Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

Keep track of your ad­ven­tures and rac­ing heart with Garmin’s lat­est mul­tisport watch.

From $799,

Garmin has taken roughly two years to re­vise its near-un­beat­able mul­tisport watch, the Fenix 3. There is no ‘4’ vari­ant, though the new­est range more than com­pen­sates for the miss­ing se­quel with a trio of time­pieces that cater to mod­ern-day Ed­mund Hil­larys as well as more fash­ion-fo­cused ad­ven­tures who might like to take the week­end off. We have the mid­dle-of-the-range Fenix 5 on test here. All three are de­signed for mul­tisport en­thu­si­asts, adren­a­line junkies and sur­vival­ists, though the smaller, marginally lower-specced 5s will suit any­one with a smaller wrist, and the 5X wouldn’t be out of place on a mil­i­tary com­mando’s fore­arm. They share the same un­der­pin­nings and soft­ware, though the 5s has a lower-res­o­lu­tion screen com­pared to the 5 and 5X, and the lat­ter gains proper maps.

Garmin has done a great job of mak­ing its range look more like ‘nor­mal’ watches, es­pe­cially with the 5s. The Fenix 5 has cut down on the bulk and im­proved the screen res­o­lu­tion com­pared to the Fenix 3 while re­duc­ing its over­all di­am­e­ter. These cos­metic changes im­press.

Each has an op­ti­cal heart rate mon­i­tor with 24/7 mon­i­tor­ing, and GPS func­tions. So far, so Fenix 3, though once you’re done train­ing you’ll no­tice feedback on your train­ing load that gives some in­di­ca­tion of how you’re per­form­ing in re­la­tion to past re­sults, plus more rec­om­men­da­tions on what to do dur­ing re­cov­ery, rather than sim­ply ‘re­cover’. Light ex­er­cise, train as nor­mal and so on are very handy if you don’t have a plan worked out.

What’s fan­tas­tic about the Fenix is how adapt­able it is to what you want to do. The list of sports avail­able is broad enough to en­tice any­one who spends their time on land or in the wa­ter, ski­ing or snow­board­ing, run­ning or ad­ven­tur­ing thanks to its barom­e­ter, in built com­pass and al­time­ter. Bat­tery life is noth­ing short of sen­sa­tional, too, es­pe­cially when paired to a chest strap – this tester com­pleted a full Iron­man in 11 hours and the Fenix 5 still had 50% bat­tery left when paired to the triathlon-spe­cific strap. In a sep­a­rate, 3:25 marathon and us­ing op­ti­cal heart rate and GPS, it went down to 68%. You could ex­pect to get about 10 hours of GPS and op­ti­cal heart rate from a full charge, which is enough if you want to com­mute to and from work on foot or by bike and not bother with a chest strap for a week, or per­haps cy­cle from Syd­ney to Can­berra.

Not that it’s per­fect: the op­ti­cal heart rate mon­i­tor of­ten un­der­re­ported what our ticker’s do­ing when ac­tive, and there is also dis­crep­ancy be­tween left and right wrists, with the left (this tester’s non-dom­i­nant side) re­port­ing closer to the chest strap. The op­ti­cal sen­sor does show rest­ing heart rate per­fectly,

Garmin’s app of­fers more in-depth met­rics, but the ba­sics and more can be re­viewed on the watch, ce­ment­ing its place as a bench­mark watch to beat.


You can turn no­ti­fi­ca­tions on dur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties if you want, but you’ll need your phone nearby to get them ABOVE RIGHT Quick re­lease straps make chang­ing colours or styles eas­ier than be­fore.

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