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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. Koo Chan

    Has anyone experienced frozen watch after swim and when tried to switch on goes into boot loops and the rest of the time no matter what button is pressed nothing happens (blank screen). After a while (up to two days) it would work again on its own as if nothing had happened. My fenis 3 seems to have an ‘attitude’. Does that mean my unit has water proof issue because it seems to me the electronic got crazy when it got wet and after a few days of drying out, behaves ‘normalish’ again.

    I have had this happened twice already, on both occasions during swims in hotel pools while on holiday.

    Any suggestions ?

  2. Hando

    There is new software our 3.80 and based on my testing, it has fixed the issue when GPS was not turned on after Resuming activity. Good to see, this got focus and was fixed rather fast.

    • PhilBoogie

      That is indeed what the release notes state: Fix potential issue with GPS acquisition, when resuming an activity.”

      Finally! That was the most ridiculous bug I’ve ever seen by Garmin, how the hell this watch got past QA is beyond me. Fixing it 4 months after the watch was released isn’t fast..at all. Another pure sloppiness from Garmin, the company with shyte software.

    • You’re mixing up two different things.

      The GPS bug on resumption was introduced in the last firmware, hence Hando’s comment on fixing fast (and just introducing a single relatively quick update to fix just that newly created issue).

      I think you’re thinking about the behavior around GPS resumption where it splits into a multisport activity, which some don’t like (and others do like).

  3. richard521

    hi Ray.. i am wondering if there is a way to upload videos/photos that i hv taken during my workout to garmin connect ? ( movescount.com. let their users to upload their own videos/photos to their server,and share with others)…is there a way to do so on garmin connect? if not, will garmin add this feature to GC in near future?

    • No method of storing photos/videos in Garmin Connect. They used to have (perhaps still do) Garmin Adventures, but that was mostly for hiking type photos. Was super clunky to use.

  4. vince jones

    DC Rainmaker you think Garmin will have a feature to lighten up the Fenix 3 when indoors? I can never or barely see the display when inside. Outside great!!

  5. Mitch Kremer

    Quick thought could you somehow mount a charger clip for the watch to the bike to easily slide it in and out. I don’t know much about cycling but that seems like a good idea to me.

  6. Joao

    Hi Ray,

    Maybe this is a dumb question but here it goes.

    Is it safe to press the garmin fenix 3 buttons underwater or immediately after the watch exit the water in a pool swimming session or should i avoid it?


  7. Johan Lundberg

    A picture of one of my trail run s in south of France lately. I am getting really tired of this watch…
    The Fenix 3 is utterly garbage for trail running. I am going back to TomTom Runner until Garmin has a fix for the GPS disaster :-(

  8. Ted W

    Just completed a 50miler on saturday. supposedly 7k elevation change. Now the F3 locked up twice. But power down/up and it came back to life and resumed. I had some straight line sections during that period, and lost about 18 total minutes (watch time vs event time). But given the switch backs in part, the tree coverage in much. I”m pleased. It could be better. But I would not call my tracks utter garbage. F2 had to work the kinks out. v3.60 improved things. my gut says more updates get this working even better.

  9. Norm

    Still have issues with OWS.

    I have posted this issue about 3 or 5 times now and no one has ever really replied with confirmation of similar problems. I am now on F3 #2 as first was replaced by Garmin due to defective alarm (so quiet it was virtually “silent”. New watch is louder but still barely audible over any sort of ambient noise (very, very dissatisfied. It would NEVER wake me from sleep and I wouldn’t rely on it as a timer due to just not loud enough and vibration alert is also much weaker than my 910).

    Even with latest FW update from a few days ago GPS tracks will swimming are still completely unreliable. Some days they are pretty close to expected (swim to a bouy of known distance) given small variance with swim track. (not always perfectly straight). Other days, entire sections are “missing” from GPS track. Sometimes when this happens, overall distance is still pretty close, other days (like today) I swam 3,000 yds and watch says “1,800”. There are 3 buoys along my route and I hit lap key as I pass first 2 and then at turnaround buoy (which creates 6 “laps”). Sometimes, sections are just “missing” though.

    I love everything else about this watch (form factor, software, gadgets, etc.) but the GPS function for running/swimming is just completely unreliable. As I am not a pro-athlete, my data is mostly for my own education and performance tracking, but it is frustrating to know the data is just not very consistent. My 910 and E500 are fine. I have re-ordered an E520 and sure hope there won’t be problems with this device, as well.

    • Robin Skibo-Birney

      That does sound frustrating. Have you logged a ticket with Garmin yet and, if so, have they acknowledged the issue? While they’re unlikely to provide much detail, they do normally respond within 48h and tell you whether or not it is a known issue.

  10. Steve Day

    OK, here goes. I’ve not all the above posts so this may have been mentioned before…

    Bought a F3 and loaded the latest s/w which was supposed to sort the GPS issues (maybe!). I used it locally against my 220 and it seemed OK. Note: I’ve just noticed it want’s me to install v3.80, not sure what was there before, but whatever was available a week ago. Everything reports 3.80 now (even though I haven’t told it to install yet), but it can’t be 3.80 else it wouldn’t want to upgrade! (would it?)

    Used it in anger for the first time on the Verbier St Bernard Ultra Trail, the 61km option. Since I wasn’t sure I would finish before the battery expired, I set it to UltraTrac mode before starting.

    All seemed OK for the first few kms, but on the approach to the first CP at about 13km I noticed I had nearly 20km on the watch! After that it just got worse. By the time I finished (61km) it had recorded 112km..!!! I had 1km auto-lap running. The distance readout was displaying but then simply went blank at some point and never showed any distance ever again, as supported by the uploaded Connect track, 0km, 3672m of up (not 4000m note!). Interestingly, although the recorded distance is 0km, the splits show the 112kms…! So something was recording distance!

    Zooming into the track on Connect shows it kinda OK to start with along the road, but once in the hills it’s a crazy zig-zag line going all over the place, hence the HUGE over read, why the height was not more I don’t know.

    Also I noticed the Nav breadcrumb track display disappeared from the available screens for a long time, but then magically reappeared later…

    Any one else had this? Is it a fault in the UltraTrac mode? The weather was perfect, clear sunny day and no trees!

    On another note, it fails to find my home WiFi, just reports “Network Error, try again later” after searching for a few seconds. And won’t sync a watch face over USB…!!

    Not impressed at all, I mean, DOUBLE the distance!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously considering selling and getting a Sunnto, but I like the Garmin strap/shape and would like to keep my ANT+ devices (which an Ambit3 would not allow me to do).

    I’ll post the same on the Garmin site along with the track (if I can attach it)

  11. Jase

    I now have the Fenix 3 and am very happy with it.
    I’m setting it up for a multisport race on the weekend and have found a limitation (or at least I think I have). The Multisport app that you can customise is limited to 5 sports/activities. The race I’m doing is an enduro style race, where we do the equivalent of a triathlon twice (swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run).

    Whilst limiting the total number of activities may be necessary, I think 5 is not enough…

  12. Marc steingrand

    I have the same issue need more possibilities in multisport I have workout which have about 8 repetitions run bike run bike run bike etc.. But I can not program it in Garmin because of limitations to 5….

  13. Jipe

    Just replaced my old Fenix 1 with a gray Fenix 3. This is a major improvement !

    I have a question about the Music widget when used with an iPhone 6: I see only 4 controls, play/pause, next and previous track. No volume control, is that normal ? Or is the volume control hidden somewhere ? Fenix 3 FW is the latest 3.8, iPhone runs the latest 8.4.

  14. Stephen Thomas

    I really really wanted to like the Fenix3. It’s a great-looking watch with every feature and function you could want. Reluctantly, however, I have concluded that it’s fundamentally and (for me) fatally flawed. Quite simply, it can’t measure position accurately. That’s shocking considering that Garmin began as a GPS company. But the conclusion seems unavoidable. I have many, many examples, but here’s a recent one. It’s a trail run that consists of three loops of a 3.5-mile course. For this run I wore a Fenix 3 on my left wrist and a Suunto Ambit 2 R on my right wrist. The Movescount track captures the run quite well. Each loop overlays the others almost exactly. The Garmin Connect track, on the other hand, looks like someone turned a two-year-old loose with a crayon. You can see both tracks below in screen captures directly from the respective web sites. The Ambit 2 R track is on top.

    A few notes.

    1. The Fenix 3 had been updated to the 3.6 firmware version that Garmin advertised as a “fix” for the GPS problems. (And it had been “soaked” as per Garmin recommendations.)
    2. This is not an isolated problem limited to a single activity. I consistently see errors like this with the Fenix 3.
    3. My watch was not one of the “few” with a serial number that Garmin has recalled due to a hardware problem.
    4. For road running and cycling, the Fenix 3 seems to perform okay. (Not great or even good, but it’s at least acceptable. Certainly no errors of the magnitude of this example.) Take the watch into the woods, however, and it simply doesn’t work. (OTOH, it did claim that my fastest pace in the aforementioned activity was 1:22 min/mi. I guess the Fenix 3 might be good for one’s ego ;^)

    As noted in the beginning, I wish the Fenix 3 had worked out for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Looks like the image of the tracks might not be showing up on the post.

      Ambit 2 R : link to f.cl.ly

      Fenix 3: link to f.cl.ly

    • Stephen Day

      Agree, I think I shall have to move to the Suunto 2 as the GPS simply just doesn’t work properly at all. Really needed this to work as I have ANT+ devices and the strap and feel is so much better than the Suunto.

      I used mine in the Alps on a 61km run, it recorded 112km…!!!!!! No trees or woods as it was open mountains in blue sky conditions.

      My track
      link to connect.garmin.com

    • gaijin

      If you want better tracks, you should change the following:
      – Update your software to version 3.80
      – Use “Every Second” GPS recording instead of “Smart” recording
      – Turn Auto Pause OFF
      This will yield much better track recordings with more accurate distances.

    • Harald

      looks like a pretty bad ultratrac

      I have my F3 since mid-May and just did a check of my activities:
      36x running (297km)
      35x cycling (226km)

      most of these I tracked with my Lumia 930 and runtastic, too = a variation in distance of 1,4%

      quite satisfied

  15. Steven

    do you have any news about a new Fenix 4 being announced in the near future?

    • Ted W

      near future? how far into 2016 do you consider “near”. As the F3 came out only this spring, barely 6month ago. I would think you have minimally 6months until a new version comes out, probably longer though. but what do I know..

    • Jipe

      The life cycle of most Garmin sport training products like the Forerunner, Edge, Fenix is typically 2 years.

      The Fenix 3 is a completely new product (not like the Fenix 2 that was more an evolution/improvement of the original Fenix), so the next generation will probably be announced end 2016/begin 2017 to become available for the spring 2017.

  16. Little Bit

    Hi Ray,

    Question – the sleep mode stuff, has that now updated like the forerunner seems to have done on Connect – just basic still but now has deep sleep vs light sleep time. rather than the wiggly line (or sleep snake as I called it).

    Stay awesome! Thanks!!

