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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 April 29th, 2021 @ 5:01 am New 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
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 Smart 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
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
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
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+ 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+ 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
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
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 Post Useful? Support The Site!

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.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Fenix3 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Since the Garmin Fenix3 is no longer sold, I recommend looking at Garmin Fenix 6 Series:

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like TrainingPeaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

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. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Kick

    Looks like a great watch.
    However….why would they stop supporting ANT+ weigth scales?
    It’s not that difficult to measure..

    • Mostly because nobody bought said scales. By nobody, I mean it sounds like some percentage well under 1% of users.

      Ultimately, keeping/adding features does cost money. It costs dev/test cycles. So it’s really a balance between that feature and some other feature.

      That said, there is (or at least was) a Connect IQ app (SmartLab) that measured it. It just can’t record that data right now since the Connect IQ platform falls flat there on actually recording stuff (for reasons that are beyond me).

    • Edgar

      I just wanted to let you know there is a way of using your Tanita scale with Garmin. You have to have the Tanita scale, the Lite app, and an app call health. You get all your measures with the Lite app, then you openly the health app which reads the information from the Lit app and sends it to Garmin. All measures from the Tanita scale will appear in your Garmin Connect. Yes FYI.


    • Timster

      Are these apps for the FR3 or another device?

    • Edgar

      I do not know, I have DC-1000, but it may work with other Tanita’s scaled as well. The TNita app is called Lite, the other app is Health for Garmin. You may have to check their website.


  2. Harald

    ordered a grey F3 yesterday, hope to receive it maybe on Thursday.

    REALLY looking forward to it – actually plan to retire mit trusted FR220 then and use the F3 as all-day watch and for running. Didn´t really get warm with the VivoActive a couple of weeks ago and figured that the FR220 should still be ok for me… but after a lot of thinking (and not really liking the 920XT as all-day-watch) I finally succumbed :)

  3. Thomas Ibach

    hi ray,

    i bought a fenix3 yesterday and tried to connect/pair it with my smartphone samsung galaxy s4 mini.
    it says no bluetooth smart- no connection, very disappointing…is there any chance to get the thing connected instead of buying another smartphone,
    thanks in advance—
    Thomas, Berlin- Germany

    • Philippe from Montreuil

      Hi Thomas,

      My phone is a Galaxy S4 Zoom (nearly the same of your S4 mini). I won’t say that the bluetooth works perfectly (i often lose the connection). But my F3 always connects to my S4 Zoom.
      If it can help you, in my phone parameters of bluetooth, i check the case “Visisble on all nearby devices”.

      Dis you follow the way for the first connection ? And did you able to connect at least one time ?

      If it realy doesn’t want to connect, i open the application “Garmin Connect” on my S4.
      And i switch of, then switch on my F3.

      But maybe you have an other android application that blocks the connection.

      Philippe, Montreuil – France
      (and sorry for the english)

  4. M

    Hey all, quick question. Does the fenix 3 have the option of using the foot pod (or HRM-RUN or internal accelerometer) for pace and distance while Ultra Trac is on? For example, if I want to run a 100 mile race that takes 20-24 hrs and decide to turn on Ultra Trac (I have no desire to carry a battery and charging cable), it would be perfect if I could use the foot pod for pace and distance, while having Ultra Trac on to record the course. I currently use the 310xt with GPS off for my 100 milers; the battery lasts forever and it is incredibly accurate (so it would be nice to have an actual track instead of it showing as a treadmill workout). Hopefully one of you has tried it… I’m still debating on whether to buy fenix3 vs waiting for epix.

  5. M

    Hey all, quick question. Does the fenix 3 have the option of using the foot pod (or HRM-RUN or internal accelerometer) for pace and distance while Ultra Trac is on? For example, if I want to run a 100 mile race that takes 20-24 hrs and decide to turn on Ultra Trac (I have no desire to carry a battery and charging cable), it would be perfect if I could use the foot pod for pace and distance, while having Ultra Trac on to record the course. I currently use the 310xt with GPS off for my 100 milers; the battery lasts forever and it is incredibly accurate (so it would be nice to have an actual track instead of it showing as a treadmill workout).

  6. M

    Hey all, quick question. Does the fenix 3 have the option of using the foot pod (or HRM-RUN or internal accelerometer) for pace and distance while Ultra Trac is on? For example, if I want to run a 100 mile race that takes 20-24 hrs and decide to turn on Ultra Trac (I have no desire to carry a battery and charging cable), it would be perfect if I could use the foot pod for pace and distance, while having Ultra Trac on to record the course. I currently use the 310xt with GPS off for my 100 milers; the battery lasts forever and it is incredibly accurate.

  7. Mario

    Quick question on the notifications. I keep getting everything including emails. Can I disable emails? I don’t think I can do on the watch. Do I need to disable on the iPhone? But in that case I won’t see the notifications on the phone too, right?

    Is there a way to show the text of the whatsapp message? I can only see the text of the sms but not whatsapp.


    • Chris Clancy

      You control which apps send notifications through Settings–>Smart Notifications within Garmin Connect on your phone (Including emails).

      With that said, at least for me with the firmware that was pushed tonight, I’ve gone from disconnect/reconnect hell to I can’t even get my Moto G to pair anymore. I’ve sent mine back and will wait to see if they get this stuff fixed. I have the Fenix 2 and sadly it took about 10 months for updates to make it usable and I am perfectly happy with it now. I don’t think I can be a beta purchaser again..

  8. Randall

    While on vacation I realized I left my Fenix 3 charger at home. Is there a good/safe alternative way I can charge my Fenix 3 without the charge from the manufacturer?

  9. Jason (Jigghead) Raath

    I’ve ordered my F3 Sapphire via CT, using my trusty DCR code. Looks like it’s gonna arrive in South Africa by Monday or Tuesday.

    Can’t wait, I feel like a kid before Christmas…

  10. Jeff

    Anyone else having problem with trackback? I was playing around and found out trackback did not work for about half my saved runs(I run at the same place different tracks). After I select my activity to use, it shoes no map, but when I look at the map only it is there… When I select trackback, if it works and shoes the map, the watch seems to freeze for a while before showing the list of activities to use and if it doesn’t show the map, it goes on the loading animation and the nothing shows up. My testings where right in the middle of the map so it is not just a zoom in/zoom out issue.


  11. Ben

    Has anyone experienced incorrect personal records after a run?
    Yesterday, I had 3 new records, ‘fastest 1km, 0.00’, ‘fastest mile, 1:48’. ‘fastest 5km, 18:20’.
    Unfortunately I can’t run that fast!!
    This is the third time it has happened. I am using a custom app I use for interval training, based on the standard run app. It basically allows me to press the lap button for splits instead of automatic, plus customised data fields but that is all, nothing special.
    The gps data is correct on the map after downloading, overall distance is correct, no strange spikes in the pace/speed on GC. Records also show up as incorrect on GC.
    Version 3.2.

    • David

      I don’t have a fenix 3, but I do get that problem with my 920XT. I have only ever had it happen when using manual laps exclusively. I have a problem report files with Garmin. Please file one too. If there are more reports, there’s a better chance of it getting fixed.

    • Ben

      Will do, mine also always seems to be on manual laps.

  12. Fab

    Hi Ray and everyone reading this.
    just wondering if any fenix3 user had experienced issues with Garmin Connect downloaded workouts.
    I eventually bought the f3 (sapph version) from a british site. Too bad I couldn’t support DCR site via CleverTraining from Europe yet. Just read it will be possible in weeks and that’s good news.
    The watch arrived just the day before Milano City Marathon (12th april), so I decided to pick up my better known FR610 for the race. Since then, recovering for the marathon, I’ve not been doing any particularly structured workout with the Fenix. Just using it as very smart stop watch with GPS and HRM and everything has been working fine, both running and indoor swimming (not tested it cycling yet), until I decided to download a couple of running workouts using garmin connect last week. i’ve been using both with the fr610 without any issue, but the fenix does not seem to like them much. first time it stopped recording data from hrm pod in the middle of the run. had to reset the watch to make it see the pod again (tried two different chest straps with no success). today i’ve downloaded a second workout (14 miles total, 3 splits: 7 -4 -3) and everything was fine with the pod, but the system went ballistic during second split. it seems to have messed up something with km and miles conversion, ’cause I could see the right total distance in km (6.44), but it showed me running at olympic athlete speed. tonite i’m going to check the map and find out if I actually run 4 km instead of 6.44: it seemed to me even shorter than that, but i can’t tell for sure. maybe resetting the watch caused some parameter to be in conflict between garmin connect and Fenix settings, or maybe i’ ve just put in some trivial mistake, but I cared not to do anything suspicious. hope I can find an easy way out.

    thank you all in advance (i’m going to post this on garmin forum as well, hoping it was not inappropriate doing the same here. in case, Ray feel completely free to delete, plz)

  13. ZR

    Anyone able to do an interval training run and select indoor run? When I do that it uses the “Run” settings rather than “indoor run”

  14. m

    is there a way to have second time-zone time on the watch face instead of the sunset/sunrise time underneath the main time?

  15. Christoph

    Received mine today .. first negative thing I noticed:
    It’s pretty dark if you’re inside, barely readable in my opinion without turning on the backlight

    • Chris

      This is my main concern and why I returned the Fenix 2 because I had a hell of a time catching a quick glance and being able to see the data while outside. Is the color display any easier to read on this one?

  16. Christopher

    30-60sec/side is not bad but how often can you do it without loosening/damaging the thread? If you do it before every run 5 x a week wont it tear and wear?
    How do you feel with the metal band on the bike? Does it rattle or make any noise?

  17. CaptainCoincoin

    Hello everybody,
    First of all, many thanks Ray! Even with other tests appearing on the net, your is still the most exhaustive!
    However, I’m still wondering. Two things may help me though:
    1- Even if this is probably transparent for Fenix3 current users, could you please let us know the status of Garmin development by keeping (on this blog) a track of firmwares vs improvements vs bugs/fxes?
    2- I’m still puzzled for my next invest… I’m not really in a brand: I had the opportunity to test Polar, Suunto and Garmin watches but didn’t get any crush on any watches (I wasn’t able to test them more than a day).
    My spec is I would like my watch monitors anything I do, and I’m a (beginning) triathlete but not only (especially skiing, hiking, roller skating, etc …)
    On the paper, Fenix3 has all, packed with an awesome look :).
    Polar V900 & Suunto Ambit 3 Peak look great, have only a few glitches (compared to the Fenix3) and have a better pricing, but have less functions. Finally, Forerunner 920XT, while being almost as expensive as the Fenix, has “almost” everything the Fenix3 has but the GPS and bugs are almost part of the past.
    My mind would be made if only I were 100% sure that Garmin would fix all the little annoying things from the Fenix3. But Fenix2 users community doesn’t make me confident …
    Please … Can anyone help me? :)

  18. Chris

    Great review! I previously purchased the Fenix 2 which I returned because out in strong sunlight I had a really difficult time just catching a quick glance at the display and being able to read the data during exercise. The red background option didn’t help at all either. With the color display on this one is it easier to see?

  19. Lawrence Lam

    Got my F3 in Orchard Central’s Garmin outlet Singapore at S$619 (eq. to US$465) including 7% GST. Gray, only watch, non-bundled with HRM-Run.

  20. Dave

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks as always for your great reviews! I think it’s incredible how much you do on top of your full time job and travel!

    I’m curious if you’re thinking of updating your GPS accuracy testing for future reviews. I realize most of your running isn’t in challenging GPS situations, but many of us use these devices for trail/ultra running and/or live in cities that don’t provide an ideal environment for GPS. That said, they are still supposed to work! As far as I’m aware you originally gave good reviews and even defended the GPS accuracy of the 620 and Fenix 3, only later to find that there were some serious problems. I ended up going through 3 different 620s trying to find one that worked before I gave up on it. The 620 was eventually fixed with a GPS firmware update, and it sounds like Garmin is now also working on an update for the Fenix3.

    I know there are many examples of how bad the Fenix3 is on trails, but here is another from today. This was an out and back track that was started/stopped at exactly the same point. The actual run was about 20.5 miles, but the Fenix3 only measured 17.9. Its track is completely off, even before the GPS appears to have stopped trying. This was a clear, sunny day in Seattle, although it was on a wooded trail. The out portion of the track is better, although it should have measured about 10.25 miles and only measured 9.5. While this run is particularly bad it always measures short on trails, and most of the time measures short on other runs as compared to other people I run with who have various devices.

    link to connect.garmin.com

    I know you do these reviews based on your use cases and the GPS accuracy meets your needs, but many (including myself) look to your recommendations even though our environments and use cases are different (this is even supposed to be a trail watch!). I wonder if you could do something to simulate challenging GPS conditions and provide a comparison across devices without having to go run trails? Given how you get pre-release devices it may also help to identify shortcomings earlier so that the released firmware is better. Given your scientific and detail oriented mind I’m sure you can come up with something ;-)

    Thanks again for all you do!

    • Hi Dave-

      Yes, I’ll be looking at more twisty trail runs in the future. I did some trail runs with the Fenix3 (both outside of Paris and in Canada), but it appears they weren’t twisty enough (or the trees weren’t tall enough).

      I was doing some research into places semi-nearby this weekend that I can do trail runs with twistier trails and have a few ideas.

      In the meantime, Garmin says they are working on a software fix for the shorting issue. Details here: link to dcrainmaker.com


    • Dave

      Thanks Ray!

  21. Z. Browning

    I ended up buying a Fenix 3. I used it in a 50k last weekend, and it tracked exactly 1 mile short for the race, reading 30.00 for what I know to be a full 50k (It was put on by The North Face and has serious prize money on the line, so I’m confident it was a full 50k). I also found that at intermittent points that it was short (ie, at every aid station it was showing the distance short). I had the GLONASS on, and it tracked pretty well on my local runs the week before, within .05/mile of my previous watch (a Garmin Forerunner 620). Do you have any suggestions as to why this might have been? It was a pretty hilly, woodsy course, but on a very clear day, so I wouldn’t expect a full mile short reading. Any suggestions as to how to fix this problem would be very appreciated. Thank you

    • Dave

      This is a known issue with the accuracy of the Fenix3 in wooded areas or with lots of turns. Garmin is aware and working on a GPS firmware update. Check out the Garmin Fenix3 forum for further discussion.

      Also, some have reported better GPS accuracy with GLONASS off.

    • Z. Browning

      Thanks Dave, I will look into the forums on Garmin.

    • Klaus

      I would confirm this. GPS accuracy send to be better with Glonass off.

    • I’d be very cautious in saying GLONASS off is better. It really depends quite heavily on the situation. Unfortunately, there’s no good guide for figuring out which cases it’ll be better, neutral, or negative.

      Fwiw, I just leave it on all the time.

  22. Mario

    Im on the fence between the Fenix 3 and Suunto Ambit 3, im trying to figure out the Fenix reliability, which is always been a problem on Garmin watches and Fenix series in particular, i do very long rides on my bike and i’d get damn furious if the watch crashes losing all my ride data.
    Other than that i prefer the Fenix 3 overall, mostly due to ANT+ compatibility and other options.
    I have the original Ambit 1 and it’s rock solid, never had crashes.
    I searched for “crash” in this page and a lot of people are mentioning that… so what do you think?
    Better wait for more fw updates to see whether the issues are getting sorted or stay on the more reliable Suunto brand and get the Ambit 3?

    • Looking through the 18 instances where someone said the word ‘crash’ in the comments (out of 1776 comments), it looks like there’s probably 3-4 unique instances (not just random use of the word). Of those, 2 were more than 2 months ago with unclear reasons/follow-up. One was about a month ago, and seemed related to 3rd party Connect IQ fields. Another was a few weeks ago with unknown cause.

      That said, ignoring Connect IQ crashes (i.e. due to some app/widget/etc…), I’m just not hearing crashes as a common issue on the Fenix3. And even Connect IQ crashes seem to have tapered off in the last 3-4 weeks, I suspect partially due to apps getting cleaned up (either by the original devs, or by Garmin removing them from the store as we’ve seen in some cases).

  23. Serge

    I’ve bought F3 1.5 month ago and enjoy to using it. But my previously Ambit 2S actually was better for open water swimming. Accuracy of F3 poor even when the Glonass is on, unfortunately. Will hope on next firmware…

  24. David

    Hi Ray, do you if Garmin will release a firmware update to fix the GPS accuracy? Many owners of F3 experience the watch to measure distances too short, myself included. My F3 was working perfectly the first two weeks until I did a update to the watch.

    Also, is it possible to turn of the function so the watch will not leave the running app if not being started? Can be stressing to have the running app turned on and GPS/HRM ready and then the watch will leave the app if activity is not started; especially 2min before a start to a race

    • Garmin says they’re working on it. I’ve included the shortage issue within the Bugs/Quirks section of the review, and included the comments from Garmin there: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I’m not quite clear on the second portion of the question – I think you’re asking about having the GPS on standby? The Fenix3 allows you to put the watch into an extended waiting mode (20 mins), so it doesn’t shut off at the start of a race.

    • David

      Thanks a lot for the quick reply, Ray. I guess we just have to wait for the firmware update but good to hear they are aware of the problem. I use my F3 for running and in the woods it is completely off; in a 10k trails race recently it was measuring 400m too short!

      With regard to my second question then your answer is what I am looking for. I would like, at best, to completely shut off the waiting mode function so it will not leave the running app (ie shutting off gps and hrm) when the timer is not being started but if that is not possible extending to 20min will work as second best. On a general note, I find is annoying/stressng to time when to open your running app before a race.

  25. Devon

    Hey Ray, can I expect to see the fēnix 3 sapphire in retail store like Dick’s Sporting Goods? I have a pretty heavy gift card there and would love to use it. Either way I’ll be getting HRM-Run and other accessories from CT. It looks like they have a product number for the sapphire (via Google search) but they have a crawler blocker on the page right now. If not, CT all the way.

    • I’m not sure on Dick’s, I would have thought you’d be able to order it there. Given stock is pretty plentiful these days, my guess is that they just aren’t stocking it being a bit higher end. Sorry!

      But, I can say that CT has them in stock (just got a big shipment on Friday)…plus, you’ll save 10%. ;)

      Appreciate the support!

  26. Mike

    Ray, thanks for the review. If you don’t mind me making a suggestion, it would be fascinating to see a post updating everyone on Connect IQ so far. For example, what data fields, apps and widgets are available now, how well do they work, is CIQ living up to its initial promise, what is in the pipeline. There does seem to be a little bit of general disappointment around at the moment. But perhaps it is still too early to judge?

    • Yeah, it’s tricky. Thus far I’d say I’m disappointed in it. Mostly as I don’t think Garmin is moving quickly enough to address the holes. At the same time, I’m also keenly aware that if I put out a post saying it’s failure (which I think it’s too soon to make such a judgement), then the entire industry will stop developing for it.

      I think right now I’d give them a C- on making the right steps towards making it a success.

    • Mike

      Thanks. We definitely don’t want the developers to loose interest! There isn’t much in the store at the moment. I guess encouraging developers is key, but Garmin surely needs to invest more itself in CIQ to get it going. Clock faces seem popular, but apps and data fields would be more interesting.

  27. A K


    Just got my Fenix 3 delivered today. One quick question. For pool swims, I use pools that are either 17 / 18 mtrs; 20 mtrs or 28 mtrs. Don’t ask why – by some twisted fate these are the only pool lengths most commonly available to me.

    I checked the custom setting and for some reason I can’t find these particular pool lengths. Any idea how I can set it to the above readings. I found options from 1 – 15 mtrs in custom and then pre-fix lengths from 25 mtrs and some measurements in yards. Please help – any inputs are welcome!!

    Thanks in advance for the responses.


    • A K

      ok guys – apologies but I got the answer to this by just fiddling around a bit more. Basically I misunderstood the prompt. It prompts you to type (as an example), 1 and 7 sequentially to set to 17 mtrs. Sorry, my bad (duh) – but this is the first time I’m using any sports watch and I’m on Day 1.


  28. Klaus

    Hi Ray,
    As many others, I also have problems with the accuracy of the Fenix 3 and I can’t wait for a firmware update to address this.
    For the Fenix 2, Garmin maintained this site here keeping track of all updates:
    link to www8.garmin.com

    I cannot find anything similar for the Fenix 3. Is there anything? For example, yesterday I installed a firmware update that was downloaded via Wifi, but I cannot find any information what it was good for. Might have been only BT.

  29. Kyle

    Its amazing to just glance here at the comments and at the garmin forums and see the amount of issues. Ray may have got a good unit but there was definitely a quality control issue going on with a lot of units.

    • I think it’s really just a case of different use cases. The folks having issues are largely doing trail running/cycling activities – which don’t make up the bulk of my training from a triathlon standpoint.

      I do also think there’s a fair bit of confusion around how the altimeter works as well mixing in there causing some people to get inaccurate data.

    • Kyle

      I personally had to send my unit back because one day it just wouldn’t acquire satellite’s anymore.
      Regarding the altimeter issues they are there. It would all be fixed if garmin used the same altimeter/baro lock feature that suunto uses and the fenix 1 used (I believe the f1 had it).

    • I’d agree there are fewer options there than the Fenix1, but I didn’t see any issues with using the GPS-calibration option for altimeter data. In looking at the threads about it, there were only a handful of folks in them (albeit including yourself), and they seemed to die off about a month ago after a fair bit of education seemed to occur in the thread.

