch setup? Is there something in the website itself that I can change?

    I already went into settings and everything seems alright.

    Any ideas?

  25. jolaca01

    It’s a new but well known issue on GC for Fenix2 users that is also known by Garmin as ag_swims has already confirmed and hopefully they are expected to solve soon. Not only with yards and miles but obviously also with meters and km on the activity reports. New GC issues are also bad SWOLF and efficiency reports (fenix2 only) and some intervals badly added up on GC site. You can see all in this thread Haroldo:

    link to forums.garmin.com

  26. Nelson Valente

    hello

    Sorry for the question…

    I can switch in the fenix 2 SE the display with black or clear background?

    Tks

    Nelson Valente.

  27. steve drew

    Hi there…How do I delete activities which will not synch and produce an error please?

    • The most clean way is to simply connect the device to your computer and then go into the activities folder. This will allow you to manually upload the activities to Garmin Connect (or other service), and then simply delete them.

    • Paul S

      The fact that this showed up yesterday makes me a little suspicious that maybe he should just try again today. GC was majorly screwed up at times yesterday (I don’t know whether it’s been fixed yet), and I think the ultimate cause was the switch back to standard time in the US. When I went to upload my single activity, Express insisted there were two exactly one hour apart, and couldn’t upload either. The .fit file uploaded manually just fine to Strava and SportTracks, but not to Garmin Connect. I used SportTracks to export it as a .tcx, but GC couldn’t import that, either. The Garmin forums were full of messages about this yesterday. I haven’t yet tried this morning to see if its working now, but I know that Express on my Mac had the file waiting in a folder called PendingSyncUploads. It’s not there any more (but not on GC). So you might just want to try again, both with Express and as a manual upload, before you delete anything.

    • steve drew

      Thank you DCR

  28. Well, I just did IMFL with my Fenix 2, no issues. Bike reported 112.13 miles and run reported 26.4. I can’t complain about any accuracy issues at all and I had plenty of juice left in the watch.

  29. PeterG

    Hi DC Rainmaker. Quick question, which Fenix 2 settings are you using for the most accurate GPS signal while running? WAAS on or off? Recording 1 sec. or Smart? I am from Europe and heard that WAAS is not useful here at all, so no point switching it on. Thank you in advance for your help.

  30. Chris

    Is anybody else getting these weird “tidal waves” in their pace? I’ve been seeing this in the past month, prior to that, I never had an issue with it. I’ve done a soft reset on the watch, but that doesn’t appear to have any impact on it. It’s annoying because I am holding a constant pace and the watch just freaks out.

    link to connect.garmin.com
    link to connect.garmin.com

  31. Ralf

    Hey Ray!
    I’ve just bought the Fenix 2 and as well the Scosche Rythm+
    (I will receive them next week)
    Now is my question, do the functions, where the heart rate strap is needed, also work with the scosch rythm?
    Functions like the Running Dynamics or Race Predictor, Recovery Advisor, VO2Max Estimates, and Training Effect?
    Thanks for your help!
    BR Ralf

    • You can use this section here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      To understand how the Scosche will impact items. It’s exactly the same on the Fenix2 and FR920XT.

    • Joseph Patrowicz

      Ray,

      I also use this combination (Fenix 2 and Scosche Rythym+) and I’m a little confused about the accuracy based on your review posted above. As I understand it, the Fenix 2 cannot connect to the Scosche Rythym+ via BLE, so by default it connects by ANT+. Does this mean that the Recovery time and VO2 Max will have accurate results (based on your comments that the ANT+ devices transmit HRV/RR correctly), or are they still going to be questionable because of the Optical technology? Just curious.

  32. Ralf

    Thanks a lot for your quick answer! Allright, however, I’ll see more advantages for me with using the optical sensor! I wouldn’t take a longer recovery, only because the Fenix 2 tells me…
    Cadence does work, that’s more important for me..
    Another question or better suggestion Ray.. I would like to have bought the Fenix 2 via your link (because of your great work with your free hp!), but I live in Germany, and the shipment is too expensive..Would be nice to have a link (-shop) also for German market for supporting you!

  33. Jonathan Joseph-Horne

    Hi DC,

    Firstly, thanks for the great reviews – the best on web – and I’ll make sure to order through your links.

    I’m looking to buy a watch mainly for cross-country/trail running and want good navigation features (preferably including some primitive ability to load up and follow maps of trails) plus good heart rate and related performance monitoring. I’ve looked at the Fenix2, the Ambit 2 and the new Ambit3 and also whether linking them with an optical HRM is possible and am currently inclining towards the Fenix2 with their HRM belt. Am I on the right track do you think, or should I be looking elsewhere? I’ve heard mixed things about the reliability of the Fenix but it does seem to have the best navigation features for trail running and also good HRM and related performance measurements. I’m not too bothered by the relative costs of the watches, more getting the best features for what I’m using it for and that it’s accurate and reliable. Would very much appreciate your thoughts! Thanks. Jonathan

    • Adam

      If You are US based and can order from CT, there is no better deal today than Ambit2S for $219 (this is actually without HR belt, so count extra ~$50 for any belt You like). While Fenix is great, You might be the unlucky one (I dont know if it’s 3, 5 or 7% of people, but there are quite a few) who has problems and You will only get frustrated over time. I have not heart of anyone complaining for Ambit on that matter. All this specially matters if You plan to run on trails and in the woods where tree cover might impact accuracy of Fenix. While navigation might be a bit less featured in Ambits, it’s still great! The best deal is Ambit2S, but if You care for more battery life, You should go for Ambit2. I think Ambit3 is simply overprized right now and not worth the buy.
      my 2 cents… I think I have seen one of Ray’s reply on similar question to match mine now.

  34. Zach

    I noticed today that the compass is only accurate when the watch is worn on my right hand. When I wear the watch on my left hand, as I usually do, it is not accurate. Has anyone else experienced this problem and/or know a fix? Thanks.

  35. Marc Garcia Lloveras

    Hi! There is a new update 3.3 for the GPS M4 chipset since November 6th.

    link to www8.garmin.com

    – Improved first fix accuracy in some cases.
    – Improved overall GPS positional accuracy.
    – Improved GPS positional accuracy for open water swimming (applies to some products).

    Did you test it Ray?
    Thanks!

  36. Ralf

    Hey you guys!
    I’ve just got the Fenix2 for 4 days, however I would like to tell you my experience with it.

    So far, I’ve used it on a 20k long run, on navigating me on a 75k bike ride, and for sure as a good-looking day to day watch..

    I’m using the Fenix2 with the Scosche Rhythm + for HRM..I really like the freedom without the strap around my chest, just awesome..also the Scosche recognizes heart rate changes much faster than my old strap of the Forerunner 305 (I’ve tested both in parallal, see below)..Also I like to see changes of the heart rate, even if it’s just 1 or 2 beats (which is the case with the Scosche), because that gives me the feedback that the sensor is working, and not that the heart rate is freezing for some times (that was sometimes the case with the strap of 305 forerunner)..
    For the 20k long run, I wore the Fenix2 and 305 in parallel (I wanted to get the feeling of Ray’s day to day runs 🙂 ), and had an average heart rate of 152 with the Scosche and 153 with the 305 strap, so, it’s more or less the same…optical measurement is approved for myself.

    To stay at the heart rate, Ray, you said that Race predictor can be incorrect estimates without using the Garmin strap, so here I’ve got a quite good experience:
    I just started running again (after an injury, you all know this) 4 months ago, and so I’ve trained many many base runs without a lot of speed..On last Friday I’ve done a lactate test, to see where I am at the moment, which predicted me the following times: for 5k, 20:16 and for 10k, 41:06min…
    I know it’s just a gadget on the Fenix 2, however, after my long run on last Saturday (next day after the lactate test), it predicted me 19:35 and 40:37 for 5k and 10k…I’m impressed, that’s quite good estimates (with only one run!), because I know that I can run around these times, with my experience, the lactate test is showing me a little bit slower times, like I’m doing in races after…in 4 weeks I’m going to run a 10k, I will let you know (I’m aiming for 39:59min) 🙂

    GPS accurancy, to get back to my lovely long run, I’ve had 20,27k with the 305 Forerunner and 20,19k with the Fenix 2…so for me, it’s not so important during my training runs or at races..a few more or less meters don’t mind to me, and to me I prefer to run a few more, which is better for my training with the Fenix 2, that’s WIN-WIN!
    However, with navigating it’s more important, and so I was riding my bike a lot in the forest, and it was perfect navigating for me…so no problems with the Fenix 2 so far!

    One last point: As a day to day watch, I like the feature of changing the time layouts, so it’s not boring to see the same display all day long..

    All in all, with my short time of experience, the Fenix 2 is worth it’s money, and Ray didn’t promised me too much with the Scosche and Fenix2 reviews, again thumps up for a great job, can’t tell it often enough Ray!

    Best regards Ralf

  37. Ray just wanted to tku you for your answer, and congratulate you as I never did on your great reviews. My fenix 2 is going to be arriving next week. I HOPE I GET A GOOD EGG. Because is the watch does what it promises, I dont see why its not the best watch ever! For doing it all.

  38. Majk

    Any new tests on a battery life time with different GPS settings? Despite that ANT+ sensor isn’t log (still!!!), what is with other data in ultra trac mode, ex. altitude, temp?

  39. gruchap

    Updated today to new M4 GPS software. Did run test in the forest. Seems that truck looks much better than before, more accurate. Need to do more test to see if there is general GSP accuracy improvement.

  40. gruchap

    Did some additional test today. Run with Fenix 2 and Forerunner 620xt. I must say that I am happy with Fenix 2 accuracy after recent M4 uodate!!!, especially in the forest where before it was sometime all over the place. Also, pace compared to Forerunner 620 very close. All in all positive. Well done Garmin, hope fixes are on the good direction! Hope this helps. Run below:
    link to connect.garmin.com
    link to connect.garmin.com

    • Gabriel Eguia

      your second link is broken

      nice job – for a second i was like woah – you’re fast but was stuck in english units 😉

  41. gruchap

    sorry, try second link now Gabtiel

    link to connect.garmin.com

  42. Ian

    Hi Ray, really enjoys your reviews and all the questions being asked by fellow users and find it very much helpful. I’m curious about the GPS tracking in a open water swim. My Fenix 2 is usually out by 200 – 500m. I put this down to me keeping the watch under the wetsuit as a safety precaution??? So during my swim it looses GPS signal and tracks that I’ve swam on land. My question is, does the timing (elapsed time) stop when the watch looses GPS signal? I added a link to my latest swim below in case that will help.
    link to connect.garmin.com

    • That’s a bit rough, though, I suspect the issue is in part due to the surroundings. You’ve got what looks like 6-8 story buildings on all sides of a small canal. So that’s compounding things a bit.

      It is a cool route though, especially if you can get it to track (swimcap method would be interesting to see).

    • Ian

      Hi Ray, thanks for your prompt reply. Its our training route here in Cape Town through the harbour apartments.

      Good point on the buildings. Will try the swim cap method and post for you to compare. Do you think the the lack in GPS signal would affect the time tracked during the swim though, or does the elapsed time remain constant irrespective? Or would the best thing be to try the swim cap method first and compare times.

      Once again, thanks for all help.

  43. DT

    Ray, I have a complicated question. I have the F2 and the vivofif (which stopped working). I understand the F2 will never be an activity tracker but if I want to replace my vivofit with another tracker that can sync with Garmin Connect or my Fitness Pal (and has HR included in it-optical), what would you buy? Sorry if it is too complicated. This site is simply awesome!! Thanks and regards

  44. Vahid Ataeefar

    hi dear sir,

    Many thanks to the practical information you’ve provided us.

    How can I know the year of manufacture of this product?

    best regards
    vahid ataeefar

  45. DT

    Ray, I have a question. I have the F2 and the vivofif (which stopped working). I understand the F2 will never be an activity tracker but if I want to replace my vivofit with another tracker that can sync with Garmin Connect or my Fitness Pal (and has HR included in it-optical), what would you buy? Would Mio Fuse work? Would it sync with Garminconnect or Fitness Pal? Would CT carry it? thanks

    • Non-Garmin units can’t sync with Garmin Connect. I don’t believe the Mio Fuse is at this point syncing with MyFitnessPal.

      CT will carry the fuse once released. You’re best bet would be to look at Garmin models (if wanting data on Garmin Connect), or looking at other MyFitnessPal models (i.e. Fitbit/etc…) for MyFitnessPal. I expect you’ll probably see some good deals over the next few weeks there.

    • Frank

      Before I got my Vivosmart, my f2 did a pretty crappy, slow, unreliable job of syncing with my iPhone. Afterwards, it quit altogether. I’ve spent hours on the phone with Garmin and all I have to show for it is a “Case”. Doesn’t really bother me. I just sync the f2 over USB but if you need bluetooth syncing of your f2 with an iPhone, don’t buy the Vivosmart. I did not have this problem with the Vivofit.

  46. Just wondering what experience people have had using the fenix2 with Android mobile phones for the BLE sync of data.

    I read somewhere on here that there were issues with the bluetooth stack on some Motorola phones and having tried to do some digging the only information that I’ve found from Garmin is a very limited list of android phones which were basically all Samsung

    link to support.garmin.com

    At present I’m using an s3 which is on the list but it’s getting towards the end of its life and I’ll have to replace it soon and the apparent limited list of compatible android handset that work is a little concerning.

    Hence any feedback regarding phones people are successfully using would be grateful.

