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Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Review

If you just can't get enough of data, features, and cool integrations, this watch has it all
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Photo: REI Co-op
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $650 List | $649.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Amazing features, excellent storage, easy to use, very durable design, excellent integrations, accurate, fantastic battery life
Cons:  Heavy and bulky, expensive
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 16, 2021
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Features - 20% 10
  • Battery Life - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Accuracy - 20% 8
  • Design - 20% 6

Our Verdict

Looking for features? The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro stands out for its immense storage and excellent selection of features. This is the watch to buy if you plan on getting deep into the backcountry and require ample battery life, navigational capabilities, and a song list to keep you going through the day. With access to the Google Connect community, you'll be flooded with feature options that might make your head spin. While this is a good option for those who need that functionality, many may not be able to stomach the price. Most athletes could probably get away with a lower-cost watch with about half the features and a similar amount of battery life. However, if you know you want features and excellent battery life, this is the one to buy.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $649.99 at Backcountry
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$549.99 at Amazon
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Pros Amazing features, excellent storage, easy to use, very durable design, excellent integrations, accurate, fantastic battery lifeLightweight and thin profile, intuitive, fully featured, very accurateStellar battery life, nice size and weight, comfortable, easy to use, simple software platform, seamless syncing and updates, touchscreenLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low costSolar rechargeable, good feature set, all functionality is built into the watch without the need for the apps
Cons Heavy and bulky, expensiveExpensive, hidden features that take time to set-up and get to know, blood oxygen sensor has questionable accuracyLarger knob is easy to push accidentally, can't be plugged into a computerNo mountain sports or navigational featuresButtons are easy to push accidentally, can't use a screen protector, small screen, can't modularize the features like other Garmin products
Bottom Line If you just can't get enough of data, features, and cool integrations, this watch has it allThis elite watch stands out for its high-end features with exceptional accuracy and performance in a low profile designWith all the right features and monstrous battery life, this watch is one of our favorites for ultradistance events and explorationsA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting out of this world battery lifeA top recommendation for any adventurer heading out on a longer expedition that needs GPS and a rechargeable device
Rating Categories Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Features (20%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Battery Life (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Design (20%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Model Tested Standard N/A Standard N/A Standard
Watch Face Material Corning Gorilla Glass DX or sapphire crystal Corning Gorilla Glass DX Sapphire glass Corning glass Power glass with photovoltaic panels built-in
Bezel Stainless steel or diamond-like carbon coated steel Fiber-reinforced polymer Titanium Alloy Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Case Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover Fiber-reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicone, leather, titanium or nylon Silicon Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone
Tools Required to Change Band? Yes Yes No No Yes
Size Tested 47mm One size only 47mm One size only One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter or W x H) 47mm 46mm 47mm 43mm 46mm
Measured Thickness 14mm 13mm 13.4mm 11mm 15mm
Measured Screen Width 33mm 30mm 33mm 32mm 22mm
Measured Weight 2.8 oz 1.7 oz 2.0 oz 1.2 oz 1.9 oz
Measured Charging Time 110 min 75 min 80 min 80 min 140 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 31 hours 28 hours 36 hours 29 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: up to 14 days
Battery-saver watch mode: up to 48 days
GPS mode: up to 36 hours
GPS mode w/ music: up to 10 hours
Max battery GPS mode: up to 72 hours
Expedition GPS activity: up to 28 days
Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days
GPS mode w/ music: 10 hours
GPS without music: 36 hours
Smartwatch mode: 30 days
GPS mode: 40 hours
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days
GPS mode: 30 hours
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Smartwatch: up to 24 days/54 days with solar*
Battery-saver watch mode: up to 56 days/unlimited with solar*
GPS mode: up to 30 hours/38 hours with solar**
Max battery GPS mode: up to 70 hours/145 hours with solar**
Expedition GPS activity: up to 28 days/68 days with solar*
*Solar charging, assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions
**Solar charging, assuming use in 50,000 lux conditions
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Maps? Yes - detailed Yes, detailed Yes - basic No Yes - basic
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 50m 100m 50m 100m
Music Control? Yes Yes No No No
Music Storage? Yes - 2000 songs Yes - 1000 songs No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? Yes Yes No No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Blood Oxygen? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Coros Garmin Connect, widgets for other features
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro stands out as the most featured watch in this review, with top-notch storage, accuracy, and battery life. Unfortunately, the design is bulky and heavy, which was a dealbreaker for many of our testers, despite its excellent features and amazing level of storage.

