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Fitness Trackers, Sports Watches - News & Reviews 2019

Garmin Fenix 6 – Next generation outdoor / sports watch with solar charging glass

Garmin has released the new Fenix 6 – a family of new outdoor / sports watches that comprise the standard, pro and sapphire edition. On top of that the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar features Power Glass – a translucent solar panel that adds to the battery life.

Garmin Fenix 6 (Credit: Garmin)

Garmin Fenix 6 (Credit: Garmin)

It has never been a real secret that Garmin has been working on the fifth generation of the Fenix series. The company’s flagship is much sought-after, offering a tremendous set of features and high-quality standards. As competitors are longing for some of Garmin’s customers, the company’s success is related to keeping the competitors at distance.

I have updated the article here and there, as the rumors and wild guesswork I presented here for the last two weeks have been confirmed by Garmin. Though there have been many discussions and doubts concerning the facts presented, there is hardly anything I had to change after the official release. Lucky me…

Fenix 6 - A whole bunch of different models

The Fenix 6 product family comprises four different models: Standard, Sapphire, Pro and Pro Solar. What seems confusing at first, allows for people buying the Fenix 6 that matches their requirements best.

Garmin Fenix 6S

Following the Fenix 5 / 5 Plus naming scheme, the Fenix 6S will be the smallest device, which is suited for slimmer wrists. The screen size hasn’t changed, neither has the resolution. The Fenix 6S has a 1.2-inch display with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels.

Garmin Fenix 6S vs. 6S Pro vs. 6S Sapphire

Garmin Fenix 6S vs. 6S Pro vs. 6S Sapphire (Credit: Garmin)

 DimensionsWeightScreen SizeEst. Price
Garmin Fenix 6S42 x 42 x 13.8 mm58 g1.2"599.99
Garmin Fenix 6S Pro42 x 42 x 13.8 mm61 g1.2"699.99
Garmin Fenix 6S Sapphire42 x 42 x 13.8 mm61 g1.2"799.99

Concerning the prices, I think it won’t matter if you pay in USD, Euro or GBP. I have seen a couple of prices in different currencies that resemble the prices I have noted down here.

Garmin Fenix 6

The standard model is represented by Fenix 6. As you can see below there are four different models, that mainly differ in the materials used and features offered. The display has been increased to 1.3 inches, as has the resolution to 260 x 260 pixels.

Garmin Fenix 6 vs. 6 Pro vs. 6 Sapphire vs. 6 Sapphire Titan

Garmin Fenix 6 vs. 6 Pro vs. 6 Sapphire vs. 6 Sapphire Titan (Credit: Garmin)

 DimensionsWeightScreen SizeEst. Price
Garmin Fenix 647 x 47 x 14.7 mm80 g1.3"599.99
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro47 x 47 x 14.7 mm83 g1.3"699.99
Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire47 x 47 x 14.7 mm83 g1.3"799.99
Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire Titanium47 x 47 x 14.7 mm72 g1.3"

Garmin Fenix 6X

The Fenix 6X is missing the standard model and comprises the 6X Pro, 6X Sapphire, 6X Pro Solar, and 6X Pro Solar Titanium. There has been much speculation about what term “Solar” really is about. The Fenix 6X Pro Solar is using a technology named Power Glass™ to recharge the battery while the watch is being used. The table below shows how Power Glass affects battery life.

Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire Solar

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar (Credit: Garmin)

The display now features 1.4 inches and a resolution of 280 x 280 pixels. This means that the display has been increased by 36% compared to the Fenix 5.

Garmin 6X Pro vs. 6X Sapphire

Garmin 6X Pro vs. 6X Sapphire (Credit: Garmin)

 DimensionsWeightScreen SizeEst. Price
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro51 x 51 x 14.9mm93 g1.4"749.99
Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire51 x 51 x 14.9mm93 g1.4"849.99
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Titanium + Silicone wristband51 x 51 x 14.9 mm82 g1.4"999.99
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Titanium + Titan wristband51 x 51 x 14.9 mm82 g1.4"1145.99

