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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. Nora

    Hi there,

    I was interested in getting the forerunner 235 as this is a bit too far out of the budget. Does anyone have a sense of when the new updated version of the forerunner 235 will be released?


  2. DT

    Ray, awesome review as always. If you compare the Chronos vs F5X would you say that the only difference is the maps? I love the look of the silver Chronos and I don’t see the F5X in Silver. Am I correct? On the other hand, would the Chronos get the 1-2 second HR recording as an update? Thank you again!

    • Carlton

      This is the same question I have. I like the look of the silver Chronos much better than the gray Fenix 5. I’m wondering what the differences are between the Chrinos anf F5 once the software update happens.

    • Also that Chronos doesn’t have WiFi, whereas the 5X does. Plus of course band stuff.

      Chronos can’t get the 1-2s HR update, since it’s totally different optical HR (lower battery profile).

  3. acousticbiker

    Looking forward to the F5! Ray:

    – What data fields are available to select from in watchfaces? In particular is temlerature in current location an option? Also, looks like there are 4 possible fields in the analog watchface with dials. How many for the digital watchface?
    – Did Garmin say anything about changes in the gray coating to make scratches less visible than on the F3?
    – Also, will it be possible to get a silver bezel with black (instead of blue) band?

    • I’ll write up the data fields in a bit (running to gate0.

      On the coating for gray, they switched to brushed texture instead of sandblast, which they say hides scratches better. But still same material.

      You could mix and match bands, but I don’t think that’s a stock SKU (just what I posted above).

  4. Jobs

    In your oppinion between Suunto Spartan Ultra and Garmin Fenix3 or F5X which are precise in ABC mode.? I sold my Garmin F3 HR cause it not precise as I expect and waiting for the SSU but it also have many bugs e.g. GPS, Activity recorder.

  5. Hilary

    What are people’s thoughts on wifi? I was interested in the Fenix 3 but it seemed so bulky. I had read the 5 was coming out so I decided to wait and see what it had to offer. It has a much smaller option which I wanted… BUT it doesn’t come with standard wifi which was a big thing for me too. Now I’m torn. Do I purchase the cheaper wifi compatible 3 and get used to the bulk or wait for the smaller 5s but without wifi? I would rather not spend an extra $100 on the 5s sapphire either… so is wifi really that important? Thanks!

    • Jim

      I don’t see any need for the wifi. Everything you can do with wifi, you can do through your phone. Wifi is just one more thing to suck down battery.

    • Christian

      Personally, I never used Wifi on the Fenix 3 in two years.
      No need for this, the Fenix is always connected to the phone.

    • Carlton

      I agree, no need for Wi-Fi. Bluetooth works and I don’t know that I’ve ever used Wi-Fi for anything.

      I am glad that I got the sapphire face though. No scratches after 2 years. Scratches on the watch face make me angry. Ray says the regular faces don’t scratch that much, but I’ve had a different experience.

    • JonB

      As far as I’m aware I think the firmware updates only come via WIFI. Or they only seem to come when I’m on my WIFI. Otherwise need PC connection.

    • Dom

      Firmware updates on the F3 will download via Bluetooth, but they do so very slowly in chunks. So it might take a day or so to complete, and you might easily have lost patience and used wifi or usb before that.

      Note this post from a Garmin employee, talking about the temporary suspension of that feature.

      Personally, I find that BT and occasional use of USB are enough, and I wouldn’t particularly miss wifi; but if your BT connection is less reliable than I’ve found mine, that would be different. I occasionally use wifi when I’ve been out running without my phone, as it’s slightly quicker than waiting for the phone to re-pair.

    • Joy

      Hilary: I love wifi on the Fenix3 because it is quick and convenient and wouldn’t want a watch without it. You can use bluetooth with your phone to upload data but it is less reliable for me and takes longer.

  6. Ray

    Hey Ray,

    Any word if there’s going to be another update to the Quatix line?


    Ray (another one :P)

    • They haven’t announced anything yet. But I’d fully expect to see them re-use the same hardware like before. Probably on staggered timelines like before as well.

  7. Ken Platteau

    Hi Ray, did Garmin mention anything on possible integration of hydration monitoring like (or maybe in cooperation with) LVL?

  8. Pablo

    Hi Ray nice preview. So I assume hr-chesstrap is needed for the new TE 2.0 , no hr-v still through optical hr sensor? they could’ve add a cheaper Fenix 5 with no optical sensor since the advance features still need the strap.

    • Pablo

      forgot to ask. the F5 specs says up to 24 h in gp´s 1 sec, and the F5X up to 20 hours… is that correct?

    • Correct on TE. I think at this point you’re just not going to see any non-optical watches anymore from the major vendors (above $120ish or so). Just not worth it for them.

      For battery specs, that is indeed correct. Even with the larger battery the maps hurt.

    • Dan

      Stupid question but if its the maps that impact the battery performance on 5X (i.e. 20 hrs vs 24 hrs on the 5) can you get 24 hrs when you are not using maps or disable them somehow?

      Also, is the battery life better if you are using HR strap and have optical disabled on the 5X or is 20 hours the absolute best you can get in 1S GPS mode?

  9. Mark Alderdice

    Great info. Thank you. WTF with the pricing though? I thought that devices were supposed to get cheaper as they evolved and got better. I guess Garmin didn’t get that memo. It’s really disappointing that companies like Garmin (and Apple) feel the need to gouge their loyal customers like they do. It just seems so greedy.
    Thanks for the quick publication of the news though

    • It’s weird, I agree.

      I suppose the argument could be made (correctly) that feature for feature if you compared to 5 years, you’d have more for your money at a lower end (i.e. $250). It’s that higher end piece that’s oddly going up. Though, I suppose you are getting a heck of a lot more than you used to.

  10. Robert Blake

    Hi. Thanks for an excellent article. Silly question though – will the Fenix 5 support the same wrist bands as the 3? That is to say, if I upgrade & give my son the rubber strap that came with my Fenix 3, could I use my elegant metal strap on the 5 for sophisticated nights out on the town? Cheers.

  11. KilkennY

    Hi Ray and everybody else.

    When reading this ‘hands on’ and looking at Garmin site for specs, i cant help thinking that the Cronos is Fenix 5 than Fenix 3 luxury.

    What du you think comparing function, size, hardware etc.

    kind regards, Kenni

  12. Jari Timonen

    Dear Ray,

    I love the way you keep quiet about 9XX series <3


  13. Stephen

    Ray, fantastic job, and so quick to the mark. Thank you.

    I’ve been debating for months on the stainless chronos. But for the expense, I was always hoping for more mapping on my trail runs, instead of simply graphics like currently employed. This 5X mapping is exactly what I want, but….it looks huge. With the metal band 5X on your wrist, does it look enormous?

    Also, do you think that the chronos line, will eventually get upgraded to better CPU to be able to provide this amazing mapping. Because if so, I’ll hold out for that version.

    Thanks again Ray!

  14. Craig Muldoon

    What is the chances of seeing a comparison with some of the other devices this can essentially replace, especially with the inclusion of mapping. I was recently looking at purchasing the Fenix 3 (glad I have waited for CES) and the Edge 520 for mapping and live Strava Segments, plus the big screen. I currently use the Forerunner 620 and the Fenix was to replace the now failing unit which has never worked well for cycling or multistory events. For the same’ish price as the Fenix 3 the 5 will negate buying 2 devices (possibly).

  15. Destiny

    Hi there, I don’t know if I just missed it but there’s no mention of its weight? That’s my issue with the fenix series (80+ grams).. it’s heavy for a watch.

  16. SY OH

    Thanks for the detail review.

    May I ask one simple question?
    I would like to know if Fenix5 supports Korean language or not.

    In case of Fenix3 and Fenix3 HR, basically, it didn’t support Korean language.
    But in the middle of last year, Garmin Taiwan and Korea importer company developed it, and finally it supports Korean language for only Korea.
    That means, only some of Korean distributors can sell the ‘Fenix3 and Fenix3HR Korean version’ in Korea.
    Even ridiculous thing is, Garmin Taiwan set a customer list price, and ALL of Korean distributors sell it perfectly same price. Long story short, there was never ever ‘price competitions’
    It is definitely a kind of ‘monopolistic business’ and it caused a lot of negative side effect.

    Due to above reason, I very hope Fenix5 supports Korean language as default.

  17. Christian

    It’s a bit of a letdown that the 5X doesn’t have an internal music player.
    It would be great to pair my bluetooth headphone to the Fenix and enjoy music while running without having to carry the large smartphone with me.

    Apart from that:
    My girlfriend is happy because she can not enjoy the benefits of real GPS smartwatch even with her smaller wrists.
    I am happy that I will be able to get maps during mountainbiking without having to pull out my phone every few minutes.

    The price doesn’t really concern me that much, a good watch always costs a lot of money. I’d wish, however, for a titanium version because I fear that the 5X with stainless steel band might be heavy.

  18. Roberto

    Hey Ray thanks for the post,

    Loved the 735XT-Oreo cookie comparison, would be nicer to have it again for the In Deep Review :)


  19. Frankie

    It’s the best sportwatch, but for me it’s not enough smart and small/stylish to wear it every day.

  20. John B

    “5X Only – Mapping: Includes Topo maps in package, can add your own maps if you want”

    Does this mean that it will be possible to add other Topo Pro maps as listed on this Garmin website? link to garmin.com

  21. Mike

    sorry if i missed the same question above here:

    because of mainly “software evolution” – comparing F5X & F3HR – from your experiences – do u think F3HR (F3series) will get some of those “software” funkcionalities like :
    -group live tracking
    -strava segments direct in watch
    -maybe maps (even if i can dwnl the maps now)
    etc etc. ?

  22. Sde

    Looks like the R&D team stayed busy in 2016. An update to the Garmin Swim watch would be great !

  23. Leon

    Thank you for the detail article. Just a quick question about the Map function on the 5X, me living in Asia can I update the maps to have cities in Asia? Because right now it’s preloaded for US only.


  24. Henrik

    Hi DC Rainmaker.

    I am unable to figure out how the Fenix 5 sizes compare to 3(HR). You mention the widths of the new lineup watches, but there’s nothing in the article or in the database regarding size. Having an entry in the latter would be really helpful!

  25. Michal

    Can you pair two PowerMeters at the same time? Eg: PowerTap P1 and STRYD? So you can use it in triathlon? (one for bike, second for run of course :) )

    • Disclaimer: I am with Stryd

      Hi Michal,

      Yes! Stryd offers a setup for Connect IQ-compatible watches to do a triathlon with a bike power meter and Stryd. We will bring this to the Fenix 5 when the watch is released.

      1. Connect the bike power meter to the watch and add the default power field to your cycling mode
      2. Download the Stryd Power data field and add it to the run mode
      3. Place Stryd on your shoe in the run transition before the triathlon
      4. Start the triathlon mode on your watch and go compete!

      You will be able to monitor your run and bike power data in realtime. Then, all of the data will be available for post-activity analysis.


  26. Tom

    Has someone a information, whether in the fenix 5 is a different gps receiver than in the fenix 3 installed? I think the receiver which is installed in the fenix 3 is not particularly good.

  27. Brian

    So… does this mean that the Fenix3 HR will be going for cheap…

    I would love the mapping but the Fenix3 HR has just about everything I would want in it feature wise, if these start going for a lot cheaper it might be a good time to pick one up.

  28. Juha R

    Strange that they are not offering HRM-TRI + HRM-SWIM bundle like with 920 and 735. Maybe they are trying to at least somehow narrow the choices..

  29. KC Chim

    Any metronome function?

  30. Michael Schulze

    I skipped the Fenix 3 because of the missing map functionality. With my Fenix 2 I am able to load Open Street Maps (in a special edition) in BW and this watch is able to support my trail runs in the mountains. My requirements are an improved CPU and a coloured display with a higher resolution. Now the come with a taller watch (to tall for me and for daily use). I am a little bit disappointed that now I have to wait for the Fenix 6.

    • Matthew B.

      If the Fenix 2 wasn’t “too tall” for you, neither will the Fenix 5x.

      Fenix 2: 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.7”
      Fenix 5x: 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7”

  31. Aben

    No touch screen on map version?

  32. Doug


    Will f3 steel band work on f5x? Thanks

  33. John

    If anyone, like me, was immediately wondering what the silver Fenix 5 would look like with a black band instead of the blue one, I superimposed the silver watch over the black band. Doesn’t look great due to the light grey material around the side of the watch body. Not sure why they made that combo. A grey band, however, if it existed, would look nice (also pictured). Really wish they had just made they dark grey one with a silver bezel an option. But maybe they knew that would look too cool and that people wouldn’t pay $10k or whatever the f$%@ for the chronos.

  34. chris

    Echoing what everyone else is saying

    Music is a bigger deal than maps…

    • Ted W

      People are demanding. they want perfect military grade GPS with low cost. they want a GPS device to play music. They want smart watch capability in an outdoor fitness devices that could often be used where there is little Mobile communications. Queen had a song about such a device. “I want it All…”

    • Jim

      Yup, we are demanding. But still… I can’t speak for the GPS part, and I do realize why that’s a challenge. But the music? Throw in some memory, a BT profile for headsets, some software and rock on!

    • Demeseh

      Can the 12gb on the 5x be used for music? If so, can the Bluetooth sync with wireless earphones?

    • Paul S.

      Well, sure, you can mount the 5X as a disk and put whatever you want on it. According to Ray there’s no hardward/software to decode audio, though, so it’d be pointless. The space is intended for maps.

  35. Jason Hicks

    Why have Garmin dropped the ant+weight scale compatibility? Now keeping my Garmin 310 just to record weights daily.

    • simon

      they have kept it on the Edge series – just dropped it on wrist worn GPS

      There is a CIQ app that might offer a partial solution

  36. Melonie MacDonald

    Disappointing battery life on the S model. Doesn’t Garmin realize that people with smaller wrists in fact participate in longer endurance events…like Ironman? If it’s purely a size issue not being able to support a longer lasting battery, then at least add a more “feminine” model to the 5 series that does have longer battery life. I am almost offended by this…

    • This is almost certainly a physical limitation. Battery life is directly related to the size of the battery. They presumably had to decrease the battery size in order to make the smaller watch size. Also most likely why the Chronos has lesser battery life. Size vs. performance is always a tough balancing act. Unfortunately, battery technology does not (for now) advance as fast as everything else in the watch.

  37. Rothfels Tom

    Great initial review, thanks! I live in Canada. Does the 5X come with USA only maps, and can Canada, or other countries be added?

  38. Jennifer

    I’m currently debating between the Fenix 3HR and the new Fenix 5s. What is the benefit of having WiFi for the watch?

    • Tyler

      WiFi allows you to sync to Garmin Connect without a connection to a computer(USB) or a smartphone (Bluetooth). You can also receive updates via WiFi.

