Last summer, I had to switch watches. I decided then to get the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro because because it looked like a good compromise between sport watch and smart watch. After more than 6 months with it, here is my verdict.
Why did I need to switch watches?
My history with Garmin is not perfect, to say the least. I started when I picked sports some years ago with the Forerunner 220. It didn’t have a heart sensor, but it did have GPS and that was good for me. When I bought a smartphone, I switched my crappy mechanical swatch for a Vivosmart 3.
Unfortunately it didn’t last a year. Garmin is not good with plastics. This was proven with my VivoActive 3 whose plastic bracelet broke also after less that a year. But the good thing is that you can change it on a watch! Unfortunately, the battery started breaking 6 months later. Instead of lasting 36 hours, it lasted only… 12 hours.
So I decided to go for the Fenix 6 Pro. I know the bracelet will break in 6 months, and I’m still wondering if the battery will also go bust… More on that later.
Design and ergonomics
The watch is thicker than the VivoActive 3, which is probably required by the battery. IT’s not too bad, as there are 3 different sizes available based on your morphology. Even with my small wrist, it sits well and I like the design.
There is no touch screen, and this is a blessing, the VivoActive one keeps on thinking I’m touching the screen with water… and sweat. For a multi sport watch, it is bound to be wet a lot. The 5 buttons need some using to, but after a week, I was in a comfortable space and accustomed to moving to the different screens on the watch.
Sport and health tracking
There are far more metrics available on the Fenix. The old ones are heart rate, stress, steps, stairs, sleep or VO2, movement identification during appropriate exercises and now we also have breathing, body battery and dedicated training ones like load (low aerobic, high aerobic and anaerobic content for a workout) and global ones like training status (based on your last exercise loads) or body battery.
Are they all necessary? I don’t think the breathing is mandatory to be fair, and the identification of workout movements is still very perfectible, especially during a CrossFit workout. I do like the map integration for running or cycling and I always prepare them in advance and load them on the watch. Which bring me to the next section.
Maybe one of the best features of the Garmin watches is the ecosystem. It integrates also with the weight scales (and I’m looking forward to get one at some point) and gives a central view of what Garmin knows about you (creepy? Maybe, you need to store the data somewhere though).
I rarely use the Garmin Connect website, but it does serve a very good purpose. It’s the best place to create workouts, import maps from external websites like https://cycle.travel and the place where I can verify by records.
Then there is the Windows or macOS app, which is useful for big updates like map updates. The watch doesn’t come with the whole world pre charged and map workouts only have the circuit you want to do, not the map. So that’s the only good way I found to update my maps.
Then there is the smartphone app. There are some sections that are confusing (like the weight target is so complicated to set that I don’t bother changing it now), but in general the main page is very simple and easy to read. It starts with the day statistics (activities/workouts, weight, steps…) and then has a week resume. From there you can also select the workouts you want to send to your watch, link with your Spotify account…
When you use the smartphone app, you get your activities loaded directly on Garmin Connect and they can be then sent to Strava as Garmin Connect authorized third party apps accessing their data on an event (so when an activity upload event is trigger on Garmin Connect, Strava would receive it as well).
A quick word on external sensors, as this is also a big bonus of the watch. It supports the latest chest Heart Rate Monitors, which come with some nice running metrics included. You just need to par the sensor with your watch, download on your smartphone the watch apps to get the additional metric pages during your runs (yes, you can add apps, watch faces… to your watch from the Connect IQ Store).
I also added a couple of third party bike sensors that are working very well and that can add data to your workout resume.
OK, this is the big question for me. This is what killed my previous watch and I was very angry at Garmin for that. Their customer service is very bad, so I’d rather not have to deal with them.
So officially the watch lasts 11 days, I think, but mine says that it can last 14 days on a charge. It’s actually not true. When it hit 6 days, it drops 2 days per day… So yes, 11 days.
A workout obviously will use power quicker, and the more sensors activated on the watch, the more it will use. Typically with GPS I can only last 30 hours and some change on a full charge. It’s perfectly understandable, and I wouldn’t expect the watch to last 11 days cycling all the tie with GPS tracking.
I am wary about the battery life. I am afraid to scratch the glass (it’s not reinforced glass and protective hardened glass can come off easily with sweat). I am afraid that the bracelet will break. But I’m very happy with the watch. I do recommend people to get one (maybe not the Solar one, I’m not sure the additional solar panel is worth the price difference), either S, normal or X based on your wrist size.
Do add appropriate sensors with time, like a chest HRM is you are running, as they can help you track your workouts and improvements even better.