Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
Is a $2000 activity-tracker the best smart watch?
- Monitors absolutely everything
- One week battery life
- Looks great
Garmin provides form and function with this very powerful and stylish, does it all fitness tracker-based smartwatch. It's very expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Price$ 2,000.00 (AUD)
We won’t lie, we didn’t like the Fenix Chronos when we first tried it on. Despite the snug fit, pressing the function buttons at the side kept pulling hair out of our arm and we kept forgetting which button did what – watches with their buttons is the one area we expect to have to read the manual to work out what’s going on. On top of that the low-contrast screen seemed hard to look at and we wondered how long it would be before we could stop wearing it. Boy were we wrong.
The Fenix Chronos is Garmin’s top-end, luxury, fitness-tracking smartwatch designed for corporate types who take their business as seriously as their workouts. It’s available in steel with a steel strap (186g), titanium (112g) plus steel with a leather band (94g). All have the same 30mm display while the watch itself measures a masculine 49mm.
Design and Features
Our review model was the top-end titanium model which sported a link wristband where the links were held together with a toughened rubber on the inside. This meant that it would securely stay in one place on your wrist without strangling your circulation, limiting wrist movement or looking cheap. The rippled-design of the rubber meant that it didn’t make our wrist sweat and cause irritation as with other sports bands. It’s a very good design and means that the heart-rate monitor at the base was consistently able to produce accurate readings, even under heavy motion.
Indeed without looking at the screen the whole watch does look like it belongs in the c-suite. The five buttons turn out to be useful and intuitive. The top left is always the light. The two below it are up and down, on the top right is select and below that is back. Too easy.
The (sapphire crystal) scratch-resistant screen itself is a low rent-looking LCD. But the contrast is enough to still easily see it in bright light and a quick press of the light button illuminates everything very well.
There’s no touch screen but we didn't miss it. Touchscreens can go badly wrong in sweaty/rainy/damp/swimming pool environments so having big buttons on the side actually proved more useful.
The number of features, sensors and monitors that are built in is mind boggling and they are used to measure, well, everything.
There’s GPS, compass, accelerometer, barometer, altimeter and a heart-rate monitor. These record everything from steps taken to tracking a route of a run or a hike, swimming strokes, stairs climbed and descended, golf rounds and your sleep.
When Bluetooth paired with the Garmin Connect app on the smartphone, it will also display basic notifications alarms and the weather.
The notifications are basic and there’s not much potential to interact with them – this is no Apple Watch and there isn’t an app store to add games and other features. But this is where the Fenix Chronos also proves attractive – there’s still no killer app for the Apple Watch whereas Garmin’s device knows exactly what it is and who it's for… it does fitness better than anything else, it has a few useful notifications and it looks good too. Compare this to Android-based Smart Watches: we still don’t see a reason to buy those.
There’s vibration alert and the ability to Find My Phone. Full specs can be viewed here.
This is the killer feature. Usually smartwatches need to be charged every day – two if you’re lucky. This puts them in a very-high maintenance bracket that gets very old very fast. The Fenix Chronos lasts for a full week – a bit less if you’re constantly using the GPS, but it’s solidly about a week which includes constant, accurate heart rate monitoring. This means that sleep can be constantly tracked and all measurements, including heart rate, run 24/7. The hassle level for charging is completely nullified and enhanced further by the watch taking less than an hour to fully charge. The charging clip is one of the best methods we’ve used and you can watch the charged-percentage points go up quickly – knowing it will take a good while for them to come back down again. As such there’s no problem taking it off and charging when you’re at your desk for a while (you only need to remember once a week) and if you have let it run low before a half-marathon, it won’t take long to be ready again.
Garmin rates battery life during activity at 25-hours in ‘Ultratrac’ mode and 13 hours when full GPS tracking.Read more: MyFitnessPal review: The best calorie calculator app
Ultimately, this feature sets it above most other smartwatches and is the one that made us keep coming back to it.
Next Support apps, Missing Features and Conclusion
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Android Wear 2.0 finally arrives on Huawei Watch as slow rollout continues
- Leaked Fitbit photos show new devices in need of a redesign
- Huawei rolls out its Android Wear 2.0 watch in the U.S. with an eye on fitness, Android Pay
- ZTE's first Android smartwatch is here
- Surprise! Your first-gen Huawei Watch might get Android Pay after all
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCWintel Support EngineerVIC
- FTProduct Manager (IT Clinical Systems) - Permanent - Syd, Melb or BrisbNSW
- FTIT Systems EngineerTAS
- FTNodeJS and AngularJS DeveloperQLD
- FTDigital ProducerNSW
- FTBusiness Development ManagerNSW
- TPDelivery Coordinator - ProjectsQLD
- CCSenior Network Architect - CCIEVIC
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTAgile CoachNSW
- CCXML DeveloperVIC
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTProject Manager Large ICT Enabled Business Change ProjectQLD
- FTApplication Support SpecialistQLD
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCImplementation Manager/PlannerNSW
- TPUAT CoordinatorQLD
- FTSenior DBANSW
- FTIT Security ConsultantNSW
- FTChange LeadQLD
- TPImplementation Planner | P90 |$1300/dayQLD
- FTProject Manager or Coordinator - Retail Store ProjectsNSW
- CCTesting Manager - Energy sectorVIC
- CCSoftware & Applications Programmer/DeveloperACT