Updated: Jan 14
The verdict 8/10 & worth the money (scroll down for my purchasing advice with 15% off)
Positives: durability | functionality | maps | data accuracy | battery life (wow!) | quality
Negatives: price | minor data reporting issues | OS menu not as intuitive as it could be
I'm a bit of a tech geek. If there's something new out there, I want to try it. Over the years, I've owned Apple Watch 1, 2, 3 & 4, along with a Fitbit Charge 3. Launching the Good Walk & Big Walk projects brought me to look at the smartwatch market again, and, taking a friend's advice, I ended up looking at the Fenix 6 Pro.
I'm writing this review from the perspective of an average user who enjoys analysing and tracking health data - i.e. I do a lot of walking, but I am certainly not a fitness fanatic. If you are looking for in-depth tech/fitness analysis, I recommend T3's review mentioned in this blog.
First stop, the Garmin website to educate myself on options.
The Website 7/10 - Titanium is not listed as an option
Looking at the Garmin website, the uninformed might feel overwhelmed by the options available:
Garmin 6S | 42mm case | No music, maps or wifi | No sapphire glass | No solar charging £529.99
Garmin 6S Pro | 42mm case | Yes music, maps or wifi | No sapphire glass | No solar charging £599.99
Garmin 6S Pro Sapphire | 42mm case | Yes music, maps or wifi | Yes sapphire glass | No solar charging £699.99
Garmin 6 | 47mm case | No music, maps or wifi | No sapphire glass | No solar charging £529.99
Garmin 6 Pro | 47mm case | Yes music, maps or wifi | No sapphire glass | No solar charging £599.99
Garmin 6 Pro Sapphire | 47mm case | Yes music, maps or wifi | Yes sapphire glass | No solar charging £699.99 (Titanium £799.99 + Titanium band £899.99)
Garmin 6X Pro Solar Sapphire | 51mm case | Yes music, maps or wifi | Yes sapphire glass | Yes solar charging | Yes titanium £899.99 (no titanium band)
As you click through watch band options, you'll notice that there is also a Titanium Edition, which is not clear in Garmin's options menu. You'll also find that your choice of colour and band will bump the price (e.g. a leather band can add £100.00).
Next, establish buying criteria and compare against the competition.
The Specs & Comparison
I'm not one for specs over functionality, where minor differences in screen resolution are lost on me. I tend to go through a comprehensive comparison process to help make my decision - if you are more a spec person, follow the Garmin website link, as I am not going to cover them here.
I got myself to the point that my purchase was going to be either the Garmin Fenix 6 or Apple Watch 5. On a personal note, over the years I have come to love Apple - I mean, I LOVE Apple - laptop, desktop, phone, tablet (you get the picture).
Moving on, the following informed my final decision:
Strong battery life (I detest having to charge my watch every night)
Good health metrics (I love data, a lot, and enjoy tracking performance over time)
Durability (rugged and can take a knock)
Maps (don't like the idea of getting lost on a walk)
GPS (don't want to rely on my mobile signal)
Good product support
Smart watch functionality (alerts etc.)
X Factor - something that makes me want to wear it - this is to be a daily wear watch
One of the best comparison reviews I found was by Matt Kollat on T3.com, and I suggest that you start there if you want further details on Garmin Vs Apple Watch 5.
After much beard-stroking, I ended up choosing the 6 Pro sapphire Titanium. The battery life was a big plus, but it also won on durability, maps, and X-Factor. Apple had better overall health metrics, by a nose, and it was cheaper, but the Garmin just chimed my inner tuning fork; I like the more traditional watch look and feel of the Garmin.
Next, getting the best price
Purchasing: compare and save
I like to shop a deal to death; I want what I want for the best price possible. The best deal I could find was on First Class Watches (Note: I have no relationship with this company)
The watch is advertised at £799, but there was a 15% discount code - still valid at the time of writing - that reduced the price to £679.15 with free delivery. Deal done and 48-hours later the watch arrived.
Three months later...the verdict
I've been wearing my 6 Pro sapphire Titanium daily, and I love it. Not everything is perfect, but it is one heck of a piece of equipment! The watch is stylish, durable and lightweight. I note that some reviews criticised the 6 Pro's weight, but I haven't noticed this to be an issue during daily wear. I've knocked the face a few times, with my Apple Watches I would have been crying because of the marks, but the 6 Pro remains unmarked (touching wood that this continues to be the case).
The watch performs well in all types of lighting conditions, and I have been particularly impressed with its performance under high-intensity studio lights and bright sunshine.
I've used the watch in the UK and on holiday walks in the Caribbean. The mapping accuracy is impressive, and map detail is incredible on a watch of this size.
I've used it to record the same route over time, monitoring pace and health data, and the data appears to be consistent and accurate (elevation - step count - pace, etc.). This is a significant improvement on past experiences, with accuracy and consistency, for example, being a problem for Apple Watch.
The accuracy of the route recording is particularly impressive; T3.com found the same thing, reporting that the accuracy is down to the GLONASS+GPS tracking system which utilises 24 more satellites for added accuracy and precision.
As a side note, I also found myself on a boat in the Caribbean, passing an island where my wife wanted to know its name. There was a smug satisfaction in being able to look at my watch, zoom out on the map function and find out exactly where we were.
The menu function takes a bit of getting used to, and I'm still not quite there. Garmin provides you with so many options that it can get a tad confusing - I do find myself missing the more intuitive Apple watch iOS.
The Garmin Connect App is outstanding, allowing you to analyse data and adjust functionality - you can also download additional apps and watch faces. However, I haven't found the need for any to date.
The battery life is outstanding - Apple eat your heart out! Switching on all my data options, as well as tracking walks and saving maps, and I get about six days between charges. Charging from 5-10% battery life to 100% takes approximately three hours.
The data options are impressive, but some of it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
the stress meter reported long periods of high stress while I was on holiday, feeling more chilled than I had in years
sleep data is rubbish (I found this to be the case with Apple and Fitbit also) - I can spend three hours awake, tossing and turning, and it reports that I had a good night's sleep with only 10 minutes awake
the Body Battery is a mystery - if anyone can tell me what it is, please get in touch - again, I can feel on top form, but the Body battery tells me I am running on empty
One thing I like is the way the watch adapts targets according to your activity - e.g. step counts are dynamic, adjusting according to your performance over the previous couple of days. The other thing I appreciate is the amount of data available on the watch face and in the activity tracker - everything you might need in one glance (pace, heart rate, lap time, cadence etc.)
One minor annoyance, are the the green/red sensor lights on the underside of the watch that rapidly flash and sometimes distract me at night when I'm trying to go to sleep.
Ultimately, is the Fennix 6 Pro sapphire Titanium worth the investment? It is expensive, there's no getting away from it. There are better value watches out there, with equally impressive capability (Apple Watch 5, I'm looking at you). But this watch is something special. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Just shop around and get the best price.