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Garmin Fenix 6 series buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
When it comes to fitness watches, Garmin houses one of the most comprehensive lineups available. The company’s high-end multisport watch offering, the Fenix line, is an attractive product for just about anyone — if you can justify the price. While the Garmin Fenix 6 series has been outdone by the Garmin Fenix 7 series, the former is still a powerful lineup users can now grab at a good price.
Garmin Fenix 6 lineup at a glance
As mentioned, the Fenix 6 isn’t the latest Garmin watch, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great wearable. Plus the lineup offers a ton of choice. At first glance, the Garmin Fenix 6 series is quite confusing with more than 10 separate base and pro models. To start, the series has three separate entries in its lineup: the Garmin Fenix 6, Garmin Fenix 6S, and Garmin Fenix 6X. Here’s a quick roundup of each option’s basic specs:
- Garmin Fenix 6S: The smallest model, features a 1.2-inch screen, 42mm case size, and a 20mm band
- Garmin Fenix 6: The standard model, features a 1.3-inch screen, 47mm case size, and a 22mm band
- Garmin Fenix 6X: The largest model, features a 1.4-inch screen, 51mm case size, and a 26mm band
The appropriate Fenix 6 for you depends on your wrist size. The smallest 6S will fit wrists from 108-182mm in circumference, the standard Fenix 6 fits wrists 132-210mm, and the largest 6X fits wrists 135-213mm. The larger devices also have larger watch faces, so keep that in mind when choosing.
There are then four versions of these models: the base version, the Pro version, the Sapphire Pro version, and the Pro Solar version. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major differences between them:
- Base version: No Wi-Fi, maps, or onboard music; Gorilla Glass lens; and 64MB of storage
- There is no base version of the Fenix 6X.
- Pro version: Built-in Wi-Fi, maps, and music; Gorilla Glass lens, and 32GB of storage
- Sapphire Pro version: All of the features of the Pro version with a stronger sapphire crystal lens
- Pro Solar version: All of the features of the Pro version with a Power Glass lens, capable of solar charging
No matter which version you choose, you’ll always get GPS, up to 9-14 days of battery life (without GPS on), and a host of health features like an optical heart rate sensor, pulse oximeter, and advanced sleep monitoring. You will also gain access to the company’s health app, which has an incredibly rich feature set.
The Garmin Fenix 6 and 6S originally launched starting at $549. The Pro versions launched starting at $649 (the larger 6X Pro at $699). Now that the Garmin Fenix 7 series is here, you can typically find this older-gen line on sale for hundreds of dollars off. That’s a pretty good deal when what you’re getting is a no-compromise smartwatch that will last for years to come.
The Fenix 6 Pro editions feature a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass lens, and the Sapphire editions feature an even stronger sapphire crystal lens. Otherwise, they are identical.
Is the Garmin Fenix 6 worth buying?
The Garmin Fenix 6 is absolutely worth buying if you don’t mind settling for slightly older tech. The Fenix 7 line boasts upgraded battery life and solar charging, plus new training features. However, many of the device’s best features can be found on both lines, and Garmin continues to support the Fenix 6 series. On the other hand, if a touchscreen is a priority, you’ll want to spring for the newer Fenix 7 series.
For most people, the best bet will be the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (or 6S Pro for smaller wrists). There are much better (and cheaper) alternatives to the base version without Wi-Fi, but anything from the Fenix 6 Pro and up is a worthwhile investment.
The base model lacks onboard storage and music, so we recommend the Pro models and up.
It’s an all-around excellent device that serves equally well as a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Its fitness tracking is truly all-encompassing, with features to please everyone from hikers to marathon runners and everything in between.
In fact, unless you can’t afford the Fenix 7 series, the main reason not to get this watch is that it may be overkill for your needs. For example, if you’re primarily a runner, you can probably get away with a much cheaper running watch from the Garmin Forerunner lineup.
Garmin Fenix 6 highlights
- Support for a ton of sporting activities
- Garmin’s top-tier training analysis tools
- Software support that will last for years to come
- Battery life that will last weeks on a single charge
- Durability and premium build materials
- A good deal
Why it may not be a great pick
- It is not the very best Garmin has to offer
- It does not have a touchscreen display
- It’s more than you need
Of course, no devices is exempt from bugs or issues. Fortunately, Garmin has a great track record of support its devices with fixes and new features. If you run into an glithces with your device, check out our guide to common Garmin watch problems and solutions
What sports does the Fenix 6 series support?
Garmin’s Fenix devices support a frankly staggering number of sports and activities. As mentioned, the biggest reason not to get one is that it’s more than you need. However, if juggling a ton of active hobbies sounds like you, you’ll love this device.
- Backcountry Ski
- Bike indoor
- Climb Indoor
- Floor Climb
- HRV Stress
- Indoor Track
- Open water swimming
- Pool Swim
- Project Waypoint
- Row Indoor
- Stair Stepper
- Track Me
- Trail Run
- Virtual Run
- XC Classic Ski
- XC Skate Ski
Garmin Fenix 6 vs Fenix 5 Plus: What’s different?
While the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus was one of the most fully-featured fitness devices on the market when it came out in 2017, the Garmin Fenix 6 brought even more to the table. In terms of physical size, every watch in the lineup is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. This is even more impressive when you consider that the 6 and 6X versions have larger screens.
The Fenix 6 series brought many great iterative improvements, but nothing groundbreaking.
