garmin fenix 3 hr vs fenix 5

Garmin Fenix 5 vs Fenix 3 HR – What’s the Difference?!


Fenix 3 HR vs Fenix 5 Comparison

For the fitness geeks among us, one of the most exciting technological advances in recent years has been the development of multi-sport smartwatches and trackers.

Garmin has consistently created popular running watches and more recently, GPS watches for triathletes and outdoor adventurers. These watches can help runners and athletes of all types track activity and reach new goals.

Two of the best Garmin watches right now are the new Fenix 5 family range and the Fenix 3 HR. But what’s the difference, and which one is right for you? Read on for our review and comparison of the Garmin Fenix 5 vs Fenix 3 HR.​

Both of these GPS watches offer many features and a solid performance overall, but here is a summary of the most notable aspects of each watch.​

Garmin Fenix 5 Range

  • Beautiful 240x240 pixel, 64-bit color display
  • Amazing battery life lasts up to 24 hours in GPS mode or 75 hours in UltraTrac mode
  • Stylish design with a variety of options for both men and women
  • Slimmer profile wrist-heart rate
  • Multi-sport tracking
  • Quick release watch bands

Garmin Fenix 3HR - Gray

  • Sapphire glass display is tough and durable
  • Great battery life with up to 16 hours in GPS mode or 40 hours in UltraTrac mode
  • A more affordable option that still offers wrist-based HR capabilities
  • Wrist-heart rate
  • Multi-sport tracking

Powerful GPS sport watch features

Because both are multi-sport GPS tracking watches, there are many features in common between the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. First and foremost is the GPS tracking function. These watches can be used to track distance, pace, and time for activities such as running, hiking, swimming, cycling, skiing, and more. The GPS precision creates a "backtrack" feature, which can help navigate you back to your starting point once you turn around on your route.

Because both watches have the ability to track multiple sports, they are great for triathlons and other multi-sport events. In addition, both watches boast a great battery life, making them ideal choices for events such as ultra marathons that may take many hours to complete.

Further, both watches include wrist-based heart rate monitoring. These watches measure the user’s heart rate constantly, which means they are able to give accurate calorie burn information for activities. In fact, these watches can be worn at all times like a regular watch and provide daily user data such as step count and total calories burned.

Garmin Fenix 5 Tech Specs*

*Depending on Fenix 5 band and version (5S / 5 / 5X)

  • Physical dimensions: 1.9" x 1.9" x 0.6"
  • Weight: 2.4 - 3.5 ounces (67 - 85g)
  • Water rating: 10 ATM (100 meters)
  • Display size: 1.1 - 1.2" diameter
  • Display resolution:
    218 x 218 / 240 x 240 pixels
improved heart rate sensor on back on fenix 5 watch

Garmin Fenix 3 HR Tech Specs

garmin fenix 3 hr front and wrist heart rate
  • Physical dimensions: 2.0" x 2.0" x 0.6"
  • Weight: 3.0 - 3.5 ounces (86.1 g) depending on band
  • Water rating: 10 ATM
  • Display size: 1.2" diameter
  • Display resolution: 218 x 218 pixels

Related: See the Garmin Fenix range comparison chart

Fenix Features Compared

As previously discussed, these two sport watches serve the same basic functions and have several features in common. However, there are some distinctions between the two models.

In general, the features of the Garmin Fenix 5 expand upon and go beyond the features offered by the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. First of all, the screen resolution is better on the Fenix 5. The screen is also able to display colors more vividly, offering a 64-bit color display over the Fenix 3 HR’s 16-bit color display. This makes the screen more pleasant to look at and easier to read in direct sunlight.

The Fenix 5 is also sleeker; the dimensions are slightly smaller, and it sits closer to the wrist than the Fenix 3 HR. In the Fenix 3 HR, the wrist-based heart rate monitor added noticeable bulk. With the Fenix 5, the design has been slimmed down, and the heart rate monitor is less noticeable.​

The Fenix 5 is able to track more sports than the Fenix 3 HR. While both watches offer a huge number of sports for tracking, the Fenix 5 allows the user to be even more specific than before. For example, the Fenix 5 can differentiate between treadmill running and indoor track running. This was combined into one running option on the Fenix 3 HR. Other sports, like snowboarding and skiing, have been further differentiated as well.​

Overall, when it comes to the Garmin Fenix 5 vs Fenix 3 HR, the Fenix 5’s many added and expanded features have the upper hand.​

Fenix 3 HR Gray

Fenix 5 Family

garmin fenix 3 hr

Watch Size: 51mm

garmin fenix 5

Watch Size: 42 / 47 / 51mm

Display Resolution: 218 x 218px

Display Resolution: 218 x 218 / 240 x 240px
(depends on model: 5S = 218 x 218)

Elevate Wrist Heart Rate

Elevate Wrist Heart Rate

Smart Notifications

Smart Notifications

Water Rating: 10 ATM 

Water Rating: 10ATM

Altimeter, Barometer, 3-axis Compass

Altimeter, Barometer, 3-axis Compass

Sapphire Lens

Sapphire Lens

Battery Life:
Up to 2 Weeks (depending on mode)

Battery Life:
Up to 2 weeks (depending on mode)

GPS GLONASS

GPS GLONASS

Activity Tracking

Activity Tracking

Running, Cycling, Swimming, Golf

Running, Cycling, Swimming, Golf

Fenix Style Comparison

These watches are similar in shape, size, and overall design. As already noted, the display of the Fenix 5 is brighter and more aesthetically pleasing than that of the Fenix 3 HR. But what about the watch itself?

The Fenix 3 HR Gray is currently offered in only one color and style. The watch face itself is a dark, metallic gray, and the wrist band is silver. This is a simple style that will match most attire and would look fine for casual every day wear. Office workers who wish to wear this watch on a daily basis may find it sharp enough for a professional setting.​

stylish garmin fenix range of watches

The Fenix 5 is offered in a basic version that looks similar to the Fenix 3 HR described above. However, there is also a “sapphire” model available. The watch face is the same, but it comes with a more traditional metallic gray watch band. This watch would match any outfit in any setting, and is the most suitable option for every day wear.

Beyond the basic and sapphire versions of the Fenix 5, it is also available with a variety of colored wristbands. The user can select any color or style that seems most suitable for their taste. Between the Garmin Fenix 5 vs Fenix 3 HR, the Fenix 5 is the winner when it comes to style and choices.

garmin connect app

Garmin Connect App

Both watches connect to the Garmin Connect app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. This app allows users to see more detailed information from their activities, such as a map. The application can also be connected to social media so that users can share their activity progress with family and friends.

Value for Money​

These stylish and feature-packed GPS watches don’t come for cheap – customers can expect to pay several hundred dollars for either watch. Both watches are available for purchase directly from the retailer, but a better price can often be found by shopping on retail websites such as Amazon. Either way, customers can expect to pay around $50 more for the Fenix 5 than the Fenix 3 HR.​

Comparison Summary​

Both of these GPS watches offer precise activity tracking, daily data collection, and a variety of helpful features. However, when it comes to the Garmin Fenix 5 vs Fenix 3 HR, the clear winner is the Fenix 5. This watch simply offers better features, a nicer display, and more style options – all for a fairly negligible price difference. Overall, you can’t go wrong with either of these GPS watches for solid activity tracking and performance improvement.​

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