Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​5 : which one to choose?

After the release of its Fenix ​​3 in 2015 and then the Fenix ​​3 HR (wrist cardio) in 2016, Garmin offers in 2017 the brand new Fenix ​​5, a high-end outdoor watch suitable for all wrist sizes and intended to be worn daily. It comes in 3 models of different sizes, the largest of which contains the maps and cycle paths of Europe, Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​5X.

What you will learn

Special features of Fenix ​​3 (Sapphire, HR, HRM-Run, etc.)

In this article, we have compared the Fenix ​​5 with the Fenix ​​3 Sapphire HR (last model released including wrist heart rate measurement).

There are other models of this sports GPS watch (Fenix ​​3, Fenix ​​3 HR, Fenix ​​3 sapphire and Fenix ​​3 Sapphire HR) also available in a “HRM-Run” pack, ie including a belt HRM-Run. This belt has a frequency sensor and a Running Dynamics pod. The Sapphire versions have been designed to be able to be worn every day with an elegant design and more dressed bracelets (leather, metal, nylon, titanium). To find out more, read our Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​3 HR and Sapphire comparison.

Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​5 comparison: the main differences


garmin Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​5

The Fenix ​​5 is an improved version of the Fenix ​​3. The main differences, which we detail below, are essentially:

  • 3 sizes of cases and bracelets available. The Fenix ​​5S is designed for thin wrists. This is the main innovation of this watch.
  • A thinner, more compact and lighter model (except 5X model), a more elegant watch for everyday wear
  • Better autonomy battery (except for 5S model)
  • Improvement or addition of certain components : screen with better resolution and 64 colors, thinner and more economical optical sensor, quick-attach bracelet, leather and metallic bracelet (also available on the Fenix ​​3 depending on the model), gyroscope, improved connectivity (Bluetooth Smart sensors)
  • Increased precision in UltraTrac mode
  • New features : training monitoring, cycling functions, golf, Group Live Track function, Varia and Stravia compatibility, mapping and map of cycle paths with centers of interest, hotels etc. (5X model)
  • A sapphire crystal and optional Wi-Fi (basic on the Fenix ​​3 HR)
  • A higher price …

<! – Compared to the Fenix ​​3, the Fenix ​​5 displays differences which essentially revolve around the available sizes of cases and bracelets (main innovation), better battery life, improvements in certain components (screen, optical sensor, bracelet), with greater precision of measurements in UltraTrac mode, and new functions but also at a higher price.

In terms of functionality, Garmin offers more advanced navigation, more training data and additional functions for cyclists and golfers. Note that the Fenix ​​5 is based on the Fenix ​​3: it is an improved Fenix ​​3, with the exception of certain characteristics which are offered as an option, such as sapphire glass or Wi-Fi. In this article, we so let’s focus on the added value of Fenix ​​5 compared to Fenix ​​3 HR. ->

Fenix ​​3 or Fenix ​​5: which watch to choose?

What to choose between Fenix ​​5 and Fenix ​​3? Should we buy the latest from Garmin if we already have the previous model? Is Fenix ​​5 better than Fenix ​​3? What are the differences between these 2 GPS watches? This is what we detail in this article. To help you better assess the differences between the models, we have summarized them in comparative tables. You will also find, at the end of the article, a summary table to help you make the right choice according to your own criteria.


Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3: differences in design and technical characteristics

Case sizes suitable for all wrists!

This is one of the biggest differences between the Fenix ​​3 and the Fenix ​​5 and a great innovation from Garmin: in order to adapt its watch to as many people as possible, in particular the female type with wrists thinner than men, Garmin declines its Fenix ​​5 in 3 sizes of case (and bracelet): a “small” watch (the Fenix ​​5S), a standard watch smaller than the Fenix ​​3 (the Fenix ​​5) and a larger watch, equivalent to the size Fenix ​​3 (Fenix ​​5X) which has a lot more data and functions.

Thus, the case of the 5S offers a diameter of 9 mm less than that of the Fenix ​​3 HR (42 mm versus 51 mm) and 2.5 mm less thickness (15 mm versus 17.5 mm)! Athletes with fine wrists can therefore finally wear a watch that suits them and even keep it daily, in town or at work, or even to sleep (see below). This single parameter can be a decisive criterion of choice for some.

