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These days, wearing a fitness watch is like having a computer strapped to your wrist. Except who wants to lug all that technology around?
While it may be easy to assume that the more your watch does, the more wrist real estate it’ll take up, that’s not the case with the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro. This watch tracks everything from duathlons to daily stress levels while maintaining a slim profile.
Still on the fence? Keep reading for an in-depth review with all the details you need to figure out if this watch is for you.
The Garmin Fenix 6s Pro is a powerful fitness watch with step and activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, and smartphone integration. At more than $600, it’s on the pricey side, but well worth the cost, especially if you can snag one on sale.
With a full-color interface and easy navigation, you can access key data at a glance. For even more detailed and personalized training stats, the Fenix integrates seamlessly with the Garmin Connect app.
Compared with its predecessor, the Fenix 5s, the 6s Pro has more memory, a longer battery life, preloaded maps, and a pulse oximeter.
Nope, not really. Before I upgraded to the Fenix 6s Pro, I was using an old Garmin Forerunner 10 for running. If I was hiking, I’d rely on the Alltrails app or a pretty outdated Garmin eTrex. And for a daily step estimate, I’d check my iPhone.
The Fenix 6s Pro replaces all of that and more.
- Battery is long-lasting.
- Slim design doesn’t look bulky on smaller wrists.
- Full-color maps are easy to navigate and read. They also allow you to track back to your starting point if you get lost.
- Playlists can be downloaded straight to your watch, and pairing with Bluetooth headphones is easy.
- Interface is easy to customize.
- Watch face is durable and doesn’t scratch easily.
- Music is hard to control while running.
- Step count and sleep data sometimes seem inaccurate.
- Watchband may be difficult to size to your wrist.
- Watch is pricey.
If you’re shopping for a Fenix, you have options. But it’s also kind of confusing to figure out what you’re looking at if you don’t know the lingo.
Basically, you’ll start by choosing among the 6, 6s, or 6x. The difference is in the sizing — the 6s is smallest, 6x is biggest, and 6 is somewhere in between.
You’ll also decide if you want to pay an extra $100 for what Garmin calls “premium features,” such as music and ski maps. If you do, you’ll select the Pro version.
Next, you’ll choose which edition you want:
- Standard. This is the most basic and lowest priced of the three.
- Sapphire. With added scratch resistance, the Sapphire is more durable than the Standard. It’s in the middle pricing tier.
- Solar. The most expensive of the three, the Solar edition comes with solar charging capabilities.
I decided on the Standard 6s Pro edition.
A quick look at the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro’s specs
Full color, 1.2-inch (3.05-cm) diameter, 240 x 240 pixels
42 x 42 x 13.8 mm
- Smartwatch: up to 9 days
- Battery saver mode: up to 34 days
- GPS: up to 25 hours
10 ATM (withstands pressure equivalent to a depth of 100 meters)
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Pricing for the 6s Pro varies by edition.
Here are the current list prices:
- Standard: $650
- Sapphire: $750
- Solar: $800
The watch and a USB charging cable are included in the price. Unlike older clip-style Garmin chargers, this one plugs into the back of the watch face.
You can also purchase optional accessories for the watch, like a bike mount kit and a bike cadence sensor.
If you buy directly from Garmin, shipping is free.
However, keep in mind that the company doesn’t offer financing, and it only accepts returns of items in their original condition.
A limited warranty protects against manufacturing defects within 1 year from the date of purchase.
You can also find the Fenix 6s Pro at other retailers, like REI, Amazon, and Best Buy. If you buy from any of these retailers, shipping, financing, and other policies may vary. REI has a particularly good return policy if you’re not sure you’ll like the watch.
I kind of dread setting up new electronics, since there always seems to be an endless list of questions you have to answer and choices you have to make before you can actually start using the thing.
Thankfully, it only took a few minutes to get started with the Fenix 6s, with basic widgets and activity types preloaded straight out of the box. Plus, there are prompts to walk you through the process.
To start, you’ll need to pair your new watch with your phone, Wi-Fi connection, and optional Bluetooth accessories, like headphones.
You’ll also be able to choose whether you want to get notifications and messages on your watch, as well as set up a Garmin Pay wallet if you want to use your watch to make purchases.
Next, you’ll add the device to your Garmin Connect account, if you have one.
While you don’t absolutely have to use the app, I recommend it since you can see a ton more data there than you’ll see on your watch.
Plus, you’ll also get access to training plans, and you can connect with friends. If you’re the competitive type, insights tracking allows you to compare your running, cycling, swimming, and sleep stats to other Garmin users.
Overall, I like the design of the Fenix 6s Pro, but it took some tinkering to get it exactly how I wanted.
The default watch face is pretty stylized and hard to read, at least for me. I ended up changing it to look more like a regular digital watch, with the time, date, weather, and battery displayed.
With its glass face, I was worried the Fenix would be more like a delicate new iPhone than my old plastic-and-silicone Forerunner. But after 2 months of drops, scrapes, and bangs, I’m happy to report it remains scratch-free.
While the Sapphire edition is supposed to have added scratch resistance, I can’t imagine needing it. I’d recommend skipping the upgrade and saving some cash for any accessories you might want.
Colors, bands, and size
The Fenix 6s Pro comes with a silicone band, which is comfortable for daily wear. If you want, you can buy other bands from Garmin to swap out later.
Depending on the edition you choose, you’ll have a couple color options.
I picked white, even though I was worried it would start to look dingy fast. However, even after some muddy and wet hiking and ocean kayaking, it still looks brand-new. It’s easy to rinse off, and since it’s waterproof, you can even wear it in the shower.
The overall size of the watch is designed specifically for smaller wrists from 4.25 to 7.16 inches (10.8 to 18.2 cm).
I love that it doesn’t look overwhelming on my wrist, but it’s still big enough to read. My only issue is that the band is somewhat tough to size, with one notch feeling a little tight and the next slightly loose.
The face of the Fenix 6s Pro isn’t a touch screen. Instead, you use the five side buttons to navigate through every command.
It’s pretty intuitive, though I did have to do some Googling when I couldn’t figure out how to access certain features and settings.
One thing I love is having easy access to widgets so you can see tons of data — like race time predictions, training status, heart rate, and more — without ever having to open the Garmin Connect app.
Your watch should come partially charged so you can get going immediately. If you want to charge it fully, it’ll take about 3 hours.
Rather than a percentage, the display shows the approximate battery left as a number of days — convenient, since it removes some of the guesswork from knowing when you need to charge.
If you have less than a day of battery left, the watch will alert you and ask if you want to enable battery saver mode. This disables certain features, like heart rate monitoring and Wi-Fi, and dims the watch face to save power. In testing, enabling battery saver allowed me to squeeze an extra 3 days of life out of my watch.
If there’s one thing to be said about the Fenix 6s Pro, it’s that there’s no shortage of features. In fact, there are so many that I think the average user would be hard-pressed to take advantage of them all.
Here’s a quick look at some of the data that the Fenix will track for you.
The built-in wrist-based heart monitor means you can track your heart rate continuously, whether you’re active or at rest. You can even view your 7-day average resting heart rate at a glance, as well as a graph of your stats over the past 4 hours.
The device also includes the capability to set an alert if your heart rate goes above or below a certain level.
This feature estimates your blood’s oxygen saturation. By default, it’s turned off to save battery life, but you can change that if you prefer it to run constantly.
Otherwise, you can simply test on demand. I tried this feature a few times, comparing with a finger oximeter, and found that I got similar readings.
I don’t usually like to wear a watch to bed, nor do I like tracking my sleep — something about knowing the exact number of hours I’m getting stresses me out!. But to put the Fenix through its paces, I wore it to bed for a few nights, and it was surprisingly comfortable.
I liked that I didn’t have to do anything special to enable sleep mode — the sensors automatically figure out when you fall asleep and wake up, as well as when you’re in light sleep, deep sleep, and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep.
When I woke up, I opened the app to get an in-depth view of my night. While the watch seems to upload activity data to the app super fast, it took forever — read: about 5 minutes — to be able to view my sleep each morning.
That said, once it uploaded, the color-coded data was easy to read and understand.
It seemed to correctly capture my sleep and wake times, but the stages seemed inaccurate — if the watch is to be believed, I only spend about 15–30 minutes in deep sleep each night.
I did some digging in online forums and found that other users reported similar results. I also had my wife test the watch and her results were pretty similar, saying she’d only gotten about 10 minutes of deep sleep.
I was excited to have a step tracker included in the watch, and it’s mostly lived up to my expectations. While it does sometimes overestimate — for example, after spending a day rafting, it told me I’d taken over 10,000 steps — it otherwise seems to be accurate.
This is a useful feature for running and cycling. At the end of each activity — provided you run for at least 10 minutes, or cycle for at least 20 — the watch will display your VO2 max and tell you whether it’s increasing or decreasing.
If you check the app, you can also see where you fall for your age and gender, as well as your “fitness age.”
By default, the Fenix will track your daily stress levels and body battery, including your estimated recovery time from your activities.
According to Garmin, the stress level is calculated based on your heart rate variability in a given day. I was a little skeptical at first, but looking through the data changed my mind. I found that on days that had felt particularly harried, my stress score was higher. And on days that felt pretty low-key, I ended up with a low stress score.
If you’d like, you can use the stress widget to have Garmin guide you through some breathing exercises. I could see this being useful if you just needed a quick reset, but it doesn’t replace a more in-depth breathing or meditation tool, like Calm or Headspace.
The body battery and recovery time widgets are also useful. Both of these give you a snapshot of how your body is recovering after a workout so that you can plan the rest of your week.
Once your watch is synced with the Garmin Connect IQ Store, you can download music apps like Spotify and Amazon Music. Downloading the apps will allow you to import playlists directly to your watch.
Connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and you’ll be all set to listen to music during your activity without having to bring your phone along.
I connected my watch to my Spotify account and was able to download playlists quickly and easily. Connecting to my earbuds was also a breeze.
One drawback is that Garmin watches don’t currently support Apple Music.
The built-in safety features on the Fenix are a nice touch. All you have to do is add an emergency contact to the Garmin Connect app and opt into incident detection on your watch.
With incident detection, your watch will use the built-in accelerometer to figure out if you’ve fallen while running or cycling. After a brief countdown, it’ll send an automated text with your name and location to your emergency contact.
Similarly, you’ll have the option of sending an emergency alert to your contact whenever you’d like.
One drawback is your watch has to be paired with and connected to your Garmin Connect app in order for this to work. You also have to have a cell signal.
I tested the emergency alert feature, and it worked perfectly.
The watch supports:
- running, including trail, ultra, treadmill, track, and virtual activities (enables you to do a virtual run with a group)
- climbing, including indoor and bouldering
- cycling, including outdoor, indoor, and mountain biking
- skiing and snowboarding, including backcountry and cross-country
- triathlons and duathlons
- swimming, including pool and open water
- strength training
- stand-up paddleboarding
- rowing, including indoor and outdoor
- cardio (general)
- yoga, Pilates, and breathwork
- stairs and ellipticals
I’ve been wearing my Fenix for over 2 months now, and it’s been great for daily use. The slim size means it doesn’t get caught on things or feel bulky on my wrist, and the white and rose gold color scheme goes with just about everything.
I find myself referencing the watch pretty frequently throughout the day, whether it’s to check the weather, figure out how much daylight I have left, or see how I’m doing on my step goal.
If I want a more detailed view of my day, I’ll log into the app to view my sleep, activities, body battery, and stress level.
I run a few times a week outdoors. I loved my old Forerunner 10 for runs, but the Fenix 6s Pro far outstrips it. The GPS locator is fast, even when you’re in an unfamiliar area. It also had no trouble finding me whether I was at home or someplace new.
When you start your run, the watch will give you a suggested workout (time and speed), based on how it thinks you’re doing with your training load for the week.
While I could see this feature being useful if you were trying to work on more even splits, I actually found it kind of annoying when I tested it out. I usually base my runs off of a distance goal rather than time goal, and I don’t pay a ton of attention to my speed, so it was kind of obnoxious to have the watch alert me every time I was going faster or slower than it wanted me to.
As you’re running, you can easily view your heart rate, including your heart rate zone, distance, time, and pace. You can also switch to other screens to check the time of day, your lap statistics, and a map of your run.
I really like the map feature — like the rest of the watch, it’s full color and easy to read, even in bright sunlight. It’s a little challenging to navigate while running, but it’s comforting to know that it’s there if you get lost.