    Thanks
    Si

    • goughy

      Hi Si,

      I have been using mine connected to a Galaxy S3 for a while now. But, it did not work when my S3 was using official 4.3 firmware. Only when I installed a Note 2 ported Rom could I get the connection to work properly, and it did work well. Once in a while I’d have to turn the BT off and on on my phone to reconnect, but that was rare.

      In the last week I got a Nexus 5 and upgraded to Android 5 and so far it’s working as well as it did on my hacked S3. Manual sync, notifications and syncing while notifications are on all work fine. Again, once in a while I have to turn my BT off and on in my phone to get it to reconnect, but that’s only been twice this week.

  47. I am looking at the nexus 5 as a possible replacement so that’s interesting to hear. Just out of interest, and having read the garmin forums which shout ‘doom and gloom’ about the F2 how are you finding it in terms of reliability and accuracy? I appreciate that those who have issues are more likely to tell the world about them than the rest who are quite happy with the device. And which firmware are you running?

    My F2 is delayed in the post somewhere. Hoping to get it for Conwy on Sunday otherwise it’ll be the trusty NIke+ doing its stuff!

    • goughy

      I’ve been on each firmware as they were released, currently 4.0. I’ve only had one instance of a bad track, and that was running into a heavily treed park for a little while. But haven’t run in such conditions with the latest gps update which is spose to help fix that sort of thing. Otherwise mine has worked pretty much fine since I got it. Put it this way – if I lost it somehow I’d have no qualms buying it again.

    • Frank

      I noticed the GPS update when I installed it a week or two ago but have forgotten exactly when it was they pushed it out, what it was called, what it was supposed to fix and whether it worked or not. Can you answer any of these questions? It’s gotten cold and I have been running inside lately so I haven’t laid down any outdoor tracks since a 10K I did 10 days ago link to connect.garmin.com which looked pretty much spot on. Then again, I’ve never had the magnitude of problems others have. Of course, I also want it to be 100% perfect 100% of the time :).

    • goughy

      Here’s a link to the discussion about this update in the garmin forums.
      link to forums.garmin.com!
      In general, the responses and ‘testing’ people have done in this thread seem to be fairly positive regarding the new gps update.

  48. Rob Melick

    Brightness Question:

    Just purchased the watch and noticed that it was a rather dark display after getting it turned on. I’ve fiddled with the contrast option but really the best I get is a “medium/light gray” for the text/numbers.

    After looking at your pics, other videos online etc., all the other fenix 2s seem to be much brighter whites.

    it’s almost like mine is in “battery saving” mode (i’m thinking laptop dimming style) Is there an ability to change this – an option I’m missing?

  49. Darius

    Hi Ray, huge thanks from Lithuania for this excellent description of fenix2! It encouraged me to make a final decision and to move from 610 to fenix2. I have it since June. All is good except catching GPS signal….Sometimes it takes up to 2-3 km of running to get a signal…Basically I am running the same route almost daily, it’s in an open space but GPS is not able to locate satellite. I never had that type of problems with 610. Would you have any idea what should I do?

    Thank you!

    Darius

  50. Peter

    Hoi Ray, After reading your review on the Fenix 2, I bought this watch. It is a nice watch with a lot of features. I have 1 big problem with it: I cannot read the display in the dark. I do 80% of my exercises in the dark so this watch is useless for me. Contacted Garmin: they say that they cannot do anything for me because it “works as designed”. I do not have bad eyes. Some younger friends of mine tried my Fenix 2 and they also did not like the visibility in the dark.
    I assumed that if “DCrainmaker” did not mentioned very poor visibility in the dark, in a review of over 60 pages, this part would be ok. Wrong assumption. Thanks a lot Ray for the advice! (not). My advice to you: Better stick in your reviews to the important parts (or is it that your commercial interests might be more important?).

    • Sounds like readability is probably your issue in general. When asked this in the comments:

      “I don’t find it bad in either direct sunlight or at night. A pain in the butt to take photos of? Absolutely. But for my eye? Nope.

      The one area that’s a tiny bit harder is at dusk, before the backlight really kicks in.”

      Of course, readability is eyesight specific (Read: unique to a given person). As you’ll also see in the comments, some people have no problems at all at night, and some people in general don’t like the display (a core reason why Garmin released the Fenix2 SE three months ago).

      Of course, the last time you commented about my reviews some 11 months ago you said that I apparently was too focused covering as many details as possible. Sounds like I can’t win with you (or, you can’t decide what it is you want me to do).

  51. Nina B

    What are your thoughts on the Forerunner 620 vs. the Fenix2? Trying to decide which to purchase as a gift for my husband and don’t know which is better. The user would mainly be using it for running, workouts, and maybe cycling. They wouldn’t really take advantage of using the swimming feature. Thanks!

    • If they’re mostly a runner (and not so much tri/swim/hiking), then go FR620. If they’re more intro triathlon – and/or want more hiking type focused features, than the Fenix2.

      The FR620 now has a relatively straight forward bike mode, so that’s an option. The top of the FR620 review has a link to my post on the FR620 cycling mode.

  52. Mathieu L

    Hi Ray,

    I’m looking for an overall watch.

    70% road running
    25% trail Running
    5% hiking trip

    Debating between the FR620, Fenix2, Ambit2 and Ambit3.

    Any suggestions for me?

    Thanks!

    • That’s tough. Have you considered the 920XT instead though? Same price range as the Ambit2 and Fenix2. The trick will be whether or not following courses is a bigger issue.

    • Bernardo

      Mathiue, I will go for the Fenix, I think the following course feature is very useful. Most of my trail runners friends (I am a road runner) will go for the Fenix instead. What I think is missing from the F2 is the activity tracker.

      The look of the F2 is much adventure like that the 920Xt, which I really like on the F2.

    • Mathieu L

      Following courses will be a big issue. Eventually my trail running percentage will go up due to the fact that I want a try few ultra races next summer (50k and 65k). Battery life is another thing to consider!

    • Mathieu L

      Hey Ray, I can get a good deal on the Ambit3 Sport. 359$ vs 449$ for the Fenix 2.

  53. Nelson Valente

    Hello

    Sorry the question, have any news for the Fenix 3?

    Tks!

  54. Dear All

    Well I’ve had the F2 for a week and although I’ve only done one quick bike ride I’ve undertaken a half-marathon race and a couple of 10k training runs. And thus far I’ve been happy with the performance and I’m swimming in data (not literally) which I’m still learning to interpret.

    There have been a couple of issues with the GPS not being as accurate as my old Nike+ but I do wonder whether that’s in part to the TomTom maps pulling the GPS in to the roads (I generally stick to road running)? To be honest the only place I noticed this was on Strava where some of the segments were missed compared to the Nike+. But it’s hardly an important aspect to me as long as I can get my raw data out.

    I did try to have everything and more on one screen but as others have commented in poor light it’s not so easy to see – I tend not to wear my glasses when I run so that doesn’t help 😉 It is a bigger watch than the Nike+ but I don’t really notice it. I usually run with a bottle of water and possibly a gel so I’m far from aerodynamic anyway. But if you’re a smaller person with smaller wrists then this probably isn’t the watch for you.

    There are a few menus I’ve still to find but there’s so much on this watch it’s always going to take time.

    I’ve synchronised both via mobile phone and the cable; the latter takes an age, but works nonetheless. And as I don’t have bluetooth on all the time the battery is fine for me. I was never interested in the alerts as when I’m out running, my phone is rarely with me – that’s why I got a sports watch in the first place to save having to carry the phone!

    So Ray, thanks for the great review and just to say that I’m happy with the F2, especially for the price I paid for it (£230 for the bundle).

    Regards
    Si

  55. I tried several times and always is the same problem. The device cannot work with interval workouts. The workout stops suddenly or did not makes the interval and rest as i set before.
    I am from argentina… sorry about my english

    • Pablo

      Pablo,

      Have you tried clearing your workout history on the watch? Try and make a habit of doing this at the end of every day. I use the watch for interval workouts and have zero issues with it. Sometimes when there is too much data stored on the watch it misbehaves.

    • I will try… i have no a lot of data on it. Its really new the watch…

  56. Fabio

    Just out of curiosity, I took my Fenix 2 to a surfing session today. I put the watch on openwater swim mode and forgot about it. The GPS signal was lost about 7 times. It is actually pretty cool to see the peaks as I am probably surfing the waves. The total distance is overestimated because it also measured while I was surfing.
    Here is the link if anyone is interested:
    link to connect.garmin.com

    Fabio

  57. Hannes

    About the HRM Run: Does it work (in full capacity) with any other devices than FR620 or Fenix2? And with this I mean the running dynamics. I know it sends only HR for other watches, but what about phones? Can any Ant+ phone understand the data? Garmin answered that what they know, it doesn’t. But they weren’t sure.
    In Garmin’s forum somenone said it works, but maybe he was talking about HR.

  58. David Rosenfeld

    GREAT review! When are you going to review the 920XT? I have the Fenix2 and love it, but annoyed that I can’t do Bluetooth and ANT at the same time. Does the 920XT do this? I had the 910XT, btw, which I really liked, but it came off the quick release on my wrist during Escape from Alcatraz earlier this year, and is at the bottom of SF Bay. That’s why I got the Fenix2.

  59. Onur

    Hi All
    Is there anyway i can use HR in the pool swim ?

  60. JC

    First, thanx for all your great comments and REALLY in-depth reviews. I really appreciate how meticulous you are with your analysis. Based on your review, I decided to get a Fenix 2 (waiting for delivery). I understand that it has to “learn” my pace, but all my running is on hilly trails so my pace varies significantly. Will this affect its ability to provide “accurate” data when I run on a treadmill?

    Keep up the good work. We all appreciate it!!

  61. Paul Horsley

    Thanks for the all the reviews. I’m thinking about updating my Garmin 310xt and was wondering if I will have the same problem with GPS signal and accuracy in London, for instance this morning turned on and signal aquired started running a route I’ve run before and the 1st mile bleeped at about 300 metres from where it should be, I wasn’t even running in a built up area. Does the Fenix have a better GPS chip than the 310 and what exactly does satellite caching mean and how does it work, or are other units apart from Garmin have better gps for built up areas.

    thanks again for all the top reviews

    • Downtown city areas can be tough, with London ranking as moderate tough in the built-up areas. One thing that helps is to give things an extra few seconds before starting (like 10-15 seconds) to ensure that it has a really clean lock.

      Satellite pre-caching means that it can find that satellite lock faster by pre-caching the satellite locations for the next few days. This means it only takes a few seconds to find satellite lock.

      I find that of all the units out there, the ones now with GLONASS, such as the FR920XT, are producing the cleanest GPS tracks in urban environments. The Fenix2 does not have GLONASS.

  62. LL

    Thanks for the review!

    I would like to buy a Fenix 2 SE (with positive display), and I have some question what I did not find the answer.
    Does the Fenix2 work in Custom Workout mode while navigate along route too?
    Does the Fenix2 measure the running cadence without HRM-RUN heart rate strap? (with its inside accelerometer)
    Possible to set a different alert singal to the upper and lower threshold? (quick vibrate and slow vibrate, high tone beep and low tone beep, etc)

    Thank You! (sorry about my english)

  63. Peter

    Just for everyone switching from Suunto to Garmin like me. The Suunto FootPod Mini works very well with the Fenix 2.

  64. Ed Alexander

    Fenix 2 vs FR920xt use primarily for the GPS. I shoot a lot of photos in different locations. The GPS in
    Fenix 2 downloads the locations & all the relevant information. Can the FR920XT do the same & even better?

    • It’s basically the same in that respect. You’ll likely get slightly better GPS performance out of the FR920XT. But, on the flip side if you do any navigating, the Fenix2 is a better option.

  65. MK

    All,
    recently I bought a F2, but from the beginning the displayed time is incorrect.
    The shown time is off by +-5 minutes. I’ve selected different time zones, created my own time zone, but that doesn’t help.

    Can I amend the time manually?

  66. Chris C.

    Hi guys/ Ray,

    sorry if I missed the answer to my questions but I did not have the time to go through the 3100+ comments again and I do not remember having seen them.

    I have had my f2 for 6 months now and do not really have issues with it. I barely use the navigate option as mostly run on known routes, I have the following 2 questions

    1) my f2 does not seem to capture cadence from the watch itself or the HRM-Run when using the “Navigate” activity (or at least it is neither shown on GC nor on Training Peaks).
    I started with the “Run” activitiy and only changed to “Navigate” after a few minutes and this is when the cadence stopped. Surprisingly enough however ground contact time and vertical oscillation are displayed for the whole activity. I never had any issues with my runs before.
    Any idea what the issue could be?
    2) is it possible to have the backlight turning itself on when there is an alert? this could be quite good when being off course in the dark. I seem to remember to have the option on the 910XT but could not find it here

    Thanks in advance for your help

  67. Amit

    Rainmaker, great site and very detailed reviews.

    I am debating between the FR620 and the Fenix2. I am a runner but also just starting cycling.

    It seems the Fenix2 has everything that the FR620 has? Additionally, it is also a triathlon watch.

    Is there anything that the FR620 has which the Fenix2 does not?

    • The only thing the FR620 has that the Fenix2 does not (aside from being slimmer) is the ability to transmit Live Tracking concurrently as gathering ANT+ data.

    • Amit

      Thanks for the response. Live data transmission so that someone can follow your run via GPS on an app? That is not a very vital feature.

      If there is nothing else that the FR620 has over the Fenix 2 – then it seems like like the Fenix 2 is a much better bet, same price and a whole lot of additional features!

    • ed

      Doesn’t the FR620 also have the virtual running partner? (and color touch screen?)

