Garmin Fenix 6 – view on the future – opinion, including Forerunner 945

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus ReviewGarmin have just released their Fenix 5 Plus models just over a year after the release of the original Fenix 5, 5X and 5S. We see the Fenix 5S Plus, the Fenix 5 Plus and the Fenix 5X Plus as well. The initial specs of the Fenix 5 Plus, however, include much of what I originally expected would be in the Fenix 6.

Fenix 5 plus, Fenix 5S plus, Fenix 5X plus – high level specifications & features

This seems like an appropriate time to speculate about what will be in Garmin’s Fenix 6 (six) which we should be able to buy in 2019.

Many months ago we had great fun speculating about what was going to be in the current Fenix 5 models and generally got the prediction ‘about right’ (link This time around it will be trickier as there are few ‘proper’ sports-related features that remain to be integrated. The new Fenix 6 model is likely to be pushed more towards increased precision and an increased depth and breadth of existing, non-sport features such as MUSIC and CONTACTLESS payments. For the smartwatch lover this is going to be a great post; for a dedicated sports watch lover perhaps less so!

Current State-of-Play

The Fenix 3/HR sent Garmin into the sports watch stratosphere and was a super high seller for them. I’d guess that the Fenix 5/5X/5s/Forerunner 935 together will sell even more than the Fenix 3 AND at higher price points.

Garmin accountants LOVE the Fenix. Garmin shareholders LOVE the Fenix.

The three main Fenix 5 Plus models are basically the same under the hood but each with a twist of some sort. Let’s recap:

  • Fenix 5S Plus – the smaller one
  • Fenix 5X Plus – the bigger one with maps
  • Fenix 5 Plus – the one in the middle in terms of size
  • UNCHANGED Forerunner 935 – the lightweight, triathlon one

Problems in Garmin-Town

The original Fenix 5 has some quite serious problems. Serious, that is, if they affect you. If they don’t affect you then almost by definition you will be blissfully unaware of them and think you have the most awesome sports watch ever. These problems include:

  • Optical HR – actually it is a little unfair to beat Garmin with this stick. Every competitor’s wrist-based, optical HR is ‘far from great’. Garmin is one of the better ones but the technology seems fundamentally flawed and only really RELIABLY useful for in-workout usage which are steady-state run or stationary bike based.
  • Some users suggest that the extra weight of the 5X causes further oHR issues.
  • GPS and GPS+GLONASS – Personally I think GLONASS makes the positional accuracy worse, except in unusual situations. Putting that to one side, the Fenix 5 GPS is ‘accurate enough’ or ‘OK’ orΒ  ‘meh’ it is NOT market-leading. Anyone who tells you it is…is wrong. But for many uses it is perfectly acceptable; for example to give you a pretty track of where you have just worked out.
  • GPS+GALILEO – I am yet to fully form my view on whether or not GALILEO is the precision tech that Garmin needs. It’s looking promising in the sense that it may have enabled Garmin to ALMOST catch up but probably NOT to be market-leading.
  • Connectivity – The Fenix 5 and Fenix 5S had sensor connectivity issues that could not be fixed through software; hence the 5plus and 5S Plus versions which have no reports yet of such problems AND ARE UNLIKELY TO HAVE SUCH PROBLEMS

The Wonders Of Fenixville

If you have N+1 bikes then the Fenix has F+1 features. That’s a LOT of features. AN AWFUL LOT.

One key feature that underpins the true capability of the Fenix is the awesome battery life. So whilst WearOS devices can show great maps on their uber-pretty screens, their batteries simply won’t support many a long hike. With a sensible number of features enabled, the 935 will probably get you through to the end of your Ironman Triathlon even if you finish in 16+ hours (let’s assume it was a hilly one πŸ˜‰ ).

The three/four Fenix 5 models seem generally very well suited to the target market segments: the adventurer; the triathlete; the smaller-wristed person; the feature lover;…The Fenix 5 Plus are EQUALLY as well suited, just that they offer a bit of extra love on the map, music and payment fronts.

The Garmin Fenix 6

Let’s cover the main areas of the Fenix 6, Forerunner 945 and how they will expand in the future.

A key theme to look out for is the ability of the device to leverage additional revenues streams for Garmin. For example I would imagine that Garmin will take a cut from all transactions made with Garmin PAY and will also take a cut from every premium subscriber of a 3rd party music service.

Form & Overall Function

The large, medium, small and lightweight, circular formats are here to stay.

These are further refined in use-specific models such as Descent MK2 (dive), Tactix Delta (military/hunting), D2 Delta (aviation), Chronos (dress watch), Forerunner 935/945 (triathlon)

The existing Fenix button layout and interface work well and will not change significantly.

It’s possible a touchscreen could be introduced on one of the models but I hope not.

Weights and dimensions will be little changed but a new battery here and a new GPS chip there will change the weight in a few grams/ounces here and there.

I suspect that the Fenix 5 Plus (five) will prove popular and a similar Fenix 6 Plus edition might follow half way through the Fenix 6-to-7 product cycle.

Take Out: Little change

Apps – CIQ 3, CIQ4

The Garmin Fenix 6 will support the current CIQ version. That will probably encompass CIQ4..whatever that turns out to be.

