January 13, 2017
by James Stacey
Earlier this month at CES, Garmin announced their expanded line of premium multi-sport smartwatches with the new Garmin Fēnix 5 lineup. Offering a similar format as the Fēnix 3 and the Fēnix Chronos, the Garmin Fēnix 5 iterates with multiple sizes, more options, and increased mapping abilities. While the bulk of the “wearables” market is still proving its mettle, Garmin has been steadily producing a wide range of techy sport-focused watches designed for a host of activities from hiking to running, swimming, and more.
I’ve used both the Fēnix 3 and the Fēnix Chronos and at 51.5mm and 49mm, respectively, they have always been very functional but quite large. The new Garmin Fēnix 5 lineup inlcudes the 42mm Garmin Fēnix 5S, the 47mm Garmin Fēnix 5, and the 51mm Garmin Fenix 5X. Being Fēnix models, all three versions offer fitness tracking, on-wrist heart rate monitoring, full ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass), GPS navigation, and smartphone connectivity for notifications and app integration.
The base Garmin Fēnix 5S comes in silver or white, while the “Sapphire Edition” offers champagne or black coloring along with an optional metal bracelet (presumably steel, but not specifically stated). Beyond the coloring, the Sapphire Edition adds a sapphire crystal and Wi-Fi connectivity. The Garmin Fēnix 5S’s 42mm case houses a 1.1” always-on 218 x 218 pixel color display, a rechargeable battery offering up to 9 days of battery life (less while tracking with the GPS), and a heart rate monitor.
The 47mm Garmin Fēnix 5 comes in slate grey or silver, with the Sapphire Edition adding the option of a slate grey metal bracelet or a black case. The larger case size receives a larger 1.2” display (240 x 240 pixels) and a larger battery for up to two weeks in smartphone mode.
Finally, the behemoth 51mm Garmin Fēnix 5X is available only in a Sapphire Edition in slate grey with a black silicone strap or a metal bracelet. This model retains the same screen from the Garmin Fēnix 5 but offers up to 12 days of battery in smartphone mode and ups storage space from 64 MB (on the Garmin Fēnix 5) to a beastly 12 GB. Why so much space? The Garmin Fēnix 5X offers full-color TOPO U.S. maps for more advanced route planning and GPS functionality, including cycling maps and more than 40,000 golf courses worldwide.
Software functionality for the whole Garmin Fēnix lineup offers a massive list of features, with specific functions for measuring and tracking running, cycling, swimming, golfing, skiing, hiking, climbing, triathlon, rowing, and general performance. Additionally, Garmin Fēnix watches can connect to smartphones via Bluetooth and the Garmin Connect application, allowing users to change settings, load new watch faces (digital dial layouts), and even install custom apps from the Garmin Connect IQ platform.
I’ve been using a Fēnix 3 for over a year, and the options are dizzying. If you’re really into sports and fitness or want a simple GPS tracking platform for hiking, the Garmin Fēnix platform, while not without its bugs, is really impressive. You can check out a full list of features here.
Being their premium line, pricing is also premium. The Garmin Fēnix 5S and Garmin Fēnix 5 start at US $600, rising to $850 for the Sapphire Edition with the metal bracelet. The Garmin Fēnix 5X starts at US $700, or $850 with the metal bracelet. For those who are really into their trail running, hiking, or swimming, the appeal is obvious. With the Garmin Fēnix 5 lineup, it’s encouraging to see Garmin offer a wide range of sizes, especially with the 42mm Garmin Fēnix 5S. Whether you’ve got smaller wrists or simply prefer to wear a more conservatively sized watch, these new Garmin Fēnix 5 models expand the range for a wider variety of data-obsessed fitness junkies. garmin.com