      Not saying you weren’t having an issue, but I think for most others it’s actually heavily weighted towards confusion more than anything else.

  30. The review you have put together is by far the most concise I have found on the Garmin Fenix 3
    I do a lot of sailing. I have for many years used my trusted Fortex 301. It has a countdown timer which switches automatically to counting up. So I can be counted down from 5 mins and still know the duration of the race.
    I can set the race marks as waypoints which I can “Goto” and the unit will show me direction and distance.
    Will the Fenix 3 give me both these functions?
    I know I should use the Tactix but it seems limited for cycling walking etc.
    Many thanks in advance

    • Stephen Thomas

      That surely must be the first time in history that anyone has referred to one of Ray’s reviews as “concise”. :^)

    • Fab

      “Concise”: he keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means. lol

  31. Christoph

    Quick question: Can anyone tell me how the Fenix 3 handles courses?
    I’d like to use the watch for navigation with .tcx courses (coursepoints) and it would
    be pretty cool to have something that shows directions based on these coursepoints, or even beep for left/right.

    • Dom

      If you have a tcx file with coursepoints in it, then, once you get it into the watch, it works well. It will beep between 30 and 100 m before the coursepoint to tell you you’re approaching it, and display text and an icon matching the coursepoint (I’ve only tried left, right and ahead so far, don’t know what something like ‘water’ would come out like), then beep and display the icon again when you reach it. In my experience, you’re usually making the turn before the second beep, but the advance warning helps.

      Getting it in is the catch; you can use Garmin Training Center (but getting it to transfer just that one course seems to require having a special user with that course and no other data in it, at least in Windows). I’ve actually written a program using the FIT SDK to translate tcx courses to fit so that I can just drop them straight into the newfiles folder on the watch.

    • Christoph


      Hmm I thought I can just use the .tcx files directly..
      Did you try link to bikeroutetoaster.com ? You can add/create coursepoints there and it seems to have an option to export to garmin – maybe that works directly.

    • Dom

      I was using ridewithgps, transferring direct to the Garmin is a paid option.
      Looks as though you need the Communicator plugin with BRT, which is worth a shot but isn’t going to work forever as browsers are removing support for that kind of plugin (it’s already gone in Chrome).
      I’ve tried using TCX Converter to change the TCX to a FIT file, but it looks as though the coursepoints haven’t been transferred.

    • George

      Try downloading the TCX and then using Garmin Training Center to transfer to the Fenix3 via USB. That’s been working for me so far, though I’ve just done it a couple times.

    • Dom

      So the same as I suggested 3 posts above, then? :)

    • George

      Ha, yes, not sure how I missed that. :p

  32. Ted

    Oh where oh where has our Garmin Support Gone.. Has the Fenix 3 team moved onto newer products? Surely they are aware of the smoothing issues with the Fenix 3. Is this something that is so difficult to solve? Its been a month+ and still no GPS or firmware update to address it. During a recent 50mile ultra, it was comical to see how the Fenix 3 would lag buy .02 to .03 miles per/mile behind other Garmins, on the same trail. What do you here from your sources Ray, are they at least attempting to fix it? or calling its a quits on firmware updates already?

    • They’re still working on it. As noted in the official response I got on the issue, which I pasted in both the comments and the post itself: link to dcrainmaker.com (Also see ‘Bugs/Quirks’ section).

      I’ll poke again today.

    • Josh

      I just finished a 9 miler around forest park which is covered with lush trees at this point of the season. Tracks were acceptable but if garmin cannot provide an update i fear i will have to return this lovely device. please please please make it work under trees :). on straight aways its awesome!!!
      ray thanks for reaching back out to them and keeping us all posted!!!

    • Gabe

      Thanks for checking! I’m a fairly newish runner and was wondering why my times seem to have been tailing off, then came and checked the forums. It would be nice to hear a communication from Garmin on this.

    • I sent off a note on the topic and report back if/when I get a response.

  33. Oden

    What are the chances of Garmin including the Fenix 3 in their annual mid-may sale & rebate this year? Or, will they be even doing their annual mid-may sale & rebate this year for that matter?

  34. Jan

    Thank you for checking on the GPS issues Ray. I have been holding off purchasing the Fenix 3 until I see a few better performance reports.

    Looking forward to reading about anything you may hear.

  35. Ken

    Hi Ray, i have some difficulty getting the correct altitude from my fenix 3. I get different numbers on the same location during the day (traveling to and forth). Could you please explain how the altimeter works? And does it matter if you inside or outside?

  36. Hzl D

    I got my F3 6 weeks ago and was initially and instantly in love with the functionality. It truly is a wearable watch with activity tracking and suitable for all my sports particularly pool based triathlons. However after just two weeks- the satellite tracking stopped working and I’ve tried various things including software updates, contacting Garmin and a hard reset clearing all my data/ history. Very disappointingly Garmin tell me that it’s to go back to be replaced leaving me reliant on my 10 year old forerunner for approaching events. Not what I expected having handed over £400 for the gadget
    It seems that I’m not alone with this problem.

    • Craig

      I had a similar problem. It worked for about 2 weeks (well – when I say “worked” it was out by a few percent which seems to be the “norm” with F3) and then it just became so erratic ( I had a 50k bike ride that showed up as 3k’s) I sent it back. I receive the new one today.

    • Hzl D

      Thanks Chris
      It does sound as if there’s a wider issue with the satellite reception which is particularly concerning.
      Hope your new one is fully operational. How long did it take them to arrange the replacement and was the process easy?

  37. Christopher

    So is anyone using the Sapphire metal band version for running and cycling training? Does it work or is it useless? What is the performance of the metal band on a mountain bike? or on a fast 10km workout?

    • Klaus

      Yes, I do.
      It is really heavy. Doubles the weight of the watch. On top, if you exercise, the circumference of your wrist will increase. If the metal band sits tight during exercise, it is too loose in the office and vice versa.
      I prefer the rubber version for sports.

    • Christopher

      Thanks Klaus for confirming my worries.
      So do you change the band each time you work out? I guess after a few times you get lazy and don’t want to change it anymore?
      Another issue I can see is different weather conditions. In the summer you wear the watch on your bare wrist. On warmer days you are dehydrated and your wrist is smaller or the contrary – swollen. In the Spring sometimes you need a jacket, in the winter you for sure need a jacket or even a coat.
      Also I can’t imagine how to clip on the metal band to a MTB handle bar…

    • I used it a number of times for S/B/R workouts. As said above, if too loose it shakes around. Annoying while running, rattling while biking. If adjusted to “snug” then often too tight at times. Most importantly, the biggest issue (for me) is that if loose enough to be comfortable, then watch is not tight against skin- if doing a planned workout you will not feel the vibration alerts between intervals or for BT notifications from phone. My impression is that the vibration alert on the F3 is MUCH less “vibratory” than the alert was on my 910. Also, I have alerts set to “tone and vibrate” yet my watch never emits any tones. I am concerned it actually may be defective but don’t want to address this until after a race I have in 2 weeks.

      It is very easy to switch metal band for rubber one so I use rubber one 99% of time (as I workout most every day). I guess if I have a fancy party to go I could swap the metal band. I pretty much predicted that this would be an issue but the metal band is so beautiful I wanted to at least have it as an option. The dark grey sapphire watch with the metal band is a really beautiful but quite substantial (i.e., solid, heavy).

    • ReneHa

      I wear the sapphire all/every day. In my opinion it is not too heavy for running.
      I have cut one of my log sleeve shirts and wear this under my watch when I go running.
      This way the watch is tight enough and the watch doesn’t feel to heavy for me

    • what a great idea. I assume you mean you cut a small section of the shirt sleeve to use almost like a “wrist band” to wear under the watch band to fill the space. Can you still feel the vibration alerts? That is a HUGE issue for me. I do a lot of interval training and find the vibration is often not nearly enough to feel even with the plastic band. It is probably my 2nd biggest criticism of this watch (after all the GPS accuracy stuff- which actually isn’t even that big a deal since it doesn’t really affect my workouts/performance except perhaps for run pacing)

  38. Julian

    In case it helps anyone, I recently had a problem of transferring courses to my Garmin Fenix 3 always failing, whether I used Garmin Express or the Garmin Connect app. I managed to find the cause of the problem – which Garmin confirmed – was that my public Garmin profile name had an underscore in it (e.g. John_Smith). Once I removed the underscore it worked a charm.

    Also, I just wanted to say a lot of the posts on this page are a somewhat negative about the F3. I wouldn’t argue with anyone else’s experience, but for what it is worth I think once you figure out how to use it, this is an awesome watch.

    I have the basic model with the HRM-Run chest strap. The mapping functionality is brilliant, the apps and software has worked flawlessly since resolving the above issue, the notifications are incredibly useful. I run 60-70 miles a week, and the because this is a 24/7 watch, it means it is just as useful running to work (when email notifications come into their own, you know what is in your inbox when you arrive) or long training runs (just download a GPX, create a course, send it from your phone and go into the unknown!). Outside of running, it means you never miss a text or call again.

    The sleep and step counters are great, saving you £80-£100 on a fitness tracker. There really isn’t a downside to the watch. Of course there are going to be a few teething issues, but I am of the opinion even if the distance is occasionally out by a few percent, what does it change? It is only the time you spend training that makes the difference, not the measurement of it.

    • Christoph

      I have to agree – I switched from the Fenix 1 to this one and it simply is great. The user interface and features are awesome, I really like it.

      I stayed on v3.1 because of the GPS issues, let’s hope they fix this soon because it’s really the best watch I ever had.

  39. Klaus

    No, changing it before every activity is unrealistic. I still wear it permanently because I like the look. I was wearing the Fenix 2 with the rubber band before and i was much more comfortable.
    The sapphire glas and metal band look great but it is probably not worth the extra price.

  40. Bernie

    I would really like to buy this watch, but I am afraid it will be too big. It turns out that I am already waring a fairly large watch. So I was wondering just what is the pin to pin measurement?


  41. Nick Yanakiev

    Hello Ray,

    I have been following your website for a long time now, very much impressed by the quality of your reviews.

    I have about 10 days left to decide if I want to get a refund for my second Fenix 3 unit. Garmin did not bother to give me some more specific information as to when they intend to fix or announce a going live date for the firmware update many of us have been waiting for. Do you have any further information on that?

    I like the design and notification functions of the watch (even if flawed) but cannot keeping a £500 watch just for notifications.

    Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!


    • Craig

      I’m in the same boat – I’ve got 2 weeks to get it back to CT before my refund expires. I’ve only had my replacement F3 for a few days now and it is definitely much better than my first one (which was almost unusable). It is however still not as accurate as other watches – yesterday when compared to an FR10 (on the same wrist) it was 250m out over 5k’s. This morning (compared to a 610) it was also a few hundred meters out.

      Ray – I know you’re are pushing Garmin as much as you can but was wondering whether you’ve got any leverage at CT to extend their refund policy (even just for the F3)? I’d really like to hold out for new firmware but if it doesnt arrive soon I’m going to be forced to send it back and then re-buy in a few weeks which makes no sense!

    • Bill

      Gentlemen, just get a refund. Its a $500 device, it should work flawless, especially in 3rd generation but that’s the obviously not the case. I returned mine a few weeks ago.

    • Nick Yanakiev

      Yep, that’s what I did. The shop I got it from is now sending it back to Garmin, I will either get a refund or an exchange.

      I do hope that Garmin get their act together and fix this thing, I already invested in a number of accessories and would prefer to buy it again once/if it functions as intended. If not- I guess I will be eagerly awaiting the Ambit4.

  42. Christoph

    I’m a happy Fenix 3 owner.

    However, I have to admit I am shocked by how garmin acts with these issues. The watch with the newest software is basically trash – in comparison to what they advertise. Still they do not react in any way, do not seem to care about complaints even from people that send the watches back (see the posted replies from garmin to people telling them they have to send the watch back, they do not even care).

    I still have Version 3.1, and I like this watch. However, I’m questioning myself if this is the right company to support. After all it’s months now without a solution.. what kind of business strategy is this?

  43. Oisin

    Just tried out my new Fenix 3 in the pool, in the gym and on my Kickr.
    I had a 920XT but since I managed to get a Fenix 3 for 280€, I decided to switch to the better looking Fenix3.

    The pool swimming tracking works sooo much better, not something I expected. With the 920XT in my Paris-like busy pool, the lap/distance tracking was never useful as it was always wrong. My Fenix 3 was SPOT ON today over 2km – Fantastic!
    The watch does look great too – very happy with it.

    One question however, has anyone gotten underwater HR recording working in swim more with Connect IQ apps on either the Fenix 3 or the 920XT?
    Is it just a matter of time before Garmin release a new Swim with FR225-like IR HR sensor? (that would be cool!)

    • Bill B

      Oisin, your experience is very interesting to me. I have had two Fenix 3s and both missed many of my turns in a 25 meter pool. I had previously had a Fenix 2 and before that a 910xt and neither missed any of my turns. I now have a 920xt, which is not missing any of my turns. I’m trying to understand whether there is something about my technique and the Fenix 3, or whether I had two defective units. It is a dilemma for me, as I also really like the Fenix 3 much better.

  44. Oisin

    Hi Bill B, that is interesting.
    How does the 920XT do in regard to GPS accuracy (compared to the Fenix3)?
    I just completed my first run with the Fenix3, I ran a course which I have run many times with the 920XT.
    I used GLONASS and 1s recording but the accuracy was pretty horrible….I ran through buildings & rivers apparently!
    I will see if it does better next time, maybe it was just because of atmospheric conditions.

    • Try it without GLONASS on, some folks have seen oddities there (assuming you’re not talking about a swerving trail run).

    • Oisin

      Thanks Ray.
      I’ll try one more run with GLONASS and if it’s still bad I’ll try without.

      What about my underwater HR question, do you think that the next Swim will have IR HR capability?

  45. Mattias Johansson


    Had my Fenix 4 now for 3 weeks and and I love the watch. However, the GPS accuracy is a joke. On my 5K run, its around 300 meter short. Hence the watch say I have a pace of 5.17 min/km while its 4.55 in reality. On top of that it seem to have difficulties to lock the GPS and when running along a road, the GPS plot is all over the place.

    I’m seriously surprised on how bad the watch is and the lack of feedback from garmin if this is a software or hardware fault. For a 500 USD watch I would have expected a lot more!

    • Oisin

      I wonder if the metal ring around the screen makes the GPS reception more challenging than on the 920XT…..

  46. Laramie

    To everyone with GPS accuracy issues on trails with the Fenix 3 (or any other GPS watch):
    Go get a 310xt and save yourself hundreds of dollars and a lot of frustration.
    I have a Polar 400M that I use for normal runs and activity tracking.
    But when I’m really concerned about GPS accuracy–trail run, trail race, strava route etc.–I find the 310xt is always more accurate. Today I ran a 10 mile trail race with dense tree cover, lots of switch backs, over rolling hills and my 310xt showed 9.98. I guess newer isn’t always better.

  47. echarlus

    I’m thinking of buying the Fenix 3 but there’s a showstopper for a daily watch which is the lack of multiple alarms.
    In your review I see that this feature is planned (General: Multiple Time Alarms (i.e. 8AM, 10AM, etc…) March 2015) but I cannot find a record of this being now available anywhere.
    Do you know if it’s been released ?

  48. CaptainCoincoin

    Hello everybody,
    I guess my first post got lost into the thousands of comments :)
    It is more than frustrating to review comments and try to make one’s mind. Because the folks here are really divided in 2 groups: the first wants to never hear of the Fenix 3 again because of bad GPS, while the other is keen on the new features and look of the watch. So how can we decide ;) ?
    My main question here is : has the 920XT the same issues but the little community has not highlighted the troubles because they are not much to run trails, or are there really a major difference between watches?
    And then, since I want to train before everything else and interval training is my objective, shall I choose 920XT or Fenix 3? Does the 920XT suffers for the same averaging and latence issue in interval training as the Fenix 3? Ray, you tested both if I am not wrong. What do you think?
    Final point: if I go for the Fenix 3 and later regret: is there a possiblity to get a full refund from Garmin if the watch is still not satisfying?
    I hope you here will be able to help me!

  49. Mattias Johansson

    CaptainCoincoin, first of all I love the design of the watch as well as most of the functions that it has built in (exception is the termometer that just don’t make sense, as it basically react to the body heat).

    For me the GPS issue is quite severe though, especially as Garmin
    1) can’t tell whats causing the issue (SW or HW design)
    2) don’t endorse refund due to the issues to their retailers/resellers

    If I know it was a SW issue, and that it will be corrected shortly I would for sure go for it, but with the uncertainty above I just can’t recommend it if you use pace or distance as your main input to your training. For pure HR training its great, but there are a lot cheaper watches that does the same and with better GPS accuracy as well.

    • Dr. D

      @Mattias Johansson and @CaptainCoincoin. I came across this response from Ray link to dcrainmaker.com earlier in the comments. It appears the GPS issues are fully fixable via software.

      I hope this helps.

    • CaptainCoincoin

      First of all, thank you for the feedback!
      I’ve just seen last reply from Ray mentionning it was only a SW issue. I was really wondering because except antenna, which is supposed to be better integrated on Fenix3, 920XT shares similar H/W (especially GPS chip, if I’m not wrong).
      Then I am more confident in the end, accuracy will be very similar.
      However, when I see Stephen Thomas comment #1855, I’m getting worried back, cause here it is not a problem of cutting turns or anything, it is just offset and not corresponding to track.
      Anyone compared / saw a comparison on internet of V800 vs FR920XT and Fenix3 on a same track?
      Thanks !

    • Stephen Thomas

      Not at all meant to impugn Ray, but I’d 100% expect Garmin to say that they can fix it in software all the way up to the point that they decide that a software fix is impossible. What else are they going to say? Of course I hope that Garmin is correct.

      (Again, this is not at all a complaint directed at Ray.)

    • Hzl D

      I’d settle for less than 100% accuracy with my fenix3 right now. It’s the total lack of GPS collection that’s my issue. Garmin says that the unit has to go back to be replaced but no indication of when / how long this will take or indeed whether the replacement will be prone to the same problems that everyone else is describing.
      I’m going to investigate my rights re a total refund and go look for a replacement unit from another brand. Or rely on my ten year old forerunner which I’m having to use again in the interim – not what you expect when you’ve just handed over £400 GBP six weeks ago

    • Typically when you contact Garmin support and request swapping out a unit, they give you two options:

      A) Send the unit in, and they’ll ship it back out to you. They specify the exact shipping speed for the return piece (once they get your unit)

      B) A cross ship: In this case, they take your credit card number and then ship you a unit before you send yours back in. In the event you don’t send yours in within X days/weeks, they charge your card (albeit at a reduced rate).

    • neil rosson

      Is this a new thing or specific to the states because i was not offered cross shipping & had to wait 3 weeks?

    • Hmm, not sure there.

      I do know however that in the US they won’t typically offer it unless you mention you’ve got a race or something coming up and that you need it by X date. But (again, at least in the states), you can always ask for a ‘cross-ship’ and usually they’re happy to do so

  50. Christoph

    The amazing thing is: It’s clear that it is a critical issue for a lot of people. Normally one would expect that a brand like Garmin would immediately push all available resources into this issue. I’m pretty sure it does not take months to fix this, the software cannot be that complex.

    But what are they doing? They know they have loyal customers so they just let them wait. Don’t communicate, and let you sit on your faulty watch.

    I remember it was exactly the same with the Fenix 1 when I bought it.

    I’m asking again: What kind of company is this? Do they deserve loyal customers? I begin to doubt, and I’m a fanboy.

    • neil rosson

      The problem is imo the GPS is poor even in normal running conditions & if they reduce the smoothing it will increase other gps issues. Also its performance in tree cover is really poor & seperate from the issue of cutting corners & i don’t think Garmin are addressing this. Unfortunately in the UK it seems impossible to get a refund. I’ve learnt my lesson to wait at least 6 months after a watch is released. Maybe they will surprise us all & fix it but i’m not holding my breath.

    • Stephen Thomas

      You can count me among those that would really appreciate a fix, but it’s possible that the delay isn’t strictly within Garmin’s control. I believe the Fenix 3 uses a third-party GPS chipset, and it may require updated firmware for that chipset rather than the watch proper. If that is the case, one hopes that Garmin is complaining as loudly to it’s supplier as Garmin customers are complaining to Garmin.

    • I’m not really sure we’re seeing any widespread issues with ‘normal running conditions’ (unless said ‘normality’ is running in trails in trees). Not discounting those running in trees/trails conditions, just pointing out that for non-trails/trees i’m just not seeing many complaints.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Well, Ray, I can’t offer any opinion on “widespread”, but I’ve found problems even with road cycling. Compare the track from my V800:

      link to f.cl.ly

      with the same section recorded by the fenix 3:

      link to f.cl.ly

      In this case, I don’t think the overall distance is all that different, but the V800 is clearly recording a more accurate GPS track. (I can attest that I did not ride off-road ;^)

    • neil rosson

      Interesting because i’ve seen plenty of comments & posts where people complain it loses the tracking. My 410 definitely has much smoother tracking than my Fenix.

