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Garmin Fenix 4: Rumors, Features, Price and Release Date
fenix 4

Garmin Fenix 4: Rumors, Features, Price and Release Date

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In March 2015, Garmin released the Fenix 3 to great acclaim and plenty of positive reviews. The company hopes to replicate similar success with the release of Garmin Fenix 4.

Garmin is best known for its wide range of GPS products used in aviation, marine and sports applications. In the sports arena, the Fenix series of smartwatches has dominated the market. Garmin’s trustworthy satellite tracking system (or simply GPS) combined with premium sports training features have made Fenix smartwatches a favorite for sports and outdoor enthusiasts.

Considering all the competition it will be facing from the many wearables that have entered the market, especially from big brands such as Apple and Fitbit, Fenix 4 has a pretty high bar to clear.

From what we know so far, it seem like Fenix 4 will enter with an even bigger bang than its predecessor, Fenix 3. It comes with more features, a bigger variety of styles and sports training features to blow your mind.

Here is what we know so far regarding the specs, price and release date. | Buy Fenix 3 on Amazon

Garmin Fenix 4 Rumored Specs

1. In-built heart rate monitor – Optical vs. Chest Strap

garmin 4 heart rate monitorOne of the most disappoint things about the Fenix 3 was the lack of an inbuilt heart rate monitor. If you wanted to monitor your beats when training, you had to strap on a bulky and really uncomfortable chest device. To be fair to Garmin, they realized their mistake and soon released the Fenix 3 HR at the 2016 CES. It included a wrist-based heart rate monitor built into the watch. The monitor uses optical technology, to detect blood passing through the wrist and determine how quickly the heart is beating.

This however came at a high price tag with the Fenix 3 HR starting at $599. The standard model lacking the heart rate monitor starts at $499.

The Fenix 4 is expected to pick up from where the Fenix 3 HR left off, eschewing the bulky chest strap for a more comfortable (and common sense) in-built heart rate monitor. It might make use of the same optical technology used in Fenix 3 HR.

But considering the imperfections of optical technology in measuring the heart rate, it would not be too big of a surprise if Garmin decided to include a separate chest strap for the Fenix 4, albeit a more comfortable one.

Traditionally, chest straps are the most accurate heart rate monitors. What Garmin could do is offer two iterations of the Fenix 4; one with an optical-based heart rate monitor and another with the more accurate chest strapped monitor. For serious athletes doing intensive training, the chest monitor provides much more accurate readings. For casual outdoor and sports enthusiasts, the inbuilt heart rate monitor should be adequate.

If the Fenix 4 does come with a chest heart rate monitor, it could be an improved version of the HRM-Run strap that was released with the Forerunner 620 in 2013.

It will not only be able to measure your heartbeat, it will also include other metrics such as cadence (steps per minute), vertical oscillation (degree of bounce) and ground contact time. These metrics will be fed into the Fenix 4 watch for a more comprehensive overview of your training performance.

2. ABC sensors – Altimeter, Barometer and Compass

ABC sensors - Altimeter, Barometer and CompassABC stands for three sensors that have been a staple in the Felix lineup of GPS sport watches. The sensors are Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. The altimeter is designed to detect elevation and accurately track ascent and descent. It is beneficial for mountain climbers and other outdoor trainers who might encounter uphill tracks.

The barometer is an in-built weather monitor. It makes short-term weather predictions by monitoring changes in air pressure. For example, a fall in air pressure could indicate the prospect of cloudy skies while high-pressure readings could be an indication of a blue-skied day perfect for outdoor training.

The 3-axis compass ensures that you are always aware of your position whether you are in motion or not. This is important for outdoor adventurists planning to go into remote areas.

Having appeared on every Fenix watch, it is highly likely that the Fenix 4 will feature ABC sensors, albeit more accurate ones. One feature that may not come as a surprise is the inclusion of a temperature sensor. Normally, Garmin sells a separate temperature monitor but this time, they just might include it in the watch, similarly to the Fenix 3, considering that temperature is one of the most important readings for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Improved fitness tracking and metrics (Running Dynamics)

Sports training has always been at the heart of Fenix watches. Garmin has therefore focused on making sure it has the best fitness tracking and metrics of any wearable in the market. Unlike casual fitness wearables like Fitbit, Fenix has always been a device for the serious sports person with powerful fitness tracking features that cannot compare to any other.

