The Garmin Fenix 5 Review – Personalized to Improve Your Performance

By | February 1, 2019
garmin fenix 5

The Garmin Fenix 5 joins an already crowded market of running watches.  From simple fitness trackers to getting running-related statistics such as pace, VO2 max, and other more advanced metrics, you simply have a ridiculously wide range of choices. These devices have been around for a long time, as well.

There are running watches that are like regular watches on steroids but cannot pair with your smartphone. Over the years, running watches have become smaller and smarter. Before, you had to buy different devices as well, such as a separate heart rate monitor or a GPS device.  Today, all of the things you need are embedded in the watch.

There are several reasons why runners buy a running watch as well from simply tracking their miles to getting information on their heart rate. However, it all boils down to being able to personalize their training plan and improve their performance.  And here is where the Garmin Fenix 5 shines.

Design

Garmin first made a name for itself manufacturing global positioning satellite devices used in cars, ships, and sporting equipment. They later developed wearable devices and started offering GPS you can wear on your wrist. In 2003, the company released their first Garmin Forerunner: the 101.  If you look at the company’s design philosophy since then, you will see where the Garmin Fenix 5 gets its looks.

The Garmin Fenix 5 is a beautiful device with classic looks. It has a round face that reminds you of traditional watches. What’s more, you have a world of options when it comes to how it looks. This device has several colors for both the watch case and the strap. You can choose from silver, slate gray, black, rose gold, white, and champagne for the case color. Meanwhile, the straps are available in black, yellow, and blue, among other colors.

You can also choose from different case materials, such as stainless steel or silicone. Meanwhile, there is two lens material available: glass and sapphire crystal. The case on the Garmin Fenix 5 is made with fiber-reinforced polymer, while the bezel is stainless steel.

Apart from a full range of choices for materials and colors, you will also appreciate its dimensions. The Garmin Fenix 5 measures 47 by 47 by 16 millimeters. These measurements are just right for most wrists. The Garmin Fenix 5 is ready for your adventure. You can even take it swimming or get it wet with a water resistance rating of 10 ATM.

Display

The Garmin Fenix 5 has a transflective memory in pixel screen that is visible even under the glare of the sun. The display measures 30.4 millimeters in diameter and has a resolution of 240 by 240 pixels.

Features

The Garmin Fenix 5 does not only look great, but it works hard as well. If you are wondering what it could do, the short answer is, “a lot!”

Time-related features

The Garmin Fenix 5 has several clock features. It can tell you the date and time, while also acting as an alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer. It can automatically adjust for daylight savings time and synchronize time using your GPS location.

Sensors

The Garmin Fenix 5 includes several sensors that allow it to do its job. First, it has both GPS and GLONASS for its global positioning systems. It also has a heart rate monitor.

Then it has all the necessary sensors for fitness tracking such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, compass and barometric altimeter. The Fenix 5 also has a thermometer on board.

Smartwatch features

The Garmin Fenix 5 connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth Smart. If you have a sapphire edition smartwatch, you can also enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity. You can get alerted when you receive a call or text messages right on your wrist. You also get weather and calendar alerts from your phone.

The Garmin Fenix 5 can control the music on your phone. If you ever misplace your phone or your Fenix 5, you can use one to find the other. The Fenix 5 also has the VIRB camera remote, which turns your Garmin Fenix 5 into a shutter button for your phone’s camera.

Lastly, you can use ConnectIQ to customize the look and features of your watch. You can download watch faces, widgets, and apps to personalize your Garmin Fenix 5.

Activity and fitness tracking features

The Garmin Fenix 5 can count your steps, calories burned, floors climbed, and distance traveled. It will also remind you to get off your couch with the Move bar. The smartwatch will also monitor your sleep, including sleep duration and quality.

Apart from these simple tracking features, the Garmin Fenix 5 also has several features that use these activity data. First, you have the auto goal that will adjust your daily step goal automatically as you advance. You can also get your intensity minutes as well as your fitness age. The Garmin Fenix 5 can also track your stress.

Further, the Garmin Fenix 5 gives you access to deeper and richer information about your heart rate. For instance, it can tell you about your heart zones, calories, and recovery time. It can even alert you when your heart rate reaches certain levels and also gives you information on your heart rate variability, among other things.

This smartwatch is also able to give you a range of planning, training, and analysis related features. Some of the notable data you can get from the Garmin Fenix 5 includes VO2 Max, aerobic and anaerobic training effects, training load and status, automatic and manual laps, and other. You can also get downloadable training as well as connect your Fenix 5 to other fitness apps such as Strava.

Multiple sports tracking

The Garmin Fenix 5 can also track different sports automatically. For instance, it can monitor indoor rowing, strength training, and cardio training with automatic rep counting and other capabilities.

It can also track your runs, golf games, biking, swimming, and outdoor adventures. This functionality ensures that you get credit for every exercise you do, even if you forget to set the device to start tracking.