    • CMV

      I agree to a point… the fenix line has historically been more geared towards the nature / trail runner/walker/biker than the forerunner line, so, if anything, the fenix3 should perform better in those conditions than other watches. And the fact that it takes so long to issue a fix makes me feel that it’s more than a simple SW problem, otherwise they should just be able to do a simple port from the 920XT and make everyone happy (and stop the bad press they’re currently getting on their flagship device).
      And yes, I do mostly run on trails and under trees! (But still haven’t received my fenix3 so I have no direct experience with it).

    • CMV

      To Stephen T (and others): are you sure Polar isn’t “correcting” the V800 track vs. the maps? That trace really looks too good to be true!

    • Stephen Thomas

      @CMV: I suppose it’s possible that Flow is adjusting the track, but (a) AFAIK, Polar doesn’t advertise that capability anywhere; seems like they would do so, (b) the Flow summary data (e.g. total distance) agrees exactly with the data directly from the watch; presumably there’s no way the watch could be “correcting”, and (c) even on trail runs under heavy cover, the V800 seems to absolutely nail it. As evidence of the latter, I can look at trail runs where I did multiple loops and seem how closely the different loops track.

      See, e.g. link to flow.polar.com

      or link to flow.polar.com

      What’s really impressive is that the places where the tracks diverge are, for the most part, exactly where I took slightly different paths on the various loops.

      Having said all this, it should be noted that my V800 is going up for sale on eBay as soon as Polar completes the replacement process. (My original unit no longer charges.) Although I can’t complain about the V800’s GPS accuracy, the watch (and Polar Flow in general) has too many other problems. I’ve already purchased the Fenix 3 as a replacement. To be honest, I’m not all that bothered by the GPS accuracy problem of the Fenix 3. Of course, I’d rather the watch be totally accurate, but I’m not going to sweat it if the distance is off a bit. (To be sure, I’m not using the Fenix 3 for pacing during a race.)

    • Stephen Thomas

      Also, if Polar was “correcting” the tracks, it would be damned impressive that they correctly picked the right side of the road. (I’m in the U.S. and always ride with traffic.) The Polar track absolutely nails not only the road, but also my position in the lane. (That’s a small two-lane road on the track.)

    • Indeed, that track is impressive being on the right side of the road. And, my initial thought was also towards potential correction. I’ve gotta catch up with them on a few other things this week, so I’ll ask Polar if they do any post-ride snapping of the tracks.

      Technically speaking that wouldn’t actually be all that hard, since direction of travel is known. Where it gets complex though is what happens if you do random things like run back 50 yards to catch-up with friends.

      On the flip side, for any GPS device, I can find oddities in tracks given enough time (or sometimes, little time). For example, within this review you’ll note one day where I compared against the V800. At the 22min marker, you’ll notice some track oddities (in an easy place, where other harder spots it nailed). The Epson 810 and Fenix3 agreed within .01 miles on 14.65mi. The V800 was at 14.87mi.

      Here’s those tracks:
      Polar V800: link to flow.polar.com
      Epson 810: link to go-wellness.epson.com
      Fenix3: link to connect.garmin.com

      Of course, which one of the three (if any?) is 100% correct? That’s a question that’s incredibly hard to know the answer to.

      (I picked this set of runs, since it was the one out of my tables with the single biggest difference between units).

    • Mattias Johansson

      Hi Ray,
      I get the same issues when I run in the city (and I live in Sweden so no skyscrapers here) or just run along the riverbank.

    • Markus

      Ray, leaving EPSON aside(bad performer?) and only comparing V800 against F3 you can clearly see the F3 trail related issues in the park areas(especially Jardin des Plantes).
      This is the to be expected F3 corner cutting and drifting away.

      On normal roads both perform similar and I wouldn’t dare to call a winner.(F3 for sure smoothens stronger)
      In park area V800 is spot on.

      In any case the F3 accuracy issue is easy to reproduce:
      Run same segment in tree covered areas on different days and you will see the the same pattern.
      Additionally it makes a difference in whether you take a left or right turn. (Again same pattern)

      Here is an extreme example on corner cutting:
      link to dl.dropboxusercontent.com
      Blue is F3 on the way out and back in. Orange is F2 (not the best GPS either but so much better in following the track and recording correct distance)

    • Markus

      track lenght in Jardin des Plantes.
      V800 = 1,37km
      F3= 1,29km
      Difference = 5,8% (F3 shorter)
      On the entire run the difference is marginal, if you would have continued in park it would have been a lot.

    • Stephen Thomas

      > Technically speaking that wouldn’t actually be all that hard, since direction of travel is known.

      Except that, at least in this part of the states, it’s very common for folks to ride bicycles on the sidewalk, against traffic. Coincidentally, that section of road does have a wide sidewalk, but only on the left side of the road. It’s true that riding on the sidewalk is technically illegal, but that’s a law that’s not enforced.

      Also, on that same ride, the V800 track includes the following:

      link to f.cl.ly

      There’s certainly no way that Polar could know that on that particular ride I did a box turn at that intersection (exactly what the track shows) instead of what I’d normally do: move to the left turn lane and turn from there.

      And, since this post is nominally about the Fenix 3, it’s only fair to point out that the Fenix 3 nailed that box turn perfectly as well:

      link to f.cl.ly

    • It’s odd though as it’s not 100% going to short it, as I run that park often. For example, from last week: link to connect.garmin.com

      You’ll see that it pretty much nails the track. It goes a little bit wide on the north side, but I also went wide around some sort of kids day camp. So within a few meters of where it thinks.

      Similarly, coming off the straightaway, you see it clips the garden edge by perhaps 2m. Not spot-on-perfect, but within GPS accuracy specs.

      However, as I exit the garden it clips across and the track immediately becomes off-set for perhaps 50-seconds before it seems to snap back in place.

      As for the Epson, generally speaking it was producing some of the best tracks I’ve seen out of a GPS unit.

    • Markus


      for sure that last track looks much nicer than the 1st one.
      First loop into the park is much nicer, still takes the same cut in the heavy wooded area going from north to south for the first time, but does much better on the second turn into south.
      Measuring the track on the same points like before this one clocks with 1,31km versus 1,37km with the V800 one.
      Didn’t analyze the GPS points to see the GPS point distance, but the trail issue shows as well a discrepancy between Garmin recorded distance and distance with GPS.
      F3 records shorter distance in FIT file than the GPS track would suggest.

      I know you run a lot and are testing a lot, but one nice test would be running the same course counter clock wise and you would see a complete different pattern on corner cutting and smoothing.
      Wearing the watch on the right arm again will give you different shapes for clock and counter clockwise.
      At the end the GPS issues doesn’t make too much of a difference on the tracks you run, but it may explain one or the other strange short cut it takes on your routes when you have bad weather or run in parks.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Ray,

      I wonder if you’re not seeing widespread issues from roadies because the issue is accentuated by tree cover. Therefore, you’re seeing a lot more trail guys being a lot more vocal because the issue is affecting them the greatest.

      Speaking personally I see a big reduction in distance on road, but as the trail guys are making a lot of noise I haven’t until now felt any need to add my two pence worth. They have much better examples for the Garmin tech’s to work with.

      This is another area where a 99c app can beat the F3. I’m a serious bike guy and love tech, so have kept the F3 for what it does do well. However, if I were a serious runner I’d be pretty upset with this device.

      I may be the only roadie seeing the same issue in GPS shortening and smoothing, would be interested to see who speaks up (or doesn’t).

    • Oh, I completely agree. It’s mostly seen in the trees, and not so much from typical triathletes who are not in the trees. Out on the road, I generally see almost no concerning distance variation between units (as seen in my chart above). Invariably you’ll see one unit slice a corner one way, and another take it fine – and then later in the run the inverse. But nothing beyond the nature of what I’ve seen for years.

      In the trees though, I agree people are seeing more oddities there (to which Garmin has agreed they’re working on an issue).

    • Scott

      It was way off on the roads for me, even worse on trails but still bad enough on roads that I returned it as totally unacceptable. I have a route where I wind around my neighborhood (ie lots of turns) and it did terrible on corners and wound up averaging around 0.02 short per mile. Trails I saw as bad as 0.1 per mile.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Agree Scott, I have a similar situation. A familiar loop I have done many times shows low on the F3.

      Did you use a retail device or a Garmin supplied test device to populate that table Ray? Just wondering if there were differences in the original you tested and what came out in the wild.

      Whilst I totally agree with what you say Ray, often what you lose in one device you gain on another, my particular copy of the F3 is out on uncovered ground. When I first did it I did a comparison inspired by you and found the F3 to be significantly out on open road. About 5 or 6% if I recall – have deleted the tracks now but will do them again and post up.

      What is really interesting for me, when I took it out on the bike to compare against the Edge 800 it is consistently and almost exactly 1% less distance than the Edge. I put Garmin Fit app on the phone one time too and that corresponded with the Edge. This is anything from a 12 mile recovery ride up to century rides in the country. All in great sight of the sky.

    • In the table there is just final production unit data (not any beta data, I specifically left that out). They came from the same batch that was produced for the initial REI shipment in early February.

      Fwiw, I rotate through a variety of Fenix3’s that I have – just for the heck of it to see if I notice differences. The Garmin folks initially sent over a grey unit, and then about a week or so before my review published they sent over the Silver/Sapphire units at my request. As usual, I wait for backorders to clear out from Clever Training from everyone else, and then they send me my final units and the Garmin ones go back to Garmin.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Cheers Ray,

      that is really very interesting. If you’re not seeing any road based issues over multiple prod units from different batches I can understand your point of view entirely. I naively assumed you had just one.

      OK so what else could yield different results for you and I? I’ve played around with all the settings, 1s recording, glonass on and off etc. I wonder if environment could be affecting this? We have had particularly heavy cloud cover recently in N. England, I wonder if that is affecting it. I might try another comparison if we have a clear sky ever… Have you noticed heavy cloud ever affect accuracy?

    • You’re in the UK? I’m sorry, I don’t believe I’ve heard of any confirmed reports of sun there.

    • Mattias Johansson

      This is the city run I did some days ago:
      link to connect.garmin.com

      As you can see the offset is pretty bad (especially in the beginning and in the end where it goes through houses etc). But even after 3.3 km to 4 km Im constantly running on the right side of the road while the GPS plotting as all over the lanes (as this is between 2 and 4 lanes, its off by more than 20 meters). On top of this its more than 300 meter short of the correct distance.

  51. Sebastian

    I currently use daily a suunto peak 3 for mountain biking and daily gym ect.. I got envious of the color display and what looks like a better day to day fitness monitor. Would you recommend switching to the fenix 3 ? I like how the peak 3 can be programmed using the app or website. It doesn’t seem the fenix had the same ability and that all the screens are setup at the watch exclusively Please advise. Thanks.

  52. DT

    I scratched the grey bezel of my F3. Did it happen to any of you and if yes, any ideas? I would assume they do not sell a spare part. Thanks

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Yes, mine has a hairline scratch on the bezel. However, it got misplaced at airport security and when I picked it up from ‘lost and found’ it had this scratch so I don’t have a clue whether it was a light impact or really took a beating.

  53. Linda Rae Weisel

    Hi! I decided on the new Garmin 225 coming out. The Fenix 3 is way more then I need. I never used it and if anyone is interested in purchasing one just let me know. It is too late for me to return it to iRun Texas. Thank you!

  54. Still debating between the Epix, Fenix 3, and the Ambit Peak wife and I are hikers/hunters, not runners, so having a devil of a time deciding.

  55. echarlus

    I’m thinking of buying the Fenix 3 to replace my old Polar RS800.
    After reading the comments here and the garmin forums, I see that there’s currently a GPS tracking issue which everyone hope will soon be fixed. I’m not in a hurry so I think I’ll wait until the fix is released and reported as working by users.
    However I still have a few questions on the watch functions itself and I’d be grateful if some owners could answer them:
    I’m planning on also using the watch as my everyday watch since it looks pretty nice. However I need several (at least 2) time alarms. I see in the user manual that only one alarm is available but DC mentioned that multiple alarms were in the work and should have been released in March. Can anyone confirm it’s now available ?
    I do mostly running and I’m worried about the lap button. I’m used to a big ‘LAP’ button on the top of the RS800 and I’m scared that it will be difficult to precisely hit the small LAP button on the side of the watch when running short distances on a track (200m, 400m etc). Can you share your experience with using this LAP button ? I know some watches have a tap to lap function but my understanding is that the Fenix 3 does not, can you confirm ?

    Regarding the GPS issue I’ve always believed that a footpod is more accurate so I’m thinking of using a footpod when running outdors only. I’ve read that it cannot be used together with the GPS. Can you confirm ?
    In that case should I use the indoor running mode when I want to use the footpod for outdoor running ?

    Thanks for your answers !

  56. Devon

    Hey Ray – I picked up the fenix 3 and other goodies from CT over the weekend. Thanks again for all the reviews, information, and time you put into this site. I have one question for you regarding my run data. Now that I have a device that will automatically upload into Strava, I’m going to establish an account with them. I’ve been using Nike+ for about two years, and just recently started using RunKeeper concurrently for the past two months (easier interval training). What do you recommend as the easiest, cleanest way to transfer all the run data to Strava. 200+ runs are just simply GPS, time data – since Christmas I’ve added HR data to the mix. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the support Devon!

      For doing bulk copy, I’d use Tapiriik, and then once all caught-up, you can disable that and just use the regular Garmin > Strava connection. Just be sure both aren’t configured at once.

  57. Thomas

    Hi Ray,

    thanks for the wonderful review. I am an runner and have a Polar v800, but i liked to have trainingsplans on my watch. I know that this is possible an a fenix3. Is it worth to switch to the phenix? I like to train for my first marathon.

    The watch would be my allday-watch.

    Any suggestions?



  58. Jude

    I recently purchased the Sapphire version of this watch on Amazon and I have a dilemma: regardless of which face I choose among the analog faces and regardless of which background/foreground scheme I choose (white on black, or black on white), I find the watch to be VERY difficult to view under normal indoor lighting conditions. It is easy to read outdoors, but in normal everyday indoor lighting (e.g. the bright overhead fluorescent tube lights we have at my office, I can barely see it. I am trying to decide whether this is a failing of my watch alone, or of the Sapphire series, or of the whole Fenix 3 series. I cannot locate a local retail store that carries the sapphire version yet, so I cannot compare. I have, however, looked at other smartwatches at local big box retailers (e.g. the Moto 360 watch) and side-by-side, I can read other watches much better than I can read mine, at least indoors. If it is simply a failing of my individual watch, I want to return/exchange it ASAP before my window to do so closes. If it’s a failing caused by the nature of the sapphire crystal, I may return it and purchase the standard edition. If it’s a failing of the entire series, the this watch isn’t for me, because while I am an avid hiker, trail runner, cyclist, etc., I also want a smartwatch that I can use at the office (to see notifications on my wrist during the day) and I don’t want to purchase two watches (one for outdoor activities, the other for work). Any comments would be very much appreciated.

    • Devon

      I’ll respond once I get my fenix 3 with my take, but I saw some technical display reviews of the Apple Watch between the regular glass and sapphire watch face. It showed that the sapphire was much more reflective than the regular glass, which washes image contrast and colors, making it harder to view. More here; link to macrumors.com

    • Jude

      DC Rainmaker, any thoughts on this? Was the sapphire version you tested easy to read in ordinary indoor light?

    • I personally didn’t have any issues reading the display. I know a small handful of folks have thought that the Fenix3 display felt slightly more dim, I personally don’t have any issues. But as I noted in the review, my eyesight is pretty good – so it’s likely it just doesn’t bother me.

      As for being more reflective, honestly, it really only matters if you’re trying to take photos. Your eyes cut right through that on these watches.

  59. Clinton

    I have run this same route for 4 years. All my devices have always recorded about 7.15 miles plus or minus a .01. I wore my 920XT on right wrist, Fenix 3 on left wrist, had Strava phone app in fanny pack. Strava and 920XT both recorded right at 7.14-7.16 miles on loop. Fenix 3 a 7.01. I could see the Fenix falling behind in my 2 mile stretch of wooded canyon in real time. There is a big problem here with Fenix 3. It also recorded my 100k last week 2 miles short, lots of trees on the race. Here is the links to the runs from today:

    link to connect.garmin.com for 920XT
    link to connect.garmin.com for the Fenix 3

    link to app.strava.com from Strava App on my Galaxy S5 smartphone

    Somebody dropped the ball on the Fenix 3. It is a lovely watch in all aspects, but a trail watch that is not accurate in trees and trails is an EPIC FAIL! I am holding on to the watch to see if it can be fixed, but if it isnt soon, then Im keeping my 920 for good. It is lighter, easier to run with, has a better battery life, etc. Just not all the goodies. Also, after running for 12 hrs 22 min with all options and GLONASS off on Fenix 3, it only had 10% battery life left, MUCH less than others who were racing with a 920XT, 910XT, and 310XT.

  60. Just as a (very) brief update on the Fenix3 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.

    • Oman

      I have to say that this whole thing has been very badly handled by Garmin.

      I was planning on buying an F3 after being a long time Polar customer, but as Garmin seems to have been ignorant at first, and now just stalling for time and not coming out with any real information publically I am beginning to question if I should just skip the F3 and wait for something better from Polar or Suunto.
      What’s the point of a GPS watch if it is way worse than a smart phone app at GPS accuracy?

    • Mattias Johansson

      Ray. Thanks for the update. As you said it’s very brief though and with as I had the watch for almost a month now with no fixes released, lack of info and respect from garmin around what the problem really is and no forecast on if/when it can be fixed I just feel forced to return the watch and ask for a refund this week. Really sad. It was a watch that had great potential :-/

      I appreciate your help with contacting garmin though. You managed to get a response at least.

  61. Heya

    Took my F3 for a run. I see they’ve binned the pace measurements into 5-second buckets. That’s fine. But…

    They seem to have filtered the GPS signal to have a lot of “momentum” in the pace. I had to run for over a minute for the watch to show something close to what I was running at. When looking at the pace on the F3, I’m pretty sure what I see is really the average over the last 1-2 minutes rounded to the nearest 5 second mark. Is this normal?

    I used to have an old Garmin watch that only had a footpod: the pace on that updated almost instantaneously. How can you expect to use the F3 for intervals if it takes over a minute to register your actual pace?

    • I showed in one of the videos that the ‘Pace’ field (not Avg Pace or Inst Pace) responds pretty quickly. If you’re not seeing what I showed in the video above, then I’d reach out to Garmin support. 1-2 minutes isn’t normal.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Heya, welcome to my own nightmare! I’m in the same boat as you. Have had my F3 for 2 weeks now coming from 5 years of running with a foot pod (310XT and 910XT) and was shocked with the lack of pace responsiveness of these new Garmin watches. They seem to have smoothed the pace to such a level that, indeed, sometimes it takes more than a whole minute to settle. I just don’t understand why the heck can’t we have foot pod pace back?? Today F3’s pace is 100% useless for interval training for me.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Ray my F3 behaves exactly like your video shows. If I stop in a red light it will “zero” the pace in 5-10 seconds. Great! BUT if I’m running and just make a change in pace (i.e. from 5:00/km to 4:30/km, thus a significant difference in effort) usually the watch takes up to 1 minute to get to the accurate pace of 4:30/km. The opposite is even worse (from faster to a slower pace, i.e. from 4:50/km to 5:30/km), sometimes taking more than a minute to accurately reflect that.

      Actually your video kinda shows that problem too, when you go back running and although pace comes back from “zero” to something very quickly, it takes some time to get to the real pace you were feeling.

      I’ve also briefly owned a 920XT and it performed exactly like this (sold just because of that!). Do you have an idea why they won’t give us back foot pod pacing? Maybe some kind of copyright issue?

      BTW, congratulations on your incredible reviews (the best we’ve all seen!) and wonderful website. Appreciate all the effort you put in there. Buying sports gadgets wouldn’t be the same without you!

      Best regards from Brazil… :)

    • I’ve unfortunately never got a good answer on why on earth footpod-based pace isn’t there. It sounded like they were going to go that way – but haven’t done it yet.

      As for intervals, I pace without issue on a daily basis, and I don’t tend to see much time delay (obviously, if starting from a stop, you’re going to see that few seconds – but definitely not a minute – that’s crazy).

      Now, that said, I prefer pacing based on ‘Lap pace’, because it’s easier to nail the exact interval time. The ultimate goal of an interval is a consistent pace towards a specified time. The simplest way to do that (for years) is using lap pace. Note that lap pace is NOT limited to the :05s increments.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Ray,

      have to say I’m with the emerging masses here. Pace is really slow to catch up, testing against Android apps like Strava and Garmin Fit show the F3 to be over smoothed.

      I’m aiming to be more consistent and I find it takes around a minute for significant changes to catch up. If for whatever reason I’m frequently changing pace such as slowing for other runners, speeding up past walkers, opening a gate etc I can be without an accurate pace for an incredibly long time. I do actually refer to lap pace in these instances, good call but I don’t expect to have to implement a workaround in a premium product.

      Your video shows about 45 seconds to catch up from 0. You possibly have a much more consistent natural pace than I do which may account for the extra time it takes my F3 to catch up whilst it plays around with my natural inconsistent pace.

      Either way it looks like a 99c app can yield a better experience than the F3 in pace.

    • I think it shows about 20-25s from 0 (second crosswalk stopped) till it’s within range. Given I was going uphill coming off the stop, I don’t know how close to the exact pace it is in that short section versus cresting the incline.