Note that if the case of the Fenix ​​5 is smaller than that of the Fenix ​​3, this is not necessarily the case of the screen (30.5 mm versus 30.4 mm) except for that of the Fenix ​​5S (28 mm).

It should also be noted that the gain in space of the Fenix ​​5S is paid for by a smaller battery, therefore a slightly shorter autonomy (see below). However, this model has the same functionality and hardware as the standard model (Fenix ​​5).

The strap is also of thickness adapted to the watch: 20 to 26 mm depending on the model against 26 mm for the Fenix ​​3. We therefore have a watch that can adapt to the morphology of each.

Lightweight for the Fenix ​​5S

With its small size, the Fenix ​​5S gains significantly in weight with almost 20 g less than the Fenix ​​3 HR (67 g versus 86 g with the silicone strap). The Fenix ​​5 remains at the same weight (although it is thinner than the Fenix ​​3 but with increased autonomy) and the Fenix ​​5X is significantly heavier (98 g). It must be said that it has a gigantic memory!

Increased battery life: + 50% in GPS and UltraTrac mode!

The Fenix ​​5 gains autonomy with 8 hours more in GPS mode and 20 hours more in energy saving mode (UltraTrac), 50% more than the Fenix ​​3 HR! But in watch mode, the latter remains the least greedy! And if we consider the models without cardio on the wrist (Fenix ​​3 and Fenix ​​3 Sapphire), the autonomy goes up to 6 weeks in watch mode and 20 hours in GPS mode! See our comparison Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​3 Sapphire vs Fenix ​​3 Sapphire HR.

Attention also to the Fenix ​​5S model which is less autonomous with “only” 14h in GPS mode and 35h in UltraTrac mode (case size required). Between autonomy and ideal size, you have to choose! That said, except if you make long trips, this should not really be a problem but this parameter is to be taken into account in your choice (we summarize this below in a table).

As for the Fenix ​​5X, its autonomy is a bit in between, with 20 hours in GPS mode and 35 hours in UltraTrac mode.

Model Watch mode GPS mode UltraTrac mode
Fenix ​​5S 9 days 2 p.m. 35 hrs
Fenix ​​5 2 weeks 24h 60 h
Fenix ​​5X 12 days 8 p.m. 35 hrs
Fenix ​​3 Sapphire HR Three weeks 4 p.m. 40 hrs
Fenix ​​3 and Fenix ​​3 Sapphire 6 weeks 8 p.m. 50 h
Comparative autonomy: fenix 5 versus Fenix ​​3

Chic and interchangeable straps without tools (Quickfit system)

With Garmin, we are now used to interchangeable straps. The new feature of the Fenix ​​5 (and of the new Garmin watches, such as the forerunner 935 running and triathlon watch) is to offer detachable straps without tools, therefore easier to change, thanks to a quick-attach system called Quickfix ™. This innovation is all the more welcome as Garmin also offers a wider choice of bracelets to wear the watch anywhere: during sports, at the gym, at work or in town. The Fenix ​​5 can thus be worn with a light and colorful silicone strap for sports activities, or a more dressed strap, in leather (Fenix ​​5S only) or in metal, for everyday use. For regular athletes wishing to wear their Fenix ​​24/24, it is therefore interesting to be able to easily change the strap.

Note that the thickness of the bracelets varies with the model. Thus, it is not possible to exchange the straps between two different models (for example between the Fenix ​​5S and the Fenix ​​5).

A more precise screen with 64 colors

The Fenix ​​5 has a screen that is both anti-reflective and better resolution: 240 x 240 px and 64 colors against 218 x 218 px and 16 colors for the Fenix ​​3 (the Fenix ​​5S remains on 218 x 218 px but 64 colors) . The images and figures displayed are thus thinner and the display possibilities improved for an identical or smaller screen size.

On the Fenix ​​5 range, the screen can be permanently activated to display the time, which is not possible on the Fenix ​​3.

