Garmin Fenix 5

8.8 score
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Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
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Garmin Fenix 5 Review Facts

If you are looking for a detailed, comprehensive tool to track your health and physical activity, the Garmin Fenix 5 is the smartwatch to choose. Although this watch tracks basic metrics like heart rate, walking distance, and sleep patterns, it goes beyond the average watch with its multitude of advanced options for tracking and navigating. Garmin has a reputation for its products’ excellence in navigation, which is one of the most helpful features that this watch offers. In addition to health and exercise tracking, the Fenix 5 has maps, a compass, and GPS functionality which could potentially save a life if someone is injured during a workout or stranded in the wilderness.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Features a clear, full-color LCD display that can be read anywhere, with excellent visibility in a dark room or in bright sunlight
  • Offers a range of tracking options for a wide variety of sports and physical activities, as well as customizable workouts and health metrics
  • Can be connected to your smartphone to easily read emails, check your calendar, set alarms, and receive notifications at a glance
  • Is built with stainless steel and has options for scratch-resistant glass so it will be durable and long-lasting, which makes this smartwatch a good investment
  • Errors in the accuracy and tracking of the GPS and altimeter have been reported
  • Band must fit snugly to the wrist or there may be errors in heart rate tracking; it may be necessary to buy a separate Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) band for a better reading
  • Larger size of the watch may feel too bulky for someone with small wrists
  • Magnitude of options could be overwhelming for a casual user

Design and Build Quality

The Garmin Fenix 5 has a bold, but simple design that will appeal to most customers. The watch face is fully customizable so users can adjust the watch to fit their specific tastes and preferences. It comes with a black silicone QuickFit band, but if this does not suit your wardrobe, it is possible to buy additional silicone bands in other colors like blue, grey, green, pink, or orange. Garmin also offers special leather, metal, or titanium bands for the more discerning consumer.

The quality of this watch is unparalleled when compared to other recent smartwatch iterations. It is built to last. Garmin has taken an energetic lifestyle into consideration in their design, so the watch itself is constructed from stainless steel, and the bands are created for wear, durability, and the option to replace them at a low cost when necessary. The Fenix 5 is even water rated up to 100 meters deep. The special Sapphire edition also has a scratch-resistant lens so you never have to worry about accidentally dropping or scraping your watch.


With a variety of options for watch bands and its sleek, lightweight design, the Fenix 5 is built for long-lasting comfort as well. Its only potential drawback is that some users may find the watch face (47mm in diameter) to be a bit large, especially when compared to other smart watch models. Its larger size is a benefit for most people, however, since it is readable in all situations and conditions.


One of the best qualities of the Fenix 5 is its easy-to-read display. The full-color, high-resolution LED display is clear in any situation, indoors or out, nighttime or day. It features a transflective screen that eliminates the problem of glare from the sun or bright lights. It also stays powered on, rather than going to sleep after a period of inactivity, so you never have to fumble to find the right button when you are busy multitasking.

There is a massive amount of options for what you want to see displayed on the watch. The clock function shows the time and date, of course, but also can display a timer, stopwatch, alarm clock, and sunrise/sunset times. The time will adjust based on GPS coordinates and daylight savings time as well.


Garmin’s Connect IQ app store will allow you to download apps and widgets so you can really make the Fenix 5 your own. The style of the display is fully customizable, so it is possible to choose from different clock appearance options or upload your favorite photo for a wallpaper. One of the most impressive features is the ability to choose which activities or data fields you want to see on the main screen. You can easily check fitness measurements, health metrics, weather, notifications, and more at any time.


The Fenix 5 can be connected to your iPhone or Android, via Bluetooth (and via WiFi in the Sapphire edition). This will allow you to access your texts, phone calls, emails, and even control your music through the watch. There is also the Find My Phone and Find My Watch functions just in case one or the other goes missing.

If you are interested in posting your achievements, seeing how your fitness stacks up against others or tracking progress as a group, this watch has options to share and compare. The LiveTrack program gives your friends the chance to track your fitness activities in real time. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for broadcasting your progress during a race, keeping track of miles for charity, or simply making your old high school friends on Facebook jealous.

Ease of Use

The huge range of possibilities that this watch offers may feel intimidating at first, especially to a casual user or someone new to the world of smartwatches. Although the Fenix 5 can display an impressive range of data, it is designed so users can easily navigate through its options to find the information they are interested in. It comes with a user manual, of course, but many owners report that its intuitive menu was simple to master.

Fitness Tracking

Garmin created this watch with a wide variety of athletic activities in mind, so individualized statistics and progress reports are easy to monitor. The Fenix 5 can track your steps, distance traveled, floors climbed, and calories burned. If you are interested in training or exercising at the gym, it is possible to set fitness goals and track your progress towards them. The watch even has a built-in movement reminder to make you feel guilty for sitting too long (sorry, Netflix). You will have to walk or exercise for a few minutes to turn the reminder back off.

