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Garmin Fēnix 3 Review

  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
£280 to £380
  • 80%

  • Garmin Fenix 3
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 2nd June 2018
  • Heart Rate Monitor functions
    Editor: 99%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 99%
  • Activity Tracking features
    Editor: 95%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 95%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 95%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 90%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 90%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

Thank you for visiting our summary review of the Fenix 3 Outdoor GPS sports watch / activity tracker. This robust outdoor GPS sports watch has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic (formerly HeartRateMonitor UK)

Garmin Fenix 3 GPS outdoor watch review

Release Date (UK) > February 2016

Product it replaced > Garmin Fenix 2

Suggested Retail Price (when new) > £429 to £599 depending on model

Replaced by > The Garmin Fenix 5. Three case sizes. All models include wrist based HR

Update > (July 2015) – Garmin have just released the HRM-tri and HRM-swim heart rate belts for use while swimming. These new HRM belts work in a similar way to Suunto’s Smart belt. They RECORD the heart rate data internally while you swim. At the end of the swim the Heart Rate data is  pushed to a compatible wrist unit (920XT, Fenix3)

Update > (2017) – Since writing this short review there have been several developments with Garmin’s outdoor GPS adventure watches. The Garmin Fenix 5 has now been released. There is no Fenix 4 (4 is bad luck in Chinese). The Fenix 5 is available in 3 different case sizes. A small version called the Fenix 5s, the regular version, Fenix 5, and a larger model with extended mapping functions called the Fenix 5X.

Strapless HR > We also have the Fenix 3 HR with wrist based heart rate …. with the introduction of the Fenix 5, the Fenix 3 HR can be found for a VERY GOOD price. It’s still a brilliant GPS sports watch (2017)

You can now get heart rate when swimming with Garmin HRM

Who’s it for?

The Fenix 3 is for anyone who wants the functionality of a fully featured ABC (Altimeter, Barometer and Compass) outdoor adventure watch with the added benefit of … where to start ? …. activity tracker, smartphone notifications, heart rate monitor (with optional HRM belt), step counter, recovery monitoring, swimming metrics, multi-sport support including running (with running dynamics including leg cadence, ground contact time etc), cycling (including Vector Power pedal support) and swimming, and 1,000 waypoints for GPS navigation and memory for up to 50 pre-planned routes… phew.

Prefer to go Strapless Heart Rate?

If you’d rather leave the chest strap heart sensor at home then you may want to consider the newer Garmin Fenix 3HR. This newer model incorporates Garmin’s Elevate system proving convenient wrist based heart rate.

Think of the Garmin Vivoactive and the Garmin 920XT,  then take all the best features and put them in a bombproof case, that’s the Fenix 3.The Fenix 3 is an alternative for the the customer seeking a robust GPS sports watch for the triathlete or other multisport athelte.

Key Features of the Fenix 3

  • Comprehensive, fully featured GPS ABC sports watch for fitness training and navigating
  • Optimised displays for different activities including cycling, climbing, running, skiing and swimming
  • Incorporates Garmin’s fast fix GPS for rapid location detection
  • ABC WatchAltitude via a Barometric altimeter sensor. 3-axis digital Compass with auto calibration
  • Up to 50 hours use in GPS mode from a powerful rechargeable lithium-ion battery. With GPS turned OFF up to 5 weeks in time of day watch mode
  • Share tracks, 1,000 waypoints, 50 routes, and more via wireless ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity .
  • Connect with other Garmin devices and upload your training data to Garmin Connect straight from smartphone
  • Receive text, email and incoming call notifications from your smartphone (iOs and Android)
  • Keep track of daily activity and get reminded when it’s time to move
  • Get recovery feedback at the end of your training sessions
  • Add POWER MONITORING to your cycling with the Garmin Vector pedals

Fitness and Training feature heavily

The Garmin Fēnix 3 is packed with training features to improve both you physical form and cardiovascular fitness. When paired with an optional heart rate monitor the fēnix 3 will estimate your VO2 max, evaluating your fitness level based on this calculation to predict race times. Fēnix 3 can also calculate recovery time and even perform a recovery check after hard workouts

Easily Navigate Out and Back

Equipped with a 3-axis electronic compass, barometer and auto-calibrating altimeter the fēnix 3 easily navigates on and off the beaten track. Users can plan trips and navigate courses, mark locations and record GPS breadcrumb trails. If you do get lost just use TracBack to automatically reverse the activity to navigate yourself back to the start.

Note > this product was replaced in March 2017 by the Fenix 5 reviewed here

>> Back to Top of Review

Pros & Cons


  • Superb construction
  • High visibility full colour display
  • Altimeter, barometer and digital compass
  • 24/7 Activity Tracking with heart rate
  • Sapphire crystal scratch resistant glass
  • Supports ANT+ heart rate, cadence, speed and power meter sensors
  • GPX route follow
  • Multisport support (Triathlon mode) as per Forerunner 735XT/920XT
  • Long battery life - 16 hours in GPS/HRM mode
  • Supports GPS and GLONASS satellite systems
  • Cons

  • It has everything but wrist based heart rate ... not a problem, consider the Fenix 3 HR
  • Some people may want a smaller unit, others something even larger ... in other words, the Fenix 5, available in 3 sizes with wrist based HR
  • We hope to have a more detailed review of the Garmin Fenix 3 soon. In the meantime, this is the manufacturer’s product details