Running related metrics

If you are looking for a running watch, then you will be impressed with the metrics that the Garmin Fenix 5 can give you. When you wear the Garmin Fenix 5, you can get different profiles for running, treadmill and trail running, plus these measurements:

  • GPS-based distance, time and pace
  • Cadence
  • Performance condition
  • Run workouts

Plus, if you buy compatible accessories, you can also get:

  • Running dynamics
  • Vertical oscillation and ratio
  • Ground contact
  • Stride length
  • Lactate threshold

Safety features

Garmin Fenix 5 has the LiveTrack feature that allows other people to track your activities as they happen. So if you are hiking into the woods, your friends can check in on you and help if something untoward happen to you. Plus if you are some sort of a celebrity, you can let your fans into the LiveTrack so that they could cheer you on every step of the way.

The Fenix 5 also has a Group LiveTrack feature that tracks the real-time location, activity time, speed, elevation and distance for a group of people, all in a single screen.

Other features

The Garmin Fenix 5 has a battery life that can last up to two weeks on a single charge. If you turn the GPS on, the battery lasts for up to 24 hours. You will also love the UltraTrac mode that gives you up to 60 hours of battery life when the heart rate monitor is turned off.

Garmin also lets you use different compatible devices and still get your data synchronized. For example, if you have the Garmin Fenix 5 and a Garmin vivoactive 3, you can switch from wearing one or the other, and your data will be synchronized.

The Garmin Fenix 5: Pros and Cons

There is no doubt that the Garmin Fenix 5 is a very capable and powerful multi-sport smartwatch that delivers a treasure trove of data and tons of valuable insights into your fitness. This smartwatch is perfect for everyone who is concerned about their fitness. Swimmers, runners, cyclists, and golfers will appreciate the extra features that they can get from this watch.

What can be better

The Garmin Fenix 5 has a generally accurate heart rate measurement. However, the included HR monitor struggles when you are doing high-intensity workouts. That is the reason why the Fenix 5, despite having an optical heart rate monitor on board, also offers you the ability to pair it with chest-strapped HRMs.

Garmin Fenix 5 is an excellent watch that offers you a wealth of data and tremendous insights. However, the manufacturer knows all of these and might have priced it higher than it should. On the company’s online store, the Garmin Fenix 5 has prices ranging from $440 to $700 (Check out the latest rates here!).

An Alternative to Garmin Fenix 5

Garmin Forerunner 935

Ironically, the fiercest competitor for the Garmin Fenix is the Garmin Forerunner 935. The Forerunner 935 is the latest device in this well-known Garmin product line. How does it compare to the Fenix 5?

Design

When it comes to design, the Fenix 5 looks more rugged, while the Forerunner 935 is less bulky and more lightweight. The Garmin Forerunner 935 is thinner at only 14.0 millimeters. It weighs only 49 grams, lighter than the 85 grams for the Fenix 5.

Sensor and activity tracking

Both of these smartwatches have the same sensors onboard, so they deliver the same fitness and activity tracking features.

Battery life

Both of these smartwatches can last up to two weeks when used in smartwatch mode. It can even go on for up to 23 hours when the GPS is turned on.

Price

While the fitness tracking, battery life, and performance of these two watches are the same, the Fenix 5 is more expensive than the Forerunner 935. Prices for the Forerunner 935 range from $450 to $500. Part of the reason why the Fenix 5 has a pricier tag is that of the materials used in the watch. The Forerunner 935 uses glass lens, and the case itself and the bezel are made with polymer.

Ratings and reviews

With more than 900 reviewers on Amazon, the Garmin Fenix 5 has a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5.0. Verified buyers love the little things that the Fenix 5 offers, such as the always-on feature and the long battery life, the sunlight-visible display, the readability, and the simple interface. Others also like how they do not miss any calls or text when they wear this watch. Others mention how this watch does everything they need it to do and keeps track of every possible metric that they need.

However, there are some complaints about the expensive price tag. Even five-star reviews talk about how they instantly regretted buying the Fenix 5 until they put it on. Others also warn that some of the over-the-air updates have been bad for the watch — for instance, a reviewer complaining that a recent update affected the battery life. There are also those who say that the altimeter is not that accurate.

Should You Buy the Garmin Fenix 5?

On its own, the Garmin Fenix 5 is a great device that delivers a lot of features. It performs excellently, and you can hardly find any limitations. Garmin has spent a  lot of time and thought on the design, battery life, sensors and range of features that it should offer. It excels in just about everything.

It does have a heart rate monitor that performs poorly when doing high-intensity workouts. However, this is more of the technology’s fault rather than the Fenix 5. To compensate, Garmin allows you to pair your device with a chest-strapped heart rate monitor. Chest-strapped HRMs are often considered to be more accurate than optical monitors.

However, if you look at other devices, specifically the ones from Garmin itself, you will find a better deal with the Garmin Forerunner 935. It does everything that the Fenix 5 can do, but with a more wallet-friendly price tag.

However, the price does not negate our endorsement of the Garmin Fenix 5. You should buy the Garmin Fenix 5 if you want a more rugged smartwatch than the Forerunner 935.  The premium materials it uses can help keep it safe from the elements.

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