Garmin Fenix 3 HR Review – The Beast of Smartwatches

fenix 3 hr review

Does Garmin have the greatest GPS watch on the market? Well, it looks like they may be close. Packed with a ton of new features and based on the Fenix 3 HR’s competition, this smartwatch positions itself to be one of the best, if not the best, sports watch available today.

Just to give you the heads up – The Garmin Fenix 3 HR isn’t cheap by any means with it’s price tag of $599 (although you can find it for cheaper on Amazon).  It’s bulky with its 16mm thick watch face and it’s not light either weighing in at 82 grams.  However, this watch is packed with so much technology and amazing features that it makes you feel like you’re wearing a much smaller device on your wrist.

The real question is not whether this watch is capable of being an every day smartwatch, but the real question is can this be the product that catapults Garmin to the top of the list in the smartwatch market and makes it mainstream with the likes of Apple?  We break down everything about the Fenix 3 HR to let you know if it’s worthy of your hard earned dollars.

Fenix 3 HR’s Design and Build Quality

When you first look at the Fenix 3 HR, you can’t help think that is was designed to be for a police officer, firefighter, soldier, or triathlete.  This thing is RUGGED.  The profile of the watch face is bulky and its visible screws give it a hard, rugged look for athletes that want to have a solid piece on their wrist.  However, despite its larger build, this watch comes off as a very attractive watch that can be a device for every day use.

Fenix 3 HR
Buy the Garmin Fenix 3 Hr on Amazon Today

The only issue that you will have when it comes to everyday use is that its bulky.  So, if you’re going out for a night on the town and you’re dressing up, you’re probably going to have a tough time hiding this thing underneath your wrist sleeves. Also, female athletes will probably leave this thing at home for a night on the town when they’re going out in a dress.  If you do take it out for a night on the town, make sure that you are ready to show this thing off when you pick up your significant other.

The Fenix 3 HR not as sleek and elegant as the Apple Watch Series 2, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be using it every day.  Yes, the Series 2 may be a little bit sleeker and now have GPS, but the size acquire with the Fenix 3 HR is not because of a lack of design, its because you receive so much more when it comes to sensors and capability.  What’s great about the Fenix 3 HR is that you won’t have to worry about comfort despite its slightly bulkier appearance.  This watch is extremely comfortable, especially during working out, and its watch bands fit perfectly.   The large amount of notches on this watch allows a custom fit as well that will position the Fenix 3 HR perfectly on your wrist.  You will have more accurate readings from your heart rate monitor because of the fit of this watch without having to crank it down on your wrist on the highest notch.  The feel and fit of this watch is simply amazing.

However, you should be advised that because of the size of the watch face, the Fenix 3 HR will seem a little heavy.  It’s weight is geared more towards athletes, weightlifters, and runners that aren’t bothered by having a little extra weight on their wrist.  With that being said, you will notice that you have this watch on your wrist whenever you are wearing it – there’s no way around it.  However, for the sports demographics that the watch is looking to serve, this watch is absolutely fine and comfortable.

Read it: Apple Watch Series Two Review For Athletes.

Fenix 3 HR’s Fitness & Activity Tracking

Let’s just get right to it.  When it comes to fitness tracking, the Fenix 3 HR is a beast.  This watch is probably the most capable smartwatch on the market when it comes to tracking your data from physical activity.  The Fenix 3 tacks everything from running, swimming, weightlifting, cycling, skiing, hiking, rowing, golf, and…. wait for it…. hunting and fishing.  We’re not kidding.  And, if you can’t find an accurate category from that list to measure your physical activity, Garmin allows you to make up your own.  This watch is capable of doing accurate tracking for an entire triathlon.  The changeable data categories allow you to manufacture your run, ride, or gym session with the display that you desire.  This is a huge game changer because it makes you feel like you can personalize the device to your own liking, making it feel like your Fenix 3 HR is unique to you.  Shove in a bunch of downloadable apps that allow you to enter more categories and you have a fully capable & customizable beast of a smartwatch.

The reason why the Fenix 3 HR is so accurate is because of the quality as well as the amount of sensors that are packed into this device.  With the Fenix 3 HR, you get motion sensors, a heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter, ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and an electronic compass.  Outside of cooking you breakfast in the morning, there really isn’t much that this watch can’t do.  What’s even more appealing is that the capability of the watch is expanded greatly with the software updates that Garmin rolls out every once in a while.  It’s even followed the Apple model of creating the Connect IQ marketplace where you can download apps and even play games.  Why is that significant for buyers?  Well, when you pick up the Fenix 3 HR, you can heave the peace of mind knowing that not only are you getting a quality device with a premium build, but you’re also getting a device that has longevity.  In the world of technology, that is hard to come by nowadays.

Daily tracking has been a staple of Garmin products for many years, and the Fenix 3 HR doesn’t disappoint.  You get the same high-quality tracking that has been engrained into Garmin products for years.  However, due to the size of this bad boy, it takes some getting used to when it comes to the sleep tracking features.  Everything else is on point from the minute that you wake up and start your day with Garmin’s automatic tracking.  Just like the Apple Watch Series 2, you can have custom alerts created as well to notify you when you’ve been sitting down too much and need to move around.

fenix 3 hr on wrist
The Fenix 3 HR can be bulky, but its a beast of a watch in capability.

