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Hands-on: Garmin’s New Fenix 5 Multisport GPS Series–with mapping!


!!!Heads up – Check out the newest Fenix 6! My full Fenix 6 In-Depth Review is now available!  Click on to read it all!!!

Right on cue, Garmin has released their next edition of the Fenix series – the Fenix 5.  This follows a relatively steady annual release cadence of the Fenix series each year in January.  Last year for example we saw the Fenix 3 HR, while the previous year was the Fenix 3.  Prior to that was the Fenix 2 in the same rough timeframe.

This year the release is all about making the lineup more appealing to a broader user base.  The Fenix 3 series was already Garmin’s most successful watch series ever. While the company has never released specific Fenix 3 numbers, they have beat around the bush publically in other ways, likely putting the Fenix 3 series at over a million units sold.

One of the challenges though with the Fenix 3 series has been its appeal (or lack thereof) to those with smaller wrists – most namely: females.  While Garmin did try and appeal to that market segment with the rose-gold editions of the Fenix 3, it remained the same large size.  The Fenix 5 aims to address that with a new smaller size.

At the same time, they wanted to appeal to folks that were increasingly looking to cell phones for maps on the trails – so they tossed in mapping in the Fenix5 as well.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – instead, let’s dive into all the feature differences down below.

Oh, one last thing.  Wondering why there’s not a Fenix4?  That’s because the phonetic pronunciation of that in Chinese roughly translates to ‘fast rise to quick death’.  Not exactly the starting point Garmin wanted to begin with.

What’s new and different:


So what’s new in the Fenix 5?  Well, the two biggest pieces would be it now has maps on the Fenix 5X edition (legit maps!), and that there are two sizes now.  Previously there was just one size with a crapton of different bands.  Now there are three sizes with an equally large crapton of bands.  But I’ll cover bands/sizes/editions in a later section below.

For now, let’s talk about all the differences – both nuanced and big.  But first I need to explain that there are three editions of the Fenix 5:

Fenix 5S: 42mm wide, women’s/smaller wrist focused – offered in regular glass and Sapphire glass
Fenix 5: 47mm wide, baseline – offered in regular glass and Sapphire glass
Fenix 5X: 51mm wide, includes mapping – only in Sapphire glass

Each of these three editions is then split into basically two categories: Sapphire and non-sapphire.  Except the 5X, which only has Sapphire.  What’s most notable though is that the non-Sapphire editions do NOT have WiFi (kinda like Garmin Fenix Chronos).  Whereas the Sapphire editions all have WiFi.

With that in mind, I’ll note each of the new features below, and whether they are specific to a given version.  If no specific version is noted, then it’s applicable to all versions.  In the below, I’m largely using the Fenix 3/Fenix 3HR as my baseline for changes.

Display: Went from 218×218 pixels to 240×240 pixels (except 5S, which stays at 218×218).
Display: Went from 16 colors on Fenix 3 to 64 colors on Fenix 5
Display: Now supports Emoji, right to left languages (Arabic and Hebrew)
Connect IQ: Fully supports CIQ 2.2.3+, as well as 64KB for Widgets, 32KB for Data Fields, and 128KB for apps
Battery: Increased battery life up to 24 hours (Fenix 5) in GPS at 1s, or 14hrs for the 5S, and 20hrs for 5X
Battery: Increased UltraTrac battery life to 75 hours (Fenix 5), with hopes of 100 hours
Gyroscope: Added Gyroscope to all models, used to increase track points in UltraTrac mode
User Interface: Slight tweaks to UI to match Fenix Chronos series
User Interface: Added new quick access controls menu, to access apps/widgets
Strava: Added Strava Live Segment support for Bike & Run
Sensors: Added Varia Vision Heads Up Display Support (all ANT+ remote displays technically)
Sensors: Added Varia Bike Lights (all ANT+ lights technically)
Sensors: Added Varia Bike Radar
Sensors: Added Shimano Di2 Shifting, ANT+ Gear Shifting Support (SRAM RED eTAP & Campagnolo EPS)
Sensors: Added ANT+ Muscle Oxygen Sensors (MOXY/BSX)
Optical HR Sensor: Revamped tech, now records 24×7 data every 1-2 seconds
Optical HR Sensor: Flattened out even more, virtually flush with back of unit
Training Data: Added FTP Estimation for cycling
Training Data: Added new Training Load functionality
Training Data: Added split of aerobic and anaerobic training effect
Training Data: Now supports Swimming PR’s (along with previously added Swim Structured Workout support)
Live Group Tracking: Added to all Fenix 5 models, à la the Edge 820 group tracking
Golf: Added TruSwing, Greenview, and Autoshot features
Other Sports Added: Mountain Biking, Treadmill and Indoor Track separated, Ski and Snowboard separated, Navigate app, and Track Me app
Navigation Functions: Added Proximity and Navigation Alerts (for distance to waypoint, and time/distance remaining to destination)
5X Only – Mapping: Includes Topo maps in package, can add your own maps if you want
5X Only – Mapping: Ability to display mapping for current position
5X Only – Mapping: Ability to create automated running/riding routes (round trip mapping
5X Only – Mapping: Can find POI’s around you (i.e. food, including Chipotle)
5X Only – Mapping: Routing engine can ingest GPX & FIT files for saved routes

Got all that?

Ok, but what’s been removed or no longer present compared to the Fenix3 series? Well, according to Garmin it’s purely one thing: WiFi on the base models (Sapphire glass models have it).


But of course, sometimes you don’t quite find out all these nuances until the product has started shipping.  I’ve seen cases in years past where even things present at CES are pulled in the final version.  Said differently: Don’t count your chickens till they hatch.

Oh – and finally, before you ask – the Garmin Fenix Chronos folks will receive all of the above updates, except mapping of course, since it simply doesn’t have the storage or processing power to handle that.

Video Explainer!

Want the low-down in one easy to watch (and easy to share) video?  No problem, I’ve distilled it all down below, complete with my best video editing skillz. Special effects included free of charge.

Was that video above not detailed enough for you?  No problem!

I’ve got even more details, in geekfest fashion.  The below video is simply a detailed walk-through of the menus on the watch.  Basically, I press and push almost everything there is to push on the watch, in one handy-dandy video.  It’s got no special effects, nor nifty transitions.  But it has plenty of details:

Update – and here’s another video I put together at ISPO, this one focused on the charging cable, since there’s been tons of questions about that.

Don’t forget that I’ll be publishing other Fenix 5 videos to YouTube as we go forward, so definitely subscribe to the channel so you don’t get left behind!

Mapping on the Fenix 5X:


Ahh yes, mapping.  Seen as the Holy Grail feature of wearables, and something that various companies have flirted with over time – but never quite got to stick.  For example, way back when we had the Motorola Motoactive contain maps.  Then there was the Leikr watch.  And then even Garmin’s own Epix watch, exactly two years ago tomorrow.  All of these have flopped for various reasons, of which all were totally unrelated to mapping.  The maps were merely a casualty along the way.

But I think the Fenix 5 will change that, largely due to the popularity of the Fenix series.  Of course, maps are only available on the Fenix 5X, which contains 16GB of storage on it.  Whereas the other Fenix 5 units lack that storage, and thus lack maps.  These maps come in the form of topographic and cycling maps (+ 40,000 golf courses), which show details not just of roads and routes, but also points of interest.


Points of interest include places like food, hotels, gas stations, tourist attractions, and more.  Food being the most relevant of course to any endurance athlete.  You can search around you, and route to them immediately.

When you route to them, you’ll get turn-by-turn instructions.  And these are legit turn by turn instructions that include the street names:


In addition to routing to saved waypoints, or on courses, you can also generate Round Trip Routes.  This is a feature we saw added to the Garmin Edge series a few years ago, allowing you to generate rides on the fly for a distance of your choosing.  That’s now added here, allowing you to generate both runs and rides.


First, you’ll enter in a given distance you want to ride/run:


Then, you’ll specify whether or not you have a direction preference (any, or North/South/East/West):


And then finally, it’ll come back with three route options for you.

Garmin-Fenix5-Course1 Garmin-Fenix5-Course2 Garmin-Fenix5-Course3

It’s pretty cool stuff.

The unit will not only show you the map and roads around you, but also elevation information about the route.


Outside of round trip routing, you can show the map whenever you’d like.  The render time can take a few seconds though, depending on where you are.  And creating of routes themselves seems to take about 20-40 seconds per route to create, which is a touch bit slower than that seen on the Edge series.  But I suppose that’s faster than Googlin’ and figuring out a route yourself.

Within the settings there’s a bunch of different mapping display options you can configure as well – such as whether to lock to roads or not, or what maps you choose.

Note that one issue here is still the lack of ability to create routes on a mobile device and send them to your watch.  Sure, you can create routes on a desktop and then transfer them via mobile phone, but you can’t create them on your phone using Garmin’s native tools.  Garmin says that things are in the works there…though, they also said that 3 years ago.

Last but not least, you can indeed transfer your own maps to the device, using the same steps as seen with the Garmin Edge series.  And you can also drag/drop any GPX/FIT file routes onto the device as well.

Bluetooth Smart Sensor Support:


Mark this date in your books: January 4th, 2017.

It’s the date hell froze over.  Or at least, some small slice of it.

As of today, the Fenix 5 series now supports Bluetooth Smart sensors, making it the first Garmin device to support any Bluetooth Smart sensors (the VIRB action cam supports legacy Bluetooth automotive sensors).

You can now add Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensors to the Fenix 5, just by scanning for external HR sensors.  For example, here’s the Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart only strap.  You can see the Bluetooth Smart ID displayed in the user interface:


Garmin says that they’re starting off with the Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate sensors first, merely because that standard is the most stable (which is true).  But that they plan to add other sensor types quickly.  For example, I’d expect to see them add the cycling cadence/speed sensor and running footpod types, since those are generally considered as pretty stable specs.  Whereas the BLE power meter continues to this day to be a @#$#@ for companies to get right on both sides of the aisle.  Even in the last two weeks I’ve seen cases where major companies (Quarq & Polar) can’t agree on how the spec should be implemented, causing consumers to be left in the middle.

The good news on the power meter front is that quite frankly there are almost no power meters that aren’t ANT+ anyway, so that’s less of an issue.  Virtually all BLE power meters are also ANT+ concurrently, thus making the issue largely moot.

Nonetheless, it’s fantastic to see Garmin go this direction, and hopefully a sign of things to come for other devices down the road.

The Fenix 5 Editions:


Trying to keep track of all the Fenix 5 versions?  Join the club.  Feel lucky you don’t have to type it all out and ensure it’s correct.  Here’s the best way to think about it.

First, choose your watch size:

Fenix 5S – 42mm: This is the smaller one, unofficially targeting women
Fenix 5 – 47mm: This is your standard issue one, officially targeting everyone
Fenix 5X – 51mm: This is the mapping one, it’s bigger to fit in more battery/storage/processing

Here’s how these three look side by side, assuming you were just using the simple silicon band (no fancy bling) – Fenix 5S, Fenix 5, and then Fenix 5X:


Next though, you need to choose whether or not you want Sapphire glass.  That drives whether or not you get WiFi.  In theory, it also might prevent your unit from getting scratches on the lens.  In reality, that’s usually not the case.

Fenix 5S: Non-Sapphire is $599, Sapphire is $699
Fenix 5: Non-Sapphire is $599, Sapphire is $699
Fenix 5X: This ONLY has Sapphire, starting at $699

Decided what size and version you want?  Ok, good.  Now you get to decide what bands you want.  Here’s how that rolls out:

Fenix 5S – $599: White bezel with white silicone band (band officially called ‘Carrara’)
Fenix 5S – $599: Silver bezel with turquoise silicone band
Fenix 5S – $599: Silver bezel with black silicone band
Fenix 5S Sapphire – $699: Black bezel with black band (+ includes a yellow silicone band)
Fenix 5S Sapphire – $699: ‘Champagne’ bezel with gray suede band (+ includes a white silicone band)
Fenix 5S Sapphire – $849: ‘Champagne’ bezel with golden color metal band (+ includes a black silicone band)
Fenix 5 – $599: Slate gray bezel with black silicone band
Fenix 5 – $599: Slate gray bezel with yellow silicone band
Fenix 5 – $599: Silver gray bezel with granite blue silicone band
Fenix 5 Sapphire – $699: Black bezel with black silicone band (+ includes a yellow silicone band)
Fenix 5 Sapphire – $849: Slate gray bezel with metal band (+ includes a black silicone band)
Fenix 5X Sapphire – $699: Slate gray bezel with black band
Fenix 5X Sapphire – $849: Slate gray bezel with metal band (+ includes a black silicone band)

Oh no no, we’re not done yet.  Finally, you need to decide if you want a bundle or not.  The bundle is only offered in the following editions, so if you want an HR strap bundle (that comes with the HRM-TRI strap), for capturing swim workout data), then you have to pick one of the two specific bundles offered (neither 5S or 5X).  Burger King this is not.

Fenix 5 – $699: Slate gray bezel with black silicone, with HRM-TRI strap
Fenix 5 Sapphire – $769: Black bezel with black band + yellow silicone band, with HRM-TRI strap

Got all that?  Good.  That makes one of us.

Now, you may be wondering about all these bands.  Officially they’re called QuickFit bands, as they are designed to pop on and off super-quick.  And indeed, they do with a single button press.  There’s virtually no risk of these popping off in an openwater swim or like, because the lever is below the band against your wrist.


The idea being you can buy extra bands of differing colors as you see fit.  And oh – these QuickFit bands are also compatible with the Garmin Fenix3 series as well.  Because I’ve gotten tired of typing out spec sheets, I’m going to go into abbreviated mode now.  The bands are as follows:

QuickFit 20 (20mm for Fenix 5S): White/Turquoise/Black/Yellow/Purple/Red Silicone – $49, Grey suede leather – $79, Champagne stainless steel – $149

QuickFit 22 (22mm for Fenix 5): Black/Granite/Yellow/Red/Blue Silicone – $49, Brown leather – $79, Stainless steel – $149

QuickFit 26 (26mm for Fenix 5X): Black/Yellow/Red/Green Silicon – $49, Brown leather – $79, Stainless steel – $149

Wondering when all this craziness will be available?  Officially it’s by the end of Q1, which is the end of March 2017.  Unofficially you never quite know. Stability felt pretty good on these units, though there were a few quirks here and there.  But I’d peg it as better than I’ve seen in the past for a release date in March.  So I think that’s reasonably realistic.

Size Comparisons!


You asked for it, it’s time to talk size between the units.  Of course, size isn’t everything – but in this case, it might well be.  The Fenix 5 is offered in three sizes, corresponding to the three models (5/5S/5X).

Now officially, here are the exact specs of the three sizes (plus the Fenix3 HR at the bottom for comparison):

Fenix 5S: 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm) – 67g
Fenix 5: 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm) – 87g
Fenix 5X: 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm) – 98g
Fenix 3 HR: 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm) – 86g

But that can be hard to conceptualize, so instead, let’s make it easier in simple text.  Note, in the below I’m specifically talking about the width of the watch (round part), not so much the depth.

Fenix 5S: Same size as Forerunner 735XT/230/235
Fenix 5: Slightly larger than the 5S, but smaller than Fenix3HR
Fenix 5X: Virtually identical to Fenix 3 HR in size (except not as deep)

Note that technically the screen on the 5S has less pixels (218×218) vs the 5/5X (240×240), but it retains the same color (64 colors).  There’s no changes in terms of contrast or display brightness between any of the watches, or compared to the Fenix 3 series.  If you liked the Fenix 3 brightness, you’ll be fine with the Fenix 5.  And if you didn’t like the Fenix 3 brightness, you probably won’t like the Fenix 5 brightness.

First up, let’s look at just the three core watches side by side:


Next, for fun, let’s add in the Fenix 3 HR as a bit of a benchmark on size.  You can see that the Fenix 5X and Fenix 3HR are identical in terms of face size.  This is why you can switch the new bands on the Fenix 5X to the Fenix 3/3HR lineup.  Whereas the Fenix 5 and Fenix 5S won’t be compatible with the older Fenix 3/3HR bands.


Now let’s get all horizontal and see how they stack up.  Here it’s super clear just how big the optical HR sensor bump is on the back of the unit.


What? You’re into optical sensor bumps.  If that’s your thing – then here’s two more pictures comparing the Fenix 5 to the Fenix 3HR optical HR sensor bump:

Slide7 Slide8

Now let’s throw them all down on the pavement and see how they shake up.  I tossed in the Fenix Chronos, FR920XT, and FR735XT in there.  Note that the FR735XT shares the same exterior shell dimensions as the FR230 and FR235.  So if you’re familiar with those watches, that should help you understand a bit.


And here’s the depth on them.  You’ll notice just how much that bump from the Fenix 3HR has been reduced with the new optical sensor design on the Fenix 5 series (or even compared to Chronos).  Keep in mind on Chornos it’s thinner in part because of the fact it has less battery.  The sensor bump is still bigger on Chronos than the Fenix 5.


Next, just two lonely watches to more clearly show just how close the Fenix 5S and FR735XT are in size.


But I hear ya – sensor bumps aren’t your thing.  Instead, it’s wrist fetishes.  No worries, I’ve got you covered.