CIQ3 allows improvements for the handling of notifications, maps and audio. This gives some clues to the areas that Garmin see to be important moving forwards.

When you think of ‘maps’ try to think NOT of route navigation whilst exercising but rather location-based services (eg Yelp), the application of mapping is much wider than the sporty application of maps.

Take Out: Will support latest CIQ

Cellular Connectivity

An ‘obvious’ market trend to follow would be for the high-end of the Fenix range to have onboard cellular connectivity. Whilst this might let you take and receive phone calls on the watch, perhaps the more important feature enabled is 247 internet connectivity. So we are NOT talking here about taking a call in the middle of your triathlon but rather having GROUP TRACK and LIVE TRACK enabled in your triathlon…without a smart phone. We are also talking about over-the-air streaming music services and very many other location-based services that already exist for your smartphone.

Set against that, just think, if we are going to have a microphone built-in to watch that is going underwater. Certainly with the Fenix dive watch I doubt very much if microphones and speakers are the way to go underwater. BUT true wireless earbuds save the need for a speaker and some higher end earbuds also have decent inbuilt microphones.

Take Out: At least one of the Fenix 6 variants will have cellular connectivity and this will be the HEADLINE FEATURE that sets it apart from the Fenix 5 Plus series.

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus ReviewMusic

Music support has shown its pretty head in the 5 Plus, 5S Plus and 5X Plus

I’m expecting that the Garmin platform further evolves to enable 3rd party music services to almost plug-and-play into your watch. iHeartRadio and Deezer are the currently supported services but at some point others will follow. Whilst the Apple Music service may never find its way onto a Garmin, Google Play Music might and I certainly expect that Spotify will.

As of June 2018 only the Forerunner 645 Music, Vivoactive 3 Music and Fenix 5 Plus series support Garmin’s music platform. We will see a Forerunner (2)45 also support music soon enough.

Music is going to be an interesting addition not just that mp3 playback is supported but rather how and what kinds of audio files are meshed into an ever-improving music playback set of functionalities.

Music playback will NOT simply be a high-end feature. ie simplistically it will not just be on the Fenix 6 but rather it will be on a premium-priced version in each Garmin category. So there will be a music version for: activity trackers (maybe); entry-level running watches; mid-level running watches; and the Fenix 6, as a premium/flagship sub brand, will all have music

Jabra Elite Active 65t Review Garmin 5S PlusI expect that if we get a cellular version of the Fenix 6 then the music functionality will need to be further differentiated to support true music streaming as well as offline, watch-based caching from a streamed service (eg via home wifi or home PC)

We might also see Garmin differentiate its music offering by only allowing very simple music playback on low to mid-range devices, leaving the streaming services for the higher-end models like the Fenix 6. But I don’t think so. I think there will be one broad music offering which is either supported or not (plus live streaming on the VERY top models)

Take Out: The Fenix 6 variants will have music and at least one model will have live streaming version over a cellular connection


β–· Best Running Watch with Music 2018 | Top 10 Guide | Review

Contactless Payment

Garmin PAY WILL be in the imminent 5 plus series (5 plus, 5S plus, 5X plus)

There are peripheral arguments here about how nice it is to be able to buy a coffee with your watch at the end of your run. I think this somewhat misses an understanding of the true business opportunity. Clearly Garmin PAY’s cut of your $2 coffee will not amount too much.

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus ReviewPart of the reason for the removal of the ugly Forerunner 920XT from the Garmin range is that Garmin’s watches need to be 247 watches. Hey, if you’re wearing a watch 247 then you are fair game for a service that wants to be there on your wrist just whenever you want to splash some cash and give Garmin PAY their cut.

That is why many similar vendors to Garmin want to get in on the same game. Apple, Samsung, Google, Fitbit PAY, Ali Pay, etc.

Take Out: Contactless payment via Garmin PAY is going to be on all Fenix devices…sooner, rather than later. Because this feature generates revenue for Garmin there will always be a push to include it on mid-range models. Supported banks will continue to increase.

Internet of Things

I’m a bit sceptical about all of this IoT stuff. CIQ apps already exist for IoT functionality but I just think much of it speaks of laziness. Do I really want my garage door to automatically open as I turn right into my home street? Do I really want to turn the lights off without getting up from where I’m sitting at home? Only then for my watch to tell me 5 minutes later to MOVE as I’m not being active enough?

Just think, with a press of a few button on his/her Chronos, the President might be able to trigger a nuclear launch. I’ve seen too many sci-fi films, sorry.

More – SmartThings Control it’s already here!!! (link to:, April 2017)

Take out: Whatever you or I might think on this matter…it’s going to happen anyway. The Fenix 6 will control lots of mundane stuff, the mundane stuff can then trigger other mundane stuff with

Optical Heart Rate

Hopefully everyone by now has fallen out of love with optical HR, having realised it is generally not accurate enough. Maybe that’s too cynical a view? And maybe some tinkering around the edges of accuracy with optical HR and its uses can make us fall in love again? This time with how 247 optical HR can leverage recovery/adaptation analyses.

