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Garmin quietly lumbers towards a battery fix
It seems that Garmin didn’t really believe reports from myself and many other people concerning unexpected battery drain issues. This is STILL a relatively widespread issue that seemed to come to a head at the start of 2021 when I and others posted about it (see re-post below).
Well, a year and more has passed since then and Garmin has only just this week decided to release a specific beta firmware to enable logging of battery drain for the Fenix 6, MARQ and Enduro watches. If there is no battery problem then why log it?
Here is the latest beta firmware if you want to try it.
—- Much earlier post of Feb 2021 —————-
Garmin Battery Woes Continue
Something strange is happening with Garmin & its batteries, plus the GPS offset/shift errors have started again. A Double Whammy.
Great battery life and great battery-extending modes are key reasons why Garmin is a popular choice amongst athletes.
Garmin has no ‘magic’ battery tech, they ‘just’ engineer their devices well and use battery-friendly components in their screen tech, GPS tech and elsewhere. Of course, they use good batteries too.
The Fenix 6 delivered many tens of hours of life with GPS-enabled and Solar further boosted the 6X Solar to 66 hours of GPS usage. Or so the claims went.
At the time it seemed to me and others that ‘this was it‘. Garmin had significantly nailed the battery conundrum to placate almost everyone who had battery life concerns. Finally, engineers could return to using all that extra battery power left lying around and introduce some new hi-res screen tech to gobble it all up!
But it didn’t seem to quite stack up in real-life usage.
My Forerunner 935 on the older tech was OK and I experienced an expected level of battery life degradation over the months. Fair enough, that happens. It’s always an excuse for an upgrade! and the Forerunner 945 arrived at a convenient time and with conveniently good battery specs.
However the 945 never quite seemed to live up to the claimed specs, sometimes by quite a margin. I wasn’t overly perturbed though as I’d been using SpO2 sometimes and GPS+GLONASS and music and all sorts of things that I knew significantly increased the juice usage. So when I ran out of battery a few times I attributed it to ‘user error’. I very, very rarely run out of juice, even my Apple Watch 6 gets charged a couple of times a day and that’s only gone flat once in 6 months, so maybe with the Garmins, I’d just got used to assuming the battery would last for days? This is strange as I’m a sync-by-cable kinda reviewer, so my Garmins are on the cable more than they are off it, with periodic exceptions.
I then increasingly noted others having similar problems. Hmmm. Sometimes new firmware may fix it, other times not. Then perhaps after a year, or so, of 945 usages I remember thinking to myself, “You know what? This won’t last an Ironman for some people.” Without any concrete data to support my increasing reservations, it ‘felt’ like 14 hours of GPS+bikePM+Stryd+HRM would kill the battery. So people who were slower than that over an IM or who had extra sensors or errant CIQ data fields or who used GLONASS would be getting even less juice time.
Then in September 2020 came the Garmin Forerunner 745 – to all intents and purposes, this is a smaller 945 with some of the battery-eating smarts taken out. However, the battery life claims were HALF those for the 945 and coming in at 16 hours. Sure the 745 will have a smaller battery but a halving of the claimed battery life sent a warning signal. To be fair that was with GLONASS and backlight both off. It still didn’t feel right.
Well, for the most part of 2021 there have been numerous user reports of errant battery behaviours, culminating with @Philipshambrook, who I think is a moderator, saying this on the Garmin forums.
“THEY ARE WORKING ON IT”
He has contacts behind the scenes in any case.
Looking further into this Garmin Forum thread (and others) there are other non-standard battery behaviours occurring like rapid draining.
And @CAEPINUS and @LABRONICUS shows similar behaviour whilst sleeping o all things.
It’s not just F6/FR945 other users are reporting similar behaviour on other Garmin models.
Q: Can you share any similar experiences/Images?
Garmin needs to get on top of this be it a misfiring GPS chip, degraded battery or simply an incorrect reporting of the true state of the battery. ‘Proper’ and professional battery lives are one of the key reasons we buy these premium sports watches. Indeed, next week’s Garmin Enduro watch will re-iterate that point and will specifically be marketing itself as a long-lasting GPS watch for Ultra/Trail runners.
To make matters worse…January’s GPS recording errors have returned today with a vengeance with many exasperated Garmin users reporting problems on the forums
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