DSC_9291 DSC_9295

DSC_9293 DSC_9297


Phew – more than you ever wanted to know probably!  One last tidbit.  Remember that the Fenix 5X is thicker than the Fenix 5/5S because of the larger battery. That larger battery is required to handle the bigger processor on the 5X, which is in turn required to handle the maps and routing functions.

Product Comparison:


I’ve added in the Garmin Fenix 5 into the product comparison database.  At present, I’ve consolidated it into a single product – inclusive of the Fenix 5, 5S & Fenix 5X, noting differences where applicable.  At some point between now and eternity I’ll split them out in the database.  In the meantime though, this allows you to compare it against the Fenix 3 series more easily.  Though even then, the product comparison tool simply doesn’t capture some of the nuances of software differences between the two models.  The reason being I try to avoid getting too crazy in minor software features in the database, else it just becomes massive to try and find the key differences in a product.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 22nd, 2021 @ 4:17 am New Window
Product Announcement DateJan 5th, 2016Jan 4th, 2017
Actual Availability/Shipping DateFebruary 2016March 2017
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi (Sapphire only)
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 100m
Battery Life (GPS)Up to 50hrs in GPS with optical off, about 20-25% less with optical HR onUp to 24hrs in GPS-on, up to 75hrs in UltraTrac GPS
Recording Interval1S OR SMART1S or Smart
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYEs
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYes
MusicGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Can control phone musicYEsYes
Has music storage and playbackNoNo
Streaming ServicesNo
PaymentsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes
Group trackingNoYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Designed for cyclingYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoYes
Crash detectionNoNo
RunningGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Designed for runningYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YEsYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)With HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN (Not via Optical HR)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)
Running PowerWith extra sensor
VO2Max EstimationYEsYEs
Race PredictorYesYes
Recovery AdvisorYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYEsYes
SwimmingGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Designed for swimmingYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYEs
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYes
Record HR underwaterWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)WITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YEsYEs
Indoor Drill ModeYEsYes
Indoor auto-pause featureYEsNo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)
Change pool sizeYesYEs
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150Y/M14M/15Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsYEsYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYEsYes
Indoor AlertsYesYes
TriathlonGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Designed for triathlonYesYes
Multisport modeYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYEs
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Auto Start/StopYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYEs
Virtual Racer FeatureYEsYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYes
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNo
Weather Display (live data)yESYes
NavigateGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYEs
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYes (5X Only)
Back to startYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoYes (5X Only)
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYes
SensorsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYes
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)No
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYEsYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYEsYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYes
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoYes
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapablenOYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYEs
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYes
SoftwareGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Competitive CyclistLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Review LinkLinkLink

Note that you can create your own product comparison charts between watches I’ve had time with, here in the product comparison database.



In some ways, the Fenix 5 series release is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  There’s no doubt a boatload of additions for the Fenix 5 & 5S watches, mainly software tweaks and enhancements.  Yet where it becomes more revolutionary is within the Fenix 5X lineup, which now includes maps on a wearable.  Yes, Garmin has tried this before – but never in something as small and sleek at this form factor.

Perhaps the bigger news in this though is that Garmin is now opening up to Bluetooth Smart sensors. That’s a major turning point for the company that will undoubtedly have ramifications for not just themselves, but also for various products in the cycling/running segment.  For example – will sensors like RunScribe and others soon be able to leverage Connect IQ functionality over Bluetooth Smart?  This could, if played right, open up Connect IQ to far more devices than just those on ANT+.  The possibilities are greatly expanded here.

There are some downsides though to the Fenix 5 series, most notably price.  The watch continues to climb higher and higher.  It used to be that the Fenix series was $399, then came $499 with the Fenix 3, and now it’s at $599 as the entry point for the Fenix 5 (matching the previous Fenix 3 HR initial price), with prices going up to $849 for the highest-end Fenix units.  Not only that, but WiFi connectivity used to be baseline in all Fenix 3 units, and now it’s only available at $699 and above in the Sapphire models.  Of course, all models now include optical HR sensors, whereas in the past that wasn’t the case with the less expensive options.

Last but not least, we don’t yet know how well it handles for things like GPS and barometric altimeter accuracy on final production models, as both the hardware and software won’t be finalized for at least another month or two.  As such, this isn’t a full in-depth review, since I don’t have final hardware or software to base an opinion on.  That’ll come later though – fear not.

With that – thanks for reading!  Feel free to drop any questions down in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to try and get answers.  Same goes for requests for photos and/or videos of various features.  The two videos I uploaded above should cover the vast majority of questions (and in fact, even cover more detail than this post in some areas).  But I’m always open for other video ideas.

Pre-orders: You can now pre-order the Fenix 5 series, scheduled for delivery by the end of Q1 (aka March).  Here for the Fenix 5, the Fenix 5S, and the Fenix 5X. Doing so through the links here helps support the site and makes you awesome.  Also – Clever Training Europe/UK is available for pre-orders here.


  1. Josh


  2. Andrew

    Still under 1 year with the 3hrs, to abuse the rei return policy or not is now the question.

    • Eventually, if enough people abuse it – it goes away for those that actually need it.

    • TimP

      I tried to like the Fenix2, kept having ABC Sensor issues. Finally traded it for the 920XT at REI and have been using the same watch for 2 years. My 910XT is serving running duties for the wife and still works just fine.. I love the Fenix series of watches, but I wish they were as durable as they look.

    • ekutter

      I have to agree with Ray. If a product really had issues, having the year is great. If the product didn’t meet your expectations, great. Return it within a couple months. If Garmin promised features that they never delivered, take advantage of the full year. But if you’ve generally been happy with the product and gotten good use out of it but just want to upgrade to latest new gadget, that really isn’t cool.

      REI’s policy is one reason I buy a lot of stuff there. But we’ll lose the real reasons for the policy if we abuse it.

    • Erik

      +1 on shaming Andrew

    • Paul S.

      When I bought a Fenix2 in December right before the F3 was introduced, I spoke to the manager at REI. He said the return policy is only for issues with the product (broken or not performing as desired). If you return your F3 even though it is functioning as you and expected it would, then REI would not see this as a valid reason for return.

      Don’t be that guy!

    • Clint

      All very good points. You may not know, or don’t remember, but REI used to have a lifetime return policy. It was abused and you can guess where that led. Yep, one year.

    • Mike

      Ya, I am returning mine because this is my third watch from garmin. The ABC sensor doesn’t work and the heart rate this time with in 10 minutes. Kind of scared to try the fenix 5. I kind of need one that works…

    • +1. I am not feeling bad for REI though. That policy is the reason why they have a lot of customers.

  3. M

    Hey Ray-awesome garmin insight. Price surely is a bit of a bummer though. Any hints regarding advanced readings on the sensor front, such as blood saturation levels etc. tat might (further) justify price increase? (e.g. stuff that BSX/MOXY does)

    • Nothing in terms of straight sensor readings from the optical sensor, but I sat down with the FirstBeat team for a solid 90+ minutes one evening and they walked me through all of the cool stuff they’re doing on the Fenix5, and actually explaining the science behind it (in a nutshell, most of it is being ported from their pro athlete suite after years of work).

      It’s actually cooler than I probably gave them credit for. But at the same time, I also noted to both them and Garmin that they’ve collectively done a piss-poor job of explaining this stuff in any manner. Thus, all of us are right to be skeptical on how/if it works.

      I’ll be diving more into that later, but they want to wait a little bit just to ensure there’s no changing of terms during the beta cycle.

  4. Peter

    Small correction: in the product comparison table the announcement and shipping dates should be 2017, not 2016 (unless Garmin owns a Delorean with flux capacitor :-))

  5. luca

    amazing !!! Must get one

  6. jason meador

    Thank you for the getting these detailed, first looks up so quickly! Just to clarify, all 3 displays are the same size, it’s just the casing / bezel holding the additional battery and ram that creates the size difference?

    • Paul

      5 and 5x have the same size display: 1.2″

      5S has a 1.1″ display

    • Gunnar

      But 5X is 17.5mm thick and old fenix 3 is 16mm thick.

    • indio22

      Comparing the Fenix 5 and 5x models, while the round bezel/body part of the watch appears smaller on the 5, the distance between the wristband mounting pins is difficult to determine if there is a difference. At least trying to eyeball it using one of the comparison photos. Hopefully the wristband pin distance is also smaller on the 5, which would make it overall truly a smaller watch than the 5x, rather than just visually smaller in terms of the round body. The 5S does appear smaller in all regards though.

    • Nothing in terms of straight sensor readings from the optical sensor, but I sat down with the FirstBeat team for a solid 90+ minutes one evening and they walked me through all of the cool stuff they’re doing on the Fenix5, and actually explaining the science behind it (in a nutshell, most of it is being ported from their pro athlete suite after years of work).

      It’s actually cooler than I probably gave them credit for. But at the same time, I also noted to both them and Garmin that they’ve collectively done a piss-poor job of explaining this stuff in any manner. Thus, all of us are right to be skeptical on how/if it works.

      I’ll be diving more into that later, but they want to wait a little bit just to ensure there’s no changing of terms during the beta cycle.

  7. Tomas

    Wow. The 5x appears to be everything I was hoping for and more. Big smiles 🙂 Lots of money though 🙁

  8. gingerneil

    As you say… Evolutionary.
    Shame that’s is no music support, or a non hr version to give better battery life. I like the look of the smaller version – the F3 has always felt very big, although I am used to it now.
    The point about runscribe etc could be interesting, and would be a game changer for me. We’ll see how that pans out, for now I think I’ll stick, especially at that price!

    • Dan

      I Agree, I keep holding off on these until there is music support. somewhat Happy with the TomTom, but wish it had better swimming support.

    • chukko

      Iam quite confident that if you want to save battery life, you can just turn wrist GPS off.
      The only downside is very small added weight/width + cost.

    • Taylor Harris

      How well does the mapping work for trail running?

      I agree with the other commenters about the frustration over not having music support. A $900 should have 128 GB of storage for maps, music, podcasts or whatever I want to use on the trails.

      I would jump on the apple watch if I could figure out a way to get activities in to Garmin Connect. I have almost 10 years of history there and don’t want start using a new site.

    • If you want to use an Apple watch and Garmin Connect you may want to look at iSmoothRun which has a watch app and uploads to just about everywhere. Not tried the watch app myself but the iPhone app is fantastic.

    • KilkennY

      You could easely transfer all your GC activitys to lets say Strava og if you use strave app on apple watch just as easy export to Connect.
      If you are on IOS device i would recommend RUNGAP app

  9. CMV

    Thanks Ray.
    As a fenix3 owner, I was quite excited about this watch, but you seem to be right when you say it’s more about evolution than revolution… except for the maps… and the pricing!
    Can you show us a picture of the charger? Is it more like the fenix3 or like the fenix chronos (and Ambit series) ?
    BTW on the Garmin websites, the 5S screen is 218×218 (240×240 for the other two)… true or another garmin spec mistake?

    • AJ

      Yes Ray interested to know this as well – it’ll be a shame if 5S is 218×218 and not the new screen res. A lot of us (I intend to upgrade from the Forerunner 235) want a smaller form factor and weight but a pixelated screen may be a deal breaker …

    • ekutter

      If the web site specs are right, the reduced screen size, increased thickness, and over 50% heavier makes the S a questionable upgrade from the 230/235/630 if size/weight is a big issue for you, like me.

    • CMV

      Looking at the f3 on my wrist right now… it has a 218×218 1.2″ screen, but I would never call it “pixelated”… it looks perfectlyfine and very detailed… with the “Steam” watch face some even think it’s a traditional watch.

    • acedgar

      The 5S is an overall smaller watch. It makes sense the display would not be the same size as the 5/5X. Yes, the 5S specs say 1.1″ screen size 218×218 display resolution while 5/5X specs are 1.2″ screen size 240×240 display resolution.

      From CMV’s comment about the F3 with a 1.2″ screen size 218×218 display resolution a logical assumption could be made that the 5S should have better a better display (more pixels in 0.1″ smaller area, greater pixel density). However, I have yet to find where Garmin discusses the PAR (pixel aspect ratio) of their watches. I found somewhere that Garmin uses oblong pixels in their displays. Who knows. We tend to think of PARs being 1:1 (square) and that’s not always the case.

      Regardless, there’s no way the 5S will look pixelated. The FR235 is 1.23″ screen size 215×180 display resolution. If you, AJ, will be upgrading from the 235 to 5S, it’ll be far better than the 235. Definitely not pixelated like the 235 by comparison. Just imagine a slightly smaller fenix 3 screen. You wouldn’t necessarily want to cram a 240×240 resolution into a smaller screen as it could lose details and hinder usability (e.g. words being unreadable if they’re too small). The Garmin R&D team would have taken this into account with the engineering of the F5 line.

      What I don’t understand is why the maps functionality is available only on the 5X at the same pricepoint as the 5S Sapphire. I would expect the maps-enabled 5X to come at a price bump, but maybe since it’s a new feature, they’re using the pricepoint as a lure for some unlucky and unknowing beta testers!! Guess we’ll see. I’ve yet to purchase a Garmin because I have kid sized wrists. The FR235/735 extends off my wrist and I would have to use the last watchband hole. Couldn’t justify purchasing one and I refuse to get a neutered Garmin 10/15. I’m elated I may finally be able to get a feature-filled Garmin that actually fits me and I could wear outside of working out. Garmin is definitely past due for releasing a watch for small wrists (“unofficially targeting women” heh).

    • AJ

      Thanks all! And yes that makes sense — 218×218 in a smaller physical screen size should theoretically make for a sharper display. One other spec which is not clear is whether all of them have 64 color display or the older 16 or maybe does the 5S have 16 and 5 and 5X have 64?

    • It’s 64 colors on all of them. As noted in this thread:

      5S: 218×218
      5/5X: 240×240

      While the 5S has the same pixels as the F3HR, Garmin notes the pixel pitch is actually increased because the size of the screen is decreased. Also, compared to Chronos, the resolution is higher on the F5.

    • DM

      Any perspective on whether screen brightness or contrast (w/out backlight) is improved over the Fenix 3hr? It is much worse than my Polar RCX5 and problematic in low light conditions (some gyms) and some outdoor light conditions. Thanks!

    • PhilBoogie

      Excellent question! I never see any mention of cd/m2 on any of these devises mentioned. Did I miss it by accident?

    • It’s virtually the same in terms of contrast/brightness. Meaning, if you liked it before – you’re good. But if you didn’t like it before, you likely still won’t like it.

  10. likepend1

    The 2 things that are important to me away:
    1) BT_LE & ANT+ sensors
    2) 24h battery life

    but i don’t think it’s worth an upgrade (from ambit2).

    • wr

      for me too.
      I wait for 48h battery life with GPS/1s.

    • Johnnyboy

      Re Ambit2, I have an Ambit3 S and I never thought I’d say this but the SMS and missed call notifications, I can no longer do without. The cell signal in my house is bad so I leave my phone by the window and the Ambit3 notifies me of calls and SMS.

    • PhilBoogie

      That may be a long wait. Possibly better to wait for Galileo/1s.

  11. Juha R

    So Optical HR while swimming is not coming to Final Product? is that already decided or just not there at the proto that you have?
    It would be fine to have 10 second average HR while swimming or even 1 minute average and I guess hardware could measure this average already nicely, but software is just blocking the option.

    • Victor Hooi

      I’d love to know the answer to this as well.

      Will they enable optical HR whilst swimming in the future?

      (Currently, I use a 920xt paired with a Mio Link optical HR band whilst swimming – would be nice to use a single device).

    • On swimming with optical HR, Garmin says they’re “Working hard to try and figure it out”, but still see challenges. When water gets in between the optical HR sensor and the wrist, they note it essentially sprays the signal, making it tricky. They’re looking at a few options, but haven’t really found a great ‘works for majority of people’ solution yet.

      Obviously, folks have had some luck with various optical HR sensors on the side, but it seems far more variable person to person.

  12. Dom

    Ray, have you seen how the charging cable attaches? The picture of the cable on the Garmin site makes it look as though it sticks out perpendicular to the back of the watch, which wouldn’t be great for charging during an activity. (Though with that battery life, it would have to be a long old ultra before you needed to do that in the first place).

    • It’s like a Fitbit cable (straight-in), which no, wouldn’t work well for charging during activity. However, let me check if that was just an initial prototype cable, and if they have anything else planned there.

      It’s not like any previous Garmin charging cable I’ve seen.

    • Christopher

      Of course it isn’t because Garmin can’t have two watches ever have the same charger. That would make too much sense for a multi watch house like ours. Four watches = four different chargers >:(

    • Christophe Rémond

      Bad news 🙁 The possibility to recharge during ultra trail is a must have and very handy feature (used it one my F3) !!

    • Jonathan Burchmore

      Gah! That’s a big enough issue for me to cancel my preorder over. Charging on my wrist is absolutely a requirement. Not to mention that the straight-in Fitbit style plug is a horrible design that inevitably stops charging the device reliably as the connector wears.

    • Brad

      Same here! If not able to recharge on the go for ultra’s I’ll just move to the F3HR :/

    • MikeBo

      FWIW my FR 405 and 910xt share the same charging cable and they are roughly 4 years apart in release dates. So Garmin used to be good about this, especially cause those old clamps held onto the watch nicely. Looking at an Approach watch sitting next to me – it does have a different clamp indeed

    • rabbit

      This cable was/is no good idea. It won’t work for charging on the run while wearing it on the wrist. We need an angered cable for this. I hope garmin will listen…

    • Bradley B. Olwin

      Well, that does it for me. I might have switched to Garmin from Suunto but charging during ultras is essential. Mainly because the pace information from Suunto’s 1 min fix or UltraTrac is simply not very good. I have a very small charger I use for my Ambit3…….