      I’d really like to have the virtual running partner on the Fenix 2, but not over some of the other features the F2 has over the 620. I love the watch. Hoping Garmin adds the VRP since it seems to me to just be a software update.

    • Both units have Virtual Partner.

      Keep in mind that from a feature standpoint, yes, the F2 has many more features. But, there’s also an element that some folks value around the reduced size and weight of the 620.

    • Goughy

      I wonder if he’s talking more about virtual racer? I think many have been asking for that on the F2 since release and it’s not been added, and I don’t really think they will now this far down the track.

    • ed

      Yes, the FR620 has the virtual racer. The F2 has the virtual partner (both do) but the latter us pretty close to useless other than to tell you you are ahead or behind the pace and only at the time you get ahead/behind. Any other time and you have no clue how far ahead/behind you are.

      The virtual racer is what I’d like. Thanks Goughy.

    • Neither the FR620 nor Fenix2 have Virtual Racer, only Virtual Partner. The FR920XT did get Virtual Racer however.

    • Amit

      The watch is going to be used for running, mainly. The efforts and ambitions are to get into ultra-running. Although, I do harbor some ambitions to get into cycling and look at duathlons as well – but that will take a year or two, by when I am sure there will be better products out there and both the FR620 and Fenix2 would seem a tad dated.

      With running being the sport for which the watch will be used – is the FR620 or Fenix2 a better bet? Size & weight do not matter, I’m 6ft and am used to fairly large dials on the wrist. What I want is a comprehensive device which can give me all the data I require to further analyze my runs and, hopefully, better them. It seems like both the FR620 and Fenix2 will do the same job? If yes, then it comes down to user-friendliness and aesthetics – while both look good, I cannot comment on the user-friendliness as I haven’t used either.

      So, what is a better, easier, navigation? And, I guess most importantly, which is easier to read while running out in moderate daylight or even during the day?

      Thank you for the detailed support.

    • ed

      Then what is the “virtual pacer?” on the Garmin site, the 620 has a “virtual pacer” and a “virtual partner” in the specs, and the F2 only has the “virtual partner”

      The 920xt has “Virtual pacer”, “Virtual Partner” and “Virtual Racer”

      I am “virtually confused”

    • Amit

      I have seen that the FR620 now has cycling mode? Does this mean the watch can now give all the same data that the Fenix2 can when on cycling mode? Apart from swimming mode, what is left as the main difference between the models?

    • Amit

      @rainmaker – further to my question above – is the Fenix2 now completely compatible with an Android phone like the Samsung S4?

    • RE: Cycling mode, yes, it has a cycling mode. It’s a bit reduced functionality compared to the Fenix2, for example it doesn’t support power meters.

      RE: Other differences: Still pretty significant, for example the FR620 doesn’t have any navigational support, nor swimming as noted, nor a barometric altimeter. It also doesn’t support any of the smart phone type text/notification alert features.

      RE: Yes, it varies by Android phone a little bit, but you should be all good on the S4.

    • Amit

      Thank you.

      It seems the Fenix 2 has everything and more for the same price — why then are people buying the FR620 when the only feature it has over the F2 is the virtual trainer and it is lighter?

    • ed

      I am with you Amit. I guess the color touch screen has value to some. For me it would seem more fragile. I will say the Fenix 2 is thick. It is not a comfortable watch to wear casually. That said, I would buy it again. I really like it. Took it for a 4.5hr run through the mountains yesterday and it performed flawlessly. Peace of mind that there is a trackback feature in case I get turned around.

    • Amit – The core reason many runners prefer the FR620 over the Fenix2 is simply the size and weight. Which, is exactly the reason I prefer the FR620 over the Fenix2 as a running watch.

      Additionally, for some (me included) the inability for the Fenix2 to both connect to ANT+ sensors and LiveTrack ones session is a downside that the FR620 doesn’t have.

      But of course, each person has their own preferences.

    • Amit

      Ray Maker

      I understand regarding the size & weight being a plus. Live tracking is great if someone wants to check on you – this may not be a very important consideration.

      What is the benefit of ANT + sensors – if my understand is correct, this is only when you want to pair the watch with a pod on the bike or shoe? I may be wrong, please shed some light on this.

      Still holding out on F2 VS FR620 — want to clarify all doubts before buying it – want to make sure I buy the more advanced watch, mainly for running and later for cycling.

    • Frankie

      Ant+ allows you to connect to a heart rate monitor and other sensors such as speed and cadence sensors for cycling, power meters, and foot pods for running. F2 will not allow you to connect to your ant+ sensors while blue tooth is enabled. For me personally this is not an issue. I typically have my heart rate monitor on for all activities, running and cycling. Occasionally I use other apps so that others can track my where abouts on long runs/rides. But those apps are not dependent on the F2. I would go with the F2 if I were you. Both are great for running. However the F2 offers more in regards to cycling and other activities.

    • Amit

      Frankie:

      But the F2, too, has connectivity to HRM and other sensors, doesn’t it? Or, are you saying that while bluetooth is on, it won’t connect to the HRM? If yes, then in any case why would bluetooth be required during the run?

      I am not too concerned about being tracked during my runs. It feels good to know that no one knows where I am 🙂

      Regarding other activities, 99% of usage will be for running. Cycling is something I’m just taking up and won’t be well into 2015 until I get my hands into it. Although, i will not be buying another device, so need to plan for that.

      Either way, from whatever I’ve seen I am gunning for the F2. I just don’t want to get it and then discover that the FR620 has certain features that are important in analysis, which the F2 doesn’t, or that it has ability on ++ connectivity which the F2 doesn’t.

      I’m not too concerned about the size & weight bit. If I knew that the F2 had 100% of the features of the FR620 I would have had my wife buy me my Christmas present already. But, there still isn’t complete clarity on the current + future feature updates for both.

      If it is boiling down to Ant+ connectivity, and if you say thats required for HRM – then how does the HRM work on the F2?

      Cheers

    • Frankie

      The F2 can connect to HRM and other ant + sensors during an activity. However, if you chose to leave Bluetooth on those sensors including your HRM will not connect. On the 620 Bluetooth and ant+ can be used at the same time. The only reason you would need Bluetooth on is to use the live tracking feature an/or to receive notifications (text messages and emails, etc) which for me would be annoying during a run. It is my understanding that the F2 contains all the same features and produces all of the same activity data that the 620 can produce.

    • Amit

      Understood.

      Live tracking is not available on the F2, is what Ray Maker said earlier, so i guess that is not in consideration. Text & email notifications, yes, would not want these during a run, and anyway – I never carry my cell phone when on a run, so even if bluetooth and ant+ both worked together, I would not use this feature.

      It is my understanding too, that F2 contains all the same features and produces the same activity data that the 620 can – however, Ray Maker suggests ‘live tracking’ is not available on the F2, also Personal Records do not get saved in the F2 (which is OK).

      Unless there is something that I am missing – the F2 seems a better bang for the buck.

      My understanding of the shortfalls are:
      1. Size
      2. Weight
      3. Bluetooth + ANT – cannot use both together
      4. Live tracking not available
      5. PRs not saved

      Is there anything else that the F2 doesn’t have which the 620 does?

    • Goughy

      Not quite right. Love tracking is on the F2, but you can’t use ant+ (so no sensors etc) if you want live tracking. That’s all.

    • Goughy is correct. You just can’t use ANT+ and Bluetooth concurrently (either for Live Tracking, or for things like Smartwatch notifications, etc…).

  68. Just got the fenix2 for Christmas. I mostly ride, walk around the city, and play ice hockey. Which would you suggest while playing the ice hockey (indoors) and general walking? I currently use the Mio link and a vivosmart. Which leads me to another question. I use the vivosmart 24/7 to track activity. When i do an activity on the fenix2 while having the vivosmart active and then sync both to GC, will GC deduce that both recorded the same activity, or will it sum it and overstate the calories and workout?

    • For ice hockey, just a generic indoor mode for calories via HR. For walking (as an activity), you can use the other mode or just the running mode.

    • Bernardo

      Rob, You can use the Vivosmart and the FX2 at the sane time, what You must not do is record the activity with both devices, because if you do on GC you will have 2 activities. If you record only with FX2 it will be just one activity and the Vivosmart will record only steps, but no extra calories during the same time.

  69. Bernardo

    Any one have had the this issue: pause and activity and when wanted to resume the watch reset it self, the it was able to resume but not in the same activity but the previous one.

    I made a swim workout, went for a bike workout the next day. Pause the unit to have a snak, the when tried to resume it reset. The when try to resume again it was able, but as swim activity. So I save the activity and start a new one for the second part of my workout. When I synced to GC all the elevation info was missing for the first bike activity, the other info (GPS, HR, speed, cAdence)… Very disappointed.

    Battery around 80%, firmware up to date 4.2 I think, I pudiste on the weekend.

  70. joey

    Question about the trackback feature:

    My old forerunner305 gave audible beeps when approaching a turn or trail junction on the return trip… sort of a heads-up so that I wouldn’t blow by a trail that I needed to turn onto. Anyhow, is there anything comparable on the fenix 2 that will help get me home?

  71. steve

    hi, on my polar FTX5 I was able to input a distance and set time which would then give me a pace to run at (ideal if pacing at parkrun). Can I do this on my Fenix2

  72. Yair

    Hi, graet review!

    i used to have Garmin Fenix 1, and it had the option to edit the defualt screen data pages, so one can see the heart rate statistics.
    in FEnix 2, it seems to have no way to edit the default screen data pages, and one can only have the Time page, Altimeter, Compass, Barometer and Temperature. What if I want to see the HR or Map? do I have to start an activity such as Run or so?

    It is very frustrating, as i want to know my HR even without starting an activity, and I used to have this option usinf Fenix 1/ does anyone knows what’s the deal with it?

  73. Peter

    Very very good review! Thank you for that!
    I have to decide between the f2 and the tactix. The Ambit3 looks terrible for me 🙂
    A few questions:
    1. Which one is better to navigate? Is there any option to watch the map and navigate by myself or have I to set waypoints with the software?
    2. Can I connect with hrm and android phone at the same time? Need that for notifications while I trail run/hike.
    3. How’s about the stability? I would use the watch all days everytime.

    King regards!

    • 1) The Fenix2 can get a very basic map (super-basic). In general, most would say that the units for core functionality on navigation are fairly similar, but that the Fenix2 offers more functionality overall for niche items.

      2) Yes

      3) I think at this point most folks are past stability issues.

    • Paul S

      1) Think of it as a low resolution non-topographic paper map with the advantage that it shows your position and the small area around your position automatically and can be automatically oriented. The watch can’t “see” any of the details on the map; it can’t navigate the way a car or cycling GPS can navigate from the information provided by a map (there’s not going to be a “turn left on Main St.” type of dialog going on). I’m not even sure it’s possible to create a track point by point on the watch itself (you can certainly drop waypoints), but if you can, it’s going to be very slow and very tedious. Much easier to create them on a computer beforehand.

      2) That’s not right, is it? Above you say either Bluetooth or ANT+, but not both. Since Garmin doesn’t use Bluetooth sensors, you can’t pair to a phone via Bluetooth at the same time you pair with an ANT+ sensor. Or has that changed?

    • 2) Sorry, I read that as having his Android phone connect to the HR strap as did his Fenix (since some Android does support ANT+). My bad. Correct, if you meant what Paul said, then no, no go.

    • Peter

      @Paul ty
      @Ray also ty 😉

      for me its important to navigate only a little bit if i lost my position on the map, for my “survival” trips 😉

      1.can i get a GRID position on the watch?
      2. is there a way to upload another map pack?
      3. how i can do geocaching with it?
      4. is than the ambit 3 better?

    • Paul S

      1) yes

      2) yes, the same way you got the first one on. It only comes with a really bad basemap, not at all useful. Maps aren’t officially supported. Whether they work because Garmin has included the ability to use them in the software for future devices to support them or whether they just forgot to take something out of the code they based the Fenix code on, I don’t know, but they do work. The device storage is small, though, so you can’t put a large map on it. On my Fenix, I have roughly the southern part of Centre County and the northern part of Huntington County in Pennsylvania. That takes about 2 Mb of the 22 available on my Fenix.

      3) yes, there’s a GEOCACHE option in the GPS TOOLS selection (this is on my Fenix, but I’ll bet this hasn’t changed in the Fenix 2). It points you to garmin.com/geocache for more information.

    • Chris

      DC, thanks for great review and your replies, very informative.

      One comment, those who are “past stability issues” are in for a rude awakening if they use their Fenix 2 on a regular basis. Have had mine since August 2014, firmware 4.0. The last month my watch has been randomly crashing while going for hikes & runs. Example: Went on 4+ mile trail hike. At about 0.7 miles into hike I noticed that the time of day was displaying instead of hiking time/pace, etc. Pressed start button & selected option to resume. When I got back & saved the workout, all position data (gps lat/longs) had stopped recording at the point when I resumed the workout on the watch. This random crashing/rebooting and loss of data has happened 3 or 4 times in the last month. I downgraded the firmware to 3.90 about a week ago & the crashes haven’t happened since, but that’s only been a week, we’ll see if it happens with firmware 3.9 or not.

      This is just a ‘heads up’ for those who read the comments here. As of firmware 4.0, the stability issues which have plagued the Fenix 2 from the beginning are not resolved!

