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Garmin Fenix3 Multisport GPS Watch In-Depth Review

Fenix3-Sapphire-Sandy

The Fenix3 aims to further blend the multisport watch realm (previously dominated by the Garmin Forerunner series), with the outdoor watches (such as the Fenix1 & Fenix2, as well as outdoor handhelds).  To that end the Fenix3 is effectively a Garmin FR920XT with additional features aimed primarily at the outdoor and hiking crowd – more than the triathlon crowd.  But, the appeal to triathletes since launch as clearly been the more normal watch looking feel, versus the plastic and blocky feel of the Forerunner 920XT units.

I’ve been using the Fenix3 for quite some time, and after a month on a final production unit with final production version – I’ve got enough data and detail for the in-depth review.  Which…is what you’ll find below.   The good, the bad, and the ugly.

To be clear, I’ve been using a Fenix3 provided by Garmin to test with (final production unit).  Like always, I’ll be shipping that back to them in Kansas in the next little bit and going out and getting my own via regular retail channels.  That’s just the way I roll.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed. So – with that intro, let’s get into things.

Unboxing & Versions:

Fenix3-Unboxing-BoxFace

There are a number of versions of the Fenix3 that have different exterior surfaces.  However, inside, all versions are identical.  Again, there is no software differences between them – instead, it’s purely the materials used on the outside.  Additionally, some Fenix3 variants are sold in bundles, which include the heart rate strap (HRM-RUN).  Let’s do a bit of a walk-through on an unboxing of one version. All versions contain the same pieces and just vary in terms of which bundle you bought.

Fenix3-Unboxing-BoxBack

First up we’ve got all the parts pulled out of the box:

Fenix3-Unboxing-Parts

You’ll see you’ve got the USB charging clip (new/different for the Fenix3), the watch itself, and the HRM-RUN heart rate strap.  Additionally, you’ve got some paperwork stuffs.

Fenix3-Unboxing-Set

Here’s a closer look at the charging clip.  It’s a new design for the Fenix3, which is a touch bit slimmer than previous designs.  It features a bit of a slide in/out locking mechanism.  Easily works to wear it while using the watch, should you want to charge on the go.

Fenix3-Unboxing-Charger

The box also includes a USB wall adapter. But fear not, you can use the unit with any USB port you’ll find on this planet:

Fenix3-Unboxing-USBAdapter

Next, is the HRM-RUN strap.  This is the strap that includes additional Running Dynamics metrics that were introduced with the FR620.  I recently wrote an entire post dedicated to the HRM-RUN strap, which you can read here.

Fenix3-Unboxing-HRM-RUN

Then there’s some quick start guide information and legal documents:

Fenix3-Unboxing-Manual

And finally, the Fenix3 unit itself:

Fenix3-Unboxing-SideBand

Fenix3-Unboxing-Front

Fenix3-Unboxing-OnBack

For those looking for a video-walkthrough of the box situation, here’s an unboxing video I did of the Fenix3 Grey Edition:

And then, another unboxing I did of the Fenix3 Sapphire.  You’ll note that in the US there isn’t yet a Fenix3 Sapphire HR bundle (in the UK there is).  However, the Sapphire edition does have one minor difference: It includes a spare set of plastic straps in case you get tired of the metal strap.   Outside of that, same-same.

Here’s an unboxing video I did of the Sapphire edition:

And, just for clarity on all the editions, here’s a photo I shoot with the Fenix3 Red/Silver Edition:

Fenix3A

With that, let’s briefly discuss some Sapphire specific notes before going through size specific comparisons.

Sapphire Edition Notables:

Fenix3-SapphireWatchFace

The Sapphire edition has a few tiny things that make it different, enough so that I’m going to very briefly cover them.  First is that the glass is different.  It’s a sapphire glass, which watchmakers sometimes use to increase scratch protection.  Now, that said, I really haven’t seen any issues with scratches on the regular unit I’ve been wearing 24×7 for months.  I’ve banged the crap out of it on surfaces and haven’t seen anything.

The second item to consider is that the Sapphire edition has metal links like numerous other high end watches.  That means that you can’t separate the two ends like a lower priced watch bands.  Further, you’ll need to resize the band by removing links.  You can do that by bringing it to any jeweler, or, you can get this $2.30 tool and do it yourself.

Fenix3-Sapphire-Link-Remover

Rather than put a bunch of pictures here, I just shot a quick video of how it works, which you can find below.

As you can see, it’s silly simple.  Seriously, I shot that video within the first few minutes of opening that bag.  It’s that simple, and, you can resize any other watch whenever you’d like.

As for deciding between the Sapphire and regular?  Well, I’ve mostly been using the regular over the Sapphire, and to that extent I’ve been happy.  The thing with the Sapphire is that it’s double the weight of the regular.  So obviously it’s gonna feel heavy.  For me personally, it takes a week or two to get used to that kinda weight on my wrist (when I’ve done it for regular wrist watches).  But, more than that, it’s really limiting if you want to mount it to a bike.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t let the scratch-resistance be the driver of that decision.  I’d honestly focus on your personal style preferences and whether or not the bike mount situation is of importance (see bike section on that).

Size & Weight Comparisons:

The Garmin Fenix3 is slightly slimmer than previous Fenix editions, which is easily seen when settled next to another unit (the Fenix3 is up front, the Fenix2 is towards the back):

Fenix3-Fenix2-Comparison

It’s slightly thicker however than the Garmin FR920XT – at least without the 920XT quick release kit applied.  Not much thicker, but a touch bit:

Fenix3-Fenix2-Comparison2

Meanwhile, looking at the front of the unit, here’s how things shake out against other watches in the category.

Left to right: Garmin FR910XT, Garmin FR920XT, Garmin Fenix3, Garmin Fenix2, Suunto Ambit3, Polar V800, Garmin FR620, Epson 810, Fitbit Surge

Fenix3-Unboxing-ComparisonSizesFenix3-Unboxing-ComparisonSizes2

Next is weight, I’ve measured two of the three models, and taken the official stats for the third model:

Fenix3 Sapphire: 175g (with 4 links removed for my wrist)
Fenix3 Sapphire with rubber strap instead: 85g (Garmin weight)
Fenix3 Grey: 82g
Fenix3 Silver/Red: 82g (Garmin weight)

This compares to the FR920XT, Ambit3, Polar V800, and Fenix2 weights as follows:

FR920XT: 61.6g
Ambit3: 86.0g
Polar V800: 80.8g
Fenix2: 85.6g

Here’s a quick pic of them on the scale:

Fenix3-Unboxing-WeightSapphire

Fenix3-Unboxing-WeightGrey

Finally, when it comes to wrist sizes, you’ll see plenty of my wrist throughout the review, but nonetheless, as a starting point here are the two editions on my wrist (which is 17cm, or about 6.5 inches):

And for The Girl’s wrist, I figured I’d include that here.  At 5’2” tall, she’s fairly petite.  Her wrist measures 14cm (or 5.5 inches).  Here’s a few shots on her wrist:

I haven’t resized the Sapphire yet for her, but once I do, I’ll include that in here.

Running:

There are numerous modes and sport profiles available within the Fenix3, all of which are highly customizable.  For this review I’ll start with running and talk about many features within the running section.  But keep in mind that virtually all of the functions (such as alerts, data page customization, etc…) are applicable to all modes.

To begin though, you’ll head outside and choose an activity type.  Technically these are now called ‘Apps’, and there’s an app for each sport (i.e. Run, Bike, Bike Indoor, etc…).  This also makes the structure more extensible to 3rd party apps as those are released.

Fenix3-Running-Start

Assuming you’ve selected a sport mode that’s GPS-enabled, such as running outdoors, the unit will start to find satellite.  The ring around the outside will slowly grow to 100%, in red first, and then green once complete.

Fenix3-Running-FindSatellite

The satellite acquisition time on the Fenix3 is based on a cached database that is updated each time you sync with your phone, computer, or WiFi.  That database enables faster acquisition so that acquisition times only take a few seconds, especially if you’re in the same spot as your last activity ended:

Fenix3-Running-SatelliteLock

As you were finding satellites you’ll have noticed that the unit would have found any ANT+ sensors that were paired.  This would show a small icon at the top for the sensor type – such as heart rate straps.

With everything all set it’s time to actually run.  At this point you’ll press the start button (the one with the red ring) and then it’ll start recording.  Your pace, distance and any other data fields you’ve configured will appear on the display:

Fenix3-Running-Fields

I’ll discuss data fields a bit later on, but you can customize them quite a bit including changing the number of metrics per page as well as the number of pages.

When it comes to pace, the Fenix3 is like the FR620, FR920XT and other recent Garmin watches that shows pace in 5-second increments, but slightly smoothed.  This is done to ensure a smoother pace metric.  Ultimately, all GPS watches have to smooth pace data in some manner.  Either they’re doing it in a visible way (i.e. 5-second increments), or in a non-visible way (smoothing the data further behind the scenes).  So the discussion on methods is somewhat academic.

Nonetheless, here’s a look at instant pace reaction times on the Fenix3 during a recent run where I was running along at a long-run pace, and then stopped for traffic for a moment, and then continued running again:

As you can see, it’s reasonably quick – even despite going under a large steel structure holding up the Parisian Metro/Subway system.

Within running (and all activities), you have a variety of functions you can enable such as Auto Lap – which automatically triggers laps on a preset interval, such as every 1-Mile or 1-Kilometer.  I tend to use this on long runs, but I don’t use it on interval runs as I manually trigger the laps instead using the lap button in the lower right corner.

Anytime a lap is triggered though the Fenix3 supports customized lap banners.  This means that you can change which metrics are shown anytime a lap is triggered.

Fenix3-DataFields-LapConfig

Next there’s other common Garmin functions like Auto Scroll and Auto Pause.  Auto Scroll will iterate through your data pages like a carousel.  Whereas Auto Pause will automatically stop and start the timer when you stop/start running.  This is more useful for city running or riding.

One new unique feature to the Fenix3 is Auto Climb.  Auto Climb works by showing a different set of data fields when you start to climb (go uphill).  This feature can be used on any profile including cycling.  The feature works by configuring a set of data pages that you want to show while climbing.

Fenix3-Running-AutoClimbMain

For example, for me I’ve configured ones with the incline as a data metric:

Fenix3-Running-AutoClimbGrade

Then, once you reach about 2-3% in incline, it’ll automatically trigger those data pages.  By default it’ll invert the data page colors, but you can just leave the colors the same if you’d like.

Fenix3-Running-AutoClimbVertConfig

Here’s a video I put together during a recent hill workout showing how it all works:

The feature of course won’t appeal to everyone, but is probably most relevant to ultra and trail runners in the mountains who are going up and down and may want to grab quick elevation related stats.

Now the Fenix3 includes the HRM-RUN Running Dynamics capabilities.  Within that, you’ll get stats like Vertical Oscillation and Ground Contact Time.  I recently wrote up a full post on the strap here, and whether or not to get it.

Fenix3-Running-Rydnamics

While running you’ll also get stats like Recovery Advice, such as whether or not you’re fully recovered.  In my experience it’s very rare to get anything other than ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’.  I feel like Garmin is trying to make everyone feel all warm and happy inside, as opposed to telling them ‘Sucky’.  Most other users who have been using these metrics for a few years now seem to get pretty similar results.

And then afterwards you’ll get Recovery Time estimates.  These estimates are geared at letting you know how much time you should wait until your next hard workout.  Of course, for multisport athletes this isn’t aimed for your next workout (of any sort), but just hard workout.  This was after a long run…so while perhaps a bit overaggressive, it’s not horribly off the mark.

Fenix3-Running-RecoveryTime

Additionally, upon completing a run you’ll get information such as any PR’s that were broken (Personal Records) – such as best mile split or longest run.  Note that by default these are only specific to this watch.

Fenix3-Running-PR-LongestRun

And finally, you’ll get a summary of your run that you can dig through and look at all the stats, both for the entire run, and each individual lap:

Fenix3-Running-HistoryMain

Fenix3-Running-LapSummary

Now, you’re not limited to outdoor running with the GPS.  Like most Garmin devices you can also use the Fenix3 indoors, such as on a treadmill.  For that you’ve basically got two options.  First is to use the built-in accelerometer within the Fenix3 to capture pace and distance.  In my experience, this works ‘ok’, but not great.

Fenix3-Running-Treadmill

The way this function works is that while you’re running outdoors it learns your paces and effectively your wrist movement.  With that knowledge, it’s important that for the highest accuracy indoors that you wear it on the same wrist as outdoors.  Most people have slight differences in how much wrist movement they have on each wrist.

Nonetheless, despite this, what I find is that certain paces are fairly accurate – but others less so.  For example when I run my long-run pace, the internally calculated pace is pretty accurate.  However, when I go into intervals, the pace tends to fluctuate a bit more – often upwards of about 10%.  This isn’t really unique to Garmin however; virtually all wrist-based pace/distance detection solutions are the same in the market today.

Fenix3-Running-Footpod

The second option for indoor pace is the ANT+ footpod.  That allows you to enter in a calibration value and get very accurate pace on a treadmill.  I talk about the footpod here in this post in uber-detail.

But, I’ve been using the footpod with the Fenix3 quite a bit on the treadmill over the past few months – all without issue.  In each one of those instances my pace nearly matches that of my treadmill (once calibrated), and the distance as well.

Ultimately, my recommendation is that if you want truly accurate pace/distance recorded while indoors – to get a footpod.  Also note that at this time there’s no method of selecting pace while outdoors from a footpod.   All pace when outdoors comes from GPS, except in scenarios where the GPS signal is lost (i.e. tunnel), in which case it falls back to the footpod (and failing that, to the wrist based detection).

Cycling:

The Fenix3 includes virtually all of the cycling functions and features found in any previous Garmin Edge device – including the Edge 1000.  The only features it lacks are turn-by-turn navigation with mapping (i.e.: Turn Left on Maple Street), Auto-Lap by position, and the Edge Remote Control support.  That said, let’s spend a few minutes walking through it.

First up is that like running, cycling has its own sport mode.  In this case either ‘Bike’ or ‘Bike Indoor’, depending on the weather I suppose.  Once you’ve selected that mode it’ll go ahead and find any relevant sensors that you’ve paired.  In my case that’s usually a power meter along with a heart rate strap, plus sometimes a speed or cadence sensor if indoors:

Fenix3-Sensors-SpeedCadence

It’ll pair with any ANT+ cycling sensors out there (see my section later on that), which includes all power meter brands except Polar/Look and their Keo Power solution.

The Fenix3 also will shortly support Cycling Dynamics, so for those Garmin Vector users, you’ll get that data as well.  In the meantime, you’ll still get all the regular left/right data.

GarminFenix3-PowerMeterData

When cycling, the functions at a foundational level are the same as running.  The only difference for most is that you now have power meter support.  This includes all of the power meter relevant fields like Training Peaks metrics such as TSS/NP/IF, and any power balance fields.

Indoors, the situation is much the same.  You can go ahead and pair to trainers such as the Wahoo KICKR or TACX Smart series trainers, which broadcast open ANT+ metrics like power, speed and cadence.

Fenix3-Cycling-KICKR

All of these metrics are then saved after the fact for uploading to Garmin Connect (and if you choose, automatic sync to sites like Strava).

GarminFenix3-PowerMeterMetrics

So what about mounting the Fenix3 to your bike?  Well, for that it’s a bit tricky.  See, the Fenix3 lacks a quick release kit, so thus it lacks any way to mount it directly using the ubiquitous Garmin quarter-turn mount that’s supported by the Edge series as well as the FR310/FR910XT/920XT watches.  This means instead if you don’t want it on your wrist you’ll need to use a little block like this rubber mount from Garmin for about $10:

Fenix3-Cycling-WatchMountingRoadBike

But, the challenge with that block is that with the Sapphire band you can’t detach it to fit through the hole.  So instead, your better bet is this also-$10 rubber block from Timex.  The challenge there though is that you can’t put that on your bike handlebars easily unless perhaps it’s a mountain bike.

So I don’t have a solution for road bikes, but for triathlon bikes you could use the Profile Designs bike computer UCM mount, and mount it from the side.  Kinda lame, but it does technically work:

Now for me personally, it’s this single item that’s probably the biggest reason I’ll probably still stick with the FR920XT as my main triathlon watch.  I don’t like looking at it on my wrist – especially in aero position.  Instead, I want it mounted on the bike.  Hopefully Garmin will look to release a quick release kit – it’s something that realistically should be simple for them to do, and basically just puts more money in their pocket anyway (since people have to spend at least $50 more for the Fenix3 over the FR920XT anyway).

Swimming:

Fenix3-Swim-Pool

The Fenix3 supports tracking of both pool and openwater swims.  For pool swims the unit will use the internal accelerometer within it to track swims.  This means that it’s looking at your movements and trying to determine what type of stroke you’re swimming as well as when you reach the end of each length of the pool.

To start a pool swim you’ll select it from the list of sports:

Fenix3-Swim-Start

Next, if it’s the first time using a pool swim it’ll ask you your pool size.  Else, it’ll remember your pool size for future swims.  If you go to a different pool that requires changing the size, you can simply select it within the settings menu:

Fenix3-Swim-PoolSize

There are preconfigured sizes for common pool lengths such as 25m, 25y, and 50m.  Additionally, you can specify and pool length between 17m/18y, and 150m/y.

Fenix3-Swim-Custom

Next, it’s time to swim.  Now when swimming with the watch you can do either a flip turn or an open turn (non-flip turn).  It’ll track either way.  The thing to keep in mind is that it’s essentially measuring acceleration and change in movement direction.  So if you stop mid-lane in the pool, it’ll confuse the unit.  Likewise if you sit at the end of the lane line for a few seconds and then do your next lap and do the YMCA song with your arms – it’ll confuse it.

Just swim, and keep swimming…and it’ll work out just fine.

Fenix3-Swim-PoolInsde

As you swim it’ll show you your pace and splits, all of which can be customized.  When you reach the end of a given portion of your workout (set), you can press the lap button to go into the rest timer.  This will separate out the different sections of the workout for you automatically.  It’ll also invert the screen so you know it’s in a paused state.

Fenix3-Swim-RestTimer

In addition the Fenix3 supports the Drill Log mode.  This mode allows you to do drills that the watch wouldn’t recognize distance on, such as kickboard drills.  For this you enter drill mode and then at the end simply tell it how far you swam:

Fenix3-Swim-Drill

Afterwards, all of this data is available on Garmin Connect and can be sliced and diced.  Note that I only swim freestyle, so I can’t really comment on accuracy of other strokes.

GarminConnectSwimData1

While Garmin Connect doesn’t allow editing of swim data, some 3rd parties like Sport Tracks do.  For example, in the above swim I had to stop mid-lane on one of my lengths, which caused a missed length.  Completely my fault (I dropped a camera out of my swim shorts), but there’s no method to fix that on Garmin Connect today.

GarminConnectSwimData2

Also note that at this time there is no method for any Garmin swim-capable watches to give you structured swim workouts.  However, interestingly Connect IQ was coded with that in mind – so it’s certainly possible we’ll see swim workout functionality come soon via that route instead.

Next, we’ve got openwater swims.  These are any swims in a lake/pond/ocean/etc… Basically any body of water big enough that GPS is logical.  Note that for outdoor pools (except the massive one in Chile), you should always use pool mode.

Fenix3-Swimming-Openwater

Once you’ve selected this mode it’ll go ahead and search for GPS just like other modes.  Interestingly, within the openwater swim mode you can actually do Live Tracking using the Garmin Connect Mobile app.  I’ve done that on a few occasions now using the Safer Swimmer buoy with my phone inside the dry compartment in it:

Fenix3-Swim-OpenwaterBuoy

The Fenix3 communicates with the phone just fine in between each stroke.  Heck, I even got a text message from The Girl during one of my openwater swims.

Next, while swimming the unit will track distance, pace and stroke information – such as it does in a pool:

Fenix3-Swim-OpenwaterMid

You can create laps as you see fit as well – for example to split apart a course.

Remember that the way openwater swim mode works is that each time your watch goes underwater it loses satellite, thus, each time it comes back up again it has to reacquire satellite in the half a second or so your wrist is above the water.  This obviously results in less accurate readings.  So what companies do is they take a bit of an average plot of where you’re going and try to figure it out, despite the reduced accuracy.  It’s usually not perfect, but it’s also usually pretty good.

I found that in all of my openwater swims that the Fenix3 was the most accurate Garmin openwater swim capable device to date that I’ve tried.  Typically I give a very slight edge to the Suunto series for openwater swim accuracy, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.  They seem to probably be a wash.

Below you can see some swim tracks with the Fenix3 on my wrist, and where I put another GPS watch (typically the FR920XT on the swim buoy above the water floating next to me).  This helps me create a ‘reference’ track to compare against.

Ultimately, these are pretty good.  Here’s the exact number comparisons.

First Test: 1,194 vs 1,200yds

Swim1-FR920XTReferenceSwim1-Fenix3Track

Second Test: 1,249 vs 1,305yds

Swim2-FR920XTReferenceSwim2-Fenix3Track

Third Test: 1,475 vs 1,540yds

Swim3-FR920XTReferenceSwim3-Fenix3Track

That last one is actually really impressive track-wise, especially where I edged around the barriers, it perfectly nailed that.

Swim3-BarcelonaTrackEdge

Just as a bit of a tip, if when swimming I find it helps to start the GPS above water where you know it has a lock for the first 1-2 seconds.  That establishes a good solid ‘starting point’.  And the same is true when you exit the water – just give it a second or two to find your ending point.  Seems to help (across most GPS watches).

Multisport activities:

Fenix3-Multisport-Triathlon-Main

Being a multisport watch, the Fenix3 supports what’s known as ‘multisport’ mode.  In this mode (well, actually multiple modes), the watch will automatically transition to the next sport upon pressing the lap button.  This allows you to line-up multiple sports such as in a triathlon and get sport-specific settings and records for each segment: Swim, T1, Bike, T2, Run.

Fenix3-Multisport-Triathlon-CustomAdd

You can also create your own custom multisport profiles, using any combination of existing sports.  Unlike the Fenix2, there is no limitation on creating a fully indoor triathlon for example.

Fenix3-Multisport-Triathlon-CustomAddConfig

Within these modes you can customize whether or not to include transition data.  What’s nice about the custom modes is that it’s easy to create duathlons.  For example, I did an openwater swim/run brick two weeks ago quite easily.

Fenix3-Multisport-Triathlon-IncludeTransitions

Afterwards, on Garmin Connect the Fenix3 multisport activities will show each segment of the workout separately – but as part of a larger workout.  This new Garmin Connect feature was introduced last fall for all new multisport workouts uploaded after that date (or, re-uploaded).  You can see my short swim/run brick here:

Fenix3-MultisportActivity

And you can see how if I click for just the swim tab I get additional detail, and it removes the other portions of the activity from view:

Fenix3-MultisportActivitySwim

Additionally, you can see the same styling on a longer swim/bike/run activity I did this past fall when the weather was slightly more hospitable to that kind of workout.

Note however that the Fenix3 lacks a quick release kit, so you’ll need to basically keep it on your wrist the entire time.

Daily Activity & Sleep Tracking:

Fenix3-Activity-TrackingPhone

The Fenix3 incorporates daily 24×7 activity tracking including such metrics as steps, distance walked, calories, and sleep.  It also incorporates the Garmin inactivity/move bar, which triggers to tell you that you’ve been lazy.

This activity tracker mode then transmits that data to your smartphone app (Garmin Connect Mobile), which stores the data on the Garmin Connect site for display.  Additionally, Garmin Connect can transmit the data to partners such as MyFitnessPal.

This data is also visible on the Fenix3 through the “Wellness” widget (activity tracking widget).  It’ll show you your steps towards goal, your current goal, and your calories burned and distance walked.

Fenix3-Activity-TrackingPhone

Along the bottom you see the red ‘move’ bar.

That bar fills up when you don’t move, eventually alerting you after an hour that you need to move.  You can clear the move bar by walking roughly 100 yards:

The goal steps that are displayed each day are dynamic, based on your previous days steps and trending data.  So, the more you walk, the higher the goal goes – and the inverse is true.  It’s designed however such that a single long run on a weekend won’t totally hose up your daily goals.

GarminFenix3-StepData

Next there is calories.  Calories on the Fenix3 activity tracker are inclusive of your baseline calories (BMR), aka, the calories you need to stay alive.  That’s why if you just sit there watching Saved by the Bell re-runs, it’ll still show you burning calories.  That’s pretty much the norm for activity trackers on the market.

Fenix3-Calories

There’s also support for MyFitnessPal as well, in the event you want to track both your consumed calories as well as burned calories:

fenix3-Calories-MyFitnessPal

Finally, we look at sleep.  The Garmin Fenix3 requires you to manually trigger sleep.  This is like the rest of the Garmin units that support sleep metrics…and is honestly pretty lame.  Most other watches/trackers will automatically sense it, such as the Fitbit series.  Worse yet, is that even when you do manually enter it in, the data that Garmin displays after the fact is pretty useless.

Fenix3-Sleep

No ‘times/minutes awake’, or anything else of value.  Just a very blah-like up and down chart vaguely showing movement.

image

As far as accuracy of activity tracking in general goes, the Fenix3 measurement of steps has been inline with other activity trackers for me.  Which means that it’s generally within 5-8% of what I’m seeing on other devices I’ve been wearing at the same time such as the Fitbit Charge HR and Jawbone Move.

