Garmin Fenix 6 vs. Forerunner 945: How They Compare

When you’re looking to buy a Garmin watch, the Forerunner and Fenix lines can be tough to choose between. They both have so many features and are top-selling watch lines! In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for in a watch.

Here’s a breakdown of the main differences between the Garmin Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6 models.

Garmin Forerunner 945: Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Lightest of the two (generally appeals to runners and triathletes)
  • Cheaper than Fenix 6, yet very few features missing

CONS

  • No solar or sapphire glass option
  • Sometimes gets new features and software upgrades later compared to Fenix 6

Garmin Fenix 6: Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Choice of sizes and premium materials
  • Power Manager makes it easy and intuitive to choose battery-saving settings.

CONS

  • No touchscreen (unlike the Fenix 7)
  • Power Manager makes it easy and intuitive to choose battery-saving settings.

Your might also want to read our face-off between Forerunner 945 vs Vivoactive 4 here. 

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Health Sensors

The Garmin Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6 are loaded with health sensors; fortunately, if you describe one, you’re describing the other.

The Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 watches have tracking features to help you monitor your health no matter where you are.  Let’s define the list of health-related stats the Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6 have in common.

  • Constant wrist-based heart rate 
    You don’t have to fiddle with a separate heart rate strap to get an accurate reading.
  • Daily resting heart rate
    his is an excellent metric to see how your fitness is improving (or not) over time.
  • Abnormal heart rate alerts
    If your watch notices your heart rate is unusually high or low, it will shoot you a notification, eg. if you are “at rest” for 10 minutes or more and your heart rate stays above your threshold.
  • All-day stress
    uses your heart rate variability to gauge your stress levels and gives you a daily “stress score.”
  • Relaxation breathing timer
    Once you’re aware of your stress levels, this timer can guide you through some deep breathing exercises to help you calm down.
  • Relaxation reminders
    If your stress levels are consistently high, the watch will remind you to take some time to relax. These notifications can be triggered when the watch notices unusually high stress levels.
  • Advanced sleep
    breaks down your light, deep, and REM sleep stages so you can see how well (or not) you’re sleeping. More on Advanced Sleep Monitoring later.
  • Sleep score and insights
    Based on your sleep data, you’ll get a score out of 100 and some tips on improving your sleep.
  • Hydration
    a hydration tracking widget that lets you log how much water you drink throughout the day.
  • Women’s health
    for tracking for your menstrual cycle.
Garmin Forerunner 945 Photos
Garmin Forerunner 945

Fenix 6 vs. Forerunner 945: Fitness Sensors

Like the health sensors, the fitness sensors are comparable between the Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6. What tends to happen is that unique features of one watch eventually get rolled out to the other whatch. One example is PacePro which was initially available on the Fenix 6 only but got rolled-out on the Forerunner 945 a few years ago.

Both models offer the same high performance and core features that you would expect from a Garmin product. In addition, both watch lines offer the new Elevate heart rate monitor and take advantage of the accelerometer to track indoor activities. Swimmers will appreciate the wrist-based heart rate readings and swim metrics (laps, distance, pace, stroke type, etc.)

Both watches have the following fitness features:

  • 24/7 respiration rate – determines oxygen demand which is then coded into your Heart Rate Variability and other heartbeat data like Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia.
  • Pulse Ox blood oxygen saturation – helps monitor your recovery, sleep, and high-altitude training.
  • Fitness age – interprets your VO2 Max scores concerning your age and makes it relatable by using your body stats such as BMI, resting heart rate, or body fat %.
  • Body Battery energy monitor – a system that tracks your energy levels to find the best time for activity.
  • Garmin Coach – a free digital running coach. These plans, designed by experienced coaches, will help you train for and successfully complete a 5K, 10K, or half marathon, whether you’re a beginner or already have some experience.
  • Outdoors: Outdoor athletes also get a heaping dose of outdoor data using the devices’ thermometer and compass; if you’re training in higher altitudes, the altitude acclimation insights will come in handy.
  • Multi-sports: Multi-sport athletes can track their sports in real-time with the performance widget.


