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Garmin Fenix 6 Series In-Depth Review


It’s no coincidence that in just a few hours one of the toughest trail running races on earth – UTMB – will begin in Chamonix, France. The journey will take competitors on a 171KM loop with literal mountains of elevation climb. Garmin specifically chose today, and in particular – their location of Chamonix to launch the Fenix 6 series. In recent years, trail running has largely been the domain of Suunto devices, primarily due to both longer battery life and frankly, stability. Sponsorships of elite trail runners also helped too.

But that tide is slowly shifting. I spent last week up in Chamonix as athletes from around the world were out doing their final training runs, and these days it’s more of a blend of watches on wrists than the Suunto domination of a few years ago. And there’s no doubt that the specs Garmin has thrown down with the Fenix 6 series will cause many heads there to turn.

The Fenix 6 series is a slate of more than a dozen different watch variants, with battery life extending upwards of 120 days. Yes, days. And GPS-on time for ultra-type scenarios at nearly 150 hours. Or in full expedition mode GPS-on time at 56 days. Yes, again, days. Obviously, there are some caveats to those numbers – but we’ll get to those. Oh, and did I mention there’s now solar charging of the unit? No, it’s not the panacea that your own solar farm might be – but it’s a start and hint at where Garmin is going. And the new PacePro feature will automatically create a course-elevation optimized race plan for your specific goal time.

I’ve been testing the Fenix 6 series in a variety of conditions from the city streets of NYC to the high alpine trails of the French Alps. Plus the beautiful windy flats of the Netherlands. I’ve got a pretty good idea on what works well, and what still needs some love. Don’t worry, I cover it all through the course of more than 11,000 words.

But if words aren’t really your thing, then I’ve got a nice tidy video that runs through the top 16 new features on the Fenix 6 series in one quick go. It’s as good as it gets for efficiency around here:

Oh, and finally, as always I use devices like wilderness trails – leave nothing behind. These are media loaner units that go back to Garmin shortly. In fact, retailers are actually shipping Fenix 6 variants today. You can help support the site here by checking out the links at the end of the post. Doing so makes you awesome.

What’s New:

As you might expect with a product titled its sixth edition (actually, they skipped over a Fenix 4, but then did secondary editions of the Fenix 3 (HR) and 5 (Plus), so we’re roughly in the ballpark), much of the product is about building with new features. Garmin usually follows a bit of a tick-tock pattern with their product releases, specifically when looking at their Fenix and Forerunner lineups at the higher end. One product family will get new features first (in this case the Garmin FR945), and then the next product from the other family will get those features plus some extra (in this case, the Fenix 6 series).

As such I’m going to divide this up into two basic categories. First are the things that are totally new/changed in the Fenix 6 that are otherwise unseen on any other Garmin products to date. And the second is things that have been added since the Fenix 5 Plus or Forerunner 945. There’s slightly more things since the Fenix 5 Plus last summer that came in the FR945 that are joining the Fenix 6.

Here’s what’s totally new/changed in the Fenix 6 series:

– Split product line into two portions: Pro and Base. Pro has WiFi, Maps, Music, Golf Maps
– There are three sizes of watches: 42mm (Fenix 6s), 47mm (Fenix 6), 51mm (Fenix 6X)
– Adds solar charging to Fenix 6 Pro Solar: Termed “Power Glass”, this will increase battery life on sunnier days
– Adds Trendline Popularity Routing Visibility (Pro): This allows you to actually see the ‘heatmaps’ on your device
– Adds map display themes: This includes high contrast, popularity, marine, dark, and outdoor.
– Adds new widget glances concept: Basically shrinks widgets to 1/3rd the screen size, so you can see three at once
– Adds new PacePro feature: This replaces old-school paper race pace bands, creating pace targets for race based on grade/reverse splits/etc…
– Adds new Power Manager feature: Gives detailed information about the impacts/tradeoffs of features on battery life
– Adds new Power Modes feature: Allows you to create custom power/battery modes, with time remaining per activity
– Adds new MARQ Expedition ultra-long mode: For multi-week GPS activities. Basically shuts off everything except reduced rate GPS tracking
– Adds ski resort maps: These started on the MARQ series, with 2,000 ski resorts worldwide
– Adds golf maps pre-loaded: Previously you had to manually load these one by one, also, more detailed golf features
– Adds support for wrist-based swimming HR: This was teased recently on the FR945 beta updates
– Adds new ultra-low battery mode: Gets up to 80 days of battery life, but super basic watch functionality only
– Revamped ClimbPro with new coloring: Now matches the Edge 530/830 styling
– Increased data fields per page: Up to 8 fields on the 6X, and up to 6 fields on the 6S/6
– Increased screen size and reduced bezel (varies by model, but up to 36% bigger screen size on the 6X
– Reduced ‘lug to lug distance’ on Fenix 6S: This should help those with smaller wrists, more on this later
– Reduced thickness of all devices. The 6S shrunk by 10%, the 6 by 7%, and the 6X by 15%.
– Changed from MediaTek GPS chipset to Sony GPS Chipset: Like every other new Garmin 2019 device
– Battery life increased: Up to 80 days in battery saver mode for 6X, and up to 120hrs in max battery mode for 6X, all before solar (see full chart below)

And then here’s the list of items that come from the MARQ & Forerunner 945 series to the Fenix 6. I don’t believe there’s any new software features on the FR945 that aren’t on the Fenix 6 series. It got them all. Here they are:

– Added PulseOx (pulse oximeter data): Within Fenix lineup it was previously only on the Fenix 5X Plus variant
– Added Respiration Rate (post-activity, also as a data field): With chest strap only
– Added new Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor: This is the V3, same as MARQ/FR245/945 sensor.
– Added training load focus stats: Shows how workouts benefit a given target/focus area
– Added deeper training effect details/metrics: Further details on the impact of a workout
– Added body battery functionality: Kinda like Street Fighter body energy levels
– Added heat acclimation: For any workouts in temps over 71°F/21.6°C
– Added altitude acclimation: For any time or workouts spent above 850m/2,788ft
– Added Incident Detection: If you crash your bike it notifies someone (this was recently added to the Fenix 5 Plus via firmware update)
– Added Safety/Tracking Assistance: You can press button to send help alert to friends/family (this was recently added to the Fenix 5 Plus via firmware update)
– Revamped race predictor to be a bit more strict on predictions (more than just VO2Max lookup charts now)
– VO2Max now compensates for heat: Previously it didn’t
– Training Status now compensates for heat: Previously it didn’t
– Redesigned a bunch of the user interface, especially for post workout stats
– CIQ data field app limit remains at 2 concurrent per app

Phew. Got all that? Good, I hope so.

If not, fear not. There’s still like 10,000 more words and 120 other photos for these concepts to sink in (or, for you to give up). Either way, I’ve got you covered. First though, let’s get these all unboxed.

Oh wait – for those wondering, the Forerunner 245/245 Music, Forerunner 945, and MARQ series will get PacePro. The FR945 will get the map themes as well as widget galleries. The MARQ series will get everything the Fenix 6 has. No specific timelines for these. For other items I’m awaiting clarification/timing from Garmin.



Back in my Fenix 5 Plus In-Depth Review unboxing section, I had noted that there were about the same number of editions (SKU’s) of the Fenix 5 Plus as there were Brady Bunch cast members. Well, I’m here to tell you that Marcia got pregnant, because now there’s even more SKU’s. Seriously, it’s kinda nuts. Here’s the entire listing of all of the children in this family photo that Garmin had (all prices parity USD/EUR):


The key takeaway from the above is simply that there are basically two lines of Fenix 6 units:

Base: These don’t include maps, WiFi, or music.
Pro: Includes all the maps, music, WiFi, and features that build atop those functions

Essentially it’s as if Garmin is refreshing the base Fenix 5 lineup with the base Fenix 6 lineup, while the Fenix 5 Plus becomes the Fenix 6 Pro series. Roughly.

Now thankfully for you I won’t be doing a full unboxing of all the variants. Instead, I’m consolidating it into a single unboxing of the Fenix 6S Pro. Though frankly – the boxing of all of them is identical in terms of what you get inside, except for the specialty units that come with an extra strap.

And with that, here’s the full unboxing of a single unit:


Up above is your standard issue Garmin wearables box. Or at least, the square variety of the box. On the back you’ve got a bunch of details about exactly which version you bought:


Crack open the top and you’ll find the watch sitting there looking at you:


Meanwhile, unpack the top and here’s all the goodness inside. In this particular case it’s shown with an extra strap that was included in the box sent to me. That is *NOT* the norm. No extra strap for you! I’ll re-shoot this photo sometime after I sleep.


Here’s a closer look at that watch, and the lawless strap:


The charging cable remains the same as the Fenix 5 series:

DSC_5884 DSC_5885

And the manual will be totally useless after this review:


Now what’s actually notable about the Fenix 6S in particular is that the lug to lug distance has been reduced. You can see it most clearly in the below photo atop the blue Fenix 5S Plus unit. Notice how the white lugs (where the straps connect to), are significantly smaller:


Seen as well from the top-down view too. This helps those with smaller wrists as it makes the watch a bit more compact and not overreaching off the sides of your wrists into thin air. That in turn also gives you better fit on the strap, which finally gives you better optical HR sensor accuracy. See, it’s all about the accuracy.


But sizing tweaks don’t stop there. There’s some big changes in terms of the display and bezels, whereby the bezels have shrunk a bit on the 6/6X units, and the overall thickness has shrunk on all units. This shows you the exact differences in both screen/display sizing and thickness between the Fenix 5 Plus series and the Fenix 6 series. First up, the increased screen size:


And next, the Fenix 6 depth (thickness) sizing:


Got all that? Good, let’s start using the darn thing.

The Basics:


Now that we’ve got ourselves freed of our cardboard bonds, let’s start with some basics. If you’ve been around the Garmin block a few times, then honestly you can skip this section. I’m mostly talking about things like the user interface, daily activity, and sleep tracking, and all those related metrics. We’ll start the sport stuff and things like solar charging and such down a bit later. Though I do discuss the new widget glances feature in this section. First up though, watch faces.

Actually, wait – first up – another video. You can skip this, but if you want the complete tour of the user interface – then this video is for you!

Like all past Garmin Fenix series watches, you can customize the watch face. That includes swapping it out for an entirely different watch face as well as customizing every bit of data you see on it (or, don’t want to see on it):

DSC_5766 DSC_5767

In addition, you can use Garmin’s Connect IQ app to create your own watch face with a picture of your kids, Ben & Jerry’s container, or whatever else is important to you.

The first chance though that you’ll really notice with the Fenix 6 series is the new glanceable widgets. Widgets are basically full pages that you could scroll through when not in a workout. Mini-apps if you will. Things like weather, steps, training status, music, and so on. But they always took up the full screen, even if they were basically just displaying one line of data. Garmin is now introducing glanceable widgets, which fit three widgets per ‘page’, as you scroll through them:


If you select the highlighted widget, then you’ll get the full widget that you previously knew and loved, such as this:


Frankly, this may be one of my favorite features of the Fenix 6 series. Which sounds silly until you realize I hated scrolling endlessly through widgets trying to find the data I wanted. Now, I can scroll three times less (or faster). It’s brilliant. Here’s a small gallery of widgets currently on my watch. Note the solar widget is only applicable to the Fenix 6X Solar unit. All the other widgets are across all Fenix 6 units.

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Like all Garmin wearables these days there’s activity tracking covering your steps, stairs, sleep, and other meanderings. You can see this data under a few different widget glances, but you can also customize your watch face with any of this too. In the case of widgets, you’ll see for example the steps one:


Once I tap into it then I get the last 7 days of steps, or I can also get distance too:

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Another metric in that same category is 24×7 heart rate. This is automatically enabled and monitoring every second, all part of recording and ultimately plotting your data. You can have certain watch faces display your HR constantly as well.  If you tap into the heart rate widget you’ll get a graph of the last 4 hours – and then again down to the resting HR for the last 7 days.

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All of this (steps as well as HR) is accessible on both Garmin Connect (web), and Garmin Connect Mobile (smartphone app). You can graph it and re-graph it a million ways.

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Garmin also plots stress levels as well. Both on the device in real-time as well as later in the app. I generally find this metric pretty close to reality, for better or worse.

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A new metric introduced over the last year is Garmin’s Body Battery. Think of this like the old Street Fighter arcade game, whereby if you got a good night’s sleep it’d start at 100%, and then throughout the day would degrade. It’d go down faster for more intense things, and re-gain battery status if you’re sitting on a couch watching TV. I find it a good proxy, though occasionally not perfect. Within the watch you can see the last four hours, as well as four hours overlaid against stress. Further, you can see how much has charged or drained since midnight.


And again, all of this is also plotted within the Garmin Connect/Garmin Connect Mobile apps as well.

Related to body battery is sleep metrics. The unit will automatically record your sleep each night, and supposed sleep phases. While I can validate that the sleep times are usually within a couple minutes of my actual fall asleep/wake times, I have no method of validating the sleep phases bits. The sleep metrics are displayed on the app:

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New to the remainder of the Fenix 6 series is PulseOx. This initially came to the Fenix 5X Plus last year, but quickly spread like wildfire to the remainder of the Garmin lineup. PulseOx aims to measure your blood oxygen saturation levels. It has two basic purposes in a Garmin wearable, one is around sleep (as potentially an indicator of sleep related issues), and two in high altitude environments as an indicator that something is about to go horribly wrong. Two totally different use cases (note: medical folks and such also monitor blood oxygen levels too for other reasons). For the first one – sleep – you can track your PulseOx readings each night. It’s the red light that’ll light up on the back of the watch.

This is then plotted as part of the greater PulseOx readings widget (below), and on GCM:


Whereas the second one, focused more on the high altitude aspect of things over the course of 7 days, then you can plot PulseOx readings against altitude. You’ll see this in both the widget and online:


Keep in mind that getting a good PulseOx reading requires you be very still. So it won’t typically trigger during a workout. Thus if at high altitudes you’ll need to pause for probably 15-30 seconds to get a clean reading (and doing so manually is your best bet).

Last but not least on our pile of basics is smartphone notifications. The device will display any smartphone notifications from any apps on your device, it’s not limited to just texts or calendars or such. You can configure whether or not to display these, as well as whether or not to display them in a workout. When a notification comes in, you can either cancel/clear it immediately, or you can open it up to get more information:


In the case of iOS users, there’s no further action you can take upon these. For example, you can’t respond to them and text back – that’s a limitation of iOS that Apple only reserves for the Apple Watch. The notifications on the Garmin device support about 120 emoji’s as well these days, which seems to cover most of the things I see come across. Note that images do not render on the screen from a text that may have pictures in it.

Ok, with that we’ve covered all the basics of the watch. Onto using it in sports!

Sports Usage:

The Fenix 6 series follows in the footsteps of the Forerunner 945 & MARQ series watches from a sports standpoint. That means you’re gaining all the new physio-specific features largely based on FirstBeat work. This includes bits like altitude & temperature acclimation, but also the new training load focus and recovery bits. We’ll dive into more of that later. First, we’ll cover some quick basics for those of you new to Garmin, and then I’ll show you how the new PacePro works on a real course, plus all the training load and recovery fun.

To start a workout though you’re going to simply tap the upper right button. This will give you a list of sports that you can customize and set favorites.


Basically every sport you’d want to measure is in there, including all of the following:

Trail Run, Run, Hike, Bike, Bike Indoor, Open Water Swim, Triathlon, Golf, Navigate, Track Me, Map, Multisport, Treadmill, Indoor Track, Climb, MTB, Pool Swim, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski, SUP, Row, Row Indoor, TruSwing (Golf related), Project Waypoint, Walk, SwimRun, Kayak, Strength, Cardio, Yoga, Floor Climb, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Clocks, Boat, Tactical, Jumpmaster, Other [Custom]

Once you’ve selected a sport it’ll show you the status of GPS & heart rate acquisition, as well as any connectivity to sensors. Technically speaking, while you were pondering which sport to choose, it had already started on all those bits.  What you’ll notice at the top though is the battery level. By default this will show you how many hours you’ve got left in that mode:


Alternatively you can enable battery percentage as well, which will show that too. And this would be a great time to talk about battery modes and such, but I’ve set aside an entire section for that down below. It’s super cool stuff that builds upon (read: “borrows”) what Suunto did with their Suunto 9 and battery profiles, but really kicks it up a notch. But we don’t have time for that now. Let’s get to the sport first.

Once you’ve found GPS and heart rate it’s a good time to start the workout. It’s here that you’ll see your data pages as you’ve configured them. Like past Garmin watches, you still (for now) have to configure these on the watch itself and not via a smartphone app. I think Garmin gets the desire for folks to configure them on a phone or web app, but they aren’t there yet.

On the bright side, you’ve now got up to 8 data fields per page for the Fenix 6X, and up to 6 fields per page for the Fenix 6S/6 units. Here’s how that looks:

DSC_5503 DSC_5505

There’s also multiple new layouts, as well as layouts for 5 and 7 data fields too. So you’ve now got more data than you probably know what to do with. As with before you can use stock data pages or create numerous custom data pages. If you run out of data pages somehow, you’ve got a data consumption problem.  You should see a specialist.

In any case, once out running/riding/swimming/etc, you’ll see data fields as normal:


This is a good time to mention that the Fenix 6 now supports optical heart rate while swimming. While Garmin has been beta trialing it on the Forerunner 945 this summer, it’s mostly ready for primetime now. They did note that like other companies, people may see variable results with optical HR in the water. But it’s an option for you to use that, or the HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM straps if you want to record HR. However, only the optical HR option will show your heart rate in real-time. We’ll briefly discuss optical HR accuracy in the heart rate accuracy section below.

Beyond heart rate sensors the unit supports all the same sensor types as the Fenix 5 Plus series did, including both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart standardized sensor types. They are as follows:

Headphones (Bluetooth), External Heart Rate (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Speed/Cadence (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Cycling Power Meters (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), Footpods (ANT+/Bluetooth Smart), VIRB Action Camera (ANT+), Tempe temperature sensor (ANT+), Shimano Di2 (private-ANT), Cycling Gear Shifting (ANT+), Cycling Lights (ANT+), Cycling Radar (ANT+), Extended Display (ANT+), RD Pod (ANT+), Muscle O2 (ANT+), Garmin inReach (ANT+).

Once you’ve wrapped up and saved an activity you’ll get the new style end screen that mirrors the MARQ/FR945. This includes a course map profile, along with key stats. As you press the top right button you’ll iterate through some of the overriding training load metrics.


Whereas you can scroll down into the weeds for things like lap splits and other summary metrics:

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All of this is of course synced to Garmin Connect via WiFi (on the Pro models) or via Garmin Connect Mobile (via Bluetooth Smart on your phone). Or, you can use USB and Garmin Express. Or, you can just go off the grid and ignore all that stuff. If you’ve set up synchronization to 3rd parties like Strava or TrainingPeaks, it’ll instantly send there as well. Here’s how it looks on Garmin Connect Mobile (aka GCM):

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And here’s an activity on Garmin Connect online (you can click it to see more details on the actual Garmin Connect activity page):


But let’s circle back to the training load stats. Each workout is given a specific Training Effect label and details. These are split between Aerobic and Anaerobic benefit, and are associated with a given load value. It also specifies what target area that it’s benefiting:


That data gets fed into the revamped Training Status functionality/widget, which shows the direction your fitness level and load levels are trending.


Below that, you’ll notice the little mountain and sun icons along the bottom. We’ll get to that shortly. First though, hit down twice (once past VO2Max) and you’ll see the 7-day load listed. This is color-coded by the type of load that you’ve gathered, as well as the total load values:


Tap down again and you’ve got your 4-week Load Focus. This basically consolidates all the training you’ve been doing into three specific buckets: Anaerobic, Aerobic High, and Aerobic Low, and then gives you specific target zones to be within (little pill boxes):

DSC_5819 DSC_5818

As you can see, I’ve blown out my ‘Aerobic High’ target. If I’m short in a given area, then it’ll tell me what to do. Or, in my case, since I’m somehow not short in any areas, it’ll tell me what my training has been doing lately in terms of benefit:


If I go down again, I’ll get Recovery Time until my next hard workout:


After that, we’ve got altitude/heat acclimation. The goal behind both altitude and heat acclimation metrics is to figure out whether or not you’re acclimated to a given temperature or altitude. Obviously, both can significantly impact performance.  Starting with heat acclimation, the function leverages nearby weather stations. So your unit has to have connected to Garmin Connect Mobile within 3 hours of starting your ride in order to receive that weather data (it doesn’t use on-device temperature).

If we scroll back to the main Training Status page you’ll remember the small icons on the bottom of the training status page if you’re in the midst of acclimating to anything. In the case of below last week, I managed to score both heat and altitude acclimation icons. I unlocked the altitude badges in the Alps and on transatlantic flights overnight, and then on the heat I got that in both Amsterdam and NYC.


Altitude acclimation/adaption starts with a minimum threshold at altitudes above 850m/2,788ft, and tops out at 4,000m/13,123ft (Garmin doesn’t calculate above that level, sorry folks). Garmin says that they divide up training vs living altitudes, just as typical studies would. The company says that adaptation algorithms within the Fenix 6/MARQ/Forerunner 945/Edge 530/830 assume total adaptation after 21 days, and that adaptation is faster at the beginning of altitude exposure. Additionally, adaptation will decay within 21-28 days depending on acclimation level.


Fun geekery moment for you: On the Fenix 6 Series/Forerunner 945/MARQ, the altitude acclimation is based both on workouts, but also on where you sleep each night. At midnight the unit will quietly take an altitude reading (actually, it’s doing it all the time anyway), and then use that reading to determine acclimation. Where this gets fun is when you take redeye flights (as I did last night from the US to Europe), as it’ll take that reading at between 6,000-8,000ft (pressurized cabin altitude of a commercial airliner). At first you may think this would skew results, but in reality – it’s actually correct. Your body is acclimating to that altitude. Where it’s slightly off is that it assumes you’re spending 24 hours at that altitude, rather than the 5-14 hours you’re likely spending at that elevation.

Meanwhile, the next screen is heat acclimation.


For heat acclimation it applies a heat correction factor for rides above 71°F/22°C, using a percentage based amount from published studies (humidity is also factored into this as well). This is then shown in the training status widget. Garmin says they assume full acclimation takes a minimum of 4 days, and acclimation/adaptation to a given high temperature will automatically decay after 3 days of skipped training within that heat level.

Finally, virtually all of this can be found within the Garmin Connect Mobile and Garmin Connect apps. You can dive into bits like Training Status and Training Effect, where the colors match back up to what you see on the watch:

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Same goes for Training Load too:

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One of the common complaints that I see about Garmin Connect/Garmin Connect Mobile is that it’s not ‘deep enough’. Honestly, I don’t think that’s valid anymore. Nobody offers as much detail into your metrics as Garmin. Polar and Suunto don’t even come close anymore. However, what Polar tends to do better than Garmin is make these metrics more clear on the main dashboards. Whereas within Garmin you legit need to spend some time figuring out where everything is within Garmin Connect Mobile to make sense of it all. Suunto, of course, is shutting down Movescount next year in favor of their more basic ‘Suunto’ platform, so they need not apply anymore here when it comes to advanced metrics via app/web.

In any case, while I promised PacePro in this section, I’ve decided it deserved its own section. Partially because this section is already too big. And partially because I want to be able to link to the PacePro bits later on more quickly/easily.

PacePro for Running:


No, PacePro is not grade adjusted pace – despite how many times people keep writing it. In fact, it’s both much simpler, and much more powerful than that. It takes the concept of pace bands that any marathoner is undoubtedly familiar with and makes it all electronic. But even more than that, it automatically calculates each split (miles or kilometers) based on the elevation profile of the course you’re doing. In turn, you then get individual split targets for each mile raced.

But wait, we’re not done yet. Atop all that, you’ve got two specific levers to tweak: Intensity of hills (how hard you run them), and then whether you positive or negative split the race/course – and to what extent. Don’t worry, I’ll demo all this.

So to start, this feature is available on both the Pro and non-Pro Fenix 6 models. However, if using it on the non-Pro models, you’ll need to have the course already created (so it has access to the elevation data). Whereas on the Pro models you can actually create a course on the fly on a watch, and then execute a PacePro strategy upon it from the watch. I suspect though that 99.99% of you, no matter which version you have, will be creating courses online and sending them to your device.

Note that when doing it from the watch (versus Garmin Connect Mobile), you can’t adjust the various sliders that you see down below. As such, I’d really just recommend doing it from the app and sending it to your watch to execute.

First, you start off in the area to choose/create a course, and you’ll see the ability to choose PacePro. From there you’re given the option to load a course or not:

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Technically speaking you don’t even need to load a course. You can simply use an assumed flat course profile and then do positive/negative splits based on a given time goal or pace goal. Which gets us to the next bit – choosing that goal. You can tweak this later easily if you want, but you need to choose either a time or pace goal. In my case I set up a loop around NYC’s Central Park and went with a sub-7/mile pace goal. Knowing I’d be coming off a transatlantic flight and running this 90 minutes later, I kept things civilized:

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Next, you’ll be brought to this screen that shows the course profile with color coding on it. You can expand this and zoom in however you’d like:

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But the real magic happens down below. That’s where you can dork with two levers. The first one adjusts whether you want to positive or negative split the course (meaning, get faster over the course, or fade over the course). And the second one adjusts how hard you run the hills.  As you adjust those sliders, you’ll see that both the split targets down below change, as well as the split targets over the elevation up above:

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It’s frankly kinda fun to play with this. You can do it all day long. Once you’re done, you’ll send this to your watch and it’ll sync via Bluetooth Smart.