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Review

The Fenix 5 Plus probably does NOT have a new iteration of the ELEVATE sensor. Just the regular one with some new algorithms and a bit of tinkering on the 5X Plus to support PulseOX (blood oxygen). It can already support 24×7 HR and resting HRV to a degree.

Garmin will likely iterate a new ELEVATE sensor but I suspect only small-scale, incremental improvements in size, accuracy and power consumption will be possible. The Fenix 6 should then see a good level of resting-HRV accuracy from an optical sensor, this will then give Garmin or CIQ apps a better chance of vaguely meaningful sleep analyses and post-workout recovery analyses. Perhaps also HRV support will be possible at higher levels of HR, although I am somewhat sceptical this will be possible.

There are still significant advances that can happen for athletes in this area (resting HRV) that utilise current or soon-to-be current technology on the Fenix 6. In my opinion, athletes who start to be more interested in recovery rather than fine-tuning a specific workout’s parameters will be the ones who will get the bigger performance gains.

Take Out: The next generation of ELEVATE will be on the Fenix 6 and it will do resting HRV quite well. 3rd parties like Firstbeat will continue to exploit this with new athletic features.

GPS & Galileo (GLONASS and BDS?)

Single Band GALILEO is in the Fenix 5 Plus

I’m not going to stop moaning about Garmin’s GPS accuracy until they produce a market-leading watch to deliver accurate GNSS positioning for sport.

Dual band GALILEO and the availability of a full constellation of GALILEO satellites in 2020 (ish) will be what is requried to get awesome GNSS results.The 5+ GALILEO GNSS results are NOT awesome.

Q: So will GALILEO actually make any real difference, especially to precision?

A: It might not. Don’t get your hopes up. My understanding is that there are possible single-band and dual-band implementations possible with GALILEO. The latter being more accurate. My further understanding is that significant antennae redesign may be required for the latter and that such a redesign would need the Fenix shell to be redesigned. Comments very much welcomed below if you know more about this area.

We shall have to wait to see what GPS+GALILEO brings in real-world usage. The Garmin Foretrex and Edge 130 units already support Galileo. I’m not entirely sure how cycling positional accuracy can be meaningfully improved for most people in most circumstances. Let’s hope the Edge 130 experience has better enabled Garmin to fine-tune their Galileo offering for the Fenix 5plus/6.

Perhaps 3rd party, high precision GPS/BDS/GLONASS/GALILEO sensors could make a comeback for runners? (A: No) I think Polar used to make one and there is the Garmin GLO from over 5 years ago (for cars). Maybe a footpod is easier πŸ˜‰

Take Out: The Fenix 6 will have DUAL-BAND GALILEO running over a redesigned antennae in all its full glory, we will then be waiting for the next version of America’s GPS to be even better.

Polar H10 H7 suunto smart belt movesense garmin hrm-tri hrm-swimSensor Support

I think we are pretty much ‘there’ with sensor support.

I expect all Garmin sensors will soon broadcast in ANT+ and BLE and I expect all Garmin Fenix watches to receive both such signals from all the existing sensor types. The ANT+ vs BLE war is not over. It’s just going through the phase of every sensible company needing to support both in the sporty world. In the super longterm, unfortunately, BLE will win.

Garmin already has the ability to accept new data types through CIQ. So if we ever get a decent hydration sensor or a blood glucose sensor (nah!) then it will slot into your Fenix 6 relatively easily. Let’s face it, it will even slot into the existing tech easily enough too.

Garmin messed up with connectivity issues in the Fenix 5/5S. They won’t make that mistake again. The 5 Plus series will be fine in that regard as will the Fenix 6 series. Someone at Garmin will be in charge of testing that πŸ˜‰

I think we are also due a next iteration of the HRM-RUN/TRI/SWIM which will probably broadcast dual BLE – ANT+ and maybe also a newer and more accurate footpod that might also support Garmin’s Running Power algorithm and be a viable (proper) alternative to STRYD. Although I’m not sure that the market is big enough for Garmin…we’ll see.

Take Out: All current sport sensors will be supported in whichever way you want to connect and connection reliability will be great. There might be a modicum of gadget-excitement from some new accessories for the Fenix including a proper STRYD competitor.

New Sensor Support

We have seen the integration of a Pulse Oximeter into the Fenix 5X PLUS.

One industry trend…well, aspiration…is to be able to sense more important stuff like blood glucose, blood pressure and hydration levels (along with many other things). There are significant technical issues involved in getting these data right and there are potentially lucrative medical uses for the first company to properly achieve this. As well as legal cases that might arise if the data is not correct. Let’s face it and take a reality check, even heart rate is not yet properly addressed in the Elevate sensor.

Nevertheless the aspiration, if not the means, exist to expand the limits to what the Fenix 6 can endeavour to sense via multiple clever ways of shining a light into your skin.

I hope we see a hydration ensor that works. It would be useful and many of us could easily appreciate how it is usable.