  17. Yair

    Hi Ray,

    The notification widget is pretty cool, but it is useless for all of us not using English or the other languages GARMIN supports, on our phones.

    Is GARMIN considering the F3 to support more textual languages? Otherwise a lot of people can’t use the notification widget (my iPhone is in Hebrew, all of the SMS and WhatsApp too).

  18. MMichel

    I just bought a Fenix 3 Sapphire today and one of the buttons popped off – UP button – (WTF!) after 3 hours of use. I’m going back tomorrow to the Garmin retailer to see if this is an easy fix. To be honest, I’m quite shocked this happened. I didn’t expect this from such an expensive watch.

    • MMichel

      here’s a follow up pic….has this happened to anyone else before? I was setting up the watch when one of the buttons just popped off. CRAZY!

  19. Matej

    Is there any chance that make this watch to have Area calculation option. Or maybe Suunto ambit 3 Peak to have Area calculation option.

  20. dvorcsakl

    4.00 firmware: auto backlight! yes!

  21. chukko

    And lots of other goodies like Smart notification actions (clear or reject), Find my phone or BT alert settings. See link to www8.garmin.com

  22. Asís

    Changes made from version 3.80 to 4.00:
    Added support for HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim.
    Added support for Smart Notification Actions (interact with the incoming notifications directly from the pop-up or within the Notifications widget, e.g. clear a message or reject an incoming call).
    Added ‘Find My Phone’ app (added at the end of the app list).
    Added a heading arrow indicator to data pages when in navigation mode.
    Added support for advanced VIRB remote (compatible with VIRB X/XE: control camera settings, display additional status information).
    Added advanced alarm clock features (multiple alarms, recurring options, notification customization).
    Added support for ‘Auto’ backlight mode (options are now available to configure backlight separately for keys, alerts and gestures: Settings > System > Backlight).
    Added setting to control Bluetooth connection alerts (Settings > Bluetooth > Alerts).
    Improved ascent and descent calculations.
    Improved pairing time with the tempe sensor.
    Fixed issue with saving of lap ascent values.
    Fixed potential issue with steps being lost during an activity.
    Fixed potential issues with heart rate sensor connection reliability.

  23. Steve F

    I’d really like the ability to edit laps in Garmin connect or load a fixed lap distance for a particular location. Had a 610,620 and now Fenix 3 and this 1K loop in a built up area is a problem. The Fenix 3 is better with the Russian GPS turned on but its still not great with a range of 900 to 1100 metres for a 1K lap.

    Also how about some Fenix app documentation explaining what they do. I have an exclamation mark on the screen of the wellness app and no idea what it means.

    6 Laps

  24. Mimmo

    Today Garmin have released a new firmware 4.0 with the new HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim support….now we also can connect the mio link for HRM when you are swimming ?

  25. Flo Loferer


    I have the Garmin Fenix 3 (serial number: 463028818) now since 2 weeks and in the first week I mades some GPS comparisons with my Polar v800 while biking.

    No big issue. The tracks were really good. A little bit worse than with the Polar but acceptable.

    Now I did some Trail-Running and Nordic Walking unter trees with thight turns on the trail. In addition it was cloudy. So no good conditions for accurate GPS recordings. I had GLONASS off and recording on 1 sec.

    Here my first excercise – Nordic Walking:
    link to mygpsfiles.com

    As you can see Polar was on spot from the beginning. But then also the Fenix track is quite good in my opinion. As soon as I went from the street to the downhill trail (as soon as the elevation drops) the Fenix track is much more shaky and also with 2 loops. As soon as I am out of the woods the track is quite good again. I made also some sharp turns near the lake which are also tracked quite good.

    Also the overall km were the same on both watches.

    yesterday i did a short trail run:
    link to mygpsfiles.com

    In this case the polar v800 had a bad start. but I did the 20 minutes GPS “adjustment” with the Fenix 3 in front of the run. First sharp corner cut by the Fenix. Overall the V800 is always right on the track and the Fenix 3 is 5 up to 20 meters off. Between km 2,5 and 3 there are some sharp turns which V800 tracked a lot better.

    Nevertheless i had only 50 m difference at the end of the track (with 3,82 km) on my watches.

    What do you think about these tracks. My v800 has really excellent tracks so I am not really used to have tracks which are 20 m off. Is this all I can expect from my Fenix3 or would a replacement help.

    I was short before returning my Fenix3 but with the announcement for a HR-Strap which can store data (exellent for me while playing soccer matches – no watch allowed) Garmin is back in business…

    Any advise is very welcome
    Kr Flow

  26. Matej

    Now i am deciding to buy Garmin fenix 3 or Suunto ambit 3. The garmin is more stylish and have some advantages, but can you tell me if GPS problems was taken care of via software updates or there are still problems? And how it is with altitude, it is precise or not?

    • Asís

      I am now testing my 2nd F3, because the other one had a battery problem, and customer service replaced it by a new one. My feeling with both units is that GPS accuracy (in terms of distance at least) was as good as on my FR305, I do not see excessive distance like may people has explained here, actually, I have the feeling that it is even a little more accurate than the FR305 (It always measures a little less, and at least on an olympic track, the FR305 always measured longer distance than real).
      I cannot tell about altitude, but I have the feeling that they still have to learn on how to integrate barometer and GPS altitude, in order to determine when pressure variation is caused by changing altitude or by changing meteorology, I hope this can be improved through firware updates.

  27. Oisin

    Anyone tried a Mio Link or RHYTHM+ in pool-swim mode on the new firmware? Does it work?

    • In theory, it should now actually work according to Garmin.

      I’ll be adding in a bunch more details in the next few minutes to the post/comments on the new HRM-TRI strap post (regarding usage of the Mio Link or other straps within swim mode). This will also be true for the FR920XT & Epix.

  28. Ryan Ravinsky

    Hey, I’m looking for some feedback on the Running Pace (min/mile). For me it’s one of the most important aspects of my training and it’s accuracy. I know that it rounds to the nearest 5th second. I’ve read some really questionable results. If I’m doing a pace workout or a tempo run, it’s usually not in an area where trees or cover is going to be an issue. Can anyone comment that uses this feature consistently?
    Thanks for the help.

    • Neil rosson

      Ryan in my experience even in clear sky the pace is very inaccurate. As much as a minute off at times. If you think the tracking is often up to 20 meters out this tends to effect pace. Also an issue with workouts is if you use audio alerts they are difficult to hear against external noises. I guess this depends on your environment.

    • Peter

      I hate actual pace, GPS in woods and bugs – and loving everything else (especially perfect and good looking in the office…). “Unfortunately” it’s a GPS watch designed primary for trail running…
      Last time I needed accurate pace and was running 5:20-5:30 pace, the watch showed me 11:30 – 3:55…

  29. Ryan Ravinsky

    Any word on a Tri Bundle for the Fenix 3 with the new HRM straps? (It’s already listed for the 920xt on the Garmin stie).

  30. Paul

    All, looks like my F3 is working fine now since 3.8. I’ve run/cycled a lot since with two devices (FR220 & Edge 100) alongside and the tracks/times are virtually identical.. Seems to have been resolved so I’m happy!

  31. Eran

    What a comprehensive review. Thanks!
    Watch quality and features look great, but it has a deal breaker to me – the huge size. I wanted a daily smart watch as well as an activity tracker, so this one could be perfect, but the size of it makes it ridiculous to hang around with it when not practicing. I hope they’ll make them smaller some day, they should look at the size of a “normal” watch and start their design from there :)

  32. Gord

    I have used a 305 since 2006 and have run the same (segment) hundreds of times. Now with Fenix 3 its so inaccurate that it is saying I have done a segment on the other side of the river 200M away !
    The 305 never had any problem with it….it is almost like Garmin have used popular routes instead of GPS data in their latest ‘update’
    Garmin made a big deal about having the antenna wrapped around the wrist with the earlier watches, so this may be a hardware issue?

  33. I’m just not sure what to do at this point. I LOVE everything about this watch (form factor, Smartwatch connect features) EXCEPT what I bought it for- GPS. It is horrible for open water swims- about 1/2 the time it is off by as much as 50% of distance. Very unreliable for runs, as well. I really don’t want to (and can’t) return it at this point. As their $600 flagship it really should work especially when Garmin has numerous other devices, many of which are years older, that work fine. I have updated to FW 4.0 but that has not fixed my GPS issues. This is also my 2nd unit as I had to return the 1st due to alarm issues (no audible alarm) and had same issues with that unit.

    We can certainly give Garmin more time to fix it- unless it is a HW issue. Class action lawsuit? very frustrating.

  34. here is a typical OSW track. Route is out/back, past 2 buoys with turnaround at 3rd bouy. Lap key was pressed between start and 1st buoy (#1) at buoy 1 (# 2/8) and buoy 2 (#3/5) and turn is at 4. In “theory”, 2/8 (buoy 1) and 3/5 (buoy 2) should be at EXACT same spot but you can see how far off the marks are!!! I believe that 7 is also in the exact same spot as 6 and 7 should also be at the same spot! (I hit lap key, rested in place at buoy and then hit lap key again before starting (6-7 is the rest period).

    There is also a period from 30:19 where elapsed time does not change and then “jumps” to 32:08???? I have seen this same thing on a number of other OWS tracks. (“time stands still”)

    Also, NO TRACK for the 1st 11 mins of swim and then suddenly jumps to #1 (hit lap key after start but before 1st buoy to mark a reminder for section of fast effort)

    All in all, this OWS track track is completely inaccurate and pretty c/w what I see in 50-75% of my OWS workouts. (FYI- watch set for GPS 1s recording, GLONASS on.)

    any suggestions? Anyone else with similar issues? Lots of comments re problems with running tracks but almost nothing mentioning OWS tracks.

    • For whatever reason, the picture isn’t showing up. So a bit hard to tell. Have you tried resetting the unit? Also – did you get good clean GPS signal pre-swim?

      I didn’t have too many problems with OWS and the Fenix3, with them being in-line with other units (Epix is a different story…).

    • Norm

      the “pic” was just the attached.tcx file. (You can see the OWS tracks on GarminConnect, username DrAloha)

      Absolutely had a good GPS fix for at least 1″ before entering water and only THEN hitting start button with watch STILL above surface (i.e., before actually swimming). Also, at each of the buoys, I make a point of holding wrist out of water when I hit lap key for good GPS fix. Today’s 55″ swim recorded duration of 55″ and distance of 62 yds. WTF? There are drop-puts of GPS track on almost every single OWS (10-30) some minor, some off by 50% (1,500 yd instead of 3,000 yd). I have just fwd’d all of this data to Garmin support and will see if they have anything to say. very, very frustrating and disappointing. GPS on run seems “OK”. Cycling seems to match Edge500 pretty closely, so I don’t know that it is “just” a GPS issue?.

    • Odd, yeah, you definitely gave it the best shot of success (and your to-do’s at each turn are similar to mine sometimes). It’s interesting though, I saw the same behaviour on one (semi-short 10-15min) swim with the Epix a while back – where it basically just fired a blank at the end of it (like your 62yrd one). Though, I also had another swim that had the Ambit3 actually do the same (a first ever for me there – usually it’s very good with swimming).