Expect even better fitness monitoring performance with the Fenix 4. Whether it comes with the chest strap or not, it is likely that the watch will feature the usual metrics such as ground contact time, cadence, vertical oscillation, stride length, ground contact time balance and vertical ratio.

With rumors that Garmin is testing out a range of new features ahead of Fenix 4’s release, we are expecting it to include several new and more powerful running dynamics. This will allow for better fitness tracking and ultimately, improved training performance.

For serious sports enthusiasts who have been holding out on a good fitness tracking and metrics wearable, this is it. Combined with its powerful GPS capabilities, Fenix 4 might just become the best sports watch in the market. Fenix 3 had our mouths open with admiration; we cannot wait for what Garmin has in store with Fenix 4. One thing we are sure of, it will be mind blowing.

4. Design and style expectations

garmin fenix 4 smartwatchOne of the most common grumbles we have heard regarding Fenix watches is their ultra male look. They are often too rugged and dull to appeal to most women who want a bit of style even out on the track.

Things got a bit better on the design side with the release of Fenix 3. In addition to the standard gray model, Garmin also released a silver watch with red bands. Of course, you could create your own custom look by buying bands that fit your style. But the watch face itself remained too dull.

With Fenix 4, we just might see a bit more variety in style and design. Remember that the smartwatch market is heating up and Garmin has to woo more people into using its Fenix products. A wider range of watch face styles might be one way of appealing to, not just women, but anyone who wants a new style.

Essentially, we expect Garmin to move away from the testosterone-focused designs to a unisex styling. Like with other Fenix watches, there will be a variety of strap styles and colors to choose from.

No more bulk please

Another design aspect that Garmin needs to work on is the size of the watch. Fenix 3 was uncomfortably bulky mostly due to the high-capacity battery that could give you up to 16 hours in GPS mode and 3 months with the GPS turned off. The bulkiness was especially unfriendly to female users considering their smaller sized wrists. It felt like strapping a rock onto your arm.

The trick now will be paring down the watch size without compromising battery life. The rumors are that they might have figured out how to do it. So expect a slimmer but still long lasting Fenix 4.

5. A deviation from a sports-only watch

Apple Watch is expected sometime this year as is Samsung Gear S3 and HTC One Wear. Most of the upcoming smartwatches have plenty of non-sports features. You can receive and read texts, load some apps, pay wirelessly, stream music and so much more.

Garmin faces a danger of these smartwatches eating into its market. More and more people are looking for all-round wearables: they want to track their fitness, pay for coffee and also receive texts and calls. While serious sports enthusiasts may stick with Fenix watches, more casual users may be tempted away to other brands.

With Fenix 3, Garmin recognized this and made a move towards other features. The Fenix 3 smartwatch had smart notifications that alerted you to incoming texts, emails and alerts. You can even read the texts right on the small screen. It also allows you to download apps from the Connect IQ store for use with your watch.

This divergence will become even more enhanced with Fenix 4. It is likely that the watch will come equipped with NFC payments, more apps and increased connectivity options. The result will be a device that you can use on and off the track.

Hopefully, this will keep on-the-fence users from being pulled away by the other big brands. The Connect IQ app store itself is rumored to be awaiting major improvements.

One thing you can expect is a wider range of apps to support the more powerful Fenix 4. Right now, most of the apps are focused on sports and fitness. As Fenix watches diverge from just sports training and fitness tracking, this will change. Watch out for new third party apps for everything from calendar to music to games.

6. A few other things to note

Most of the training aids in previous smartwatches will be retained in Fenix 4. These include Virtual Racer, Virtual Pacer, Virtual Partner and the ability to set locations using a breadcrumb trail. It will be a multi-sport GPS watch for use not just in running but also in swimming and ski boarding.

Another feature that is being borrowed from Fenix 3 is the Chroma screen, which allows you to read alerts and texts even in the glare of sunlight. For the Fenix 4, the Chroma screen will most likely spot more styles and a wider variety of colors.