  39. Tyler

    I currently own a Fenix 3HR and was wondering how much thicker the 5X is that my current watch. Here is what I learned:

    The two watch are almost identical in size. There is a 1.5mm difference in thickness between the 5x and the 3HR. For reference a U.S. Dime is 1.35mm. (data sourced from the product pages on Garmin.com)

    In other words, the 5X is not as big as I thought when compared to the existing Fenix 3 HR.

    Fenix 3HR

    Physical dimensions 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (51.5 x 51.5 x 16.0 mm)
    Display size, WxH 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter

    Fenix 5X

    Physical dimensions 2.0” x 2.0” x 0.7” (51.0 x 51.0 x 17.5 mm)
    Display size, WxH 1.2” (30.5 mm) diameter

    Fenix 5

    Physical dimensions 1.9” x 1.9” x 0.6” (47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm)
    Display size, WxH 1.2” (30.5 mm) diameter

    Fenix 5s

    Physical dimensions 1.7” x 1.7” x 0.6” (42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm)
    Display size, WxH 1.1” (27.94 mm) diameter

    • Rob

      The Fenix 3 HR weight is 86 gram.

      The Fenix 5X weight is 98 gram.

    • Ted W

      I dont have a scale that precise. What 8 grams really feel like? the weight of a quarter? I dont think it matters form me. I almost never notice the F3 on my wrist. No big wrists.. but it does seem obnoxious on me. so I’m going 5x probably

    • Tyler

      A standard sized paperclip weighs one gram. In other words: the difference between the Fenix 3HR and 5X is: 12 paperclips in weight and one US Dime is thickness.

    • Jim

      Since you laid this out so nicely, I’m thinking of getting a 5X. The maps would be nice for cycling and my current cycling “computer” is a 20 year old thing that tells me how fast and far. Its nice, but maps would be nice too.

    • Paul S.

      If it’s only for cycling, then a 5x would be a big mistake. Buy one of the Garmin cycling computers with maps, like the Edge 1000 or 820. Watches make terrible cycling devices. If you going to use it for other things, then you have to decide whether the downside of using a watch for cycling is worth the upside of using it for the other things. Personally, I have an Edge 1000 for cycling (road and mountain) and an Epix for cross country skiing and hiking.

    • Jim

      Not just for cycling, I would use it for running, swimming and activity tracking. I agree a bigger screen and such would be better but the maps would be in case I get lost or something. I have done that running too…

      Still, the price! Ouch.

  40. Rob

    Is their a technical reason the new maps run only on the 5X model and not the standard 5 model… besides that the 5X has more space available for storage.

    Or is it only a commercial reason?

    • Ted W

      @Rob probably could search as its been mentioned a few times in the comments, but I am pretty sure I read the processor is different in the 5x. So its more than just memory, I believe

    • The 5X has more storage (16GB vs a fraction of that), it has more processing power, and it has more battery to deal with the impacts of the processor being bigger.

    • Bob Goodman

      Based on this fact alone, my speculation is that the 5X is an entirely different beast inside (will have to wait for the tear down reports, or if someone digs up the FCC docs). If that’s true, then my guess is that sometime down the road, we will see more variants of the 5X as Garmin moves from the 3/5 architecture to the 5X architecture……
      So….I think I will wait a bit..:-)

  41. PaulC

    I have a F3HR. After a slightly dodgy start a few firmware updates have got it in a very good place. You get the odd dodgy GPS reading but essentially it does what I need:

    – Running and cycling using wrist HRM
    – Gym using external HRM
    – Active calorie calculations that seem to correlate well with food logged and weight changes ( via MyFitnessPal )
    – Decent battery life

    The two things in the F5 that appeal are the BSX/Moxy sensors ( which I had hoped would appear on my F3HR as part of an update ) and the higher resolution of HR tracking.

    But I do not think its enough overall to justify upgrading. Perhaps that will be the case in 2018 with the F6.

  42. Small mistake in the comparison with fenix 3; recoding time with GPS is 20 HRS not 50 HRS
    Any chance off getting actual hardware improvements i.e. how much more memory and processor etc. ?

  43. Skoinas


    Does that mean you can use the Polar H7, or the new Polar 10, strap with the Fenix 5?

    • Gabe

      The question I have is would the new Polar provide the advanced running metrics?

    • No, they wouldn’t.

    • Michael Coyne

      On that note, can anybody answer if the H10’s storage capability while swimming can act the same as the HRM-swim or HRM-tri and sync when you’re done?

      If so, then the H10 would be able to do all the things I need from a HR strap (swimming HR, treadmill HR cruise control, give the Fenix 5 it’s heart rate normally for everything else, and unbutton to put in a different HR strap or better yet one of these type of shirts: link to amazon.com )

      Otherwise I’d have to get the HRM-tri bundle which can’t be changed to a different strap/HRM shirt, and can’t broadcast the old 5khz needed for controlling a treadmill by heart rate. :/

  44. Yoav

    Will the update the Fenix3 HR with the abillty to show hebrew?

  45. David

    Hi DC.
    I was hoping you could comment more on the mapping of the 5x vs the Epix. I am more of a hiker, and am very interested in how the mapping works on both devices.

  46. Jon V

    I purchased a Fenix 3 HR on Tuesday night and already returned it, two days later. The sensor for altitude was evidently bad. I’m at 266 MSL and the Fenix 3 would give me readings of anywhere between -9000 ft and 7000 ft. Calibration was useless. I’m sticking with my 735XT for now. Any changes with the Fenix 5? Is the barometer and altimeter accurate?

  47. Tom Bq

    Wow – compliments on a VERY comprehensive review. Well Done!

    Question – are there any differences Fenix 3 vs 5 regarding swimming? Just bought the Fenix 3 but can return it.

  48. Nissim

    Hi, excellent review as always, many thanks. This was most helpful especially here with so many different models. One question I have do you know why Garmin is selling the HR bundle only with one specific model? Will all models work with the HR strap? Nissim

  49. Steve

    I know I might be in the minority here but I really wish they would add a small amount of storage for music. I always run with music and especially like it when I’m doing races. I’d love to be able to leave my phone at home and just use a watch. I have the iPhone Plus so it’s not a small phone. Having portable maps doesn’t really matter if I have to bring my phone anyway. I love my Garmin Fenix 3 but the Apple watch has that advantage over the Garmins. The new models look great though. I definitely like the style over other smart watches.

    • indio22

      I wouldn’t mind some onboard music storage/play capability either. On the other hand it would mean one more device to have charged and ready to go (BT earbuds). And BT earbuds tend to be more bulky and don’t seem to fit as well as the wired buds I use with a little Sandisk mp3 player. But it would be nice to have the option.

    • Sergey

      Use Awei BL920 bluetooth. bought on ebay. Extremely cheap ($20), reasonable sound, around 2.5 hours battery life (maybe a bit longer).
      No bulckiness (make sure that the control block with battery and buttons is not hanging but is lying on your neck.

      And replace it every 5 months as they die of rain/ sweat (actually they last during winter time but die after heavy showers).

  50. toh

    Can fenix 5 show notifications in Japanese? fenix 3 cannot do that because it does not have fonts for Japanese. fenix 5 supports Emoji and right to left languages, so I am hoping that it has more of unicode fonts.

  51. I kept looking to see if garmin made any improvements to heart rate sensor….it’s been 1 year no progress? Even sleep stats are based on accelerometer and heart rate ignored

    Also move IQ is also not introduced which is available on cheaper models, I prefer auto recognize activities….

    I have fenix hr and this new release is pure disappointment, seems garmin can’t improve tech….

    I still miss my basis watch which had these features like 2 year before, damn Intel you destroyed a good company…

    • MattB

      Quoting Ray from this thread (reply #85):

      “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.”

    • Anton

      If you look at the videos…you will see that Move IQ is there. (At least on the 5x model

  52. Anders Hoffman

    Very nice review Ray!
    Have you got any info if there will be some kind of quick release kit for the 5x as there is for the 910 and 920?
    Seems like it would be possible since the bands are so easy to change!

  53. Ted W

    Lots of us wanting to know these new F5 can charge during activity. Question is still valid, but what appears to be off the table is the ability to wear the watch on your wrist while charging. link to www8.garmin.com is a link that show how to connect the charging cable. it comes out apparently perpendicular to the watch back. so charge+wear-on-wrist seem out. but maybe F5 could be stowed in a pack or on shoulder strap or even held in had for awhile while getting that charge in. F3 charged with USB battery quite fast. so the key point and question, is can it charge while in use. then clever people can jump in on how best to manage it.

    • Yes tempted for the 5X for 24h races but not being able to wear for a 5/8/10k lap while recharging seems odd especially as the Fenix 3 was so good, could put the charging unit and watch on with a little pen charger and get another lap in while not worrying about carrying or breaking the watch. I was hoping for a clip like the 230.

  54. Ricardo Lucas

    Does it have running with Power without using Connect IQ app?

  55. kevin

    While I like the idea of a smaller Fenix. The 14hrs of battery life (same as 735xt) killed the 5S… Sticking to 735XT for a while…

  56. Harald

    From the Garmin site the tech spec:
    size, weight in g with nonmetal band, size in mm, display mm

    Fenix 5S, 67g, 42.0 x 42.0 x 14.5 mm, 27,94 mm
    Fenix 5, 87g, 47.0 x 47.0 x 15.5 mm, 30,50 mm
    fēnix® 3, 82g, 51,0 x 51,0 x 16 mm, 30,40 mm
    Fenix 5X, 98g, 51,0 x 51,0 x 17,5 mm, 30,50 mm
    fēnix® 3 HR Saphir, 90g, 51,5 x 51,5 x 16 mm, 30,40 mm

    sorted by size

  57. Axel

    @Ray – Only 50 comments are shown on desktop and there is no button to load more comments. Tried in Safari and Chrome on OS X Sierra. Bug?

  58. Olaf

    Bases on the specs on garmin it seems like the fenix 5 is heavier then the fenix 3. That seems a little odd considering that the fenix 5 is smaller. So which of them is the heaviest?

  59. Edo

    Hi Ray

    What about the diferent price only for Fenix 5x between USA and Europe? For Fenix 5 and Fenix 5S prices are the same.

    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)

    Fenix 5X Sapphire – 749,99€: Slate gray bezel with black band
    Fenix 5X Sapphire – 899,99€: Slate gray bezel with metal band (+ includes a black silicone band)

    Is that true or just a bug?

  60. Mitch Kavney

    Do you think they will release a silver stainless band for the 5S?

    • Tien

      +1 for this question. I love the form factor of the 5s for a 24/7 watch, but wish there were more metal band color options. Not really much of a champagne color band guy. Wish there was a 5s metal band similar to that of the 5 and 5x. Hope this is available later on.

    • SCmom

      +1 for more color choices in a metal band. Silver or black!

  61. Gio Barr

    Great review DC, thank you again!

    One point I wanted to get your view on: Garmin’s life-cycle & segmentation strategies are getting weird – yearly Fenix launches (beginning of year), yearly Forerunner devices (mid-year)…aren’t these two lines cannibalizing? Most of the capabilities are shared, so IMO it comes down just to aesthetics/form factor. And the gap is getting closer each year!

    I recently purchased the 735XT and feel kind of frustrated now that I didn’t wait a bit longer (I was indeed expecting a new Fenix in Jan…but must admit I just couldn’t wait 2 more months to get a 24/7 device and update my previous Forerunner :D)

    Garmin, please don’t launch the 745XT in the next 12 months…:D

  62. Stephen

    Ray – any indications of optical HR on the 5 as opposed to previous models (that generally suck, IMO) – or will that have to wait for your in-depth review? Thanks for all the great CES gouge!

  63. Teames

    So from your advanced understanding, would you choose the fenix 3 now that its likely to be on sale or go the new Fenix 5? I’m stuck as to what to choose, i mainly run and cycle but also general gym work as well as hiking and mountain climbing. Is there any especial benefit in getting the new model?

  64. NCFree

    Outstanding! Do all Fenix 5 versions continue MGRS compatibility?

  65. Chris Hughes

    It sounds like us Fenix 3 owners will get some of the new features through a software update, “the Garmin Fenix Chronos folks will receive all of the above updates, except mapping of course”.

    Is the connection to the Varia rear light and radar part of any updates for the Fenix 3? I’m planning on buying the rear radar light, just trying to determine if I need the front display too, or if I’ll be able to use my fenix 3 in the future.

  66. Rawle

    Does the 5X include GLONASS?

    Thanks and great review.

  67. Adam

    You mentioned that the Chronos will receive these updates. Curious if the Chronos will also get the watch face updates and such?

  68. Paul

    I am curious to know if you will be able to load the Europe Garmin maps on the US version of the 5X and vice versa since they both come pre loaded with TOPO maps as per the website. And that being said I would hope that if I got a US 5X that eventually I would be able to load the Canada Maps if and when Garmin releases those for this watch….

  69. Donovan Brooks

    I have a Fenix 2, and love it. Do you know if the 5/5x would pair with the same HR strap that came with the 2?

  70. Ben Alexander

    Just broke down and bought a chronos. I can live w/out BLE and WiFi, and I trust that the firmware upgrades will come. But how much better is the new display? Besides the increased resolution, is the display any different? Garmin specs show a different description (“always-on, low power, colorful display”) for fenix 5, but that’s the description used in the chromosomes narrative, but not the spec listing.

  71. Piotr

    Will the 5x work with the Tri Strap product? Meaning, you can’t bundle it, but you can buy separately and use functionality?

  72. Bren

    I had the fenix three and felt it was too big and bulky and got a Forerunner 735XT. It’s top notch and a lot cheaper and smaller and can wear it all the time without looking like I’ve a 1980’s Russian Army issue giant watch on my wrist .

  73. Hi All – thanks for all the comments.

    Fear not – definitely not ignoring them. Well, not entirely. ;)

    Just swamped at CES, but working to sit down today/tomorrow with the Fenix team to run through answers to the questions asked, especially ones that aren’t as clear-cut. Also working to put together some more comparative shots for thickness between F3/F5 models.

    Thanks all!

    • Brad

      Awesome! Thanks for all you do! Looking forward to see if GPS was improved by the gyroscope addition in all settings or just on Ultratrac!

    • rabbit

      The gyroscope thing is very interesting- why don’t they use it in combination in the normal gps mode to get a better track performance in all activities?

    • Stephen

      RAY please compare the Felix 5x to the chronos models too as I would like to see size differences between models, preferably on your wrist.

    • Can’t wait to hear the results! Hopefully there will be some solid info on how the Chronos (after firmware upgrade) compares to the F5. I have been specifically waiting for the F5 to decide between the two. Thanks!

    • DT

      I agree. That is exactly my question. Which one to go for. I like the Chronos but want to be sure it is comparable after the updates. Any news Ray?

    • Itai

      Thank you!