      I’d definitely try the reset and see if that helps.

    • Garmin tech support recommendation was to “try a hard reset”. Not sure how that can help but I guess it’s worth a try before “giving up”.

      Great…. I get to re-enter all my multisport screen configurations, re-recognize all of my sensors, reload widgets, etc. What a fun waste of an hour. (although this time I will at least remember to write down all of custom screen my configurations, first for each activity).

      *******With the number of settings these devices require and the somewhat awkward method of button pressing and scrolling it takes, I truly don’t understand why there is not a PC-based simulator that allows you to easily make (and SAVE!!) all your custom settings and then just transfer them to the watch? GarminConnect allows you to do that for custom workouts. There should be the same process for the watch. Many other devices (universal remotes) have that sort of functionality.

    • I discovered that you CAN save and re-install your custom settings:

      link to support.garmin.com{783045f0-96a4-11e4-6479-000000000000}&kbName=garmin

      When the watch is connected to the computer, it will create a drive in (My) Computer [PC] or on the desktop [Mac]. By selecting the drive, a number of folders within the Garmin folder will appear. These folders represent the following information:

      LOCATION- contains Locations.fit file that stores saved locations
      RECORDS- contains Records.fit file that stores personal records you have achieved
      SETTINGS – contains Settings.fit file which stores user profile and certain device settings
      SPORTS – contains each activity app as a separate file
      TOTALS – contains Totals.fit file which stores device totals for time and distance

    • Norm

      did the master reset. reloaded the saved setting.fit files, etc. (still had to re-enter some data, choose activities, watch screen, etc.) Re-loaded FW 4.0, too.

      Went out for another OWS, today. EXACT same problem. “drop outs” where timer continues but no forward motion detected. Then at 2/3 thru, track just “stopped” (with red square showing on map) yet timer continued for full 55″ duration of swim. As a result, total is only 1,087yd instead of 2,200 AND none of the lap points were recorded.

      I think my only real option is to ask Garmin to replace this device?

    • David

      Bizarre anecdote, but I had almost the exact same thing happen on one of my recent OWS with a 920XT. It only recorded 1008 yards out of 1800’ish, but timed the whole thing. My assumption is that at the 1008 yard mark, it lost the GPS signal during a stroke as usual, but never re-acquired it after that point. I filed a case with Garmin. They’re “looking into it.”
      link to connect.garmin.com

    • Norm

      I agree with your assumption. Except the F3 (and I assume the 920) usually acquires the GPS fix in just a few seconds (simply AMAZING when compared with the 910 and older E500, 310, etc.). There were definitely times in my swims where watch was above surface long enough that it “should” have reacquired the GPS signal. Still, if that had been an isolated or even rare occurrence, I could accept that as part of the “this little gadget on my wrist is simply truly amazing but nothing is 100% perfect all the time- especially tech. BE REALISTIC.” But my watch is failing on OWS nearly 100% of the time and not just with GPS track but when I take waypoint fixes (i.e., hit the lap key) at fixed buoys, those point are WAY off nearly every time which is effecting the GPS track, distance, etc.

      After doing the master reset, re-updating FW and then still having same failure on yesterday’s swim, I contacted Garmin support this AM and got an RMA for another exchange. They took credit card info and will send out replacement and then I can return watch and be credited. The tech confirmed (w/o me hvaing to ask!!!) that I would be getting a “new product” and NOT a refurbished one. I appreciated that. I am sympathetic to the difficulties and the tech involved in making this little magic box do all the things that it can (this is perhaps my favorite piece of tech with the possible exception of my smartphone) but am still frustrated that for $600 it has as many “issues” as it has had. To Garmin’s credit, they ARE fixing them day-by-day. This is part of the price we pay for being bleeding-edge beta testers (which I think is pretty common these days for the 1st 6 mo. after release for many tech products that don’t have GIANT user bases- like the iPhone). WE may think that the F3 is the most important device on the planet but I would have to guess that it is probably a pretty small % of Garmin’s product market. Important to US but only a small segment for Garmin.

      To that end, WHENEVER I speak with tech support, I thank them for their help and make sure they understand I have been a Garmin customer since the days of their 1st products and have had generations of GPS watches, cycling computers, car GPS, etc. and very much appreciate their company. I have always been treated very well by them, too.

  35. Mike

    Anyone else having issues with Fenix 3 rebooting and resetting step data since the last firmware update?

    • Matej

      Hmm so many problems with that watch. I am glad i didnt bought it. I will wait for Ambit 4.

    • Ted W

      A bird in the hand, is worth two in the bush. I would entertain the idea of an Ambit 4. But in the meantime, I’m living happily with my F3. Loving BT and Wifi Sync. Love the color. Love the extra apps. love the size and the look. If GPS were as accurate as others claim the Ambit is. I would be almost perfect. Plus I have ant+ accessories, so, that will never happen for Ambit.

    • It’s like any product, lot’s of silent happy customers and a few people who have bad products. It’s annoying and sad for those with issues but I run and ride in the woods all the time and never had an issue.

    • Mike

      I really like the watch…a lot nicer to wear day to day in the real world as opposed to the 920.
      I also added a watch face via connect iQ, so I’ve disabled that to see if that is what is causing the reboots. so far so good, but time will tell.

    • Asís

      I’m one of the happy customers! I had two units, the first one has issues with the battery making it switch off by itself every now and then, but customer service replaced it by a new one that works fine!
      I must say that I find GPS accuracy very good by comparing with my friends’ GPS’ and by looking at the recorded track on the map, so no issue there.
      I love the way it looks and I see that Garmin is working on improving its functions, still has some things to improve (for instance, now I get notifications during the night, which did not happen before FW 4.0, and they can wake me up), but I like the way they are improving.

  36. Gord

    Has anyone else had a low foot pod battery warning as they are running along? I think that is what it said but cant read it properly without glasses…if so it would be nice to be able to review warnings after the run. And if it was it sort of confirms it switches over to foot pod when it loses its GPS signal as it happened in a narrow tunnel between houses.

  37. anna

    my friend’s aunt makes $74 /hr on the laptop . She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her income was $19859 just working on the laptop for a few hours. learn this here now c­­a­­r­­e­­e­­r­­s­­r­­e­­p­­o­­r­­t­­.­­ℂ­­o­­m­­

  38. richard521

    hi ray … i wonder is there any other way to import a gpx file that i hv downloaded from a website into my fenix 3 ,beside using Basecamp to import it ? will importing gpx file function be add in later on, on garmin connect as a new feature?

    • Gord

      I drop the gpx onto my Edge 1000/800 which converts it to a fit file, then drop that into the courses menu on the fenix…a bit of a faff on….

  39. Steve F

    4.2 just arrived on my watch.

    Fix an issue set target training option
    Fix an issue with smart notifications
    Fix an issue with customised data fields lap alert and rest screen

  40. Darren

    Hey Ray, excellent review.

    I bought the Fenix a couple of months ago.

    For swimming I use it with Masters swimming sessions and find it pretty inaccurate. Total distance can be + or – 25% (usually +) which makes it fairly pointless for recording these work outs. If I only swim laps of freestyle it seems pretty accurate.

    It could be because the watch is not really designed for this (masters) types of works because of all the different drills and changes in stroke so just wanted to hear if others have the same problem and if anyone has any work rounds as I’d like to get an accurate measure of our workouts?


  41. cico

    how about strava live segments on fenix 3?

    • André Lemos

      I’ve actually also asked about that on twitter. Let’s see if we get a response :)

    • I’m still waiting on clarification from Garmin on that, but at the moment I wouldn’t expect it near-term.

    • Panos

      I got this response from Garmin’s Facebook page “Right now Strava live segments are only available on the Edge 520, and will become available on the Edge 510, 810 and 1000 pending a software update. If you’d like to see the fēnix 3 added to this list, please submit your request to link to j.mp for review. See link to bit.ly for more information on Strava’s website. -LB”

      And from twitter ” Sorry, no word yet on if that will be possible in the future. Currently only supports some Edge models. *CG”

  42. Mario


    Does it happen to all of you as well that the watch pushes the same upgrade multiple times? It was always happening with my watch and it is quite crazy with the latest releases. I got pushed 4.20 several times and despite the fact I did it (more than once) I still get the watch asking me to do the upgrade.

    If I double check into settings->about I already have the 4.20.


    • Norm

      ABSOLUTELY. At least 2-3x. I update from Garmin Express. It downloads AND installs. Then watch asks me to update again (although I think that “maybe” it is asking to “install” the update, not download it). Then, Garmin Express (after disconnecting watch after update) STILL claims there is an update available (even shows watch running the old FW). “odd” but not terrible, just annoying and clearlyu a small glitch in how SW updates.

  43. JPT

    It happens to me too.
    4.20 installed through Garmin express. I checked settings: it was showing the version and all the changes (i.e. find my phone).
    Then the watch prompted me a few hours later to install. And I did. Now it’s been stable for a few days.
    It’s been like that for other versions as well.

  44. Z@

    In the update v4.00 for Fenix 3 Garmin claims that heart rate is recorded now for swimming. I can see it for open water swimming, but for indoor pool swimming it does not work for me. Is it the case for everybody?

    for open water I recorded small video how it records heart rate
    link to youtube.com

  45. Edwin Aerts

    Hi Ray

    Big question whether to choose between Garmin FR 920XT and Fenix 3.
    I don’t think the FR 920XT has multiple time alarms and time zones but are these features planned in a future update or by a widget?
    Is there a big difference in data fields concerning altitude between the FR 920XT and the Fenix 3?
    Thanks for answering.


  46. Andreas

    on the fenix1 and I think even on forerunner305 the number of recorded trackpoints per run was limited due to memory to 10.000 points, after that the oldest points were overwritten.
    this means that after running quite some miles for certain period of time the watch continued to show correct summary mileage, however the recorded gps track was missing the start of the run (so could be only the last 130k or so ..)
    So the question is if the fenix3 still has the same limitation?

    • Sean G

      The Fenix 3 doesn’t have that limit. I’m not sure how many points a .FIT file can contain, but I’ve personally recorded an activity that contained >127,000 points (36 hr ultra @ 1 sec recording). The watch handled it fine.

      Note that Garmin Connect has an unpublished limit of 99,999 points though – so such a file will NOT upload. They have acknowledged the limit, and stated they have no plans to change it. The files load in basecamp, Strava, even the old Training Center application. But Garmin Connect doesn’t support the capabilities of their top of the line watches.

  47. Mario


    I tried few watch faces and then I did remove those from the watch. On garmin express they still show it with an icon saying “send to device”. It is in the manage apps.

    Is there a way to permanently remove it from garmin express?