Screen Size & Resolution

Whilst LOTS OF FEATURES plus GREAT BATTERY LIFE = SUCCESS for Garmin, the hardware drawback has been a relatively poor screen. The existing Fenix 5 and 5 Plus screens are not much changed from earlier Garmin models and they fall WAY behind the brilliance and vibrancy of many of the more mainstream watches (Apple Watch, WearOS watches).

The screen is one of the key compromises Garmin has had to make. Garmin could quite easily introduce an amazing screen but BANG would go the battery life and then athletes would start complaining.

IMPORTANT POINT: This necessary (and correct) compromise that Garmin made historically is now at the crossroads. We’ve already seen, from several of the new feature sets discussed above, that Garmin is getting into the 247 world. And to do that the screens need to significantly improve to support 247 wearability.

Ticwatch and Casio have introduced novel 2 layer screen solutions to this dilemma but I can’t see Garmin going there.

We might just get a slightly improved screen from a newer, battery-friendly display but it won’t take on the beauty of the displays you’ve seen on your friends’ wrists.

Also of note is that the Fenix 5S PLUS seems to have a larger 1.2″ screen, the same as the Fenix 5. Probably this will involve a thinner bezel but same overall watch size.

Take Out: At best there will only be a marginal improvement over the Fenix 5’s screen. Probably only to the levels of the higher-end, existing Suunto SPARTAN/9 watches

New True Sporty Features

I can only see tinkering around the edges happening in most areas of sporting functionality on the Fenix 6. For true niche sporting functionalities then CIQ will be leveraged by 3rd party developers and/or Firstbeat will need to develop some more goodies for Garmin. The one exception to that will be CdA where Garmin’s relatively recent acquisition of Alphamantis will be leveraged for cyclists.

An easier route to introduce new functionality would be to copy WAHOO and become more open to 3rd party providers (eg of routing or of training plans). This is a less risky appraoch to development as someone else is doing it and there could even be revenue enhancement possibilities by selling premium subscriptions to the thrid party services.

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus ReviewRunning Power

Running power data is currently incorporated into the Garmin data environment via CIQ. So running power is DIFFERENT to cycling power and running pace and heart rate and everything else. That’s why, for example, you can’t currently get native Running Power Alerts. Running Power doesn’t ‘plug in’ in quite the same way.

This is, sort of, outside Garmin’s control. In a nutshell, once an ANT+ working group agrees the standards for Running Power then it will be incorporated for Garmin, RunScribe and STRYD to leverage on the Fenix 6

Take Out: By the time the Fenix 6 is released this could already be working in the Fenix 5 (plus)

Oxygen Availability Based Training

Muscle oxygen sensors like MOXY are GREAT but they are only for a tiny elite of VERY serious athletes and labs. I love my gadgets but this area is a gadget too for me and for most of you too. This can currently be incorporated by CIQ and the market opportunity is too small for Garmin to take on the likes of MOXY and HUMON.

Take Out: Nada

Intelligent Training: Firstbeat, Xert and more

Intelligent Training is one of the areas where much remains to be exploited and it’s an area where the technology already exists. It’s ‘just’ a case of someone, somewhere writing all the correct and clever bits of code to make it happen. I’d class intelligent training as covering things like: adaptive training plans (macro); adaptive workouts (micro); and realtime audio coaching.

Your watch will become your trainer and your coach. Some people will want to be totally controlled by tech other will just want very occasional feedback and guidance…ALL of us could benefit from a little more intelligence on our training devices.

If you follow the newswires of many of the sports data platforms you will probably have seen a new ‘adaptive training’ model introduced every month for the last year or so. I’m pretty sure that several of these are going to be ‘smoke and mirrors’. It’s really hard to define what ‘doing it properly’ actually is; let alone delivering a solution that ‘does it properly’. And that’s just for running, doing if for triathlon is super hard (in a previous life…I tried!!)

Currently the Fenix 5 Plus series has many Firstbeat features: link to For those of you already familiar with what Garmin incorporate from Firstbeat then you can see Firstbeat’s potential to give you insights into your training as well as to actually help training be more efficient…that is, assuming you trust the numbers that derive from heart rate readings.

I would hope that the Fenix 6 will leverage both existing and new Firstbeat features that encompass deeper use of resting HRV (optical), exercise HRV (chest strap) & power and more intelligent training plans that adapt to your fitness/fatigue states on a day-to-day level as well as within a workout.

xert-time-to-exhaustionXert does that too. Xert works from power numbers in a non-traditional way. For example it knows that the last rep is harder than the first rep. So why have the same target? And it knows that your ability to execute a hard workout after a previous day’s hard workout is restricted by your increased levels of fatigue.

An adaptive training plan might set today’s workout, accounting for your fatigue. And it might dynamically lengthen or shorten the workout based on the time you spend in each zone. But do different flavours of “time-in-zone” accurately reflect the stimulus and responses that are happening in your body? HRV might be a better tool for refining adaptive training models.

July 2018 sees Garmin introduce their new COACH functionality. This is JUST THE START of adaptive training plans.

Garmin Coach – Any Good ? Free Adaptive 5K Running Plan


Take Out: The Fenix 6 will have a raft of adaptive training programs for all levels across many sports, maybe even triathlon. But on what basis do we adapt? heart rate, power, HRV, training effect or RPE? And is the method of adaptation really validated for a 60 year old female athlete? or just a 30-something male?