      Please don’t forget to ask them about onboard music update option in the 5X ..

    • Ted W

      its been answered a number of times in this thread. “no music storage”. Maybe Ray’s team could put a bold header at the top of the blog post. “NO MUSIC STORAGE” :)

  74. Bren

    Any chance also comparing it to the Forerunner 735XT?

    Thanks a mil and all the best for the New Year.

  75. David B


    Any chance you will be reviewing the Samsung Gear 3 Frontier soon and comparing it to the Garmin Fenix 5 and 3? I received a Fenix 3 titanium for Xmas and struggle with the low vis of the display even with 100% backlight. The Samsung looks very interesting even though we realize the apps are just now starting to be developed. The price for the features in the watch is so far below Garmin pricing it makes one take a look if going to return the Fenix 3. Comments?

  76. john

    Hi Ray,

    I have the standard F3 and really like the new straps, which one would fit the standard F3?


  77. I see the Fenix 5 supports Varia Vision HUD. I occasionally use the maps on my (still going strong) Edge 800. Currently I wear my Fenix 2 and record everything with it, and use my Edge 800 as an easy-to-see head unit. I am thinking about relacing all that with a 5X + Varia. Thing is, my eyes are pretty bad. I use Rudy sunglasses with optical inserts for far correction and “reader” correction in the main lens for close-up. Without the reader gride I cannot read my Garmin!. Question: How well does the Varia perform with tired old eyes like mine?

  78. Bastiaan Beemsterboer

    Ray, in the first section you mention Strava live segment for run and bike.
    But in the comparison table I only see it within the bike section. Will there be Strava live segment for running as well? That would be a real nice difference between the fenix3HR and the 5x

  79. Bastiaan Beemsterboer

    Also, another difference between the 3 and 5 would be the ciq version support, right?
    What is the big difference there? Cheers

  80. Rafael

    thanks for the preview!
    Any information about the quick release kit? Or should we wait for the 930-935XT, a really triathlon device?

  81. luyi_pr

    Any difference in functionality with the upper right button between the 5 and 5X? I see a red ring in the 5X, wondering if it has the same stopwatch functionality as the Chronos and is exclusive to the 5X?

    Thanks Ray for the great write-up, already pre-ordered through CT.

    • simon

      you can assign the stopwatch to that button in a standard 3/3HR not exclusive to the Chronos – so we can probably assume it will work fine in the 5 series too

  82. Artur

    Hi Ray,

    Sorry if this has been asked above and I haven’t seen it. I’m wondering if the 24×7 HR sampling at 1-2 seconds would solve the issue of resting HR on a Garmin watch. I recall previously they were sampling much less frequently when there was no activity, which would be the case first thing in AM when one just woke up. Would this be fine now?

    Thanks in advance.

  83. Eduardo Bernal

    Excellent article as always.

    I am surprised that Garmin released these models after Christmas time.
    Seems to me that they lost a good opportunity.

    One question…
    Does this new garmin supports now Running with Power (i.e. Stryd) in running mode, without
    having to use the special stryd app or bike mode?

    • Disclaimer: I am with Stryd

      Hi Eduardo,

      You can use Stryd in the default run mode on your Connect IQ-compatible watch such as the Fenix 5! Stryd offers a data field that fits right in the run mode like any other field. i.e. cadence, pace, etc. This data field displays and records real time power.

      You can learn more by messaging us on our website or visiting our support page.


  84. Jim

    Will the Fenix 3 and 3HR models remain in production, or will they be discontinued in favor of the 5 series?

  85. JB

    Great first look review!

    I like the street view map for in town, but since I run and Hike on trails, I’m interested in what that map might look like.

    How do the maps work for trail running or hiking? Would you need to preload a map of the area or trail?

  86. Joshua

    Great product early review, Ray and looking forward to seeing what this will look like. The problem with Fenix for me has been that on a bike, my gloves press the watch button resulting in inadvertent lapping or turning on/off. Is this one any better? Perhaps the next 920XT is the one to wait for?

  87. John

    I’ve been reading your reviews specifically for your ordinarily great analysis of the accuracy of HR monitoring. I was a little bummed there was no discussion here as it’s one of my primary considerations in getting a watch/wearable. Any sense if there’s been improvements in HR accuracy with the Fenix 5 ?

    • I definitely include HR accuracy in reviews, but this isn’t a review – since the product isn’t final.

      If I were to provide a ton of HR accuracy analysis now, and things were great – then people would be upset upon release three months from now if things were crappy. And if things were crappy now, then folks would get all bent out of shape before it’s even a released product.

      That said, as I talked a little bit about in the post, Garmin doesn’t think we’ll see any major changes to accuracy here (in either direction). The internal sensor is definitely totally new (more so than I was led to believe earlier in the week), but they believe the majority of the focus is really on efficiency and now their ability to increase recording rates during 24×7 mode.

      In either case, it’s all stuff I’ll cover in an in-depth review down the road closer to release.

  88. Johann

    Hi – I bought the Fenix 3 HR a few months ago and just wanted to know if I will be able to download “mapping” onto the Fenix 3 HR once new watches go on sale?

    • rabbit

      No mapping on f3/hr, f5/5s, only 5x

    • Paul S

      Just so you and the others with a Fenix 3 know: the Fenix 1 and Fenix 2 had very limited (and probably accidental) support for maps. You couldn’t put a large area on, and the best maps to use were OSM maps especially stripped down to use on a Fenix. When the Fenix 3 came out, Garmin deliberately removed even accidental support for maps. They’re not going to suddenly put it back on again.

      Even if they somehow magically did, you wouldn’t be happy with it. The 5X and the Epix are designed for maps. Instead of Mb of storage they have Gb. Their video is fast enough to deal with displaying maps, and the processors fast enough to compute routes. Maps on the Fenix 1 worked OK and they were useful for context, but they were not routable.

  89. Serban

    Hi Ray,

    Any quick insight re how much bulkier feels Fenix 5X compared to Fenix 3? I see it is about 2mm thicker but the same 51mm diameter.


    • Serban

      correction: 1.5mm thicker based on Garmin website (16mm vs 17.5mm). 16mm is also the thickness of Fenix 3 HR.

    • Patrick Utrecht

      I would be more worried about the weight increase. But like you, would love to see some side by side examples of both models. (fenix 3 vs fenix 5x)

  90. Bas

    Hi Ray,

    What about the built-in temperature sensor. Does the F5 measure on top of the watch or the bottom. I’m not interested in the temperature of my wrist (like the F3)

  91. Mike

    Hourly chime in time finally available?

    Also awaiting for more about brightness/contrast improvements over F3 and how the light is distributed (still havingh 4o’clockl hot spot like in F3?

  92. Rob

    Proper 24/7 recording!! Looks like Garmin actually read your reviews!

    Will *that* feature be software enabled on other devices that use the Elevate sensor?


    Is there any significant reason why the Strava Live Segments are not possible on Fenix 3 or Fenix 3 Hr?

  94. Georg

    Hi Ray,
    Would appreciate, if the in-depth test would focus on the HR accuracy with the new optical sensor, as current watches using this Technology do not provide sufficient accuracy for an ambitious athlete.



  95. Brian

    My dream would be the Fenix 5X capabilities in a form factor at least as small as the Fenix 5S. What do you think are the chances of having real mapping available in a future Fenix 6S? Also, in your opinion, how does the value of the new Fenix 5S/S (not 5X) line compare with non-Fenix models like the 735XT, 235, or VivoActive HR? $600+ is a HUGE sum to pay for a watch, after all. At that price point, the Apple Watch starts to make more sense given its smaller form factor, great screen and app ecosystem, and routable maps (albeit must be connected to a phone, unfortunately).

  96. Stephen

    5X weight.

    I see weights being posted for this, but these are just for the default rubber band right. What about the weight of the 5X watch version with the metal band??

    • PhilBoogie

      Looking at the metal band, it seems to be the same as with the F3 (mine weighs 103 grams with a couple links removed).

      And from Ray himself:
      Next is weight, I’ve measured two of the three models, and taken the official stats for the third model:

      Fenix3 Sapphire: 175g (with 4 links removed for my wrist)
      Fenix3 Sapphire with rubber strap instead: 85g (Garmin weight)
      Fenix3 Grey: 82g
      Fenix3 Silver/Red: 82g (Garmin weight)

      This compares to the FR920XT, Ambit3, Polar V800, and Fenix2 weights as follows:

      FR920XT: 61.6g
      Ambit3: 86.0g
      Polar V800: 80.8g
      Fenix2: 85.6g

      link to dcrainmaker.com

  97. Clinton Gebke

    Do you think thia is this the replacement for the 920? if not, when would that be expected?

  98. Nero

    So let me get it right: Fenix 5 sapphire is $699 and Fenix 5x that comes with sapphire as standard if $699 as well. But 5x has more storage, better processor and maps. This pricing doesn’t really make since or is it just me?

    • Rob Rehnmark

      The f5 Sapphire has better battery life though.

    • Bernard Sinnaeve

      No you’re right. I prefer the 5Saphire over the 5X because I think it looks better and I prob won’t need the maps, but am frustrated that it has exactly the same price tag!

  99. rabbit

    Has the Fenix 5 series a different baro-/altimeter sensor as f3/epix?

    If I look into the 5/5s manual, you can set it to (that isn’t possible at f3/epix):

    “Sets the sensor used in watch mode. The Auto option uses both the altimeter and barometer according to your movement. You can use the Altimeter option when your activity involves changes in altitude, or the Barometer option when your activity does not involve changes in altitude”

    • Z

      Good catch in the manual. But I think this approach has nothing to do with the sensor itself, it is a way how Garmin markets the knowledge of their product. A GPS device back in 2006 already could “ask you” which mode you would like to use. Just check the manual of 60csx page 76 on the left: link to static.garmincdn.com

  100. Scott

    Do you happen to know if the improvements to the Fenix 5X (notably the maps and better screen resolution) over the Fenix 3 will soon be added to the Tactix Bravo. Thank you!

  101. Alex_PL

    Well, once again the “Fenix team” at Garmin came with a great all around product (putting the price aside).

    As the owner of FR10, FR620 and FR735XT I can only say that the “Forerunner team” at Garmin is clearly a second grade, they still cannot get the premium look that would go with the price point (vs. Polar or Suunto) and both 620 and 735XT suffered with first six months from introductions of beta product glitches (735XT slightly better on this).

    It seems that Garmin has limited talent pool in their HQ location and chose to allocate it more to Fenix…rather than Forerunner.

    On the good note the Fenix 5S seems to fit well with my rather small wrist. So once it is out I could be a buyer, subject to positive Ray’s review ;-)

  102. Ole Ferdinand Fredriksen

    do you know the width, in mm, of the different silicone straps on the Fenix 5 models.

  103. Jaap B

    Do you expect Garmin to update the other fenix 3 derivates as Well? The tactix but more specific the D2 bravo titanium?

  104. Wild Bill

    Great hands on Ray! I was wondering is this the FR920XT replacement or is there something else?

  105. Nemo

    Holy Crap, 633 comments (I guess this makes it 634). Um, I can only see 50 on the blog page. Is there some magic way to see them all (gulp). I’m sure you’ve answered many of my questions already and don’t want to duplicate them!

    • Mike

      Same thing happened to me twice this week. I tried different browsers, computers and networks but nothing fixed it. Both times I just kept checking and eventually I was able to view all of the comments again.

  106. Ted W

    Ok I’m going to preorder the 5x. I dont ..need.. the maps, but never thought I would like some of the notifications and other smart-ish stuff the F3 can do. and I do like it. So I’m opting for greater CPU and maps (even if I end up not using them) for the 5x.

    question is, I like some of the advanced running metrics. so I need a HRM strap. I plan to sell my F3 and include the strap is came with. So whats the preferred strap these days? The have the RED and BLUE ones not sure on the difference between them. One is for water.. does that mean the other doesnt support water?

    • Brad

      I think the Blue is a better strap because it is more versatile. Where do you plan to sell yours? I’ll Ben in the same boat :)

  107. Stephen

    I can only say that because of these positive comment, greats reviews, videos etc etc I’ve just preordered my 5X. CANT WAIT. Thanks everyone especially Ray

    • raqball

      I went ahead and pre-ordered the 5 Sapphire 47mm from Clever Training.. Glad to see they changed their system to where you are no longer charged until it ships.. Kind of bummed about the $700 price tag though..

      Looking forward to it and hopefully it’s going to be worth the moola!

  108. Dave

    Thanks for the cursory review. I look forward to the in-depth review when it becomes available. I have a couple questions:
    1 – Any plans for F5 to transmit HR data to other devices like smart devices via BLE for applications like Zwift and Sweet Beat?
    2 – Does Garmin plan on providing any additional running metrics to the Forerunner or Fenix Series to calculate Running Power?

  109. Sfultz

    Has it been determined if the GPS improvements made with the Chronos release made it into the Fenix 5?

  110. Audur

    Am I the only one having problems accepting a big reduction in battery life in watch mode? Fenix 3 has 6 weeks, 3 HR has 3 weeks (with pulse measurement) while 5S har 9 days. Am I missing something here?

    • Bart

      5S is a smaller profile watch, which means less battery, which means having to charge more often if you want the same battery life as the Fenix 3 the 5S is the wrong choice.

    • Jaron

      On comparing the F3 to F3HR you’re missing the fact that it takes more juice to run a heart rate sensor. F5 gets a nice little battery life bump vs the F3HR. More tech, and better battery, sweet!

  111. Ronnie D

    Epix / Mapping on Fenix 5x: For 2 years I’m using the Epix and as Ray can confirm, there is much negative remark to make and frustration for users on this mapping on a wrist try-out from Garmin. Epix will most likely not get anymore software updates so many issues will stay. As the Epix had and has many issues, it would be nice if there would be something like a possibility for Epix onwners to change their watch for a Fenix 5x and pay a certain amount extra (to cover price difference). What is your thought about this Ray?

  112. l3thics


    Does it have a protection for the cable connector ?

    Thx great job!

  113. Xavier

    Thanks for another great article.
    Did you by any chance connect it to a Linux box? Is it as linux-friendly as the original fenix?
    I used to use the original fenix, not anymore because of GPS accuracy issues and too short battery time.
    The 5X looks promising.
    The original fenix was seen as a simple USB key and it was possible to copy tracks to my PC and to drop new firmwares to the root directory of the watch and have it update its firmware.
    Can this still work? Maybe the wifi connection be used to upload activities AND download OTA firmware updates?

    • It’s still a USB mass storage device, so no changes there. Firmware updates/etc… work the same way.

      Plus, with the plan to have WiFi enablement via mobile app lit up by time release (no PC required), that should help you as well.

