Garmin Fenix 5S Review

Garmin is an American technology company that is most known for their GPS devices. But besides that, they also make some of the best sport watches! Especially their Fenix series, which has always been on top of multisport watch lists. And with their new 5 series, they have most definitely continued that trend.

The 5 series includes 3 different sport watches. And out of the 3, the Garmin Fenix 5S is the fanciest model. It has a ton of functions that are all stored inside a beautiful and sleek case. Besides the standard multisport and GPS functions, the 5S also monitors activity and comes with other smart features. It can do everything and more. All of that while remaining comfortable to wear and still look like a watch!

Technical Specification

  • Dimensions: 42×42×15 mm / 1.7×1.7×0.6″
  • Weight: 67 g / 0.15 lbs
  • Screen size: 1.1″
  • Resolution: 218 × 218 pixels
  • Sensors: Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer, Compass, Acceleration measurer, Position sensor, Optical heart rate sensor
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+
  • Battery: Built-in Li-On
  • Battery life: 14 hours with GPS and measuring heart rate


The Garmin Fenix 5S is the smallest sport watch out of the 3 models. It has a dimension of 42×42×15 mm / 1.7×1.7×0.6″ and weighs only 67 g / 0.15 lbs. Which is quite a bit smaller than the other watches. It’s perfect for smaller wrists and can be worn by both men and women. And most importantly, it looks good and comfortable on your wrist. Another thing that I like is it’s simple yet sleek design. It doesn’t scream sporty so you can also wear it with everyday clothes as well.

Garmin Fenix 5S Design

The multisport watch has a 1.1″ screen with a 218 × 218 pixel resolution. The most impressive part about the screen is that you can view it in both the dark and even under direct sunlight. Unlike most of the modern smartwatches, the Fenix 5S does come with 5 buttons for accessing the functions. Which does make the watch a bit more robust. However, I did really appreciate having them on a cold day as I didn’t have to take off my gloves to use the watch.

Another thing that I really like about Garmin’s watch series is how easy it is to customize them. You can choose your personal favorite from different colors, which include: black, silver, rose gold, champagne and white. But besides that, you can also easily switch the silicone wrist straps. It comes with a QuickFit locking mechanism that makes changing them extremely fast. So you can personalize the watch to match you.

Garmin Fenix 5S Colors

Overall the build quality is very nice. As you’d expect from Garmin. It also comes with a 10 ATM (100 m / 328 ft) waterproof rating. Which means that you can also take it swimming.


Is there really something that the Garmin Fenix 5S can’t do? That’s the main question I wondered while using the sport watch. And that’s normal, as it comes with so many functions I don’t even know where to start. It has training programs from water to winter sports. And of course also everything in between, such as running and cycling. You can also create your own training programs, which provides endless options. You can set your own parameters that you want the watch to record and display.

Sport Functions

The Fenix 5S supports both GPS and GLONASS. So finding a signal is not an issue, which makes it perfect for the outdoors. For runners, the Fenix 5S measures your pace, how long you touch the ground for and much much more. There are also some nice programs for indoors as well. For example while swimming, it measures your speed, amount of strokes, distance, etc. So it’s a very versatile sports watch when it comes to precise measurements of your exercises. It even has a function that measures your training intensity and how much rest you require.

The Garmin Fenix 5S can also be used by hikers. While it’s not as good as the 5X for that, you can still make it work. The watch has a compass, barometer and an altimeter. You can also load GPX routes to your watch so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. There is also a UltraTrac mode that helps at saving the battery life. And compared to the other 3 models, the 5S does have the smallest battery. You should get around 14 hours of battery life with constant GPS usage.

But it’s also very useful in the gym. Some how, it can tell the difference between doing pull ups and over head presses. It also measures your heart rate through out working out. It comes with the optical Garmin Elevate sensor. Which is pretty accurate as long as you aren’t doing HIIT or sprints. In that case, it does lie a bit like with all heart rate sensors that measure it from a wrist. You can also connect it to an external sensor via ANT+.

Here is a list of all the sensors inside the watch:

  • Altimeter
  • Barometer
  • Thermometer
  • Compass
  • Acceleration measurer
  • Position sensor
  • Optical heart rate sensor

Activity Monitoring

The watch even monitors your activity while resting. It measures your steps 24/7, calories you have burned and even how long you have slept for. It also sets daily goals for the amount of steps you should take. And they are different everyday. Around every hour, the watch notifies you with a small vibration that it’s time to walk around a bit. The longer you sit, the longer you have to walk in order to get rid of the notification.

Here is a list of all the activities that it can monitor:

  • Steps
  • Traveled distance
  • Daily activity
  • Daily goals
  • Stair steps
  • Intensive minutes
  • Sleep quality
  • Passivity

As you can see from the list, one of the activities that the watch also measures is your sleep. It keeps track on how long you sleep and if you get enough rest. It works but not that well at times in my opinion. A couple of times I have noticed that the watch thought I was sleeping when I actually wasn’t. You can of course later on remove those anomalies but because of this, I’m not sure how reliable the sleep quality function is.

Smart Watch Functions

Since the Garmin Fenix 5S is a smart watch, there are also some functions regarding that. The watch displays all your phone notifications as long as they are connected via Bluetooth. These are however just notifications, and you can’t do anything more with them from the watch. Using it as a smart watch is also get’s you a much longer battery life compared to when using the sport features. According to Garmin, the battery should last around 9 days. Which does sound right as I managed to get around a week with a few workouts in there as well.

Garmin Connect

Being able to analyze your activity is the main reason for getting a sports watch. All of the Garmin Fenix 5S data can be viewed via the Garmin Connect, which is available as both a website and a mobile App. From there, you can view all of the data and configure the watch. It can take some time getting used to it as it is kind of complicated at first. But that’s fine as you can really do everything with it. That also includes viewing graphs etc.

You can also access the Connect IQ store with the Fenix 5S. From there you can download different screen displays and apps to personalize your watch even more.


Out of the 3 models in the 5th series, the Fenix 5S is Garmin’s smallest and nicest looking sports watch. It’s perfect for smaller wrists and really for anyone that doesn’t want to wear a bulky sports watch everyday. It blends in with normal clothes as well while still bringing the functionality you require. It really is an excellent multisport watch for everyone.

8.5 Total Score

Build Quality
Battery Life
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