Expected Price

Fenix Smartwatches have always been on the higher end of the price range. The cheapest Fenix 3 variation starts at $499 with others easily going over the $600 mark. In fact, you can get an Apple watch for a lower price. For ardent Fenix users, the price may not be much of an issue; the product has proven itself again and again to be worth the high price tag.

Friction could set in as Garmin tries to woo in new users. This is why we expect the company to set different price points for the Fenix 4. Fenix 3 had three price points; Fenix 4 might also have the same number.

Considering all the powerful features we are expecting in Fenix 4, it is a good bet that $500 will be the lower price cutoff for the smartwatch. $500 will just be for the standard variation built for the casual adventurer. This may also be the average price of a Fenix 4 without an inbuilt heart rate monitor, if it ever comes to pass. For a more powerful Fenix 4, expect to pay nothing less than $600 and perhaps even over $700.

Whatever price they set, Fenix 4 will still be one of the most expensive smartwatches around and it will be completely worth it.

Expected Release Date

The release of Fenix 4 has been delayed longer than usual and rumors are that the delay might persist beyond 2016. It seems like Garmin is focusing on Fenix 3, trying to get as many sales as possible out of it before splashing in with the next generation Fenix.

Fenix 2 was released in February 2014 followed by Fenix 3 in January 2015. In keeping with this trend, most people expected a release of Fenix 4 in early 2016, most likely at the January CES in Las Vegas. But CES 2016 passed with the biggest news from Garmin being the release of Fenix 3 HR.

Reports suggested a mid-2016 release but that also does not seem likely as the company doubles down on improving Fenix 3 and marketing it aggressively. The most probable time for a Fenix 4 release in early 2017, most likely at the January CES show.

Fenix 3 was in many ways a turning point for Garmin. It was more powerful than any other sports smartwatch they had made and it introduced users to a few non-sports features. So it is understandable that they would want to make sure it cements its place in the market instead of competing it against an even more powerful Fenix 4.

So set your dates (and wallets) for January 2017.

What would you like to see in Fenix 4? Leave your comment below.
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There are 39 comments

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  1. Manu

    I’d Just ask an accurate GPS tracking (At least as accurate as older FRs as the 310XT/405) F3 Accuracy is just crap. I expect a similar design style and hopefully a thinner watch.
    Then, they can add whatever they wish to, but the core features HAVE to work properly from the beggining. (after 1.5 years using it still couldn’t calibrate my external pedometer…)

  2. Lachlan

    I’d like to see slightly better mapping. Doesn’t need to be google maps but give me more than just a line of where I ran.

    I want it to be about half as thick so it feels like wearing a normal watch. I also want it to come in a few different styles so I can fool people into thinking i’m wearing a brand name watch not a fitness watch.

    Varia and varia vision support.

    A quick release kit for the hr model.

  3. Johan

    Sim-card and possibly to download music from Google music/ Spotify to the watch would be nice. Then I can leave my phone at home while running/biking and still listen to music and call for help if I crash badly on my mountain bike.

  4. JangBoo Lee

    A couple corrections to make to the article:

    [About temperature sensor]
    “It is actually a surprise they have not already done this considering that temperature is one of the most important readings for outdoor enthusiasts.”
    > The Fenix 3 already has an in-built thermometer.

    [About release dates]
    “Fenix 2 was released in February 2015 followed by Fenix 3 in January 2015.”
    > I assume this you meant Fenix 2 was Feb 2014, and Fenix 3 was Jan 2015.

    Thanks for your article.
    I do hope for more accurate GPS and optical HR readings, as well as the option to adjust 24/7 HR monitoring sampling frequencies for the Fenix 4. One can hope!


    1) Better phone notifications – it lags about 5 seconds after the notifications appear on the phone and sometimes notifications don’t appear.
    2) Better sleep tracking – sometimes I haven’t sleep but when I check the Connect IQ, it shows that I was already sleeping and need to adjust manually.
    3) Maybe they can add a microphone too.

  6. Alex Dennis

    I would suggest that Garmin need to allow music to be stored on the watch which can then be played wirelessly to Bluetooth earphones. This is the only thing potentially making me wait for the new Apple Watch, as it can already play music and adding gps is the most likely next step for Apple to allow them to effectively move into the sports watch market.
    iPhone has the bulk of the market, so allowing the iwatch to function as well as, if not better than a Garmin will steal a lot of Garmins customers…I would suggest?!?

