There are absolutely a lot of Garmin fenix 3 HR review related posts already published on the internet, but we promise you that this one is totally different. Garmin’s fenix line of smartwatches have always been known for high-quality right from time. The Germin fenix 3 was loaded with mouth-watering features which made it a multipurpose activity tracker, offering its users as much feedback as possible – from burned calories, recovery periods and smart notifications rest, an oxygen usage monitor, steps taken to GPS, and distance traveled — this was a flexible sport activity monitor which appealed to both runners and sports fanatics alike.
Interestingly, Garmin maintained all of its amazing features of the flexible 3rd edition and introduced a key feature to the Garmin fenix 3 HR: an in-built optical heart rate monitor. Making use of Elevate wrist heart rate technology – this wonderful feature lets the runner or exercise fanatic monitor their heart rate without the need for a chest band. Furthermore, the in-built heart rate monitor equally offers more correct information regarding burned calories and more specific metrics of your overall fitness undertakings.
Runners will definitely find this latest feature a fantastic tool for measuring biomechanical performance like vertical oscillation and ratio, stride length, ground contact time and balance, and cadence. The latest software added in the Garmin fenix 3 HR, Training Status, helps to properly calculate and tack your style of training and intensity and offers a seven days training course which will help to match your overall goals and workout style and enhance your performance.
Moreover, the fenix HR is a multi-sport activity tracker just like the 3rd edition, except that it now has an in-built heart rate monitor, of which the recorded metrics are both specific and produce a more in-depth performance analysis. Additionally, with this latest feature, the fenix 3 HR is not only a better fitness tracker than its forerunner, but thanks to its software upgrades which now provides runners with in-built trainer that seeks to perfect your overall workout schedule and performance based on your personal goals and running style.
- What Differentiates the Garmin Fenix 3 HR from Similar Watches?
- Garmin Fenix 3 HR Review | Design and Function
- Here’s a short video review of the Garmin fenix 3 HR:
What Differentiates the Garmin Fenix 3 HR from Similar Watches?
Garmin Fenix 3 HR Review | Design and Function
The fenix 3 HR still have the exact feel and look of other fenix models: It has a bold, robust, masculine, and outdoor action watch case, as well as a rugged yet sophisticated silicone bracelet that’s enough to be worn with a dinner jacket or business suit. Garmin’s Sapphire lens protects the round 218 × 218 pixel transflective color display – and is enclosed by 5 buttons: two on the right and three on the left. It has a water-resistant case to 10 ATM or 100 meters.
Furthermore, while on the wrist, this innovative watch has no different look than a normal fenix 3. However, the difference becomes obvious immediately you turn it over. For example, the watch’s back has Garmin’s Elevate technology (an optical heart rate monitor which records and logs your heart rate 24-hours per day). Moreover, on the middle of the timepiece is located the optical sensor with 3 lights that glows green when it’s searching for a heartbeat.
With the Garmin fenix 3 HR’s widespread of features, it’s almost overwhelming to make a list of all the things it can do. Apart from telling you the time, date, and day, and showing sunrise and sunset times, it equally has a bunch of sensors such as thermometer, GPS, electronic compass, barometric altimeter, heart rate monitor, barometer, and an accelerometer. It equally tracks and logs daily quantified life metrics including steps taken, burned calories, sleep quality, and stairs climbed. It’s just like having a fitness science data center right on your wrist.
That’s not all, the fenix 3 HR also comes equipped with Garmin’s newest fenix 3 software upgrade, which in addition to dedicated legacy functions for hiking, swimming, running, open water swimming, cycling, and triathlons now have data capture settings explicitly built for snowboarding/skiing, standup paddling, golf, and rowing. The latest golf feature lets players download course data offering them real time distances to the front, back, and center of the green.
Interestingly, as a smartwatch, the fenix 3 HR is equally well fortified. When paired with a compatible Android or iOS phone and Garmin’s free Connect software, the timepiece can deliver all sorts of smart notifications such news headlines, emails, calendar alerts, texts, and so on. Additionally, access to Garmin’s Connect IQ app environment allows you to further customize the wristwatch with watch faces, downloadable tracking options, and other dedicated apps.