  48. Giorgio Litt

    This is fantastically helpful. I’m close to pulling the trigger on a Fenix 3, but I have one thing stopping me. I’m a time lapse photographer. Information that’s extremely important to me is specific Sunset/Sunrise data, and that means civil and astronomical sunrise and sunset data. I know there is sunset/sunrise widget, but I have not found anything on Connect IQ (to my eye), that has this information. I can’t imagine this is a significantly more difficult set of data to incorporate into an app. Here’s the Ambit3 app that is tempting me into that watch, which I don’t like as much as I do the Fenix 3. link to movescount.com

    Is there anyway to retrieve this kind of information in another way on the Fenix 3? Are 3rd party apps possible? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  49. alan ballard


    I’ve been using the Fenix 3 in the pool and it’s adding 3-400m to every 2000m I swim.

    I used a Garmin Swim watch for two years with no issues at all. I’ve tried the watch on both wrists – same result. It’s the same pool and my stroke hasn’t changed.

    Anybody else having problems with accuracy for pool swims?


    • Bill B

      There are a number of us who have been having indoor pool accuracy issues with the F3 and 920XT and who did not have such issues with, in my case, either the F2 or 910XT. Garmin has been working on this and released a public beta SW update for the 920XT targeted at fixing this issue. I have swum once with the beta software on the 920XT and it was spot on, so I’m hopeful. Once this update is validated for the 920, I’m assuming Garmin will apply the same algorithm change to the F3 software.

  50. alan ballard

    Bill B,

    That’s good news. Thanks for posting that info.

    Hopefully, they’ll publish an equivalent update for the Fenix asap.


  51. Oisin

    Looks like a software update is ready for download……updating “Screen” to version 2.8….?
    No idea what it does. Anyone know? Can’t find anything online.

  52. ScottB

    Does the Garmin F3 use the FirstBeat technology to calculate calorie expenditure on exercises other than running and cycling–excluding swimming? I had been using a Polar V800 for sometime but just switched to a Fenix 3; took good care of the v800 and liked it but went through 3 of them due to defects. On the V800 you do a Fitness test to calculate VO2 and it uses that for calorie calculations and training load for all activities. The F3 has a different VO2 max calculation for running and cycling. Does anyone know if the running one is used for other exercises (strength training, custom elliptical profile, etc) or does the F3 just use some simple old weight/age/sex/and heart rate for other exercises? Thanks!!! Scott

  53. John

    Thank you for the in depth review!
    I do a lot of cycling and would like to know while riding how much elevation I have gained in total, not just my current altitude. Does the Fenix 3 let me do this?
    Thank you!

  54. Mimmo

    Any news about swimming data with Mio Link and similar products ?

    • I’ll poke ahead. A bunch of folks are out right now, so things are a bit delayed on a bunch of random questions I’ve got into. Have you by chance tried with the latest Fenix3 update yesterday?

    • Oisin

      just tried it on FW 4.4 – no change.
      Pulse is displayed during the activity, nothing in GC afterwards
      Sporttracks & Strava also showing no heart rate data. Pity.

  55. After all the complaints which are certainly are no nonse I Would like to say that the trackback functionality is really great! I did a nice run in a hilly environment where I didn’t know exactly where to go. I decided to relax and run, trusting that trackback would bring me home. It works great. The watch guided me home exactly the way I ran before. This means I can run nice tracks I’m not familiar with no worries getting lost.

    I hope over time Tempo registration in running mode gets more stable. Then I’m happy.

  56. len ellis

    i have been running, swimming and biking with fenix3 for 5 months. i have had fenix, fenix 2, 910xt, 920xt and earlier models. the fenix3 is the least accurate for measuring distance of any garmin product i have had. I am really confused. I know the mile markers around me, having run them many times with multiple watches as well as mapmyrun measurements. the fenix3 seems to always click distance a little too soon. and when i run next to a friend wearing a 610 or 620 i always run more than they do, even though we run the same course. anyone else have this issue? any solutions? i am up to date on software (4.30).



  57. Mike

    FYI: The last firmware update (4.3) deleted the bike app from my fenix 3.

    • Fab

      the same appened to mine.
      someone already checked out if soft reset solves the problem?

      mid summer blunder from garmin this time, i’m afraid.

      hope they fix it asap…

    • Dr D

      @Mike – the release notes contains the following:

      ◦Note: If updating from 4.30, the app list will be reset to defaults. All custom activity apps created before this update will be cleared as well.

      I just finished rebuilding my custom apps.

      Happy trails.

    • Mike

      The Bike app is not a custom app, it is one of the default apps that has been there since I unboxed my fenix 3. It shouldn’t have been deleted.

    • Yeah, watching some of the threads on the Garmin forums, the now-recalled 4.30 update did zap some folks regular sports too. I believe 4.4 (released about 24-48 hours later) resolves that (albeit by basically resetting everything).

  58. Dave

    Trying to decide between fenix 3 and 920, I have owned 310 and more recently the fenix 2. The trouble with the Fenix 2 is I can’t read it in the winter on my night runs with the orange light. My 310 was easy to read. Has anybody had experience with both and can comment back?


    • Dr D

      @Dave – I have owned the Fenix 2, 920XT and currently the Fenix 3. I had the same challenges with readability during my pre-dawn runs when using the Fenix 2. No such challenges with the Fenix 3. I ended up sticking with the Fenix 3 purely based on looks.

      I hope this helps.

  59. Steven Camilleri

    I wonder how Ray managed to get open water traces like those with the F3? Mine are horrendous. All over the place, Sometimes I apparently jump out of the water and take a walk in the woods, then jump back in again. I wonder if he swims differently than me. either a faster or a slower stroke, or perhaps his hand is nearer the surface than mine?

    • Mine continue to be rather pretty on the F3, whereas I get similar tracks as you on Epix (though, Garmin sent me a note yesterday saying my Epix drunk swimming problem should be fixed in the update that went out Thursday).

    • Steven Camilleri

      I have a theory that this maybe related to stroke cadence. A slow stroke turnover results in the watch being underwater much more than a faster one. I have tried speeding up my stroke with no discernible difference, but perhaps I try to “glide” too much thus hand is underwater longer than it is out of the water. Is this something you could experiment with next time you are in the water?

  60. Norm

    My current F3 is WORTHLESS for OWS. Again today, I selected activity (OWS) before getting in the water and quickly got green “GPS lock”, I started the activity while still only knee deep- watch was completely out of water 15-30 sec. before actually starting to swim. Total distance recorded was “22 yds” for a 50 min. swim. Had the exact same thing happen last week, too. When I got to first buoy. I hit lap key and held watch out of the water. The distance “counted up” from 22 yds to 1,000 yds over 2-3″ (watch out of water whole time).

    Last week, I was 2,500 yds into a swim (~ appropriate distance) and stopped to check out some fish which included a few short free dives. That was the “end” of the track. Obviously, watch lost GPS signal when I went under but even when I resumed swimming it never reacquired the signal and never recorded the track, again.

    I really don’t know if this is a SW issue or a HW issue? I have been working with Garmin support and they were pretty quick to authorize a replacement (this will be watch NUMBER THREE!!!!) so that makes me think it is more likely a HW issue? (BTW_ had the SAME problem with watch #1). On today’s swim, I went with my buddy who was using MY old 910 and the distance was spot-on for him, just as it was when it used to be my watch. Therefore I don’t think it’s something about “me” but it is something to do with the F3. New watch should arrive in 3-5 days so we will just have to see if that changes anything. In the meantime, this watch is completely unreliable. I love it and it does everything GREAT– “except” work well for GPS-related functions. (which is kinda what it’s raison d’etre was supposed to be?)

    • echarlus

      Same for me. I tried OWS three times and each time I’m getting erratic tracks like this one: link to connect.garmin.com
      I was swimming in almost straight line across this small lake and I’m getting totally erratic tracks with parts on the ground and on locations where I’ve never swam…
      Quite disappointing.

  61. Chris

    Question to the Fenix 3:

    how is the ascent speed (aka vertical velocity) calculated [present speed vs. total average speed] ?
    And can it be displayed in units like [meters/minute], which appears to be *the* natural unit to use when doing high -alpine climbing and/or ski-touring?

    [ note:
    the Tissot calculates always the average ascent speed from the total height gained and
    the total elapsed time since starting a trail, which is not a very useful number, when you want
    to control and adjust your climbing speed.
    Suunto’s use typically and sensefullly a few-minute intervals to adjust it to “instantanous” speed].

    thanks for clarification by somebody who has actually tried it out.
    Unfortunately I have not found any detailed specifications information by Garmin (or Suunto) giving
    these kind of details.


    • Dom

      The units are pretty flexible; meters per sec, min, or hr, or feet per min or hr.
      I think the ascent is current, but where I live is so flat that I can’t really test that for you :)

  62. Norm

    Fenix. The “F” is for fiasco. I think it’s about time to sack the head of development for this one. Not only are there still GPS issues but went to run today and apps were re-arranged. Hit Start and… “this is not my run screen?”. I now see that the latest update is at fault. Seriously? How does a big TECH company mess it up that badly, that many times?

    Now waiting for watch the #3 to show up. As much as I love everything else (but the GPS) about this watch I am half-tempted to leave the new-in-box watch and ask to trade it for a 920. At least (I think) that watch works?

    • Ted W

      I like (almost love the F3). I wish GPS track were spot on. I dont use many of the more sophisticated, which is good, as many have some issues. But I agree with you. This is quite startling, just how bad it is. I though with the Fenix 2 being somewhat a fiasco, that maybe some lessons learned would help the F3. Nope. if its possible, its likely worse. maybe they are spread thin on developers and quality testers as they seem to announce so many new products. Longtime garmin fan. Never saw an Ambit in real life. I hear good accuracy but the bells and whistles that F3 has is not there. combine the two and I”m switching.

    • Christoph

      I completely agree – fiasco is the right word. I’m a long time Garmin user and I had every Fenix so far.
      Unfortunately I also had the same problems with every fenix. If you follow the development it’s clearly a management problem, those delays are unnecessary, especially for something at this price.

      Sometimes it seems as if Garmin is laughing at us, treating users like this. I tried to but I really don’t understand this philosophy anymore. I hope that there will be better alternatives to Garmin soon.

    • Ted W

      One release is a goof up. I’ve had F2 and F3. there is something more systemic here. To bad, as Garmin and GPS are/were synonymous for many. Palm (remember the Palm Pilots) where the rage of the world. They went from flying high to almost dead in less that 1 year. Garmin has lots of products, but with GPS chips smaller and smaller. Its not a challenge to imagine a via competitor swooping in and taking Giant market share in a very short period of time. I want to like Garmin.. I hope they figure out and fix whats wrong soon. Personally I’d love to see an apology and a “get well strategy” speech from the CEO

  63. Nuno Pinto

    I own an AMBIT 3 and I am thinking on replacing it for a Fenix 3 because of the additional features, color screen and better Android integration. The AMBIT 3 has been very reliable on all senses…
    Should I made the switch to Garmin ???