    • PhilBoogie

      No changes on USB? That’s a crying shame, especially in this day and age. v1.1 isn’t too slow for me, the FIT files are ≈ 100KB but I so much wanted to have it automatically backed up by CCC once it was mounted to OSX. Alas, CCC doesn’t support USB1.1

    • Matthew B.

      I would guess that since the Fenix 5x such large storage, they would implement at least USB 2.0 for it. I could be wrong (and that would be awful to load 16gb that way).

  114. rob

    Brilliant as ever Ray. Do you happen to know if they will add titanium band to the Fenix 5x. I have just bought the Fenix 3 HR Titanium and love it, but wow if the F5x came with titanium that would be good. thanks

    • The good news is you could take that Titanium band from your F3HR and move it straight to the F5X. :) That match-up is compatible.

      Otherwise, these are the bands they’re releasing with. They tend to announce new bands about 6-9 months later on.

    • But that’s only the strap. Didn’t the F3 titanium also have the casing itself made of titanium?

  115. Andy

    Wondering if they fix GPS issues from Fenix3 ?

    How is with battery life compare to Suunto Spartan?

  116. John


    Any details you could give us on the new Training Load functionality? I’m specifically interested how this might relate to recovery.

    And on that note, will you ever be doing an in depth review of the Whoop Tracker?

    • Yes, I’m going to likely write up a totally stand-alone post for it, probably later this month. Just waiting for both Firstbeat and Garmin to confirm no terms will change (there’s a gazillion possible terms it can give back).

      I got a deep-dive presentation into how it works by the FirstBeat team while in Vegas, so looking forward to expanding on that.

    • James L


      I’m really interested in the anerobic training effect calculation. Will Garmin roll this out on F3 & F3HR? Also, sounds like this will not affect calorie estimates, right? Looking forward to reading your review. I saw a Firstbeat video about it with no technical data.

      Best wishes and thanks for all that you do.

    • No plans that I’m aware of to roll out to the F3/F3HR.

      I’m also not aware of plans to impact calorie data. But I’ll confirm with the FirstBeat folks when I meet with them next week to walk through the final package/details of the production version of the implemented FirstBeat algorithms in the F5.

    • James L

      Thanks, Ray! Looking forward to reading your right up. Regards.

  117. Maurice

    Anyone know expected battery life of Fenix 5 in smartwatch mode when HR monitor running?
    I know they advertise approx 2wks in smartwatch mode but that excludes the HR monitoring(this was Garmin’s response when i called)
    They would not tell me what it would be if HR was running.
    I don’t want to get worse performance than my Fenix 3HR

  118. Benoit Faivre

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for this update, it is much appreciated.
    I have a 920XT and the only thing missing for me is mapping. I am really interested about the 5X and I’d like to check if I need to start saving for it as I haven’t been able to see in your article or the comments if the mapping allow you to ride/run to an address. I saw you can get directions to a POI, and you can create POIs, but can you tell to ride to this address? Also, how do you create POIs?

    Thanks for the clarification :)

    PS: I tried to look at the manual for the 5X, but could only get the 5/5S

  119. Jakub

    With the bluetooth smart support, does it mean that after connecting Polar H7 I will have my heart rate available during training instead of after as it is with current HRM straps?

  120. Olaf

    Once again – thanks a lot for that great heads-on review!!
    One qeustion regarding “IMPROMPTU ROUND TRIP ROUTE CREATION”. Can the length be choosen unlimited or is there a limit?

    • You need to set a length.

      Though, I’m not sure how/why you’d set unlimited? As the name implies it’s round-trip, meaning, you eventually have to come back. So unlimited would mean you were gone…forever. No?

    • Olaf

      Sorry – I was unprecise. I ment if there is a maximum value which can be set. For example 9 miles or in my case km. I personally would be interested in rather larger round-trips.

  121. Thomas

    Has Garmin finally released the lap by GPS position?

    • PhilBoogie

      Would love to gain that (for cycling)! Otherwise I’m gonna need to replace my ageing Oregon with an Edge model.

  122. Maurice

    Does anyone know expected battery life of Fenix 5 w/ HR sensor enabled?
    I was told by Garmin the 2wks smartwatch mode was without HR monitoring enabled so I’m wondering expected life with it on.

  123. Jim

    Can the HR sensor be disabled? Since the 5 is apparently not available without the sensor and I don’t care for it, I would prefer to disable it.

  124. Jim

    Is Clever Training doing the 10% discount on the Fenix 5? I would ask them but their web site is down.

    • Eric

      They are, in the form of 10% back in store credit rather than a 10% instant discount. (I’m assuming you’re in the US, and using the VIP program to get the 10% back.) There was more of a discussion about it back here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Jim

      Ah, I see. Too bad Garmin does that, but I was inclined to get the chest strap anyhow, so I’ll use the 10% credit toward that. Thanks for answering!

  125. Hi Ray, thanks for the hands-on review.
    I’d like to know more about advanced performance/condition metrics such as training status, training load, training effect, performance condition, VO2MAX, lactate threshold, recovery, estimated race time and so on.
    Which of them are available without a HR strap?
    Are they calculated during or after a training session?
    Thanks in advance, regards

  126. Ronnie D

    Ray Is the screen in map mode similar as the map of the Epix (same number of colours etc)? Screenshots look exactly the same as an Epix screen. In daylight that would mean good even great visibility but in darkness with backlight on the map is almost not visible.

    If in full gps mode battery life is 25 hours, then with the map on screen it will probably like Epix not last more than 8 hours. Agree Ray?

    • Andy

      How good are the Garmin maps for Alps (Europe) where i usually trek and do mountaineering stuff?

      I am also interested how is with battery when maps are used. I do not care for maps if then watch will only last 8 hours for example.

  127. Mitch

    I was waiting for this announcement before I bought a 735xt. I really want the 5S for my small wrists but don’t know if I can wait till the end of march.

    Will it be released at the beginning or end of march. And what is the resale like on a 735 if I can get a new one at a good price?

  128. Stephen

    Very pertinent information for Canadian customers looking to get the Fenix 5X!

    I’m currently living in California, but will be moving back to Canada this summer. I pre-ordered the 5X from Amazon. Look what Garmin customer support just told me when I asked about Canadian maps…..

    Hello Stephen,

    Thank you for choosing Garmin,

    There are currently no plans to release the unit with Canadian maps. As for what kind of additional mapping you’ll be able to download for the device, we have no word from our developers what that will look like. I apologize I don’t have an answer for that question yet, we should know within the next month.

    If you have any other questions, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us again.


    Product Support Team

    Garmin International


    • Paul

      Thanks for posting this. That is quite disappointing to hear. Hopefully they are just staying quite and will change it by release time.

    • Paul

      Although now I see a large Garmin dealer in my city in Canada taking pre orders for the 5X stating availability in April.

    • Stephen

      I have explicitly asked Garmin if they EVER plan on having official TOPO maps for Canada for the 5X, or if they are just not available come US release time and will be a available down the road. Waiting on answer….and will post reply.

      I would find this very shocking ough if they don’t provide Canadian Topo maps at some point for the 5X, however by the answers I’ve seen so far, it’s not a sure thing. Garmins outright saying no Canada Topo maps right now, is quite concerning and leaves a real question mark if I’ll even get the 5X anymore and cancel my pre-order. This all depends on the reply on waiting on….TBC

    • Paul S

      A quick check of buy.garmin.com shows that they sell Canadian TOPO maps equivalent to the 24k US, but they don’t have an equivalent to the 100k US.

      What does the Canadian equivalent of the USGS provide? Garmin sells what it sells for the US because the USGS has maps in 100k (coarser, larger areas, and in Garmin’s version not routable) and 24k (fine detail, smaller areas, and in Garmin’s version routable). It may not be Garmin’s fault if they can’t get the appropriate map data. Anyway, if the 5X is like every other Garmin outdoors device that takes maps, you’ll be able to buy TOPO’s from Garmin and put them on, or use OSM maps.

  129. Andy

    Just wondering…

    Garmin fenix 5 TOPO U.S. mapping …. which countries does it mapping?

  130. Eladio

    hi, awsome job. Great review.
    Just one question. Do you think that we could use the quickfit bands of fénix 5, ni our fénix 3hr?
    Ir would de be great.

    Greetings from Spain.

  131. Nedim

    It just dawned on me that, given enough clearance, the 5S and 5 could take google MODE bands (20 and 22mm)

    link to store.google.com

    This would give a ton more options (incl. leather bands), at least for casual wear. I do not want to impose, but it would be interesting to see/clarify in a full review :D

  132. Sergey

    What is the size (diameter) of Fenix 3 and do you have details on how tall devices are (height I mean)?

    PS: Tried to upgrade FR230 to something with bigger battery (reboots when -10-15 and colder if wear outside with light on) – ended up with 920XT.
    Fenix 3 is too big for me – both too heavy and too tall.

    Is Fenix 5 (not X) a tad smaller (speaking of case height, not diameter)?
    How it compares to F3 in terms of weight and diameter?

  133. Jess Lehman

    Thanks for the review! The large size and heavy weight of the Fenix 3 made me buy the 735 for my triathlon watch. It is so light! Do you think the new Fenix 5s is now comparable to the 735 in those areas? I am curious if you think Garmin is going to push the Fenix 5s as their triathlon and multi-sport watch, or come out with a next gen 735. I prefer the round face watch for everyday wear compared to the square 920.

    • Nedim

      I have no insight into Garmin, but it sure seems to me that this is how their product lines work:

      Vivo-Series: Fitbit+ crowd and lower cost devices. Probably best bang for the $.

      Forerunner: Performance oriented. Light and fully featured. Function over form.

      Fenix: Combined daily wear smartwatch with GPS/ABC. Comfortable in office, on mountain and training.

      Cronos: Premium smartwatch with athletic capabilities for credibility, just like a swiss diving watch. Form over function.

      I am not so sure about Cronos long term (depending on actual sales), but there are clearly defined market segments for the other three. So I am assuming that Forerunners are pretty safe.

      As Forerunners seem to have low-and-high versions (235/630, 735/9xx), I am expecting a 935/945XT to show up in ’17; adding barometric altimeter and some battery life to the 735XT.

      All pure speculation.

    • MARVA

      Help me out if you can, please. Or talk me down from buying this 600.00 device.

      I am more of a fitness enthusiast than a runner. I’m a gym rat, doing classes and body weight exercises. I will do the occasional 5K or trail race. I do want gps.

      I have a VAHR, and for the two weeks that device had the training effect, I really utilized it during my workouts. `

      My first fitness tracker was the Misfit Shine, and my second was the Vivofit 2. I liked having an attractive device that I could wear with any outfit and also one where I could change bands.

      It seems the closest device for my need is the 5s. But it does much more than I’ll ever need since I’m a serious gym rat, but not a serious runner.

      Would you recommend I buy this watch that costs double any other smart watch because it has everything I need, even though it has a LOT more than I need?

    • I’d start off with:

      What don’t you like about the VAHR? Meaning, from your requirements it honestly sounds like that’s the best bet.

      But it’s more a style thing, then that’s a different story.

  134. Forrest

    It’s pretty common for somebody to send me 2 or 3 texts at a time.

    My Fenix 3 used to display them, up to its limit. That was useful. Now it just says “2 text messages” and the list of people they’re from. That’s frustrating and unhelpful.

    Can you tell us how the F5 behaves? Maybe remind Garmin not to break this feature?

  135. Phil

    Hi Ray, great review as always.
    Not sure if this question has been asked but will the 5X have UK maps on it when it’s available over here?

  136. Ted W

    Ray: it seems to be happening more an more frequently. Only the first 50 replies are shown when the page loads. I’ve tried different browsers. I’ve flush broswer cache. Nothing seems to work. is there some other trick?

  137. Stephen

    CANADA Maps Follow-up

    Here is the latest message I received from Garmin. I asked directly: If they plan to EVER have maps for 5X for Canada, or if they will not be available at release date BUT are expected down the road. Here’s what garmin support said:

    Hello Stephen,

    Canadian maps are not available yet upon release of the product, and we do not know if they will be in the future. It’s neither a yes or a no when it comes to what you’ll be able to download to the device in the future, it’s we don’t know yet.

    If you have any other questions, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us again.

    Thank you for choosing Garmin,


    Product Support – Outdoor Team

    Garmin International


    I do understand that Garmin has too maps on the website for purchase for Canada. Which is why I’m very curious as to why this answer is coming about. Are they not compatible with the 5X? Sure sounds like they aren’t if Garmin Support can’t even say that an existing topo map for Canada on their site will simply be compatible with the 5X. This is very frustrating, as can’t seem to get a straight answer.

    Either way, I’ll be cancelling my pre-order. Even if I need to buy a Canadian map from their store down the road, this is going to cost me an additional 100+ US to buy (current is 149$ US), and from what I’m hearing, they can’t even say that this is going to be compatible with the 5X. I suppose I’ll just have to wait until Garmin officially comes out with Canada support, because as I’m only in the US for another 6 months, doesn’t make a lot of sense to have an expensive mapping watch that’s only going to be good for the US.

  138. Stephen

    Final Update CANADA maps for 5X

    To answer many of the speculations about Canadian maps and new Fenix 5X, here is Garmin’s latest response:

    Hello Stephen,

    If a Canadian retailer sells the 5X it will have US maps on it, not Canadian topo map.

    The Fenix 5X is not compatible with the Topo Canada map.

    If you look at compatible devices on the product page for the Topo Canada map, the Fenix 5 is not listed there: link to buy.garmin.com

    Currently, if you bought Topo Canada, you wouldn’t be able to send it to the Fenix 5X. This might change in the future, but if or when is not certain right now.

    Thank you for choosing Garmin,


    Product Support – Outdoor Team

    Garmin International


    • Paul S.

      Since they pointed you to a map that’s only available on microSD, then yes, this map isn’t compatible with the 5X, since it doesn’t have a microSD slot. But look at the maps that are available for download. I looked at TOPO Canada East, and it supports the Epix, so it will support the 5X. Why would the premier Garmin wrist based mapping device not take a Garmin map that it has plenty of room for when every other mapping device that they have will support it? (Well, I’ve never tried a TOPO map on a Nuvi.) My Epix supports the 100k US TOPO maps it came with, it supports the 24k US TOPO maps that I bought long before there was an Epix, and it supports various OpenStreetMap maps I’ve used on it.

      One nasty thing is that the Canadian maps can only be unlocked for 1 device. That’s not true of US TOPOs (unique among Garmin maps).

    • Paul S.

      Aww, nuts, I just checked and US TOPO 24k are now locked to one device. They weren’t when I bought them years ago, and I’ve used them on multiple devices. That’s awful. I hate the way they’ve become more restrictive over the years. (The first Garmin map I bought, City Nav, could then be used on up to 3 devices.)

    • Ed

      What’s the point of having a watch that does maps if it only has maps of one country. What a waste.

    • Paul S.

      So put whatever maps you want on it. The maps are replaceable, free maps are available, and there’s plenty of space.