On the inside, the Fenix 6 packs an improved GPS, which wasn’t exactly a problem with the Fenix 5 Plus, but it’s a nice improvement nonetheless. Pro models and up feature twice the onboard storage, jumping from 16GB to 32GB. In music terms, this means you can store up to 2,000 songs.
Additionally, battery life also saw a boost, with at least 10% more juice in the can. In GPS mode, you can expect 50% more battery life on the Fenix 6, lasting up to 36 hours on a single charge. The difference is even greater with the Pro Solar edition, which features solar panels to charge during the daytime.
Software-wise, there are a host of features on the Garmin Fenix 6 series that weren’t available on the Fenix 5. These include better monitoring, route planning on maps, enhanced ski and golf features, and Garmin PacePro. PacePro allows you to fully customize your running routines with dynamic advice based on elevation profiles and more.
All that being said, if you already have a Fenix 5 Plus, the Fenix 6 series probably isn’t worth an upgrade. These devices are expensive, and the 6’s improvements aren’t particularly groundbreaking. Unless money is no object and you can jump to the Fenix 7 line, you can probably stick with the older model for at least a few more years.
Garmin Fenix 6 lineup specs
|Garmin Fenix 6S, 6, and 6X specs|
1.2-inch MIP LCD
240 x 240 resolution
1.3-inch MIP LCD
260 x 260 resolution
1.4-inch MIP LCD
280 x 280 resolution
Five face buttons
Base/Pro: Corning Gorilla Glass DX
Sapphire: Sapphire Crystal
Pro Solar: Power Glass
Dimensions and weight
42 x 42 x 13.8mm
41g (without band)
47 x 47 x 14.7mm
57g (without band)
51 x 51 x 14.9mm
66g (without band)
Bezel: Stainless steel or Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Strap: Silicone, leather, titanium, or nylon
Smartwatch: Up to 9 days
Battery saver watch mode: Up to 34 days
GPS: Up to 25 hours
GPS + music: Up to 6 hours
Max battery GPS mode: Up to 50 hours
Expedition GPS activity: Up to 20 days
With solar (3h charging per day):
Smartwatch: Up to 10.5 days
Battery saver watch mode: Up to 59 days
GPS: Up to 28 hours
GPS + music: Up to 6 hours
Max battery GPS mode: Up to 64 hours
Expedition GPS activity: Up to 26 days
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Wi-Fi (Pro, Sapphire, and Solar editions only)
Base: 64MB (No music storage)
Pro, Sapphire, and Solar: 32GB (~2,000 songs)
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
The answer depends on your specific model and how you use it. Without GPS enabled, it can last for 12 or more days. However, enabling GPS will lower that to roughly 36 hours.
Yes, except for the base models. The Fenix 6 Pro, Sapphire, and Pro Solar models support Garmin compatible music services including Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and local music uploads.
In short, very durable. Although the Sapphire models are the most resistant, all models are tested to US military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance.
What are some good Garmin Fenix 6 alternatives?
The Garmin Fenix 6 lineup faces stiff competition from other brands as well as from Garmin’s own lineup. Here are a few of our recommended Garmin Fenix 6 alternatives:
- Garmin Fenix 7 series ($699.99 at Amazon): If you can afford the price jump, we saw alot to love about the newest model during our Garmin Fenix 7 review. It packs all the tools of the 6 series plus a touchscreen display and more.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus ($349.99 at Amazon): Though not as technically capable as the Fenix line, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is an excellent mid-range multisport fitness device with many of the same benefits. The crisp OLED display and useful smartwatch features are more than enough to justify this purchase.
- Apple Watch Series 8 ($499 at Apple): For iOS users, the Apple Watch Series 8 is hard to beat. It doesn’t offer quite the same level of fitness support, but it does have plenty of advanced features for runners, sleep tracking, and more. Plus, it also has some of the best third-party app and accessory support of any wearable on the market.
- Apple Watch Ultra ($799 at Amazon): For a considerable price bump, the features everything we love about the Series 8 plus more durability, longer battery life, and some niche outdoor features for adventurous users. Still, if you aren’t sure which ecosystem is a better fit for you check out our dedicated Garmin vs Apple Watch comparison guide.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series ($249 at Amazon): For everyone outside of the iOS ecosystem (read: Android users), the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series includes two capable alternatives to the Garmin Fenix 6. Neither are as accurate as the Fenix 6 line in terms of sports- or health-tracking, but Samsung’s software and smartwatch features do well to make up for that. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro in particular offers a durable build and a larger battery.
- Suunto 9 ($319 at Amazon): Suunto’s best sports watch adds a host of multisport features, making it a solid alternative to the Fenix 6. The app and ecosystem aren’t as well developed, but the device does feature a large touchscreen and a rugged exterior.
Where to buy the Garmin Fenix 6
The Garmin Fenix 6 lineup starts at $549 for the smallest model and runs all the way up to $949 for the largest 6X Pro Solar model. These are popular watches from a well-known company, so they are usually readily available online and in certain brick-and-mortar stores. Below is a quick breakdown of pricing not including sales or deals. Note that these are starting prices, and different bands and finishes may be more expensive. On the other hand, the arrival of Fenix 7 means many of these devices can be found on sale.
- Garmin Fenix 6S: $550
- Pro: $650
- Sapphire: $750
- Pro Solar: $800
- Garmin Fenix 6: $550
- Pro: $650
- Sapphire: $750
- Pro Solar: $800
- Garmin Fenix 6X: (Base model not available)
- Pro: $700
- Sapphire: $800
- Pro Solar: $950
As mentioned above, we recommend getting the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro model, which you can buy at the links below.