In a nutshell, if the Garmin Fenix 3 HR was standard problem for the military we wouldn’t be astonished – it’s indeed rugged. Solid build, visible screws and metallic finishes. But apart from this, the watch is still somehow an incredibly attractive GPS watch.
It’s the type of watch you can wear for your day to day affairs with pride as it bestrides the line between large and geeky, nearly-poser-level watch. The only problem is that you will have a hard time keeping it tucked inside a sleeve shirt, so you need to make sure you are ready to show it off before you wear it to a date.
But the inclusion of GPS to the new Apple Watch Series 2 could get some die-hard Apple lovers splashing out on its design, even though the Apple model is still missing a lot of other smarts metrics and sensors compared to this beast.
However, one thing you won’t really worry about with this watch is comfort. This is excellent for when you’re training because the somewhat stretchy silicone band fits fantastically. This means that you will get the perfect position on your wrist to enable the heart rate monitor to work efficiently, without being very tight to the extent that you have to amputate your hand on getting home.
That being said, it is a bit weighty as I said before. If you’re planning to run a marathon, it may even be an influence for carrying additional weight. But for the sports which it’s meant for, like skiing, paddle-boarding, and hiking, it’s totally fine.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray
Performance and Usage
There’s basically no difference between setting up the Garmin fenix 3 HR smartwatch and any other paired fitness device. Once you’ve downloaded the Garmin Connect software (which if free) to a compatible Android or iOS smartphone, the next thing is to create an account, then answer some personal metrics questions, and finally pair the device to your smartphone through Bluetooth.
We’ve always monitored the fenix line of smartwatches since Garmin launched it the first time, so each time Garmin introduces a new feature we’re always keen to check it. 24/7 rate monitoring is an amazing inclusion to an already superb sports watch. We mostly use the device to track resting heart rate and also for momentary checks all through the day, which is simpler than most of its competitors as its regular running-checking your pulse is just a button-press away.
After putting on the watch for about a month or so, and wearing it for hiking activities and mountain-bike rides, we noticed that while the optical heart rate monitor of Garmin functions well at work, during light hiking, or even while walking, it finds it difficult during serious sporting activities such as mountain biking or trail running. Also, by testing against a heart rate chest band, we discovered that the wristwatch under-reported our rate regularly while carrying out any exercise that require us to shake our arms around.
Furthermore, the wrist sensor also had other weaknesses. It sticks out from the back of the wristwatch, although this does not hurt or become bothersome in anyway, but it wouldn’t be proper to say that it wasn’t noticed. We could feel the bump whenever we strengthen the timepiece on our wrist. The other drawback with most (if not all) optical heart rate monitors is that the sensor light can be quite bright at night, which could really disturb your sleep.
It shines green and when the watch is occasionally close to your face, it can be dazzling enough to be disturbing and distracting. In such instances, we just remove the watch and put it close to the bed. Yes, that will consequently result in losing track of our heart rate, but you must understand that falling asleep is way more vital sometimes.
Aside from that, we equally found the built in Move Alert challenging. The idea behind it is pretty simple. When you’ve sat down for too long, the watch will be vibrated by the Move alert showing the word “move” on the screen. This reminds you that it’s time to stand up and walk around. This can be an awesome reminder in an office setting for you to get moving and keep your brain awake and active.
Interestingly, the watch will vibrate again after walking around a while and the move bar will reset. However, in our own case, the move alarm always vibrates even when we’ve been in motion for a sometime.
Good enough, apart from these few flaws, the rest of the watch features worked faultlessly. Interestingly, you no longer have to wait a minute or two for the fenix to find GPS satellites. Once you’re set to start hiking, it would be equally set to go within seconds.
On the watch, the bread crumb trail shows you the route of a hike from above using an arrow at your present location. You can also adjust the view from a height of 50-feet above all the way out to 300-miles – this makes it effortless to look down on a hike and see the places you’ve visited and the places you still need to go.
However, if you don’t find the bread crumb helpful, then TracBack feature of Garmin can, with an arrow on the screen, point the way back by retracing your path exactly. With all this assistance, it would certainly be very hard to get lost while putting on a Garmin fenix 3 HR.
We also found a feature that we’re unable to live without, and it doesn’t have anything to do with action tracking or GPS – it was the Garmin fenix 3 HR’s customizable vibration alarms. This alarm system helps us to program our life. Garmin lets you to schedule an ostensibly unlimited number of alarms for any day of the week.