Differences between standard, pro and sapphire edition

Given this new Pro edition, everybody wants to know the exact differences. Let’s start with the easiest part. One difference between a standard watch and a sapphire watch is the material the watch glass is made of. The standard watches take benefit from tempered Gorilla Glas, while the Sapphire watches features scratch-resistent sapphire glass. In addition to materials, there are differences concerning the features:

 StandardProSapphirePro Solar
Maps (basic)-+++
Maps (skiing)-+++
Maps (golf)-+++
Internal storage64 MB32 GB32 GB32 GB
Music player-+++
Deezer / Spotify-+++
Wi-Fi-+++
Garmin Pay++++
Watch glassGorilla GlassGorilla GlassSapphire GlassPower Glass

Essentially the standard edition is supposed to be the budget friendly version of the Fenix 6 maintaining all the essential and important features. The Pro edition has the complete list of features, while the Sapphire edition has the full set of features as well but additionally sports premium materials.

Garmin Fenix 6 (Source: reddit)

Battery Life

 6S Basic / Pro / Sapphire6 Basic / Pro / Sapphire6X Pro / Sapphire6X Pro Solar
GPS25 h36 h60 h60 + 6 h
GPS + music6 h10 h15 h15 + 1 h
UltraTrac50 h72 h120 h120 + 28 h
Smartwatch mode9 days14 days21 days21 + 3 days
Exposure mode20 days28 days46 days46 + 10 days
Economy mode34 days48 days80 days80 + 40 days

The added values in the Fenix 6X Pro Solar column refer to the extended battery life that results from using Power Glass. And to be honest, these values are outstanding. I was expecting way less than that.

All products have an increased battery life when GPS is turned on. While it could result from a better battery, it is likelier that the Fenix 6 makes use of the Sony GPS chip that has been introduced with the Garmin MARQ.

Smaller bezels - larger screens (up to 36%)

Due to a smaller bezel, the Fenix 6 and 6X will benefit from a larger display, with the 6S sticking to a 1.2-inch screen. Depending on the model, the increase will be up to 36 percent compared to the Fenix 5 Plus.

As there is more space to fill, Garmin had to increase the resolution in order to maintain the pixel density. The Fenix 6 with its 1.3-inch display with 260 x 260 pixels resolution. The Fenix 6X depicts information using a 1.4-inch screen with 280 x 280 pixels resolution.

Garmin Fenix5S55X5S Plus5 Plus5X Plus6S66X
Screen Size1.1"1.2"1.2"1.2"1.2"1.2"1.2"1.3"1.4"
Resolution218 x 218240 x 240240 x 240240 x 240240 x 240240 x 240240 x 240260 x 260280 x 280
Fenix 5s vs. Fenix 6s (Source: Amazon)

Fenix 5s vs. Fenix 6s (Source: Amazon)

You can easily spot the different size of the bezel. Surprisingly the larger displays don’t result in larger housings – contrary, all devices shrank about a millimeter in height.

Screen Size ComparisonFenix 5SFenix 5Fenix 5XFenix 6SFenix 6Fenix 6X
Fenix 5S0%+ 19.0%+ 19.0%+ 19.0%+39.6 %+ 61.9%
Fenix 50%0%0%+ 17.3%+ 36.1%
Fenix 5X0%0%+ 17.3%+ 36.1%
Fenix 6S0%+ 17.3%+ 36.1%
Fenix 60%+ 15.9%
Fenix 6X0%

Fenix 6 Impressions

Online retailers sometimes can’t wait the product to be officially announced, others may have leaked the product renders by accident. As most of the pictures show the same screens again and again, thus not allowing for deriving new information, the following images are just an excerpt, focussing on the wristband and housing mainly. Just click on the image below to open the gallery.

