Smartwatches have certainly come a long way in the last couple of years. Not so long ago they were little more than vanity options with a terrible battery life. Now the market is full of various options, and it just keeps expanding. Garmin, who started out as GPS manufacturers who moved into fitness trackers, have launched their new fenix series. There is a watch for everyone in this lineup. On 10 March Garmin held a press event to showcase these new watches before making them available for preorder next week.
Garmin and the luxury GPS Smartwatch
For those not in the know, Garmin sells a wide variety of fitness trackers, ranging from barebones pedometers to heavy duty multisport behemoths. This update to the fenix line, the fenix 5 series, is an interesting go between. Ivan Lai, Regional Program Manager for Garmin, explains it as a blend between a luxury watch, smartwatch and fitness tracker. Has Garmin done a good job in marrying all of these features?
As a fitness tracker, it carries all of the same features as the forerunner series of fitness trackers, including the one I currently wear. In that department, the watch works incredibly well, even when tracking GPS data in cities. Whether you’re into running, cycling, swimming or triathlons if you’re especially fit, Garmin watches are designed to work in all of these environments. It’s waterproof up to a hundred metres, and even though it’s a digital interface, it can be read in direct sunlight. More importantly, it has a crazy battery life of 12 days standby or 20 hours with intensive GPS tracking. Everything else, such as the barometer, is a cool but frankly unnecessary feature unless you’re running in mountains anytime soon.
As a watch, it’s certainly pretty. A lot of smartwatches look more like miniature tablets than timepieces. This is subjective, but personally, this makes them look rather ugly. By contrast, the fenix series are quite charming. While they don’t match any luxury watch standards, they would easily complement any formal attire. Even better, the bands are interchangeable and take just a couple of seconds to change. There are more rubbery ones for exercise and metal ones for when you need to dress up.
Speaking with Garmin representatives at the launch event today, Garmin’s target audience for fenix seems to be rather diverse. One point is that they want to appeal more towards women. There were no exact numbers, but worldwide about 80% of those who use the companion app for Garmin are male. This is why the fenix 5s is much smaller than the highest premium model. Whether or not this is successful will be a matter for when the watch launches.
One thing is for certain, however, and that is that Garmin is targeting a wealthier band of consumers. The cheapest variant, the 5s with a glass screen is S$899, with the most expensive being S$1,099 for the 5x. By contrast, the cheapest series 2 Apple Watch is S$548, which arguably has more features. Granted, Garmin has the better fitness tracking feature, but this is certainly a consideration for anyone looking to get a smartwatch. As with any major purchase, research is critical.
If you do want to get your hands on the fenix series, you can see them for yourself at the IT show 16 to 19 March, where you can place a pre-order. The watches will be available in Garmin retailers by the end of March. As an added incentive for pre-order, the first 50 will get a free QuickFit silicone band worth SGD 109.