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Home » GARMIN FENIX 6X Review: Packed with Power and Built to Last

GARMIN FENIX 6X Review: Packed with Power and Built to Last

Of the dizzying number of features on the Garmin Fenix 6X, my favorite one is the simplest:

I like knowing when the sun will set. Seriously. I enjoy glancing down at my wrist and learning the sun will go down at 4:42 pm. That’s it. Review over. Thank you for reading, enjoy your new watch.

Just kidding. Let’s jump into this thing. The Fenix 6 series are Garmin’s newest multisport smartwatches, GPS-enabled powerhouses packed with features and built to last. I got my hands on the 6X Sapphire, a durably designed flagship with a 51mm case housing a generously sized 1.4″ screen.

Looks manly. Feels manly. Is manly.

The main screen is synthetic crystal sapphire, which I learned is not actually glass, but a material developed by blasting pure aluminum oxide with a ton of heat. It’s got the same hardness as naturally occurring sapphire gemstones, one of the hardest substances on the planet. Nice. So basically, I can hang out with my boss’s dog who tends to gnaw on any hand, finger, and wrist in sight and not risk this thing getting scratched. It’s that tough.

The Carbon Gray DLC coated steel case has a sleek, tactical look with a low-reflective sheen. I like how the black silicone band includes more holes than most other watches, allowing for a perfect fit. It sucks when a band is either too tight or too loose because your wrist size just happens to be somewhere between the two available holes. My weirdly proportioned wrist doesn’t have that problem here. It’s a thoughtful touch from Garmin that says they well went the distance in designing this watch to be as accessible as possible.

The 1.4″ display is supremely readable, with a 280×280 pixel resolution that’s viewable in direct sunlight, or even through a pair of polarized sunglasses. I don’t know how they did this, but they did, and I ain’t about to question it. You can adjust the brightness of the screen depending on your personal preference, but just know that higher brightness settings will reduce your battery life.

Generous battery life.

Speaking of which, even on higher brightness settings, I found the battery life impressive. It largely depends on how you use it, however. With Battery Saver mode disabled, I can get 10 days of battery life with this. And that includes using it every day to track my workouts. With Battery Saver mode enabled, you can stretch that to an insane 80 days. With all cylinders firing (running GPS and music at the same time), the battery burns faster, lasting about 15 hours. But most users won’t have to charge this watch very often. When you do have to charge it, it charges fast. Bottom line: Battery is outstanding on the Fenix 6X, and I have no complaints.

Full disclosure, I did not try out the music settings on this device. You can link it up with Spotify and use your watch to control the app, which is straight forward. It can also connect to something called Deezer, which I’ve never even heard of. You haven’t heard of Deezer either. Don’t pretend you have.

So much room for activities.

Mostly I use this watch as Garmin intended: As an activity tracker. The Garmin Fenix 6X is built for athletes, movers, and doers. If I head to the gym, I track that workout. If I’m going on run, I track it with the included PacePro app. If I’m on a hike, I track my route with GPS. And that’s just a small slice of activities this watch can track. Diving, hunting, horseback riding, skiing, rowing, motocross, mountain biking, hiking … I could go on. If it’s a sport mankind invented, the Fenix 6X can track it. Because if you don’t collect data on your activities, how will you know how awesome you are?

Up close look at the buttons and the data sensor on the right side of the case.

I primarily use my watch at the gym during high-intensity training workouts. My gym offers circuit training classes that alternate between cardio and strength workouts, but I use the Cardio activity for every workout I do. I’m not interested in counting sets, but I do get a lot of value out of my average and maximum BPM, as well as calories burned. I like how the watch holds me accountable during a workout. If I feel myself slacking on a particular set, I’ll take a look at whatever my heartrate is at that moment and try to kick it up a few notches on the next one. Saving the activity at the end of the session and hearing that beep as Garmin Connect syncs to my phone feels satisfying and fulfilling. Then, I’ll head into Garmin Connect on my laptop, check out my stats and see if I can beat it the next day. My Fenix 6X makes gamifying my own personal fitness easy and rewarding.

Take a hike.

I’m also a huge fan of the Hiking activity app. Packed with an array of sensors like GPS, barometric altimeter, and of course biometrics like the heart-rate monitor, the Fenix 6X tracks every aspect of my route, including elevation, pace, and calories burned. I love heading out on a hike then coming back to my computer to check out the route from above. You can also plot your course before you head out. Link up your Garmin Connect account an AllTrails account, and you can manually add routes to your watch before you lace up your boots.

A hike through a lave tube cave near Mt. St Helens. I entered the cave through the southern passage, then the watch lost my GPS position when I was underground. The moment I emerged into daylight at the upper exit, the watch reacquired my position and tracked my route all the way back to the parking lot.

A quick note: Only the Pro and the Sapphire versions of the Fenix 6 feature onboard topographic maps. If you want to use this watch for hiking, consider investing in one of those premium versions. And if you’re REALLY into the outdoors, go all out and get the Solar edition, which as its name implies, charges the battery in daylight, extending the life of your watch and the distance you can confidently travel.

The Garmin Connect app (seen here on desktop) lets you examine all the data from your hike.

Of course, many of you will use your Garmin watch for things more aggressive than yoga and day hikes. You’ll be pleased to know this watch includes a ton of tactical features. This article’s already running long, so come back later for more details on the tactical features of the Garmin Fenix 6X. I promise I won’t leave you guys waiting too long. Here’s a sneak peek: It’s got a jumpmaster mode for all you HALO aficionados out there, plus a kill switch that purges all memory if your security is ever compromised.

The most common use you’ll get out of the Fenix 6X is through its connection to your phone. When paired with any smartphone, it can receive SMS notifications like text messages and emails. You can even reply in limited capacity to some of them straight from your watch with canned phrases like “Ok” and “See you soon”. I’m fond of this interaction between my watch and my phone for one reason: I use my phone too much, and I treat notification on my phone as an excuse to screw around on it. Dismissing SMS notifications on my watch is just a convenient way I can keep up with my notifications without losing productivity. I just look at the notification, dismiss it as needed, and go on with my day.

Wrapping up.

Finally, can I just talk about how ferociously epic this thing looks? It’s got the commanding presence of a G-Shock watch without the bulk. It’s got the sleek, modern feel of an Android smartwatch without feeling too delicate, like you’re gonna break it if you bump it against a doorknob. This is a full-featured watch you can knock around and feel good about taking on a bike ride, a backcountry journey, on a patrol, or on a mission. With its strong look, durable silicone rubber band, and brushed metal housing, the Garmin Fenix 6X announces itself as a powerful ally for whatever you plan to do with it. It’s without a doubt the coolest looking watch I’ve ever owned. I honestly don’t see myself going back to an analog watch. Like, ever.

Get the Garmin Fenix 6X with your exclusive GovX member discount.