Garmin Forerunner 935 vs. Garmin Fenix 5: Which is Best?

By | June 3, 2018

Sports smartwatches are really a good investment in that they give you more insight into your activity without thinking too much about it.

Lenexa, Kansas-based Garmin is one of the most known technology companies that manufacture sports smartwatches. Two of their best products are Garmin Forerunner 935 and Garmin Fenix 5.

Which one should you get?

Design and display

The Garmin Fenix 5 comes in three case sizes: 42 mm, 47 mm, and 51 mm. You can also choose to have the sapphire edition, which features Wi-Fi connectivity and a scratchproof sapphire glass. You can also choose to have TOPO U.S. maps pre-installed, as well as buy the optional HRM-Tri chest strap to help your track heart rate.

Meanwhile, the Garmin Forerunner 935 only comes in 47 mm. Like the regular Fenix 5, the lens is made of chemically strengthened glass or sapphire crystal.

Another difference between the two is the bezel material. Fenix 5 has a stainless steel bezel, while the Forerunner 935 has a fiber-enforced polymer bezel. Both have a fiber-reinforced polymer case, but the Fenix 5 has a stainless steel back cover.

The Fenix 5 is also a little bit thicker than the Forerunner 935 and is more waterproof at 10 ATM (vs. only 5 ATM for the Forerunner).

Other than these, the designs for both smartwatches are practically the same. Both are compatible with the QuickFit watchband, allowing you to swap bands to change your looks. It also has the same transflective memory in pixel display. The display has a size of 1.2 inches and a resolution of 240 pixels by 240 pixels. Both also have 64 megabytes of memory.

  Garmin Fenix 5  Garmin Foreunner 935 
Chemically strengthened glass lens  Yes  Yes 
Sapphire crystal lens  Available  No 
Bezel Material  Stainless steel  Fiber-reinforced polymer 
Case material  Fiber-reinforced polymer with stainless steel rear cover  Fiber-reinforced polymer 
Compatible with QuickFit™ watch band  Yes  Yes 
Strap material  Silicone or steel  silicone 
Thickness  15.5 mm  13.9 mm 
Weight  85 g  49 g 
Water rating  10 ATM  5 ATM 
Transflective memory-in-pixel display  Yes  Yes 
1.2″ diameter display   Yes  Yes 
Display resolution  240 x 240 pixels  240 x 240 pixels 
Color display  Yes  Yes 
Memory/History  64 MB  64 MB 

Battery life

The Garmin Fenix 5 and the Garmin Forerunner 935 have the same battery life.

When used in smartwatch mode, you could get up to two weeks of battery life. However, turning on the GPS or connecting a heart rate monitor would cut that to around 24 hours. If you have the UltraTrac mode on, the battery can give you up to 60 hours.

Features

Both the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935 can keep the time and tell you the date. They can also use your GPS location to synchronize the time and automatically adjust according to DST. You can use both as an alarm clock, timer, and stopwatch, and you can check out the sunrise and sunset times, too.

They also have the same set of sensors, including:

  • GPS and GLONASS
  • Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
  • Accelerometer
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Compass
  • Gyroscope
  • Thermometer

Smart features

The regular edition Fenix 5 does not have Wi-Fi connectivity, but the sapphire edition does.

Aside from that, you get the same smart features from both smartwatches, including being able to connect via Bluetooth and customize watch faces, apps, and other content using Connect IQ.

You can also get smart notifications, calendar schedules, and weather information.

Both the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935 can find your smartphone, control the music that your smartphone plays, and even act as a camera remote control.

The two are also compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile.

Activity tracking

The Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935 are both capable activity trackers that can keep count of your steps, calories burned, floors climbed, distance traveled, and intensity minutes. Intensity minutes give you an idea of how long you were doing moderate exercises and vigorous activities.

Both gadgets can remind you to move and can handle multiple activity trackers using only one account and by merging the information from these trackers to help you come up with a better picture of your health.

Both can also detect what kind of activities you are doing and track these activities more accurately.

