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Garmin Fenix 6 vs Fenix 5 Plus vs Forerunner 945 – How will the new Fenix compare when released?

Originally posted on 13th of August 2019, updated on 22nd of August 2019

With rumours and leaks for the new Garmin Fenix 6 ramping up in the past week I thought it would be worth comparing what we know or suspect will feature in the new Fenix models in comparison to the closest Garmin rivals, the last generation Fenix 5 Plus, and the most recent Forerunner 945.

News of the Garmin Fenix 6 started last Sunday following a YouTube leak of some renders. At the time they looked a bit questionable, but since they takedown notices have been issued, then photos of the Fenix 6X Pro leaked, and an Amazon listing for the Fenix 6X Sapphire briefly appeared.

As no official information has been released about the Fenix
6, this is all speculation at the moment. I will update the post as more
information comes in.

Fenix 6 Series Models & Prices

Assuming all the leaks are correct, there could be a range of new models that were not featured on the Fenix 5 series.

The new leak from the 22nd of August expands on the model names and also confirms what we already know.

The product line-up includes:

  • Fenix 6S Sapphire – Alt/Baro
  • Fenix 6S – Gorilla Glass
  • Fenix 6S Pro – Gorilla Glass
  • Fenix 6 Sapphire – GPS/Multi-GNSS
  • Fenix 6 Pro – Gorilla Glass
  • Fenix 6X Sapphire – GPS/Multi-GNSS
  • Fenix 6X Pro – Gorilla Glass

The Amazon listing showed two 6X models, the 6X Sapphire and 6X Sapphire Solar. There was no mention of Pro models. The leaks didn’t indicate a non-pro 6x, this could be an omission, it is an odd or stupid naming scheme to have Pro models but then no standard model.

The current pricing leaks indicate:

  • Fenix 6S – $599-$899
  • Fenix 6 – $599-$999
  • Fenix 6X – $749-$1199

The current Fenix 5 Plus pricing is:

  • Fenix 5S – $599-$699
  • Fenix 5 – $599-$749
  • Fenix 5X – $1,049.99

The full product line-up:

  • Fenix 6s White with White Band
  • Fenix 6s Silver with Black Band
  • Fenix 6s Pro Black with Black Band
  • Fenix 6s Pro Rose Gold-tone with White Band
  • Fenix 6s Sapphire Rose Gold-tone with Powder Gray Band
  • Fenix 6s Sapphire Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band
  • Fenix 6s Sapphire Rose Gold-tone with Heathered Black Nylon Band
  • Fenix 6s Sapphire Light Gold-tone with Shale Gray Leather Band
  • Fenix 6 Silver with Black Band
  • Fenix 6 Pro Black with Black Band
  • Fenix 6 Sapphire Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band
  • Fenix 6 Sapphire Titanium with Ember Orange Band
  • Fenix 6 Sapphire Black DLC with Heathered Red Nylon Band
  • Fenix 6 Sapphire Titanium with Vented Titanium Bracelet
  • Fenix 6X Pro Black with Black Band
  • Fenix 6X Sapphire Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band
  • Fenix 6X Sapphire Black DLC with Chestnut Leather Band
  • Fenix 6X Pro Solar Titanium Carbon Gray DLC with Black Band
  • Fenix 6X Pro Solar Titanium with Vented Titanium Bracelet

Design

Left is  Fenix 6 Pro, the other 3 are the Fenix 6 sapphire models

From the three leaks, it appears that Garmin is keeping the basic design almost identical to the Fenix 5 Plus series. The Amazon listing does indicate that the 6X will have a 1.4” display up from 1.2” of the Fenix 5 series which should help with readability and improve aesthetics. It is believed that the Fenix 6 will have a 1.3″ and 6S a 1.2″ display. The result of this is a noticeable difference in screen real estate with the there is much less dead space of the newer 6X.

The images we have from the leaks are hardly exceptional,
but there are no other dramatic design changes.

The screw features are in the same place with two screws
near the activity button, then singular screws to the bottom right, bottom and
top right.

The one design difference that I can see from the live
images of the 6X Sapphire is the layout of the numbers and design around the
dial. There is a white line indicator at 0,20,40,50mins and a triple red line
at 10 mins. The current 5X Plus has a single red at 0 then number for the
others. Not exactly a significant design change.