Performance Comparison


This well-featured watch offers excellent functionality for all...
This well-featured watch offers excellent functionality for all kinds of sports. It's plump with features but comes at a cost. There are many options with higher-end finishes or solar power. We tested the regular Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.
Photo: Amber King

Features


The Fenix 6 Pro is the boss if you're looking for a watch packed with features. It comes with the standard items you'd expect like GPS tracking, fitness tracking, navigational capabilities, and more, but where it stands out is its storage. Of the watches tested, it has the most music and map storage, offering more functionality to those who use these features regularly. Store up to 2000 songs and add GB of map data. It also has several profiles that are more specific to snow sports, including preloaded maps of over 2,000 ski resorts around the country. This is the watch to buy if you love features and want the best that's out there.


Notable Features:

  • Fully featured GPS mapping
  • Fitness monitoring (pedometer, calories, women's health, respiration rate, stress, relaxation reminders, breathing exercises, etc.)
  • Sleep tracking
  • Blood oxygen
  • Temperature
  • Barometric compass
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Navigational features (trackback to start, turn-by-turn navigation, course creation, sight and go, fully populated preloaded maps, compass, etc.)
  • Garmin Pay
  • Music storage (up to 2000 songs)
  • Workouts for the gym
  • Several activity profiles, including in-depth options for safety and live tracking (integrated beacon), gym and fitness equipment, training plans and workouts, running, golfing, and outdoor recreation.
  • Water-resistant to 100 m (10 ATM)
  • Integration with the Garmin ecosystem (1000s of app integrations for your needs)

Check out all the featuresthat set this watch apart.

The Garmin Connect ecosystem offers an excellent platform for activity sharing, challenges, joining groups, and even has its own store of apps that integrate with most Garmin devices. One of the biggest perks of buying a Garmin watch is integration into this fully robust ecosystem. If you prefer to track on Strava or other platforms, that's easy to set up too. This is by far the most featured watch in our review, offering excellent overall storage.

We appreciate the very accurate and detailed onboard maps and...
We appreciate the very accurate and detailed onboard maps and excellent navigational capabilities.
Photo: Amber King

Battery Life


The Fenix 6 Pro performed excellently in this metric. Garmin advertises a few different battery-saving options with different usages overall. Battery life is hugely affected by little things like turning buzzers or notifications on and off, so keep this in mind if your watch isn't reaching the specs that Garmin advertises.


Garmin claims the battery will last about two weeks in smartwatch mode, which is the same that we got when performing 3-4 activities lasting 1-3 hours each day. You can also go to the battery saver mode, which will turn everything off. We never tested this as we never needed to be without our features this long. It's said to last 48 days; however, the only use case scenario we can conjure up is during a long backpacking trip or thru adventure where you may not have access to electricity.

The Fenix 6 Pro gives you estimates of the number of hours you'll...
The Fenix 6 Pro gives you estimates of the number of hours you'll get and which functions will be turned on or off in various modes.
Photo: Amber King

In GPS mode (with regular settings), Garmin claims up to 36 hours of battery life without music and up to 10 hours with music. We tested GPS while running the watch to a full battery drain twice. The first test was inside the house near a window, where it lasted for a whopping 40 hours. For the second test, the watch sat outside with a more clear GPS signal, and it lasted 38 hours, for an average of 39 hours, without physically moving the device. On a recent backpacking trip, we got to test the GPS from 100% to 0%. In this test, we got closer to 31 hours in mountainous terrain, which is sadly a little less than the claimed battery life. That said, we did this with sensors on. For music, we ran with our music going for 5 hours, starting at 100%. After that time, half the battery was gone, so we think Garmin's claims of 10 hours are correct in this realm.

We enjoy the backcountry and can track all our laps all day long...
We enjoy the backcountry and can track all our laps all day long with this durable contender. We appreciate all the extra snow sports profiles it boasts.
Photo: Amber King

For longer explorations into the mountains, battery life is sufficient. There is also an expedition GPS mode, which will take a data point or two each day to give you a track over a month-long trip. The battery for this is said to last up to 28 days. We measured charging time to take 110 minutes from a traditional USB wall adaptor.

Ease of Use


This watch is pretty intuitive, but it does take a little time to figure out. The screen is loaded with stats, and one screen will offer three different items as you scroll. This makes it look a little busy as it has smaller font than other contenders with dedicated screens for specific data. Given the huge Garmin Connect ecosystem, learning where to get which feature from can be hard to figure out and takes a little time to understand.


The Fenix features quite a large watch face with a screen that is easy to see in low and high light. It has five dedicated buttons for different functionality. You can start activities in just three presses, and there's the ability to optimize profiles before starting them. This watch is similar to the design of most Garmin watches, so if you've used one before, it will seem effortless, but if it's your first time, there is a learning curve to discover where everything is.