Sapphire crystal: optional and at a high price

Unlike the Fenix ​​3 Sapphire delivered with a domed sapphire crystal (anti-scratch and limiting reflections), the Fenix ​​5 offers it as an option (exception for the Fenix ​​5X, a watch more reserved for adventure, therefore more exposed to shocks). The sapphire crystal adds 2 g to the weight of the watch, which is rather negligible, but above all 100 € at its price! This clearly inflates the price of the watch, but you can also make a substantial saving by choosing standard glass. That said, the sapphire crystal is a useful protection if you practice certain risky sports (climbing, hiking, etc.) or if you wear your GPS watch on a daily basis. You should also know that on the Fenix ​​5, Wi-Fi is only available on the Sapphire version …

Optional Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi allows your watch to connect to the wireless network to download your activities from a PC or Smartphone. The Wi-Fi connectivity, available on the Fenix ​​3 HR, is only available on the sapphire version of the Fenix ​​5. This option will cost you an additional € 100 if you want.

Bluetooth Smart: for greater compatibility with sensors

The Fenix ​​5 has Bluetooth Smart technology (in addition to ANT +) which offers greater compatibility with the sensors available on the market (Polar chest belts for example, cadence or speed sensor for cyclists) while the Fenix ​​3 only supports ANT +, a standard compatible with a more limited number of sensors. Cyclists will therefore particularly appreciate this option if they plan to use sensors from a brand other than Garmin. Note that Bluetooth is available on the Fenix ​​3 but only for wireless data transmission to a Smartphone or PC.

A gyroscope for better precision in UltraTrac mode

Garmin had a very good idea by equipping his Fenix ​​5 with a gyroscope. This sensor detects, in a very precise way, the slightest movements of the watch, in particular changes of direction. Thanks to it, the accuracy of the layout and the distance traveled measurements remain relatively precise in UltraTrac mode (energy saving achieved by reducing the number of GPS measurements).

Garmin Elevate: a thinner and more economical sensor

The Fenix ​​5, like the Fenix ​​3 HR, has an optical wrist pulse sensor. On the Fenix ​​5, Garmin has improved this component. It is thinner (almost at the same level as the bottom of the case) and consumes less energy. Thanks to this savings, Garmin can offer a 24-hour measurement of the heart rate with a reading every 1 to 2 seconds.

No more memory

The size of the memory available for recording routes is more than doubled on the Fenix ​​5. We go from 32 MB (23 MB available) on the Fenix ​​3 to 64 MB (54 available) on the Fenix ​​5. This an interesting setting if you do not have the opportunity to empty your watch often or for trips of several days.

Fenix ​​5 versus Fenix ​​3 HR comparison: design and features

Characteristics Fenix ​​3 HR Fenix ​​5S Fenix ​​5 Fenix ​​5X
Weight(1) 86g 67 to 69 g 85 to 87 g 98g
Case diameter 51 mm 42 mm 47 mm 51 mm
Screen diameter 30.4 mm 27.9mm 30.5mm 30.5mm
Thickness 17.5mm 14.5mm 15.5mm 17.5mm
Autonomy(2) 3 weeks / 4 / 40h3 9d / 14h / 35h 2 weeks / 24h / 60h 12d / 20h / 35h
Bracelet 26 mm 20 mm 22 mm 26 mm
Bracelet material Silicone, titanium or metal Silicone, suede or metallic Silicone or metallic Silicone or metallic
Bezel material Stainless steel Stainless steel Stainless steel Stainless steel
Touchscreen No No No No
Resolution (px) 218 x 218 px 218 x 218 px 240 x 240 px 240 x 240 px
Number of colors 16 64 64 64
Sapphire crystal Yes (Sapphire version) Optional Optional Yes
Memory 32 MB 64 MB 64 MB 12 GB
Waypoints 1000 1000 1000 1000
Recorded tracks 30 tracks 200 h 200 h 100 tracks or 10,000 points
Optical HR sensor Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gyroscope No Yes Yes Yes
Sealing 10 ATM 10 ATM 10 ATM 10 ATM
Connectivity Bluetooth Smart, ANT +, Wi-Fi Bluetooth Smart, ANT +, Wi-Fi (4) Bluetooth Smart, ANT +, Wi-Fi (4) Bluetooth Smart, ANT +, Wi-Fi
Sensor compatibility ANT + Bluetooth Smart, ANT + Bluetooth Smart, ANT + Bluetooth Smart, ANT +
Garmin Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3 HR – Comparison table of characteristics