      I guess the challenge is that if you don’t smooth, folks get upset, and if you do smooth folks get upset. Over the years I’ve seen two groups of people for nearly every watch out there: Those that say it smooths too much, and those that say it smooths to little. I’m honestly not sure if everyone will ever be happy with any given smoothing option.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Ray,

      thanks for the response. I’m not sure about 25s in your vid, you appear to start from the sidewalk at 0:54 and by 1:35 – 1:40 it is back to showing the correct pace.

      Completely take your point about not being able to please all of the people all of the time but feel I’m in the camp that prefers a smoothed response for this metric, and even I find this a bit slow. If it were truly 25s I’d view it as sluggish but acceptable. I guess if we looked at the dev wishlist for future devices / SW, the ideal would be to have user variable smoothing rather than hard coded at one extreme.

      Do you think this could be linked to the over smoothing of the GPS track perhaps?

    • I don’t cross the second crosswalk until about 58s-59s (you see the car go by at my feet). It stabilizes in the upper 7’s at about 1:20-1:25ish. Which, is probably where I was going slightly uphill, then as I clear that small bump I increase pace (as it overshoots since sub-7 was a bit faster than previously). Again, hard to know for certain. It was just a random snippet on a random run, not something I broke out a footpod for on another unit or the like.

      The smoothing to me simply pretty much on par with what we’re seeing with the FR920XT, as well as other semi-recent watches.

      That said, I’ve long since said I wish we had a ‘trailing pace’ metric. Basically, a smoothed pace option identical to what’s on power meter data fields today, which has a 3s/10s/30s trailing pace. That’d be ideal for this sort of thing. Though, it may not cut out the underlying smoothing.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Ray,

      OK yeah I see why we’re getting different readings from your video. You’re starting from when you leave the sidewalk, I’m starting from when you start moving again which is a few seconds before but I’d say gives a more true reflection of how long it takes to catch up. If you start from the sidewalk, it has already had a few seconds head start.

      I can only take your word for it when it comes to other devices, apart from my smartphone apps where I see a much faster response to pace metrics. And, as you say how responsive it should be is very subjective but everyone seems to agree that footpod based timing works well for the majority.

      Trailing pace sounds very appealing, one would almost think you know what you’re talking about with ideas like that ;)

    • neil rosson

      My pace is showing erratic so i think it lacks smoothing, its seems the gps issue i have is maybe linked to the pace showing changes of +-2 minutes. Pretty much useless.
      You can get apps that will show last 30sec which are better but then obviously not good if you change pace.

    • RE: Instant pace

      So I did a bit of a test today with instant pace on my brick workout. After finishing up on the trainer I headed outside. The first 17 minutes were just building in intensity. Then, it was twenty (20) by 30/30’s. Wherein I was 30-seconds on at a set pace, and 30 seconds rest.

      In order to make these consistent, I pick two points on the concrete (manhole covers) and just run back and forth – that way each and every one is exactly the same distance and exactly the same time (30s).

      After the first 3-4 of them, you can easily nail the pace each time. In this case, it was roughly a 6:00/mile pace. However, because of how short these are, even just an extra second or so either way on the lap button will swing the lap pace quite a bit depending on if you’ve slowed down already. Simple math really.

      In any case, once I had the pace down test things I switched over to watching instant pace. Without fail, each time instant pace would settle within about 5-6 seconds – from what was walking to steady-state. Or basically as soon as the lap banner went away from my lap press, it was showing stabilized when I rotated my arm up to look at it.

      Now for fun, towards the end I tried to film one on my phone. When I did that, instant pace took 15-20s to stabilize. So again, on the next one, I went back to no-phone and just normal armswing glancing at it a few seconds into the interval. Again, instantly back on target.

      I don’t know quite why – but I wonder if they’re taking input from the accelerometer on that, and by holding up my arm to try and take video, it actually impacts that negatively. So similar to a Fused Speed on the Suunto series.

      For those wondering about weather – it was craptastically raining outside. Thunderstorms and all (a rarity here). The area I was doing them had a 10-12 story building on one side, and nothing on the other (river), under big fluffy trees. You can see it below on the map where you see the back and forth a bunch of times.

      Anyway…food for thought.

      Activity: link to connect.garmin.com

    • Heya

      Hmm… Interesting experience.

      I will take your word on what you observed while you ran, but I’m certain the Garmin Connect data you’ve linked is not what you saw on your watch. The reason I say that is because (I’m not an expert on the watch but I do have EE experience):
      – the watch records the raw GPS signal to its memory, but
      – displays smoothed metrics during your run using an online filter (eg the current pace = the average pace of the last one/two minutes)
      – When your upload your run to Garmin Connect, it doesn’t upload the smoothed data but the raw data
      – on Garmin Connect they reprocess the raw data using offline filters (eg the pace at time X = the average of the pace during X-30 to X+30).

      I say this because, while I ran, my watch showed an obviously oversmoothed pace, but on Garmin Connect the pace was correct.

    • Matt B

      Actually, Garmin connect uses the “Speed” field from the FIT file (watch) which is the smoothed data straight from the watch, unlike Strava or someone else who utilizes the raw data then recalculates the speed/pace from there.

      (I actually had an hour plus conversation with a mid level tech support rep at Garmin regarding instance pace and how it’s displayed on GC, the watch, 3rd party systems, etc).

    • Heya

      A few extra points:

      – Thanks for responding so promptly to all of this. Garmin should really pay you for being their advocate and liaison with all of this (if they don’t already :).

      – I should have edited my last post a bit more

      – I tried running with 1-second recording this morning and pace seemed a little bit more responsive. If so, that’s confusing. “1-second recording” could refer to at least two different things.
      (1) The watch doesn’t normally poll the GPS/sensors every second. Instead it figures out some other interval. With 1-second recording, it does, at the expense of extra battery, but gives you less laggy stats in return.
      (2) The watch does normally poll the GPS every second, but doesn’t save all that data to disk. With 1-second recording, you get the same metrics but it saves more signal for upload later.

      I just checked the manual and am still not clear.

    • CaptainCoincoin

      Overall, I find the quality of both GPS path and pace enough for my training. I use both pace and HR for intervals, so Fenix3 does not seems to be lame!
      Just a silly question, why are there full stops in your activity? Did you really stop or is this because when you hit lap watch stops recording??
      Or it is because you’re in France, then it is working, so it will be fine for me (we all know France is overall better than UK, then GPS fix follows :) !)
      Anyway if there is a unit problem, Ray, please send your watch to my address, so as I can have a good unit!
      PS: why are using Imperial units? why? why? … (Post PS: could it be the reason of the troubles some people experince?)

    • Heya

      Thank you, Matt. I see you’ve been down this road before. I’m tempted to take a look at the data it writes to disk now too based on what you’ve said.

      Just to be clear, when you say “instant pace”, you mean the “pace” field, right? You’re just saying “instant pace” to contrast it with “average pace”? I’m new to the watch and I wonder if there’s a hidden “instant pace” field now ;)

    • Matt B

      Yes, the “Pace” watch field displays the data from the “Speed” FIT file field (converted to Pace) and it utilizes a smoothing algorithm (which, as DC noted, I believe is somewhat dependent on accelerometer input) — this is also what is displayed on Garmin Connect. Now, I have never confirmed this to be exactly true (you’d have to literally video tape your watch, then compare the data to the FIT file in MS Excel or something) – but based off of my experience and my conversations with Garmin, I’m 80-90% sure that the data in Garmin Connect for Pace is straight from that FIT field.

      (I even did an analysis in Excel comparing what the watch was calculating as “Speed” -aka Pace — vs what the GPS data was saying was the speed. This was prior to the Firmware update which supposedly improved this, however. I still believe there are issues, but they are linked strongly to poor GPS performance and less to do with a faulty algorithm.)

    • CaptainCoin (or others) – You’re always welcome to stop by the DCR Cave and try out any gear I have on hand (obviously only announced things).

      I routinely lend out things (watches, GPS chargers, bikes, cameras, etc…) to folks who are in town (both visitors and locals).

      Obviously, that’s subject to me actually being in town, but…the offer is there.

    • neil rosson

      Your pace in the warm up seems so much smoother than mine.
      link to connect.garmin.com

      Just wonder in you have a run you can show without reps?

    • Heya

      Regarding using the acceleration data in the smoothing algorithm–

      Correct and that makes sense. If Garmin uses a Kalman Filter (or other such algorithm) they can leverage both the noisy position (GPS) and acceleration data to get a better estimate of your location/speed than by using one alone.

    • Here’s one from last weekend that was just a pretty steady paced Z2 effort along the river. It was HR based, so I wasn’t focused on a specific pace: link to connect.garmin.com

      For the most part, ignoring any initial crosswalks and random bike/people dodging, it’s pretty much uninterrupted.

    • Crispin Ellisdon

      Just to add that Ray is by no means alone in noticing this phenomenon link to forums.garmin.com

    • Dom

      (1) The watch doesn’t normally poll the GPS/sensors every second. Instead it figures out some other interval. With 1-second recording, it does, at the expense of extra battery, but gives you less laggy stats in return.
      (2) The watch does normally poll the GPS every second, but doesn’t save all that data to disk. With 1-second recording, you get the same metrics but it saves more signal for upload later.

      It’s the second of those options. It’s also a little more complicated than polling; unless you are using ultratrac, the GPS chip is continuously locking to the satellite signals, and computes position once a second. On the SIRF watches, smart recording was definitely just a matter of the watch deciding whether or not to record each point. With the Mediatek chips, there may be more processing than that going on, I don’t know.

    • Heya

      Thanks for your detailed reply.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Ray,

      I’m glad to see you replicated my environment before conducting your test, true dedication :)

      However, I went out today and took the F3 for some unscientific testing.

      I was definitely able to replicate your results. if I slow down then watch the watch as I increase pace, the response is very sluggish taking maybe a minute to return. If I just run, then check the watch after 5 seconds or so, almost every time the pace was back down in the region I was expecting. So to conclude, I’m sold on pace and recommend anyone try this first. It’s actually better as you remember to feel the pace, rather than have the watch dictate your actions. Much like I try feel the cadence when cycling rather than check the device, so it comes naturally.

      What was also really interesting, I wanted to repeat my distance tests as I had before on the road with clear view to the sky. 3 devices: F3, Edge 800 and Garmin Fit App on Android.
      I measured the route on Map My Ride before I went out and it was as close as damn it to 10K
      Edge 800 – 5.88m
      F3 – 6.20
      Android – erm, think I forgot to press start…

      The trusty edge is short considerably and the F3 within a couple of hundredths. It would have been good to have the phone for a fourth measure, but this is not consistent with rpevious tests. I know you’ll laugh at this, but we actually have blue skies and a bit of sun today…

      I’m going to go for a stroll now and check again but if the F3 turns out to be more accurate than the Edge I will have very mixed feelings…

    • Heya

      Sounds like the solution is to make the amount of smoothing a setting:

      – Smooth the pace F3-style so it’s not so sensitive to abrupt stop/go/changing speed; or
      – Smooth less so to let the user get a more instantaneous reading at the expense of variance in the reading.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Agree, that would be my preference.

    • neil rosson

      Not sure if its any more noisy than mine tbh. The pace on my run today again was way off, i wonder if its the location i’m running. The tracking again is poor but even when the tracking is good the pace has me running much faster or slower. I think its time to contact garmin again.

    • Jon Niehof

      I’m getting CRAZY erratic pacing, e.g. link to connect.garmin.com

      Ignore the first fifteen minutes of drills. Look around 19 minutes, where I suddenly go to a 4:09 pace, or 26:15 where I suddenly drop to 11:01. The workout was 3mi@7:20, 5min easy (~8:40-9ish), 2mi@7:10, 5min easy, 1mi@sub-7. You can see the last rest and the one mile, where I was back on the track in the open, but the first two reps where I was on a street with some trees (not trail!) are just a hash. I need to try coaxing my 310 back to life for one comparison run. I’m out of standard return period on this thing, and I really like it, but if the pace is this useless I’ll have to go with something else.

      1 second recording, no GLONASS, footpod.

    • Blazko

      And I thought I’m the only one not liking new things… Pacing is TERRIBLE! My solution, while GPS tracks are useless anyway, is running without GPS at all. This way I get a nice and responsive pace and my distance is less then 1% off. Calibrated footpod rules. Dropping support for it is the stupidest thing and less expected surprise I had when jumped from 910xt to F3.

    • echarlus

      I agree and that’s what I intend to to ! What do you mean by “Calibrated footpod rules. Dropping support for it is the stupidest thing and less expected surprise I had when jumped from 910xt to F3.” ?
      Do you mean having to disable the GPS to be able to support getting Pace/Speed & cadence from the footpod ?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Blazko I coudn’t agree more with you. Dropping foot pod pace when outdoors is just unacceptable and was also my biggest surprise coming from my trusty 910xt.

  62. Jan Cejka

    Ray, did you hear anything about GPS fix issue? Since nearly 2 weeks my F3 has issues getting GPS fix (3.20 firmware, before it was OK with the same firmware). It takes 5 minutes to get GPS fix if I am lucky, often I don’t get it at all during runs of more than 60 minutes with nice sky view. And based on discussion here I am not alone.

    Anyone else with the same issue? Or faulty unit/batch?

    • Yup, just above your comment from last night. ;)

      Here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      But, I’ve just added the update to the previous update into the Bugs/Quirks section as well: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Jan Cejka

      Hmmm… My point was not about track shortening but about not getting GPS fix at all or taking it too long (>5 minuter) or losing GPS track during workout:

      9.5km run, only ~200 meters with GPS track
      9.8km run, only ~300 meters with GPS track

      If my track would be only some (hundered) meters shorter, I would be really happy… ;-)

    • Ahh, sorry, missed that. Yeah, that’s wonky. I’d do a full reset of the watch and failing that, ring up Garmin support to get the incident logged. I haven’t had any GPS tracks die mid-way on me (nor any crashes).

    • Markus

      Jan, check that posting as well:
      link to forums.garmin.com

      Not 100% related to your post, but there seems to be a bad patch with watches.
      I guess after next update you even might get no fix at all.
      For sure calls for a replacement.

    • Hzl D

      Same problem that I have. After the first couple of weeks- the watch stopped picking up satellites at all on cycles and was very very slow at picking up satellites on runs. A full hard reset, software upgrades etc made no difference
      I contacted Garmin and eventually they responded and recommended that I send it back to them for repair or replacement (insured tracked delivery at my cost). They also warned that I may receive a refurbished model which horrified me as my watch is 6 weeks old.
      They also explained that the whole process would take circa 4 weeks leaving me mid racing season with no watch
      Personally I’ve been horrified and am now investigating with the retailer whether I can return it to secure a full refund.
      I’m very disappointed as my last Garmin lasted 10 years and the functionality : looks of Fenix 3 had great potential. Just a shame it does not work

    • Jan Cejka

      I delivered my F3 to Garmin service yesterday. First evaluation – after enabling GLONASS it started to get GPS fix, however automatic time adjustment did not work. After reset – names of applications were cryptic. Doing another full reset got names back but not time adjustment. So they kept it for evaluation / repair / replacement. I will see withing next ~10 days. And in-between I would continue running with my mobile as I did last 2 years. Better some track from mobile than no track from 4 weeks old expensive F3. ;-)
      I hope they will fix it since I love F3 – both look and functions.

    • Jan Cejka

      Just posting follow-up for my case:

      In customer service Garmin guys were able to catch GPS fix pretty fast with GPS signal extender (in-room emitter of signal caught by external antenna). However, without this device catching signal in the open air was not possible even with GLONASS enabled. Test outdoor was done side by side with working Fenix 3. In the end unit was replaced by new one. Strange was that my issue with GPS fix started to appear after 1 month of usage without any prior problem and without any improper handling.

      Side note: Garmin guys told me that big firmware update fixing misc GPS precision issues should be rolled out on 5th of June.

  63. Fab

    Must say that I can’t really complain about F3 GPS accuracy so far. last sunday tested the watch running a vertical km trail race into a “dense” wood: we were about 15 people and more or less each one of us had his own gps unit. being not an official event there wasn’t a measured lenght of the race, so we ended up checking or own devices to compare results. among garmin users (fr610, 620,F3) the range was between 2.95 and 2.98 km, while Suunto users (mostly ambit3) were recording lenghts in the 2.55 -2.65Km range, mostly complaining lost of signal while running.
    While everything is at its best using merely the start/stop button, things are not so smooth with downloaded interval trainings. still having all sort of troubles using the same workouts I edited on Garmin Connect and used without any problem on my former 610. While running, 800 mt running phases kept skipping forward to the next recovery phase very erraticly (first one ok, second one after two seconds, and so on) and according to the split section on the activity page of GC i noticed I have been able to run negative distances. Still can’t exclude my own mistakes, but i’m getting more and more skeptic about this, even though reading the above comments I haven’t spotted a significative numbers of related issues. Don’t know what to say at the moment: when the device works as it is supposed to it’s an absolutely awesome piece of technology, but the interval thing is getting pretty frustrating.

    • Mihai Raducan

      I can’t speak about loss of signal. Never happened to me no matter the conditions. But Ambit3 measured less because Suunto didn’t implement 3D distance. When you run uphill or dowhill, distance measured is still horizontal. Bigger the slope, bigger the difference.

      It’s not a very big deal in practice on “normal” trails but on very steep hills it can add up.

    • Miguelico

      Wow, you’re right. Your issue was nearly identical to mine. My Garmin Connect showed negative distance as well. I feel confident that they can get this worked out. I know that the interval training on the 920XT works great.

    • Fab

      I deactivated 3D distance/speed options before starting. don’t think FR610 implement them either, but the distance we recordered was pretty comparable. I’ll run up same path again soon, this time with 3d distance activated and i’m expecting to obtain more than 300 meters difference in lenght. i’ll let you know.

    • Miguelico

      Today I tried to trick the watch by just creating a workout on GC that replicates the interval function. Amazingly, I had the exact same problem happen. However, I noticed that running intervals just using the time function worked well without issues but the distance function would never work. I called Garmin today and they seemed surprised but they were very helpful. He looked into it and said that he was somehow seeing from my GC page that the interval training would show up as a Bike activity although I have been using Run the entire time. He agreed that something was not looking right and that he would test this function on his own watch and email when they figured out the problem.

  64. Marc steingrand

    Just wanted to get the topics again as usual great
    I have mine for 3 month now and I love it yes some issues here and there but generally its great

  65. Teo

    Hi Ray,
    I’m searching for a running watch for using 24/7(run,steps,sleep track and smartphone notification). I was focused on this Fenix 3 but the huge quantity of issues kept away me form this beautiful Garmin.
    Which watch can I looking for(also other companies)? Thanks for your great job for all of us.

  66. DAP

    I’ve only had my Fenix 3 for a week now but just upgraded my software from 2.3 to 3.2 on Monday and feel as though I’m now seeing a much quicker battery drain. Have others seen that as well? Everything was working great with the original software.

    Also, I just flew to a new time zone yesterday and while my phone automatically changed the time, my Fenix3 did not even though it’s set to Auto. Any ideas on how to get it to actually change automatically?

    • Crispin Ellisdon

      The time zone map update has messed things up, so the only option at present is to roll back to an earlier version. Details on how to do that here link to forums.garmin.com

    • Hzl D

      Yes. Same experience here with the battery drain. So much so that I had to give up using it as an activity tracker which was one of the reasons I chose the Fenix 3 in the first place.

      The time seems to randomly change too. Last week my time was 15 minutes out.

  67. Werner

    Took my Fenix3 on the first run and compared with 620 on the distance. Spot on on the first run.
    Must say its open run – no trees, etc. Struggle to connect with Garmin Express but connect with iPad first and then Express and all working well now. So far no complaints!

  68. Adam R

    I have had my Fenix 3 for a few weeks now, but due to illness and injury I have only recorded two runs. The first was a 3km loop around my home just to test it out, and the second was a half-marathon through the streets of Sydney CBD last weekend.

    There was no meaningful problem with the first run, although one sharp 90 degree corner did appear suspiciously rounded off. However, the run was on open streets – not much of a challenge.

    The HM raised a few issues, though. For the first 11km, the watch was running a bit long compared to the course markers, but only by about 50m or so, and similar to what you would expect just from not running the perfect line. Pace was extremely erratic, ranging from about 3:50/km to nearly 7:00/km. Given that my average pace in the first half was around 5:30/km, this seems an unrealistic range, particularly at the fast end. I would struggle to run sub-4 minute pace at all, let alone in the middle of a HM on a flat section of road.

    The second half was way out. By then end it was showing nearly 500m short of the race distance. What concerns me is “Why?’. Some of the run was between tall buildings, so that might be an explanation, and some was under cover or in tunnels. However, I was also using a footpod. If the GPS signal was problematic, then the footpod should have been keeping the distance and pace close to correct.

    Does anyone know how bad GPS signal needs to be before failing over to the footpod. Perhaps the watch struggles to track distance and pace based on to weak GPS when it could do better to go the footpod earlier.

    From previous experience with an Ambit2, my pace and distance was always very close to perfectly recorded with a footpod, even before calibration.

  69. I love the Fenix 3 watch, but I hate the Fenix 3 GPS!

    On single track mountain bike rides, I’m getting 20 mile rides logged as 19 miles on the F3.