However, keep in mind that there is no ‘perfect’ activity tracker.  Different companies use different algorithms to try and minimize inaccuracies.  Further, different wearable locations can also impact accuracy.  For example, if I’m pushing a shopping cart with a wrist-based device such the Fitbit Charge or Fenix3, I’ll likely get reduced step counts.  This is because the accelerometer isn’t likely to be triggered due to the static position of my hand.

Companies try and counter these sorts of items – such as ensuring steps aren’t counted when you’re showering or washing the dishes.  But the reality is that sometimes they do trigger steps.

Here’s what I’d remind ya: You shouldn’t be concerned about a few hundred extra steps.  At the end of the day, you’re aiming for a goal in the 10,000+ step range – so a few hundred steps really isn’t that meaningful.   If you only walked 2,000 steps, then no, you didn’t walk enough.  And at the other end of the spectrum, if you walked 18,000 steps – then yes, you walked a lot and an extra 100 steps washing the dishes wasn’t likely the cause for that 18,000 steps.

To that end these devices are best looked at from a trending standpoint.  They help you assess whether you’re walking a lot or a little.  That’s no different between a Fitbit, a Garmin, a Polar app – or even your phone.  They all have imperfections in certain scenarios – and excel at others.

Fenix3-Navigation-Base

The Fenix series  ultimately has it’s roots in navigation – and thus to that end much of that remains the key reason that you’d buy the Fenix3 over another device such as the FR920XT.  There’s two types of navigation capabilities within the Fenix3.  The first is the basic ‘ABC’ (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) functionality.  These features require no GPS enablement, and are otherwise running 24×7.

They’re accessible at any time by pressing the up/down buttons on the left side of the watch.  You can change the time scale for these, but by default they show historical values such as a 48-hr barometer and 4hr temperature.

The sensors that support these features (Compass, Altimeter, Barometer), can be accessed and configured within the settings and then sensors menu of the watch:

Fenix3-ABC-BarometerPlotConfig

It’s here that you can do tasks such as enable the Storm Alert, or change the plot length.  Additionally, in the case of the altimeter, you can calibrate it by manually entering in the current elevation (useful for trailheads).  Further, you can change the behavior of Auto Calibration, which controls when and how often the unit will calibrate the altimeter.  By default it’s once at the start of an activity, but you can change it to be continuous if you’d like.

Fenix3-Altimeter-Cal

Fenix3-Altimeter-Cal2

Note that for compass, as well as other position-format based metrics, you can change to a wide assortment of display formats.  I’ll try and get these manually typed up, but Garmin basically covers every possible position format I’ve ever heard anyone ask for.

Next, beyond the ABC functions there’s the GPS-based navigation capabilities.  These use GPS to guide you to various points, either pre-defined or on the fly.  To start navigation you’ve got two options.  The first is to simply select ‘Navigation’ from the main menu, and then select a given type of navigation: Courses, Activities, Saved Locations, Sight ‘N Go, or Coordinates.

When you do this, it’ll ask you for further details on what you’re navigating to – such as the pre-created course name:

Fenix3-Navigation-CoursesPage

Then, it’ll give you a bit of an overview of that particular selection.  For example, in a course it’ll show you a map of the course, as well as the elevation profile. Interestingly however, that elevation profile is not available once you start the activity.

Fenix3-Navigation-CoursesMap

Then you an select ‘Do Course’ to start the navigation. At this point the unit will ask you which activity profile to use.  You can use any GPS-enabled sport to navigate, for example hiking, running, or cycling.

At this point, the unit will add the navigation-specific screens that you have to that sport profile.  These four screens can be fully customized (each with four data fields), plus the Map and Guide screens.

Fenix3-Navigation-PagesMap

And of course, it’ll start navigation once you press the Start button.  As you navigate, it’ll guide you based on a map showing progress.  You can change the zoom level of that map by holding the middle left menu button:

Fenix3-Navigation-Pan-Zoom

In my case, I had pre-created a course on Garmin Connect and downloaded it to the unit via the Garmin Connect Mobile app:

Fenix3-Navigation-Course-Smartphone

You can also use the desktop application called Garmin Basecamp, but that lacks the free base map set seen on Garmin Connect, so it’s a bit more tricky to create routes with a default Garmin Basecamp install.  Note that rather unfortunately the Fenix3 is not compatible with Basecamp Mobile.  That’s quite a bummer because Basecamp mobile was super-easy to create waypoints, whereas there’s no method on Garmin Connect to create Waypoints, only routes.  So oddly, things got slightly harder with this new version.  Hopefully Garmin will enable support for it on the Fenix3.  Ultimately in my mind if they don’t have that in place by time the Epix releases, otherwise it’ll be a super-disjointed story.

In any case, back to navigating the route.  As you’re navigating you’ll get various status on your progress related to the course.  For example if you’re on course, and how much of the course is remaining.

Fenix3-Navigation-CourseRunning3

Fenix3-Navigation-Mid-Run

If you’ve defined a given pace for the course, the unit will show that as well within the screens.  This is essentially the same functionality that’s then leveraged for the ability to follow a previous activity.

Fenix3-Navigation-CourseRunninng2

In addition to courses you can also save coordinates and route to them.  You can further save these coordinates with given names, such as ‘Start of trail’, or ‘Home’.  Or perhaps more critical place names like ‘Burger place’.  Note that the Fenix3 does not contain any sort of POI (Point of Interest) database, so you’ll have to create all your own POI’s.

Finally, note that there are actually a number of very small (but important to some) navigational differences between the Fenix3 and the past Fenix1/Fenix2.  In order to minimize the amount of updating I have to do each and every time Garmin updates/addresses these, I’ve placed them all into a massive comparison table a few sections down from here.  Please do read that section though to better understand if there’s any gaps that cause you pain.

Battery Life:

Fenix3-BatteryLife

The Fenix3 has a few different technical specs when it comes to battery life, depending on how you use it.  For example, they note on the product page that it’ll get: “50 hours in UltraTrac mode, 16 hours in GPS mode and up to 3 months in watch mode” (yet in other places on the spec pages it notes 20 hours in GPS mode).

So how does that compare in reality?  Well, it depends.  First, we’ll start with just a simple long-life battery test.  For that, I simply fully charge the unit up and plunk it on my roof and see when it dies.

Fenix3-RooftopBattery-Test

In this case, I went with 1s recording (non-UltraTrac, 1-second recording, GLONASS-off) Here’s the results there:

Fenix3-BatteryLifeGC

As you can see, it went 18 hours and 12 minutes, a bit shy of their claimed 20 hours but above their 16 hours.  We’ll call it splities.  In my case the temperatures here have been about 38°F/3°C, so you’ll see that impact battery life slightly.  Still, at 18 hours it easily covers an Ironman triathlon.

The next option you’d have is UltraTrac.  This mode reduces the GPS update frequency to save battery life.  This means you’ll get less GPS track points, as it works in a 15-20 seconds of GPS on-time, then about 45 seconds of GPS off-time pattern.  Because of this, it cuts some of the corners, because of the reduced update rate.  Now, for something like city running – it’s not really ideal.  But, if you’re doing a longer hike where you might otherwise be tight on battery, it’s probably fine.  That’s because your rate of speed is lower.

Note that with UltraTrac you DO get ANT+ data, which is a change from prior Fenix versions, where you didn’t get ANT+ data.  This data is recorded at 1-second rate.  Additionally, instant pace, temperature and cadence is also recorded at the 1-second rate, since all of that comes from the accelerometer.

But what if UltraTrac isn’t enough?  For that you can use a USB battery charging pack.  These packs allow you to charge the Fenix3 while it’s recording mid-use.  So you can simply attach it and re-charge as you complete your activity.

Fenix3-Battery-Extension-Parts

Fenix3-Battery-Extension

To get an understanding of how that works, I’ve put together this quick little video:

Finally, what about day-to-day battery life?  Well for that the unit is spec’d at 6 weeks.  But quite frankly, I wasn’t about to wait 6 weeks without plugging it in, because then I wouldn’t have had the battery juice for all my day to day GPS workouts.  Instead, let’s focus on battery life for day-to-day  activity.

Within the Fenix1/Fenix2 timeframe, the battery life was pretty good (lasted a long time) in normal day to day mode.  But, on the Fenix1/2 it was greatly shortened if you enabled Bluetooth Smart (for notifications, primarily).  Down to about 24-36 hours, on a good day.

With the Fenix3 however, you can leave Bluetooth Smart on and it’ll last quite some time.  It’s tough to get an exact real-world figure, since again the mere act of using GPS for other activities would drain things.  But we’re talking at least a week or more here.  Perhaps it’s three weeks, I just don’t have any way of knowing.  Either way, for most people you’ll need to charge it again before that point simply for use during GPS activities.

Sensor Compatibility & Sensor Pools:

Fenix3-Sensors-Pool

The Fenix3 follows in the footsteps of both the Edge 1000 and FR920XT in including the sensor pool concept.  This means that instead of having ‘bike profiles’, you just pair all your sensors into what is effectively a pool.  When those sensors turn on (such as turning your bike wheel, or putting on your HR strap), then the Fenix3 will automatically find them.

This is ideal for people with multiple bikes that may or may not forget to change the bike profile before starting the ride – as the sensors automatically pickup instead.  It’s also great if you have more than one pair of running shoes with footpods on them, or simply different heart rate straps.

To pair a sensor you’ll go into the sensors menu and add a new sensor.  You can tell it to search for everything, or you can pair a specific sensor type:

Fenix3-Sensors-Search

The Fenix3 can save numerous sensors of the same type within the pool.  For example, you can see multiple heart rate straps saved here on my unit (you can give them custom names too!):

Fenix3-Sensors-HRM

The Fenix3 supports the following sensor types:

ANT+ Heart Rate Strap
ANT+ Running Footpod
ANT+ Cycling Power Meter
ANT+ Cycling Speed-only Sensor
ANT+ Cycling Cadence-only Sensor
ANT+ Cycling Speed/Cadence Combo Sensor
ANT+ Tempe (Temperature Sensor)
ANT+ VIRB Action Camera
ANT Shimano Di2 (coming in future update)

For those that want more accurate temperature data during activities (so that it’s off your wrist, due to body heat interference), you’ll want to look into the Tempe sensor, which is made by Garmin.  This sensor lasts a year on a coin cell battery and transmits the temperature to the Fenix3.

Fenix3-Sensors-TempeDetail

Like existing Garmin products, the Fenix3 does not support any Bluetooth Smart sensors, nor other sensor technologies such as analog sensors or Polar W.I.N.D. sensors.  Nor does it support Nike+ straps or sensors.

Finally, a brief note about optical sensors (such as the Scosche or Mio products).  With using optical HR, you do run the risk that you’ll get reduced accuracy on metrics that require heart rate variability (such as Recovery Time, VO2Max, Race Predictor, and to a much more limited degree, calories).  This is because these sensors today largely ‘estimate’ heart rate variability (HRV/RR) information.  However, they are required to transmit said information according to the ANT+ heart rate specification.  So instead of transmitting nothing, they estimate it (but not measure it).

For some people, it’ll work out and their metrics would lineup against a normal chest strap. For others, the differences may be more apparent. It’s hard to know exactly how it would impact a given person. For me personally, some workouts line-up near identically, yet others are far off the mark.  Again, just a lot of variables (none of which are the fault of the Fenix3, but rather the state of optical sensor technology today).

Data Fields & Display Customization:

Fenix3-DataFields-Main

The Fenix3 includes numerous ways to customize the display within activities (as well as outside of activities).  Within activities you can display up to four pieces of data on a single page, and you can have up to 10 pages of data per activity profile (app/sport).  I honestly can’t think of a reason you’d need more than 40 pages of concurrent data.  And technically speaking, you get another few pages of data when you add in the ‘Navigation-specific’ pages.

Each of these is customized on a per-sport basis, which is handled through the settings option.  But you can also change these on the fly during the activity if you need to.  There is no method to change these via the app or online.

You can display 1, 2, 3, or 4 data fields per data page.  But, there are also different ways you can display some of those – such as the way the screen is split up.  The below little gallery shows you all the ways you can show the data:

Note that there is not an active HR graph like there has been on some previous Garmin units, however there is some Connect IQ HR graph data fields (but reaction to those is mixed from folks).

Note that widgets also show data as well when not in an activity, such as the temperature, barometer, and altitude.  These are on 24×7 and do not require necessarily GPS (though some do leverage it):

Fenix3-Widget-Config

Finally, the exact listing of all available data fields can be found within the Fenix3 manual.

GPS Accuracy:

Fenix3-GPS-Comparisons

The Fenix3 includes additional GPS related technologies (GLONASS) which can increase GPS accuracy in most situations.  In my testing of the Fenix3 over quite some time now, I’m seeing accuracy on par with the Garmin FR920XT and Suunto Ambit3 – both of which I’ve had virtually zero issues with in a wide variety of scenarios.

Now, when it comes to GPS accuracy I tend to take a fairly practical viewpoint.  I’m generally looking at how well a unit tracks compared to where I went, as well as the total distances seen between different units.  Generally speaking I’m running/riding with 2-5 other GPS devices at the same time.  I feel this is pretty important – comparing two different runs, even on the same route, will result in differences due to environmental factors and simple things like body placement.  Which, is also important to consider.  You can get different results between the left and right wrists, depending on how your body impacts GPS reception.  In most cases, it’s negligible, but in edge cases it could be more overt.

When looking at GPS accuracy and tracks on a map – you must be sure to be in satellite mode and not map mode.  Maps don’t always align with reality, while satellites are much closer.  A map might have you running in the water whereas the satellite will show you on a river path.

Finally, do recognize the limitations of consumer grade GPS, which is generally specified as +/-3M.  By default the Fenix3 does NOT have GLONASS turned on, so you’ll want to enable that via: Settings button > Settings menu item > System > GLONASS = ON.  Note it will have a slight impact on battery, but not significant.  Note however that a very small percentage of folks have seemingly seen worse accuracy with GLONASS enabled on other watches like the FR920XT.  So, if you’re having some GPS issues, try simply turning that off instead.  Finally, be sure that you have 1-second recording enabled, otherwise you’ll often see cut-corners.

All that said, I’ve seen consistently impressive results when it comes to GPS accuracy with GLONASS enabled.  Here’s a data sheet of distances recorded by two or more devices.  Obviously, with only two devices in some cases, it’s hard to know who was right – but as you can see, in almost all those cases the two devices were nearly identical.  For cases where I had a third device, I included that.

My personal testing with the Fenix3 has been in the following locales in a variety of conditions from snow to sun, rain to fog: USA, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands.  For the below table however, I’ve only included activities on the final firmware versions (despite having a vast library of accurate data prior to final firmware) – and only activities where two or more devices finished their recordings (i.e. sometimes another unit would run out of battery).

Fenix3 GPS Accuracy

DescriptionFenix3Other 1Other 2
Openwater Swim 1.74mi.71mi (FR920XT Buoy)-
Openwater Swim 2.68mi.68mi (FR920XT Buoy).69mi (Ambit2 S)
Openwater Swim 3.87mi.84mi (FR920XT Buoy)-
Long Run14.64mi14.65 (Epson 810)14.87 (Polar V800)
Hill Repeats7.77mi7.816mi (Epson 810)-
Sunday Mixed City/Park Ride23.44mi23.55mi (Edge 510)23.65mi (Edge 810)
Sunday Long Run Through City14.43mi14.47mi (Epson 810)-
Evening City Run5.82mi5.84mi (FR920XT)5.85 (Polar V800)
Cycling - Sunday30.10mi30.09 (Edge 810 #1)30.16 (Edge 810 #2)
River Long Run12.5612.60 (FR920XT)12.69 (Polar V800)
(Activities below this are post-review additions)
Interval 800m Repeats7.337.28 (Fenix3 #2)7.38 (Vivoactive)
Long Run12.1512.31 (Vivoactive)-
City Sunday Run10.0210.26 (Epson 810)10.31 (Vivoactive)
Bahrain Run4.154.12 (Epson 810)-
Evening City Run5.605.62 (Epson 810)5.63 (Vivoactive)
Half-Marathon13.0413.13 (Epson 810)-
Night River Long Run12.6312.77 (Vivoactive)-
Interval 800m Repeats Les Berges7.297.35 (Vivoactive)-
Numerous indoor rides---
Numerous treadmill runs---

Note that virtually all of my activities are available on Strava, so you’re free to look at any activity.  Unfortunately Strava has yet to update the device name mapping field, so it shows these as the FR920XT.  Fear not, any file I’ve uploaded to Strava since late January has been with the Fenix3 (unless it says Garmin Edge).

Additional post-review note: I’ve been occasionally adding in activities I’ve done since publishing this review, into the table above.

Connect IQ Compatibility:

Fenix3-ConnectIQ-Pretty

The Fenix3 supports Connect IQ, which is Garmin’s new app store concept for Garmin devices.  The platform was unveiled this past fall, and contains four basic types of ‘things’:

– Watch Faces
– Data Fields
– Widgets
– Apps

At present, only Watch Faces and Data Fields are released in the Connect IQ store.  The Apps and Widgets will release tomorrow (Friday, March 6th).  Today within that store you can download various data fields and watch faces.  These include both Garmin and 3rd party made options:

Fenix3-ConnectIQ-Watchfaces

Once downloaded to your watch you can include Connect IQ data fields within any of your existing data pages:

Fenix3-ConnectIQ-DataFields

Similarly, you can change to the Connect IQ watch faces as you see fit.

The next set of things that Garmin will release tomorrow (Friday) are- Apps and Widgets – are really where the major benefits of the platform come into play.  That’s where you’ll start to see cool logic driven programs that can run on the Fenix3 and generate meaningful feedback and guidance.  For example, there’s an upcoming App that does turn-by-turn navigation on Connect IQ:

IMG_3355

Now in some cases, Garmin has selected to make widgets instead of adding base functionality into the Fenix3.  For example, in the past the Hunt & Fish, as well as Moon & Sun functionality was within the Fenix1/Fenix2 natively.  But now it’s a Connect IQ widget.  Here’s an early preview into these two widgets which will be released tomorrow – the Sunset/Sunrise, and Hunt/Fish ones. (Update: These specific widgets have been delayed slightly now, and will not release tomorrow.)

Fenix3-Widgets-MoonPhases

Fenix3-Widgets-Hunting

Finally, here’s a preview of another app coming up called Sky Watch.  This app will show you the locations of star constellations, planets, and the moon (with phases), as you move the watch around.  It’s pretty cool.  Here’s a quick video I shot of it tonight:

I’ll do a bigger follow-up post on Apps & Widgets as they start to hit the app store.  In the meantime, you can catch-up with my first post on Connect IQ where I talk through a preview of these functions.

Smartphone/Smartwatch Features Connectivity:

Fenix3-Smartphone-App

The Fenix3 like virtually all of Garmin’s new devices made in the last 2 years, can connect to the Garmin Connect Mobile app for smartphones.  The Fenix3 will leverage Bluetooth Smart to connect to your phone for uploading of workouts, downloading of courses, and the sync of notifications and other smartphone related goodness.

Unlike the Fenix1 & Fenix2 however, the Fenix3 can do all this while concurrently using ANT+.  Meaning that there’s no longer a limitation of using sensors with things like Live Tracking, as there was previously.

In addition as well, the battery drain profile for use of Bluetooth Smart notifications from your phone is much more normal now, allowing you to go quite some time before re-charging (on the Fenix1/2, it was only a day or two).  Now, you’re realistically looking at charging perhaps every 1-2 weeks depending on how much GPS activity you have for workouts.

Notifications on the Fenix3 can be enabled to buzz or beep you, and customized as to when it will do so.  For example, you can configure it to leave you alone during workouts if you want.

Fenix3-Smartphone-NotificationSettings

The notifications will appear immediately on the Fenix3 screen – often before it even shows up on your phone (it’s kinda impressive):

Fenix3-Smartphone-IncomingCall

In addition, they’ll disappear after a timeout – but can still be accessed via the notifications widget by just pressing the up/down buttons:

Fenix3-Smartphone-NotificationList

(The above phone number isn’t real, it’s just used by Google News Alerts to send notifications)

In either location you can dive into the details of a notification further:

Fenix3-Smartphone-NotifcationMain

Note that notifications are controlled by the respective phone platforms notification center.  So it’s not Garmin deciding which notifications to show – but rather how you’ve configured it on your iOS or Android device for a given app.  To get an idea of how both the inbox widgets work, as well as how notifications work, I put together a little video of it:

Beyond notifications, the Garmin Connect Mobile app will automatically upload completed workouts as soon as they are saved, assuming your phone is in-range.

Additionally, you can use the app to download courses (as I showed in the navigation section).  And the phone is also used to upload step and sleep data from the Fenix3.

Beyond these functions, you can utilize Live Tracking with the Fenix3.  This function works the same as with previous Garmin devices whereby it uses your phone’s data connection for uploading your current position and post track locations to a website that you can share with friends and family (and stalkers of your choosing).

Fenix3-Smartphone-LiveTracking

This site will also display ANT+ data from your workout as well:

Istanbul

The benefit of doing this over just a regular phone app that transmits your location is that this offloads the GPS service to your Fenix3, as opposed to the battery drain on your phone.  As anyone who has used the GPS on their phone knows – the battery drain of GPS can be huge.

Finally, the Fenix3 is the first Garmin ‘smart’ device that has managed to remember it’s marriage to my phone the entire time.  Now this may sound like an odd statement, but whether the fault of Garmin Connect Mobile (GCM) updates, iOS updates, or just the device itself – I’ve yet to have an issue where I’ve had to re-pair the Fenix3 to the GCM app.  It just works.  Day in, and day out, it notifies me for various notifications.

Bugs and other quirks:

Fenix3-LittleBugs

By and large, the Fenix3 has been pretty bug-free for me.  I have seen a handful of little quirks, most of which have already been addressed since I’ve noted (and reported) them.  I haven’t seen anything that’s systematic, nor anything that was a show-stopper.  Finally, I haven’t seen any single oddity more than once (meaning, a repeating issue).

The minor quirks I have seen on production versions of the Fenix3 include some oddities with Live Tracking here and there, such as sessions that showed odd sensor data to people following me live (but my data recorded/shown to me was perfectly fine).  Also, a discrepancy where Garmin Connect told me a course was ~14.9 miles, yet when I actually ran it, it was ~14.6 miles – nearly a third of a mile off.  It’s not clear to me if that’s a Fenix3 issue or a Garmin Connect course creator issue.  Similarly, I did see an issue where the Fenix3 wasn’t reading the estimated paces within a course file from Garmin Connect.  But again, it could be that Garmin Connect wasn’t sending them correctly.

Finally, I’ve seen one issue with reboots related to changing power meter data fields during configuration.  Garmin has confirmed/reproduced that as being fixed in the next firmware update.

I haven’t seen any GPS accuracy issues, nor have I seen any reboots beyond what I just noted.  I’ve not seen any data loss either across not just production units but any pre-production units.

Which of course this doesn’t mean you’ll see something I don’t.  I can only test what I think to test, or stumble into during day to day use across swim/bike/run/hike/etc…  In looking at other sources, such as the Garmin Forums, I don’t really see any sort of widespread issues either with people that have had the unit going on a month now.

Update #1 (May 4th 2015): Issues with trail running/riding and under-reporting of distance:

Some users are seeing issues in trails with the Fenix3 undereporting distance (cutting corners). I reached out to the Fenix product manager and Garmin PR regarding the issue.  My question/inquiry was specifically related to those seeing GPS shortages primarily in wooded areas while running/riding, most often associated with changes in direction and switchbacks. Their official quotable response to that topic area from both the PR lead for the Outdoor team, as well as the program manager for the Fenix product line is below:

“We’re aware of the customer concerns and are working towards a resolution. This is a priority for the Garmin team, and we’ll be sure to communicate to consumers once a firmware update is available to fix the issue.”

They aren’t comfortable giving a specific time frame for said firmware update at this time.

Update #2 (May 18th, 2015): Secondary update on Fenix3 shortening

I received another update, albeit a very brief one on the distance shortening, here’s the latest from Garmin (media lead, after checking directly with Fenix3 engineering team lead):

“…our engineering team has this issue at the top of their priority list. They’re moving quickly to get a fix pushed out, and I’ll be sure to let you know once I have more information on when the firmware update will be released.”

Not a whole lot more detail than before, other than to say it’s being worked.

Deciding between the Fenix3 & FR920XT (and the Fenix2):

Fenix3-FR920XT-Comparison

Since the Fenix3 has come out there’s been a lot of questions on whether to get the Fenix3 or the FR920XT.  Additionally, how precisely the Fenix3 differs from the Fenix2.  The key thing to consider is that the Fenix3 is largely built on the same software platform as the FR920XT.  Thus, they share many features.  The Fenix3 should be looked at as a superset of the FR920XT.  So, a FR920XT++.

However, there is one aspect that might sway many people towards the FR920XT: The lack of quick release kit on the Fenix3.  Given it doesn’t have one, for triathletes that’s kinda a big deal.  Additionally, some might find that because of the rectangular nature of the FR920XT screen, it allows the numbers to be a smidgen bigger versus the rounded display that cuts into some of the display area.

Shifting to past changes between the Fenix3 and the Fenix1/2, there’s a host of them – mostly minor, but for some those tiny little differences may be a big thing.  On the flip side, for many, they might not matter.  Do keep in mind that the below chart doesn’t encompass many of the ‘better known’ differences between the models (i.e. weight, sensors types like Di2, etc…).  This is really about capturing a lot of the ‘tiny’ changes between them.