    • As noted, it’s not going to work for most wrists to charge on the wrist (unless you have a hole in your wrist). I pressed Garmin a bit on this, agreeing that it seems like a short-sighted move considering the focus of the watch.

      In a nutshell, their answer was two-fold. First was the focus on trying to make a single standardized cable across all watches. They’re just as frustrated as the rest of us with having a new cable watch watch. The goal of this cable is to be *the* standard Garmin charging cable…period. By removing the clasp design, they can more easily do that, since it won’t change watch to watch.

      They’re aware of the issue with Ultra folks, and noted it was hotly debated internally. Their challenge is how to accommodate something that they think is probably far less than 1% of users (I’d agree, looking at the numbers, it’s not even a fraction of that).

      I suggested perhaps coming out with an accessory charging clip designed to be worn. I’d’ guess than any person doing that type of endurance event won’t substantially mind paying $10-20 for an accessory charger that’s well designed to be worn while in an event.

      Finally, note that the charging cable does look much like the Fitbit Surge cable. Except, it’s a crapton better at staying put. It snaps it place quite firmly, and i was easily able to swing it around vigorously like a lasso/fan, and it didn’t fly/fall off. If that’s any consolation.

    • Ted W

      thanks for the feedback on the product decision on the charging cable. Speaking as one of those in that 1% ultra group. There was one nugget above that you didnt mention. And that was if the F5x will actually allow be charged while in use (even though its not on the wrist). Some other Garmin models flat out will not charge during use. I spoke to my ultra friends and they agree not charging while on the wrist stinks, but none of us would mind holding it for 1 hour, or putting the F5 into a pocket or something while charging. The key is. CAN it charge during an activity. Say yes, and CT has a new pre-order… 🙂

    • Yes, it absolutely works in charging mode. I’ve validated that myself.

    • Great news, now just need that clamp 🙂

      It’s always a shame when a newer model removes functionality that the old model had especially as a unified cable isn’t that high a priority if the only place you can use it on Garmin products. Hohum, anyway looking forward to the full review.

    • Ted W

      @DCR Awesome! now its a done deal for me. I need to find a buyer for my F3 to help offset the cost.

    • rabbit

      Hi Ray,

      any news about the cable?

    • rabbit

      Sorry, missed your answer, just read it. Bad news…

    • Does the device allow charging during an activity at all? If so, that would be awesome!

    • TerryD

      Perfect charging port. Charge your device prior to your activity. Its better to have this, than a USB port that will wear down, and break over time, on your 600$ watch.

  13. Matt Faris

    How about music storage? Can store music and connect bluetooth earphone with it?

    • Itai

      If it only had music I would ditch my Apple watch 2. This is the only reason I’m keeping it. I’m running with AW2 only no need to take my Phone…

    • Johan

      Agree, if there was music storage I would probably get one instead of my Fenix3.

      (And why not just make the saphire-glas regular? Have treated my F3 like a baby and still got some deep scratches)

    • Ted W

      For about $5 on amazon, you can get a military grade (their words) but I can attest, to a perfectly fitting 100% invisible screen protector for the fenix 3. I slammed into sharp metal and its still awesome. I sleep easy with that on my watch face. if it scratches.. well the screen protector was a 2pack. F5x will get the same thing once I learn the exact mm dimensions

    • Jim

      Ted, can you post a link?

    • Ted W

      @Jim. I”ve shared this product with every F3/F3HR owner I know. even those with sapphire. I mean really, people put screen protectors on cheaper phones. I can’t speak to other brands, but this brand on my F3 is 100% completely invisible. The only way to know its on, is its perhals .25 or .5mm smaller than watch face so there is the slight bit of white (maybe dust) around the edge. but even a camera if I took photo might not pick it up. here is the link (BTW sorry Its $8 not $5)
      link to amazon.com

  14. Redgarden

    Does the screen om the 5X look very much more crisp than on the Fenix 3? How clearly does one see the extra pixles and colours?

    Is the user interface very different as well? What about alerts from the phone? Does it do a better job as a smart watch?

    • Check out the two videos for tons more on the user interface, in particular the second video that’s titled “All about that menu”

    • Dan

      In the menu video the 5X sport modes GUI is similar to the F3 but in the first photo of the 5S this looks more in line with the Chronos menu (more stylish IMO). Is this configurable or is it likely these are different software versions?


    • It’s different software versions. We found later that night that one of them had an older beta firmware unit on it. They should all look pretty darn near identical when on the correct firmware versions.

  15. Wouter Van Genechten

    Hey! Any idea if some of the software things such as the strava live segments will be made available on the Fenix3?

  16. rabbit

    Great pre review! Really some new nice features on the 5 x.

    No paperless geocaching on the 5x? This would be a purchase argument for a lot of people in combination with the mapping capabilities of the 5x.

    Is there a wrist strap kit with quick fit? In the winter, a lot of people wear the unit over the jacket.

    Really only 12 days battery life in watch mode? The epix was able to run > 4 weeks in watch mode…

    • No paperless geocarching, though, that question did make the cut for being written down to investigate further. 😉

      There will be a wrist strap/extender kit by release.

  17. Marco

    Thanks for the hands on review! Is there also a pre-order link for Europe / Clevertraining.co.uk?

    • Not yet – hopefully soon! Not for lack of trying on CT’s part, but really….uhh…things don’t exactly move as quickly on that side of the pond for getting new products listed by certain companies. 😉

  18. simon

    looking good – but the devil is always in the details 🙂

    am I right in thinking the 5X is the same physical size as the current F3 ?

    • hansipeter

      because of the additional storage i think the 5x is a little bit thicker?? maybe 1mm or even more?

    • eric

      If you look at Ray’s picture of the 5 next to the 5x, it looks like the 5x is bigger. And later on in the article, he has a picture of the 5 next to the 3 and they are the same size.

    • Lou

      I’m pretty sure that the 5 in the picture is actually a 5X.

    • Jaron

      I was wondering the same thing. Here’s the spec breakdown. Fenix 5 is similar in size to the Fenix 3HR. 5x is definitely bigger and heavier, but same screen size.

      Fenix 5X 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm) (1.2″ screen) 98 grams
      Fenix 5 . 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm) (1.2″ screen) 87 grams
      Fenix 5S . 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm) (1.1″ screen) 67 grams
      Fenix 3 HR 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm) (1.2″ screen) 86.1 grams
      735xt 1.75″ x 1.75″ x 0.47″ (44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm) (1.2″ screen) 40 grams

    • Paul

      The 910xt by comparison is:
      2.1″ x 2.4″ x 0.6″ (54 x 61 x 15 mm)

    • rabbit

      No, the 5x has a red ring around the upper right (start) button.

  19. Joez

    regarding ANT+ FE-C support. No control, but can the F5 get the data from a FE-C equipment ? (ie stroke/power date from a concept2 Model D rower) ?

    • JEROME

      It is strange that bluetooth smart sensors will be integrated in fenix 5, but that F5 will not be compatible with ANT FE-C device profile at list for the FE part (Fitness Equipment profile). Because this couple BLE SMART/ ANT FE-C is integrated in the majority of Home Trainer now and in ANT FE-C Garmin Edge Family.

      However the capacity to see/pair with HT ANT FE-C sensors does not mean the capacity to record what smart HT is broadcasting. I have an EDGE 520 that pairs well with concept2 PM5 (as an Home trainer) but it is of no use alone. As there is no native App in Garmin Edge that can record a C2 Workout. You have to use a dedicated CIQ App such as Erg Rowing IQ app to do the job.

      My only hope is that the C2 PM5 pairing with F5 will be much better than F3 due to the fact that F5 will support Smart Sensors pairing.

    • I asked about this, and the Fenix team is going to do some digging as to why exactly it hasn’t made the cut. It was something that “simply hasn’t come up” before, at least to them.

      I explained the interest and use cases behind it, and it made the cut for the notebook to be explored further.

    • Bryony Spottiswoode

      On Jerome’s response above… it is quite full of accronyms,and I don’t really understand it.

      In plain english, is anyone able to tell me if the fenix 5 is compatible with:
      – a Concept 2 rower,
      – a HR chest strap,
      – on the water rowing?

      I am looking for the best activity tracker that will offer rowing/cycling/running/weight training.

      Thank you,

    • A) No, not via FE-C, which is what the Concept2 Rowers use to my knowledge
      B) Yes
      C) Sorta?

  20. Simon

    Looks great. A Fenix 5x might go a long way to replacing both my F3 and Edge 520, as long as there is a quickfit handle bar mount. Is there any word on how many data fields the devices can display at once. With the bigger screen of the 5x, I hope they squeeze a couple more in.

  21. The most important question – is the 5X developed by the same team as the Fenix line? That seems to be what killed off the Epix was lack of development so we don’t want to be stuck with a mapping Fenix that gets no new features in 6 months time.

    • It’s a single cohesive Fenix team, and the codebase is shared among the Fenix lineup. It’s a core reason why Chronos gets all these updates (aside from having the proc/memory to pull it off). Somewhat like how the Fenix3/3HR/Tactix Bravo/Quatix 3 all get firmware updates at the same time.

    • Thanks Ray, it was worth asking because we all thought that two years ago when 920XT/Fenix/Epix all had the same look and feel so assumed one code base. Then it turned out the Epix team was actually the intern and her dog Borris…

      If it truly is one codebase this time that’s excellent news we may finally have a viable mapping watch!

  22. Anthony

    So, do you have knowledge or opinion that this will replace the Forerunner 9*0XT series?

    • Pearse Carberry

      This is also my question, I’d love to know if the F5X is going to be the new 9-0xt or if Garmin have plans for another Tri Specific watch that we’ve yet to hear about.

    • Massimo

      Hi Ray,

      thank you for your work that is impeccable.

      I am also interested in the next release of the 920xt series. In my opinion is the best garmin sportwatch.
      Related to the fenix 5, i think it is strange that cost like an iphone that is heavily overpriced, especially if in a year is already old.

    • The Fenix5 not seen as a replacement for the Forerunner series.

  23. Does Samsung have a patent on the rotating bezel for menu controls? That seems to be a genius design and I’d love to see it on more watches.

  24. Hugo Paredes

    Unless the GPS/Altimeter performance is improved, I don’t see a point to upgrade from my Fenix 3.
    And the prices are just crazy.

  25. BartMan

    Can you do any size comparison (photo and numerical) of 5S/5?5X vs 3(HR)?

    • Nemo

      And the 735XT. I’m assuming once you get your hands on one in the DC Rainmaker Cave that you’ll give us the full rolling pin comparison shot?

    • Williewonka

      Yes please do the size comparison of the 3 HR and the 5s! The diameter is important to me and so is the thickness. A big watch that is thick is a completely different animal to a big watch that is thin. I have girly wrists!!

    • Kyle

      Jaron posted a breakdown above (link to dcrainmaker.com):

      Fenix 5X 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm) (1.2″ screen) 98 grams
      Fenix 5 . 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm) (1.2″ screen) 87 grams
      Fenix 5S . 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm) (1.1″ screen) 67 grams
      Fenix 3 HR 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm) (1.2″ screen) 86.1 grams
      735xt 1.75″ x 1.75″ x 0.47″ (44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm) (1.2″ screen) 40 grams

  26. Kyle

    Does battery life get extended past the 75hrs if you turn the optical HR off or is it off by default in ultratrac?
    Also what kind of maps can we use? 100k topo like the Epix?

    • That number is inclusive of optical HR at 1s (in UltraTrac). I’ll ask if they’ve done any testing w/o it on. It sounded like they were reasonably optimistic on getting closer to 100hrs, but wouldn’t know until closer till release depending on final tweaks.

      You can use any OSM map you like on it, if you want 3rd party maps. Totally supported.

    • Kyle

      Any update on this? Id love to get over 100hrs with OHR off. No reason to use it in the mountains

    • Nothing yet. Folks are largely still recovering from CES (since they stayed till Sunday).

  27. Tuomas

    The new sizes are just what I was looking for, but those prices are crazy. Especially since I don’t really trust Garmin’s software that much. They put in millions of features, but reliability leaves much to be desired in my experience.

    • indio22

      Yep it is exciting to read about these new watches and the 5s/5/5x sizing options, given the Fenix 3 is a rather large watch. But for me these watches will be an option maybe 2 years from now, lol. Because I always buy after prices drop – usually when a new model is arriving. Prices for these new Fenix will have to drop a lot though, given I got my 310xt refurb for $100 several years ago, and recently upgraded to the 920xt when prices fell below $200.

      Also it would be interesting to see a breakdown of persons who use the various long list of features in these watches that probably drive up costs. While some users (perhaps the most vocal) use lots of the features, I venture many users do not need those features. Personally I would like a less feature rich watch that still looks good, with a nice size, that does the basics well at a lower price. Meaning Fenix 5 type watch without HR monitor and laundry list of features I will rarely if ever use. Anyway overall I have been happy with Garmin products and plan to stick with them.

  28. Ole

    Scuba functionality?

    • Tyler

      It does surprise me that they haven’t got into the dive computer market.
      But, it may already be saturated. And, it’s not like you update dive computers often, or wear them for leisure.

      If you just mean a dive watch (with only bezel underwater time indicated), then many of Garmin’s watches can already serve this purpose.

    • Ole

      I was thinking more of picking up competition with Suunto in the diving computer market, as they’ve already launched VIRB 30 Ultra, which works perfectly under water. Fenix 3 does also work fine as a remote for the camera. Diving with both the fenix, a diving computer, the camera and i.e. a compass, is a lot of devices. Solving all these in one device would be a lot easier. And, implemented in your everyday watch, you would not forget your diving computer as easily…

    • I read that it’s no secret Garmin have been developing a dive watch called the descent. In terms of saturation I don’t think the market is saturated with good quality freedive watches. I’m looking for one now and none of them tick all the boxes. The Suunto D4i is the closest but if I’m spending that much on a watch then I would like it to have the other features I use for training, hiking, paragliding. The Fenix 3 I have now had a sort of dive capability. It seems like they could do something with the barometer and the water rating and then it’s a matter of software to have a GPS capable dive watch.

      This is something I am really hoping for.

    • chukko

      Remote control would not be really useful under the water (only a few cm reach).

    • That expense is due to the safety critical nature of dive watches. The only place Garmin come close to understanding safety critical engineering is their aviation systems which have fewer features and cost more just like Suunto dive watches. Engineering in a safety critical environment is expensive, really expensive. It also takes a lot longer between releases for many very good reasons. This is probably why the Dx and Spartan don’t share functionality. I believe the dive series will be getting some fitness features this year based on a survey I took part in, but I don’t expect full crossover.

  29. Dave

    Are they claiming any improvements with the built-in HRM accuracy? Or do you expect the same as their other products that have it?

    • They didn’t claim specific HRM accuracy changes, but rather increased efficiency getting to that 1-2s 24×7 recording rates (previously it could be many minutes or longer).

      Of course, Garmin actually has been chipping away at increased accuracy with every hardware and software release. So I do expect there are probably lessons learned in the new hardware that might help in more edge cases. At this point it’s really a matter of 1% here, 1% there type fixes to finally get it as close to perfection as possible. Some companies are closer than others in this area.

    • JR

      It seems to me that they’re still a long, long ways off. I’ve used the 735 and the F3HR, and in both cases I’d say that the HRM is basically a defective product. I’ve never heard of anyone claiming that it works for anything other than running at a sustained pace. The original TomTom Cardio watches, by contrast, were rock solid.

    • PerHan

      I have the same experience with Forerunner 235 optical HR – it simply doesn´t work in a reliable way and I have gone back to using a chest strap.

    • kpcski


      I was surprised to see you saying that adjustments to the optical HRM accuracy is a matter of 1% here or there … I thought that you thought that the optical HRM (Elevate) was a “random number generator”? Do you have t=your Garmin Fenix 3HR working well for HRM? I still find the sample rate atrocious. I think that sample rate which is obviously set low to increase battery life, should be toggle-able by owners. With the low sample rate, how could the sleep tracing possible be accurate? It is not accurate for me. I can ride on Zwift and my Fenix 3HR does not realize that I am even awake, let alone up, let alone exercising for 35-45 minutes. When tracking an activity on Fenix 3HR, I get heart rate reading which are simple way too low and still seem to have sample rate issues. Bottom line, I am terribly disappointed with this Fenix 3HR HRM. I thought that you were too? I need way, way more than a 1% improvement. Can you please update us on how Elevate, Garmin’s optical HRM sensor, is working for you? I believe that have tried all of the tricks to improve the readings as I follow Garmin threads and your site pretty closely. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATEST thoughts here as it is key to know whether the Fenix5 series will provide a solution to what is a subpar HRM system specifically for SleepTracking vs FitBit, IMO. Thx DCR.

    • My 1% comment was meaning that they’re trying to eek out a 1% gain here, a 1% gain there. It’s all about edge scenarios now, more than basics like running at a constant pace. Not implying it’s 99% accurate.