If you are interested in training or exercising at the gym, it is possible to set goals and track your progress towards them. The watch will count reps and laps and has options to track other cardio and strength workouts. You can also download training plans if you are not sure where to start on your fitness journey or if you are looking for something new to try.

Runners can purchase special accessories (like the HRM-Run or the Running Dynamics Pod) and then download the (free) Running Power app to keep track of distance, pace, grade, training history, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length, and more. Hikers and mountaineers can take advantage of Garmin’s advanced GPS and navigation systems, as well as the built-in compass, to ensure that they will never get lost. They can also use the altimeter for measuring elevation and the barometer and thermometer for staying a step ahead of changing weather conditions.

Cyclists can check unique statistics and have the option to purchase separate bike speed and cadence sensors. The Fenix 5 is also compatible with the Varia Rearview Radar, which alerts bikers of vehicles approaching behind, the Varia Smart Bike Lights, and the Varia Vision In-Sight Display, which shows biking stats on a device attached to your bike so it is easier to see while you are on the road.

You may be asking, but what if I am not a runner or a mountain climber? Never fear, nearly every physical activity is trackable with the Fenix 5. If you love the water, you can use this watch to track stats from your swimming, paddle boarding, or rowing workouts, and you can take comfort in knowing that it is water rated up to 100 meters deep. If you are a snow bunny instead, this watch will measure your speed, distance, and vertical drop when you go skiing or snowboarding.

Even golfers and skydivers can use preset measuring tools to assess their techniques and progress. For the most ambitious of athletes, there is even an option for tracking a multisport activity like a triathlon. This watch is also compatible with Garmin’s Alpha 100 or Astro 430, which you can use to track and train sporting dogs. And if these built-ins are still not enough for you, it is simple to create a customized activity tracker as well.

Heartrate Monitor

The Fenix 5 comes with a heart rate monitor (HRM) built into the wristband, so say goodbye to wearing awkward chest straps or bulky devices. It is necessary to keep the watch adjusted so it is tight on your wrist for the best accuracy, though. You can measure your maximum and resting heart rates as well as your recovery time in order to improve your workouts and keep yourself healthy.
There is also an option to buy a special HRM band, which has emerged as one of the most popular accessories for this watch due to its increased accuracy. Whether you are measuring your beats per minute during workouts or for health reasons, this watch makes it easy to follow your heart.


Because the Fenix 5 is built by Garmin, users can be assured that this smartwatch will offer the very best of navigational features. You can save your current location if you find a place worth returning to, or in case of emergency, you can use the man-overboard (MOB) option to mark your current location and the GPS will guide you back to the injured party once you have found help. If you are out on an exercise and spot something in the distance that looks interesting, you can use the Sight ‘N Go option to help navigate your way towards it.

Runners, walkers, hikers, and bikers might be interested in creating a preset course before setting out on their adventure, and the watch will then guide them along their chosen route. It will display a map, as well as your route, to make exercising simple – and safe.

If you are an off-the-beaten-path kind of person, you can set out without a preset destination. You have the options of using the built-in maps and GPS whenever you want, or you can confidently explore on your own knowing that, if necessary, there is an option to navigate back to the starting point of your activity. You then can choose to trace the same route back, or the Fenix 5 can actually calculate how to return in a straight line if you are injured, tired, or just in a hurry.

Battery Life

With all of these functions, you may be wondering about the battery life on this complex watch, but it all depends on how you are using it. A casual user who just wants to use it as a timekeeper and step counter can get up to two weeks of battery life out of one complete charge. On the other hand, consistent use of the GPS and heart rate functions can sap its life down to a meager 24 hours. This could be problematic if you are on a long excursion outdoors, but most people charge their phone at night anyway, so plugging in your fancy new watch once a day is no real chore.

The lithium-ion battery of the Fenix 5 is charged through a USB cable, so you can give it some extra life practically anywhere. And if you are concerned about preserving the battery, you have the option to reduce the brightness of the display, pause activity tracking, limit the number of notifications from your smartphone, or turn off the Bluetooth altogether.

The Bottom Line

If you are serious about your physical fitness, Garmin’s Fenix 5 offers an incomparable experience. This smartwatch goes above and beyond the competition by offering a thorough and inclusive range of functions and tracking metrics. Instead of paying for a heart rate monitor, step counter, compass, speedometer, GPS system, and personal trainer, you can have all of this and more in one device. The Fenix 5 is sleek, attractive, and built to last. Its positive track record and enthusiastic fanbase prove that it is a worthwhile investment in a healthy future.