Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Outdoor Retailer: Garmin Fenix 5 Series on the Wrist! Key Comparisons and First Impressions Fenix 5, 5S, 5X, Fenix 3 HR

Garmin announced its new Fenix 5 series at CES early in January. I had a chance to see them and try them on at Outdoor Retailer.
All three the 5S, 5, and 5X will share as far as I can tell  identical and extensive multi-sport, mountain, activity, physiology,recovery, and run dynamics features with one exception, the 5X will also feature on the watch topo and cycling maps, suggested routes, and turn by turn route following banners.

Left to Right: Fenix 5S, Fenix 5, Fenis 5X
The Fenix comes in 3 "sizes":

  • Small: The super stylish 42mm case size Fenix 5S with replaceable bands( a feature all three share)  is a full 9.5 mm smaller in case diameter and 1.5 mm thinner than the Fenix 3 HR but its display is only 2.4 mm smaller in size. A great option for small wrists and women.
  • Medium: The Fenix 5 has the longest GPS?HR battery rating of the series at 24 hours, an 8 hour improvement over the the Fenix 3 HR. Its UltraTrac lower GPS sampling rate increases from 40 hours to a staggering 75 hours, You consider the 5 if long workout battery life is critical. It's case diameter is 4.5 mm smaller than the 3 HR and as such the watch buttons were less noticeable pressing against my wrist, 
  • Large: The Fenix 5X is big really big compared to the other 2 but compared to the Fenix 3 HR is 0.5 mm smaller at the case diameter level and 1 mm thicker. It does gain 12 g in weight over the Fenix 3 HR.  You consider the 5X if the on watch map and route features are important to you,

The table below compares the stats for the three new Fenix 5 watches along with the Fenix 3 HR

We thought the 5S was incredibly stylish.

Garmin Fenix 5S
All 3 Fenix 5 models have a very easy to change band attachment system. No tools required.
Garmin Fenix 5S

The Fenix 5 (left) is noticeably smaller than the Fenix 3 HR. It felt far more comfortable than the Fenix 3 HR,
Left: Fenix 5 Right Fenix 3 HR
While the 5X demo unit did not have topo maps loaded it did have base highway maps on board. The zooming and maneuvering around the maps will take some learning but we think most will just follow a route and zoom occasionally, simplifying operations,  
Garmin Fenix 5X
The  HR module on all models is nowmore flush with the watch back than on the Fenix 3 HR. The additional comfort was noticeable and it is possible the more flush fit, and smaller form factors than the 3 HR for two of the models will also make for a better seal to the wrist and thus more reliable HR readings, particularly for sports where the wrist is clenching or bent such as for cycling and cross country skiing, It may also improve accuracy in dry cold conditions. We'll see when we test,
Left: Garmin Fenix 3 HR  Right: Garmin Fenix 5
The Fenix 5 series is available for pre-order and are expected to ship sometime the later part of March.

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Pre-Order Fenix 5, 5S and 5X from Garmin's Amazon Store here!