Garmin Fenix 5 Review Facts
A great playwright once called Time “the old, bald cheater.” Forever lurking in the background, he chipped away at our bodies and minds until the mid 14th century when man developed a device that would eclipse time keeping monoliths of epochs past: the mechanical clock. Since then clocks have become a staple of the modern world, and have allowed us to kind of reign in, and regulate that old, bald cheater if not defeat him entirely. In more recent times the watch has found itself miniaturized and digitized with every kind of esoteric doodad imaginable, all in the name of forward progress. Garmin hasn’t eschewed these technical innovations in the Fenix 5 series of watches, but they have elected to “turn back the clock” on their aesthetics, and in doing so has created a timepiece that is both highly functional, and equally attractive to the serious athlete.
The Garmin Fenix 5 series can be used for just about every activity you can think of: rucking, running, biking and even swimming provided you keep it above 50 meters. It's Ultratrac battery even makes it so that you can wear it overnight for sleep tracking
, even with the GPS on.
Garmin takes the basics of other GPS
watches and improves upon them in a variety of ways, most notably the "Elevate" wrist heart rate sensor
, and the ability to connect to Garmin's online fitness community. Interestingly enough it also takes a cue from more classic watch designs by getting away from touch screen technology in exchange for analog buttons on the side of the device.
Boy does this watch have some bells and whistles. For starters this watch
was designed with cyclists, swimmers, skiers and snowboarders in mind; it has an app for each sport respectively and tracks entirely different metrics. On top of that Garmin went ahead and added on apps such as TruSwing, and Greenview for the golfers out there.
There is one thing to note here though, especially if you're a swimmer
. There's no depth meter built into this watch, and while it's not impossible to think one won't be made for download at a later date, this should be a concern for anybody who swims deeper than the suggested depth level (less than 50 meters).
Garmin went ahead and upgraded some things in the newest iteration of Fenix watches, such as adding gyroscopes to all the models they produce as well as adding proximity and distance alerts for use with the Ultratrac GPS mode
. There have been a few issues reported by some buyers, the most prevalent being that some of the distance measurements are off by a bit, essentially making distance travelled seem farther. There have also been one or two reports of crazy speeds being reached (in excess of 130 MPH) while cycling.
Connectivity is a bit of a touchy subject regarding the Fenix 5. Some buyers claim that it's absolutely perfect and connects with little to no trouble, and some people claim that they experience some issues inside of certain buildings. The nice part about those tales of woe is that they are few and far between, and the people that make those claims immediately follow up with praise for the watch the second they head to a more open area. Connection is indicated around the inside of the face by a band of color that is either green for good, orange for less than great, and red for disconnected.
A quick note: early reviews of the watch had issues with bluetooth connectivity, but this has since been patched by Garmin.
Like the majority of other smartwatches on the market, The Fenix 5 is ideally suited for a variety of apps such as the Garmin Connect Fitness app, and the Strava Live Segment Support app which is meant for cyclists and runners alike. There are plenty of other apps available for download on the Garmin website such as workout planners, heart rate monitors, car locators.... basically anything you might imagine you'd put on a smart device.
The lion's share of reviews across the internet love Garmin's watches
, and find them to be generally comfortable, but there are a few things buyers ought to consider when buying this watch. First off, there are three separate sizes, the 5S which is about 42mm, the 5 which is 47mm, and the 5X which has a 51mm face. The 5S and the 5 don't seem to have any complaints about the bulkiness, or size, but there are more than a few complaints about the 5X. One thing that is consistent among reviewers is that they love how the back of the watch is perfectly flush with the band.
Style is where the Fenix 5 series really shines. As noted in the intro, Garmin decided to take a page from the playbook of earlier watches by removing the touch screen capability and putting analog buttons on the side of the watch for control. This gives this modern time piece a very classic aesthetic that'll garner attention from a lot of people. The only real concern, stylistically speaking, has to do with the sapphire versions of the watches. Despite the inherent toughness of the material they've been noted as appearing cheap, or "plastic-like".
As with other Garmin products, the Fenix 5 series of watches is built to last. The aforementioned classic design is also very rugged, and the dual bevels that surround the face of the watch prevent it from the majority of damage it might face. With that being said, if you get the glass version you need to stay concerned about what hits your watch. It will scratch. The other option is to get the sapphire variant, which one customer referred to as "bomb-proof." With every blessing is a curse though, and the chromed bevels of the sapphire versions are apparently easier to scratch than the graphite bevels of the standard watches.
