First look at the Fenix 6x Pro
Following months of speculation Garmin has released the Fenix 6 series. The company has released several models of the Fenix 6 series with 19 variants across the series. In this I Fenix 6x Pro hands on review, I will take a first look at the design, menu, battery and maps.
Please note – This Garmin Fenix 6x hands on review is just that. I have had the Fenix 6X pro on my wrist for about 72 hours now. This means it’s just a first impressions and before the full review is complete, things could change. I will also focus on “what’s new” rather going over old features.
While the Fenix 6 and Fenix 6s models feature base models that don’t include Wifi, maps and music. The Fenix 6x Pro/Sapphire have these features as a standard across the range.
- Garmin Fenix 6X Pro – Steel bezel, Gorilla glass with silicon band. Wifi, music and maps as standard – $749/£649
- Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire – Steel bezel with DLC coating with Sapphire glass. Silicon and leather band options. Wifi, music and maps as standard – $849/£749
- Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar – Titanium bezel with DLC coating options. Solar Power Glass for extra battery life. Music, Wi-Fi, maps as standard – $999/£849
For clarity of the reader, I will use the Fenix 6x Pro for this review, but may refer to features in the above devices. However, I will call out if I have not used them.
What’s new in for the Fenix 6x Pro
- New screen sizes for the Fenix Fenix 6x (1.4)
- Increase in pixels 280 x 280
- Upgraded the heart rate sensor to the latest Garmin ELEVATE heart rate module.
- Pulse OX across the series.
- Increase in battery life performance and a new power-management modes
- Base model does not feature music, maps or WI-FI (not applicable the Fenix 6x models.)
- Solar charging on the Fenix 6x Solar edition via a feature called Power Glass.
- PacePro. This is a grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity.
- Body Battery – New to the Fenix 6
- Training load focus – New to the Fenix 6
- Primary benefit (Training Effect labels) – New to the Fenix 6
- Respiration rate – New to the Fenix 6
- Heat, altitude acclimation status
- Pre-loaded TOPO maps and ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski results.
Design and screen
- Comes in 6x Pro and 6x Sapphire and 6x Solar models
- 51mm case
- 1.4 inch, 280 x 280 display
- Available with steel and titanium bezel
- Interchangeable 26mm bands
At first glance, you cannot tell the difference between the Fenix 6x and its predecessor, the 5x Plus. Because not much as changed, But Garmin’s newest wearable enjoys the same high quality and build. The Fenix 6x Pro is only a millimetre slimmer, not that you can tell as it not noticeably slimmer on the wrist than the 5x Plus. You also don’t get a significant weight reduction with only a 5g drop on the steel version.
Turning over the new wearable, you find the latest Elevate heart rate monitor technology, which you also get on the Forerunner 945. Built into the Wrist HR, you also get the Pulse OX sensor (SpO) which gives you deeper insights into your sleep and your training at altitude.
The 26mm silicon QuickFit Band that comes as standard feels comfortable, but I have had no problems with previous versions. In the higher end versions you can also get leather and Titanium.
It’s all about the screen
The biggest thing you will notice about the design though is the screen. It is a 1.4-inch 280 x 280 resolution screen. Garmin has used transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) which based on my testing is crispy and a lot easier to read in sunny conditions.
With the Fenix 6x line, you get a choice of either Gorilla glass (Fenix 6x Pro) or sapphire glass (Fenix 6x Sapphire) with the latter being the stronger of the two. You also get power glass in the Solar model and at the time of writing this I believe they make this of normal gorilla glass.
While the screen improvement would not impress the Apple Watch fans out there, it is a big deal for Garmin users. Based on my testing so far for this review, the Fenix 6x Pro screen is a significant improvement over the 5x Plus model.
Software and Features
- New widgets interface
- Improvements to the UI
- PacePro and new Firstbeat features
While the Fenix 6x Pro looks like the same as the Fenix 5 on the outside, it’s under the hood that things get an upgrade. Although you get the same sports tracking, maps and music. Garmin has improved the UI and added a few more bells and whistles to tempt you to upgrade.
Garmin has made some noticeable changes to the watch interface on the Fenix. These changes range from improvements to the widgets menu, battery information and making the screen graphics look crisper.
The biggest change is the new widget display which is now a rolling screen as opposed to multiple separate data screens as seem on other Garmin wearables. scrolling through the widgets you can see information like Training Status, health stats at a glance. But you can also dig a little deeper into this information.
As with the Fenix 5x Plus, you get the quick access menu. This allows to get to the settings and features faster such as Garmin Pay or power off the watch. While the UI has changed little, you can now add or remote items from this menu, which I think is a welcome improvement.
As with previous models, you can have multiple data fields on the workout screens. However, the biggest change with the Fenix 6x, you can have up to 8 data fields, along with graphical data fields.
I have found this change a welcome improvement it really makes most of the new 1.4 inch screen size.
