Garmin Fenix 5 first look: King of the outdoor watches just got even better

CES 2017: Meet the Fenix 5, 5X and the 5S
Garmin Fenix 5 to rule the outdoors

It's fair to say we're pretty big fans of the Garmin Fenix. While the Fenix 3 HR didn't bag a five out five in our review, it's arguably one of the best multisport GPS watches you can get your hands on. That's why we were pleased that Garmin decided to give it an upgrade in the shape of the Fenix 5, 5S and 5X. If you're wondering what happened to the Fenix 4, well that's simply a case of Garmin opting not to use the number because it's considered unlucky in Japan.

The three new models continue Garmin's big push to make its watches more pleasing on the eye and on the whole they all do deliver. They still feel built to last and look undeniably sporty, but like the Fenix Chronos, you'd feel more comfortable wearing them when you're not hiking up a mountain. Garmin is offering the 5 and 5S with a tougher Sapphire lens as well just like it did with the Fenix 3. You'll need to pay $700 as opposed to the $600 it costs for the standard model for that added layer of ruggedness.

Garmin Fenix 5 first look:

Garmin Fenix 5

The 5X, the daddy of the new Fenix watches, is the biggest and looked a bit of a beast sitting on my wrist, while the Fenix 5 feels a little smaller than its predecessor. The 5S is Garmin's first attempt at making an outdoor sports watch for women so it's the smallest of the bunch with a 42mm body. But it doesn't miss out on the brushed steel casing, set of physical buttons and the heart rate monitor around the back. They all come with interchangeable straps as well that are really easy to clip off.

Garmin Fenix 5 first look:

Garmin Fenix 5X

Garmin has clearly made some improvements with the display on all three watches. It's still using the same transflective LCD display technology, but it's noticeably sharper and a little more vibrant, which should make it even better when you run into visibility issues in the great outdoors. It's still a haven for fingerprint smudges though.

The look and feel of the UI is largely the same as what we've seen on the Fenix 3. There are screens dedicated to aspects like sports tracking, checking in on your step count for the day and resting heart rate information. You still get the same smart notification support and you can still control music playback. One noticeable change is that Garmin has made it easier to add widgets so you can have more control on the data you want to quickly glance at.

Garmin Fenix 5 first look:

Garmin Fenix 5S

If you want the most feature-packed option, you want the Fenix 5x. That gets you preloaded maps, an Around Me map mode to pick out points of interest and data overlay for sports tracking. I couldn't check these modes out, but I'm sure Fenix fans will be happy to see them included. Aside from that, you can expect the same sensors and sports tracking modes across the board.

On the whole, the Fenix 5 collection look like great additions to Garmin's army of sports watches. There's no shortage of features and now everything is packed into a smaller body (if you don't go for the 5X). Those steely bodies look the part, and for $600 it's shaping up to be the king of the outdoor watches once again.


  • Crazycanuck says:

    hahaha the 5x looks huge on your wrist. Because of this I'm far more reluctant to order one now!

  • Jonandreadolan says:

    I think it's China and not Japan. The number four in Chinese sounds close to the word for die. 

  • tomoyubu says:

    FYI, it's both China and Japan that the number 4 sounds close to the word "death."  Anyway for me it was a disappointing upgrade.  I was expecting some storage for music so I don't need to take my phone with me on the run/workout.  Also to be able to pay things like Applewacth. I don't see why it should cost $100 more than Fenix 3HR for just better screen and some software upgrade, am I missing something??

    • laddid says:

      very true I wish they have added music storage at least 

  • Scoobie says:

    does the metronome work in swim function mode on the Fenix 3hr and 5?

    • m.sawh says:

      I don't believe it does, but we'll check this out for you

      • Scoobie says:


  • toby-port says:

    when connected to an iOS based phone, does it show you you have an incoming call?

  • DarrylR says:

    So without Canadian maps is there any point to buying a 5X north of the border?

  • Recycledoug says:

    I am pretty sure the big change is that the new 5 series has Wifi versus a USB. You still need to use a charging cord, but WiFi can be a big plus...

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.