Also of note – is that you can create the ‘splits’ based not just on per-mile or per-kilometer, but per elevation changes. So you can divide them up between downhill sections vs uphill sections vs flats, etc… Which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

Next, back on your watch you’ll go to the running activity and load the PacePro strategy up. These actually are files similar to course/workout files that you’ll find on your watch (for those geeks in the house). On the watch it’ll show you some of the stats for that PacePro session:

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And then, off you go (once you press start). The watch will then show your target pace (7:00) on the top line, followed by your current pace for that split on the second line (6:35). You can see here I’m overachieving (hey, I’m still getting used to trusting a watch on pacing like this):

2019-08-26 15.35.04-1-1

Then down below you’ve got distance remaining (0.75) in that lap (either 1 kilometer or 1 mile depending on how you’ve set it up), and then below that you’ve got whether or not you’re ahead or behind for the entire race, and by how much (-0:07).

What’s notable here is is that it locks to your GPS location on the predefined course (think of it like a train track, or roller coaster ride), rather than your watch distance the GPS has measured. This has its pros and cons.

On the plus side, this means that if your GPS accuracy goes to crap (such as with a tunnel, or just life in general), then it doesn’t impact PacePro. That’s really really cool, and is considerably different than something like Virtual Partner or any other pacing functionality. On the downside though, if there’s a difference between the route/course you created in Garmin Connect (or wherever) and the course that you’re running – then you’re up crap-creek. That could happen if either there’s a change on race day due to some road scenario, or if the route you created on GC has unnoticed anomalies in it.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to me with my NYC Central Park course. I thought I had created a loop around the main road, but upon closer inspection at numerous points along the route the Garmin Connect course creator took short detours. Often only 50-150 meters each, but there was a pile of them, usually just briefly to nearby sidewalks and back. But they added up – and they’re virtually impossible to see unless you zoom way in.

2019-08-29 01.29.23 2019-08-29 01.29.52

In talking with Garmin, they’re digging into why (on what is arguably the world’s most popular running loop), it repeatedly forces you off the loop onto random detours. In doing some course creation elsewhere this doesn’t appear to be an issue. I suspect the extreme density of heat map (popularity) data Garmin has for Central Park is ironically its downfall here. So just a word of caution – triple-check your course routes/maps.

In any event, that issue aside, the entire functionality of it worked awesomely on the watch itself. It was surprisingly motivating to just focus on a single lap, but more importantly – getting different splits each time. It took my mind off of the larger prize, and had my brain focus on one thing at a time. Well done.

Garmin says they’re bringing this to other devices in the future, but hasn’t specified which existing devices will get it (likely the Forerunner 945, MARQ, and perhaps Forerunner 245).

Maps, Navigation, and ClimbPro:


Garmin’s added some new functionality in the mapping and navigation arena. I’m going to tackle it two ways. First, I’m going to straight-up talk about map themes and popularity data (heatmaps). And then I’m going to show you how the remaining functionality works on a test hike.

Within the Fenix 6 series Garmin has introduced the concept of ‘Map Themes’, which allow you to change the styling of the map in real-time. For example you can go from the default styling to a night styling. Or to a high contrast styling. Or even a marine-focused one. To do so, you’ll go into the sport mode settings (for whichever sport you want) and then under map, go to ‘Map Themes’. To say this feature is buried would be the understatement of the review.


Once in there you can simply toggle between the different maps. This is also where you’ll find the new ski resort map functionality as well as popularity routing overlays.


Here’s an example of high contrast:


The popularity routing is also new here. Previously on the Fenix 5 Plus series Garmin baked in their ‘Trendline Popularity’ data, which is basically the culmination of millions of activities on Garmin Connect. Essentially heatmap data. But you couldn’t actually see the ‘heat’, it was just data under the covers that the unit would route you on. Now however, you can see the purple heat.


It’s organized by sport type. So running vs cycling, etc… But it’s also not quite that simple either. See, it’s also displayed on the nuance of hiking versus running. I see that as a bit of a challenge, and it was super obvious in the area around Chamonix. When I used the ‘hiking’ data sets, almost nothing was visible. Whereas when I used running, there was tons of data. This is likely because most Garmin users would just default to using run no matter what for such activities.  The other challenge is that the zoom levels make the feature semi-useless. I can’t zoom more than 0.5mi out (on scale). So basically I can see where people are running down to the end of the street, but not beyond that. I can’t really get the full picture.

Again, these are things Garmin should be able to solve. I’m happy to wait while it loads the tiles for that larger map area. It’s certainly better than trying to zoom around like a drunk idiot.

In any event you can also overlay the ski resorts mode too – which shows you ski lifts and ski runs from some 2,000 resorts around the world, including the ones I was at. Admittedly, it’s a bit hard to see in this photo.

2019-08-22 11.35.02 HDR

With all that set, let’s go to loading up a course and get hiking. In my case, I just created my course on Garmin Connect. That allowed me to validate against the popularity data more easily. You can do the same these days on Garmin Connect Mobile (smartphone app) as well, though it continues to be a bit clumsy (but is faster than before).

When you load a course you’ll get all the details for it, including most notably ClimbPro.


ClimbPro isn’t new here, that came last year. But what is new is that it’ll start showing you coloring just like the Edge 530/830/1030 do, with the steeper gradient colored more painfully than the lesser gradients. Like this:

Oh, you wanted a picture on the Fenix 6 series? Unfortunately, the feature isn’t done yet, and is expected for release sometime here soonish. Until then, you’ll get the single-tone coloring. Which is still super helpful:


As you start your course you’ll see the map view, and then get little chirps each time you’re coming up on a turn in the trail. It’ll show you exactly what you’re supposed to do and the distance to do it. Even on the steep 20% switchbacks in the Alps it was astoundingly accurate.


The only time I got screwed up was when there was a four-way intersection the middle of nowhere and the posted signs were temporary, and pointed kinda-sorta the wrong way. So I basically ended up trying all paths until the Fenix 6 stopped telling me I had gone the wrong way:


But largely, I lived in ClimbPro. With thousands of feet of elevation gain for each climb, I used that as my metric for how quickly I was ascending and how close I was to the top. It continues to be my favorite feature when hiking.

2019-08-22 13.14.04

The remainder of the navigation and related features haven’t changed much with the Fenix 6 (from the Fenix 5). And honestly, within that most of those haven’t changed in a few years either. Keep in mind that features that depend on mapping will depend on having the Pro variant. However, not always.

For example, you can use ClimbPro just fine on the base models. But you need to have the course created first on Garmin Connect so it sends the elevation data to the Fenix 6 base. On the flip-side, it won’t re-route you on trails when you get off-course, because it doesn’t have the trails like the Pro models have. Similarly, you won’t get any of the map themes, because there are no maps.

And finally, like numerous other Garmin devices, it’s still super clunky to buy and install maps on the Fenix 6 series and requires a computer. Though, the pricing is better these days (down to $20/map in some cases). Or, you can just use my guide to download free maps here. However, I’d really like to see Garmin make this totally idiot-proof and just allow you to either buy or download maps from within the Garmin Connect Mobile app, and leverage WiFi to install them. Remember that maps only are included for your region of purchase. So for USA folks that’s North America, for Europe folks that’s all of Europe, and for Australia folks that’s all of AUZ/NZ. Beyond that, you’ll need to triple-check the exact region coverage.

How Solar Works, and Power Modes:


I’ve separated out this entire section from the rest of the review – mainly because it’s such a new and interesting concept that for this review I think it makes sense for it to have a dedicated chunk. The solar feature is only available on the Fenix 6X Solar, and not on any other units. This falls in line with Garmin piloting new technologies on the Fenix ‘X’ series each year. The first year (Fenix 5X) it added maps when the rest of the series didn’t have it. Last year (Fenix 5X Plus) it added PulseOX, a first on Garmin devices. And this year, it’s solar.

However, the new Power Modes and Power Management features are available on all units, yes, all Fenix 6 units.

We’ll start on the Fenix 6X Solar though. So let’s dive into it a bit. On the Fenix 6X Solar you’ll notice a very thin 1mm wide strip just on the inside of the bezel. This is the first of two solar pieces.


This thin strip has 100% photovoltaic levels, meaning, it’s receiving 100% of the sun’s goodness and turning that into solar power. It’s also clearly visible in bright light, though you’d just assume it was a bezel design element. Inside without bright light, this strip almost disappears and blends into the bezel.


However, there’s a second solar panel you can’t see – despite being the entire display face. Under the display is another solar panel that has a 10% photovoltaic level. This panel is of course far larger than that of the thin bezel strip, but is also getting 10% of the sun’s rays, due to the display blocking much of it. Importantly though, both panels are fully under a single sheet of Gorilla Glass (specifically Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with DX Coating). Meaning, you won’t accidentally scratch the bezel solar panel anymore than you’d normally scratch your watch face.


Speaking of that watch face, you’ll notice that there’s a little sun atop the default watch face. That sun is actually showing you the current intensity level. Around the edge of the little sun are 10 pieces, each indicating 10% of full intensity. So if you look at the below picture you’ll see the sun is coming in at 0% intensity as I’m in the shade:


Next, another phone out in some broken clouds conditions and you can see it’s at about 70%

2019-08-22 09.31.14 HDR

And here’s another at 100% intensity, with all lines lit up as well as the sun itself:

2019-08-21 13.30.15

The goal of the solar here isn’t to fully power the watch, under GPS or otherwise. Instead, it’s to provide incremental battery life. Garmin notes this in their super-detailed battery life chart. Note specifically the assumption of 3 hours per day of solar light at a pretty high intensity (full sun basically). That goes both ways though. If you’re mid-summer and spending the day at the beach (or workout side), then you’ll way overachieve here. Versus if it’s mid-winter and you’re indoors…then not so much.


Here’s the basic main takeaways though:

A) If you’re spending 3+ hours outdoors you might be able to pull off something close to battery neutral in a pared down configuration (not much notifications/etc…).
B) While outdoors on longer hikes, solar will definitely extend your battery life, potentially a lot

In fact, I did a bit of battery comparisons between the Fenix 6X Solar and the Fenix 6 side by side on my longer hikes, plotting the battery life. For the most part these watches were configured equal. However, what’s notable is cases where I’m below the tree-line in the trees, you can see battery burn is about equal, but once I clear the tree-line (around 1hr 30 marker), and am back into the sun, battery life burn on the 6X Solar slows. Pretty cool.


By the way, those battery charts are with the DCR Analyzer. We plot battery life for devices that support writing it to the files, including Garmin, Wahoo, and soon Stages. Also note that in the case of the above, I was shooting photos and using maps extensively (though equally) on both devices. Your actual burn rates will likely be better.

Sure, this is only on the Fenix 6X Solar, but make no mistake – this is Garmin’s testbed. And like previous years, I don’t expect it to take long for the feature (hardware addition) to migrate to other units. After all, Garmin announced today the acquisition of technologies from French company SunPartner Technologies. Garmin actually quietly made that acquisition a long while ago, back when the company filed for insolvency, and you can see hints at this in some French news stories (and even see the judgements within the French Société system). Garmin has said that they expect this technology to expand to other devices where it makes sense (meaning, probably not a $75 Vivofit band).

Ok, let’s shift to the next bit of power and battery features, which is the new power modes. These are similar to what Suunto introduced within the Suunto 9 last year, and have pre-defined battery setups that show you how many hours you’ll get in that given configuration:


These can be changed at the outset of an activity, as well as mid-activity.

What’s really cool though is going into Power Manager and creating your own configurations. This allows you to tweak the battery burn profile based on which features you want enabled or disabled. And it’ll actually tell you exactly how many hours it’ll save (or cost you) to make that setting change:

DSC_5475 DSC_5479

Next, there’s the new low power battery mode, called Battery Saver. This follows in the footsteps of Casio, whereby they basically shut down almost all watch functions in exchange for the watch face remaining with the time – getting you months of battery life. The same is true here:

DSC_5484 DSC_5486

Once you enable the low power battery mode virtually everything is disabled: Optical heart rate, Bluetooth phone connectivity, external ANT+ sensors, and even the display itself goes into a low-power mode where it uses a custom watch face that doesn’t show seconds. When you ask yourself whether something is disabled in this mode – the answer is ‘yes’. Though, it only takes a single button press and you’re ready to start a run with GPS as normal (or, with your own custom battery mode):


Finally, while not directly a power management feature, Garmin has ported over the ‘Expedition’ sport mode from the MARQ Expedition series. This functionality allows you to get upwards of 56 days of GPS track points on a single battery charge with the 6X Solar. In this mode it’ll go into a lower power state, but then every hour will wake itself up and take a GPS fix before going back into the low-power state.

DSC_5493 DSC_5496 DSC_5499

It’s an interesting concept, but I do wonder how often (if ever) someone would actually use that in 2019. I’d think most people have access to battery packs and such that it’s unlikely that you’d really need 56 days of GPS tracks without some means to charge the unit.  In any case – Garmin is clearly investing in longer life options for users within the Fenix 6 series. It’s not just one feature, but a whole pile of prongs in the fire on ways you can get crazy long battery life if you need it.

GPS Accuracy:

There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I try to not place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. If I do so, I’ll put a thin fabric spacer of about 1”/3cm between them (I didn’t do that on any of my Fenix 6 series workouts).  But often I’ll simply carry other units by the straps, or attach them to the shoulder straps of my hydration backpack (which I did do here in the Alps).  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy.

Next, as noted, I use just my daily training routes.  Using a single route over and over again isn’t really indicative of real-world conditions, it’s just indicative of one trail.  The workouts you see here are just my normal daily workouts. I’ve had quite a bit of variety of terrain within the time period of Fenix 6 testing.  This has included runs, hikes, swims, and rides in: Amsterdam (Netherlands), New York City (USA), and around Chamonix in the French Alps (France/Switzerland border). I’ve probably forgotten some other trips too, it’s been kinda crazy lately.

First up we’ll start with a run around NYC’s Central Park, this is the full loop, and one I was using PacePro for. It is compared to the Suunto 9 and the Garmin Forerunner 935. Here’s the full data set:


Obviously, at a high level things look clean – no drunk uncle moments. So let’s dig a wee bit deeper, starting at the beginning. I know it’s a bit tougher to see the lines in satellite mode, but it’s worth it.


I’m on the inside edge of the roadway, on the usual Central Park runners lane. In this case, the Fenix 6X nails it. Note that all units had about 5-7 minutes to acquire GPS as I walked from the hotel to the starting line, including the Suunto 9. Though, the Suunto 9 was quickly off over in the woods. All units were configured the same in terms of GPS recording rates.

Now a bit around the next corner the Fenix 6X Pro Solar was feeling slightly left out of the tree adventures, so it too went tree-surfing. Slightly less than the Suunto 9 did, but still off-path. Perhaps 3-4 meters offset.


In fact, it’s a tit for tat pattern we’d see repeat itself throughout the run. The Suunto 9 or Fenix 6X Solar would undercut or overreach around a turn, and then the next turn the other would do it. Neither would do so drastically, but just enough that you’d notice.


And the above back and forth bits prove why I don’t typically use final distances, you can undercut and then overshoot easily – and still end up with similar distances. If we assume the FR935 was the best track (and it was), you can see that it was only .06KM different on 10KM than the Fenix 6X Solar. The Suunto 9 had overshot considerably, at 10.22KM.


In the event you want to dig into another NYC run, I’ve got this one here on the DCR Analyzer. The Fenix 6 did struggle a bit to stay on the path, but did better than the FR935 once I got into the main building portion of the city.


Next, let’s shift gears up to the French Alps for some high altitude GPS tracking. I did three days of these, and by and large the tracks were fantastic across the Fenix 6 devices. On all days I was wearing both a Fenix 6 Pro and a Fenix 6X Pro (one per wrist). First, let’s look at a track up to a glacier, starting with steep switchback in pretty heavy forest/woods. Here’s that data set:


At a high level, things look pretty good. No massive errant issues. But let’s zoom deep into the woods and switchbacks:


At the beginning here, none of the units are exactly perfect. Though interestingly, when I look at the trail map as I’m going up, they’re very very close on the device itself.

Once I get beyond the first few minutes, things settle out a bit and they track fairly close to each other:


This next set of switchbacks is largely pretty good as well. Differences between the devices of course – but nothing outlandish.


And again higher up. Slight differences – but we’re really only talking a couple of meters between the tracks.


This continues like this for the rest of the track.


Seriously, look at how good/close these tracks are – from all the watches for that matter.


I’ll add in within a few minutes a few more tracks from the Alps for you to poke out – though as a spoiler – they’re all the same – astoundingly good (better than NYC).

Next, let’s go to Amsterdam for some cycling. For this ride, I was out on country and farm roads, with some initial city bits, and then mostly farmland. GPS-wise it’s not a hard route per se, but I do see units occasionally screw it up. I’m comparing it against the Edge 530 and Polar Vantage V. Here’s that data set:


As I go through some initial city sections, the tracks are locked on very tight – no issues here:


And again the same as I’m out passing a small village:


Seriously, it’s boringly perfect:


Hopping back over across the pond for another cycling jaunt, this one will be quick and easy. It’s not a ‘real ride’ per se, but rather just a NYC bike share bike. But I wanted to show it because it’s astounding. This was a simple commute across the heart of NYC, and the GPS track is astoundingly good. Things wobbled for the first block or two, but then it’s locked onto the road. There’s no need for comparison shots here, we can just look at the map and see it’s locked perfect on the road I’m on. I’m impressed:


Finally, we’ll round things out on an openwater swim from yesterday. Now mind you, I’ve been hyper-critical of Garmin’s openwater swim functionality in 2019 (and even back to 2018). It’s just sucked. Almost all of the newer devices would fail at some point in the swim, ceasing to track – sometimes even after just a few dozen yards. Garmin started digging into the issue back in June, formed a bunch of special committees on it, and has thrown countless employees into the water over the summer to try and fix it, alongside their GPS chipset providers Sony and MediaTek. Progress has been made though, both in public betas and private ones.

While Garmin isn’t saying it’s perfect, they did note in a call a week or so ago that on the last beta firmware they were testing they’ve successfully completed over 100 openwater swims without a single drop (mind you, I could barely go 1-2 swims without a failure back earlier this summer).

Still, with that in mind and all my travel – I’ve only gotten in a single openwater swim. Statically speaking that’s not as much as I’d like for this feature. So perhaps I just got lucky. In any case, my swim from yesterday:


The reference track is near-identical. In fact, actually two reference tracks just for the eff of it. If this is the quality of GPS tracks going forward with the latest GPS firmware for openwater swim, I’m pretty damn happy. Of course, this was also a relatively straightforward giant box of a route. But still, gotta start somewhere.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a GPS openwater swim track as good at this before from *any* watch, ever. It’s seriously impressive.


There’s an itty tiny bit at the first turn where it cuts by perhaps a couple meters – but that’s it. Note that I did not stop at any point during this swim, I kept moving the entire time.


But again, pretty solid stuff here for swimming. Hopefully my future swims continue that way.

So overall in terms of GPS accuracy, it’s mostly good. I found it excellent up in the high alpine and mountains of the French Alps – frankly, doing incredibly well in some really tough conditions, especially up against sharp cliffs or in the denser woods down lower.

On the flip side, I did see some struggles in NYC’s Central Park – where the older Forerunner 935 has no meaningful issues. Certainly Garmin has made great strides with the Sony chipset they’ve used on all new 2019 devices, but it’s not quite perfect yet. But I think for the vast majority of people it’ll be acceptable (or better).

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Heart Rate Accuracy:


Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Ok, so in my testing, I simply use the watch throughout my usual workouts.  Those workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing.  I’ve got steady runs, interval workouts on both bike and running, as well as tempo runs and rides, and so on.

For each test, I’m wearing additional devices, usually 3-4 in total, which capture data from other sensors.  Typically I’d wear a chest strap (usually the Garmin HRM-DUAL or Wahoo TICKR X), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the other wrist (primarily the Polar OH1+ these days, but also occasionally Wahoo TICKR FIT or Scosche 24 too).  Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

First, let’s start and see how it handles steady-state running. This was a run from two days ago – pretty easy and straightforward around Central Park before rushing to the airport to catch a flight. It’s compared against a Garmin HRM-DUAL and Fitbit Versa 2 optical HR sensor. Here’s that set.


Well, that was boring. Everyone basically agreed. A few minor bobbles at what point around the 32-minute marker for a second here or there with the Fenix 6X Solar being a couple beats higher, but it was pretty transient. Again, kinda a boring set. But hey, sometimes boring is good!

Next, we’ve got a much more intense run, albeit also around Central Park. This was using PacePro as my base, so it was more or less full throttle the entire time. Here’s that set.


You can see right out of the gate the Fenix 6X Solar is having a couple of issues with locking onto the HR. It’s plausible that me taking some early photos didn’t help, though I think that might be generous at best.


However, by the 3-minute marker the units are mostly aligned – and stay that way for the remainder of the run. That said, things are a bit wobbly on this run from all units – perhaps due to the intensity, or perhaps because post-flight I felt like I was dying trying to hit the PacePro targets. Either way, even the OH1 Plus seems a bit more wobbly than I’m used to (though, it’s clearly the best of the bunch):


The above is one of those graphs that looks bad from afar, but we’re only talking about a 1-3bpm difference between the different units. It’s just the zoomed in factor that doesn’t help much.

Next, let’s shift to some cycling and heading outside for a ride, this one on mostly good pavement on a fairly warm night. In general the warmer the weather the better optical HR sensors will do. Here’s that set:


Now I’ve crossed out two chunks in yellow. Those are bits where I was stopped on the side of the road not riding, filming something – thus, who knows what funk I was doing then (setting up tripods and such).

However, the rest of the ride is actually surprisingly good by all players. Honestly, one of the better HR performances I’ve seen recently. For example, this first section:


I see a little bit of lag difference between the Garmin sensors and the Polar sensors here. But it’s not possible to know whether that’s real lag or just bad timing on one GPS time clock or the other. However if you look closely you can see that there are cases where the Garmin Fenix 6X Solar and the HRM-DUAL track very closely during some momentary recovery bits, whereas the Polar sensors somewhat unexpectedly miss them.

Again, outdoor cycling continues to be one of the hardest things for wrist-based optical HR sensors to get right. And in this case, things aren’t horrific. Yet, there are still some bobbles, like later towards the end of the ride when the Fenix 6X Solar does some odd spikes:


Finally, what about swimming HR with the optical HR sensor? Well, I took out the unit yesterday for an openwater swim and a Polar OH-1 sensor. Here’s that overlay:


OK then. So…

Yeah, I’m not really sure who’s correct there. But I can say that they don’t match. Winking smile Historically speaking I’ve had pretty good luck with the Polar OH1/OH1Plus, so if I had to take a stab here, my guess would be it was correct. Or, it could be wrong.

However, they do roughly trend higher, so there’s that. Ultimately, I’ve never found heart rate while swimming super helpful, in part because of how much it lags compared to running or cycling. Still, at least it’s an option I guess.

For swimming, I’d agree with Garmin/Suunto/Polar that when it comes to optical HR sensor, that it’s going to be a ‘YMMV’ (Your Mileage May Vary) type of situation. All three companies have said as such in my discussions with them, and it can depend on numerous factors from positioning to the exact swim stroke you’re using. So definitely do a bit of your own testing to see how well things hold up in the water over multiple sessions (both pool and openwater) before you decide if it works for you.

Ultimately, the performance I see on both the Fenix 6X Solar and 6 is pretty much the same as what I saw on the MARQ series before it – mostly OK in many scenarios, but still some gaps in certain scenarios. It’s not usually as easy as saying that it’ll fail in intervals or high intensity, as I’ve had plenty of cases where it works just fine there. Sometimes it’s just a case of some unknown quirk that gets things distracted.

Product Comparison Tool:

I’ve added the Garmin Fenix 6 Series into the product comparison tool. While I could have added separate line items for each individual SKU/model, that’d get messy pretty quick. So I just noted where certain specs were different on a given metric. For the below chart I’ve compared it against the Fenix 5 Plus series, as well as the Polar Vantage V, and the Suunto 9. I could have tossed in the Forerunner 945, though frankly the only differences you’ll see between the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945 once all the firmware updates are done should be mainly materials (though, exact nuances may differ in some software features – that’s a bit TBD). Of course, you can make your own charts here in the product comparison calculator.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 13th, 2023 @ 11:23 am New Window
Price$549-$1,149$699/699EUR$599/599EUR$499$599 (non-baro is $499)
Product Announcement DateAug 29th, 2019June 17th, 2018Apr 30th, 2019Sept 13th, 2018June 5th, 2018
Actual Availability/Shipping DateAug 29th, 2019June 17th, 2018Early May 2019Late October 2018June 26th, 2018
GPS Recording FunctionalityYes (with Galileo too)Yes (with Galileo too)Yes (with Galileo too)YesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi on Pro onlyUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 100mYes - 50mYes - 30mYes - 100m
Battery Life (GPS)25hrs to 148hrs (depends on model)Up to 32hrs in GPS-on, up to 85hrs in UltraTrac GPS (varies by model)36hrs GPS, 60hrs UltraTracUp to 40 hoursUp to 120 Hours
Recording Interval1S or Smart1S or Smart1S or Smart1sVariable
Dual-Frequency GNSSNoNo
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYEsYEsYEsNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Can control phone musicYesYesYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbackYes (Pro Only)YesYesNoNo
Streaming ServicesiHeartRadio, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon (Pro Only)Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadioSpotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadioNoNo
PaymentsGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesYesYesNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesFeb 2019Yes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesNoNo
Group trackingYesYesYesNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)Yes (via phone)NoYes (via phone)NoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesYesNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesYesYesTBD Future UpdateNo
Crash detectionYesNoYesNoNo
RunningGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYesYesYes
Running PowerWith extra sensorWith extra sensorWith extra sensoryes (built-in)With extra sensor
VO2Max EstimationYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Race PredictorYes, plus PaceProYesYesNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYesNoNo
Track Recognition ModeYesYesNo
SwimmingGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for swimmingYesYesYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterYesWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)YesYesYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YEsYEsYEsYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesYesNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)YesNo
Change pool sizeYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths14M/15Y TO 150Y/M14M/15Y TO 150Y/M14M/15Y TO 150Y/M20M/Y to 250 m/y15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesYesYesyes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesYesN/ANo
TriathlonGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Designed for triathlonYesYesYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYesYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYesNo
On-unit interval FeatureYEsYEsYEsNoYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesNo
Virtual Partner FeatureYEsYEsYEsNo (but can give out of zone alerts)No
Virtual Racer FeatureYesYesYesNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYesNoNo
NavigateGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesNoYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYesNoYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)Yes (Pro Only)YesYesNoNo
Back to startYesYesYesFeb 2019Yes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationYes (Pro Only)YesYesNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYesNoYes
SensorsGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagneticN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYesYes
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)YesFenix 5X Plus onlyYesNoNo
ECG FunctionalityNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)YesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)NoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesYesYesNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingYesYesYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYesYEs
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableYEsYEsYEsYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesYesNoNo
SoftwareGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressPolar Flowsync - Windows/MacPC/Mac
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectPolar FlowSuunto Movescount
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/AndroidiOS /Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Competitive CyclistLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Garmin Forerunner 945Polar Vantage VSuunto 9 Baro
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

And again, don’t forget you can make your own product comparison charts here with all the products in the database.



