On the heels of announcing thoughtful updates to its Vivoactive 3 device, Garmin is bringing some of the same, new wearable features to the Fenix line. The new Fenix 5S Plus, Fenix 5 Plus, and Fenix 5X Plus devices finally have Garmin Pay and music storage now, and they include advanced biometric and routing features that serious athletes will appreciate.
The Fenix family represents the upper echelon of Garmin smartwatches, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been the most wearable devices. Over the past couple of years, Garmin has worked hard to keep the integrity of the Fenix design while also slimming it down and making it easier to wear all day long. The Fenix 5 Plus family consists of the most streamlined Fenix devices yet—while some are bigger and bulkier than Vivo devices, they’re much lighter and less cumbersome than previous Fenix devices.
Users can choose from heavier, PVD-coated stainless steel models or lightweight titanium models for all three of the Fenix 5 Plus devices, which range from 42mm to 51mm in case size. Garmin redesigned the smallest model, the 42mm Fenix 5S Plus, to have a display that’s about 20 percent larger than its predecessor so those who want a smaller case don’t have to sacrifice screen space to get it.
Music and mapping
Garmin programmed a few important features into all three Fenix 5 Plus models: Garmin Pay, music storage, and built-in mapping and navigation. The company’s contactless payment system has been slowly making its way onto its smartwatches since it was introduced last year. Music storage is a more recent update, as the recently released Forerunner 645 Music was the first Garmin device to have onboard music storage.
All three Fenix 5 Plus models have space for 500 songs, and iHeartRadio and Deezer paid subscribers can download playlists and other music from their accounts to their wearables. Fenix devices are designed to be used off-the-grid and in extreme environments, making them ideal devices to have music storage so users can leave their smartphones at home when they go out for a training session.
Built-in mapping and Garmin’s Trendline feature let users find new trails no matter where they are. Maps appear directly on the devices’ Chroma displays, and users can input the distance they want to travel and receive suggested routes for running or cycling in their current area. Trendline first appeared on Garmin’s dedicated cycling devices, but now it’s made its way to the new Fenix wearables. Instead of running or biking the same routes over and over, users can call upon Garmin Connect’s data to find new routes to switch up their sessions.
Blood oxygen saturation
The top-tier model, the Fenix 5X Plus, can assess blood oxygen saturation in addition to the other new features present in all three models. Blood oxygen levels show how oxygen is being distributed through the body via blood cells. Keeping your blood oxygen saturation within a specific range is important when you’re exercising, particularly in areas with high altitudes. The Fenix 5X Plus uses an embedded pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation by light absorption through your pulse. It’ll then produce an on-screen graph that shows your current blood oxygen saturation percentage and your history over the past 24 hours.
Pulse oximeters, much like optical heart rate monitors, aren’t as accurate as medical machines that measure the same data. You’ll have to take these data points with a grain of salt, but Garmin’s decision to include a pulse ox sensor in the Fenix 5X Plus is understandable. Those using the device to its fullest potential will likely be hiking, running, cycling, or doing other activities in strenuous environments—having an estimation of blood oxygen levels could help those users stay healthy and safe during long sessions.
All of the features already present in the Fenix 5 family are available on these new devices: Chroma displays with LED backlights, quick-release bands, water resistance up to 100 meters, in-depth exercise data including running dynamics, smartphone alert delivery, and killer battery life. The Fenix 5S Plus can last seven days on a single charge or four hours in GPS/music mode; the Fenix 5 Plus lasts 10 days or 8 hours in GPS/music mode; and the Fenix 5X Plus lasts a whopping 20 days or 13 hours in GPS/music mode. All three models will be available in Q2 2018 starting at $699—keep an eye out for our review in the coming weeks.
Listing image by Garmin