Forerunner 945 Deals on Amazon


As for differences, the Fenix 6 suits amateur trainers and professional athletes with its feature-focused design on outdoor sports and training. 

The Forerunner 945 is an excellent triathlon watch. The exciting aspect is the number of sensors that may be linked to it and the degree of detail you can get from your training sessions. Heart-rate chest straps and power meters for cycling are two examples of this.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Maps

Both the Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6 Pro models have exceptional topographical maps and navigation features. Whilst there are a few extra features on the Fenix 6 Pro, those will be minor additions for the average person.

So what’s common to both?

Both models come pre-loaded with topographical maps, road and trail maps, ski resort maps and 42,000 golf courses worldwide. Both watches are compatible with the Tides app in Garmin Connect and let you access valuable features like ‘Point-to-Point Navigation’, ‘Back to the Start’ and ‘TrackBack’. 

You can create routes in Garmin Connect or other compatible third-party applications and upload them to either watch. You’re able to search for places of interest (eg. food or a gas station) and get directions to the selected place. You can follow breadcrumb trails, save a location (eg. a trail’s parking lot) and ask to navigate back to those coordinates later on.

Now what are the extra features on Fenix 6 Pro vs Forerunner 945?

Topo map on Garmin Fenix 6
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro topographic map

The Fenix has map themes available to help make your data more specific to the activity you’re doing. Its maps have richer details, mainly due to its larger screen size relative to F945, which provides clearer pixels and a wider screen view. The Fenix 6 has a Reference Point feature that comes in handy to calculate distances, and a Sight ‘N Go feature that guides you to a position you set by pointing your watch towards it (useful if you want to go to a point of interest but will lose sight of it on your way there).

Remember that to use mapping on the Fenix 6, you must purchase a Pro model.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Workout Modes

Both watches will monitor a wide range of workouts: cardio, strength, pilates, yoga, running, golfing, cycling, hiking, etc.  If you like kayaking or snowboarding, the watches also have profiles and metrics specifically tailored for each of those activities.

You will get a few extra activity modes on the Fenix compared to the Forerunner, such as Jumpmaster (skydiving), Adventure Race and Boat. 

Both the Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6 are specialized running watches and have enhanced metrics like Running Dynamics, Training Status, and Intensity Minutes. They will measure factors that relate to your running, including cadence, length of your strides and ground contact time.

Both these watches are comprehensive for planning, training, or data analysis centered around a particular goal, monitoring everything from respiration to heart rate. In addition, both watches have downloadable training plans and suggest rest times after your workouts to help you get in top shape. The Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 use Physio TrueUp, which syncs information like recovery ad VO2 Max between compatible devices.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Water Resistance

The Forerunner is water-resistant up to 5ATM, making it great for swimming, surfing, or snorkeling. It shouldn’t be a problem if you’re worried about the snow getting on it or showering with it.

The Fenix 6, with its outdoor profile, fairs better with a 10ATM capable of the same feats in water as the Forerunner 945 and more; individuals participating in high-speed water sports or diving into water shouldn’t fret about their watch’s capabilities. 

Garmin Watch water resistance
Both Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 have a pool swim and an open water mode. They’re also great triathlon watches (the Foreunner 945 is often the favourite due to its light weight).

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Battery Life

While the Forerunner is no pushover, the Fenix 6 and its variants give the users more flexibility over battery life, allowing it to come out on top. But fortunately, no matter which model you choose, you’ll get a highly competitive battery life whether in smartwatch mode, using GPS and music, or simply using GPS.

For starters, the Forerunner 945 boasts a two-week timeframe in smartwatch mode, 10 hours while using GPS and music, and approximately 36 hours using GPS.