The Fenix 6 is more or less the next Fenix version we expected was coming. No, not because of all the leaks – but simply because Garmin declined to add in the new Forerunner 945 features into the Fenix 5 Plus back this past spring. On one hand, none of these features are earth shattering – yet almost all of them gel together really well. Like the Forerunner 945 before it, we’re starting to see Garmin really differentiate itself from the pack in terms of physio focused features, but also even just more practical things like battery life and ease of use (understanding the impacts of battery choices).

The other thing that this release does is close the gap between the release cycles of the high-end Garmin Forerunner series (FR945) and the high-end Fenix series. Previously that timeframe was upwards of a year or more. Now we’re down to about 4-5 months. It behooves Garmin to get these as close as possible so that people are making decisions not so much on features (which would mostly be the same), but on material and styling choices. Rather than have someone buy a FR945 and then realized they could have gotten a swankier Fenix 6 just a few months later.

In any event, the Fenix 6 production units I’ve been testing have been largely good, but not perfect. There are still occasional quirks that either are transient (such as slow syncing on one unit, but not the other), and of course some GPS oddities in New York City specifically. Plus of course the Garmin Connect driven map creations issues I saw that flowed downhill into my PacePro experience. But on the whole, things are pretty good for a product that starts shipping globally today. Undoubtedly, as more people get on it and find more edge cases – there will be bugs. And realistically it’ll probably take a few months for those bugs to sort themselves out. But I’ve been using it as my primary watch the last little while without issue. Almost all of the uploads you see on my Strava are from it.

Finally – I’m super interested to see where Garmin takes their acquired solar technology. Not just in terms of to other devices, but on how to expand the amount of solar energy it can return to the watch. Undoubtedly with the Fenix 6X Solar they started off pretty cautiously on numerous fronts, so I expect as they gain the experiences of thousands of real-life people, they’ll have learnings and tweaks they can apply going forward to newer devices.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

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

If you're shopping for the Garmin Fenix 6 Series or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like TrainingPeaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Just came across the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) issue ….

    Means I can’t easily manage things on my new Fenix 6XS with my Mac.

    I’m very used to just connecting any Garmin GPS to my Mac and adding maps, routes, etc via USB. BaseCamp works really well to manage stored waypoints and things. For example, my new Garmin Edge 830 works fine, as expected.

    I know there is a workaround with the Google ‘Android File Transfer’ app, I could even use PC emulation. But why have Garmin gone for a proprietry protocol instead of staying with an open standard. Why not at least support both and make them switchable?

    Garmin UK support initially told me it should mount ok on my Mac. A second call revealed the true issue in that the designers had decided to exclude Mac users. The guy told me to ‘just use a PC’. Lovely, thanks Garmin!

    Returning my 2 day old watch for a refund today….

    • Honestly you should just install the utility, you’ll find over time that other devices uses it as well. The main reason Garmin uses MTP is that it enables music apps to more correctly identify it for transferring content to it as a music device.

      I do agree it’d be nice to also use regular mass storage device file transfer, but ultimately that’d just increase support costs as people put things in the wrong modes.

      But given no other company even allows you to connect your watch for direct access at all, at least here you download a tiny pretty common/well understood utility and you’re done.

    • Keith Robertson

      Yes, I kind of agree! The only thing I’m not sure about is how to get waypoints saved on the watch back onto my desktop. I’m sure there will be a way. That’s one thing Basecamp is handy for, curating waypoints on the device, removing duplicates, archiving, etc. May have a go at putting a copy onto one of my Paralles images.

    • Hi Ray,

      Easily found the file on the fenix holding the waypoint data. I can just copy this to Basecamp on the Mac after dragging it to the desktop.

      Basecamp can then do all the stuff I need to do to organise things.Without live editing of the device, which is kind of neat in that mistakes can be corrected as the originals will be on the device until I’m happy.

      Will work the other way too. If I’m trip planning in say Scotland in Winter, I can build a handy set of waypoints, export as a single .gpx file and drop it into the ‘New Files folder.

      Job done!!

    • I’m actually very happy there’s no direct access, because that means there’s no way to read old data from the block device backing the storage. So wiping the device is very easy, and I can sell the watch without privacy concerns. MTP as far as I know only gives file access, so once a file is deleted, all good.

      On the Edge units, which work in direct mode, even after resetting the device, I can still find names of waypoints (and thus GPS coordinates, most likely) and addresses on the actual storage.

  2. Tim

    Has anybody tried the heathered nylon straps? I’m curious if they’re significantly more breathable than the standard silicone one which tends to give me heat rash when it’s really warm out. Are they really $50 more comfortable?

    • Keith

      On a direct mount device I use Basecamp al the time to edit waypoints and routes. It’s simple to delete everything if you want too. Assuming they are really gone of course!!

  3. Volker

    Hi Ray,

    btw climbPro like on edge 830 soonish for F6 series? News about that? Deleted?

  4. JR

    I got one of the quickfit nylon straps, but I returned it immediately, as it was incredibly stiff. I’m sure it would have loosened up, but for the price didn’t love it. I just went with a generic 2-piece nylon (“nato”) strap. It’s very comfortable, and it makes it look a little more like a real watch.

    • Tim

      Thanks JR. That’s something I was considering trying as well.

      Ideally, I’d like to have an elastic strap that can breathe and stretch as my wrist expands/contracts with the weather. I have some for my “dumb” watches and they are very comforable, but obviously since they are one-piece straps, they’d cover up the heart rate sensor. Erika’s Originals makes 2-piece straps for the Apple Watch though, so I put in a request for Garmin quickfit compatible ones just to see what’s possible.

  5. Nedim

    After playing with it a bit I feel the 6 is a real improvement on the 5/5 Pro. The screen is nicer and although the specs don’t show it, it seems to be less top heavy as well.

    Ray, any chance of seeing an actual weight comparison?

    That said, it’s buggy as can be. A route shows hills, importing into PacePro turns it flat. Or Garmin Pay says “phone not connected”, but it is and everything else works fine. Stuff like that, bugs left and right.

    Also, a major reason I got it, is PacePro. However, it is completely unclear to me what happens when the PacePro route is longer/shorter than the actual run. Example: Garmin route for marathon says 26.46 miles — actual distance is, well, 26.22. When I am at mile 20 — what will it actually tell me? Until stuff like this is solved, I am not sure this can be used effectively.

  6. Dmitry

    Hey, Ray, not sure if you are doing the 5k run in NYC tomorrow, if not, my watch is the 6x pro solar and the run is through the Battery Tunnel(under water for the majority of it). I can send the run log for you analyze how garmin is going to do. Let know.

  7. Matt

    The 6X Pro Solar has shown “available in 5 – 8 weeks” on Garmin, message unchanged for weeks. Any ideas when they’ll actually restock?

    I’d love to support you via CleverTraining, alas I have to order through Garmin’s site for my 25% discount. I understand Garmin restocks retailers before themselves, but the unchanged restock time is confusing.

    • My understanding is that the next ‘supply’ of 6X Solar units isn’t expected till late October, with another batch in November sometime.

      As for the Garmin.com “available in 5-8 weeks” message, I feel like the Garmin.com site has basically two options in their behind the scenes database for stock: “In-stock” and “Ships in 5-8 weeks”. I feel like it’s rare you ever see anything other than those two. Garmin uses the 5-8 weeks variant for cases where they’d probably rather write “Who knows, gonna be a while”, but figure that won’t go over well.

      Honestly, if it were me I’d probably just order from both and cancel when one ships.

    • Leandro Silva

      I’m also waiting to get some stock update on the 6X Pro Sapphire from CleverTraining, but it seems that most of the retails currently don’t have any exact estimate about when the stock will be updated. So, we’ve to wait… Of course, it’s a bit frustrating after a month of the release, not be able to buy it due to lack of stock.

  8. Gromov

    got the 6x Sapphire. went out on a mtb ride today but don’t see the Heat Acclimation stats. I didn’t wear the watch, and used external heart rate that I paired with the 6X mounted on the bar.

    Am I supposed to wear the watch for Heat Acclimation?

  9. Pacepro ultra running limitations……..

    The limits on using garmin connect of 14m/mile or a goal time of 11 hrs and change are pretty well known. Hopefully Garmin will update these to cater for longer ultra races.

    Setting a pacepro strategy on the watch from a course sent to it allows a work around, to an extent, but not an unlimited selection of time or pace, and one that changes according to the distance (for example I cant set a pace longer than 20m/mile for a 5 mile run but I can for a 45 mile run) Garmin has some sort of algorithm running here that sets the limits available. There seems to be an overall limit of 80 hrs unfortunately.

    The splits set for these longer runs seem to be based on elevation changes on the course as opposed to distance, which makes sense.

    Longer runs of over 100 miles dont seem to be catered for with this feature, the watch just sets an overall average pace based on the distance and your target time and fails to set any splits.

    Hopefully garmin has ultra runners in mind and develops pacepro accordingly.

    • Stephan Vogel

      Uh, that sucks. I had it in the past with older models, that tracks with many points could not be uploaded. Ok, limited memory, I get that. But I don’t see a memory issue here – or is it?
      100 miles and 80 hours is not bad, but would not have covered the 320k/89h ultra I did last year. And will definitely not cover races like TdG, PTL, Spine, or the Goldsteig.

  10. Nick

    User of 6X Sapphire from 1st Sep.
    Watch looks and feels amazing – but dear…those software bugs….

    I am swimming regularly – but 6X does not record swimming activity in daily calories! (this worked on FR935)
    (calories are my daily check of activities – there is not stepcounting in pool)
    Issue is not even commented by Garmin on the forums – and support team acknowledges it but does not know when it will be resolved….

    And we are speaking about super basic functionality that existed – and was ruined…. Never seen such a bad quality control in my life…

    • Alex Masidlover

      I was thinking that Garmin had finally produced a device that covered all my daily needs (now that they’ve stopped disabling connection to the Mio link for pool swimming) and that I would have a good option if/when my trusty Ambit3 expires, but no…

    • Brian Reiter

      I use my fenix 6X every day to record activities. On a regular basis, I use run, trail run, treadmill run, pool swim, cardio, strength, row indoor, and yoga.

      Maybe there was some weird issue back in September with summing calories from swimming into daily calories, I don’t know. But I can say that calories from Swimming activities on my fenix 6X are counted toward daily calories as far as I have ever noticed. I just checked and confirmed it worked correctly with my swim today.

      I don’t have a lot of complaints with the 6X. The early firmware had some noticeable bugs for me on music service integration and BLE headphones but those are pretty much resolved.

      It saw me through navigation in a 14 hour unmarked mountain ultra trail race in Africa. It’s a quality device.

    • Bruce Fraser

      Hi Brian

      Can you tell me what your battery life is? My 6x pro just does not last the way I think it should. For example, on a rest day, it tells me it’ll last 21 days. By the end OF THAT DAY, it’s down to 18. No workouts. Obviously I understand when I do a workout every day, battery life will be shortened.

      So, your use sounds a lot like mine. I log between 45 to 120 minutes of GPS workouts (open water swim/ride/run/brick) a day, with a break/rest every 5-6 days. The watch at this rate of use cannot last longer than the fourth day (it runs totally flat halfway through the 4th day).

      Pulse OX is totally off. Wrist HR is on normal. Watch is connected to phone and receives alerts. I have music on it but in the use example above I did not use it for music.

      One telling symptom for me is that when I received the device it was totally flat.

      I would really appreciate your (and other) comments on your actual battery life you’re receiving from the 6x pro. It’ll help me decide whether I have a dud battery or whether I’m expecting too much from the power manager and watch!


    • Brian Reiter

      I have 24-hr PulseOx and 24-hour on. I will generally record 2-3 activities per day.

      I use music on on most runs.

      I think it would last more than a week without a charge but generally, I will charge it a little bit when taking a shower every couple of days. That keeps the charge between 30 and 70% most of the time.

      Honestly, the improvement from the f5X is so enormous that I don’t think about power unless I am going for a huge all-day effort.

      I can tell you that for my Race power settings — with ANT+ for Stryd and inReach enabled — it projects 63 hours, but if you use the navigation screen a lot it burns the battery 2x the rate that it otherwise expects. I had more than 35 hours left after my last ultra race using the navigation screen a ton for 14 hours.

      If your safety depends on it, then I don’t really trust the battery life projections. I think they are a bit on the optimistic side. For comparison, all but one of my mates with f5X and f5+ had their batteries die well before the finish. (Only Coros came close to the battery life I got with the f6X.)

      I have played with some other options, notable Display: Time Out and have a profile that projects 89 hours with standard GPS and wrist HR on. My thesis is that Display: Time Out will mitigate the power wastage of the map navigation screen which burns a ton of power when you’re not looking at it. With Display: time out, it will automatically blink out and. If this works well then it gives a 100% margin on a mountain ultra race with a 45 hour cut-off.

      I haven’t been doing enough really long runs to know if this actually gets close to the 89 hours and whether the screen coming on with a gesture works well enough.

    • Bruce Fraser

      Thanks for the prompt response Brian.

      That definitely makes me think I’ve got a dud battery. Sure, I’ve been navigating a lot with it through Cape Town on my bike, but that’s only 100 minutes a day. So 3 and a half days is too short.

      I’ll play around with that display option anyway.

      Thanks again!

    • Brian Reiter

      Greetings from Harare. How’s the wind down there?

      Yes, 3.5 days seems quite short to me. I would expect more, keeping in mind that the using the map screen doubles the burn rate on the battery and music also really chews up the battery. I don’t know what happens if you are using both. That might explain it.

      Also ConnectIQ watch faces dramatically reduce battery life. ConnectIQ data fields can also have a noticeable impact. The ConnectIQ extensibility is cool but the system uses a byte code interpreter similar to JavaME rather than native code for built-in features. ConnectIQ add-ons just cannot be as fuel efficient as the native, built-in functionality.


    • Bruce Fraser

      Hi! Cape Town was indeed very windy. Good for the legs :-)

      Thanks a lot your replies have really helped.

      I definitely use the map screen, as well as Connect IQ data fields – actually mainly one, but I’m sure that that one (sends lats longs and gets wind) is contributing to the drain.

      Funny enough the watch has also developed a really irritating rattle when it vibrates! So I’ll send it back for that and get them to check the battery at the same time. Love it otherwise though!

      I’ll let you know the outcome…

  11. Kyle Pieters

    Hey Ray. Thanks for the amazing review. Any idea why the 6X solar uses gorilla glass rather than the Sapphire crystal?

  12. Frederic

    “There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy. A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road? Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!”

    I know you repeat that sentence over and over for each of your review but I believe you’re missing the point.
    GPS accuracy IS and SHOULD be very important.

    As a quick example, it can make or break a record. See here as a good example :link to athleticsillustrated.com
    Maybe Jornet’s record (and other records for that matter) would have not been in doubt if GPS accuracy would have been met ?

    • That sentenance is meant to be a joke.

      Given I devote an entire section in every review to GPS accuracy, and given it’s typically a make a break item in my reviews for devices, it’s pretty clear I think GPS accuracy is and should be important.

    • Frederic

      thanks for the clarification, I wanted to make sure to specify that accuracy is important for good reasons and not just to draw shark heads on the map ;-)

  13. Travis

    Can you create a custom label for alarm on 6xpro saphire.
    I want to have a few that have my labels not default ones

  14. Henry

    Hi, I would like to know if the solar 6x’s screen is slightly smaller than the normal 6x, or is the black outside strip now smaller because of the solar strip?

  15. Leandro Silva

    Hi Ray,
    Sorry to bother you again with this question, but do you have any inside information from CT UK about the stock availability on the 6X Pro Sapphire units? In their website, is stuck on ‘Expected Late September’. If I’m not wrong is Garmin defines with the retailers the number of units sent, so they ‘should’ know when the units will arrive, right?

  16. Can I use a quick release kit to mount it on my bike, like my Forerunner 935XT?
    I’m looking to buy either Fenix 6 Pro or Forerunner 945.


  17. SP

    I am curious about battery replacement. I have an ionic that was replaced under warranty when first battery died. I was at first thinking vivoactive, but it seems that the Fenix series can actually be unscrewed and have battery replaced. If you could comment on that or reach out to garmin that would be good info. Spending $1k on a watch to throw it away when battery dies seems excessive to me.

  18. anastasiadis panagiotis

    Hello i would like to know if the use of the maps and the navigation of a preloaded course-race will increase the battery consumption,want to upload a 100 mile race and navigate the entire race will it affect dramatically the battery performance?last question can anyone tell me with accuracy how much hours of gps u get in normal mode with a chest heart sensor and everything else turned off??Ok lot of questions thank u : ))

    • Michel Pierard

      Hi Panagiotis,

      I know I am replying to a message quite old, but I am having the same reflection about the battery drain while using the map and navigation. My real course experience was that after +/- 15 hours of navigation (and map visible on the screen), the battery was empty. I have 6x pro model.

      Did you has similar experience ?


    • Brian Reiter

      I had 50% remaining after 15 hours with navigation on the 6X Sapphire last December. I had a moderately aggressive custom Power Profile which disabled ANT+ and BT and music features but left GLONAS, optical HR on.

      I was switching between the map screen and climb pro, depending on how difficult sections of the race were to navigate.

      I have also experimented on training runs with having the Display Timeout on — which works to tremendously save power but is a bit annoying as it takes a moment to come back on. By extrapolation I’m confident that I could get at least a whole day of burn time with navigation and HR enabled by using Power Manager profiles.

    • Michel Pierard

      Thanks Brian for sharing ! In 2018 I did UTMB in 36 hours with Fenix 5x plus, always on the Climb pro screen as the race markup was excellent, and I just had to reload once. So I have really the impression that the display of the map is loading the CPU/battery. Also I have installed additional detailed topo map, I can imagine that as the .img file is quite large, maybe it brings additional work to the CPU…
      That would explain also why the option ‘display timeout’ is a great energy saver…

      Unfortunately, the remaining hours displayed on the watch isn’t reprensentative of the reality and making experiments is not easy also….

    • Brian Reiter

      I think the “hours remaining” is fairly valid when not using the map screen.

      If you are exclusively on the map screen with “track up” and no display timeout then the hours remaining is optimistic by about 2-2.5x.

      I did not have a 5X Plus but I did have a 5 and 5X. The 5 is significantly better than the 5X but the 6X has vastly burn time than either. The Power Manager feature is powerful as is being mindful of the energy cost of the map screen.

      Even in an event that is an unmarked Sky ultra in mountain wilderness my experience is the map does not need to be running 100% of the time.

    • Scott

      What do you mean when you say you had to “reload”?

    • michel pierard

      Hello Scott. I use a very small external battery along with the wrist compatible plug to load the battery while running.

  19. Ameya K.

    Hi, Thanks for the review. I use a stryd footpod (swear by it) with my Fenix 3 and the sync up is flawless. I had read some negative reviews (admitted by Stryd) on compatibility issues b/w the Fenix 5 & Stryd. Would you be aware if this is sorted with the Fenix 6? I want the Stryd – watch interface to be flawless. Thank you.

    • The Fenix 5 related issues were specific to the Fenix 5, and Garmin solved it in the Fenix 5 Plus in June 2018. I don’t believe anyone has reported Stryd issues in the Fenix 6.

    • michel pierard

      You’re right, it is not absolutly necessary to have the map always on the display, especialy now that I have an aproximate idea of the autonomy. On the side of that, the really bad behaviour was that I didn’t get an alarm when the level was close to zero. The watch just stopped. Fortunately I had that round thing adviced by Ray that allowed me to reload the battery while countinuing to run and navigating…

  20. andrei

    Hello, what about auto activity detection for walking, running, biking, etc? For those times you are walking for longer than 5min for instance. It’s the tracking detailed or very basic? My old Fenix 3 hr could detect a few, but was very basic. Thank you.

  21. It seems like there’s more hiccups with the Fenix 6 launch than usually associated with an updated/upgraded watch. It’s stuff I’d expect have been worked out a few models ago, like the Pulse OX sensor issues, the differences in backlight/colors, and various other quality-related complaints on reddit (/r/garmin and /r/garminfenix).

    Have I just been watching the news too closely, hoping the 6X Pro Solar ship times would drop from 5-8 weeks, so I’m noticing complaints that are the usual? Or is there a broader product quality-control issue that’s perhaps driving the shipping delays? Across all F6 models both Garmin and retailers appear nearly-unavailable on lower-end models and indefinite backorder times on higher end (6X, Sapphire, Pro Solar) models?

    • Kristine

      I am wondering the same. I just cancelled my 6S order after waiting for over 3 weeks while promised ship time continues to increase.

    • Honestly, the issues with the Fenix 6 are pretty darn low compared to any past Garmin watches. By that watermark, almost non-existant.

      If you scroll upwards (meaning, most recent first) through the comments, you’ll find about 90-95% of comments are mostly just general questions – not issues.

      I think in general Reddit (no matter the topic within tech-specific forums) tends to probably twist a bit more towards issues than not. Nothing wrong with that, just sorta the reality.

      As for backorders, the only ones I know of volume issues are the Solar units, and nothing to do with technical problems – it sounds like some sort of component delay on manufacturing, along with simply guesstimating how many units people planned to order. As always, it’s a swag – sometimes you swag wrong.

  22. Robert


    I have a fenix 5s plus, and the things that bother me are:
    1. Poor battery life. e.g. last Sunday I started my activity with full battery and with Heart monitor disabled. 7.5hrs later it ran out of battery. Fortunately I was 200m from the end.
    2. No battery management info. I had contacted Garmin to request exactly the functions of power management utility, now I see that it won’t be in a fenix 5 plus update.
    3. Can’t configure screens using an app. It’s super fidgety to configure the watch using just the 5 buttons. It’s crazy that Garmin still haven’t made this possible using the app.
    4. Partial button lock to prevent accidental Stop. Without locking the watch it’s easy to accidentally stop the activity, e.g. against a glove. I can lock the watch, but then I can’t cycle through screens. I can’t find a way of changing the button combinations to stop an activity so that it requires a dual button press.

    It appears that the Fenix 6 addresses 1&2, I have no idea about 4.

    But you mention that Garmin will likely introduce the ability to configure the watch from an app. Based on the fact that Garmin didn’t update Fenix 5 plus with the power management utility, does that mean i’ll need to buy the Fenix 7 to get the ability to configure the watch from an app? Or is it likely that it will be rolled out for all their watches?
    Do you have any idea when this will happen?


    • Raul V.

      Manufacturers have very little idea of the practical needs of the users! While they come up with things that nobody asked for. That are mostly out of marketing ideas. To distinguish themselves from the competition. While simple, basic things are forgotten……

    • Wobby

      I am on my third Fenix 5+ because of battery issues. This one got me successfully through 12+ hour every second trail ultra events with 25%+ to spare.

  23. Brian Reiter

    I’ve run across a significant problem where Garmin MapInstall for Mac doesn’t reliably (mostly doesn’t work) with Garmin watches that support music. Even if you put the device into “Garmin Mode”, maps will mostly fail to transfer.

    The issue is that if you have maps in only in .gmap format for Base Camp (e.g. Africa TOPO maps from http://gmaptool.eu) and need to put .img format for the fenix, you need MapInstall to transpile from one format to the other. MapInstall will only transpile maps onto a Garmin device or an SD card. In the case of an SD card, it works best if there is a GarminDevice.xml file.

    My first quick and dirty solution was to copy the .img files I wanted from a fenix 5X to a fenix 5 plus over USB with a Windows VM. Later, I figured out that what you need for macOS to copy files over USB to Garmin that supports music is a Media Trasfer Protocol (MTP) client and the simplest one is Android File Transfer.

    A more long-term workaround that does not require a fenix 5x, is to mount a virtual SD card DMG file in macOS and have MapInstall send the maps to the virtual SD card. Then I can copy the .img files it created from the DMG in the Finder to the watch with Android File Transfer.

    Insructions for creating and mounting a virtual SD card in macOS.

    At the terminal use hdiutil to create a virtual SD card DMG. You have to use hdiutil because Disk Utility.app does not expose the functionality that you need.

    # this is a 16 gb file, you can make it whatever size you want
    hdiutil create -megabytes 16384 -fs MS-DOS -o fake-garmin-sd.dmg
    hdiutil attach -imagekey diskimage-class=CRawDiskImage fake-garmin-sd.dmg

    A NO NAME SD card should now be mounted and visible in the Finder side bar. You can rename and unmount it like any other disk. At this point, if you just double-click on the DMG file, Finder will mount it as an SD card again.

