Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Review: Best for Sports and Training Track

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is one of the top-rated smartwatches from Garmin. Read along to know the features and benefits of the smartwatch.

Recently, Garmin announced that it would refresh its Fenix series, injecting new features in the smartwatches. The purpose of adding these new features is to ensure that users get the best from the smartwatches. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is one of the smartwatches in this series, accompanied by the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus and the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is an upgrade from the previous version, packing new features such as an in-built music player and a Garmin Pay feature. This article features a detailed review of the smartwatch, discussing its new and old features. The review will also examine some of the drawbacks that we noticed in this smartwatch.


Our verdict

Ratings: 8 out of 10

Garmin went all in with this smartwatch, adding new and useful features such as contactless payment and TOPO maps to the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. Despite these wonderful additions, it would have been nice to see a stronger battery. There seems to be a downgrade to the battery life of the smartwatch from the last version. Overall, you will be hard-pressed to find a better smartwatch than the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.

Why we like it:

  • Features a pleasing and durable design
  • Has a wide collection of multi-sport features

Why we hate it:

  • Poor battery life

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Design

  • Heavy but comfortable to wear
  • There are three size options to choose from
  • The full-color screen and 10ATM water resistance.

In terms of upgrades, there isn't much to talk about regarding the design of this smartwatch. In fact, only the 5S plus had a considerable change in aesthetics among the smartwatch in this series.

With the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, you get a 1.2-inch screen with a 240 by 240 pixels resolution. This screen size and resolution allows the smartwatch to offer as much visibility as possible. The display screen doesn't offer a touchscreen feature, and this necessitated the use of buttons. You will find these buttons distributed thus; three on the left and two on the right.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Design

In dimensions, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus measures 15.8mm thick and 47mm wide, although its series siblings (the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus and Garmin Fenix 5X Plus) measure 42mm and 51mm, respectively. The smartwatch weighs about 86g, which is a considerable weight. However, this weight will be forgiven when you consider the features embedded in this smartwatch.

Overall, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus features a rugged design, signifying that it fits for multi-sporting activities. The maker focused more on the fitness and sport features than the design and aesthetics.

However, this shouldn't lead you to believe that the design of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is nothing to write home about. The smartwatch features a sapphire crystal lens, which is resistant to bumps and scratches that sports smartwatches are usually exposed to.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus's display screen is a Garmin Chroma Display screen with full-color transflective and LED backlighting. Thus you will find the display screen easy to read at any time of the day or night. But the 240 by 240 pixels resolution places a dent in the screen's clarity, and this may affect the use of maps and topographic navigation.

Like most smartwatches in the market, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus uses silicone, leather, and metallic straps. These straps range from sizes 163mm to 249mm. The smartwatch also features one of the simplest and most effective clip mechanisms. Due to its simplicity, you can easily replace straps whenever you want.

Performance

  • Possesses numerous sensors
  • A satisfactory degree of accuracy from sensors

After examining the physical and aesthetic features of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, a flip to the back case of the smartwatch will show you some of the sensors and features possessed by this smartwatch.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Performance

The first sensor that you will notice is the heart rate, monitor. The sensor, powered by the Garmin Elevate system, sits amidst three green LEDs in the center of the watch's back. The watch's back is a bit domed to allow for better contact between the watch and the user's skin. The sensor measures the pulse and, by extension, determines the state of the heart and other implied metrics.

Other sensors you will find on the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is the gyroscope and an altimeter. There is also a three-axis compass and a multi-satellite, which includes Galileo, GPS, and GLONASS). These multi-satellite features help GPS in tracking locations and positions more accurately.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus also comes with an accelerometer that tracks outdoor activities such as running and a thermometer for temperature checks.

However, it is not enough to have sensors. The accuracy of these sensors in providing precise and useful data is the real deal. In this regard, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus did not disappoint. Let's examine in detail how accurate these sensors are.

The heart rate monitor is one of the basic sensors that almost all smartwatches possess. However, a lot of these smartwatches fail to provide useful heart rate metrics, owing to the inaccuracies of the monitors.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a bit different. To a very large extent, the heart rate metrics generated by the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is correct, although it is not perfect. To get more accurate and reliable data, you should use the monitor with a chest strap.

