However, there are some fundamental differences, which we will make explicitly clear in this article.
To get this party started, let’s take a look at all the key similarities and all the key differences, using some simple comparison tables.
Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Fenix 6 Pro - Key Similarities
Apple Watch Series 5
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Apple Watch Series 5 vs Garmin Fenix 6 Pro - Key Differences
Apple Watch Series 5
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Main Advantages of the Apple Watch Series 5
Gorgeous Screen Resolution
If there’s one area where the Apple Watch Series 5 is basically untouchable, it’s the gorgeous AMOLED display. At 448x368px, the screen is signficantly more detailed than the Fenix 6 Pro’s 260x260px equivalent.
This could be a deciding factor for technophiles that have extremely high expectations when it comes to screen resolution.
It's a little bit lighter and sits flatter against your wrist
There’s a 12 gram difference between the Apple Watch 5 and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. In addition to this, the Apple Watch also sits flatter against your wrist.
Personally, I don’t think this is deal breaker, but if you want a super sleek watch, the Fenix 6 might be a tad big. With that being said, the Fenix 6S Pro is designed for smaller wrists, so this could definitely be an option if you like smaller profile watches.
There a lot more apps on the Apple Watch 5
In some respects, you actually have to rely on 3rd party apps to get the most out of the Apple Watch. This applies to sports apps, fitness apps, and health apps, and there are literally hundreds to choose from.
On the other hand, Garmin connect is the main app that you will use with the Fenix 6, and it covers all the sports and fitness modes that you can track with the Fenix 6. Also, the Fenix 6 supports music streaming apps like Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Apple’s range of available apps isn’t limited to sports and fitness categories. You can download to-do list apps, food tracking apps, password saving apps and so much more.
There is a Cellular Version Available
Having the ability to make calls with the Apple Watch 5 is a pretty big win if you choose the LTE version.
Although there have been some Garmin’s with LTE technology built-in (notably the Vivoactive 3 Music), don’t expect to find it in the Fenix 6 line-up.
Main Advantages of the Garmin Fenix 6
Much Better Battery Life - Fenix 6
When it comes to battery life and power management options, the Apple Watch 5 and the Garmin Fenix 6 are literally on different planets.
The total battery life of the Apple Watch 5 is 18 hours! It won’t even get you through a full day, without requiring a charge. Apple might as well bundle the watch with a free powerbank, to help get you through a full day.
On the other hand, the Smartwatch battery life of the Fenix 6 Pro is 14 days. In other words, the smartwatch battery life is literally 24 times longer (336 hours vs 18 hours – the maths checks out).
Sleep Tracking - Fenix 6 Only
It makes perfect sense that the Apple Watch 5 can’t track your sleep. This is because the battery life (18 hours) is simply to short to cover the full duration of your activities during the day and during the night.
From Apple’s perspective, you should be charging your watch at night, like you would charge your smartphone. Except there’s a fairly big difference between a phone and multisport smartwatch, and Apple is the only brand that doesn’t offer a decent quality battery life.
Obviously the Fenix 6 has sleep tracking. It’s pretty much a standard feature in all Garmin watches made from 2015 and onwards.
It's better at measuring the physical condition of your body
There are 4 primary advantages of the Fenix 6, when it comes to assessing the physical condition of your body.
- Body Battery Score – This is an overarching metric that combines your heart rate data, sleep data, stress levels and recovery levels into a single unit, which Garmin have named ‘Body Battery Score’. It isn’t necessarily perfect, but it’s a pretty fun way to keep tabs on your energy levels and your physical health. It could help you identify any glaring red flags if you see a noticeable drop in your body battery score over an extended period of time.
- Pulse Oximeter – The purpose of a pulse oximeter is to measure your blood oxygen saturation levels. It most useful when training above sea level (ie in high altitude locations), but Garmin also use the data to help calculate your stress levels and body battery score.
- Temperature Acclimation – If you’ve ever trained in extremely hot conditions, you will instinctively know how draining it can be. Fortunately, the Fenix 6 quite literally factors extreme temperature conditions into your training schedule, and predicted race times. It basically allows you to assess how extremely hot or extremely cold conditions will impact your training session or race day performance.
- Altitude Acclimation – In principle, this feature is very similar to temperature acclimation (mentioned above) except it looks at how altitude may affect your training and race day performance.
Much Tougher Construction Materials - Fenix 6
There’s no question that the Fenix 6 is the tougher smartwatch. It’s built with premium casing materials and an extremely durable lens (especially if you opt for the Sapphire version).
This is in stark contrast to the Apple Watch 5, which is significantly more sensitive to impact forces and far more likely to get damaged if you’re an avid sports person or outdoor enthusiast.