  7. Alan Campbell

    Maps! I very often use the “follow gps-track” function of my fenix 1. This is much easier with a map below the track, especially in towns or a dense trail network! The epix is not an Option (ugly+bugs+no updates) and full Navigation funktions is probably to much for a watch (could be shifted to an app which works also offline in the wilderness). I am very disappointed that the new Suunto Spartan also Comes without maps. Do the guys at Garmin or Suunto never really use Navigation on their watches?

  8. seiferflo

    Hi, how likely are we to see the Fenix 4 released at the CES 2017?
    I’m just worried it will be for 2018 based on the fact that the Fenix 3 still sells very well. he HR is still pretty new. There is no real competition, I mean even from Suunto at that price point and feature wise, there is nothing. The Chronos just got released.
    It’s just seems unlikely except if we think about Garmin’s sale cycle you mentioned.
    What’s your thoughts on that?

  9. Steve f

    They need to improve the screen contrast.
    The current altimeter is frankly rubbish
    They need to manage lap editing, warm up and cool downs properly. I want to track my runs and cool down separately. As a general level of fitness cool down time is a much better measure than many of their “trendy” stats and you can’t track it.
    With every release of software they seem to change their calculation methodology so comparitive tracking becomes impossible. If I want to compare my step count with 12 months ago I can because the way they calculate steps has changed 3 times.

  10. Jean-Louis Roy

    I would like it to have the highest golf capacity compare to the Garmin high end golf watch: hole preview in colour, distance to obstacles, green preview with slopes, touch screen, etc.

    I will certainly look for it when it comes out, if it’s a good buy


  11. Iliana

    It will be nice to have a reliable( aka very good) indoor and outdoor rowing app. So far this is the only smart/sport watch that supports rowing.

  12. James

    Thanks for the article.

    1) Optical HR to reach new heights
    2) A GPS that I can confidently rely on
    3) A watch that is aesthetically improved

    Nail the core functions and customers will flock. Do so within a package that looks office / evening acceptable and I would buy it in an instant. This is not to suggest that the Fenix 3 is ugly by any stretch, but only that the newest generation cannot afford to step backwards or stay still in this regard, particularly when the price is as high as it will be. Improved sleep tracking would complete my wishlist, but these softer features mustn’t distract from points 1) and 2).

    Throwing in more whistles when the bell can’t be trusted would be a huge disappointment. We’re already swamped by features. I think most people just want the main ones to work better.

  13. Johan

    Nano-Sim and music-storage. Then I can leave my phone at home.
    And… scratch-proof glas should be obligatory for a outdoor-action-watch! (Not something that only exist in a special saphire-edition!)

  14. Cihan


    1- 24/7 HR MONITORING for an accurate ‘daily burned calories’ calculation. Fitbit Surge is the only smart sportwatch in the market that is capable of tracking your HR 24/7, continuously. Not taking samples in periods during the day. It track it every second, all day long. That is the only and the best way to see how much calories you’ve burned during the day.

    2 – A TOUCHSCREEN. It is almost 2017 c’mon! If Garmin developers worry about touch screen difficulties (like problems when using gloves or when wet) they should add the touchscreen as an extra to the buttons.

    3- A BETTER SCREEN CONTRAST. Fenix 3 screen seems like a vintage digital Casio watch comparing with the new 2017 Apple Watch screen.

    4- An ACCURATE SLEEP TRACKER. Sometimes when I sit still and reading a book I see that Fenix 3 recognizes it as a nap. I’ve used Fitbit Surge and it has WAY much better sleep tracking.

    5- More ACCURATE GPS TRACKER. Not much left to say about GPS tracking of Fenix 3 after those comments above.

  15. Erik

    Tried out the new Suunto which is pretty obvious next step for sport watches. The very plastic finish and low screen quality make them loose to the big bunch of one-day-battery smarties. To do better f4 must haev crystal bright screen (dual with low power always on watch-screen) and strong build.

  16. schnad

    Smaller wrist footprint. Even at 5’8″ (tall for a woman), it is literally too big for my wrist. And when they make the special colours/models for women, please include a titanium option. Garmin almost always sells only the cheaper models to women.