    Here are a few examples of the track of Fenix 3 in yellow/orange vs the 310xt in blue. Both watches mounted on handlebars with 1 second recording.

    I am so close to returning the Fenix 3, I like so many things about it, but using the Fenix 3, when I have the 310xt available that I know is more accurate really takes the enjoyment out of having it.

    Love all the reviews and comments here, I will say, I am seriously thinking about returning this and going to the Polar V800

    • w Pickens

      Hello Ray, I am seeing similar issues when compared to my 310xt. I am seeing ~10% distance distances. When compared to my 310 and even my phone. Garmin is getting a lot of bad press on this. I would like to think this is a production run issue as they were rushed to fill back orders after announcing. Can you post a run comparing the f3 and 310? I am (like many others) debating an exchange or full refund. On a similar note are there any rumors on an Ambit 4 or new polar watch?

      Thank you for helping all of us and our toys!

    • Christopher

      OMG I have a 310xt and just ordered a F3 as an upgrade! Kind of demotivating when I look at your blue vs yellow tracks. I wonder is it a SW issue that will be fixed or a HW issue. The 310xt is an old model, I thought F3 having glonas+GPS and the external antena would be way more precise.
      BTW how did you perform the test? Did you mount both watches on the MTB – or was the measurement done on a different day (clouds, foliage etc)?

    • Dave


      I had both mounted on handlebars on the same ride, with all settings the same, 1 second recording, etc. Keep in mind this is single track with tree cover, which seems to be where Fenix3 really fails. ( according to posts on Garmin forum) I love everything else about this watch. Going to do some more experimenting with it before I decide whether to keep it or not.

      With both tracks loaded to myGPSFiles show up as
      22.43 for the 310xt
      21.31 for the Fenix 3
      1.12 miles difference

      On Garmin Connect, they show up as…
      310xt measured 22.31 and 8.7 mph avg
      Fenix 3 measured 21.45 and 8.3 mph avg
      .91 mile difference ( all those distances according to Garmin Connect)

      And looking at the tracks, the Fenix 3 is all over the place in some areas.

      My tracks are at link to mygpsfiles.com

      And also I have a PDF with 6 zoomed in picture of tracks and comments on the tracks. at link to irun100s.com

      I’ve reviewed the whole file, looking for places where the Fenix 3 demonstrated it was more accurate than the 310xt, and I’m sad to say that really, there were not any. I could not find any places where it looked to me like the Fenix 3 had a better track than the 310xt.

      Again, not saying don’t get this watch, I love so much about it, and I think in most conditions ( open skys, not a lot of turns) it’s works well. I’m going to do some additional comparisons with the 310xt and Iphone before I decide whether I’m going to keep it or not.

    • Christopher

      Dave, yup i saw your pdf yellow and blue lines. shocking. keep me posted with the F3 vs 310xt comparison. Really a shame since the 310xt is cheap and I thought Glonas+GPS would make it more accurate, certainly not less. 1 mile out of 20 is 5% difference. On a bike its not that much but for running – It would kill me in the race if I trust the F3 and run at a different pace than in reallty.
      Is it by any chance the F3 Sapphire version? I wonder how the metal band would keep the watch tight on a MTB handlebar.

    • Dave

      No, I don’t have Sapphire version. I was replacing the 310xt ( my second ) because the buttons are getting questionable. I’ve had Glonas capable on a couple different GPS’s now, and I’ve never found it to be more accurate. But I’m going to retry a lot of options now that I’m scrutinizing everything.

  70. Sorry I messed up link in prior comment

  71. Wesley

    My Fenix 3 is going back to Garmin, once they reply to my email. Mine is stuck on the Garmin Logo screen. I have tried all methods of soft resets, hard resets, and nothing. This watch worked for about 2 hours. This thing needs help.

  72. Miguelico

    I love my Fenix 3 so far but today I hit my first hiccup. I ran the standard interval training profile but it failed bad. I ran the first mile, rested a minute, started the next mile leg and without me knowing it cycled to the minute rest after only a minute of running(I programmed a mile but instead it went straight to the rest period) it continued with a minute rest and another minute rest completely skipping the run intervals. Frustrating. Has anyone else seen this issue? If you try it, give me a holla. Thanks.

  73. Nick Yanakiev

    I loved my first two Fenix 3’s but if this is not fixable/ie is hardware related, I will be forced to move on and wait for the release of the new Ambit from Suunto…

  74. Momchil Pekov

    I have F3 Sapphire firmware 3.20, Bluetooth and wifi stopped, only HRM-Run enabled and it is using 10% battery for every hour of running or cycling. It’s half the battery life from the tech spec, any suggestions what is going on.

    • Nick Yanakiev

      I did experience some battery drain after updating to 3.20. On depleting the battery, I charged it all the way up to 100%, which seemingly did the trick and the battery drain stopped.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Momchil you might try to disable GLONASS wich is supposed to drain the battery 20% faster. Also the battery gauge may be a little off. To recalibrate it, make sure you let your battery die once and then charge up to 100%. Hope that helps!

    • Christopher

      my 3.80/2.90 saphire also uses 10% for each hour of training. so this is normal?

  75. Lars-Petter

    Hello Ray.

    Great review that resulted in me owning a F3 (a gift from my fiancee for finishing my masters in economics). So happy! Just a couple of quick questions. What basic settings do you recommend I set on the F3 before using it, for best results overall. e.g. 1 second recording, GLONASS ON etc.? altimeter calibration? And last the widget letting you control music, have you gotten it to work on e.g. Spotify on your iPhone?


    • Simon Sutcliffe

      I have used it with HTC One M7 & Xperia Z3 Compact and it controls Spotify just fine. It also controls the volume which as you may know, doesn’t work through the 3 button headphones on Android phones.

      Basically, whatever you open and start playing on the device, the F3 will control that. You cannot switch apps and you’re limited to skipping through tracks in the album or playlist you have chosen. It works really well.

      I use 1s recording, glonass on. Smart recording is all but redundant now so I hear.

      Altimeter is a joke compared to other devices I’ve used. The F3 seems to give the pressure reading to the aliti and baro at the same time which means the charts are always the inverse of each other and rarely accurate. I can set my alti at night and by morning I could be 300m under the sea if the ambient pressure has shot up….. Others I have used seemed to switch between one or the other depending on some guess whether you are climbing or not.

    • Lars-Petter

      Thanks! On my iPhone the music on iTunes starts when trying to control Spotify from the watch, but this is probably the phones doing.

      The altimeter has jumped from 75 to 130 m throughout the night, as well as the pressure has dropped 7 hPa. I hope that this is more accurate in movement and that these features only suffer indoors.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Yeah that alti graph reflects my experience entirely. It gets marginally better when out and about, the elevation works to some extent, but because the data is sent to the baro screen too, the ambient pressure chart just goes up and down inversely to the elevation. Normally, the device makes a guess as to whether you are climbing or stationary and only updates either the alti or baro accordingly.

      Ideally, overnight the only chart that should update is the baro and altitude remain stationary.

    • Frans

      But than it should have a GPS fix to calculate the altitude, assume that the altitude form the GPS is true, and than adept the baro readings accordingly. Without a GPS or other way (user input based on a height-line of a map) there is no way to calibrate air pressure and altitude. Best way to have good altitude is to have the GPS acquire a fix for a longer time (few minutes so it has lots of satellites and an accurate fix) And btw: air pressure is inside as good as outside except in planes with a pressure cabin.

      Using a barometer for altitude is by principle not very accurate. As long as the weather is stable and air pressure is constant in the area you hike or sport its ok, but… it the weather changes i.e. a storm is coming the barometer becomes very inaccurate. Suunto uses it even in some watches to warn for a storm. Sudden drops in pressure can tell weather is changing rapidly and a storm is developing.

      So in my view its not a bug or shortcoming in de F3 but just nature and science that explain the limitations of measuring altitude

    • Simon Sutcliffe


      whilst you give some accurate comments about pressure and it’s applied use and clearly understand the background, I’m not convinced you’re on the money when you get specific about the F3. Have you used one?

      The F3 also has a storm alarm and this helps illustrate why I believe the F3 is poorly designed in this area. If you turn storm alarm on, then increase your elevation quickly such as cycling up Holme Moss, Buttertubs or any other categorised climb we have round here – even though there is no drop in sea level pressure, the storm alarm triggers because it perceives the drop in pressure due to rapid altitude change as real pressure.

      Conversely, if the device stays stationary for a few hours and the actual pressure changes, the device reports a change in altitude.

      Assuming you have one, leave the F3 stationary for 48 hours then check both the alti and baro graphs, they will be the exact opposite of each other because both metrics are receiving data at the same time. Realistically the alti should stay constant because the device stopped feeding that chart, and the baro should show the fluctuations.

      You are quite correct, an alti baro needs a reference point setting but I think you’re not quite getting the flow of this conversation. What we’re saying is, after that reference is set there is constant drift due to the ambient pressure being sent to both the alti AND baro at the same time.

      Every other alti-baro watch I have owned including the F1 gave the user a choice as to where the data is fed. Alti, baro, or auto. In auto mode the device made a reasonable guess as to whether you were on the move or not and chose which metric to feed. The Suunto Elementum Terra was the best implementation of this I have owned and that didn’t even have GPS – you just configure the reference altitude at the start of your trip and it did the rest. THIS is what I feel is missing, the alti/baro/auto menu.

    • chukko

      Without alternative mechanism (e.g. GPS or frequent manual one) there is no way Suunto could show exact altitude.
      Automatic alti/barro mode helps in cases where you either have a changing altitude or changing weather – but there is no way for it to tell which portion of the pressure drop is due to altitude and which part due to weather change.
      Continuous calibration on F3 will probably achieve even better results – but i notice quite high battery drain. Would be great if you could specify calibration interval or continuous calibration only if gps is on.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi Chukko

      Without alternative mechanism (e.g. GPS or frequent manual one) there is no way Suunto could show exact altitude.
      – OK back to ABC watch 101 here but you set your altitude when you start you hike / journey and then check it at set points either against a map or when you reach altitude markers. A normal ABC watch does a pretty good job at keeping within an acceptable threshold, the F3 doesn’t. Moreover, as you climb and the pressure drops it triggers the storm alarm when there is no storm coming.

      Automatic alti/barro mode helps in cases where you either have a changing altitude or changing weather – but there is no way for it to tell which portion of the pressure drop is due to altitude and which part due to weather change.
      – not sure I agree 100% with everything you’re saying there. Once a normal ABC watch detects you have stopped moving it switches to baro mode, once it detects movement again it switches to alti mode. Don’t know the science of how it makes the call, but it does. I agree with what you’re saying, pressure is pressure and we use it for two metrics but ABC watches these days are pretty damn good at working out why the pressure changed (except for the F3 of course :) )

      Continuous calibration on F3 will probably achieve even better results – but i notice quite high battery drain. Would be great if you could specify calibration interval or continuous calibration only if gps is on.
      – totally agree with you, should achieve better results but why can this £400 watch not perform half as well as a £50 ABC watch. The problem is, other cheaper watches can do this without a GPS chipset, why can’t the F3?

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      So, did a bit more playing around last night and decided to set Auto Calibration to OFF.

      The charts appear much better, despite having some wildly varying pressure last night the altitude reading has only moved from 65m to 59m. Much better than going from 59m to -350m…

      I’ll monitor and feedback over the next few days as I move around but for now it seems this is the better setting for me. Why oh why do Garmin refuse to provide a proper manual detailing how each of the settings will affect readings?

  76. mg

    Ray, what is the best way charge F3 in order to preserve the battery? do you try to run it down to 0 as much as possible or top-up frequently to keep battery generally over 50%? I think apple recommends to keep topping up and keeping the battery 50-90% as opposed to running it down. i was wondering if same thing is recommended with garmin. thx

  77. wackowizzard

    Questions, notes, problems regarding custom workouts and calendar : (also on forum)

    1. I have created several custom workouts in the GC “Workouts” section.
    2. I have named the workouts, denoted custom intervals, created notes on each interval, and general notes regarding entire workout.
    3. I have scheduled them in the GC Calendar.
    4. I have pushed them to my device successfully
    5. I have created a new Activity Profile in which to do these custom workouts and keep things clear.
    6. I have successfully initiated and completed these custom workouts within my new custom activity profile.
    7. I have successfully then synced my device with GC.


    1. GC calendar’s scheduled custom workouts do NOT coresspond with activities initiated from 920’s calendar scheduled workouts.
    2. No indication in GC calendar that scheduled workout has been completed (or not).
    3. No manual capacity to “check off” workout as complete.
    4. No indication that activities undertaken on day of scheduled workouts are at all related to scheduled workouts.
    5. No capacity to “link” an completed activity to particular GC custom workout profile details other than manual editing and giving it the same name.
    6. Though custom workouts are initiated through the device’s “synced/pushed” Training Calendar, they upload back to GC calendar as completely differentiated activities.
    7. Though custom workouts are initiated through the device’s “synced/pushed” Training Calendar, they upload back to GC calendar w/o any correspondence to custom workout’s particular interval profiles.

    What to do here ? Wait for software update ? … Thanks

  78. Not only does the activity tracker count “steps” while cycling or motorbiking but also while sitting comfortably on a bus … link to wp.me

  79. Nick Yanakiev

    Hi Everyone,

    Just spoke with Garmin support- they sounded extremely surprised to hear that I am having GPS related issues on the Fenix 3. Obviously getting blasted on Facebook, Twitter and their own forums is not enough to get them to do something about an obviously serious issue.

    The CS rep even claimed that they have never heard of such issues existing and that, as far as they are aware, no GPS specific firmware update is coming- was confirmed by their manager as well.


  80. marc steingrand

    hello just a view questoion perhaps somone has an idea or ray can pass this on to garmin

    1 i have the F3 for some month now and in general terms it works great
    i would like to see some improuvments

    1. when you create a multisport event you are limited to 5 sports, is there a way to increase this, because i do the sufferalnd videos Chrisalis and it has in total i think 8 repetions , so would be great to use the watch to capure to whole training

    2. I am suffering to see if in my workout all ANT+ sensors are connected, as we are speaking on a colour watch would be great if the sensor icons could be in clolor and changing from red to green for example..

  81. Mark

    For those not watching the Garmin forums regarding new firmware to fix the accuracy issues – Garmin has posted an official response there:

    link to forums.garmin.com

    • George

      Nice to see that, thanks for posting. Essentially a “we’re working on it” but good for them to actually acknowledge the issue.

      Unfortunately that post by its very existence suggests a firmware update it at least days away from release. Otherwise why bother with the post today?

  82. Sangria

    Hi Ray which watch you would prefer as your main running- and alldaywatch? The fenix3 or v800 or anyone else?

    • Per my ‘Gear I use Post’ a week or two ago here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I use the Fenix3 as my main running watch.

      For the all day watch, it’s whatever I’m testing at the moment. Currently that’s the Apple Watch.

    • Sangria

      Hi Ray thanks for the answere. If you must choose between the Applewatch and the Fenix3.. At this point of the testing… Which watch wins? And is there a problem with the colour of the grey Fenix like the old spacegrey iphone 5?

    • Ryan033

      @Sangria the Apple watch is not aimed at the same people as the Fenix 3. If you are an athlete or budding athlete who needs something to capture their data, then the Fenix 3 is the way to go.. It has way better battery life, it does not need to be attached to your phone to be useful.. And, you can swim with it, I bought it predominantly for my swimming..

      The Apple watch is a dumbed down phone attached to your wrist except with a much smaller screen. You need your phone close by for it to be of any use.. Except for telling the time and your HR which I believe it can do without being close to your phone..

      So, you need to decide, do you want a proper sports watch, or do you want a mini phone on your wrist which does look ok and I am sure it will have some nifty apps.. If you predominantly run, I could see it being adequate but for cycling, swimming etc, it will not be as useful as the F3.. Also, if you are far from a charger, you will struggle.. :-)

      Just my two cents worth..

    • Sangria

      Hi ryan033,
      thanks for your answere. Yes the batterylife is a knockout. Perhaps the second or third version is more aimed on athletes but this will take a few years. So is only the decission left grey or silver F3? Do you know anything about “scuffgate” according to the grey F3?

    • Ryan033

      Hi @Sangria
      I have the grey as I liked the red button (silly I know but I have a soft spot for red things). But I have a little scratch on it where I scraped it along the side of a wall whilst clearing up some logs from my backyard.. Nothing huge but they probably would not be visible on the silver version. Also with the silver, I think the watch would look good with a leather strap (if you wanted to go that way day to day.. Not so good for swimming or lots of sweat though)..

      I don’t know anything about ‘scuffgate’ maybe I should look into it if I want my watch to remain looking so pretty (in a manly kinda way of course ;-)..

  83. Jim

    Using the F3 with Garmin Connect – When a workout is scheduled in the calendar and transferred to watch it ends up a day later than in the calendar. All My computers and watch are on the correct time zone, but looks like a time zone programming issue? Anyone else based down under had an issue with this and found a solution?

    • David

      I do not own a F3. I haven’t used the Garmin Connect calendaring in a while. But when I did with my 910XT, I had a similar issue. I live in Pacific Time zone. My morning activities would show up on the correct date. But if I tried to do an activity after dinner, the watch thought it was already tomorrow, and I had to look at “yesterday” to find the correct workout.
      So I believe that it (the F3) is looking for your workout based on current GMT. I believe I reported this to Garmin a couple of years ago. I don’t remember if I ever got a response.
      I suggest re-reporting it to Garmin.

  84. Ryan Ravinsky

    Great in depth review. I have two questions / clarifications:

    1. “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).”
    You says there is not an active “graph,” but it will still show real-time heart rate with the HRM?

    2. “Note that with UltraTrac you DO get ANT+ data, which is a change from prior Fenix versions, where you didn’t get ANT+ data.”
    Just want to make sure because i do ultra distance stuff, with the UltraTrac on, the HRM-RUN will continue to work and display heart rate?

    Thanks. Ry

  85. Klaus

    Some more testing regarding GPS accuracy:

    Three times the same track, mostly woods

    Fenix 3 with Glonass: 14.13 km
    Fenix 3 without Glonass: 14,16 km
    Fenix 2: 14,79 km

    That makes easily a difference in pace of 15 seconds.

    Today, I got a firmware update, without comments as usual. Still on 3.2 with GPS on 2.8. Is this a new version? Or was it an update of some app?

    • Steven Brown

      Would’ve been an update to the time zone map. (and I think a few people have complained about problems it causes on the forum).

      I personally will not bother taking it – won’t do anything to fix the GPS nonsense.

    • Heya

      I tested over the weekend running a mile on an outdoor track, staying in the inside lane the whole time. The track was completely out in the open with no trees close by.

      Actual distance: 1.0 mi
      Fenix 3, 1-second recording, without Glonass: 1.04 mi

      That’s an error of 4%. As a result, the pace showed me running at a pace ~14 seconds faster than I actually was.

    • As is always the case (and has been for more years than I can count), I’d really avoid using GPS devices on a track as the ultimate bearer of distance. I can pick any GPS device you’d like out of the bin and get mixed results on a track – from the beloved FR305 to the Ambit3.

      It’s one of the hardest things to get accurate readings on consistently.

    • Heya

      Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely use lap pace and avg lap pace in the future as opposed to relying on the GPS pace.

  86. Nick

    Hi all anyone know if there are multiple time alarms on the fenix 3. And if they are vibrate only. This was on fenix 2 and not on 920xt which is very annoying as I like to do training in the early am Like a lot of long distance (and others) people. I’ve asked Garmin to no avail and apparently it wouldn’t be possible with a connect iq app either.

    • It’s been pushed to a summer time frame for implementation (multiple alarms).

    • echarlus

      so hopefully we’ll get it by september :) That would be great !
      Let’s hope it makes it in time and is not pushed back because of other emergencies that the dev team has to work on as it appears the current firmware has quite a few bugs :(

  87. Heiki

    Question about pre-defined (in Garmin Connect) workout – is there a way to see in Fenix 3 comment what I entered in Garmin Connect under workout step, when I made workout?

    Didn’t find such field to be available.

  88. David

    Does the Fenix 3 collect and store altimeter data during indoor activities? If so, is there a way to disable it?

    As a rower, the majority of my workouts happen indoors. The fatal flaw for my 910XT is that the altimeter data gets recorded whether you want it or not, and this data is almost always grossly inaccurate when working out indoors. I can sit on a perfectly stationary rowing machine indoors and when all is said and done, it will show that I’ve climbed and descended as much as a couple of thousand feet over the course of an hour-long workout. This renders the altimeter data for my outdoor activities almost completely worthless.

  89. Stephen

    I’ve had my fenix 3 for a few months now. I have noticed some issues with the GPS but I’m not overly concerned but two days ago the screen just went blank. I’ve tried resetting the watch but there is just no response at all. Similarly I have yet to have a response from Garmin support !
    Anyone else seen this problem ?
    I now have no watch to train with and no idea how long before I get any solution

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Hi, might sound really silly but if the screen just went blank as opposed to freezing up, could the battery have simply died? Have you tried charging it up?

    • Stephen

      The watch was at around 92% just before going blank but I have tried to recharge just in case. The difficulty is with nothing on the screen you can’t actually see if the battery has drained because ..well there is nothing on the display.