    • Goughy

      And yet I’ve experienced pretty much the opposite! I’ve had mine since release. Only had one issue when trying to record a run, and a history wipe and full charge and she worked again. I’ve recorded up to 6 hour events with no issues including multisport. No issues for me with android syncing with multiple phones. I know there are people having issues after issue. But some of us have none. Personally if I was having continue issues if be on to Garmin support like an inflamed rash (cept I’m in Australia so who knows how much luck if have 😉 )

    • Chris

      It’s true. Some are having no issues, some are having many issues, and some like me are having intermittent issues. That in itself is a stability issue. The Fenix 2 is ‘hit and miss’, you don’t know what you’re going to get and you don’t know when it might crash. That’s certainly not the kind of device you want to use for an important workout or race!

      In many ways I love this watch, it has the potential to be the best all-around watch at this time. But Garmin can’t seem to fix the problems and in some ways they’ve abandoned it as ‘good enough as-is.’ Why else would they wait for almost 3 months since the last firmware update (time between 4.0 and 4.1). And even with the 4.1 release they have not dealt with nor fixed the intermittent crash problem, which in my opinion is the most important issue, since it makes the user have no confidence in the reliability of the watch.

      To anyone reading these comments and thinking about buying the Fenix 2 — BEWARE! The stability issues are still very real and many are still struggling with them. Garmin has not fixed the problem and doesn’t seem committed to fixing it any time soon. Think real hard, think twice, do your homework before buying this watch!

    • Gabriel Eguia

      Chris

      i enjoyed my fenix 2 but the screen visibility and yes i had one lockup during a 1/2 distance tri peeved me so much i just knew it was time to move on.

      it doesn’t mean the watch isn’t good -in fact i enjoyed it and i found it easier to use than my current watch the 920xt.

      that said i returned the watch and threw down another hundy ($100) to get the 920xt which im very happy with.

      Good luck all.

  74. Olivier

    Hi Ray!
    Do you think that the fenix 2 will support connect IQ in the future?

  75. Noah

    Hiya, I do a lot of DH MTB and was looking for something to measure speed angle etc, what would you recommend?

    Regards, ND

  76. Phil

    Ray, Thanks for all your in depth reviews. I am looking for a multisport watch and I think the fenix2 is going to be the right pick. I would be using it for trail running but if I am getting a gps watch for around $500 I would like to use to track my snowboarding, kiteboarding, surfing, and sup. It will perform well on the trail, and appear to have all the hardware requirements to be action sport tracker, but I am not sure about the software. The Ski-Board mode looks great but it seems that Garmin has not fully committed to the “action sport” market. The virb camera seems to be a step in the right direction, but I wish there was some of the surf and snowboard specific data that you can find in the Trace (link to traceup.com) For example air time/distance for snowboarding/kitboarding or cutback angles for surfing. In an ideal world, in addition to all of it’s great running data collection the Fenix2 would pair with the GoPro via bluetooth and could be uploaded to Trace-like software that had integrated weather conditions from MagicSeaWeed. (A feature found in the the software for the surf specific Ripcurl SearchGPS: link to searchgps.ripcurl.com) Having wind speed and wave height data would also be useful to have when reviewing a day of kiteboarding. For now I hope to use the virb edit to overlay fenix2 data onto gopro video as shown in this tutorial: link to youtube.com

  77. Michael Kastoft

    Hi,

    i was just wondering if it would be possible to have different cykling sports, eg since i have a race bike as well as a Time trial bike and a MTB it would be nice for me to have different profiles for each bike so that i could track how many miles i ride on each bike. i have understood that speed / kadence sensors would not be possible to have more of, which is ok.
    i am wondering to buy either fenix 2 or the 920 xt..

    thanks 🙂

    • Goughy

      Yeah Michael, I don’t think they’re gonna add extra bike profiles to the F2. I’ve mentioned it in every bug report I’ve emailed them, but 6+ months down the track and no joy (just like pool swimming in multisport). If they added multiple bike activities to the F2 then I’d say you’d be able to have dedicated sensors for each profile. I mean, heck, my 310xt does that fine. The 920xt I’m guessing would be fine with the multiple bike profiles.

    • Michael Kastoft

      Hi Goughy,
      That is just a shame since it would fit all they have added to cykling from what i can see in the reviews, especially since i like the ruggedness of the watch.
      thanks for the reply..

  78. ronen kotigaro

    Does anyone know if garmin intend to develop a new version of the fenix 2? Something like ambit 3?

  79. Goughy

    There’s been some talking about it, but you’d have to think it would still be like a year away. Garmins release cycles seem to be at least 18 months, maybe closer to two years. Maybe a similar device with more of the 920xt features, like wifi, Bluetooth and ant+ at the same time, etc. I have no knowledge, experience, or anything on when it would be released other than I just don’t think it’s only around the corner.

  80. Dyosep

    Thanks for the very detailed review.. been struggling which watch to buy (920 or F2) in the end I picked F2.

    Been using it since last Thursday (start of the year) and I can say I am very pleased and contended on the performance and functions.

  81. David

    Having just bought this watch in the last 2 weeks, I was able to download several cycle rides, but I not long after sync had been pressed, the watch screen goes completely blank, but the phone identifies processing is taking place; I originally assumed there was malfunction so I turned the phone off, but the watch would not come back to life, even when the charger was put on it for over 30 minutes, it was revivable after nearly an hour, as if the process had a set timeline. I have now linked the phone again and the same has happened, and it’s clear that the only record left to transfer a 20 minute / 800m swim, and again the phone indicates processing is taking place is this normal in your experience please?

  82. Tim

    Hello – I have been having a conversation with Garmin since early October 2014 regarding the Ultratrac mode for the Fenix 2. The Ultratrac mode simply does not work. The below Garmin link is of a trail run in NH to Mount Isolation and I set the Ultratrac mode to pings every 15 seconds. My data was miles longer than anyone else that was using a Garmin 310xt which should not be the case since I was on a 15 second ping. You can see the erataic track. Also the watch actually does not ping on the increments you set it for. It starts off on what you set it for but then goes to sleep and then comes back to life. To me it is a total scam on Garmin’s part selling a feature that simple does not work.

    Garmin has no fix for this and continue to have their engineers look into it.

    link to connect.garmin.com

    • Note that the track shown on Garmin connect is reduced in track points shown, this has always been the case. You can use other applications to display all track points.

      In looking at that file though, it does appear to be recording at ~15s (+/- 1s). So basically it appears to be working correctly.

      As for differences in distance – comparing UltraTrac to non-UltraTac is really tough. To some degree, once you enable that (be it on Garmin or Suunto), distance accuracy goes out the window.

    • Tim

      Thanks for the reply. On this single trip along the mileage was higher by about 4 miles to everyone else. The other issue is that the watch defaults back to the time of day when on increments other than 1 minute. I can send you the history of my email exchange with Garmin if you are interested. The frustrating part of this is they have no fix.

      Check out this spaghetti looking map from a trip out to the grand canyon during a R2R2R I had to shut the watch off because it froze heading off of south rim.

      link to connect.garmin.com

      link to connect.garmin.com

      It does “record” as you say but the accuracy and whatever else it is doing is basically junk.

    • Have you looked at the track on something other than Garmin Connect? Again, the track points shown on the map are reduced in frequency – making it look far worse than it is.

    • Tim

      Hello – thanks for the response. I have not looked at the track on something other than Garmin Connect. I understand that the track points are reduced in frequency on the map. If the pinging is reduced in frequency how come on the the first link above in my last response to you at 3 mile pump house I had 5.62 miles while people with the Garmin 310xt had 3 miles exactly? The product should not be giving me more miles with on reduced pinging am I correct in saying this? The product should also not be freezing. As I stated earlier when set to 15 seconds pings it often defaults to the time of day and then “wakes” up and goes back to the data pages. Do you think this is working correctly?

      Do you think the watch should produce more miles when tracking point in Ultratrac mode whether it be 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds etc etc?

      Garmin acknowledge there is an issue with Ultratrac mode. If you think it is working correctly regarding mileage, not freezing and not defaulting to time of day when in Ultratrac mode let me know.

      Thanks

      Tim

    • I don’t know why it’s substantially longer. I could see slightly longer, or shorter, but not that much more. That’s why I think it’s best to look at it in some other viewer, to understand if there are perhaps significant inaccuracies within the GPS track at a shorter interval than displayed that’s causing the increase in distance.

      In general though, yes, the longer the recording rate – the shorter the track.

      As for the 15s piece, yes, that does appear to be working just fine.

    • Tim

      Here it is in Strava still significantly longer in mileage and not accurate to what the real distance was based on maps and referenced with the NFS.

      link to strava.com

    • Yeah, looking at it, it looks like it lost GPS signal significantly 1-2 times, causing the random spikes you see.

      If you haven’t done a hard reset (as well as updated), I’d do that.

      Also – why use 15s mode for such a short run (just curious)?

    • Tim

      It loses the GPS significantly all the time when in any increment other than 1 minute pings as I have tested numerous time. I have done resets and well as updates it still does not work accurately.

      When I got down to the 3 mile pump house off of South Rim and noticed that I was almost 3 miles higher than anyone else and it had froze, I shut the watch down and then started it again in Normal mode. This was a R2R2R run around 48 miles. I was curious to see how the battery did on 15 seconds pings as I hope to use this watch in my next 100 race which is the Bear 100.

      The strava and Garmin data show the same thing, significant loss of GPS signal.

      You should try it and maybe you could reach out to Garmin. I feel I am getting no where with them and its frustrating.

    • javi oteiza

      I used to have, and still having sometiemes, that kind of issues.
      For the GPS accuracy, the watch used to record more distance than real when I was far from home, so I supposed it should be a problem with the number of sattellites received by the watch. I supose you know every time you sync your device it gets new satellite positions from the web. Now, every time I change the place of my training or competition, once in placa, I sync the watch with garming connect to get the satellite positions, and the issues with accuracy have dissapeared.
      For the freeze, in my case, it is because of the memory of the watch. More information (activities) you have in the watch, more posibiliies the watch to get frozen. I use to delete all the activities once a month to avoid the issue.
      I don´t know if this will work in your unit, but you can try it.

  83. David

    Having just bought this watch in the last 2 weeks, I was able to download several cycle rides, but I not long after sync had been pressed, the watch screen goes completely blank, but the phone identifies processing is taking place; I originally assumed there was malfunction so I turned the phone off, but the watch would not come back to life, even when the charger was put on it for over 30 minutes, it was revivable after nearly an hour, as if the process had a set timeline. I have now linked the phone again and the same has happened, and it’s clear that the only record left to transfer a 20 minute / 800m swim, and again the phone indicates processing is taking place is this normal in your experience please? Since my last submission which did not catch the eye of The Don, F2 has now gone permanently to sleep… Has anyone else had this happen?

  84. MH

    I have an F1 and love it, but am considering the F2 (SE) for the Vo2Max estimation and the swim metrics. I am using the F1 in some specific ways, and would like to know if you can do the same with the F2. I’d really appreciate it if someone can tell me if the following is possible:
    – Under water HR recording from optical sensor worn close to watch (in indoor swim mode)
    – Cadence-from-the-wrist in indoor training mode (for instance on elliptical trainer)
    – Starting navigation in the middle of a run without changes to data screens (just adding the nav screen)
    – Using two ANT+ foot pods at the same time of which only one is connected to the F2
    – Customizing all the data screens and recording all sensors in all training modes (HR, Tempe, cadence)

  85. helen

    that’s such a detailed piece, thank you for the research! I wanted to get the new Garmin 920 with my British Triathlon Federation Garmin discount but that watch is excluded, so i have been trying to compare the Fenix2 with the 910 and this piece had made my mind up for the Fenix!

  86. goughy

    Hey DCRainmaker, I’m trying to roll back the fw on my F2 (currently fw4.1) back to fw4.0. My F2 is restarting every time a start an activity, and also every time I receive a notification from my phone. I’ve master reset it, and it still reboots on activity start and can no longer pair to my phone. I thought you’d posted a link to the available firmwares and the instructions, but I can’t find them. Just wondering if you can point me in the right direction. Thanks heaps. (I’d ring garmin about it, but you know, I’m in Australia so………..)

    • Frank

      My f2 on 4.1 just started randomly rebooting while treadmill running three days ago. I thought this unprecedented behavior was related to low battery notifications my f2 was receiving from my foot pod. I replaced the battery in the foot pod and had an error free treadmill session yesterday.

      When I dumped yesterday’s data via USB (BT sync has not worked since iI got my Vivosmart) I also accepted the update to 4.2 thinking it couldn’t hurt.

      On today’s treadmill run, my activity ended twice without my input and the f2 randomly rebooted itself on two other occasions. Is this a 4.10/4.20 issue or has my hardware suddenly gone bad after five months of reasonably reliable performance? It never rebooted itself or ended an activity on its own before Monday. I got an RMA# from Garmin on Monday but haven’t sent the fenix2 back yet.

    • Massimo

      i have experienced also rebooting of the F2 for no reason. and this is recent. i got my F2 in october and between this and the carmin connect website i am really disappointed… any tip regarding this issue?

    • Search in the comments for it. I’ve responded a number of times with ways to address the rebooting (or at least troubleshooting it), by removing your activity/course files off the device and resetting it due to corruption.

    • lanz

      Hi Ray,
      Great review as always..
      Btw based on the few complaints regarding fenix 2, so can we consider this fenix is not a good choice for runners & better go for other option ie forerunner/ambit/polar..??
      Appreciate your sincere advise Ray..

    • I’d look at the Fenix3 at this point. Unless you need some of the minor features not found in the Fenix3, like Hunting and Fishing guidance, man overboard, and area calculation functions.

    • lanz

      Ok noted thanks ray!!