Fenix3 Feature Differences

Functionality/Feature DifferencesGarmin Fenix3Garmin FR920XTGarmin Fenix2Garmin Fenix1
General: Multiple Time Zones Displayed (i.e. showing both US EST and US PST on device)Planned Connect IQ WidgetNoYesYes
General: Multiple Time Alarms (i.e. 8AM, 10AM, etc…)Initially March 2015 - now Summer 2015NoYesYes
General: Battery with Bluetooth enabled lasts a long time (more than ~24-36 hours)YesYesNoNo
General: Ability to operate dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart concurrentlyYesYesNoNo
General: Weather Widget (uses cellular data via Bluetooth Smart for weather data)Yesvia Connect IQNoNo
General: GLONASS for increased GPS accuracy in some situationsYesYesNoNo
General: Show exact satellite accuracy (i.e. +/- 15ft)NoNoYesYes
General: Show satellite map (display of satellite positions)NoNoYesYes
General: Daily Activity Tracker/Sleep TrackingYesYesNoNo
General: Resume later functionality (stops GPS activity, allows you to resume activity later)YesNoYes
General: Ability to use device while being chargedYesNoYesYes
General: Auto Light capabilityNoNoYesYes
General: Configurable hot key capabilityYes (added Apr 2015)NoYesYes
Navigation: Ability to display coordinates ('Where am I'/similar function)YesYesYesYes
Navigation: Can save GPS locations on watch for future navigationYesYesYesYes
Navigation: Ability to configure position formats (Datum/Spheroid/Coordinates)YesNoYesYes
Navigation: Numerous Compass Data Fields (Heading/GPS Heading/Compass Heading)YesOnly 'Heading'YesYes
Navigation: Numerous Navigation Data Fields (Dist remaining, Bearing, Course, Off Course, Lat/Long, etc…)YesMinimal FieldsYesYes
Navigation: Has 'Sight 'N Go' functionality (following compass heading)YesNoYesYes
Navigation: Has navigate to Coordinate (entered on device) functionalityYesNoYesYes
Navigation: Can navigate on/following historical activitiesYesNoYesYes
Navigation: Has 'Back to Start' navigationYesYesYesYes
Navigation: Waypoint Average functionalityNoNoYesYes
Navigation: Project Waypoint functionalityNoNoYesYes
Mapping: Can pan/zoom on track mapYesYesYesYes
Mapping: Basemap functionality (basic map loadable)NoNoYesYes
Mapping: Supports Basecamp Mobile smartphone appNoNoYesYes
Hiking: Can one-tap display Altimeter, Barometer, Compass,Temp (no GPS enablement needed)YesNoYesYes
Hiking: Can display barometer valueYesNoYesYes
Tools: Ability to share routes wirelessly between devicesNoNoYesYes
Tools: Calculate distance between two pointsNoNoYesYes
Tools: Area calculation functionalityNoNoYesYes
Tools: Man overboard functionalityNoNoYesYes
Tools: Sun & Moon functionalityPlanned Connect IQ WidgetNoYesYes
Tools: Hunt & Fish functionalityPlanned Connect IQ WidgetNoYesYes
Tools: Jumpmaster functionality (parachuting)NoNoYesYes
Sports: Autoclimb functionalityYesNoNoNo
Sports: Ability for multisport profile with indoor swimYesYesNoNo
Sports: Has quick release kit (for triathlon)NoYesNoNo
Sports: Support for sport-specific heart rate zonesYesYesNoNo
Sports: Support for multiple activity profiles (via multiple saved sensors)YesYesNoNo
Apps: Garmin Connect IQ SupportYesYesNoNo

For the bigger changes, see the below main comparison tables.  The above is like a ‘special edition’ comparison table for just this one post to try and ferret out all the little differences.

Product Comparisons:

If you’re looking for a general (but still detailed) comparison chart between the Fenix3 and other units on the market, check out the product comparison tool.  Below is just a look at the Fenix3, FR920XT, and Fenix2 – but every GPS watch product I’ve reviewed is available to mix and match and create your own comparisons here.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 9th, 2016 @ 10:59 amNew Window
Price$499$399$449
Product Announcement DateJanuary 5th, 2015Feb 20, 2014Oct 1st, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateFebruary 2015March 2014Early Oct 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 50mYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)Up to 50hrs in GPS50 HoursUP TO 40HRS IN GPS
Recording Interval1S OR SMART1S to Variable1s or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesNoYes
Can control phone musicYesNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Designed for cyclingYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNo
RunningGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)With HRM-TRI or HRM-RUNYesWith HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYes
Race PredictorYesYesYes
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYes (Added June 13th, 2014)Yes
SwimmingGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Designed for swimmingYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIMNoWith HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YEsYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesYes
Indoor auto-pause featureNoNoNo
Change pool sizeYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150Y/M18m/20y to 150y/m17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesYes
Can change yards to metersYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesYes
TriathlonGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Designed for triathlonYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYEsYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYes (Added June 13th, 2014)Yes
FunctionsGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureYesNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataYesYesNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoYesNo
GeocachingVia GPS coordinatesYesNo
Weather Display (live data)YesNoYes
NavigateGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YEsYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startYesYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYes
SensorsGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)No
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)No
Shimano Di2 ShiftingComing in updateNoYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesNoYes
SoftwareGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember that all products are available in the product comparison tool – so you can mix and match and create your own comparison there.  Enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’ve attempted to consolidate many of the most frequently asked questions I’ve seen about the Fenix3 into the following sections.

When is the Fenix3 going to ship?

Technically it’s been shipping for about a month now.  Though, it’s probably been one of the more bungled Garmin distributions to date, full of miscommunications and misinformation (really, I haven’t seen anything this hosed up in years from the company).  While Garmin is within their previously stated “Q1 2015” range, their shipment of just a single handful of units early February has caused a lot of confusion – even within Garmin.  Unfortunately, their move has only led to disappointed consumers.  Hopefully things will get sorted out in the next few weeks with larger volumes.

Should I get the Fenix3 or FR920XT?

See the above section on that, but I think for most it’ll come down to whether you care about some of the additional navigation features, the quick release kit, and the slight differences in weight and screen sizes.

Will Garmin start selling a Fenix3 quick release kit?

I don’t know.  I think I’ve made it really clear that it’s silly they don’t – just seems like lost money left on the table for them.

These are great units, but do keep in mind there are some limitations using optical sensors with certain features of the Fenix3 (along with other Garmin/Suunto/Polar units).  These features such as recovery time, VO2Max, and to a limited degree calories – depend on accurate heart rate variability information.  With today’s technology, that transmission is often quite estimated.  See a bit more detail in my sensors section.

Does the HRM-RUN transmit pace too?

No, it does not.  Only Vertical Oscillation, Ground Contact Time, and Cadence.  The watch also calculates cadence internally.  See my HRM-RUN post for full details on the HRM-RUN strap.

Can the Fenix3 read your heart rate underwater?

No, it cannot.  No ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart strap is capable of transmitting through water.  In the case of the Suunto Ambit3, they use a cache and forward technique where it saves the data while swimming and sync’s it afterwards.  In the case of Polar and the V800 they use a legacy analog signal to transmit the data underwater.

What about the Garmin Epix, how does the Fenix3 compare to that?

Honestly, it’s too soon to know.  With the Epix seemingly on a path for an April (or even later) release, there’s just too much that’s not finalized at this point.  Ultimately the biggest difference will be that the Epix obviously supports mapping, but beyond that it remains unclear how many other differences there may be.  See my previous preview for the latest news there.

Summary:

Fenix3-Sapphire-Fenix3-Grey

For the multisport crowd who’s been looking for Garmin to come out with a multisport sport watch that’s as elegant as more classical time pieces, the Fenix3 definitely delivers there.  For the outdoor/hiking crowd, there’s been some changes from the Fenix1/2 that some won’t quite like (such as lack of basemap). Yet, there are certainly features that same crowd will be quite happy about.  So, it’s really going to be a personal preference.

When it comes to stability and functionality, given the Fenix3’s foundation of the FR920XT (which is widely seen as quite stable and solid), the watch continues in that vein.  I simply haven’t had  any major issues (and barely any minor issues) on the final production firmware.  The single biggest issue I have has nothing to do with firmware, but just really the lack of quick release kit for cycling.

When it comes to looking at other units on the market, it’s going to be incredibly tough for any other multisport or hiking GPS to compete with the Fenix3.  Feature by feature, nobody is really in the same ballpark these days.  Some are closer in certain areas (such as the Ambit3 in the multisport realm), but with Garmin Connect IQ, that gap is going to start widening very quickly tomorrow with the release of Apps & Widgets.

At this point I’ve got no issues recommending the Fenix3.  For myself personally, I’ll likely stick with the FR920XT however for most swim/bike/run ventures, purely because of the slightly thinner profile and ability to use the quick release kit.  However, should I go hiking or skiing – I’m likely to grab the Fenix3 out of the bin instead.

Thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Fenix3 (with or without HRM-RUN bundle) – select dropdown for different editions

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Fenix3 or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programMore Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 5:53 pm
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-RunGarmin$99.00LinkLinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)Garmin$28.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Garmin$45LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Garmin$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin Cadence-Only ANT+ Sensor (magnet-less)Garmin$39LinkLinkLink
Garmin Solar Charging KitGarmin$71.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin Speed & Cadence ANT+ Sensor bundle (magnet-less)Garmin$69LinkLinkLink
Garmin Speed-Only ANT+ Sensor (magnet-less)Garmin$39LinkLinkLink
Garmin Tempe External ANT+ Temperature SensorGarmin$29.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin VectorGarmin$1499LinkLinkLinkLink
Garmin/PowerMonkey Explorer Solar Charger (co-branded)Garmin/PowerMonkey$89LinkLinkN/A
Timex ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap)Timex$48.00LinkLinkN/A
Timex ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Timex$51.00LinkN/ALink
Timex ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling SensorTimex$50.00LinkLinkLink
Timex Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Timex$9.00LinkN/AN/A
Wahoo Blue SCv2 - Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Speed/Cadence SensorWahoo Fitness$59LinkLinkN/A
Wahoo Fitness RPM2 (Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Cadence Sensor)Wahoo Fitness$49LinkLinkN/A

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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3,039 Comments

  1. Thank you for all the good job ! (and proud to be the first of thousand of comments 😉

    Reply
    • Bob

      Can the fenix give you an alert when the sensor reaches freezing temperature?
      Is there any way to export the data from the fenix to a phone and use the phone as extra storage? WITHOUT an internet connection. I want to export the track logs to a phone and upload them at a much later date

      Reply
    • Justin

      Ray, I have auto sync with Trainingpeaks and the Fenix3. Did an OWS and the data to Trainingpeaks is correct as it shows on the device, however, it shows different data when uploaded to Strava. I have tried both .tcx and .gpx uploads and they are both the same. It shows total time and a much shorter moving time, thus much faster pace. Any ideas?

      Reply
    • Strava does a bunch of re-calcs. They have an FAQ somewhere on their page that explains it.

      Reply
    • Justin

      Ray, thanks. I uploaded a .fit file and that seemed to make everyone happy.

      Reply
    • Frank Young

      I think the moving time problem is a Garmin software bug. This morning I did a 56:22 run which I both started and ended while running. At no time during the run did I stop. The slowest pace recorded were a pair of momentary dips to 9:59. Yet the activity link to connect.garmin.com gave me a moving time of 55:56. Where did those 26 non-moving seconds come from?

      I theorize that they were lost to alerts. Specifically, I got 16 ¼ mile auto-laps, 7-8 pace alerts, and one heart rate alert during the run. I’ll do the run again on Tuesday with all of the alerts turned off. I’m betting the problem will disappear.

      Reply
  2. Hi Ray,

    I think you’ve got a tiny mistake in the text: “To be clear, I’ve been using a FR920XT provided by Garmin to test with (final production unit).”
    That should read “Fenix 3”, right?

    :)

    Reply
  3. Shawn

    Thank you again for putting together such a thorough review. Im chomping at the bit to get my sapphire!

    Reply
  4. MattB

    Woohooo it’s here! the DCR review I mean, clearly my Fenix3 is stuck in preorder purgatory…. 😛

    Reply
    • Wonderful job as always Ray!
      2 questions:
      1. Can I wake up with a vibration but no sound?
      2. Can I do run&bike in multisport, that is, every 90 seconds put a lap and change sports from run to bike and then back to run next time?

      Thanks again!

      Reply
  5. Matt

    Awesome. *puts “do-not-disturb sign on door* for the next hour to read every bit of it.

    Reply
  6. Mark

    Ray,

    Great review as always. Quick question how does the screen clarity/color of the Fenix 3 compare to the FR920XT ? Sorry if you already covered this.

    Thanks !!

    Reply
    • They seem pretty equal to me. The thing is on the Fenix3 is that the glass (vs plastic) makes it appear a bit crisper. On the flipside, there’s slightly more real estate on the FR920XT.

      Reply
    • Sebastian

      Hi Ray,

      i have one important question for me to decide if buying the saphir version:

      ist the higher weight of the saphir version only because of the wrist? Does that mean with the alternate Wrist it has the same weight as the normal version?

      Thanks for answering.

      Greetings
      Seb

      Reply
    • James Burns

      Yes, the additional weight of the sapphire version is due to the metal wrist band. Fortunately this can be swapped over to the same rubber band as the standard Fenix 3. The rubber band is included with the sapphire version and is easy to fit.
      I prefer using the rubber band. It’s more comfortable, lighter and it looks great. I also like the sapphire glass… hopefully it should stay scratch free for many years!

      Reply
    • Alan Robertson

      Ray: according to Garmin website specs, 920XT display is 1.1″x0.8″ which is 0.88 square inches. The fenix 3 is 1.2″ in diameter which is 1.13 square inches. So technically, the fenix 3 is larger (not sure it will display any more data than 920XT, though). Also, the 920XT has a resolution of 205×148 pixels, for a total of 30,340 pixels. The fenix is listed as 218×218, but since it is a circle, the 218 number probably indicates the widest part of the circle. That would mean the radius is 109 pixels and using the formula for the area of a circle (pi times radius squared) gives the fenix 3 37,325 pixels. Sorry, I tried to keep it shorter.

      Reply
  7. Rick

    When running with the sapphire banded F3, was the additional weight noticeable enough to be annoying?

    Awesome review, as always. I’ve been refreshing your site hourly since I woke up waiting on this!

    Reply
  8. Gabe

    Ray – Do you believe that a $600 watch’s bezel should scratch so easily ? I see in your photos that there is already a scratch there. I think we’ll be seeing more concerns by others on the durability of the bezel

    Reply
    • Hmm, I don’t see a scratch. Likely more just water/etc or some reflection in a photo.

      Reply
    • on a non-sapphire version there is a scratch on the top part of the watch

      it is visible on most photos

      Reply
    • Hendrik

      I assume that Gabe is talking about the pittings in the 59′ and 57′ minute positions.
      Those are present in the majority of photos you used for the review.

      Reply
    • Ahh, yes, on the bezel itself (sorry, thought you meant the glass). Yeah, that was a concrete rock wall I hit it again. :-/

      Reply
    • acousticbiker

      Ray, thanks for the great review (as usual). I’m patiently awaiting my grey version from CT. That scratch makes me worries that we’re looking at an iPhone 5 situation (where the scratches reveal a lighter color metal underneath). This might make me consider a switch to the silver bezel version (although I prefer the look of the grey) – any way to provide Garmin feedback on this point?

      Reply
    • Alan

      It is scratched but unless you build these things out of diamonds, how else are they going to be blemish free? Remember this is an outdoors watch for taking into some extreme environments: up mountains, in open water etc. In this sense as long as it still works, even with a few marks, who cares? – if you want a piece of blemish free beauty then buy a Harley to keep in your garage that you can polish all day long. This is for using.

      Reply
    • JimG

      I don’t think anyone minds some normal wear & tear, like say a nice pair of leather shoes. But not say like a lesser/cheaper pair of say pleather for the lack of a better analogy. I’ve got a 10 year SS watch with a sapphire face that has held up very well on the surfaces, but now the internal working is causing it to lose time.

      Reply
  9. Kyle

    Ray, Pleasure as always reading the reviews. Thanks for time you put in. Hopefully my CT order will be here soon.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support. They’re currently scheduled to get daily shipments of Fenix3’s for the next 3-4 days starting tomorrow. It won’t be enough to cover all the backorders, but it’ll make a fair number of readers happy.

      Reply
  10. Joel A

    DCR – how would you compare the Fenix 3 Regular to Fenix 3 Sapphire in general look and feel? That metal band looks like it adds a lot of weight you wouldn’t want during sports, so I’d likely keep the plastic band on it most of the time. I had a 920XT but want something I can wear into business meetings. I think the regular Fenix 3 accomplishes that because it isn’t bright blue, so I am leaning that way instead of the Sapphire.

    Reply
    • The biggest difference is weight. Personally for me the Sapphire is a bit heavy. As odd as this may sound, I actually don’t tend to wear bigger/heavier watches, so I think I prefer the non-Sapphire feel. Obviously, I think the Sapphire band is cooler looking.

      For the majority of my time, I used the non-Sapphire – in all assortment of work meetings including execs.

      Reply
    • Filipe Reis

      I DC, in relation to weigt, with the rubber strap, the saphire does not have the same weigt as the non saphire?
      Thanks

      Reply
  11. Chris

    With regard to navigating. It appears that when you are choosing the track you want to navigate, the F3 can display a map of the track and also show your current position in relation to the track.

    Is that the case? If so, are zoom in/out and pan available on that screen prior to actually starting navigation?

    Also, if you select to navigate by waypoint, does it also show the “map” screen and the current position in relation to the waypoint? If so, can the “map” view show more than one waypoint at a time?

    Thanks for a great in-depth review. Looking forward to seeing future developments, including Garmin and 3rd party widgets.

    Reply
  12. Richard D

    How is the BT upload to your phone? The Fenix 2 was miserably slow, to the point that it was useless on anything with a ton of GPS data. You mention it seems better for the battery but how about speed wise?

    You also mentioned the Wifi Sync capabilities (so when it connects to a network it uploads). In your testing did that work pretty well or were you mostly connecting it? I find one of my bigger problems with the Fenix 2 is I get lazy with connecting it because the battery lasts a few days during workouts and then I have a backlog of workouts I haven’t given descriptive titles to and then my data looks like garbage. Of course how much do I go back on the data? Not very often. But it does help when there is a bit of organization.

    Reply
    • It’s quicker than the Fenix2, but still a bit limited by the spec-speed of Bluetooth Smart. Still, even a long run of 2hrs was taking less than a minute to upload.

      WiFi sync worked flawlessly for me. I don’t remember ever having a missed upload at either home or work. I’m not sure if that’s a case of them changing something on the Fenix3, or just Garmin steadily making improvements across their WiFi sync code across multiple devices.

      Reply
    • Rob Youl

      The load speed on mine is much faster than my old Fenix 2 and it automatically connects to bluetooth once initially tethered as soon as its in range of the phone without having to re pair it.
      Wifi is speedy too with no issues

      Reply
    • Sean

      Great Review… Do you know if WIFI implementation supports WPA2 Enterprise or just just personal meaning a pre-shared key?

      Reply
  13. Arnaud

    Thanks Ray for a great in-depth review as usual!

    Reply
  14. Andy from Embsay

    My Sapphire has a scratch from a stone wall that I brushed against, so it does scratch pretty easily as the dark grey is just a coating of some description – given my time again I might get a silver one. I’m assuming it’ll be replaceable by returning to Garmin. Having said that my Fenix 1 and Ambits also scratched very easily, and the marks were a lot more visible.

    Reply
    • Kingart

      I sanded mine down to silver. Couldn’t bear the scratch marks and NO I did not slam it against a wall. Some branches and dirt may be.

      Reply
    • Could you post a picture somewhere? Would be interesting to see,

      Reply
  15. John

    Another thorough and well laid out review, Ray. Thank you. My favourite statement:

    …I dropped a camera out of my swim shorts.

    Man! I hope you weren’t speaking euphemistically there!

    Reply
    • Indeed an actual camera. My little red one, I usually slide it along the leg of my swim shorts, but it wasn’t situated right and started to fall, so I had to grab it.

      Reply
  16. super detailed review as always!
    great job!

    /going to order on CT now!!

    Reply
  17. Jason

    This will keep me occupied for a few days while I wait for my CT Fenix 3 gray bundle to ship :) Thanks as always

    Reply
  18. Dom

    I noticed that discrepancy with course distance. Ran one today wearing my F3 and an Ambit 2 on the same wrist. Course 4.02 miles, A 3.93, G 3.88. The only differences I can see are that the course makes sharp turns at junctions, rather than following the smooth curve of the foot way. The watches are closer to each other than to the course, interestingly. I’ll see how they match the officially measured half marathon course I’m running on Sunday.

    Reply
    • By default the F3 has smart-recording enabled, change it to 1-second recording, which would address what you see. Unless you’ve already done that…

      Reply
    • Jasper

      I can only change GPS in an app (let’s say hiking) to: off, on, ultra… where is the 1-second recording option?

      Reply
    • Jasper

      Sorry, got it 😀

      Reply
    • Dom

      The Fenix was on one second recording and the Ambit on best, Ray. My take is that the watches are probably closer to the truth than the course.

      Reply
  19. David

    So, is there anything preventing an aspiring product designer and engineer with a 3D printer from producing a quick release kit for the F3? The QR kit need not be much more than a piece of properly engineered plastic. If Garmin won’t do it, this would seem to be an opportunity for somebody…

    Reply
    • I’d wondered the same thing.

      Reply
    • MattB

      This had crossed my mind (as a non-engineer and non-3D-printer-owner), but I’d want to have some serious proof of durability before trusting a 3rd party QR with a £360 watch during an OW swim….

      Reply
    • David

      Well, if you’ve seen any of the Garmin QR kits, there’s not a whole lot to them, but you can tell if the watch feels secure. I think the same thing would apply to any 3rd party manufacturer.

      Reply
    • Oscar P

      Looks like Garmin followed your advise! I hope it works fine because this got me pretty excited.

      link to buy.garmin.com

      …and now there’s bunch of stuff to update on your review :)

      Reply
    • Tony

      Do you know if you can charge with the QR kit on like with the 920xt? From pictures of the pieces it looks like no, but I haven’t bought one yet to play with and hopefully I’m missing something.

      Reply
  20. Alex Masidlover

    Great review, although in the section on “Can the Fenix3 read your heart rate underwater?”, isn’t the answer more likely to be, as for other Garmin devices with indoor swim, that Garmin have disabled HR sensor pairing and that if they enabled it (with appropriate warnings to non-wrist based HR users) that there is no reason it wouldn’t work from a technical standpoint.

    I’m currently using my FR60 and Mio Link to do the job as I find the HR metric more useful than the swim metrics… I’m just hoping someone comes out with a device that is as good at indoor swim as the Garmins (Swim, 910XT, 920XT etc.) and will display HR in realtime from a wrist based sensor, before my little FR60 dies….

    Reply
    • That’s correct, though, I felt that started to get into too many if/then type scenarios at the moment. The last time I tried to explain underwater HR recording (with the 920XT) I got so many questions with folks getting all tangled up in the limitations. :-/

      Reply
    • morey000

      Alex. the Suunto Ambits will allow you to see your Mio Link generated HR during a swim. I agree- it’s really handy.

      Reply
    • Dave Lusty

      There was a rumour on one of the forums that Garmin were soon to release a store/forward strap to go with these. Obviously I expect no comment from Ray, but the rumour is out there and it’s Garmin tech that’s in the Suunto strap from what I’ve read.
      Personally I don’t think HR is that valuable when swimming even if I could ignore the weirdness of having a strap on in the pool. When I feel out of breath in the pool it’s CO2 buildup rather than cardio that’s the issue, and breathing more will be the thing to fix that. Perhaps others may have different results but I feel pace is more useful than zones in the pool – anyone that can maintain 90% HR in a pool is clearly already a god so training is unnecessary :)

      Reply
    • rastikw

      Haven’t tried F3, but with 920XT you can still access your HR data. The watch will search for paired HRM, but it will not allow to show you the data. There’s a Connect IQ data field that will do that. But no HR data will be recorded.
      With an ANT strap you will not get any data underwater, but Mio Link worn next to the watch should work. And then there’s a possibility to wear a Polar strap and use a 5Khz/ANT bridge.

      Reply
    • Anders Majland

      I’m waiting for garmin to allow ant+ heart rate recording in swim mode… Well at least it is a good excuse not to upgrade my 910 just yet

      I still use a vivofit to record heart rate from a mio link at and then just repairfitfile to combine the two recordings ….

      I also wear the vivofit as an activity tracker, but the fenix3 is better looking :-)

      Actually the last time i was swimming i had a 4 “weight” with me. The amiigo fitness band that i finally received in january

      Reply
    • Alex Masidlover

      Morey, Do you mean in ‘indoor swim mode’ so you have swim metrics and HR from the Mio Link at the same time? I’d been assuming not based on the following post.

      If you do mean that it shows data from the Mio Link during the swim, which Ambit(s) have you tried that with?

      My trusty little FR60 may yet find itself languishing in a cupboard…

      Reply
  21. Hugo Paredes

    Love the review, great job. I like the watch a lot, and I’d buy it if it wouldn’t be for the price. I’ve a fenix 2 and I think this one is better, mainly battery life and daily activity tracker.

    Reply
    • Dave Lusty

      The battery life with phone alerts is nice but the overall battery isn’t that much better otherwise for me. I went to 920XT from Fenix 2. The activity tracker sort of feels like a gimmick to me, If you’re sporty enough to require one of these I’m not convinced activity throughout the day is an issue. I agree with Ray about Garmin sleep tracking too, it’s just a wobbly graph which offers no real conclusions.

