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Garmin 5X vs 6X (2021): How Are These Multisport Watches Different?

When it comes to multisport watches, Garmin’s Fenix series is arguably top of the mind. Best of all, they come in ultra-sized options that’s distinctly labeled with an X. The Garmin 5X, for instance, is an old reliable that is a favorite among athletes and sports enthusiasts. On the other hand, its successor—the Garmin 6X—is the brand’s most advanced wearable, adding new media and health monitoring capabilities to an already featured-packed device.

Both watches support a range of outdoor activities and boast an impressive battery life. Of course, these devices are compatible with Android and the iPhone. Here, we compare two of the best multisport watches you can wear and see what’s changed from the Garmin 5X to its similarly ultra-sized counterpart, the 6X.

Garmin 5x vs 6x Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin Fenix 5XGarmin Fenix 6X
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
EditionSapphirePro, Sapphire, Solar
Dimensions51 x 51 x 17.5 mm51 x 51 x 14.9 mm
Display Size1.2″1.4″
BezelStainless steelStainless steel or DCL-coated steel
Strap MaterialSteel, SiliconeTitanium, Nylon, Silicone, Leather
WaterproofYes, up to 10 ATMYes, up to 10 ATM
Always On DisplayYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Sleep MonitoringYesYes, with Advanced Sleep Monitoring
Respiration RateNoYes
Blood Oxygen MonitoringNoYes
Fall DetectionNoYes
Music StorageNoYes
SensorsAccelerometer, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope, ThermometerAccelerometer, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Thermometer
Garmin PayNoYes
CompatibilityAndroid, iPhoneAndroid, iPhone
Battery LifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 12 daysSmartwatch: Up to 14 days/16 days on Solar edition

Design and Hardware

The Garmin 5X and 6X are large, 51mm wearables that come in a durable design. The 6X, however, sports a thinner frame and a larger 1.4-inch display.

Garmin’s line of multisport watches come with an intuitive interface.

The Garmin 5X and 6X are the top-of-the-line offerings for the Fenix 5 and 6 series, respectively. They’re also the largest Fenix devices you can get at 51mm, dwarfing the 47mm and 41mm models. But the 6X also comes in different variants—Pro, Sapphire, and Solar—that include maps, music, and wi-fi capabilities. With the 5X, you only get a Sapphire edition that automatically includes maps and wi-fi connectivity.


Now, Garmin Fenix watches are known for their robust and rugged design that’s great for the outdoors. This rings even truer with the Garmin 5X and 6X. Both watches sport a fiber-reinforced polymer case and brandish durable, stainless steel bezels. There is, however, a DLC-coated steel option for the 6X.

Likewise, there are differences in the lens material used by 6X variants. Although a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is the standard among these Fenix X watches, the Garmin 6X Solar edition uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to support the solar powered function of the device. Gorilla Glass isn’t as tough as sapphire crystal but it does increase the 6X Solar edition’s battery potential by up to 20%.

The Garmin 6X is also thinner than the 5X, coming in at 14.9mm compared to the 17.5mm previous iterations. As a result, you get a lighter and sleeker watch that surprisingly boasts a larger 1.4-inch display compared to the 1.2-inch of the 5X.

In most cases, bigger isn’t always better. But on the Garmin 6X, you do get an improved 280×280 pixel resolution as opposed to the 240×240 brandished by its predecessor. Both watches, nonetheless, use a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display that’s easy to read even under direct sunlight.

The Garmin 5X also houses 16GB of internal memory whereas the 6X comes with twice the ROM at 32GB. With the bump in storage, you can now store music directly on the 6X. Lastly, the battery life on the 6X gets a big upgrade, with its smartwatch mode giving users up to 21 days of power compared to the 12 days on the 5X.

Smart Features

Although both watches come with a range of smart features, the Garmin 6X includes Garmin Pay as well as the ability to store music.

The Garmin 6X is compatible with your favorite music apps and comes with contactless payment features, smart notification, and Connect IQ support.

Admittedly, Garmin is best known as a fitness and sports watch. But it doesn’t stop the company from equipping the Garmin 5X and 6X with plenty of smart features. The 6X largely incorporates those found on the 5X, including smart notifications, Find My Device capabilities, Calendar, and Weather. Moreover, you get customizable screens via Garmin Connect, and will enjoy a selection of third-party apps available through the Connect IQ store.

