Long-term review: The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro is able to do (almost) anything, and it does it pretty well
Introduction and Scale of the Test
A smartwatch can usually be tested and evaluated by an experienced tester within a short time. However, it is impossible to determine whether a specific model is also a good fit for one's own habits within the short time period of the testing.
I have been owning the Garmin fēnix 6 Pro since March 2020 and am using the device basically like a conventional watch - with the exception of short charging pauses during the day and in most cases also at night. Since it is used daily, the watch is exposed to dust and in summer also to salt water.
The watch is housed in a robust metal case, and the included watch band is made of a high-quality plastic that doesn't have any conspicuous smell and is also agreeable to the skin, at least in my case. However, in contrast to the high-quality watch, the watch band at times looks out of place, but you can also get affordable metal watch bands from third-party vendors. While the case and watch glass are not too prone to scratches, I was unable to avoid this in my own device.
Due to its very fine setting options for brightness, the display is always easy to read, and the type of display used, a transflective MIP display, also ensures that is remains easily readable even in direct sunlight.
The Interface is flexible but requires time to configure
The fēnix 6 Pro is operated exclusively using five buttons with a clear pressure point. Expressed positively, you could call the concept of operating it "complex," and expressed negatively, "complicated." Overall, the smartwatch can be operated well, but you need some time to get used to it.
Starting from the constantly displayed watch face, you can basically access all the data fields using the arrow keys on the left side of the case. The data fields are configurable, showing the temperature, the weather, calorie consumption, or heart rate, for example. When you select them, some of these data fields give access to more detailed information.
In addition, a longer press on the illumination key can also give direct access to numerous functions such as a timer or music playback. You can also directly configure the keys, which are then triggered via longer presses.
Across all levels, the fēnix 6 Pro convinces with its extensive options for individual configuration. You can also individualize the display dependent on the type of sport selected.
Fitness Data - Except for the oxygen measurement, all within the green range
The list of the determined parameters is long: Thanks to an integrated GPS module, the distance of a training unit is recorded, and there is also a step sensor, a heart rate sensor, and a pulse oximeter. The combination of the GPS module and heart rate monitor is particularly powerful for endurance sports, allowing you to compute the performance state and need for recovery periods. While we are able to follow the sleep tracking, the smartwatch does not offer an intelligent waking function. Other than that, you can track many types of sports.
During weight training units, the type of training is recognized with good accuracy. However, the computation of the necessary recovery periods is not helpful without the (demanding) input of the weights used. On the other hand, the recording of the heart rate is useful to be able to learn to judge necessary pauses between the sets. The accuracy of the GPS module is apparently the same as that of the non-Pro model and we have no complaint. The same goes for the heart rate.
In some ways, the pulse oximeter is a separate issue: The accuracy of the measurements is apparently not very high, and our privately purchased device showed values that were so low that we assumed a defect. But an exchange device then showed similarly inaccurate values. Some reports from other users suggest that the accuracy is unable compete with that of affordable finger pulse oximeters due to the light measurements. However, Garmin also addresses this.
The internal storage fits maps and music
In contrast to the regular version of the fēnix 6, the Pro model offers built-in storage, which is used to access map information. The quality of the maps is simply excellent. Specifically, the hiking trails are displayed and stored on the watch, as well as some small trails in the woods, and there are also numerous points of interest. While the operation of the map function is rather cumbersome, it is still manageable.
In general, the watch responds smoothly, but when you search the surroundings of the points of interest, which is very useful, there can be some considerable load times. If you like, you can also use the fēnix 6 Pro for navigation. In this mode, the smartwatch will point out some turns you have to take by vibrating. At least currently, it is still not possible to send a waypoint that you selected on your smartphone to the watch as your target point using built-in methods. Those who are interested in doing this have to use the free Sendpoints app.
In combination with a Bluetooth headset, the internal storage also allows you to play music without a smartphone. As a result, you can leave your smartphone at home when you go for a run. However, you should also consider that the smartphone will also serve as your communication device in case of an emergency while trail running, for example, and that the smartwatch does not include a mobile communications module.
The battery life is convincing
According to the manufacturer specifications, the fēnix 6 Pro that we tested is supposed to last for up to 14 days in smartwatch mode with the heart rate monitor and fitness tracking functions activated. Since we used the watch in different ways, we are unable to confirm this directly, but the value might be fairly accurate. The chart below documents the battery level over 11 days, while using the GPS module for two hours and also recording five training units without using the GPS module. We did not keep a constant connection between the smartphone and the watch, but we did use the option to play music for one hour.
The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro and the fēnix series in general is a real jack of all trades with some small limitations. Thanks to GPS and an accurate heart rate sensor, the devices offer powerful recordings of training units that are accompanied by some extensive evaluations. In everyday operation, the smartwatch is able to show notifications, while still offering a very long battery life, thanks to the display technology used. The Pro version is also able to offer music reproduction and display preinstalled, high-quality maps. However, we are disappointed by the pulse oximetry, so if you can find a good deal you could also get the Garmin fēnix 5 Pro in this regard. Despite the high nominal price, the price-performance ratio is still good, due to the high-quality workmanship.
Price and Availability
The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro is available from the manufacturer as well as at Amazon (affiliate link) in several models.