Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Accuracy – GPS, GLONASS, oHR and Elevation


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35 thoughts on “Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Accuracy – GPS, GLONASS, oHR and Elevation

  1. Interesting stuff.

    RE: Elevation missing

    There was a change in the MARQ time to how Garmin recorded elevation in .FIT files, specifically it’s now a 32-bit integer versus a 16-bit one. I only know this because it broke the DCR Analyzer and we had to implement a fix for it. I suspect that’s breaking legacy Sports Tracks.

    RE: Turning GLONASS off for testing

    I’ll be honest, I don’t entirely understand this choice. The default setting is GLONASS for mostly good reason: It’s better. Garmin has spent all their effort on optimizing this (not Galileo, nor base GPS mode). And when it comes to comparing against others, everyone else is using that too.

    RE: Loading maps

    Where are you getting that? Are you talking just when turning on the watch, or? That’s the only time I ever see that in normal use. If I’m loading the map data field its instant, and opening up a course with maps takes about 0.5 to 1 second in total. Just trying to understand where you’re seeing that.

    Cheers

    1. elevation/ST3.1 … yes that sounds right. which is very annoying
      gps/glonass – it’s better when it’s better and not when it’s not. the glonass mode incorporates all the gps goodness, which, as i showed, isn’t good. (anyway, let’s not go there)
      loading maps – IIRC I have several map regions loaded on the device. the ‘loading maps’ happens on the 945 as well but it’s worse on the fenix. i may have less maps on the 945. i’ll pin down the scenarios

      1. I know it seems to be a true battle on the internet as to what GPS setting to use, but I used just GPS mode for a downtown run (albiet not in a city that has a ton of tall buildings) as well as an open water swim last night. The tracks were pretty stinking good. Only when I was running on the sidewalk against a 5 story building did the GPS track ‘jump’ to show me running through the building a few feet. Other than that, Im pretty impressed by its accuracy. The OWS track was miles and miles better than my 5+.

        I’ve tried using GPS+glonass and GPS+galileo (neither of which should help me in Oklahoma, USA), and those settings always seems to make things worse.

        I did notice that when I uploaded my run to Strava, It does not allow me the option to correct elevation. I used to do this all the time on my 5+, especially when running hill repeats on a local bridge. Not sure if this is a strava or garmin thing…

        1. strange. you find the same as me?
          glonass and galileo satellites hould be over you? i think the galileo ones should not work for you too
          strava, i believe, corrects elevation to what it thinks it should be for each gps point. you can enable elevation correction in garmin but that is different (tho the end result should be the same or similar)

        2. Both Glonass and Galileo are global satellite systems and have full coverage over Oklahoma.

          > I did notice that when I uploaded my run to Strava, It does not allow me the option to correct elevation.

          This is interesting. Strava “trusts” devices with a barometric altimeter and offers their correction only to those devices. For devices w/o a barometer Strava automatically “fixes” the elevations (and thus doesn’t give you the option). I wonder if Strava is not realizing what your Fenix6 is yet… An easy test is to look at the elevation plot on an out an back activity – if using Strava’s elevation model it will be Perfectly symmetrical, if using the Fenix6 barometer it will be close but have deviations and/or drift.

    2. I lost sleep about the GLONASS last night (thanks Ray ! 😉 )

      So I did a +GLONASS recovery run today and included the results above.

      GLONASS is worse on this occasion. I have many previous occasions.

      Interestingly I was running at 5:00/km but the Fenix 6 had me going at 6:00/km for VERY extended perios, sometimes slower. Units are set to KM. I must have a bad unit.

  2. That’s a rough score. Seems no one has been able to quite figure out the Sony chip. To be fair, a bit of a moving target as they’re also releasing constant updates for it.

    1. quite so.
      well…if they are releasing updates then it can’t be ‘there yet’. GPS is likely to be the most stable and hence the most useful for me to use for comparisons. there’s no point in me doing one of these ‘formal’ tests and spending 3 hours in total only for the firmware to be changed the next day. I have a real job and a life as well as this.

        1. hmm. today’s test was also for the Vertix…i think it was slightly worse. 🙁 I have had better results previously, today could have been a bad satellite day, i’ve not added those, stats VDOP etc, to the spreadsheet yet

          1. Well…dang lol.

            If Suunto decides to enable route planning through their new app for Ambits it may well get dusted off and brought back out

      1. C’mon, man! I’m still looking for reasons to buy one of these and you’re not helping!

        Seriously though, I sort of expected this. It would have been amazing to me if Garmin was able to produce more reliable GNSS tracks with a new(ish) chip in a new watch. I’m not at all convinced these Sony chips are going to be at all reliable. I guess time will tell.

        On the other hand, I had an awful track today with my Fenix 5. Perhaps I should lower my standards and be happy with what I have.