Navigation via TOPO maps is included in the Fenix 5 Plus series (5 Plus, 5S Plus, 5X Plus)

You can only get from A to B in so many ways. They are already pretty much ‘invented’ and ‘out there’. The future will be about the intelligence and functionality built into geographic points. The 5S Plus already has a DEM database of the elevation of GNSS points which produces generally good results for elevation.

Despite most navigational things already being ‘invented’ the executin is generally poor across the board. So expect to see improvements in route sharing, in-route renavigation and app-based route creation (Garmin Explore).

CIQ 3 is opening up ‘mapping’ funcitonality and this goes part-way to explaing why the Fenix 5 Plus introduces mapping and navigation support.

We will already have full colour routable TOPO mapping with trendline popularity and route sharing on the 5 Plus series, what next for the Fenix 6? Perhaps Google Maps integration? (ie the one LOTS of people use AND that works)

I would certainly expect improvements in 3D positioning (ie estimation of elevation) and air pressure measurement. Don’t forget, we are expecting a cellular based Fenix 6; so weather data can be periodically updated and localised elevation maps of local GPS points will help improve the accuracy of live elevation.

The Fenix 6 would also need a better battery to aid longer navigation. Navigating can currently half the battery life.

New Sport Metrics and Improvements to Segments, Splits & Laps

New sport metrics will come from 3rd parties. I can’t see any obvious omissions from the Fenix 5 Plus that can’t be filled by CIQ data fields and apps.

Having said that, one issue with CIQ data fields is that it cannot be used to control laps – although an app can but it would lose lots of other functionality in so doing.

I think Garmin need to do more with laps. And should cover these:

  • Lap based on GPS co-ordinate – this would be useful, for example, to properly count true laps in triathlons where multiple bike laps on a car race circuit are required. And it would save me pressing the lap button on my shimano Di2 on each lap of my local park πŸ˜‰
  • Layers of laps – Garmin currently only has either manual laps or autolaps (time/distance). It would be nice to be able to have both. For example within long 20 minute intervals the ability to add 1km autolaps. Garmin do currently allow autolaps within multisport profiles.
  • True effort laps – If I cut short an interval then it can become impossible to later analyse what I really achieved if the lap marker is at the originally intended/wrong point. I’d like to see the ability to recalculate true laps based on true effort periods eg if I had autolap set to 1km but only ran hard for 800m then that 800m would be marked as a lap. The next lap may well be 1050m if I run longer to compensate. Software like Golden Cheetah can do this on many levels, but it would be useful to have such functionality working LIVE on the watch as we run/cycle/swim.

Take Out: I’m whistling in the wind.

Garmin acquired Alphamantis a whille back and this signals a move to incorporate aerodynamic data for cycling. It is likely that more than a simple, in-house CIQ app will be built in to the 945 (Fenix)

Garmin Fenix 5 Review including | 5x | 5s | Forerunner 935 |

The Best Triathlon Watch

Remember the Fenix 5 series includes the Forerunner 935. This is the best triathlon watch right now.

I have a recent concern with the 935, having run out of battery after 10.5 hours of a long bike ride despite a stated >>20 hours of one second, GPS enabled battery recording time. My 935 is a year old and the battery has definately lasted longer than 10.5 hours previously. This resurfaces the worry that, for some people, (aka most people) the battery on an old 935 watch might not be enough for an Ironman. This must be rectified by a better battery and/or better battery management/demands. Tuning off all your gadgets and sensors to preserve battery life in your A race doesn’t hold well with me.

Garmin are already making super-cute moved by introducing the Edge 130 as a dumb terminal for the bike leg of your triathlon. Expect to see relatively niche (but good) functionality tlike dumb terminals introduced all around the edges of what the 935 can do for example the use of a dumb terminal could then enable the possibility to introduce some form of battery management on the Fenix 6/945 on your wrist whilst cycling.

Odds & Ends

It’s likely there will be increased onboard storage for music files and maps/map layers

Mapping on a CIQ ‘MAP’ app has the potential to crash the Fenix 6 very easily. Errant CIQ apps are somewhat of a risk and, in the past, you can certainly see on many Garmin watches that CIQ apps slow them down. If you couple this with Garmin only providing just enough CPU/memory for the watch then a costly, but sensible, route for Garmin will be to soup up and future-proof the Fenix 6…but they probably won’t.

One of the Fenix’s selling points is its connectivity with everything. There are still some elements of gym equipment and FE-C and remote ANT+ control that could be added. But, probably not.

There might be some element of voice control…but I doubt it.

Big Sport Tech Futures-Fenix 7, Fenix 8

Don’t get me wrong. There are going to be LOTS more advances in sports tech. I’m just not so sure they will find their way to YOUR smart wrist watch. The Fenix 7 and 8 will probably do the same sorts of things we see now but just in slightly fancier, slightly different or prettier ways.

We will have more from genetics, diets, smart clothing, weird and wonderful sensors, HUD displays and so on. Some of this will, sort of, be able to be incorporated into the EXISTING Garmin environment via CIQ. But much of it will be ‘somewhere else’ be that collated on a Pro-Teams central database/tablet or performed in labs.