    • nmtn


      I had Fenix 3 one week and last Friday afternoon the screen started to flicker and went black. After reboot it was okay for about an hour and went black again. Before the problems, on Thursday or Friday I don’t remember making any changes to setup. But on Friday afternoon I noticed that barometer and alti had six figure readings.

      During Friday evening and Saturday morning I made several hard resets and tried software update but there was no help. I disabled most of the functions to rule out possible causes. The watch was okay from seconds to few minutes before the screen went black so I gave up.

      Sunday night I thought I’d give it a last try before calling to Garmin support on Monday morning, just so I could say I’ve tried, had no expectations for it to work. But it did. Now it’s been working three days with no problem…

  90. Fabio Campos

    Hi Ray

    I didn’t find in both Fenix 3 and Epix manuals any way to enter waypoints in the watches.
    Is there a way to manually enter the waypoints (I mean, manually entering the coordinates of a point)? (to be able to navigate from waypoint to waypoint)


  91. Jason (Jigghead) Raath

    I used my Garmin Edge 510 and my F3 side by side on a MTB ride this weekend.

    I was the first time I had used the F3 and initially, whilst it was working out my wheel size, it showed a significant difference from the 510. however, after that it came very close to the Edge. By the end of the 45km (as per race organisers), my Edge gave me a reading of 42.92km whilst the F3 gave me a reading of 42.7km. The last 5km of the ride was under a lot of trees and up against some high mountain area. I must say, after all the accuracy complaints I’ve been reading, a 0.5% margin from a unit which has been very accurate for me through well over 100 rides, is not a problem and a pleasant surprise.

    Both units had glonas on. I’ve since done a run on a route I’ve run about 20 times. It’s on a road, but there are plenty of trees on the route and it tracked with identical accuracy to my FR910XT and the F2.

    The maps from the Saturday ride, when overlayed were also identical. so far, I’m a happy f3 user.

    • Markus

      When a speed sensor is used on F3, distance and speed come from the speed sensor readings.
      So this wouldn’t reflect F3 GPS (in)accuracy.

    • Jason (Jigghead) Raath

      It was however not present for the run and it worked beautifully.

  92. Christopher

    Can you assign a different HR Max for running and for Biking in the Fenix 3? And can you set different HR Zones for these disciplines? Or are they shared? I don’t know if it is a fact, but in my case I do observe different HR zones in running than in biking (running +10 bpm vs bike)

    • Heiki

      Yes you can

    • chukko

      That doesnt sound right. Max HR is a body parameter – independent from the activity. Some activities require more effort, but that doesnt mean there are different zones in different activities. If some activity does not generate sufficient load – you might not reach some zone (e.g. for sleeping you would not specify zones by the worst nightmare you might have).

  93. Christopher

    Max HR is arguable. But different zones for different disciplines a a sure thing for me. Running – you use more muscles, nearly the whole body is at work. In case of a road bike you probably use only the legs and the lungs. So automatically the BPM is lower in biking.

    link to beginnertriathlete.com
    Myth: You have a single maximum heart rate number that can be applied to all activities. When people talk about their Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) what they really mean, whether they know it or not, is that MHR really only applies to the type of activity you are performing and it is not an absolute maximum. Your heart can easily beat 300 times a minute if your brain tells it to do so, but you will hopefully never see this out on a run or bike session. When we talk about MHR, we always mean activity specific. You may find out your MHR for running is 190 bpm but on the bike it may be only be 175. The amount and type of muscle fibers recruited and the amount oxygen needed by the muscle groups contribute your brain’s decision making on how fast the heart needs to pump. While you may use leg muscles for both running and cycling, the bike supports most of your body weight and overall recruits less muscle activity than running, resulting in most people having a lower MHR for cycling than running.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      +1, you can and should set different zones for different sports. This may have a different HRMax but you’ll know this once you’ve done your threshold tests.

    • Christoph

      “But different zones for different disciplines a a sure thing for me. Running – you use more muscles, nearly the whole body is at work. In case of a road bike you probably use only the legs and the lungs.”

      I have to disagree with this statement, it doesn’t make any sense as there is not really a connection here. You can push your HR exactly the same by only using your legs. In this case it just means you have more circulation in your legs than in other parts. But that’s not really related to your HR.

      You can bet at 80% HR only using your legs as much as you can be at 80% by using your whole body.

    • chukko

      I do not argue in favor of unified max for all activities – naturally you will not achieve the same load in different activities.
      But calculating from activity max does not make sense for me. Brain does not tell heart to beat just at will – it beats according to the oxygen needs. If the oxygen capacity of the heart is exceeded, you get over anaerobic threshold.
      If your activity puts lower load, you have lower oxygen needs – thus e.g. by hiking you will not reach anaerobic zone.
      So even if you set your HRmax for hiking to 150 – it does not mean you reach anaerobic threshold. The reason i believe is that oxygen capacity is body parameter.

      I can imagine measured VO2max being lower on the bike – but that might be due to the fact that the load curve is different (i.e. you would measure different VO2max running flat and running uphill).

    • Christopher

      Take out your bike today and push it to the max. Then put on your running shoes and run fast as hell. I can guarantee you will achieve different HRmax (although it might not be your ultimate max).
      Anyway, maybe hrmax is not the best determinent. For running it is OK (personally for me) but for biking I prefer HRLT based zones (Friel). So coming back to the F3 I was wondering if it is possible to set different HR Zones for different disciplines.

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      Yes it is possible.
      settings>system>user profile>heart rate zones

      You have default, cycling, running.

      I wouldn’t bother arguing with people who don’t feel the need for different training zones. If they’re happy with one set of zones, so be it.

    • chukko

      You are right, this isnt the proper forum for this offtopic dsicussion. Sorry for that (was academic anyways as F3 clearly allows that).

  94. Rikard

    I’ve discovered a consistent bug in the software (3.2 – haven’t tried with 3.3 yet) of fenix 3 (at least it is consistent on my watch). When you press the start/stop button when in an app you are given the option of “Resume later”. With resume later i’ve discovered that you have two options: 1) you can continue with the same app (without starting the app again) and the event continued as one event or 2) you can start a new app (even the same as before) and it is then registered as a multisport event. If you press the start button and the menu with apps appear (as it usually do if some time has passed) you just hit back button and then start button again and you enter the already running app. When using option 2 I have not seen any problems with the “resume later” option. However, with option 1 the gps does not automatically start up again. I resume the current app (creating only one event), but the navigation and gps does not work. The workaround is to hold “up” and then “settings – current app – gps – on” which will reactivate the gps. With a future software update the gps should automatically re-active when continuing the app.

    I’ll just note that I really like that we have two options when it comes to how we resume the workout after using “resume later”. However, it is not implemented the most intuitive way. A better way would be to present a menu when the “start” button is pressed giving the options: “Continue with previous app” and “Resume with new app”.

    • Hando

      Hi Rikard. Would you mind letting me know if your post still holds true with software version 3.60, or whatever the latest version is if/when you see this. I have noticed the same bug that GPS does not record after I use Resume Later. However I cannot seem to find a way to start a new app so I only see one option of how to use Resume Later. In any case, it seems to continue same activity and to treat it as single activity. However the GPS track will not be recorded from the point when I suspended the activity with Resume Later. I assume Garmin changed this in latest software. You can also see my post in this same thread, posted on 2.07.2015.
      Thanks in advance.

  95. has anyone used ultratrac mode for hiking successfully? I did a 12hr hike over the weekend and wanted to test that to extend my battery life but with gps set to ultratrac my track was jumping all over the place (unusable for nagivation at all) so after 10 min or so i swtiched back to normal gps and it was way better. I am hoping to use ultratrac since i’ll be doing John muir trail thru hike and will need all the battery life i could get..suggestions? :)

  96. Joshua E.

    Does anyone know what the 3.3 software update includes? I see there is a separate timezone map update alongside it according to Garmin Connect.

    • Dom

      It fixes an issue with timezone map handling (which only came to light when they updated the timezone map recently).

  97. Paul Cuppens

    Hi, maybe stupid question, but are the wristbands from the fenix 2 compatible with the fenix 3?

    • Stephen Thomas

      Yes, the bands are the same size. The pins, however, are different and require a different tool (Torq T6 for the F3). You can install a F1 or F2 band (exactly what I’ve done, in particular the leather F3 band), but you have to provide your own T6 screwdrivers and you have to remove the pins (and, if you want it to match, the buckle) from the stock F3 band and move them to the new band. It’s actually quite simple, and you can pick up a couple of T6 screwdrivers at your favorite hardware store for a buck or two.

  98. chukko

    link to www8.garmin.com says:

    Change History
    Changes made from version 3.20 to 3.30:

    Fixed potential issue with the latest time zone update.

    Unfortunately nothing else.

    • Ratherbeoutdoors

      I found out the hard way. There was an update to the “Time Zone Map” that just came out. I happened to change time zones on Tuesday from EST to PDT and when I started the GPS to acquire local time, it didn’t change. I had to set local time manually. I’m assuming the 3.30 update corrected this – I’ll know for certain next week when I return to EST.

  99. echarlus

    Hi All,
    I read on the garmin forum that people have problems with footpod calibration.
    Since GPS will never be as precise as footpod I’d rather go-on with my current habit (still using my old Polar RS800 with footpod … it’s always spot on when I run on a track and I know GPS will never be that good).
    So when I purchase my F3 I plan on using it with a footpod but I’ve read that calibration does not work so this would be a show stopper for me.
    Does any of you have experienced issues with footpod calibration ?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Hi echarlus!
      The real problem is not with the footpod calibration, but the lack of foot pod pace when running outside (pace will come from foot pod only when GPS is off – e.g. indoor – or lost signal – e.g. tunnel). This is the way Garmin had been done on last watch releases for a couple of years. I have the Fenix 3 for 3 weeks now and I feel dumb when I have to take my 910xt on the other wrist to know my instant pace accurately.
      Honestly I’m still kinda lost about this too. Foot pod pace is what I miss the most from older Garmins…
      Anyway, good luck on your choice!

    • echarlus

      Hi Fernando,
      thanks for the answer. My idea was to set the watch to Indoor mode to shutdown the GPS and use only the footpod.
      That should do the trick… Have you tried that ? Where you able to successfuly calibrate the footpod ? Are the results ok in terms of speed /pace & distance ?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Yes, that will definately work. It’s a trick to use pace from foot pod BUT you lose distance from GPS, which is what we have on older Garmins. And distance from foot pod can be way off on some cases, like running up or downhill. Plus you won’t have a map of where you been. It’s a trade off you have to analyse.
      The auto calibration indeed seems not to be working right now, but it’s likely to be easy to be fixed on next firmwares. Until then, you can manually adjust the factor calibration.

    • chukko

      If distance via pod is way off – shouldnt pace be off the same way?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      That’s obviously correct! But only on some specific situations (very hilly terrain or slippery surface are some examples I can think of). On regular flat running instant pace is much more precise (and MUCH more responsive) than any GPS so far.
      Neither of these two technologies are perfect (foot pod and GPS) and both have their limitations, but if you know these limitations you can get the best of both. The problem is Garmin has taken the pod pace from the newer watches.

    • echarlus

      Ok so to summarize:
      One can get both speed & distance from the footpod by disabling GPS (setting to indoor mode)
      Auto calibration does not work (not an issue for me).
      One can manually calibrate the footpod by entering exact distance for a lap or setting calibration factor.
      Then that should be ok for my needs :)
      I’m still waiting for the multiple time alarms to be added since I would like to use the watch as my daily & sports watch.
      What’s really annoying is all these other bug reports that one can see on the forums, hopefully they’ll get it right after some time but seeing so many problems on such an expensive piece and from a company that should have an expertise in building such products is quite annoying…

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Your summary is perfect. Multiple time alarms are planned for this summer according to DCRainmaker’s latest update. And I also agree 100% with your concerns, a $500+ watch shoud never have so many annoying bugs. But after all I’m liking my F3 so far. Hope you enjoy your too should you decide to get one!

    • echarlus

      I’ll wait until they release the next big firwmare update (might be planned for next week as a post here suggests) and see what level of improvements it brings … Hoping it will fix rather than break things. From there I’ll make my decision to purchase or wait or buy something else…

  100. Klaus

    Another interesting piece on GPS accuracy:

    link to sporttracks.mobi

    Interesting conclusions:
    “A $100 TomTom without GLONASS performed almost as good as the FR920XT for the run and is definitely better than the Fenix 3.” and
    “However a log from a friend of mine who ran a much better Boston than I did on Monday with the Fenix 3 both GPS and time wise so it can very well be a large variance between unit to unit on the Fenix 3. This is his second Fenix 3, the first one he returned because it was measuring short on his tree covered city park route and the new one’s serial number was only a hundred or so different from the old one.”

    • We see this sorta thing every year with Boston with various watches. Some watches have good days, others don’t.

      For example, last year a reader showed a bad FR620 track at Boston, meanwhile, I then posted The Girl’s Boston FR620 track during same said race, which spot-on.

    • Ben Smukler

      As you have also pointed out before, the individual runners’ tracks, especially through a long, crowded race, are all over the place, and very likely somewhat longer than the official course distance. The GPS may well be spot-on, or very close to it.
      I’ve used the 910XT, the 920XT, and the Fenix 3, and all of them seem to be very accurate (including when you zoom in on the overhead view–right down to which side of a walk way you were running on).

  101. Heya

    I can’t quite understand why Garmin has to change the software at all. Shouldn’t the GPS code be identical from running watch to running watch? They just need to abstract away the hardware and perhaps tweak some parameters to filter the signal.

    Same goes for the other features. I’m stunned there are so many bugs here.

    One example: if you program a workout then go to do it, neither the GPS nor heart rate monitor will work AT ALL. As in, it’s not possible to turn it on from the workout screen. Same for the “race a distance” feature.

    Another example: the weather widget on the watch won’t work unless you’re:
    – paired to your phone
    – have the garmin connect app open on your phone
    – have GPS enabled on your phone
    – get a GPS lock on your phone by opening a program that queries your GPS location — Garmin Connect doesn’t do this! — such as Google Maps

    What if you’re connected to WiFi? Nothing. Bluetooth? Nothing. Bluetooth + Garmin Connect? Nothing. None of that is documented, by the way.

    To me this screams that even the most basic quality control wasn’t done.

    Nobody actually programmed in a workout and tested it. They would have seen the GPS was disabled and unable to get it to work.
    Nobody gave the watch to a new user and asked them to try out the weather widget. If they had, the person would never have been able to get it to work.

    Kind of weird you don’t see this in any of the reviews either.

    • JR

      What are you talking about? The GPS works just fine in workouts.

    • Agree, no issues when I tested it earlier (for which there are screenshots in the review showing it working). I suspect though, that I (like probably most others) simply select ‘Run’ first, then choose the workout after that. Never thought to use it the other way.

    • Regis

      So far, I’ve only done preset workouts via:
      training-> My Workouts (or Training Calendar)-> Running (etc.)-> do workout.
      I am outside when I do this. I assume that it works as it should since I have pace, distance, and heart rate data as I workout and a normal log when I’m done.

  102. Heya

    Mine is not only off but greyed out on the programmed workouts (ie the workouts you create from Garmin Connect and send to the watch). Several other users on the Garmin forum have reported the same (link to forums.garmin.com) , and the support engineers have confirmed it.

    There’s a “workaround” where you first go to an app that uses GPS (such as “Run”) from the main menu, get the GPS signal + pair the heart rate monitor, then quickly go back to a pre-programmed workout. Apparently the code to do a workout/race doesn’t init the GPS and sensors.

    I’m not clear what you’re doing for it to work :-)

  103. Edgar

    I like to bring an issue that I think it has not been addressed as much. I keep reading all these problems with GPS especially during certain trail running, and I understand that some people are upset about the inaccuracy of distance, etc. But there is something else that really troubles me significantly. I am surprised that not too many people are talking about the fact that the Garmin Fenix 3 and other Garmin triathlon watches are somewhat incomplete as far as training goes. I am particularly surprise how little attention has been placed on swimming. There is not heart rate monitoring, no VO2 estimate, swimming is not taken in consideration during training load or recovery time, and the fact that we are not able to plan are swimming workouts on Garmin Connect. I do not know if it is my lack of understanding or knowledge in my part, but it seems to me that running is very complete, cycling is very complete, but swimming there is much to be desired. And this issue is not only on the Fenix 3, but the Forerunner 920xt and all their predecessors. Even in “incomplete” GPS watches such as Ambit 3 or Sport and Polar V800, they are addressing these issues in someways, albeit with its problems.

    I just wanted to mention that because I believe that Garmin should pay attention to the lack of information they are providing to the whole athlete. The lack of training parameters during swimming makes me wonder about how effective training devices these watches are.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Thank you


  104. Jim

    Speaking of “Recovery Time” Has anyone else found this to actually work? In my experience no matter how much recovery time you have and whether you start another session within that period you still get a Recover Is Good message. Shouldn’t this remind you you still have recovery hours left or accumulate them somehow?

    • It’s a bit of a long running joke since the FR620 was first introduced that if you get anything other than ‘Good’, then you’re definitely up crap-creek.

    • David

      I actually got a FAIR once on a run after OWS.

    • Bram

      Well Yesterday I did, for me, a very long MTB ride with my HR often above 160. At the end it said I had a recovery time of 56 hours. This morning when I cycled it said after 12 min that my recovery was fair. And when I finished my 45min ride this morning it said my recovery time was still 39 hours. So yes in some way it works…

      I also think I once saw a poor recovery, but then my HR was already up above the 170 in the very beginning of the excercise.

    • Frank Young

      Lately I have gotten a long string of alarmingly low “Performance Condition” notifications at the beginning of my runs. There was a -3 followed by a -9 then yesterday’s -7. I am used to seeing all positive numbers. The first -3 coincided with a big jump in resting heart rate so I chalked it up to coming down with something. RHR now back to 50. I feel fine but still coming up with these bad numbers even after taking two whole days off from any kind of vigorous exercise.

      Anybody else having this kind of experience?

    • Michael L.

      I have in the last month. Not as high as yours as mine have been in the -4 range including in my last half marathon where I set a PR by 4 minutes, so I ignored it. This morning I started out the first couple of miles at a +3 and ended an easy 6 miles at a -4. I don’t know if it is heat and/or humidity or if I need to tighten the scoshe strap or if it is is the watch, but I can say I am seeing wilder swings than in the winter where I typically saw a -2 to a +2.

    • Frank Young

      Michael, thanks for sharing your experience. In your case, it could be the Scosche. I seem to remember something about all of the optical heart rate devices “faking” HRV data to fulfill some specification or another. Also, DC reported that the fenix3 HR will not provide a PC number when using only its internal optical sensor presumably for this same reason. My crappy PC numbers have come from either an HRM-RUN or HRM-TRI. The -9 came the morning after a 67 RHR compared to my normal of 48-52 but that was five days ago, If I came down with something it passed unnoticed. As of this morning, I am back to a 50 RHR.

      I too set a 5K and 10K PR on a 6.3 mile run following a -3 PC which lead me to believe something had gone wonky with the watch rather than with me.

      It would be nice if the PC got recorded with the activity the way TE does. As it is, if you don’t see it and/or remember what you saw, it never happened.

    • Michael L.


      Yes it would be great if it was recorded so that we could see if it really is data rather than noise. I do think that the weather could be making a change in the scosche readings, but looking at the hr tracks it is not an obvious change. In the half marathon PR once I got going I was able to run between a 155 and 160hr for over 12 miles. There was a little up and down, but it was very smooth so I am not sure how the watch gave me a -4. One of my buddies suggested no heart rate strap for races, but I use hr to monitor effort up and down hills.

      I really think either the temp/humidity which is starting up here or the watch is the culprit.

  105. kr

    Returned my F3. Accuracy on mountain trails has been terrible. The altimeter is only reasonably accurate when constantly calibrated manually. Other bugs (such as lap ascent/descent issue) also annoying. My last few Garmin devices also have been released with accuracy issues and bugs that any decent QA process would have caught. Their customer service is any better. Case in point, I have four recently submitted issues, three of which have gone without reply for two weeks.

    I bought an Ambit3 Peak to compare and on the same trail runs is was much more accurate and the altimeter didn’t need babysitting. The Ambit just plain works. No drama.

    Hopefully, the F3 will eventually be reasonably accurate on trails. My advice to anyone intending to get the F3 for use hiking/running on trails in wooded areas and that cares about distance, pace, and elevation data, is to wait or go with something else.

  106. ComPH

    Bunch of guys (including myself) found some serious errors with GPS accuracy and short battery life. Did any one here exp[experienced the same issues? Could you do something about it?

    • Nick Yanakiev

      I am now on my third Fenix 3 and have to admit I have given myself one more week to see if the firmware update so many people have been waiting for betters the situation in any way whatsoever.

      GPS accuracy has been abysmal so far and even though I love the looks and functionality of the watch I can’t justify keeping it.

    • ComPH

      link to strava.com

      I just took it for a little test. Not just GPS glitch, the whole thing went haywire. I am NOT dreaming this!

    • indymtb

      There are two issues. One is where the watch goes completely whack on the tracks. I believe Garmin will replace the watch for you. That one isn’t occurring as much. The other is recognized by Garmin as a “Mileage Accrual” issue with the right trail pattern for all Fenix3 watches. I think that name is humorous. That is supposed to be fixed or improved any time now in a firmware update.

  107. Does this watch also have the metronome functionality like the garmin forerunner 920xt?

  108. Fernando Lordelo

    Yes it does, exactly like the 920xt.

