Garmin Fenix 5, now in three different versions: Fenix 5S, Fenix 5 and Fenix 5X


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The full review is now complete, so if you're interested in all the details of the Garmin Fenix 5, Fenix 5S and Fenix 5X, I recommend reading the full review by clicking here.

Garmin today announces three new models for its Fenix 5 range. You read that right, three. There's a catch, because they are the same model but with slight variations between them, which will serve to adapt to different types of customers.

Two years after the launch of the Fenix 3, Garmin presents a new range that shares the same basic aspects but is now diversified, and will have the difficult task of matching the sales figures of the previous model, which have been frankly good.

You want to know the differences between the three models? Then let's go straight to the information.

Garmin Fenix 5S, Fenix 5 and Fenix 5x

The main difference we find between the three models is the size. Each one has a different measure:

  • The Garmin Fenix 5S, with 42mm dial circumference, is a watch designed especially for women
  • The Garmin Fenix 5 has a more usual diameter for this model, with 47mm, but is still a little smaller than the Fenix 3.
  • The Garmin Fenix 5x, on the other hand, increases its size to 51mm.

All three watches offer the same features, although the Fenix 5x adds topographic map navigation along with other route-tracking options. The maximum range of each also varies slightly. The Garmin Elevate optical pulse sensor is present on all models and has become a basic feature in its own right.

I'll start with the Fenix 5S, the smaller version.

Garmin Fenix 5s

The design of the watch is cleaner than the Fenix 3 or Fenix 5/5x. The watch bezel is stainless steel, as on all Fenix 5 models, but there are no screws on the front and the surface is smooth. The front is less "aggressive".

There are two versions, with mineral glass and with sapphire glass. The version with mineral glass has a polished steel bezel, while the options with sapphire glass can be with the black bezel and black strap, gold with waterproof leather strap or gold with metal strap. And in the case of including these less common straps, a black strap will be included in the same box.

Speaking of belts, it now has a quick change system called QuickFit that allows you to replace the belt quickly. In previous models it was necessary to remove the pin with a screwdriver, but now you can replace the belt in seconds simply by operating the new mechanism. You can see it in the image below.


Garmin Fenix 5 - Rear

And another thing you can see in the image above is that the optical pulse sensor reduces its size, being now flush with the back cover. We will have to check what results it offers in the pulse measurement when losing the "hump".

An appreciable change from the Fenix 3 is that WiFi connectivity is only present in models with sapphire glass. The 5S in mineral glass only has a Bluetooth connection for the mobile phone.

Garmin Fenix 5s

The next model on the size scale is the Garmin Fenix 5, dry. It is the natural replacement for the Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR, since like the Fenix 5 the optical pulse sensor is present in all versions.

Garmin Fenix 5 - Collection

The bezel is very similar to the Fenix 3, but it looks a little cleaner in design. There are also different color options on both the bezel and the straps. And as with the 5s there are different strap options, including the metal strap option. Of course, same mineral and sapphire glass options as on the Fenix 5S and with WiFi connectivity only on the model with the stronger glass.

Finally we have the Garmin Fenix 5X, which increases its size to 51mm and adds some other changes to the bezel's aesthetics. It is also thicker than the Fenix 5 (1mm) more. But that extra size does not mean a bigger screen, as in both cases it is 1.2″ and 280×280 pixels of resolution, improving the Fenix 3's resolution.

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Garmin Fenix 5X

Besides the larger size, the main difference of the 5X is that it has topographic maps (as the Garmin Epix Two years ago, but hopefully this time the result will be better) and cycling. 12GB are available for the maps, which in the version to be sold in Spain include the whole Europe.

The navigation possibilities increase significantly as it inherits functions from the Edge ranges. You can indicate the distance you want to cover with your training and the watch will prepare several routes from which you can choose.

The navigation is turn-based, not point-based, so it will display turn warnings along the route (such as a right turn in 500m). With such warnings, they will be visible on any data screen you are currently using, not just the navigation screen. Again, as with Edge units.

In the case of the Fenix 5X there will only be a version with sapphire glass.

In terms of software features, this is an update with features present in the 735XT that did not make it into the Fenix range, such as FTP calculation in cycling, the possibility of using Strava segments, external device music control or compatibility with Varia Radar and Varia Vision.