      Reply
  22. Jared

    Any take on Sapphire vs the regular? I preordered the sapphire but I’m thinking of canceling and getting a regular one. Not sure how much I’d really use the metal band. Is the glass actually that much better?

    Reply
    • Just added a bit more thoughts to the Sapphire section on that: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Jared

      not that I want to add anything else to my bike but wouldn’t this plus timed mount work on a road bike?

      link to barflybike.com

      Reply
    • Dave Lusty

      I’ve had a Suunto Stinger (Dive computer) for about 15 years which has sapphire glass and no scratches. My Fenix 2 was 2 months old when the plastic pool lane marker put a small scratch in it. The Suunto was a dive watch and has been battered to the point the titanium bevel is marked (probably by some rusty war ship :), so I’d say yes sapphire is a good thing overall.

      Reply
    • Jared

      is the Fenix 2 screen glass?

      Reply
    • Jared

      nevermind just checked it is glass

      Reply
    • I have had a fenix 1 for years (now a proud 3 owner), with the plastic band I can put the watch on the outside of long sleeved tops when running in winter or skiing etc. I wouldn’t want to be swopping between metal and plastic bands…so I went regular Fenix 3.

      Reply
    • Tatiana

      BTW, I do have a scratch on FR 920XT (caught myself on a rock during trail run), so sapphire may have advantages :-)

      Reply
    • Ted w

      Send me the extra $100 and I will send you a perfectly sized fenix 3 screen protector. mine works great, and no scratches even after some tough spills

      Reply
  23. Mikael Klingbjer

    Hi, Ray and thanks for yet another great review.

    One question: Is it possible to switch sport profiles during an ongoing activity, creating a multi-sport activity on the fly, like you can on the 920XT, or du you have to preconfigure a multisport event?

    Reply
  24. Si

    Ray

    Great review as always. I’m going to stick with my F2 for the time being although the new watch does look very nice……

    Just a minor typo for you in your last paragraph of your summary where you refer to a ‘kick release kit’ – which will possibly cause more than a scratched bezel 😀

    Reply
  25. Jim

    “some might find the slightly larger screen of the FR920XT”

    How do you figure that? From the dimensions on the Garmin site, and using simple math
    Fenix 3 = 1.2″ diameter => .6 * .6 * 3.14 => 1.13 sq inches of screen real estate
    920XT = 1.1″ x 0.8″ => 0.88 sq inches of screen real estate

    Maybe I am missing something, but is seems to me the Fenix 3 has the larger screen.

    Reply
    • I’ll re-word. Essentially though you get slightly better usage of real estate for the square-like numbers on the FR920XT than the Fenix3. Meaning that you can get bigger numbers to fit in the displays because you don’t lose space to the round corners.

      Actual display sizes are:

      Fenix3 display is 218×218 pixels
      FR920XT display is 205×148 pixels

      Cheers.

      Reply
    • Remco V

      Still it is a bit unclear to me. How can they (garmin) give a square pixel count for a circular display. I had the idea that it would be 218×218 if it was a square and for the 920xt it is logical.
      I have the idea that the pixel density of the F3 is higher compared to the 920.
      From the pictures all I see are crisp images, so I would assume the density is high enough.

      Reply
    • George

      It’s pretty simple. 218 pixels at the widest horizontal line of pixels traversing the circular display and 218 pixels at the tallest vertical line. While the second dimension may seem superfluous it in essence conveys that the pixels are the same width as height. I’m assuming they’re in a grid rather than some other pattern such as hexagonal.

      Reply
  26. Gunnar

    The fenix 3 is compelling. I almost pulled the trigger, but the price tag is keeping me from doing so. The Vivoactive comes in at half the price and only lacks power meter support, but I believe Connect IQ will remedy that issue. The reduced size of the Vivoactive is more appealing to me as well.

    Decisions, decisions….

    Reply
    • Jay

      As someone with a 920xt, I agree with you. I find the Vivoactive surprisingly compelling. I want the sapphire f3 just as an everyday watch, but … Kind of want all the new models really.

      Reply
    • Ben_I

      Agreed. I can decide if I want the complete package in the F3, but suffer with the size/weight, or go lower spec with the vivoactive, which is the right size and will meet 90% of my needs, but with the promise of more functionality from ConnectIQ.

      So far from my scanning of the ConnectIQ app store, they are all useless gimmick apps and no substantial functional improvements… which tends to make me think the F3 is the way to go.

      Reply
    • I don’t believe the vivoactive has barometer, compass or altimeter, depends if that is important to you or not?

      Reply
    • Gunnar

      Re: barometer, compass and altimeter. Having owned both a fenix 1 and fenix 2, I thought I REALLY needed those items. But not really it seems (for me). For biking and running I find it’s not needed.

      Now if I was still offshore sailing and trying to tackle long hikes I would certainly get the fenix 3.

      Reply
  27. Ken

    Ray, Thanks for everything you do for this community!

    I was hoping that the Epix or Fenix would be shipping sooner :( As I need a new watch for Boston next month and my 310xt case broke where it holds the watchband.. Duck tape works for a while until it really heats up LOL..

    Probably going to have go down the Route of 920xt just because of the timing and availability..

    Anyways, thanks for what you do!

    Ken

    Reply
  28. rabbit

    Great review! Any thoughts about why they removed the sat constellation page etc. and if there is a chance, that they will add this again? And what about the missing units behind the numbers ( 20 instead of 20*C, 50 instead of 50m, 110 instead of 110 bpm etc.). On a data page with 4 data fields a little bit confused, or not? Of course I know, what I have set, but confused…

    Reply
    • Most of the trend in UI design is to reduce extra digits/characters (beyond just Garmin). In this context since it tells you the category (i.e. temp), you have a bit of an assumption of the type of data you’ll be getting.

      No idea though on why they removed the sat page. Do agree it was occasionally useful.

      Reply
    • Alan

      I think if you understand why they haven’t included the constellation page then it makes sense…

      …when my smartphone started using GLONASS as well as standard GPS, the acquire times went from slow to almost instant. So if it is instant, in theory, then you will be using the watch and not starring at the constellation page waiting for acquire. Also, with GLONASS your page would just be a littered mess of tens of satellites – too messy to make any sense. You will still be able to see accuracy though.

      Reply
    • Dom

      If they’d dumped the map only on GLONASS-supporting watches, maybe. There’s no constellation page on the FR 620 either, though.
      Acquisition time doesn’t have much to do with GLONASS but has a lot to do with cached satellite position data, and I suspect the speed up you saw was more to do with the smartphone having improved satellite download over the network than the GLONASS.
      I think all the watches which supported download of ephemeris data on release have no constellation page, though, which does fit with your thought about not staring at the constellation page.

      Reply
  29. Brian

    Curious on how durable the BT connection is. Ambit 3 is neat and all, but notifications are all but useless as the watch/phone drop the link every time iOS memory management kicks in until I relaunch Movescount – which real world usage for me means notifications work for about 30 minutes or so, then stop until I relaunch the app.

    I guess I use my phone too much….

    Reply
    • It’s pretty durable. To put it in perspective, during the Barcelona swim seen above, the watch was underwater every stroke, and I never once got a BT disconnect session during the swim. The only time I’ve seen BT disconnection notifications on the Fenix3 is when I’ve legitimately gone quite a ways out of range.

      Reply
  30. Justin Spohn

    So here’s a maybe weird question: I’m looking to finally upgrade my Nike+ GPS watch and I was curious: when viewed purely as a running watch, would you recommend this over the 620? It seems like the 620 is getting a little long in the tooth, but is overall still pretty capable and nicely targeted at running. At the same time, though I wouldn’t be using many (or any) of the multisport features, the other elements like notifications, IQ, and such do seem to add some non-trivial value.

    What I’m not sure about is whether I’ll see any benefit in terms of GPS performance, display performance, or general data capture and display.

    Any way – thoughts?

    Reply
    • Patrick

      The 620 is a nice watch, but it’s no longer good value for your money. At that pricerange you get a lot more bang for your buck if you start looking at the Garmin vivoactive.

      Reply
    • Devon

      From a pure feature standpoint, is the vívoactive worth it for someone who desires all the features of the FR620? It doesn’t provide Run Dynamics, on-unit PRs, or workout features such as custom workouts, interval feature, or training calendar. Sure, it has activity tracking, Connect IQ, and receives phone notifications but does that take it over the edge?

      What do we see Garmin doing with the Forerunner line? When can we expect or will we see another product emerge, and how will that fit in with the current landscape? Although I wouldn’t use the multisport functionality, the more I see the fēnix 3 the more I want it.

      Reply
    • It’ll depend a little bit on Connect IQ. I think that with Connect IQ, Garmin may have semi-inadvertently just killed off their top-end (i.e. $399) running-specific watches.

      As for the Vivoactive, I hear a final production unit will ship out to me in the morning.

      Reply
    • Neil

      I’m in the same boat. I’ve got a FR220 that has worked flawlessly for me. I don’t need another watch, but I’m a tech geek at heart and always have an itch for a new device! I’ve got a runscribe on the way (if they don’t delay again!), and love my Mio Link.
      The things that would push the vivoactive for me would be customer workouts (I use these quite regularly on the FR220 when marathon training) and the ability to take pace from a footpod and not GPS when outdoors. I wonder if ConnectIQ will be able to deliver either of those things ?

      Reply
  31. Jeff

    Ray, thanks as always for such an outstanding review. I ordered the Sapphire from Clever Training as soon as it was available and received it last Friday. I absolutely loved it for two days and then it stopped acquiring GPS signal :( I’ve tried everything (reset, restore defaults, leave outside for an hour in extended GPS with a clear view of the sky) and still no signal.

    I’ve contacted Garmin support and they are looking into it, but it looks like I may be one of those outliers that got a bum unit. Hopefully I’m the only one and can get this sorted out soon. If you have any thoughts on how to get the GPS fired back up I’d appreciate it. Anyways, thanks for all you do.

    Reply
  32. Andrew Crockett

    How does the screen compare to the fenix 2? I struggle to see f2 without my glasses especially in low light. The screen on the f3 seems much better.

    Also is it the same hrm accross both watches?

    Reply
    • Chris

      The F3 is much much better in low light and with the back-light than my F2 was. It was the main reason i changed, I really struggled to read a 3 field display in the dark with the red back-light, no problems with the black on white of the F3.

      Reply
  33. David

    Ray, in you instant pace video. I’ve seen results like you show. But I notice that if I just change speed (this is with my 920XT), it’s not nearly as neat. I see this show up in two different scenarios in my runs.
    1. On easy runs, when I valley/crest hills, I know that my speed changes significantly. But it isn’t reflected on the watch for some 30 seconds or sometimes more. It doesn’t really bother me too much, but it makes me wonder.
    2. Recently while doing 200m repeats at the track (with 200m walking rest between), I had “Lap Pace” displayed. When I finished my walk, hit lap, and started running, when the lap screen disappeared, my current “Lap Pace” was 15:10/mile (10 seconds into the lap). It stayed that way until 18 seconds into the lap, then it jumped to 5:40/mile (I was targeting 6:22/mile). It was very consistently doing this. I also noticed that the recorded pace when I reviewed the data was lagging my change in cadence by about 30 seconds. I’m not very good at running repetitions by feel yet, so I was kind of counting on the lap pace to help me get to the 100m line at about the correct time.
    Have you noticed either of these issues?

    Reply
  34. Ben Pine

    Hi Ray,
    Amazing review.
    I’ve got a Suunto Ambit 2s and have been told that using navigation features drains the battery faster. Is this true of the Fenix 3 as well?
    Cheers
    Ben

    Reply
  35. Andree

    Thanks Ray. Brilliant as usual!

    Reply
  36. Josh

    Great all encompassing review, thank you for all your work! One question I have regarding optical heart rate monitors, is it possible for them to record 24/7 on the Fenix 3?

    Reply
    • MattB

      Well, the Scoshe unit only runs for 8 hours, and I think the Mio is about the same, so I’m guessing not…

      Reply
  37. rickNP

    Great review, as always, Ray!

    A couple of questions I didn’t see in the review:

    1. You were able to quantify a b attery life finding in regular GPS mode with 1-second recording, then go on to mention Ultratrac mode but never mention if it gets close to its spec’d battery life. Did you ever get a number of hours for that or did I just miss it?

    2. I’ve seen the sensor pool and just latching on to what’s available mentioned in a few different posts, but I haven’t seen whether or not always leaving those sensors enabled, and thus the watch always looking for them in the absence of other sensors, results in any substantive battery drain? For example: If I’m going for a run without my footpod or Tempe sensor but AM using my HRM, will the watch’s battery drain quicker because it is paired with, but not connected to, the footpod or Tempe; constantly in searching/waiting-to-connect mode?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kyle

      Curious about the Ultra Track battery life also

      Reply
    • Javi

      I would like to know ultra track battery life, so add me to this question

      Reply
    • I simply didn’t have 50 hours during the last month that I was able to set it on the roof and not use it. That said, now that I have two units to work with, I’ll go ahead and stick one up there later today and see how long it lasts.

      The sensors automatically go to sleep, usually after 5 minutes of inactivity. With the watch, it just ignores it once it goes to sleep. From a watch battery drain standpoint, ANT+ enablement/capturing/recording is negligible, usually a few percent at most in my testing.

      Reply
    • rickNP

      Thanks, Ray!

      Reply
    • Christos

      Do you finally have a ‘true’ battery life when the watch is in ultra.. mode?

      Reply
  38. Marcos

    Hi Ray!
    Thanks for your review. I’m thinking about changing to Garmin ..I actually own the V800… It’s great..but the polar flow is a shame … And you can’t arrange a proper interval training session on it…. I used to have a fenix 2… But I was really pissed about the lagging on pace… It made short intervals impossible…. (400 m)… I used to start sooner or faster because the watch was always behind.. that didn’t happen with polar …. The pace is always near perfect…
    Do you think is working a little better on the fenix 3?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Steve T

      Hi Ray and everyone,

      A new owner of Fenix 3 here, coming from V800.
      Just some thoughts for consideration.

      Screen
      V800 is better and more visible then Fenix 3 (e-ink). V800 uses Gorilla glass and after one year, I don’t see any scratches in mind (used but not abused).

      Menu
      V800 is more intuitive. I have to press several buttons to activate stopwatch or timer. It’s also easier to create sport profile in V800, then custom workout in Garmin Connect. Perhaps others can provide some recommendation? I do cross fit and body pump too to mix with my outdoor run. Wonder if there will be apps created for strength training and cross fit type of activities in the future.

      Aesthetics
      Fenix 3 feels like quality everyday watch. It reminds me of Tag Heuer or Tissot. V800 is more like a smart watch look (think Samsung watch, Pebble). Personally, I like Fenix 3 rugged and real watch feel.

      Apps
      Garmin Connect vs. Polar Flow
      So far, I am still giving the first place to Polar Flow in terms of graphic interface. GC’splus is that it is easier to transfer activities to Runkeeper and Strava easier.

      Any other V800 users migrating to Fenix 3 can add more to the list? Or actually have different opinions? Would like to hear it.

      Thanks for the great work as always, Ray!

      Reply
    • Marcel

      Neither the v800 nor the Fenix3 uses an e-ink screen. Don’t know where those ideas came from..

      Reply
  39. Andrew

    Thanks for the detailed review! It seems like we finally have a solid watch for both running and hiking.

    Just one point of clarification – your write-up indicated that that apps/widgets would be available on Connect IQ on Fri, 3/5. Did you mean Thurs 3/5 or Fri 3/6?

    Reply
    • Dave Lusty

      In Britain, 3/5/15 is a Sunday and most definitely not tomorrow :op

      Reply
    • Patrick

      He’s probably from the US where they insist the month comes before the day.

      Reply
    • Josh

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Maybe you should have a little information before you post a comment like “US where they insist the month comes before the day”. Or look at link to en.wikipedia.org

      Reply
    • AL

      Chill, dude. Maybe you should have a little more reading comprehension skills before you post jerky replies (as in, tongue was firmly in cheek with those comments. Reading Comprehension 101 could figure that out.) Thick skin isn’t just for whales. Sheesh.

      Reply
    • NFL

      Woah there…relax.

      Reply
  40. Dave

    The lack of geocaching and even a basic basemap are really disappointing. I’m guessing this is an attempt to push people to the Epix, but aesthetically this watch is sooo much nicer. Is Connect IQ robust enough that someone could make a geocaching app?

    Reply
    • Bill Lee

      I guess if we wait long enough, they would comeout with the round shape EPIX….

      Reply
  41. Josh

    Yummy! I was supposed to have mine today but it got delayed due to a snowstorm in Louisville, but is back on track for arrival tomorrow, just in time for some beautiful outdoor running weather. Thanks for everything in this review.

    Reply
  42. Gary

    Thanks for yet another detailed informative review! Like you said, the choice between 920xt and fenix3 is a personal one. I look forward to getting my fenix (from Clever Training, of course) and mounting it on my bike as you’ve shown here. I have heard too many horror stories of having the 910 knocked off during an OW swim.

    Reply
  43. Bryan

    As usual, great review. One thing I though was missing from the review is how the F3 stacks up against other smartwatches. I am interesting in the F3 not just as a sport watch, but as a replacement for a Pebble. Is this really an all around smartwatch that also handles activities well, or still a sports watch that has some nice notification features?

    Reply
    • Giuseppe

      I own a Kickstarter addition of the pebble, and purchased the Saphire from the Garmin Store in Chicago two weeks ago. I find the Bluetooth connection on the Garmin to be more reliable. My pebble has gone through phases where it loses connectivity and I have had to re-pair. Text notifications may be a little better on the fenix vs Pebble. My Pebble has periods where texts just don’t come through. The fenix has also missed some texts but seems to happen less often. Calander notifications and other banners like NY Times headlines are fine. My aging eyes find the screen on the Fenix slightly easier to read. The fenix 3 does not control music, and watch faces are more limited. I often run during the workday, and get a lot of text updates. Most don’t require a response but some do, and taking the phone out every few minutes was a real pain. I tried running with the Pebble displaying Runkeeper. Data displayed is limited but what really made that system untenable was that on anything over 5 miles, the watch would stop updating the data screens, so I lost everything. I doubt I will use all the functionality of the fenix but the Saphire looks good with casual business attire, and let’s me stay connected at work while running. I agree the watch is heavy but I like the metal strap so I left it on and got used to it. I may now give up my dreams of an Apple Watch.

      Reply
  44. Bart

    Nice job Ray,

    How is the finish on the bezel going to hold up? looks like you’ve already damaged the grey model. Is the silver one a paint or raw stainless?

    Reply
  45. Thomas D

    Thanks for a great and thorough review as always – I’ve been looking forward to this one! 2 Q’s:

    1) Is there any weight difference between the F3 and F3 Sapphire version without the wrist bands?

    2) Any issues reading the color display in really bright sunlight?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Tichy

      Thomas, I wondered the same thing. The Casio Pahtfinder I had once was about half the weight of the Fenix 3 Saphire but had (IMHO) a titanium strap.

      Otherwise, as always, excellent review, thanks Ray!

      Reply
    • Mark S.

      Garmin’s website lists the weight as 85g for the Sapphire with rubber band, while the regular Fenix 3 is 82g. It’s not that big of a deal.

      I almost cancelled my Sapphire order until I found this info. It would be useful info to have in the review.

      Reply
    • Thomas D

      Great, I missed that info on Garmin’s site! Thanks for the info, Mark!

      Reply
    • Good call, I’ve inserted it it.

      Reply
  46. John Russell

    Ray,
    I am a new reader and very impressed with this review. I just tried your hyper link, ” I recently wrote up a full post on the strap here”, and it said page not found. Also your second to the last sentence says kick release instead of quick release. Thanks again for the great info.

    John

    Reply
  47. Fab

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  48. Hey Ray, very nice review – as always. :-) I have two questions, which haven’t been covered in you review.

    a) Is the analog watchface the only analog watchface availabe or are other analog watchfaces?
    b) Is there an easy and all time accessible stopwatch feature?

    Reply
  49. Great work, as always!

    “The Apps and Widgets will release tomorrow (Friday, March 5th).”

    Tomorroy is March 6th 😉

    Reply
  50. neil rosson

    A good & fair review though as always
    Just worth mentioning that the HR strap is different design on my version. Its a newer design. Still has the same issues in cold weather at the start of a run though.
    Also worth mentioning is the audio alarm is far too quiet & very difficult to hear. this is a bit of a concern for me as i’m not sure it is fixable.
    I think Garmins claim or 3m+/- is somewhat ambitious in terms of accuracy as is often drifting 10 meters out & i’ve seen most other peoples runs this is the case. I’m interested in seeing some workouts that are getting that kind of accuracy just so i can reference my own.
    Altitude will drift over time, not sure if that is a major issue.
    the screen can be difficult to see in certain indoor condition overall though i like the screen & it seems that it doesn’t eat up much battery.
    personally i have always used GPSies for creating courses so im hoping this will work with the F3, you have a good selection of maps & can have waypoints.

    Reply
    • George

      Remember that 3m+/- statistic is likely BEST case GPS accuracy and that it will suffer a bit when conditions are less than ideal. Atmospheric conditions can vary, and GPS satellites are not in geosynchronous orbits so the number of satellites visible as well as their altitude above the horizon can accuracy even with a perfectly unobstructed sky.

      Reply
    • Patrick

      I think the alert loudness is an important point, I was hoping there would be a bit about it in the review. I know the M400 allows for different loudness settings, I’m hoping that the F3 would get something similar.

      Reply
  51. David Manley

    Epic review. I want one.

    Reply
  52. Apologies, misplaced post, pasting it again here:

    Wonderful job as always Ray!
    2 questions:
    1. Can I wake up with a vibration but no sound?
    2. Can I do run&bike in multisport, that is, every 90 seconds put a lap and change sports from run to bike and then back to run next time?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Rob Youl

      Yep. Vibrate only alarm which is great.
      You could set up a run bike run bike multisport event

      Reply
    • MattB

      I believe there is a maximum of 10 legs in a custom multisport activity though, if that makes a difference to you.

      Reply
    • Geoffrey

      Thanks for your replies!
      10 legs make a huge difference: In run&bike I switch between run and bike every 90 seconds, so I need many more than 10 :(

      Reply
  53. morey000

    Navigation question: Can you use course navigation while in a running app? Or, is the only way to navigate, to stop ‘running’ and turn on Nav?

    Running App Question: Can I set up multiple running apps, let’s say one for track day, one for trail running day (where I might want to enable climb auto display), one for race day, etc. Each with its own screen and variables?

    Setup Question: If I have to do a hard reset, do I lose all of my app/screen/variable settings? Or are they saved off line?

    (obviously- I’m thinking like an Ambit owner)

    Reply
    • Rob Youl

      Yes you can set up multiple running apps all with their own unique displays

      Reply
    • morey000

      ahh- I reread the review, and you can apply navigation to any app. So, that answers my 1st question as well.

      cool.

      Reply
  54. todd

    Great review as always. I know you wore it on your recent skiing trip_ any comments on it’s xc ski utility?

    Reply
    • In my case it was downhill skiing rather than XC – but it worked great then (despite still being in beta). I’ll be going back out skiing in two weekends and will take it out again then and add a new section to the review about it.

      Reply
  55. Donnie Barnes

    Ray, I’m curious why something like “Hunt & Fish” is going to be available as a ConnectIQ app for Fenix3 but *not* for the 920XT? I’m guessing this means that ConnectIQ apps are device specific, which makes a certain amount of sense given the displays are different (and some underlying hardware may or may not exist for some things). Just seems like for something like Hunt & Fish there’s little reason to NOT do a version of it for the 920XT.

    I’m not feeling left out as I sold my 920XT and have my Fenix3 already. I’m just guessing at some point things might flow the other way and I *will* feel left out.

    For anyone who cares, I bought the sapphire version, but just for the extra screen protection. I took the metal band off and put the rubber one on. I may even try a Nato style, though I’m not completely sure it’ll fit in a charge cradle with one of those.

    –Donnie

    Reply
    • Brian

      I’m curious how this will play out with Connect IQ as well. I’m actually leaning more to the EPIX (I love maps), but worried one will get left behind. Hopefully after apps launch tomorrow we will start to see how that shakes out a bit.

      Reply
    • Patrick

      Probably has to do with the screen size. Most IQ apps have to be written separately for each watch type since all the screens have different resolutions and the 920xt is “square/rectangular” where the Fenix is round.

      But it seems like not that much effort to add it for the 920xt, however it’s a feature not really marketed for the target 920 audience (sport people in particular triathletes) where the Fenix also is targeted towards hikers.

      Reply
    • Note: I’ve just been told that the Hunt/Fish, Moon Phases, and Timezone Widgets won’t be going live tomorrow to sort out some last minute items. They should be up shortly though.

      As for whether or not they’ll be available on other devices, I’m not quite sure – I’ll poke and ask (or just try it out in the morning). As Patrick noted, it’s more of a screen design issue than anything else. Apps are designed for certain screen layouts (i.e. round, square, rectangular).

      Reply
  56. Joey D

    Ray,
    In the section “Data Fields & Display” you show a picture of “fish and hunt” and “sun and moon” Where are they in the menu system? I do not have those selections in my widget section.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Kyle

      Really? Read the review instead of just looking at pictures

      Reply
  57. Eric

    Hey Ray! Thanks for the typical great review. Has the Fenix 3 had any of the same altimeter issues the 920XT has had? Or did everything work well for you? Sorry if I missed this in the review or another discussion comment.

    Reply
    • No altimeter issues in that area, but, the FR920XT ones have also been fixed too since release.