Both smartwatches can also automatically assign a daily step goal, depending on your current activity level. They also monitor your sleep quality and calculate your fitness age.

If you go to the gym, both smartwatches have several gym activity profiles already loaded, including strength training, cardio training, and indoor rowing. It can even count reps for you.

Training features

Training with Garmin Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 is easy because of the customizable activity profiles and data pages. They can show you your training status, training load, and both aerobic and anaerobic training effects. They also keep track of several metrics, including speed and distance, V02 max, laps were taken, and finish times.

Other features you should know include:

  • Downloadable training plans
  • Virtual Partner
  • Race an Activity
  • Auto multisport activities
  • Course guidance
  • LiveTrack
  • Group LiveTrack

Aside from gym, both Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 also have several features for running, golfing, outdoor recreation, biking, and swimming.

Pricing

The Fenix 5’s price ranges from $449.99 to $699.99 (Check out the latest prices here!), depending on the case size and whether you choose a regular or sapphire edition.

There are three Fenix 5 sizes:

  • Fenix 5S: 42 mm
  • Fenix 5: 47 mm
  • Fenix 5X: 51 mm

Pricing for the different Fenix 5 models are as follows:

Garmin Model  Price 
Fenix 5S   $449.99 
Fenix 5 $449.99 
Fenix 5S sapphire edition  $549.99 
Fenix 5 sapphire edition  $699.99 
Fenix 5X sapphire edition  $549.99 

Meanwhile, the Forerunner 935 is priced at $499.99 (Check out the latest prices here!).

What to choose

As you can see, there is not much difference between the Garmin Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 when it comes to features. Both have the same sensors and display. They have the same battery and they track the same things. This is to say that they are equally capable.

The difference lies in their prices and how they look. If you are looking to save, but still have a great watch to track your adventures, then get either the Fenix 5S or Fenix 5, both of which sell for $450. However, neither of the two offers Wi-Fi connectivity.

If you want a Wi-Fi-connected smartwatch, then the most affordable is the Garmin Forerunner 935. The sapphire edition Fenix 5S and 5X cost $50 more and the 47-mm Fenix 5 costs $200 more.

However, if you are outdoors a lot and you like rough-and-tumble adventures, then you should think about paying more for the Fenix 5’s sapphire edition models. The stainless steel bezel and rear cover is much more durable than the polymer material you see on the Forerunner 935. You can even opt for steel bands for your Fenix 5. Not only does stainless steel look better than polymer, it is also more rugged. The sapphire crystal screen is also scratch-resistant.

All of these do not mean that the design of Garmin Forerunner 935 is a loser compared to Fenix 5. Far from it. There will be people who would love the slimmer and lighter smartwatch. Ultimately, these two are expensive.

Alternatives

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative that tracks your activities and has the same set of sensors, you do not have to look far: The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is right for you and it sells for $250. It comes with its own app and has Garmin Pay, allowing you to pay for your purchases with your wrist. It also has some of the Forerunner 935’s and the Fenix 5’s more advanced features, such as VO2 max estimates, and fitness age. It can track your gym time, running, golfing, outdoor recreation, biking, and swimming, too.

However, the Vivoactive 3 does not have the same long battery life that you find on both the Forerunner 935 and the Fenix 5. The battery will last up to seven days on smartwatch mode, and only a maximum of 13 hours when the GPS is turned on.

In addition, you can check out the Polar M600. The watch gives you round-the-clock activity tracking and sleep monitoring. It can also help with your training. This Android Wear smartwatch sells for only $300 with a battery that can last 2 days (8 hours on GPS).

Final say

If we were to review the Garmin Forerunner 935 and the Garmin Fenix 5 separately, these two would probably get sterling recommendations and probably have the same high scores. After all, if you really think about it, you could probably conclude that the Forerunner 935 is what you get if you take the Fenix 5 out of its case and then put everything in a more compact, plastic body.

Not too many sports smartwatches would be able to compete with these two in terms of activity tracking and when it comes to how accurate and simple everything is. The mobile app is simply very useful and functional. They may be more expensive than their competitors, but you should expect to pay a premium for the best.

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