Fenix 6 is on par with Forerunner 945: you get a smartwatch that lasts up to 14 days, 10 hours of GPS and tunes, and 36 hours just using GPS.

Garmin Fenix 6 Battery Life (without solar upgrade)

Fenix 6SFenix 6Fenix 6X
In smartwatch mode, with activity trackingup to 9 daysup to 14 daysup to 21 days
With GPS onup to 25 hoursup to 36 hoursup to 60 hours
With GPS and musicup to 6 hoursup to 10 hoursup to 15 hours
With GPS on (expedition mode)up to 20 daysup to 28 daysup to 46 days

Garmin Forerunner 945 Battery Life

Forerunner 945
Smartwatch mode with activity trackingup to 14 days
With GPS onup to 36 hours
With GPS and musicup to 10 hours
UltraTrac mode GPS, no heart-rate trackingup to 60 hours

With the Fenix 6 variations, you’ll either get a slightly inferior or a well superior offering:

  • By choosing the Fenix 6S, you’re getting a smartwatch that lasts up to 9 days on a single charge and up to 6 hours of GPS and music playback or 25 hours in GPS-only mode.
  • With the Fenix 6X, you can get up to 21 days as a smartwatch, 15 hours with GPS and playback, and 60 hours with GPS.
  • The Solar 6X lets users push that battery even further.

Garmin Fenix 6 Battery Life (solar models)

With use in 50,000 lux conditions, the solar models will last longer between charges. You can track your Garmin’s sunlight exposure in the Garmin solar chart widget.

Fenix 6SFenix 6Fenix 6X
In smartwatch mode, with activity trackingup to 10.5 daysup to 16 daysup to 24 days
With GPS onup to 28 hoursup to 40 hoursup to 66 hours
With GPS and musicup to 6 hoursup to 10 hoursup to 16 hours
With GPS on (expedition mode)up to 26 daysup to 36 daysup to 56 days


Fenix 6 Solar Deals on Amazon

The battery-centric features are one of the places that the Fenix 6 truly shines as they bring out the fitness watch’s total capacity. Below is a list of additional features not included in the Forerunner:

  • Power Manager
    Allows users to enable a Battery Saver Mode that sets the watch into low power mode disabling battery draining features. With this feature, most Fenix models can get anywhere from 40 to 80 days.
  • Jacket Mode
    Disables on-wrist heart rate monitoring to allow up to 40 hours of GPS tracking.
  • Expedition Mode
    Allows the Fenix to go 28 days without charging for long trips away from an outlet.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Sleep Tracking

The Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6 use their optical heart rate sensors to accurately track sleep, and incorporate altitude acclimation and pulse oximetry into their sleep tracking analysis (pulse oximetry is a method of measuring blood oxygen saturation levels). It is helpful for those who live at high altitudes or athletes who want to check their recovery rate. 

To get an accurate sleep tracking representation, you’ll need to enable the sleep tracking feature in the Garmin Connect app and wear the watch to bed. It’s advised that users charge their Garmin sports watches to at least 80% capacity before tracking regular sleep hours.

Both watches track your sleep cycle and record your entire night’s sleep into the Connect app into an organized summary showing all data from the night before. The summary will break down how long you slept, the duration, how long you stayed in each cycle of sleep, and the time you were awake.

You’ll be given a sleep score, which assesses the quality of your sleep and is determined based on your heart rate variability during the night. You’ll also be given tips related to specific sleep events. For instance, the watch could say that your sleep was affected from the previous day and coach you on how to improve.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Looks and Robustness

Let’s look at the distinct appearances of the Garmin 945 vs Fenix 6. The Garmin Forerunner 945 has a simple look with Corning Gorilla Glass and a fiber-reinforced polymer on the sides and top of the watch for protection. On the other hand, Fenix 6 has a bit more of a premium look. It also comes with a more robust screen option made of Fenix Sapphire glass, and the choice of stainless steel and titanium cases in Pro models.