    • RIchard

      Someone with an actual 5X will be able to verify this, but I think the 5X comes with an approximate continent’s worth of detailed (routable?) maps, as well as a global basemap.Digging through teh garmin website reveals the following regional variations of the Fenix 5X part number:

      Fenix 5X Part No. Region
      010-01733-01 UK
      010-01733-00 USA
      010-01733-00 Chile
      010-01733-01 Italy
      010-01733-01 France
      010-01733-01 Finland
      010-01733-01 Germany
      010-01733-01 Norway
      010-01733-02 Australia
      010-01733-03 Brasil
      010-01733-03 South Africa
      010-01733-10 India
      010-01733-10 Indonesia
      010-01733-10 Malaysia
      010-01733-10 Philipines
      010-01733-11 Taiwan
      010-01733-13 Japan
      010-01733-14 Hong Kong
      N/A China
      N/A Canada

    • Paul

      Its very strange there is no Canada. Unless the US on actually has North America. Can anyone confirm this?

  139. Pretty thrilled about the new watch especially in the smaller size for my wrist. I’ve got an old school Forerunner 220 and wear the first Generation Vivo Active daily. I run as a sport, but bike (credit card touring), hike (a lot), and love the activity tracking for ego. I love having the latest and best gear, but this price tag in Canadian dollars is really going to hurt (The 5S sapphire is $1150CDN!!!!) – Looking forward to seeing where you stand Ray on the 735XT vs the Fenix 5S vs the Fenix 3 on sale. any thoughts are appreciated!

  140. David

    Ray: I saw that the 5S doesn’t get the 240×240 screen but 2 questions….

    1) is the screen also now 64 colors despite the old resolution?
    2) will developers have to choose to design and support both resolutions or do you think a lot of future apps are likely to be “5/5X” only?


  141. Markus

    Hi Ray, do you know something about the 1-2 sec recording of heartrate during 24/7 – as if it is a hardware thing or a software thing ?

    If it is softwaresided – will this feature be delivered to other garmin products like vivoactive hr or forerunner 735xt for example.

    As it was with the vivosmart hr … the early vivosmart hr recorded the hr not very often – as the vivoactive hr was launched they did a software update which made the vivosmart hr doing this more often – like the vivoactive hr did …

    Thanks for your answers :)

    • It’s primarily a hardware thing. The new optical sensor has a much lower battery profile, enabling them to keep it lit longer.

    • Markus

      So theres no option to do a software Update you think ?

    • No, as going to 1-2s would kill the battery.

      That said, I do wish there was some middle-ground software option for those that don’t mind burning batteries and would rather better data.

    • markus

      Yeah … thats right … for the vivoactive hr there is an connect iq app called hr always … but i think that this one give higher calorie readings cause the algorythm of the garmin is not made for this app :/

  142. Hey Folks-

    As promised (albeit slightly later than planned), I’ve uploaded a raft of size comparison pictures of all the new models compared to each other as well as older models. You can hit that new section up right here:

    link to dcrainmaker.com


    • Sergey


    • Adam

      Thanks Ray! 5s it is! Like that it’s very similar in size to the 735xt.

    • Torstein

      A tiny little detail, but studying the various pictures of the fenix 5 I see that on some of the watches the upside down triangle on the bezel at the 12 o’clock position is red, while on others it is white. Is there any way to determine which models have the red triangle? Is it the sapphire editions for instance?

      I have tried looking at pictures on the Garmin website, but haven’t been able to determine a conclusive pattern…

    • Jim

      That seals it – the 5 for me! My F3 is going back. Thank you!

    • John B

      Thanks for this, this is such a great help. Definitely the best photos available anywhere of these watches. Also, gotta love the ziplocks mashed full of thousands of dollars of watches. How does the product lending from Garmin work? Do they just ask you to send the watches back “at some point?”

    • Pretty much. There’s no specific timetable attached to them. In this case, those Ziploc bags were just a means of carrying them all to a spot outside the convention center to take the photos. Generally when Garmin sends over units for test, they’re fully boxed/new from factory.

      In the case of returns, I usually batch them together, pulling in a few months worth of stuff. Mostly because it just costs a lot of money to send a single watch back from Europe to the US. Sometimes I’ll also return them at conventions/conferences like this. I remember last year at CES I brought a long Subway sandwich plastic bag full of watches – not unlike the Ziploc one seen above.

      Finally, I usually try and shoot all the style/model variant photos (like above) early on at release, as quite frankly I just don’t want to deal with having a dozen watches floating around. Usually I’ll just borrow a bag like this for a few hours to do the shots. Then for the review I’ll focus on testing one or to two units.

  143. simon


    fyi – looks like there’s a CIQ app for ANT+ weight scales, haven’t had chance to test it yet

  144. Justin

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the early hands on. I was really looking forward to the CES refraining me from buying the 3HR and I’m glad I made it ;-)

    I was wondering if the 5X is suitable to use as a GPS with map to go around in town (walking, cycling or even on motorbike when stopped in the traffic). Can it guide you to points of interest? To other locations ?


    • Yes, you can technically do all those things. And sure enough, it found all sorts of random restaurants nearby me.

      But honestly, a phone just works so much better for city navigation. Even if you don’t have cellular service – using something like Google Maps cached would be better/easier/cleaner.

      So while you could technically route just fine to Chipotle, I’d likely just pull out my phone as it’d be a gazillion times more clear/faster.

    • Paul S

      The big problem is how to select a POI. The Epix doesn’t have a way to enter text, so you wind up scrolling through lists. As Ray says, it just so much easier to use a phone. With most phones and the Apple Watch, you can simply give a voice command. Garmin watches don’t have that yet.

  145. lucas

    Worst thing about the F3 (for me) was the size.
    If there isn’t a difference between the 5 and the 5s (according to this write up) I’d be very happy with the 5s.
    Would people go for the 5?

    Maps though. I want small and I want maps.

    • Matthew B.

      5s has significantly less battery life. That’s what you’re giving up. Well, that and screen size/resolution.

    • Daniel

      The reduced size of the 5 and 5s compared to previous fenix is a big plus for me, jumped into the forerunners due to the fenix 2 for being too big.

      Being the same price, it comes to whatever style you prefer. (and battery)

  146. rabbit

    Hi Ray,

    can you tell us something more about battery size of

    5x (300mAh?) : 5/5s (180mAH?) ???

  147. Ted W

    Has anyone read technical specs on the actual (glass) screen diameter? Even though my preoreder5x has sapphire glass, no way am I leaving it exposed. Going for a primo sreen protector like I did with my F3. They made this in different mm increments. F3 was a 38mm diameter. F5x is……. ??

  148. Vincent

    Hi Ray, great review as always. When is the wifi on the watch being used actually? I plan to upgrade from Fenix3 to Fenix5. Thinking of non sapphire so I will lose the wifi. I prefer optical HR over HRM. I know i will lose GCT etc but I’m ok. Just not sure what I’m giving up by not having wifi. Are those update i always see on the watch on BT or wifi? Thanks!

  149. John B

    They really need to sell the 5s with a rugged band like the others. Hate that perforated band. I also don’t understand why Garmin goes out of their way to say the 5s is for women. It’s larger than the Forerunners which are not small watches, all things considered, and I suspect many dudes will buy it.

    • Mitch

      I’m one who’ll buy it. I was looking at those Google mode bands

    • Just to be clear, on many of the 5s units, you actually get a secondary band*. I’m not sure I see the difference in the picture you posted though – aren’t those essentially the same bands?

      *Details in this section: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • John B

      I digitally swapped the default 5s band with the tiny perforations for the Fenix 5 band in the middle to see how it would look with a more rugged band. This is the original pic:

    • Ahh, gotchya. Yeah, not sure why there’s a difference there.

    • ann cleverley

      Hi Ray, I wondered if I could transfer my fenix 3 titanium strap to the new fenix 5 when its available in the UK and would the mapping work in the UK.

      kind regards


    • David

      To be clear John B: the Fenix 5S is ever so slightly *smaller* than the 230/235/630/735 but its within about 1 mm. The 5S at 42mm is right in the sweet spot of the standard Rolex / Omega look. I too think its going to be my choice for an everyday watch where I feel in certain situations the Fenix 3 / Fenix 5 maybe just to much watch for the look I want.

    • John B

      Yeah the face is slightly smaller but overall I think it will look significantly bigger. For one the attachment points to the band extend straight out instead of tapering down along the wrist like the forerunner. Also it’s quite a bit thicker, which in my opinion affects the perceived size as much if not more than the watch face size (your wrist is wider than it is deep after all). I think the photos are a bit misleading because the thickness of the 735 is in part due to the HRM, which doesn’t rest flush on top of your wrist the way it does on a hard surface like a rock.

    • David

      I agree totally.

      I’m excited for my 5S. I put a bunch of my 42 mm mechanical watches on and they are totally my favorite and the goal behind me even buying the Fenix is to get a 24×7 daily wear watch that does it all and makes me feel like I’m wearing a “nice” watch again. I used to always wear nice analogue watches everyday and swap it out for a big Garmin (starting with the old 305) for running but with the advent of all day tracking I got away from wearing watches at all and just wore activity bands from both Fitbit and Garmin (bouncing back and forth, never quite happy) and running watches for workouts. Maybe it is hitting 40 this year but I look in the mirror and this Fitbit Charge 2 isn’t making me happy but I don’t want to lose the tracking.

      If this plays out the way I hope I look forward to wearing the Fenix 5S 24/7/365 for the next 2 years until the next big version comes out.

      Here is the picture of the 5S on a man’s wrist in black/black that finalized my decision:


    • David

      and of course I posted the WRONG PICTURE!

      **THIS** is the picture of the 5S on a man’s wrist that convinced me to buy the 5S:


    • Ann – You’d be able to transfer it to the 5X, but not the other editions as the pole length is smaller on the 5/5S.

    • cleverley

      thanks Ray then cant wait to purchase. do you know if maps will compatible in the uk.

      thank you

    • Yes, they will be. You’ll be able to purchase a UK variant (or just download maps to a non-UK variant).

    • cleverley

      perfect and thanks

    • R. Hunt.

      That’s my favourite as well. Unfortunately the black 5s is only available along with sapphire option. Even more expensive :(

    • JR

      I’m not sure I agree that the 5s band is more feminine. I’ve seen plenty of diving watches with similar bands. And I like the fact that it has the same pattern all the way up to the lugs.

  150. raqball

    Hi Ray… I preordered the 5 from Clever Training but have a question I do not think has been asked. The new charging cord looks a bit odd to me. There is no longer a cradle for the watch to sit flat in and by 1st appearances, this new charging cord will not allow the watch to lay flat on a table or desk and charge.

    Can you comment on this and / or post a photo of the charging cord along with it plugged into the watch and charging? I assume the watch will need to be propped up on it’s side or charged face down..


    • Jeremy

      He commented on it in the comments above (you’ll need to dig through or do a quick search).
      In short, Garmin is attempting to standardize their chargers across all watches. Makes huge sense, in my opinion. The only problem is going to be charging on the go, but I’d expect an after market accessory to help with that eventually.

      Manual showing the charger – link to www8.garmin.com

      Youtube video showing the charger – link to youtu.be

    • raqball

      Thanks for the links.. So there is no way to charge it flat on a desk or table anymore unless you want it face down… Bummer and a huge mistake on Garmin’s part if you ask me…

    • John B

      Although you could charge it on its side just like an Apple Watch. Garmin could even implement an alarm clock mode in this orientation as Apple does. So, could be a feature.

    • Jeremy

      Just out of curiosity, why is not being able to lay flat while charging a deal breaker?

    • raq

      I didn’t say it was a deal breaker I said it was a mistake and I think it is.. How are you going to charge it? You have 2 options… 1) Face down or 2) Propped up on it’s side. Unless someone (a 3rd party I assume) released a stand / charging dock for it, those are your 2 charging options..

    • John B

      I think the biggest mistake is changing the charging cable every single time they release a new watch. And if you’re gonna ditch the clip on charger for a plug, at least make it mini USB or USB-C so I don’t have to carry (lose) an extra cable. The charging port is in fact proprietary right?

    • David

      it’s a niche issue but the new charger plug design seems to make it impossible to charge it while you are wearing it (something you could do with the fenix 3) so the ultra ultra runners who used that as a “feature” in multiday efforts might not be too happy with the fenix 5.

    • raqball

      Agree John B… I guess a charging dock of some sort will be needed (additional cost on top of the already insane pricing) if you don’t want a haphazard charging process.. Unless I am missing something, as the unit ships, charging it is going to put the watch in a weird position and be rather awkward…

      And yes it does indeed look to be proprietary from what I can gather…

    • PhilBoogie


    • Dom

      @JohnB, for what it’s worth, nobody seems to have come up with a reliable waterproof USB socket on a watch yet. Off the top of my head, I can only think of the Polar M400 that offers one good to 30m, and that had a lot of problems with the connector corroding or deforming (they redesigned it later and removed the rubber plug which was actually trapping water and making things worse…)
      As various people observed above, this is supposed to be the design for future Garmin watches.

    • I have to disagree with you there Dom, the GoPro Hero 5 is waterproof to 10m and uses a USB-C connector so it is possible to use a standard. While Garmin have finally standardised on a lead it’s almost useless if it’s a proprietary standard as you’ll not be able to pick them up as easily and cheaply as a USB cable and at least with USB or USB-C I can take one cable to charge multiple devices while out.

    • Nope, the Hero5’s USB-C connector isn’t waterproof. Rather, it’s hidden behind a sealed waterproofing door. In fact, my understanding is that it isn’t even IPX7 waterproofed, which is pretty common years ago for USB connectors (Garmin Edge devices are actually IPX7 waterproofed, as I showed in this crazy test 6 years ago: link to dcrainmaker.com)

      Dom is correct – none of the internally waterproofed to 50m USB solutions have worked out well yet. None. They’ve all started to fail about a year in. Polar has done the most work here in this area with the M400, but even they will readily admit they won’t make that mistake again (which is why it hasn’t been seen on any watches since).

    • Then put the USB-C connector behind a waterproof door.

    • Which would take up a huge amount of room (like it does on the Hero5), not feasible for the back of a watch. Also note, the Hero5 is ‘only’ waterproof to 10m, not 50 or 100m.

    • Well maybe use the same material they use for the current connector, they managed to get that not to rust or leak… I know it’s never going to happen as there’s no money in non-proprietary and I’m one of the 1% who won’t buy unless s/he can charge on wrist so my voice is unimportant but one can dream ;)

    • Ted W

      The F3 would charge pretty quick. under 1hr with USB battery. for F5x sure I would prefer to charge while on wrist. but I can hold the watch with charge cable in for awhile, or just attach to running pack. possibly even put the watch on upside so face is facing wrist. either way, yes it stinks, but at least you can charge while in use.

