Garmin Fenix 6 Review: 16 New Things To Know (Base/Pro/Solar)


Hey folks, Ray from DCRainmaker.com here. And today I have your in-depth review via 16 things to know about the new
Fenix 6 Series. Now “Series” encapsulates a lot of stuff because there’s a lot of
units in there, like 20-something units across the entire series; which is sort
of crazy we’ll get that in just a second. Now in putting these watches through
their paces here in the French Alps and actually the Swiss Alps as well, just
over there and over there. All the alps, I’ve been through
all of them. And in going ahead and testing them out. And trying to dig into some of
these new features here, and so I’ve got a pretty good idea on what’s working
fairly well, and what’s maybe not working so well. And so we’re gonna go
through all that stuff, but mostly I’m gonna focus on the new stuff in this
video. So things that are totally new to the Fenix line, to the Garmin
Forerunner line, to the MARQ line, to all the lines basically new stuff. At the very
end though, I’ll encapsulate a bunch of new stuff that’s, yes, new to the Fenix
6, but was introduced on the Forerunner 495, or the MARQ
Series this past spring. So stay tuned for that. The first like fifteen or so
items are basically stuff that’s brand new that you probably haven’t seen
before. Oh, and then just to state the obvious, this video is not sponsored in
any way shape or form. It’s just me do my thing. Also if you want to check out my
full in-depth review down in the description there, that’s where I have a lot more the accuracy
testing, like elevation, and GPS, and heart rate. All that stuff that is kind of
boring to watch in a video, but is detailed super deep down that video
there across a whole bunch of sports, and days, and weeks, and it’s all there, so
go check this out. First tho, #1 on the list is, we got to figure out this whole
like listing of units because there’s a lot of them here. I’m gonna try to
explain it all they start off at $599 and they go all the way up to
$1150 bucks. Pretty expensive. And the way to think about it
is, basically Garmin’s broken the Fenix line into kind of two pieces. There’s the
base piece, and there’s a pro piece. The base piece takes out the maps, takes out
the music, and takes out the Wi-Fi. So it kind of makes it like older Fenix , if
you will. But adds in and keeps all of the physio stuff that we’ll talk about a
little later on. So all the advanced metrics, and all of that kind of stuff is still
there. Versus the higher end ones (and you can see all the prices on the screen
right there), the higher end ones keep the maps, keep the Wi-Fi, keep the music that
you saw in the Fenix 5 Plus series, and then eventually go all the way up to
the Fenix 6X Solar which introduces solar. Which again we’ll talk about in a
bit. Now, keep in mind that with that lack of maps, there are other features that
kind of depend on that, that fall away. For example, there’s no Climb Pro anymore
on the unit itself, there’s no popularity routing on the
unit itself, all the stuff that you kind of depend-on on the underlying topo maps data is gone. So I’ll try to note that down at the
bottom of the video there, when something is not on the base unit. But for the most
part, unless I say something, everything you see here is on the base unit. So that
gets us to #2 on the list which is solar. And it’s probably the one that
everyone will be talking about, despite the fact that’s really only available from
$1,000 up. Its introduced on the Fenix 6X. Now keep in mind in the past the
X-Series watches are where Garmin has introduced a bunch of new
technologies. So if you go back to the Fenix 5X series, that’s where you had
maps but the rest of series did not. If you go back to the Fenix 5X Plus,
that’s where they introduced PulseOx, where as the rest of series did not. And,
if you go now to the Fenix 6X, and I’m probably gonna screw up these names at some point, this is where they’re introducing solar. Now, if you look just on the inside
of the watch, just inside the bezel itself, you’ll see there’s a thin strip.