    • Sean G

      We’ve had ours since mid-Feb (mine a sapphire, my wife’s is a silver). We both LOVE the watch for its functionality, screen, etc. I exchanged mine a few weeks ago, and am about to do so again. Distance is just absurd – ran a 12.46 mile race last week (I had my 620 on as well, and it’s spot on with 8 strava fly-by’s).Even my wife’s measured 12.4. My F3 measured 11.7!

      I bought an Ambit 3 Peak this week as back-up. We’re running a 3-stage 80 mile ultra this weekend, and I need some idea of how far I’ve gone! That said, wearing the Ambit for several days makes me really appreciate how great the F3 is on all other counts. My wife’s replacement watch seems to be very accurate so far, so that gives me hope.

    • Joe E

      Most fenix 3 users that have checked the accuracy, or race have had 2 or 3 (in my case) watches already. At this point the distance accuracy seems to work reasonably well in most circumstances, but track accuracy is not great and instant pace, in trying GPS conditions is near useless.

      Agree with prior poster though, the f3 is a great overall watch, but as a serious training / racing tool it is marginal. I have decided to keep mine at this point and live with the issues as for me they are outweighed by the overall usefulness and looks of the watch.

    • As I said, watch is great for everything “except” GPS. One possible ($$$) sol’n would be to get a 920 for racing/training. Is the 920 accuracy better? I have not followed that forum as I jumped from 910 directly to F3? (and if it IS…. then WHY is the F3 not accurate? You would expect same software and HW “guts” and just different form factor?)

      Ray- not sure if you know this or they would tell you but are there two completely separate development teams for the 920 and the F3 (I would guess there would certainly be). If “yes” then do they not speak to each other or share data? That would be an interesting question for Garmin.

    • Chris

      If you go to garmin’s site now, it’s not even listed with their running watches anymore and when you go to the Fenix 3 page directly and click “buy” it says “You must be lost” ha ha

    • They’re separate teams, though under a single larger umbrella of sorts (technically separate divisions, but now overseen by one individual).

    • Nuno Pinto

      Do you mean that some F3 are more accurate than others ??? you mention that your wiffe’s F3 is ok.

    • Sean G

      From my observations, the problem is interpretation of the data, rather than the raw data itself. But yes, they do vary. Pulling the raw tracks into other software apps (even basecamp) interprets them very close, but what shows on the watch and in Garmin Connect is a wider variance. It’s weird, and very frustrating. Garmin has acknowledged hardware problems with the very early units – and my first F3 was #107. It was actually better until the big firmware update that was supposed to fix all the distance problems – it made mine worse.


      Your wife also needed a replacement watch? Why?

    • Sean G

      She was having lots of GPS dropouts – several minutes at a time. Her replacement is working well, and distance calculations have been very close to my Ambit 3 Peak. My 3rd F3 Sapphire continues to come up short.

      I am glad I got the Ambit as a backup before that race – stage 3, the F3 battery died at 11:47. I was using the 367 field, and that must eat battery with all the updating.

  64. Jay

    Ray. Great Review… and because of it I bought the F3.

    One question: will it get the Ant+ Fe-c update so that it can be paired with a tacx, say, turbo trainer??

    • Unknown at this point. I’ve asked for clarity. To be clear though, it can receive all that data today, just not control it.

      I’m honestly not sure how well controlling it would work from a watch. Might be tricky, I suppose long holds.

    • Jay

      Sure. It connects to my Bushido Smart perfectly. Just wanted to be able to create workout, send to F3 via garmin connect and let it do its thing.

      Look fwd to hearing if you get any clarity.

    • 6co

      Hello Ray, any update on whether the Fenix 3 would get the FE-C profile? And why not FE profile as well?
      I just purchased it and think it is a completely different watch today than it was one year ago. Thanks to Garmin for all these updates. But that FE profile has disappeared from Garmin watches since FR610 or 910. In fact, even my lame old FR70 has it.

      It seems it would cost them nothing to add the FE profile in there. Just like the FE-C profile. That would seem to fit quite well with their getting the indoor rower mode into the watch. Am thinking of the Concept 2 connection for the FE profile, and of connecting my BKool with the FE-C profile….


    • Nothing new there. Every time I ask about FE-C on watches it’s kinda side-stepped, or basically with a nothing to announce type answer.

      I do agree it makes sense, though primarily for the reasons you noted around gathering data more than controlling (so more the FE part).

  65. Oisin

    Has anyone noticed whether the footpod calibration works with the latest FW? i.e. 4.4
    There was no mention of it in the release notes.

    • Ted D

      i ran outdoors this morning with FW 4.40, display 2.80, GPS 2.90, BLE/ANT 3.10, WiFi 2.00, Connect IQ 1.1.3 and the footpod.

      Calibration factor still at 100.0.

  66. 3 days ago flew in a local commuter airline- they fly small Cessna Caravans. I sat in the row just behind the cockpit where I could see everything going on up front, As they “booted up” the instrument panel, I saw the large familiar blue triangle. They were using a Garmin nav system! (slightly more advanced than the one I have in my car).

    OH CRAP, I thought. We’re gonna miss the airport by 10%.

  67. Andrew

    You know, like a previous poster said a small percentage of fenix owners are posting regularly negative comments – but many (I’d venture to guess a MUCH larger percentage of fenix owners are not posting and completely enjoying their watch)

    With that being said, I’ve had a few hiccups; frozen watch, gps track shortages, lost workout (after 75 miles of biking… it froze and I completely lost the workout :-(…

    Consider this, the iphone retails for $700us +/- as a stand alone item… it freezes, overheats, isn’t waterproof, breaks, cracks, barely makes a day w/o charge, and has a slew of unrealistic expectations… and it isn’t the first smartphone of its kind (‘only’ in its 6th generation!)

    This is one of garmin’s first cracks at a smartwatch, I can’t imagine the costs going into research, development, support, etc…

    I understand, Garmin. And, I understand frustrated techie athletes (I am one, at times as well).

    If you’ve read this far, has anyone experienced Strava ‘adjusting’ the distance on the imported cycling workout? Maybe I missed something… but is Strava correcting distance for the Fenix3 shortcoming on GPS calculations?

    • Norm

      Your comments initially seemed reasonable, EXCEPT, you implied we should cut Garmin some slack b/c “This is one of garmin’s first cracks at a smartwatch”

      I LOVE the smartwatch features of the F3 and mine has worked (nearly) flawlessly in this regard. In my case, “negative comments” have been to report, ongoing problems, constructively- with the hope of helping identify problems so they can be addressed.

      Here is where I disagree with yur analogy: The PROBLEM that I (and MANY others) have been having with the F3 has nothing to do with its smartwatch features but with its GPS function. Garmin IS a GPS company, so to have the watch consistently “fail” on that function is inexcusable. To that end, your iPhone comparison is completely inaccurate. I have FIVE other Garmin GPS products all of which have worked pretty flawlessly in the GPS department. To have have a new product “fail” in regards to its GPS abilities is incomprehensible.

      The other thing I have still not been able to understand (nor has anyone, including Ray, been able to explain) is WHY the F3 even has problems? My initial understanding was that the F3 is a re-purposed 920XT, just in a different form factor. (at least in terms of the software) Basically, it is a 920 that “looks” like a normal watch so it can be worn every day. When you look at a feature comparison they are nearly identical. (yes, it has a few additional nav features) So….. WHY is the F3 having so many GPS issues? (and other software hiccups, for that matter). That’s why I asked Ray if Fenix is a completely separate division at Garmin. They shouldn’t be re-inventing the wheel?

      I have another replacement F3 showing up tomorrow (#3). I am seriously considering leaving it unopened in the box and trading it for a 920. (I assume the GPS works on the 920?) While I am not a pro athlete, training data is still important to me and there is really no point in having a GPS training watch that gives you bad data.

      Perhaps I should just be patient that they will work out the bugs with FW upgrades….. unless it really is a HW issue?

      It will be really interesting to see if watch #3 performs any better.

    • Maryann

      I am in full agreement. I traded my Fenix 2 for a Fenix 3 because it was reported to be built to work like the 920 and it looks like a wrist watch. Also, the Fenix 2 was not functioning at all, it kept getting caught in a re-boot loop. I don’t use all the other navigational features, I just want a watch that will give “accurate” distances on trails. I can live with .1 or .2 miles, but 1.5 miles short? That’s unacceptable.

      When I run on roads, F3 is very close to what my friend’s watches are reading.

      I have run 3 30k trail races this summer, and I am also not a pro athlete. However, I am a numbers junkie. I had GLONASS on during the first two races and turned it off to see if I would get closer to accurate results.

      These are the distances recorded by the watch (I also use a footpod)
      June 27 – 18 miles
      July 18 – 17.4 miles
      August 29 – 17.5 miles

      Of course, the watch is updated to 4.40. What’s a girl to do?

  68. Tori

    Great reviews DC Rainmaker. Your site is a lifesaver!

    I’m trying to decide between a Fenix 3 and a 920XT. I mostly run, hike, and walk and l recently moved to a rural area where I want GPS and a serious upgrade from my FitBit. I plan on wearing it 24/7 as an activity tracker.

    The big questions: I also ski in the winter and saw in the review for the Fenix 3 it has ski-mode but I’m not sure if the 920XT has that or can do that from Garmin software/app updates?

    Any help would be much appreciated!

  69. Mimmo

    News about Fenix 3 with Ant+ HRM (eg. Mio link) and the data record/save on Connect from 3rd party?

  70. David

    Hey, I got my fenix yesterday and just want to point out an issue that I have not seen mentioned in any other review.

    Now read before you buy as this issue inflicts serious physical pain!

    Being smaller the fenix 3 has buttons sitting lower on the watch then the previous version and very often when pressing the “up” button I get my arm hair pulled as well :-D I know hardly an issue but the pain is real!!!

    Am I the only one? :-)

    • Asís

      hahaha…My arm is quite hairy and I never had such an issue, are you a werewolf? just kidding!

    • Flo Loferer

      haha – NO, same problem for me here ;-)

      but you get used to it – trust me…

    • Simon Sutcliffe

      HAHA, I love this product defect. I do suffer the same thing. If anybody cares I have fairly fine arm hair which perhaps has a lesser girth and slips into the crack a little easier than a real man’s thicker hair.

    • Fab

      An “interaction with arm hair” section is missing in every single review I’ve been reading so far. I’m so disappointed now that I’m aware of this! Don’t know if you can keep on calling them “in depth”, from now on…

  71. Alan

    I have had my Fenix 3 for a while and at time of purchase I mistaken assumed the cadence screen (with 5 colour bands and a pointer) was the heart rate screen showing zones. Does anyone know if its possible to have the heart rate displayed like this?

  72. Jon Briafield

    Bought my Fenix 3 Sapphire today and out for first run tonight along with my Suunto Ambit 2.

    Suunto Ambit 2 Distance – 14.58 km
    Garmin Fenix 3 Distance – 14.51 km

    Good enough for me. Will do a few more runs in tandem.

    Thanks for a great review!