      Reply
  58. Urs

    Thank’s for the great review!

    Have you heard something from the Garmin folks if they will add automatically sleep recognition?

    Reply
  59. Dennis

    “In looking at other sources, such as the Garmin Forums, I don’t really see any sort of widespread issues either with people that have had the unit going on a month now.”

    Well, there is the “Frozen and stuck on vibrate” when reeiving a notification, which is noted by many and even recognized by Garmin. Hopefully that means it will be fixed soon though.

    Reply
  60. Simon Sheehan

    Hi Ray, great review as always. Does the Fenix 3 still retain the ski mode options from fenix 1 & 2. Mainly the ski mode auto pause that detects if you are going up hill on a lift and 3D speed? Also can you still add your own additional custom activity types?

    Reply
  61. Andy m

    Thx for a great review.
    I have one question !
    Is it possible to change songs on ios devices using the watch.?

    Thx allot !
    Andy.

    Reply
  62. Neil Jones

    Ray, did you find out how you calibrate the Foot Pod? I see you can enter a calibration value which I assume is your running stride length (although the two fields you use to enter the value don’t give you much of a clue). However, is there an option to auto-calibrate it that I just can’t see, or does it do that anyway, overriding any value you might have put in manually?

    Reply
    • It’s manual calibration today (so you have to do the math manually). But, there’s some news coming next week on that…hang tight.

      Reply
    • Ted D

      Is this tool still a viable option or hang tight?
      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • It still technically works, but you have to convert the files first from .FIT to .TCX. Not a huge deal, but you’ll need to grab a tool to do that here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Kitt

      Hi Ray,

      i have one important question for me to decide if buying the saphir version:

      ist the higher weight of the saphir version only because of the wrist? Does that mean with the alternate wrist which is also in the box it has the same weight as the normal version?

      Thanks for answering

      Reply
    • Antonio Grimaldi

      Possibly something about reading pace from HRM-RUN??
      I would save a bunch of € without buying a fotpod!

      Reply
    • If you swap out the rubber band on the Sapphire, it brings the weight down to 85g.

      For pace from the HRM-RUN, no, it doesn’t do that. Check out my super-detailed HRM-RUN post to understand that a bit more: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Neil

      Thanks – for anyone who has an old calibration value (e.g. from their fenix 2’s) – you’ll need to convert this to your stride length which is quite easy. Depending on which firmware version your previous Garmin device was on when you got the calibration number, it will either be somewhere around 500 or 1000 (Garmin changed from 1-legged run cadence to 2-legged). To get your stride length in cm, the maths is:

      1000/calibration value*100 (or 500/calibration value*100)

      e.g. my calibration value was 888 so 1000/888*100 = 112.61cm

      There are two fields on the calibration screen on the fenix 3 (Settings>Sensors>Foot Pod>Calibrate) – enter the whole cm value in the first one, and the numbers after the decimal in the second (though it only goes up in 10s). i.e. I would enter [112] [60]

      Hope that’s of help to someone

      Reply
    • Sergey

      I don’t understand the logic. If I increase calibration factor on my 920xt it overestimates the distance, so thinks that stride length is bigger. According to your formula stride length decreases as calibration factor increases, how come?

      Reply
  63. Thank you for the good review

    Reply
  64. Roberto

    Thanks for your review !
    One question.
    Fénix 3 have MediaTek chipset or SiRF chipset. ?

    Reply
  65. Sebastian

    Hi Ray,

    i have one important question for me to decide if buying the saphir version:

    ist the higher weight of the saphir version only because of the wrist? Does that mean with the alternate wrist which is also in the box it has the same weight as the normal version?

    Thanks for answering.

    Greetings
    Seb

    Reply
  66. Joe E

    Great review, thanks very much.

    Reply
  67. Andrej

    Is the elevation problem solved (as compared to 920XT)? Because you didn’t mention the elevation accuracy in your review, that’s why I’m asking.

    Reply
    • I didn’t see any issues with elevation, but I’ve also seen that the recent FR920XT fixes for elevation have resolved that as well.

      Reply
    • Han-Wei Lee

      I’m not sure what the elevation issues were with the 920XT but I’ve changed over from a Suunto Ambit 2 and must say the Altimeter is my only major disappointment with the Fenix 3 so far. The Altimeter drifts excessively compared to the Ambit 2 this of course correlates with pressure changes that the barometer screen displays e.g altitude decreasing with increases in pressure. (so the sensor itself appears accurate however the method for calculating altitude really needs work) Given the watch is tracking activity presumably through the accelerometer 24/7 it should be able to “know” if the watch is actually moving up and down (changing altitude) therefore preventing the false “drift” in the Altimeter. Would be great if this formed part of a firmware update

      Reply
    • With the 920XT, it was that it didn’t do an initial GPS calibration fix.

      With the Fenix3, if you’re seeing drift, look into the three different altimeter calibration options (none/once/continuous) and consider changing that setting.

      Reply
    • Jimmy

      My Fenix 3 has been having problems with the initial calibration on activities, if I set it manually its very accurate.
      I would like a feature where the watch would connect via GC to fetch the local barometric pressure from the closes airport. That way the initial calibration would be very fast and the watch could calibrate even without turning on the GPS.

      Reply
    • Amedeo

      Hi Ray,
      on my F3 (Italian language), in altimeter options there are only two options:
      1 Calibrate (insert current elevation manually or by gps)
      2 Auto calibration (Off/Activated)

      I can’t find none/once/continuous calibration options you wrote

      Thank you

      Reply
  68. Kristian

    How does the sensor pool work with regards to automaticly selecting the right bike when you upload to strava from Garmin Connect? I have tried to google it, but not found a satisfying answer.

    I have been looking forward to this review now for a month, and will thanks to you save a few $ by not going for the hrm-run, if you can ever save anything buying a toy.

    Reply
    • tim

      So far nothing I know of “automatically selects the right bike” in Strava. Technically the FIT file does contain the paired sensors (i.e. speed/cadence sensor), but I don’t know of anyone using the data to auto link it to your Gear.

      Again, this is likely less of a Fenix question and more of a “can Strava use the FIT file sensors to select my Gear?”

      Reply
    • Unfortunately, I don’t believe the .FIT file is currently saving/writing the actual sensor ID though, meaning, it can’t start to create an inventory of sensor ANT+ ID’s to bike names.

      Reply
    • rastikw

      920XT indeed writes sensor IDs into FIT file and F3 does probably too.

      Reply
    • Interesting, that’s a change I’ve actually been asking for, for quite some time (so I can ensure I don’t mix up power meter files after the fact). Do you know of any apps that can expose that?

      Reply
    • Alex Harsanyi

      Hi Ray, the 310XT already wrote the sensor ID’s in the FIT file. I assume every Garmin device does that, so it is not a new feature.

      Reply
  69. generall

    Oh thanks for the great article!

    I just want to know if the Fenix2 supports or reads out RR-Data for the heart rate, similar to the Polar V800 so it would be more usable for serious training!

    Thank Stefan Vienna Austria

    Reply
    • rastikw

      You’re probably asking for Fenix 3 (not 2) support. As F3 is very similar to 920XT, I expect RR data is recorded.

      Reply
    • Correct, same as FR920XT.

      Reply
  70. Mikael Klingbjer

    Hi, again!

    For how long can you expect the Fenix 3 battery to last during Live Tracking and normal GPS usage (not UltraTrac)?

    Reply
    • Peter

      Hi, i did a 6,5 hour run with live tracking on, vibration alerts for autolap, 15min run and 3 min walk intervals + 2 connect iq data fields and stil had 58 percent battery left.

      Reply
  71. Bob

    Ray,

    If the Fenix 3 did have a quick release mount, would you then prefer it over the 920XT? I have a 920XT and have a Fenix 3 on order. I will do a comparison and hopefully I can see the screen on the Gray Fenix 3 when running, but just curious of your thoughts.

    Reply
  72. Ludo

    Hi,

    Thanks for reviewing this watch in details, itreally helps to make decisions !
    Fenix 3 and V800 have the sa’e problems regarding a quick realase mount, they don’t have one. Besides that which product would you recommend for a triathlete ? Almost the same price and both good lookkng (not the case of the 920xt;) )

    Thanks !

    Ludo

    Reply
    • There’s not really much competition between the V800 and the Fenix3, for a triathlete (unless you really want underwater HR recording).

      Reply
  73. Striff

    Nice in depth review.

    I really hope they do waypoints when creating a route in Garmin Connect. Biggest issue for me comng from an Ambit.
    That and when zooming in in the route, for it to stayed zoomed in (mine zooms back out automatically to 0.3kms)

    Ray one thing I tried was to create a Walking “app” based this of Hiking via your suggestion from your preview of the F3. When it syncs it has it listed in Garmin connect as a hike. I have to manually change it to Walking.
    Is there a way to fix this?

    Reply
  74. tim

    I see pan/zoom as YES on the 920xt and Fenix 3 (Navigation: Track Map). I don’t have a Fenix 3, but I don’t think I’ve figured out how to pan/zoom on the map while running or reviewing a course / activity.

    Am I missing the intent of this comparison row, or missing how to use the feature?

    Is the fenix 3’s pan/zoom feature different than the 920xt?

    Reply
    • George

      920xt on firmware 2.70 has Zoom but no Pan. When viewing a course map under Navigation>Courses the Up and Down buttons zoom in/out. Once you’re doing the course, from the map screen press&hold the “…” menu button and select Zoom to access the controls.

      Reply
  75. alex

    Hi DC
    just been reading that you’ve been getting too much grief from frustrated Fenix 3 soon to be owners.
    Just want to say I’m sorry to read that and hope it doesn’t get you down, loads of us love you’re work
    I became a CT VIP as a way of support even though I’m in the UK, as a way of support for example.
    Keep up the good work

    Reply
  76. Kermit262

    I had the 920XT for a few months and loved it. Knowing Ray thinks the Fenix 3 is on par with the reliability of the 920XT is all I really needed to know. :) Can’t wait for mine to arrive.

    Reply
  77. Thanks for the great review – it’s more detailed than I expected, even having read other reviews from you before.

    One question: do you find the side buttons more difficult to use during running than the front buttons on a 920xt? Or no practical difference?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  78. MattB

    One small typo.. “Sigh ‘N Go” – a navigation option for all those that were hoping geocaching was going to be in the release version of the firmware perhaps!

    Reply
  79. Shane

    I had the 920xt (thanks CT and Ray for 10%) I have just got my sapphire this week. Metal band went on then straight back in the box putting that on over a waterproof jacket won’t happen and that band is heavy. I put a screen cover on it as I do with all my kit! Would I buy the sapphire now? no not a chance would get the normal fenix3 and not sale my 920. For every day the fenix looks so much better but for running I kind of wish I hadn’t sold my 920 as it is easer to read while running. I am 42 and the eyes ain’t what they used to be.

    Reply
  80. Angie

    Thanks for the great review – I’m very tempted! Does the activity tracker still run when you are doing a workout? I.e. If you run 3 miles and the workout stats download to garmin connect, do you also get steps towards your daily step goal during that run?

    Reply
  81. Richie

    Great review – Do you know if the Fenix 2 will get the cycling dynamics update too?

    Reply
  82. Sean G

    Great review, as always! 3 weeks in, and I’m loving this watch. Can’t wait for the software release!

    Reply
  83. JimG

    Ray or anyone, what is the silver bezel is made of, is it something that is painted vs. pure metal? Is is more durable than the grey model? It would nice if it was SS! I’m kind of disappointed that the grey bezel seems to damage so easily.

    Reply
  84. For those curious, I’ve uploaded a short video I shot tonight of one of the apps that’ll go live tomorrow on Garmin Connect IQ for the Fenix3. It’s called Sky Watch, and was made by a Garmin engineer in their spare time. It allows you to find constellations/planets, and the moon in the sky. It’s pretty cool and super slick. Video here: link to youtube.com

    Reply
    • todd

      Very cool to start to see what people can do on this platform.

      Reply
    • rabbit

      Nice (toy) app – they should better create a sat constallation data page for the f3 (during work time!).

      Reply
    • Will P

      Hello Ray, Great Review! The Sky Watch app was the tipping point for placing my order via CT. I cant wait to see developers can come up with via Connect IQ apps. Any word on when production will catch up with back orders?

      Reply
    • It’s hard to say, but I’m hearing of a substantial shift in production next week that should start to close the gap a bit. It’s unclear if it’s adding another production line, or if it’s simply increasing output on the existing line.

      Either way, there seems to be plans for much larger quantities arriving next week (a multiplier of what’s going out now).

      In either case – thanks for the support!

      Reply
  85. Jon

    Ray, when do we see the review of the Epson 810 watch. I’ve been curious about it since it was announced, but maybe I missed it on your site?

    Reply
  86. Ty

    Hi Ray,
    I’m curious as you’ve listed the comparisons with the 920XT and the previous Fenix iterations but no mention on whether this is a good replacement for the 620 series? I’m not sure of how much I would use the many additional features i.e. hiking.. XC Skiing etc.. but I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter… Great job as always as this as become my go to site for gadget knowledge…

    Cheers!

    Reply
  87. Jared

    Would also like to know the bezel material. That could be the deciding factor for me. If the silver is solid vs grey coating it wold be way more durable.

    Reply
    • (Update/Edit, see note three comments down)

      Reply
    • Joshua

      A magnet would only stick to a ferrous metal, if it is a non ferrous metal such as alum or stainless then no magnet would stick.

      Reply
    • Jared

      I guess the best test will be someone banging/rubbing the sliver one on something but it seems like they are the hardest to get at the moment. Anyone have any experience with one? Seems like the other colors scratch really easy. Look at the bezel on Ray’s gray model.

      Reply
    • Just as a brief update on the bezel, I got some clarification from Garmin there:

      “The bezel is forged 316 stainless steel. That grade (very high quality) of stainless steel is not magnetic, but it is very much metallic. If the bezel was magnetic, it would foul up our compass.

      On the Silver version, the bezel is not coated, so you are looking at bare stainless steel. On the Gray version, there’s a PVD coating on the stainless steel which gives it the dark color.”

      Reply
    • JimG

      Super fantastic they you were able to get more details on the bezel make-up!! Any comments on the durability with scratches that you got on your grey model? Wow, NOW I’m sorta starting to lean towards Silver model even though I’m not crazy about the red strap.

      Reply
    • Jared

      Thank you for the update Ray. Now can we get Garmin to sell a silver model with sapphire screen? That would be pretty bullet proof.

      Reply
    • Jared

      Also if it’s not coated any surface scratches would easily buff out

      Reply
    • JimG

      ++1 (hehe). I don’t mind a few blemishes on a SS watch, just a little leery as to how well the PVD coating will hold up over the long haul.

      Reply
    • Dan Wells

      I have the grey on pre-order. I like the red band but wanted the red accents on the watch, don’t really care about the bezel. If the coating starts coming off, it shouldn’t be hard at all to buff the rest of the coating off and presto, bare stainless just like the silver.

      Reply
    • JimG

      Really, you believe that you could buff of the rest of the PVD coating off w/o causing any other damage to the bezel or face?

      Reply
    • Looks like Garmin sells the black band separately on their website for $25 (link to buy.garmin.com). Silver model with black band could be a good combination!

      Reply
  88. Jill McKinley

    I have the Fenix 1 with a lot of heart rate dropping issues. Is that fixed? Because I don’t want to wear a clunky watch that is too big for my wrist I use a carabiner. Can you do that with the Fenix 3? Will some functions not work correctly if you do (like activity tracker or running metrics)?

    Reply
    • Honestly you shouldn’t be getting dropping issues on the Fenix1. Any chance it’s the strap that’s defective? Have you had a chance to hit up Garmin support?

      Reply
    • I’ve had no issues with Fenix 1 dropping HR over the past year….

      Reply
    • Jill McKinley

      I have replaced the strap a number of times. I really should call support. I didn’t in the past because I thought it was a common bug with the Garmin straps. Certainly version HRM 3 worked better than the other ones but I have a lot of issues no heart rate or a reading in the 50s while climbing up mountains. Thanks for the reply!

      Reply
  89. Rickey

    Great review and I didn’t notice before that I could create my own multisport mode. I use the Sufferfest Chrysalis video for indoor brick workouts. I’ve tried just the watch on indoor run mode and it gets screwy moving between the treadmill and bike on the trainer.

    From what you’ve said, I should be able to create a custom work out. I wonder if it is flexibile enough to create the training plan which is roughly run – bike – (bike – run)^4 – run. That would be great if the indoor run could pair with just the HRM but estimate distance using the accelerometer and then the indoor bike pair with the kickr & hrm but turn off the accelerometer so that it doesn’t think my bike is running on the treadmill.

    Reply
  90. I got my gray F3 last night. I have Fenix 1 but skipped Fenix 2. My immediate “disappointment” was finding out 2 functions which have been neutered in the F3 vs F1 : multiple alarms (and ability to set by WeekDay or 7 days) and the hot button : I set the back button of my F1 to enable LED light. It has been very useful when I’m out camping – or even when I need to scramble to look for something in the middle of the night.

    Perhaps these functions will reappear as an App?

    But otherwise, Fenix 3 has been super so far and I am very happy with it.

    Reply
  91. @runnerizer

    Thanks DCR for a great review.

    Reply
  92. Don

    Have you controlled a Virb camera with it? I noticed it wasn’t covered in your review which is very thorough by the way. Thanks

    Reply
    • Meven

      He did it with the fenix 3 beta he got.

      Reply
    • Correct, I hadn’t spent much time with the VIRB and the production version. I will likely do so though in two weeks when I go back skiing again. As part of that I’ll also be adding a ski section based on the final production version (though, I can tell you from before it rocked – lots of improvements over the Fenix2).

      Reply
  93. Cam

    Hi Ray,
    Great review, I will be getting the watch so I can track my running, swimming and spinning classes that I do but I was just wondering what would be the best setting to track my football training (Australian rules) lots of stops and starts with the drills but wanted to get an idea how much distance I travel and my heart rate at times. What would you recommend?

    Reply
    • The challenge with football (Americana or Other), is that it’s in such a compressed playing space relative to GPS accuracy. It’s one of those things that footpods are better for. No doubt the Fenix3 will track it, but I wouldn’t consider it super accurate for that venture (no other GPS watch will honestly be any better, same problem).

      Reply
    • cam

      Thanks for your response.Do you think using an activity such as hiking may give the best results or just stick to a run activity?

      Reply
    • George

      Probably a run based activity. Seriously consider a footpod and GPS turned off for the football training. GPS positional accuracy in ideal conditions is effectively throwing darts at a 3 meter radius dart board with some smoothing between points. More usual positional accuracy is +/- 5m in decent conditions. Unless your training is mostly going the length of the field and back, GPS isn’t likely to provide good results for football practice (no matter the flavor)

      Reply
  94. KK

    Ray,

    Thank you for your great review! Could Fenix 3 display non-Latin letters (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Arabic)? English is my second language and I am totally fine with English interface. But it would be a pity if I can’t display texts from my friends on notifications.

    Cheers,

    Reply
    • KK

      I understand there will be Chinese version of the watch launching in Chinese-speaking area. But as Chinese online community keeps complaining that Chinese Fenix 2 is buggy and they have been waiting for months for an update or bug fix, I would stick to the English version. So, I would be glad to know whether English version of Fenix 3 can display Chinese characters correctly. I found from some sources that it can process unicode characters but that doesn’t mean it can display them.

      Thanks.

      Reply
    • xun

      it doesn’t. too bad because I use wechat alot…

      Reply
    • Chris

      No, it cannot display chinese character on notification, all change to be symbol, also there is no option to change the language to chinese on system setting of my HongKong version Fenix3 with the most updated software.

      But I found the Taiwan version Fenix3 has chinese menu and can display chinese on notification from review post on internet.

      Reply
  95. Just a small point here, I think “PC APPLICATION” for the F2/F2SE should also be Garmin Express. That’s how I’ve been syncing my F2 for a while at least :)

    Reply
  96. Tonny

    Thank you for the review! I have pre-ordered the Sapphire bundle but due to delivery delays I have to start my training season without it. Good to know that watch is solid and it’s worth waiting. I used my FR210 on a daily basis so for me personally it’s good to see tha Garmin came up with a product that I can use both with a T-shirt and with a suite. Can’t wait to get my watch

    Reply
  97. Brian

    Wait, so the watch has Bluetooth Smart but doesn’t support bluetooth sensors? That seems crazy. Is it something that can be supported in the future via a software update? It seems like more sensors are moving in the direction of bluetooth and I want to make sure anything coming down the line can transmit data to the Fenix 3.

    Reply
    • rastikw

      AFAIK the watch can only work in Peripheral/Broadcaster role, not in Central/Observer, i.e. it works like a sensor, but cannot connect to one. This is mostly done by in software, so firmware upgrade is usually an option, but I wouldn’t count on that – you have to write most of the BT handling software from scratch.
      If you need access to BT sensors, you can use additional device – ANT/BLE bridge.

      Reply
    • Patrick Myers

      >> It seems like more sensors are moving in the direction of bluetooth

      I think that’s debatable. While yes, there are more sensor’s these days that transmit via bluetooth, I don’t think they are necessarily replacing ANT+ sensors in the market; they are a different option, not a better option.

      That said, as more “sink” devices – that read from sensors – are supporting both ANT+ and BT, so it’s a little surprising that the F3 doesn’t. But I’m sure you’ll be able to find plenty of ANT+ sensors for a while now for whatever need you have.

      Reply
    • TorsteinVH

      The ANT+ Alliance is organized by Dynastream Innovations, which again is owned by Garmin. I guess that is part of the reason they don’t support bluetooth sensors.

      Reply
  98. Lupo

    Hi Ray.
    do you think it will be possible have an app for sleep’s tracking (and smart alarm based on REM phases) in
    order to improve this “missing” feature?

    Reply
    • I don’t know (don’t think either) that Connect IQ has raw access to that accelerometer data, but I may be mistaken.

      Reply
  99. CalmbursT

    Unfortunately, your coupon code isn`t woking on clever training :(
    Coupon code “DCR10JKW” is not valid. If you feel you have reached this message in error please call us at 800-577-8538.

    Reply
    • Ryan033

      For the Fenix, you need to ‘Join the VIP club’. Ray has a link to use to sign up for $5.

      Reply
    • Ryan033
      Reply
    • Thanks Ryan, yup, correct. For the Fenix3 you can still save 10%, but Garmin requires joining of the CT VIP club. This does of course get you faster shipping and helps support Girls On The Run. Cheers!

      Reply
  100. Raanan

    Thank you for a great review.
    Can you please tell if it is possible to track a route while using the Ultratrac Mode?
    The F1/Tactix couldn’t do that.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • I’m not seeing any obvious blocker in trying that (I just started the Hike mode, which I set to UltraTrac, and it seems to load up the navigation for a course I’ve created just fine).

      Reply
    • Raanan

      Thanks…
      The F1/Tactix was automatically changed from Ultratrac to Normal GPS mode while I was starting to follow a track file.

      Reply
  101. Raymond B

    Ray,

    If you were to compare Sapphire to non-Sapphire strictly from a easy to read/clarity standpoint, do you feel there are any noticeable differences. Reading in direct sunlight any different between the two? Is the clarity any better on the Sapphire?

    I ordered the Sapphire but am thinking of changing and just doing the grey, red button one instead. My original plan from day one was to pull the metal band off. For me it was just about the sapphire glass vs. the non.

    Thanks for any opinions you might have,

    Raymond

    Reply
    • Tonny

      Metal band is possible to buy separately if you want to wear it with a suit. But it’s very expensive. As well as buying HR-RUN separately. From my experience my wrist band on FR210 broke down after 3 years so I have to replace whole (perfectly functioning) watch now. So I opted for the Sapphire version just due to style look, robustness and extra protection (both glass and band).

      Reply
    • Raymond B

      Tonny…. looks like you replied to the wrong post… not sure your reply has anything to do with my question.

      Thanks,

      Raymond

      Reply
    • I haven’t seen much of a difference in readability (direct or indirect sunlight). I feel like the Sapphire looks clearer (probably in my photos), but in reality it’s non-tangible in person. Personally I’ve been perfectly content with the grey.

      Reply
  102. Michel

    Thanks for another epic review!
    Just a quick question : is the screen with the cadence dial in the shape of a multicolored half circle available without the HRM RUN band? Or do you need the HRM RUN band for it?

    Reply
    • No, only available with the HRM-RUN.

      Though, it might actually display just cadence with it…I’d have to double-check.

      Reply
  103. Samuel

    FYI, HRM-RUN strap is not like this in my box. Probably that you have received a pre-version.
    Mine, from this week is like on this picture : link to static.garmincdn.com

    Reply
    • The first week’s worth of shipments went out with the older strap, the newer ones are going out with teh newer strap.

      Reply
    • Adam

      What is the difference between the straps, if any?

      Reply
  104. frank andreasen

    Hi ray great review as usual :)
    now i am waiting for my fenix 3 to srrive at the 19th-20th marts
    but i am wondering how i can upload trainingplans to the watch ?
    i am using endomondos trainingplan which i download as TCX files and then upload through Garmin training center to my old 310xt
    will i be able to load the tcx files to the fenix 3 and if so how ?

    Reply
    • I’ll have to double check, but I believe there’s no XML parser on the Fenix3 (thus no .TCX import). Just as there was none on the FR920XT. You’ll need .FIT files instead.

      Reply
    • frank andreasen

      okay is there software that can convert from TCX to FIT file ?