      That said, I’ve seen generally good data for running with the FR735XT. I haven’t played with the Fenix3HR as much lately (using the Fenix3/HR, but not with optical).

      That said, in talking more with different teams at Garmin about the optical sensor, it’s clear that it changed far more internally than they let on earlier in the week. They’re saying workout accuracy should be equal to or better than what it was on FR735XT (+ of course the huge gains in 24×7 mode). But, we’ll have to see there…

  30. Fareed Daaim

    Well, Garmin is not getting another cent from me again!

    Bought the Epix 2 yrs ago and and Fenix 3HR a year ago. No further development for the Epix and only maintenance & bugs update for F3HR. Dissapointed!

    • While the Epix certainly got the short end of the stick, I don’t think anyone could really say the Fenix3 HR series hasn’t been updated a boatload of times. Just check out the firmware update list. It’s massive: link to www8.garmin.com

      There’s no product (by anyone – Polar, Apple, Suunto, even Garmin themselves) that’s poured in as many new features as the F3HR/F3 have gotten since announcement day. It’s effectively the golden child at Garmin.

    • Neil Jones

      Totally agree with Ray, I’ve been quite taken aback at how much development work and new things have been introduced on the F3 since it was launched – and they weren’t even things that were promised at launch. I think your perspective as an F3HR owner might be a bit different as most of these new features were introduced in the F3’s first year, i.e. before the F3HR was launched, so by the time of the F3HR, the feature set was already pretty mature.

      I generally resent Garmin for their apparent “launch it then forget it” philosophy, but their support for the F3 has been impressive – you even get their staff actively participating in their support forums for the F3, which is almost unheard of with companies like this (and certainly doesn’t happen in the Edge/VivoSmart forums)

    • Fareed Daaim

      Thanks Ray & Neil for your responses. Individually both the Epix & F3HR are great product on their own. What irks me is that Garmin seems lost on deciding where they are going with product direction. I still have the original Fenix 1 and although basic and crude, it does support some mapping functionality (same with Fenix 2). Then they tried to separate the mapping by launching Fenix 3 (without map) and Epix. Lo and behold, less than 3 years down the road, another Fenix 5X come out with maps… buyers like me who like to have the mapping capability will definitely feel confused (and cheated?) I don’t know about others but i will definitely keep my money against from another Garmin wearables.. not now anyway.. Cheers.

    • Eric

      Might it be considered the ‘golden child’ getting ‘many more updates/upgrades than any other product at garmin’ because Garmin rushed the release of the F3 and used their customer base as beta testers (again, as they have with other products as well) instead of releasing a product that functioned as advertised?

      ahem edge 520…edge 820, ahem ahem….

  31. mucher

    Ray – do you think Fenix 3 will get any new features as trickle-down? Like FTP, Training Load, aerobic/anaerobic TE.

    • I don’t expect it to.

    • JonD

      Any chance we’ll get BSX support – even if just recording through CIQ – it’s been long promised by BSX and even though CIQ now supports still no luck.

      Thanks, and another great review!

    • No plans for advanced ‘training status’ metrics to go to F3HR.

      RE: BSX

      At this point that’s on BSX to sort out. The capability is there with CIQ, and I use it for other things just fine (i.e. Moxy, Stryd, etc…). I don’t know off-hand where BSX sits with that, but I do know that the F3/HR platform is perfectly up to date for them to leverage.

  32. Chris Barber

    Any changes/improvements to garmin route planning to go along with this? Or making it easier to get routes from other platforms added?

    • Not yet. They’re working on something there for the mobile side, but there’s no clarity on dates (they’ve been ‘working on something for the mobile side’ for like three years).

  33. Jason

    any idea how well does the bezel hold up to scuff marks? My Fenix 3 HR has white specks all over where the black coating came off.

    • They’ve switched to brushed texture instead of sandblast, which they said should hide scratches better. But still same material.

    • MK

      Too bad they didn’t upgrade it to the apparently more durable coating on the tactix bravo. The finish on the fenix 3 is ridiculously delicate in my view.

      I contacted Garmin (on Jan 19) to ask about the bezel treatment just before checking here and their customer service response was “Unfortunately, at this time we do not have specifications for the fenix 5 available. This information will be available in the coming months when the device is available for purchase”.

      Pretty lame response to say, post announcement, that we won’t know the specs until we start selling it!

  34. nicklesmn

    Thanks for the first look. Finally, what looks to be the optimum set of features in a perfect form factor. Price, though, seems to have gotten out of hand!

  35. Stephane

    The Fenix 5 is compatible with galileo satellite ?

    • No, but GPS and GLONASS.

    • Puffolino

      What a shame, as this could increase accuracy and battery life – but why should garmin enable such functionality on such a “cheap” product line…

    • Dom

      It’s likely that the chipset could support it, but the firmware doesn’t enable it.

      Given that the constellation isn’t complete and has only just gone online, it wouldn’t necessarily be a great idea to enable it without comprehensive testing first; hopefully, it’ll show up at some point.

      I wonder why you think it would improve battery life? Enabling GLONASS on the F3 reduces battery life compared with GPS alone.

    • chukko

      Dom is right. Based on this thread link to forums.garmin.com there is some hope.
      If competition does support Galileo and it is operational early before Fenix 6 – there is a chance Garmin will have incentive to add the support in.

    • It doesn’t support Gailileo today, but they noted that assuming the chipset does support it (they couldn’t confirm 100% at that moment), then they would likely roll in support via firmware update once things were stable from a chipset/testing standpoint.

      No timetable there, but they saw no reason at all to hold off till some future unknown product if they can fit it in here.

  36. Huub Raemakers

    Ray, is the new F5 screen sharper/better resolution/larger than the F3? I (50+) find it hard to read the F3 in some circumstances.

    • Huub Raemakers

      I mean contrast/readability for 50+!

    • Jon Mirakul

      Readability at night is very important feature for me also (50+). Have you noticed some improvements in relation to F3HR?

    • Readability is essentially the same.

      I think this will vary a lot person to person (short of having a bum unit). For me, I just have no issues reading the screen (F3 or F5). Whether it be in daylight, darkness, or half-way in between. Might just be my eyes, which are pretty good.

  37. Neil Jones

    It’s worth mentioning (I don’t think I saw it above) that although the resolution on the 5 and the 5X has increased to 240×240, the smaller 5S is 218×218 (according to the specs on Garmin website)

  38. Vincent

    Will the fenix 3 get the same firmware updates for the updated menus and whatnot (obviously not the maps or bluetooth smart connectivity)

  39. Bill

    Can you comment on the functionality that is missed when there is no wifi? I have a 3, and love it, particularly the wireless synch / upload to connect on my phone….I believe that all occurs via Bluetooth so I am not clear on what relavance wifi enabled offers.

    • simon

      I don’t feel the loss of wifi to be a massive loss – you can do uploads via wifi and firmware updates – but in truth the reason to upload is so you can look at the data, which you will probably do from a phone.

      It’s not as if you can connect to new access points without using Garmin Express anyway – so the implementation is a bit klunky. It’s a “nice to have” but not essential IMO

      For me the most important update is the mapping – but lets see if the GPS performance is improved. I’m one of those who have been less than impressed with the F3 GPS performance.

    • 6co

      WIFI is super important if you do not own a smartphone. Or if you own a smartphone that does not support the watch.
      For example, the iphone 4 cannot connect to a fenix 3. Well actually it could with the new iOS. But it cant upgrade to the new iOS by lack of storage capacity… that is the life of tech products I guess…
      Samewise, I have an android phone which can connect to the Edge 510 but would not connect to the Fenix 3 because of BT compatibility.
      In all these cases, you need WIFI. or you have to go back to the old cable way.
      bonus: you can set up your watch to use a specific wifi SSID using your phone as a hot spot, you can then sync anywhere!

    • Just to clarify, the reason why most new devices won’t work with the iPhone 4 is because it lacks a Bluetooth 4.0 chipset within it. The iPhone 4s introduced that (hardware).

      The Edge series have always had a legacy Bluetooth connection, alongside the Bluetooth Smart (BT4) connection.

    • Sergey

      Oh, yes, that’s why I loved it – Edge 520 worked with old Motorola Defy that had BT 2.0
      Not super-clean (no sms/ call notifications) and only on custom ROM (cyanogenmode based on android 4.1), but at least it was able to upload a ride (which does not work for FR230, for example)

    • Jim

      I have noticed after a run (sadly – on a treadmill) that my data is uploaded MUCH more quickly with wifi, as opposed to syncing with my phone. I’ll stop the run, and even before I select “done” it tells me the activity is ready to be viewed.

      That’s nice, but till, not a big deal. And that’s in the gym, where there is wifi. Out and about, that won’t happen. So I still believe I won’t miss wifi.

    • PhilBoogie

      Out and about can also mean ending your run at a familiar spot, with WiFi. I remember adding in 7 known WiFi networks to my F3, I think that’s the maximum.

  40. Steve

    Bit galling that if you want the mapping (which I do!), you also have to fork out for the Sapphire (which I don’t want or need).

  41. David

    Great review! I like the fact that the screen resolution has been increased. Just curious if the display is any brighter / higher contrast than the Fenix 3 series. I didn’t see that mentioned in the overview or menu videos.

  42. Trent

    Is the resolution on the 5S the same as the other models (240×240 pixels)? I wouldn’t mind moving from my 735xt to a Fenix, but for my wrist I always felt it too big.

  43. Greg

    Hi Ray,

    Can you comment on how the size & weight of the Fenix 5 is in comparison to the 735xt? Both thickness and width??

    Watching with interest as I really like my 735xt but I ski so barometric sensor is of interest.

    • Matthias G.

      According to garmin the

      5S is: 42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm (which makes it 1mm thinner compared to the Fenix 5)

      735XT is: 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm

    • The real Bob

      I just checked the website. It looks like it will be roughly the same size as the 735/235/230. 1.7 inch vs 1.77inch on the 5s.

      However. The 735/230 is around 41 g, vs 67 g for the 5s. So, it is considerably heavier. How that feels in real world use, who knows. i think its enough to make a difference.

      I like you, want all the features of the fenix 5 in my 230 package. I don’t need the 24gps as a willing sacrifice to get the weight down.

    • Mike

      For me, around 40 g I don’t notice at all, 60 g I notice when I put it on but forget it, 80+ I notice many times during the day.

      I have a 920XT (62 g) now, but the 5S is tempting as an eventual replacement (I want the barometric altimeter, so the 735XT is out).

  44. George

    Sorry Garmin, you’ve fooled me enough already. Never again will I buy one of your devices until it’s been out several months. I’m happy to let other folks be your beta testers.

  45. MvG

    Finally a smaller unit! As a male with pretty small wrists, I just sold my Fenix 3, as it was just too bulky for me, with the intention of buying a 735XT. But the Fenix 5S looks so much better for everyday use.

    • R-Tellis

      Same here. I’m a tall man with long, skinny, monkey arms who wishes his F3 was a bit smaller, or his FR235 had an altimeter and looked less like a fitness device.

      It looks like even the standard Fenix 5 is smaller than the F3 as well. (47mm F5 vs 51mm F3)
      Which puts it a bit larger than the FR230/735 which will work for me. At 42mm the F5S is smaller than the current generation of FR series watches which might put me off that model. Although it is the best looking of the 3 for daily wear.

    • Jeremy

      Same here. I pre-ordered the 5x, but looking closer at the size, I’m thinking it’s going to be huge on my scrawny arms. My 235 is a good size on my arm and the fenix 5 is closer to that size.

    • John

      Yeah if you have smaller wrists you’re not going to like the 5x. The 3HR is very big and thick and looks out of place on anyone with below avg wrist size. The 5x is even thicker which I guarantee will look like an imperial probe droid on your wrist.

  46. hansipeter

    starting at 599! wuffff :/

  47. GMPrince

    Hi Ray, thanks for the thorough review. I was planning on getting the Fenix 3 HR but hearing that connect IQ 2 won’t be support F3, I was swaying towards the Chronos……or should I wait for the Fenix 5 ?

    I mean, it sounds like there’s minor processor speed upgrades coming along rather than anything ‘revolutionary” apart from the large timepiece and I don’t have the wrist to handle that beast. The Chronos looks big enough. Does the Chronos (49mm) look much bigger than the Fenix 5 (47mm) ?

    What’s your recommendation on buying the Chronos in lieu of the Fenix 5 series release ?

    • Chad Wagner

      Same question here.

    • I think the Chronos vs F5 decision will honestly mostly come down to looks. With Chronos getting the firmware of the F5 (minus mapping of course), there will be very little to separate it except for some of the hardware differences such as WiFi, battery life, and tweaks to the optical HR sensor.

      I’ll be posting side by side pics with Chronos tomorrow.

  48. Bart

    “Fenix 5 series now supports Bluetooth Smart sensors”
    Is Bluetooth HR with memory backup a standard (for swimming)?

    Can it work with the Suunto Smart Sensor by accessing the data after a swim?

    • R-Tellis

      I have the same question WRT Wahoo Tickr X

    • No, as there’s no standard there on the BT side for offline HR data offloading (like there is for ANT+).

      So they’d have to do one variant for Suunto, one for Wahoo, one for Polar’s H10, and so on. All of which assumes those companies even want to share their protocols for that.

      That said, if there was a BT standard in that area and others actually followed it, then they’d be more open to it.

    • Halvor

      But the BT Suunto smart sensor will work with the Fenix 5 for “live” activities?

  49. Ben

    Are the quick snap straps all standard sizes across the models? If not, any idea which size is Fenix 3 compatible? One of my little bugbears is changing straps to go for a run!

  50. Paddy

    Hi Ray,

    If there are topo maps would the unit be able to calibrate alti/baro from spot or contour map heights? Could you ask Garmin if not already known?


    • Rob Rehnmark

      I think this is an interesting question and would like very much to know more about how the maps might be used.

    • No, just based on GPS elevation/manual/etc…

      However, it’s something they’ve look at/debated a lot. Essentially they noted that in theory this sounds good, but in testing/execution it almost ends up being more accurate to use the GPS elevation fix to calibrate. That’s because the definition in the contour lines isn’t always super accurate (less so than just using the GPS data which is often pretty good).

      They’ve also considered some twists to this. For example they could save battery by turning off baro and snapping to grid after initial fix, but the battery life savings are so small by turning off baro, that for most people they’d be worse off accuracy wise with nearly negligible battery savings.

  51. Matt B

    Have they said anything about future compatibility with Galileo for the F5 (and indeed, the F3) series, given it will be operational during the lifetime of the new watches?

  52. Darran

    Hi Ray. Can you see any reason a quarter turn quick release option might or might not work with the QuickFit system? I’m still walking around with my F3 standing off my wrist even more than usual due to leaving the QR on it from my last race.

    • Jon Niehof

      Yes, I’m wondering about the QR possibility, too…right now it’s not worth swapping back and forth between a normal band and the QR since it takes so much time, but if there’s a QuickFit-compatible quarter-turn that would make it a lot more appealing.

    • Nemo

      Following along, I have the same question.

    • Victor HOoi

      Second this – I’d love to know if a quick-release kit is available for the Fenix 5.

      This was one of the main things holding me back from upgrading from my 920xt to the 735xt – no quick-release kit. (The other being swimming optical HR).

    • No, it won’t.

      They don’t have specific/final plans there today (though are looking at solutions), but I noted this is kinda a big deal.

  53. Stewart Watts

    Typo in the opener…. “right on cue”

  54. KK

    Great news!
    The band for the 3 sizes will be different i guess? If different then the fenix5 band would b compatible with fenix3?

  55. BartMan

    Is the Bluetooth hardware capable to support version 5.0?

    • No. Those chipsets aren’t really shipping yet. We likely won’t see that happen till the March or so timeframe, so it juts doesn’t make the cut here when you start to do the calendar math backwards on when they had to lock chipsets to hit production/testing/etc…

  56. Great ‘quick’ review, thanks and timely as I look to buy a watch. Was considering Suunto due to Bluetooth support so this mixes up the decision a bit now although the new price is eye-watering.

    Quick question on Bluetooth and HRM: can they do the “Running Dynamics: vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc.” (as you describe) with a Polar H7 HRM, or is this still specific to their own Ant+ straps (i.e. I’d rather not have to buy one. more. strap.)?

    On the new pricing, they’re really pushing themselves out of the consumer market with this new levels: do most people need 24-hour battery life for sport tracking anyway? I can see some more people looking at an Apple Watch with the base Fenix5 now $200 more expensive….. Also interesting, their ‘female’ model at 42mm is described as the large Apple Watch size.

    • BobV190

      Agree .. way overpriced for what it is. Definitely a niche product.

      That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to have one, especially since a smaller size is now available. But would never pay what they are asking .. the price is just ridiculous.

    • Ken

      The slower end of the Ironman community (up to 18 yrs racing, + turned on beforehand for warmups, to be ready) & the ultra community both need the longer life. 735 is not even able to be considered for these two groups when brand new, let alone when an older watch doesn’t work as well as brand new spec’d times, albeit not the largest group of athletes out there but to target a watch just for them would probably be too niche to break even on design/manufacturing.

    • I’d argue with over a million units shipped, it’s hardly a niche product.