Both watches are also compatible with iPhone and Android phones. However, replying to a text or responding to call via a text is a feature only available in the latter. But while you can’t take calls on the 5X and 6X—similar to devices like the Samsung Galaxy Watch or Apple Watch—the large screen makes replying easy.

As mentioned in the hardware discussion, the 6X now has support for music storage—up to 2,000 songs in fact. The 6X also picks up from where another 5X successor — the Garmin 5X Plus — left by integrating Garmin Pay for contactless payment solutions.

Health Monitoring

Unlike the 5X, the Garmin 6X comes with blood oxygen monitoring and respiration tracking.

Here’s a look at the sensors on the back of the Garmin 5X (left), and the 6X’s various health feature interface.

The Garmin 6X largely builds on the 5X’s tech when it comes to health monitoring. You get the standard features typical of today’s smartwatches, including heart rate, stress tracking, and sleep monitoring. Both devices also come with hydration and menstrual cycle tracking.

But on top of these features, the 6X now comes with an increasingly popular wearable metric—blood oxygen monitoring. Called the Pulse OX, the tech allows users to gauge their blood oxygen saturation levels throughout the day. As Garmin explains, it’s a feature that should help users know how well their body is absorbing oxygen, and allow them to observe any changes in their health.

There are also a couple of additions that make the Garmin 6X a more all-in-one health device compared to the Garmin 5X. Respiration tracking, for instance, has found its way in the 6X and should be useful for breathing and yoga activities. In addition, the breathing metrics have been included in the device’s advanced sleep monitoring features. A fall detection feature, like the Apple Watch, is also available.

Activity Tracking

The Garmin 6X builds on the features of the 5X, while adding more activity or program-specific tracking features.

Here’s a look at how Garmin Fenix watches track your activity.

At the core of these Fenix devices is activity tracking. Here, the Garmin 6X doesn’t scrimp. Just like the Garmin 5X, it supports a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, providing useful metrics along the way. But it also introduces new features that target more specific activities.

For instance, the 6X now includes Pilates among the gym activity profiles it supports. Likewise, run profiles have also been expanded. On the 6X, you can now track indoor track and virtual running. Golfing features have also been beefed up with custom targets, a full vector map, and handicap scoring.

The number of outdoor recreation profiles have also expanded from what the Garmin 5X offered. Now, you can monitor how you perform in surfing, kayaking, indoor climbing, and skiing. On the other hand, cycling features include advanced vector support, and MTB Grit & Flow on the 6X. The latter feature should give mountain bikers better insight on how they perform in difficult trails.


The Garmin 5X is a capable multisport watch, but if you want all the bells and whistles—including music storage and blood oxygen monitoring—go for the Garmin 6X.

Amazon product

The Garmin 6X is without a doubt the most feature-packed multisport watch in the market today, but it doesn’t make the Garmin 5X any less capable. In fact, the Garmin 6X largely builds on the bulk of features available on the 5X, adding some new tech metrics and sensors along the way. Nonetheless, some of these changes will barely be noticeable, depending on how you use the watch.

For instance, if you’re mostly focused on swimming and running, having the grit and flow tracking on the 6X isn’t exactly a game-changer. However, the inclusion of fast-becoming standard wearable features like blood monitoring and respiratory tracking, as well as contactless payment solutions, will probably be the changes that are most felt.

That being said, the 6X is a pretty expensive device, costing twice as much as the 5X. But if money is not a constraint, then it is definitely the best multisport watch you can slap on your wrist.


đź“Ś What is Garmin Fenix?

Fenix is Garmin’s line of multisport watches that comes with smart watch features, as well as an expansive range of health and activity tracking features.

đź“ŚWhat’s the difference between Garmin 5x and 6x?

The Garmin 6X comes in three different models: Pro, Sapphire, and Solar. In addition, the 6X brandishes a larger display, a thinner frame, and a lighter body compared to the 5X. Lastly, the 6X features blood oxygen monitoring, respiratory tracking, and Garmin Pay.

đź“ŚIs the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar model available in smaller sizes?

Yes, the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar edition is available in 42mm and 47mm sizes.

đź“ŚDoes Garmin Fenix 5X have music?

Although you can control music on your smartphone using the Garmin 5X, it doesn’t come with its own music storage. You can, however, get this feature on newer models like the Garmin 5X Plus and the Garmin 6X

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.