There are some other new features, for example a menu reorganization with the inclusion of a shortcut menu, Training Effect 2.0 function, or training load function.

Garmin Fenix 5 - New features

But that's not all - of course there is support for the new version of Connect IQ, which required hardware changes that the Fenix 3 does not have.

The screen, although it is the same size as the previous one, now has a higher resolution and colour representation. Up to 64 colours, compared to the 16 of the Fenix 3. There are also new features in the sensors, which besides being compatible with the Varia range of accessories are also capable of receiving information from electronic shifters such as Shimano Di2, SRAM eTap or Campagnolo EPS. Although I miss the compatibility with ANT+ FE-C for intelligent roller handling.

But continuing with cycling, what we do have is the GroupTrack feature that was released with the Edge 820 (you can see what it is at this link).

But there is one final surprise, and that is the compatibility with Bluetooth Smart sensors. This makes it the first Garmin with this possibility. At the moment the compatibility is exclusively with pulse sensors, although according to Garmin they will be adding support for other types of sensors later on, such as footpods or speed/cadence sensors.

At the moment there are no plans to add support for Bluetooth power meters, but... how many are there that only have a Bluetooth connection? I can count them with the fingers of one hand and I have four fingers left.

This is not a very important detail, but it might open the door for other manufacturers to do the same with ANT+ and forget about the absurd blocking of other technologies (honestly, what Polar and Suunto lack is ANT+ connectivity).

All this is present in the three Fenix 5 models, but what is different is the autonomy of each model.

Differences in autonomy

Depending on the model the range varies. The size logically affects, but also the higher power needed in the 5X to manage the maps and navigation. The official references marked by Garmin are as follows:

  • Garmin Fenix 5S: up to 8 days in clock mode with Bluetooth connection and up to 13 hours using GPS.
  • Garmin Fenix 5: up to 2 weeks in clock mode with Bluetooth connection and up to 24 hours using GPS.
  • Garmin Fenix 5X: up to 12 days in clock mode with Bluetooth connection and up to 20 hours using GPS.

Of course, if necessary the full range can be extended by using the UltraTrac function.

In short...

You may have some confusion with the new models right now. Don't worry, I'll summarize the main differences in three short points.

  • Garmin Fenix 5S - The small one, with 42mm for those with smaller wrists or do not want a watch as big as the Fenix 3. Available with mineral glass with polished steel bezel or with sapphire glass with black or gold bezel. Up to 13 hours of training with use of GPS.
  • Garmin Fenix 5 - Intermediate size of 47mm. Also two glass options, although I'm still waiting to clarify the bezel colors in each case. Up to 24 hours of GPS.
  • Garmin Fenix 5X - At 51mm it is the largest of all, and includes topographic maps and advanced route navigation capabilities. Only available with sapphire crystal. Up to 20 hours of GPS.

Garmin Fenix 5, Fenix 5S and Fenix 5X.

Garmin Fenix 5 - Collection

All three models will arrive during the first quarter of 2017. As for prices, they will not be cheap.

There is no difference between the 5S and 5, since it should not be forgotten that despite the smaller size the performance is the same. Both start from a price of 599 ? in its version with mineral glass.

The Fenix 5X is slightly more expensive than the Fenix 5S and Fenix 5 with sapphire glass, but don't forget that the Fenix 5X is not offered with mineral glass.

The price scale is therefore as follows (in the absence of further confirmation):

  • Garmin Fenix 5S - 599
  • Garmin Fenix 5 - 599
  • Garmin Fenix 5S sapphire - 699
  • Garmin Fenix 5 sapphire - 699
  • Garmin Fenix 5X - 749

These are the versions with a traditional strap, because if you choose a metal strap then add 150 ? to the total. And this strap is only available in the Sapphire versions, although an additional silicone strap is also included.

There is no pulse sensor included because the watch integrates the optical sensor, however you can buy it with a sensor pack with the HRM-Tri for an extra £70 in either version.

Removing muscle with Connect IQ

Garmin takes advantage of its presence at CES to flex its muscles with Connect IQ. Its application platform is already present on virtually all Garmin devices (except the lower ranges), which allows additional applications to be installed on the watch; either to increase sports performance or to add non-sports-related features.

