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Garmin Fenix3 Multisport GPS Watch In-Depth Review


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:


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.


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


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.


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.


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:


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.


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


And finally, the Fenix3 unit itself:




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:


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

Sapphire Edition Notables:


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.


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):


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:


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


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:



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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:



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.


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.


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).


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:


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.


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.


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).


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:


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).



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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


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


Second Test: 1,249 vs 1,305yds


Third Test: 1,475 vs 1,540yds


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


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:


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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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:


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.



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:


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.


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.


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:


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


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.



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.


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:


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.


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


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.



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:


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:


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!):


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.


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:


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):


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

GPS Accuracy:


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:


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:


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


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:


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.)



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:


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.


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


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


(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:


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).


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


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:


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):


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 November 24th, 2017 @ 1:45 pmNew Window
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 ComputerYesYesGreat
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreat
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesNoYes
MusicGarmin Fenix3Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SEGarmin Forerunner 920XT
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
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.



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 programB&H Photo LinkMore Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 25th, 2018 @ 5:13 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$51.00N/AN/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 RPM (Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Cadence Sensor)Wahoo Fitness$34LinkLinkLink

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

    • 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

    • 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?

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

    • Justin

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

    • 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.

  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?


  3. Shawn

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

  4. MattB

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

    • 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!

  5. Matt

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

  6. Mark


    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 !!

    • 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.

    • 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.


    • 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!

    • 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.

  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!

  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

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

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

      it is visible on most photos

    • 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.

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

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  9. Kyle

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

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • Filipe Reis

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

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • Sean

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

  13. Arnaud

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

  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.

  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!

    • 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.

  16. super detailed review as always!
    great job!

    /going to order on CT now!!

  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

  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.

  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…

    • I’d wondered the same thing.

    • 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….

    • 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.

    • 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 🙂

    • 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.

  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….

    • 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. :-/

    • morey000

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

    • 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 🙂

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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…

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

  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?

  24. 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 😀

  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.

    • 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


    • 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.

    • 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.

  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….

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  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!


  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…

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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….

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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 ?

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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?

  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?

  35. Andree

    Thanks Ray. Brilliant as usual!

  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?

  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?


    • Kyle

      Curious about the Ultra Track battery life also

    • Javi

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

    • 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.

    • rickNP

      Thanks, Ray!

    • Christos

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

  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?

    • Steve T

      Hi Ray and everyone,

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

      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).

      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.

      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.

      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!

    • Marcel

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

  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?

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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?

  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?


    • 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!

    • 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.

    • Thomas D

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

    • Good call, I’ve inserted it it.

  46. John Russell

    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.


  47. Fab

    Thanks a lot!

  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?

  49. Great work, as always!

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

    Tomorroy is March 6th 😉

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  51. David Manley

    Epic review. I want one.

  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!

    • Rob Youl

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

    • MattB

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

    • 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 🙁

  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)

  54. todd

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

    • 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.

  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.


    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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).

  56. Joey D

    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.


  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.

  58. Urs

    Thank’s for the great review!

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

  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.

  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?

  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 !

  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?

    • 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.

    • Ted D

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

    • 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

    • 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

    • Antonio Grimaldi

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

    • 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

    • 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

    • 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?

  63. Thank you for the good review

  64. Roberto

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

  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.


  66. Joe E

    Great review, thanks very much.

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

  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.

    • 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?”

    • 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.

    • rastikw

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

    • 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?

    • 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.

  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

  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)?

    • 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.

  71. Bob


    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.

  72. Ludo


    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 !


  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?

  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?

    • 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.

  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

  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.

  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!

  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!

  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.

  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?

  81. Richie

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

  82. Sean G

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

  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.

  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

    • todd

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

    • rabbit

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

    • 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?

    • 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!

  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?

  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…


  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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.”

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Jared

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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!

  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)?

    • 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?

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

    • 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!

  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.

  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.

  91. @runnerizer

    Thanks DCR for a great review.

  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

    • Meven

      He did it with the fenix 3 beta he got.

    • 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).

  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?

    • 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).

    • 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?

    • 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)

  94. KK


    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.


    • 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.


    • xun

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

    • 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.

  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 🙂

  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

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

    • 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).

    • Raanan

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

  101. Raymond B


    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,


    • 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).

    • Raymond B

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



    • 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.

  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?

  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

  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 ?

    • 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.

    • frank andreasen

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

    • 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…

    • 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.

    • PAC

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

  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?

    • 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.

    • 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…

  106. Blazko

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

    • 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.

    • rabbit

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

    • 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!

    • Blazko

      Thanks for the heads up 🙂
      will look into other european shops

    • 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.

    • 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?

  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

  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!

    • 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.

  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.

    • Adam

      Yes, I would be very interested in this.

    • 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.

    • 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?

  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.

    • JimG

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

  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?

  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?

  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…

  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?

    • Maxim

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

    • 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

    • 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 ..

  115. Sean

    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?

  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?

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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….

    • 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.

  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?

    • ‘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.

    • Robert

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

    • 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?

    • 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.

  119. Cyclingfool


    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

    • 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.

    • 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..

    • 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.

  120. Daniel

    Thnx for the great review!!

  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!
    Winnipeg, Canada

  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.

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

    • Nedas

      I have exactly the same question 🙂

    • 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 🙂

    • 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.

    • 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.”

    • >> 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 🙂

    • Paul H

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

    • 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.

    • Samuel

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

  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?

    • Bas

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

    • Jonathan

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

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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..

    • 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.

    • 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?

  128. Juan

    Thanks a lot.

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

  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!

  130. Tim Grose

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

    • 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.

    • Tim Grose

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

    • 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?

    • 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. 🙂


  131. Lee Weikert

    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).


  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.

    • Each sensor carries with it an odometer value.

    • 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.

    • 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).

  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.

    • 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.

    • Han-Wei Lee

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

    • neil rosson

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

    • 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.

  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!

    • 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.


    • 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.

    • 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.

  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”?

  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?

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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. 😉

    • Nick

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

  139. lanz

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

  140. neil rosson

    watch updated to 2.80, anyone have a change log?

    • Ryan

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

  141. neil rosson

    wo what is this music controls hmm interesting.

  142. Mark

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

    • 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.

  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.

    • Dave

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

    • 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 🙂

  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.

    * 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.

    • 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.

  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!!

  146. Paul

    Is there a table comparing it to the Ambit3?

  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.

  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.,

    • 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.

    • Erik

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

  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.

    • 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?

    • 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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

    • 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

    • 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.

  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?

  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.

    • 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.

  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

    • Jonathan

      Fantastic! Is it connecting over bluetooth?

    • Jonathan

      What is the music control widget you have there?

    • 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?

    • 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 🙂

    • Tony

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

    • Brian

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

  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 ?

  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 ?

  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?

    • Jonathan

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

    • Havard

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

    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • Chris

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

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

    • 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?

    • 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.

  159. Marcos

    Hi Ray,

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


  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!?

    • 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 t