I think we have to be in mind one simple key word.. ACTIONABLE.

All this stuff is super fancy and, to me, very interesting. A lot of it doesn’t work properly even in the stuff we buy now. But even if the new things can be made to work properly then what exactly are we going to do with the new insight?

Muscle Oxygen is a great one. Go and do a personal research project on muscle oxygen. It really is INTERESTING but the end game is NOT a new set of training zones. It’s more complex than that. And, for Jo Athlete, it is therefore NOT actionable. It IS actionable in a lab and by data driven athletes but not by most people. So there will not be a huge market, so Garmin will probably not be interested.

Against that we could argue that SPO2 is now measured in the Fenix 5X Plus…OK. I’ll give you that one. It’s NOT the same as Muscle Oxygen though and is still super niche BUT to an important target demographic who currently buy Suunto devices!

In terms of things being done slightly differently, that might include, for example, communications via satellite or communications of mass public WiFi networks in built-up areas. So ‘connectivity’ will continue to enhance many features but the method of connecting might morph a little from the immediately obvious cellular connectivity leap in the hoped-for Fenix 6.

I hope I’m worng but I see the Fenix 5 Plus/Fenix 6 as being the peak of what a smart sports watch will sensibly be. Development beyond that will simply be a SMART watch..and that’s where Apple and Google are right now…they are improving and getting more sporty too. Careful now, Garmin.

Price & Availability

An announcement at CES2019 was expected for the Fenix 6. With the Fenix 5 Plus having a MUCH larger feature-jump than expected I would be surprised to see a Fenix 6 in Jan 2019. I would expect Fall 2019 or CES 2020. Having said that there WILL be a Garmin announcement around CES2019.

The lack of a Forerunner 945 triathlon watch released alongside the Fenix 5 plus series suggeses, to me, that new sport-realted goodies might be released to the 935/945 in September 2018 (Christmas/Kona-time)

We’ve seen the Fenix 5 plus series pushing the prices higher than ever. This will continue with the Fenix 6. However higher pricing opens up the ability to introduce a lower-priced Fenix 6-lite and/or to better differentiate other Garmin ranges – for example a refreshed Garmin Forerunner 655 could contain many more features, look sporty yet still be better price-differentiated from more expensive Fenix 6 models.

Remember also that the Fenix 5 and 5Plus models seem to be being sold alongside each other, at least for now. These are variants at notably different price points.

Prices are likely to be $550 to $1200 (from the Fenix 6 Lite to the 6X).


It’s my job to give Garmin a hard time when they deserve it.

However what I’m describing for the Fenix 6 is probably getting close to a perfect smart watch for a sporty person. The only downsides are going to be PRICE and, for some people, AESTHETICS. But even on the aesthetics front I think Garmin generally do a good job with the Fenix.


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48 thoughts on “Garmin Fenix 6 – view on the future – opinion, including Forerunner 945

  1. >we will see improvements to distance/pace for runners

    Question from a newbie to running watches: I’ve gathered from your site and elsewhere that live pace performs poorly on all watches, but how bad is bad, in general? I’m on my first running watch, a TomTom Runner 3, and it’s been known to report a current pace of over TWO MINUTES slower than what I’m actually doing. This makes it flat-out useless even for my modest needs. I’m a recreational runner and happy enough with the level of accuracy I get from wrist OHR, but live pace on the TomTom is just a joke. What sort of pace accuracy would I be likely to see from, say, a Suunto if I decided to upgrade to one of the Spartan models?

    One other thing: I’m a supporter, but I’m still seeing banner ads across the bottom of my screen when I click on your “Home” page even when logged in. Is this an issue at my end or a glitch on the site?

    • tomtom is one of the better ones.
      suunto would be about the best, polar too.
      but it would still largely be NOT actionable in MANY circumstances
      if you are under trees or near buildings it will be wrong.
      go in in a striaght line out in the open and most will be ‘about right’ (or should be!)
      you can try to set a short lap eg 400m and then use lap pace, that might be a bit better (might not)
      most of the devices tend to get the concept of a kilometer about right so over the course of a lap all the smallscale errors cancel each other out and the true lap pace is better approximated.

      get a footpod. milestone is cheapest.

      Ads: please look at the test page at the bottom of this: . if that is all as it should be then the most likely cause is your local cache of an old page. if you have emptied your cache then ads shouldn’t be showing. please could you then let me know what browser/computer combination you are using. thank you!

      • Thanks, that’s helpful. I’ll add a footpod to my shopping list for when I upgrade (far as I can tell, the Runner 3 doesn’t support them).

        The test page looks fine. I can see it and, as with ALMOST every other page on your site, my user name appears in the top right corner. However, every time I click on “Home” below your title banner (from the test page or any other page), when the browser loads that page a banner ad shows up in short order AND my user name does NOT display at the top right. It’s as though this page, and only this page, automatically logs me out when I load it.

        Clearing the cache has had no effect.

        Windows 7, Netscape 59.0.2.