    Inside the root of your virtual SD, create a folder Garmin. Inside of Garmin create a GarminDevice.xml with these contents:

    fenix Fake


















































































































































    link to opengis.net
    link to schemas.opengis.net







    JNX 4




    link to topografix.com
    link to topografix.com













































































































































































































































    Now MapInstall will show “fenix Fake (Unit ID 0) (Unit ID 0)” as a device that you can install maps to whenever the fake-garmin-sd.dmg is mounted.

    One other note is that a bunch of the font colors in MapInstall 4.3.2 are completely broken in Dark Mode so that they are unreadable. Why Garmin enabled Dark Mode but did not set the font colors correctly is baffling. It’s like they just set the compile flag but never actually ran the app in Dark Mode.

  24. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Anyone know if on the top end Titanium model (6X Pro Solar) the watch body is titanium too? Or just the band? Thanks.

  25. Akshay Meiyappan

    Thanks for the review. Somewhere in one of your reviews you’ve mentioned that some of the features from the Venu/vivoactive 4 will be on the F6.
    Could you shed a bit more light on what these features are ? Respiration rate without a chest strap? Estimated sweat loss and anything else ?
    Also any idea when it’ll come out?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Yes, respiration rate for non-workouts without the chest strap, as well as estimated sweat loss. Basically, almost everything from the Venu. Within my Venu review I list the features and timelines. Off the top of my head (just running out the door), it was basically early fall for some, and late fall for others.

    • Nadav

      All of these are out in the last firmware update from a week ago. Already have them on my 6 pro.
      Hydration widget doesn’t exist yet though

  26. Nedim

    Based on a few weeks of observations, GPS track on the Fenix 6 Pro is absolutely horrendous, probably the worst I have had on any device. Yet, surprisingly the total distance displayed is about right.

    Case in point, I recently I ran a marathon in mostly open/forested area in Maine. Most other GPS devices had no issues, it was easy reception. Check out the traces, I picked a dozen or so other runners around me in Strava flyby; the 6 Pro is the black line

    link to imgur.com

    It’s not just these three areas, during the entire 26 miles it is almost always the outlier. It is *BY FAR* the WORST GPS track of all of them. The guy I was running with had an ancient TomTom and his trace was pretty much the entire time on the road, spot on. Yet, this brand new, premium priced device from the market leader MISERABLY FAILS in the one thing it should do well, GPS tracking. It’s sad and I feel like a fool for purchasing it.

    • Scott Griffith

      Actually, I don’t think it’s as bad as you describe. It is a little off but, not “failing miserably”.

    • Nadav

      I gotta say my GPS tracks are pretty spot on, maybe sometimes occasional corner cutting. I’m using GPS+glonass

    • Raul V.

      Objectively it may not be very bad but relatively it is for sure. While it’ll pretty much undoubtedly be the most expensive device of them all…..
      It makes you uncertain of how well it does other things, that one cannot check very easily (or not at all).
      I can understand the anger….

    • Frederic

      It’s likely due to the new Sony GPS chipset that most high end watches use at the moment (Suunto 9, Coros Apex and Vertix….).
      It allows manufacturers to boast a tremendous amount of battery because it’s a low-voltage chipset (and ultimately thats great) but I think it comes at the expense of the quality of the track.

    • Nedim

      Scott, let me give you a bit more data. Compare exact same run yesterday done with the Fenix 6 link to strava.com to the same route a few weeks ago with the Forerunner 935 link to strava.com. On this particular route, I can give you dozens of runs with a number of different devices and they all are within .05 most of the time. Look how the 935 tracks are tight and overlapping. Look how the Fenix 6 tracks are diverging and passing through houses on the side of the road, even though there is sidewalk on only one side of the road and I ran on it both directions

      I expected way more from a brand new premium device from the market leader.

    • Chris

      My GPS tracks were perfect until this latest firmware update 4.20 and now the track is all over the place…

  27. Andrew

    As always, great review. It makes me want to upgrade from the Fenix 5 (original).
    Do you know if Garmin plans to develop the PacePro into the Fenix 5? I can see the PacePro feature in the Garmin Connect app and can “send to device” but even after a sync I can’t see the pace strategy on the watch.

  28. Thanks so much for this great review.
    Just a question, is the grey wrist band on 6s picture, part of the box ?

    • No, see the text that’s directly above it:

      “Meanwhile, unpack the top and here’s all the goodness inside. In this particular case it’s shown with an extra strap that was included in the box sent to me. That is *NOT* the norm. No extra strap for you! I’ll re-shoot this photo sometime after I sleep.”

      One of these days I’ll sleep. Sorry!

  29. andrea dugato

    Thanks DC!

  30. Nicholas

    Hi Ray. I really appreciate your reviews. Especially the ones regarding new sports watches!

    I purchased my Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire a while back and is quite happy with it. However, there are some quirks and problems with it, especially with music.

    Spotify issues:
    After Garmin updated their software, the Spotify app struggles, and there are tons of feedback on the Connect IQ site that music is not working as intended. For example music worked flawlessly on my watch until the last update. Now I cannot raise the volume anymore in the Spotify app. It only plays music with the volume set very low.

    Blueish baclight:
    Also I have seen a lot of people complaining about different LED backlighting issues with their watches on Reddit. Either the watch has a really good backlighting with good contrast, or it kind of has a blue tint to it. Mine seems to have the blueish tint, although it looks exactly like the backlight on my old Fenix 5X.

    Have you or anyone else any trouble with the backlight or Spotify functionality lately?

  31. Scott

    Hey Ray,
    Awesome review as usual. I have had the 6x sapphire for 3 weeks now. Really love you review and I found all works as you say. Great upgrade. However – one exception – estimated VO2 Max. The watch is recalculating a VO2 Max estimate on every run (4 per week) and appears to ONLY use pace as the measure. Contrary to having all the other measures available – there seems to be no use of them in the calculation – like temperature, skIn temp, altitude, elevation gain/loss, respiration rate, distance, heat rate (with HRM Tri), all running dynamics, pulse ox, HR recovery, calories. Seems there should be some use and consideration of more of all these available measures.

    Variances in VO2 Max estimates are up to 10% change from run to run……

    Am I missing something?

    I had way more consistent VO2 estimate with my 5x. I travel every week and i mix road and tail runs so all of my measurements are always extremely varied as are All of my runs. Yet pace seems to be the only driver of the “fitness” measurement. I am glad to share additional data if it helps.
    Any addition insights here from your side?


  32. Heiko

    is there anybody with hands-in experience with the different screen sizes? For example:
    – are fontsizes different?
    – is it substantially nicer/easier to use the map on the larger screens?

    • Scott

      Bigger screen on 6X is making a HUGE positive impact for me versus my 5X and 3HR.

    • Louie

      That’s what I’m really interested in. The font size. I have the Garmin 935 and my eyesight is gradually failing (the joys of being over 40). If I have 3 fields it’s ok, but as soon as I go to 4, it’s hard to see. Even the font size for the date on the watch face is micro sized.
      I’m really interested in eventually getting the Fenix 6s but if the font isn’t bigger/easier to see, then that’s an issue.
      Is the font size any bigger on the Fenix 6s (in comparison to the 935, Fenix 5s)?

  33. David

    I am really interested in purchasing the Garmin Fenix 6 pro edition as a daily watch for all of its features. I have owned a FR 235 for years but really on use it to track my runs and tell time. The message notifications have never really worked with iOS for me. My biggest fear is that I will have issues with the Fenix 6 and MacOS /iOS connectivity. Is it worth paying a premium for a watch that may have connectivity issues? Or are the issues actually real?

  34. Brennan Fox

    Any idea what is up with the HRV Stress feature? There seems to be a tracker in the Connect app but there isn’t much info on it.

  35. Marc Abernathy

    Hi Ray — Thanks for the great review. I’m a fan of the Fenix line and use the 5X now. I was thinking of upgrading, but then I ran the Chicago Marathon and data was a disaster. Fenix reported that I ran 29 miles at a 6-minute, including an impressive 4:12 mile in the early going. All of that would have been wonderful, but, in fact, I averaged 9 minutes and ran a 3:56 marathon alongside my wife. I know this is a known issue in cities, but are they working on it? My wife’s Apple Watch was dead on in recording the event, so I have some envy there. –Marc Abernathy

    • Nedim


      I expect no improvement. After a lot of back-and-forth,Garmin support told me that the GPS accuracy spec they are working with for consumer devices is 15m –> that may be ok for their engineering department (easy goals and all), but it’s not ok for athletes.

      They recommended switching over to the FR945 as the metal bezel is apparently influencing the accuracy and the plastic casing of the FR should make it perform better.

      The whole raison d’etre for Garmin watches is accurate GPS. If the Apple watch, a far superior smartwatch, is more accurate, why bother with Garmin?

    • Scott

      Why do you believe that 15m is not “ok” for athletes?

    • Marc

      Thank you, Nedim. I appreciate the help. Not going to upgrade, anyway. And it may be time to move to Apple, though the battery life issue is a problem.

    • Nedim

      Scott, well, read Marc’s account of his race above. Seems like “not ok” to me.

      I have been recording runs on the same roads with the FR610, 910XT, Ambit 2R, 735XT and 935 all agreeing on the route. The heatmap was pretty tight and you could identify streets. Come Fenix 6, and the map is all over the place with wide variations, tracks going through houses left and right on the street. How do I trust this for pacing?

    • Scott

      Actually, I wasn’t commenting on his race results or his tracks. I was commenting on the response from Garmin regarding expectations. Being within 15 meters seems reasonable to me.

    • Nedim

      Hey Scott,

      you would have to decide for yourself. Here how 15m accuracy in a pretty open area with no tall buildings looked for me yesterday link to imgur.com

      Looking at this, would you trust the Fenix 6 Pro GPS to pace yourself? Yeah, me neither.

    • Scott

      Again, I’m not commenting on tracks. I’m commenting on Garmin’s response. 15 meters is reasonable. What you’re showing does not look like 15 meters now does it?

    • Caren

      I think it’s obvious it IS within 15metres deviation from the road!

      If you take two lines on either side of the road 7.5 metres to the north and south of the track there Garmin would say they’re within tolerance. To a normal user it’s adding on extra distance and is clearly a rubbish track.

      The simple fact is this: Garmin are unable to provide good tracks with their metal bezel used as antenna on their so called ‘premium’ watches.

      If you buy a Fenix 5 or 6 series then you know this is the case, so be careful what you buy. A plastic watch is less attractive but provides better tracks and, to me, is more reliable. I won’t buy another Garmin in protest at such shoddy hardware and software.

  36. Andy

    Really strugeling with decision if i should go new Fenex 6/6x or Suunto 9. Anyone have an idea if Garmin also have more GPS settings like Suunto (best,good,ok).? I do not know how to compare Fenix 6/6x GSP battery hours to Suunto? So for example Garmin 6x have mentioned “up to 60h” … probably this is 1 sec. interval? So that compare or compete with Suunto 9 in “best” (1sec) interval where Suunto mentioned 25h? I am correct?

    • Brian Reiter

      In the Power Manager the options to influence GNSS power consumption are worse to best:

      “Normal” GPS

      Totally separately there is a 1sec vs. Smart data recording mode. There is some debate about if this makes a detectable difference in the GPS data quality. I think it doesn’t make any difference in aggregate but the 1sec is slightly better if you want to zoom in on the track later or use 3rd party analysis. This option has a fairly negligible effect on battery life.

      The power manager stuff that Garmin admittedly more or less cloned from Suunto is super-cool. You can really see how something affects power. For example GPS is estimate to get +5 hours battery vs. GPS+GLONAS on a full charge on the 6X.

      There is no middle-ground between UltraTrac and GPS-only where you can tell it to poll a bit less, but the battery life it projects is as good or better than the Suunto 9 anyway.

      There is a lot of tweakery. If you disable all the sensors and bluetooth and music and use GPS-only it will project about 74 hours.

      As an aside, they also appear to have created an altimeter calibration mode that is similar to Suunto FusedAlti but it is off by default. In Settings > Sensors > Altimeter there is an option to tell it to calibrate continuously during the activity. I’m not 100% certain but it appears to use DEM data combined with 2D GPS position for the calibration.

    • Paul S

      Continuous calibration has been around at least since the original Fenix. It worked well on the Fenix; I rarely had to calibrate and the altitudes were accurate. It didn’t work on the Epix. Jury’s still out on my Fenix 5+; I think I have it on right now, but I remember a hike I did a few months ago where the altitude slipped by about 50 ft from beginning to end, so it’s not clear to me yet it functions correctly. Garmin actually has a patent on the technique, which you can easily track down with a search. They originally just used GPS altitude as the constraint; maybe they use DEM now.

    • Brian Reiter

      That’s interesting. The fenix 3 and 5 series did not have continuous altimeter calibration and suffered from significant drift with barometric pressure changes. Those watches calibrate the altimeter at the start of an activity and seemingly only if you wait for a 3D GPS fix before starting.

    • Miller

      link to garmin.com.sg Asian firmware v3.10 offered support for Beidou. It’s pity to Asian market only. Why don’t expand to global market ?

  37. Brian Reiter

    Hi Ray,

    I’m completely flummoxed trying to add Central Africa Time as a time zone in the Alt. Time Zones widget on the f6x. This was “Cape Town” on the fenix 5 series. All I can seem to select is Cairo (DST) which selects the whole CAT time zone on the map but is an hour ahead. The option of Paris (DST) is the correct time today but only because of daylight saving time and will be wrong in a few weeks.

    Am I missing something? There seems be no way to select a bunch of West Africa Time, Central Africa Time / Southern Africa Standard Time, or East Africa Time — all of which are fixed offsets of UTC without Daylight Saving. be no way to manually add a UTC time zone offset that does jump back and forth with daylight saving. There are a few random non-DST zones like Arizona, UTC, and Azores.

    The map selection is cute and all but it is missing a bunch of zones. I don’t get it. Surely there is a way to work around this but I can’t figure it out.

    • Huh, that’s weird. I’m travelling at the moment (and not to Central Africa), and don’t have the Fenix 6 with me. I’ll poke at it tomorrow.

      Just out of curiosity – why not use the automatic timezone stuff? Meaning, it’ll use both your phone and/or GPS to set the correct timezone as soon as you sync one or the other.

    • Brian Reiter

      Hi Ray,

      It’s not about setting the current time zone — which is automatic by GPS. I want to set time zones in the “Alt. Time Zones” widget. I used to have New York, UTC, and Cape Town and sometimes others depending on where people are that I’m working with. But now I can’t set Cape Town and then I also realized other time zones that don’t use DST are missing also.

    • Brian Reiter

      My problem is not that the primary time zone of the watch is set incorrectly. The issue is with the “Alt. Time Zones” widget.

      There are a bunch of missing time zones in there now, and the graphical selector dingus is wrong. For example, if you select South Africa on the map, it chooses “Cairo (DST)” which wrong by an hour. South Africa — and most of Africa — doesn’t have daylight saving time.

      This worked correctly on the f5 series, so it’s a regression, or I’m missing something about how to manually input a time zone with a fixed UTC offset.

    • Brian Reiter

      The 4.62 beta firmware fixes the Alt Time Zones widget to restore all the missing zones. Now you select a region such as Africa from the map and then it gives you a big list of all the valid zones in that region.

  38. Alex

    So I just got a Fenix 5 plus sapphire Titanium non DLC. Is there any chance that some of the software related features will ever make it over to the 5 plus? It seems that Garmin doesn’t do this to encourage sales of the new product. I don’t need the other hardware features on the 6 and with the sale I got on the 5 plus it would be about a $300 price difference which doesn’t make it worth it to me but I sure would like some of the new software features.

  39. Rob J

    Hey Ray, these guys appear to be stealing your stuff (at least the “what’s new” sections): link to mightygadget.co.uk

  40. Thomas D

    Very happy with my F6, and generally also with the OHR – except for hiking climbs.

    A typical course starts with running, then I go into brisk walking on the steepest incline parts to the top, then I run home.

    On the running at the start and the last half, the OHR is accurate compared to manual pulse check. On the steep ascent, OHR drops to 95, but my effort and breathing, as well as manual pulse check verifies pulse around 155-160.

    This has happened on several occasions and today it was the same on my wife’s F6s Pro as on my F6 Pro. A quick run earlier today had accurate OHR the entire run.

    I don’t know of it has something to do with Garmin’s algorithm, how it measures/filters/computes OHR, or just something with OHR reading. I’ve tried on earlier climbs to reposition the watch and change wrists etc with no luck, so I’m inclined to think it has to do with Garmin’s algorithm?

  41. Lee Sutton

    Hi Ray

    For the resp rate tracking. Does it work with any make of strap or does it need to be Garmin and if Garmin, does it need to be a run/Tri one?



  42. Moises

    Hi, grate review, what will be the difference from a Marq expedition watch to the fenix 6 pro.

  43. Tim

    On a few occasions my fenix 6x pro gets stuck on saving an activity. This needs to then be powered off. The activity is uploaded but doesn’t show as my last activity on the widgets screen. Anyone know of a fix for this? Thanks

  44. David Smoot

    I put down money on a Fenix 6 Pro Solar at my local running shop the day this was posted here in the USA. Now the shipping date is showing 11/10. Garmin Website shows shipping in 5-8 weeks. Has anyone in the USA gotten their pro solars?

    Somehow weirdly waiting is easier if everybody is waiting but annoying if I just picked the wrong shop to preorder.

    • More or less everyone is waiting. There was an initial batch or few back in September, and then mostly dryness until November (globally).

    • Guy Farquharson

      Best Buy has stock (USA).

    • David Smoot

      I’m now told December 31 for Pro Solar Titanium. Any insight on the delay? If its material sourcing that does not worry me much. Hopefully it is not a quality / design / reliability issue. Any insider knowledge you can share? It appears to be 4 months from order to delivery now.

  45. Jan Matusek

    Hi, I have a quaestion – Fenix 6 – Garmin connect – Estimated Sweat Loss — is it possible to get this (Sweat loss) to DATA field on watch (when acitivity)? :-)

    Thanx. Jan.

  46. Lee Sutton

    Hey Ray

    Just order a 6X Sapphire with your code from CTUK :-)

    One question I have is about training load focus. I currently run and ride. Does it accumulate both activities together, or will it always just show me data for the sport I’ve just done?



  47. Archibald Loch

    Fake event again

    • Sundar

      I had the same stuff pop up in my calendar. Finally figured that those were “Siri Suggestions” but strangely getting added onto my widget despite not being on the calendar app on the phone. So if someone messaged me for a meeting with a time and day, it would still show up. Annoying!

  48. Michael L.

    I have been using my Fenix 6X with one of the Garmin training programs. When I do certain segments of the program where there is a pace range, I get the attached data page which shows a “bug” that goes between the red green red area showing me if I am in the range along with the data fields of pace for that segment, time left in the segment and distance. Is there a way to get this page with its features on Workouts that I create?


  49. Dan Smith

    Thanks for the helpful review. Did you look into altimeter / elevation tracking accuracy?

  50. Jim


    Is the sapphire crystal better than the DLC? Been looking at the 6x sapphire but like the darker face look and saw there is a 6 pro DLC with A black face. Is there a difference?

  51. Johnny

    Hey Ray

    Another great review.

    I recently upgraded my Fenix 3HR to the Fenix 5Plus (June 2019) however, i was having some hardware issues and after getting a refund from Amazon have purchased the new Garmin 6Pro via Clever Training UK (thanks for the 10% discount code).

    I’m having a few issues sync’n with the Garmin weather widget and some watch faces – have you encountered anything similar? I’m using an iPhone with the latest iOS and the Garmin Mobile Connect app is up-to-date as is the software on the Garmin Fenix 6Pro. The Garmin weather app says it is waiting for data and the watch faces show as sync’d in the in the Mobile Connect IQ app but on the watch an IQ(!) error is shown. All these features worked on my older Fenix 5Plus using the same iPhone.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Paul S.

      There are quite a few complaints about Bluetooth connections with the latest iOS. I’ve had trouble with my iPhone 11 Pro and various Bluetooth devices, including my Apple Watch 5. They mostly seem to have been solved by the latest iOS update, but not entirely. I just checked and my 5+ is seen by Garmin Connect, but it wasn’t yesterday, while Settings->Bluetooth said it was connected. I’ve had trouble connecting my Withings blood pressure cuff to their app as well. It often seems to be the case that Settings-Bluetooth will show a peripheral as connected while the associated app can’t see it.

    • JR

      Yeah, I’m having serious connection issues as well. I get all my notifications, but I can’t sync activities and the weather widget hasn’t updated in over a week. The only way I can sync is to make my phone a wifi hotspot and add that network to the watch.

    • Keith

      I’ve noticed a similar issue. I’ve got into the habit of switching the BlueTooth on my iPhone off then on. Syncing to the watch then seems to start straightway… Not good really, but better than nothing!

    • Brian Reiter

      I have the same problem and sometimes it can be fixed by toggling bluetooth on my phone and/or using the disconnect/connect phone on the watch.

      I suspect both iOS 13 and the fenix 6X 4.20 firmware.

      I also have a potentially related problem where it sometimes it can’t connect to my bluetooth headphones. The only solution I have found to fix that is reboot the watch.

    • Lasse

      Same here. I have issues with both Bluetooth and wi-fi connections and that started with the latest update of the Fenix 6. I just can’t get them to work properly. Newest firmware on iPhone.

    • Johnny

      I spoke to Garmin support last night and they suggested removing Fenix 6Pro from the Garmin mobile connect app, then forgetting the Fenix 6Pro from my iPhone’s Bluetooth settings before finally deleting the Garmin mobile connect app. Then downloading the Garmin mobile connect app and re-pair the Fenix 6Pro as a new device. All this didn’t make any different……

      I then tried sync’n the Fenix 6Pro with my MacBook using Garmin Express app and there where serval software updates which weren’t available via Bluetooth/Wifi via the Garmin mobile app (most of these appeared to be map updates) however, my weather app, watchfaces/apps/widgets and data fields which previously were not working are all now working ??.

    • Brian Reiter

      I got an upgrade to Garmin Connect mobile and iOS to 13.2. With those combined changes, sync seems to be working, for now.

  52. Nyochai

    Great Review, looking forward to getting my Fenix 6 Pro and test the battery.

  53. Dean

    Great review, but can I input direct on to watch military grid reference, thanks

  54. Edwin

    Thank you very much for the review, appreciate the work and recommendations. And thank you for the discount code for the EU readers, it really makes a difference. Thanks again!!

  55. nyochai

    Great review, i wonder about the battery life and GPS accuracy vs 945, as I found 945 performance to be very poor in these two areas.

  56. Devin

    I am having a hard time figuring out how to set up the Nacho Cheese Dispenser feature on my 6s. Any tips?

    • Juan Palacios

      That’s becase you need to purchase the GarminTaco© device that is sold separately. You just link ’em via BT and you’re done. With it, you also get mole, fajitas and black beans for your convenience but you’ll have to configure such features first. LOL :D :D

  57. Alex

    Probably been asked before…

    But is solar worth not having the Sapphire-glas?

  58. Leandro Silva

    Hi guys,
    Following my previous posts, here is the 6X Pro Sapphire purchased on CT.UK using Ray’s cupon. Great discount! Everything went really well and fast (4 days) without any problems ;) Recommended!

    Few moments ago, I went out for my first run with this beast ?There are so many things and data provided by the watch, that I now have to gradually be aware of and learn how to properly use that information. In some moments the GPS signal was lost, but I probably have to confirm if everything is setup correctly.

    Once again thank you so much Ray for your insights and keep going with your outstanding product reviews!

    Cheers (from Portugal ?),
    Leandro Silva

  59. Mark Drury

    Have you had feedback from Garmin on the porting of PacePro to the 945?

  60. I have an outdoors-focused review on my site if anyone is looking for more info on nav features, etc.

    link to hikingguy.com

  61. Chuck

    I have to wonder if Garmin has tweaked the Body Battery. I had a Forerunner 945 which rarely showed anything less than 100 in the morning. I am now using a Fenix 6 which has been in the 80s and 70s most mornings. So dramatically different behavior with I assume is very similar hardware. Thoughts?

  62. Which would you go for between the Fenix 6 and the 945XT for triathletes?

  63. Thomas Berther

    Hi. I always read your reviews with high interest before I buy a new Garmin device. I have just unpacked my new Fenix 6 Sapphire which will replace my Fenix 5 Sapphire.
    Based on you report I was expecting a slimer watch know and was therefore somewhat disapointed to find that my new Fenix 6 has exactly the same thickness as my old Fenix 5 (15.8 mm). Did Garmin change the dimensions since your testing. Best regards. Tom

  64. Miller

    link to garmin.com.sg Asian firmware v3.10 offered support for Beidou. It’s pity to Asian market only. Why don’t expand to global market ?

  65. Ray Stephens

    Has anyone upgraded from a Fenix 5s sapphire to either the 6s or 6 sapphire? Would appreciate any comments regarding your switch.

  66. Paul Lewis

    So I’m still a little bit blown away that we are now up to the Fenix 6 and there is still not a native Ski Touring (backcountry) sport App. Does it not seem like it should be a prerequisite for a watch like this?

    • Brian Reiter

      Backcountry Ski is a built-in Activity on the 4.63 beta firmware.

    • Paul Lewis

      Hey Brian,

      Thats awesome thank you for that. Just trying to install and realized its not happening as I’m on a mac! Guess I’m waiting for the public release.

      System requirements
      IBM-compatible PC running Windows 2000 or later operating system and an available USB port.

    • Brian Reiter

      Me too. You can install it by copying the files with Android File Transfer.app.

      link to android.com

      Or anything else that implements the Media Transfer Protocol client. It’s built into recent versions of Windows — which is why those instructions just say to use Windows.