  73. acousticbiker

    Ray, thanks for your review, all of your ongoing help and for the discount with CT! I pre-ordered a gray version through them and got it in late March. I exchanged it for a silver one, though, because the bezel was much too easily scratched for my tastes (even though I prefer the gray color). A user recently posted on the Garmin forums two versions of the gray watch that have very different looking bezels:

    link to forums.garmin.com

    The one on right received in February and the one on left received in August. The difference in the colors remind me of the change from iPhone 5 to 5S, which gave me hope that perhaps the new color reflects a more durable finish (as with the iPhone 5S). Can you check with Garmin as to whether a change was made to the gray bezel? If so, I’m wondering when that would have happened, because I’m deciding whether I should try the gray again!

  74. Alex Bure

    Hi all, I am using Fenix3 + HRM-Run when playing Squash. I use the Treadmill Running activity type. A couple of questions:
    – if I create a custom activity for Squash I can’t seem to be able to get movement data (it’s indoors, no GPS) – hence I need to use Treadmill Running. Any ideas on how to enable movement tracking on custom activity types?
    – a couple of times my recording stop with some HR rate warning – didnt stop to really look at it properly since it was in the middle of matches. Any idea why those came in (no HR alarms set on the activity as far as I can see). Looks like this requires a Resume action – so I need to watch out when they happen.


  75. dvorcsakl


    I made several multisport race (triathlon).
    I can not freestyle, breaststroke only.
    Therefore, there is no GPS signal while swimming, only the swimming start (and transition zone1).

    If you upload a multisport activity in the Garmin Connect website (or Garmin Mobile iPhone app), swimming is not displayed.
    The watch (Fenix 3) shows correct, the Strava shows correct, the Endomondo shows correct, but the connect.garmin not shown.

    Example: link to connect.garmin.com

    Please help. Thx

    (Sorry the wrong english.)

  76. Harald

    Open Water Swiming (OWS)
    Did several Open Water Swims two weeks ago in Croatia (warm water, yes!)
    Only breaststroke and I´m pretty slow
    I swim for like 30 strokes, then hold my hand above water for 2-3 seconds = GPS fix and the F3 counts upwards

    Distances ranging from 400m to 2000m
    No problems at all with my F3, good enough track
    link to connect.garmin.com

    Trail Running
    Last week I did several trail runs in the Alps
    Wooded area, track right on spot, like this one (short, but at least with 250m elevation gain):
    link to connect.garmin.com

    My wife tracked with her Polar M400 and a Lumia 800 – all beeped the 1km Autolap within 10m from each other

    For my part: everything fine with my F3, like the other 122 activities since March
    Wouldn´t want to miss it, happy with it as it is.

  77. Dan P

    Does the Fenix 3 have the same vibration motor as the 920XT? I really had to try to concetrate to feel the vibration for distance alerts in the pool. If i was doing a long interval and my mind was wandering, I would regularly not notice the vibration alert.

    Anyway, I signed up for the CT VIP program and ordered my Fenix 3 this past weeknd.

    Thanks for all of the great info Ray!

  78. Ricardo

    For indor running on a treadmill, the acelerometer is inside the watch or in the HRM-RUN strap?

  79. Idar

    Bluetooth bug Fenix sapphire. I tried to pair device against a computer, but it failed. I didnt mess around with it, and cancelled my attempt. However, there seem to be no way of cancelling without bluetooth turning itself on whenever I hit one of the left buttons. With the unfortunate effect that my battery got drained several times due to bluetooth turning itself on. The menu under bluetooth is blocked in connect mode when the connection fails, and it will not let you turn off bluetooth because you have no options under bluetooth menu. To solve this you have to have a successful BT connection, then the other BT menu items appear again.

  80. Milind Jadhav

    Hi DC,

    2 quick questions mate.

    Does this watch do dual time zone? Secondly can Roman numerals be used instead of english digits?

    Love your work.

  81. Skule

    Thanks for another sublime review Ray!!!

    I have been a 98% happy owner of the F2 for a year and half but one thing have always bothered me about it, the update/refresh rate of my speed when riding my bike. I use it almost exclusively for bike riding and the fact that the F2 was so slow in adjusting the speed to what I was really doing simply made it impossible to trust that it was showing the rigght speed at any time.
    Yesterday I asked to borrow my bike shop owner’s new F3 and I did a direct comparison between the F2 and F3 while riding – and great news, the F3 seems to follow my speed changes almost immediatley while the F2 lags by often 8-10 seconds!!! As an example, if I am doing 20 km/h and just stop immediately the F3 went to 0 km/h in approx. 3 seconds, the F2 needed another 7-8 seconds!
    I turned around, rode back to my bike shop and bougt myself an F3 on the spot :-) I have been playing around with it all last night, setting it up, loading a few watch faces and a few widgets and I am now a much happier owner of an F3 than I ever was with the F2.

    If you are in doubt about which one to get the choice is easy – F3 all the way :-)

    Regards Skule (Norway)

  82. Markus


    thanks for your quite deep review.
    I`m using a Tacx Satori Smart T2400 as a cycle trainer at home wihich also has ANT+ or Bluetooth® Smart but no direct display.
    Therefore it should be also possible to show the data like speed, cadence and power on the Fenix 3 durng cycling. Have you tested such connection because I found no real information online??

    Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany

    • chukko

      I have a Tacx Genius Smart T2080 and can confirm that Fenix3 can connect to both power and speed/cadence profiles. Power profile was found immediately, speed/cadence failed to show for several attempts – then i tried to leave my hand closer to the unit and it was found and worked fine even on handlebars (at least for couple minutes i tried so far).
      It would be lovely if Fenix3 supported FE-C profile as well – Tacx app is quite crappy even for basic resistance setting.

  83. Sven

    Why did no one at Garmin notice, that they spelled it Triathalon on the box and various pictures around the web?

  84. Asís

    I really like VO2MAX estimation made by the watch, and I find it to be fairly good in terms of accuracy when compared to an actual test (I took my test and measured 47, and Garmin Fenix estimated 43 one year later). What I find more interesting is the trend of VO2MAX over time to see how training makes it improve, and I was wondering if Garmin connect or some other tool could take my older activities (I war the HR monitor nearly in all of them) and estimate VO2MAX from the recorded data. Any clues on this?

  85. Roger

    Can you use the heart rate monitor on its own? I am wondering if I could use the watch at the gym while doing crossfit or other workouts where I want to monitor my HR throughout the workout. Or would I have to select indoor running or some other sport in order to have the HR activated?

  86. John

    Are there any profiles for the Fenix 3 that allows for Aviation functions similar to Garmin’s Aviation specific watches? I know that is not your area of expertise, so I will accept “I don’t know” as an answer.

    • Unfortunately the Fenix3 doesn’t allow sharing profiles, so it makes that a ton more difficult (the only Fenix used to). That said, with Connect IQ, there may be some Aviation apps out there, but I haven’t looked myself.

  87. Hi all. I am unable to “Send Workouts To Device” from the Garmin Connect site, something I could do until a few weeks ago. Everything seems to work fine via Garmin Express. However, when I then select Training Calendar on the watch, it either brings up the same screen again or the message that I need to download the calendar. I have tried soft and hard resets, even formatting, but the problem persists.
    Does anyone else have this problem? Any ideas why its happening and what I can do about it?

    • Frankie

      I’m having the same problem. No workouts. No training calendar. I am able to send workouts via Bluetooth from my phone. Kind of a bummer. I really like and use the training calendar feature. Apparently it has something to do with the last update (4.6).

    • Andreas Kraker


      I have the same problem. Workouts possible through Bluetooth from mobile but not from Connect. and no calendar possible to transfer.

      I end up with a message, something like: unable to do the job, try later

      i tried with chrome, firefox, IE on 2 different computers
      i downgraded the watch Firmware from 4.62 to 3.8, but nothing worked out, i wrote to costumer care one week ago, no reply..

      Also in the forums there is no reply..


    • Andreas

      I’m on 4.60 …
      I mainly work under Linux so cannot confirm this for windows.
      I do these steps which successfully transfer a workout and also course to the watch.
      1) open connect.garmin.com with google chrome (cannot confirm if other browsers would make a difference)
      2) create a workout or a course
      3) Click Send to device you might get the message about “External Protocol Request” I click launch application, but I’m not sure if it is really required.
      4) The next pop-up will show message to turn on device and to wait a moment …
      5) on the watch go to settings -> connect to wifi. this will transfer the workout or course. watch displays “Transfer Complete (1 file failed)” … but I can see and use course or workout on watch …

      maybe this works for others as well !?

    • I’ve seen a few oddities as of late with Windows 10 and the Send to Device functionality, not sure if you’re on that or not. I had to jump through a slew of hoops as well to get it to work (can’t remember them unfortunately). Might be worth checking Garmin Forums though for troubleshooting there. It’s not really a Fenix3 problem, but more of a Garmin Connect/Garmin Express issue.

    • Problem solved with the latest Garmin Express “critical” update.

  88. Juan Antonio

    Funcionaria con la banda ANT suunto memory belt?

    • Andy C S

      Si, pero no como las nuevas bandas Garmin Tri. Solamente como una banda normal.

      (Best Spanish I could muster being Portuguese).

  89. Andrew


    After reading tons of posts and reviews I cam to the conclusion that the Ambit 3 GPS was rock solid compare to the Fenix 3. But the Fenix 3 has more features, etc. I still hesitate between those two watches and dont want to wait until 2016 for the next Ambit or Fenix ! Any development on the Fenix 3 GPS accuracy with the new firmware 2.90 and software upgrade 4.64 ??

    Thanks !

    • Nuno Pinto

      I have the exact same opinion as you. I have a Ambit 3 that as been very accurate and trustfull, even though it lacks many nice features, specially for me as I am an Android user.
      A month ago I was just about to get a Fenix 3, when I started reading all the comments. I concluded that spending almost 400€ for something that is not as good as what I presently have is just nonsense…
      I probably just save those 400€ for something else as I doubt that Garmin can fix it in any time frame…if they could, it should have already been done…the watch is here for more than 6 months.

    • Andy C S

      I sometimes feel like an odd duck if I start listening to the few* comments about trouble with the Fenix 3 since my Fenix 3 has been working flawlessly from the get go and every update did nothing that had me complaining.
      As I was waiting for the Fenix 3 to arrive I read this thread about how the Fenix was worse than the Garmin Swim because it didn’t recognize laps and it was just awful because the workouts looked like mush. Then I caught my breath and noticed there were only a handful of people even posting there. Then my watch arrived and even not being even remotely used to it, I was able to record every swim WO without a single problem. I didn’t even have to change how hard I pushed off the wall or my stroke. It just worked.

      * Yes, few, because there just aren’t a lot of people complaining AND if you take all the people with problems that actually took the time to set the watch up correctly out of that number (“so you’re telling me «every second» is more accurate?!” smh), then the number plummets even further. I mean, if Ray deleted every post here that would otherwise not exist had the people posting read the review or even the manual (RTFM), it would be cut in half I bet.

  90. Greg

    Hi Ray,

    I was wondering if you’d had any experience of the Fenix 3 over-reading distance, especially in mass-participation events over measured distances?

