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Garmin Fenix 6 series buyer's guide: What you should know about the lineup

The Garmin Fenix 6 is the company's top-of-the-line offering, but is it worth the high price tag?
August 9, 2021
garmin fenix 6 pro on fence watch face display nylon strap
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

When it comes to fitness watches, Garmin offers one of the most comprehensive lineups out there. The company’s highest-end multisport offering, the Garmin Fenix 6 series, is an attractive product for just about anyone — if you can justify the price.

That said, the lineup is quite confusing, with more than 10 separate base and pro models split throughout the Fenix 6, 6S, and 6X product lines. Keep reading to clear up the confusion and figure out which Garmin Fenix 6 is right for you!

Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this Garmin Fenix 6 guide with more tips, resources, and details, so stay tuned.

Garmin Fenix 6 lineup at a glance

garmin fenix 6 pro render
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Garmin's do-everything watch
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is one of the most durable and powerful outdoor smartwatches on the market. It's preloaded with maps and ski routes, and the battery lasts up to 14 days with full functionality enabled.

As mentioned above, the Garmin Fenix 6 has three separate entries in its lineup: the Garmin Fenix 6, Garmin Fenix 6S, and Garmin Fenix 6X. Here’s a quick roundup of who each watch is designed for:

  • Garmin Fenix 6S: The smallest model, featuring a 1.2-inch screen, 42mm case size, and a 20mm band
  • Garmin Fenix 6: The standard model, featuring a 1.3-inch screen, 47mm case size, and a 22mm band
  • Garmin Fenix 6X: The largest model, featuring a 1.4-inch screen, 51mm case size, and a 26mm band
garmin fenix 6 pro running playlist spotify music
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

To make matters more complicated, 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 also gain access to the company’s excellent health app, Garmin Connect, which has an incredibly rich feature set.

However, these features come at a high cost, as the Garmin Fenix 6 and 6S start at $549. That said, if you want the best experience, you should swing for the Pro versions, which start at $649 (the larger 6X Pro starts at $699). It’s a high price to pay, but what you’re getting is a no-compromise smartwatch that will last for years to come.

Is the Garmin Fenix 6 worth buying?

garmin fenix 6 pro display watch face 1
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Garmin Fenix 6 is absolutely worth buying if it’s within your budget. But with so many devices in the lineup, which one is best?

For most people, that 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.

What you’re getting is the very best that Garmin has to offer. 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, the main reason not to get this watch is that it may be overkill for your needs. It runs more than twice the price of more dedicated fitness trackers. So if, for example, you’re primarily a runner, you can probably get away with a much cheaper running-focused watch like the Garmin Forerunner 55 or 745.

Garmin Forerunner 55 review running hiit pool swimming profiles
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Garmin Forerunner 55

Still, if money is no object, the Garmin Fenix 6 lineup won’t disappoint. This is the fitness watch to buy if you don’t want to buy another smartwatch for at least a few years.

The Garmin Fenix 6 is for those who want:

  • support for a ton of sporting activities
  • the absolute best wearable money can buy
  • a fitness device that will last for years to come
  • a smartwatch that will last weeks on a single charge

And it may not be a great pick if you need:

  • an inexpensive smartwatch or fitness device
  • tracking for a single sport (i.e., only running or cycling)
  • a touchscreen display

Garmin Fenix 6 vs Fenix 5 Plus: What’s new?

garmin fenix 6 pro power manager battery saver mode
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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 brings 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. All devices in the Fenix 5 Plus lineup have 1.2-inch screens, while the Fenix 6 and 6X now have 1.3- and 1.4-inch displays, respectively. The 6S model remains at 1.2 inches.

The Fenix 6 series brings many great interative improvements, but nothing groundbreaking.

On the inside, the Fenix 6 packs an improved GPS, which should provide more accurate location readings. This wasn’t exactly a problem with the Fenix 5 Plus, but it’s a nice improvement nonetheless.

Battery life has also seen a boost, with at least 10% more juice in the can. In GPS mode, you can expect 50% more battery life, 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.

Aside from the base model, which has a paltry 64MB of storage, the Pro models and up feature twice the onboard storage, jumping from 16GB to 32GB. In music terms, this means you can now store up to 2,000 songs.