The face of the Garmin Fenix 5 series has been, and is going to be the subject of a lot of debate amongst people who make use of smart watches. Garmin listened to complaints about the lack of resolution and color in the earlier iterations of the Fenix watches, increasing the range of colors from 16 to 64. The resolution has also been improved to 240p x 240p, with the exception of the 5X which still has a lower 218p x 218p. This is a bit lower than lot of similarly priced watches, and customers usually say something about the low resolution. It hasn't been a deal breaker, but it's something to pay attention to.
As far as measurements are concerned, the 5S measures at 42mm; the standard 5 is measured at 47mm, and the 5X is a massive 51mm.
As with just about any other sports watch
in the world, the Fenix 5 series comes with a durable silicone band that comes in a variety of colors, but for an added cost you can upgrade the watch to have a metal, linked band. The bands, as expected, are fully adjustable so accurate metrics can be taken by the dimple on the back of the watch. Most customers don't go out of their way to mention the bands which'll lead you to believe that they're nothing to right home about, but there have been quite a few people that've mentioned the ease at which you can swap bands. For those of us with aesthetic hang-ups, this'll allow you to customize your watch easily, and quickly.
I've mentioned it a few times in this article already, but the Fenix series comes in three sizes. The smallest is the 5S, which is measured to be about 42mm with a 1.1 inch display. The standard Fenix 5 watch is measured at 47mm with a 1.2 inch display. Both of these watches weigh in at less than 3 ounces. Lastly, the 5X has a 51mm face with a 1.2 inch display, and it weighs a little more than the other variations. All of the watches are 15.5mm in depth.
life on the Fenix 5 series ranges from incredible, to manageable depending on how you use it. It can last in the standard smartwatch mode for as long as two weeks, and if you're intent on using the GPS for a prolonged period of time it'll last you about 24 hours. What's interesting about this watch is the Ultratrac Battery saver mode, which is meant to be used for activities that'll exceed 8 hours. Ultratrac allows you to basically dictate the interval at which rate the watch measures your metrics, so the battery can vary in length in this mode, from 20 to 60 hours, depending on how you set it up.. There've been a few customers who claim that the Ultratrac mode is glitchy, battery-wise, but as far as the other modes the reviews have been glowing.
While it's cheaper than the hard to find Garmin Fenix 4
watch, the Fenix 5 series of watches is still a pricey buy at 599 dollars MSRP for the 5, and 5S models. The 5X starts out at 699 MSRP, and only comes in the sapphire version. While that's completely crazy, given the watch's capabilities, the addition of the sapphire face is when the price really jumps. Both the 5 and the 5S retail for around 850 dollars with the addition of the sapphire face.
Most customers who like the Fenix watches, but don't have the money for the current 5 series suggest settling for the Fenix 3. While it doesn't have the same bells and whistles, it is a perfectly competent watch at almost half the price of the Fenix 5.
In an age when smart devices can do anything, accessories are almost an inevitable thing you'll encounter when you're looking at upgrading your exercise regimen. As with other watches there are a variety of external bluetooth devices, screen protectors, and aftermarket bands that can be used to customize your investment. There is one accessory of note that is meant to be paired directly with the Fenix series of watches: the HRM
-TRI/SWIM band. This nifty little gadget is designed for use in environments that don't allow you to actively monitor your metrics, such as prolonged periods in the pool. THE HRM straps can be found for around 199 dollars on Amazon, or they can be bundled directly with the Fenix watches themselves.
- glass or sapphire lens with a stainless steel bezel and fiber reinforced case
- replaceable silicone or steel strap
- 240 x 240 pixel resolution; color display
- 3 different power modes: Smartwatch/GPS/Ultratrac
- Bluetooth and wifi compatible
- Compatible with Android, iPhone, and Windows smartphones
- Built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, and light sensors
The Fenix 5 series of watches boasts an incredible amount of customizable applications and features that'll suit athletes at just about every level, and the reviews speak volumes about the quality of the product with the exception of a few small hiccups such as connectivity issues in certain remote areas, or personal issues with the aesthetics or lack of touch screen. The only real major drawback to this watch is the price, but let's be honest with ourselves, if you're considering a watch that's meant to track the kind of metrics that the Fenix 5 specializes in, you're probably ok with making the investment.