    • andreas

      this means still no option to turn on metronome for swimming?
      maybe garmin is right and it would not work that well (for all?) … but why not let the users try?

    • Correct. In the FR920XT review I touched on why, in short Garmin found that the user experience of trying to use the metronome in the water sucked (they actually did try it in testing), and thus kept it out.

  109. Bruno

    I am still doubting what to do!

    I am training gor the Marathon Des Sables and don’t know what watch I would best buy.

    Or I just keep my polar rcx5 and don’t use the gps, battery will not be a problem then.
    On the other hand I would like to buy a new watch as it is already 3 or 4 years old.

    Or I buy the fenix 3 and with the ultra trac mode I can cover 50h. However I would probably need between 45 and 60 hours to complete the race. So not sure I will make it.
    And the battery charge pack will mean extra weight, so no option unless it is really light.

    Further I will use the watch for triatlon the next few years the 920 would maybe be a good choice in that way too.

    Or does anybody knows a gps watch with a longer battery life so I am sure to complete the whole race with my watch.

    Thanks, Bruno

    • Richard Poole - MDS 2015 # 760

      Hi Bruno,

      Firstly, congratulations on committing to the MDS, it is a life changing experience! I completed 2014 & 2015 and will be back again next year :-)

      I used an Ambit 2 in 2014 and Fenix 3 this year. They both ended up with similar battery lives in their respective ultra modes – around 40 hours. I don’t think you will find a longer life GPS watch out there with the same features (or at all). Friends with 920XTs and Ambit 3s experienced much the same battery life as the F3.

      The Ambit was probably slightly more accurate with distance, contrary to what most other people have reported my F3 over reported my distance on most days by about 2%. The additional distance always seemed to accumulate in the first 10kms or so and then settled down so I just made the mental adjustment as I ran. I measured 94km for the 92km stage which wasn’t too bad given there can be a fair bit of wandering around looking for harder ground.

      My advice would be to take a small battery pack and charging lead which will add about 120 gms to your pack weight. My dry pack weight this year was a little under 7kgs (4kgs in food). You can find me on Facebook if you would additional info on packing lists etc.



    • Sean G

      My wife and I used our F3’s a couple weeks ago for an ultra, and ran it with 1 second recording for 36 hours straight. We used an Anker Astro Mini battery, and charged on the fly as needed. The watch worked great.

      But be aware that Garmin Connect has an undocumented limit on the number of data points it’ll allow for upload – 99,999. So a little over 27.5 hours, and the site won’t accept it. Our FIT files were 129k data points. Hopefully Garmin will add a digit. Manual upload to Strava worked fine, but integration via GC obviously doesn’t.

    • Zach

      For reference: I just completed a 100 mile ultra and the watch died at 30h 16m without any recharge using UltraTrac mode (note: I did have 2 ConnectIQ apps running – graphic elevation profile and 50m Predictor ). Unless you are placing top 5 (i.e. are fast) in ultras, the UltraTrac mode should be fine (my plot looked good). That said, next time I may get a mini-battery for my pack so I can use 1 sec. intervals and have it go for up to 40h or so. DCRM – as always, thanks for an awesome site and F3 review!

  110. Fabio Campos

    Do the Fenix 3 or the Epix accept the entering of waypoints?
    (to allow us to navigate from waypoint to waypoint)

    • yeh i used the F3 on my last hike with a .gpx file i downloaded and load into the watch via basecamp. it was awesome, tells me when i’m off trail and gives me ETA etc. you could do the same with waypoints and make a route in BC.

  111. Mario

    Hi guys

    I have couple of questions on the fenix 3:

    1) is it possible to record a track and then having the watch providing the navigation? I mean I want to use my atv to record a track that then I want to do with the bike.

    2) I want to buy an additional charging cable to carry on with me when traveling. I have seen the original one is available but I would like to get a smaller one. Do you know any?


  112. Ben

    I’m sure most users are well aware of this already, but the only time I had really odd accuracy was when I had the ‘3D distance’ and ‘3D speed’ switched on. Just make sure you have them switched off.

  113. Stuart Edwards

    Hi everyone – does anyone know if it is possible to create custom activity types? Basically instead of using run or hike to track kayaking, I’d like to be able to setup a custom “kayaking” activity and then decide what that activity looks like, EG: title – “kayaking” include GPS track, cadence from watch, speed in knots, distance etc etc.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Hi Stuart! Yes it’s possible to create custom sport profiles (now called “Apps” by Gamin) with its own data pages. Nautical distance (NM) and speed (Knots) are there too. I have one app named “Kayaking” myself. But beware you will have to edit the activity type once it uploads to Garmin Connect (and Strava if you have it linked to Gamin Connect), since the online platform won’t recognize the custom naming. Also the watch won’t give you cadence while paddling, unfortunately.

    • Stuart Edwards

      That’s great! Thanks for your help Fernando!

  114. Werner

    Run this weekend first race with Finix 3. It was 87.7km and the watch reported 88.8km. Most people reported about 1km more with different watches. So all in all I was very pleased with the F3. The battery was bit low after the event at 20%. It was on 1 sec recording. Not sure if this was the reason. Great watch!

  115. Mirko

    Hi Ray,

    I can postpone buying a top-notch multisport watch until this Fall, though I could definitely use one right now. The obvious choice today would be the Fenix3: I would prefer something BTLE rather than ANT+, but the V800 looks like a perennial work in progress, and the lack of vibration is a deal breaker for the Ambit3. Any chance that by the Oct/Nov timeframe we get any new Suunto, or a Garmin 920xt/Fenix3 refresh incorporating optical hrm? Or should I go ahead and buy a Fenix3 right now? thanks a lot!

    • Justin

      Mirko, I was on the fence about this as well but decided on the fenix3 now. I am lucky I guess because I’m not experiencing any of the gps issues most complain about. Remember, with optical HR, the device has to be on skin and running in colder temps means optical HR would be a deal breaker for me. While it’s cool technology, it’s not practical for 25% of the year in the northern hemisphere.

    • Mirko

      Hi Justin, thx for commenting about your take on the same matter. I actually have a Mio Fuse and I find this tech pretty good, I live in the northern hemi as well and in a pretty chilly place during wintertime, had it for a few months only though so I have yet to test it thoroughly in freezing temps. If I could get a Fenix3 with optical HR it would serve me well during those spring-summer runs in which you want the least amount of gear as possible, but I guess that either I wait forever or I pull the trigger right now …
      any source for discounted Fenix3s in Europe? I think the Clever Training thing did not get through here (yet) :-(

    • chukko

      Justin – that should not be a deal breaker. 25% of the time when you wear the watch on your jacket you can still use optical or breast strap. Integrated optical sensor never makes a watch worse (if you can turn it off) – it only gives you extra option of not wearing extra strap 75% of the time.

    • Justin

      I was just trying to get across that if you are waiting for the optical, you probably don’t like the current body HR straps. Yes, you could use a traditional body strap with a device that also utilizes optical HR, especially in colder climates.

    • chukko

      I would love if i didnt have to use another strap (whichever type) as it is pure annoyance (charge, put it on, turn on, connect, turn off), but i also realize that integrated optical sensor will drain battery quite heavily. If Scoche battery life is 8hrs, F3 with optical sensor will work even shorter.

  116. André


    can you please tell me if the Fénix 3 Can connect with Tanita BC100 ? or some way that can put the Body specs from Tanita on Garmin Connect, etc ?

    Thanks you very much for your words.

  117. Josh

    Ray, CT has been pretty amazing. After poor results with my previous F3 watches, they are now offering 120 day return policy for existing and new orders of the F3. With that kind of cushion I was happy to order one more time as a CT VIP member and hope for a GPS accuracy fix. I’ll be hanging onto my 620 which was bought via a bargain on Amazon, plus the $50 rebate. In the meantime, have you been in contact with Garmin or received any positive news for those hopeful with the accuracy issue?

  118. John

    Hi Ray,

    It seems Garmin has removed the ability in connect to create workouts with intervals less than 1:00. If you try to do so you will get an error message and unable to save the workout. I have dozens of old workouts with intervals :30 – :45. These will no longer work. I called Garmin support and they said they are no longer supporting this. WTF? I mean, how difficult it is for them to support something that they’ve done so for years? Anyway you can reach out to them and find out what is going on? It’s really annoying.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      I hadn’t realized that yet, but indeed they removed the ability to set intervals shorter than 1 minute. That really sucks to me since I do sometimes series of 30″ high intensity intervals on the bike and now won’t be able to do it anymore.
      Anyone knows the best place for us to complain about it so Garmin can hear us?

    • Michael

      Until Garmin fixes this (if they do) you can still download Garmin Training center (google it) from Garmin and it still allows for developing workouts with intervals under 1 minute. It comes with a bunch of sample workouts – delete these before “send to device” unless you want them all installed (you can always just delete them from the watch workout folder).

  119. Sérgio

    Hello Ray , aware of coming out an app to allow pairing with fitness equipment … as allowed the 910XT ?? or a software update ??

    Is it possible to do it in any way?

    Thanks ..

  120. Allan Martin

    Hi, could you tell me how easy the info on the watch face it to read whilst running, cycling or swimming for instance. I need glasses to read ( im falling apart ) i would like to upgrade from my tomtom multisport which shows information nice and large on the watch face, but i like the features on the Fenix 3

  121. Gord

    any opinions on whether or not carrying a hand held water bottle would affect the running dynamics?

  122. Julian

    Garmin Connect wont let you create any interval under 1 minute long – this means it is no good for HIIT, Tabata, etc. Very annoyed as I bought the F3 just a few days ago and wanted to do interval based heart rate training as well, but now find it is not possible. Garmin says this is a new “feature”, I say this is a recently introduced BUG.
    Is is just me, or does this affect anyone else out there?

    • Laurent

      Hi Julian

      seems to affect everyone. There is a thread in Fenix 3 forum for this now
      I have edited my exisitng 30/30 workout, tried to save after changing the Pace and boom…00:30 is not within permissible values :-(


    • Michael

      Until Garmin fixes this (if they do) you can still download Garmin Training center (google it) from Garmin and it still allows for developing workouts with intervals under 1 minute. It comes with a bunch of sample workouts – delete these before “send to device” unless you want them all installed (you can always just delete them from the watch workout folder).

  123. Alex

    have big question!
    Does Fenix 3 give all info that its gathered about training sescion to such stuff as JAWBONE-UP24, and its IOS app – UP??? Because Im using Jawbone to calculate what and how many Im eating and its depends of my burned calories!
    In all Garmin shops and centers no-one can answer this question! Please help with that!!!
    Dont want to byu watch for 500€ and use Jawbone and Garmin in separate Apps. Thanx a lot . Alex Tallinn, Estonia.

  124. Jeff McDonald

    I used the Fenix 3 for 2 months and returned it. The outdoor running and pool functions were great. The accuracy was fine. I liked the style compared to the plasticky 620/920 look. Garmin Connect worked fine. Uploaded my custom workouts fine (any length).

    But.. The bugs bugged me. It froze a couple times on a lactate threshold runs. You can’t do that to someone..

    The lack of a quick release to the bike was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. Having it on the wrist in aero is not ok. It’s also got a pretty high profile that isn’t very wetsuit friendly.

    Also, it didn’t pick up my foot pod, and wouldn’t get data from the Garmin cadence sensor.

    Also the other functions, like snowboarding and skiing, and all the hunter/gatherer features just aren’t what I use it for. I want a triathlon watch, so I’m getting the Garmin 920.

  125. Travis Warner

    hey all

    i have been having troubles with my fenix 3 reading power numbers accurately—-edge 510, 920 xt, and trainerroad all read SRM the same. fenix 3 reads power from SRM 20 points (sometimes more) higher than the rest. i have manually calibrated and the SRM offset is always in the 670 range (including on the fenix 3). any thoughts would be appreciated.


  126. Patrick Butler

    Hi there,

    Recently got my self the new Fenix. But when I complete a run and compare the distance I ran on the Fenix 3 to my old garmin 610. The Fenix 3 comes up short between 5-10% short.

    I have completed a master set and waited for fully GPS signal prior to running.

    Any ideas why the distance would be short.


    • Laurent

      Hi Patrick,

      Yes. see “Update #2 (May 18th, 2015): Secondary update on Fenix3 shortening” in section Buugs and other Quirks” of this review.


      see the 164 pages in this thread :-)
      link to forums.garmin.com

      Basically we are all waiting for an update that will hopefully fix this

  127. Charles

    Many thanks for this smart review.

    Is the AppleWatch (with the appropriate apps) a potential competitor for the Fenix3?



    • CMV

      Hi Ray, do you think the Apple Watch could be a competitor for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier?

    • Well, technically the Apple Watch can measure your pulse. The nuclear powered aircraft carrier lacks such capabilities. Obviously, it’s flawed.

    • Mark

      Sure, but you have to admit that the 20 year battery life on the carrier is much better than the Apple Watch. And I suspect that the GPS system is more accurate than either the Apple Watch or the Fenix 3, so that should be considered as well. Of course the carrier looks much bigger on your wrist than either of the others, so it doesn’t make a very good everyday watch. (this should be pretty easy to spot in the rolling pin photo)

      When should we expect to see the full review on this Ray? Are you going to buy a carrier for yourself when you send back the one the government loans you?

    • Ted D

      The GPS tracks may be more accurate, but the carrier does not have to contend with tree cover, cannot execute tight turns and the antenna is always above water.

  128. Asís

    Does FENIX3 VO2MAX/race prediction take into account slope?
    I ask this because I do not quite understand the evolution I am seeing in those value, since last week when I started using my Fenix 3.
    Here’s what I did, and the VO2 and predictions I got:
    4.5 Km on a flat track at steady pace of 5 min/km. afterwards: VO2: 42 and predictions: 10 Km 50’13”, HM: 1h51′.
    2 days after I did a 17 Km trail running on the mountain (obviously pace was worse), and afterwards, VO2 decreased to 41, and predictions degraded to 10K 51:22 and HM 1h54′. (TE of this run was 5=overtraining)
    Yesterday I run 16K trail (mountain too) and here’s the VO2: 41, and predictions: 52’33”, HM 1h56′. ((TE of this run was 4.2)
    My feeling is that the algorithm is not considering the fact that those two runs were done at steep slopes, and abviously you need higher heart rate to achive the same pace while going uphill. I guess the watch needs to know my running better, but I am guessing that whilst running on the mountain is good training, its effect on the Fenix3 is a degradation of the race predictions.
    Any thoughts, experience with this?

    • Heya

      No, the VO2Max estimations do not take into account elevation change. The VO2Max calculation is based on an extended run (at least 10 minutes) and takes into account speed, distance, heart rate variability, and heart rate ().

      So to the algorithm, running 5km/min on a track will always look better than running 5km/min up a mountain.

    • Heya

      Woops, I goofed on my link tag there. It should have been: source from garmin

      One more thing: the race predictions are a function of your VO2Max. That is, if your watch has a VO2Max estimate, it just looks up the race predictions from a table.

    • neil rosson

      So if you run allot of elevation its going to be very inaccurate, would of thought first beat would take on elevation as part of the equation, how disappointing.

    • Asís

      Heya, thanks for the info. In that case I guess Garmin has an easy thing to do: Never take Trail run records into account for VO2Max estimations. Additionally, but this takes more computation, do not take into account any run not being flat enough. Same goes for mountain bike and road bike.
      Ideally, somebody (Garmin, scientific community, …) should come up with a formula that takes slope into account, but I think that is not something that would occur in the near future, so just implementing my first suggestion would be good enough.

  129. Bjarne S

    DC pull your strings for “turn on light – on tilt” feature :)

    could be very nice

    anyone seen the feature request, or know where to submit ??

    • Bjarne S

      Okay, found the feature request forum
      link to forums.garmin.com

      and the feature request…

    • Ketan Pandya

      I’m in for “turn ON light, on-tilt” feature. I have it on my Casio PathFinder and really going to miss it when I have my fenix 3 arrived in a couple of days from now. I’ll go and make that feature request out there on the forum.

      I’m also going to request Garmin Connect for Windows Phone, majority of my devices are in Windows ecosystem and I don’t see myself moving to Android / iPhone in near future.

  130. Mike Ramseyer


    I am riding from London to Italy in September – 120 kms per day, 10 days/10 courses
    Thinking about a Garmin 1000 (I have the 705 Edge now)
    Does the Garmin 1000 have the capacity to load and store all 10 courses / routes?
    I don’t trust the 705 to do the job hence my thinking about the 1000

    Many thanks in advance for any advice you can give.
    PS my local bike shop (SIGMA Sport) said if anyone knows you will!

    Cheers, Mike

    • Hi,
      I cycled from London to Italy last year :-)!
      I had a 605 on the handlebar and a 620 on my wrist. No problem with space with the 605, you will have plenty of space left.

      You can find my stages here: link to rmnd.net
      Where are you based in London?


    • Mike Ramseyer

      Hi Franco
      Many thanks indeed for getting in touch
      I will be finishing in Treviso where my son and grandchildren live, then 2 days after arrival I will be doing the GranFondo Prosecco in Valdobbiadene.
      My route is similar to yours, I also go through Luneville but end up going further west to your route.
      Le Clos du Pays Sauvage, south of Calais
      Ora Auer

      I am using the Garmin for my route and wondered if it could hold so much route data and whether it would get me there. If the 620 can do it then hopefully the 1000 can.
      I live in Richmond and ride in the Surrey Hills and Richmond Park and Italy.

      It would be good to find out more. I have done long unsupported rides before, with very minimal luggage but this is my first solo trip.
      Ciao, Mike

    • Fantastic itinerary :-)!

      Regarding space on Edge 605/705: the largest .tcx file I had was less than 3 Mb and, IIRC, I had 100 Mb of free space on the 605 (I had European maps). Just connect the Edge to the computer and you should be able to see the free space.
      I also had a paper copy of each stage, just in case…
      If you have a F3, you can upload the .tcx to it as well, so another backup.

      I had with me basic tools for most kinds of repairs but overall I only had a puncture, so nothing used apart from a spare inner tube :-).

      I’m based in Golders Green, so a bit far from you, but not too much. If you want further details about the trip just send me an email, you’ll find the address on my website.

      Have fun!


  131. Reda

    Hi ,

    Blutooth transfer doesn’t work . i have this probleme since i instaled the last version .
    Anybody have the same issue ?

    • Asís

      Bluetooth works with mine but not 100% stable. I think it probably depends not only on the Fenix watch but also on the smasphone and version that you are using. In my case, I am using F3 SW version 3.3, and a Samsung Galxy S4 Mini i9195, android version 4.4.2.
      Every now and then the phone does not sync when I open garmin connect, so I have to switch off then on the bluetooth on the phone and it usually works.
      A couple of times in the week since I have it, the watch has switched off by itself, and I think it always happened after an alert arrived on the phone (The watch started the vibration and switched off)

  132. Reda

    I have F3, version 3.3 ans Samsung S4 , version 5.0.1 .
    Before , with the 3.2 version , it was working , not anymore .
    i tried to restart the watch and the cell phone , as i did before , but not working .
    Anyway , i’m discouraged , we pay a lot for those gadgets , but they are never work well :)

    Thank you Asis .

  133. Daniel

    My 310XT gets HR data just fine while in swim mode when used in conjunction with a Scosche Rhythm+ when worn on the same wrist. Has this functionality been removed ?

  134. Martin Koopmans

    Dear Ray, Thanks for all your great efforts. You can’t imagine the time I’ve spend already reading through your info. I just have one question:
    – What is the memory capacity on the fenix3. What I want to do is do multiple days/weeks hikes in area’s where there’s no WiFi or internet. For a hike the GPS setting at once a minute is good enough. I use a solar power charger to charge the watch but can I down load the moves via bluetooth to my iPhone? (how does this compare to the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak? Hope you can give your views on this! Thanks again! Ciao Martin

    • Asís

      Not sure about the Suunto, but the Fenix 3 will upload the activities to the iOS/Android phone as soon as it is within bluetooth reach and Garmin connect is open. When the smartphone has internet access, then it will also upload it to garmin servers.

    • Martin Koopmans

      Thanks Asis!!! Anyone on the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak?

  135. Ray

    As always an excellent and comprehensive review. I do have an issue with the your GPS battery life test however. Location can’t be directly determined from GPS satellite data. All GPS receivers determine location using an iterative method which converges on a location solution staring from an initial location estimate, usually the last known position. Power consumption for the process is roughly proportional to the number iterations required to reach a solution. In general, more iterations and more power will be required the further a GPS device has moved from its last known position.

    Your test should be considered a best case – a Fenix 3 in motion will require more power which will result in shorter battery life.

    I’ve been using the Fenix 3 since its introduction and I’m happy with it. There’s one exception: workouts. There are some issues (all have been reported to Garmin):

    – not an issue really but on my wishlist for the device: an easier way to start a workout. Currently it takes several button presses to reach a specific workout. Downloaded workouts should be accessible directly from the Start button menu.
    – in the latest version of Garmin Connect, there’s no way to define a time interval of less than one minute. This was possible in previous versions of Connect.
    – When an App is selected by pressing the Start button, the button press initiates the GPS’s starting point search. The progress of the search is indicated by a ring around the watch face. A second Start button press initiates the activity. Starting a workout skips the first step making it possible to begin a workout before the starting point has been determined.
    – About a month ago I noticed that no track information was being saved with my workouts. A search of Garmin and other independent forums revealed that a small number of Fenix 3’s, 2 ‘s , and other models have this issue. Currently the only fix Garmin has is to replace the watch.

