Fenix 5 PLUS – Wait? Jump with the F5? (5X plus and 5S plus too)

The rumour mill strongly suggests that we are due for a hardware update to the Fenix 5 with a Fenix 5 PLUS series.

IMMINENT: More about to be published on the 5X plus, 5 plus and 5S plus…watch this space.

Q: If you are thinking of buying a Fenix 5, should you buy NOW or wait for the PLUS version?

Garmin 935 Wahoo Tickr Fit

Some Background

The Fenix 5 series (5s, 5, 5s and 935) are functionally awesome, they even look great in most people’s eyes, including mine.

The problem is that the onboard sensors, whilst more than perfectly acceptable, are not great: oHR (Elevate, latest generation especially 5X), GPS and, to a lesser extent, altimetry leave a bit to be desired. At least that’s my opinion.

Ignoring my personal opinion, there ARE connectivity issues particularly with the 5 and 5S. If you are dropping your power meter even for only a second every minute it TOTALLY messes up your live and historic data to the point of useLESSness.

Remember: rubbish in…rubbish out. If you are producing incorrect HR or power data then all the awesome Firstbeat functionality will be wrong. Firstbeat perform calculations NOT miracles.

Then we turn to functional omissions. The Fenix 5 series does not (yet) have Garmin PAY (NFC) or Garmin onboard MUSIC. And the Fenix 5 is the top-of-the-range device, usually having all the possible/relevent functionality that is available.

Fenix 5 & 5s RECALL ? – Would you do that if you were Garmin right now?


Fenix 5 PLUS

Assuming that the PLUS series rumours are true then the PLUS could contain one of 4 new improvements:

  1. Music
  2. PAY
  3. Fix the sensor issues
  4. Something totally new for a Garmin sports watch like Galileo (improved positioning as per the Garmin FORETREX model)
  5. Any combination of the above.

Remember – anything that can be fixed by firmware on the Fenix 5 WILL be fixed by Garmin.

We then have to contemplate if the PLUS series was always planned to be released and hence has the hardware in place OR if this is a hardware fix.

  • My guess would be that this is a new hardware iteration to fix the sensor issues.
  • My guess with PAY is that it will be rolled out to the Fenix 5 but that it will not happen until bank coverage is more acceptable
  • My guess would be that Music will be rolled out but only shortly after it has been proven to work in the 645
  • My guess with the Galileo is that we are looking to wait for the Fenix 6 (six) for that.


I think that, from a PR perspective, it would be highly embarrassing and potentially damaging for Garmin to admit the mistake of hardware errors with a release solely designed to correct those errors. So I expect that some new area of functionality (as above) gets rolled out at the same time to justify the PLUS status.

Of course, that may leave existing Fenix 5 owners extremely hacked off. Justifiably so in my opinion.

The precise timing of an ’emergency’ hardware fix could be ‘whenever it is ready‘. As I’ve said, I don’t think an emergency release will happen. So this will be a scheduled release around other new products. The expected other product releases are the Forerunner 245 and possibly the Forerunner 745XT for run and tri-lite. Then also potentially the Edge 530 and/or Edge 830 for cycling. And the running/tri models might be pre-summer (May) and the Edge device(s) might be summer.

Milestone Pod Review Garmin 935Me?

I have a Garmin Forerunner 935 (which is a Fenix 5 variant) and I am cool with that. The GPS is not accurate enough for pace for me so I use STRYD. I use a chest strap and not the oHR and I don’t really mind about the altimetry. I would not use the 5 or 5S because of the sensor dropouts. I would not use the 5X as the mapping was too slow to respond on the model I had and it had basically not been properly tested (it could be OK now).

My Advice

If you want my advice then here it is

  1. Do not buy a Fenix 5 unless you are aware of the existing issues and are confident that they won’t affect you. It’s a lot of money you are about to spend.
  2. Wait until May and see precisely what/when Garmin are doing with the PLUS series. The Fenix 5 has awesome functionality, make sure you get a watch you will be super happy with for the next 2 or more years and with no regrets. Patience is a virtue, apparently.

I might also suggest that if you are looking for a TRI watch then there could be other alternatives soon.


January 2018: Cycling/Running/Triathlon ‘Watches’: New Models, Current Models and expected replacement dates. Garmin, Polar, Suunto, Wahoo, Epson, etc

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12 thoughts on “Fenix 5 PLUS – Wait? Jump with the F5? (5X plus and 5S plus too)

  1. Having been bitten once by Garmin and the F3HR, which has already been returned for warranty replacement within a year, I would hesitate before buying another Garmin training watch. They seem destined to continue repeating mistakes of previous generations. What do they take us for? If you can’t get basics like GPS and altimeter right this is not the game you should be playing.

    I just wish my Polar V800 could talk Ant+. I’ll take accuracy over supplementary features any day of the week when it comes to elite training devices. I really don’t care about smart notifications if my GPS and heart rate data is a mess.

  2. Hard to fix the GPS and BT/Ant connectivity issues without changing the design with the metallic bezel…absent on the FR935 that has none of these issues…

    Pace, well GPS pace is either filtered and laggy or all over the place, not much can be done about that. What altimeter issues have you noted though? My FR935 doesn’t exhibit any particular problem there other than the inevitable drifting with weather changes.

    1. Disagree on “the FR935 that has none of these issues”. My FR935 has some connectivity issues too – but minor. E.g. when on my bike, with the FR935 I have dropouts (PM, CAD, SmartTrainer and/or HR) while the E1K never has issues.

      1. Yes, that’s possibly due to the fact that calibration with GPS only occurs when you start the activity. It won’t have an impact on D+/D- and you can always monitor GPS Altitude vs Baro Altitude and recalibrate if you feel it’s needed.

      2. sure. to be honest if i look at D+/D- (nice terms!! I shall use those for ever more) i do it after the fact. i re-base the altitude for the entire ride on GPS/SRTM. pretty much never look at it in ride.

  3. Are there other ANT+ devices having drop-out issues with the 5(s), or is it mainly limited to Stryd? If the latter I can’t possibly see why they would do a recall, the number of affected users would be relatively small as compared to how many are successfully using the watch without that particular foot pod.

  4. Garmin are nice watches, but functionalities unreliable, too many bugs. Updates are frequent and changing functionalities and adding issues…

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