Garmin continues to upgrade its Fenix line of GPS watches, making them more useful for outdoor sports enthusiasts. With the new Fenix 6 series, Garmin is also trying to give its fans more options by offering variants in prettier styles and more premium builds. The Fenix 6, 6S and 6X come in Sapphire editions featuring scratch-resistant, you guessed it, sapphire faces. There are also new rose gold, champagne and gray cases, as well as nylon bands and a variety of colors for a wide range of designs. Garmin has added new power management and coaching features to the series as well, but the update that really stands out is solar charging.
It's only available on the pricey $999 Fenix 6X Pro Solar and uses what Garmin is calling Power Glass -- a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. This converts the sun's rays into energy to extend battery life by up to three days. Without solar charging enabled, the 6X Pro Solar still lasts an impressive 21 days. Garmin isn't the first to offer a sport watch with solar-charging built in -- the Casio G-Shock Rangeman comes to mind as an example -- but it's nice to see more companies adopt the feature.
Even without the Power Glass, the new Fenix 6 watches can still get extended runtimes through a new tool called Power Manager. It can display the device's battery levels in days and hours instead of just a percentage so you can better grasp how much longer you can go without a charge. But it'll also show you how different sensors like the heart rate monitor or GPS can affect that number. You can enable battery-saving modes that disable specific sensors to get more juice.
There's also a new PacePro feature that will coach you in real time so you can speed up or slow down during your run rather than try to remember what to do the next time you work out. As you jog, the Fenix 6 will show your target split pace, actual split pace, distance to next split and how much time you're ahead of or behind your goal. It'll also take into account your elevation grade and adjust your targets accordingly.
Garmin is also adding maps from ski resorts worldwide that you can download to your watch from the companion app for free. The existing maps for golf courses will also be upgraded to full color and will now show you the distance to the front, middle and back of each hole.
In addition to all the updates, the Fenix 6 series will come with features its predecessors already packed. You'll get Garmin Pay for contactless payments, the company's powerful fitness-tracking tools, smartphone alerts on your wrist and Amazon Music support (along with Spotify, Deezer and iHeartRadio).
Compared to their predecessors, the Fenix 6 and 6X have larger 1.3-inch and 1.4-inch faces respectively, while retaining the same size as before. All three new models will have the Pulse Ox bloody oxygen sensor whereas it was only available on the most expensive Plus model on the Fenix 5. The new Fenix range starts at $599, with pricing changing depending on the finishes and straps you pick. It's nice to see Garmin roll out a more comprehensive set of styles for a line of watches that has traditionally looked bulky and masculine. With the new designs and features, the Fenix 6 lineup looks like a compelling watch for those considering a serious, yet stylish GPS watch.