Garmin wristwatches are at the top of the market, utilizing top-notch GPS technology and solar energy to help athletes achieve their fitness goals. With more emphasis on technology going green, it makes sense to wonder whether the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar Edition is truly innovative in terms of energy and feature use.
While this review will focus on the Fenix 6 Pro, we’ll list that particular watch’s pros and cons to make a reliable comparison of the original Fenix 6 vs. the Fenix 6 Pro. (Fenix 6 review here).
New Exercise Tracking Features
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has two new exercise profiles: Indoor Climbing and Bouldering, which track the metrics of climbing a rope or climbing rocks. Both profiles keep track of workout times, your total ascent, and heart rate all on one screen. For better ascent accuracy, you can even track your falls, if you have any.
The Garmin Connect mobile app keeps a record of all your climbs, so tracking your progress becomes more accessible than ever. You’ll also find a history of the sun intensity your watch experiences (more on that later).
On the other hand, the Surfing profile might not seem like the most useful app, but it has the most diverse and exciting technology of them all. It combines video integration with your own surfing data. Your Surfing profile is also integrated with Surfline, an app where you can look up data about wave conditions in nearby surfing spots. Your profile shows you the waves surfed, your max surfing speed, and the distance traveled.
What’s cool about the Surfing profile is that over 400 cameras record your selected surfing spot in the cloud. Using a Surfline Apple Watch app, you can find exact video clips of your surfing session using your timestamps and GPS data.
However, not every single surfing spot will have cloud cameras, so if you want to be able to watch yourself surf, you’ll have to find one that does.
You can also label each exercise round as completed, attempted, or you can delete them entirely, adding a level of detail to your exercise record.
Better Solar Energy Use?
For the record, all three Fenix 6 Pro models offer a solar equipped option. The question just becomes what solar energy this one can take in, and how the watch uses that energy. However, the solar pieces are the absolute newest part of this model.
The front of the watch has a thin, barely noticeable 1 mm solar panel strip that is 100% photovoltaic, meaning it takes in 100% of the sunrays it detects and turns it into solar power. Another solar panel sits behind the display face, but it is only 10% photovoltaic, given that the display face blocks most of it.
We want to debunk one myth quickly: creating and using solar energy is not the same as charging your watch’s battery.
Depending on the sun intensity your watch comes under (a sun icon right on top of the time on the display shows that intensity), your battery will stay charged for a certain period. If you leave the watch out in high sun intensity, it will not charge your battery from 0%. In a nutshell, solar energy prevents your watch from losing any battery, as long as it stays in the sun.
How much battery your watch loses also depends on what features you use. If you have the GPS and notifications on, it will lose battery much faster than if they were not on. Garmin provides a handy chart to let you know how long the battery will last while using specific applications.
There’s no tried-and-true period of sun intensity that significantly impacts your watch’s battery life. Most people have sunned it for prolonged periods, namely longer than three hours, but anything less than two hours has also had no discernible difference.
Although the solar panels will not substantially charge your watch, it might increase slightly–again, depending on how long you’re in the sun and what applications you use in the meantime.
Speaking of GPS, when you wear your Fenix 6 Pro, make sure that it’s not too close to other GPS-devices, like a smartphone. Using these devices at the same time may skew your GPS’s signal. However, if you wear more than one device on your wrist, you can put some fabric between them to not cross their signals.
The Fenix 6 Pro has a new look as well. While previous Fenix 6 models were thinner with less noticeable buttons, the more substantial plastic buttons make it easier to navigate the menus. A thicker waistband also makes it more durable.
In terms of menus, the Fenix 6 pro also has more condensed menus, meaning you don’t have to press as many buttons to see each exercise profile’s features. For instance, the Grit, Lap Grit, Flow, and Lap Throw are all displayed simultaneously.
While the Fenix 6 had stainless steel casing and sapphire glass, the Fenix 6 Pro display has a single glass of Gorilla Glass with DX coating for extra durability. That does not make it substantially more durable than the Fenix 6, but most importantly, it’ll protect the solar panels.
Pros and Cons
Now we want to sum up the best and the less-than-best parts of the Fenix 6 Pro.
- Easy-to-read display
- Durable and stylish design
- Excellent climbing/running profiles
- Plenty of widgets to customize with
- Garmin Connect shows detailed stats of exercise
- Not all that different from previous Fenix 6 model
- Fenix metrics don’t include jump counting
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar Edition: Conclusion
With regard to Fenix 6 vs. the Fenix 6 Pro not much has changed, except for the Surfing profile and the solar energy panels. Still, it is a high-quality watch, with plenty of excellent features for athletes. The amount of tracking profiles and menus might take getting used to, but it’s worth the time and money.