Finally, while lots of smartwatches out there only permit one alarm to be set for one day, weekday, or the entire week, with the fenix 3 HR, you can easily set each alarm to be scheduled for as few or as many days a week as you desire. Setting alarms on the timepiece is much easier than setting up notifications on an iPhone.
Here’s a short video review of the Garmin fenix 3 HR:
Garmin Fenix 3 HR review: Tracking metrics
You’ll find it really difficult to find a watch with more to offer than the Fenix 3 HR when it comes to multi-sport tracking. This feature works perfectly for paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, in the gym, swimming, running, cycling, golf, rowing, hunting, skiing, and many more. Now, if the list is not complete enough for you, you can also come up with your own by picking your desired data screens. By comparison, while the Polar V800 can do the complete triathlon training tracking and equally looks great, it still cannot offer as much as the Fenix 3 HR.
The numerous sensors in this smartwatch go a long way to making it the notable all-action watch it seems to be. The list still goes on. Watch equally packs in:
- Heart rate monitor
- Motion sensors
- Electronic compass
- Barometric altimeter
All these features truly means good investment as the wristwatch is ready for anything, anytime – and it could do even more in the future with software updates. Additionally, the Connect IQ Store means that more and more apps are showing up for it every time – it even has games right now.
Furthermore, the in-built metrics are equally useful. We discovered that the sunset times, from your location, were a tremendous help, especially when carrying out hiking activities and wanting a good time to pitch the tent before it gets dark.
Again, since you can easily change all the data fields, you can set up your ride, run, row or whatever you want, and with your desired screens. This indeed makes all the difference when you’re creating a personalized device that provides everything that’s required for that sort of training at an instant. Aside from that, there are equally additional Connect IQ Store apps that packs more data fields to enable you see even more.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR review | Activity tracking
Garmin has been offering daily activity tracking for years now, so you already know that it’s going to be very accurate. But the basic problem here is the watch size. Like I stated earlier, the watch is indeed bulky, and it’ll take you some time to get used it. And it might not be easy to be wearing it every day, let alone putting it on at night for sleep tracking.
Good enough though, the sleep tracking is automatic so you’re not required to do anything else apart from leaving the watch on your wrist. You can have alerts during the day to prevent stagnation and the standard watch face provides Garmin’s red bar which builds as you stay still.
Additionally, thanks to its exciting battery life, you don’t really have to worry about leaving the tracking on as it actually makes very little or no difference. So if that’s what you want, you have the options there and they work pretty well.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR review | The App
Garmin has been making use of the same Connect app on all their devices for a long time now. The Connect IQ Store has also been running long enough to be filled with fun and valuable apps created by both Garmin and by its users. The result is a perfectly formed center for planning, tracking, and analyzing your training from.
You can glance at data at the top level to view your last sleep, activity and workout. Then you can go down deeper to see details such as heart rate spikes in relation to cadence or altitude, for instance. It’s all mostly open to maneuvering so figuring out your exact metric is pretty easy.
Interestingly, Garmin throws all its apps and device offerings into one place so it ends up being a little overwhelming. While most of the menu options are being ignore, such as Groups, Segments, Golf, News Feed, Gear, etc. They’re still in there together with every other thing. It feels like this could be streamlined by Garmin, a lot. It sure has the potential of becoming perfect, but it’ll need to be cut into shape and customizable to reach that.
That being said, the Connect IQ store is amazing for apps like a gravity game that uses the sensors of the watch to make it a controller, a Back To The Future face of watch, a face that shows you the stars above you as you turn, and a lots more.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR review: Heart Rate Monitoring
The wrist based heart rate monitoring is often going to be a point of controversy. The good thing about this is that if you desire very accurate tracking, you can always measure heart rate by connecting a chest worn strap. So that’s one cool option.
Or else, it’s cool to always have a heart rate training guide everywhere you go. Typically, this is the most noticeable change between the former Fenix 3 and the new Fenix 3 HR. However, one benefit of the wrist heart rate monitor is its ability to go for a ride or run quickly without any extra kit. In order to see active improvements, you can then train within heart rate zones. Of cause, the bpm might not be the same, but if you’re going up and down while training in zones, that doesn’t severely matter a lot anyway.