    • Ray

      As of now, with at least two firmware updates and one update to the website, all the issues I described have been resolved. Even though I went as far as generating a return authorization with Garmin, I’m still happily using my original Fenix 3.


    link to youtube.com HEY SECRET MENU!!! FOR GARMIN FENIX 3

  137. DomiC

    I experienced yesterday an issue with a multisports activity …

    I setup a Bike+OWS+Bike multisports activity including transition.
    All was fine on the first bike leg, also on first transition, but during the OWS the timer counted but no distance was recorded (always 0 in the watch during the swim) … before the end of the OWS, I just tried to “stop” the activity, then “resume”, and at this point the distance started to increase … and after on the second transition and the second bike leg all was correctly record …

    Is there someone who experienced a similar issue with the OWS as a part of multisports activity ?

    I suspect that this issue is SW related since I read on the support page for the 920XT (link to www8.garmin.com):

    “Changes made from version 4.06 to 4.12:
    Fixed distance calculation when open water swim is not the first sport in a multisport activity.”

    Ray, do you think this affects also the Fenix3 ? Can you push the info to the developper’s team ? Thank you in advance !

  138. Antoine

    I am still not satisfied with the accuracy.

    Yesterday on a local race I have been able to compare different tracks:

    link to labs.strava.com

    From 11.3km (Fenix 3) to 12.4km (android phone) with a mean distance of 12.0km (which is the one given by the organisation)

    “Antoine” which is the FENIX3 is always the bad track.

    Fenix3 3.3 still is inaccurate

    Hope it will be fixed soon, and hope it is not hardware related

  139. Marcus

    I purchase the fenix 3 a little over a month ago and the watch keeps crashing then I have to re input all of the information. This is very impractical for training and daily use. What do you recommend I do?

    • Typically when a Garmin watch crashes it’s due to a corrupted file, typically in the Courses or Activities folder. The best way is to cut, and then paste all of those files in those folders to your computer and then see if that solves it.

  140. echarlus

    Hi All,
    I purchased the F3 on saturday on tested it on a 10k race in Paris on sunday. I was a bit nervous to see the results since I read many posts reporting problems with reported distance and erroneous GPS tracks.

    I can say I was impressed by the tracks & distance on the 10k race. The F3 measured 10.03km and the tracks look pretty good (link to connect.garmin.com).
    However I also registered warm-up & cool-down phases as different exercises and the tracks look much erratic, I cannot figure out what could be causing such a difference (the only thing I can think of is speed & running on the sidewalk instead of running on the street during the race…).
    See the two other tracks:
    Warm-Up: link to connect.garmin.com
    Cool-down: link to connect.garmin.com

    You can see on both tracks that I’m jumping around, crossing the streets, running inside buildings and cutting corners while the 10k track did show any of this. However the conditions were similar (same day, each exercise performed one after another), Paris streets, tree covered in some areas with building but also wide avenues etc.
    I’m quite confused by these results. The difference I can see is that when I was running the 10k race I was running in the middle of the street while on the warm-up & cool-down I was running on the sidewalk (closer to building so maybe with worse GPS signal).
    Has anyone had such different results with the same device ?
    Note: For these 3 tracks I had Glonass on, 1″ recording, 3D speed & distance OFF.

  141. Stillhunter


    Have you been running with the Scosche Optical HR with the Fenix 3?

    I read your feedback on how Optical HR estimate so some data is skewed or missing and varies by person. BUT the convenience of arm over chest straps may have people using the Scosche system when “other” data isn’t needed or tracked.

    • Yup, it’s what I mostly use.

      I don’t see huge issues with calorie burn. And for the most part recovery is in the ballpark, though every once in a while I get an odd run. At the same time, I’ve never found a ton of value in the recovery feature anyway.

  142. echarlus

    Hi Ray,
    since you’re familiar with running in Paris, can you let me know if you experience this type of tracks with the F3:

    For example on this track you see that I started running at Opera and took “rue du 4 septembre”. The track shows I’ve crossed the street 5 times while I crossed only once at the beginning to get to the right side of the street…

    On this track it shows I’ve crossed boulevard montmartre twice while I crossed only once at the intersection with rue de Richelieu and then stayed on the left side of the boulevard des Italiens (while the track shows me on the right side).
    Same for boulevard des Capucines … I was on the left side and the track shows me on the right side.
    Then on boulevard Malesherbes it shows me crossing the boulevard several times while I stayed on the left side all the time (only crossed Boulevard Haussman and again stayed on the left side of the Boulevard Malesherbes)
    At the end the tracks locates me on the right side of rue de Prony while I was on the let side…

    As I stated in an earlier post, the 10km de l’Equipe which I ran in between these two tracks yield a pretty good track with no such oddities. The only difference is that for the 10km I was running in the middle of the street, not on the sidewalk…
    Is this behavior considered as ‘normal’ for a city run ? I would say no but since it’s my first GPS watch I’m trying to figure out if I’m expecting too much or if my F3 is to be considered as belonging to the bad batches that have GPS problem and should be returned… I’ll probably call garmin support to see what they have to say to this.
    Thanks for your feedback.

    • CMV

      From my experience I’d say it’s normal. I’ve run many times in Rue de Prony (not with the fenix3, but with a Foreruner 305, then a 310XT and now a 910XT), and I’ve almost always gotten tracks which were on the wrong side of the street, or across buildings, and non-existent road crossings when I just made a small side movement to avoid a kid/dog/old lady. That kind of “urban canyon” is definitely one of the toughest environments for a GPS watch.

    • echarlus

      Thanks for the note… Do you see that behavior almost everywhere when your run in the streets or is it only in some areas. My very short experience so far shows this kind of behavior at a lot of places as you can see on the tracks…
      What was your experience in terms of total distance ? Where you seeing big differences from the real distance (if you were ever able to measure it) ? I’m mostly interested of getting a total distance as close as possible to reality…

    • CMV

      It will appear almost every time you run near tall or semi-tall buildings… not much you can do about that.
      As for overall distance, I don’t think it makes much of a difference. I mean, maybe your 10.1k run was actually 9.9, but does it really matter?
      In the beginning I used SportTracks to straighten out / correct my lines. It’s a lot of work and the change in distance is not that big (it does smooth the instant pace though). Now I rarely correct the tracks, it’s just not worth it in my opinion.
      Enjoy your GPS, just remember that, as any other measuring tool, it’s not (and cannot be) perfect. But it’s definitely good enough for keeping track of your runs!

    • echarlus

      My main concerns are:
      Distance tracking (I want to know how much I ran)
      Pace while running – Important when training for a specific pace for a race or to match pace zones.
      If the tracks are not totally correct I don’t really care and I will not spend time changing them, that’s for sure !
      The post was more to see if other people were getting back tracks like mine when running in the city because I’m worried I got one of the ‘defective’ GPS units….
      I was confused by the difference between the quality of the track during the 10k race (middle of the street) VS the poor quality when running on the sidewalk.
      I’ll do more testing and if this is not caused by a defective GPS I might have to get a footpod to replace GPS :( Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high end GPS watch.
      What confuses me is that a 200€ phone does better with GPS when it’s close to buildings :(

    • echarlus

      I’ve just been advised that my serial number is in the ‘defective’ range and I’ll get an exchange (thanks to Boutique Marathon, they’ll give me a new one right away).
      So I hope that the new one will provide better tracking results, even in the center of Paris with buildings… Fingers crossed !

    • Klaus

      Interesting to hear that there is a ‘defective’ range of watches. Is there anything official from Garmin on this so others can check their watches as well? Thx.

    • echarlus

      Yes hey officially acknowledged it here: link to forums.garmin.com
      But I do not know of any public tool to check the serial number, you have to go through support for this.
      You can also check this thread about serial numbers: link to forums.garmin.com
      So if you have erratic behavior the only way is to get in touch with support to check if you’re ‘unlucky’ …

    • Stephen Thomas

      There are several threads on this in Garmin’s forums, e.g. link to forums.garmin.com

      However, the defective watches have catastrophic GPS failures, not modest inaccuracies in tracking. The official Garmin statement reads:

      Garmin is aware of a limited range of devices that in rare circumstances will no longer acquire GPS. These devices will either fail to acquire a GPS signal or will produce a very erratic track log. If your device exhibits this behavior, please contact customer care to have your device evaluated.

      We also continue diligent work on software improvements to GPS distance recording with a release coming soon to improve this performance. Slight variations in overall distance accrual have been reported by several fenix 3 users and we are working to address these concerns.

      These are distinctly separate issues. The GPS acquisition issue is extremely rare and will only be exhibited in a small number of devices. The GPS recording concerns vary across use cases and we are working to mitigate those as well.

      We apologize for any inconvenience these issues are causing our users.

  143. Devon

    I opened up the fenix 3 Sapphire about a week ago, and haven’t taken it off my wrist since. I’m really impressed with the watch, both functionally, and style-wise. It’s a great mix of a runner’s geek toy with the form/function of an every day watch. When I first held the watch out of the packaging I was impressed with the sapphire band… damn is it solid. I resized the band by removing two links on each side as shown in Ray’s video. Obviously, too heavy for exercise, I switched over to the rubber band. Playing with the software, smart notifications are much more useful than I imagined them being, pleasantly surprised and useful. Connect IQ needs some maturing, but I’m keeping the faith.

    HRM-Run, maybe I haven’t gotten the best fit yet, but I can’t run without it falling down, having to adjust it all the time, etc. so that’s been disappointing. Also, a limitation with the software where Auto Lap is automatically turned off during customized workouts is disappointing. This seems like a very basic function that should be available.

    Overall, I’m very happy with the watch and glad that I purchased the Sapphire. I like that it doesn’t have the red styling accent marks (around the start button and around the face of the watch), and extra screen protection. Excited to see what Garmin has in store for the fenix in the future.

    • Jason (Jigghead) Raath

      I’ve been running for the last couple of months with the Sapphire band and I must say, the weight is not an issue to me anymore. In fact, it didn’t take more than the first km of the first run to get over it.

      So for me, I’m gonna keep this trap on.

  144. Miro Lehky

    Looks like firmware 3.4 is out……

    Changes made from version 3.30 to 3.40:

    Added support for Walking sport type (Settings > Apps > Add New).
    Added support for configuring LAP key behavior (Settings > Apps).
    Added support for Connect IQ SDK 1.1.2.
    Fixed issue with Open Water app settings
    Fixed potential issue with GPS acquisition when using the My Workouts feature.
    Fixed potential issue with alarm settings

  145. Mimmo

    hi ! what do you think about this ? link to swimmo.com can you review it ? Thank you !

  146. Jirka

    is it possible show screen like this link to dcrainmaker.com with zones?

    Fenix 2 don’t show time in diferent zones, schou only max HR and AVG HR.
    For training is most important show time for each zones separatly.

    Thank you

  147. Spud bullet

    Hi, thanks for the great review. Just reading through it and wanted to check somethings that aren’t yet clear, apologise if they are answered later on. I am debating between the fenix3 and the 920. One thing I noted in your review of the 920 was you don’t mention the hrm run for indoor use over the footpod? I see you haven’t touched on that here either. Another blogger has suggested that with the internal workings of each device+ the hrm run the need for the footpod is eliminated!? Does that ring true to you or is it slightly misleading information?
    Also, as yet, no mention of the fenix3 being able to conduct a vo2 count for running/cycling unlike the 920, is that correct?
    Seems the only other thing missing from the fenix3 is the 920’s ability to play out a triathlon situation, ie one continuous activity including transitions, again, is that correct? Thanks DC, as always, mega impressed by your work.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Ray, please correct me if I’m wrong.
      Spud, the HRM-run is used for cadence only. If you’re not wearing the HRM-run, the watch can get the cadence from a footpod or, if you don’t have one paired, cadence will come from the WDR (internal accelerometer). While running indoors, pace and distance will be provided primary by the footpod if you have one, of from the WDR itself (less accurate than footpod).
      Fenix3 will estimate your running and cycling VO2max just like the FR920XT. It has also the same multisport mode (e.g. triathlon with transitions) as the FR920XT.
      Hope that helps!

    • Spud bullet

      Thanks for the quick response Fernando. I am looking at the fenix3 sapphire as my 30th golf from family. I already have a standard hrm from my Mio 505 unit so now I’m thinking the best option may be to buy the watch minus the hrm run and get a footpod as mainly my running will be on a treadmill indoors at work. And then upgrade the hrm run later in the year, ie Christmas present lol. I am a cyclist at heart but really enjoy OS swimming though most training is done in the pool. The upgrades just never end do they lol

    • Fernando Lordelo

      You can use your Mio HRM with the fenix3, no problem. The only benefit of the HRM-run would be the new fancy Garmin data: ground contact time and vertical oscilation wich, in my opinion, whilst producing beautiful graphics are of no use to analyse daily training. I bought the bundle fenix3 (w/ HRM-run) and actually haven’t taken the HRM from the box yet, still using my good old HRM that I have used before. Anyway, in fact, the upgrades never end… :)

    • Spud bullet

      Fernando, have you noticed any GPS issues at all? I am still looking into this unit, but the seemingly endless number of GPS complains is giving me seconds thoughts. Not sure if its a combination of secret sunnto lovers + ppl not placing the settings correctly on the unit. Or if the issue runs deeper! Any issues your end?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Spud, I haven’t had really bad GPS problems, but to be fair haven’t run in very challenging terrain either. So can’t comment much on that so far, sorry!

  148. grbi

    Hello Ray. I would like to know if i can use the footpod for distance and pace and the GPS to track my path. Or the footpod disable everything ?
    Thank you

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Grbi, unfortunately Garmin has dropped concurrent footpod+GPS support. Actualy when you use the footpod outdoors (GPS on) the watch will use it only to calibrate the footpod factor. Footpod will be used when running indoors (GPS off) or in situations that you lose GPS signal (e.g. tunnels).

    • grbi

      Grrr… is it the same on the Epix ?

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Yeah, I miss that, too (a lot!) from my FR910XT. But all Garmin watches released within the last couple of years behave like this. If I’m not mistaken, the (already old) FR610 was the last one that would mix GPS distance with footpod pace. I haven’t seen an Epix so far but I bet they haven’t changed this on that device.

    • grbi

      In fact i don’t want to mix Footpod Pace and GPS Distance. I just want to have my track on a map after my run with Pace and Distance from Footpod but if the GPS is disabled while using the footpod… there is no debate :)

    • Jason (Jigghead) Raath

      Does the HRM-RUN not do much of the work the footpod does? I was under the impression that the addition of an accelerometer to the HRM-RUN would basically void the need for the footpod entirely albeit a little less accurate?

    • Dom

      Actually, no. The HRM-RUN accelerometer basically measures up and down motion, and gives you cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time. It does not give you pace. Presumably this is because the centre of your body moves forward fairly smoothly, without enough back and forwards acceleration to deduce pace from it; wrist and foot are another matter.
      The F3 can estimate your pace itself from its internal accelerometer, so that does void the need for the footpod on treadmills, but not outdoors where pace is taken from GPS unless that is lost completely.

    • Fernando Lordelo

      Dom you’re 100% correct on your explanation. Just to add my 2 cents: footpod pace/distance is waaay more accurate than watch’s internal accelerometer (which should be used only when you have nothing else to measure pace/distance).

    • Jason (Jigghead) Raath

      Based on that then, when/if the GPS in the f3 looses signal, it should be able to continue with pace measurements without requiring the footpod?

      I ask this because the use of more sensors than absolutely necessary would obviously drain battery at a quicker rate. I use a foot pod out of habit more than anything else, would it then be rendered unnecessary when using the f3 with HRM-RUN?

    • Dom

      As Fernando says, you would need to weigh up whether you get enough of an improvement using the footpod to justify using it. (I *personally* find that I can’t calibrate the footpod to be accurate over a wide range of paces, but a lot of people – especially faster people than me – don’t find this an issue; and you can calibrate the footpod manually, which isn’t possible with the F3’s internal accelerometer).

      One extra ANT+ sensor does very little to increase battery drain; it’s a very economically designed system, with the radio turned off most of the time.

      That said: If you’re using the footpod on outdoor runs where you don’t lose GPS signal completely, and you’re wearing the HRM-RUN, then no there’s no point using the footpod at all. Cadence from the HRM-RUN is just as accurate, and the footpod pace is being ignored.

    • Jason (Jigghead) Raath

      Thank you

  149. ben

    .what would be your advice on getting the fenix 3 compared to sport specific devices, looking at the edge series compared to getting the fenix? I do snowboard, hike, mtb, swim.

  150. Asís

    My Fenix3 shuts off unexpectedly. Has anyone seen the same issue?.
    I have it since June 1st, the day I got it updated to SW 3.3 and this week it has been updated to 3.4.
    I use it as alarm clock to wake me up just with vibration (no sound). Today when I pressed the button to make it stop vibrating, the screen was all black and it did not respond to any key press (I did not try key combinations or long key presses of over a second or so). So I put it on its charging craddle and nothing seemed to happen, and when I looked again, about a minute later, I could see the screen that you see when it’s charging. Battery level was 37% so that discards that the reason for shutting off was empty battery.
    This has happened to me 4 times in three weeks, and always after vibrating (alarm clock or smartphone notification).
    Did this happen to anyone else? Could it be a faulty unit?

    • Heya

      This has happened to me once. I believe it was because I just finished a run, had my Fenix bluetooth on and paired to my cell phone, but cell phone data was off. So the workout transferred to my phone but errored out when trying to upload to Garmin Connect.

  151. Chris

    I had the fenix 3 for about 4 weeks now. The hardware is great. The software is horrible. So much that overall I am unhappy with the device.

    Compared to the other fitness apps and webites I use (withings, fitness pal, fitibit) Garmin Connect is just slow, cluttered, hard to navigate. I even prefer Apple Health to it. But that might be personal preference…

    The main problem is that Garmin Connect is unreliable. I had sync issues for the last 5 days. Server errors – sync failed. On 3 different networks (internet was working just fine), latest software version on both watch and iphone. Today I finally could sync again, but the fenix only synced the last 48 hours. Everything older than that (steps, activities etc) seems lost. Really disappointed.

  152. shaun johnson

    Is there a place were we can give recommendations to future software updates to improve usability?

  153. shaun johnson

    Is there a place where we can give recommendations to future software updates to improve usability?

  154. Chris


    I’m currently testing the Epix and Fenix 3 side-by-side, trying to figure out which one to buy. So I’ve been reading through these reviews with high interest, thanks for all the hard work @DCRainMaker!

    Somehow the current Epix I’ve got is just too buggy for me, even with the latest firmware, the Fenix is pretty “straightforward”, imho. Navigating by the track is enough for me, but still I’m struggling with 2 annoyances, on which I would like to get some feedback from other users.

    Can someone confirm that I interpret this right, when I say that “in all training functions, being courses or activities, you can set a default zoom and it will keep it?”, based on this topic:
    link to forums.garmin.com
    I manage to get it working on activities, but not when following a course?

    Then I saw that by default there should be a warning when running “off course”, I tried that however, but didn’t manage to get to that point where the alarm came, although it gave me the message “on course” when coming back on the track. Can someone tell me at which distance the alert for “off course” will appear?

    thanks a lot!

  155. I am SHOCKED by the lack of accuracy. I bought Garmin because of the rocksolid brand. Thought I couldn’t go wrong with the fenix 3, read the review here and just bought the watch. Now I regret it, GPS tracking was one of the main features that ought to be just good. And is is way, way off. I am very afraid it is something that software / firmware cannot fix. Garmin, please respond to the huge number of people reporting GPS accuracy issues! This is a premium watch with a premium pricetag, we deserve premium customer service.

    link to connect.garmin.com

    • Heya

      If the problem is hardware, Garmin will never admit it. There are completely defective units that get recalled, but if the hardware just isn’t “good enough” nothing will happen. This is my first GPS watch and I’m a bit shocked folks say GPS just isn’t accurate enough for pace. What’s the point then?

  156. Christian Saccani

    Ray, any news on GPS shortages in wooded areas?

  157. Andrew Knox

    Tried out my new Fenix 3 at the weekend, it on one wrist, my old Forerunner 410 on the other.

    Wow, GPS accuracy not good – I can’t believe this watch actually made it out into the wild especially after being advertised as a trail watch AND being this expensive. Does indeed cut corners and not good with tree cover.

    link to mygpsfiles.com

    • Spud bullet

      That doesn’t look great Andrew. Can you tell me which setting you have currently on the fenix3? Have you been able to or considered doing the same test with different settings to check the result, ie, 1 second GPS record in satellite mode (not map mode) and with glonass turned on or off depending on what you currently have set up? I am considering the fenix3 and such info would really really help me to make my mind up. Thanks

    • Andrew Knox

      I had GLONASS “on” with 1 second recording

      Just for you, I ran again tonight on the same route but with GLONASS “off” just to compare. Results similar :( I’m sending it back and getting a Polar V800.

      link to mygpsfiles.com

    • Spud bullet

      Thanks for that Andrew, certainly making the decision harder, shame Garmin appears to have thrown the watch out to market before resolving these issues! Damn!