1 : Weight with silicone strap. For Fenix ​​5, the sapphire crystal (anti-scratch) weighs 2g more than ordinary glass
2 : Autonomy in smart health watch / GPS / UltraTrac mode (economy mode)
3 : Depending on whether heart rate monitoring is activated or not
4 : Wi-fi is only available on the Sapphire model

Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3: new features

In terms of functionality, the Fenix ​​5 is very similar to the Fenix ​​3 (standard, HR or Sapphire), except for a few additional functions of interest to cyclists and golfers, but it does bring some very useful new tools that can make a big difference based on user expectations. Note that the Fenix ​​5X brings other very interesting features that we do not comment on here (or very little). For a detailed description of the Fenix ​​5 and our opinion on this watch, consult our dedicated file:

Read our review on Fenix ​​5

Improved navigation

Fenix ​​5 will let you know how far away is a given point on the route and how long it will take you to reach it. With the 5X model, it’s even better: the watch can display topographic maps of Europe including bicycle paths and more than 40,000 golf courses in the world! She can suggest back and forth routes on the road or cycle path. It informs you about the points of interest around you (restaurant, hotel, etc.). She can draw the altitude profile. It is ideal for hiking, bivouac, trekking or for all adventure sports! Discover the Fenix ​​5.

More training data

The Fenix ​​3 already offers advanced functions in terms of calculations and training indicators but the Fenix ​​5 goes further by offering more tools such as:

  • The calculation of the FTP (functional power threshold) for cyclists.
  • Function Training Effect 2.0 which assesses the quality of your training, including the impact of physical activity on your aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and helps to estimate the effectiveness of your training.
  • Status and training load: the watch analyzes your training data (VO2max, lactic threshold, etc.), compares them to previous races and determines whether your work is efficient. It calculates the optimal intensity of your training based on outings for the last 28 days.
  • The calculation offitness age or Fitness age (estimated according to VO2max)

Fenix ​​5 records your records and other data. These additional functions will be a plus for demanding athletes or professionals.

Group Live Track: to find out where the others are!

New on Fenix ​​5, the function Group LiveTrack allows a group of athletes (up to 50) with a watch with this function (Fenix ​​5 or forerunner 935 for example) and a smart health connected Smartphone to know the position of each member of the group. It is particularly useful for meeting during a bike or ski trip or even meeting at a given point (curiosity to see, refreshment point, etc.).

Improved 24-hour tracker

The 2 models offer a 24/7 activity tracker with continuous measurement of your heartbeat, for monitoring your activities including the analysis of your sleep. On the Fenix ​​5, the pulse measurement is more frequent (every 1 to 2 seconds), for a more precise analysis of the calories burned. Garmin can afford this with a new, more economical optical sensor. See our comparison of smart health connected bracelets.

Segments: run against yourself or against others

With the Fenix ​​5, you will be able to challenge yourself by running a race (running, cycling) already covered by yourself or a person in the community. Just load it on the watch and follow the route, compare times, beat the established records, etc. Nothing better to motivate yourself to play sports!

Move IQ ™

Move IQ is a function that automatically detects your activities (walking, running, cycling, swimming, elliptical) and reports them on a graph. You can thus see at a glance your various activities of the day. This function is only available on the Fenix ​​5.