    • Paul Lewis

      Finally got it installed, I like it but I’m slightly annoyed by it at the same time! You have to press the lap button to tell the watch whether you are climbing or descending. Not ideal as when you are in the backcountry you don’t need another thing to be thinking about.

    • Raul V.

      Product developers are never familiar with users! And companies (the bigger the worse) are always cutting on budgets, thanks to a focus on max profit/eager shareholders/too many managers…. The modern world.

  67. Devin

    Re: this “adaptive” training advisor, how exactly does Garmin “know” what training areas you need? Of course it can learn and tell how hard you’ve been working, what intensities etc., but what does it match them up against? What is its model of endurance training that matches your profile and activities up against in order to find deficits?

    Root of the question is, is it really useful?

  68. Pedro T

    Just got my new fenix 6 sapphire and was surprised to see that it it comes with all maps – from Garmin Express i’ve updated the watch and it shows coverage all regions and topoactive for Europe. I’m in the US on business and bought the garmin in Europe because all reviews stated that the fenix6 would come with the maps of the country of purchase …but it seems that is not the case.. what am i missing here??.. have i just lost around 90€ ?!

    I could not find any answer both on manual nor on discussion forums!!!

    • Brian Reiter

      You were given correct information. You have the EU map set: TopoActive Europe is a detailed mapset derived from OpenStreetmap.

      If you had a US edition, you would have the “TopoActive Americas North” instead.

      Those other map sets — “Map Coverage of North and South America”, “Map Coverage of Pacific”, “Map Coverage of Europe”, “Middle East and Africa” are all extremely low resolution base maps. I don’t honestly understand the point of them. It seems like they just have major political boundaries and major highways.

      If you want USA coverage for your EU edition watch, I recommend the USA OSM Topo Routable maps compiled by gmaptool.eu. I actually have US edition watches. On my f5X it came with “Cycle Map North Americ” and I disabled them to use the gmaptool maps derived from OSM because they had better trail detail than the official Garmin ones.

      link to gmaptool.eu

      On my new 6X, it comes with TopoActive Americas North, which I think is just OpenStreetMap.

      This whole situation is shameless and asinine.

      Garmin should just make their entire TopoActive worldwide mapset that they just repackage from OSM available to all Fenix and Marq watches for free and simply bundle the local region for convenience. These devices have maps as a premier feature and they are premium devices at the top of the market cost structure. Charging for open source maps is a move to extract more money out of naive customers who are not experienced enough with the tech to go out and get them. It’s just a bad customer experience.

      I don’t have a problem with Garmin charging extra for their BirdsEye maps or high resolution 24k and TopoPro maps. Those are a legitimate value proposition.

    • Agree with everything Brian wrote.

      I will say however that semi-recently (this year sometime), Garmin did start offering the regional detailed North America maps for quite a reasonable price ($20 for Western Europe).

      I think that’s actually fair given they are of added value over OSM (namely popularity routing, which I think is actually worth the $20).

      However, I take away all that credit for the complete @#$#-show that it is to actually load these maps. There’s no excuse in 2019 (going on 2020) for it being that complex. It should be an easy transaction via the GCM app with your credit card, and then the device simply downloads via WiFi. Just like how Wahoo & Sigma work (except they don’t charge anything).

    • Brian Reiter

      I didn’t even realize Popularity Routing required a Garmin mapset. I thought it worked regardless.

      However, it doesn’t work here in Zimbabwe at all, despite a ton of Garmin bike, run, and hiking data which I know exists. Garmin watches are hugely popular among a fitness obsessed segment of the population. You can see the data in Strava heatmaps, but the feature is greyed-out in Garmin Connect. Popularity Routing has never worked anywhere in Africa outside of South Africa that I have tried.

      I think they definitely do have the raw data. Clearly they aren’t trying.

    • It’d be slightly interesting to understand from Garmin why it doesn’t work in Zimbabwe. My guess it that despite Garmin watches probably being popular within the context of folks you know and the greater athletic community – my bet is that Garmin probably discards data sets below a given threshold that might be tuned for bigger areas.

    • Brian Reiter

      I just double-checked this feature in Garmin Connect. It’s not “greyed out”. It just doesn’t do anything.

      The “Popularity Heatmap” of Harare is nothing.

      Similar nothing for Iten, Kaptagat, and Eldoret Kenya. I don’t know for sure how many athletes have Garmin watches in that hotbed in Kenya but I’ve seen them on a lot of runners in photos — including the NN guys among others. And I’m sure a big proportion of the mzungus that go there for training camps.

      Same for Adis Ababa. I’ve been there as well. The streets are choked with runners in the morning. While most of them are without gadgets, I’m confident some portion of those people do have Garmin watches. The absolute numbers are huge, so even a small percentage would yield a ton of data.

      Compare with Cape Town or London which are covered with purple lines in the “Popularity Heatmap” layer.

    • Brian Reiter

      Strava Heatmaps

      Harare, Zimbabwe
      link to strava.com

      Eldoret, Kenya
      link to strava.com

      Kaptagat, Kenya
      link to strava.com

      Adis Ababa
      link to strava.com

      Clearly not all that data would be from Garmin, but given Garmin marketshare it should be dominant, so a plurality if not an outright majority.

  69. Thanks for the fantastic review, it has inspired me to purchase a Fenix 6 Pro.
    Can I confirm that PacePro is available on the Fenix 6 Pro as I can create routes and use PacePro in the app but when it comes to uploading the data to the watch it tells me that the Fenix 6 Pro isn’t compatible.
    Clearly I’m doing something wrong or I’ve set something up incorrectly.
    Any ideas what?
    Thanks in anticipation.

  70. Codasco

    I’m looking for a replacement charging cable. Has anyone had success with the litany of options on Amazon or stuck with official version from Garmin (~2.5x price)? Thanks!

  71. Ric Immens

    I am considering to purchase a Fenix 6S.
    Right now i have a Forerunner 735xt. I am happy with the unit but not with the optical HR.
    This is not working fine during workouts. Especially intervals are not registered well.
    I have a thin wrist and also have the idea that is one of the main reasons.
    Has someone experience that the optical HR of the Fenix 6 is working better?

    • Brian Reiter

      I have mostly good results with the optical HR sensor in the f5X and f6X. Even so, I prefer to use an HRM-Run strap for best results with intervals and spin. There are limits to the accuracy of wrist optical HR regardless of watch. They are best for 24-hour poling and steady-state aerobic activities without too much jostling or wrist flexion.

      I think you will enjoy a big feature and speed upgrade from the 735XT to the f6S, but if your only problem is registering accurate HR for intervals, I would recommend getting an accessory heart rate strap like the Garmin HRM-Run or HRM-Tri or possibly a Polar H10 or OH1 or a Scosche Rhythm.

    • Ric Immens

      Thanks Brian for the fast reply.
      I use the HRM-Run and a cheap Chinese strap (what also works ok).
      I weared 735xt now for more than 3 years 24/7. Actually it is working still fine but an upgrade is also very nice.

    • Hello Brian!

      I have paired my Fenix 6 Pro with my chest strap but how can I know that the “Heart Rate” Data Field displayed gets its data from the strap and not from the watch? That would be awesome to be able to specify an heart rate source priority list. In case one disconnects (or has sudden abnormal value), use the second on the list.

    • External heart rate sources alwas take preference over the watch one. So there is a priority list, just not customizable.

      If you really care, you can temporarily disable the ones you don’t want to be used.

    • Brian Reiter

      I’ve never actually seen any evidence of the HRM-Run disconnecting from the watch. It would be obvious in retrospect because there would be gaps in the running dynamics data. The chest transmitter and watch are close together through the entire running gait with not much possibility of your meat getting between the transmitter in the sensor and the receiver in the watch.

      You will receive an alert that the HRM is connected when starting your activity. I think you may get a disconnect alert also. (I have not tried this but you could definitely create a test scenario by starting the activity and then removing the strap and walking away from it.)

      You will also receive a low battery alert from the watch when you need to replace the coin cell in a Garmin HRM.

      As a practical matter I don’t think random HRM disconnects is a real world issue. YMMV.

    • Thank you Iustin!

    • Thank you Brian!

  72. Greg

    Hi there

    Thanks for the amazing review.
    One question:
    What does the data-field on the down-right part of the „out of the box display-design“ show? It says something like H 5/ T 0 in my case….

  73. tim

    Hi Ray,
    I’m curious what your thoughts are on loading/organizing tracks for trips onto the device. For example, I’m traveling soon and want to put a set of hikes/trail runs on my device ahead of time. I’m looking for hikes on sites like AllTrails or Hiking Project and then download the GPX file from there. The idea is to then put them on the watch.

    I just received my 6S and soon realized that Garmin fails to make this simple. There is Garmin BaseCamp (MacOS) which appears to be semi-discontinued and is extremely buggy and slow in loading maps from the watch. However, it’s the only app that seems to allow importing and directly editing tracks. You can also organize tracks in Collections.

    Then there is Garmin Explore (web app and mobile app), which also allows importing and collections but not much else. Collections in Explore don’t correlate to Collections in BaseCamp sadly. The mobile app looks decent but you can’t do much other than view a track and manage collections / syncing to the watch. The web app has a terrible UI and doesn’t show half the tracks I import on the map. It also didn’t add elevation data when I imported a GPX that didn’t include it, while BaseCamp and Connect added it based on maps.

    Lastly (I think), there is Connect (web app and mobile app). You can import “courses” there, but you don’t have collections and need to manually send each course to the watch which is annoying. You also can’t edit the track. It’s also not quite clear to me if there is a difference between courses on connect and tracks on the other apps, or if it strips off some detail. The UI for both web and mobile is a lot more refined though.

    On top of that, they make it pretty confusing between tracks and routes, though from what I can tell I want to stick with tracks because it’s more detailed.

    Thanks for any insight.

    • Hi Tim,

      Just some tips on how I do things here.

      I plan the detail of Each day of the route separately wherever I find the best maps and easiest tools, etc. There are lots! I’m mostly using Strava at the moment.

      Once drawn I export as a .GPX and store the collection of routes in their own folder in Garmin Basecamp. I do road-bike trips in the Alps most of tHe time for this kind of thing. Basecamp I find very handy as I can then export the whole collection of individual days in one .GPX file. This is great for sending to friends or moving around as there is only the one file to worry about. In BaseCamp I can also add individual waypoints for summits, hotels, etc. These are in the same file as well. You can organise this all in BaseCamp folders.

      Depending on the target GPS and whether you are Mac or PC has a bearing on how you put the one file into your device. On the Bike I use an Edge 830 currently. All I do is mount the Edge onto my Mac as a drive and copy the single file into the folder ‘New Files’. Each day then appears in the Edge as a separate Course.

      With the Fenix 6X I can’t do this as It doesn’t mount on Macs as a USB drive. If youre on a PC it should, so you can do it this way.

      On a Mac I do exactly the same thing actually, but with a separate app called Android Mount, or something! A bit of a pain, but better than nothing.

      All of my other GPS devices do mount nicely on Basecamp too, so I can see them and fine tune waypoints and courses using the App rather than the screen on the device. My Fenix 6X doesnt do this so I have to manage wayoiunts and courses using the watch interface.

      Again, if youre on a PC you may find the watch will mount so you can tinker with the Basecamp interface to fine tune rather than endure the pain of the watch inteface.

      I tend not to use Basecamp to edit the actual routes much. Though this is possible, usefulness varies as it dependsa lot on what mapping you are able to load into Basecamp itself. There are many free 3rd party maps available if you look.

      Hope that helps!

    • Brian Reiter

      You can copy GPX files into NewFiles on a Mac using the Android File Transfer app or some other Media Transfer Protocol client.

      link to android.com

    • Steve

      If you’re on iOS the best workflow I’ve found is the get to the gpx in Files or Dropbox or whatever app and use the share sheet to pass it along to Garmin Connect, and it then pretty effortlessly syncs to the watch.

    • Keith

      I’ve tried this but Garmin Connect doesn’t appear as an app that can open GPX files, other apps are ok. I have another app that also doesn’t ‘see’ GPX files either, thats UK Map.

      So, something odd going on with my setup. Happens on both iPad and iPhone. UK Map developer is a bit baffled as he says it works fine at his end ?

    • Found this on importing GPX files into iOS… Seems to be an issue if you use iOS 13 and use more than one app….

      link to advrider.com

  74. CJOttawa

    Thanks for this review Ray.

    Interestingly, when I tested the Fenix 6, and F6x on this weekend, next to my 945, and they didn’t seem that different, size-wise, where the F5x was gargantuan in comparison.

    From Garmin’s spec sheets: the F6x is not only thinner (per your graphics), but designed for smaller wrists.

    fēnix 5x – Silicone band: 163-250 mm
    fēnix 6x – Silicone band: 127-210 mm
    Forerunner 945 – Silicone band: 130-220 mm

    The lugs of the 6x look like they’ve been moved farther inward or at least “flatter” against the back – maybe the new pin type without Torx heads contributed to that.

    Regardless: the F6 and F6x should appeal to a wider audience than the F3HR, F5x.

  75. Chris

    Hey Ray,

    do you have any update on the availability of the Fenix 6x Pro Solar ? I ask Garmin on social media but as often they keep silence.

    Thank you,

  76. dan s

    I’m really enjoying the Fenix 6, and I like the Body Battery, and stress score. It’s a pity that I can’t get HRV ‘raw’ scores from it, but I believe FirstBeat do use it to give that information.

    I also can’t see the benefit of PulseOx, except in rare circumstances. It’s such a huge battery drain that I’ve just turned it off. Is this a feature that ordinary people find useful?

    My only real issue with the watch is the brightness. When I am in the field on a dark night 5% is still too bright. I wonder if it’s possible to play around with the firmware to provide another option. I know it would affect the warranty, but it would solve a particular problem I have.

    Firmware hack advice, anyone?

  77. lens

    Hi Ray, do you think the 6s Pro might last a sub11 Ironman with only ANT+ Sensors connected (Power, HR, Footpod). Do you have some experience with that watch? Thanks, Lens

  78. Helen

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you very much for such a detailed review – found this very helpful. So now I’ve purchased a Fenix 6s and I’m having problems uploading .gpx files to it using a Mac (no surprises here, but a bit frustrating as I’ve come from a Suunto SSU where this was really easy). Some advice from you and the DCR Garmin hive mind here is much needed, if you can spare the time…!

    I’ve tried a number of different things:
    1) Garmin basecamp – .gpx inports just fine, but the Fenix doesn’t show up under devices (Garmin Connect is closed!). I ran a hardware check on the Mac and the watch was definitely connected.
    2) Installed and used android file transfer (on a different Mac where neither Connect nor Basecamp are installed) – the watch shows up (“GARMIN”), and I transferred the .gpx to the “Courses” folder on the watch – but I don’t see the course when I go to a run, select the menu option and then select courses.
    3) Tried importing the gpx from Basecamp to Garmin Connect, but that was a non-starter

    Any suggestions please? Apologies if these topics have been discussed already (I’ve had a detailed read through the posts here but couldn’t find anything that quite matched what I was looking for) and thanks again for your time!

    • Brian Reiter

      You are close. Instead of putting the GPX file in Courses, put it in NewFiles.

      When you disconnect the watch will say “Converting GPX” and then “Loading Maps” and then you will see your watch face again.

      What it actually does is convert the GPX file(s) in NewFiles to FIT files in the Courses directory. The watch only really works with FIT files internally and it needs you to put things in NewFiles so that it knows that it needs to do the import and conversion process.

      Another option is to import your files into Garmin Basecamp and then use the Send to Device function to get them onto your watch. I’m 99% sure that all Basecamp does is copy a GPX file to /Garmin/NewFiles because I tried it with a “virtual watch” built out of a raw disk image and that’s what it did.

    • Helen

      Brian, you are amazing, that worked!!! Thank you so much – you have saved me many hours of frustration!

      Re: Basecamp, I have tried that but it just didn’t recognise the device…

    • Helen

      Thank you! Not sure this posted last time, so thanks again!

    • Brian Reiter

      Your fenix 6S should be recognized by Basecamp. I have a fenix 6X and a mac. It does work.

      To be fair, Basecamp is a little bit on the flaky side.

  79. Kai Maison

    Torn between Garmin 6X Pro and Polar Vantage V Titan. Cycling, cardio on Cybex Arc Trainer, and weight training are my primary fitness activities. No running, no swimming. Where would you come down on this decision, Ray?

  80. Keeprun

    Hello everyone!

    We fight alway on GPS accuracy comparing watches in best GPS mode (10h battery life).
    But IMHO, for watch like Fenix 6 and Suunto 9, is reasonable compare the ultra battery mode (20/40/120hours battery life).

    Any experience about Fenix 6 ultra track mode? In Fenix 5 gave unusable results.
    The Suunto 9 ultra mode instead seems to work enough good, compining accelerometer with gps.

    • Scott

      I asked that same question back when the Fenix 5 came out. I never did hear a reply from anyone regarding the Ultra Trac. I am curious to know how well it works in terms of accuracy.

  81. Klaus

    I order my Fenix 6X Pro Solar in August as it became available on Clever Training in Europe. Happily they took my money. In September I received a mail it would be available early November. Now we are almost in December and no further communication.

    Does Garmin have production issues with the Solar model? Or is it stuck at Clever Training? Did others get their Solar models shipped?

    • Garmin paused all production for a while. Or effectively paused it. Either way, units weren’t going out. I was told last week units are now finally going out.

    • Klaus

      Great to hear. Thanks for the prompt response ;-)

    • Struan Lownie

      I too am in this boat with an Order submitted to Clever Training UK, any indication when they resumed shipping? Just intrested to know if it’s only just got on a slow boat from Asia or will arrive before I go skiing?

    • Unfortunately everyone’s in the same boat no matter where you ordered (obviously, place in line might impact that). The good news is that with the exception of trainers, Garmin doesn’t use boats (slow or fast) for their fitness division. So everything is air freight, which moves pretty darn quick.

      If you’re going skiing in January, I’d expect no issues. If however you’re going skiing next weekend…honestly no idea.

    • Struan Lownie

      Thanks for the prompt reply, no idea where I am in the queue but hopefully I’ll shuffle to the front in the next 3 weeks.

  82. Henry Ivarsson

    Sorry if this has been asked before, I just posted this over at the Garmin forum. Anyone have the same problem, please chime in, feedback appreciated.

    In Europe, commuting to the train, pulling the kids in the bike-trailer type of riding on pedal-assisted bikes in regular clothing are increasingly common. For me, the hours of these rides rack upp providing active recovery, soft endurance type riding.

    As a longtime road and mtb cyclist and when I gear up properly for training or racing on my regular bikes I use a Garmin Edge 530 to display and record all the metrics from power meters etc, strangely enough on that device Garmin gives me the option to record an e-bike activity.

    For me it would be really impractical to have to fit and bring my Edge 530 for the pedal-assisted rides in regular clothing mentioned above, especially when I have a Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire on my wrist. Today I have to record those pedal-assisted rides as a regular bike ride on my Fenix, putting incorrect data into Garmin Connect. Further, I am not allowed to change the activity type even on Garmin Connect? Then I have to manually change it to an e-bike ride on Strava.

    Garmin, please add the e-bike activity type you already have available on the Edge devices to the Fenix 6 software. Please also add the option of changing activity type after the fact in Garmin Connect. Thank you!

  83. Josh

    If you had the choice of the base (non-sapphire, no music, no maps, no wifi) model of the Fenix 6 or the Sapphire 5 plus, which would you go with?

    • Brian Reiter

      Assuming prices are equal, it depends upon your priorities:

      – if battery life is paramount, then the fenix 6 base model. Fenix 6 spec is 36 hr vs. fenix 5 plus 18 hr for GPS tracking in default mode. That is without using custom power profiles and automatically switching to a power conservation mode of your choice when the battery gets to a low threshold of your choice.

      – if scratch resistance, topo maps, music, and/or NFC payment are more important to you than battery life, the 5 Plus has more features

      The wifi feature is usually of fairly marginal utility for just syncing activity data.

  84. Keith

    I’ve been using my Fenix 6X for a few weeks now. As a watch it’s fine. But I’m experiencing some issues tracking hill walks here in Snowdonia, North Wales. The recording issues seem to happen every time, Here is some fine detail on one route as an example:

    I’m using the ‘Walk Activity’

    Pause set to ‘When Stopped’ in the Activity Settings

    Tracking set to Smart (not Every Second) in System Settings

    Moving Time: 2h 57 min
    Elapsed time: 5h 48m
    Altitude gain: 496m
    Pace 17:32/km
    Elevation gain 496m (Lowest: 108m, highest: 793m)
    Strava corrected the elevation gain to 842m

    Leg distance in the .fit file is mostly around 2m.
    Sometimes they are: 0m, 10m, 20m, 32m, 77m, 85m, highest was 101m
    A leg length of 101m means there was a really big gap in the recorded track. Location was in very open hillside with a full clear view of the sky at the time.


    In this single example we were out for almost 6 hours and walked almost non-stop, we paused a few times for only a maximum of 10 minutes as it was a very cold day. Actual moving time here was recorded as under 3 hours. Why is this so wrong?

    Lowest altitude was recorded as 108m asl, highest was 798m asl, a difference of 690m on those figures reported by the watch itself in the summary screen.

    Yet total height gain is reported as 496m, clearly wrong even by its own reckoning! Strava corrected this to 842m, which feels about right.

    I could try:

    Tracking set to Every Second instead of Smart in System
    Pause set to ‘Off’ instead of ‘When Stopped’ in the activity settings

    All my other Garmin units, an Edge 830 and GPSMap 66S work fine with similar settings to the Fenix and have never behaved this way!!

    Do I have a faulty unit, or is it setup badly?

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    • Paul S

      Almost certainly set up wrong. Try one second recording and turn auto pause off. Manually pause when you need to. Your watch is obviously auto pausing because of the low speed of walking complicated by a small GPS antenna and your arm swinging.

      You’re saying your Edge 830 works better for walking? I’d certainly understand if it worked for better for cycling, because typically speeds are much higher. Low speed activities like walking are hard for a GPS to track correctly because the error in the GPS position rivals the distance traveled between points. Handhelds do better than watches because they usually have big antennas.

    • Keith

      Thanks Paul. The 66S is fine for walking, bigger antenna. I have used my older 820 for walking in winter sometimes and that worked fine too, though the 830 is mostly used on the road bike. I’m trying the 6X now with 1sec recording and no pausing. Will be interesting for see how that goes. I hadn’t appreciated the smaller antenna. Hopefully these tweaks will solve the issues ?

    • Raul V.

      Garmin should have left out autopause for walking.
      Or tailor the algorhythm (or what it is that does the calculation) better, for this kind of activity.
      They could also have made the watch get the gps from your mobile. Or put the antenna in the heartrate belt???
      Do these GPS aspects explain the altimeter mess?

    • Brian Reiter

      The elevation change is not wrong if the watch was paused for a significant amount of the elevation gain.

      The fact that the numbers don’t seem to add up is a big clue that some climb segments are snipped out.

      Separately, I think the auto calibration of the altimeter option should be turned on if you want a good chance at repeatable elevation numbers.

    • Keith

      Just checked and the Auto Calibration seems to have been on by default. Yes, auto-pause doesn’t seem to be sensible for walking!

  85. Chris

    I bhought my Fenix 6x Pro Solar 5min before at Munich Airport (Watch Shop after the Secruity Check), They still have one left…. so hurry up :)

  86. Josh

    Is GPS accuracy on the 5 plus with the mediatek chipset better than the 6 with the sony chipset?

    • Paul S.

      I have a 5+ and an Edge 830, which has the Sony chipset. On the few rides I’ve done with both and put into DCR’s Analyzer, I don’t see any real difference between them. So I don’t think the 6 will be better or worse than the 5+ so far as GPS goes.

  87. Clement

    I think I speak for past Fenix/935 users when I say this:

    I’m going to wait at least 6 months to purchase a Fenix series watch, because the ABC (altimeter barometer compass) kept failing on warranty replacements I received, in addition to the optical heart rate showing cracks and affecting the HR readings. Garmin have used the same ABC unit for 4 years and they cant handle swimming, so I hope they have finally changed manufacturer and design! We won’t know for months, sadly.

  88. christophb

    Ray, do you have any information – or could you ask – if there will be a 6x Pro Sapphire with Titanium housing?

    Thank you!

  89. Chris

    Hey Ray,
    did you see this video….

    link to youtube.com


    • Haven’t seen it (it’s an unlisted video). But I don’t test watches like that, because that leads to HR inaccuracy. Blood flow is constricted on one, while the Fenix is almost directly atop the wrist bone. It’s like an example of how to wear two watches wrong.

      If one wants to test optical HR – that’s cool. But just wear one per wrist. Anything else is throw-away these days.

    • Chris

      Thanks Ray for the clarification and the fast respond

    • Brian Reiter

      I have an f6X pro sapphire with exactly the firmware in the video and I don’t have any HRM issue. It works and has always been working well within acceptable parameters for optical wrist HRM.

      I use a chest strap for intervals.

  90. Rob

    I’m a regular openwater swimmer. One of my swim crew has Fenix 5S and another has recently upgraded from Fenix 5X to 6X. The 2 series are consistently showing 7-8% difference in distance and associated metrics for our regular swims with 5 series always recording longer distance. I’m interested to either purchase 6S or Swim 2 (main downside of Swim 2 for me is lack of temp reading). Did anyone else also notice this discrepancy? Is 6-series now accurate, or is it under-measuring?

