Garmin Confirms Fenix Battery Drain Issues Still occuring [effectively]

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Garmin ClimbPro v1
ClimbPro v1

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 —————-

@LABRONICUS

Garmin Battery Woes Continue

Something strange is happening with Garmin & its batteries, plus the GPS offset/shift errors have started again. A Double Whammy.

Some Background

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.

Another Garmin Global GPS #Fail

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!

Links to Battery Gauge CIQ App on Garmin.com app store

Doubts Emerge

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.

 

Battery 2021

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.

 

Image|BHASIN

 

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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32 thoughts on “Garmin Confirms Fenix Battery Drain Issues Still occuring [effectively]

  1. I had this issue with an F6x sapphire — it would drop by about 20% per day (I often noticed 10% in 7 hours) without me using GPS use, pulse ox off, etc. During one 90′ gps activity (clear view of the sky), battery dropped from 100% to 81%. I wasn’t running any non-Garmin watch faces, widgets, apps, etc.

    They looked at my Garmin Connect account, couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and said they’d send me a refurb. I suggested maybe starting with a factory reset, and they responded “No, this is an issue that we are actively working on and are collecting devices for evaluation.”

    Glad to see they’re being a little more proactive now. The replacement F6x has been great. Of course my F7x sapphire solar has been even better!

  2. There’s another problem Garmin need to address ASAP (unless it’s hardware related as can be feared since it doesn’t affect all units and then… ) , the awful audio quality on some (most?) F7 and Epix watches. After 6 weeks they’ve only managed to say that their engineers are looking into it. No official acknowledgement of course…

  3. I had two seperate Fenix 6’s develop around 25%-30% drain per day after updating from 16.70 to 19.20 – nothing fixed it apart from rolling back to earlier software extracted from the backdate software you can find in beta folders. Garmin got some s/w to me that enabled some battery logging and they looked at those files a few months back. On Garmin’s own forums there has been a lot of ‘noise’ about battery drain since late 2021. I think the fact that rolling back to prior s/w ruled out an h/w problem.

    1. well, not necessarily.
      A Garmin watch may well have several component changes throughout its manufacturing lifespan. We’ll never know about them.
      eg the Sony chipset was probably iterated without us knowing which of the 5 or so Sony models was actually used. The same GPS software would be applied to each on your garmin watch (probably) but might work differently with the different chips.

      1. Rolling back doesn’t change the GPS firmware as GPS that is delivered in a separate binary. So your GPS idea doesn’t really hold any water. 19.20 and onwards with GPS 5.30 drained, rolling back to 15.20 or 16.70 keeping GPS at 5.30 solved the drain. So i would say if the watch didn’t drain with 15.xx or 16.xx but did with 19.xx or 20.xx that pretty much does point to a s/w issue as the most likely cause.

    2. I am one of the probably many unreported users who have just accepted that a 3 week battery life on either my old fenix 3 or my fenix 6x is just impossible at the moment. I’ve literally never has more than 3 days with the fenix 6x even with no pulseox or HR and in low power mode during sleep.

      I became cynical that it was even possible.

      Hopefully a solution is possible

  4. Very interesting read thank you. I’ve had my Fenix 6Pro since they came out. The first 12 months or so the watch from fully charged showed 6 days with pretty much all features turned on. Sometime after that it, maybe after a firmware update it wouldn’t last a day. Garmin said they would replace it and to send it back. I didn’t get round to it straight away . Then to my surprise and delight one morning after being charged over night it was showing 12 days of charge! The lasted for months and actually went higher than that on several occasions. Fast forward to now and fully charged shows 6 days with most things turned on. I use a HR strap for around an hour every couple of days which doesn’t make much difference.
    It’s still a bit short on distance though, typically a 10km race shows around 9.75km which is a pain and Parkrun usually 4.8km. Any advice on which GPS setting to use would be appreciated.
    Simon

    1. don’t forget that batteries physically deteriorate over time, so there capacity and charge-life will always get worse. i think it’s something like 80% after two years.

  5. Great article. I have had a Garmin VivoActive for 3 years and it feels like overnight the battery life went from 5 days to 24 hours (at best!) Hoping they will be looking into the issue for other models too.

  6. I have found if WiFi is switched on on my Fenix 6x Sapphire the battery drains from 100% to nil in about 24-36 hours depending on activity. It also freezes regularly

    Switch WiFi off and I get 3 weeks and never freezes. Garmin are supposedly looking into it as have said they have not had this before.

  7. I’ve had my share of issues with my Fenix 6x, HRM, inaccurate aerobic/anaerobic readings etc… but the battery issue has mainly been a capacity problem. Going from 21 days on a full charge to 14 almost overnight after not even a year of having the watch is apparently “normal”? CS basically says tough luck on a $1000 watch is really disappointing.

  8. Have my eye on the Fenix 7 but after reading this i’m leary about spending $1,000 on a watch that sound like doesn’t last a full day? Thoughts??

  9. Hi, does it concern also the model Fenix 7?
    Is there also a beta firmware coming soon ti fix this drain battery issue?

  10. I purchased a Fenix 5x in 2018, and it randomly but rarely has a battery drain, so it stems from an even earlier period. Disappointing when it happens but not an overall issue so I never reported it to Garmin. Just figured it’s a little speedbump and comes with the realm of things.

