Garmin started designing navigation equipment for ships and aircraft, but the fitness segment is currently the most responsible for the company’s revenue. The company maintains a complete line of wearables with a focus on sports, with the Forerunner and Fenix brands being the best known. One of the most complete products from the manufacturer is the Fenix 6, launched in 2019.
The Fenix 6 has a robust design, smartwatch features and a battery of up to 48 days. But the Pro version with sapphire screen costs US $ 800 in the United States and may exceed R $ 7 thousand in Brazil. What the hell is in this electronics to be so expensive? Is it worth spending so much money on a smartwatch? I have been wearing the Garmin sports watch for over a year and count my impressions below in this long-lasting review.
Garmin Fenix 6 video review
O Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that helps people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our reviews are not reviewed or approved by external agents. This unit of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro was purchased at retail.
Another addendum: as a rule, I don’t analyze products that I bought myself because whoever spent their money tends to make a positive evaluation to justify a good acquisition, even if unconsciously. On the other hand, being a user for a longer time allows me to comment with more authority on the product. In addition, this review serves as a reference for other product reviews in the same category.
Why did I buy this?
This is Garmin’s first review on Tecnoblog, so it’s worth an introduction. One of my hobbies is street running, an activity that I started to practice after going through a weight loss process. At 1.61 meters tall, I weighed 83 kg in 2015, but I eliminated 26 kg in four months and remain under sixty today; I told this story in a special story. Running did not influence weight loss, but it does help to keep my mind healthy and my endorphin levels up to date.
My relationship with Garmin products goes back to that time. The Forerunner 235 was my first watch of the brand; then I left for a Fenix 5s and then I got to the Fenix 6 Pro. Despite not being a triathlete or a mountain runner, which are the main audiences for the Fenix line, the watches in this family please me for their durability and superior materials compared to those used in Garmin Forerunner.
I enthusiastically follow the evolution of smartwatches, especially on the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, whose reviews have already been published on Tecnoblog, but to continue with a Garmin was a natural decision because I am already used to the platform and, mainly, because I have to switch between iPhone and Android frequently due to my work – which would make it impossible to migrate to a wearable that only works well on a cell phone .
Design is a strength of the Fenix 6 Pro and, rationally, its only differentiator, since inside it is almost identical to the Forerunner 945, a watch that costs up to $ 300 less. I chose the version with sapphire crystal screen because, in addition to the reinforcement on the glass, the frame would be theoretically more resistant, since it is coated with diamond-like carbon (DLC), to withstand more scratches and knocks than the stainless steel of the lesser versions faces.
In fact, that choice made a difference. Compared to the Fenix 5s, which I bought in the traditional version and was full of scratches after almost two years of normal use, with the everyday beats, the Fenix 6 looks even new. The screen remains intact and the frame only has a micro-scratch on the top that cannot be noticed. I already got to scrape the clock on a lamp post during a run: the rim took a white paint, but came out without any scratch that day.
Naturally, the watch is waterproof (up to 10 atm or 100 meters), has five Garmin buttons (up, down, light, start and back) and is compatible with QuickFit straps, which are not so easy to find on the market like the Apple Watch, but are available in a reasonable variety of styles and are practical to put on or take off at any time, which allows you to use the same watch on more formal occasions.
Recharging is done by a proprietary four-pin connector, which, for me, is one of the main shortcomings of the brand’s watches, since the original cable is not very secure; there are even third-party cables that fix this Garmin design flaw. In addition, the Fenix 6 does not have wireless charging, a technology that has been standard on expensive smartwatches for years and would eliminate the need to carry one more cable in the backpack when traveling, especially with the reverse charging feature of mobile phones.
A small screen that has nothing special and gives the battery free play
The Garmin Fenix 6 screen is a 1.3 inch color reflective LCD with a resolution of 260 × 260 pixels. As usual in a panel of this type, the colors are washed and the pixels do not have their own lighting, which is a shock for those who are used to the beautiful OLED touch sensitive Apple Watch. On the other hand, visualization is better the greater the lighting of the environment, which matches the proposal of a product focused on outdoor activities.