    • Brad Wingler

      That’s what I thought. I just plan to attach it to my Salomon pack while I run so it charges and then keep moving…kind of a pain, but so is running 100 miles haha!

    • Dom

      Depicus, I actually agree with you about charging in use; I’m not an ultra runner myself, but many of my friends are, and a couple of them have done Bob Graham rounds, won 100-mile races and so on. The fenix watches are basically designed for people who do that, and it’s just weird that they can charge and record at the same time, but you can’t connect a cable when it’s on your wrist. I’m only arguing about what the best way to do this would be.

    • And I agree with you Dom it does seem strange especially as it has the HR monitor which you’d lose. Hopefully somebody will come up with a solution otherwise it’s a very expensive downgrade ;)

  151. David

    Ray, a personal question: What do you think of the 5S on your own wrist? It looks a decent size even for most men at 42mm (the most common Omega/Rolex, heck even Apple Watch size) even if it isn’t the trendy oversized watch size that many men sport these days. I know you often wear business wear with all these watches and obviously one of the appeals of the Fenix line is the classier look, do you think the thinner / smaller 5S has an appeal even for men? The 235 when I had it was to me a healthy size for my small 6.5 wrist and it seems this is a hair smaller but much smaller than if I moved up to the 5. I’m looking to invest the big $$$ in a sapphire edition for an every single day 24/7 wear watch from professional to casual to sport situations (actually already ordered a 5S through your CT link in black/black) but I’m second guessing if I should be getting the 5 for the better res screen and battery life (although being honest I can’t imagine ever needing it).


    • For me, it’d likely be the 5 or 5S. I’m just a smaller watch guy in general, I prefer for example the FR735XT over the Fenix series, or the FR920XT. Despite the lack of baro.

      Sure, the 5X is great and all – but if I had to pick just one (as a triathlete, more than a hiker), then it’s the 5/5S, and probably leaning towards 5S.

    • David

      Thanks Ray. I liked the 235 form factor very much when I had it but it was too “running watch” for me to like wearing in professional and personal life beyond sport. The irony is I now wear The Fitbit Cjarge 2 which isn’t much better (although is a bit simpler looking than a watch.)

      I think the 5S will be a great 24/7 choice. Thanks.

    • Aldo

      I was considering buying the 735, but I really don’t like the idea of charging the watch very often. Then came the 5S/5 with more battery life. But also not a fan of big watches.

      I am now in doubt over size x battery life. I guess your test and other opinions regarding the number of days without recharging with GPS and optical HR turned off (using these features only during workouts) would be crucial to my decision. I saw the 3HR and looked big for me. The 5, looking smaller, might be the the one, but the 5S might be an option if the difference between battery life is not significant, since it also looks great.

      By the way, my actual watch is a “dumb” Timex Trail Run, which has a 45mm diameter in size (at least that is what says in the specs).

  152. Jin

    Awesome preview. Got a question for you on one function that seems to be lacking currently in Fenix 3 HR (hopefully implemented in 5 or 5x)
    For cycling power meter, Edge series has auto prompt when it detects power meter for calibration. No such option exists for 3 HR right now and you need to go through convoluted menu to calibrate… Has this been implemented in 5? Might be able to ditch Edge 520 finally.

  153. Hernan

    I have the fenix 2, do you think the upgrade to fenix 5 is worth it?

    • Anders

      I’m also interested in this (although I have concluded that an upgrade is worth it). Maybe 735xt is better cost/profit?
      I think the Fenix 2 fulfills most of the basic needs except 24/7 tracking, WIFI, optical tracking and as a smart watch. However, its way too big for my wrist, and takes too long to catch satellite signal. The 5s definitely seems like the most appealing of the 5s, however, the limited battery life of the s is a bid drawback compared to the regular 5.

  154. Michael

    Thank you for the review. I am currently looking for a heart rate monitor for use during swimming. I noticed that the Garmin HR monitor was said not to work under water. But have you tried it under water? Is it completely unworkable under water, or just work intermittently under water?

    • I have tried the F3 series underwater, it’s mixed. Sometimes you get valid readings, sometimes not. Usually based on pace/effort/intensity. And that’s ultimately the problem – it’s all over the map.

  155. Don

    Very informative. May I ask what sized wrist you have. The picture comparison on the wrist is great.

  156. 6co

    OK now with a tricky question.
    The quick-fit band is pretty cool. And I understand that it works with the Fenix 3 as well. Great. Now, can the quick-fit band actually work as well with the Quick Release?
    I am sure you see where I am going. This would be so much easier…


  157. Per

    Hi Ray,

    I currently have a Fenix 3HR and but after trying the 735XT I do like the size and weight compared to the Fenix 3HR, so I am looking to buy the 5S. But the strap on 5S looks a bit short. Even shorter than the 735XT! Can you comment on, if you noticed that being an issue?

  158. Nir

    The new Garmin fenix 5 and fenix 5x have the same price.

    I don’t care about the maps, and will probably never use it. I also don’t care about the extra size of fenix 5x.

    Do you think I should buy the fenix 5x? (May be I can just use its storage as a drive to store files, or maybe there is some other use case)

    • Paul

      I wonder this also. Will the extra space and stronger processor benefit me else where. I dont care about the maps. But a more powerful watch with more storage does.

    • Ted W

      I never had a watch with maps, and while true a mobile phone probably has maps. Since i normally have a Samsung Note.. I dont always run with my phone (not as easy with a bigger phablet). But the maps intrigue me. Gimmicky maybe. Will I used them alot. May be not. but increase memory and increased processor generally mean more future proof, and that i DO really like

    • jetkom

      Keep in mind that increased memory/processor will only benefit you if Garmin allows for that. The performance could be great for newer version of the IQ apps, but Garmin could as well decide to not upgrade any of the Fenix 5 watches to make you buy the next version.

  159. Al

    Is the wifi and/or sapphire glass worth the extra $100? Only thing I ever saw wifi on my Fenix 3 do was update itself. Do I really need it? Does the sapphire glass scratch easily?

    • lucas

      I don’t think the wifi is a major factor. For me at least. I think I only used wifi for updates too.
      Uploading/Downloading stats, courses, workouts and that can be sent to phone via blutooth, which will have a wifi or internet connection anyway. Same with features like the weather widget.

      Sapphire glass is very tough. So you’ll likely never scratch it.
      The standard glass (mineral i think) is still tough. But over time you may collect one or two faint scratches. Maybe. Depends.
      I’m probably going to get a standard Fs. I’d like sappier glass, but I’m confident the standard will hold up fine.

  160. Charles

    I think I’m of the mindset that was mentioned earlier in the comments by someone, which is I’m losing faith in the dream of a “one watch to rule them all” utopia. Right now I have a Garmin 3HR and an Apple Watch 2, and find that I’m using the Garmin for the more detailed workout tracking I can do with it, especially when linked to Strava and TrainingPeaks, but have no interest in wearing the Garmin all day. After the workout is done, it’s off with that watch until next workout, and on with the Apple Watch for the rest of the day/night (and I’m finding that the way I’m using it, battery life isn’t a deterrent, as I’ll charge it while performing my morning routine). While the Apple Watch 2 is being marketed as a fitness watch, we all know it doesn’t cut it really, if you’re into any more detailed workouts and/or endurance events. BUT, I do think it just looks better for all day wear than Garmins (subjective I know), and I like the Apple app ecosystem potential, for use for the stuff I miss because I’m not wearing the Garmin all day (step count, sleep tracking, HR data, etc.), as well as the other uses I get with the Apple Watch beyond sports focus.

    I must admit I was a bit embarrassed to write this post, feeling it’s pretty ridiculous to be managing two devices/two ecosystems because I can’t find a watch that I think “does it all”, at least elegantly. Banking on the good graces of the community that I’m not laughed at TOO hard!

    Anyway, I’m waiting for the results of Ray’s full review before I make a decision, but right now I’m questioning if the Fenix 5 series is “worth it” to upgrade from my Fenix 3HR. Because of the wonky dual watch scenario I’m using I’m less concerned with size of the device as I’ll only be using it for sports use, and living in CO I do like the map functionality of the 5X for hiking, so I’m thinking the 5X purchase may make sense if I sell the 3HR and my Edge 520, but we’ll see. Lots may depend on Ray’s feedback around the 5’s GPS and HR accuracy, as well as early feedback from the DCR community by those who are the first wave of users.

    • Al

      I used to wear my Fenix 3 all the time until I got the iWatch 2. I prefer my Fenix despite the huge size, and use it mainly now for my swims and outdoor activities. The bug attraction to the watch is that I can quickly and discreetly respond to text messages directly on the watch vs taking out my phone (which is not allowed when at work or working swim meets).

    • Keith

      Agree with all you said. Purchased an F3 two years ago, when first released. I have loved the Fenix 3 and its rugged look, embracing its “large-ness” not as a draw-back but one of my favorite things. I’ve worn it daily, run thousands of miles, races, trails, water sports, skiing, and gotten more comments and questions about the watch than any other watch I’ve ever worn. But since September, I’ve been living the “two watch life” when I got the Apple Watch 2 sports edition. I’m deeply rooted in the Apple eco-system and wanted the AW to work for me, SO BAD, but after trying the built in running app, Runkeeper, Nike Run and then patiently waiting on Strava to get their app updated to work without the phone, I’ve given up. One of the biggest weaknesses of the AW is the screen always off while running unless you raise you wrist. A quick glance to check your pace or distance on a Garmin is just SO EASY and instant.
      After the honeymoon period with the Apple Watch, I’m at a point of Eh…. I actually think it looks pretty stupid, like a nerdy square digital watch from the 80’s (sorry, opinion only), although I do appreciate the extra functionality that it offers. But a few weeks ago I stopped switching back to the AW after workouts with the Fenix as I had been doing, just back to full-time Fenix. Realizing and “re-appreciating” the Fenix, I pre-ordered an F5x and have sold the AW (on eBay for close to what I paid!). Goodbye AW for now… maybe I’ll try to give it another try when it figures out serious fitness in the future. Can’t wait for the F5x and what promises to be a great replacement for my trusty F3.

    • Dom

      Charles, it’s quite refreshing seeing a comment from someone with a more measured attitude than the more common “I’ve picked MY device, and everybody who has picked something else has made a terrible mistake.”

    • David

      I agree with some of what you said but for me it is the Fenix 5S that wins the day. I used a first gen Apple Watch for about 7-8 months (while using Garmin as my sports ecosystem) but I badly wanted my whole “activity” life to be on one platform. The Apple Watch to me was underwhelming except for getting notifications so eventually I sold it. Garmin hadn’t introduced TrueUp yet and even as a man I felt the Fenix 3 HR (51mm size) was way to large to wear 24/7, in particular in professional settings. I moved to Fitbit of all things and used the Surge for running, Charge 2 for daily wear, and a Flex 2 when I wore a real mechanical high end watch on occasion. I’m not at all happy with this setup either because Fitbit is a pale version of Garmin and I miss having a classy watch.

      Back comes Garmin. New plan. I am getting the Fenix 5S in sapphire which is the same size as a Rolex or Omega and the same size as the LARGER Apple Watch. In other words I actually think it is the proper size for an all day 24/7 wear watch for men. Don’t get me wrong, I think the 47 mm Fenix 5 and 51 mm Fenix 5x both look good when using them for sports and even look good in some casual situations and if you have a large wrist but the 5S for me is the only option for 24/7 wear… so I am going to wear the 5S 24/7 and get a Vivofit 3 (or whatever Garmin has by late spring) and the optional clip for it for wear in the few situations I might not want to wear the Fenix and wear one of my nice mechanical watches instead and with Garmin TrueUp I don’t miss a step.

      I’m so nuts bouncing around these platforms but Garmin continues to get closer to what I need.

    • Charles

      Hmm, I like your reasoning David. I also have a nice mechanical watch that has been relegated to my drawer over the last couple of years when I made it a desire to quantify myself with wearables. It would be nice to not feel like it’s an either/or situation, and pull out my mechanical now and then without “losing” anything. Also, I somehow had missed the Garmin TrueUp updates; gotta look into that too. Thanks for sharing the suggestion!

      On the Apple Watch side,here’s a hydration tracking app and sleep tracking app I’ve enjoyed, making it easy to put those metrics into TrainingPeaks… but I’m not married to anything yet, as I continue my Vision Quest. Decisions, decisions!

  161. Alex

    Anyone knows if it will be possible to broadcast hr data from the Fenix5 to an Edge during a triathlon race without getting into the settings?
    I know that the fenix3HR can’t do that cause you need to press some buttons, just wanna look at my HR data while riding during a race in a seamless way, and the fenix recording everything of course


    • Yes, you can configure it to ‘Broadcast during activity’, within triathlon mode. Thus once on the bike your Edge will pick it up happily.

    • And just to be clear, that ‘Broadcast during activity’ is a generic sensor setting across the whole watch. So once you set it as enabled in the sensor settings, it’s good for any sports.

    • Alex

      Ray, thank you so much, really appreciate your effort.

      Yesterday scrolling down topics on the garmin forum I read that is indeed possible to broadcast HR to the Edge but then you can’t access the data pages on your fenix while recording a triathlon event.
      Is is true? They say that you just get a sorta ao blank screen with your hr while broadcasting.

      Thanks again :)

    • I don’t have an F3HR handy at the moment to validate if the firmware has changed seim-recently there.

      But without question, on the F5, it’s as stated above.

    • Alex

      Thanks again Ray :)

    • Paul Gerber

      Alex, that is how it worked 1+ firmware versions ago. It is no longer the case. Now you can enable broadcast during your activities giving you full access to all your data screens during a workout as per normal while simultaneously broadcasting your HR.

  162. Matthew B.

    Ray – any word on whether Bluetooth sensor support is coming to any older products (920xt, Fenix3, etc) since it appears to solely be a change in philosophy?

  163. Kyle

    Now that Garmin owns Delorme and has their own device for the iridium satelites…Do you see a feature for Fenix, forerunner, etc, series being able to use that for Live Tracking instead of relying on a phone to live track? It would be awesome to have the ability for live tracking without a phone and just using the watch GPS signal. I dont believe the Fenix or any watch has the hardware right? If this was possible, live tracking for a marthon would be possible without a phone or even getting messages in the middle of nowhere.

    • PhilBoogie

      Iridium? Don’t you mean Galileo? While that has indeed two-way communication I don’t think it was designed for Live Track by our friends. Rather for distress calls:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Kyle

      Maybe but I’ve had a delorme in-reach communicator(iridium) for a couple years now and it works good sending and receiving text and having anyone that wants to live track my location. It also recently started to receive weather updates. I havent read much about the Galileo system.

    • PhilBoogie

      Well I’m just catching up on Delorme myself, hadn’t heard about it. I don’t see any smaller devices on their website than the handhelds. I wonder if that is due to poor battery life.

