Image source: Garmin

Fenix 6 vs Forerunner 945: choosing between Garmin’s top multi-sport watches

If you are into multi-sports and only want the best, a Garmin smartwatch is the way to go. The company has recently updated both its Fenix and Forerunner range. The Fenix line is up to iteration number six while its highest spec Forerunner is now the 945.

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Fenix 6 comes in a variety models and there’s a no shortage of Forerunner watches to choose from so you may be wondering which is best for you. To make your decision easier we’ve compiled a run-down of differences between Garmin’s top of the line multi-sport watches, the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945.

Read on to find out how they compare.


General and design

garmin fenix 6 vs fenix 5 plus vs fenix 5 the battle of the all rounders - Fenix 6 vs Forerunner 945: choosing between Garmin's top multi-sport watches
Garmin Fenix 6 | Image source: Garmin

When it come to design, the main difference between the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 is in design. The first is built of premium materials such as stainless steel, titanium or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium (depending on the model), the second of fiber-reinforced polymer.

This makes the Fenix line heavier. The three different sizes (regular, S and X) and their multiple variants measure between 58 and 93 grams. The Forerunner 945, on the other hand, only comes in one version which measures 50 grams.

The diameter of the base Fenix 6 model is the same as the Forerunner 945 (47mm). But the latter is slightly thinner. Those with smaller or larger wrists can opt for the S or X Fenix 6. There is no such choice with the Forerunner.

Garmin has managed to increase the size of the display on the Fenix watches while keeping the dimensions the same. So you will get a 1.3″ screen on the base 47mm Fenix 6 version, while the Forerunner’s display is smaller by 0.1″. This also means the pixel density is larger on the Fenix at 260 x 260 (versus the 240 x 240 on Forerunner 945). A bigger screen means more room to view your notifications, maps and training data. You can check out the dimensions and resolution of the S and X variant in the table below.

All watches have excellent water resistance. The Fenix models 10ATM and Forerunner 945 5ATM. Either of the two will suffice for most people.

Battery life is fairly similar at around two weeks although you will get customisable power-management modes with the Fenix 6. Tweak the settings and the watch will show you exactly how much battery life (in hours) the watch has left.

fenix 6 vs forerunner 945 choosing between garmin s top multi sport watches 1 232x300 - Fenix 6 vs Forerunner 945: choosing between Garmin's top multi-sport watches
Garmin Forerunner 945 | Image source: Garmin

Of course, there’s also the Fenix 6 solar variant. It comes with a transparent solar charging lens that sits on top of the watch face. This converts the sun’s rays into energy which provides you with an additional 10-15% (roughly) battery juice.

On to the sensors.

Both the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 feature the latest Garmin ELEVATE heart rate module. They also come with a PulseOX sensor that keeps tabs on your blood oxygen levels and on-demand during the day. Other sensors are the same, as well. So no difference there.

The Fenix 6 (Pro and Sapphire editions) and 5 Plus also come with built-in storage and play controls for music. This has enough room for between 1,000 and 2,000 songs (depending on the model). You will also get all of this on the Forerunner 945. It has enough memory for up to 1,000 songs.

Here’s a table illustrating the design differences between the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945.

Fenix 6 Forerunner 945
Lens material Corning Gorilla Glass 3 or sapphire crystal, Power Glass (Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition) Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
Bezel/case material stainless steel, titanium or diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium  fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap material silicone, leather, titanium or nylon silicone
Physical size 47 x 47 x 14.7 mm (base model); 51 x 51 x 14.9mm (6X); 42 x 42 x 13.8mm (6S) 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
Display type Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Display size 1.3″ (33.02mm) diameter (base model); 1.4″ (35.56mm) diameter (6X); 1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter (6S) 1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter
Display resolution 260 x 260 pixels (base model); 280 x 280 (6x); 240 x 240 pixels (6s) 240 x 240 pixels
Weight 58-93 g (depending on model chosen) 50 g
Battery life (base model) Smartwatch: up to 14 days
GPS: up to 36 hours
Max battery GPS mode: up to 72 hours
Expedition GPS mode: up to 28 days
Battery saver watch mode: up to 48 days
Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours
Battery saver – customisable low power modes Yes  
Water rating 10 ATM 5 ATM
Memory/History 32GB or 64MB (depends on model chosen) 200 hours of activity data
Pulse Ox sensor Yes (with Acclimation) Yes
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®
Plays and controls watch music Yes (Pro and Sapphire editions) Yes
Music Storage up to 2,000 songs (Pro and Sapphire editions), up to 500 songs (Solar edition) Up to 1,000 songs
Garmin Pay Yes Yes

Activity tracking features

Whatever sport you are into, these watches will have you covered. There’s a host of performance and physiological metrics to keep even the biggest data geeks busy. Garmin is the king of sports watches for a reason.

Released only a few months ago, the Forerunner 945 was actually more feature-heavy than the Fenix line up until recently. This all changes now that the Fenix 6 is out, as the two are pretty much on par.

You’ll get the same 18 Firstbeat metrics on all these devices. If you are interested in what they are, here’s the full list: Anaerobic Training Effect, Real-Time Performance Condition, Calories Burned, Training Load, Tgraining Status, Training Load Balance, Workout Labels, Recovery Time Advisor, Quick Stress Level Test, All-day Stress & Recovery, Heat and Altitude Acclimatization, Body Resources, Race Predictor and Respiration Rate.

They also come with Garmin’s new Body Battery function and Incident Detection and Assistance. 

On to the differences, and there aren’t many.

For the first time on a Garmin watch, there’s also something called Dynamic PacePro. Exclusive to the Fenix 6 line, this is “grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity”. It adjusts a runners pace based on terrain – the steeper the grade, the larger the adjustment. PacePro coaches you in real time so you can slow and speed up your run depending on your goal and race plan (which you set ahead of time).

The remaining differences are minor. Here’s the full list.

Fenix 6 Forerunner 945
Gym activity profiles Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing and Yoga
Round-trip course creator Yes (Pro and Sapphire editions) Yes
Trendline Popularity Routing Yes (Pro and Sapphire editions) Yes
Available run profiles Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running Running, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Trail Running
PacePro Pacing Strategies Yes  
Outdoor recreation profiles Trail running, running, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, XC skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing, kayaking, Jumpmaster, tactical Hiking, Climbing, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking
Around Me mode, ClimbPro Ascent Planner, Future elevation plot, Preloaded topographical maps, Downloadable cartography support, XERO Locations Yes (features depend on model) Yes
Cycle Map (routable cycling-specific street map) Yes (Pro and Sapphire editions) Yes

Verdict

The things that work in the favour of the Fenix 6 are mostly to do with design. These are watches built from premium materials so are more durable and look better. They also have a slightly larger screen than the Forerunner 945 which means more room for your data, maps, notifications, etc.

It all comes down to how much money you are willing to spend. If you’re after more bang for your buck, the Forerunner 945 comes with pretty much everything you get on the Fenix 6 model. The sacrifice is the build of the device, which is slightly plasticky.

The watches can be ordered from Garmin’s website. The Fenix 6 comes in a choice between three iterations to suit wrists of all sizes. There’s also the headline grabbing solar option if cost is not an issue. Depending on the model chosen, the watch will set you back anywhere between $600 and $1,150. The Forerunner 945 costs $600. You can check the current prices on Amazon on these links (Fenix 6Forerunner 945).

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