    Video Review

    Product Information from Garmin Website

    Fēnix 3 is the uncompromising GPS sport watch designed for demanding athletes and outdoor adventurers. It is powered by GPS and GLONASS via the new steel EXO antenna and a brilliant colour display. Fēnix 3 comes packed with multi-sport training, trail running and navigation. It introduces a tough athletic design with quality materials and smart features like Connect IQ Apps

    A True All-Rounder

    fēnix 3 is designed to assist people during their sport activities and outdoor life. It supports performance sports like running, cycling, swimming, trail running, indoor training, cross country skiing as well as triathlon and recreational activities suchas hiking, climbing and downhill skiing. It measures performance on the go, tracks activities for sharing and navigates the user back home at the end of an adventure. And it does not stop there. The new ConnectIQ App support for fēnix 3 opens up the potential to develop many more functions and for all sorts of activities in the near future.

    Once running gets serious

    fēnix 3 is packed with cutting edge training features from Garmin. When used with a heart rate monitor (included in the Performer Bundle) it can give you stats about your form and fitness. The first is VO2 Max which gives you an estimation of your actual fitness based on your performance and heart rate data. The fēnix 3 is even able to make a prediction on your race time based on your VO2 Max value. After your training the recovery advisor tells you how much time you need to recover from your last activity.¹  Fēnix 3 incorporates sophisticated sensor feedback on your running form to provide multiple advanced running metrics. When used with the HRM-run monitor¹ (included in the performer bundle), fēnix 3 reports your cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time otherwise knows as Running Dynamics. These metrics show your running efficiency – something you can use to improve your performance over time.

    Run Vertical

    To address the specific needs of trail runners, fēnix 3 provides a dedicated trail profile. New features include the automatic switch for core data presentation during flat running vs. climbing sequences and more climbing-relevant data such as ascent performance split for laps and vertical speed. For Ultra Trail runners fēnix 3 secures additional battery life in UltraTrac mode and the option to run the watch with external power supply for the big challenge.

    Dive In

    Whether you’re training at the pool or out in the open water, fēnix 3 captures detailed swim metrics, including distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate and SWOLF score. The drill logging feature allows you to easily log swim drills and kick sets at the pool, and the 2 types of rest timers keep you pushing off the wall on time. Use time alerts to help you hold your pace, or distance alerts to let you know when a set is over. There are even alerts for calories and stroke rate.

    Ride On

    fēnix 3 is compatible with sensors such as speed, cadence and heart rate to provide advanced training capabilities for your cycling workouts. It can also display power metrics when paired with ANT+ power meters, including the Vector line of single- and dual-sensing pedal options. If you train with a heart rate monitor and power meter, fēnix 3 can derive your VO2 max estimate for cycling to help monitor changes in your fitness.

    Take this run

    Ski-board mode puts speed, distance, vertical drop and an automatic run counter (with Auto Pause for the lift line) and more at your fingertips. You can even use your fēnix 3 as a glove-friendly remote, via ANT+®, for the VIRB® and VIRB Elite action cameras.

    You know your way

    fēnix 3 provides comprehensive navigation and tracking functionalities to guide you on and off the beaten track. fēnix 3 records a GPS track log creating a “bread crumb trail” as you move. It also allows you to mark locations, such as a start/finish line, course checkpoint, or a campsite, vehicle or other point of interest. With fēnix 3, you can create and follow courses or mark up to 1,000 locations and navigate to them. Plan trips and share adventures with friends and family using Garmin’s free planning tool BaseCamp™ on your computer.

    More than just ABC sensors

    fēnix 3 is equipped with a barometric altimeter and an electronic 3-axis compass. The device auto-calibrates theses sensors using its GPS receiver to provide the most accurate information possible. The built-in altimeter provides elevation data to accurately monitor ascent and descent, while the barometer can be used to predict weather changes by showing short-term trends in air pressure. The 3-axis electronic compass keeps your bearing whether you’re moving or not. For accurate temperature reading from the watch, pair the fēnix 3 with our external tempe temperature sensor.

    Great Style That Stands Up to the Roughest Conditions

    fēnix 3 is available in 2 bold models: grey with a scratch-protected domed crystal and black band; silver with scratch protected domed crystal and red band. Each watch features an ultra-strong glass-fibre housing and stainless steel buttons for extra durability. A sunlight-readable high-resolution colour Chroma display with LED backlight lets you access your data in any light condition. Fēnix 3 is water rated to 100 metres and has a battery life of up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, 16 hours in GPS mode and up to 3 months in watch mode (all depending on settings).

    Connect IQ™ Apps

    fēnix 3 uses the Connect IQ platform for further customisation so you can personalise your watch with ConnectIQ apps, widgets, data fields and unique watch faces that make your Garmin smartwatch even smarter.

    Stay Connected

    Fēnix 3 is really smart and keeps you in touch with the world – be it through your smart phone to receive Smart Notifications directly on the watch², or through your WiFi hotspot for seamless automatic activity upload to Garmin ConnectTM. If you want to, fēnix 3 even keeps family and friends informed about your whereabouts through LiveTrack². Get even more information from fēnix 3 by combining it with one of the many optional Garmin ANT+ sensors like Vector® for cycling power, tempe TM for temperature, HRM-run for running dynamics and heart rate and many more. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or Likewise, we are members of other private affiliate programs and may earn comissions on purchases done by referrals at no additional cost for the buyer.