Garmin Fenix 4: Rumors, Features, Price and Release Date
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.
Garmin Fenix 4 Rumored Specs
1. In-built heart rate monitor – Optical vs. Chest Strap
One 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 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
One 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.
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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