Fenix 6 images found on Amazon*

Fenix 6S Sapphire images found on Amazon*

New and noteworthy features

Taken into account that each Fenix generation was the most complex and feature-rich at the time being released, the Fenix 6 will be no different. I expect the Fenix 6 to have all the features of Garmin wearables that hit the shelves between the last Fenix release and today. Let’s start with the more advanced features, some of them being exclusive to the Fenix 6:

  • PacePro – Grade-adjusted pace guidance

    PacePro is one of the Fenix 6’s more innovative features, though it resembles to what ambitious runners already are familiar with: pace bands. In their simpliest form pace bands are small pieces of paper that list split times, allowing for running a course at a steady pace. Garmin enhances this concept not only by providing the data electronically on the watch, but by taking elevation and your desired pacing strategy and uphill effort into account. (See details here)

  • Revised ELEVATE sensor

    The Fenix 6 is getting the latest edition of ELEVATE, that allows for tracking your heart rate with an optical sensor that is placed on the backside of the Fenix 6. The revised version track your pulse underwater, something that has been introduced lately to the Forerunner 945 and that has not been working with the previous Fenix generation.

  • Respiration Rate

    The respiration rate has been introduced with the Garmin Forerunner 945 and is one of Firstbeat’s latest addons. Garmin is offering this feature as a data field, so that the information is accessible during activities only. From a leaked screen of the Garmin vivoactive 4 it seems as if Garmin has added the metric to the health stats widget. The same widget that shows your daily steps, burned calories, stress level and body resources.

  • Battery / Power modes

    More than a year ago, the Suunto 9 introduced power or battery modes, that allow for switching off certain features to extend the battery life.

    Garmin Fenix 6x - Battery Saver Mode

    Garmin Fenix 6x – Battery Saver Mode (Credit: Garmin)

    The Fenix 6 is going to have a power manager, that works similarly by showing how enabled/disabled features/sensors affect battery life. There are different information concerning the power modes but one of the product images shows the following:

    • Normal
    • Max Battery
    • Jacket Mode

  • Incident Detection

    The incident detection has been introduced with the Forerunner 945, 245 and 45 and the Fenix 6 will feature the same. Incident detection will recognize heavy stumbling or falls and can inform a list of people about the incident. As the Fenix 6 will not have LTE, this feature requires a paired smartphone with internet access.

  • Pre-installed maps

    The Fenix 6 will have preloaded maps (limited to Pro and Sapphire models only). The TOPO map comprises Europe, while the ski maps offer 2000+ resorts world-wide. Additionally you will find 40,000+ golf courses pre-installed on the Fenix 6.

  • Round-trip courses
  • ClimbPro
  • Trendline Popularity Routing
  • Ultra-low GPS mode (field tour mode – expedition)
  • Stress monitoring
  • SpO2 monitoring
  • Body battery
  • Music storage
  • Offline playlists (Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music)
  • Garmin Pay
  • Connect IQ 3
  • Activity Tracking / GPS / GLONASS / Galileo

Features that have been rumored, but tend to remain rumors

As the first information about a next-generation Fenix emerged, there was a tremendous variety of rumors. Some of them became facts, others were proven wrong. This section sums up the features that were discussed, but given the information that we have today, are unlikely to be seen as part of a Fenix 6.

  • ECG sensors

    Apple, Samsung, and Withings are having products with ECG features and it would have been no surprise if Garmin added a similar feature to one of the Fenix 6 models. The curve that once was interpreted as an ECG curve refers to the solar input of one of the 6X Pro Solar models. Though there is a tiny chance left, I think we can discard this feature for the Fenix 6.

  • LTE - Connected without smartphone

    Last year Garmin launched the vivoactive 3 Music (Verizon) that can use an integrated LTE modem to connect with Verizon. Because I haven’t seen this product on any other than the US market, I don’t think the new Fenix is going to have LTE. Except for the live tracking and incident notification, I don’t see much of an advantage. Contrary LTE is going to drain the battery.

Release Date and Prices

The Garmin Fenix 6 has been releases on August 29th and while some models already can be ordered, others will be available in 5-8 weeks. As soon as Amazon is listing the Fenix 6 again, I will add the links here. If you would like to support this website, you may consider clicking on the Amazon link and placing your order there.

For those who can’t wait, Amazon offers nice prices for the Fenix 5 Sapphire* and Fenix 5 Plus*.