        1. i did have a 945 at the same time as the F6 and the 945 was better. Also 945 was better last week in some other workouts i’ve not shown (yet)
          I’m NOT saying this is anything to do with the case of the f6 or anything like that. garmin WILL improve glonass and galileo over time, as dcr implies

  3. Please, TFK, some comments about the weight of the Fenix6 while running in comparison with the FR945. Do you find that the watch stays in place well or bounces a bit more than the FR945 (that is perfect for size and weight).
    I really like my FR945, but the wider screen of the Fenix6 makes me evaluate if it could be worth a replacement (if I eventually manage to sell the FR945). It’s a pity that the wider screen of the Fenix6 didn’t appear in the previous watches FR945 and Marq.

  4. To help DCR understand the “Loading Map” issue: Map/Around Me/Loading Map screen up to 30 seconds.

    This happens whenever you try looking around your area.

  5. FWIW, my 6s has so far been the most accurate Garmin I’ve ever owned (and I’ve had most of them since 2013). It’s on par with the TomTom Runners, which was an extremely accurate watch.

    1. TomTom’s were good. I did an interesting soak test once.
      placed lots of devices (recording) in the middle of my garden. As expected all the recorded tracks were all over the place…front garden, neighbour’s garden. EXCEPT the tomtom which drew a stright line about 4m long (or something similar). I live near one of the ex-TomTom engineering guys and we had a beer once, he explained how awesome they were.

      1. Such a shame. Wish everyone in sports tech started from the premise that the basics have to be flawless before you start adding features.

        1. such a customer-focussed approach seems always destined to fail ! 😉

          when I last looekd it was something like 2019 and I can’t think of more than about 2 running watches that can accurately tell you how fast you are runnign at right now. And neither of them are as accurate as STRYD.

          oh well.

      1. I have an XC circle I’ve been riding 100s times with majority of it exacly (+/- 20cm on the same path). with my v800 on my wirst and wahoo on the bar i am seeing 2 things:
        1. v800 is far more consistent over the same training (e.g. 3hrs riding the circle x6 – x10 times) the track looks closer lap after lap
        2. distance per lap is consistent (+/- 30-40m on 4.58km) over time (e.g. it doesn’t really matter if this is autumn or middle of vegetation season)

        Only one thing which is consistent between these 2 units is ascent and descent.

        I’d like to mention that the path registered with my Samsung S8 (super duper using all sat systems) installed on the bar is FAR from any of these 2 units.

        After all i am struggling to understand why any of these devices “seeing” more triangulation points than v800 is worse in the same conditions?

        Just to compare – when i’ve been ridding on a road in rural areas i can spot the side of road i was on in case of both wahoo and v800 – almost no difference there.

        1. +/- 20cm is extreme accuracy.
          GPS is accurate to about +/-5m.
          Yes the V800 can be awesome (I’m using mine again at the moment….memories!!)
          trees can make some difference…much less than buildings
          are you sure you have all the correct settings on the S8? IDK that phone but some phones are awesome and some are not. maybe a-gps was not laoded and you got no initial fix…
          read this: https://the5krunner.com/2016/11/05/test-route-for-gps-devices/

          1. I think the poster said their are biking on the trail within +/- 20cm.

            That said, as I just posted, Garmin told me that for consumer GPS devices their standard is 15m accuracy, not 5m. So tracks can deviate up to 30m from each other (100ft!!!!) and Garmin would consider it to be a-OK.

            Not OK with me.

  6. My observations are similar to yours. The GPS track is absolutely horrendous, probably the worst I have had on any device I kept (starting the Motorola MotoACTV!), yet, surprisingly the total distance is about right.

    Case in point, I was running a marathon, mostly open/forest area in Maine, easy reception. Or easy for everyone else. I picked a dozen or so other runners around me in Strava flyby. Check it out, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is the black line

    https://imgur.com/a/Lkw6ooH

    During the entire 26 miles it is almost always the outlier. It is *BY FAR THE WORST* GPS track of all of them.

    Let’s face it, there are far better smartwatches out there and the screen technology is just not what one expects in 2019. The raison-d’etre, the primary reason for it’s existence, is to be a sports GPS tracker. Yet, this brand new, premium priced device from the market leader MISERABLY FAILS in that regard. It’s sad and I feel like a fool for purchasing it.

    1. Let me follow up on my own post with the resolution of this. I called Garmin support and I got someone who went back to engineering and showed them my GPS tracks. Here is their official statement:

      This is a consumer device and Garmin considers consumer device GPS deviations of 15m to one side or another as within specs. In other words, on runs back-and-forth, the tracks can deviate up to 30m from each other to stay in Garmin spec. They looked at it and said that my Fenix 6 Pro was just within that.

      So here we have it. Garmin’s premium device has an accuracy of 15m.

      There also was a strong suggestion going with a Garmin 945 instead for running activities as the plastic case will yield better results in comparison with any device with a metal bezel.

      Personally, I do not consider 15m GPS accuracy as a reasonable spec for premium devices in 2019. What 15m inaccuracy will do to your pace calc, is anyone’s guess. That said I am grateful for Garmin support coming clean on this.

      1. blimey, i’d like to see a transcript of that chat on th etwo points you raise!
        it back up what i say about PACE, you need a footpod if it’s important to your

        satellite accuracy is +/-5m ie that’s the best possible, so i guess what Garmin are saying about +/-15m could be true

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