  91. Helen Williams

    Hi Ray, all,

    On the basis of this review and all the helpful posts I have just moved from a Suunto SU to a Fenix 6S. Very happy with the move, but rather missing the simple “breadcrumb” navigation Suunto offers for following a GPX route (importing the GPX is fine, but I’d just like to see the route as a breadcrumb trail in addition to the map option – there’s a certain point I hit in ultras when I just want something super simple to reassure myself I’m on the right route :-)). Ray, do you or does anyone know of an app on Garmin Connect that does this? TIA

    • hoimir

      Does dwMap suit your needs?

    • Just switch the maps off anytime you don’t want to see them.

    • Keith

      Ps.. with mapping off you should still be able to see the gpx track your following and the track you are recording on the now blank mapping screen.

    • Brian Reiter

      Do you mean disabling all of the underlying base maps?

      One thing to be aware of with Garmin TOPO map support is the map screen burns power at about 2X the base rate for your watch. You probably don’t want to just leave your watch on the TOPO map screen during an ultra. This was not the case for the fēnix 3 and fēnix 5 (not 5X) with their breadcrumb screens.

      I recently did a very technical, unmarked trail ultra. Several of my friends with the fēnix 5 plus and 5X had their watches run out of power at half their normal runtime and an hour or two before the finish because they left the devices on map the whole time.

      With the 6X there is so much power reserve that this is much less of an issue to be concerned about. Still, using the map screen a lot means you get nowhere near the projected battery burn time. It’s something to be aware of.

      If Garmin had an option to disable the TOPO feature and revert to the old low power breadcrumb maps and tied that in to the power profiles feature, there would be good reasons to make use of it.

    • This is very interesting information, thanks a lot Brian!

    • Eric Buxton

      I can confirm with the 5x. Sometimes I use it as my navigation device (too cheap to buy an Edge) when I bike and it is just about 2x the drain that would take place if I was just using to record. Still is a useful feature and I don’t bike far enough to go empty (though I need to check charge level before I head out to be safe).

    • Helen W

      Thanks Brian, all,
      I found a solution by turning off the maps into activity/settings/map/configure maps, which seemed to work. I’ll also check dwMap too, thanks a bunch!

  92. Matt

    Hi All,
    Apologies if this has been brought up before – I’ve tried to look through previous comments as best as I can.

    I have been using a Fenix 6S Pro for a few months now. I have had very little success with the optical HR, during any type of movement.  It seems to lock onto cadence during most activities. I train consistently, and have a pretty good idea of where my heart rate should be with multiple activities – the data is way, way off. Not just intervals, basically as soon as I enter Zone 1 it loses its mind.

    I have tried the following:
    – making watch tighter and looser
    – moving watch up and down my wrist
    – wearing watch underneath my wrist
    – shaving my wrist

    The issue presents itself during the following activities:
    – running, outside or on treadmill
    – cycling (most of my training has been indoors lately)
    – backcountry skiing
    – using a stair climber

    If I am not moving, or walking, the optical HR seems to work fine.

    I have used other optical HR devices in the past with no issues. 

    Any suggestions? Is no one else encountering this??

    • JK

      I have that with my Fenix 5, which I assume uses the same optical sensor. I couldn’t find a way to make the wrist sensor perform adequately for what I was doing (Crossfit, basically) so in the end I stumped up and got a chest strap which I use. It works great, and it’s a lot less inconvenient than I was anticipating.

    • Patrick

      My brother has exactly the same with his Fenix 6 Sapphire Titanium. A €900 watch that is not even able to get close to an accurate HR measurement.

    • Ivan Hamonajec

      Exactly the same situation here. Some people say it’s software problem since for them problems started after certain firmware update. Firmware 6.00 should have improved wrist readings but for me it has not.

    • Len

      My wife has the same issues with her Fenix 6s. The OHR is pretty random sometimes when compared to her 735XT and my 5Xplus. We’ve sent data of her wearing multiple watches for the same activity to Garmin support but we haven’t heard much back yet. Messages on the Garmin support forums seem to suggest it’s something that several people have experienced.

    • Henry Hampton

      Ray will tell you the same as you said,, just need to get a good heart rate strap. I have an H7 that works ok and has for several years but thinkinging about upgrading… ray?

  93. Andrew

    Just got a fenix 6 pro a few weeks back. Initial impressions are great, coming from the Suunto Spartan Sport. I am fairly thin, and the HR works (suunto always had me at 180 while running)..

    One major issue, my GPS is always about ten feet left of where I am. I have support calling me back soon, but curious if this is a common issues with the watch?

    • Scott

      I don’t think I would say that any GPS unit being “about ten feet” off is a “major issue”. In fact, I don’t think it is an issue at all. That seems to be pretty acceptable. No GPS unit is perfect. What did Garmin have to say about it?

    • Agree – that’s pretty much within spec of any GPS units out there – usually getting accuracy within 2-3m is pretty darn good for consumer GPS.

    • Andrew

      They had me go thru some typical troubleshooting like a soft reset, and made sure I had the right settings. She did say it was a bigger error than they’re used to, so I’ll report back after I follow up with them again

  94. thenebu

    Hey Ray,

    I want to order a unit (6X Pro) and support you, but the coupon code doesnt work.

    Wiggle: There’s a problem with the voucher! Sorry, the voucher code you have entered is not a valid code

    CleverTraining: Coupon ‘DCR10BTF’ does not exists. Please call (01772)331852 if you feel you have reached this message in error.

    • Sorry for the troubles!

      For the UK/EU site, hang tight on that one, they’re sorting out the code issue. Should be resolved at latest by morning. There’s no discount code on Wiggle though.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Matthias

      Any update on this? I just tried to apply the coupon but am getting the same error message as posted above.
      Or is this related to the general 30% off and the additional DCR discount does not apply anymore?

  95. christoph blank

    Stay away from Clevertraining (again).

    Last time they displayed wrong stock information and didn’t update their website to keep my money.
    This time I bought for expedited delivery (1-2) business days, the order arrived 6 business days later, was sent as a “standard” package, Clevertraining acknowledges their mistake, but I still do not get my money refunded.

    As much as I like your reviews, this partnership is not worth it.
    I cannot even count the problems I had with CT anymore.

    • Raul V.

      Humans??? Squeezed budgets? Little is going perfect nowadays… Too many managers!!

    • christoph blank

      I’m pretty sure that Clevertraining is making enough money

    • Raul V.

      I would say so. But the costs of capital (shareholders, interest) and those 80% (?!) managers….. not to forget the marketing…… it’s ridiculous… Before good product would sell itself. Would take some time and was less widespread. But had a lot of good things.

  96. Andy

    Hi Ray,

    Is there any way to show preloaded training overviews during a workout?
    It is possible befor starting an activity but afterwards this menu entry is gone.

    I was able to do that with my Fenix 3 HR though….

    I already asked Garmin directly and posted it in the forums but never got any reply.

    Thanks for your help!

  97. Simon Beedell

    The code DCR10BTF isn’t working on Clever training – any chance you could check it please?

  98. Preston

    Need help identifying a watch face within this article. Photo attached. How do I get that?!

  99. Sylwester Jakubowski

    Should my Fenix 6X Solar be recording Pulse Ox during sleep or the day? I get no readings and can just do a manual check? Is this normal? Am I missing a setting?

  100. KT

    Ive been debating between the 6s and 6. I’m female with a I guess a small wrist. Ive tried them both on- and still conflicted. Did you find the information hard to read on the 6S? Would you recommend 6S for the fit due the HR?

    • Ric

      I have the 6S and have no problems with reading.
      I do not know where anymore but i read an article/post that the 6 had sometimes better reading also on small wrists. Possibly due wider strap?
      Anyone experiences with this?
      The HR is most of the times ok but not during intervals. That it is not fast enough reacting.
      I am male and my wrist is 155mm. On photo’s below you can see the 6S is more or less the maximum size. Also taken into account I am wearing it 24-7.

    • Kate

      Thank you. Prompted me to measure my wrist- which is 140 mm… so maybe I dont want anything bigger than the 6S! In this review- it looked like some of the data was also being cut off- and wondered if that was b/c the screen was a bit smaller. Just want to make the right choice if I’m going to spend the money. Right now I have the garmin 220- but I don’t wear it all the time. I think is a little larger than the 6S. It’s never bothered me, but again, I don’t wear it all day. Appreciate your feedback.

    • Brian Reiter

      @Kate you just prompted me to measure my wrist out of curiosity: 195mm.

      Maybe why I never really thought the fenix 3/5X/6X was huge.

    • Kristine

      I also have 6S and have no problem with reading. I have 125 mm wrist and use the 2nd hole on band strap. There’s some air gap so not sure if there’s correlation to optical HR readings. And I do wear mine 24/7 as well.

  101. Dave


    i dont know if anyone has the answer – I have started using the fenix 6 for swim based workouts. What i dont see to be able to do is set the pace of the particular aspect of the workout. In running you can set a pace target but not swimming. i wanted to use the pace alerts on the watch to keep me on target. any suggestions?

    Is there anyone out there that provides swim workouts that you can load directly onto your watch?

  102. Will

    I’m hopefully going to upgrade my trusty FR 920XT to the Fenix 6 Pro.

    Can anyone advise me if there is a difference between the Pro and the Solar versions other than the obvious ability to absorb energy? I believe everything else is identical including run-times if you exclude any solar gains?

    • Brian Reiter

      The only difference between the 6X Pro and 6X Pro Solar is the solar charging and the bezel material/color and the bands in the box. Neither have sapphire glass.

      The 6X Pro Sapphire does not have solar charging.

      The 6 and 6S series do not have a SKU available with solar glass.

      Solar is only an option in the largest, 6X SKU, which arguably least needs solar battery charging because it has such a huge battery capacity.

    • Will

      Thanks for confirming what i thought. 6X Pro it is, I’ll keep the extra money as it’s not often sunny in the UK and the return rate on energy absorption isn’t worth it

  103. Paulo Ferreira

    Has anyone tried the Heathered bracelets? What’s your opinion on that? I’m thinking about buying one.

  104. Jeff Tudhope

    I am looking at the fenix 5 and 6 and the 5 is on sale right now. I cant recall notice the differences between the two. What upgrades does the 6 have over the 5?

  105. Sulei

    I just got my 6x pro. Still setting it all up. However what makes me wonder, 1274 comments and nobody is talking about the smell? I’ve had the fenix3,fr935 and other watches but never did one smell like this.

  106. Ivan Hamonajec

    A lot of people have issues with optical heart rate not reading correctly during activity. Some say problems started after firmware update from version 3.00. I myself have the problem. Optical heart rate during activity rarely goes over 100 BPM. It was on firmware version 5.00 and now on 6.00 (which should have improved performance of optical heart rate reading).

    Which firmware version was used for this review? Ray, do you know anything about problems with optical heart rate reading? Is this software issue (seems so since some people started having problems after update) or hardware issue? This is almost a deal breaker for me. Thinking of returning the watch.

    • The data here was from the first production firmware version.

      I haven’t heard of widespread issues with any specific version (meaning, boatloads of people are impacted). However, typically what we see with optical HR and version increments is that these days it’s all about fixing a 1% problem. Meaning, fixing a specific accuracy issue that may only impact 1% of people. Slowly chipping away at accuracy, one percent at a time.

      Sometimes though, you get a regression where a fix for one group of people impacts another group. That may be what you’re running into. It’s worthwhile raising a support case with Garmin support. They might not be able to fix your issue today, but it lumps it into a larger group. Especially if it was very version-specific (i.e. it broke on version X).

  107. Jack

    I found the Fenix 6 gives me low sleep pulse ox including occasional sustained numbers in low 80s and high 70s, that were concerning enough to me to try CPAP therapy.

    I found CPAP didn’t improve the numbers. Then I tried a dedicated $79 fingertip sensor and the sensor didn’t show the same declines the Fenix does. So it could be that the Fenix is right, but I tend to suspect its giving falsely alarming numbers.

    Has anyone else tried this fingertip vs. wrist pulse ox comparison at night?

    • Raul V

      Which sensor? Link? Or is it a measuring device? Then not interested….. (looking for ANT+ or BT permanently sending fingertip sensor)

    • Jack

      @Raul V — Emay Sleep Oxygen Monitor on Amazon. It just did batch downloads to iphone app when queried. No continuous option.

    • Raul V.

      It’s an OK device. I’m looking for one that sends the data to my Fenix (or any other head unit I have), uses a small measuring part (probe) which is cable connected to a wristband that contains the electronics. So u can sleep with it, sport or climb mountains. Guess it’s a matter of time. There isn’t a protocol for it in the ANT world so nobody has thought of it yet…. Though maybe the muscle oxygen one can do the job.

  108. JMR

    Hi Folks,
    1st swimming session with my Fenix 6 pro and surprised to see the optical HR didn’t work at all… Don’t know why, HR was turned on in the power management and I experienced quite good results with my FR945 in a recent past.
    Any idea what could have gone wrong?

  109. Ramesh

    Just got hold of my Fenix 6X Sapphire today. Downloaded the Connect app also and started the set up process. Finished most of the set up but suddenly the watch disconnected and it refused to connect back on. Keeps saying I should enable the Bluetooth option on the watch but don’t know how. I went to Settings and under Phone, I turned the Status to Off and then tried to turn it back on. Keeps mentioning”Waiting for phone”.

    Appending screenshots. Please help me out.

    Thanks in advance

  110. Katharina Winter Figueiredo


    I bought a Fenix and play soccer and would like to record the activity but we are not allowed to war watches during a game. As with many other team sports. Do you have any recommendation on how to do it anyways? Would a HRM Tri help?


    • The HRM-TRI would fit the bill here actually. Though, it won’t really give you distance or such, just HR. There’s honestly not a good solution for disconnected accelerometer metrics within the Garmin platform.

  111. Paul

    I’m interested in buying a used Fenix 6, now that it has the ski mapping added, but I’m puzzled about which models have maps. In the review and the graphic of the models at the start, it mentions BASE models not having maps, and PRO models having them.Underneath Pro, there is the line of SAPPHIRE models. I thought these weren’t PRO, and that I’d have to consider only PRO models. But when I’m looking on ebay at people’s photos that show a normal 6 on the box, without the word PRO, the back of the box has a grey circle that says “Topographic and Ski maps included”. Have Garmin now added Ski maps to every model, or am I confusing the models? Can’t work out if a “Fenix 6 Sapphire” is Pro or Base, as it definitel seems to have ski mapping included. Grateful for any advice on this. Thanks.

  112. Ramesh

    Hi. Could you suggest some free maps for South America (specifically for Equador) as I am going for a 10 day trek up Cotopaxi. I would prefer the free download options as it is a one time requirement.

    And since I am new to Garmin, will be nice if you could also guide on how to install them if it isn’t thru the Connect app

  113. Phil B

    I’m torn between the Fenix 6 Pro/6X Pro and the Suunto 9 Baro to replace my Suunto Spartan Ultra.

    Main reason to upgrade are the built in HRM and better battery modes.
    Struggling to find a comparison directly on the HRM and GPS accuracies between the two brands. As a mountain biker, my main uses are for GPS and HR tracking. So the one with best overall accuracy is probably going to be the deciding factor.
    Any ideas or suggestions? Cheers

    • Most of my data shows the Fenix 6 series is more accurate HR-wise than the Suunto 9. This is due to a number of factors, but primarily related to the top-heavy weight of the Suunto 9. In addition, you’ll get better 24×7 HR data on the Fenix 6 than the Suunto 9.

      For GPS, I think it’s largely a wash. I’m sure I can find cases where both fail equally or differently, but for the most part they’re built atop the same GPS chipset and the antenna performance seems mostly the same.

      Since you’ve got lots of history within the Suunto platform that’s a factor to consider, though realistically you’re shifting onto a slightly different platform with the Suunto 9 going forward, so that’s also something.

    • Phil B

      Thanks for the quick reply!

      The main reason to switch to a new watch is the optical HR, so a bulkier watch as you say would wobble more especially on rough trails.
      Also mapping on Garmin appears more detailed with the more realistic maps, rather than breadcrumb style in the Suunto.

      I’m off to try the Fenix on the wrist, see how smaller the form factor is. As less poking out is always good when riding close to trees and bushes!

      Thanks again.

    • Paul S.

      Can I ask why you even want a watch? Is this just for mountain biking, or for other things as well? Cycling head units make a much better solution for any type of cycling. I have an Edge 830 and a Fenix 5+, and I rarely use the 5+ for mountain or road. The 830 has a bigger screen, better placement (on the bars in front of me rather than on my wrist out of the way), a better GPS antenna, and HR can be more reliably had from a chest strap or dedicated OHR placed somewhere other than the wrist. The 830 even has mountain bike specific features (ClimbPro, “grit”, “flow”, jump detection if you’re into that, TrailForks overlays). My 5+ is for hiking and cross country skiing, definitely not for any form of cycling.

  114. Andrew Z

    After another few weeks, I wrote back to them because my tracks are constantly “switched”. Meaning I am running out on my back path, and vice versa. Based on a run on the bike path this morning, here is the accuracy table I received using the Out path as the “correct one”:

    Distance (meters) Cumulative points in buffer Cumulative Percent in Buffer
    3 36 0%
    5 431 4%
    8 1855 17%
    10 3025 28%
    15 9415 88%
    20 10595 99%
    30 10715 100%

    I’d give them the benefit of the doubt for 8-10 meters because the path is 3-5 meters wide. And they state 3 meter accuracy 95% of the time. And obviously it is not a perfect science. But you’d think they would at least be able to tell I’m running out on one side, and back on the other and not switch it.. Or maybe I’m nit-picking, but I never had issues with my Spartan Sport, or Trainer.

    The image has an orange buffer at 10m, and White up to 30m. The green line is “back”, Red is “out”, these two should be switched.

    • It looks like you’ve got a semi-standard ‘offset’ going on there, where basically the track is skewed (offset) X amount to one side. It happens with GPS devices from time to time, usually just for a single workout. You’ll notice that it stays at that offset (and to that side the entire time), rather than shifting. So the accuracy impact is actually pretty small in terms of overall distance. But less ideal in terms of positional accuracy.

      That said – what app is that used to create those buffer lines?

    • Andrew Ziminski

      Hi Ray, thanks for responding! My concern is that it is off every run. But, I’m glad this is a “normal” error, and not something crazy.

      I used ArcGIS for the buffers. I exported the garmin gpx, then used the gpx to feature, select, multiple ring buffer, and join by location tools to create the point table. That being said, ArcGIS is a paid software. For some background, I have a masters in GIS, so I have the software paid for already.

      You could easily do the same using QGIS (open source), and googling around for what they call their tools (they typically call them something slightly different than ArcGIS). This is the route I would go personally, as the functionality is similar, but also free.

      Happy to answer any questions you have about it, just let me know!

  115. Marnix

    Dear Ray,

    I was wondering about the Fenix 6X Pro Solar. How long can the Solar energy support the low batterij mode when the battery is down to 5 percent or so?

    I mean, I want to use the watch to it’s potential with all the sensors and connections.
    But if the battery drops to almost empty, I want it at least be able to show the time. And not becoming a useless bracelet on the wrist.

    Do you happen to know how long the Solar power can support the time only function when the battery is almost drained?

    Or could it perhaps show the time indefinitely with enough (sun)light?
    For example Casio Protrek Solar watches can support the time functions, without ever needing to change batteries or plug into a charger. Of course I realize that some ABC/triple sensors don’t use as much power as the GPS, Bluetooth, Heart rate and other functions on the Fenix.
    Though the Tough Solar on their G-Shock Rangeman GPR B-1000 can charge all the functions according to endgagdet.com. Unfortunately it doesn’t support Smartwatch notifications.

    Looking forward to your insights on the Solar of the Garmin.


  116. Kariche

    Hello, I just received my Fenix 6 Pro, I have a problem with a button that makes double click paste effect. Did you notice this problem during your tests? thank you

  117. Reda

    I’m planning to by a garmin watch, and I’m confusied between F6 and Tactix Delta !
    Wich one would you recomand me ?
    knowing that my need is not special, just for runing, but I want a beautiful watch
    Thanks in advance

    Yours sincerely

    • Brian Reiter

      The Tactix Delta is almost identical to a Fēnix 6X. The difference is in the bezel design and the 24-hour hand watch face option that goes with the 24 hour engraving on the bezel. The Tactix also has a night vision compatible backlight and a feature to wipe the memory of the device easily. The Tactix has a more domed sapphire crystal.

      Otherwise the features are identical.

      On the other hand the firmware for the fēnix 6 is likely to be updated more frequently.

      Essentially it is a minor cosmetic revision of the 6X.

  118. Scott J

    I’m a long time Garmin user, 310xt, Fenix2, Fenix5 and now the Fenix6 (received on 12 February). I constantly looked at the data from the Fenix5 via Garmin Connect and now do the same thing with the Fenix6. I am seeing surprisingly different numbers in the Stress and Intensity Minutes fields. The Stress number is +/-10 numbers lower than the Fenix5 stress number. My typical stress level was in the mid to upper 20’s on the Fenix5, but now are in the mid-teens on the Fenix6. The Intensity Number is A LOT higher on the Fenix6 than the Fenix5. For example, I am already above 300 for the week after two workouts on the Fenix6 whereas it would take me through 4-6 workouts on the Fenix5 before I eclipsed that number.

    Has anyone else experienced these differences? I have not gone back to the Fenix5 to see if maybe the numbers would be more in line now. I may try that but wanted to ask the community and DC if anyone else has experienced these anomalies.

    • Raul V.

      That’s Garmin! The left hand doesn’t know what the right one does. (that’s at least what it looks like….and we’re used to surprises from them aren’t we?)

  119. Bruce Fraser

    Hi Ray!

    AWESOME review. They all are-you’ve helped me purchase a few devices over the years so thank you.

    PLEASE can I pick your brain RE battery life. Bought my 6x pro, battery was totally flat out the box. Worrying indicator for me as all Garmins before this one have started right up.
    When fully charged, batt indicates 15 days, but loses 2days every day. Basically it discharges twice as fast as it says it will. That’s on a day with no workouts and relatively minor watch button pressing etc. I’m getting max 5 days out of it-that was with three workouts (one of which was a two hour triathlon). Pulse OX going at night only, normal notifications, BT connected, HR all the time, music loaded but not played.

    Does that battery sound healthy to you? If not I’ll get the online store here in SA to send me another one, but if that’s more or less what you were getting then ok.

    Thanks in advance for the help!


    • Pulse OX eats battery like there’s no tomorrow. Disable that, and see how it goes.

      My 6x has good battery life – at least 10 days, but likely more. Not sure exactly, because it is more than enough.

  120. Mike

    A basic question that every review I’ve seen is overlooking. Or maybe I’m missing it. But are all the data fields available in every (preloaded) watch face? And what are the descriptions of those fields? Battery life, Altimeter, Heartrate, etc are all pretty self-explanatory, but one says SET 6:15p (not the actual time) and TOD 3:35p which may be related to dual time zone? Thanks

    • Raul V.

      Set was active? So u could change it? TOD is time of day. p is PM I guess. But we practical thinking Northern Europeans have invented the 24 hour system for that.
      What’s more a pita is that Garmin persists in not making it possible to configure your device through phone or computer……

    • GLT

      “SET” is more than likely SUNSET.

      Connect IQ based watch faces can be configured through Garmin Connect Mobile, and the Connect IQ apps on iOS at least. Perhaps a similar mechanism will evolve to eventually manage built-in watch faces as well someday.

    • Scott

      Yes, that would be nice if you could adjust settings like Suunto has had for many years.

    • Dom

      The built in watch faces have a wide range of fields you can select; my current one has 6 round the edge, with 19 options for each (though a couple of those are things like different date formats). Set is sunset time, yes. Documentation for all 19 is sketchy or missing, true.
      Different faces allow different amounts of customisation (and have different battery demands) but generally for the built in faces they are light in power and have that level of customisation for whatever number of data fields are available, barring anything that might be date only.

    • Dom

      And yes being able to set/backup data field settings from phone would be so good.

    • Raul V.

      I’m pretty sure I first asked Garmin for it when Suunto was still a brand only found in outdoor shops….. It shows how much they understand us users…..
      Or a higher profit margain is more important that that of customer satisfaction?
      Maybe now they’re reluctant because of the laughter that will go up….

  121. Mark Colombo

    Thank You

  122. Stewart Hamilton-Arrandale

    I was not going to upgrade from my 5 plus to a 6 pro because of how cheap the 5 plus seems to be selling for vs the price of the pros, but then I stumbled on this site, I was very sceptical if the watch would turn up to be honest, but it lets you pay through PayPal and also good communication from them, £530 for the top line titanium model, the only issue is it only comes with routable Asia maps, so after a bit of searching I stumbled on a DC article about OSM maps, a few clicks later and I now have detailed street level maps of the UK that are routable as per what my 5 plus did, super chuffed

    link to t-dimension.com

  123. 945 and the Fenix 6 are the same watches only difference is the watch face its self the 6 comes with a metal face there the 945 is plastic. Save some coin go with 945. Really u can get the 935 even cheaper with a tri bundle.

  124. Henry Hampton

    Ray.. awesome you are man!! The details are what we love. The review was great. I bought one but honestly the optical heart rate sucks.. it’s way up or way down sometimes.. sweat. Small wrist I don’t know.. but I guess that’s just to be expected.. hate it but know wearing a strap is always way more accurate.. off to some other reviews

  125. ryana

    I might have missed it but I could not find where you mention whether the Garmin App will synchronize activities to a phone when there is no internet connection. Could you please confirm? Thank you.
    Suunto finally started having offline synchronization with the release of the new Suunto app (replaces Movescount). I was sold on the Fenix 6 until I realized that it might not synchronize offline which is a must have for mountaineers who spend weeks without an internet connection.

    • Brian Reiter

      I’d like to know a definitive answer to this as well. Some things definitely do work without an internet connection — like current step count and HR. It certainly seems like activities have to be sent through the connect mobile as a proxy or WiFi and then are downloaded into analysis views when you request them. I don’t see any evidence that the mobile app caches and analyses fit files internally in the absence of an Internet connection.