The buttons are a little smaller than most, and while we could use...
The buttons are a little smaller than most, and while we could use them with gloves, we ended up taking them off to check out our stats.
Photo: Amber King

The initial setup is simple, taking less than 5 minutes and showing basic information on using the watch from that point forward. After you're done exploring, go ahead and download the Garmin apps (IQ and Connect). One of the hardest parts of using this watch is figuring out where all the features are. In addition, it does take some time to set up certain things. For example, music requires you to have a subscription to one of the Garmin offered apps (i.e., Spotify or others listed, no Pandora). Many of the features are like this, making them harder to use than other platforms because the functionality is shared between the app and the watch. Another thing we noted is that it takes time to access stored activities, and music upload can be a bit clunky.

Accuracy


Accuracy is excellent, as expected for such a high-performing contender. We tested GPS, heart rate, and oxygen saturation when looking at accuracy. We compared known numbers to what we measured on our device.


GPS accuracy was tested on a 10.8-mile bike ride that also traveled through a canyon. This ride has a profile that falls 2200 feet over the mileage. So after tracking this ride, we took a look at the map and distance data to see if it was correct. During this ride, the watch recorded 10.80 miles exactly with a track that didn't deviate by more than 10 feet. Overall we are pretty happy with the accuracy. We also tested the Fenix 6 Pro while backcountry skiing and trail running and didn't notice any discrepancies.

This offers great accuracy, tracking even when we are going through...
This offers great accuracy, tracking even when we are going through trees and unmarked terrain. Here we take a look at one of our many ski lines during testing. Tracks were right on target with elevation, speed, distance, and calories looking pretty darn accurate.
Photo: Amber King

The heart rate is also good. While we don't trust it to be completely precise, it only showed 1 - 8 bpm in variation during our resting heart rate tests. During the activity, the average beats seemed to be accurate, only losing data when the watch wasn't making good contact with the wrist.

Blood oxygen concentration isn't as good. Several times, we lost connection with this sensor, even with the watch strapped down tight. During a reading, it gave us a saturation of 90% in our home environment, located at 8,000 feet. We realize this is plausible, but when measuring saturation with a more accurate device, we had 97% as our reading. Overall, the blood oxygen sensor could use a bit of work.

Design


While this watch is well featured and offers amazing information, the size and weight were a dealbreaker for many of our testers. Sure it can store a lot of data and has more than enough features, but at the expense of a heavy design. That said, there are three sizes to choose from; 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm. If you prefer a smaller design, go for the smaller size. We tested a 47mm watch face.


The 47mm face weighed 2.8 oz on our scales (Garmin claims 2.92 oz), which is more than twice the weight of the lightest device. It's also thick (14mm in our measurements) with a large watch face (we measured 47mm for the body, 33mm for the screen). It gets caught on clothing, and we found ourselves accidentally turning activities on and off and pushing buttons that we didn't want to because of its bulk.

This is a heavier watch with a larger watch face. While it doesn't...
This is a heavier watch with a larger watch face. While it doesn't bother some, for others the sheer size can be a dealbreaker.
Photo: Amber King

We do like that the Fenix 6 has an incredibly durable and scratch-free design. The glass comes in options of corning Gorilla Glass DX or sapphire crystal, with the crystal costing more. The bezel comes in either stainless steel (we tested this) or diamond-like carbon-coated steel. Overall, a very durable watch face that won't scratch or crack easily.

We like the silicone straps, but it's hard to cinch them down for smaller wrists. It also requires tools to replace the strap. There are options of either silicone, leather, titanium, or nylon.

Value


If you can stomach the price, you will be rewarded with a plethora of features. But do you really need all that? If the answer is yes, you might find value in the durable design of the Fenix 6 Pro. However, for most athletes, a less featured watch with comparable battery life and a much lower price tag will do just fine. If you seek something that'll do it all and has immense storage, this is a great option and one we see at the race lines all the time.

Conclusion


The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro stands out as being one of the most elite and well-featured GPS watch options on the market. It comes in a heavier and bulkier design that's built like a tank. Filled with additional storage for songs and boasting huge battery life, this is an excellent option if you need everything it offers. That said, this isn't the watch we'd recommend to most recreational athletes as it's really geared towards mountain sports, navigational capabilities, and ultra distances.

Enjoy a long day out in the great outdoors armed with the Garmin...
Enjoy a long day out in the great outdoors armed with the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. Navigate and enjoy full features with ample battery life.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King