Garmin provides data that shows the extent to which Connect IQ is a mature platform. Since its birth two years ago, more than 20 million applications have been downloaded, and there are now more than 3 million devices in circulation with the possibility of installing this type of app.

Connect IQ News

In Las Vegas they have shown some of the new collaborations. Uber has developed an application that allows you to know the time remaining until the arrival of your taxi. Meanwhile Trek has an application that allows you to control your Bontrager lights.

Although the one that catches my eye is the new GU Energy Labs application, which warns when it's time to take a gel to recover what you've spent.

Right now it's just a simple timer (something we can already do on the device with a simple alarm warning), but the interesting thing would be that the warning would come when we have consumed the energy and need to recover it. Something that is totally feasible and would be the next logical step, because this is the kind of interesting thing that Connect IQ allows.

It would be the perfect complement to my next half Ironman...


My opinion

When there is a new product on the market we can always talk about evolution or revolution. The Fenix 5 range is clearly the first case. Garmin seems to opt for major changes every two models, just as when the Fenix 2 was launched it did not represent a major change from the original Fenix.

So the major change version was the Fenix 3, with these Fenix 5 being a renewal of the range. Which is understandable, because unfortunately the competition is not pressing. Suunto has yet to update the Spartan and Polar has historically not had a watch focused on the mountain.

Still, there are some interesting things in Garmin's new proposal, starting with the Fenix 5S. Traditionally, adventure watches or watches with a higher level of performance have always been large. Depending on the user's wrist, this could be a big problem, especially for girls. Not only because of the aesthetics, but also because it is not comfortable.

The new size of 42mm is more suitable for anyone who does not have large wrists, but does not lose any of the features of the rest of the range, beyond a slightly reduced range.

The Fenix 5X comes as a replacement for the Garmin Epix, which has always suffered from numerous software problems. It now has the advantage of sharing the platform with the Fenix 5 so the development team will be the same without having to duplicate efforts. The clock will benefit from faster updates and better performance, something that Garmin never achieved for the Epix.

As for the Fenix 5, it simply lives up to the features that were present in other watches in the range, such as the 735XT. Strava segments, FTP for cycling, compatibility with Varia Radar and Varia Vision, etc. And with a slightly modified optical pulse sensor and a slightly smaller footprint, as we saw in the 735XT and Fenix Chronos.

For the rest, we are waiting for the complete test and to know all the details in depth.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. I was very happy about the size issue, one of the things I didn't use the Phoenix 3 for every day was that.

  2. I miss a Polar upgrade for your V800...I think it's already playing, keeping the essence but adding mountain features and optical pulse sensor in the watch...any word from Polar on this?

  3. I have a 735XT and I don't change it anymore. Just what I wanted, that it does everything and in a ridiculous weight compared to the phoenix. Any news in the edge family or in SUUNTO?

    1. Garmin won't be presenting anything else at CES. As for Suunto, I say the same as for Polar. They are present at CES...

  4. And that jump in the numbering?
    Where would the 4 be, we consider it to be the 3Hr?

    Pardon my ignorance... Greetings!

    1. It seems that 4 is an unlucky number or so I've heard, because it's rare that they go from 3/3HR to 5. A fortnight ago I sold my fenix 3 at a good price, I'm in doubt about whether to buy the 735XT or some model of the fenix 5

    2. The number 4 is unlucky in Chinese culture. It means "death". The vast majority of manufacturers avoid this number, especially if they intend to sell in the Chinese market.

  5. Rocio

    Great, it's about time. Do you know if they've reduced the thickness like the suunto spartan sport?

    1. 14.5mm for the Fenix 5S 15.5mm for the Fenix 5 17.5mm for the Fenix 5X

      All of them with the optical sensor, which is flush with the back of the watch. For comparison:

      16mm Fenix 3 / Fenix 3 HR 17mm Suunto Spartan Ultra 13.8mm Suunto Spartan Sport

  6. Do you know if any version of the Phoenix 5 will incorporate an internal music player like the tomtom or the Apple Watch for bluetooch headphones? I think it should be one more feature in watches of these prices.