Another sensor with some form of accuracy is the GPS tracker. This sensor underwent several upgrades and developments over the years. As a result, there is an acceptable level of accuracy that the GPS tracker in the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has.

There are also several multi-satellite and location tracking features. These include GLONASS GPS and Galileo. They assist the in-built GPS tracker in providing accurate and precise location tracking performance.

Fitness Tracker

  • Tracks strength and training status
  • Uses the heart rate monitor to provide advanced health and heart metrics.

One of the best features that the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus offers is its fitness features. These features offer general activity tracking to advanced metrics such as fitness age. There are many facets of activity tracking that this smartwatch does, as you will see below.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus performs excellently well when tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your workout and exercise routines on your overall health. It does this with the strength training mode.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Fitness Tracker

The strength training mode allows the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus to go beyond tracking your heart rate to measuring sets, weights, and workout reps. Once you turn on the strength training mode, the smartwatch allows you to record your drills, which enables it to give you a summarized report of your resting periods.

On good authority, there is an advanced auto set mode in the works. This mode allows the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus to automatically read your drills and thus producing better resting reports. Hopefully, this mode would come with the next version of the smartwatch.

In terms of accuracy, there is an acceptable level of accuracy when it comes to tracking reps. For example, the squat reps tracked by the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is very accurate. You may, however, notice some disparity routines like biceps curls and the likes.

This disparity in the fitness tracking features is normal, being a flagship feature. We believe that these features will improve over time.

Another fitness tracking feature worthy of mentioning is the recovery and training insights. The makers of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus understand that tracking your workout routines is half the work, and the other half involves ensuring that you recover fast and are at low injury risk. Thus, the smartwatch offers a feature that allows you to do this.

This feature works by measuring your continuous heart rate and providing a bPM graph to show the high and low points over a period of four hours. With this metric, you can get further insights into your average resting heart rate, data that is spread over a duration of over a week. This data allows you to know if you have been resting enough and provides healthy resting suggestions.

The smartwatch also comes with an alert feature that notifies you of any abnormal heart rate activity.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus training status feature

There is a training status feature that allows you to track the status of your training sessions, allowing you to know if you are progressing towards reaching your fitness goals. This feature reports your training status under three categories; Productive, Maintaining, and Detraining. It also shows your total training load with the overall health status.

From the Training Load data, you can get a further metric that converts the training load to numbers that shows the training impact over the space of seven days. This metric allows you to know if you are overreaching in the training routine or going at an optimal level.

Apart from the cumulative training effect report, there is a handy speedometer-like meter on the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. The meter moves from blue to red (too easy to too hard), showing the level of impact instantaneously.

Concerning recovery, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus doesn't disappoint. The recovery feature provides recovery recommendations. The only problem with these recommendations is that it is a bit confusing. For instance, a recovery recommendation of ten hours doesn't mean that you need to rest for ten hours. It means it will take ten hours for your body to recover from the impact of your last training sessions.

Sports and Sleep Tracking

  • The smartwatch tracks a wide range of sports activities
  • You also get sleep and stress tracking
  • Uses Pulse Ox Acclimation
  • Excellent swimming tracking

As said earlier, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a proper multisports smartwatch. This means that it can effectively track several sporting activities and give near-accurate metrics. These sports include running, cycling, hiking, swimming, and many others.

Apart from these sports tracking, you can also track the stress level in your body with this smartwatch. Let's go into the details of these tracking and how to use them.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Sports Tracking

The tracking of sporting activity like running is enhanced by the special sporting mode provided by the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. The special sports mode makes it easy to tweak the stats displayed by the smartwatch.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus gets its running metrics from the pace, heart rate, speed (vertical and ascent speed). You can also create your own sport mode to cater to your specific sporting needs. You can also combine the advanced locational features to get precise location tracking while running.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has a Race predictor feature that relies on your latest race performances to predict your duration for distances of 5km and more. While its predictions are not always accurate, it provides an insight into the time you will spend to complete long-distance races, and we believe this is a good thing.

The Pulse Ox Acclimation feature measures the blood oxygen levels. This metric is useful for hikers and mountain climbers.