Fenix ​​5 and Fenix ​​3 compared: the functionalities


Characteristics Fenix ​​3 Fenix ​​5S Fenix ​​5 Fenix ​​5X
Live Track Yes Yes Yes Yes
Group Live Track No Yes Yes Yes
Segments No Yes Yes Yes
Route tracking Yes Yes Yes Yes
Route calculation No No No Yes
Cartography No No No Yes
Training Effect Yes Yes Yes Yes
Training Effect 2.0 No Yes Yes Yes
Training load No Yes Yes Yes
Training status No Yes Yes Yes
Activity tracker Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weather alerts Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Yes Yes Yes Yes
Move IQ No Yes Yes Yes
Garmin Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3 – Feature comparison table


Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3: differences in sporting activities

Apart from a few new activities (distinction between skiing and snowboarding and adding mountain biking activity for example), the Fenix ​​5 brings few changes in sports except for cycling and golf. The functions available for other sports (swimming, skiing, running, water sports) remain unchanged.

Cycling: Strava and Varia compatibility, new functions

The Fenix ​​5 is compatible with most cadence, speed and power sensors (Garmin Vector pedals, ANT + power meter), with the Varia products ((Varia Vision screen for glasses, Varia bicycle lights, Varia radar) and Strava functionalities (beacon, dynamic segments).

Add to that, if you opt for the Fenix ​​5X, access to maps of Europe including the road map of cycle paths (Garmin Cycle Map). The watch also offers a round trip generator from the point where you are located and according to a direction and a maximum distance proposed.


Characteristics Fenix ​​3 Fenix ​​5S Fenix ​​5 Fenix ​​5X
Strava No Yes Yes Yes
Varia Vision compatible No Yes Yes Yes
Varia Radar compatible No Yes Yes Yes
Compatible Varia Fires No Yes Yes Yes
Cycle paths No No No Yes
Cartography No No No Yes
Belts & sensors ANT + ANT +, Bluetooth Smart ANT +, Bluetooth Smart ANT +, Bluetooth Smart
Compatible Vector Pedals Yes Yes Yes Yes
Power sensor compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cadence sensor compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes
Garmin Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3 – Functions for cycling

Golf: autoshot and TruSwing functions

Golfers will appreciate the Fenix ​​5 more than the Fenix ​​3. The latest addition to Garmin indeed offers new and very interesting functions for an in-depth analysis and monitoring of their technique and advice to improve it.

In addition to the functions already available, the Fenix ​​5 indeed offers:

  • More complete statistics: number of shots, putts per game, shots reaching the green and the fairway, average shooting distance.
  • Function AutoShot ™ : It automatically detects the location of the shots and the distance traveled by the golf ball.
  • TruSwing : this function requires a small discreet and light sensor (sold separately) which is fixed under the fix of your club. It analyzes your swing (angle of the head of the swing in relation to the target, trajectory of the club at the address and at impact, tempo and speed of the head of the club, angle of holding of the club at the address and at impact, dynamic loft) and displays useful data on your watch or a smart health connected Smartphone. You can also download the data to your PC or Smartphone and view your swings in 3D, compare them and improve them. TruSwing helps you control the trajectory of the club until you get the perfect ball trajectory. You will learn to increase your distances, improve your game and more.
  • Display of obstacles and course targets
  • Game timer (odometer)
  • Detailed view of the green with manual hole positioning (Fenix ​​5X only)

Golf fans accustomed to travel will appreciate the Fenix ​​5X, which has more than 40,000 golf courses in its memory around the world. No need to download the course before starting your game: the 5X already contains them all!


Characteristics Fenix ​​3 Fenix ​​5S Fenix ​​5 Fenix ​​5X
Distance to green calculation Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shooting distance Yes Yes Yes Yes
Numerical score Yes Yes Yes Yes
Statistics No Yes Yes Yes
Detailed view of the green No No No Yes
Automatic CourseView updates No No No Yes
Autoshot No Yes Yes Yes
TruSwing compatible No Yes Yes Yes
Obstacles and course targets No Yes Yes Yes
Odometer No Yes Yes Yes
Garmin Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3 – Functions for golf

Hiking, outdoor: maps, cycle paths and points of interest!

For adventurers and hikers, the Fenix ​​3 and Fenix ​​5 offer advanced navigation allowing you to follow a given route with GPS track and allows you to retrace your steps. The Fenix ​​5X goes even further by proposing the cartography of Europe or the function Around Me which indicates the points of interest located nearby (hotel, restaurant, etc.).