Obviously, in comparison to the FR945, the design is very different.
The Fenix range is much more adaptable for casual use, I particularly love the
Fenix 5S design. This does come at the cost of weight though, and the 5S weighs
64g while the FR945 weighs 50g. The 5X Plus then goes up to 96g.

Heart Rate Monitor

Leaked Garmin Fenix 6 images revealing the HRM Sensor
Heart rate sensor on the Forerunner 945 via DCRainmaiker

The Forerunner 945 is the watch that will closest resemble the Fenix 6 in features or the MARQ for rich people. So it is a given that the Fenix 6 will replicate all the features that the FR945 has.

As of the 22ng of August, the new leaked images confirm that the heart rate sensor is changed and the layout is at least the same layout, with a vertical arrangement rather than triangular.

This, therefore, means the watch will have at least been upgraded
Elevate optical HRM sensor + Pulse Ox (SpO2).

One rumour is that an ECG might be included, there is not a
great deal of evidence to back this, but it would help differentiate it from
the FR945 and also bring it in line with features from Apple and Polar.

GPS

As with the FR945, it is expected that the Fenix will
upgrade to a Sony GPS chipset which should result in lower battery drain.

Multiple satellite systems will also be supported (GPS, GLONASS,
Galileo).

Maps

The 5 Plus series included full-colour TopoActive Europe
mapping preloaded with map data optimized for at-a-glance navigation and location
tracking, as did the FR945, so the Fenix 6 will have at least this.

FirstBeat Features

The table below shows a full feature list of the FR945 vs the current Fenix 5 and 5 Plus, I also threw in the Fenix 3 HR just to show how far things have come.

FirstBeat feature FR945 & MARQ Fenix 5 & 5Plus Fenix 3HR
VO2max Fitness Level Yes Yes Yes
Lactate Threshold Yes Yes Yes
Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Yes Yes
Training Effect: Aerobic Yes Yes Yes
Training Effect: Anaerobic Yes Yes
Real-Time Performance Condition Yes Yes Yes
Calories Burned Yes Yes Yes
Training Load Yes Yes
Training Status Yes Yes
Training Load Balance Yes
Workout Labels Yes
Recovery Time Advisor Yes Yes Yes
Quick Stress Level Test Yes Yes Yes
All-day Stress & Recovery Yes Yes
Heat and Altitude Acclimatization Yes
Body Resources Yes
Race Time Predictor Yes
Respiration Rate Yes
Personalized Training Plans: Cardio
Sleep Quality Assessment
Fitness Age
TOTAL FEATURES 18 12 7

Just like the HRM, we will definitely see all these features
replicated. Garmin has more FirstBeat features than any other brand on the market.

The Suunto 5, does, however, have 3 features the Garmin does not. Personalised training plans, sleep quality assessment and fitness age. Then the Polar ignite offers things like sleep score, nightly recharge, and fitspark, which provides training plans adapted from the quality of your sleep.

As the Fenix 6 is the flagship model for Garmin, I would put
money on this introducing a few new FirstBeat features. Some form of sleep
tracking improvements and maybe personalisation based on sleep makes a lot of
sense to me.

PacePro

This is the one big feature coming out that we have a bit of
information on. This was from the Amazon listing and was described as grade-adjusted
pace guidance throughout your activity.

While I can’t confirm exactly what this, it sounds like an
alternative to power. Your pace will change as you go up and down hills, but
your power output/effort may remain constant (ideally). With PacePro this will
give the reading in the form of a pace rather than watts. So this might be
7mins per mile on flat, then if you run 8 mins per mile on an x% gradient the
PacePro will feedback you are running an equivalent of 7mins per mile.

Battery

Some leaked information indicated that the normal battery life will be 9, 14, and 21 days between each model. The Solar model is supposed to get 21 days plus 3, I suppose this will be dependant on how much sun exposure it gets.

There will then be a special battery mode which allows the watches to accommodate some truly amazing results. In one mode this will be 20, 28, and 46 days (+1 for Solar.

Then in the next batter mode, it is claimed to achieve 34, 48 and 80 days (+ 40 Solar). I can only assume, if true, this shuts down almost every aspect of the watch.

GPS tracking is reported as 25h, 36h and 60h (+6 for Solar).