      When I have been off grid the mobile app just doesn’t do much and the data is mostly only on the watch as far as I can tell.

    • Juan

      You also get syncing with just 4G data, no need to have internet. Watch and the Garmin Connect phone app will sync the instant you end your activity (and you tell the watch to do so, of course) even if you are offline. The only two needs are that your phone (it has the Garmin app installed) is close (and already paired) to your watch and have 4G data available on the phone. And that’s it… ;)

    • Brian Reiter

      I don’t follow you. 4G data is an internet connection.

    • No, the Garmin Connect Mobile app won’t partial sync (or fully sync) activities without an internet connection. It’s something I’ve seen occasional requests for, primarily for people doing long hikes without connectivity.

      I think the challenge as I understand it is how Garmin balances that with needing cloud-sync for basically all the calculations around load and such. Or even just rendering the maps layer. I think there’s opportunity for middle-ground there (perhaps just base metrics sync, breadcrumb trail with no map layer).

      Now, that said, I believe the Garmin Explore app does sync sans internet connection for planning and such. I haven’t played with it much.

  126. ryana

    Thanks for the reply, I can’t reply in the thread since new comments are not showing up in Chrome and Firefox on Windows 10. The last comment that is rendered is from 26 September 2019. I can see all comments on Chrome for Android.

  127. Coy Kinsey

    Can anyone with the Solar speak to the scratch resistance of the lens? I have the 5x Plus and the sapphire lens is tough as nails.

  128. Ric

    I use the HRM run connected to the Fenix.
    Most of the times I do not get a notification that the hrm is connected.
    When I check under the sensor setting I see it is connected.
    When I check it is always connected but actually I do not want to check it but want to get a notification.
    Is there a setting how to change this?
    The cadence sensor is giving a notification though.

  129. RJ

    Hi, what information is on the home screen 4 o’clock position? (Hx/Lx)


  130. Andrew

    Do these watches ever go on sale throughout the course of a year other than the typical Black Friday Garmin deals?

  131. Adrian

    When I my Garmin I ordered the fenix 5 but had to return it because it just didnt sit right on my wrist and I ordered the 5s instead.

    Now I hear the lug to lug width is shorter but trying to find the actual measurements seems impossible.

    Is this something you can confirm please so I can work out if I can get the 6 or have to go for 6s.

    Thank you and great review (as always) ?

  132. Frederick Malouf

    So much info except for the chipset and memory. Seriously? That’s pathetic.

    • Brian Reiter

      Since the Garmin system is totally proprietary it doesn’t matter how they made it. You can’t meaningfully compare the hardware inside to anything else. Ray did discuss the new Sony GNSS chip.

      Only reason to look at the chips is for curiosity into how Garmin constructed the device. Not for some longitudinal comparison with other GPS watches to determine relative performance.

      Someone has done a teardown for you.

      link to f-blog.info

    • Agree, plus, which “chipset” are you referring to? There are many, many chipsets in the Fenix 6.

      Do you mean the GPS one? Sony, as noted. Or perhaps you mean the WiFi one? Oh, you probably meant the ANT+ & BLE one. Nah, because you’d undoubtedly know that’s gonna be a Nordic series chipset, like everyone else these days. Or maybe you meant the audio processor bits?

      And that’s just the beginning. Plus, as noted – none of it matters in a non-comparable proprietary OS, something that Brian outlined. It’s all about real-world performance, not specs.

  133. Rocco Guiducci

    I have been considering swapping over from the Apple Watch 4 to the Fenix 6 Pro as I am getting more serious about fitness and want more data.

    The one thing stopping me? Optical HR Accuracy. The AW4 is pretty damn good, and while it may not be 100% accurate like wearing a chest strap, the one that it is, is consistent! I briefly owned a Forerunner 245 and I have to say OHR was shocking, it was almost a joke. I honestly don’t feel comfortable paying hundreds of dollars for a premium fitness device, when one of the core fundamental features is patchy, especially when data from that feature is used to form insights to many other data points. Anecdotally and when I had my 245 and AW4 side by side, the forerunner would sometimes be 40-50bpm behind during weight training sessions, and even hiking up steep hills. The AW4 was much more true to life.

    I can’t find much online, but what is the general comparison for OHR on the Fenix 6 and the Apple Watch 4 or 5? What I can find, though, is a lot of people complaining about the OHR on the Fenix 6… which is disappointing and concerning at the same time.

    Would appreciate any response or insights to this question!

    • Bruce Fraser

      It’s not even a question. Do it. Did the same (AW to 6x pro). Never looked back. HR graphs are exactly where they were before, on time, no real lag etc. As you say, you wanna analyse it seriously, get a strap.

      What do I miss?
      1.Raise wrist and start speaking to Siri.
      2. Tap quick thumbs up reply to someone from watch.
      That’s it.
      What have I gained?
      1. Can’t remember where my charging cable is I used it so long ago
      2. Incredible fitness device. Almost infinitely customisable. Great for my triathlon training.
      3. Nav nav nav. Find myself in different remote locations a lot, plan a run quick in the middle of nowhere? No problem.
      4. Garmin Pay. I live in SA and Apple are probably still not quite sure where that is on the map.
      5. That PacePro thing is actually very cool and very accurate.

      I use the music as I did before on the AW so that’s an equal.

      I changed for exactly the same reason as you’re contemplating and as I said before-haven’t looked back.

    • Rocco Guiducci

      Thanks Bruce. Appreciate the comment.

      The thing is with the HR strap, it’s yet another device I need to buy and wear and frankly I don’t want to have to rely on it when I’m paying $1000 for a device, the OHR should be at least reliable and consistent if not accurate at the very least.

      It’s the last thing that is holding me back…

    • The Fenix 6 has the exact same optical HR sensor as the FR245 (identical everything).

      So it’s likely you’ll see the same experience there. However, at the same time, it’s plausible you won’t. One factor in optical HR accuracy is the size of the watch and the weight. Typically speaking though if you saw bad accuracy for you on the FR245, you’d probably see worse on the Fenix 6 because it’s heavier and will bounce around more.

      That said…ya never know. Ultimately, for most companies optical HR will vary from individual to individual. For the most part, aside from interval outdoors on my bike, I can usually use the Fenix 6 optical HR sensor as ‘good enough’ – even for running intervals. It’s worthwhile trying first before you buy an extra strap.

    • Brian Reiter

      I agree with Ray. For me, the HR sensor is good enough for most things. I do have an HRM-Run which I use when I am planning to do intervals or spin class (I wonder when I will do that again?).

      The HRM-Run is better. Occasionally the optical HR will lose the plot completely and the same was true with the 5, but for practical purposes it is good enough. I also get reasonable HR data off the wrist while swimming, which is cool.

      If you are obsessive about HR data then no optical built-in wrist HR on the market is good enough. They all have issues. Get an HRM-Run or HRM-Dual or a Polar H9 or a Wahoo Tickr in that case.

      The HRM-Run also generates a bunch of extra run dynamics data which is kind of nifty, but I can’t figure out what any of it is good for except possibly right/left balance. You can’t influence it consciously while running but if you are recovering from an injury it will help you to gauge recovery. Or also to know that you need to do strength exercises to fix a strength asymmetry.

      I don’t love the design of the modern HRM-Run where the belt and the transmitter are fused. I prefer the Polar H9/10 design and the old Garmin design where the pod snaps on and you can replace the belt.

      All that said, I’d say that treadmill pace and distance without a footpod and “current pace” on GPS Running are more of a problem, really. I like the Stryd footpod a lot and it totally solves those two problems, but it’s is hard to recommend because it is so expensive.

    • Rocco Guiducci

      Well, I picked up the 6X Pro Solar. Awesome watch and I hope I can end up keeping it but things aren’t looking good right now. The thing is DC, I believe there are fundamental software issues going on with these sensors and this device in particular, Garmin are just able to get away with it because people so easily just put it down to “oh that’s how OHR is, it’s innacurate”. No. All you need to do is pay a little bit of attention and you can quickly start to see some big issues.

      Here’s somethings I’ve noticed comparing both the AW S4 and F6X Pro Solar side by side:
      – Hiking up a steep incline for about 20 minutes, heart is beating fast and I am panting. AW reporting 146bpm, Garmin reporting 109bpm and sticks there for the entire incline, manual reading was 140bpm at the time.

      – The rest of the hike the Garmin was hovering around 90-105bpm when the Apple Watch is ramping up and down according to peaks and troughs.

      – Running today things started off really well, Garmin was displaying what AW was displaying, but then halfway though my 10KM run it seems to get stuck at 140bpm while my AW is showing 160bpm. I think hmm maybe my heart just isn’t beating that fast and the AW is wrong. Nope! I started pushing myself for a period of 30 seconds and AW hit 174bpm while the Garmin just remained at 140-145bpm. I literally could not believe it.

      Either way I’ve started digging around and many other people are having the same issue. One guy on YouTube has been in extensive talks with Garmin on this topic since almost LAUNCH! and has been able to narrow the irregular/innacurate HR to a handful of workout apps. Read his Update from the 2/10/20 in the description, he details what Garmin’s response was on this topic. That’s here if you’re interested: link to youtube.com

      Interestingly he mentions “If you use the Cardio activity I notice it’s a bit better at keeping track and is much closer in speed to the apple watch series 5 which is the gold standard for wrist based HR sensing” and this seems to align with a Reddit user who found the same here: link to reddit.com

      There’s plenty more accounts on the web describing the exact same experience as I am noticing and many others. It’s beside me how Garmin are able to get away with this, especially on such an expensive device, it’s ludicrous! I’m very disappointing to say the least because otherwise it’s an excellent watch.

      Cheers for responding.

    • “AW S4 and F6X Pro Solar side by side”

      Just to clarify here, were those worn on different wrists (left or right), or next to each other?

    • Rocco Guiducci

      Apple Watch on the right wrist, Garmin on the left. I’ll keep testing over the coming days.

      Or maybe I should just let this go and either deal with it or stick to AW for now. I don’t know, something just rubs me the wrong way about Garmin – they seem to have poor software development capability (coding standards, methods, frameworks, and testing) and seem to think they can just pick and choose whatever updates they feel like, while not paying attention to customer needs.

    • Brian Reiter

      I don’t think that Garmin software standards are any worse than the rest of the high tech industry. (That includes Apple which has shipped plenty of bugs on watchOS, iOS, and macOS. Everyone ships bugs. Egregious bugs. There needs to be a reckoning throughout.)

      There do seem to be some people who have particular differential success with different wrist HR sensor/device combinations. I have tested the 6X wrist vs a chest strap with a modest degree of seriousness and for my body and unit the performance is well within acceptable.

      I would choose the chest strap for intervals but it isn’t a crisis if I forgot to bring the chest strap. You seem to have a different situation. I don’t really have a satisfactory explanation for why.

      You should use the gear that works for you, though, and be happy.

    • Rock

      Good advice overall, the reason for me staying away from chest straps – it’s just nice not to have to worry about yet another device, especially when travelling abroad.

      Anyway I’ve used DC Rainmaker’s Analyzer Tool on a 5KM Tempo Run I did recently, here’s the HR data chart, speaks for itself really.

      link to imgur.com

      I love the F6X, the rest of the features are in line with where I am going as an athlete, but damn this is dissapointing. The F6X Pro Solar is almost 3 x the cost of the Apple Watch Series 4 too.

    • V.N.

      I do experience the same issues with HR where HR is not getting higher certain level. I.e. while riding a bike I get average 140BPM with 180BPM max with Rhytm+ but my Fenix 6 Pro is just 105BPM average with 130BPM max. And I do wear it tight enough away from the wrist. Even getting on a hill and making a stop it does not go up while my heart is beating like crazy. However, my Cardio activities seem to be accurate. And I do HIT where my wrist moves way more than riding a bike.

  134. DT

    Ray, I have a question either for you or however dealt with this before. I have a kickr 2019 and a Garmin 6 pro solar. I want to see speed and cadence in my Garmin and I cannot figure it out how to do it. The Garmin speed sensor is for a wheel and the kickr does not use one as you know. Can I get my watch to read speed from the wahoo kickr? What do you suggest?
    Thank you for all you do for us!

  135. flo

    Thanks for the nice review, as always.

    I still have one question that I didn’t find any information for. How many IQ data fields can be used per activity? I know that on the F945 you can only use 2 at the same time. Is this also true for the fenix 6 pro?

    Thank you in advance!

  136. Bernd

    Would be interested in subscribing comments. I need a comment for this

  137. Jean-Christophe

    Just received my F6 yesterday.
    I picked the Carbon DLC version, sold with a Nylon band. It is also delivered with an additional rubber band.
    The box is bigger than usual, they tried to make it a bit more luxurious.
    I’m really impressed with the new screen, I previously owned a F5X Plus, and the new screen appears more detailed and the fact that there is less border is really nice.
    I started to use the watch out of the box, went to run, and did the upgrade after.
    In the latest update, they changed the way we can set up the different data screens and the layout. We need to get used to it. Maybe it announces the possibility to do it from the phone app.
    Anyway, I’m looking forward to use it. I like it already.

  138. Pere Quilabert

    Hi. I would like to make a comment, which from my point of view should be paramount.
    In all this exhaustive test of this watch, and it can be practically transpolated to the other tests of this type of heart rate monitor, an exhaustive test of the heart rate of pulse without activity, that is, 24/7 ohr, is not included. Practically all the data that this type of heart rate monitor will provide you is conditioned by the reliability of the wrist pulse sensor during the day, I repeat, without activity. I find it incomprehensible that it is not the most important test and that practically no mention is made of it.
    A greeting.

    • Garmin actually doesn’t cross pools of HR data between non-workout and workout at this point in time.

      Meaning, what you do in terms of stress tracking or body battery, has *no* impact on any of your training/load/recovery metrics. They’re two different pools of data that don’t cross.

      So you could have measured bad sleep with wonky HRV values for 10 days (even if not true), but that won’t affect the metrics for training load/recovery/etc…

      I typically dig deeper into non-workout 24×7 metrics when I see issues, but honestly, it’s pretty rare these days. Doing 24×7 optical HR tracking is silly easy for most companies (Garmin included). Movement is minimal, interference is minimal. It’s just not hard stuff in 2020 anymore. It’s workouts that are tough to track still.

      That said, when I do see unexpected 24×7 issues in review, I outline them in painful detail. You’ll see that in an upcoming review in a few weeks.

  139. Alex

    I run and cycle in equal measure and I’m weighing up getting the Fenix. Will it work well as my bike computer too assuming I get a quick release bike mount for it? Essentially would I be missing out on much if I didn’t have a dedicated bike computer like an edge 530/wahoo? Cheers

    • Paul S.

      Define “work”. I have a Fenix 5+ and a Edge 830. I never use the Fenix for cycling by itself, and only rarely carry it along on rides. A Fenix can do most everything an Edge can except for one (crucial for me) thing: it can’t control a smart trainer, and looking at the table above that hasn’t changed with the 6. The screen is (much) smaller (and round). I have a Varia radar unit, and while my 5+ will say it’s paired, I’m not sure if it actually has some kind of radar display/notification while riding. (Of course, the 830 is always there so I don’t pay much attention to the 5+ while riding.) So it kind of depends on what you need it for. It’ll work for the most part, but you’ll be missing out on things. On the other hand, a 530 isn’t good for much else besides cycling, while a Fenix is a jack of all trades; I primarily use mine for hiking and cross country skiing.

    • Raul V

      Depends on 1. your eyes 2. how much you want to see
      You’ll might have to use large fields. And there’s no RC for non Edge devices.
      O.c. you don’t have maps, navigation and more functions. Guess you used the compare tool.

  140. Andy

    I am close to buying a Fenix 6s (of some variety : ) ), just need to check one thing.

    Does anyone know how well the watch plays with Linux? Ideally I just want to connect the watch to the USB port on my linux pc and copy gpx files back and forth to download/upload routes? I do not want to have to go via cloud based or smartphone apps.

    Has anyone tried this or know if it will work with a Linux PC?

    • Brian Reiter

      The native format is FIT files. You can put GPX tracks on for navigation by copying to the /GARMIN/NewFiles directory but the watch converts them to FIT when you disconnect.

      The key thing you need to copy files back and forth is an MTP client in your Linux system.

      link to wiki.archlinux.org

      On Ubuntu enable MTP:

      sudo apt-get install mtp-tools mtpfs

      Basically follow the same instructions for getting a contemporary Android phone to mount.

      It’s possible Garmin Express and Garmin BaseCamp will run under Wine — but I can say 100% that it is possible to pass USB through to a Windows Guest on VMWare Workstation where those apps are running. I have done that. And Windows has a MTP automount support built into Explorer.

    • Cristu

      I use it on Linux too specially to charge/copy/backup some files
      It see is as MTP device, You can browse as Primary device ..
      I have Archlinux, Kernel: 5.6.8-arch1-1 #1 SMP PREEMPT Wed, 29 Apr 2020 16:22:56 +0000 x86_64 GNU/Linux
      Maybe some packages required like: pacman -Ss mtp | grep installed

      extra/gvfs-mtp 1.44.1-1 (gnome) [installed]
      extra/libcddb 1.3.2-5 [installed]
      extra/libmtp 1.1.17-1 [installed]


    • Andy

      Thanks Brian and Cristu that is really helpful.

      Gpsbabel can be used to convert from FIT to GPX.
      link to wiki.openstreetmap.org

  141. Randell Cox


    What do you think of the criticism that Garmin is leaving it’s existing customers behind by not releasing a firmware update to the Fenix 5 Plus series to include many of the new software-related features? Have you heard of any plans on Garmin’s end to release such a firmware update? Thanks.

  142. Rohil

    Hi! Thank you so much for your detailed reviews. One of your previous reviews helped me purchasing my first triathlon watch and probably the new one I am currently searching for.

    I swim a lot and I’ve read a lot of reviews about how deficient Garmin watches have been at open water swim tracking. You mention that Garmin has rolled out some updates for this but you only had the opportunity to test it once in your review. I was wondering if you’ve had more chances to test out the Fenix’s reliability/accuracy in other open water swims and could help provide clarity on if it has improved.


  143. Andrew

    Review mentions that zooming out while using Heatmap is restricted to 0.5mi.
    Is this limit of zoom out just for Heatmap or will it also apply for normal map use?

    If I use a Topo map while hiking, I can still zoom out more than 0.5mi scale, right?

  144. Bob

    It seems the 6X Pro (I have the Solar) only supports 100 custom map tiles (jpg’s)? My 5x could hold 500. I download 50K topo maps as .kmz files, each .kmz file contains over 50 jpg’s so only 1 custom map can fit on the 6x.

    This is not good.

  145. Shantanu

    Thank you for the awesome review! I am seeing a lot of concerns here as well as on Garmin forum with the watch having heart rate monitoring issues. I was thinking of buying the watch, but the comments here and on the forum have confused me and now I am having second thoughts. Given the price and the faulty heart rate monitoring, do you think it is worth buying F6?

    • Raul V.

      Haven’t you read the ‘instructions for contacting?’
      What you’re asking is all over the internet!!!!
      And totally depending on your preferences!
      Read before you write I would say!

    • Jean-Christophe

      Raul, I couldn’t be more agree with you.

    • Shantanu

      Thanks Raul for the response! I did browse around but it confused me further. I do see updates were Garmin is saying that they are working on the fix but those updates are 9-10 months old. And there were msgs which said that Garmin released some updated firmwares but that did not fix the issue. People are saying that it’s mostly a software issue and would be fixed over time. I posted here because I wanted to hear from an expert before I make a huge investment like this. Can you please elaborate a little on ‘depending on your preference’?
      Thank you for your time!

    • Raul V.

      You didn’t find most of the info I’m afraid. I’m not searching for it (it’s a function on which I’m 100% sure about my choice) and still a lot of it passes my read crazy eyes.
      OHR isn’t as good as chest. Pretty sure never will be. Software cannot improve low density data,
      Do you need the best measurement? Only you can tell!

  146. Ben

    Pretty specific question.
    I am aware of the changes to broadcast an estimated cadence from the kickr towards the end of 2019. 
    On my F6, I want to record the pedal Dynamics information from the Assioma AND the Speed and Distance information from my Kickr.
    Each sensor (Kickr and Assioma) has 2 broadcast protocols (BT and Ant+), I’ve tried all 4 combinations of the 2 sensors and 2 protocols and I can only seem to have either the pedal Dynamics from Assioma or the speed and distance (and power incidentally, but critically, not the pedal Dynamics) from the Kickr.
    I’ve read some suggestions about connecting the kickr as only a ‘speed and distance’ sensor but the F6 option is ‘speed/cadence’ sensor and that doesn’t work.
    Anyone able to help?

  147. Thomas

    I bought the Fenix 6 and used it a couple of weeks in December, however the WHR was totally useless both in activity and outside activity. I returned it and use AW5 that has very good HR accuracy.
    Every time I see someone with a Fenix I want one – but it seems from the Garmin Forum that there still is serious issues with WHR. From the review here the HR was just fine – so I am very curious if other readers here have the same issue I experienced?

    • Brian Reiter

      I have a Fēnix 6X for 6-7 months. It has always had reasonable optical HR performance. I have had a handful of noticeable glitches in that time. I’m happy with the wrist HR performance that I get and I have not experienced the problems that some people report in the Garmin forums. I have relatively large wrists and that probably helps.

      That said, I use a chest HR strap for interval training.

  148. Paul Tomblin

    So I bought the 6X Sapphire in the current sale, but discovered it’s completely unsuitable for my use (kayaking). There is a stretch of the canal where I paddle that has GPS problems, mostly due to steel railway bridges. When paddling with my Forerunner 920XT, it would show speeds a little below my actual, then it would show speeds a little above my actual, but it would all average out and catch up. Not the Fenix. Instead it would show a blank speed for a few seconds, then it would show ridiculous speeds, like 20,000 km/hr or more. According to Garmin Connect, my max speed today was 886844.8 km/hr (that’s 32 times as fast as the International Space Station). This makes the speed graph unusable, because all my real speeds are just a flat line at the bottom, with a few spikes up into ridiculous speeds.

    • Scott

      In some ways, the older devices are superior. I had perfect GPS tracks with my old 910XT and Ambit2.

    • Paul Tomblin

      I suspect it’s the Sony GPS chipset. Ray has mentioned it in reviews of the 945 as being not as good as the previous one, but much better battery life.

    • That’s odd, Garmin Connect has speed (and HR/Power/etc) caps in place to prevent even showing data points like this. Weird.

    • Paul Tomblin

      Strava gave me reasonable numbers. Garmin Connect did not. But more disconcerting was seeing these ridiculous numbers out on the water. Here’s my Strava speed graph for the same activity.

    • Paul Tomblin

      Update: Garmin has released a fix and now the Fenix is only a tiny bit worse than the Forerunner 920XT at recording my track, and the speeds and distances are almost identical (once I set it it to sample every second).

  149. Ric Immens

    I have the 6s now for 5 months.
    In general i am satisfied although i hoped the ohr was much better than my previous 735xt.
    It is only slightly better. For most exercises i do wear a strap.
    Also the altimeter is not that good.
    Last few days i have a strange issue.
    It has connected via my home WiFi all these 5 months but last few days not anymore.
    Also it can not find this WiFi. It is not in the list. A reset and WiFi on/off did not help.
    Anyone an idea?

    • Ric Immens

      I found it. The watch only supports 2,4GHz. I disabled the 2,4 for other reasons and did not have thought about it.
      Actually it is strange/ridiculous that so new watch is not supporting 5GHz!

  150. Leong Sem

    just want to know is garmin purposely design the button for top right( menu/ enter) button that require extra force to press it? (need to press very hard if compare to left side 3 buttons)

    seem like the button on right side is feel different.

    thank you.

  151. Neil

    Can the golfing and skiing maps be removed from the Fenix 6pro?

  152. James

    Ray, Do you know if the Fenix 7 or Fenix 6 plus will be on the same release timeline for 2020? Will the next update drop in August of 2020?

  153. DLA

    I have had the F6 Pro Sapphire since late 2019 and have been incredibly disappointed in the optical heart rate monitors performance. Everything else about the watch works for me, but the HR monitor is essentially useless, both in and out of activities. Garmin replaced my first watch and I am still having the same issues with the second one.

    The optical monitor is particularly bad during any kind of interval training, even if your wrist is relatively motionless. Garmin has remained silent on this issue, and just maintains that optical heart rate monitors is ‘hard’. Meanwhile, there are plenty of competitors out there that are significantly out performing the F6 in this category. Reading the Garmin forums, this issue has been doing on since launch, and unfortunately I am stuck with this $900 watch now. Yes, I have a strap, but sometimes I just don’t want to wear it and my $900 watch should be at least close. And it does appear to be a software issue with their sample averaging algorithm.

    • Unfortunately, what Garmin says is true. And also unfortunately, there’s no way to know if one of those competitors will actually work better for you. One only need to look at any other watch companies forums to see that, they’re all filled with the same type of comments. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for the majority of people. It just means a company has sold enough units (probably between 750K and 1mil Fenix 6 units at this point, maybe a bit less, that you’re going to get plenty of comments at just a few percent of the population).

      Keep in mind that a Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire is a heavier watch (than something like an Apple Watch). In general, the heavier the watch the worse optical performance will be, as it tends to bounce more. We see the same thing with the heavier Suunto watches (worse actually).

      For the most part these days, whether or not optical HR works on someone isn’t typically binary. It’s usually a number of factors. And updates/changes to algorithms or sensors are no longer in the realm where mass changes occur. It’s a game of 1% gains. An item fixes an issue for 1% of the population, and so on.

