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Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Garmin Fenix 3 HR

If you judge quality based on how many versions we’ve seen, the Fenix 3 is definitely up there, now sporting HR, Sapphire and Chronos variants. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR certainly isn’t cheap at around $599 for the gray/silver base model. It’s not light either at a hefty 82g and it’s not small, standing 16mm off your wrist.

Garmin Fenix 3 HR
Garmin Fenix 3 HR

True Performance Meets True Style

  • Omni-directional stainless steel EXO antenna, with GPS/GLONASS satellite reception, has the ability to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone

  • Elevate wrist heart rate technology¹ measures heart rate at the wrist

  • Fitness training features like advanced running dynamics with vertical oscillation and vertical ratio, VO2 max, recovery advisor and more

  • 1.2-inch sunlight-readable Garmin Chroma Display with high-strength domed sapphire lens

  • Outdoor navigation features like 3-axis compass, altimeter and barometer and TracBack feature

  • Battery life: up to 16 hours in GPS training mode; up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode

Garmin Fenix3 HR In-Depth Review

Last month at CES in Las Vegas, Garmin introduced their most advanced wearable device with an optical heart rate (HR) sensor in it the Fenix3 HR. I’ve been using a few different versions of the Fenix3 HR since that timeframe. However, this review is shaped on runs/rides/activities since the unit started shipping about three weeks ago. Within this period I’ve used the device virtually 24×7, attempting to understand all its ins and outs. I’ve taken it running, swimming, cycling, skiing, and done general gym workouts as well. However I’m doing something a bit different with this review. Specifically, I’m just focusing on a few core features of the Fenix3 HR that are different from the Fenix3 that I’ve already reviewed. If you’re looking for some of the basics around how the Fenix3 works in general, swing on over to my existing Fenix3 In-Depth Review.

Elevate Wrist Heart Rate Technology

Fenix 3 HR watch includes Elevate wrist heart rate technology¹, giving you the option to monitor your heart rate without wearing a chest strap. In addition to counting steps and monitoring sleep, fenix 3 HR uses heart rate to provide accurate calories burned information and quantify the intensity of your fitness activities.

Features of Garmin Fenix 3 HR

  1. Design

    1.2 inch (30.4mm) 218 218 pixels resolution transflective color screen with sapphire glass lens. The fenix 3 HR retains the look and feel of other models in this line: It has a strong, bold, hunky, outdoor action watch case and a silicone strap that’s rugged yet sophisticated enough to be worn with a business suit or dinner jacket. The case is water resistant to 10 ATM or 100 meters. With the fenix 3 HR’s extensive feature set, creating a list of all the things it can do is almost overwhelming.

  2. Heart rate monitoring

    Wrist based heart rate monitoring is always going to be a point of contention. The great thing about this is that if you want super accurate tracking you can always connect a chest worn strap and measure heart rate from that. So that’s one option. Otherwise it’s nice to have a guide for heart rate training everywhere you go. That said we found heart rate tracking was accurate, but occasionally showed lag when compared with a chest strap, if jumping between intense and less heavy sections of running or cycling. Again the highest levels of accuracy are not needed and this allows Connect IQ apps the chance to invent even more creative uses for the Fenix 3 HR.

  3. Storage

    32MB internal for maps, routes, and 100 hours of activity data.

  4. Connectivity and sensors

    WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ANT+, GPS, GLONASS, optical HR, barometer, compass. Activating Bluetooth to sync to your smartphone is fine as it doesn’t really affect the battery of either device to any large degree. The problem here is that Garmin now requires you to turn on location services on your phone if you want the devices to connect.

  5. Battery

    300 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion. 40 hours in UltraTrac mode, 16 hours in GPS training mode, and 2 weeks in smartwatch mode with 24/7 HR monitoring. Impressive battery life, leaving the tracking on isn’t really a worry either as it makes very little difference.

  6. Dimensions

    51.5 x 51.5 x 16 mm and 86.1 grams.

  7. Hardware

    The Fenix 3 HR adds an integrated optical heart rate monitor, along with the latest Fenix 3 software. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR changed my opinion about the Garmin GPS sport watches thanks to its use of stainless steel and matte black hard plastic with a very comfortable silicone band. The buttons are used for the following, moving from the top right and going clockwise: start/stop/select, back/lap, down, up, and light. You can also press and hold on the light button to access options to lock device, do not disturb, and power down. Pressing and holding in on the up button provides access to settings, training, clock, save location, navigation, history, and my stats.

  8. Software

    At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the five buttons and all that is provided on the Garmin Fenix 3 HR out of the box. However, after installing the Garmin smartphone application and discovering I could remove activities and widgets I didn’t plan on using I was able to streamline what appeared on the watch. The main watch display from Garmin is good, but I quickly discovered the Connect IQ store and installed a couple of cool watch faces that provide a guick glance at the daily activity tracking that is important to me. 

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