Garmin is known for its line of premium outdoor GPS watches, beloved by athletes from runners to bikers, even by skiers. These watches combine a wide range of features used for tracking track-activity and location, thus, their use in outdoor adventures. These are also among the easiest to learn because of their intuitive interfaces and buttons.
Does the Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire make the cut for such high expectations in Garmin watches? Yes, it does in most ways, but there are also a few minor issues, as can be expected from any product.
We also want to emphasize that there are actually two more iterations of the Fenix 5, namely, the larger Fenix 5X and the smaller Fenix 5S.
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Features of the Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire Performer Bundle – Black with Band
With its rugged exterior, the Fenix 5 will definitely withstand the rigors of outdoor use, such as when on your runs. There are five screws holding the beveled black bezel and five circular buttons around the display.
There are two bezels, namely, the inner and outer bezels, which appear thicker than expected, at nearly half an inch.
The Fenix 5 is the mid-sized iteration between the Fenix 5s and the Fenix 5X but we consider it the best because of the right combination of its weight, display size, and band size. We like that it has a smaller size and lighter weight than the Fenix 5X, so it can be used for everyday wear, as well as for sports activities, such as running and skiing.
The band can also be replaced (the one we tested came with a black band) with a metal band so that the watch looks and feels more suitable for everyday wear, such as during hot dates. The process of switching bands is relatively easy, too.
The watch has an always-on color display, coupled with a transflective surface, a technology that uses sunlight in making the screen so much brighter. When you’re outdoors, especially during sunny days, you won’t have trouble reading the display, but it’s a different matter indoors because of the dimmer display. Although, it’s still readable, thanks to the backlight.
The 218×218 pixels resolution isn’t a deal-breaker for many buyers, too, as the display has a relatively clear and crisp quality to it. This isn’t a touchscreen watch but we like it, nonetheless, because the smartly-designed buttons make navigation so much easier than with a touchscreen interface.
Plus, its water-resistance, of up to 100 meters, more than makes up for the absence of a touchscreen.
Tracks various activities
The activity-tracking capabilities of the Fenix 5 are the most notable reason for its popularity, especially when you want useful stats presented in a user-friendly display. The Fenix 5 tracks most activities, including, but not limited to, running, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, golfing, cross-country and downhill skiing, swimming, snowboarding, rowing, and even jumping out of an airplane.
There’s even a feature that makes it quicker and easier to find your starting point, from wherever you find yourself to be, like after jumping off a plane.
During the set-up process, you have to choose the activities that should be included in your personal menu. You can, for example, choose running (i.e., trail, indoor, and outdoor), cycling (i.e., road, mountain bike, and indoor) and swimming (i.e., open water and pool) with parachuting, snowboarding, and skiing. Your stats will then be displayed based on your preferred sports activities.
Once it’s strapped on your wrist, you can get updates about your training status, particularly on your productivity during exercise. You will be alerted on whether you’re making improvements, holding steady, or decreasing in your fitness level.
You can then use the Fenix 5 as a useful training tool, especially in getting a wealth of information about duration, distance, and heart zone, as well as VO2 max score, aerobic and anaerobic performance, among other details.
But there’s a catch. Its optical heart rate monitor doesn’t respond to changes in heart rate as quickly as a chest strap, such as a Polar strap does, although it’s still accurate. But this is typical of most tracking watches anyways, so it isn’t a deal-breaker, too.
With features that mimic a smartwatch
The Fenix 5 also has several features that make it a basic smartwatch. These include phone notifications on your watch, (although you can’t read the messages in full,) weather and calendar events updates, and listening to music, to name a few.
There’s also the Garmin’s Connect IQ feature, which extends its functionality in terms of the tools that can be added, via the web dashboard and the smartphone app.
The Fenix 5’s battery is among the best we have seen, lasting as long as two weeks, if you’re not using its GPS and heart rate monitor features. Even when used for outdoor activities, the battery can last for 24 hours, max. We also like its small USB cable for charging, a far cry from the large wireless chargers of smartwatches.
- Multisport tracking with accurate measurements
- 100-meter water-resistant feature
- Rugged yet wearable design
- Readable screen even in direct sunlight
- Long battery life
- Seamless syncing to Connect app
- Customizable display
- Software may freeze at one point
- More expensive
The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire isn’t exactly a cheap GPS watch, but you will definitely get what you paid for! This is a watch made for the outdoors, especially athletes, who want detailed stats on their activities in a watch that can be used for everyday wear.