Fenix 6X vs fenix 5X – What’s Changed
Garmin has now officially announced the fenix 6 series and they've pushed the boundaries on this edition with feature improvements for music, everyday use, fitness metrics and everything in between. The fenix 6X size has 5 options available each with different features. Now in typical Garmin fashion they have made it extremely confusing and hard to pin down for which model comes with what so I’ll break it down below to make it as easy as possible.
Full Change Breakdown
- All fenix 6X Pro versions and up come with:
- Garmin Music (works with Deezer, iHeartRadio, Spotify)
- Australian Topo Maps
- Golf Maps
- Garmin Pay
- Solar Pro Versions (Solar versions only available on the X size) come with ‘Power Glass’ instead of Sapphire Glass
- Power glass will extend battery life for off-grid adventures by charging in the sun
- Trendline Popularity Routing Visibility (Pro and up)
- Power Modes – customizable in-activity battery settings allowing you create custom batter modes with time remaining per activity.
- Heat and Altitude acclimation
- For workouts over 21.6 degrees C
- For workouts above 850m/2788ft
- Training Load Focus
- Shows how workouts benefit specific areas
- Primary Benefit (Training Effect)
- PacePro Pacing Strategies
- Allows you to create pace targets for race based on grade/reverse splits
- Golfing features
- Vector maps, PinPointer, PlaysLike Distance, Handicap Scoring, Custom Targets
- Outdoor Recreation Features
- Preloaded Ski Resort Maps, Expedition GPS Activity
- Widget Glance feature
- Allows you to display multiple widgets on the one screen (up to 3)
- Expedition mode – good for multi-week GPS recreational activities. As it severely restricts power usage by shutting off everything except reduced GPS tracking
- Underwater HRM (previously only on the Forerunner 945 beta software)
- Pulse Ox now available on the entire fenix 6 range (previously only available on the fenix 5X Plus)
- Respiration Rate *with chest strap only
- New Garmin wrist-based heart rate sensor ELEVATE (V3 – same as the MARQ, FR245/945)
- VO2 Max compensates for heat now
|Fenix 6X||Fenix 5X Plus|
|Battery Life||Smartwatch: Up to 21 days
GPS: Up to 60 hours
|Smartwatch: Up to 20 days
GPS: Up to 32 hours
UltraTrac mode: Up to 70 Hours
|Music Storage (Pro models and up)||Up to 2000 songs||Up to 1000 songs|
What you need to know
As you can see from above there is a lot to talk about with the fenix 6X models. I’ll try to break it down into a digestible chunk here. First off, the full difference between the “Base, Pro, Pro Sapphire and Pro Solar tiers”
Base models do not have – Maps, WiFi, Music,
Pro Models do have – Maps, WiFi, Music and most of the features listed above (except for the ones I’m about to mention below)
Pro Sapphire Models do have – All the Pro Features and come in specialist model styles (Diamond Like Carbon Bezels, Titanium Bands, Heathered Bands, Leather, etc) and have Sapphire Glass lenses.
Pro Solar Models do have – These are only available in fenix 6X size. This uses a special lens glass
Garmin have called ‘Powered Glass’ which is used instead of the typical Sapphire Glass lens.
Some other big changes are the new optical HR versions ELEVATE V3 which is the same optical HR used for the MARQ series and the Forerunner 945/245. Also, out of the box Garmin is finally allowing underwater HRM tracking for their fenix 6X series. This might come as a software update to other models or it may only be restricted to models with the ELEVATE 3 optical HR.
Hardware Design comparison
I’m only comparing the X series fenix watches in this article. For physical size the fenix 5X and fenix 6X are the same diameter but the fenix 6 is thinner than the previous iteration coming in at 14.9mm as opposed to the fenix 5X plus at 17.5mm.
The display size has also increased with the fenix 6X at 35.56mm diameter while the fenix 5X plus had 30.4mm diameter. The new fenix 6 also has a better display resolution out 280x280 as opposed to 240x240 on the fenix 5.
The other big hardware design difference is the glass on the Pro Solar models. The Pro Solar models come with ‘Power Glass’ which allows the glass type that allows them to charge increasing your battery potential up by 20%. This solar function does mean that instead of sapphire glass the watch lens is made from Gorilla Glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with DX Coating) which on the hardness scale rates 6.7 while Sapphire glass sits higher between 8-9 on the MOHS hardness scale.
As outlined in the table above the fenix 6X also comes with double the amount of internal memory at 32GB. The fenix 6X also has a slightly better battery but also allows new battery saver restrictions like Expedition mode which give you access to GPS and watch functionality up to 46 days which is pretty incredible.
Regarding these features there hasn’t been a huge number of changes here though Garmin has added more training and planning features. This includes heat and altitude acclimation, training load focus and primary benefit of training labels.
The big change for new fitness features is the addition of full Golf features on the fenix 6 watch. Previously these features were restricted to Garmin Approach line of watches. The features added to the watch include full vector maps (10,000 courses), custom targets, PinPointer, PlaysLike distance and handicap scoring.
Accessories and Compatibility
Thankfully this new model still uses the same band type as the previous iteration so all bands compatible with the fenix 5X will be compatible with the fenix 6X. That also goes the other way with the new style of fenix 6X bands being compatible with the fenix 5X watches.
Regarding other accessories like the Garmin HRM they are all still compatible with this fenix 6X model as it still uses the same protocols for Bluetooth and ANT+.
I don’t think this will surprise anyone but the fenix 6X is the clear winner for performance, features and price, there might be an argument for the fenix 5X if you can find it for the right price but the fenix 6 is superior in almost every basic feature and the new features it comes with are significant enough that you would see a marked improvement.
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