    • Sergey

      Not being an ironman, aiming for my first marathon (which will be around 4hrs I think) I “upgraded” (or downgraded – whichever suits better) from 230 to 920XT.
      Reason was simple – battery life
      – I do have glonass on and 1-sec
      – I do wear it over coat
      – it IS cold outside (-10 or 20 degrees)
      – I mostly run evenings and prefer backlight to be always on (not satisfied with reaction time for “wrist turn” , want to be able to “quick glance”)
      – I mostly have “livetrack” (together with strava beacon) on – especially for longer runs, to let my family know when I’m back (and livetrack is a huge battery drain).

      I have doubts that 230 will survive 4 hours in this conditions (and it started to reboot during colder runs with 30-40% battery left).

      So I am willing to pay (not sure if I am willing to pay $600) that extra for battery life (and Ideally charge a device weekly, before longer runs/ rides).
      Most of my fellow runners do wear it outside and run in the same cold conditions.

      PS: Having used FR230, which is somewhat basic as a smartwatch – will never trade it for apple. Never ever.
      Really cannot imagine what can force me to charge my watch daily or every other day.

    • PhilBoogie

      Good luck on your first marathon! And enjoy it as well!

    • andy

      And back to the original question- does Bluetooth Smart support all of the “Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc…)” or would we still need to use one of the ANT+ sensors?

    • No, there’s no provision in the BT HR or Footpod specs for any of the running dynamic type stuff (of any name).

      As such, each company does it differently (one way for Stryd, one way for Wahoo, one way for RunScribe, and on and on and on). Till there’s a standard, there’s essentially* no chance Garmin is going to try and chance down each variant, especially since they’d want to sell their own gear first.

      *By essentially, I mean zero chance.

  57. Shannon

    Hi Ray – Sorry if I missed this, but will HR now work during swimming using a bluetooth smart strap?

    • Prateek

      Not even when using Polar H7 which supports underwater HR?

    • No, because the H7 isn’t using Bluetooth Smart transmission when underwater. Rather, it’s using a legacy analog transmission channnel.

    • Michael Coyne

      What about the H10 which (if I remember right) can cache stuff like the HRM Swim? Or can that only cache things for the Flow app?

      If it worked with the H10 for swimming like the HRM Swim, that’d allow me to use 1 HRM strap for all uses I’d need it for – gym/home treadmill for HR cruise control, any other “normal” activity where I’d want it paired with the watch, and swimming.

  58. Mike Crowley

    Great Preview as ever….

    Just tried to preorder on http://www.clevertraining.co.uk and they are not listed yet, can you post links when available please.

  59. Kenneth W.

    What about support for Galileo?

  60. Alexis

    Hey Ray it would be good if you can clarify about Galileo Support.

  61. MikeDozer

    So many unfixed bugs on Epix… there should be a replacment program of Epix to Fenix with maps (dont care about optical hr or shappire lenses).
    Or just fix those damn bugs on Epix :/

  62. Now for the inevitable Fenix 5 vs. Suunto Spartan Ultra debates 🙂

  63. Jarno

    Awesome Preview.
    Can you tell us something about the size of the watches . For example is the 5X the same size as the F3HR ?

    • R-Tellis

      A quick look on the Garmin site show that the F5X is 51mm which is about the same as the F3/F3HR. The standard F5 47mm (about the same as FR235/735/630) and the F5S at 42mm.

    • David

      The current FR235/735/630 is 44.5mm, so they are actually right in the middle between the F5 and the F5S.

      However, it’s notable that the display size of the F5 model (30.5mm) is actually slightly *smaller* than FR models (31.1mm).

      The F5S has a notable smaller amount of screen real estate–only 28mm.

    • Nedim

      Very good and important point on the actual display size! Unfortunately, I just hit “that age” when I can’t always see small text on certain watchfaces on my 735XT. I was very surprised when I realized that my daugthers 235 display is noticably larger.

    • michael f

      The 735xt and fr235 has the same display 1,23″ – the 735xt watch case i slighty smaller.

    • gijom

      Yes, if you zoom in on the size comparison pictures from Ray, you will see that the width of the screen on the 735XT (not considering the flat section at top and bottom) is a bit larger than on the Fenix 5 and much larger than the one on the 5S. Those are huge bezels on the Fenix 5! A bit disappointing if you ask me. The Suunto Spartan does have the biggest screen of all despite the evident bezel.

  64. Tim M

    $700 for a wifi enabled watch!?!? Garmin- who are you kidding???
    I think Garmin has to really think about this pricing scheme. This is going to push a lot of people to the Apple Watch.

    • Tim Grose

      What for the 5 hour (at best) battery life?

    • chukko

      I own F3 and i basically never need Wifi – day in-day out BT via Connect on the phone is completely satisfactory (at least for me). Wifi is only needed if you dont have your phone around.
      How often does that happen (and you do have a wifi avalable and pre-configured)?

    • Ron Davis

      I disagree. Coming from an Apple Watch to the 5x (Preorder already in), the Fenix 5X crosses off so many checklists that the apple watch can’t touch currently. Like Battery life. I have to charge the watch twice in a day in order to be able to use sleep monitoring and have an hour long workout. And Garmin works with many more Apps currently than Apple allows.

  65. Dan

    Any idea whether it will support Strava Live Segments? If so it would contain the best of both the 535XT and the Fenix3HR, plus more!

  66. Love the Fenix 5S! but sheesh $699 with wifif???
    Wondering If WIFI is really must?

    • R-Tellis

      I don’t use it with my Fenix 3, so obviously it isn’t a “need” for me. Some people really love it though. I guess it depends on your use case.

    • Bart

      Sapphire Glass is also part of the extra cost.

    • how do you upload workouts with out it… wire to computer? BT to phone app? thanks

    • indio22

      My understanding with wifi, you would setup the watch like any other computer that accesses your home wifi network, and then whenever you get home from a run, the watch would log into your network and upload the data. The other option is BT, which I think requires an app that runs on a BT capable phone. You would open/run the phone app, and it would then upload the watch data. I have both wifi and BT capability on my 920xt watch, but just got the watch recently and haven’t had time to play around with those functionalities.

      The rub that I read about BT, was the extra step of needing to have a phone with BT turned on and app running, in order to upload the data. And also some people don’t like when the watch is trying to connect and upload while a workout might be going on (if you have your phone nearby). I think that I will use the wifi. That way when I get home from a training run or race, bam the data upload should take place soon as my wifi connects to the watch. Maybe other users can provide more detail and what they prefer. I’m not a big cell phone co-dependent kind of guy having and using my cell phone all the time, so for me wifi might be better option.

    • Dan

      Yes, either via BT to your phone or wired to your computer. I have the F3HR and occasionally use Wi-Fi to sync if my phone is out of range and I’m too lazy to get up and grab it but generally I don’t have much use for it.

    • Tim Grose

      WiFi by no means essential especially if you do a lot of activities away from your home/regular WiFi network. I upload near all my runs/bikes via the iOS app. Pretty much everybody has a phone and you only need with you for uploading when you are done with the activity.

    • Mike

      1.wifi on 1st place (very comfortable)
      2. BT 2nd place (still very comfortable)
      3. wire – never yet

    • chukko

      How is Wifi that comfortable? As far as i am aware – Wifi connect is not automatic. You need to go to the menu and connect automatically. And Wifi setup is terrifble as you need to use USB connection to the PC + Garmin Express.
      While BT is fully seamless and automatic (as soon Garmin Connect app runs on the Phone).

    • chukko

      Hmm – based on the comments below it seems Wifi upload is automatic after all..

  67. enrico

    any more info about how the rad will show up on the round screen next to data fields ?

    also – i would know if the fenix5 or fenix 3hr support optical hr tracking while swimming ?

  68. Hello Ray ! Quick question regarding Wi-fi. I’m not familiar with the pros/cons of wi-fi over bluetooth (I have a an ambit2). What is the use of wi-fi ? only to sync moves and settings FASTER than BLE ? or does it do something exclusive ?

    • likepend1

      automatic uploading of your workouts! pretty convenient!
      after your workout, the watch searches for a known (pre-configured) wifi-network and uploads your workout-data to garmin.

    • simon

      …which it also does via bluetooth on the phone as soon as it comes into range. You don’t need to take the phone with you – as it uploads as soon as it connects

    • Adam

      Automatic upload also happens over Bluetooth when I finish a workout. At least with my Vivoactive HR. Only reason to include WiFi is if you did not have a phone.

    • taniwha

      I can see cons regarding wifi (security being the 1st one), but so many times, I had trouble with BT connexion, either with W10 and Androïd items, that wifi is almost a must for me.

    • Sebastien

      I have a fenix 3 HR and I find the wifi very convenient. I have Bluetooth disabled on my watch since I don’t want the notifications, and don’t want the hit to battery life on either the watch or the phone of having BT enabled all the time just to upload one activity a day. Wifi just works automatically, it’s seamless. I like it. Not a must have but I would be bummed to not have it anymore.

    • Dan

      IMO It’s just something that’s nice to have. But the 235 bluetooth syncs automatically as soon as I get back home, and everything is uploaded and ready in garminconnect and strava before I even get a chance to sit down.

    • Andrew M

      BLE is a relatively low bandwidth protocol (placing a premium instead on low power consumption), so large data transfers can take a while. For something like a 5K run, it’s pretty fast. But it can take several minutes to transfer all the data points for an ultra or a 200 km bike ride to your phone.

      So if you are endurance bike rider into instant gratification, then the wifi may be important to you. (I figure that ultra runners aren’t usually starting and finishing from their home wifi network, so it may be less important).

    • Dimitri Kiselkov

      Ok, so wi-fi is JUST faster transfer than BLE !

      Usually the first thing I want to do after I come home from a ride or run is take a shower, which usually lasts longer than 5 min. I think it’ll be just fine with BLE.

      But I’ve always had saphire glass in my sport watches, mainly because I wear them for more than just sports and the glass could get scratches (like my citizen eco-drive which has some minor scratches, that bothers me)

    • TT

      I had a fenix 2. I had constant issues with uploading my runs/rides through bluetooth to my iphone. It really soured my experience with garmin products. I’m wondering if Ray can speak to his experience with the Fenix 5 and it’s bluetooth uploading reliability.

    • Ted W

      F2 did have issues, especially earlier. Later on it became pretty stable IMHO. I still switched to F3. It also had issues earlier on. But one of them was NOT uploading. via BT or wifi, and I’m speaking android not apple, has been rock solid. Most of the time updates to Garmin Connect and strava are so fast, i already have “likes” on my phone before i’ve driven away from event or the run. If there are ever issues, it usually with Garmin Connect. so a restart of app, or the phone,and things work fine again. I know for F3 the apple folks has a bit more trouble, but that was also quite awhile ago. Garmin seems to have gotten the BT down. I would think it should be A-OK

    • Gavin

      My F5 has uploaded via Bluetooth fine so far (that’s a couple of activities and a couple of dummy activities to test)
      I also have an edge 1000 and Bluetooth uploads have worked perfectly for quite some time.

  69. Mick Wall

    Is the 5S the same size as the 230/235/735 then? Or slightly smaller?

    What about thickness compared to those models?

    If the 5S is smaller than all those I could be in for one.

    Does this mean we may see smaller replacements for the 230/235 in 2017? I still think those watches are too big to wear 24/7 with shirt/suit. Just too bulky.

  70. aqd4349

    Hi Ray. Thank you for a great review. This seems like a very awesome watch. With respect to the Fenix 5X: how much bigger is it than the Fenix 3? in the pictures it seems slightly bigger but not by much.

  71. Savigny

    The lack of music storage is a big miss, IMHO. There are a lot of people (like myself) who like to run without bringing their phones. I’m ready to insta-buy a watch that does notifications, has music storage, and has a round face.

  72. stijnheylen

    Any chance the mapping functionality will flow through to the Fenix 3?

    • chukko

      Nope – too little memory and CPU power. Thats the reason it is not even available on F5/S – and those even have more memory and better CPU than F3.

  73. Kaan

    Hi Ray,
    Firstly, You done another great job again, thank you for it.
    I recently got Fenix Chronos and I am truly loving it.
    It is sort of annoying to know that the Fenix 5 has got a display with better resolution, well I can live it.
    But there is some points that would constantly bother me knowing that cheaper Fenix 5 can do but not Fenix Chronos, and that are:
    1) BLE support (for ex. Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate sensors), please clarify whether Fenix Chronos is getting this feature as well, or not?
    2) Improved Optical HR Sensor(Revamped tech, now records 24×7 data every 1-2 seconds), please clarify whether Fenix 5 got even “more” revamped sensor compare to Fenix Chronos?
    3) Strava Live Segment support, is this possible on Chronos?
    4) Whether Fenix 5 (not 5x) got better CPU, RAM, etc. compare to Chronos.

    Thank you in advance

    • Lachlan

      If you read the whole article it says all the updates are coming to the chronos. It also mentioned the chronos won’t get maps due to processing power. So I’d say the chronos and 5/5s have similar processing power and the 5x has more.

    • Kaan

      I am not so sure about that coz BLE support and Optical HR are sorta more hardware related than software.
      Same goes with the CPU, RAM… As Fenix 5 got a display with better resolution, i suspect it may need more power to run it. Even if not, in terms of having a better hardware, it is clear that Fenix 5 is better than Chronos, which is a RIDICULOUS move by Garmin.
      Chronos is just released and it is claimed to be Garmins most Premium and advanced watch model, however just after 2 months, there is another Fenix for half the price having a better display… and maybe even something more…

    • Chris

      I also have a chronos and my biggest concern is that is has half the memory as the F5. F5 has 64 and chronos has 32mb. I’m worried that we will have a serious performance hit when the firmware is upgraded.

      I believe we have the upgraded elevate HRM, but I have no idea if we have the same processor. Sucks about the screen resolution as well.

    • Chris

      Follow up to my own comment since I can’t edit. Assume the memory is for log storage? Do we know anything about processor and ram on the chronos vs the F5? That would affect performance more than the memory.

    • Kaan

      Yes, my concern is about the processor and the ram, it is possible to run a test on the device. Ray could do this if he still got the device on hand.

      Ray seems to be busy at CES and he is not responding to any comment.
      I hope to get some feedback from him soon.

    • I’d be hesitant to run any performance tests until final release. That’s generally considered the norm in tech circles, since performance is often one of the last things tackled in devices.

    • Kaan

      Hi Ray,

      Can you please give feedback on below points?

      1) BLE support (for ex. Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate sensors), please clarify whether Fenix Chronos is getting this feature as well, or not?
      2) Improved Optical HR Sensor(Revamped tech, now records 24×7 data every 1-2 seconds), please clarify whether Fenix 5 got even “more” revamped sensor compare to Fenix Chronos?
      3) Strava Live Segment support, is this coming to Chronos?
      4) Whether Fenix 5 (not 5x) got better CPU, RAM, etc. compare to Chronos. Question is hardware-based, not questioning the final software performance.

    • 1) I’ll clarify, but I think it is.
      2) Yes, it’s a totally new sensor in the Fenix5 compared to Chronos. Chronos won’t get that functionality, as it’s new hardware.
      3) Yes.
      4) I’ll have to find out.

  74. Jason

    Do these watches have any sleep tracking? Only thing that would keep me from moving over from my Philips Health Watch for my day-to-day, which isn’t great for sports but is great for 24×7 heart-rate + sleep tracking!

    • Rob Montgomery

      Yes Jason, it definitely does sleep tracking. Pretty much all new Garmin watches do.

    • Mark

      But their sleep detection algorithms aren’t necessarily that great, at least on my VivoActive HR. The sleep detection doesn’t seem to be done on the watch, but rather in their app (or cloud?), so it probably applies to all devices.

      Check the Fenix3 and F3HR forums to get a feel for how people like the sleep tracking.

    • Jason

      Thanks for the heads-up guys. I’m one of the few on this forum I guess that prioritize these 2 equally with tracking in workout progress, as I spend > life sleeping + not working out than exercising! Haha.

  75. Nedim

    Since many fenix owners are reading this, it would be useful to put into the table the size comparison with the 3HR (51mm). The smaller size is a notable improvement. The 3HR is neither fish nor fowl — too large and heavy to be an ideal sports watch, incompetent compared to a true smartwatch. At least the first argument may be fixed.

    The fenix 3HR was Sapphire and had WiFi; to get those two it’s $699 now. Seven-hundred-dollars. $700. IDK, I just don’t see it. The holiday super-special of $399 for the 3HR felt right; but I also paid full-price for the 735XT; so I may be willing to shell out $500-ish for the Sapphire 5. Not $700, sorry. The price stands in no relationship to other smartwatches nor GPS devices.

    • Wizzpig

      I would also like to see the size comparison to the F3HR.

      Do you have any pricing for the UK/EU yet?

    • rickNP

      “The price stands in no relationship to other smartwatches nor GPS devices.”

      While the price is tough to swallow and wish it was more in line with Fenix 3 release date pricing, it seems competitive, to me.

      Suunto Spartan Sport starts at $549 with no built-in HRM.
      Spartan Ultra starts at $699 with no built-in HRM.
      Apple Watch Series 2 begins at $269 and ends at $1099. Of course an Apple watch does many things a Fenix just isn’t designed to do (photos, phone calls, etc), and the Fenix does plenty that the Apple Watch can’t do (ABC, activities longer than 5 hours and standby life much longer than 24 hours).

      So I think the fenix 5 has a relationship to these price-ranges.

    • Nedim

      I hear you, but who says that the Suunto is priced realistic?