I kept the standard display with five pieces of information: the mileage in runs for the week, the current temperature, the remaining battery time, the heart rate and the number of steps in the day. The clock software was redesigned in the Fenix 6 line and made widgets more useful: with a few taps, I can take a quick look at the weather forecast, training status, sleep summary, blood oxygenation or whatever else I decide to include there.
The display is always active to show the time, but it is very economical and gives the battery a break. Even with all sensors connected 24 hours a day and paired with the smartphone, the battery lasts up to 7 days, which is excellent autonomy. Deactivating the pulse oximeter, the autonomy doubles for 14 days, but I kept the sensor always on because this metric proved to be important during the pandemic we are experiencing. It also has an energy saving mode that makes the autonomy reach 48 days (but, if I only wanted to see the time, I would have bought an ordinary watch).
Data synchronization is done over Wi-Fi by the watch itself, over Bluetooth by Garmin Connect for Android and iOS, or via USB cable by Garmin Express for Windows and macOS. The process is usually quick, but it can sometimes fail when Garmin’s servers are down or when the company has suffered a ransomware attack. Once synchronized, workouts and other information can be viewed both via the app and the Garmin Connect website.
Does it work as a smartwatch?
For those who expect a smartwatch, it’s good to take the horse out of the rain. The Fenix 6 even shows notifications, but the feature is limited: you can answer or decline a call, send pre-defined responses via SMS (only on Android) and nothing much more. The model also supports payment by approximation, but no Brazilian bank is supported at the time of publication of this review and Garmin has closed its own operations in Brazil, so there are not many expectations that this will change.
The 32 GB internal memory in the Pro versions is used to store maps and save music to run without taking your phone. You can transfer MP3 files via USB cable, but luckily we are no longer in 2008, so the main streaming services are also supported, including Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music. I have a habit of running around listening to podcasts, so I don’t use any of these; my favorite player on the watch is Runcasts, made specifically for that.
In general, the Fenix 6 Pro can even offer a smartwatch feature here and there, but this is certainly not Garmin’s strong point: there is nothing that a watch that costs literally a tenth of the price cannot do.
Running training for everyone
If Garmin still can’t make a good smartwatch, at least it pays off with a fairly complete set of sports features. The Fenix 6 Pro supports a series of activities, such as swimming, cycling, skiing, surfing, yoga and golf, with an impressive specificity: you can download more than 40,000 golf courses to the memory of the watch. I’m not a triathlete or a millionaire, so I’ll stick to the race, which is a sport I know best.
When running, the watch shows basic numbers during training, such as distance, pace and heart rate. The location is obtained by GPS, Glonass or Galileo; in Brazil, I got better results in GPS + Glonass mode. The accuracy is satisfactory, without major surprises, but the signal is usually compromised in regions with tall buildings or a lot of interference, such as on Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo, or when making “V” turns, when the pace can drop much more than that should.
Garmin switched to using Sony GPS chips in their watches, which has dramatically improved battery life over previous generations, for up to 36 hours of continuous monitoring on the Fenix 6, which is enough to run overseas with ease. Too bad the Bluetooth chip is not as efficient: if you want to listen to music while you run, the battery is no more than 10 hours of activity, which starts to be a problem if you forgot to refuel your watch the night before a marathon, for example.
The heart rate reader is quite reliable. It is obvious that it does not have the accuracy of a cardiac belt with electrocardiogram measurement, but the Fenix 6 Pro does a very consistent job on the wrist, being far superior to old Garmin watches, like the Forerunner 235, or even some smartwatches. current trends, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which tends to score wrongly in more intense activities.
Garmin wins many points for running training resources, both for those who have a trainer and for those who do everything on their own. Through the application or website, it is possible to create interval, progressive and rhythm workouts, previously defining several parameters: I can program something as specific as eight repetitions of 400 meters at a rhythm of 4min20s, with active rest of two minutes between intervals and a cooling down until my heart drops to 130 bpm.