      Reply
    • Jan

      Unfortunately Garmin skipped the accelerometer support in Connect IQ completely for now, despite the message in the initial press release. So I decided to skip Garmin for now, had high hopes for that one…

      Reply
    • padang

      I tested – as usual you copy GPX into GARMIN/NEWFILES folder and they will be converted to courses.

      Please note that NEWFILES is hidden by default.

      Reply
    • PAC

      Thanks for pointing out that it is hidden! Saved me hours…. :)

      Reply
  105. Sonny7

    Thanks for the great review Ray! I have a few questions regarding the Fenix 3:

    – Will there be Windows Phone / Windows 10 support by Garmin in the future?
    – Do you think Garmin will ‘update’ the sleep tracking functionality (e.g. add automatic sleep detection, REM sleep etc.) either via a firm/software update or via connect IQ apps?

    Reply
    • Garmin hasn’t committed anything on WP support. However, I’d note that Garmin did semi-recently introduce VIRB support on Windows Phone. They saw that as a bit of a pilot. So, perhaps it’ll expand elsewhere.

      As for sleep tracking, it’d definitely be update-able by Garmin firmware. I don’t believe (but I could be wrong) that Connect IQ though has that level of accelerometer data at this time to offer that for apps.

      Reply
    • Jan

      Unfortunately Garmin skipped the accelerometer support in Connect IQ completely for now, despite the message in the initial press release. So I decided to skip Garmin for now, had high hopes for that one…

      Reply
  106. Blazko

    Ray any news on European availability? I’m getting mixed responses from retailers in Poland: from “couple days” to “april – maybe”.

    Reply
    • It’s shipping in Europe already. The UK got some a week or two ago, and I believe I saw a few folks in France note getting some this week.

      Reply
    • rabbit

      Yes, in Germany garmin sold f3 bundles and they have already shipped from the uk.

      Reply
    • Harmen

      I ordered one this Tuesday directly from the Garmin website (sapphire with HRM strap-bundle), which funnily enough was dispatched a few hours before this review came online. It should be delivered by Monday (in the Netherlands). Maybe you could have some luck there!

      Reply
    • Blazko

      Thanks for the heads up :)
      will look into other european shops

      Reply
    • thomasimov

      I bought mine yesterday at “Vieux Campeur” in Paris, gray bundle without HRM strap.
      Only 2 availables without HRM, a bit more with HRM, but no Sapphire versions.

      Reply
    • Job

      Hoi Harmen,

      ik heb net geprobeerd om ‘m te bestellen via de garmin website. Maar daar word ik alleen maar doorgestuurd naar zoek een winkel en kan ‘m niet in de webshop bestellen.
      Hoe heb jij dit gedaan?

      Reply
  107. Gennaro

    First of all congratulations for the fantastic review really … You’re really good.
    I have read everything so far and I would like to ask a few questions.
    I am very undecided on the normal version and the sapphire …. Having said that I would use it almost exclusively for trail or bike … and the first thing I would do would be to change the strap with the rubber …. You say that really worth spending 100 euro more just for the glass? The only difference would be only in the strength of the glass or maybe also changes some other material … what kind of cash … Moreover, the sapphire crystal makes the visibility of the clock better than plastic?
    Lastly you need to upload the gpx file into memory in the device to read the tracks like the fenix 2?
    Thank you very much

    Reply
  108. Sean Zion

    Thanks for the great review! Very informative and I appreciate the time you take in its development. A few questions. I’m in the military and currently in Afghanistan so internet connection is rough at best. How much memory does the Fenix 3 have? Specifically, how many hours of training can I store within the watch before it fills up and I have to sync with Connect IQ? Also I’m consistently traveling, having to leave my laptop behind. If I do leave my laptop behind, can I transfer data from the Fenix 3 to an iPad. I see it has Bluetooth Smart and WiFi data transfer. Bottom line up front, will I lose specific capabilities with the watch if I cannot connect through a USB port? Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Steven Knapp

      You’ll still need USB just to charge, but the watch will be functional.

      You can sync to your iPad via bluetooth, assuming a new-enough iPad and the iPad itself has an internet connection. iPad Air, The New iPad (iPad 3), iPad with Retina Display (iPad 4), iPad Mini

      I don’t know the exact number of hours, but I’ve seen 910XTs with 6-12mo of ironman training stored on them, and the Fenix3 has more free storage than the 910XT so I suspect it’s not a worry.

      Reply
  109. Phil

    Ray, any chance the F3 gets the approach golf courses? The vivoactive did, the hardware is obviously there seems like it would be very easy.

    Reply
    • Adam

      Yes, I would be very interested in this.

      Reply
    • They haven’t indicated anything there yet, but I do agree it seems kinda like an obvious move given the lower priced Vivoactive has it.

      Reply
    • Ian

      Interestingly I have a Golf tab appear on GC (web) with widgets for golf stats, scorecards, and course – I’m pretty sure I didn’t click anything to get that… It appeared once I connected my Fenix 3 to GC.

      I also have Golf Course and Golf Stats on the menu. Maybe an indication that it is coming soon?

      Reply
  110. Theo

    Can someone please comment on the fragility of the gray bezel. How easily does it scratch?

    I’ve ordered the sapphire version for its scratch resistent glass properties. But If the gray bezel scratches that easily – Ray has had his watch for only a few weeks – there is little value in having a beautiful scratch free glass within a scratch bezel.

    I wonder what Garmin’s repair or return policy say about scratches. After all it is a $600 watch.

    Reply
    • JimG

      +1 wholeheartedly agree. At least with the F1/F2 all black plastic you would hardly notice any minor dings or scratches.

      Reply
  111. Steven Knapp

    When running with past watches in Chicago along the river (a canyon) the only way to get good data was switch to the footpod for speed.

    Not an option here? Any suggestions/thoughts? Otherwise it just becomes an “indoor” run?

    Reply
  112. Filip

    As WiFi is one of the data transfer options, along with USB & BLE. Does it mean the watch connects directly to a WiFi network? Can someone write an app/widget that pull/pushes data to the internet without using a smartphone companion smartphone app?

    Reply
  113. Dan wants a Fenix3

    Looks like the only sticking point is the lack of QR kit. but would that really solve the 920XT Vs Fenix 3 conundrum? My feeling is that the Fenix 3 only just makes it into the ‘acceptable size for everyday wear’ category – anything that makes it bigger spoils this. Sticking a QR strap on the Fenix will make it bulkier and detract from being the watch you can wear for sport and work.

    So how about a remote display unit? Quarter turn mounted device that you can attach to your bikes that simply replicates the display on your watch. Nothing fancy required other than the ability to communicate with the watch unit (although clearly you could have versions with extra functionality in them).

    Worth the bother for Garmin/3rd party developer? If 5% of Fenix buyers went for it at £30 a pop then maybe…

    Reply
    • Benny

      Yes! I’d buy one!

      Reply
    • Arnaud

      I use a Bontrager Node 1.1 (link to bontrager.com) to get data from my ANT sensors and avoid using a QR Kit. I think this would work for me and a fenix 3.

      Reply
    • Dan Again

      Looks like that would work, but I wonder if the F3 is normally transmitting Ant+ data and whether this is a drain on the battery? No doubt someone could create an app to do it…

      Reply
  114. David McTernan

    One problem I have with these types of devices is certain activities eg push-ups or working with a partner causes the buttons to be pressed. Is there a way to lock the buttons to avoid eg the activity being paused inadvertently?
    Thanks
    David

    Reply
    • Maxim

      Yes you can lock buttons. Just press and hold ‘Light’ button (top left one) and choose ‘Lock’ from menu.

      Reply
    • Rob Youl

      Yep holding the light button locks the watch and you have to hold it and press enter to unlock. 920 has it now too

      Reply
    • Sindre

      I don’t get this option. When I’m in an activity and holding the light button on my fenix 3 I only get the chance to turn off the device ..

      Reply
  115. Sean

    Ray,
    Great review, the amount of detail (and the time required) to generate such a detailed review after only having the watch for a few weeks is impressive and you seem to dedicate a ton of time into reading/answering comments.

    I’m getting a bike speed sensor because I want a method of quantifying my roller workouts (I was the one that asked about power in the hands on thread) and was curious if the Fenix3, while outside, would treat the speed sensor like a footpod (for running) and only report speed-sensor speed if you don’t have a GPS lock?

    Reply
  116. Bas

    Awesome review again, thanks a lot. I was wondering if there is any news on the Tanita scale app (i own the bc-1000 and using my XT310 for that now). Does anybody know if Tanita is working on an app/ widget?

    Reply
    • Tanita tweeted out last week they are working on a Connect IQ app, but didn’t provide any specific details on timelines for it.

      Reply
    • Bas

      Many thanks! (added Tanita on Twitter)

      Reply
  117. Ray and others,
    as a current owner of the FR610 looking to upgrade, I was up until this review leaning towards the 620 (I use the watch for running only, cycling is done with the Edge 500, no triathlons for me, thankyouverymuch). Do I want the F3 instead? Navigation on routes would come very handy, on the other hand I don’t really need the multisport option.
    Opinions?

    Reply
    • Patrick

      Depends a lot on what you value most and how much money you’re willing to spend. I already replied to someone else that I feel that the 620 no longer is good value for the money, personally I’d be looking at the new Garmin Vivoactive. As for navigation on the F3, I’m a bit on the fence there. You probably get better results at the even more expensive Epix.
      But it all comes down to what you need to the most.

      Reply
    • Jared

      I have a 620 and am upgrading to the Fenix 3…mainly because I have a gadget problem over function. I will use the Fenix for hiking as well but really don’t need it at all. The 620 is great for runs. Really light, gets satellite reception quickly and battery life is good.

      Reply
    • Hi,
      thanks for the comment. The Epix is definitely out of budget range, and being used to following courses with the Edge 500 I think the “navigation” features of the Fenix do just fine. As for the vivoactive, I don’t know, somehow this smartwatch thing doesn’t appeal to me (ymmv). I guess all the features (hiking, skiing, swimming) of the F3 over the 620 are nice to have, but the price range seems to be pretty similar.
      Henrik

      Reply
    • tPoole

      I had a similar dilemma as I have more of a gadget problem than a need for all of the additional features.. It seems to do a lot of what my current 620 does but with a few more features that would allow me to use it more as a normal everyday watch. I’ve only had the 620 for about 2 months now but am thinking of upgrading….

      Reply
    • Jimmy

      I just upgraded from the 610 to the Fenix 3.
      I use it primarily for running and my main reason for the F3 was that I am doing longer and longer distances and the battery life of the other units is to short.

      Reply
  118. Robert

    Ray: I assume that this will work with the new Stryd running power meter that will be coming out later this year. Stryd representative states that they have not tested their power meter with the F3, but they have tested it with the 920XT. Am I right that since the F3 is built on the same platform as the 920XT that is should work?

    Reply
    • ‘Works’ is a tricky word.

      Yes, it works in cycling mode on both units. However, in running mode you don’t get access to the power meter. On the flip side, I suspect we’ll see either Stryd or someone else find a way to bridge that with Connect IQ between now and then.

      Reply
    • Robert

      Thanks. Looking forward to seeing what Connect IQ apps are developed.

      Reply
    • Lucy

      Hi Ray, would stryd have to build a whole new app in order for the F3 to harness their power data, or would they just be able to do it through a data field?

      Reply
    • It sounds like it at the moment, unless they’ve changed something there (since I don’t believe you can access the open ANT channel from a generic data field app type). I’ll ping the Connect IQ guys and see if I can get a clearer understanding, since it’s such a common question.

      Reply
  119. Cyclingfool

    Ray,

    Great review as always. Sorry there is so much negative vibes on Garmin/REI/CT and the shipping. I am just enjoying the reviews and comments until my Silver F3 arrives from CT. I currenlty have the F2 and Vivofit and found out about the issues with the GC Mobile only syncing with one device, so I moved my F2 to my IPAD and my vivofit from my phone and all seems to work well now with bluetooth. No repairing anymore. My question now is the activity tracker in the F3…Is it seen as a seperate device in GC Mobile or is it part of the same device and a single sync transfers all activity fit files and step/sleep info? I hope it works as a single device so I can sync it with either Ipad and/or Iphone.

    Again…great review…looking forward to more updates and comments to read while everyone is waiting on shipments

    Reply
    • It’s part of the same device. So with GC you’ll need to choose which activity tracker to use as primary. But…that has no bearing on syncing with the rest of the watch.

      It’s actually kinda interesting, write now my GCM app has both a Fenix3 and a FR920XT paired to it. The Fenix3 is seen as the primary activity/sleep tracker. The FR920XT meanwhile only does workout uploading. Now of course GCM doesn’t yet handle two concurrent watches for notifications and such. So if both are sitting next to it, then it’ll only talk to one at a time (whichever it talked to last). But the second one goes out of range of it, it’ll go talk to the other.

      Garmin and I discussed it at CES, and it’s on their list of things to address. They know it sucks, but they’ve been mostly focused on stability first.

      Reply
    • Steven Knapp

      Interesting, I have both my F2 and Vivofit paired to my android phone (Nexus6) and they can both sync well. It was an issue, but fixed in the last 2mo or so..

      Reply
    • Stephen Delano

      I foresee using my vivofit still while playing sports like soccer and flag football. I like to hook up the HRM for the data, but it’s also nice to get the step count as well from those activities. Will the GC app be able to count steps from multiple devices? I don’t ever plan on wearing them at the same time like I do with my F2.

      Reply
  120. Daniel

    Thnx for the great review!!

    Reply
  121. Peg City Troy

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you very much for your thorough and unbiased reviews here! You saved me from buying a Fitbit Surge that I now see would not have met my needs at all (though the marketing info sure looked good), and after following your reviews on many similar products looked at the Garmin vivoactive and then managed to upsell myself to the Fenix 3. :) With your final review here, I got my CleverTraining DCR VIP code and just hit submit on my Fenix 3 pre-order.

    Thanks again Ray for helping us all make informed decisions based on your most impressive reviews!
    Troy
    Winnipeg, Canada

    Reply
  122. Martin

    I am on my second Fenix 1 unit, and I can tell you that the glass can be scratched rather easily, as both units did scratch while just using as a day-to-day watch. Thought I’d mention that to anyone considering the sapphire version.

    Reply
  123. Sean Lally

    In your video: link to youtube.com for showing the widgets, was the Fenix 3 ‘primed’ before you hit the button to browse up and down? That is, had you recently browsed those pages before shooting the video? I find on both the Fenix 1 and Fenix 2 there’s significant lag when initially hitting the button to display the ‘widgets’. Although after that initial lag the browsing up and down is zippy.

    Reply
    • No, it’s always instant on the Fenix3 for the stock widgets for me (3rd party widgets could cause a delay if they have to request data elsewhere, such as GPS).

      Reply
    • Sean Lally

      Thanks!

      Reply
  124. steviedu

    I’ve pre-ordered the Sapphire, but I’m curious as to the comfort of the metal strap. Regardless of weight, is the metal strap actually feasible to wear during runs with comfort, or will I be changing straps frequently for comfort and style?

    Reply
    • Dan

      Steve, I think it depends. For me unfortunately, my wrist size just isn’t good with the band. The links are large enough that with the last link out, the band is too tight (leaves indentations on the skin), but with 1 more link, it’s too small and bounces around… A lot. So much that I couldn’t handle it. I ended up just taking the metal band off and am using the rubber strap.

      If you can adjust the band just right, I think it would be fine.

      Most of my training is running right now since I’m prepping for a marathon. Once that’s complete, and I go back to cycling primarily, I’ll put the metal band back on.

      Reply
    • Nedas

      I have exactly the same question :)

      Reply
    • Ian

      I was worried a bit about this. With 4 links out from the original (very large) strap it was still too loose – I think it would be a pain for running and swimming.

      With 5 out it felt a little tight initially; however having now worn it for a day or so, and just completed a 130k ride with it on, I have to say I forgot I even had it on. So I expect I will keep the metal strap on permanently because it looks so pretty and is tight and comfortable enough for sport – at least with my wrist :)

      Reply
    • Paul H

      I have had the Sapphire version for about a week now. As soon as I got it I went straight to the jewellers to get the strap resized, wore the metal strap for about 24 hours and then switched to the plastic strap. I don’t mind the heavy watch for all day, casual wear but for running I felt it was that little big too big and the 100g difference in strap weight really didn’t sit well with me for cycling. I know, I know, it is only 100g but that is the difference in weight between a Dura-ace cassette versus an Ultegra one!!

      I keep telling myself that I will use the metal strap again at some point, for the more dressy functions and you neve know I might… I am glad that I got the Sapphire version though for the extra quality glass and ‘comfort’ that it is more of a ‘go anywhere’ watch.

      My ONLY gripe with my F3 (Ray, maybe you can comment on whether this is the same for everybody) is that when you put the back light on there is some light bleed on the bottom right of the watch face. This can get kind of frustrating.

      Reply
    • On the barely visible backlight bleed in the lower corner, here’s the official answer there:

      “We made the decision to use a high end reflective display. The nature of this display (reflective as opposed to transmissive) makes it challenging to uniformly backlight. We feel that, for this market, the superior performance of the reflective display outweighs the small amount of light bleed a user may notice when using the backlight.”

      Reply
    • Ian

      >> the 100g difference in strap weight really didn’t sit well with me for cycling

      That made me giggle – I know exactly what you mean, but I decided to keep the metal strap on and not fill my water bottle right to the top instead :)

      Reply
    • Paul H

      Ha ha, glad I could be of service :o)

      Reply
    • Damien

      I asked Garmin about that too. I’ve had every forerunner except the tri focused ones, and none of them had this issue. I think it a bit off given the sapphire version I got is a $600 watch! They told me that the back light LED is on the circuit board at the 5pm mark, hence the bleed there. Given the rest of the hardware is top notch, it’s very disappointing.

      Reply
    • Samuel

      I agree. the backlight should be flawless given that this is a $600+ watch

      Reply
  125. Jonathan

    Thanks for another great review, Ray.

    Can you tell me, is there any polarization on the Fenix 3 display? I use polarized swim goggles with my Fenix 2, and it’s not a problem unless I turn my wrist 90 degrees, and then the display disappears. I’m hoping that the Fenix 3’s display either isn’t polarized or is polarized in the same direction as the Fenix 2’s.

    Any idea?

    Reply
    • Bas

      No troubles reading the watch (Sapphire version) with a polarized oakley

      Reply
    • Jonathan

      That’s good news. Can you tell me, if you rotate the watch 90 degrees does the display disappear?

      Reply
    • Jonathan

      Just a followup – My sapphire is indeed polarized, and in the same way the Fenix 2 is. Wearing my polarized Tyr Special Ops goggles, the watch is perfectly readable, but disappears almost entirely when turned 90 degrees.

      Reply
  126. Andrew

    If I have two footpods in my sensor pool, can each one of those have a different calibration value? What about one footpod having different calibration values for different activity types? If the Fenix 3 can’t do either of these things, is this something that could be manually switched by a Connect IQ app? In the winter I spend half my time and an indoor track and the other half on a treadmill, so, being able to automatically adjust to the correct calibration would be really helpful.

    Reply
    • Thomas R.

      Yes you can different CF’s pr. footpod. The CF however does follow the footpod and not activity. At least this is how it works on the 920XT, but they are said to share software platform.

      Reply
  127. Marc STEINGRAND

    ray great as usual,
    Some questions
    1. Is there a temp? So you do not use the temp pod anymore?
    2 when creating a multi sport can you recreate the Crysalis video from suffer fest? It’s like for runs and four bikes.. All indoor

    I will get mine hopefully during the next two weeks..

    Reply
    • 1) Yes, you can get temperature internally, or via the Tempe pod. You’re choice.
      2) It seems to be limited to 5 pre-defined sports, and no ‘flexible’ mode like there is on the Ambit series for example. At least, I’m not seeing any way.

      Reply
    • Jørn

      So it is not possible to create a R-B-R-B-R-B-R-B-R brick as you can do on the 910?

      Reply
  128. Juan

    Thanks a lot.

    Could you make a comparison betwen 920xt and F3, with the 4 datafield?

    Reply
  129. Scott Davis

    FYI, It looks like the CT Pre-orders are starting to get moving! Just got a shipment notification that my silver/red bundle order on 1-26-15 is now on its way to me :-) Hope others are getting good news today as well!

    Reply
    • DT

      I ordered the grey bundle on Jan 5th and noting yet… I am happy for you guys!

      Reply
    • Cyclingfool

      Scott,

      I”m really not happy now…I ordered Red and silver from CT on 1/24…..I got the standard email today that they have sent for the last 3 weeks.

      Reply
    • DT

      Sooo unhappy as well…

      Reply
  130. Tim Grose

    You say the Fenix 3 has virtually all the Edge functions but don’t think you can do segments?

    Reply
    • Funny enough it does actually. I stumbled across it last weekend during my long run as the course I created I told it to send the running segments. Sure enough at three points I got notified of crossing into segments. The UI was a little weird (have some blurry photos), but…did get it.

      Reply
    • Tim Grose

      Ah nice! Doubt we will see it on a 920 but maybe Strava will make an app sometime….

      Reply
    • Stuart Edwards

      That’s intriguing – I can’t find any official mention of this anywhere! Does this mean that like the Edge 1000 I can upload a course and it will do a virtual racer type thing when I enter a Garmin Connect segment? Or would it just notify me that I’ve entered a segment?

      Reply
    • KeithS

      Hi Ray, can you provide a bit more detail on how you “told it to send segments” please. So this is Strava segments or GC ??. And if you are riding 100k can you only send the 3 segments on the whole route that you care about?
      Is Garmin acknowledging this now, is it accidentally intentional. :)

      Thanks
      Keith

      Reply
  131. Lee Weikert

    Ray,
    Thanks for the highly informative review as always. My question is do you thing the indoor multi-sport mode is a software update that the Fenix 2 could receive or is it a hardware issue that only the Fenix 3 can do? I live in Alaska and it’s difficult to find many outdoor triathlons (at least the swim).

    Lee

    Reply
  132. Forrest

    Did I read correctly that the F3 doesn’t support multiple bike profiles??

    How do you use it as an odometer for your bikes then?

    Garmin Connect has added a feature (that was in SportsTracks years ago) of tracking gear usage, eg so you’ll know when your chain is coming up on needing a replacement. How will this work if the F3 doesn’t know which bike you’re on? Will you really have to go through and re-tag each ride manually? Glad I’m keeping my Edge!

    Great review, thanks for taking the time to do this.

    Final question, what camera are you using? My last pocket camera died when I took it swimming.

    Reply
    • Each sensor carries with it an odometer value.

      Reply
    • Forrest

      The Edge (I have an 800, can’t speak to other models) has several bike profiles and gives an odometer for each of them. So I know that my R3 is just shy of 5,000 miles. There’s no training value but it’s nice to be able to know, and sort of a note of pride.

      Reply
    • The Edge 1000, FR920XT, and Fenix3 (along with Epix), all use the new sensor pool concept…which is a bit different than the past units (including all previous Edge units that have bike profiles).

      Reply
  133. Scott

    So far coming to the Ambit 2 I had these couple of things really annoy me.

    Navigation, the fact in Garmin Connect you can create a course is great, but no waypoints, this is a killer and really is a big step down comparing to the Ambit in this respect.

    I’ve tried using Basecamp, but really is not a solution as the map and detail are there within Garmin Connect…
    Have to say for me Ambit’s are a lot better in this respect.

    I find it crazy that if I create custom app, in this example Walking (why is there no walking app on the watch?) so I base it of the Hike. Set it up, hmmm no suitable icons to use, so I use the Heart icon on the watch.
    Test it out, uploads to Garmin connect, and is seen as a Hike activity with the Hike icon.. What the!.. So then I have to edit it in Garmin Connect to show it was a walk, but can’t change the icon,
    I mean this may sound minor but having to manually edit each time I use this, it is just silly, and the fact Garmin connect has the activity of Walking but the Fenix doesn’t is again a shortfall.

    Reply
    • morey000

      Hmmm. I wonder if the Nav waypoint limitation is just with Garmin Connect, rather than the F3. Can you create a .crs file with waypoints from GPSies, and upload that? That’s what I used to do when I did Nav with my old Garmin FR405.

      Reply
    • Han-Wei Lee

      Scott have you found the Altimeter is drifting excessively compared to the Ambit?

      Reply
    • neil rosson

      I’m not sure what sort of files it takes. anyone know?

      Reply
    • neil rosson

      ok you can create a course in something like gpsies or any other site that lets you export a map then upload it to basecamp. This is really simple to do & keeps all waypoint details. I actually prefer gpsies to both garmin & suuntos efforts but its personal choice, ithink there are other website you could use. Also ambit 2 is much more limiting in respect to the points you can use from memory not sure if they improved that.

      Reply
  134. Han-Wei Lee

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for another awesome review I’ve had the watch for about 72 hours now and here is a few quirks I’ve found so far- have you experienced the same or found workarounds over the extended period of time you’ve had yours? Hope this might be useful info for others
    1- Altimeter drift excessive compared to Ambit 2 and other altimeters I’ve used- should use accelerometer to assist with “determining” actual altitude changes.
    2- Changing barometer plot between 6,12, 24 and 48 hours doesn’t actually change the display?
    3- Smartphone notifications keep coming through the night (I’ve worked around this by using an android app that with a single button silences my phone, turns of bluetooth etc) doesn’t appear to be anyway to change this on the watch or garmin connect app?
    4- Setting up a new activity/app such as walking for example sends the activity as “other” then you have to manually change every activity in Garmin Connect of that type eg walking/mountain biking.
    5-Can you only set up a new activity/app on the watch? I can’t seem to find any way to do it through the garmin connect app or the website?