The issue with the Forerunner 945 is that it is only available in 47mm size, making it oversized for people with tiny wrists.  In comparison, Fenix 6 comes in 3 different sizes: 42mm, 47 mm, and 51mm. 

But, the Forerunner 945 weighs approximately 50g. In contrast, the Fenix 6 models weigh 83g, making the former feel more natural on the wrist.

In terms of design, the Fenix 6 has the edge over the Forerunner 945, but it’s also heavier, unfortunately.

Garmin Fenix vs Forerunner: Screen

Fenix 6 models have a better display than Forerunner 945 unless you opt for the smaller Fenix 6S model, which is on par with Forerunner 945.

With Fenix, the larger the screen is the better the display will be, so Fenix 6X has better resolution than Fenix 6 for instance.

The Fenix 6S and Forerunner 945 have the same display size and resolution. There is no difference either if you opt for the Forerunner 945 LTE model. 

Garmin Fenix 6 Display Specifications

Fenix 6Fenix 6XFenix 6S
Resolution260-pixels280-pixels240-pixels
Color DisplayYesYesYes
Screen Size1.3 inches diameter (32.02mm)1.4 inches diameter (35.56 mm)1.2 inches diameter (30.4 mm)

Garmin Forerunner 945 Display Specifications

Forerunner 945Forerunner 945 LTE
Resolution240-pixels240-pixels
Color DisplayYesYes
Screen Size1.2 inches diameter (30.4 mm)1.2 inches diameter (30.4 mm)

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6:
Storage Capacity

The Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6 have different storage capacities. The Forerunner has a capacity of 16GB, while the Fenix 6 has a capacity of 32GB. Therefore, the Fenix is better if you like to listen to music while working out. Music storage is better on the Fenix 6 Pro with 2,000 songs. The Forerunner 945 can store up to 1,000 songs. 

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Mobile App

The Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6 use the Garmin Connect app to store and analyze the collected data. The mobile app is compatible with Android and Apple iOS operating systems.

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Smart Features

Since Garmin users are generally more outdoor and activity-oriented, the smartwatch features are a bit more basic than those of an Apple or Galaxy Watch. You can use your watch to answer/reject phone calls, read texts, and get notifications from your favorite apps. Both watches offer payment services such as contactless payments with Garmin Pay and support for LTE connectivity.

With the Fenix 6, you need to be aware that unless you opt-in for the Pro features, you’ll miss out on a few smart features, such as WiFi, the ability to store music on the watch and maps for navigation.

Forerunner 945 LiveTrack Feature
The Live Track feature on Forerunner 945 lets you share your live location with family and friends (also available on Fenix 6)

Forerunner 945 vs. Fenix 6: Cost

The Forerunner 945 is priced similarly to the Garmin Fenix 6 and 6S. However the Pro models of Fenix 6 come at a higher price point consistent with their value.

[amazon table=”6092″]

The Fenix 6 is Better Than Forerunner 945 For…

If you need more ruggedness, more music storage, access to premium materials, and do not want to miss out on any of the extra navigation features, the Fenix 6 is better.

While its counterpart is for general fitness activities, the Fenix 6 gives you the freedom to do more with a focus on outdoor activities. The Fenix is great for outdoor adventures, such as hiking, climbing, skiing, trail running, watersports, long-term expeditions, or mountain biking. 

In short, the Fenix 6 may be better for those who like more outdoorsy or extreme sports, military personnel and overall sports enthusiasts.

The Forerunner 945 is Better Than Fenix 6 For…

If you’re looking for a watch to track your running, swimming, and cycling workouts and help you navigate, then the Forerunner is a great option. The Forerunner is better for amateur or intermediate athletes needing detailed workout tracking and analysis. If you don’t care about greater music storage or the other outdoor activities that Fenix supports, then you should save some money and go with the Forerunner.

The Forerunner is also a good choice for those who want a lighter watch (which is often the case for runners and swimmers).

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