Fenix 3 HR’s Heart Rate Monitor & Battery Life

Not only does the Fenix 3 HR offer heart rate monitoring through the watch, it also has the capability of connecting via bluetooth to a chest strap for those athletes that are looking for the most accurate data.  Although the Fenix 3 HR has a very accurate heart rate monitor built in, it is widely known that drawing the most accurate heart rate from the wrist can be difficult at times.  Many argue that wrist devices used for heart rate monitoring are inaccurate and can be misleading.  However, the advantage of using a smart watch to monitor your heart rate is because of its ease of use and portability.  In all actuality, athletes shouldn’t be really looking at their heart rate every two seconds to determine where they are with their fitness, nor will they. These devices are more to provide an accurate training zone for athletes instead of delivering a precise amount of beats per minute.  You don’t need paralysis by analysis, and the Fenix 3 HR provides the perfect balance.

With all of that being said, the Fenix 3 HR is an extremely accurate device to track your heart rate.  If you are looking for the most accurate heart rate data, you may want to think about picking up a strap as well if thats your thing.  If you’re a swimmer, you’re going to have difficulty tracking the most accurate data as with all other smart watches.  Garmin recommends those athletes that are looking for the most relevant data to add a chest strap while swimming.  However for everyday training, the monitors inside of the Fenix HR 3 are intelligent enough to be aware of when you’re being active or not and adjust how it measures your heart rate.  When you start to amp up your workout, the Fenix 3 HR will step in and start to record your heart rate more frequently while laying more dormant to save battery life when you’re at your baseline heart rate.

fenix 3 hr review
The Fenix 3 HR’s heart rate monitor sensors are top notch.

We found the Fenix 3 HR to be the perfect balance of portability and convenience when it came to heart rate monitoring.  We didn’t have to carry around a chest strap or make sure that we were checking it all of the time because of its inaccurate sensors.  Sure, you add a little extra size to your wrist – but the trade off for having a powerful activity tracker on your wrist to actually having to carry around a chest strap is absolutely worth it.  And, with that added size, you’re not only getting a powerful device, you’re getting fantastic battery life as well.

The Fenix 3 HR is a beast when it comes to battery life as well.  Garmin claims that the watch will run on a single charge for up to two weeks in what it calls “smartwatch mode” and up to 40 hours in UltraTrac training mode.  If you want this beast running all day to track your movements, you will even get 16 hours of battery life on GPS mode.  The battery on this thing is impressive, even with all of its features turned on.  Want to run bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and your heart rate monitor at the same time and have some juice left over?  No problem.  Keep in mind that you can push the Fenix 3 HR, but if you’re the type of athlete that cranks out 10 mile runs a couple of times per week and you want to have GPS tracking on, you’re going to drain the battery.  There’s just no way around it.  If you’re not that type, you will love not having to charge your watch for the week.

fenix hr 3
You can swap the Fenix 3 HR’s bands for total customization.

Fenix 3 HR’s Connectability

The Fenix 3 HR is fully capable in terms of connectabilty as it uses bluetooth to sync up to your smartphone.  What’s great about it is that it’s fairly easy to use.  Once you connect your Garmin to your phone, you can receive alerts for phone calls, text messages, as well as third party messaging apps like WhatsApp. Turning off notifications is a breeze as well so that you can focus on crushing your workout instead of receiving text messages.  However, the biggest bummer with the Fenix 3 HR’s connect ability is that it requires you to have your smartphone’s location services on in order to connect to your watch, which can be a big battery drainer for those who have older phones.

Through your smartphone, you can access the Garmin Connect app to log into the Connect IQ Store to download useful applications to your Fenix 3 HR.  What’s great about the Connect app is how seamless and informative the experience is in using it.  The interface is beautiful with bright colors and drives all of the relevant data to you in a colorful presentation that pops off of your screen.  Since this watch is literally a beast, however, we found that the data tracked can sometimes be overwhelming and cause a “paralysis by analysis” effect on your brain.  For beginners and amateurs, the interface may be a little overwhelming and take a little bit of time to get used to.  However, the Connect IQ store is fantastic and allows you to customize your watch with fun and engaging apps to make you feel like your Fenix HR 3 is one of a kind and made personally for you.

Fenix 3 HR’s Bottom Line

If you want a beast, then you can’t go wrong with the Fenix 3 HR.  This watch is reliable, rugged, and full of the latest equipment that will drive the most accurate results back to you.  If you’re a sporty person, you will love this watch and have no problem wearing it every day.  It has an awesome battery life, tons of relevant data, and the apps within the Connect IQ marketplace are fantastic and will only get better.  However, you need to realize that with more power, more battery life, and more capability, you’re going to absorb more size and weight.  This step by Garmin to be an everyday smart watch is a giant leap in the right direction, especially with Apple coming into the marketplace.  However, there are some people, especially smaller athletes and women, that may feel that this smartwatch is just too much to wear.  All in all, if you’re not worried about a little bit of extra weight and love a large beautiful display, you can’t go wrong with this beast of a smart watch.

Buy Garmin Fenix 3 HR now on Amazon here.


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