      I am no stranger to expensive smartwatches (Tag Heuer Connected, briefly) or expenisve Garmin’s (most recently 3HR and 735XT), but I still do not see it.

      $300 Apple Watch 2 and even $200 Android Wear’s, are infinetely better smartwatches. For *most* people the also overpriced, but super-light 735XT will be a better training device.

      If you need a solid ABC, then, maybe, ok, but only because Suunto comitted suicide (I say that with a heavy heart, I loved my Ambit) and Garmin now owns that market. Still, one has to wonder if the 3HR is not a better deal.

      As a combined GPS + notification device + fashion accessory, I don’t know, YMMV.

  76. sebastien

    have you the weight ? thanks 🙂

  77. Lachlan

    Stoked all these upgrades are coming to the chronos. Wouldn’t have been too impressed if my chronos got neglected. Thanks for adding that in here.

  78. Tim Grose

    They look rather nice – especially the 5X. It always used to “amuse” me that I could still get “lost” out running despite wearing various GPS devices. Anybody seen any weight figures for the various options? I have always been a put off by the previous Fenix versions by their relatively much larger weight for general day to day training over the Forerunners. Indeed I wonder what is on the way for the Forerunners…

    • rickNP

      Looks like both CT and now Garmin’s site have gone live with published specs. Fenix 5 is roughly equivalent to F3HR, but 0.5mm thinner. The 5X is a full 1.5mm thicker (than the F3HR). Remembering that boat-anchor that the Fenix 2 felt like on my wrist, I’ll have to forego the 5X for how infrequently I’d actually use maps. Bummer.

  79. simistef

    On garmin.com, at Fenix 5X it says:

    “Ultimate multisport GPS watch with full-color TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other outdoor navigation features”

    Are the mapping functionalities only available in US ?

    • Gunnar

      As Ray mentions, you can add any maps you like. Just like on the edge series.

    • Neil Jones

      If you look at the Garmin UK site is refers to Europe maps rather than US maps

    • CMV

      If you go to one of the Garmin UK site it says “The ultra multisport GPS watch with preloaded full-colour TOPO mapping for Europe and wearable navigation features”.
      Leaves me wondering about the routable cycling maps for Europe…

    • As noted, there are/will be regional SKU’s for the 5X that will have maps appropriate to that region (i.e. Europe, etc…). You should see all those SKU’s shortly.

      But you can still load maps from other regions using 1st (paid) or 3rd (free) party options.

  80. TrickyTree

    Hi Ray,

    Do you think now that they are open to bluetooth they will open this up on existing devices (most importantly for me, the Edge series, 820, 520 and 1000). Would there be hardware limitations? They already have Bluetooth on-board?

  81. Jonah McWilliams

    Can you save waypoints from the watch?

  82. DC Rainmaker

    Now we need a comparison to the 735XT in Size and Weight!

  83. tim

    I was really hoping for something thinner…

    -BLE sensor support sounds nice, for me not a reason to buy yet, but I like the move

    -WIFI was something I found neat, but ended up rarely using it. However, from time to time I seem to have some form of corrupt file that BLE fails to transfer repeatedly. I can only get it working again by WIFI syncing (or possibly USB, I just use WIFI). Once sync’d BLE works again fine. It’d be a bummer if this issue still existed in the 5 and WIFI was gone.

    -Optical wrist HR during activity seems too questionable still for enough accuracy

    -Price… I think, at least for now, this will be the reason I stay away, as much as I want to play with new toys.

  84. Moon Shaped Patrol

    Any chance those other sports apps (mtn biking, separate ski/boarding) trickle down to the F3?

    • Officially, no plans. However…they did write this one down to look at, since they agreed it probably sounds easy/trivial enough and understand the benefit is pretty solid for certain folks.

      They noted in general to expect the F3/HR to receive maintenance updates, but that new features will (and already have) tapered off.

  85. Unk Guy

    $800+ for Garmin watch! Lol, hell no!!!!!

  86. Can’t wait to see how the mapping implementation works for running and biking. 16GB – Is that enough for a city? several cities? a state? a country?

  87. João Carreira

    “So what’s new in the Fenix 5? Well, the two biggest pieces would be it now has maps on the Fenix 5X edition (legit maps!), and that there are two sizes now. Previously there was just one size with a crapton of different bands. Now there are two sizes with an equally large crapton of bands. But I’ll cover bands/sizes/editions in a later section below.”

    Actually, there are 3 sizes now!

  88. Steven

    Nice! Any scent of Active Weather (Ala GPSMAP 276 / Oregon 700 of this year) making its way over to the sports side? I’d take it on a watch, edge, or even if they just added power/remote ANT+ to Oregon or GPSMAP would make me happy. I’d love to know if I am riding through a storm or through the front and into the worst sometimes. Enabling Active Weather would be one less reason to whip out the phone.

    Hoping the BLE sensor trend continues. I’ve had good luck with the BLE side of my 4iii precision and the Strava app so far…

  89. Andrew

    Hello Ray,

    Curious if Garmin has any further break down on battery life difference between the different versions.

    Specifically, Im curious if there is features that could be turned off to get loner life out of the Fenix 5 X so that it is more on par with the battery life of the standard Fenix 5.

    Thank you for your time,

    • hansipeter

      don’t think so!

      The “up to” 20/24h hours of battery life is based on 1s GPS recording & HR-measurements. I am not 100% sure but i think you can only reach the 20/24h, if you use 1s GPS & HR-strap?

    • ekutter

      If you look at garmin.com, it lists the 5 and 5X at 24hours with GPS. The 5S at 13 hours.

  90. Hi DC,

    One single question please? GPS accuracy ! Do you know what kind of GPS chipset is in the watch ? Still is the MT3333 ? I really hope not !!!

    Thanks and happy New Year

    • One single question please? GPS accuracy ! Do you know what kind of GPS chipset is in the watch ? Still is the MT3333 ? I really hope not !!!

      I have the same question. I put off buying a Fenix 3 for 2 years due to the GPS Accuracy rants on the Garmin forums. I sincerely hope they go back to the Sirfstar chips currently used on the V800 and others. They *did* use SiRFstar on the 910XT. It is ironic that a company founded on GPS would use a substandard GPS chipset.

    • Nedim

      While antena design has arguably at least as much to do with signal reception than the GPS chipset, I second this. One way or another, SiRFstar chipsets almost always come out on top. Probably higher sensitivity, less noise or both.

      But I doubt Garmin switched. They now exclusively use MediaTek; it will be cheaper, “good enough” and to boot is a Taiwanese company. AFAIK, most of the hardware design is done in Taiwan.

    • It’s MediaTek, but they didn’t share a specific model (they don’t usually, people figure it out themselves).

      But as noted, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the implementation of things like antenna design, bezel design, firmware, etc…

      Anyone who says that GPS chipset alone matters these days doesn’t understand GPS. One only need to look at the Spartan series to see where they bought a SIRF GPS chipset only to have less than awesome accuracy. So more more to GPS accuracy than chipsets.

  91. hansipeter

    i am really looking forward to the accuracy tests to see if the Gyroscope improves accuracy, especially in places where GPS reception is not great (cities, canyons, trees).

  92. MartinF

    Also surprised on the lack of onboard music and headphone connection. Seems they finally have the storage and Bluetooth sensor connections. Why not stream music? I like to train with a water bottle and usually take my phone, but I like to do speed work and run races without one.

    Also, you can add in pace notification through headphones without a phone. Mototactv had the best pacing/HR zone/distance help through headphones. You programmed your intervals and it would lower the music and provide feedback when you went out and in the zones you programmed. No need to look at your watch and it wasn’t constantly nagging you. Why in a $600 watch can’t I get something that existed 5 years ago for half the price? The hardware seems like it can do it?

    • Streaming music requires a different chipset than Garmin typically uses in watches. It requires a full stack, that allows legacy Bluetooth audio. These tend to have lower battery life (though that’s improving lately).

      So when you compare those watches that do have music, they tend to have crap battery life (i.e. Android Wear, etc…). The one exception is something like the TomTom Spark, which does have good battery life. They may be doing a dual chip setup (less common these days, but more common in years past), I haven’t dug too deeply there.

    • PhilBoogie

      The Watch seems to be reasonable: “Upto 6.5 hours”

      link to apple.com

      Though difficult to trust what Apple says there days; just look at the battery life in the new MBP’s.

    • I’m referring to the 24×7 battery life actually, not the music side. In many watches, using a full BT stack (vs a low energy one) is a big battery hit.

    • PhilBoogie

      Ah, ok, sorry, I missed that. My mistake.

    • Christian Eric Clay

      Hello DC Rainmaker, thank you for the years of reviews. You have got me through 3 Ironman races and I tell my racing group to look you up all the time for reviews. Please tell Garmin that I will not buy another watch until they get Bluetooth music figured out. The Fenix watch line up is the best period, except no music. I do not want to bring a phone on runs. There are way too many watches that have this functionality not to have it on the Garmin. I now run with a Fenix 3 on my left wrist and another Bluetooth watch on my right wrist so I can stream music. Can’t I just get it down to one watch on a single wrist? Please, I really want to spend more money on a great watch, but it has to have Bluetooth music, period.

  93. Oomer Jiwa

    HI Ray

    Since BT is available on most Garmin devices such as Fenix 3 HR and the Edge 820. Do you expect Garmin to update the firmware to enable BT sensors on those devices.


  94. gingerneil

    I was initially interested in the smaller version, but the battery looks similar to the 735xt? If so, I’d go with that instead.
    There seems to be lots of black around the screen on 5x – making it look far too big and chunky.

  95. Dan

    I noticed music playback isn’t supported – a big shame as this watch otherwise has everything I want and would be an instant buy.

    But, the X version has 16GB of storage and ‘Bluetooth Smart’ – could it therefore be possible (hardware-wise) for a ConnectIQ app (or even for Garmin to enable this in a future firmware update) to be built that enables music playback? Anybody know if ‘Bluetooth Smart’ is used within the wireless headphones market or are headphones generally a totally different ‘type’ of Bluetooth?

    • Imre

      It depends on what profiles are included in the Bluetooth stack on the Fenix 5. It’s possible that it won’t pair to headphones at all.

  96. jon

    How come Garmin have never added the Move IQ ( auto tracking ) to the Fenix Range?

  97. Nemo

    I think your comparison chart is a little deceptive when it comes to battery life. If I were comparing the 5S to the 735XT I might look at that and think the 5S has longer life. But it seems to me you are saying they are essentially the same? For those where the smaller size is the driving decision, I think that comparison needs to sort of stand alone. Looks to me like the main difference between the two (other than size since I can’t really tell that from this post yet) is that the 5S has a barimetric altimeter and the 735XT uses GPS. Is that about it?

    • Yeah, I may separate out standby time vs GPS-on time. It’s tricky because then you get into differing levels of GPS-on time. For example, 1s recording vs UltraTrac.

    • Nemo

      Excellent, thanks. All of that does get quite a bit confusing! And thanks for the updates with all the size comparisons!

  98. Alex

    This is awesome. I’ve just bought fenix 3 HR Sapphire, and I’m pretty jealous about the 1 second HR monitoring, but otherwise I feel that my new watch (which hasn’t arrived yet) will satisfy me for a very long time. Yet I’m happy to see the best sports watch become even better.

  99. james

    Available here can’t wait for mine!

  100. Jill

    I’m interested in the 5S – Wondering can you turn the optical HR sensor off (for example if you have a non-Garmin HR strap that will connect, or if you just don’t want it on during non-exercise times).

    • R-Tellis

      You can on all of the other Garmin watches with built in HR so I imagine that you will be able to on this as well.

  101. Achim

    Hello! First of all: thanks for your great in-depth reviews of new devices, you are my main source for checking out new products. and here is my question concering the fenix 5: sometimes when i do long exercises (like mountaineering, long cycling tours) and use lots of external sensors (cadence, speed, tempe, HR monitor) i am running out of battery power. i know i can charge and use the edge 1000 at the same time (by straping a small usb power bank to my bike). from the picture of the charging connector it seems, i can not wear the watch while charging (which is o.k., i can put it into a pocket while charging). but more important: is the watch still working and collecting and recording my data while charging?
    thanks a lot, A.

    • Matt R

      My question as well. This is the reason I’m looking to upgrade from the 920xt – I need something that will actually record for 30-50 hours continuously.

    • Yes, you can charge and record at same time, but at present there isn’t a way to wear it at the same time due to the cable design.

    • Francisco

      This reply answers my only concern about the battery of the Fenix 5S. Sometimes, I also record over 30 hours of GPS data. For that, I attach my Fenix 3 to a USB power bank and it continues recording while charging.

      Thank you.

  102. Ryan

    How different do the 5S, 5, and 5X feel from a weight and size perspective? Is the 5X noticeably heavier? I’d love to get the mapping, but I’m worried that the 5X is just going to be too large and heavy for me.

  103. Jose

    Any details if the fenix 5X supports or will support custom maps, or birds eye maps?, if not, this would be a feature still offered only by the very neglected Epix!

  104. These all look excellent, Garmin, as a company, is heading in an excellent direction. Thanks for the reporting.

  105. Nate

    Great review! How does loading maps for outside the US work? Country by country via an app? Directly from the watch and wifi update? Can we remove the US maps for more space to work with? Thanks!

    • Neil Jones

      If you look on the UK Garmin site, it says the X comes with European maps, so I guess the default mapset included is market specific.

    • Nate

      You’re right – the Swiss site mentions European maps as well. Thanks!

  106. David Tucker

    I was initially feeling slight disappointment since I purchased my Fenix 3 (no HR) over the summer to replace my Fenix 2 that had finally stopped holding a charge. But looking at a feature by feature comparison, there is very little on the Fenix 5 that I am missing. A few bike related features but I ride with a 520 that mostly has me covered. I certainly wouldn’t be paying for the Fenix 5 with mapping since I have the 520 but I would absolutely consider replacing both my bike computer & Fenix 3 when the next time comes for me to update my hardware with a single device.

    My hope is to hold out for the Fenix 6 at this point. And really, once the Fenix 3 models drop in price, I have to say unless you want mapping, pick one of them up for sure. They’re so similar. I love the Fenix 3. Hopefully we get a few more updates but I think we’re probably about at the end of the update cycle I’d imagine.

  107. All that I was hoping for! Love that the QuickFit become reality as speculated. Finally, I can swap silicon bands for activity for a metal band for work.

    Hell yeah, is this an expensive watch! And hell yeah am I looking forward to getting the Fenix5 Saphire black with the metal band! I am currently abusing a Fenix 2 and reluctantly swapped my Basis B1 for a Vivosmart HR (shot for 70 bucks). I suppose I will wear the Fenix for 16 hours and at night swap it for the Vivosmart.

  108. cw78

    Hi Ray, a few questions from me.

    1. Does map functionality require active BT pairing with a mobile phone?
    2. Is the base bezel which is responsible for leveling the optical HRM a case over another cover? My concern is the gap between the cases will cause corrosion between surface in the gaps.

    Thanks in advance for addressing my questions.

    • Kyle

      You transfer the maps onto the watch and they run off the hardware. No phone needed.

    • 1) Kyle is correct, no phone needed for maps.
      2) There’s a protective case on the optical HR sensor, and that’s it. We haven’t seen any corrosion in other units to date.

  109. alibi

    nice, but pricey.. -_-
    even metal band go up to 150 from 100..
    wonder that garmin plan add in fenix6 to justify $900 price 🙂

  110. Ted W

    Had numerous earlier forerunner series. Had F2, F3. Been waiting for F4/5. F3 ok, but in ultra running, I experience lockups. Not fun when you lose you GPS track 40miles into a 100k event. Not sure if its memory processing or cpu issues, but it happens. I will upgrade. But the deal breaker for me, since primary activity is ultra running. Is can you charge while its in use. F3 can. Not all garmin models and charge during use. I dont want/need ultraTrak. Thats for walkers/hikers. Not for trail runners. We need finer granularity.

    A) can you charge while in use
    B) can you get a side by side photo with 5s, 5, 5x and F3 and F3hr? I want to really see the F3 compared tio F5x. I dont mind the size of F3.. if F5x is about the same. I’m find with it.

  111. morey

    Ok, per the garmin site, I’m just posting it here for reference:

    3HR: 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm)
    5S: 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm)
    5: 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm)
    5X 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm)

  112. Aldo

    I think in the second to last picture you are comparing the F5X vs F3, not the F5 (I see the red button on top right), or specs are a little wrong since F5 should be smaller than the F3

  113. Dennis

    Hi Ray,

    The maps that are included, do they cover Europe as well or only US maps?

    Thanks for your reply.


  114. Mick Wall

    So the 5S is 3mm narrower, but 3mm thicker than the 230/235/735.

    FR735/FR235/FR230 (45 x 45 x 11.7 mm)

  115. Neil Jones

    Enough of this Fenix 5 discussion – where’s the coverage of Withings’ announcement of their smart hairbrush? link to loreal.com

  116. Circe

    Start from 599$? Maybe in euros are 619 or 629… (for the euro/dollar ratio these days…)
    Garmin: beatyful, but It’s too much for me!

  117. ekutter

    This is actually kind of a disappointment. Comparing the size/weight specs to the Fenix 3 and Epix, the 5X is basically the same size as the Epix (17.5mm thick, ~51mm across, and heavier). So basically a re-packaged Epix, but hopefully one that will get updates.