UPDATES

  • [14/08] Prices: Adjusted the price table so that there is a better match with existing products. In my opinion, the Fenix 6 will start at $600 for the basic edition with a silicone wristband. You are going to pay another $100 for the Sapphire edition. The 6X is likely to start at $750. And this is no surprise as it matches the price structure for existing models.
  • [19/08] Specs: Due to new information that reached my, I have added the Fenix 6 S/X Pro edition, added a comparison table for the editions and revised the prices.
  • [23/08] Models: Replaced the „Sapphire“ term with „Pro“ for the Solar models. As the Solar models use Power Glass, the old name caused confusion and didn’t make sense at all.
  • [26/08] Features: Added some features and an ultra-low GPS mode that you can expect from the Fenix 6. Unfortunately the source is in hebrew, thus the translation could be quirky. In addition, I have added the weight for the Fenix 6 Sapphire Titanium as it is confirmed by the new source.
  • [27/08] Online Retailers / Release Date: Added the list of online retailers that already had listed the Fenix 6. Added the advertised product video by Garmin Portugal.
  • [29/08] Revised: Revised the article due to the official release of the Garmin Fenix 6.

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14 Comments

    1. Florian Reply

      I double checked the specs and it says 82 grams. Both solar editions are made of titanium, one with a silicon strap the other one with a titanium strap – at least that’s what you can find in the specs. I changed the table for the sake of clarity.

  1. ex Reply

    So basically, Power Glass technology we hope to see in Fenix 6X Pro Solar is different than “regular” solar panel in that it simultaneously collects the energy of the light while also passes light through itself (in order for user to actually see the display underneath the power glass).

    For example, Casio RANGEMAN GPR-B1000 is a solar GPS watch but its solar panel is not translucent (i.e. it is “regular” solar panel) and that’s the reason it looks like a big beast in order to accomodate surface for solar panel.

    Could you please comment on this ? Thanks

    1. Florian Reply

      My expectation is that Power Glass is some kind of translucent solar panel. A different source (that I cannot disclose) referred to it as solar charging glass. As I can’t see normal solar panels on any of the product pictures and the fact that Power Glass is a registered trademark back my guess. Until officially release, it is a guess.

  2. yannis Reply

    Excellent information.
    Thank you very much.
    Let’s hope that it will be released sooner rather than later.

  3. Jason Reply

    Thank you for the excellent work. I return to your website on a daily basis to check for news because you usually publish the information first.

    Others seem to copy the information from here, claiming to have their independent sources.

  4. Jeanr Reply

    Can’t believe they’re not adding an ECG hardware. The curves we see that resemble ECG ones are in fact clearly solar input intensity curves. The Apple Watch is miles ahead regarding heart-rate accuracy thanks to its electrodes, yet Garmin persists with their awful Elevate optical sensors…

  5. ex Reply

    Yes, they are solar input intensity curves definitely.
    But look at it from Garmin’s perspective, they build every new Fenix series around just one new feature that really innovates (series 6 is most definitely about solar charging, series 5 was about topo mapping, series 3 was about OHR, …). The other “new” features are there but they are just more polished old features.
    So, the most obvious reason for this strategy is really just more profit and it is understandable. It would be just stupid to put more than one new innovative feature into single series if profit is end goal, and it is. :-)

  6. Lo Reply

    But what are the hardware innovations? The screen a little bigger and the solar power…ok…the other is software innovations. At this moment I‘m a little disappointed: no ECG feature, no LTE for emergency call in case of incident…but to buy a Titan Solar one you have to pay more than 1000$…it’s a little hard to figure out at this moment.

  7. Tom Reply

    Lol. This information is getting supplied to him the same way its getting supplied to others. If it was in the public domain then it would be getting referenced by others or him to add credibility.

    No online retailer has got this level of information.

    1. Florian Reply

      …and what way would that be? Honestly, all information concerning the specs has been derived from public sources, being more or less close to Garmin. The same accounts for the press renders. I have never ever gotten information by email or the like. It‘s more like a long breadcrumb trail – if you keep your eyes open and you know what you are looking for, you can find tons of information.

      Please keep in mind if you disclose such sources, they might run dry and it will be harder to provide you with information about future products. Concerning adding credibility, I have referenced sources that already have been disclosed by others.

    1. Florian Reply

      I corrected it the moment you hit the submit button. I am doing all the planning for the IFA and though I am not sure, maybe that’s the reason I mixed things up. Thank you anyway…

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