I also like a recent move by Garmin to attract people who are not trained in training: the watch itself is capable of suggesting activities, with pace, distance and time defined based on your fitness, to keep you active. Another cool feature is the Garmin Coach, which creates personalized training for 5K, 10K or half-marathon, with suggested exercises based on your time goal and how you are performing each week.
A new feature of the Fenix 6 line is the PacePro, which has been useful to me in the recent past, when we had those face-to-face running events, remember? PacePro allows me to keep at the desired average pace during a workout or race based on the elevation of that stretch or kilometer: I can define that I want easier climbs, for example, which makes the watch suggest a slower pace on climbs and a much higher pace downhill and on the plane.
Many health metrics
For those who like numbers, Garmin provides so much data that you need to consult the manual to understand everything. On the website, I can easily see the evolution of my pace on a graph over the years, if my maximum VO2 is advancing and how many kilometers I am traveling per month. I can also record my weight, check my blood oxygen level and see my sleep trends, which are automatically monitored by the watch while I sleep.
It is curious how, after some time analyzing the data, I started to understand my body better and anticipate some actions. If my resting heart rate was much above average in one day, I know that my immunity has dropped and I may be on the verge of having flu-like symptoms, for example (or else I only drank alcohol last night). The Body Battery, which tries to estimate the “battery charge of your body” (from zero to 100%), is also useful to understand what wears me out during the day or what is affecting my sleep.
Rest is important for those who train, and the watch does a good job of calculating metrics to guide the user. For example, whenever an activity is finished, Fenix 6 calculates the intensity of the exercise and suggests a break of a few hours or even days before the next one. He also classifies the races in three intensities (low aerobics, high aerobics and anaerobic), to give you an ear tug if you are taking too light or too heavy in training.
The Fenix 6 Pro is a product for enthusiasts. Nobody needs such an expensive watch just to go running in the park. And, even if you participate in mountain trials of more than 100 km, there are more affordable products that serve this purpose. But Garmin managed to improve what it was already doing very well: the Fenix 6 Pro is a robust watch, with a battery that lasts a long time and with even more metrics than in previous models.
In the sports watch segment, Polar is probably the company that comes closest to Garmin, but some insistences from the Finnish brand bother me, such as the fact that the most expensive watch has no internal memory for music to date. Among smartwatches, I continue to emphasize that the Apple Watch Series 6 is the best in the whole work, with excellent screen, electrocardiogram, Apple Pay and accurate sensors, but far from reaching the advanced metrics from Garmin.
I would like to see more smartwatch functions on the Fenix 6 and a more affordable solar charging feature: Garmin even launched a Fenix 6X Pro Solar that extends the battery in a few days while you exercise outdoors, but if R $ 7 thousand is already a very high price for a watch, imagine R $ 11 thousand. It would also be interesting to see an official Garmin presence in Brazil, even to enable the launch of features such as Garmin Pay and improve after-sales and warranty, which today are made by an importer.
Despite not being so smart and having its flaws, the Fenix 6 Pro should remain on my wrist for a long time – and perhaps its successor too, if Garmin continues to do a good job.
- Model: Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire (010-02158-10);
- Screen: 1.3 inch MIP LCD with 260 × 260 pixel resolution and sapphire crystal glass;
- Frame: stainless steel with diamond-like carbon coating (DLC);
- Internal memory: 32 GB;
- Drums: up to 14 days (smartwatch), up to 48 days (energy saving), up to 36 hours (GPS), up to 10 hours (GPS and music);
- Location: GPS, Glonass, Galileo;
- Sensors: barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, blood oxygen saturation, heart rate reader;
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT +, NFC
- Protection: waterproof (10 atm), military certification (MIL-STD-810G);
- Dimensions and weight: 47x47x14.7 mm, 60 grams (without bracelet), 82 grams (with silicone bracelet).