    I’ve personally been wanting a smaller lighter weight Fenix but the S cuts some serious corners. Only 13 hours of battery in full GPS (barely half the 5 and 5X), Smaller screen (and smaller than the FR630). And still not exactly light weight compared to the FR line.

  118. Marcio

    Thanks for the review
    Few questions:
    1. Will the quick-fit band work with/on Fenix 3 models?
    2. Should we expect the Fenix Chronos to get same upgraded firmware? if yes, when the firmware will be available?
    3. Should we expect any new feature added to Chronos based on this new firmware?

    • 1) Yes, the Fenix 5X bands will work on the Fenix 3 units.
      2) Yes, it will get the updates. An exact timeframe isn’t clear, but my guess is you’ll see the two firmwares merge at/upon shipping of the F5. That’s historically how it’s worked .
      3) All the ones noted for the F5 (minus maps).

  119. Robert C

    While is looks and sounds DOPE! I do not think there is enough there to warrant a “trade up” from my F3HR… especially at that price point. Yikes!

  120. Adam

    Hmmmm, I really don’t see an upgrade with the Fenix 5 from the Fenix 3 Hr, at all. As far as the 5X. looks huge and who really needs maps on a watch!

    • Ryan

      Per Morey’s comment above, the 5X is actually the same size as the 3HR, so not any “huger” than the previous iteration. It’s the 5S and the 5 that are actually smaller. The 5X however is heavier than the 3HR by 12g.

      3HR: 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm) – 86g
      5S: 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm) – 67g
      5: 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm) – 87g
      5X 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm) – 98g

    • Adam

      So basically there is no upgrade from the Fenix 3 to the Fenix 5 (Not X)?! Is the Fenix 5 the same size as the fenix 3?

      On the positive side the price will go down with the Fenix 3.

    • Gunnar

      I’d argue that the 3HR vs the 5X has a thickness difference of 1.5mm. May….or may not be all that noticeable. My guess is that 1.5mm is going to be very noticeable.

      Maybe Ray can give his thoughts.

    • Ted W

      I’m looking at a ruler and looking at 1mm and 2mm. I’m looking at my F3 on my wrist. Except for a couple of dress shirts that I cannot easily pull up to see the watch. I never notice or care about the F3 thickness. I dont have girly wrists, but I would not say they are large either. But watch seems ok to me. I see giant Tag Huer (sp?) and other expensive watchs on peoples hands. Or even the Casio G-shock. those LOOK big. F3 doesnt “feel” big. wonder also what 1.5mm would be like.

    • Sean

      Any chance you could jump in, and say if you noticed the additional thickness?

    • Bart

      From Garmin’s web site

      Fenix 3 (51 x 51 x 16mm)
      Fenix 3HR (51.5 x 51.5 x 16mm)

      It looks as if Garmin does not include the bump out for the HR version so I am betting that the 5X (51 x 51 x 17.5mm)will be about the same thickness of the Fenix3 HR, I bet if you put calipers to the 3HR it would be close to the 17.5mm of the Fenix 5x.

    • Bart

      The Fenix 2 which is 17mm, I noticed a difference when I went to the Fenix 3HR in looks but I think the overall smaller dimension of the F2 give it a taller appearance I never really was bothered by the F2

    • Bart

      So for common reference a penny is 1.55mm and a quarter is 1.75mm, if I lay a penny next to the bump out on my F3 HR it is really close in depth put a penny (US readers of course) on top of your F3 looks like that gives you an idea of the thickness. I went with the 5X on pre-order hope I don’t regret it 🙂

  121. Sebastien

    Does anyone know if the routing/mapping function works with TRAILS as well as streets/roads? I’ve been creating routes using Strava Heat Maps and uploading that to my fenix 3 HR and it works well enough, especially since you can use the popularity of various routes. Not sure if the native routing/mapping function of the fenix 5 will be as useful?

    • Paul S

      It always depends on the maps. The 100k TOPO maps that come with it will not have routable anything. The cycling maps probably don’t have unpaved trails, but do have routable roads. Garmin’s 24k TOPO maps generally have routable roads but not routable trails, and most trails in my area are missing. OSM maps for my region generally have routable trails and roads, and most trails are there, but that may be region specific.

    • Kyle

      Garmins 24k Topo maps have routable trails. When I had the Epix for a brief time I used the Northeast 24k and the the trails were all routable.

  122. Andrew Oh

    I think your table is a little confusing with regards to battery life. It lists the Fenix 3 HR as “Up to 50hrs in GPS with optical off”, but doesn’t specify that this is in UltraTrac mode. In normal GPS mode, it’s closer to 16 hours. This could lead people to mistakenly assume that battery life on the 5X has gone down.

  123. Andrew Oh

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a step backwards in the looks department? I find the angled indentations around the bezel screws a bit distracting and awkward. So torn on whether I want to upgrade. Love the features, but hate the new look.

    I love the rubber strap though. Looks more like the fenix 2. I “downgraded” to fenix 2 straps on my fenix 3 because the 3’s are hideous.

    • LucM

      Right on queue? Is that a play on words since you have a ‘queue’ of products in the works, or did you fall foul of the homophone trap? As in, ‘you might have fallen fowl of the phrase…’ Cue complement: I hope you never retire or sell your site as I don’t know where I’d go for info on multisport related gizmos if you did — keep up the sterling work!!

    • David Anderson

      I’m making my first ever post just to agree with you! I love the look of a round faced watch and I always thought the Fenix 3 looked good, if not a bit industrious. I think the indents are totally unnecessary and detract from the looks.

      I also think the colored top button is a miss – I prefer the all metal look. I think the Fenix 3 Sapphire doesn’t have the red button, but it looks like all of the Fenix 5’s are maroon or blood red.

  124. Marc Garcia i Lloveras

    Great article!
    Do you know if Fenix5 (I know 5X does) will support non routable OSMaps as background? I don’t need routable, only to have the same functionality of my Fenix2 …

  125. can you post (if you have access) any up close photos of the champaign 5s?? is it the new rose gold?

    thanks for all you do Ray!

  126. Emily

    Is it possible to see a picture of the 3 sizes compared to the size of a 920XT?

  127. Paul

    I assume the maps are only USA since the 5X is not listed on the Canadian Garmin website. Do you have any insight on that?

    Also I find it interesting the 5 Sapphire and the 5X are the same price even though the 5X has more features and a bit better hardware….

    • Gunnar

      Ray mentions you can load any maps you want on the fenix 5x. I presume it’s similar to the epix as far as mapping goes. I had the epix for a while and you simply added maps to it like you would a edge series 520/820/800/810/1000.

      Global Open Street Maps work and are free. Do a search for “adding maps to Garmin edge” and it will take you to Ray’s link on getting maps on Garmin devices.

  128. SS76

    If only the Vivoactive HR looked like this watch, I’d buy it. I can’t justify $600 for the Fenix 5 when I won’t use the majority of its features, however the Vivoactive HR has what I want, just not the looks, or the internal memory for music playback.

  129. Ryan

    As far as the bands go…would a Fenix 3 Metal band work on the 5?

  130. Fabio Pires


    Ray, would you mind to post a picture of the 735XT (got one last semester) side by side with the 5S? And the difference in weight.


    • I’ll try and steal a FR735XT tomorrow to take some pics. My own FR735XT has been ‘borrowed’ by a friend for…an oddly long period of time. :-/

  131. Raye

    Hi Ray
    do you have a picture to compare the sizes between 735xt and the new fenix 5, 5s


  132. LucM

    (Managed to post this (above) as a reply by mistake )
    Right on queue? Is that a play on words since you have a ‘queue’ of products in the works, or did you fall foul of the homophone trap? As in, ‘you might have fallen fowl of the phrase…’ Cue complement: I hope you never retire or sell your site as I don’t know where I’d go for info on multisport related gizmos if you did — keep up the sterling work!!

  133. jarkins

    I’ve got small wrists so love the size of the 5S, however needing battery life closer to 20 hours in GPS. Any idea if will make a Fenix 5/S/X without built in HR to increase battery life?

  134. ravi guha

    Did garmin say whether there would be any improvement in the wrist-based heart rate tracking in this model vs. any of the older models? I have the garmin 735 xt and I’d give it a B to B+ grade (similar to what you gave it, I think?)

    I would upgrade to the Fenix if the heart rate tracking was better…

  135. TP

    Most awesome review, thanks for the details! Im not impressed and will stay with my HR 3 until the Fenix 6 comes out!!

  136. JimH23

    How does the Wi-fi connectivity work away from home or a trusted network when using the routing option (or maps in general)? Does it tether to your phone? Does it store a large map radius from the wifi network its connected to?

    If I’m out on vacation and decide to go for a 6mi run and want it to come up with a route do I have to do it while within range of a wifi network I already set up? Or can I tether to my phones wifi and get the data it needs while basically anywhere?

    Thanks Ray!

    • Paul S

      If it works like other Garmin devices in the past, maps must be preinstalled for the area you’re going to. With 16 Gb, you can easily install a continent or two worth of maps, so that isn’t much of a restriction. It never uses WiFi or Bluetooth to grab a map.

    • JimH23

      Thanks for the info!

    • John

      Wonder if it will use standard Garmin topo maps

    • Paul S

      It should. I have my 24k US Northeast TOPO on my Epix, and it came with the 100k TOPO US (which is still on my Epix, along with several OSM maps). One question is whether it will use the built in DEM to do relief shading. The Epix doesn’t, but Edges do.

  137. acousticbiker

    Thanks, Ray!

    – How would you assess the F5 screen compared to the F3? Comments on pixellation and color would be appreciated (an it hard to tell from video)
    – As in previous years, will these be available for pre-order from REI (and will they again have them first)?

  138. Falko

    Does the second hand on this model continuously display, or does it disappear after ten seconds like with the Fenix 3?

    • Tony

      I too would like to know about seconds support on IQ watch faces. That’s my biggest gripe with my Fehr.

    • Tony

      That was supposed to say F3HR. Damn autocorrect!

    • Two part question:

      A) It shows seconds on the native watch faces (as it did on the F3HR)
      B) I didn’t catch the question to ask about CIQ changes and if that’s a CIQ limitation or just devs not adding it.

    • Tony

      On the Fenix3/HR, it’s a HW & power limitation. The default watchface runs on a low power chip that shows seconds, the Connect IQ watchfaces run on the higher power chip, but go to sleep after 10 seconds, hence shutting off the seconds display.
      I was hoping they would have remedied that for the Fenix 5.


      link to forums.garmin.com

      08-07-2015, 01:45 PM

      I’ll let you in on a little secret: The default watch face does not run on the main processor, but instead runs on a much lower power micro which doesn’t have enough memory to run Connect IQ. It honestly doesn’t have enough memory to hold the screen buffer; I work with some mad/crazy embedded hackers here at Garmin. All that for a second hand.

      We face similar challenges to other smart watches when it comes to balancing functionality and power usage. I think all smart watches have been figuring out how to offer the customize-ability of custom watch faces without killing the battery for the use cases the devices is intended before. We’re starting with a conservative approach, but it could evolve over time.

      -Alpha Monkey

  139. roiga

    Do you know if there will there be a Tactix version of the Fenix 5, like how the Tactix Bravo is a fancier Fenix 3?

  140. Richard Dufresne

    No 5X in Canada on the Garmin Canadian web site available for preorder,… 🙁

  141. Mark


    Any word on Garmin’s plan for global availability? I went to the Garmin Canada website and there is no mention of the 5x-just the 5 and 5s. On the UK site the Fenix 5 isn’t showing up at all.

    • For whatever reason, most other Garmin countries don’t seem to grasp the whole ‘global launch’ concept. Thus why we see it take days/weeks for listings to appear. Seriously, it’s mind-boggling to me.

      In any case, as for shipments, Garmin will be prioritizing specific SKU’s based largely on demand (meaning, what they see over the next few weeks), and then shipping concurrently first to major regions (North America/APAC/Europe).

    • PhilBoogie

      Back in 2015, we got a supply of 10(!) Fenix 3, of which 2 were sapphire. True, small country (17M)

  142. Jan Aniolek

    Hello, thanks for all the info.
    I think there is a little mistake in section after “What’s new and different:”
    You state that the screen resolution went up to 240×240 for all versions – I think for fenix 5s it stayed the same (as Fenix 3/HR) at 218×218.
    Thanks for your coverage, again.

  143. Tom

    Bit off topic: Did anybody see any updates on the 930XT ?

  144. Tim G

    Thanks, Ray. While encouraged to see the product released, I was hoping to see a greater step change. (Onboard GSM would have been a great add.)

    Regarding the “revamped optical”, will the new tech (or any other optical tech released this week) support 24/7 HRV analysis.

  145. Marcos Saad

    Hi Ray,

    How does the 5X compare with F3Hr size? usual picture with all models? 🙂


  146. Paul E

    Do you have any pics of the 5S, 5, and 5X profile? Curious to see how much thicker the 5 and 5X models are.

    • I’ve got some wonky side-angle ones I didn’t include, but I’ll take some cleaner side profile ones tomorrow and upload to a larger gallery.

    • MAGNUS

      Are you still planning on uploading the gallery? Would like to see the comparison shots as well.

    • Yes. I ended up just re-shooting everything with tons of comparison stuff. Hoping to get it done before my next 12hr flight tonight just got off my previous 10hr flight a few hours ago.

  147. Mike

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the review, enjoyed reading it.

    May I please impose for a side-by-side comparison photograph between the three fenix 5 models and the two fenix 3 (HR and normal)? I’d like to get a sense for how the 5 to 5X is bigger than the 3.

  148. Jim

    Ug! I just got a Fenix 3 (non-HR) for Christmas. It can still go back. I don’t like the bump the HR sensor makes, and it seems that issues is solved with the 5. If the 5 had music playback that would do it for me, but without it I’m on the fence about keeping the 3 or sending it back to get a 5.

    Did Garmin say if the 5 uses the same GPS chip set and if it has a faster processor?

  149. Jeff K

    I was really hoping for a varia update for F3. The heads up display, in particular, makes sense for commuting and for long weekend rides.

  150. The Eric

    Hi Ray,

    I’ve read a number of comments from Fenix3 owners who say the GPS and altimeter functions have never worked that well. I’m wondering, do you notice this problem? Was this an area that was addressed in the new Fenix5?
    As usual, thanks for all your hard work and input.


    • No, I don’t see those issues as widespread. I think anytime you ship a million of something you’re going to have more units in the wild that have issues than those companies that ship 30,000 of something. Just simple math really. 1% of 1,000,000 is a lot more than 1% of 30,000.

      That said, there was a firmware update back in November-ish timeframe that fubar’d the F3HR barometric altimeter in some units. A new firmware update fixing that should be released shortly.

  151. Sam

    Thanks for this Ray,

    Been waiting for this watch a while, and think the BT addition is great. Any word on Garmin running power? Will the Fenix 5 work well with Stryd? I’m keen to get Stryd, but wasn’t sure how well it would work on the Fenix 5?

    • Bart

      My Stryd works well on my F3HR so I am sure it will work just fine.

    • Thomas Wylie

      I think he might mean native support rather than the IQ app/data field. I’d like to be able to program and follow power based workouts on the device same as I currently do on the bike with power of with HR or pace when running. As far as I understand it you can’t currently do this with the stryd IQ app or data field.

    • No word there yet. It seems like Garmin is waiting there for a bit of a nod from ANT+, on how exactly running power should be defined.

      Meaning, should it use the bike power field, or be a different ANT+ profile. That was some of the philosophical discussions at the ANT+ Symposium back this fall.

    • Disclaimer: I am with Stryd

      Hi Sam,

      In short, yes. Stryd will work with the Fenix 5 in running mode via Connect IQ.

      Stryd offers two Connect IQ apps that we plan to make compatible with the Fenix 5 when the watch is launched. The first is Stryd IQ. Stryd IQ is a full fledged app that records and displays all of your Stryd running data. The second is Stryd Power. Stryd Power is a data field that goes in the run mode on the watch. This data field displays real time power and records the rest of your Stryd running data to the FIT file.

      These two options give you a lot of power and flexibility to run how you want to!


    • Sam

      Wow guys, thanks for all the replies. Good information and good to know.

      Now if I can just convince the wife to loosen the pursestrings…..

  152. Gabe

    Hmm. A decent upgrade.

    I really wish there were an easy way to send strava maps to the garmin device other than the use of a PC.

  153. Ted W

    It is curious or odd that the 5x doesnt have the HRM strap option? I have the F3 and use the HRM strap. I’m curious about the optical. I know F3HRM is hit or miss or even mostly miss for some. But you still need the HRM strap for many of the advanced running metrics. I presume that is still true. So why no strap option? its just a purchase separately?

  154. Jose

    Thanks Ray!
    I have a Fenix 3HR and I use it for stand up paddling. Do you know if they are keeping this paddling workout and/or if they are adding anything else to it.

  155. Ted W

    Question about Clever Training. I did sign up for VIP program when I bought the F3. So I think I am still a member. How do I use the to my advantage with the F5x?

    • tim

      Originally they had a special VIP code, but I think they just linked your account as “VIP” now and it’s automatic, but maybe I am forgetting specially registering.