Read also: The best fitness trackers from Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, and more

Software-wise, there are a host of new features on the Garmin Fenix 6 series. These include better monitoring, route planning on maps, enhanced ski and golf features, and a new Garmin PacePro feature for runners. This last addition allows you to fully customize your running routines based on personal goals, with dynamic advice based on elevation profiles and more.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth the upgrade if you already have a Fenix 5 Plus, the answer is probably no. These devices are expensive, and the upgrades aren’t anything particularly groundbreaking. Unless money is no object, 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
Fenix 6S:
1.2-inch MIP LCD
240 x 240 resolution

Fenix 6:
1.3-inch MIP LCD
260 x 260 resolution

Fenix 6X:
1.4-inch MIP LCD
280 x 280 resolution
Five face buttons
No touchscreen
Lens material
Base/Pro: Corning Gorilla Glass DX
Sapphire: Sapphire Crystal
Pro Solar: Power Glass
Dimensions and weight
Fenix 6S:
42 x 42 x 13.8mm
20mm band
41g (without band)

Fenix 6:
47 x 47 x 14.7mm
22mm band
57g (without band)

Fenix 6X:
51 x 51 x 14.9mm
26mm band
66g (without band)

Build materials
Bezel: Stainless steel or Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Strap: Silicone, leather, titanium, or nylon
Without solar:
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
IP rating
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
Barometric altimeter
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Bluetooth Smart
Wi-Fi (Pro, Sapphire, and Solar editions only)
Base: 64MB (No music storage)
Pro, Sapphire, and Solar: 32GB (~2,000 songs)
Android, iOS
Garmin Pay
Smartwatch features
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection

What are some good Garmin Fenix 6 alternatives?

garmin venu 2 vs apple watch series 6
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Garmin Venu 2 vs Apple Watch Series 6

The Garmin Fenix 6 lineup features stiff competition from both other brands and Garmin’s own devices. Here are a few of our recommended Garmin Fenix 6 alternatives:

  • Garmin Venu 2: The Garmin Fenix 6 might be the top-of-the-line device in Garmin’s lineup, but the Garmin Venu 2 is an excellent mid-range multisport fitness device with many of the same benefits. It’s lighter on fitness features, but the crisp OLED display and smartwatch features are more than enough to justify the purchase.
  • Apple Watch Series 6: For iOS users, Apple’s latest Apple Watch Series 6 lineup is hard to beat. It doesn’t quite offer the same level of fitness support, but it now has a capable pulse oximeter, sleep tracking, and more. It also has some of the best third-party app and accessory support for any wearable on the market.
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: For everyone outside of the iOS ecosystem (read: Android users), the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a capable alternative to the Garmin Fenix 6. It’s not nearly 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.
  • Suunto 9: 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.
  • Garmin Fenix 5 Plus: If you can’t quite stomach the price but don’t want to shy away from the Garmin ecosystem, the Fenix 6 Pro’s predecessor, the Fenix 5 Plus, is still a strong contender. It has almost as many features but can be found for significantly less. (For what it’s worth, we do not recommend the older Fenix 5 at this time.)

Where to buy the Garmin Fenix 6

garmin fenix 6 pro on wrist display 2
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

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 or in certain brick-and-mortar stores.

Below is a quick breakdown of pricing. Note that these are starting prices, and different bands and finishes may be more expensive.

  • 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.

garmin fenix 6 pro render
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Garmin's do-everything watch
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is one of the most durable and powerful outdoor smartwatches on the market. It's preloaded with maps and ski routes, and the battery lasts up to 14 days with full functionality enabled.

What are some good Garmin Fenix 6 accessories?

Although you can get the Garmin Fenix 6 in a variety of sizes and styles, there are a number of accessories available, as well. These include new bands, screen protectors, mounting accessories, and more.

If you already have a band, it may fit your new Fenix 6 model. The Fenix 6S will fit any 20mm band, the Fenix 6 any 22mm band, and the Fenix 6X any 26mm band.

Top Garmin Fenix 6 questions and answers

garmin fenix 6 pro charging port battery port
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Q: How often do I need to recharge the Garmin Fenix 6?
A: The answer depends on your specific model and how you use it. Without GPS enabled, it can last for 12 or more days, although enabling GPS will lower that to roughly 36 hours.

Q: What size Garmin Fenix 6 should I buy?
A: 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 6 132-210mm, and the largest 6X 135-213mm. The larger devices also have larger watch faces, so keep that in mind when choosing.

Q: What is the difference between the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro and Sapphire editions?
A: 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.

Q: Does the Garmin Fenix 6 support contactless payments?
A: Yes. All models support Garmin Pay contactless payments at participating locations around the world.

Q: Does the Fenix 6 support music streaming apps?
A: Yes, except for the base models. The Fenix 6 Pro, Sapphire, and Pro Solar models support Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and local music uploads. You can read more about music services compatible with Garmin devices here.

Q: How durable are the Fenix 6 devices?
A: Very durable. Although the Sapphire models are the most resistant, all models are tested to US military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance.

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