    • Yeah, it’s going to require much beefier hardware than what’s in the watch form factor today.

      That said, I could see Garmin selling an accessory that then pairs to any Garmin fitness/outdoor device. That would allow them to keep the small form factor on the watches, while also going with a much smaller pod-like form factor on the sat comms side. I’d buy something that like. Then again, I’d probably buy everything…

  164. J Hanson

    Will the Fenix 3 be updated when the Fenix 5 comes out so that maybe the software is similar?

  165. David

    Ray: since I’m going back to Garmin with the Fenix 5S (ordered with your CT link) I’m probably going to get a heart rate strap to use on occasion for the specialized running data and tests. I’ve read your extensive review on the HRM-SWIM and HRM-TRI combined package which CT is selling for $99 but I also see they have the HRM-RUNv2 for $99. I’m trying to understand if it makes any sense for a 99% runner who *might* someday try using a HR strap while swimming to still just get the HRM-SWIM/TRI combo and no HRM-RUNv2. It seems like the TRI is nearly an identical strap in size/form to the HRM-TRI but the HRM-TRI adds the storage and swim metrics while maintaining the specialized running data?

    Why in the world would Garmin being selling an identical strap that does less (HRM-RUNv2) for the same price as a strap that does the same in the same form factor that does more (HRM-TRI) and comes with a bonus pool strap (HRM-SWIM) for the same price? What am I missing, is the HRM-RUN a different fabric or something?

    • Bart

      David, on CT site if you choose the option to order its $99 for either or, the bundle which is both is $199. If you think you may want to log a swim then the TRI version is the one to get.

    • Bart

      The TRI version is actually $129

    • David

      Thanks Bart, I never got further than the sales page at CT for it and it doesn’t show you the real price until you select options.


      HRM-SWIM = $99 and works great in pools but isn’t ideal for running due to comfort/size.
      HRM-RUNv2 = $99 and works great for running, has the speciality metrics and is comfortable. No storage or swimming functions.
      HRM-TRI = $129 identical in size/comfort to the HRM-RUNv2 including all the running speciality metrics but also stores swimming data for open-water swimming like the HRM-SWIM. Not great for pools.

      Seems like I basically have to ask myself if spending an extra $29 is worth it to have a band store data and be future proofed against a rare open water swim.

    • I generally find the HRM-TRI is my all-around strap, if I’m going to wear a chest strap and using a Garmin device. It gets me the extra metrics, and I can grab extra data while openwater swimming.

      For me and pool swimming, I’m just not going to wear the HRM-SWIM strap in the pool. Purely a pool ‘fashion’ thing.

    • David

      Thanks Ray, at a certain point the value of HR needs to be actionable I guess and if you can’t really see HR live while doing laps in a pool I guess it just isn’t that important. If you are going to be wearing a strap in a tri for the sake of logistics and having it on from the start I guess getting data to look at later is a nice bonus. I think I’ll get the HRM-TRI for my running and extra metrics and the fun of seeing some data from some open water vacation swims, at this point the extra $29 is the least of my worries… every time I come to your site (daily) I seem to leave with less money.

    • Ted W

      @Ray (and others more in the Tri scene). The HRM-TRI suggests not for pools. But isnt that also true for most earlier version of the HRM? That the pool chemicals were not good for them. I’m also trying to decide if I want an HRM-TRI, HRM-RUNv2. Lately I very rarely have pool swims, and also rarely have open water swims. But I would like my HRM strap to support it. So if pool swims are rare, isnt using HRM-TRI ok. and I just soak in clean or distilled water when finished?

    • John B

      I’d recommend finding the best deal you can on the HRM tri, or get it in a bundle. I had the swim for a while and did not use it. You may not end up wanting to wear it in the pool, and that’s the only thing it’s good for. The tri does everything the run does, but also gets you open water swim tracking and would be great for a triathlon. You could wear it in the pool on occasion but personally I wouldn’t want to watch the strap deteriorate. I don’t believe it’s easily replaceable.

    • Bart

      To me it appears the strap is not replaceable, the other issue with the TRI strap is in the pool is it does not stay put like the HRM-SWIM. I have both straps and vary rarely use the HRM-SWIM but use the TRI strap almost daily.

    • David

      Ted W: Been staring a Ray’s and other reviews for a day straight now. You have it right… the HRM-RUNv2 and the HRM-TRI are totally identical in size/form except the HRM-TRI stores swim metrics. Because they use fabric that can be damaged by pool chemicals they recommend the rinsing after use but it sounds like it doesn’t stay in place well if you push off.

      The HRM-SWIM being a more rubber material is affected by the pool chemicals and stays in place when you push off but it doesn’t have the speciality running metrics of the other bands and it doesn’t breath well when sweaty on a run.

      I’m a runner in a need of a new HR strap but since I have a Fenix 5S coming and I do like to swim on vacations (although I’ve never been a lap swimmer) I’m going to get the HRM-TRI as my primary strap (it’s just $29 more and works just as well on the run as the HRM-RUNv2) and then if at some point in the future decide I want to swim pool laps I’ll consider if the HRM-SWIM is appropriate.

    • HI David-

      I think you’re suggestion makes the most sense. If you rarely/never swim in pools, the HRM-SWIM doesn’t make much sense. If instead you’re looking for storage in the strap and the ability to do openwater swims, the HRM-TRI is where it’s at.


  166. Jurjen

    Hi Ray, do you know if it possible to transfer the EPO file from a mobile device to the Fenix 5, rather than having to connect with your pc every now and again? This has been bugging me on the Fenix 3.

  167. David

    Hello DCR,

    What are the major downsides of not having WiFi and Sapphire?

    • rabbit

      Sapphire should be less sensitive to scratches (to buy a screen protector film should protect the display as good as…)

      With no wifi, you can´t sync the watch automatically with for example garmin connect mobile ( and I think, the epo file is also updated via wifi (but you can update is also by conecting the watch to a computer) and you can`t update the watch with fw updates (automatically) – sometimes even better if fw updates don´t come via wifi…

      So for me, no absolutely need for sapphire and wifi…

    • Dom

      You don’t need wifi to sync with Garmin Connect Mobile. With no wifi, you can sync your watch using Bluetooth connection to your phone (Android, Apple or Windows Mobile), or using USB. Wifi is faster, especially for things like firmware updates, but on the F3 even firmware updates would trickle over Bluetooth eventually. The EPO updates received via BT may be for shorter periods than you’d get from Wifi or USB, but the watch syncs so often this isn’t an issue unless you’re going to be away from mobile signal for days.

      The only way you’d use wifi to interface with your phone would be setting it up as a mobile hotspot.

    • PhilBoogie

      One can also sync over a ANT+ dongle.

    • Jurjen

      I do not see the EPO file updated after syncing with Garmin Connect Mobile (iOS). Moreover, gps fix is slow even right after syncing through BT – on Fenix 3

    • Dom

      The GCM apps do update EPO; the iOS one has done so since the FR620 came out in 2013 or so. You won’t see the file on your watch, because it is deleted after the watch consumes the data in it (which end up somewhere not visible through the file system). With the F3, in settings>system, you should be able to see if the EPO data are up to date.

      If it isn’t up to date after a sync, it is probably an issue specific to your watch, your phone, or the BT connection between them, unfortunately. Might be worth asking in the GCM iOS forum.

    • John B

      Maybe others can offer better insight but I tried out a Fenix 3 HR for a while and never saw the benefits of wifi. It doesn’t seem intelligently implemented, and doesn’t auto connect when you want it to, at least in my experience. My activities would stay on the watch when I walked in the door unless I found the wifi setting, buried in a menu, and manually connected. I’ve read that this is the case for all activities that have been ended and saved, rather than just ended. So basically any time you end an activity in a remote location rather than at home (and return the home screen of the watch), wifi doesn’t auto connect. Does anyone have different insight? Seems like an old fashioned and rudimentary implementation of wifi. Could be much better. Connecting via Bluetooth to a phone, in my experience, is a more simple and modern way to do it (though perhaps slower; haven’t tested). If Garmin wrote the software to maintain a constant connection to your home wifi, maybe then it would actually be a feature worth $100 (along with the nicer glass).

    • Mike

      I rarely if ever sync with wifi and find my Fenix 3 HR and rely on bluetooth on my phone instead. The Fenix regularly offers up a firmware update which it appears to do having already downloaded the update in the background. This occurs even if I don’t have the Garmin Connect app running in the foreground. All seamless and I’ve never had an update fail to install.

      To top it off, I am actually running Garmin Connect on a Blackberry 10 OS phone (Z30) and not one of the newer BB phones which are Android based. Nonetheless the Z30s old Android runtime seems to handle all the Garmin connect functions well. Even incoming and missed calls. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is answer the phone using the watch which is honestly not a use case I am interested in.

      Back to wifi, I tried to set this up on networks at places that I routinely visit but it does not always seem to connect successfully. Never tried to diagnose this since I almost always have my phone with me. Suffice to say the bluetooth implementation seems to be at least as solid as wifi and is even well behaved on some older hardware. I do wonder if my trusty Z30 would get along as well with the Fenix 5!

    • Matthew B.

      PhilBoogie – You cannot sync over an ANT+ dongle anymore (for any current gen models anyway).

    • PhilBoogie

      Wow, I had no idea! Thanks for posting

  168. Shelley

    Will the new Phoenix 5x come with a rose gold option?

    • David

      The Fenix 5X comes in slate grey only with two band option packages. Even the 5 only comes in slate grey or silver with more band options than the 5X.

      The 5S is the one that comes with a “champagne” color option. No rose gold announced across the range.

  169. Alan Webb

    Would anyone happen to know if this watch supports a separate speed and a cadence sensors as opposed to a combined one? The reason I ask is because I want to be able to use it occasionally on a spinning type bike whereby it`s just not practical to fix a combined sensor.

    • PhilBoogie

      Well I have used both the combined version (GSC-10) and the separate cadence and speed sensor version (PART NUMBER: 010-11092-30). Both work on the F3, so I see no reason why it wouldn’t work on the F5. I think it’s pretty safe to assume Garmin is building their software upon what they already have.

    • Alan Webb

      Ok. Thanks for the reply. If this watch does support Bluetooth speed/cadence sensors, it will be interesting to see if the support extends to individual sensors for BT as well as ANT+. But as long as it is ANT+ then that’s good enough for my needs.

    • PhilBoogie

      I know it supports Bluetooth, but the specs on that are very limited. Extremely limited, just like their own F5 spec page:

      link to www8.garmin.com

    • The ANT+ speed/cadence, speed-only, and cadence-only sensors are all supported.

      We’ll have to see by release if Bluetooth Smart cycling sensors have been added in yet.

  170. Frank Hansen

    Hi there, thx for a great review

    With regards to Fenix 5x and the full color Roadmap I have seen there are some differences when I check the garmin.com from a Danish/European website or I check thru the US based website. The difference to the text is the following:

    Garmin US:
    Full-color TOPO U.S mapping that comes with preloaded; map data…

    Garmin Europe:
    Full-color TOPO Europe mapping that comes with preloaded; map data…

    Does this mean that if I buy the Fenix 5x in US (its 150USD cheaper than Europe), I can’t use the TOPO mapping in Europe? Is the US 5x model preloaded with US mapping, whereas the European model is preloaded with Europe mapping? Hence no option for me to purchase the watch in US and use it in Europe?

    best regards

    • No, by default it won’t come with the maps outside your region.

      For that you’ll need to download it elsewhere, either from Garmin’s site (for pay), or via free options (as linked to in the post). Cheers.

    • Ronnie D

      Ray, any idea on detail of the pre-loaded maps (in my case Europe)?

      On Epix I have Garmin TOPO Benelux pro which is very detailed and also shows minor trails in forrest etc. Scale 1:10.000- to 1:25.000. Something like that or more like the map of entire Europe that was pre-loaded on the Epix (recreational map of Europe)?

      Would it be possible to generate a round trip trail through forrest on trails and have the turn by turn active (of course without street names)?


  171. Mike

    Great review. Can’t wait for them to become available. Quick 2 part question. 1: is the sapphire worth the extra $100. 2: what is the need for the wifi? Thanks!

  172. acousticbiker

    Ray, any updates on release timing? Garmin website still says ‘5-8 weeks’ and REI doesn’t have them yet…

    • It’s still planned for March. Chinese New Year is essentially the blocker for production (Garmin’s factories are in Taiwan). That starts Jan 28th, but basically takes things offline for a few weeks.

      Obviously, software development (done in Kansas) continues during this time, but you wouldn’t see production runs occurring till mid-late February.

      For some vague reason I thought that REI doesn’t list pre-orders unless they’re (manuf to REI) being told under 4 weeks till units ship.

  173. Kent

    No music storage? Lmfao, considering that price I’d thought this simple thing should be added automatically. Well hopefully they release Fenix 6 soon because this device at this price point isn’t worth the upgrade from F3

    • PhilBoogie

      No local music is indeed increadibly stupid. Fortunately maps a only a few GB’s while the storage is 16GB. That would make it seem a future sw update could enable local music.

      It wouldn’t matter much for cycling, as I then have my phone in my jersey anyway, but for running this is pretty much a given.

      They could update the Garmin Connect app and have it pulled music from iTunes (there’s an api for that) and on the desktop they could enable it through Garmin Express.

  174. Håkon Foss Liverud

    Hi. Do you have to choose the Sapphire model with Wifi to be able to download new updates to the watch? I use Garmin Express on my computer to do that now, and then transfer the new updates to my 920XT via USB. I would like to use Fenix 5 and Garmin Connect on my iPhone 7 and never have to use a computer and Garmin Express to update the watch or upload workouts to Garmin Express.

  175. Alan Webb

    With Garmin now supporting BTLE Heart rate monitors with this watch, perhaps its just a matter of time before they bring out their own version of a combined BT and ANT+ HR strap with all the metrics. Will availability on this watch be available globally at the same time or will the US receive it weeks before the UK?

    • rabbit

      I think garmin is developing bt sensors, makes no sense for me, that they have added this functionality only for competition products…

  176. Mario

    Hi Ray, how many datafields per screen can be shown on the fenix 5x?

  177. Richard

    Any chance we can expect a black bezel 5X to become avaiable anytime? And even better: a back bezel 5X performer bundle?

  178. Stefan

    Hi Ray,

    id would be great if you could explore a bit in intelligence for your Fenix review. Especially in what they do to improve accuracy:

    How does actual pace work. Do they do anything other than flattening to improve it, like use accelerometer to determine if the gps point are logical, or to intelligent combine different data like foodpot, hr-strip, GPS to get a better in total results.

    Is there some intelligence, where the Fenix finds out that you’re on a 400n running track and alters the distance automatically. Similar than what they do on swimming lanes.

    If not now, it really would be interesting to here, what the guys at Garmin or Polar think about getting more intelligence in their watches.