    Thanks again for all your great reviews!

    Reply
    • 1) Looks like our messages just crossed paths. On this, consider changing the altimeter calibration options.
      2) Interesting. I see what you mean, it changes the text but doesn’t change the plot data. I’ll send a bug over.
      3) Smartphone notifications: For me, when I use Do not Disturb mode on the iPhone (the little moon icon), it silences it. However, if you have the iPhone open and are actively using it while in DND mode, it’ll still alert. I don’t know how it works on Android though.
      4) Yeah, there’s no direct mapping from ‘Other’ sports to some of the common Garmin Connect ones. It’s the same on other Garmin watches. I’ll see if there’s something they can at least do for the common ones like Walking.
      5) No method to do it on the site. I’d like to see an option to create/backup profiles on the site. But at the same time, I don’t want that method to replace doing it on the watch (like Suunto does). As we all remember what happened in December for Suunto users there.

      Cheers.

      Reply
    • Han-Wei Lee

      Thanks Ray, I have tried all three different calibration modes and still see the same result 50 metres overnight with watch sitting still on the bedside table whereas the Ambit 2 is rock solid couple of metres of drift. I’ll keep playing around with it.

      Reply
    • Striff

      1. I Find the Altimeter on the F3 to be very poor to for accuracy, no matter what setting I’ve used.
      4. This is very disappointing to me compared to the AMbit’s in the selection of Activities.

      Add to this, no Mountain Biking and no Circuit Training or Cross Fit. Plus there is really nothing can be mapped in Garmin connect (no equivalent) for the later two,

      Other things that I find lacking (Compared to the Ambit 2 at least)

      6. Custom Data Fields are not recorded only displayed, so not able to view them in Garmin connect.

      7. Mapping tool (Courses) in Garmin Connect, not able to add way-points. I need this ability on the watch to do navigation to way-points.

      8. More of Garmin Connect to Moves Count web site, but a big issue for me, not able to view the map in Garmin Connect full screen, I mean why on earth they won’t let you do this. Apparently it’s been asked for quite some time.

      Reply
  135. Hi. Thanks for the review. Had two questions after reading
    1: is it possible to always have the white on black view?
    2: is it possible to define activety types like “mountain bike” or “hike” or is it still the same old “run”, “bike” and “other”?

    Reply
  136. Russell

    Ray, I see that the sapphire watch with the metal band is 175g. How does the weight of the sapphire watch compare with the plastic bands? Will it still be dramatically heavier than the regular fenix 3?

    Reply
    • It’s 3g heavier than the other editions with the plastic strap (so 85g instead of 175g, whereas the other units are 82g).

      Reply
  137. Paul Stansel

    Thanks for the video on sizing the band Ray, I took the plunge and did my own. The one thing I wish I could figure out is how to cut down on the number of notifications from my phone. I don’t need a buzz every single email.

    Reply
    • With iOS, you’ll adjust that within the notifications control panel (of the phone, not Garmin specific). I don’t know as well on Android, though I suspect someone here does.

      Reply
  138. Nick

    Thanks for the review…but; I think the summing up a bit flat; somewhat lacking in enthusiasm-almost as if you were a little tired when you wrote it? Am I wrong or are you not that excited by this watch?

    Reply
    • I tend to write a bit more factual unless something is a significant changer in the space. So it’s not a case of not being excited, I’m just not usually writing like the fanboy style in many gadget sites.

      Ultimately though, the summary is usually the last thing I write – and after writing what is probably 100 pages of text that describe everything, I often feel like the summary is simply re-saying what I’ve already said a bunch of times over…so, my tiring of trying to re-word stuff for the 3rd time to minimize FAQ’s might shine through. 😉

      Reply
    • Nick

      Thank you; I understand what you are saying; I also appreciate your factual write ups and occasional flashes of humour!

      Reply
  139. lanz

    Hi Ray,
    Great review as alwayss….so tempting….
    Do you have any idea on fenix3 arrival date to Malaysia ray?

    Reply
  140. neil rosson

    watch updated to 2.80, anyone have a change log?

    Reply
    • Ryan

      – Added Music Controls widget
      – Added support for Connect IQ apps and widgets
      – Fixed an issue with power data fields

      Reply
  141. neil rosson

    wo what is this music controls hmm interesting.

    Reply
  142. Mark

    Anyone have an idea on what wireless spec is in the Fenix 3? B/g/n etc.

    Reply
    • Ryan

      I’m interested in this too. I find it a bit odd that the watch itself can’t utilise the WiFi for updating weather etc. It seems to make more sense to me to obtain the data that way rather than using the Bluetooth, which isn’t that reliable.

      Reply
  143. Ryan

    I can report that after updating my Fenix 3 to 2.80 that the apps and widgets are working. I tried the music control app and that works perfectly, although it’d be nice if you could assign play/skip/stop etc to a specific button whilst on the Music widget page.

    I tried the Snake game app and it worked fine, albeit the controls are somewhat awkward. I also tried out the Skyview app and it works as demonstrated in Ray’s video.

    One thing I did notice after the update is that my battery went from 35% to 53%. It’s steadily declined back down to 33%. Not sure if they improved battery life or something and the battery had to re-calibrate itself?

    I’ve also noticed that after I update to new firmware via wifi, I get a repeat notification that the same update is available on my watch. Not sure why this is happening.

    Reply
    • Dave

      The Music widget is nice. But, has anybody figured out how to use it while in an activity?

      Reply
    • Ian

      Press and hold on bottom left button – this takes you back to the clock and you can scroll to the widgets. The activity continues running in the background- press Back to get back to it :)

      Reply
  144. Robert

    Have had my Sapphire Fenix3 for a week and love it. So far, I’ve used it for one pool swim and 54 miles of running.

    Ray’s hands-on write-up was key to me being comfortable with ordering it — and many of the 2,000 comments were helpful. It’s replaced my 910xt and Polar Loop and I use it with my Mio Link.

    Here’s my feedback after a week.

    Likes
    ——–
    * Works well as a 7×24 watch.
    * Looks like a real watch that can be worn with business clothes. I’m using the metal band which I find to be comfortable casually walking around, on a run, and in the pool. It is heavier than any prior watch bands I’ve used; but I got used to it quickly.
    * Battery life is fantastic. Can wear it multiple days without worrying about recharging.
    *The crispness of the fonts in the built-in widgets and the colors are very legible.
    * The rest screen during swimming has a lot of value.
    * The ability to add my kick set to the workout is a big benefit. Previously, I always had to keep remembering to mentally add it to my total distance during the workout.
    * GPS finds satellite quickly. My 910xt took much longer. Also, I find the red and green loop indicators visually appealing as they respectively indicate finding satellite and satellite found.
    * When I start a run, it’s very intuitive for me to click the Start button to get to the apps and select the Run and then it automatically connects to the Mio Link and does the satellite lock.
    * For running, I find a lot of value in the summary page and the interval pages.
    * Wifi synch works well. I’m oblivious to it actually occurring and just know that when i look online the data is all there. (I’m so happy to no longer have to connect a dongle to my computer and wait so many minutes while the data transmits.)
    * Surprisingly, I find value in the notifications feature. My original plan was to keep it off; but there are occasional benefits of selectively being able to glance at my watch to have a short preview of new communications.
    * I’m finding it useful to see all my activities and my steps in one location (Garmin Connect.) Previously, I had steps and activities in Polar and activities in Garmin. Now, no more Polar.

    Areas for improvement
    —————————
    * Automatically sensing sleep. That worked well for me on the Polar Loop
    * HRM in the pool
    * An ability to adjust font sizes. Mostly, this would be for making it easier for me to read notifications when I click into them.
    * Having more than one watch face active at a time and then scroll through them similar to how one scrolls through widgets. One use case would be to have a watch face set to my home time zone and the other watch face set to my travel time zone.
    * For the steps widget, believe that exceeding goal should show the specific percentage — for example, saying 125% instead of how it currently saying 100% no matter how much higher actual is over goal.
    * For the notification widget’s first page, would like the ability to see the subject of the emails. Right now, it has four rows that all say Gmail. Don’t know if that’s a Google issue with how they use IOS notifications or if it’s a Garmin widget issue.
    * It would be interesting to have the ability to re-configure what buttons do what. I’d make the lower right button the start/stop button. I’d also likely make the lower left button the back button. When I think of a web browser, I think of the back button taking me towards the left and it’s counterintuitive for me that the lower right button means back.

    In summary, I’m very happy with the Fenix3 and feel fortunate that I held off on ordering the 920XT based on hoping that a better-looking 920XT would come out. (Last year, I almost purchased the Polar V800; but held off since its initial release lacked pool swimming features.) I’m also looking forward to seeing what new 3rd party apps come out today. Also, I fully support Phil & Adam’s proposal to have golf courses added.

    Ray, thanks for all your high-quality reviews and keeping me up to speed on upcoming developments, including socks with sensors.

    As one question, does anyone know if setting sleep shuts off any communications or alerts? At night, I’ve been setting my phone to do not disturb and turning off bluetooth on the Fenix3 but don’t know if that’s overkill.

    P.S. When I started trying to post this over the weak Wifi at LAX, my Fenix3 locked up with continuous vibrating. The clock froze and none of the buttons responded. I held down the power off button for 1+ minutes many times and nothing reset it. When I arrived home two hours later, the phone was out of power. (It was at 90% power prior to the vibration error.) It recharged and so far, no recurrence of the lockup.

    Reply
    • Patrick

      Hi, Robert. Thanks for your extended “mini” review. Always good to read another opinion from a solely user stand-point. We already get the tech-side from Ray 😉

      Sorry to hear about the ‘lock up’ issue, I’ve read about that a bit on the garmin forum but it doesn’t seem to happen that much. Hopefully firmware upgrades will fix this issue.

      Reply
  145. Dan who can't decide

    I have a hunch that the real guys will continue to use the 920 which is counter intuitive because I really love the look of the Fenix! Aghh had exactly this dilemma when I was choosing between 910 and Ambit 2, eventually succombing to the Suunto which was a great watch but nowhere near good enough. I’m not saying I’m one of the real guys by the way but I am looking forward to seeing the Abu Dhabi tri in about hour on red button. Be interesting to see if there are any takers!!

    Reply
    • Dan who has decided

      Ok so not being oneof the real guys I ordered the Fenix 3 Grey HRM bundle from Cotswold for £340 with a brilliant discount code I found. Should get it by 2016 then….

      Reply
    • Ian

      Care to share the discount code?

      Reply
    • Ian

      Care to share the discount code? :-)

      Reply
    • Ian

      Care to share the code you used for the site ? :-)

      Reply
  146. Paul

    Is there a table comparing it to the Ambit3?

    Reply
  147. Frank

    I have mine for 2 weeks now and find it great in general, wish I could change the alert when I loose Bluetooth signal to my phone, it’s bit annoying.

    Reply
  148. Marq

    Hi new here,

    GREAT review! And at a time when there are many connected watches coming out a good sell for the Fenix 3. I would like to ask the following:

    1. You mentioned it should receive notifications as per iPhone setup. My experience – using a pebble watch – is its not as simple as that. So if you have the time could you please try and check whether Facebook messenger and whatsapp messages get shown in the watch.

    2. Would you consider the watch heavy vs a classic seiko/ business watch?

    3. When u get access to the connect centre with apps, could you update the review with some info on that?

    As a pebble watch user it I find the notifications an immensely useful feature. I was pleasantly surprised by my pebble watch getting upgraded through software to be a thorough activity tracker – it too can detect different strokes, and can be used with misfit as an activity tracker and sleep tracker. As mine is going awry now I am looking whether to replace with the new pebble time, the more expensive Apple watch, or the Fenix 3 or the withings activitie watch.

    I must say from a tech perspective this should win hands down.

    I hope it connects with that recent ant plus sensor u can stick onto your chest! Simultaneously.,

    Reply
    • Mark

      My vivosmart (which I’m guessing will be similar — no F3 until the REI dividend arrives) receives iOS notifications exactly as they show up in the notifications screen (minus some detailed text, so, not always very useful — I actually found it more useful with Android where Garmin Connect could control the notifications more).

      190ish grams is pretty heavy, and probably heavier than most typical ‘business’ watches. It’s a hefty, stainless steel sports watch – I’ve got one that weighs in about the same (Reactor Trident), and it took getting used to. I did use it for timing runs until I built up enough to justify my F2, so I’m happy that the weight won’t be an issue for me. The 51x51mm is waaaay bigger than anything I’d think of when you say ‘business watch’, though. For Seiko — think Sumo vs. the SARB line.

      In my experience, heavy metal bracelets on watches are as much about fit to your wrist and design as the actual weight. A super-light bracelet that has hard edges or gaps that catch your skin is a no-go for anything active. A heavy bracelet that can be adjusted to fit nicely (not cutting off bloodflow, but not sliding around), and doesn’t catch — eventually just fades away.

      Reply
    • Erik

      REI dividend… that’s my plan too. I hope they suddenly find a bunch in their warehouse.

      Reply
  149. Tim Grose

    Can’t see any mention of Auto Lap by Position? It got dropped from the 620/920 but there had been some talk of it returning at some point. There is a 920 Garmin forums thread about it link to forums.garmin.com so would be good to offer some insight into what the Fenix 3 does to see if this feature is still “alive”. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan Larsson

      I also want to know this. For me its a key function. In the first text segment under the cycling headline there are mentioned that Fenix 3 has “virtually” all funktions of the EDGE products. Still the earlier preview makes me think that this Auto lap by position is not in Fenix 3 now? Can someone confirm?

      Reply
    • There’s no autolap by position in the Fenix3 (shares the same with the 920XT here). I’ll add it into the table, though, no autolap by position in the previous Fenix devices.

      That’s a valid point on Edge functionality that’s different re: Autolap. I’ll add that in.

      Reply
  150. José

    When you list

    The Fenix3 supports the following sensor types:

    No heart rate or HRM sensor is listed. Are they part of one of the other sensors groups?

    Reply
  151. Jay

    I have had a few issues after a couple weeks. One the compass stopped working then the next day the watch started vibrating until the battery went dead. Recharged the next day everything worked fine except the compass. Then a couple days later that cleared up. Garmin just upgraded the software to add music controls but other then the glitches I love the watch.

    Reply
  152. Toby

    Not ever had a gps watch before so Ray’s reviews have really helped me decide. I’ve had my sapphire 2 days now and I’ve done a hike a mountain bike ride with great success, really impressed. It feels lighter than I expected and doesn’t look too big on my skinny wrists which I was afraid of.
    I also want to use the watch for windsurfing to track speed and distance etc. So tried to add an new app to the sport list. Everything sets up ok naming the new app and loading the data fields. But when I select my new app to start it from the list, the watch crashes instantly and then restarts. (Watch updated software to 2.8) I have tried the base app as other, hike and running but the same happens to all of these. Do I have to delete one of the original apps? Is there a max number of apps you can have or have I found a bug? Anyone else had something similar?
    Thanks Ray for the great site and all those that comment Its a great wealth of knowledge.

    Reply
    • Han-Wei Lee

      This appears to be a bug, others and myself experiencing the same issue. This wasn’t an issue prior to 2.8 firmware update

      Reply
    • Toby

      I’ve tried again and started with a another running template app but didnt make any other further changes and saved it. Then after checking if it opened up which it did! I then went back in a added data fields renamed it and changed icon to heart and re saved. Seems to be working for the moment.

      Reply
  153. T Warner

    Ray thanks so much for your write-ups!

    Major problem – I received my watch yesterday in the mail. Charged it fully while reading the manual. Connected to Garmin Connect Mobile. Garmin Connect on my PC seemed to have picked up the device. Went for a 4 miles run where everything seemed to be working a-ok. I hit the stop button and it showed my data and asked if I wanted to save. Got home assuming data would download to my PC or at least Connect Mobile. Then nothing downloaded. I connected via UBS and still nothing. Then nothing – nothing as the watch face is now frozen at 3:36pm.

    Any help anyone?

    Reply
  154. Jamie

    Have I read correctly that there is no touch screen on the Fenix3? I’ve only used the FR620 so I’d like to know what is the method for interacting with the menus and such w/o the touchscreen. Could elaborate a bit on this aspect (no touch screen) for those prospective buyers (like myself) who initially just assumed there was a touch screen.
    thanks!

    Reply
    • T Warner

      There are 5 buttons around the face that allow you to move into settings and make selections as well as starting, stopping, pausing, saving, deleting, etc. I like it much better than the bezel on my 410.

      Reply
  155. Kevin

    Loving my Fenix 3, the Connect IQ SDK is really something that let’s your imagination extend the watch capabilities.

    Here’s my little widget to open the Garage Door!

    link to youtube.com

    Reply
    • Jonathan

      Fantastic! Is it connecting over bluetooth?

      Reply
    • Jonathan

      What is the music control widget you have there?

      Reply
    • David

      That’s awesome. I assume it is a generic internet connected garage door. Did you need to hard code in “your” door? Or can you make that configurable in the app?

      Reply
    • Kevin

      The music widget is available in Firmware 2.8 which came out yesterday.

      Yes it’s bluetooth to the phone then JSON call to the Vera Lite (Home automation box) then to the alarm panel which triggers a 12V code to the hardwire garage door opener.

      It’s all pretty straightforward once all the hard wires are in place :-)

      Reply
    • Tony

      Connect IQ seems to be the only way to add HR data field to pool swim, ows.

      Reply
    • Brian

      I was really hoping someone would do something like this – great work.

      Reply
  156. Tony

    I noticed to HR data is saved using pool swim with my scocshe rhythm+ , is this correct ?
    Is there HR data for open water swim ?

    Reply
    • Tony

      Connect IQ seems to be the only way to add HR data field to pool swim, ows.

      Reply
  157. Tony

    I noticed no HR data is saved using pool swim with my scocshe rhythm+ , is this correct ?
    Is there HR data for open water swim ?

    Reply
  158. Havard

    Is it possible to use this watchi without owning a Windows or Mac pc? With the Fenix 2, one had to have some Windows/MacOS computer to take full advantage of the watch – for example in order to update the firmware. Is it possible to take full advantage of the watch with only a web browser and WiFi syncing with the Fenix 3, including planning workouts, updating firmware etc?

    Reply
    • Jonathan

      You still need a computer, to upload your runs to Garmin Connect and to update firmware, etc.

      Reply
    • Havard

      That’s not true. At least uploading runs can be done with an Android phone.

      Reply
    • There actually isn’t a direct need anymore for a computer…at least beyond initial config. You’ll need a PC/MAC in order to configure the WiFi networks. Once that’s done though, then you can use the phone and/or WiFi to do pretty much all operations.

      Reply
    • Chris

      Is it possible to create new workouts on garminconnect.com and upload them to the watch without connecting it using USB?

      I created a workout and clicked “Send to Device.” It opened Garmin Express and waited for me to connect the watch using the USB cable.

      Is there another (wifi/bluetooth) way to do this?

      Reply
    • Havard

      So you can’t configure the wifi from an Android phone? That’s both pretty incredible and pretty terrible! When is Garmin moving off of win/mac only and onto platform neutral web-control?

      Reply
    • Havard – Correct.

      Chris, yes. Just don’t do the ‘Send to Device’, instead, from the app select the workout and send it that way via Bluetooth Smart.

      Reply
    • Chris

      Thanks a million. I had a feeling I was missing something.

      And thanks for the in-depth review. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
    • neil rosson

      is there a way to send a iqapp, workout or course from your pc wirelessly? atm it always seems to want me to connect via usb which is a pia. unless i misunderstand you are describing how to do it from a phone.
      Also if anyone know if the garmin fitness plugin in sports tracks will work with f3 as i find it much easier than gc to create workouts?

      Reply
    • Jimmy

      The watch will sync all items in queue (the list of items in queue is on the left side in GC web) the next time it connects through Garmin Connect Mobile, WiFi or USB.
      On the Garmin Connect Mobile you can even select what apps you want to install and it triggers a sync that will download the app.

      Reply
  159. Marcos

    Hi Ray,

    does f3 accept .gpx files directly as mass storage unit?

    Tks

    Reply
  160. Emiliano

    Hi Ray!
    Congratulations on your helpful work!
    I don’t swim, I rarely bike but often run (including trail run). Also, I go out mountaineering on 6000m ranges on Andes. I had a Fenix 2 which I used to love but had to return due to unbearable bugs. I’ve seen some fellows reporting minor bugs with F3 and this kinda scares me!
    I’ve narrowed my options to: F3 x Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
    To put it simple: which should I go for!?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Han-Wei Lee

      If it helps I had an Ambit 2 and have just got a Fenix 3. The watch is definitely not flawless but I don’t think any of the bugs are showstoppers or unbearable to me. Garmin has done a great job especially in battery life consumption- I’ve just hit 44% battery level after 4 days with bluetooth and smart notifications always on and the near constant fiddling that comes with learning a new gadget. If you are mountaineering one thing to consider is Suunto’s implementation of altimeter-barometer switching is far more intelligent and accurate. The Fenix is a great watch no doubt I’m not convinced it is worth $200.00 more than the Ambit 3 Peak.
      Pluses for the Fenix for me so far
      * the amount of on watch adjustment available- the Ambit is very reliant on another device (phone/computer) to adjust settings
      * Ant+ sensor range retained (Don’t like the Ambit 3 dropping Ant+ for bluetooth Smart)
      * Fenix is much more comfortable on the wrist than the Ambit(i think due to integrated GPS antenna in the bezel)

      Reply
    • Brian

      I have an Ambit 3 peak and had a Fenix 2 (it drowned). Having said that, if it weren’t for the pending Epix, I would have already ordered a Fenix 3. Not that I don’t like the Ambit – it is a great unit. But the real appeal to me long term with Fenix 3 is ConnectIQ.

      Han-Wei Lee’ pluses are a great list – I’d agree with all of them. (Though F3 and A3 Peak are basically equal on price)
      + ConnectIQ. WAY more exciting than Suunto’s ‘app zone’
      + Living Tracking (something that was never workable for me with Fenix 2 now IS workable with Fenix 3)
      + I really like Garmin Connect Better than Movescount. Personal preference obviously, but that is mine.

      I’m really interested in the mapping potential, so waiting until Epix is available to see how that shakes out.

      Reply
  161. Emiliano

    Hi Lee!
    Thanks a lot for your kind help!
    You’ve noticed I’ve been a bit frightened of being “bug – struck” again by Garmin. I have a handheld device (GPSMAP 62SC) that works pretty fine and used to have a Forerunner 405 cx that also did well (though once I had to send it for repair – not fixing satellite signal..). Then came this Fenix 2 and my confidence on Garmin has dropped a bit..
    Well the points you’ve raised are great. I think I’ll miss the vibration feature, colorful display, Connect IQ apps… On the other hand, a sharp altimeter, reliable GPS structure are alluring to me!
    Well, I still haven’t made up my mind. Here in Brazil I also find it far more difficult to return a product or have it serviced/repaired. So I’m a bit more into a “trouble-free” piece , though realistically we know this piece doesn’t exist! :-)

    Reply
  162. Mosè

    Ciao volevo un informazione sulle mappe,a quanto ho capito non ha mappe come fenix 2 e quindi bisogna usare komoot , ma è già istallato o bisogna scaricarlo dalle applicazioni? Grazie mille e buona giornata

    Reply
    • DT

      Let me help Mose here. He is asking whether you need to download komoot from an app or comes installed already. He is saying that he understands that the maps don’t come as they do in the F2

      Reply
    • a_circelli

      ciao, komoot va scaricato dalle app.
      Un appunto: in un forum inglese è buona educazione postare in english….

      Reply
    • Mose'

      I’m sorry but I do not speak and do not write in English, try with the translator . excuse yet

      Reply
  163. jan

    Hello, can you somehow upload waypoints, without pluggind device on usb?
    Also why Waypoints once they are uploaded or made on watch, are not seen in basecamp anymore when you mount the device?

    Reply
    • Not without USB, probably a good example of something that can’t be done with a phone at this time (unlike on the Fenix1/Fenix2).

      Reply
    • jan

      Thanks for reply Ray, have you tested and can cofirm that waypoints cant be seen in basecamp, only on watch or its not working for me only?

      Reply
  164. Hello Ray!
    Thank you very much for all your enthusiasm!
    Just a quick question regarding the HRM-Run heart rate strap. Would it be possible for Garmin to calculate running power from it, somewhat in the same manner the Stryd does? If I understood your post on Stryd, it is basically just a device with accelerometer, what (I suppose) HRM-Run is as well?
    Regards!

    Reply
  165. Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Can someone please shar it with mhow much the min diszance aler is in poool swim mode?

    Reply
    • KilkennY

      The minimum pool distance is 17 meters or 18 yards. Max distance is 150 m/y

      Reply
    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Can somebody please share with me the minimum distance of POOL SWIM ALERT and not the min. distance?

      Thanks a lot

      Reply
  166. Dean

    How does the Navigation compare to the Ambit 3 Peak? Will the Epix win out on this front?

    Reply
  167. Dan

    So how does this work?

    link to youtu.be

    Reply
    • Patrick

      You can read more about it on the Garmin forums at this post.
      Looks like a neat feature, though I’d have to buy a garage first before I can set it up for myself 😉
      link to forums.garmin.com!

      Reply
  168. luyi_pr

    I keep seeing this music control thing… Is this a Garmin widget?? Do you know if 920XT is getting it?

    Reply
    • Steve

      It is a widget, but it’s built into the 2.80 firmware update (i.e. it’s not a downloadable ConnectIQ widget).