If you pause your run, you can even use the “back to start” feature, which helps guide you back to your starting point.
The buttons also allow you to control your music while you’re running. I thought this would be a big plus, since I wouldn’t have to whip out my phone if I wanted to skip a song in my playlist.
However, in practice, I found the navigation kind of clunky to use on the go. It’s not very intuitive, and I ended up pressing the wrong sequence of buttons more than once.
I tested the kayak feature twice — once in the ocean and once on a river. It worked well both times, and it was cool to be able to track my time and distance.
Plus, as with running, you’ll be able to see a map of your surroundings and get help tracking back to your start point.
I’m a fan of both hiking and backpacking, so I was really excited to have a watch that could track both activities.
So far, the Fenix has surpassed my expectations. The default screen displays not only your time, speed, distance, and heart rate, but also your elevation, including total ascent and descent.
On a steep hike, I liked being able to see how much farther I had to go to reach the top. And, since the map is right there, it was easy to be able to double-check that I was going the right way back to the trailhead.
I haven’t used the Fenix on a multi-day trek yet, but I think it’ll be really useful and can definitely replace a standalone navigation device, like an eTrex.
The features for biking are pretty similar to the ones for running. You’ll get a glimpse at your heart rate, distance, speed, and time, as well as a map of your route.
If you’re biking indoors on a trainer and want to track your rides, you’ll have to get a cadence sensor to attach to your wheel.
While I haven’t tried that, I have experimented using the watch alongside my Peloton bike. You can set it to broadcast your heart rate to the bike, which should give you a more accurate view of your calories burned.
Here’s how the Fenix 6s Pro stacks up against some key competitors:
|Garmin Fenix 6s Pro
|Garmin Forerunner 945
|Suunto 9 Baro
|COROS VERTIX GPS Adventure Watch
|Full color, 240 × 240 pixels
|Full color, 240 × 240 pixels
|Full color, 320 × 300 pixels
|Full color, 240 × 240 pixels
|42 × 42 × 13.8 mm
|47 × 47 × 13.7 mm
|50 × 50 × 16.8 mm
|47 × 47 × 15.6 mm
|• Smartwatch: up to 9–10.5 days
• Battery saver mode: up to 34-59 days
• GPS: up to 25-64 hours
|• Smartwatch: up to 14 days
• GPS: up to 10 hours
|• Smartwatch: up to 14 days
• GPS: up to 25 hours
|• Smartwatch: up to 45 days
• GPS: up to 60 hours
|Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
|Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
|Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
|Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
- Garmin Forerunner 945: This is pretty similar to the Fenix 6s Pro, but it has a lower waterproof rating and less storage space. It tracks almost all the same activities and data, but it’s also larger and has a more sporty look. You might want to pick this watch if you’re looking to save a little money and like the look.
- Suunto 9 Baro: The Suunto 9 Baro is less expensive than the Fenix 6s Pro. It comes standard with a Sapphire lens, and it includes a touch screen. It’s larger and heavier than the Fenix 6s Pro. It’s a solid choice if you’re looking for a less expensive watch and don’t mind the large size.
- COROS VERTIX GPS Adventure Watch: This watch has an impressively long battery life and a higher waterproof rating than the Fenix 6s Pro. A Sapphire lens and touch screen come standard. It’s bigger than the Fenix 6s Pro, and it looks a bit more rugged. It’s best for people who do lots of outdoor activities, like backpacking and mountain climbing. It also works well in extreme cold.
If you’re looking for a slim-profile smartwatch that tracks all kinds of activities, or if you’re really into tracking your health data — like heart rate, respiration, and sleep — the Fenix 6s Pro is the way to go.
You’ll probably also like the watch if you’re an avid runner, hiker, biker, swimmer, or triathloner, or if you’re the type that tends to get lost.
However, if you typically like to stick to just one activity, don’t care about maps, or you’re mostly looking for a step and sleep tracker, there are less expensive options out there that should do the trick.
The Garmin Fenix 6s Pro is a great watch for people who like to do multiple sports, but also want to track daily data like heart rate and sleep.
It’s also great for people who don’t want their watch to take up too much wrist real estate.
Though it’s pricey overall, if you can snag one on sale, I’d definitely recommend it.