    I’ve had my F3 since May (paired with a Garmin footpad) and in July I ran the British 10k in London (approx 25,000 participants) and it clocked my distance on both the watch and Garmin Connect as 10.57km. When this run was synced across to Strava the distance was a more believable 10.2km.

    Yesterday I ran the Great North Run 1/2 marathon (approx 57,000 participants) and the F3 clocked me covering 23.05km, which was also shown on Garmin Connect. – in other words the F3 was more than 9% out!!!
    Again when synced across the Strava the distance was shown as 21.3km.

    I did relatively little zig-zagging in the race as I started in an appropriate pace pen so I can’t believe there would be any way I would have been able to add 1800m to the distance that way. Plus, comparing notes with 2 friends running at the same time (with an FR 610 and Polar V800) showed them to have a much more accurate distance record.

    I was shooting for a 2hr time which meant that I needed to run 5’41” per km but for the first 10k the watch was showing my average pace at 4’54”. I knew this was out as there was no way I could run that fast. I ended up having to pace myself using the mile markers (difficult considering I think my runs in km) and the F3’s stopwatch. I could have done this with a £10 Casio – there would have been no need to spend £300+ on the Fenix 3

    Between these 2 races I ran a local half-marathon (less than 1000 participants) and the F3 recorded 21.13km – which is a great accuracy level.

    So – is it possible that when running alongside thousands of people with GPS watches the F3 suffers from some sort of interference that throws its accuracy out?




      Greg, why don’t you post the Garmin Connect activities so we can take a look.

    • Nuno Pinto

      Strava is doing some correction, the best way to check the track “quality” is to get the GPX file and open it in a software like GArmin Basecamp.

    • Andrew


      I’ve read on a post that the accuracy might not be good in the “Smart” mode… Have you try both “Smart” and “Every second” recording ? If yes, does it make a difference ?

    • Greg

      Hi DJFAITHFUL, Nuno Pinto and Andrew,

      Thanks for the suggestions.

      GPS settings are GPS On (not UltraTrac), Power save normal, Auto Pause / Auto Climb / 3D Speed / 3D distance all off, Smart data recording, GLONASS off. so I might try switching to every second recording. Does turning on GLONASS help with position accuracy because you pick up more satellites?

      I’ve never used BaseCamp so I will check that out.

      Here’s my Great North in Garmin Connect:

      link to connect.garmin.com

      …and in Strava

      link to strava.com

      Note that the course features a couple of open-sided underpasses between 1 and 2km in with limited line of sight to the sky. This is where the watch would maybe have been relying on the footpod to compensate for a weak GPS signal. But – after that the course has (with the exception of a few short bridges) an uninterrupted view of the sky.

    • Frank

      Greg, You mentioned that you are paired with a foot pod. Are you sure your distance are not being measured by this rather than the GPS? If your calibration is off that will mess up both your distance and pace. A combination of longer than expected distances and faster than expected pace sounds like a low foot pod calibration number to me.

  91. Mark Yeo

    Hi Ray!

    Do you by any chance have a video/review of how the navigation features work while running along streets? For example, does the “back to start” navigation function give turn-by-turn navigation while running through streets? If not, how does it work?


  92. Philipp

    Hi Guys, very nice review on the F3. I am planning to buy a powermeter and just tested the “Rotor Power” (Version with 2 seperated sensors Left & Right) . It seems that the F3 has an issue with this 3rd party product. It randomly connects and disconnects with the Rotor Power Sensors. The sales agent gave me an Edge1000 to test with the Rotor Product and it seems to work fine with it. No signal los, fast and reliable connection process. Anybody experienced these things between the F3 and the Rotor Products?

  93. NMuller

    Hi Ray! Thanks for the great review, as always. I was wondering if we will ever get full integration of running and biking on one of these watches, in terms of VO2Max and recovery and so on? Most of us do these two sports, so it would seem natural for Garmin (or someone else) to have all these features integrated on one watch… Sorry if I missed this in the review or another discussion comment.

  94. PJal

    Thanks for a terrific, detailed and well laid out review. I’ve found this very helpful when looking for alternatives for my wife’s and my very aging Forerunners 405 and 410. Could you please clarify a couple of points:
    1) I understand that auto lap by position is unavailable on both the 920XT and fenix 3 but you can still set auto lap intervals (every 1km for eg.). Can you explain why the Garmin site’s comparison tables state “auto lap” is available on the 920Xt but not at all on the fenix 3? Being a big but, apparently, rare fan of auto lap by position, any news on if it’s likely to be available on either in the future?

    2) Courses – again much loved on our old Forerunners. The Garmin comparison tables list courses “compete against a previous activity” as not available on the fenix 3 but available on the 920XT. Your review mentions you can download “courses” to the fenix 3. Is courses “compete against previous activities” in fact available on the fenix 3?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  95. Hi there – do you know if the fenix 3 (or 2) is able to connect to the concept2 erg via ant+ in the same way the 310xt and 910xt does? Think it needs to be FE compatible?

    Also are you able to export .fit files as I do currently from my 910xt to load into my firstbeat athlete software.

    Big thank you for your reviews – always a great wealth of information


    • The Fenix3 doesn’t support ANT+ FE-C, so that’s somewhat of a non-relevent item at this point. More interesting though in your case is that it doesn’t support the standard ‘Gym Equipment’ profile (sorta the older uncle to FE-C). That was supported by the 310XT/910XT, but basically nothing new since.

      Now, I think the Concept2 ERG might also transmit on regular ANT+ Power/Speed/Cadence channels, but I haven’t tried one anytime recently. If so, then you’d be good.

    • Hi there – thanks for the reply – if you get a chance to check this I’d be externally grateful :-)

    • Beowulf

      did you get a chance to try and connect it to a PM4 or PM5?

    • Rickard

      Looking around on the net, it sounds/looks like Ant+fe-c should be possible to implement using a new firmware update, the same with Ant+fe. Looking at for example tacx homepage, their equipment can be firmware upgraded to learn fe-c, shouldn´t be impossible for Garmin to do the same…
      I have recently ordered an Concept2 model D rowing machine with PM5, would surely be nice if it worked with my Fenix 3. I know it works with my HRM strap, but that is not the same as letting my watch record the rowing data and then upload to garmin connect.

    • chukko

      For sure it is possible. Question is whether it is important for Garmin to consume development resources for this.
      Another aspect is that they would need to change the way buttons are handled – as you dont have any free buttons or hotkeys left for resistance inc/dec (unless you want to give up the rest of the indoor bike app functionality – which would be a bit pointless).
      One easy way would be via settings menu (with hotkey available for direct access to that menu).

  96. Ivan HU

    Hi! During swimming set in a pool with Mio Link I can see the heart rate real time, but when I upload the training to Garmin Connect there is no hert rate data. I heard that it is possible to see this data when using a Forerunner 920. Any ideas? Do you know if garmin intends to release heart rate recording for pool swim? Thanks!

  97. DP

    I have the gray edition GF3 and was curious if anyone (Ray?) knew whether we can purchase the silver bezel from the other silver edition and switch them out, just as you might do with the watch bands since you use the same tool. I couldn’t see anything on the Garmin site with an option to purchase parts other than bands but was wondering if anyone else knew.


  98. A118NG

    Hi, does anyone have a problem pairing their Fenix 3 device with Sony Xperia Z 1 smart phone with android version 5.0.2 and the Bluetooth version is 4.0?? I bought myself a Fenix 3 about a month ago. It was quite hard to get it paired to my Xperia Z1 and after trying a couple of day, I finally managed to do so. Hence, when I updated the Fenix 3 to the latest software version 4.6 and 4.7, until today I’m unable to pair it with my phone???

    The Garmin dealer over here mention that Sony phones always have very sensitive Bluetooth that will mostly easily pair with Sony related products better than other products. I’m not sure if I can accept what they claim. They never really look in to my issue…


  99. richard521

    Hi ray , I am wondering can the calendar on garmin connect show trail running’s and running’s total separately like what suunto did on movescount.com ? movescount shows totals of running and trail running seperately, do u think garmin will add this option to garmin connect as well ?

  100. Antoine

    I am done with fenix 3 for the moment.
    After 4 months use, tons of updates and factory reset, I am considering that the gps chip and antenna are not worth trying anymore.

    Amazon is taking it back.

    I am buying a forerunner 220 and Will wait for improvements or another watch. Too bad because otherwise this watch is really great.

  101. Harald

    Oh, then you might be interested in comparing tracks ;)
    That´s from last Friday, 11.1km in Hamburg, part open road, under bridges and over the Elbe, than through Hamburg-Harburg harbour with lots of possible GPS reflection

    On the left arm my F3 (love it since May), on the right arm my trusted FR220
    Was my last “goodbye” run with the FR220, selling it, haven´t used it since May apart from a couple of GPS tests comparing both watches

    link to connect.garmin.com

    link to connect.garmin.com

    • Ted D

      GPS is OK here; currently working on footpod configuration to get a more consistent pace.

      Route with numerous turns and several complete u-turns
      F3 on left wrist (1s recording, Glonass ON, Compass OFF)
      link to connect.garmin.com

      910XT on right wrist
      link to connect.garmin.com

    • Marcos

      Nonetheless comparing yours two activities it´s easy to see that Fenix3 struggles to keep track in some points…

    • Ted D

      There is some improvements that could be made on run routes with numerous turns and switch backs. On a seven mile one lap loop around a lake, I recorded 6.83 miles on the F3 and 6.84 on the 910XT.

      everyone’s use case and needs are different. Nothing I am trying to accomplish relies on a distance measured by lasers and time recorded by a chronograph. Although I do require it to be consistent. Distance measures on similar routes seem to be consistent. Now I’m working on a consistent pace measurement for intervals. Until then the 910 will remain on my right wrist and I may eventually give up on running intervals with the F3.

      Pool Swimming and Biking (Distance, speed, and power) has been “Spot On”

    • Mike K

      Did a 10 mile run last Sat. It was .25 miles short versus 910. Another friend of mine has a 910 and EVERY time we run together the F3 comes up short. Multiple months of comparison seem to point to it cutting the corners more than other GPS devices. I have tried every option. There are not many options really.

      Garmin is sending me another F3 to try. They said they haven’t been getting a distance being off complain much but if you read the forums then they clearly aren’t listening to their customers. It seems to be a large issue. We will see if the replacement watch does the same thing.

    • Jon Briafield

      Sorry to hear your pain Mike, bad news. I have only good experience with my Fenix 3. Don’t confuse the 10, 50 or even 100 people with bad experience on the web with 1000’s not experiencing any problems. My Fenix 3 is just as accurate as my Ambit 2.

      Regards, Jon

    • Ross McLeod

      >”I have only good experience with my Fenix 3. Don’t confuse the 10, 50 or even 100 people with bad experience on the web with 1000’s not experiencing any problems. My Fenix 3 is just as accurate as my Ambit 2.”