  154. Does anyone knows a Data Field for “Lap Average Vertical Speed” in meters/hour compatible with the Fenix 6 ?
    There was that one: link to apps.garmin.com
    But it is not compatible with any Garmin Fenix 6 watch.. I’ve contacted the developer but not sure if my message will get to him.

  155. Will Wright

    Hi does anybody know if I can use the di2 buttons on my shifters to change the screen on the fenix 6?

  156. I have paired my Fenix 6 Pro with an Assioma Uno pedal and added the “Bike Indoor” activity. I can see the cadence and the power but the distance is not recorded. Is there anything that I am missing? It’s a spinning bike so I guess I would have to input the inertia wheel weight and / dimension or some kind of factor. But I haven’t found anything like this in the settings. Zwift works fine, but I’d like to be able to be independent from Zwift for the distance as well.

    • Correct, the Favero pedals do not transmit distance.

      In the case of Zwift (and really, any indoor trainer), distance is purely a fictional thing. In the case of Zwift it’s a made-up number that uses your weight, power output and importantly, the grade inside the app. As speed/power alone isn’t enough to know whether you should be going 30KPH or 8KPH (as that would be driven by the grade).

      That said, you can link your Garmin account to Zwift, and it’ll send the completed file (with distance) back to Garmin Connect after each workout. The only downside there is that won’t contribute to training load.

  157. Perry

    I’ve been trying to find out how many ant+ sensors fenix 5/6 will recognize. I have a few HRM, power, etc and tried to pair 14 approach and my fenix 5 it could only pair 9 of them. Was wondering if I could put more sensors to the fenix 6.

  158. dan

    Could you please give some more info/advice on choosing among the different sizes?

  159. Mike MacNeil

    Is there any information on the operating temperature range specs for the Fenix 6 or 5 Plus models?
    My use includes alpine ski touring at high altitude.

  160. Richard Burrows

    Found your channel last week when I was looking for my first proper multi sport smart watch and your information has been much appreciated. I ordered my Fenix 6 this morning and feel confident on navigating the unit when it arrives. Inspirational writing and videos. Richard, Lincolnshire UK.

  161. Carl Sealby

    Hi Ray, do you know if there is a new Fenix due to be released? is a Fenix 7 possible? i currently have the Fenix 5 sapphire and it doesn’t look like there will be anything added to this watch anytime, such as training load or racepace? i’ve been looking at the 6 pro titanium or the 6x pro ( as my eyes aren’t what they once were ) but im thinking if a new one is due i may hang off buying just yet….

  162. Leon

    DC help, please. where can i adjust my strava live segments on fenix 6 pro to PB goal and not KOM goal?

  163. Volker

    Do it yourself quick release wrist/bike mount:

    link to forums.garmin.com

  164. Paul

    Thank you for a very ecxelent review!

  165. Fabio Mux


    Hi Ray, Here in Italy Amazon is selling fenix 6 serie with a payment plan (5 instalments) so i’m a lot interested . I race Ironman distance but i d like to try some Trail runs…i’ve always use forerunner 900 Series watch but for trails maybe a fenix 6 is a better choice
    i’ve read rumors about a forerunner 955 (LTE ?!?) but do u think fenix serie will also be upgraded ????


  166. Aurelio Santos

    Garmin 6x Pro vs Polar Grit X ??

  167. Cam Cash

    Ray, I’ve noted in your posts about OHR accuracy while cycling. To begin, I’m 100% Garmin for everything I do, but I tend to do a lot of indoor cycling, specifically on Zwift. I always pair a Wahoo TICKR or Polar chest strap to Zwift. I’ll wear my Fenix 6X Solar while riding, but it’s not recording anything. I just wear it for the sake of wearing it, and I do like the “intensity minutes” feature in Garmin Connect which gives me a sense of how hard I’ve worked through the week.

    I let Zwift automatically send the ride data to Garmin Connect, and I really like that functionality. My heartburn however is with the watch and the OHR. While cycling on Zwift, at any point, I could be in the mid 150s or 160s, and I’ll occasionally check my watch just to see what it thinks my HR is…it is usually not anywhere close.

    I think this has always been a problem with my OHR Garmin watches (945, 935, etc)…but does this sound to right to you? Is there a reason why when I scroll through my watch the the HR widget, that my Fenix thinks I’m at 70-80, while my chest strap connected to Zwift is showing 130, 140, 150, etc?

    I’m always going to trust the chest strap anyways, but just a little frustrating that such an expensive watch can’t lock on to my HR, even when it’s not specifically recording an activity. Thanks for your feedback and for all that you do!

    • Nate C

      I’ve noticed OHR accuracy issues enough in the past with FR935 that I’ve always worn an HRM chest strap for any exercise including trainer/Zwift. I record on my F6 including the ant+ HRM, PM pedals and speed/distance/cadence sensors and send to Garmin connect and let zwift send to strava.

      But occasionally I forget to start my watch workout recording and the F6 will beep at me a few minutes later for abnormally high heart rate without activity, and this reminds me that I’m not recording the workout. So it’s at least enough to recognize heart rates above 120ish. ?‍♂️ (not exactly an excuse for poor performance, but if you have low expectations it’s harder to be disappointed)

    • Such a large difference I have note seen, but I’m usually recording on the Fenix as well.

      As far as I know, when the activity is started on the Fenix, the OHR sensor switches to a different scanning mode. You can see this with the “Device usage” widget, the OHR scan increases slowly in normal usage, but 1:1 in activity mode. So the “even not specifically” is the opposite – you’re putting the Fenix at a disadvantage, IMO, by not recording, not making its life easier.

      Also, how thight/loose are you wearing it?

    • Raul V

      Does everybody know you can use sensor data on more than 1 device? Zwift en Fenix can receive the strap simultanously.
      Funny that the OHR disappointment is a subject that keeps on popping up….. I thought by now everybody knows about it’s capriciousness……..

    • Paul S

      Depends on the sensor. ANT+, yes, you can pair to multiple devices, no limits that I know of. Bluetooth, generally only one device, although there seems to be a recent trend to put two Bluetooth channels in sensors, so those you can pair to two devices.

    • Paul S

      It’s not just the Fenix. Recently I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch while riding. I never use it to record a ride; it’s along for it’s communications capabilities. Garmin Connect says that my maximum HR during this morning’s ride was 144, while Health says that my maximum was 85. Looking at the detailed data it looks as if my Apple Watch simply didn’t take any readings during the ride for some reason; maybe it detected I was doing an activity. In general readings seem to be roughly 5 minutes apart with lots of variation in the interval.

    • Cam Cash

      You are correct and it makes total sense.

      But as the poster noted above, when the Fenix is not actively recording an activity, a paired sensor is just that: a paired sensor.

      Whether or not a sensor is paired makes no difference in my particular instance. Unless the Fenix is actively recording an activity, the Fenix is not going to take HR readings any differently.

      Additionally, Zwift already posts the activity to Garmin and Strava, as I noted above. For me personally, there’s no sense in dual recording, just to get the Fenix to take more readings. I guess I could always delete the extra activity, especially if I wanted to actually test out the OHR by forcing it into recording, but I got the answer I was looking for above.

    • Raul V

      I was talking about ANT+. I think it’s not logic to use BT if you have that possibility.
      And I was talking about OHR in general. Apple watch’s wandering is shocking. Maybe some ‘situational aspect’ involved too?

    • Raul V

      When Fenix is not registering it will still display actual values. But no averages of course. It therefor should be connected, which is something else than paired.

      I like to do double registrations but with HB just did that through it’s OHR right after I had bought my first Fenix repeating that with its successor. Both times just a couple of tests were enough…..

    • Ric

      I just think that people expect more improvement during the years regarding the OHR.

  168. Michael

    I purchased a Fenix 6X Pro two months ago. I actively used GPS and various sports applications roughly a decade ago, but eventually gave up as the performance was not solid enough. So, I was intrigued but skeptical, and spent a lot of time studying the reviews and comments before making the purchase decision.

    This review was probably the most important source of information that led to selecting the Garmin device.

    The product turned out to be a complete disappointment and I have now given up using it – I will buy something else to replace it. To understand the mistake I made, I had to come back here to read the review again – was there something I misunderstood at the time.

    Rereading the review, the answer is no. Just one example: I still do get the impression that PacePro would actually work – “much more powerful than that”, “the real magic happens”, etc. I thought that even if PacePro did not work that well, it would still imply availability of decent pace information while running.

    In reality, PacePro does not work at all. The GPS accuracy is not sufficient, sufficient elevation information is not available in the map data or is not used, and the damping of the display makes it impossible to adjust pace (to the random pace by the inaccurate positioning). Yes, I had a dialogue with Garmin support, and their conclusion based on .fit files is that the product works as specified.

    GPS performance on the device is a joke but several other features are disappointing as well – they sound hypercool but in reality do not perform as one would expect. Examples include sleep tracking, PulseOX, respiration rate,…

    I am confused, what is happening? Did I re-enter the world of wellness measurement with completely inflated expectations? I am living on a different planet with fewer positioning satellites hovering around? If my running pace fluctuating wildly as is my breathing rate?

    Help me out here.

    • Paul Tomblin

      Michael, I bought mine during the Father’s Day sales this year and the GPS was terrible – whenever I paddled under a bridge or other place where the GPS lock was less than perfect, it would go nuts and briefly show speeds over 800,000 km/h. A few weeks ago they pushed out an update to the GPS software (GPS version 4.4) and it’s a million times better. You might want to make sure you’ve got the latest firmware before you write off the GPS entirely.

    • Michael


      I have been using GPS version 4.40.

      There has been two SW updates, but the performance has not improved.

      And the GPS performance of my device was already at “product spec” level (as defined by Garmin support) with the previous software version.

    • It’d be helpful to see some GPS tracks to know whether or not you’re seeing bad GPS data.

    • I don’t know what your expectations are, but my Fenix 6X Pro just works. For an amateur, it has good enough accuracy, it has quite good sleep tracking and respiration rate. It has warned me of impending sickness and to take it easier with training more than once (counting the 5X before it too), it’s good for many other things than just sports (e.g. payments, music on quick runs without phone, routing in some places, etc. etc.).

      Yes, GPS – the concept itself – is not suited well for instant pace. If you run, get a footpod, and that will solve many problems.

      But, do I care about 5% accuracy here or there? Nah. I worry more about losing a few more kilograms, than perfect GPS tracks. So maybe the watch is not for somebody who is at their top in the the “sports performance” topic, but it definitely works well enough for me, a person with a desk job.

    • Raul V

      I certainly recognize the phenomena. Part of it is nowadays world. Products are thrown on the market with half functioning processes. No more money can be spent on the design process, it’s needed for the marketing. But why does a basic function like GPS on a quite expensive device need an upgrade before it functions normally?
      I use GPS devices since 2009. My impression is that the quality was better in those days. Cannot judge the pacing problems. The RR is hilarious! Running & pedal Dynamics: what to do with it? Meanwhile there’s useful things lacking or introduced years after they should have.

    • Since 2009 there have been two large changes in GPS chipsets, no? From SirTech to the M-something to Sony now. While accuracy might or has indeed degraded, power efficiency went significantly up. Nothing had 60+ hours of GPS back in 2009 like the Fenix 6X pro has today….

      For some people, this is a bad tradeoff, for some a good one

    • Brian Reiter

      SirfSTAR -> MediaTek -> Sony

      I’ve had my 6X for about 9 months and have I found the 6X GNSS performance to be perfectly acceptable using default settings for running on road and trail including a SkyRun Ultra in mountains. I use a Stryd for road running and a Garmin HRM-Run chest strap for high intensity interval workouts.

    • Michael

      I did a couple of test runs just to provide Garmin Support background data when I contacted them in May.

      I ran a one-km lap back and forth three times. Kilometers 2 to 5 I tried to keep a steady pace, and ended up doing lap times 6:26, 6:30, 6:27 and 6:24 min/km. Of course, it is possible that I did accelerate and slow down within each lap and just happened to end up with similar lap times each time.

      Attached graph shows the results from the Fenix perspective. Orange line shows the recorded 1 km lap times. Grey dots are the 1-sec distance changes, then there are 30 and 60 second moving averages.

      60-second moving average pace varies anywhere between 5:40 and 7:05 min/km. At one point average pace is 6:50, 60 seconds later it is 5:50. 1

      The device indicated a similar pace range during the session. This was assessed as “performance according to specification” by Garmin.

      This was with the previous SW version, though. I guess I could redo this over the weekend to get some fresh tracks with the latest SW.

    • Michael

      This is what it looks like on the map.

    • Raul V

      I see minutes. That’s not speed but time. :-)
      It doesn’t mean anything to me. Have to calculate. Only ones I know by head are 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00. I’m using speed since as long as I remember. (though don’t remember how, with my 1st Polar and Casio devices, in the 80’s but have always been more HR oriented)

    • RaulV

      On this weird tempo thing: the mass are copying each other. No individual observation. The industry follows the mass. Thus an old fashioned method stays in use. The first one being able to give me a good reason still has to come. In 35 years….

    • Jean-Christophe Bettinelli

      For precise pace, you’d better have to work with a foot pod.

    • Michael – I’d say looking at the map it’s not ideal.

      Which GPS settings is that on? GPS, GPS+GLONASS, or GPS+GALILEO?

      Likely it’s on the default of GPS+GLONASS, but, you might want to try GPS+GALILEO and see if that helps. It tends to vary by your surroundings (e.g. buildings vs trees, etc…).

    • Michael

      I been using GPS+GLONASS mostly. I have tried GPS+GALILEO a couple of times, but don’t think it was any better.

      Satellite coverage should be similar for both systems. Like right now there are 18 GNSS satellites visible above 30 degrees: 5 GPS, 6 GLONASS and 5 GALILEO. That seems to be quite typical for where I live, GLONASS having one more satellite visible than GALILEO. I would assume this is a sufficient number of satellites for reasonable accuracy using either setting.

    • Raul V

      Pace was used to indicate speed. As I was reacting on something where this term was used. It’s an inflation of terminology, the normal one is tempo.
      Till my utmost astonishment: even Garmin makes this mistake.

    • Sorry, I’m confused. Whats the issue re: pace/speed that you’re referring to?

  169. Michael

    Hi threre,
    I am thinking about a Fenix 6 and Edge 530 as extended display for thriathlon. Do you think this makes sense and would work?
    br Michael

    • It works. Here’s how it works: link to dcrainmaker.com

      It’s identical with the Fenix 6 as how I showed in that post with the FR945 & MARQ.

      Just beware of the catches outlined there.

    • Michael

      thx. I can imagine that it would be a great relief not to have to change the mount of the clock in T1 from wrist to bike and in T2 from bike to wrist …

    • Raul V

      Well over a year later nothing has been done with your advice right?
      Like it is now I don’t use it as I’m too much attached to the data I Iike to see and the 2nd reg and manual/loc auto laps functionality. And my RC, which isn’t compatible with watches. (another downside)

  170. Ric

    What settings do you use for the altimeter?
    And for the calibration of it?
    I think the deviation is rather big.
    When I use the correction afterwards on GC it looks much better.
    Eg On a flat ride from 19km it went from 48 to 6 meters.

  171. Jason

    Hi all – I’ve been trying to find out info on the backplate material of the Fenix 6 titanium watches, and would appreciate any insightful info? Can anyone please confirm what the Fenix 6/6X titanium model backplates are made of? A local shop says it is titanium (as they have been asked by other customers and they said they contacted Garmin), and Garmin support has said ‘no’ it is stainless steel in their replies to me?

    I’ve owned the following sport watches:
    Polar V800 = no rash over two years
    Fenix 5 = a rash once or twice over a year. But I put that down to not washing the watch often. And I wore that watch all day and night.

    I then had the Fenix 5 plus for about a year (titanium bezel – I loved that watch!), and I developed a horrendous rash after only wearing it for a few days. I didn’t wear it at night so I could put hydrocortisone cream on my skin and have a break. Whenever I put it on my other wrist to give my affected wrist a chance to recover, the rash developed. I also washed my watch regularly with antibiotic soap to disinfect it?

    If the Fenix 6 titanium model does have a titanium backplate, then I would get that as it should be hypoallergenic. If not then perhaps will need to try the Instinct as that is the plastic/polymer?

    Thanks! :-)

  172. Jake Boddington

    Hi Ray,

    I’m looking at upgrading from my Fenix 5 Sapphire to Fenix 6 series watch.

    I’m in two minds as to which one to go for!? I do want maps and music as my F5 doesn’t have those features

    Do I go for a F6 Sapphire or the F6X Sapphire?

    I’m not fussed about the ‘Solar’ feature at the moment. As I understand it, the F6 Sapphire is the same size as my F5 (47mm) and has very similar battery life (14 days or 36 hours in gps), whereas the F6X Sapphire is bigger at 51mm but a much better battery life (21 days or 60 hours in gps).

    Based on the above, it would seem that the F6 Sapphire wouldn’t be a huge upgrade on my F5, only maps and music really, whereas the F6X Sapphire adds increased battery life into the fold, but is a much bigger/heavier device.

    The longest i’m realistically going to be using gps mode for is about 12 hours non-stop, so should I not be concerned with F6X battery life.

    My F5 fits nicely on my wrist, and i’m concerned that a 51mm watch might look like i’m wearing a wall mounted Swatch Watch. Would a 47mm screen impact massively on map usage compared to a 51mm screen.

    Do you have any thoughts on the matter?


    • Jason

      Hi, I’m in the same mindset, having been wearing a Fenix 5 Plus, I put my 5 plus next to a 6 in the store, and my 5 Plus looked more like a 6X next to it, and seeing as I’ve loved wearing the 5 Plus (titanium bezel so perhaps it looks a bit larger – an optical illusion I think) – I’ve been considering getting the 6X and tried that on, even though I have quite skinny wrists, it didn’t look too big?

      I think the 6X, because it is lighter than my mine, thinner too – it seems ok (not too big at all). Tweaking the dimensions between models seems to have quite an effect on the wearability of it. Can’t answer your other questions sorry.

      Certainly worthwhile trying in store if you can, but if not then it certainly makes it difficult to decide. Good luck.

  173. UtilityAlarm

    What’s up with the Altimeter??

    Love the watch, works great, I’m not an accuracy OCD person.
    When riding on a known 20 mile course the watch will say 1500 feet of climbing but the Edge 1000 will say 1000 feet. The Edge is correct and I’m seeing the same % difference on other routes.

    The Garmin forums have a bunch of postings with the same issue highlighted.

    Thoughts? (I’m on the latest updated firmware)

    • As a general rule in life, when a watch tells me I’ve climbed 1,500ft while another device says 1,000ft – I never question the watch. ;)

      That said, one would basically have to look at the two elevation plots and see which one is correct. Sometimes it’s a single bad data point, and sometimes it’s just a bazillion small changes that are incorrect. The DCR Analyzer does show elevation overlays and totals between two files, fwiw (link to dcrainmaker.com)

      When it comes to wearables (from all vendors), the most common issue is a clogged altimeter port, either via sweat/mud/dirt/nutrition gel, etc…

      Unfortunately for me in the Netherlands, my ability to test this right now and over the past 4-5 months has been pretty limited. That said, if the stars keep aligning, I’ll have some solid elevation options in a few weeks.

    • UtilityAlarm

      Ha! That could be a sales point: buy a watch, become a climbing machine!

      A couple data points. Enabling elevation correction in Garmin Connect brings the data back to true with the Edge 1000 data. On trail running. the watch is still high but not +50%, more like +10%.
      The elevation plots look very “jaggy” when blown up; will use the tool after todays ride, but looks like it’s an accumulating error.

      On the various Garmin subs that discuss, there is a thread that says wind blowing into the altimeter holes when the watch is on your left wrist are to blame for the error. (?) Some folks also mentioned they sent the watch back for a swap and the new watch also has the elevation issue.

    • Johan

      Hi Ray! For me it is very clear that the fenix 6 has a problem. On the Garmin Forum there are many posts with complaints and examples of wrong elevation plots. Most of them shows small changes (jagged) which results in far too high total elevation. My ride yesterday recorded 706m elevation while with elevation correction it seems to be 136m which is far more realistic for this “flat”ride. Also my previous watch fenix 3 hr recorded these more realistic elevations. What has been changed???? My fenix 6x sapphire is 2 or 3 months old. I cannot imagine that the holes are dirty. In the years I used my fenix 3 hr I never cleaned the holes explicitely. Someone send his watch back to Garmin and finally received a new one, I guess with clean holes… ;-)….. Same problem!!!!! Some people think the position of the barometer holes are the problem, catching too many wind. If that is the cause, then it is a design mistake, I guess. The biggest problem is that there is no good answer coming from Garmin. Of course, they will never say they made a design mistake. But maybe they could solve it in the software by smoothing out these little changes. I posted this also on the Garmin Forum.

    • Some Fenix 6s might have a problem. I have mine since it was launched, and there’s no significant difference between it and an Edge 1030 plus in the recorded altitude.

      The digital elevation model will always record somewhat less, since it tracks bare land, not land+roots+rocks+whatever, but not the 5× you had in your example.

      In any case, my Fenix 6X is working just fine, for a year now. FYI.

    • hoimir

      Garmin has the same problem in the Vivoactive line. My VA3 invented the most interesting altitudes, even when doing 4 laps of a course the elevation stats steadily went downhill (both literally and figuratively).
      With the VA as well, complete denial from the company and no change in this performance even after receiving a replacement watch.
      I do believe the Fenix must have the same components to have the same problem. I would guess it’s hardware since no software update has solved it yet?

  174. Antonis

    Probably a common question but Fenix 6 or 945? In terms of pricing same level, but as an overall comparison?

    • I’d ensure you’re comparing like to like, if the same exact price. All FR945’s have music, maps, etc… But not all Fenix 6’s do, only the Fenix 6 Pro lineup do.

  175. Shawn Selby

    Terrific review. I find your reviews so helpful. You are my go to site to get the real deal and on what a product can do and if it does it successfully. Thanks so much. Quick question. The fenix 6s and the Forerunner 945 seem to be almost identical in features. But the Forerunner 945 was released May 2019. I know you don’t have a crystal ball but when do you predict that the new release of this watch will happen. Also, is there any month/time of year that these watches typically go on sale.

  176. Ben

    Can someone help me with altimeter readings of elevation gain compared to maps elevation gain. I have noticed that the predicted elevation gain from route using map data seems to always be more than the actual I record when I ride a route, normally in the order of 10% difference. I rode at the weekend and the difference was about 50%. Am I missing something in the settings? Which is more accurate?

    Route – 1259m – link to connect.garmin.com
    Ride – 858m – link to connect.garmin.com

    • Paul S

      What happens when you go to the activity on Garmin Connect and turn elevation correction on? (This is something only you can do.) Just looking at the profile from your course, it looks noisier than the actual ride, so I’d guess a bad Digital Elevation Map in whatever course creator you used. Turning on Garmin’s DEM by turning on elevation correction might give you some insight.

    • Ben Williams

      Hey Paul

      Turning on elevation correction moves the total much closer to the predicted elevation from the map. I am using connect to create my maps.

      So it would appear that the sensor on the watch isn’t correctly recording elevation changes?

      Thanks in advance

    • Paul S.

      That’s certainly a possibility. Were you wearing it on your wrist? Were you sweating? All devices with barometric altimeters have a little hole in the case to allow outside and inside pressure to equilibrate. If that hole gets totally or partially blocked, the altimeter no longer works properly. A complete blockage would show constant altitude, but sometimes the blockage leaks and slows down the response of the altimeter, which effectively smooths out the altitude changes. (One of the many reasons I almost never use my Fenix 5+ for cycling.) If this is just a one time thing, if in other cases the route and the ride were the same, I wouldn’t worry about it except to be aware about the possibility. If it happens all the time, then a call to Garmin support to get it replaced would be my recommendation, since the sensor might be the problem.

  177. Mark

    Does the HR tracking on the Fenix 6 happen automatically all the time and get logged or do you have to start it and stop it before a workout for example? Wondering if it will automatically track my HR during sleep.
    I had the Fenix 3 for years and loved it more than any watches before or since.

    • Brian Reiter

      24×7 wrist optical HR tracking is on by default at a lower resolution of polling than is used during an activity. It will automatically track your HR whenever you wear the watch along with breathing rate. Normally the low-power all day polling is fine but if you are doing an intense activity with the low-power polling you will see spurious results.

      That 24×7 HR tracking does include tracking HR during sleep. It will also deduce sleep stages during the normal sleeping hours that you provide in your settings.

  178. Nicolas

    On Fenix 6 I cannot find a way to have the direction to the starting point in a straight line (I use to enjoy this feature on my old fenix 3). On the 6, with the tracback thing, there are only two options: either back to start using the same path or else a calculated route using the map. Did you came across this issue?
    Tks for your great reviews after all these years

  179. Ihsan

    Anyone that has/had both F5 and F6, can you share your experience and recommendations on one? If you’ve upgraded to F6, are you happy that you did?

    I’m looking to replace my aging F3HR and while I’d like the new features of F6, I’m not sold on Sony GPS chipset accuracy, and have been reading of optical heart rate issues on garmin forums before they went into the great beyond.

    While F5 is 3.5 years old, the fact that F5 can be had for almost half the price of F6 is a factor too.


    • It’s really hard to make a recommendation because money is hard to compare.

      I upgraded as soon as I could because of new features that I really cared about, and I really like the F6 – _much more_ so than the F5. But it really is a question of “is it worth the price difference”, rather than “is the new watch worth it”.

      So, I strongly recommend the F6, on features alone. On price, that’s your decision.

    • Oh, and forgot to say. No complains about the GPS, and the optical HR for non-sport use if OK. For sport, I always use chest strap.

    • Ihsan

      Thanks Iustin!

      I too use chest HRM for almost everything anyway. One more if I may, what are the extra features you found useful? I have an edge unit exclusively for cycling, so the watch will be for everything else.