  87. Paul Horsley

    I brought a fenix 2 Albrighton only a week before they announced the fenix 3 but never mind. I’ve uploaded some rides and runs via the Bluetooth to the smartphone app which were ok problem last night tried uploading ride the same way and the ride wouldn’t appear in either phone app or online, but the ride went to strava which is linked to my garmin account,strange. Has any fenix 2 users had this issue as well.

  88. Paul Horsley

    I brought a fenix 2 Albeight only a week before they announced the fenix 3 but never mind. I’ve uploaded some rides and runs via the Bluetooth to the smartphone app which were ok problem last night tried uploading ride the same way and the ride wouldn’t appear in either phone app or online, but the ride went to strava which is linked to my garmin account,strange. Has any fenix 2 users had this issue as well.

  89. Paul Horsley

    I recently purchased a Fenix 2, I’ve uploaded a few rides and runs with bluetooth to the smartphone app, but last night after my ride it wouldn’t upload at all, it connects to the phone but the sync fails. The strange thing is I have a strava account linked to my garmin account and the ride appears on strava but not on my garmin app or garmin online.
    has anybody else had this problem with the Fenix 2.
    This was one of the reasons for buying the Fenix was the bluetooth connectivity.

  90. Dimitrios Athanasiadis

    Hey guys, it seems that fenix 3 will have an activity tracker to count steps and so on. Do you think that an update of fenix 2 firmware can also add this feature? Thanks

    • Bernardo

      Dimitrios, due to hardware restriction it won’t happen… That is what Ray answered on a previous question I made…. I bought the Vivosmart one moth ago and I’m pretty happy with both.

    • Frank

      Bernardo, my f2 has refused to sync with my 5S iPhone every since I connected my VS to it. I’ve had a few phone sessions with Garmin support on this issue and they have had an “Open Case” for a couple of months but no progress towards a solution.

      Are you an iPhone user? If so, did you run into this issue?

    • Bernardo

      I have and Iphone 6, some times what I have to do is disconnect the Vivo from the phone and connect de FX2… and the sync… a few week ago had some issues during sync but i think was a GC problema.

  91. chris

    I’m so angry that garmin are releasing a fenix 3. The fenix 2 has been the most buggy piece of hardware I’ve ever had the misfortune to waste my money on. The firmware updates improved things somewhat, but this just makes it look like garmin released a lemon and are now admitting they screwed up.

  92. Vinny Goss

    I have recently just bought a fenix 2 watch and tried it out on a couple of Monroe’s in the Scottish highlands. As this was my first time using Base camp I had a bit of trouble understanding how to load GPX files, however I sorted this out and went hiking for the day with my rout all planned. I started the activity and decided to miss out the first way point as there was a short cut. From this point on I could not get the compass to navigate to the correct direction as this was locked onto the first way point. I spent an hour trying to force the watch to skip to the next waypoints but gave up in the end.

    Is this a problem with the watch or I am I doing something wrong?

    PS I had trouble with loading the GPX file it Base camp so I used a used a KMZ file, not sure if this is important.

  93. Joey D

    I noticed a few comments of Fenix users selling their device. I have a Fenix 2 Special Edition I just don’t use anymore. Where did you end up selling your device? Any website in particular?

  94. Amit

    So got the Fenix 2 and am very happy so far.

    How do i configure the screen that is displayed during running? Currently it displays the three default metrics – pace, distance, time. I want it to display 4 and I want to configure it … spent a bit of time going through the options but didn’t find the right one.

    Any help?

    • Nay Tun

      Setting>activities>run>data pages>edit! U can do display of 4 features in a single screen! For me, I do dist, pace, HR, time in one screen, running dynamics in another screen !

  95. Nay Tun

    Hi Rain, I would like to reference your quote”The Fenix2, like the Garmin FR910XT/FR310XT/FR305, contains a multisport mode. Within this mode you can take any of the different sport profiles (or your custom profiles) and mash together a multisport event. Note however that at this time you cannot add a pool swim to multisport mode.”. Would you mind asking fenix2 team whether it is possible to add pool swim to multisport mode in next firmware update? There are lots of fenix2 users complaining to garmin but hasn’t been successful.

    • goughy

      Nay, I’d take a guess that DCR has asked them about this. He comments very early on that he had an upcoming tri with a pool swim included, so I’d be shocked if he didn’t ask them about this back then. Every bug report I’ve emailed the fenix team about I’ve requested it too. I don’t hold any more hope of them adding it to the feature set. With the amount of queries they’d have received about it from day one, if they were planning on adding it I’d say they would have by now!

    • Nay Tun

      Well I am happy with most features of fenix 2. I bought this watch for my local sprint trialthlon (we do every fortnight) however I cant use this watch for my local trialthlon as the swim leg is done in the pool.(It is impossible to waste too much time switching activities in transitions ). I am quite surprised that 310XT and 910XT have such features and the later high end model fenix 2 didn’t have such features. .

  96. Adrian

    Hope someone can answer. To do a run on fenix 2 i select start select event ie run. It finds the heart rate sensor then the satellite and then i select start. What is the difference then when i go into the history via the menu find a run i have done but instead of looking at details there is a go option? What is this could some one explain and why is it different that the start button option? Thanks in advance.

  97. Diego

    I had a very bad experience with a Fenix 2 Special Edition. In almost every run activity, the watch suddenly restarts itself so you can no longer monitor the activity. Garmin’s support recomendationes where to make a full reset, and update the firmware. None of these things helped.
    Another thing that annoyed me was that after a dive in a swimming pool, the watch end up with a condensation. After a few minutes it went away. Garmin said that this was normal because of an abrupt change in temperature, and that Garmin devices are manufactured with certain level of humidity (??).
    I really liked the watch (that’s why I paid so mucho for it), but I think that this product is very weak for a company like Garmin. I’m sending it back and getting an Ambit3.

  98. Bernardo

    Diego, I have had the same issue (restarting it self) like 3 times since September…. same answer from Garmin is the only thing that disappoint me from the watch.

  99. ed

    Does anyone know if 4.1 is recording less data than 4.0 was? I upgraded to 4.1 a few weeks ago and I noticed that when I export my TCX files from the Garmin connect site, they are now in the 200-300kb range for a 1hr run (without HRM) versus 2.5MB to 4.0MB before the update.

    I didn’t change any settings. Is it not recording info as frequently or is something else going on?

  100. Adrian

    Hope someone can answer. What is the reason under settings then history and their is an option called GO. Is this the same as selecting start and selecting an activity?

  101. Frank

    My f2 has finally reached a state of complete uselessness. Yesterday I did a 4 mile hike with the dog. When I tried to save it I got a reboot instead. Then it let me save it. Later, I went on a six mile run. Three times during the first two miles the watch would just auto-pause the activity for no apparent reason. Without stopping, I would press the Start button, accept Resume, wait for sensor acquisition, and accept Start. During the second two miles the thing would just reboot every time I hit resume. Before I started the last two miles, I switched to Hike mode. It let me start that activity and did not auto-pause but rebooted when I tried to save it. The FIT files for all four activities are on the watch but refuse to transfer to GC.

    I’m sending it back today.

    • It sounds like there’s a corrupted file on it. This is evidenced by both the reboots, as well as the failure to upload the activity.

      In almost every case I hear of with reboots (on Garmin devices in general), it’s due to file corruption, typically in an activity file or a course file. I recommend just manually copying all of those off of the device to your computer, then deleting the activity/course files on your device and seeing if that solves it (if it’s not already in the mail).

  102. Frank

    Thanks Ray but I am sending it back anyway. It had other issues that led them to ask for it back to begin with.

    Yesterday’s activities finally did upload to GC but the information is messed up in odd ways.

    Garmin Connect is also either broken again or just so slow it looks like it broken. Anyway its unusable. The mobile app works but not the web one. Its been that way all day.

  103. Paul Horsley

    Is anyone having problems with garmin connect mobile on Android, bought fenix 2 so I could upload via Bluetooth, worked for a few activities, now it’s stopped working altogether, frustrating to say the least.
    Uploads work when connected to mac through garmin express.

  104. Denzil Jennings

    I can’t seem to find the answer to this question anywhere, so I’m sorry if it’s been asked. Regarding the additional data that can be displayed on the clock, what is the arrow displayed next to the sunrise and sunset time? I see it curl up, down, and sometimes it’s straight. It boggles the mind.

  105. Ray,
    I’ve been having issues with my fenix 2 when running on the treadmill. When I run outside (I try to do so about once a week), on average my pace is 12:00/mile. In the last month or so, when I run on the treadmill (running at 12:00/mile), the fenix 2 records my pace at 8:30-9:00/mile. (Although I’d love to say my pace has improved significantly, I know this not the case). I can’t seem to get it to recalibrate even with longer outdoor runs. I use the treadmill distance as reference and have even worn my Nike+ watch, both give me the same pace and distance, but the fenix 2 totals are different. I wear the HRM-RUN strap on most of the runs indoor and outdoor and I still can’t seem to get the fenix 2 to calculate the right pace. Any suggestions?
    I spoke to Garmin customer service and they suggested running outside more for the watch to become more accurate. This proves difficult sometimes due to the winter weather.

    • goughy

      Emily, from day one my F2 has recorded my indoor runs at about 20% faster/longer than I am actually going. It blows my vo2 max figures. When I do an indoor run now I record it as a custom activity to get my hr and then just edit the activity to add the distance.

    • What I do is use a footpod I calibrated outdoors with my “normal” running cadence range, which seems to be much more accurate that wrist-based pacing indoors. I don’t believe the fenix 2 uses the HRM-run strap at all in estimating distance. I believe it is either wrist-based or footpod.

  106. Bernardo

    Emily, my personal experience is the same… I have F2 since September (with 2 hard resets) and the watch reports a faster pace than the real one.

    • Bernardo,
      I’ve had the watch since May 2014 and I haven’t had any issues until the last month or so. All of a sudden, it started showing a much faster pace. I understand there is a margin of error, but >3:00/mile is way out of range.
      Is yours a recent problem as well or have you had issues since you purchased the watch?

    • Bernardo

      I ran last week, and have around 2:00 (km/min) difference between treadmill and the watch… the watch was faster.

  107. Frank

    Since I had a footpod before I had the Fenix2, I’ve never used it without one and I’ve never had the experience either of you are describing on a treadmill. In Ray’s original review, he gave the watch a B+ for footpod pace without HRM-Run or Footpod.

    Perhaps you should consider this $50 investment. It also give you much more accurate minute to minute pace readings when running outdoors. Beware however. If you use a footpod anywhere (even with GPS on and a clear view of the sky) the f2 will use footpod data for distance and calibration is not the silver bullet many people seem to think it is.

  108. Frank

    Sorry. I meant to say “In Ray’s original review, he gave the watch a B+ for treadmill pace without HRM-Run or Footpod.”

    • Frank,
      I actually purchased the foot pod yesterday, hoping this will help with my stats. I’m just concerned because it was calculating my runs pretty accurately, then stopped.

    • Correct, as Frank and others noted – I’ve yet to find any product on the market which nails pace and distance on a treadmill using just wrist based aspects (the Garmin watches don’t use the HRM-RUN when it comes to pace/distance, just for cadence).

      Now, what support said about getting more outdoor GPS data is very much true though. And, I do realize it sucks in the winter – but they essentially ‘learn’ your wrist movements at different pace buckets. So the more time you spend outdoors filing those pace buckets the more accurate indoors. Do ensure you wear the watch on the same wrist all the time, since there definitely differences between indoors and outdoors.

      But again, at the end of the day nothing beats a calibrated footpod indoors.

    • Thanks Ray. I’m running outdoors once a week for my longer runs. I will try to increase this if the weather is nice. I am the only one that wears the watch, and I always wear it on the same wrist. My stride length is what is fluctuating between indoor/outdoor running. I’m hoping the foot pod will correct this and increase the accuracy of the data.

      I appreciate your time, thanks again!

  109. Jason shultz

    Ray,

    I just ran my first marathon back in November in 3:10, and now itching to run my next one under 3 hours–therefore looking for the best tool to help me reach my goal. I’m stuck between the FR620, Fenix 2, and 920xt. Any suggestions? If you were me which one would you most likely lean towards?

    P.S. Thank you for all of your reviews— they are VERY helpful.

    • Frank

      I’ve never had a FR620 or 920xt but I do have a fenix2 and I would most definitely NOT buy that again. Looking forward to Ray’s response.

    • If you’re a pure runner I’d say the FR620. If you’re a triathlete the 920 or Fenix 2 both work well. I love my F2 as a triathlete and skier. I can’t wait to take it skiing in a few weeks!

    • Lew

      Don’t forget the 920xt and Fenix3 both add activity tracking and smart notifications, plus navigation capabilities (rudimentary on 920xt, seemingly better on Fenix3). Those features could well sway a runner towards at least the extra $50 for a 920xt if deemed important. (even the rudimentary back-to-start navigation on the 920xt can be very useful if one travels for business and is often running in unfamiliar areas)

    • Honestly…the FR220 or Polar M400. There’s better structured workout support in the Garmin products, but the M400 has better activity tracking.

      For most runners (even sub-3 ones), they’ll really be happy with a FR220 or similar. Just my two cents…

  110. Goughy – My VO2 max figures are also way off. I was satisfied that I was improving, and didn’t realize until recently that these numbers are now skewed too. I’ve been changing the distance per the treadmill info, but it’s still recording my pace as really low. Thanks for the recommending the custom activity, that’s a great idea! I will do that to keep my numbers normal until I get the foot pod.
    Steve B – Correct. I ordered the footpad to improve the accuracy of the data.