As this is a hand on first impressions, the new Garmin wearable has several other changes like PacePro feature and Firstbeat features. But, at the time of writing this I have not had enough time to explore them, so it would be unfair to comment at this stage and will cover them in the Fenix 6x Pro review.
- New map themes
- Added Ski maps for over 2k resorts
- Popularity routing is new
While they do not change the maps in terms of what they ship with the device, so if you wanting more detailed maps. Then you need to download them from a third party and I have a tutorial here on how todo that.
Garmin has introduced a feature called Map Themes, which allow you to change the styling of the map. For example, you can go from the default styling to a night styling. Or to a high contrast styling. Or even a marine focused one. I need to spend more time with this feature before I comment and will cover this in the full review.
In the Fenix 5 Series, Garmin included Trendline Popularity data for routing, which is basically of millions of activities on Garmin Connect collected from users. But you couldn’t see any of these data points and was just presented with a choice of a few maps to choose from.
However, you can see this data via a purple graphic on the maps. I do need to get under the skin of this new feature and see how well it performs for different activities, as I found with the previous incarnation it was not overly useful for certain activities.
- Battery saver mode
- Customisable battery management modes
Battery life is always a hot talking point for any fitness watch. So when new features are added it is always the fear that it will impact battery life. However, this is one area that I think Garmin has possibly delivered on for the Fenix 6x pro.
So getting the marketing numbers out of the way, here are the battery life details for the Fenix 6x Pro.
- Smartwatch: Up to 21 days
- GPS: Up to 60 hours
- GPS and Music: Up to 15 hours
- Max Battery GPS Mode: 120 hours
- Expedition GPS Activity: 46 days
- Battery Saver Watch Mode: 80 days
Much has been made about the Fenix 6x Pro Solar with ‘Power Glass’ solar power display. While I am still to actually get my hands on with this model. I am not overly convinced this will add that much, unless you are outside most of the time. However, when my device arrives, I will give this feature a whirl and report back.
Battery save mode
While users of the current Fenix 5x Plus will not be jumping up and down over the base battery life improvements. It is the new battery life modes that really shake things up.
The first is with a new battery saver mode, which you can access by holding down the light button on the watch. Here you can see estimated battery life in days as opposed to a percentage. But the most useful element of this feature, you activate the battery saver mode. This disables many of the more draining features to extend the battery life, this is something you had to do something manually in the past.
While this feature is useful and will give you some massive battery life improvements, it is literally a kill switch for lots of features. So, if the default settings are too much, you can also edit the sensors and features that get disabled to suit your needs. The final icing on the cake for this feature, you will get shown the increase or decrease in battery life by making these changes.
Power management modes
Besides the battery saver mode, the Fenix 6x Pro also get Power Manager mode. You can find this feature in the sports profiles or in the settings.
These modes include;
- Normal mode – This has everything turn on, runs the sports profile normally.
- Maximum battery mode, which will turn off heart rate monitoring, phone notifications, music and only use GPS in UltraTrac mode.
- Jacket Mode is for anyone that wears their watch over their jacket. This would be great for cyclists during the winter months or a swimmer in a wetsuit and again will disable heart rate tracking, music and notifications.
It has been a challenge for Garmin to improve the battery life in the Fenix 6 line up with introducing the special battery modes. However, this new set of battery management makes it easier for users to do some battery saving tasks that would otherwise be manual.
While the Fenix 6x Pro does not see any radical design changes to the device itself, I am pleased to see the screen upgrade.
I am also impressed with the small steps that Garmin has made with the UI of the Fenix 6 Series. From the new widgets, far easier to understand battery life status and more control over the menus will please many.
While I have not spent enough time yet to fully understand all the new features, one of the standout features so far for me is the battery life management modes. These modes will gives users more control over the device and its battery, something that Garmin users have been crying out for.
Oh the price, no matter which Fenix 6 you go for, you will need to dig deep into your pockets. With Price’s ranging from £529/$599 for the Fenix 6S right up £999/$1149 for the top of the range 6X Solar. Then there is the 19 variants that come with or without maps, music and Wifi, customer’s could be put off.
Has Garmin done enough for Fenix 5x Plus owner to want to upgrade? As a current Fenix 5x Plus user, I am not sure, yes Garmin has brought several new features, but they could port some of them like battery management to the Fenix 5x Plus.
More to come in the full Fenix 6x Pro review
So that’s a wrap for now and hopefully you have got a good insight into the Fenix 6x Pro and what it can offer. As already mentioned I will do a full Garmin Fenix 6x Pro review and this should land within the next 3 weeks (or so) and will cover the following
- Wrist heart rate performance – Running, cycling, hiking and swimming.
- GPS accuracy – Running, cycling, hiking and swimming (Hopefully)
- Further insight into the battery management.
- Further insight into the maps, routing and navigation.
- Firstbeat and PacePro features.
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