best garmin fenix 3 hr review

Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire Review

Fenix 3 HR Review & Buyer's Guide

Garmin has been producing GPS watches for years, and they only seem to get better and better. One of the newest models, the Garmin Fenix 3 HR, is truly a wonder to behold. With a beautiful display, constant wrist heart rate monitoring, countless useful features, and a reliable and accurate GPS, this multi-sport watch is hard to beat.

The Garmin Fenix 3 HR is very much a smartwatch and provides features such as on-screen notifications from your phone, as well as constant fitness tracking with data like step count, calories burned, and sleep tracking. In addition to this, GPS tracking allows you to accurately monitor all kinds of activities and receive useful feedback data.

review of the best gps sport watch 2016  - garmin fenix 3 hr

Still the best multi-sport watch?

The only major drawback of this model is that, due to all of its abilities, the battery life seems to have decreased compared to past Garmin watches. However, for the true tech savvy athlete, the Garmin Fenix 3 HR is still one of the best options out there.

This review will outline all of the main features of the Fenix 3 HR, as well as the most positive and negative aspects of the watch. Read on to find out if this GPS watch is the right choice.

Fenix 3 HR Tech Specs

Before we get into the features of the watch, let’s get the hardware and technical specifications covered. Garmin advertises the following specs for the Fenix 3 HR:

Unit Dimensions (WxHxD)

2.0” x 2.0” x 0.6” (5.1 x 5.1 x 1.55 cm)

Display size (WxH)

1.2” (3 cm) diameter

Display resolution

218 x 218 pixels

Display type

Colour transflective memory-in-pixel
Garmin Chroma Display with sapphire lens

Battery life/type

Up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode
16 hours intraining/GPS mode
Up to 3 weeks in watch mode (with 24/7 HR monitoring)
Up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode (with 24/7 HR monitoring


3.0 oz. / 85.1 g

Water rating

10 ATM/100 meters



Built-in memory

32 MB; available 23 MB

Fenix 3 HR Features

Performance Features

Smart Capabilities

Fitness Training Features

Outdoor Navigation

Sport and Fitness Tracking

The Garmin Fenix 3 HR offers tracking for a multitude of sports and activities. While Garmin has traditionally made running GPS watches, their later models are able to track much more.

The Fenix 3 HR offers true multi-sport activity tracking with options such as running, cycling, swimming, skiing, and an all-new golf mode. The golf mode allows you to download golf course distances from a database of over 40,000 international courses - a feature that was noticeably lacking in past Garmin Fenix models.

Each activity provides a tracking screen on the watch display that will show all progress information to the user at a glance, including heart rate and calorie burn information.

fenix 3 hr multi sport tracking

In addition to tracking specific activities, the Fenix 3 HR gathers daily fitness data such as step count, calories burned, and sleep data. This feature is a great motivator to reach a certain activity level every day; you can set goals such as a daily step goal, and you can regularly monitor your progress. However, some users have reported that the wrist heart rate monitor may not measure accurately during rigorous workouts.​

Heart Rate for Runners​

With the Fenix 3 HR, you have the option to pair with the compatible HRM-Run chest strap. This is recommended if you are interested in improving your running form and running efficiency.

The HRM-Run provides 2nd Generation Running Dynamics and Physiological Measurements. You can view these measurements on screen during your run or compare afterward in Garmin Connect. You can also buy the Fenix 3 HR Performer Bundle which comes with the HRM-Run.​

Related: Garmin Heart Rate Monitor Chest Straps

Garmin Videos

Garmin has thankfully created useful tutorial videos which help explain advanced running dynamics and what they mean to a runner:​

Example of running dynamics data seen in Garmin Connect app:

2nd generation running dynamics

Move Motivation

The Fenix 3 HR includes a feature called move alert, which is supposed to vibrate when you have been sitting still for too long. This should remind the user to, well, get up and move! Unfortunately, this feature does not seem to work perfectly yet - users have reported that the watch will vibrate with a move alert even during times when movement has been constant.

Outdoor Navigation

Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass (ABC) sensors equipped in the Garmin Fenix 3 HR provide up to date information such as elevation, weather changes, and directional bearings. For outdoor runs or similar activities where navigational and surrounding information is important, this feature is a huge draw.​

outdoor navigation

Another feature in the line of outdoor navigation is Garmin’s TracBack feature, which automatically creates a map retracing your steps back along your route. This is great for exploring new territory or enjoying long runs without thinking too much about directions. Simply press a button and TracBack will give you step-by-step directions back to your starting point.​

GPS Tracking

Of course, one of the main purposes of Garmin watches is GPS tracking. The Fenix 3 HR watch will track your every movement and provide information on your moving direction, speed, altitude, distance to your destination and much more. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day without any subscription fees or setup charges to use GPS. By syncing the watch with the Garmin Connect app, you’ll be able to view detailed maps and information about past activities.​

The GPS + GLONASS performance on the Fenix 3 HR is simply amazing. Past models of the Fenix have lead users to encounter problems with long connection wait times or inaccurate maps. Garmin seems to have really worked hard to fix this issue with this version of the watch, and we couldn’t be happier.

