Garmin has a rich history with GPS watches. Well before the Apple Watch, Android Wear and the ‘smartwatch’ name rocked up, Garmin were creating GPS watches with fitness tracking capability - and for what it’s worth, they were decent devices.
However, the GPS-packing and app-toting smartwatches launched by other OEMs over the last 2 years have rendered many of the older devices launched by Garmin obsolete. And, for such an iconic company as Garmin, that won’t do. And so, Garmin has launched a new range of smartwatches this week which they hope will bring the brand forward.
That line of smartwatches is called the fēnix 5 line. All the smartwatches in this line feature Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology, and QuickFit, which is a brand name for watch straps that are easy to swap out without tools. Garmin’s fēnix 5 line of smartwatches includes three distinct models, which we will look at in closer detail below:
Garmin fēnix 5S
The Garmin fēnix 5S is offered in 42mm size only. It is the smallest smartwatch in the range, and you have a choice of a sapphire crystal or a cheaper mineral crystal to cover the 1.1” 218 x 218 display. The Garmin fēnix 5S offers up to 8 hours of battery life in smartwatch mode, 13 hours of battery life in GPS mode and 50 hours of battery life in battery saver mode. It comes preloaded with a wide range of applications and offers full GPS tracking.
The 5S is the sleekest smartwatch in the range. It has a thin bezel running around the display and it is available in a single color; Silver; with either a white, turquoise or black band. The sapphire crystal version gets a unique champagne color scheme and a grey suede band.
Garmin fēnix 5
The Garmin fēnix 5 is offered in 47mm size only, and it too is available with your choice of a sapphire crystal or mineral crystal display. This smartwatch has an industrial design with a chunky bezel running around the screen. The display on this version is 1.2” with a 240 x 240 resolution. It offers better battery life than the 5S, offering 100 hours in battery saver mode, 24 hours in GPS mode and up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode (depending in settings).
The fēnix 5 sits in the middle of the range. It is available is a variety of colors.
Garmin fēnix 5X
Now, we have the Garmin fēnix 5X. At 51mm, this is a largest smartwatch in the range and it gets preloaded TOPO US Maps with routable cycling maps and other useful navigation features. However, and strangely to us, it sticks with the 1.2” 240 x 240 resolution display found in the smaller fēnix 5, which means the fēnix 5X is larger than a HUAWEI Watch, but way, way down on screen specs. For comparison’s sake, the HUAWEI Watch has a 1.4” 400 x 400 display. So, you’ll probably be buying the 5X over the 5 for the preloaded TOPO Maps.
The Garmin fēnix 5X is available in a variety of colors and finishes.
All Garmin’s fēnix 5 smartwatches have outdated displays compared to the competition - in terms of their technology and resolution - however, they do offer better battery life in normal use than the competition. These smartwatches also run Garmin’s own operating system, as opposed to Android Wear. This means that you will get a unique user experience on these devices. Overall, the Garmin fēnix 5 line makes a good start for Garmin although the devices really are nothing special. So, all in all, this launch was a little disappointing.