It’s one millimeter all the way around, and that is 100% solar panel. Meaning
it’s getting 100% of the light from the sun out here into that little solar
panel there that is one millimeter thick. Versus the rest of the display actually
has solar under it as well, but only at 10% efficiency. So in that case only 10%
of the sun is making it into that solar panel under the rest of the display. The entire display, including that one millimeter piece there, is underneath Gorilla Glass, so
you’re not gonna like scratch the solar panel off. Whatever you do scratch wise
to the entire display is gonna happen to the entire display. It’s got a gorilla
glass covering the entire thing. Now the way Garmin sees this is a way to go
ahead and top up your watch, and so it’s not designed to power your watch
indefinitely forever. It’s not forever power. But it is pretty close in some
scenarios. So if you go ahead and just turn off GPS tracking, and just use it
like say you’re out working or something like that. Maybe you have a job that is outdoors, and you just want to use it in regular mode. You’ll come pretty darn close on a sunny
day to just keeping things neutral across the board. You might slowly dip down
depending on how many notifications you have an stuff like that, but more or less
pretty neutral. Versus is if you’re out hiking and running like I am today out
here, even though it’s super sunny, you’re not going to get like dramatic additions
of battery life to this. You’re gonna get a handful of hours. I’ll put that number
exactly right now on the screen there. So you can see on the watch exactly these
solar intensity in real time. And it’s pretty impressive. It’s literally real
time. If I go out of the trees, it takes about two seconds or so to show and
reflect that on the screen itself, and you’ll see there’s two different ways to
look at it. One is that little sundial right there. That is showing kind of the
full intensity. And so if it’s at like, you know, zero, or one, or two bars,
it’s probably overcast, fairly overcast in fact. Versus if it’s all the way filled
up, then it’s sunny. And right now I’ve got mine all the way filled up here in the sun.
Though when I go like this and kinda take it out of the sun, because the sun is up
there, I’m down at like one to two bars. And what I’m generally seeing here is
that when it’s cloudy out I’m between, let’s just call it 0% to 50% solar intensity. And then when it gets sunny, it’s pretty much like
straight into the 100% solar intensity. There isn’t a lot between that 50% and a
100% marker. Still it’s it’s pretty cool. On the bottom there you’ve
got also a graph that shows you solar intensity over the course of the day.
That has been kind of fun to watch on some of my longer hikes where I was down
in the tree canopy in the forest early in the morning. So not great solar
intensity, and as I went up to above the treeline and into the sun, then you get
kind of a full intensity. And then again as I finished up down back in the treeline
you lose that again. So pretty impressive stuff. Okay let’s go ahead and cook into
#3 here because I’m way behind my target timeline for this video right
now. And so let’s talk about Trendline Popularity Routing. It was something
Garmin introduced last year in the Fenix 5 Plus series. And essentially
that takes all the heat-map data that Garmin gathers from probably about a
million activities a day (GPS activities), they have on Garmin Connect, and it puts it
in the watch from a data standpoint. But previously you couldn’t actually see
that heat map on your watch itself. The data was there, you would route over the
top of it, called popularity routing, and that worked great, but now you can actually
see it. Now you can toggle a map layer that goes ahead and shows you the exact
Trendline Popularity Routing of your area. And it’s cool but there are
definitely some limitations that are becoming super visible here, even in a
place like Chamonix, it’s like, just all outdoor people all the time, and tons of
people wearing GPS watches. Number one is that I’m not seeing a lot of the popular
routing data once I zoom beyond half a mile of zoom-level there. Which makes it
really tough to see beyond just my little area. So I can’t really see longer
distance. That’s something that they can probably fix and change the rendering
whatnot. Number two, I’m also noticing that it’s
divided up based on sport, which makes sense at first, but in the case of up
here I saw a ton of data for running but oddly not a lot of data for hiking-
because people are probably just simply sticking to the run GPS mode as opposed to hike. So I kinda just would choose run up here so I can go ahead and see the
stuff around me. Still, it’s super cool stuff and I think those are kind of
minor tweaks that they can fix overtime. Next on the list is PacePro. Now the
goal behind this is effectively to replace those paper wristbands that you wore at marathons that would show your splits
for every kilometer or mile during the race. But they didn’t necessarily account
for the terrain very well, and that’s what PacePro aims to do. So the way it works
is that you can apply a course, or you can not apply a course, but in my case
I’ve applied a course to it so it knows the terrain for that. It knows how to take
into account that terrain for running up hills and down. Once you’ve got that
loaded, then you go ahead and decide do you want to positive split or negative split. Which basically means do you want to get faster over the course of the race or
not. And number two, you can choose how aggressive you want to be on hills. And
so as you dork with these sliders, you can see the PacePro will shift the
different pace splits for your entire race, or workout, or whatever it may be.