It has a lot more sports and fitness modes - Fenix 6
The Fenix 6 basically has double the amount of sports and fitness modes. Of the additional sports modes that it tracks, I would say that golf, triathlons, and snowboarding/skiing are the most relevant to the general population. To help uncover the full list, let’s make use of a simple comparison table.
|Apple Watch Series 5 Sports Modes||Fenix 6 Pro Sports Modes|
|01) Indoor Running||01) Strength Training|
|02) Outdoor Running||02) Cardio Training|
|03) Indoor Cycling||03) Elliptical Training|
|04) Outdoor Cycling||04) Floors Climbed|
|05) Indoor Rowing||05) Indoor Rowing|
|06) Yoga||06) Yoga|
|07) Hiking||07) Running|
|08) Pool Swimming||08) Treadmill Running|
|09) Open Water Swimming||09) Trail Running|
|10) High Itensity Interval Training||10) Hiking|
|11) Indoor Walking||11) Climbing|
|12) Outdoor Walking||12) Skiing|
|13) Elliptical||13) Snowbaording|
|14) Stair Stepper||14) Cross Country Skiing|
|15) "Other"||15) Stand Up Paddle Boarding|
|19) Indoor Cycling|
|20) Mountain Biking|
|21) Pool Swimming|
|22) Open Water Swimming|
|23) Triathlon Mode|
|24) Golf Mode|
|25) Stair Stepping|
|29) Indoor Track Running|
Better Map Technology - Fenix 6
There are 3 ways in which the Fenix 6 beats the Apple 5, from a map technology perspective.
- Golf Maps – The Fenix 6 comes pre-loaded with thousands of Golf maps, at no extra charge to you. This gives you awesome GPS based stats such as distance to the green, distance to hazards and driving distance (plus a whole lot more).
- Ski Maps – The Fenix 6 Pro also comes pre-loaded with over 2000 ski resort maps. This gives you an awesome 3D map of your chosen resort, together with all the slope ratings.
- TOPO Maps – Garmin’s TOPO Map tehcnology is legtimately awesome. It creates 3D topographical maps of the surrounding terrain, showing you where all the steepest ascents and descents are expected. This is super useful for trail runners, mountain bikers, hikers, adventure racers and mountaineers.
Much Better for people who take running seriously - Fenix 6
There are 4 main ways in which the Fenix 6 dominates the Apple Watch in terms of running features. Here they are.
- Garmin Running Coach – This gives you access to customized training plans built by world class running coaches. It’s the kind of feature that most premium running apps charge for. With Garmin connect (and the Fenix 6 obviously), you get these training plans for free.
- Advanced Running Dynamics – If you purchase a suitable accessory, you can also unlock ground contact time, ground contact balance, vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, real time cadence metrics and real time stride length.
- Garmin Running Power – Admittedly you can still access running power using a Stryd or RunScribe device, but the main benefit of Garmin’s running power measurements is that the accessories needed to unlock this metric are a lot more affordable (and they give you the advanced running metrics mentioned above).
- Garmin PacePro – This is a relatively new feature that helps you hit your target race times. It does this by factoring the speed impact of hills, while giving you the target pace for every stage of the race, in real time. If you’re aiming to smash your marathon PB, this could be a dealbreaker.
Support for ANT+ Connectivity - Fenix 6
It’s mainly cyclists that need to keep this little piece of information in mind when choosing between these two watches. This is because there are loads of cycling accessories that require ANT+ connectivity in order to communicate with your watch.
Fortunately there are some decent cycling accessories that support Bluetooth and ANT+, but if you want the watch that works with just about every accessory out there, the Fenix 6 will be better suited to your needs.
Triathlon Mode - Fenix 6
I know there are some hardcore Apple fans that manage to patch together triathlon data using the Apple Watch. However, the simple reality is that it isn’t a particularly good companion for triathletes. The GPS battery life is too short, it doesn’t offer a seamless way to switch between each triathlon discipline, and it’s a bit too fragile to put through vigorous training sessions regularly.
On the other hand, the Fenix 6 is literally made for triathletes, the battery life is extremely impressive, and the construction materials can handle pretty much everything that you can throw at it.
Long story short, if you’re a triathlete, there are much better options than the Apple Watch Series 5, and the Fenix 6 is one of those options.
Solar Charging - Fenix 6X Pro Solar
Initially I was taken in by the concept of solar charging, but my enthusiasm for this particular feature has faded over time.
This is mainly because solar charging via the watch face isn’t particularly efficient, and the battery life of the Fenix 6 is so long, the incremental gains you get from solar charging are basically redundant.
The Apple Watch Series 5 Is The Better Smartwatch
It’s no surprise to see that the Apple Watch 5 is the more competent smartwatch. It’s basically a seamless extension of the iPhone, with surprisingly well rounded sports and fitness features.
It also has that gorgeous AMOLED screen that will make Fenix 6 owners jealous if they stare at it for too long. The combination of screen resolution, deeper colors and the square design make using the screen extremely easy and generally pretty pleasant for smartphone users.
The Fenix 6 Is The Better Sports Watch
As a sports and fitness watch, the Fenix 6 absolutely smashes the Apple Watch 5. It’s literally the better option for:
- Road Runners
- Fitness enthusiasts
- Snowboarders & Skiiers
- Mountain bikers
- Trail runners
Basically, if you want to track lots of different sports, become a better runner, or dip into triathlons at some point in the future, the Fenix 6 is definitely the better watch.