  111. Garfield.27

    Previously on 910XT, I can set the alerts at every 1KM showing me the average pace, average heart rate and average cadence of that 1KM. How do I do this on Fenix 2? Or even it this can be done? Because I noticed that it will only show me an alert of 1KM. And that’s it. Or if my heart rate hits 200BPM. It doesn’t show up the data fields in an alert as how I did with 910XT. Any sharing, maybe? Thanks.

  112. Frank

    You probably already know that, if you record splits, all that stuff will show up in GC. I don’t think the information displayed on your watch will include anything other than the fact that you have reached the value associated with that alert.

    While my f2 has been being trucked back and forth to Kansas, I’ve been running with my Vivosmart and Runkeeper. Not only will Runkeeper play my music but a nice lady will tell me any of 11 different statistics (including Average Heart Rate and Average Speed but not Cadence) as often as I like down to a quarter of a mile, quarter of a kilometer, every minute or both.

    Kind of makes me wonder if I’m mental for fighting with my f2 for the last six months. The IOS app also graphs your cadence as well as speed, elevation, and heart rate. Did I mention that it is free?

  113. Sergio

    Hi, i own a Fenix 2 since last july, your page helped me to buy this one instead others. I love this watch buy i am experiencing a lot of troubles with my unit because when it is down of 30 per cent of battery suddenly reboots, well i have send it to garmin.

    In other way, do you know where can i buy a red strap -of the special edition- for my unit?, thank you very much

  114. Rui Loureiro

    Hi guys!

    After firmware 4.2 I can´t Sync (AGAIN!!!) via bluethooth with iPhone 4S or iPhone 6, neither with a LG G Pad 8 LTE… After lot’s of testing I find the problem to be the watch (again…). It pairs with the devices but when I select sync it just won’t connect, it doesn’t find them anymore… Anyone with the same problem?
    Getting really tired of Garmin and this chronic bugs…
    Now I find out that Fenix3 is due to release March. Glad to hear it’s all new hardware… Least Garmin could do is offer a half price rebate for all those that are willing to exchange their diseased Fenix 2.

    • Chris O.

      Rui,

      I too have experienced sync issues on 4.2. I just got the device early December last year. It used to sync just fine with my iPhone 5, but after update to 4.2 (which sounded like a worthwhile update) sync takes forever. And by forever, I mean upwards of 30 minutes … every time (when using “manual sync”). I can hit sync just as I’m leaving the pool and it still won’t be finished after my drive home (15-20 min) and taking the dog for a walk. It does suck. I’m tempted to roll the thing back a couple versions (had 4.0 on it form the box). And yeah, the news of the fenix 3 really hurts, since I picked up the fenix 2 in december thinking the normal Garmin cycle is 2 years and fenix 2 was only 9 months old at the time. oh well.

    • It sounds like the sync isn’t finishing and is re-trying each time.

      Either way, Rui, for your issue I’d reach out to Garmin support on that one to get things back in line again.

    • Rui Loureiro

      Hi Chris and thanks for your reply.
      As far as I know, and unfortunately, there’s no way to roll back firmware versions… Otherwise I would definitely go back to 4.0 or so.

    • Rui Loureiro

      Hello Ray!
      Thank you for your reply.
      My issue is that the watch won’t even connect to phone. Had that one too (would take forever to update GPS data) but it was some FW versions before…
      Garmin Portugal is a joke in terms of post-sale support. Even back in March/April when I wanted to buy the watch they took more than 20 days to answer me back on a basic question.
      Anywaysn thaks for you time.

      Cheers

    • Paul S

      You can go here to get the version of the firmware you want. Place it in the Garmin folder of the GARMIN disk, rename it to GUPDATE.GCD, and restart the watch. At your own risk, of course; it may violate the warranty. This is the standard manual upgrade procedure (which I used last year for my Fenix during the series of betas), but I’ve never tried a downgrade.

    • Rui Loureiro

      Thank you, Paul.
      I will try that!

    • Rui Loureiro

      Thanks again Paul!
      Did the switcheroo back to firmware 4.0 and everything is working sharp as a…. well… as sharp as a Fenix2 can be 🙁
      The BT connection is now immediate when syncing and the sync is “fast”. Will keep this file (and the site link) religiously for future need.

      Cheers

  115. Matt Kritzstein

    This watch does everything it advertises, and thanks for a great review. However, the app absolutely stinks and Garmin does not seem to really care about expanding what phones they will test, I would assume I am not the only Motorola customer out there. Is there something that you know of that will improve the Bluetooth connection with my phone, I have to plug into my computer every time I finish an activity, it is disappointing to say the least to fork over $400 and not have the device work on one of the simplest levels. My daughter just returned her Vivosmart for the same reason, and that device is very Bluetooth reliant. I would not recommend this product if you have a Motorola phone, and using any feature that requires Bluetooth matters to you.

    • Unfortunately, Android phones are hit or mess when it comes to proper BLE support. :-/ Some apps cope with it better than others, but it still can be rough depending on the implementation on the phone.

    • Matt Kritzstein

      Thanks for the reply Ray, I appreciate your reviews and will continue to use them in my purchasing decisions.

    • Benny

      Hi Ray, do you know if this fenix2 bluetooth is compatible with my iPhone 4s or not?
      Thanks.

    • Frank

      If you are willing to be very, very patient: link to s1375.photobucket.com
      Upload of a single 60 minute activity.

    • Rui Loureiro

      Frank, I do sync via BT with my iphone 4S. At firmware version 4.0 currently, one 1h activity sync takes about 2 minutes total, GPS data update included.
      This being said, I have had lots of problems with BT sync. Recently had to roll back firmware from 4.2 to 4.0 because the watch wasn’t even connecting with the phone… It is what it is… and Fenix2 was never a very well oiled machine… Lots of very nice features built on top of a precarious hardware…

  116. Frank

    Can I interest any of you F2 aficionados or detractors in some good, clean, low impact, geeky research in which no animals will be harmed? I realize that what I propose here is a less than perfect experiment as we are interested in GPS accuracy while in motion and I am proposing a stationary test. There are two advantages to this: 1) it removes the big variables in the equation introduced by different people bobbing over different landscapes at different speeds on different forms of conveyance and 2) it will enable you to enjoy the Superbowl and all of the refreshments that traditionally go therewith without the need to breathe heavily or sweat profusely.

    Post 278 Here: link to forums.garmin.com

  117. Frank

    The pre-game show you should be watching (reading): A few of us determined nerd athletes have just launched a crowd experiment here: link to forums.garmin.com

    • Frank

      Well, this bit of inspired experimentation got me here:

      You have been banned for the following reason:
      No reason was specified.
      Date the ban will be lifted: Never

      Hopefully Gajin and Crispin will be able to complete the project. More likely, Garmin pulled the plug on the whole thing. Can anyone tell me? Apparently my IP address is giving me away. I can’t get to the first screen anymore.

    • Nah, it’s likely just an accidental SPAM flag. It happens as the moderating team often try and wade through the hundreds of posts a day that are SPAM and clean them up. When that happens, the account posting get flagged as suspect and temporarily banned.

      I just shot an e-mail to two of the moderators – so hopefully you’ll be back in business shortly.

      Cheers.

    • Paul S

      Next time you do something like this, don’t put “Super Bowl” in the title and don’t multi-post. 🙂 That just reeks of spam…

    • gaijin

      Crispin and I are still posting in the separate thread you started, so there is apparently no objection to the Crowd Experiment. Very strange you were banned …

    • Frank

      Thanks for letting me know that Gaijin. My main concern was that they tanked the experiment. As of this moment, I am still banned.

      After I started the new thread and posted the instructions, I also started new threads under Tactix, and fenix to invite those people to play too. Did the same thing here. Ray hasn’t banned me yet :).

      Sorry to have abandoned you and Crispin to answer all of the questions.

      I will be starting my GPS soak in about an hour so at least I will be able to contribute my data to the cause. Both of my fenix 2’s have always been very accurate unless I went into a mountain valley in a Redwood forest so don’t expect anything exciting from me.

      It will be great fun to see how this turns out.

    • Frank

      So how did it go guys? I still cannot see for myself. Still on the bad boy list.

    • gaijin

      I don’t know if I can post a picture, let’s try:

      [IMG]http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc18/gaijinnv/WAAS_Test_Summary_01FEB15_zpssee85sid.png[/IMG]

    • gaijin

      Try entering this address in your browser:

      link to i219.photobucket.com

      That should show you a summary of my data. My general conclusion was that WAAS on or off resulted in the same battery consumption. Accuracy was a toss-up with everything being pretty much the same. Crispin’d data were compromised by his dog taking his watch for a walk and a short test duration. No other results have been posted.

    • Frank

      I’m still in jail. Here is my image: link to s1375.photobucket.com

      My F2 was much friskier than usual. Never left my yard but moved around a LOT. Maybe Crispin’s dog got it and just put it back where i left it.

      Model: fenix 2
      SN: 3N2083XXX
      SW: 4.30
      GPS: 3.30
      WAAS: OFF
      REM BATT: 78%
      LOCATION: 25N 80W
      DURATION: 4:00:01
      MOV TIME: 1:02:45
      DIST: 2.22 MILES
      A SPEED: 0.6 MPH
      MAX SPD: 3.8 MPH
      CALORIES: 173

    • Frank

      That didn’t work. Let’s try this: link to i1375.photobucket.com

    • gaijin

      Looks like you may not have had a clear view of the sky with all those trees …

    • Frank

      It is about a 90° Cone from where the watch was with the house on the West and tall trees the rest of the way around. The one on the south is a Royal Poinciana which is huge but not very dense.

      How did you get it to zoom up to 2M scale? 10 was max for me.

      I’m out of Garmin jail :). Still don’t know exactly what I was locked up for.

    • gaijin

      Choose “Road” instead of “Satellite” and you should be able to zoom in to 2m.

      Welcome back to the land of the living.

    • Frank

      This is as close as I can get using Google Maps and Roads, The other two map choices will not let me get closer than 20 meter scale. I guess that is OK though as, at this scale, a little of the top and bottom is already getting chopped off,

      link to i1375.photobucket.com

  118. Frank

    Yeah. I guess. Live and learn.

  119. Rich Reed

    I am recently having a problem with my fenix 2 and the heart rate monitor.. My fenix will pick up and recognize the heart rate monitor however, it will not display the Bpm… Any suggestions and help?

    • Chris Clancy

      Mine has been acting totally wonky too – it will only read if I put it on the left side of my chest and today here’s what I got. keep in mind, I pulled the pod off the strap when it was reading 210 (as my heart rate wasn’t above 140 at that time) and put it in my pocket. It continued to pick up a heart rate for the remainder of the run… ha ha

      link to connect.garmin.com

  120. Frank

    In my experience the problem is always the strap gone bad or the battery getting low. The transmitter itself (HRM-3 or HRM-RUN) never seems to die. I would try a new battery in the transmitter (cheap and easy). If that does not work, try to get a new soft strap under warranty or otherwise.

    Speaking of odd things happening when you take it off, I was doing some testing on a Vivosmart a few days ago and pulled the transmitter off my strap at 15 minutes and put it in my pocket. Got this on my fenix 2: link to connect.garmin.com. Vivosmart recorded the same thing.

  121. Paul Horsley

    This watch is the most annoying garmin I’ve owned, bought specifically for the Bluetooth upload option, which works when it wants to.
    I have an android HTC One with the garmin app, sometimes it work and other times not, when it does work it takes an age to appear.
    All I get from garmin support is a reply full of b**l*h*t, do this do that. Why do this companies sell these watches that don’t do as advertised.
    Why should I need to reset my watch after only a months use.
    Totally peeved off with it.
    Anyone else in the same boat.

    • Frank

      Hi Paul. I was getting ridiculously long (hour +) upload times with my iPhone that were 40% Activity Sync and 60% GPS information. They had me clean out my activity folder and it has been working like a champ ever since. Cleaning out that folder seems to be the miracle cure for everything and you avoid the Master Reset that makes you go put all of your settings back in and had the watch begin it learning curve at ground zero again.

      Of course I think Garmin should do something to prevent this file corruption problem from happening in the first place but it is a quick and painless fix and really costs you nothing if you sync your activities regularly. I’m actually warming up to my f2 after making this discovery.

    • I am running Version 4.40 using a Sony Xperia Z1 I updated last night. A 20km uploaded tonight in 3minutes. For some reason the update has enabled 1. The bluetooth to sync 2. Sped up the sync. 3. Notifications work I have previously had sporadic bluetooth connection and long upload times before the sync would unexpectedly end without syncing data. I previously followed these instructions link to goo.gl with limited success. However the most recent update has just been superb.

    • Frank

      The fenix 2 is about to celebrate it’s first birthday! Another month or two and EVERYTHING will work perfectly. That just seems to be the way it works these days :).

      Except . . . of course, that corrupt file problem that has been around for years. Just remember to take out the trash regularly and that won’t bother you either.

  122. Gord

    Hi – Could somebody please confirm for me that you DO NOT get running dynamics on the Fenix 2 from a footpod?… only from the specific chest strap.? Thanks.

    • Chris C.

      Yes,
      I can confirm that.
      From the footpod you will only get cadence.
      From the HRM-RUN strap you will get cadence as well as ground contact time and vertical oscillation

      Hope this helps

    • Frank

      And if you want even more detail, Ray was recently kind enough to give us this: link to dcrainmaker.com which was really great. I have always been a little hazy about what sensors were providing what data under what conditions. Now all is clear. Until I can figure out what to do with GCT and VO, my foot pod and any of my three Garmin HRM’s will do nicely. For now, I would be happy just to be able to peg a pace give or take 30 seconds. I would love to be able to put that metric on Google Glass or something like it.

