Garmin Fenix 5S Review Facts
Garmin was founded in 1989, selling their first product, a Global Positioning System the company would later become known for, for a whopping $2500. This GPS was aimed towards the marine market and made its debut in a marine expo in Chicago in 1990. Since the company’s foundation technology has most definitely increased and, thankfully, the cost of GPS devices has decreased making these products something every person wants for their vehicle.
More recently as companies like FitBit and Polar began to offer consumers live feedback for tracking their activity levels, Garmin has begun to introduce wristwear options into their product lineup as well. These activity trackers and sport watches help athletes and workout enthusiasts track their activities be it running, golfing, cycling or swimming with the aid of sensors found on their products. Some of Garmin’s activity trackers offer heart rate and GPS readings, sleep quality feedback, step counting, and even stair counting.
Today we’re going to be reviewing the Fenix 5S, a sports watch meant for the serious athlete or adventurer. The Fenix 5S is a multi-sport fitness watch that provides consumers with all the important statistics they need to know in a lighter and sleeker designed package.
The Garmin Fenix 5S sports watch is designed to help you track a number of different activities. Beyond its obvious use for running and jogging, this watch also has features that aid with swim training, winter sports like skiing, golfing and even paddle sports. For swimmers, the Fenix 5S will not only track your distance and pace but also your stroke count as well. For skiers, it will track speed, distance traveled and even vertical drop. For folks who are into paddle sports, the Fenix 5S will track the stroke count, rate and distance per stroke. The golf capabilities include green downloading from the Garmin Connect app as well as stat tracking and AutoShot detection.
The Fenix 5S features Garmin’s Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology
. This allows you to monitor your heart rate during the day and all of your activities without having to worry about an annoying chest strap. The heart rate technology will provide more than just your beats per minute, however, by being able to offer you your calories burned as well as quantify the intensity of your workout. The bright and high-resolution Garmin Chroma Display will ensure that you will be able to see (and read) the watch face in any condition, even intense sunlight. Garmin’s new training features provide users with physiological metrics like lactate threshold, cadence, stride length, etc. Being able to tap into these statistics can help you perform better during your workouts.
While doing our research on this product, there were some questions about the accuracy of the heart rate sensor during certain exercises. There seems to be some limitations while using the wrist heart rate sensor but if folks were to purchase the additional chest strap, they seem to achieve better and more accurate results. When it comes to the accuracy of other features in the 5S, it seems that the altimeter (altitude measurement) doesn’t seem to be incredibly accurate all of the time. Some reviewers did have concerns about the accuracy of the GPS portion of the watch but others praised how spot-on it was. The GPS accuracy concerns may have been addressed by Garmin in an update to the watch, however, as the newer reviews seem to praise this function.
As with most other smart watches available on the market today, the Fenix 5S is suited for numerous different apps that users can peruse and download. The Garmin Connect Fitness app is the major one, where consumers will find infinite ways to customize their watch as well as download widgets that can help provide valuable feedback for their training sessions. A handy function on the Garmin Connect Fitness app is the Insights section, where you will find out where you are in regards to other folks of your gender in the same age range. There are so many other apps that you can download to your 5S but a few popular options include a number of different weather widgets so you always know what to expect from mother nature while you’re out adventuring, Strava Route Builder so you can easily download or build routes for your next run, and Race Screen which provides you with important information you need to know during a race. Of course, this is just a small selection of the available apps for the 5S but it gives you an idea of what you can expect if you choose to purchase this watch.
The Fenix 5S watch features advanced GPS
and a space-based satellite navigation system called GLONASS. GLONASS helps consumers be able to track their whereabouts in more challenging terrain than would be possible with just the GPS connectivity alone. We didn’t find there to be any issues when it came to the GPS capabilities of this watch. Reviewers also praised the Fenix 5S’s ability to connect seamlessly to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This watch also connects and uploads automatically to the Garmin Connect online community.
The Garmin Fenix 5S is a comfortable watch. It’s remarkably lightweight and won’t feel bulky on the wrist. It is nearly completely unobtrusive when you’re playing sports. A few reviewers were worried that the watch would be too big for their wrist but were pleased with how it fit overall. The band is long enough to be used by folks with larger sized wrists and folks with smaller wrists didn’t have any problems with the band either. If the band size were to become an issue, however, they switch out very easily without hassle.