    Thanks a lot for your efforts

  179. Ross

    Will the fenix 5 handle multisport similar to the 735xt where you can switch to whatever activity you want without stopping your overall activity? This would be huge for me as an adventure racer.

  180. Roger Attard

    Thanks for the preview. I don’t see any mention of a general increase in processing. The biggest issue I have with the F3 is the lag from pressing a button to something happening. The F3 is nevertheless, brilliant and if the F5 is no faster I will likely give it a miss.

  181. Kevin

    This is a pretty specific question, but I travel across Africa for work, and I’m wondering if the maps on the Fenix 5X will help me navigate running/cycling routes on the continent. Google Maps has remarkable coverage here, but will the 5X be able to show me my current location on a map in, say, Congo or Mali, the way Google Maps does? This is a feature I’ve been looking for on a watch forever, as these are places where getting lost is a bad idea! Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    • simon

      you can load OSM data (not google) onto the watch so it should work fine if there is coverage in the areas you want

  182. Brad Wingler

    With the Suunto Spartan Ultra getting more reliable, and adding a GPS fix (to a watch that is already more accurate than the Fenix 3 on the trails). Why would a person d code to by the F5 or F5X? Trying to weigh pros and cons. The SSU seems to be getting better while the F5 seems to have maintained the status quo unless you want maps or a wrist based heart rate that is not totally dependable. I’m debating both and thought some help could be given here, thanks Ray and everyone else!

    • I think it’s probably important to put in perspective that at this point, the SSu is effectively still getting back to the point of the Ambit3. I’m not sure if it’s actually exceeded it in any way yet.

      The Ambit3 was well regarded from a GPS accuracy standpoint (often better than the F3), but was generally never considered to have more features than the Fenix3. The SSU unfortunately still seems to lack that Ambit3 level GPS accuracy.

      All of which ignores the 5X’s mapping capabilities (the SSU doesn’t have that). If of course that interests you.

      Still, like anything else you’d want to decide which features are most important to you. I think my biggest pet peeve on the SSU these days is simply just how slow it is.

  183. Paul Lewis

    Been a Suunto Ambit3 user up until now but with the terrible Spartan reviews this could be the next step. Just wondering if there is a Backcountry Ski mode?

  184. KariAnne

    How big a deal is the lack of WIFI connectivity in the entry level models?
    I’ve been using the Forerunner 630 for the past three years and don’t really pay much attention how the data is transferred. I am by no means an expert user, i just take my watch running a few times a week, so I might have missed out on important & awsome features..

  185. Sonja

    Meeeh, I waited a year to the release of this watch. Had an forerunner 620 before. But when hiking, battery life was too short. Also I had two times regurally GPS issues. Thought about buying the fenix 3 or suunto ambit sport rosegold. But bit too big for my fine wrists. But now the fenix 5. It’s sooooo bloody expensive. Let’s be real. It beats the price of a good smartphone, like the samsung galaxy s6. And what does it do then? I really want a good sportwatch, but this seems unrealistic to me.

    Now opting for the fenix 3 probably, hopefully those prices will drop a bit more. Although I really don’t hope to find the same GPS issues as my forerunner 620.. That really wasn’t funny. And I hear some same problems with the fenix 3. But it fits better than the suunto ambit… Or waiting another year in the hope that prices of the fenix 5 will drop. :S

  186. Adam

    ok, so no touch screen, normally I would say that’s fine, I wouldn’t use it anyway in running/cycling/swimming kind of activity. But for 5X, how on earth are You suppose to browse through the maps with button only?? zoom out/in and browsing will take age (I mean million button presses). I know what I am talking about! I have eTrex30 and viewing some larger distances is just killing me!

  187. JJS

    Thank you Garmin, you’ve heard my prayers and made my three wishes come true: Mapability, more accupower and a watchlike formfaktor. But unfortunately in three different devices!!! So I will stay with my F3 and wait that long time until you announce the F6, because I’m sure that one will have it all in just ONE watch. Right? ;-)

  188. Q: Can the Fenix 5 display elapsed time for the bike segment (and run segment) in multisport mode? My Fenix 2 records these sort of like laps, separate segments within a single event. I cannot find a duration metric to display elapsed time of the current segment, only overall time. Pressing the lap button advances to the next segment, but “Lap Time” gives time from the start of the swim. I have been using my old Edge 800 on the bike but would prefer to use a HUD on the bike with the Fenix 5 always on my wrist.

  189. Gabe

    Hi DC,

    I have had the feeling from a lot of comments on this site that fnix 5 is probably not really bringing significant new features for athletes so real support for training. And looking into your feature list I tend to agree. Never the less I noticed that you mentioned a feature that you called “Training Status” in your video that appeared to be very cool but you were not talking a lot about it and I was not able to find it in any of your other videos or later on during your review.

    Once searching for more information on the Garmin webpage it says: “Enhanced readouts for Training Status and Training Effect show aerobic and anaerobic benefits of your workout – so you can see how your workouts are paying off” together with a picture of the watch that shows “Training Status”, “Productive” and two indicators one for “Fitness” and one for “Load”, this made me even more curious.
    Searching for more information I got this on firstbeat webpage – this is obviously a company developing sensors or something else for Garmin:
    Training Load
    This new metric allows you to monitor and evaluate your weekly training loads based on total physiological impact. EPOC values accumulated during each training session over a rolling 7-day period are tallied and used to provide a new perspective into the restorative and adaptive work your body is doing in response to training.

    Training Status
    This groundbreaking feature has the potential to revolutionize user expectations for fitness wearables. Knowing where you are now is critical to finding the best path to where you want to be. Training Status provides that key data for your body. and it appears to be quite innovative coming from fenix 3. I have seen similar things on Suunto Spartan but not as a feature on the watch but rather as a concept living more on Movescount.

    All this sounds quite interesting even so quite academic, but if it is what it appears to me, a tool to control and plan my training progress than this seams quite interesting to me. I was just hoping that you might know more about these new features and you could tell us a bit more about. And maybe you even have had the chance to experience them on a fenix 5, do they work, do they make a difference?

    Many thanks for your help – you’re just the best!

    • I’ll be doing a seperate/dedicated post on all the new trainer terms.

      It’s pretty impressive (at least in theory). The FirstBeat guys and I sat down at CES for a really long deep-dive into it. Massive detail. All of which is actually ported from their pro suite of tools they’ve been using for years (Garmin is just licensing it, like most of their HR load related software pieces).

      Still, it’s hard for me to quantify exactly how well it works, simply because you’re looking at about 2-3 weeks of usage before it’s able to clearly identify trends. In my mind that’s good, because it means it’s not as much of a random number generator. Still, as regular readers know – I’m hyper-critical of metrics like these, as most of the time they are easily fooled. And in order for me to be able to understand these metrics myself – I’ll need to be on a single firmware version for roughly that long, which is tough at this stage.

      Still – stay tuned!

  190. Justin

    Hi Ray,

    A few questions which are probably basic as I’ve never used a F3.

    1- I saw that the HR doesn’t work in swim mode. However is it possible to see your HR during breaks? I assume it’s possible if you stop the activity and start a new one at the end of the break. Any downside to stopping the activity ?!

    2- Can you confirm that F3/F5 auto-detects intervals. Then does Connect IQ show your lap times and/or interval times so you can compare them to previous records and see the evolution? With graphs?

    3- Is it practical to browse the lap/interval times of your session and previous sessions to compare them during a break?

    A lot of questions but I’m sure that answers will be straight forward for many of you here.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Justin

      I meant Garmin Connect, not Connect IQ.

      And a last question:

      4 – Can you stamp a training session with a specific tag ? I use paddles sometimes for freestyle. Can I tag the interval or session so I know I was wearing paddles when swimming?

      Thanks ;-)

    • SCmom

      I use my F3 for swimming and when kicking I put it in drill mode. When finished, it asks the distance I went. I don’t think there’s any way to tag one part of your workout but there is a note section in Garmin Connect where you can add info.

    • Justin

      Thanks. I was thinking maybe create a new activity by duplicating the swimming activity to use with paddles.

  191. Ted W

    Question that I dont actually think has been asked about. I have the F3. I were the HRM on occasion. Like during a fitness class to track HR during the class. Or on, some shorter (<13miles) training runs. I like to look at the ground balance (Left/Right) metric. I dont know really what the other advanced metrics are for or how I would use them. (should I care what my ground contact or vertical oscillation is? I dunno). But L/R balance gives me clues if I'm favoring a left, which can happen if your are injured, which I have been some in 2016. So the question. What metrics can you get with the F5 with its OHR build in, and which metrics, if any, would still require the use of an HRM strap? Two in specific I am curious about is the ground balance, and the treadmill running mileage/cadence. . Thanks in advance! I am anxious for my CT ordered F5 to come.

  192. Brian

    Curious about your thoughts on durability of watch band connector on Fenix especially if you wear one band for work and switch for workout daily. Concerned about $700 watch where the band breaks. Would love your comments in detailed review. Also any insight on Garmin Connect, specifically BT to Apple mobile devices which has been horrendous for me personally.

  193. Rob

    Is the font on the fenix 5 data screens the same as the fenix 3, or slightly thicker?
    It would be very useful if Garmin implimented user settings for font size and type.
    Four data fields on my 310xt was about the right size, but unfortunately it no longer works.
    I am very short sighted so the thin font of the f3 is not easy to see, so I am holding out in
    the hope that the f5 is better. I looked at the 920xt, and it does the job, it is just so naff looking
    especially given how much it costs and compared to the f3, which is beautiful.
    However for the money Garmin want, I want in return form and function.

    Thanks for the excellent reviews.

    • PhilBoogie

      Would like to know more on the font myself as well. I sometimes have difficulty in reading my F3, and was hoping for additional fonts in the fw for the F5.

    • indio22

      Recently there have been some nice deals on the 920xt – as low as $180. That’s a lot of watch for the money. I picked up the black/grey version for around $200. I am liking the screen shape and layout of the 920xt, same as on my 310xt. Also I find the 920xt easy to read with 4 fields, even with my not so good eyesight. The font looks good to me. Along with a nice even backlight, which is important to me doing a lot of evening/night training.

      In terms of aesthetics, I’ve worn the 920xt casually and to the office a few times. Wasn’t a big deal working in IT people already have various devices on their wrists these days. Probably my black/grey version stands out less than the blue or white versions. Having tried on the F3 not sure I would characterize it as beautiful, but they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :) If training/racing is your main reason for having the watch, I would say try not to compromise that too much in a quest for a certain look or in search of the 24/7 wearable thing that is popular with some people these days.

  194. GMPrince

    Hi Ray,

    Are you able to comment on the CPU speed of the F5 (not F5X) vs the Chronos. The reason being is I do like the look of the Chronos (dress watch and activity watch in one) and was considering getting it. I did want to know if you sensed the CPU speed of the F5 was similar to the Chronos ? ie. the F5 is taking the CPU of the Chronos with a few enhancements into the F5.

    I know the F5 isn’t out yet and there’s no CPU benchmark testing to compare the two but was wondering if this was discussed with the Garmin folks at the CES.

  195. Drew

    Can you charge while still recording, like you could with the fenix 3?

    • Yes, you can. But the charging cord pokes into your wrist, so it’s a bit more limited. On the bright side, the charging cable is crazy strong from a connection standpoint – so no issues with it falling off.

    • Dom

      That’s been extensively discussed already in the comments (literally, from day 1) – check here for the details of why the answer is yes, but probably not with it on your wrist.

    • Dom

      Whoops, started writing that before Ray’s answer had appeared. Nothing new to see here ;)

    • John

      Can you please add a picture of 5/s/x while charging it with the cable on your wrist? What lengths has the cable?

    • John

      I think it was just a joke you made about wearing and charging it on your wrist, right? Does the internal hrm is working correctly if charging and using the unit on the wrist?

    • Yes, a joke. You can’t charge it and wear it at the same time. The cord comes straight out from the back of the unit. I’ll try and dig up a photo tomorrow.

  196. Hey All-

    Just as a super quick heads up for my European friends, Clever Training Europe/UK now has listings for the Fenix5 (for pre-order). Remember that you’ll save an additional 10% on Clever Training Europe purchases with coupon code DCR10BTF. Plus of course free shipping.

    Here’s the link: link to clevertraining.co.uk

    As for the SKU’s available, they are limited currently to two of the 5S models and one 5 model. No 5X. Apparently Garmin UK is only allowing physical sports stores to stock the 5X, as well as the other SKU colors.

    Still – I appreciate the support!

    • Torstein

      Still no shipping to Norway from clevertraining.co.uk? That’s disappointing :(

    • AlecTa

      Hi Ray.
      Does Polar H7 transmit 5Khz signal to supported devices (such as treadmills) being connected via BT to F5?
      I’m very interested in this functionality. It is very convinient to see HR data from HR-strap on the treadmill.

    • Angelov

      Go to clever training website -> Help -> FAQs -> Do you ship to my country? It is clearly stated that they do send to Norway, but your country is not included in the list with price of the shipping to other countries.

      I could buy the F5 online (abroad), but prefer to wait at least a month after the release, just to see what happens. I was enough of a beta tester with the FR235… Now 13 months later I have no warranty and some weird cracks on the top of the sensor…Above the upper and lower diode.

    • With the H7 and the Fenix5, the Fenix5 would pickup the Bluetooth Smart signal from the H7, while concurrently the treadmill will pickup the 5Khz signal.

    • Torstein

      Thanks, I saw the information on the FAQ page now. But it would be nice if they could have updated the ‘Shipping Info’ page, that’s the logical place to look for that sort of info…

      Having conflicting info on different pages is a bit like running with two GPS watches. You never know which one is correct ;)

    • I’ve got some folks digging into getting that page clarified.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Gerard

      Hello Ray,
      when using the Polar H7, will that also allow for HRV based functions on the Fenix5, such as TE, Recovery, etc
      thanks for your hands on view of the Fenix5, I look forward to the in-depth review!


  197. Lee

    Any update on availability or when Garmin will open it up for per-orders on their site?
    Have a credit with Garmin so I’m forced to order through them.

  198. Nir

    Any idea when the new Chronos series will be introduced?

    • Matthew B.

      Pure speculation that these are incoming soon? I would assume it wouldn’t be for quite a while (6-12 months) since the original line just came out a few months ago. It is possible though that they could do a quick refresh.

  199. martin

    Hi . thanks as always for such great detailed reviews, much appreciated. i’m based in australia and we typically get these products a little later (and at a higher cost!) i travel a lot and should be in japan in april. i was thinking of purchasing the 5x. while i’m less concerned about warranty etc, d o you know if typically the maps component would be based on the local market? in other words a 5x would have japanese maps on it and not australia? also as i travel, i like to use the cities setting to find a local run. would the maps then be something i can download to the watch wherever i am. thanks.