  123. lanz

    Hi Ray,
    Great review as always…
    Btw based on the above complaints regarding fenix 2, so can we consider this fenix is not a good choice for runner & better go for other model ie forerunner/ambit/polar..??
    Appreciate your sincere view…
    Thanks in advane Ray

  124. lanz

    Hi Ray,
    Great review as always..
    Btw based on the above complaints regarding fenix 2, so can we consider this fenix is not a good choice for runners & better go for other option ie forerunner/ambit/polar..??
    Appreciate your sincere advise Ray..

  125. Cody

    Can you edit the data pages online? I would like it to be able to edit the pages faster and have a grand scheme of whats on each activity.

  126. Álvaro

    Hi Ray,
    Thks for your great work as usual. I have a couple of questions about GF2
    1.- When you are doing an activity and want to stop manually, in the screen appears “resume” but i am not able to see any other function as HR or time.. any way to do that?
    2.- when finish an activity I am only able to see a couple of datas of the activity in the resume. It os posible to set up to see more detail info?

    best regards

  127. Frank

    My replacement f2 took it’s first file corruption dump yesterday on its 24th Activity. Fortunately, it was nothing important. No premature button pushing while saving was involved. Just locked up on the first page of the details screen. Had to turn the watch off to regain control. The file refused to upload to GC or Golden Cheetah but provided some pretty amusing stats looking at the history on the watch itself.

    Sure would be nice if Garmin could fix this. How many generations of devices have carried this file corruption problem in their DNA?

    • Actually, it’s pretty rare in Garmin devices. About the only comparison would be issues folks had getting files off of the FR310XT/910XT series back in the day, where it would generate a BadFitFile folder. But those seemed to be pretty rare. Some early generation Edge units saw issues, but that’s closing in on 7+ years ago now. It’s just not something I hear folks complain about much, outside some small percentage of Fenix2 users.

    • Frank

      I guess I am just lucky. I was under the impression you had a similar experience or experiences with your 620 and I have seen tactix and Fenix 1 references to random lock-ups which I now simply presume is a sign of file corruption.

      It will be interesting to see how the Fenix 3 performs after there are a reasonable number of them in the wild. There are already several a few references to lock-ups and crashes on the fenix3-firstlook thread. I’ll be watching with interest.

  128. Florin Ungureanu

    Just bought the Fenix2 on a business trip to US, I just wanted the basic mapping feature that is not offered by Fenix3 anymore. On the way back I have recorded the flight over the Atlantic to London, having the watch hanging near the window on the coat hanger. So far so good, but on garmin.connect site I see the barometric altitude, not the gps one. I never knew the cabin pressure was so low, like 820mBar, or the pressure you get at 2000+ meters altitude. So, is the fenix recording by default barometric altitude? I only created a custom activity “driving”, and used it to record the flight. Is there a setting to use gps altitude only?
    Thanks!

  129. dan

    hello
    if i have saved a run and its on my Garmin connect app or the desktop version can i send that to my watch and have it as a route for me to follow at a later stage?
    i have a race coming up with 3 legs so my aim is to run the legs in training then on the day follow the route which should be saved to the watch ?
    also with the fenix 2 is there different colour options with the display instead of just a black and white screen ?
    thanks dan

    • Just go into Garmin Connect and open the activity. You can send the routes to your Fenix 2. I can’t imagine why you’d do this rather than follow the course on race day unless its a totally unmarked course.

    • Florin Ungureanu

      Maybe you want to follow a route you did once by taking left-right turns just because you liked the scenery. It happened to me, I went on to discover how good is the road, if it’s practical or not, and then it helped to have the watch telling me directions until I learned the route.

  130. Paul Horsley

    Hi,

    How can I just record Heart rate and Time when training indoors, when I go to custom, distance still comes up in the display, all I want to show up in the display is hr and time, is this possible

    thanks

  131. Frank

    [Menu] Settings > Activity > Custom1 > Data Pages > Page 1 > Edit > Top > Timer > Elapsed > Bottom > Heart Rate > Heart Rate [BACK LAP] [BACK LAP] [BACK LAP] [BACK LAP] [BACK LAP] [BACK LAP]

    Note that there is not really a relationship between what is displayed and what is recorded. However, Time and Heart Rate will be among the things that get recorded. Just ignore that which is irrelevant or tell it you have a foot pod when you don’t. That will get you zero distance every time :-).

  132. Frank

    There is an indoor version of each of the custom activities. That should keep your GPS from trying to create distance for you though it might fall back to the internal accelerometer. Absent foot pod is still my recommendation to ensure you get no distance recorded.

  133. Ian

    Hi, is there an accessory for a power meter to be connected to the Fenix 2? Or what would be the best option for a power meter if it does not support a power meter option. Thanking you in advance.

    • Chris C.

      Ian,

      if you are talking about an ANT+ power meter for your bike, it should pair quite easily by the fenix2.
      If it is a Bluetooth one however, it will not work as the fenix2 is not able to pair with Bluetooth sensors

      I hope this helps,

      Best,
      Chris

  134. Cody

    I can’t get live feed to work with my fenix 2. I connect the fenix2 with my phone and start live feed but the live feed webpage doesn’t indicate any movement. I don’t have anyone garmin device to test. I partially watched Rays live feed and mine definitely doesn’t update like that any suggestions ?

  135. Ed

    Ray,
    Great review as always. I haven’t been able to find the answer to this question, so I apologize in advance if it’s been answered. I know I can’t use Bluetooth and Ant+ at the same time but can I use multiple Ant+sensors at the same time,such as the HRM and the Speed/Cadence sensor?

  136. Ed

    Ray,
    Great review as always. I know I can’t use Bluetooth and Ant+ at the same time but can I use multiple Ant+sensors at the same time,such as the HRM and the Speed/Cadence sensor?

    • Chris C.

      Hi Ed,

      no issue, you can use multiple ANT+ sensors at the same time.
      The example you give is pretty much what every cyclist will do on a bike but you could also add a power meter for example.
      Not sure how many sensors can be paired concurrently but I never reached the limit in the last 6 years…

      Hope this helps,

      Best,
      Chris

  137. Ed

    Thanks Chris. I figured it would work that way. But I didn’t want to assume anything.

  138. Rick R

    Have any other Fenix2 users had a “Golf” tab mysteriously appear on Garmin Connect, with the Fenix2 as the featured device? It just showed up a couple of weeks ago for me. I have other devices but only the Fenix2 was placed on the golf tab, which I did not create.

  139. Razmichael

    Just noticed it today. Deleted – see if it comes back.

  140. Max

    Hi Ray and others,
    i got a bit of a problem with my Fenix 2 and my SRM Powermeter, read my original message below. I don´t have one of Garmins Cycling Units so i dont know how it´s done there, and there´s not much on this in the Garmin Forums either.
    I´m glad for any advice! Thanks!

    Message:
    Hi at Garmin i paired my fenix 2 with my SRM and altough i can calibrate the zero offset the readings are unrealisticly(?) high on the fenix compared to the SRM-Unit. My only idea is that it might be related to the slope of the SRM but i don´t find a setting for this on the fenix. Any help would be highly appreciated! Thak You

    Reply:
    Thank you for contacting Garmin Europe.
    In regards to your query, we are quite limited as to what we can assist you with here.
    Garmin does not support Third Party Applications, Maps or Accessories, we can only provide help and support for official Garmin products.
    I appreciate this was not the answer you were looking for however I can only apologise for any inconvenience caused.

    • Yikes, kinda a shiesty response you got there from them. :-/

      Unfortunately, I don’t have an SRM to be able to troubleshoot with you on. I’d post a question over on the Garmin Forums, under the Fenix2 section – as I think you might find a taker there who would be able to assist.

    • Max

      Thanks Ray, i will try there.

  141. Thanks in favor of sharing such a good opinion,
    article is good, thats why i have read it entirely

  142. Paul Horsley

    Hi,
    Does anyone know if the fenix 2 will pair with a garmin gsc 10 speed cadence sensor it’s one nonetheless older ones, my 800 pairs with it but having trouble with the Fenix.
    Thanks Paul

  143. Compass Cheng

    My Fenix 2 now with wrong date
    Actual Time : 11:38 am @ 10 March Tuesday 2015
    Time in Fenix 2 : 11.38 am @ 9 April Tuesday 2019

    Please advise how can I manual set time and date in Fenix

  144. Amit

    Been using the Fenix 2 for the past couple of months and so far it’s going great.

    I want to start training with a max heart rate of 148 so I’ve manually set it (settings – sensors – heart rate – hr zone) to 148. However, after I set that there is was a zone 5 to zone 1 setting which was auto-changed with zone 1 dropping to 94.

    1. What are the different zone settings meant for?
    2. It appears I can manually change all – how do I decide what each should be?
    3. How can this be tracked – it does not appear on connect.garmin or the app

    Thanks

  145. David

    Hey guys, has anyone noticed extremely high battery drain when using the basic stopwatch? I use it when working out in the gym and this afternoon it drained 20% in an hour.

    Firmware 4.3. Thanks, David.

    • Any chance Bluetooth notifications are enabled? A bit high definitely – though, BT does drain rather high.

    • David

      Nope and it only happens when I’m directly on the stopwatch page – its totaly fine when it runs in the background.

      The 20% in an hour was with the last 20% of the battery. Fully charged it drained about 15% in two hours – but that is still more than an activity with gps on!

      It definitely is not only my problem – I found a threat on garmin.forums – I’ll ask garmin and report back.

  146. gaijin

    fenix 2 battery drain, while the Stopwatch page is displayed and the stopwatch is running, should be less than 5%/hour – as shown in the following test I ran:

    link to i219.photobucket.com

    If your watch is different, then you should contact Garmin for service.

    HTH

  147. Chris C

    This might sound dumb – but I’m happy with my watch 1 year later now that android transfers finally work! ha ha

  148. Adam

    Hi everyone!
    I am in the market for my first sport watch but do not know what to get. I have been reading reviews about the TomTom multisport, Garmin 910XT & Garmin Fenix 2. I have read alot of people having freezing problems with the Fenix 2. For the TomTom I heard that you need a subscription to a website to upload your data and that it only shows you an average speed when your done your run/cycle? Is that correct?
    What I mostly do is bike, hike, ski (run very little) and want a watch to show these activities as well as speed, HR, elevation. I do not care about smartphone integration as I do not need another device to tell me if I got a text message/phone call. 😛
    Any recommendations on what to get? I dont want to spend over $250 CAD but I can get the Fenix 2 for $100 so I would consider it.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Adam

      Sorry, meant to say $100 more then my budget ($340 CAD) 😛

    • Chris O.

      Hi Adam, I’ve got both a 910xt and a fenix 2. For your expected use, I’d probably go with fenix 2. I use my 910xt quite a bit, but mainly for triathlon stuff including bike/run workouts. However, I use the fenix 2 when I swim as it has much better pool swim features vs the 910xt IMO. I’ve also used the fenix 2 on a few hikes and it generally worked fairly well, although it did have some GPS accuracy issues with heavy tree cover. But, it still got me to the waypoints I had loaded. I’ve also used the fenix 2 to record HR during strength training and walking the dog (I’ve created custom workout profiles for each) in addition to running. And for the record, my fenix 2 has not given me any freezing issues. I regularly clean out activities which I think helps avoid the corrupt file issue which seems to cause many issues. And with the fenix 3 out now, you can get a slightly used fenix 2 off ebay for really low cost. And as a side note, FWIW it is nice not having to dig my phone out of my pocket if I don’t want to answer the call or respond right away to a text message (re: fenix 2 and smartphone integration). Good luck with your decision!

    • Adam

      Thank you for the response Chris! 🙂
      I think I will go with the Fenix2, Fenix3 is a little out of my price range right now 😛

    • I used my Fenix 2 for my ski trips this year and it works REALLY well in that mode. If you’re an avid skier you’re going to really like the Fenix 2 8)

  149. Chris C

    at $100 – the fenix 2 is a no-brainer – in fact, if I could get the watch for $100 – I would buy another…

  150. Carlos

    I am runner and a couple of months I started to do mountain biking.

    I wonder what activity is better for tracking mountain biking: trial run, mountaineer, bike?

    Thanks in advance.

  151. Mario D

    Hello i was running and sudenly the fenix 2 turn off i could not save the workout it have hapend twice. Does anybody have the same proble?
    Any solutions?
    THANK YOU

    • Gord

      Dont know if it works the same but when I accidently knock my Forerunner off on a car wing mirror blocking the footpath etc I can still access the data on the old Garmin Training Centre site when it is not accessible on Connect or Strava. It happens to me so regularly that I routinely press the lap button which locks the data onto the watch so all will not be lost if it turns off without pressing start/stop.

    • Brian

      Had the same issue. There are plenty of articles on what to do to try and resolve the issue. I had this happen with my Fenix 2 and after going through all the steps it still didn’t fix the reboot issue. Mine would automatically pause and I couldn’t resume without it rebooting. I decided to call Garmin and they walked me through a couple of steps. Still didn’t fix it. So they sent me another Fenix 2.

      No longer having that issue, but the new one now shuts off completely during an activity. It happens randomly, anywhere from .5 mile in to 10 miles.

      I love this watch, but if it can’t do what it’s designed for it will be going back. Bought it at REI and will be deciding whether to swap it for the Fenix 3 or Ambit 2/3.

