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Long-term review: The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro is able to do (almost) anything, and it does it pretty well

The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro is the current iteration of the fēnix Pro series. The smartwatch combines a long battery life with a huge amount of functions. For this, the manufacturer asks for a relatively high price, but this is also quite justified.
Silvio Werner (translated by Mark Riege), 🇩🇪

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Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Processor
n/a
Display
1.30 inch, 260 x 260 pixel 283 PPI, transflective MIP display, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB
Connections
Audio Connections: ⊖, Sensors: heart rate, barometer, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, pulse oximeter, ANT+, WLAN
Networking
Bluetooth yes, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 15.1 x 47 x 47 ( = 0.59 x 1.85 x 1.85 in)
Additional features
Speakers: ⊖, Keyboard: 4 buttons , USB charging/sync cable, documentation, Polar Flow, 12 Months Warranty, water resistant up to 10 ATM; iPhone and Android compatible, fanless, waterproof
Weight
85 g ( = 3 oz / 0.19 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
649 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

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.

Case

The case is robust
The case is robust

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. 

The configurable data field view
The configurable data field view
There are numerous configurable watch faces
There are numerous configurable watch faces
The quick access menu is also configurable
The quick access menu is also configurable

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 evaluation is detailed.
The evaluation is detailed.
The month overviews also show long-term trends.
The month overviews also show long-term trends.
Generally, automatic recognition works well. However, 11, 12, and 13 were shoulder presses, instead of bench presses.
Generally, automatic recognition works well. However, 11, 12, and 13 were shoulder presses, instead of bench presses.
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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 internal storage allows playing music ...
The internal storage allows playing music ...
... and navigation using the preinstalled maps
... and navigation using the preinstalled maps
In practice, a surprisingly useful function
In practice, a surprisingly useful function

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.

Battery level of the fēnix 6 Pro
Battery level of the fēnix 6 Pro

Verdict

Testing the Garmin fēnix 6 Pro
Testing the Garmin fēnix 6 Pro

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.

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Silvio Werner
Editor of the original article: Silvio Werner - Senior Tech Writer - 3747 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I have been active as a journalist for over 10 years, most of it in the field of technology. I worked for Tom’s Hardware and ComputerBase, among others, and have been working for Notebookcheck since 2017. My current focus is particularly on mini PCs and single-board computers such as the Raspberry Pi – so in other words, compact systems with a lot of potential. In addition, I have a soft spot for all kinds of wearables, especially smartwatches. My main profession is as a laboratory engineer, which is why neither scientific contexts nor the interpretation of complex measurements are foreign to me.
contact me via: silvio39191
Mark Riege
Translator: Mark Riege - Translator - 239 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Having worked as a programmer for 20 years (medical devices, AI, data management systems), I've been following the computer scene for many years and especially enjoy finding out about new technology advances. Originally from Germany but living in the US, I've been working as a translator more recently, with Notebookcheck allowing me to combine my interest in new devices and translation. Other interests include Buddhism, spending time in Tibetan monasteries, and translating ancient Tibetan texts.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Long-term review: The Garmin fēnix 6 Pro is able to do (almost) anything, and it does it pretty well
Silvio Werner, 2021-01-25 (Update: 2021-01-25)