GLONASS is a Russian satellite-based navigation system that works alongside GPS (Global Positioning System) to provide position information to compatible devices. With an additional 24 satellites to utilize, satellite fix can happen up to 20% faster and adding GLONASS to GPS can also help to get better positioning in situations where there is only limited visibility of the sky.​

Fenix 3 HR receives the GPS signal via an 'omni-directional metal EXO antenna' around the display of the watch. The EXO antennaI also serves as a protective ring to guard the watch glass against potentially harmful impact.​

Garmin Connect Stats

Garmin Connect & Connect IQ Apps

The Garmin Connect app is exactly what it sounds like - a smartphone app that connects to your Garmin watch to give accurate activity details, maps, and more. Users can also use the app to share fitness and activity data with friends and family through social media.​

Connect IQ - Fenix app store

The Connect IQ app is a fairly new feature that just became available with the 2015 Fenix 3. The app allows users to customize the watch face, add widgets, create data fields, add new activities, and more. This feature is quite enjoyable as it allows the watch to feel very personal.​

Both apps are compatible with iOS and Android devices.​

Fenix 3 HR Battery Life

The battery found inside the Fenix 3 HR is a rechargeable 300mAh lithium-ion. What, exactly, does that mean? Garmin advertises up to 16 hours of use in GPS mode, 40 hours in UltraTrac mode (a GPS tracking mode that records data points less frequently), or 2 weeks in activity tracking watch mode.

Overall, the battery life of the Fenix 3 HR is somewhat of a disappointment compared to past models; it seems that the wrist heart rate monitoring is a real battery drain that causes this version of the watch to wear down faster than previous non-HR versions. However, this is still an impressive battery life in general and you will probably only need to charge the watch once a week or so. If having a wrist heart rate watch is important to you, the decreased battery life probably isn’t a deal breaker.

Sapphire Display

Offering a 1.2" sunlight-readable, high-resolution, brilliant, color Chroma display, the Fenix 3 HR is truly beautiful to look at. The colors are vivid and the screen is easily readable in all lighting – perfect for those outdoor runs and other activities where you want to view your on-screen stats at a glance.

The interface is generally very user-friendly and easy to navigate. As mentioned above, the watch face display can also be customized by using the Connect IQ app.​

The Fenix 3 HR display is covered by Sapphire glass, which is actually pretty awesome. This makes the watch face extremely tough, scratch resistant, and safe for any and all adventures you may want to use it for.

Style & Design

The Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire (Amazon) is offered in only one color: a dark gray watch face with a black wrist band. In the past, Garmin has offered its watches in a variety of colors and styles, so the lack of options here is somewhat disappointing. However, the dark color scheme will be suitable for everyday wear and will match most attire. Perhaps Garmin thought keeping it simple was best this time around.​

However, you can replace the bands with a variety of different styles and colors at Amazon.


One possible downside of the Fenix 3 HR is simply its size. With dimensions of 1.2" x 1.2" x 0.6", this watch is quite bulky and some users may find that it feels very noticeable on the wrist. For this reason, it may feel uncomfortable to wear at all times, which makes the constant activity tracking features somewhat useless. Additionally, while this watch is advertised as suitable for both genders, the size and bulk of this GPS watch make it feel like it is geared more towards men - some women may not find it stylish or petite enough for everyday wear.​

Price & Value

​The Fenix 3 HR has been called the best GPS watch currently on the market – so, unfortunately, it isn’t going to come for cheap. You can expect to pay upwards of $500 for the watch, though sales and deals can be found. The watch is available for purchase directly from Garmin, but a lower price may be found on retail websites like Amazon.

While the Fenix 3 HR isn’t cheap, for the serious athlete it is absolutely worth the price. This watch should last many years, especially due to its tough Sapphire glass face. Keep in mind that this is not only a GPS tracking watch - it also offers standard fitness tracking and many typical smartwatch features, such as on-screen notifications. For this reason, the Fenix 3 HR is truly an all in one device that can be invaluable for those looking to improve their fitness game.​

Review Summary

Overall, Garmin has really outdone itself with the Fenix 3 HR. Features that were lacking on past models, such as golf tracking and reliable GPS connectivity, have been remedied with the release of this watch.

Underneath all the shiny new features, the fitness tracking and smartwatch capabilities are as useful as ever with abilities such as sleep tracking, step count, and on-screen notifications. The Garmin apps allow you to truly customize this watch and make it your own.

Every downside of this watch seems to have an equal or greater upside. While the watch is a little too bulky for some users’ tastes, the beautiful display screen and tough sapphire glass protection make up for it. While the battery life isn’t perfect, it is still pretty impressive considering the constant heart rate monitoring taking place. Overall, the pros of this GPS watch far outweigh the cons.​

Whether you’re a serious athlete training for your next big event or just looking for something to get you started in the fitness world, you can’t go wrong with the Fenix 3 HR. This feature-packed GPS watch has it all!​

Garmin Fenix 3 HR
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • Outstanding

  • Garmin Fenix 3 HR
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: October 22, 2017
  • Multi-sport Features
    Editor: 100%
  • Watch Style & Design
    Editor: 90%
  • Hiking & Trail Features
    Editor: 80%
  • Smartwatch Features
    Editor: 80%
  • Value for Money
    Editor: 90%

Review Summary:

Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire has really outdone itself with this multi-sport smartwatch. Wrist based heart rate, powerful fitness features and GPS tracking combine to make this one of the best watches for running, cycling, swimming and so much more.


  • Multi-sport activity tracking including running, cycling, swimming, skiing, and golf
  • GPS with TracBack feature creates accurate maps and prevents getting lost
  • Daily fitness tracking with step counter, calories burned, sleep tracker, and more
  • Vivid and beautiful display with tough sapphire glass protection
  • Constant wrist heart rate monitoring adds accuracy to fitness and calorie information
  • Quick and reliable satellite connectivity


  • Big and bulky watch that may not be appealing to all users, especially women
  • Decreased battery life compared to other Garmin GPS watches
  • Move Alert alarms do not work reliably

Last update on 2021-10-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment: