Garmin Fenix 5x review – After one month of use

The  51mm  Fenix 5x features a more compact design in comparison to the Fenix 3 HR, and like the other models it lets you switch between leather and metal straps.

The key features are:

  • Size: 51mm with colour screen (not touchscreen)
  • Screen Size: 1.2” (30.5 mm) diameter
  • Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels; sunlight-visible, always-on, low power, colourful display
  • Weight: With silicone band: 85.0 g
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 days in smartwatch mode (depending on settings), up to 20 hours in GPS mode, and up to 35 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode
  • Connectivity: Smart Bluetooth, ANT+ and wifi only on the Sapphire option
  • Social: Sträva and Strava Segments and Garmin Connect

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Garmin Fenix 5x in videos

Check out these videos that go into detail on different features of the Garmin Fenix 5x

Garmin Fenix 5x review video


Garmin Fenix 5x unboxing


Garmin Fenix 5x feature’s


Garmin Fenix 5x maps


Garmin Fenix 5x design

Garmin Fenix 5x – Intro

I have had the Garmin Fenix 5X for over 6 weeks now and I have put it through its pace during a number of activities. The watch has been running, swimming, cycling, strength training with me and I will share my thoughts of this fitness watch.

The questions I keep getting are “Is the Garmin Fenix 5x worth the upgrade from the Fenix 3 HR’ “are the maps on the Garmin Fenix 5x any good? So if you continue on reading this Garmin Fenix 5x review I will hopefully answer the questions for you

Garmin Fenix 5x navigation


Garmin Fenix 5X review – Design

  • Stainless steel bezel
  • Fibre-reinforced polymer case
  • Stainless steel back plate
  • Redesigned HR sensor
  • Quickfit buckle design 

The Garmin Fenix 5x features a stainless steel bezel just like the previous Fenix 3 HR. The body is made of a fibre reinforced polymer, but the big difference’s are the new stainless steel back and the redesigned elevate wrist HR sensor. The charging port also sees a change and this has moved away from the cradle design featured in the Fenix 3 HR. This change is one of the things I don’t personally like as you can’t lay it down flat and need to put it on its side or watch face.

Garmin Fenix 5x quickfit bands


The silicon band features the Quickfit release system which I feel is a welcome feature to be able to quickly change out bands. The band itself I have found to be really comfortable and some days only took it off to get a shower which was not the case with the Fenix 3 HR or the Suunto Spartan sport.

Garmin Fenix 5X review -screen

  • Sapphire screen
  • 240 x 240 pixel resolution
  • 1.2″ actual screen size

If I am being completely honest the screen is not a blow away comparing it to a Apple Watch or something like that. However it is a step up to the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. The screen is 240 x 240 pixels and the actual size is 1.2″ with a sapphire glass screen. I have used the screen across a number of activities and various weather conditions and been able to read the screen even in very sunny conditions.

The screen is a “always on” screen which is handy with a wrist activated backlight. I have found this pretty accurate when “waking” to activate the backlight.

Garmin Fenix 5x Screen


Garmin Fenix 5x review – Fitness features

  • Huge amount of fitness profiles
  • VO2 MAX for running and cycling
  • Training load and affect 

Garmin have really looked at the overall activity profile offering along with the fitness data that you get and in the Garmin Fenix 5 series really stepped up the bar. The Fenix 5 series comes with a number of new profiles from mountain biking, Ski and snowboarding and Garmin make it easier to add a profile from right in the activity menu rather than having to go out into settings. You are also able to customise the data screens of each activity to how you like, but this was something you got in the Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Garmin Fenix 5 training features

The biggest difference and huge reason why I like the Garmin Fenix 5 is the new training load and training status features. Between these 2 features you can look at a glance on the watch if you are under/over training or at optimal performance. You can also look at this in more detail on the Garmin Connect app and online. In addition to this you also get recovery advice, VO2 MAX and FTP for cycling. I have found using these features it gets me out of bed to training and pushes me if I don’t want to hit the gym or get on the bike.

Garmin training affect

Garmin Fenix 5 splits aerobic and anaerobic training effect and features a new Training Load function. If you swim, you’ll get personal records along with Swim Structured Workout support.

  • Training Status: Tells you how effective your training is and provides guidance on whether your workouts are productive and making progress.
  • VO2Max Estimator: Crunches, running or cycling performance data to estimate the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute and gives you an indication of your level of fitness.
  • Training Load: Tells you how hard you train over a period of time no matter which activity.
  • Recovery Advisor: The Recovery Timer tells you the recommended recovery time counting down from your last workout.

Training Effect 2.0 will provide aerobic and anaerobic benefit scores for each training session, so that you understand whether your high-intensity interval training really pays off.

Garmin Fenix 5x training status


Garmin Fenix 5 data

Like with the Fenix 3 HR you can also attach ANT+ and bluetooth external sensors to get power, cadence, HR, speed for cycling and for running using the HR Run or HR TRI you can data like Vertical oscillation, Ground contact time and balance, Stride length and many others. For swimming you get lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories) and it detects Stroke type detection (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly)

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Garmin Fenix 5x cycling features

In many ways, Garmin gave fenix 5 models some serious “Edge” if you get my drift, by creating compatibility with the Varia Bike Light and Radar series, a connection that up until now has been limited to Edge Bike computers and just a few other watch models (the 735XT, fenix Chronos, and Vivoactive HR to be exact). fenix 5 watches also support Shimano Di2 Shifting and ANT+ Gear Shifting, plus FTP Estimation and Strava Live Segment (Bike + Run).

This is a big feature for me and could be for many that want to just have one device for multiple activities when you have a range of Garmin products like the Varia light radar.

Garmin Elevate HR Sensor

The fenix 5 series adds optical heart rate, meaning no more chest straps or alternative heart rate monitors. Technically speaking, the fenix 3HR boasts this feature as well, though fenix 5 models records the 24/7 data every 1-2 seconds, with a smoother sensor that’s nearly level with the watch itself. I have found this to be pretty accurate, however I have noticed drop outs at peak points and it didn’t always follow the HR when it came down. You can pair it with a external monitor and I would always recommend this.

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Garmin Fenix 5x Elevate HR monitor


Garmin Fenix 5x review – Smart features

  • Call, text, calendar alerts
  • Garmin Connect
  • Wifi and bluetooth support

The Garmin Fenix 5x comes with a variety of smart features from call and text alerts and tight integration with Garmin Connect. The Fenix 5x also comes with Wifi which is useful for uploading to Garmin Connect, but you need to set this up in Garmin Express first so it won’t just connect to wifi hotspots in your local coffee shop.

The call and text alerts could be useful for some, but I didn’t find them useful and more of a annoyance than anything. The alerts are clear and to the point but you can’t reply to them like you can with the Apple Watch.


Garmin Fenix 5x review – maps and navigation

  • Colour TOPO maps
  • Routable cycling maps
  • Turn by turn navigation

Whether you’re in the city or on the trail, an array of fēnix 5X on-watch mapping and navigation features help keep you oriented and on-course at a glance.

  • Full-colour country recreational mapping that comes preloaded; map data is optimised for at-a-glance navigation and location tracking on your wrist
  • Round-trip routing options give runners and cyclists the ability to enter a distance they want to conduct and the watch will suggest appropriate courses
  • Easy-to-read guidance cues provide banners on the display that show upcoming turns
  • Around Me map mode displays locations nearby in a simplified graphical interface that increases awareness and ease when navigating in unfamiliar environments
  • Data overlays on the map highlight key information so you don’t have to switch screens while in an activity
  • GroupTrack4 allows you to keep tabs on your buddies for adventures such as skiing; LiveTrack allows friends to follow your adventures in real time2

Ok, that is the highlights but I feel a number of features fall short.

  • Full colour topo maps – These are not as detailed as I would like and certainly in the UK and Europe you don’t get contoured maps. These have to be purchased separate, but you check out this cheaper alternative
  • The data overlays on the maps take half the screen and gives you only half a map. This is no use when cycling or moving at speed. Listen up Garmin these are not overlays!
  • I have found turn by turn navigation hit and miss and does not always warn you before a turn.

I think the mapping features are a big step up, but for me are still work in progress.

How to install detail contour maps on the Garmin Fenix 5x


Garmin Fenix 5x review – Battery life

  • Up to 12 days in smartwatch mode
  • Up to 20 hours in GPS mode
  • Up to 35 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode

The battery life has always been a huge selling point for me with the Fenix series and this is no exception with the Fenix 5x. The watch still packs a great battery life despite the extra mapping features. I have found I have been getting about 10 days of battery with mix use and this is under heavy use. When I have been out cycling I have found it lose about 10% battery through a 1 hour cycle with multiple sensors.

Garmin Fenix 5x review – Conclusion

Despite the challenges with the mapping I have faced in my view the Garmin Fenix 5x is the best fitness watch of 2017 and its a huge step up from the Fenix 3 HR. The training and fitness features are fantastic and its tight integration into Garmin connect complete the package.


Garmin Fenix 5x box
Garmin Fenix 5x Summary
I have had the Garmin Fenix 5X for over 6 weeks now and I have put it through its pace during a number of activities. The watch has been running, swimming, cycling, strength training with me and I will share my thoughts of this fitness watch.

At first glance, Fenix 5x doesn’t look much different from Fenix 3. It keeps the classic round face, stainless steel bezel, silicone band and 5 physical buttons on the side of the device. With Connect IQ supported, you can customize the watch face with any photo from your smartphone.

Reader Rating1 Vote
Huge amount of activity profiles
ll new training load and fitness recovery
Colour topo maps
Maps are lacking in detail and don’t seem a finished version
No ability to store music on the device
Expensive fitness watch
Top Buy
Buy now from Amazon

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Jon Ratcliffe
I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles. I cover Wearables, tech and smart home. My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.

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