  11. In addition to the numerous and persistent battery problems on basically all Garmin watches, here is a post from the Garmin forums on some current, unaddressed bugs:

    – altimeter / barometer calibration across basically all watches that received an algorithm update
    – I1 crashes while swimming, probably due to bluetooth disconnection / reconnection
    – I2 screen polarisation filter orientation mistake
    – I2 screen / case gap
    – F7/E2 sound quality problems via BT
    – V2 black screen after update
    – buttons issues across all watches, with total inconsistency between different watches, and even very different feeling buttons on the same watch
    – crashes when transferring larger tracks via USB
    – crashes during navigation
    – countless usability niggles like miles instead of kilometers, logical mistakes and translation errors that have been mentioned in these forums, but never addressed, over months or years
    – often really bad high heart rate measurement during training, compared to Apple, Fitbit and Huawei
    – surf tracking on the Instinct Surf for years a joke, only partly better now
    – tides incorrect in many places, this is then, if at all acknowledged, blamed on the data supplier

    Garmin has totally lost the plot!

  12. Yes finally some traction on this. I have been conducting some test in this my own and have found that the largest impact to the battery drain on my Fenix 6x Sapphire is the data sync over wifi. Its hard to say exactly when the drain started, but I want to say it was around the time that this became an option. If this part of the issue, seems like software could definitely help solve the issue. Fingers crossed

  13. I noted serious issues with the 19.20 firnware update and a Fenix 6 Sapphire and Fenix 6x Sapphire both experienced rapid drain issues circa 1.5% per hour after update. The 6x would drain from 100% to 0 in just over 3 days. With the 6 Pro Sapphire rolling back to 15.20 got me up to 13 days and typically 11 days on average. Garmin outdoor team enabled deep battery logging on the 6x back in December to try to find the root cause but where unable to reproduce the issue. But from my POV the link between moving up to 19.20 to the start of the drain seemed more than ciclrcumstantial.

  14. Incredible drain rates in those images.

    These devices endure long times by running the hardware at specific limits. For example a CPU may top at 150 MHz frequency, but running it at lower frequencies increases power efficiency. During the normal watch usage it may go down to a few megahertz so that the platform pulls very little power. However, during a GPS activity it’ll run at higher frequencies so that it can process all the data and save.

    The issue is some errors cause the device to run in unstable conditions, in a way Garmin didn’t prepared it for. Thus it’s just going mad and chewing the energy like a gum. 🙂 For example, in Fenix 3 if I was out of the bluetooth range, it could loose more than %15 in an hour searching for BLE signal.

    Fenix’es had some battery stats files in their storage system but it seems Garmin will try to better understand the issues.

    I had seen a Fenix 6 with some broken electronics which leak power to the screen and the backlight was always on at a rate of around %1 or less brightness. This unit consumed around %20 – 25 daily due to this. However, I’m sure not all of those units share the same problem.

  15. Picked up a new to me Fenix 6x Pro, did a factory reset and installed my watch face that had worked fine on my 5. I get about 2 days usage with no usage really, other than it being on my wrist. WiFi off, no additional widgets other than the batty monitor. Support Case opened with Garmin, we will see

    1. do these for a while: use a garmin watch face, turn down/off the backlight, consider the optical usage and tone down any 24×7 features and disable spo2, change gnss to GPS only. just to see what happens, obviously, you should be able to use all of these.

  16. Fenix 6 Pro.
    I’m losing about 1% per hour without activity or notifications or the ox meter or music!

    This means I recharge every other day if I do one gps activity..

  17. I started charging frequently a month ago and on Mar 22 (yesterday), my Fenix 6S Pro fully charged drained overnight and it won’t charge anymore.
    Such a bummer coz i have a trail run today.
    If i charge it, battery charging symbol (battery with a lightning) is showing, a few hours of charging and still won’t power up or it’s still drained.
    I upgraded from a vivo music only 1.5yrs ago…. it’s basically not old.
    Such a waste to not able to utilize it being pricey and all. I hope Garmin get to fix the batt issues as asap.

    1. thanks for sharing
      this is a faulty battery. clearly, it is not fit for purpose and any reasonable person would expect a top-end, EXPENSIVE Garmin to last well over 2 years.
      Contact Garmin they really need to sort this out for you directly without telling you to wait for a firmware update.

      use a similar form of words to the above when you complain.
      it’s 1.5 years old and so it’s probably NOT the retailer’s responsibility in your country. but it probably IS Garmin’s direct responsibility.
      don’t be fobbed off with any kind of “it’s out of warranty” argument. The manufacturer warranty probably supersedes the retailer’s responsibilities and, in any case, the warranty is a minimum and is superseded by the consumer law in your country – that law will probably include elements of ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘reasonableness’ and that apply differently to a £20 watch off fleabay.

  18. My garmin 5s only holds a charge now for 2 hours. This has started in the last week. WITHOUT using GPS. I’ve notified them – as now I can’t even wear it during the day. I keep it on charge until I want to use it for a run or something – even then, it’s easier to use my phone to track then rely on the garmin. A little ridiculous if you ask me.

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