That being said, we discovered that heart rate tracking was super accurate, but showed delay occasionally when jumping between intense and less heavy sections of cycling or running compared with a chest strap. However, it won’t work at all for swimming as it’s just not accurate enough, and according to Garmin, you will need a chest strap in order to track HR in the wet.
Furthermore, the optical monitor is smart enough to switch on and off for day to day tracking based on motion sensor data. Ideally, the more you’re exercising, the more constantly it’ll be checking your heart rate, thereby saving on battery and still providing a fairly constant baseline heart rate both day and night.
And when you’re out on a long cycle ride, the smartwatch remains motionless so the heart rate data is moderately accurate. But it works perfectly enough to zone train and once you overlay heart rate and elevation graphs, it provides a tremendous view of how hard you’ve pushed yourself.
Another advantage of having heart rate on your wrist is the ability for apps to utilize that data. Making use of HR with other data can create a brighter picture of just how you’re performing. Also, it doesn’t need the highest levels of accuracy and this gives Connect IQ apps the opportunity to introduce even more creative uses for the Fenix 3 HR.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR review: Notifications
Syncing the watch’s Bluetooth to your smartphone is cool because it does not really have any effect on the battery of either device to a large extent. The problem here, however, is that Garmin now requires you to switch on location services on your smartphone if you really want to connect the devices – which can greatly affect your smartphone battery.
Once you’re connected, you will always get alerts for messages, calls, and even WhatsApps, and you can also read the messages. Having the ability to turn off notifications while exercising is equally nice, to avoid interruptions. But the location requirement on the smartphone made it completely useless as most people will prefer to keep that turned off in order to save battery – unless required for checking a map, for instance.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR Review: Battery life
When it comes to comparing those rugged appearance with tough performance, the Fenix 3 HR meets up to expectations. According to Garmin themselves, it’ll go for 2-weeks in smartwatch mode, six hours on complete GPS mode, and 40-hours in UltraTrac training mode.
Even with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and heart rate all turned on, the wristwatch still continued going. With some GPS training uses, and activity tracking and notifications switched on, the battery lasts for a complete week. It’s only the need to leave location services switched on in your connected phone that can result in battery drying on that side.
Sure, if you are going out for about 30-miles bike rides many times per week, the juice will definitely drain faster, compared to non-GPS related uses. However, having that full week without having to worry about charging is a pretty nice. Especially considering the fact that it requires a dedicated charger crib, although one that is USB friendly to enable you use most plugs and computers.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray
- Storage: 32MB internal for maps, routes, and 100-hours of activity data
- Display: 1.2 inch (30.4mm) 218 218 pixels resolution transflective color screen with sapphire glass lens
- Connectivity and sensors: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ANT+, GPS, GLONASS, optical HR, barometer, compass
- Water resistance: 10 ATM
- Dimensions: 51.5 x 51.5 x 16 mm and 86.1 grams
- Battery: 300 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion. 16-hours in GPS training mode, 40-hours in UltraTrac mode, and 2-weeks in smartwatch mode with twenty-four/seven HR monitoring
Conclusion about Garmin Fenix 3 Review
Garmin made a great improvement on their already robust fenix line of sports watches with an in-built optical heart rate monitor what provides complex metrics on its users training routine. Coupled with their latest Training Status app that helps optimize a runners training and offers a fantastic, in-depth look at their general performance, the fenix 3 HR is a high-end, high-tech activity tracker.
A highly flexible, durable, sophisticated, and generally impressive piece of technology, the Garmin fenix 3 HR is one of the best fitness trackers currently in the market. It’s priced accordingly to its features, but it’s an investment which will certainly pay off in the long run.
This is exactly what fitness watches are all about: rugged, accurate, long lasting, and filled with sensors. That’s not all, it equally looks good enough to wear for your day to day business, also works as an activity tracker for twenty-four/seven usage, and provides enough readable notifications to actually be valuable as a smartwatch.
Although it falls down on little things like being a bit too large and heavy for some people, and having an app which tries to provide a lot at the cost of over-complication. It’s still totally amazing at what it does. This brings us to this Garmin fenix 3 HR review, we hope you now know enough about this smartwatch to inform your buying decision.