3 smartwatches to consider

Befitting of active lifestyles

3. Garmin Fenix 5X Plus
3. Garmin Fenix 5X Plus

The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is usually regarded as a GPS multi-sport watch. But it is a smartwatch too, as it pairs with your smartphone, displays incoming notifications of e-mails and messages, lets its wearer accept or decline phone calls, supports contactless payment and plays music.

The $1,299 5X Plus, which has a 51mm case, is the flagship model of the Fenix 5 Plus series that also includes the 5s Plus ($1,199, 42mm case) and 5 Plus (from $1,229, 47mm case). The primary difference in these models is the size of the watch case.

For this review, I tried the 5X Plus.

I like its ruggedly handsome looks. Plus, its massive size and sturdy build make it feel like a Casio G-Shock watch on my wrist.

Its thick bezel is made of stainless steel with sapphire crystal protecting the display. There are two buttons on the right and three buttons on the left of the fibre-reinforced polymer case.

As the display is not a touchscreen, you need to press these buttons to navigate through the watch's menu interface. Pressing the middle and bottom buttons on the left toggles through the digital compass, calendar, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, fitness tracking and notifications panels.

To get to the workout page, hit the top button on the right. Use the middle and bottom buttons on the left side to scroll up or down to select the workout you want (you can add your favourite workouts here for quick access). To start, press the top-right button again.

At the workout page, you can scroll to Map and see where you are. This is great for hiking and especially when you are lost.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,299

    COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 4.4 and above or iOS 10.0 and above

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication

    WATER RESISTANCE: 100m

    WEIGHT: 96g (with rubber strap)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Having got used to the touchscreen interface of other smartwatches, I found using the buttons on this watch confusing even though I have reviewed many Fenix watches before. I kept pressing the wrong buttons, like pressing the upper-left button to scroll up, or pressing the lower-left button to go back.

The 1.2-inch (240 x 240 pixels) display looks sharp and is visible even under bright sunlight. The watch comes with severalsimple watch faces. But you can download and install new watch faces via the Garmin Connect Mobile app (available on iOS and Android).

On my first try, I wore the watch for a jog. It tookabout 30 seconds to lock on to a GPS signal. But, subsequently, it was able to secure a GPS fix in about 10 seconds from the streets of my Housing Board estate.

Its GPS distance tracking was spot-on, registering just 10m less when measuring my usual 5km jogging route. I also like that I can see where I am during my jogs in real time on the watch itself.

Surprisingly, it is not as accurate when it comes to daily steps tracking, recording nearly 9 per cent more steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 2.

 
 
 

The Fenix 5X Plus is Garmin's first wearable to feature a wrist-based Pulse Oximeter that measures blood oxygen saturation, or SpO2, levels. This is especially useful for those who love hiking or climbing in high-altitude terrains, as the feature lets them know if they are acclimatising to the altitude. But I found you need to stay very still to get a reading.

Battery life is amazing. On paper, it is supposed to last 18 days in the smartwatch mode. I used it for a week and the battery level dropped to 60 per cent only. Amazing even for a smartwatch with a non-touchscreen display.

Garmin Pay currently supports only OCBC cards. As I don't have an OCBC credit card, I was unable to test this feature.

• Verdict: The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is the smartwatch to get for outdoor adventurers and sports enthusiasts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Befitting of active lifestyles'. Print Edition | Subscribe