Garmin Fenix 6 gets a huge firmware update, including some surprises

Garmin Fenix 6
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin has released a hefty firmware update for the Garmin Fenix 6, which adds a host of new sports tracking profiles, and improved fitness tracking algorithms.

Today (January 18) Garmin released the long-awaited Garmin Fenix 7, complete with a new touchscreen and updated training tools, but if you've been thinking about investing in a high-end sports watch, this update might be enough to make you settle for the older model.

Earlier this month, Garmin revealed that gravel cycling was experiencing a boom in popularity, so it's perhaps no surprise that the Fenix 6 has received bundle of new cycling profiles that reflect just how diverse the sport really is. These include not just gravel cycling, but also bike commute, road bike, bike tour, and Cyclocross.

There are new e-bike and e-MTB profiles too. We've yet to test these, but it seems likely that they'll work in a similar way to Apple's improved e-bike profile, which arrived with the Apple Watch 7 last year. This tracks distance travelled and heart rate, and comparing this with your established baseline fitness level to work out how much power you were exerting yourself, and how much was contributed by the bike's motor.

Garmin has also added new profiles specifically for tracking high-intensity interval training and tennis, as well as some more esoteric options like snowshoeing, padel, and pickleball

Alerts and refinements

The update, first spotted by TizenHelp, also makes improvements to the watch's lactate threshold and altitude acclimation algorithms, plus some handy alerts like a warning if the watch's battery runs low while music is syncing, or there's too much movement while the watch is taking an SpO2 measurement.

This isn't likely to be the last update for the Fenix 6, either. Garmin has a long history of keeping its watches up to date with fresh firmware launches many years after launch, so even more refinements and new tracking profiles may arrive in the months to come.

Opinion: to wait, or not to wait?

The Garmin Fenix 7 may arrive later in 2022, and it's always tempting to hold out for the most advanced tech, but as this new firmware update shows, opting for a slightly older model doesn't necessarily mean you're missing out.

As we've already mentioned, Garmin isn't stingy with its firmware updates, and even watches that were released several years ago regularly benefit from improved fitness tracking tools and new features.

Even before this latest upgrade, the Fenix 6 has stood the test of time particularly well. Its advanced training tools that let you assess your current training load, effect, and trends, plus downloadable maps and breadcrumb navigation, mean it's still one of the most capable running watches on the market.

There's also the matter of price. We don't yet have a release date or price for the Garmin Fenix 7, but the Fenix 6 sold for £529.99 / $599.99 / AU$949 for the base model, so the new watch is likely to cost at least that much – if not more.

Right now, you can pick up the Fenix 6 for $399 in the US, £379.08 in the UK, or $498.85 in Australia (if you opt for the smaller 6S model).

It's very much a personal choice, but the older Garmin watch is looking increasingly tempting to us.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)