The Garmin Fenix 5S is a nice-looking sports watch. It isn’t that distinguishable from a regular watch, so for folks who don’t want to be seen wearing an activity tracker in public, this might be a great investment. The smaller sized face (just 42mm in diameter) is perfect for people with smaller wrists or for those folks who like a lighter and more compact design. As previously mentioned, the Fenix 5S was designed with female users in mind, hence the slightly smaller dimensions and watch face. It’s 2.4 ounces in weight, making it 0.6 ounces lighter than the Fenix 5. There are a number of different QuickFit bands that allow consumers to quickly swap out the band to whatever their heart desires be it premium leather, metal, or silicone. This is a fantastic option to have as you can go from work to work out in seconds without requiring any special tools to change the band.
The Garmin Fenix
5S is definitely a durable product. Unlike other similar products on the market today, the watch face for the 5S is built to take a beating. The only concern some reviewers had was that the silicone band doesn’t seem like it’ll last very long. It should be noted, however, that replacement bands for this product are very affordable and with plenty of different, more durable material band options available on Amazon, you shouldn’t let this dissuade you.
Sticking with the customizable theme of this sports watch, the possibilities for the band are endless. The Quickfit style requires absolutely no tools to make the transformation, unlike other similar products on the market. Simply just swap the band, click in and you’re set to go. Consumers can choose between premium leather, metal or silicone materials and with the Quickfit system, it’s never been faster to swap your band on the fly so it matches your day or nighttime attire.
The smaller face size on the Fenix 5S is perfect for folks with smaller-sized wrists or for those who prefer to have a lighter and more compact sports watch. The 5S has a resolution of 218 x 218 pixels, taking it down quite a bit from the 240 x 240 found in the Fenix 5 and the 5X. The face design is customizable by visiting the Connect IQ store, with some face options even allowing you to personalize it further by changing the color scheme. There seems to be some issues with the overall visibility of the watch face. Some reviews mentioned that the display is easy to see in direct sunlight but if you’re in the shade or inside, it’s not as easy to distinguish. This may be a trade off for better battery time, however, but it’s worth mentioning in our review.
The Garmin Fenix 5S comes in one size – 42 mm with a 1.1-inch display. Folks who prefer a bigger watch can opt for the Fenix 5, which comes in at 47 mm or the 5X which is larger at 51 mm.
The Fenix 5S falls a bit short in terms of battery life when we compare it to the basic Fenix 5. The 5S has a battery life of 9 days when the watch is in Smartwatch
mode, will last about 14 hours in GPS mode and 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode (reserved for activities that will exceed eight hours), while the 5 will last two weeks, 24 hours and 75 hours respectively.
Priced at $550, the Fenix 5S is definitely a bit of an investment. But when we look at the overall durability and features that the product is offering, we think it is a worthwhile investment. This is especially true for folks who are fitness or sports aficionados or those who are trying to be more mindful of their daily activities.
As with other smart watches available on the market today, there are a number of different accessories one can purchase to compliment the Garmin Fenix 5S. You can choose to pair it with a compatible chest strap, specifically the HRM-Run option, to gain access to new information that’s not currently available by just using the wrist heart rate
function. Folks who opt to purchase this add-on can expect to be able to find out the vertical oscillation and ratio as well as ground contact time and even stress scores. Also available after-market are numerous different band styles so you can choose a band that suits you and every situation you may find yourself in or silicone case protectors to ensure the metal will stay scratch-free.
-3 different modes (Smartwatch, GPS or UltraTrac)
-Pre-loaded activity profiles
-GPS and GLONASS satellite reception
-High-res and full-color display
The Garmin Fenix 5S is a fantastic sports watch and activity tracker. It has a high price tag, however, which might be off-putting for some folks. The cost is a small investment for all of the information and feedback you will receive after purchasing this watch. With the countless ways one can customize their 5S and the invaluable feedback it will provide not only athletes but folks who are interested in fitness or just starting out on their health and wellness journey, the 5S is worth the price tag. Regardless of if you’re a seasoned smartwatch user or if this is your first real foray into the world of activity trackers, we are certain that you’ll love what the 5S has to offer. The only real drawback we saw when researching this product was that the wrist heart rate sensor may not be incredibly accurate. Some folks were displeased that the 5S didn’t come with a chest strap in the kit, but this can easily be fixed by purchasing an after-market chest heart rate strap! We do recommend this product and the countless positive reviews online back our opinion as well.