        • hi
          could you send me a printscreen for each scenario.…ty
          it could be an issue with what type of page is served up. but probably linked to the subscription system (beause of the login behaviour) so i will report if back to the guys who do that
          netscape!!!…blimey that gives both our ages away.

          • It gives SOMETHING away all right! It’s Firefox, fercryinginnabucket, not Netscape which I think I last used what, 20 years ago? Sorry for the brain fail.

            My watch issue may just have gone critical. I’ve suspected for a while that the GPS receiver might be going flaky because it’s been taking much longer to acquire the signal at the start of a run, but this morning it lost the signal about 5 km into a 10k run and then kept losing it again. Same route I’ve run hundreds of times with no trouble (yes there is tree cover, but this has never completely wiped out GPS reception before). The watch is only a year old, but TomTom customer care has deteriorated since they announced they were pulling out of wearables and I’m not optimistic about getting it fixed. Time to scope out a Suunto that has something like the TomTom “Trails” feature?

  2. [Rectangular shape]

    Of course, that is there.

    I mean, if I’m going to give my two cents (because of course, I am going to) they simply need to get all the baseline things that are already on the current gen models–and just turn them up to 11 while also adding all the bells and whistles from these lower end models (Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 645) like music and tap pay onto to the highest end model out.

    That’s been on the biggest gripes from Fenix owners (even former ones like me): Spend all this money and it’s lacking features cheaper models have by HUNDREDS of dollars (or Euros or Pounds, I’m a forward-thinking American!) That’s the only thing they need to do with the Fenix line–front load that watch with EVERYTHING, piecemeal the lower end devices.

    And for the love of god reduce the weight. My old 5X weighed so much I could use it as a protection device (think Morningstar if you just spun it from the strap). If your argument is “weight equates value” I have this bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

    A better resolution would be nice.

    • yes i agree with the resolution and laid out why it might not happen. tho this time round i suspect it will (a little)
      i’ve tried to say that i think that PAY will go into very many models…this will be because of the revenue stream it creates for Garmin. i think the reason you haven’t got it yet is that there are not enough banks on baord and/or the garmin solution might not yet scale up for the likely increse in users (???maybe…probably the former).
      simialr argument for music about a revenue stream BUT there is also the free option of putting your library ontot he watch…therefore it won’t be so finanaically attractive to garmin there fore there is a cost in buying it
      cranking basaeline features up to 11: yeap i agree but they are running out of things to do that to.

    • I can’t say the weight bothers me at all, even with the steel band its not uncomfortable for me. If weight is such an issue for you, why not just go for the 935 (or 945 since we’re talking about the Fenix 6)?

  3. How much of a chance is there of seeing any of this be added to the 5 PLUS? I mean, they’ve head a year and a half (if not more, depending on when they release the plus models) to R&D the watches, so would it be possible to expect the 5 Plus to already incorporate some of the thing you mention besides the NFC as in newer HW albeit still part of the F5 family.

      • I’m (barely) keeping off from buying a 5x, hopefully some news of a 5 Plus drop soon. And I would think Garmin would put off with introducing the F6 early next year (if not all the way to early 2020) if a Plus is coming out soon(ish). First, they would have more time to come up with solutions to existing problems and possibly things we didn’t think off, thats’ without even mentioning the advancement’s in tech to power all off the apps.

        Second, depending on what they add to the Plus, that is HW wise, and depending on the price (which would imply a price drop on current models) of the Plus, would the consumer be willing to pay the high price so quickly if the differences aren’t substantial? Which by proxy begets the question as to how much of difference there will be between it and the current models, and if the presumably high price tag will be warranted (even more so if the current models get a “silent” HW revision to fix some of the issues).

  4. A bigger screen to watch ratio would be useful – better for maps too. Looking at my 5x the screen is about 31mm, the watch about 51mm dia. If the screen was about 56mm it would ‘fill’ the face better. Same trasflective tech.

    • yep, i’ve moaned about that for a while. it also links in to the rectangular screen. a larger bezel also offers some protection so bear that in mind.
      unfortunately it will be the same form factor and probably same size screen and maybe a slightly better colour and resolution

    • I’ve moaned about the same thing since my getting my Fenix 3 and was disappointed with the Fenix 5X didnt address this (and now the 5X plus). Already have a 5mm* steel bezel; dont need an additional 5mm* black bezel around my display – thanks Garmin. In the age of edge-to-edge displays on smartphones; its time our (expensive & top of the line) smartwatches follow suit.

  5. The only compelling reason for me to upgrade from my 935 would be an eSIM…barely since it’s easy enough to run with an old waterproof phone like the MotoG3 that can play any music I like πŸ˜‰

    Lap layers would definitely be nice to have too although it’s easy enough to deactivate AutoLap on the track and lap manually.

    As a side note it seems that like me you’ve completely moved on from programmed sessions as I didn’t see them mentioned? The fact that they’re useless on the track and easy to do without on the road with AutoLap probably explains this.

    • VERY interesting, good spot. For a mid-life facelift rather than a new design, I’m speculating the Galileo is very likely to be single-band, given the rework that would be necessary for dual; that, and the likely high cost, means I’ll probably pass on this myself. I want dual band much more than I want music or the not-very-useful-in-the-UK Garmin Pay.