The current 5X Plus has 20 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS, the leaked Solar images indicate 21 days, and assuming Solar means what everyone expects it to, then the Solar function adds around 5% to the battery life.

The original 5X had up to 12 days in smartwatch mode
(depending on settings), up to 20 hours in GPS.

The Forerunner 945 has up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10
hours in GPS mode with music or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode

So it would be logical to assume that the battery life will go
upwards. Though the trend for GPS battery life has been going downwards, I
would hope this does not continue.

Display

Lots of rumours have suggested an improved display or maybe
even AMOLED. The current leaks and images indicate no change. The display size
is larger on both the 6X and 6 as previously mentioned. Now at 1.4” and 1.3” respectively
vs 1.2” on the previous models.

The FR945 has a 240 x 240 pixels display at 30.4mm which matches
the 5X and 5X plus.

Going up in resolution does seem like an obvious upgrade,
but Garmin will be quite cautious about the effect this has on battery life.

Smart Features

Currently, there is nothing to indicate that the smart
features will be any different. These will include NFC and music across the
range, plus Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The FR945 has safety and tracking features to make it easy
to share your location with chosen contacts in case you need assistance. This
includes built-in incident detection. So it is a given that the Fenix 6 will include
this.

The 5 Plus series uses 16GB of storage. The FR945 doesn’t state
the amount but lists Up to 1,000 songs. A memory upgrade is a possible option,
though I don’t see the need, 16GB is a lot of music and maps. Though more
storage is always handy.

Price & Release Date

Things are a little more confusing here. Until the Amazon leak,
I would have bet good money that the Fenix 6 series will be announced at CES
2020 in January. This would have followed the same pattern as previous Fenix
releases.

While I am still inclined to think CES is the most likely,
the recent Amazon leak indicated this month! With a launch date of 29th of
August 2019.

On one hand, this is possible, it is just in time for IFA in Berlin, on the other, it is very off to launch to public a few days before one of the worlds biggest tech shows. They would typically launch at it, with availability days or weeks after the show.

The Amazon leak indicated that the 6X Sapphire would be $949
while the Solar would be $1149. That sounds like crazy money, but these sit at
the very top of the Fenix 6 Series. The current 5X Plus Sapphire sells for $1,049.99
on Garmin USA, so for them to drop the price by $100 is another odd move.

The current base model 5S Plus retails for $599.99, though it launched at $699, and the FR945 is also $599.99. So I would expect the cheapest Fenix 6 to launch at least $699.99 in order to avoid cannibalising the FR945 sales.

Fenix 5 Plus vs Forerunner 945 DCRainmaker Feature Comparison

  Fenix 5 Plus Forerunner 945
Lens material domed chemically strengthened glass or sapphire crystal Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Bezel/case material stainless steel or titanium fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material silicone, leather or titanium silicone
Physical size 47 x 47 x 15.8 mm 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
Weight 86 g 50 g
Titanium version: 76 g
Battery life Smartwatch: Up to 12 days Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS: Up to 18 hours GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
GPS and Music: Up to 8 hours GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
Water rating 10 ATM 5 ATM
Memory/History 16GB 200 hours of activity data
Pulse Ox sensor only 5X Plus version Yes
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®
Plays and controls watch music Yes Yes
Music Storage Up to 1000 songs Up to 1000 songs
Garmin Pay Yes Yes
Body Battery Yes
Incident detection and assistance Yes
Gym activity profiles Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing and Yoga
Heat and altitude acclimation Yes
Training Load Focus Yes
Training Effect labels Yes
Round-trip course creator Yes Yes
Trendline Popularity Routing Yes Yes
Respiration rate during exercise Yes (with compatible accessory)
Available run profiles Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running Running, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running
Preloaded with 41,000 courses worldwide, Auto CourseView updates Yes Yes
Outdoor recreation profiles Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Jumpmaster, Tactical Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking
Around Me mode, ClimbPro Ascent Planner, Future elevation plot, Preloaded topographical maps, Downloadable cartography support, XERO Locations Yes Yes
Cycling profiles Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, Triathlon Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking
Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific street map) Yes Yes
Advanced Vector support Yes
Speed and cadence sensor support (with sensor) yes (ANT+® and Bluetooth® Smart sensors) Yes
Swim profiles Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming

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Maikel Du

I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me
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