Fenix ​​5 vs Fenix ​​3: how to choose?

The following tips will help you if you are looking to buy a complete multisport watch and hesitate between the 2 models or if you already own a Fenix ​​3 and hesitate to switch to the Fenix ​​5 model.

If it is not the sapphire crystal (anti-scratch) and the Wi-Fi (both optional on the Fenix ​​5, basic on the Fenix ​​3 Sapphire), the Fenix ​​5 is clearly more complete since it is a improved version of the Fenix ​​3 HR Sapphire. But its price is also higher …

Fenix ​​5: a gain in comfort, aesthetics, autonomy and functionality

If you don’t have a sports watch yet, are looking for a complete multisport watch and have the budget, the Fenix ​​5 is without a doubt the best choice. With the exception of the Fenix ​​5X plus dedicated to adventure, hiking, wild camping, this watch offers, compared to the Fenix ​​3 HR, a gain in comfort (size, weight) and, for the intermediate model , in autonomy while being aesthetic. It is therefore more suitable for everyday use. It also offers more functions for cyclists and golfers.

The Fenix ​​5 or 5S is better suited for people with thin wrists or looking for an elegant watch to wear on a daily basis (elegant straps, easy to change). The Fenix ​​3 HR is indeed larger and heavier, it is felt more on the wrist and the supply of bracelets is less rich. For the aesthetic side, the Fenix ​​5 or 5S is better suited than the Fenix ​​3 or the Fenix ​​5X.

The Fenix ​​5 is also more complete in terms of available functions (analyzes, monitoring) and will be better suited to demanding athletes or professionals.

For cyclists and golfers, the Fenix ​​5 is definitely more interesting for its dedicated functions, if one wishes of course to use these functions (Strava, Varia products, swing analysis, etc.). That said, for specific use on bikes or golf, you will find cheaper watches dedicated to these activities.

The autonomy can also switch the choice to the Fenix ​​5. With 50% more autonomy on the intermediate model, it is far ahead of many other sports watches and allows you to go on an adventure for several days without problems or even avoid using UltraTrac mode if you want more precision.

The price is obviously an important criterion of choice. That said, we can save a hundred euros by opting for the standard glass model and without Wi-Fi of the Fenix ​​5. We do not however recommend it for a multisport watch, especially if it is worn everyday (risk of scratches).

Fenix ​​3: focus on price or why change?

The Fenix ​​3 remains a very complete watch that will still appeal to many people because of its price, which should drop in the coming months. It therefore remains a very interesting choice as long as the improvements offered by the Fenix ​​5 are not essential criteria for you.

If you have a Fenix ​​3, know that it is an excellent watch. It’s up to you, depending on the differences listed above and your budget, if you really want to upgrade to Fenix ​​5.

Finally, for a complete and even cheaper watch, the Fenix ​​3 exists in a simpler version (with ordinary glass, with cardio and chest belt or without cardio). For this, see our comparison: Fenix ​​3 vs Fenix ​​3 HR and Sapphire

Fenix ​​5 or Fenix ​​3? Criteria to help you choose according to your objectives.

Criteria Fenix ​​3 Fenix ​​5S Fenix ​​5 Fenix ​​5X
Main differences Falling price Compact, light, fine, suitable for thin wrists. Suede bracelet (in addition to silicone and metallic) Long battery life, more comfortable screen Map, cycle paths, points of interest (restaurant, hotels, etc.), 40,000 golf courses, AroundMe functions and course generator
Thin cuffs
Compact design
Screen comfort


Where to buy Fenix ​​5 and Fenix ​​3 and at what price?

You will find these two watches on the Internet (see below) and in specialist shops. Sport Passion offers you, with its partners, promotional codes.

Buy the Fenix ​​5



Buy the Fenix ​​3 HR Sapphire


New for 2018: also discover the brand new Fenix ​​5 Plus, a major evolution of Fenix ​​5. It integrates color mapping of Europe (topographic maps, city maps, cycle paths), an mp3 music player, contactless payment and new route analysis functions ( altimetric profile), a generator of popular routes and more …


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