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The fenix lineup of watches are the best that Garmin has to offer. You probably knew that. But what’s slightly confusing is the difference between each of the watches in that lineup.
Breakdown of fenix 5 Plus.
For example, sure, the fenix 5X Plus is the most expensive watch in the fenix 5 Plus lineup, but what are you actually getting for the additional cash? Great question. We will get to it. What’s going on with the fenix 5S Plus? How is it any different from the standard 5 Plus? Again, great question. That’s why we have this post.
What’s new with fenix 5 Plus?
We discussed this in detail in our fenix 5 Plus vs 5 vs 3 HR post, but here’s a quick overview for anyone that’s not super familiar with fenix watches
Pre-loaded maps. All three watches will now have color, navigable, topographical maps. Previously, these were only available on the fenix 5X. Here’s a screenshot of what the maps will look like.
Screenshot of maps on fenix 5 Plus watches.
Music storage. All three devices have storage for up to 500 songs, allowing you to listen to your music phone-free. You can load on your personal music or use iHeartRadio All Access or Deezer. As of October 2018, Garmin now works with Spotify!!!
iHeartRadio, Deezer, Spotify, Personal Music, or control phone’s music
At the risk of stating the obvious, you will be pairing either a Bluetooth speaker or Bluetooth headphones to the watch in order to listen to your music. In the picture below, Jeff paired the fenix 5 Plus with his favorite earbuds, the Jaybird X3 [check price on Amazon], but off-screen he also paired the watch with the JBL Clip 3 [check price on Amazon] and a few other speakers and headphones.
Jaybird X3 paired with fenix 5 Plus.
Galileo. In addition to GPS and GLONASS, the fenix 5 Plus watches will now have Galileo, which is the European Union’s satellite tracking system.
Galileo now on fenix 5 Plus watches.
As you can see above, there are a few options when it comes to GPS satellite systems. You have Normal (GPS-Only), GPS + GLONASS, GPS + Galileo, and UltraTrac.
Garmin Pay. All three watches — like the vivoactive 3 and Forerunner 645 — have Garmin Pay, which allows you to pay for goods and services from your wrist. Here’s a quick video on Garmin Pay:
Here’s how Garmin Pay works in real life. Simple (as long as the vendor accepts contactless payments). This particular terminal is from Square, but First Data and others make supported terminals. Basically, if Apple Pay or Android Pay work, there’s a good chance that Garmin Pay will work as well since they all just use an NFC chip.
Ok, so now you know a few things about these watches, including what’s new. But why in the heck would you pay $1,150 for the fenix 5X Plus!?
First Garmin Watch with Pulse Ox Acclimation
Only hardcore trekkers, climbers, and explorers will care about this, but if you’re in that camp, keep reading. If you’re not, you can guilt-free skip the fenix 5X Plus.
Pulse Ox Acclimation measures your blood oxygen saturation, which is measured in milliliters of Mercury (mm Hg). This is particularly important for when you’re in higher altitudes where the air is thin and therefore the volume of oxygen in your blood is less.
Pulse Ox screen. Right before Dillon took the watch up Mount Kilimanjaro.
As you can see in the image above, the Pulse Ox screen will contrast your altitude with blood oxygen saturation. They even color code your blood oxygen saturation so there’s no guessing. You’ll definitely want to keep your blood oxygen saturation above 60%.
fenix 5X Plus Battery Life
Given that the 5X Plus — with a 51mm case size — is quite a bit bigger than the other two watches, it has much better battery life. The 5X Plus has a quoted battery life of up to 20 days versus 10 days for the standard 5 Plus.
All three watches come with QuickFit Bands. Just keep in mind that the 5 Plus uses 22mm bands, the 5X Plus uses 26mm bands, and the 5S Plus uses 20mm bands.
These are the exact same sizes as the 5/5X/5S so if you already have bands, those will work. A little pro tip: you can find QuickFit Bands on Amazon cheaper than directly through Garmin, but you need to be selective when it comes to choosing a vendor (i.e. look at the ratings and also confirm sizes).
Fenix 5x Plus in Africa!
Dillon, our head of production, took the fenix 5X Plus to Africa when hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. Here’s a video about his experience there and with the 5X Plus.
We were disappointed to see that the 5X Plus for some reason didn’t save all of his data, but there’s nothing that we really could do since Dillon was without his phone for nearly two weeks. Still, pretty neat to see that he took the watch up the tallest mountain in Africa.
The fenix 5S Plus is the exact same watch as the standard 5 Plus unit, aside from case size and battery life. The display is the same, the features are entirely the same, and it still has the Garmin Elevate wrist HRM.
Here’s a look at what the fenix 5S Plus and fenix 5S look like on the wrist of a petite woman. You can see that they’re still somewhat large, but not overpowering. And again, this is a very petite wrist. Chances are that you’ll have a larger wrist than the one shown below.
Noticeably larger display on fenix 5S Plus (right).
With a case size of 42mm, the 5S Plus is most ideal for individuals with smaller wrists, including petite women. The idea with the 5S Plus is that people with small wrists still want the features of the 5 Plus, but that watch is simply too large.
Maps on fenix 5S Plus (male wrist)
Also, the fenix 5S Plus now has a 1.2″ display, which is nearly 20% larger than the display on the 5S. That way you don’t make any compromises in terms of screen real estate even if you opt for the smaller watch.
Recap of fenix 5 Plus lineup
The major new features are (1) pre-loaded maps, (2) music storage/playback (3) Garmin Pay (4) Galileo.
Garmin Pay, Maps, Music.
The 5X Plus adds on Pulse Ox Acclimation and is way more expensive than the other two. The 5S Plus has a larger display year-over-year and less battery life than the standard 5 Plus device.