And then on training day, or race day whatever maybe, you’ve got an actual data
screen that’s sort of like the virtual partner one, where it goes ahead and
shows you how you’re doing against those splits, as well as against the entire
race. Pretty cool stuff. It’s definitely like taking virtual partner and kicking
it up a notch, and it’s giving you a lot more control over how you race against
something. Just a super quick scenic interruption, if you’re enjoying the
video go ahead and whack that like button right now, down the bottom there, or hit
the subscribe button! It really helps out the channel as well as the video. With
that, onto the next one. Next we’ve got a slew of battery related features. And I’ve
kind of broken them out because they are different features. Number one it is
something called Power Modes, and now what Garmin has done here is they
basically looked at Suunto and said, “what you did last year with the Suunto 9, that
was a really good idea, we’re gonna copy it”! Which is that Suunto introduced
these battery modes where we basically would know how much battery time you had from
an hour standpoint; so you have a say 20 hours, or 40 hours, or 50 hours of battery
life left on the watch based on the battery that you have right then and
there. And you could change the battery modes both prior to activity as well as
during the activity to go ahead and complete your activity. It made a lot of
sense. So Garmin took that same thing and they created new battery modes, and
more or less copy the entire feature. So that segways right in the next one
called Power Manager. Now Power Manager allows you to create your own custom
profiles and as you’re doing it, it’ll actually show you how many hours it’ll
add for each thing you do. So if you turn off the optical heart rate sensor, it’ll show
you exactly how many hours you’re gonna gain by doing that. If you turn off
sensor connectivity, the ANT+ sensors and Bluetooth Smart sensors, it
shows you exactly how much time you’re gonna gain in doing that. And you goes through this entire list of things. And it’s things like music for example that are turned off,
that would obviously vary. So they can’t give you like a straight answer for that.
So it just simply says “Vary”. And now if you were creative enough within this, you
could actually get to our next item which is the Battery Saver Mode. Now the goal behind this is sort of replicating kind
of like Casio does. On basically creating a mode that will last more or less
forever. Like 41 days, which is a long time for a Garmin watch. And what it does
in that mode, when you enable that, you can just toggle it through the
battery manager there, is it goes and it
basically turns everything off, and it just simply updates your time screen
once per minute. One of the things that most people don’t realize is that, that
seconds-hand on your watch and showing it, is a huge battery drain over the
course of a longer period of time. Finally on the battery related train of
new features, here is Expedition Mode. This is something that came to the
Garmin MARQ Expedition Series this past February, but you probably didn’t use it
because that cost $2,000! But it’s here now. And the way it works
is it goes ahead and disables everything, kind of like Battery Saver Mode, except
GPS. So GPS actually stays on but it checks in once per hour. The idea behind
this is that you can get up to roughly 46 days or some crazy number of days
depending which unit you have. It’s like 21 days if you have the 6X, all
the way up to 46 days if you have the X. and that allows you get the single GPS
plot once per hour if you’re going a really long ways and don’t really care
about anything else except for… I don’t really know who’s gonna use it to be
honest. Like I think if you’re going 46 days you probably have a battery pack
with you, and the other modes, you know like the other normal GPS modes, last up
to 120 hours- so that’s gonna cover almost everyone else. So it’s cool but, I
bet no one ever actually uses it. Next we’ve got a quickie. Which is the
increased number of data fields per page! Simple as that. If you have the 6S or the 6, you get up to six data fields now (from the
previous four). And if you have the 6x you get up to eight data fields from the
previous four. So again, Garmin kind of following what
Suunto and others have done here, and adding more data fields per data page.