  17. As The Crow Flies

    The Fenix 3 never had a true as the ‘Crow Flies’ direction indicator. I spent hours with the Garmin Engineers before they had to admit their watch didn’t have that one simple feature. Many people will argue with this so let me explain…

    1)What I’d like to do is stand in a location and input a way point. 2)Later that day I’d like enter a mode that allows a ‘large’ ‘Bright’ direction indicator to lead me straight back to my way point in a straight line – hence ‘as the crow flies.’ I don’t want the watch to interact with it’s maps and get me back to the way point using paths and roads.

    Although it is argued the the Fenix 3 can do this, the unfortunate fact was that once you loaded the watch with maps the direction arrow would stop pointing at the pre stored way point and try and take me back to the way point using the maps. There was no way of preventing this from happening, other than uninstalling the maps.

    I skydive so I need a mode with a ‘Large’ and ‘BRIGHT” direction indicator. I need it to point in the direction of the way point I made earlier. This way when in thick cloud I know which way to head. What I do not want is for my direction arrow to suddenly point 90’ of course simply because I have flown over a road or a path and the Fenix 3 now wants to use it’s map feature to navigate me via roads and paths back to the way point. Ironically when crossing fields with no paths or roads the Fenix 3 guided me back on target fine.

    Please do not suggest the Garmin watch with Jumpmaster mode – few people in the skydiving community civilian or military require its strange features. Not even those that do HAHO of HALO. Very possibly a ballon pilots might like to spend hours inputting heights and wind strengths and directions but there are way better tools on the market for the balloon community.

    Please please could Garmin listen and create a simple as the “CROW FLIES MODE” with a “LARGE” easy to see direction arrow thats “BRIGHT” enough to see is strong sunlight.

    Until achieve this the skydive community will carry on using Suunto. Think about it….skydivers are one of the few sports where most participants have the money to buy watches like this.

    • Teddy

      Did you know that you can recommend ideas to Garmin directly on their website. Send them this info and maybe they will add the feature. There not going to pay you though lol. I just pitched some ideas to them for the Fenix 4.

  18. Speedy_one50

    Fenix 1 have the in-built temperature sensor, you can add a external sensor.

    Optical heart rate is good… But! In Hard conditions, with gloves, parka, long sleev… You need to put The fenix over the clothes.

  19. Ravi Eknath

    I think they should introduce OLED screen which will save battery and be able to introduce HD screens. They can also work on solar charging for near future. This two features with accurate HR monitor will rule the future.

  20. Anonymus

    The Fenix 3 is awesome. I don’t need nothing extra hardware component: no microphone, no SIM card, no alien hunter laser. The possibility of displaying a custom piece of graphical map is very good idea, using OSM map or something like that. More durable screen glass, some anti scratching surface. I don’t like the sticking protections. The plastic band is very cool, the best for me because always dry and comfortable, durable, but after a year you can replace because cracking. Other bands are not cool for heavy sport. The metal band is dangerous for escalade and you can stuck in winter when you wear outside the cloth (wet hand will stuck), the leather dry slowly, also the textile one and easily become smelly if you don’t wash every time.

  21. Colleen Foss

    My husband bought a fenix 3Hr sapphire and is testing it right now to see if he likes it . I wanted to buy one as well however my wrists are extremely small . I loved the look of the rose gold sapphire watch however it did not have HR and was to large for my wrists.
    I’m a very active person I run ,hike ,swim and speed walk . I’m in the market for a good looking watch one that I could wear all day at the office and for any activities I plan on doing . I love keeping track of my steps and other regular daily activities on my fit bit I’m currently using however it is not water proof ,does not help with hiking and I have to charge it every other day . Being a women going on a hike alone I really would love a lot of the hiking features you have on your fenix 3 . I found information on the Sumsung gear S3 however I will wait to buy anything till after viewing the Fenix 4.
    I’m glad I found this information out about your Fenix 4 . I told my husband I will wait to view the Fenix 4 in 2017.
    Thank you for your up coming changes .

  22. christoph

    The watch should keep calendar entries stored when the phone is not connected. I don’t want to carry the phone with me all the time.

    Less bulk and weight would be nice, it is too uncomfortable to wear for long, bumpy downhills with my bike.

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