    If not: what options of GPS watches with music do you recommend me to give it as a gift for Epiphany. Garmin has any model?

    Thank you for educating us about your always interesting articles

    1. No, there is no music playback. At Polar there is the M600 (at the moment you can only add music from Android), or the TomTom Runner 2/3 Music

  7. I have doubts between waiting for one of these or taking the fenix3 or the 735xt!!! I'm more convinced by the 735 for design and weight but I'm put off by the battery... I'm not going to do any iroman but the more battery the better n? which one would you decide for?

    1. Thank you Eduardo for the article. Another question on the subject of dimensions... besides the weight that the colleague asks, on issues of screen diameter as they go in relation to the phoenix 3 hr?
      Greetings and Happy New Year.

    2. 67 grams for the Fenix 5S, 85 grams for the Fenix 5 and 98 grams for the Fenix 5X. All with silicone strap and add a couple of grams to the first two if it is the version with sapphire.

      In comparison, the FR735XT weighs 44 grams, which is what plastic has, which is light...

  8. I have the 3HR Sapphire. I wanted to change it for the new Fenix, but only if it plays music and has Amoled screen. Disappointment with the 5, to see if there is luck with the 6, to wait a year touches.
    By the way, swimming is very forgotten in the software.

  9. A curiosity... do you know if the readability of the screen has improved with respect to the Fenix 3 (beyond the best resolution and largest number of colors) especially in low light conditions? It is the only point with which I am not completely happy in my Fenix 3 HR.
    And finally, do you think it's worth switching from the Fenix 3HR to the 5?
    Thank you very much for your attention.

    1. No, the screen is designed to perform well in bright light, unlike an LCD screen (and with lower power consumption)

  10. Come to take out models and that we users have to do betatest, after a year of using the Fenix3 HR and do not know how many updates, we still have the same problems, the measurement of the pulse with the sensor of the clock is a laugh, the measurement of the GPS more laugh, nothing that turns out that my Garmin 610 that has more years than Cascoro works better and more accurate than the Fenix 3. We will see what we have in store for this new model, it is beautiful for a while, but it will work for what it has to serve or take the topmodel to parade on the catwalks?

  11. Lo primero decir que gracias por tus artículos, te sigo hace poco pero una pena no haberte descubierto antes. Tengo muchas dudas :(. Me enamore del 735xt pero luego veo el Fenix5, y ahora voy hacia atras y veo el 235. Creo que entre el 735xt y el 235 la principal diferencia es el «perfil» de natación, no se si le daría uso :(. El principal uso sera bici. 50% 735XT 30%235 Y 20%Fenix5, hay dios vaya lio… Entre el 735xt y el Fenix5,¿crees que merece la pena el Fenix5? ¿y entre el 735xt y el 235 si el principal uso es la bici y puede …que la natacion?

    By the way, I didn't buy the 735xt earlier because I was waiting for the CES to see if the 930xt came out, which I understand is nothing this year, or is it possible that Garmin will launch a 930xt or the update to the 920xt or 735xt?

    A salute,

    1. If you are not going to use the swimming profile a 930xt does not make sense, since it is focused on TRI, if it is to run I would get a 235 for the big difference in price. I have a 735XT (I was with a fenix3) and I do not return to the fenix range. I like a lot aesthetically but they are very dull watches for day to day. The 735xt even sleep with it, I am delighted, and the extra battery in my case I do not need it. I have made some Ironman but for day to day I have plenty.

    2. If you don't use a power meter, don't need to swim or navigation is not necessary, the 235 would be the most reasonable option

      1. Thank you, I want to be more specific, my question is if it would work for me as the garmin quatix NMEA marine, since I would get double benefit

        1. No, if you're looking for specific seafaring features that are only found in the models intended for that use, you won't find them in the Fenix range.

  12. What bad news for me. i just bought a suunto spartan ultra titanium and i'm totally disappointed. not only the functionality is very poor but the software update and its connectivity fails constantly. the user manual you can find on the internet reflects its few capabilities and, as i read somewhere, it looks like an unfinished product. as if that wasn't enough, the phone customer service is only in the morning, in the afternoon they don't answer. if you send an email to ask, the answer is null. come on k you feel totally orphaned. to all this, i had to pay a good amount of money, of course.

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