    • Eric

      Having recently bought into the VIP program, the points automatically showed up at the “Order Review” stage (“You Earn: 70 Points”); I didn’t have to do anything except sign in. (But maybe it’s different for older members)

    • Ted W

      Yes I saw that. but VIP was supposed to have 10% I thought. 70 points. Ok well. fine, guess they might be for something. But I want the 10% where or how is that reflected?

    • Paul S.

      That is the 10% discount. There are certain items they’re not allowed to sell below the manufacturer set price, so they give you 10% of the price in store credit.

    • Yup, Paul is correct. It’s a manufacture (Garmin) restriction.

      That said – thanks for the support!

  156. JB

    Are there any trade-in programs? I have a Fenix 2 and a viosmart hr that I would be trading in for a new Fenix 5 or possibly a fenix 3 hr, and don’t see much point in spending more for new and keeping what I have that already works well.

  157. David Bulman

    I just got the Fenix 3 titanium for Christmas. Couple things. Do you judge the display in a normal indoor setting to be brighter than the 3? The subdued display of the 3 even with 100% backlight isn’t terrible it just isn’t very bright. Second is the new map on the 5. Will Garmin release any mapping for the 3 along with software upgrades like POI and round trip routing on the IQ Connect store. If memory is a problem I would be more than happy to delete golf courses and use my Garmin S2 which is only for golf. Maybe you could ask the Garmin R&D developers about map and software upgrades for the 3?

    Thanks much. As an aside, your reviews were very helpful in deciding between my 2 top picks, the Ambit 3 Peak and the Fenix 3. I bought my Garmin from REI so I have a full year to decide if I want to change but that would probably be to try the Suunto. I doubt if I would want to pay the significant up price for the 5x and not even get titanium which really makes it almost as attractive as my Breitling B2 titanium pilots watch.


    • It honestly seemed about the same brightness to me. You get a bit more crispness on the F5 screen due to more pixels, but brightness seemed similar in the day/early dusk light.

      There’s no other plans I’m aware of for F3 new features.

  158. giorgitd

    I thought that my $400 920XT (one year ago) was expensive. Maybe F5 prices have some commonality with high end GPS watches from other manufacturers, but the price differential between F5 and F3 (and other recent, high end Garmin GPS watches) is not justified by the features.

  159. Tyler

    I wish Garmin would just settle on one good, standardized watch band design, that was reliable.
    And chargers, while they’re at it.

    I damaged a 405, 610 and vivoactive because the bands were/are defective, and went flying off while running.
    Currently on my 3rd vivoactive band after only 1.5 years.

    This quick change band looks like more trouble, where it’s not needed.
    All to make a few extra pennies.

    • You got the charger wish, though, it may not be what people want (doesn’t make it easy to charge while wearing).

      And I’m pretty sure you’re also getting the band wish too – since those sound like the direction going forward. Obviously, different size bands makes sense, since different watch styles – but hopefully same connector.

  160. T.Omar

    Ray, great review as always. Two questions:
    1) While you say that most of the SW updates will come to the Chronos, do you also expect them to come to the Fenix 3HR, given the similar hardware specs?
    2) Given the price difference currently ($450 for Fenix 3HR on Amazon, vs. $600+ for Fenix 5) is there a compelling reason to buy the 5 over 3HR for a serious athlete that doesn’t need mapping? (Used with an HR strap primarily, for rowing, erging, xc skate, xc classic, running/jogging, and strength training)

  161. Itamar Kass

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the overview, I am so expecting to put my hands on the F5!

    I wonder if you know and can share it, do you have the option to upload maps, other than the US it comes with? If so, will it cost extra?


  162. Karl

    Any idea yet if there has been a hardware change to the Altimeter/Barometer? Love my F3HR, but this has been one of the major bugs Garmin has promised to address. Hopefully, there’s been a change. (Currently 12055 feet above sea level, on the ground, in Tampa!)

    • Kyle

      I dont think its so much hardware as its software, but i too would like to know if it works any better. The altimeter at times was unusable in the mountains

    • I noted in a Garmin forum thread somewhere today, but in a nutshell, Garmin is aware of the issues with the F3HR and the altimeter. These largely started following a firmware update in the late Oct/early Nov timeframe.

      Garmin is working on a firmware update fix to address that breakage, which sounds like it should be out shortly.

    • Karl

      Garmin has confirmed your post in an support email I received over the weekend: “A replacement device will not solve the issue since the issue is software related. Our engineers are looking into this altimeter issue and will release a software update to fix the issue in the near future.”

  163. Scott

    Is it touchscreen? That was my holdoff for the Fenix 3. I cant stomach spending that much on a watch that does not have touch screen unless it is old-school mechanics.

  164. MW

    Would love to see some close up pics of the 5 same screens/watchfaces side by side with the 3HR screen. some non color and some color in the displays for comparison of contrast, viewability and pixelization.

  165. Todd Christoffer

    I have bought and returned two Fenix 3 HR’s now due to excessive battery drain. The device simply would not last even a week with three or four workouts included. I really hope they solve this issue in the five series. However I don’t understand why constant 24/7 HR monitoring needs to be a thing. At least give the user the option to turn it off when not doing an activity.

  166. Hi Ray

    Thanks for a good preview as always. I would like to know if the charger cable can be used during workout and if the F3 bands are compatible with F5. Bought a metal band for my F3 and would love to reuse it.


    • It can be used during a workout, but it can’t be used on the wrist at the same time, as the cable would go through the wrist.

      The F3 bands are compatible with the 5X.

  167. Mike

    Hi all,
    have some questions please , if someone could answer them, thanks:
    1. what s the different between virtual partner and virtual racer ? on my fenix 3 hr i found (and use) only virtual partner , which i think is or could be the same like virtual racer but sume – i may be wrong..
    2. What is VIRB ? (i couldnt find out)

    • Jim

      VIRB is Garmin’s action camera. You can control it from the watch.

    • Tim Grose

      Virtual Partner is when you specify a fixed pace for a run and get a screen showing if you are ahead/behind. With Virtual Racer you get a similar ahead/behind screen but you “race” a previous activity you have done or course.

  168. Christoph

    would take the 5X if they had a cheaper option without the maps.
    I only use OSM maps anyway.

  169. Brad

    Does the gyroscope help improve 1s or smart recording for gps, or is it only utilized in Ultratrac?

    • No change to 1S recording, since that’s every second already. My impression was only focused on UltraTrac.

    • Brad

      That’s a bummer. I was hoping that would help the GPS accuracy on the more dense forest trails.

    • Paul S.

      I don’t see how a gyroscope could possibly help. An accurate enough accelerometer could, but they’re already being used. The big problem with watch sized GPS devices is there’s not much room for an antenna. Even my Garmin 60CSx handheld with the big helical core antenna on top can struggle in dense forests.

  170. Henry Wang


    Do you know if there will be quick fit links for current fenix 3 watch bands? In particular the metal ones?


  171. Bernd

    I understand that the resolution of the Fenix 5X and Fenix 5 is higher than the Fenix 3. Nevertheless, what about the size of the screens of the different units compared to the Fenix 3?

  172. Marek

    Great! Any idea about Galileo navigation support? Now or in the future? Or connection to Concept2 machines?

    • No Galileo support at this time, possibly via firmware update later (more detail up above in comments).

      Concept2 I believe are using FE-C, which it doesn’t support at this time.

  173. Simon

    Ray, do you see this as superseding the Forerunner 920XT?

  174. Thomas Wylie

    Thanks for the preview Ray,

    Is there a hardware reason why it wouldn’t be able to do ANT+ FEC trainer control? Or do you think it’s just a business decision to separate the multisport lines from the cycling only lines? Do you know if they have any plans to add it as a feature?

    • No hardware reason.

      I honestly think it’s just a case of Garmin not really being sure how to execute the FE-C control in a watch device, versus the Edge series. Just user-interface stuff is my guess.

    • Thomas Wylie

      Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it that way as I’ve never owned a dedicated head unit and control my trainer using 3rd party apps from my computer.

      I’d honestly just want to be able to use the workouts I have previously programmed into Garmin Connect (for my outdoor riding) but just be able to hop on the trainer and click “go” and it do all the work.

      Basically it would just save me having to build my workouts again in a different ecosystem. (Some version of the power match system used by TrainerRoad wouldn’t go amiss either)

      Thanks again Ray, i’m looking forward to the in depth review in a couple of months.

  175. Andreas

    Cancelling wifi on base models is just plain cheap. Why garmin? Makes no sense.

    It’s the prime feature of previous models to just have the workouts synced as soon as you come home.

    • Greg Hilton

      I went from a Fenix with Wifi to a 735XT without, can’t say I’ve ever noticed it as an issue. Watch syncs to the phone as soon as I walk in the house and workouts appear just as quickly.

    • Michael Coyne

      Do you have an iPhone or an Android, and if Android what brand/model? I’ve heard a lot about Garmin Connect Mobile sync issues and was thinking about getting a model with wifi to ensure it would all make it there one way or another.

  176. Simon gordon

    So the $1000 q given they are different sizes is the size comparison with the 3

  177. Klaus

    I gave up on multiple Fenix 3’s due to crap GPS tracking under cover/in the mountains, along with inaccurate ascent/descent calculations. I just dropped by the Garmin forums and accuracy still seems to be an issue with the Fenix line, at least when compared to some of the other Garmin and Suunto offerings.

    The 5x looks perfect for what I’d want, but I’ll wait for some backcountry tracking comparisons and deeper GPS tests before I beta-test for Garmin again.

    • Andy

      Did you maybe compare suunto and garmin GPS accuracy?

      garmin 5x battery looks impressive compare to suunto.

  178. Hi
    Firstly thanks for all your reviews, they have come in really handy with my purchases.
    In regards to the fenix5 x do you think it will be compatible with the Fenix hr tri strap and cycling sensors?

  179. I am really waiting on a Garmin dive / GPS watch. That for me is a the holy grail. Is there any word on a Garmin watch with a freediving capability?

    • MiBoe

      Hey James –
      There won’t ever be a GPS diving watch because GPS doesn’t penetrate the water’s surface. That’s the issue with all the watches that try to record open water swimming too – the manufacturers have to make sense of the random data points that pop up whenever the watch is above the water.


  180. Elizabeth d

    I should have figured a smaller Fenix would be released right after I bought the 710xt. I had actually bought the fenix3 Black Friday but when I tried it on I realized how ridiculous it looked in my tiny wrists so I went with the 710. So should I have buyers remorse? Is the extra $150 worth it?

    • Shaw

      I’m in the same boat. Just bought the 735XT and want the barometric altimeter but not sure if it’s worth paying $150 more.

  181. tomcp

    Ray, Can you compare the map readability of the 5X to Motoactiv and/or Leikr? I had both and generally found that the maps hard to read. Fonts too small, resolution iffy.

    • So the Leikr obviously had a bigger map page, and the Motoactiv had a prettier display.

      That said, I think the readability is more clear on the 5X. But at the same time, it’s been years since I’ve touched maps on either of the other two – so things are a bit fuzzier.

    • Paul S

      For what it’s worth, I’m always surprised by how good the map looks on the Epix. It’s easily legible in direct sunlight. The 5X should be at least as good if not better.

  182. Sam Striano

    So I bought the F3HR for $399 and the Vivoactive HR for $168.

    Should I:

    a) Rock the F3HR for $399.
    b) Rock the Vivoactive HR for $168.
    c) Take them both back and buy a 5X 🙂

    I am leaning towards A and then upgrade to the F6 or F7?


    • Tim Grose

      Presume you had a good reason to buy a big watch and a smaller one when, AFAIK, the bigger one does everything the smaller one does. Different logic then to buy one even bigger watch…

    • PJ

      If you don’t mind answering, where did you get the f3hr for $399? Black Friday?

    • Raz

      Yes, it was on sale for $399 during BlackFriday. See link to dcrainmaker.com

      I’m in the same boat, got it for $400, and wondering if I should get the 5X for a $700. Quite a big difference in price, and the most notable changes (for me) would be:
      * Gyroscope sensor (not mentioned on official site)
      * Connect IQ 2.x
      * Maps
      * Better resolution

      As I have a Garmin Edge 1000 for cycling, I’m thinking that probably would be a better option to wait until Fenix 6 is out next year.

      Official specs comparison on Garmin site: link to buy.garmin.com

    • Sam Striano

      Yes. Bestbuy had it for $399. They ran an advertising campaign for it and it was a typo. Was only supposed to go to $449. Anyways, I grabbed it up!

  183. Steve

    I had a Fenix 3 but couldn’t wear everyday so sold that and bought a 735xt which I now wear daily. Would be placing my order now for the 5S if it had music playback but to be honest am struggling to justify a jump without that for limited functionality differences.
    Any chance music playback gets added in a future software update or is it hardware related (sorry, not technical enough to answer this myself).
    Thanks and love your site.

    • Todd

      The original Vivoactive (as opposed to the Vivoactive HR) also has golf features. I bought it at the release because I wanted a watch that I could use for running and for golf. I like the look of the fenix 5. I’ll probably pick one up if my vivoactive gives up on me–or if I get tired of using a chest HR monitor.

  184. Brian

    I love the features in this new watch but with the high cost I wonder if you have a suggestions for a more appropriate watch for my needs. All I need is a basic watch that tracks my hikes and backpacking trips as well as skiing and I like the golf features. This blog is so helpful I really appreciate it.

    • Tim Grose

      Vivoactive HR?

    • ekutter

      I’d second the VAHR. The only thing it is really missing, but you can get through a CIQ app, is any kind of mapping.

      Other than the Fenix, I believe this is the only garmin watch that supports golf, that isn’t dedicated to just golf. It also has an updated processor compared to even the old Fenix giving it access to CIQ 2.x including 128k apps. Even includes a barometer for elevation.

      There are some advance running metrics it doesn’t include but I have yet to meet anyone that knows what to do with those, other than create pretty graphs. I also believe it doesn’t support power meters on the bike.

    • Paul S

      If it’s the support for full maps that interests you, though, then there’s really only one other choice, the Epix. But Garmin has effectively abandoned the Epix, so you’d better be very sure that maps is the most important thing to you, because there are annoying bugs that will never be fixed. Nowadays the Epix is much cheaper these days than the 5X, although I don’t think there’s a golf app onboard. If maps aren’t important, then go the direction that Tim Grose and ekutter are pointing.

    • thatmdee

      Vivoactive HR.

      This is my current device.. It does everything I’m after — basic 24/7 monitoring, activity tracking, there are some CIQ apps for mapping etc (although to be honest, I haven’t tried these yet).

      I always wanted to purchase the Fenix 3, but it was just so huge (my wrist is 17.5cm). The Vivoactive HR was the compromise I made.

      I’m thinking I’ll upgrade from a Vivoactive HR to the Fenix 5S.

      Main reasons for me to upgrade? Aesthetics — it actually looks like a watch, it’s a more ‘premium’ device, I *may* use some of the more advanced metrics, download training plans.. Other than that, the Vivoactive HR has worked great for me.

    • Todd

      The original Vivoactive (as opposed to the Vivoactive HR) also has golf features. I bought it at the release because I wanted a watch that I could use for running and for golf. I like the look of the fenix 5. I’ll probably pick one up if my vivoactive gives up on me–or if I get tired of using a chest HR monitor.

      (sorry for the double-post. Somehow I replied to the wrong comment originally)

    • MJSOL

      My big concern with the VAHR is they took the Training Effect score away from it. I don’t need a bunch of what the Fenix offers, but I did use that religiously for the small amount of time it was available. Also, for me, the VAHR is fairly unattractive for a female to wear all the time. This watch looks good.

  185. Havard

    Is is finally free of all Windows/Mac bindings, or are there still things left you can’t do with the app? AFAIK from the Fenix 3, you couldn’t set the wifi password from the app, which was the thing that made me not buy it.

  186. Milt MacFarlane

    Thanks Ray perfectly precise again, as you’ve pictured, paired to a Polar hr strap…does that mean instant swim heart rate recording now?

    • No, because Bluetooth Smart can’t travel underwater anymore than ANT+ can (about 1-3cm max).

      But the Fenix3 (and thus Fenix5) already support the Garmin HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM for underwater HR recording.

    • Milt MacFarlane

      Thanks Ray now I recall you’ve told us that before

  187. Wolakko

    No difference at all between f3hr and fenix5…

  188. Peter K

    Excited and looking forward to upgrading to the 5X, concerned with the prices in UK press release- in everything above the sapphires are all $699 but in the U.K. The 5X is extra:
    “The fēnix 5, 5S and 5x will be available end of Q1 2017. The fēnix 5 and fēnix 5S will have a suggested retail price of £499.99; the fēnix 5 Sapphire, fēnix 5S Sapphire will retail at £589.99 and fēnix 5X Sapphire will have a suggested retail price of £629.99. The fēnix 5 Sapphire with metal band selection will retail at £729.99 and the fēnix 5S Sapphire with grey suede band will retail at £599.99. To learn more, visit garmin.com/fenix.”
    What gives?!

  189. Nigel

    So should we still keep waiting for a 935XT or equivalent or is Fenix 5 the new do everything + Triathlon watch?



    • Shaw

      I have the same question. Would be nice to know if there’s going to a be a successor to the 920XT and if so, when might that be?

    • This isn’t considered a successor to the Forerunner line (in any way/model/etc…). They are still viewed as separate lines, running under separate teams.