      • Albeit agreed with Garmin Pay (hardly any possibility to work here in Slovenia), but woulnd’t mind it, and well, I would hope Galileo was dual, I am mostly hopeful the HW issues are fixed, it’s what made me wait for this announcement instead of picking up an 5x.

          • Ah, so there will be multiple variants? Is it possible they abandoned the idea and deiced to keep the 5 Plus as the ultimate 5 family watch? I don’t see any mention of a sapphire display in that cached website, hopefully possible to add.

            Moreover I’ve looked at the FCC and it says this:
            “If so, specify the short-term confidentiality release date (MM/DD/YYYY format): 06/19/2018”

            I’m not really big on reading the FCC reports, but does this imply an announcement by that date?

        • The reason I think Galileo will be single band is that you’d need to engineer a dual frequency antenna, which would probably mean a massive rework of the body, compared with adding a chip capable of NFC and Bluetooth audio. Not to mention a platform change, as i don’t think Mediatek have a dual band chip yet. I hope your optimism is right, though.

          • voila. so we see the Garmin MARQ has moved to Sony chipsets. It always pays to be optimistic

    • The description of the 5 Plus makes it sound like the mapping features from the 5X will be included in the 5 Plus. They might not have three variants moving forward.

      • Wouldn’t even know where could they go with the 5x PLUS as the 5 and 5s plus have topo maps already. I mean if it costs like a $100 more, what’s the differentiation that would warrant such a price?

  6. Garmin give us dual frequency Galileo
    Garmin give us dual frequency Galileo
    Garmin give us dual frequency Galileo
    Garmin give us dual …

  7. With the purchase of Delorme and their inReach brand I would bet they integrate it before a SIM. InReach functionality would fit the brand much better and imho be more functional. True live track anywhere in the world with SOS functionality. Plus it would give Garmin a monthly subscription base. They could Target innercities with 911 functionality.

  8. Actually I wouldn’t have gotten a Garmin Fenix 5 if it wasn’t for the screen. I also own all Pebbles and the screen was always what made me love them. I tried different sportswatches before the Garmin with “always-off” screens that look gorgeous when on but like a dead piece of tech when off. Or OLED screens that look nice when on and that look fugly when in low power mode. So pleeeeease don’t get rid of those “epaper”-like screen. Prettyplease! Make it slightly larger and add some pixels. But for gods sake, for once keep the things that are actually really great and don’t replace them because “the others”TM do it. It is already the best sports watch ever. Please keep it that way. And forget the Touch Screen. Nobody needs one.
    The only other real features I would like to see are canned replies (what is keeping them? The VO3 has it and it is a crowd pleaser, really) and NFC payment. SPO2 sensor is a nice gimmick as well. And the necessary improvements around the edges like connectivity, stats, aso and a vo2max calculation that is not based around running for example. I currently have a leg injury and cannot run but do a lot of sports for the upper body and recovery exercises for my leg. Getting steady vo2max reports for that would be nice.


  9. Re “β€’Lap based on GPS co-ordinate ”

    He-he-he πŸ™‚

    Garmin conciously reserved it for non-outdoor watches like 310XT and 910XT.

    I could not figure it why it was their policy. I was wondering about for years.

  10. I was happy with my Fenix 3 Sapphire and I was happier with my Fenix 5X. Now that the 5X Plus has been announced, all I’m hoping to find on a Fenix 6 is:
    – Improved GPS / Dual Band Galileo (Dont know how many bands the Plus has?)
    – Improved oHR. oHR needs to be able to be more accurate, especially with intervals / non-steady-state
    – Blood Pressure Monitor – I’m probably alone here, but at this level of watch (especially seeing the huge increase in price on the 5X Plus), I expect the bells and whistles. Seeing as wrist based BPM’s exist already, I expect my ‘elite fitness smart device’ to track this too.
    – 6X: Edge-to-edge display; commented above about this. Already has a large steel bezel, screen should start immediately next to this steel bezel, not have a further black bezel within the steel bezel.

    • edge to edge display wont be a good idea for people who want a rugged outdoors watch as the bezel will give some protection to the watch. i’m not one of those people and am with you!!

  11. I like a watch that I can leave on all the time that looks good going out and for sport, or in the pool. My 935 is light but looks like plastic. My wife has more than one Apple Watch and it’s cool the way it just picks up which one she swaps to. Does garmin do that as it may solve my problem? I love the long battery life above anything else, especially for trips, and sleep. More flexibility over charging opportunities.

  12. I currently and for the last 3 yrs own a pilar v800,thing is im kinda tired of it.
    I were considering a 935 or fenix 5plus,should i change,or keep waiting for the v800 successor ,945 or fenix 6?

    I do crossfit for the last 6 years,on a semi competitive level and 10k runs.

    • there is at least one other option that I can’t talk about either.
      935 and f5plus are both pretty cool, so long as you are aware of their limitations – all my reviews of Garmin stuff are ‘no holds barred’

      i guess it would be nice to retain your Polar Flow history? πŸ˜‰

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