  152. Roger

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for the enormous effort you put in your reviews and website overall Ray, much appreciated! To introduce myself, I am currently an avid runner with triathlon ambitions. Currently I do not own a bike yet due to my budget. Therefor I am momentarily focusing on running only and hoping to incorporate swimming and biking as soon as my budget allows. I am looking to buy either a second-hand 910xt (approx €220, still good year of guarantee left), Fenix2 (approx €250, same guarantee wise), those two fit my budget best so I am doubting between the two of them. I could also save up some more money and get the 920xt (Red/white version, I prefer black blue but its more €50 expensive) for €379. For as far as I could find out from the review, comments and other websites there is still a lot of bugs and reliability issues with the Fenix2, correct? As well as the disability to automatically switch in multisport mode when used inside the swimming pool, which I will be training in mostly since there’s little opportunity here to swim outdoors. The 910xt however will not be updated anymore as opposed to the Fenix2. In your recently released heads-up for the 910xt sale (link to dcrainmaker.com) you still recommend the 910xt for tri-athletes. Would anyone care to elaborate a bit further on this matter or share his/her opinion? Thanks in advance!

    Keep up the good work, as said before it is much appreciated.

    Happy running,

    Rog

  153. Matt

    The accuracy issue:

    I have read (quickly) through all ~230 comments on here with the word “accuracy” in them. It seems most users are concerned with whether their track is showing up on the correct side of the road, or whether a lap around the track is recorded as exactly 400m. I haven’t seen anyone try to quantify the accuracy when not moving – this is understandable if you are a triathlete, but this watch is also billed as a product for navigation, mountaineering, etc.

    I primarily pursue ski mountaineering, where accurate and consistent location information is important, even at low speeds. Since getting the watch this winter, I had been noticing that on long slow days in the mountains, the Fenix 2 would report significantly longer distances traveled than my companions who were using an Ambit or an older Forerunner. The discrepancy was more pronounced the slower and longer the outing. Last night I performed the following test:

    Devices: iPhone 6 with Strava app; Garmin Edge 800; Garmin Forerunner 910; Garmin Fenix 2
    All devices with latest updates
    All devices locked on to satellites and then given an additional 5 minutes to settle
    Clear weather, clear sky view from my backyard with no obstructions from buildings etc
    Test duration of 1.5 hours, none of the devices were moved.

    Total distance reported as traveled by each device:

    iPhone 6: 0.0 km
    Edge 800: 15 m
    Forerunner 910: 80 m
    Fenix 2: 1.25 km

    So. As far as I am concerned, completely unacceptable. A friend did a similar test over 10 hours, where the Fenix 2 “traveled” 12km while the Ambit next to it traveled 0.1km.

    I will bring this up with Garmin as well, but I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts. It appears that the newer a Garmin unit is, the worse it performs. I find this mind boggling.

    • Matt

      I have gone back and forth with Garmin support on this the last few weeks and they have been completely unhelpful, their main comment being “Unfortunately, there is not a way to stop GPS drift”. When I ask why only the Fenix 2 has this issue I get no response. So I guess I am returning the watch.

    • Stephen Gray

      I repeated this test with my fenix 2 & it magically travelled 1.5Km in 3 hours while resting on my garden table

  154. Tim

    I do not advise purchasing this device. DC your review was great, however once I received the product and contacted Garmin my problems started. As of my writing this message on 4/16/15 I have had 3, yes 3 NEW Garmin Fenix 2s that functional issues.

    #1 – Died in 72 hours. Noticed lag in transition between pressing buttons and device responding. By the end of day the device was not responding to Down and Back/Lap button. Unable to perform a factory reset due to buttons no longer functioning. Contacted seller watch replaced

    #2 – Issues within 1 week. Noticed that device was hanging when attempting to launch details of run. Would freeze on loading screen. The activity was around 40 minutes with 30 laps total. The Device would have to be rebooted and even though activity had been saved, activity data was lost. Contacted Garmin, advised to update firmware. Firmware was already current. Advised to format device. Formatted but was still able to recreate issue. Garmin advised they would then be willing to replace my NEW, 1 week old device with a factory refactored device. Contacted the seller who replaced the device.

    #3 – Died within 12 hours. On my first activity after opening the box I attempted to save and display the activity details. There were 10 laps to be displayed and the device stayed on the “Loading” screen for over 4 minutes before the screen went back and the device became completely unresponsive. After trying all options to restart the device I contacted the seller who is processing a refund.

    I will note that Garmin did later contact me and advise they reviewed my case and serial numbers advising that the thread stating I would receive a refurbished device was incorrect and they would send a new device. Unfortunately Garmin never addressed or even acknowledged my actual issue. Knowing someone who also had a Fenix 2 we were able to test the scenario observed with watch 2 and were unable to recreate the issue on his device. This entire ordeal with the Fenix 2 has been thoroughly frustrating. I wish I could recommend this device, but after my experience I cannot. I will try the Suunto Ambit S2 next.

    • Just to clarify – did Garmin replace your devices, or the seller? And with the seller, were these fully sealed brand new devices?

      I ask only because I often see cases (especially outside the US), where a retailer will replace a broken watch with…another broken watch. Seriously. They’ll actually pull a replacement from the returns bin.

      Not saying that’s the case here, but given you somehow went 3 for 3 in 24 hours, leaves me wondering.

    • Tim

      Sorry it took me a bit to reply.

      Amazon replaced 1 and 2. I opted finally for a refund after issues with 3. Honestly I was done with Garmin with the mention of sending a refurbished device (it was to late when their update arrived).

      All were fully sealed with no indications they had been opened previously. The devices all were purchased direct from Amazon (shipped and sold). I wasn’t willing to risk a third party seller to save a few bucks on the watch. All three originated from local but not identical distribution centers.

      For now it’s back to studying your reviews and hopefully I can find another multi sport watch that I will have better luck with.

    • Tim

      Took what you said about the questionable sellers to heart. Figured that with the deal you posted above from Clever Training they would be a reputable seller. Here goes round 4! At the very least this watch would have to come from a different lot.

    • Thanks for the support! Hopefully things go smoothly this time.

  155. Matt

    full transcript with Garmin support as promised. Unfortunately not useful at all, and no resolution.

    —————————————-
    I primarily pursue ski mountaineering where accurate and consistent location information is important even at low speeds. Since getting the watch this winter I had been noticing that on long slow days in the mountains the Fenix 2 would report significantly longer distances traveled than my companions who were using an Ambit or an older Forerunner. The discrepancy was more pronounced the slower and longer the outing. Last night I performed the following test: Devices: iPhone 6 with Strava app; Garmin Edge 800; Garmin Forerunner 910; Garmin Fenix 2 All devices with latest updates All devices locked on to satellites and then given an additional 5 minutes to settle Clear weather clear sky view from my backyard with no obstructions from buildings etc Test duration of 1.5 hours none of the devices were moved. Total distance reported as traveled by each device: iPhone 6: 0.0 km Edge 800: 15 m Forerunner 910: 80 m Fenix 2: 1.25 km I am sure you will agree this is unacceptable. A friend did a similar test over 10 hours where the Fenix 2 “traveled” 12km while the Ambit next to it traveled 0.1km. Any support would be appreciated. I am surprised that the newer product can perform the worst and by such a large margin.

    Matt

    —————————————————————

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. Unfortunately, there is not a way to stop GPS drift. The other Garmin devices could have auto pause enabled making them more accurate. Keep in mind our devices are not designed to calculate GPS data stationary. The device are supposed to be moving to calculate GPS data.

    Scott 5862

    —————————————————————

    Thanks Scott.

    I find it incredible that your GPS devices only work when moving. Are you suggesting that in all the activities the Fenix 2 bills itself as appropriate for (including climbing, hiking, orienteering, etc) the participants never stop moving?

    In any case that statement does not really help me, or answer my question. The other devices do not have auto pause enabled and they do not have this problem. Why is the Fenix 2 the only one that reports significant drift? If you are saying that what I am observing is what you would expect for this watch, and there is no way to correct this, how do I reconcile that when I am looking at 3 other devices that do not have this issue?

    I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Matt

    —————————————————————

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. You can try the reset and let the device sit outside for 20 minutes to lock onto satellites. There are a few instances in which you may want to perform a reset on your fenix, fenix 2, tactix or D2 including the following:
    Not receiving a satellite signal
    Restoring the factory default settings
    Not functioning properly
    If the watch has frozen, locked up or become unresponsive, holding Power for approximately 15 seconds should allow the device to power off.
    Performing a master reset can cause data loss. Utilize the FAQ “How do I back up user data from my outdoor GPS with a USB interface?” to back up user data*.
    If removing user data is desired to eliminate corrupt data or free up additional space, refer to FAQ “Why does my Garmin outdoor or fitness GPS still show my GPS data after a master reset?” for further information.

    To perform a master reset:
    Ensure watch is powered off
    Press and hold Down button
    Power on GPS while continuing to hold Down button
    Release Down button once “Clear all user settings?” message appears
    Select Yes
    The reset is successful if the device finishes powering up and goes to the setup wizard. Try the steps again if the setup wizard does not appear.
    Following the reset, set the device outside with a clear view of the sky for a minimum of 20 minutes to acquire satellite data.

    *User data consists of waypoints, routes, tracks, and geocaches

    Referenced Link(s):
    How do I backup user data from my outdoor GPS with a USB interface?: link to support.garmin.com{7fdc4230-f13b-11df-ea12-000000000000}
    Why does my Garmin outdoor or fitness GPS still show my GPS data after a master reset?: link to support.garmin.com{60eb9630-b51f-11df-55a0-000000000000}

    Scott 5862

    —————————————————————

    Hi Scott,

    I have followed all of the directions you sent very carefully, and made sure everything is up to date, settings are correct, etc. I repeated my original test tonight, with the same results – the older Garmin units and my iPhone recorded virtually no movement when standing still, and the Fenix recorded movement of about 1 km/h average.

    I am not sure what to do at this point. I do not believe it is “GPS drift” as the other garmin units do not have this issue. I can confirm it is not any sort of auto-pause setting difference between units. It is not an issue with out of date software or a master reset, as I just reset the device and all software is up to date. At this point I have a GPS device which has worse accuracy than a cell phone, which does not make sense to me.

    Let me know if there are any other procedures I should follow to fix this. If this is simply how well the watch performs, please let me know how Garmin justifies this and what I can do about it.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    —————————————————————

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

    I am happy to assist you with this. I believe what you are seeing is GPS drift. I have seen GPS drift of about 500 feet at times when I have stopped moving. I apologize that there is a difference between this and the other devices, however what you are describing sounds like the GPS drift we have seen to be normal with GPS devices.
    GPS drift is caused by many external factors and consumer grade GPS devices cannot account for these. GPS drift causes the device to appear to be moving on its own. It is most obvious when looking at a track or when zoomed in all the way while at a standstill.
    Satellites send their signal through the atmosphere down to earth. The atmosphere distorts this signal, and other environmental factors (such as trees, hills, mountains, buildings, cars, reflective surfaces and more) can further degrade the signal.
    In the past, a satellite signal weakened by the environment caused a loss of position. High sensitivity chips were created so that it was no longer a question of if you had a position lock, but how accurate that position lock would be.
    Now only the weakest signal prevents the device from locating your general position, but as a result, the decrease in accuracy that is introduced by the environment causes GPS drift. In other words, the device is more sensitive than the environment allows it to be accurate.
    Being mindful of the limitations of consumer GPS devices will help alleviate concerns regarding their accuracy.
    Do you have the ability to send us a file that has what you are experiencing so that we can compare it to what we have seen with similar devices?
    If you have additional questions or concerns, please let me know.

    With Best Regards,
    Naomia 8996288

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    Thank you Noamia. What you are saying makes sense until I put it into the context of my observations where multiple devices are in the same location or same activity, and only the Fenix has an issue.

    I understand how atmospheric distortion, mountains, buildings, reflective surfaces etc etc could cause accuracy issues – but I do not understand how they could cause accuracy issues only in a Fenix, when the Suunto watch, the Edge computer, and the iPhone right beside it do not have any issues.

    This is the question I am trying to ask and do not feel like I am getting an answer to – why does this issue only affect the Fenix? Like I describe in my tests, the other equivalent devices are right next to each other. It does not make sense that only the signal to the Fenix is compromised.

    I have attached 4 files. Two of them are from the Fenix, and two from a Suunto Ambit, one each from two different activities. You will see that one pair of files shows a ski tour. The Fenix “moved” significantly farther than the Suunto, even though both people were skiing together the whole day. The next pair of files is a stationary test. You will see that the Fenix drifted at over 1km average speed, while the Suunto recorded virtually no movement at all. Again, both watches were side by side.

    Matt

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    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I am sorry to hear you are having trouble with the Fenix 2. I am happy to help with this. As the Suunto Ambit is not a Garmin device, it would be impossible to compare the way the distance data etc, with the way it is recorded with the Fenix 2. We do not have access to any information regarding the internal operation of these other devices. However, we are the experts for the Fenix 2, and the responses you have received regarding GPS drift does explain what you are experiencing.
    Please let us know if there are any other questions, thank you.

    With Best Regards,
    Laurie 8996211

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    Laurie,

    Please answer my question. Why does the Fenix 2 display significantly higher (up to 100x more) GPS drift than other Garmin devices, or other equivalent GPS units from other brands?

    I am not satisfied at all with the performance of this watch. GPS drift of 100x more than other devices I could use instead means this devices is not useful.

    Matt