Another sports activity that the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus tracks efficiently is swimming. The smartwatch is waterproof, which is the primary feature that allows for a swimming tracker. The water resistance is up to 10 ATM.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus swimming Tracking

In addition, you get basic swimming tracking metrics. These include stroke, length, distance, calories, and pace. The advanced swimming features include auto stroke detection, drill logging, SWOLF swimming efficiency scoring. You can also get heart rate during swimming with the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, but you will need to use it with a chest strap to get this metric.

While you will have to input the drill logs manually, the accuracy of the lapping and stroke detection is spot on.

There is also provision for cyclists of all kinds. Be it indoor cycling, road cycling, and mountain biking, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus caters to them. However, you need special accessories to get the best of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus for cycling activities.

These accessories include the Varia Vision Heads Up Glasses from Garmin, power meters by Vector, and other compatible third party powered by ANT+. You can also use the Functional Threshold Power with this smartwatch.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus cycling activities

Lastly, you will find the routable cycling maps provided by the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus very useful. These street maps ensure that you navigate through streets and roads that won't damage your wheels.

Smart Features

  • Allows for playing and streaming music
  • It has a contactless payment feature
  • It has a smart notification feature

The first smart feature you will enjoy with this smartwatch is the music player. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has a storage capacity to store up to 500 songs. You can then play these songs from your watch to a Bluetooth headset or speaker. Getting the songs into your Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is very easy as it requires the Garmin Express desktop app. This app is simple and easy to use, although a mobile app would have been awesome.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus music player

You can also control the music played on a smartphone through your smartwatch as long as you have connected to your Garmin Fenix 5 Plus to the phone. However, you can only use this feature for music streaming on Deezer and iHeartRadio only. There are reports suggestive of the fact that Spotify will soon be available on the smartwatch, and you will be able to stream songs from the platform to your watch.

The Garmin Pay is another feature that allows you to perform contactless payments with your smartwatch. If you have ever dreamt of going out without wallets, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus makes this possible with the Garmin Pay feature. This feature allows you to make payments and settle bills straight from your smartwatch.

The only problem with the feature is the fact that users in the US will enjoy it better than users in other countries. This is because the number of banks that have signed up to this platform is more in the US than in other countries.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus payments

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus allows you to get notifications from the connected apps and devices. Be it Facebook messages, emails, or phone calls; the smart notification feature allows you to get these notifications.

However, the problem with this feature is the lack of alert settings. This means that you cannot pick and choose the alerts and notifications you want. You either receive all notifications or not. This could be problematic and annoying when you have a lot of connected apps, and notifications from them enter incessantly.

The Apps

  • Allows you to connect to apps through WIFI and Bluetooth
  • You can control and customize the apps connected to the smartwatch

The Garmin Connect App is the app store for the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. You can connect your smartwatch to it over the WIFI. If you have connected the smartwatch before, subsequent connections will be made automatically. Also, this connection, either with WIFI or Bluetooth, takes about one minute or less.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Apps

The app comes with a customization feature that allows you to customize the day view showing charts and graphs about the summary of your everyday activities. These include a number of steps, heart rate, sleep patterns and duration, and many others.

Lastly, the Garmin Connect App is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Battery Life

  • Battery life lasts about six days.

Officially, you will get about six days of smartwatch mode and 17 hours of music and GPS use. While this battery is relatively stronger than some of its counterparts, it is poor when compared to its predecessor.

Who's this for?

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus for sporting activities

This smartwatch is essentially for people who engage in a lot of sporting activities and workout sessions. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus possesses features that offer optimal sports and fitness tracking performance.


Competition

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The first worthy alternative to the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is its series sibling, the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus. The smartwatch resembles the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus in almost all facets except for a few features. Some of these features include the size of the watch, where the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus measures 47mm and the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus measures 51mm.

Another notable difference is the battery life, where the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus lasts for about six days, while the Garmin Fenix 5s Plus's battery will work for about ten days.


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The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is another option that can perform as well as the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. Like the Garmin Fenix 5s Plus, there are only a few differences between this smartwatch and the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. in fact, the differences are the watch size and battery life.

The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus has the worst battery life in the series, with about seven days of smartwatch use. The watch size also measures 42mm, making it the smallest watch in the series.


Conclusion

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is an excellent multisport smartwatch that allows you to get the best sports and training tracking features. It also features numerous smart features, fulfilling its tag as a smartwatch. The only snag in this smartwatch is its battery life, which is even better than many of the smartwatches on the market.


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