Next we have some tweaks to the size of the unit’s themselves. And now over
the past couple years, for the most part, the Fenix series have stayed the exact
same size, the display is has changed a little bit, but they kind of are what
they are. Now that all changes with the Fenix 6 series. Starting off with the
display size, they’ve increased that across the board by decreasing the bezel
size. So the actual screen resolution increases as well as a screen size. And
then on the thickness of all of the units they’ve decreased those by varying
amounts as well. And then last but not least on the 6S, which is the smaller one,
that tends to be more popular with women- including my wife. They’ve reduced what’s
called the “Lug to Lug” distance. They always stuck out a lot, and they
it looked a little awkward. They reduced that considerably which should make it a
little bit better for people to have small wrists. Next on the list, we got
Widget Glances. Now this is one of those things that probably doesn’t sound that
exciting, but it’s just so awesome when you start to use it. In the past a Garmin had
in the widget role, which is a thing that you scroll through and you’ve got widgets like weather, and your activities, and all that kind of stuff. It’s not
really designed for during the workout but just the rest of the day. But you had
one page for each widget. And that was fine, but there was a lot of wasted space
there. And so with Widget Glances they’ve shrunk that down into these glanceable
things, that you can go ahead and you see three per page. and you can click on them
to get the full widget size. It’s awesome. Like I don’t need this huge page for
most of these things, like just seeing my heart rate, or seeing the altitude, or
elevation. It works pretty well. This is something that it sounds like they are gonna open up to the rest of Connect IQ here at the same time. So other developers
will be able to go and take advantage of that as well. Next there’s the new Map Display
Themes. Now, this is only available on the ProModels that have maps of course, and
what it allows you to do is to change the theme of the map. So in the past Garmin
had their standard issue map, but this allows new map themes. So for example,
there is the Popularity Routing Theme, which is how you see the trend line
popularity data- the heat map data. There is a high contrast theme, there’s a dark
theme, there is a marine theme- which shows like more marine stuff. There’s a
ski resort theme. All those things, you just simply toggle the themes however
you want, whenever you want, even mid activity. Speaking of maps the 6Series
now includes ski resort maps as well as golf courses on the device itself. So in
case of ski resorts there’s 2,000 ski resorts, and I check this one here, and
Chamonix is on the list which is great. In the case of golf courses there’s
41,000 that are pre-loaded on the device as well. I don’t golf, so I really can’t… I’m
really good at like miniature golf, but not so much the big ball golf. So I can’t
really help you there. Next on the list though is ClimbPro. So back to something
that is in my ballpark. Now ClimbPro was introduced in the
past, I think I’m a Fenix 5 Plus Series. And basically what it does, is it shows you
your climbs automatically if you’re loading a course. And it’s really cool.
I’ve been using it all day, everyday, on all of my hikes here. Because I’m just
climbing all day everyday- I love it! It’s one of my favorite features. That
was in the past, what they’ve done now though, is they’ve taken the coloring that is
on the Garmin Edge 530, 830, and 1030 series, where it colors the actual map
itself based on the incline- so based on the suck factor if you will.
That will be on the wrists itself. Now unfortunately that feature won’t be
there at launch, so if you have it you’re not gonna see it on day zero. They are
still fine-tuning that a little bit. Next for those triathletes in the crowd, you
now have optical heart rate enabled for swimming. This is something that Garmin has
started to do some beta builds on this past summer for the Forerunner 945, and also if I think for the MARQ Series too. But now for the Fenix6 Series, if you want to use the optical heart rate on your wrist itself-
for swimming, you can do that. You can still of course use the HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim straps, which Garmin says, and I would agree with, will give you better
quality data. So you’re gonna have to do some testing to see if it works for you.
Now last but not least, is the beast of a list of items that our added to the
Fenix 6 Series that came within the Forerunner 945 Series. So if you’re asking yourselves are there gonna be any difference
between the 945 and the Fenix 6 Series, the answer is probably a few, but
more or less, both should kind of blend together. Again all those features (I’ll
put them on the screen right now because there’s so many features that I can’t
possibly talk through them all). Where I have talked through them all, though, is in the full In-Depth Review linked at the bottom down there. You’ll see all of them, and you can
find out more than you probably ever wanted to know about everything there. Okay, so there you go a complete look at the new Fenix 6 Series. So what are my kind
of concluding thoughts? I’m generally impressed. I think a couple things. One,
the solar is intriguing to me. I want to see it in a lower price point, like in these other devices. But I have no doubt that that’s gonna happen. That’s, Garmin spent a lot of
money according this technology they’re not just gonna put in a single watch. And
they have kind of, you know, alluded to that a little bit. So that’s cool stuff, I I’m seeing
the benefits of that in the sunny day hikes and whatnot. Number two, I’m
actually impressed with the accuracy, even if those you have been following me
for a while, I have not been super impressed with the Sony chipset accuracy
on any of the devices- whether it be Suunto, a Polar, or Garmin, over the past year as
they’ve all shifted that. But I’ll give them credit, I’m getting really good GPS
tracks in some really tough places up here. Some pretty sketchy places that are
getting really good GPS tracks, so that’s good. With that thank you for watching. Go
ahead and whack that like button on the bottom there, or the subscribe button, in
particularly because there is a disturbing amount of new sports
technology stuff coming in the next ten days, that you do not want to miss out on. Like seriously, it’s, my tracker sheet is, it’s concerning for my health right now. But you’re gonna enjoy it, I think I hope! Have a good one

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