      Reply
  169. Allard

    I found the quick release kit way too bulky and noticeably heavier when running on the FR 920XT also it’s too easy to press wrong buttons messing up the activity when removing/attaching the watch and I have removed it after giving it a fair trial. I use a bicycle computer for the bike part and keep the watch on my wrist. I find it hard to imagine anyone who also owns a bicycle computer to have any use for the quick release kit. As you have many bicycle computers do you actually use the quick release kit? Btw, I love the FR 920XT for it’s low weight and it’s big screen and just find the quick release ‘issue’ irrelevant. It’s more of a decision between a pure multisports watch or an every watch that also does multisports. If I’d travel as much as you do I’d probably opt for the Fenix 3 as I don’t I’m perfectly happy with my FR920XT switching to a regular day yo day watch after each workout.

    Reply
  170. bob

    Thanks for the nice review! Is it possible to use the watch as an external bluetooth gps for smartphones with bad gps performance? Thanks

    Reply
    • No, not method of doing that natively.

      However, technically a Connect IQ app can communicate with a smartphone app in realtime – so in that context an app could actually do it.

      Reply
  171. DomiC

    Dear Ray,

    After one year with my Fenix2 (around 200 activities recorded with only one or two bugs at the beginning with first firmwares) and very happy with this watch I decided to move to Fenix3, for the design of the watch (beautiful !), and for the functionality of Connect IQ.

    I have the watch since five days, then I tested only the ski mode last week-end.

    The first day, I tested with distance and velocity 3D mode activated … unfortunately it seems that there is a bug with this since for the 2 parts (the watch has split itself the one day session, since I used the “restart later” feature during the lunch) of my recording the last run of each part reported a totally wrong distance … When I looked on my watch during the session, even if I was stopped, the odometer was still increasing again and again …

    The second day, I deactivated the 3D mode for velocity and distance. It worked fine for the distance, but I had a crazy offset of the GPS position at the beginning of the session. The altitude was totally wrong (over 4000m ! … I was around 1800m) as well as my location, and the altitude never go back (GPS and barometric which is updated once) to a correct value. I needed to calibrate manually the altimeter to obtain the true altitude. The location had also a strong offset during the first ride.

    I’m a little bit surprised by these glitches since the ski mode feature worked always fine with my Fenix 2… Perhaps if you can report this to the Fenix3 developers team 😉

    Thank you in advance

    BR

    Reply
  172. Dan

    Ray have you ever been found via Google for image searches on “Battery with a rolling pin”?! 😉

    Reply
    • Looking through the Google search terms listing of ways people find the site is a hilarious pastime of mine. My preference isn’t to start with the most common search terms, but rather the ones with only 1 or 2 hits, like “Why is my goldfish swimming in circles?”.

      Reply
    • Ian

      Yes but why is it swimming in circles?

      Reply
    • MattB

      Clearly it needs to work on its sighting…

      Reply
    • Mike Richie

      It needs one of those new goggle thingies Ray has been reviewing.

      Reply
  173. Excellent review, as always.

    I don’t think it is possible to create a route in Basecamp mobile.

    Reply
    • Interesting, so you can actually copy/share routes/tracks from Basecamp mobile, but only if they’re on the device first (so sharing to a friend). However, within the app itself, I only see the option to create a waypoint. Updated the section above.

      Reply
  174. Dan

    Do you think it will ever be feasible to communicate outwards on the Fenix 3? ie SOS signal, or simple texts?

    Reply
    • I suspect so at some point, though I don’t expect it’ll be terribly elegant (and perhaps not even by Garmin). There’s no technical reason a Connect IQ app couldn’t implement it.

      Reply
  175. Uzzikie

    any idea how long does it take to fully charge up the watch?

    Reply
    • Ted W

      BT sync was often quite slow on the F2. how is it on the F3? how is it compared to WiFi sync? in practice how have people used the Wireless sync. on F2 I would manually sync with BT once activity was done.

      Reply
    • Ted W

      Didnt mean for this to be a reply, rather a new comment. Not sure how to edit.

      Reply
  176. Joshua

    Yesterday I had my first run which was a brisk nine miler and everything worked perfectly. This morning I was able to get a GPS lock within five seconds, went inside my house to finish getting ready, went outside and started running. What I noticed during the run is that my pace being displayed on the watch was all over the place anywhere from two minutes upwards of 12 minutes per mile. Each auto lap displayed what I feel was a correct lap time averaging around eight minutes per mile. The one consistent thing I noticed yesterday and today is that unlike the 920 i had, the instant pace does not go down to zero at all. Rather when starting yesterday and today, I stood still for 30 seconds and the pace leveled out at 40 minutes being displayed. Ray, any thoughts on what was causing the pace to jump all over, and are you experiencing something similar with the displayed pace before you begin a run? Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated as I am in love with this watch and do not want to have to return it, but I need accuracy.

    Reply
    • Joshua

      And to answer all of the basic questions, I did have GLONASS enabled yesterday and today, I did not go by any large buildings, I was on my usual route which has a few minor trees here and there but otherwise is wide open and always worked perfectly on my 620 and 920. Today’s run was only a 5K.

      Reply
    • Chris

      I’ll just jump in to say you’re not alone. I did my first run with it yesterday (5k) and experienced the same thing. Real-time paces anywhere from 2:30 to over 12:00.

      The pace displayed at the end of each mile and the end of the run seem reasonable/accurate, but not the real-time info.

      Reply
    • Josh

      Sorry to hear you had the same issue, my guess is it is a very simple fix seeing as how my run the first day was flawless, very hopeful that Ray will have the simple answer for us.

      Reply
    • Chris

      I hope so too.

      I did some searching on the Garmin forum and found some references to instant pace and the lack of a smoothing algorithm. I think that’s what causing the peaks and dips that we’re seeing.

      Reply
    • Josh

      I just got off the phone with Garmin support and their outdoor team says that for the first one or two times when you acquire satellite you need to wait 5 to 10 minutes after so that the satellite strength gets up to 100%. They say that even though it shows the green ring, the reason the pace was all over the place while standing still is that the satellite strength was not at 100%. They say after that first time of getting strength up to 100%, the pace will drop down to zero and there should be no more issue. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the fix.

      Reply
    • Chris

      That’s fantastic news. I think most of the peaks/dips were more towards the beginning of my run, so that seems to validate what they’re saying. Thanks for taking the time to make that call.

      Reply
    • Josh

      It’s my pleasure, and I actually just tried it by putting my watch at the window where I can get reception in my house and let it sit for five minutes and sure enough the pace bottomed down to zero. While I am not about to go out for a run, I am curious to see what the pace will read upon immediately obtaining a satellite signal tomorrow when I am ready for a run.

      Reply
    • Ted W

      generally is an excellent idea to not hit start until the pace drops to zero. at least on the F2, once me and many started doing this the instances of crazy GPS tracks (early) or paces were nearly eliminated. true you think it’s ready once it’s all green, but for most Consistent accuracy wait till pace shows zero then starts

      Reply
    • remco Verdoold

      If that is true, and yes I have similar problems, Garmin should really bring back the GPS satellite view, signal strength and accuracy screens from the 910xt and other GPS units. Especially for an Outdoor GPS watch accuracy can be very important.

      Reply
  177. Rob C

    Has anyone checked out the Leatherman Tread (link to leatherman.com)? Personally, I am hoping that I’ll be able to swap the silicone band for the Tread. Thoughts/Opinions?

    Reply
  178. Scottie Holden

    Can anyone describe the process of changing the bands? It appears to be torx screws in the pictures? Just wondering how dificult it is, how long it takes, etc.

    Reply
    • Ian

      Yep it’s really simple. I have swapped the metal and rubber bands 3 or 4 times. Basically you use two Torx screwdrivers (they come with the Sapphire version) and unscrew one side while holding the other. There is a pin and a tiny screw – the screw comes out and then you pull the pin out and remove the band; just reverse to put it back in. Takes 30-60 seconds for each band I’d say, probably much quicker once you are comfortable with it. The only worrying bit is losing one of those tiny screws because it doesn’t come with any spares.

      Reply
    • Jeff

      What size are the screwdrivers? Can you order them online?

      Reply
  179. len ellis

    I am not good enough at patiently waiting for Garmin / CT. pre ordered Jan 9 for a grey F3. CT doenst have any useful information, and i am empathetic, since they are at the mercy of garmin. it just sucks and i figured i would share this frustration with the universe and knowing that I am not alone might make me feel better.

    Reply
    • Kris

      Hang in there buddy, I am right there with you. I ordered a grey HRM bundle on Jan 6 and still am sitting empty handed. Like you said, not much CT can do about it, but, frustrating nonetheless.

      Reply
    • Richard

      Hi Ien

      I’m with you!!! I ordered on Jan 13th, still waiting!!! and waiting!!!!

      Reply
    • Ryan033

      I too am in the waiting boat..

      Is there anyone out there who has actually received one from CT?

      Reply
    • Andy

      I ordered my F3 Grey (no HRM) from CT on 6 Jan and got it today. It shipped on Friday.

      Reply
    • Ryan033

      Thanks Andy, good to know. Hope you are happy with the purchase..

      Maybe no bundles shipped as yet from CT.. Must be getting close now.. :-)

      Reply
    • Ted W

      I ordered a Grey bundle on the Jan 7th. No word since the auto-msg from friday. You know the one that is technically communication, but says the same words, and while they are trying and its not their fault, its still very frustrating to all of us. That email :) No doubt one of these days, or weeks we’ll hear good news :)

      Reply
  180. Peo

    Hello Ray,
    I’m a owner of the Fenix 2, it was bought to use in the nearby lake swims and for pool swims in winter.
    I only swim freestyle, Fenix would say not very good.. Since the last swim showed me 10 km but after correcting online the file I got 6 and something km.
    I would understand if my push of the wall would not be detected: so less pool lengths but increasing the pool lengths since I never stop at mid-lenght it’s not understandable.
    So I thought if the Fenix 2 would also use the compass to detect the direction you are swimming it wouldn’t fail even with a poor swimmer like me ;-).

    In this review you wrote that the Fenix 3 now also detects “… change in movement direction…”

    So it is now use the compass as well?

    If yes i’m thinking will sell the Fenix 2 for the Fenix 3.
    Thank you, and every body else, in advance for any help :-)

    Reply
    • To my knowledge it doesn’t use a compass there, but rather simply the accelerometer, which is capable of understanding direction changes.

      Ultimately, if you’re having troubles with the Fenix2 and indoor swimming, I don’t expect that to change with the Fenix3. The Fenix2 algorithm comes from the FR910XT, and the FR920XT’s comes from the FR910XT as well. And finally, the Fenix3’s comes from the FR920XT’s. Said differently: It’s all the same algorithm (which for the vast majority seems to work fine)

      Reply
  181. Andy

    I’d like to ask a really, really stupid question. Is there any chance the storage and Bluetooth radio/implementation on the Fenix 3 could be used to directly stream music to Bluetooth headphones via a Garmin app? Not just control music, but store and play? Or is that a no-go based on chipset or other factors? Just thinking that would let me just carry one device. Thanks.

    Reply
    • There’s unfortunately just not that much storage on the Fenix3. You’ get a song or two basically.

      Reply
    • Jimmy

      On top of that the low power Bluetooth has to little bandwidth to stream music and I don’t think there are any headphones that support low power Bluetooth for the same reason.

      Reply
  182. Paige

    Do you know if there are bands besides the metal, black and red? Or are they swappable with other Garmin band watches like the Forerunners? I’m dying for the Fenix3 but I’d like to at least get a white band for it, something to make it a little more feminine and easier to get away with 24/7 wear when you’re at work etc.

    Reply
    • MattB

      Yep there are blue yellow and green straps available on the Garmin website.

      Reply
  183. Sebastian

    Hi R! Thanks for doing the best reviews. I have one issue that really bothers me as a runner. When I run big races like Berlin marathon I always have problems with the gps accurancy due to high buildings and a lots of people. Will tHe “new” GLONASS technology help to solve the problem? Why are Garmin not doing so the gps and the foot pod “talk” during this issues so the method with “best” results will be measured at that time? Thanks

    Reply
  184. Newt

    I just did a quick test down the street and i created 4 waypoints to test. Ive got a few questions since this my my first fenix. Ill be doing alot of hiking with it so creating waypoints (mountains or trailheads)

    How do I skip a waypoint?
    On the watch it just shows ETA to the end, how do I get it show the ETA to the waypoint i want?

    Reply
    • Striff

      I Don’t think it can, this is the biggest thing missing compared to the Ambit, and this is suppose to be heavily focused on navigation.

      Can you let me know how you created way points?

      Cheers

      Reply
    • Newt

      I did everything in Garmin Basecamp. It doesnt seem to be the best software but it works

      Reply
  185. Matthew Sanders

    I bought a 920XT at launch (replacing my Suunto Ambit2). I was torn between the amazing multisport capes and battery life, as well as Garmin’s superior software compared to Suunto, and the comical appearance of the 920XT.

    The Fenix3 just arrived and the 920XT is off to some lucky Ebay bidder…finally, a NORMAL looking watch again!

    Reply
    • Richard

      Funny. I’m planning the exact same thing for my 920xt once my Fenix gets shipped from CT. How much are you asking / did you get for the 920 ? I’ve got the HR monitor and was thinking of a $399 buy it now price.

      Reply
    • Matthew Sanders

      I posted it was a 1-day auction with a starting price of $300 and a Buy It Now of $400. I did not include the HRM. I ended up getting $325.

      Reply
  186. Striff

    Hmm, so have had the watch for 4 days and now creating a wish list and issues registrar for myself.

    Reviews like this are nice, but after personally using this watch I believe it focuses on some areas better than others. The big thing to these watches is the Garmin Connect website, which is a let down.

    Wish list for me, (partial) more activities on the watch, for example, Walking and Mountain Bike running. Sure you can base custom activities of these, but when syncing to Garmin connect it’s recorded as the event you copied from, meaning manual intervention to correct the name / and event type, and no custom icon to suit, so my Walking when uploaded shows the hike icon.

    Garmin Connect not letting you have full screen view with the map, I mean this is pathetic, it lets you view full screen heart rate, altitude etc, but not the map?

    Widgets added to an event are not recorded against the activity when uploaded, so you have no record of them (I hope this changes) on Garmin Connect site.

    Not able to create way points in the Course maker on Garmin Connect, and also from what I read the F3 doesn’t do waypoint to waypoint navigation, not able to skip way points and so on.

    Bugs so far I found, the auto pause, I’ve set this on to pause in the run at 2:00 /km the auto pause comes on, but doesn’t start again when moving. Even sprinting it did not come on!….

    My Custom app for walking (based of hiking) now reboots the fenix every time I use it. As seen here
    link to youtu.be

    This is only some issues / or wishes…

    Reply
    • Toby

      I’ve had same issue with my custom app restarting the watch. I’ve managed to get one not to crash the watch by doing the process in reply #384. It doesn’t look like we are alone with the issue.
      Agree more sport icons wanted and the custom app to sync better to Garmin connect with the custom titles.

      Reply
    • Striff

      Looks like another firmware update will fix this, specifically mentions custom apps.

      Reply
  187. hi Raimaker…

    from Spain:
    i repeat the comment #162.
    I think, perhaps, is better here:
    What about the GPS chip?
    MTK3333 like FR920xt or SIRF STAR V like Ambit3 (well, Ambit3 does not has GLONASS)

    You know we are fans of your website.
    The info is for our collection:

    link to blog.zitasport.com

    Reply
    • I don’t know the GPS chipset, as Garmin doesn’t release. I suspect it’s MediaTek, since that’s used on the FR920XT.

      That said, I know a lot of attention gets paid to the GPS chipset, but it’s honestly the least of ones worries when it comes to GPS accuracy. Bigger issues include antenna design (+placement), GPS chipset firmware, and watch unit firmware. All of which can dramatically impact the GPS accuracy. And that’s before we even talk about user changeable stuff like position, body type, and GLONASS enablement.

      Reply
    • Thanks Ray

      I read on your website that FR920xt is MediaTek3333 , perhaps it´s the same chip in the Fenix3 .

      Totally agree on the importance of GPS Chip , it’s just curiosity and add it to my collection.

      Although the GPS chip is not important , I was very surprised that there was no list , so we have created in the blog.

      We would be thrilled to see it in your Week- in- Review !!! . We know that there is nothing like published .

      regards

      Reply
  188. Mark Doucette

    I had the Fenix 2 and was able to scratch the glass. Is the glass on the non sapphire the same glass or do you know if it is different?

    Reply
    • Thanks Ray

      I read on your website that FR920xt is MediaTek3333 , perhaps it´s the same chip in the Fenix3 .

      Totally agree on the importance of GPS Chip , it’s just curiosity and add it to my collection.

      Although the GPS chip is not important , I was very surprised that there was no list , so we have created in the blog.

      We would be thrilled to see it in your Week- in- Review !!! . We know that there is nothing like published .

      regards

      Reply
  189. Rodrigo Santos

    Great review Ray. I already as my 920xt and I’m patiently watinting for the fenix3. Do you when Komoot I will be released for fenix3?/and is it possible to installed apps directly from the connect mobile app, or do we need to use the app website? Thanks

    Reply
    • Andy

      Rodrigo, you can install the apps/watchfaces/widgets from the app (at least on Android).

      Reply
  190. Sean B

    Oops auto compete took me to the now deprecated first look. I meant to post this here:
    When googling this there are a ton of screen protectors that fit the Fenix 3. Does anyone know if any brand’s have screen protectors that are “superior” in any way?

    Also, does anyone know, when in biking mode and with a connected ant+ speed sensor (with GPS enabled) will the fenix3 base the speed/pace-based fields (and auto-pause) on the speed sensor instead of the GPS? I’m kind of assuming it will ignore the speed sensor when GPS is enabled, like foot pods for running? Thanks for any info.

    Reply
  191. Keith Cooper

    New F3 arrived last Friday. I love it! Setup was flawless, software updated to the latest, and then played around with it for a couple hours. Then all of a sudden, after routinely pressing the lower left button to review notifications, the unit went into eternal vibrate and locked up still vibrating (showing the clock face, although time and second counter was frozen). Held down the power button for 20-30 seconds and it forced a restart. When it was powered back up, everything works fine. It has only happened once.

    Update: I have worn the F3 through the weekend, taken it for a couple long runs and used many of its features without a hitch… in fact I’m quite impressed with its battery life. But, this evening (three days after the “vibrate freeze”), while sitting in a meeting, I noticed the watch face was frozen on a time from about 5 minutes ago… Not stuck in vibration, but simply just frozen. Required the 25 second power button hold to force into restart. Working fine this evening since.

    I have posted this in the Garmin forums, hoping that they’ll see it and formulate a fix.

    Reply
  192. nikos

    dissapointed !! i have fenix 3 for 4 days and everyday that i go through the menu after a while it crashes and restarts . i am thinking of taking it back to the shop for replacement . the first day it froze as well during idle
    RAY do you have any idea if its something that can be fixed with a firmware upgrade or do you think its a hardware failure .

    Reply
  193. KilkennY

    Hi All. Hope someone can help me a few answers.
    I have the Polar V800 at the moment, but thinking of replacing it with a Fenix 3.
    Now first question: The V800 has an altitude resolution at 1 meter, but measures Ascent/descent at a 5 meter resolution, and it is kind of annoying when you’re running 9 meter stairs, and it only counts 5 meters. Last time I ran the stairs 25 times, it counted 125 height meters and not 225 meters. Now that’s a big difference.
    How does it work on the Fenix?

    Second question: I love the fact that my V800 daily activity tracker is combining both activity and steps. Said in another way: If I don’t walk enough. Then I can always do some strength training in the evening to make it up. Now does Garmins activity tracking the work the same way.

    Kind regards from Denmark.
    Kenni Lund

    Reply
  194. Zac

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for the excellent review, pulled the trigger on the bundle sapphire fenix 3 in Greece (arrived on 5th of March). Everything runs smoothly and it is a great replacement for my fenix 2 that caused a lot of problems at early stages.
    I would be grateful if you can help with the following:

    1) Fenix 3 on V2.9 does not turn off the backlight if set on specific time (i.e. 8sec). It has to be manually switched off and on.

    2) Is there a way to assign a quick command to “Down” key as in Fenix 2 when long pressed? (I used to have a stopwatch there in my fenix 2 and it was quite handy). I know it can be done with widgets now but only a timer widget is available at the moment.

    3) The “Activity Class” is not implemented in the settings on F3? Will this feature only be accessible via GC?

    4) Is there a way of Auto-Reinstall the Predefined Apps (if deleted) without erasing all other data?

    5) Are “Totals” and “Stats” transferred or can be transfered or saved to Garmin Connect?

    Once again thanks for the great review,

    All the best from Greece,

    Zac

    Reply
  195. Ted W

    More and more of you are getting F3. While the rest of us are waiting, reading your comments, waiting some more. Comments about initial locks up spring up, as do initial accuracy issues. My question is what setting do you find provide the best results for running? GLONASS on/off? 1sec recording/Smart recording? Anything else to make the break in period easier for those of us still waiting.

    Reply
    • DomiC

      I had a second running session today, with GLONASS on, 1 sec recording, race pace training programmed on Garmin Connect with upper and lower pace alerts, and I need to say that this watch is incredible !!!
      Compared to the Fenix2, I enjoyed again the accuracy and responsiveness like on my old FR610, with precise alert (tone and vibration) and highly readable on screen, allowing to stay easily in the right running pace.
      Definitively I think that’s THE WATCH ! 😉

      Reply
  196. Oskar

    Can I use wahoo TICKR as a HR and get the cadence (and HR) from that or is the watch only compatible with its own HR band?

    Reply
    • EricW

      Sadly no, you need the GARMIN run strap – Wahoo say’s they’ll support it if Garmin alliow, but currently that provide is private

      Reply
    • Ian

      Yes you can use the Wahoo strap for HR and you will get cadence from the watch itself. You won’t get any of the Garmin Running Dynamics (ground contact time or vertical movement), though you can get similar via the wahoo fitness app at the same time if you like with their running smoothness. I have tested this with a Tickr X, and compared to HRM-Run

      Reply
  197. skeptic_orango

    Dear Ray,
    I own a fenix2. I experienced together with others (as extensively reported on the Garmin forum) problems related to some indoor swimming metrics such as AVR SWOLF and Best PACE, which are definitely reported incorrectly. Are those problems solved with fenix3?
    Thx

    Reply
  198. Chris

    After unsuccessfully trying to live with just a Mio Fuse, I am going to order a Garmin Fenix. The one thing I did like about the Mio was the ability to sync the data without a computer. Prior to my last Garmin dying I would track all of my workouts in SportsTracks on the desktop. Is there an app/site that you would recommend with similar functionality that would allow me to sync via wi-fi or my phone? Perhaps SportsTracks mobi is the answer? I haven’t used Garmin Connect before, is it any good?

    I primarily just want to be able to keep my activities organized (i.e. be able to view running mileage and paces over time), track equipment usage (i.e. mileage on shoes), and look at pretty graphs. Also, what happens with the activity tracking data and will it clutter up the workout data? This will be my first time tracking more than just runs and bike rides – probably also track hikes/walks and obviously steps.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    PS – The Mio Fuse app stinks! One of the worst apps I have used, so hopefully they fix it soon (data wrong, functionality minimal, sync buggy).

    Reply
    • robert

      Hi Chris, all of this is in the review. Garmin connect app will sync to their website. From there you can link your account to SportTracks/training peaks/ strava/ endomondo and maybe one other site I’ve forgotten about. You will need a PC for initial set up of wifi ect.

      Reply
  199. fabio barnaba

    Ray,
    thanks for the great review (as usual).

    are undecided whether to buy fenix 3 or VivoActive.

    I love it fenix 3 silver (red).

    I have a question though: the fenix 3 seems very large.

    especially when comparing the watch to your wrist.

    my wrist is 16 cm and I fear that the watch is too big for my wrist.

    am I in mistake?

    I tried to cut a piece of paper with the dimensions of 51 mm x 51 mm (fenix 3 dimension specified on garmin website) and it seems too big.

    Ray, what do you think? you and I have the wrist almost similar.

    Also in the photo of the wrist of your girlfriend I’m not able to understand if the watch is too big or not.

    thank you so much and excuse me for my poor english

    fabio

    Reply
    • Brian

      I have about a 155mm wrist, and had no problems at all with the Fenix 2 size (which I believe is slightly thicker, but otherwise similar to Fenix 3). One thing I like about the Fenix line vs Suunto (as an example) is the Fenix line sizes down better to a smaller wrist in my opinion. But I really don’t have much of an issue with the size of Ambit 3 either – I just though the fenix was generally more comfortable.

      Reply
    • Ultimately, a watch like the Fenix3 (or Fenix2) is a bigger watch than some might normally wear as a day to day watch. For some, it might take getting used to – for others, not as much.

      But it’s really going to come down to personal preferences.

      Reply
  200. Frank andreasen

    Could one off you guys check how a tcx file with forexample a trainingplans from trainingpeak Can be uploaded to the fenix 3 ?

    Reply
  201. Ricardo Falcon

    I had visited the Clever Training page like crazy for the last 3 weeks to see if the pre-order becomes order, but nothing still. REI already has the Fenix 3 bundle in stock, though. I will hang in here for a little while but as you all know, at this point I’m desperate for my toy. I need it, so to speak. :)

    Reply
  202. Kye

    Thanks for the review. Still weighing up keeping my 920XT. Will keep an eye on the forums for a bit.
    One question: when you hit “Enter” to end a run (while wearing a HR strap), but don’t hit “save”, “discard