      With respect, Jon: most people will be happily oblivious to the inaccuracies, because they don’t own two GPS devices, and because they naively assume that one of Garmin’s premier, most expensive GPS devices actually has an accurate GPS; a reasonable – but demonstrably incorrect – assumption. There is overwhelming evidence that the Fenix 3 has fundamental hardware problems. If you’ve been lucky, that’s fantastic, but I suggest that you’re the anomaly, not vice versa.

  102. jmarohl

    Fenix 3 cannot seem to be able to discern my back stroke vs freestyle. I do half and sometimes all of my swimming backstroke. Anyone else have same issue?

    • Jon Briafield

      Really I have to stop reading the comments on here now, too crazy. It’s a watch FFS, not sentient being! Backstroke or freestyle? I don’t quite understand your needs or expectations.


      Stroke recognition is an advertised feature. The purchaser should expect his watch to work as advertised.

    • Jon Briafield

      OK fair enough, wasn’t aware that this is claimed. Don’t analyse my swimming so closely.

  103. Mario


    Notifications are driving me crazy. Whenever I do unlock the phone I get all the notifications coming together (and same notifications each time I do unlock the phone). As result I get watch restarting (not always but time by time if notifications are too many).

    Anyone with the same issue? Maybe I should change some notifications setting?


    • Jon Briafield

      If they’re driving you crazy then I think you answered your own question.

      I switched all notifications off after 3 or 4 days of ownership and haven’t looked back.

  104. Andy

    While I love this watch, I wonder what happened with the Komoot app that Garmin touted in their pre-release promo videos. This is one of the apps that I’ve been wanting since the watch came out, and Garmin even said they partnered with them, so what happened there? Is it something that’s not going to happen at all now?

    • Komoot basically decided there wasn’t a market there, and went for an Apple Watch app instead. Last I chatted with them a few months back they’ve moved on.

    • Andy

      Thanks for the reply. Seems like a lot of the apps fell through. Does it seem like the app idea isn’t going to be around in the future, as not a lot of real useful ones are coming out?

  105. Ewan

    How far from the phone can the watch still receive notifications?

    • It depends on your environment, but typically speaking if I’m no more than one room away it’ll remain connected. Sometimes it’ll even work down the stairs to my apartments elevator.

  106. Reinhold

    Is there any update on the gps accuracy from garmin? I`m in a dilemma between ambit 3 and fenix 3. After reading this review I decided to buy fenix 3, but then I read about problems with accuracy and I`m not so sure anymore. Maybe ambit 3 is a better choice after all.

    • Nuno Pinto

      Let me know what you decide, I have an AMBIT 3, and I am also waiting for fenix 3 to improve (if ever), meanwhile AMBIT has been 100% accurate with the gps

  107. Arefur Rahman

    Any chance Garmin will allow loading of maps in Fenix 3 at small scale like Fenix 2?

  108. Jim Hall

    I have been using my Fenix 3 since release in March and the GPS accuracy has been horrible. I am consistently 10% shorter than everyone in our group on 10-12 mile trail runs. I could live with a +/- of a few % but planning a 46 miler Pine Mountain race in December where my avg pace and speed is crucial the huge variation is not acceptable. Considering an Ambit 3 because I will need the long battery life. Any suggestions.

    • Ted W

      My F3 is on firmware 4.70. There was an update a few revisions ago that did improve the GPS and the distance reported. In fact, sometimes I seem to be “more” than others. That said, its still in the realm of being close enough for me. Regarding batttery life. I finished a 103 mile trail race a couple weeks back. with my USB battery it takes about 45min to go from 25% power or so back to 100%. not very long IMHO. so I was able to recharge the F3 while in use a couple of times to make it through the Ultra

  109. Ariel

    What about Fenix 4, any updates?

  110. Jay

    I have a question about readability between various watches (not sure where else to post this question). I’m 59 and use reading glasses. I’ve been debating between a 220/225, 910/920, or maybe now a Fenix3.

    I picked up a 225 to try out and I can barely read the smaller fonts on the screen even with the backlight on, even if I have my reading glasses on. So, at this point, readability of the screen in terms of font sizes and, equally so, in terms of “contrast” is a main priority in my case.

    My priorities are:

    – readability: largest fonts and great contrast (even if requiring the backlight)
    – intervals (ideally storing multiple intervals)
    – accommodate HRM straps
    – goes in water (at least for intervals; HRM is optional)
    – upload history so advisors can recommend workouts
    – loud beeps
    – looks nice in casual business dress would be a nice plus
    – battery life
    – maybe support bike cadence and speed sensors later
    – battery life
    – WiFi

    The activities I’ll use it in are running, biking, kung fu and swimming – all mainly with for the intervals beeps (knowing bike cadence will be nice but I can check that now and then with a 10-second audible beep if necessary). I want the HRM for helping advisors guide me on optimal interverals/workouts.

    I’d sure appreciate a recommendation or two. I’m hoping a 910 or 920 or Fenix3 is a LOT easier to read than the 225. (I’m willing to get a 9210 instead of 920 if the 910 is a lot easier to read than a 920. I don’t need a lot of data fields on the screen at once.

    Cost is not an issue at this point, compared to usability and usefulness.

    I’m not married to Garmin, but I like being able to upload data that others can read and advise me on.

    Thanks so much!


  111. Matt

    F3 quick release, thoughts?

    link to buy.garmin.com

  112. Juan Carlos Lopera Ramirez

    I would like to receive an advise from your forum, i am interesting to buying the Fenix 3, but i heard that Fenix 4 will be released on January 2016. at this point, do you recommend to wait until January 2016?

  113. Andrew

    With the release of the fenix quick release kit would you change your recommendation in the Fenix 3 vs 920XT for triathletes?

  114. Juan Carlos

    I read it in a Garmin forum
    link to forums.garmin.com

    Let me know your opinion, if you believe that this comment it is not. i will buy the Fenix 3 as soon as possible.

    Thanks for your comments

    • No, the initial piece that comment is based off of is simply someone talking about what they’d like in a future Fenix unit. It’s not actually based on any factual information.

      As for timing of a future Fenix unit, I’ve got no idea. Garmin announced the Fenix3 at CES (first week of January) this past year, but didn’t ship for another 45-60+ days (depending on how far down the queue you were). I can’t see any scenario where they announce anything new until at least then, if not aiming more for a spring or later launch (like they’ve historically done).

  115. Rob


    Firstly, awesome blog, I’ve used it for years.


    – Is there any way of using the Fenix 3 like a ‘Finis Tempo Trainer’ (maybe a widget you know of). I’d like it to beep or vibrate every length as per my CSS?

    – Secondly, why would you need a HRM swim and HRM Tri? Will the Tri alone not suffice?

  116. Rob

    Some new Fenix 3 models:

    link to garmin.blogs.com

  117. Richard Goiser

    having seen the Fenix 3 I went to your site to see if it’s any good. Reassured by you I went on Amazon to order it, but was shocked by the consistently bad reviews. Some reviewers didn’t bother to list the flaws but just referred to the Garmin forums and indeed they are flooded with angry posters.
    Most posts are much younger than your review, so it can’t be an earlier firmware they are struggeling with.
    The main problem seems to be massively unprecise GPS and bad recording. The solution proposed by some, to switch to 1sec interval doesn’t seem to help.

    Any idea how come that your unit is so flawless but theirs are not? Have you heard of these issues?


      Have you been keeping track of the posts at the forum recently? If so, you’d see that owners are generally happy with the watch’s GPS performance, including myself. I’d recommend you look back about three weeks or so in the GPS accuracy thread. My Fenix 3’s GPS performance is right up there with a 920xt that I’ve used extensively.

    • Couple of thoughts:

      A) Amazon shows 4.5/5 stars for some 228 reviews, essentially the highest you’re ever going to see on Amazon.

      B) I noted in the ‘Bugs and quirks’ section that some people were seeing issues in certain situations.

      C) Many folks have looked at my Strava tracks using it, and saw no issues with those tracks.

      D) As DJ notes, the vast majority of people are happy. Realistically, anyone going to the Garmin Forums (like any company forum) is there because they are troubleshooting something. Happy people don’t go there, since they’re happy with their products. Even if you look at the handful of people still having problems, that’s not even a fraction of a percent out of the hundreds of thousands of units shipped.

      Just my two cents.

    • Christopher

      I think the majority of people run in the city. The issues start when you go running / hiking in the woods. Or even running in parks with heavy foliage. On street races / training on the sidewalks there are no major issues except for junk pace when running by tall buildings or under bridges. But under the trees the GPS goes wild. Even if it has glonas on and 1 sec interval recording.

    • I run/walk in the woods all the time and only once blipped with the Fenix 3. I also record with my iPhone and the dog has a TomTom and 99.9% of the time the courses are exactly the same. Now I know I’m statistically tiny but my Fenix 3 is just fine in heavy woods.

    • Richard

      You sound a bit offended, sorry, that wasn’t my intention.
      I’m looking at the German Amazon store, there are just around 20 reviews. The overall rating also isn’t that bad over here, but if all critical reviews are about the very same issue, this is usually something which will drive me mad as well.

      Also I’ve made the experience that the vast majority isn’t just not writing in forums/Amazon, because their product is so great, but because they are just not so fastidious as I am. A friend of mine has the same phone I have, the LG G3. That thing dies every now and then when you start the camera. You have to take out the battery for 5min to resurrect it. It’s driving me mad, while me friend says “greatest phone ever!” Only when I explicitly asked her about that issue she said “oh yes, that happens once a week or so, but I don’t care”.

      Since you are most obviously fastidious I was even more curious how come.

      Hope you see my point ;-)

  118. Asís

    Fully agree with DCR.
    I run almost all the time in parks or woods under heavy foliage, and never had issues with GPS accuracy (tested with two units, and compared with friends who ran along with other running watches). I recommended the watch to friends and family, and every one who bought it, loves it.

  119. echarlus

    Well I run in the city all the time. I’m happy with the F3 but one should be prepared to see crazy tracks when there are buildings around… Also the GPS pace is not accurate at all and cannot be used for training. Therefore I now use a footpod for pace but the current firmware sill has bugs which make it unreliable (pace switches from footpod to GPS or watch accelerometer without notice…).
    Check this track if you want to see how crazy it can be: link to connect.garmin.com
    On at the beginning/end of the run : ave Gambetta: Going both ways I stayed on the left sidewalk (going towards place Gambetta) and rue Bellegrand: I stayed on the right sidewalk (going towards porte de Bagnolet ).
    The track jumps all around and shows me crossing the street and running into buildings on the opposite sidewalk.
    What needs to be noted though is that the reported distance is pretty accurate (I don’t understand how they can do it when looking at the track!).
    I also had very bad experience with swimming (both open water: crazy GPS tracks and distance & swimming pool: wrong lap counted) this summer but I do not really care since I do not train for triathlon. I see that the latest beta firmware is supposed to improve lap counting while swimming but I’ve not tested.
    Overall it’s a good watch in my opinion even if I pulled my hairs a few times while training …. It’s now getting better.

  120. Kristian Larsen

    Quick question regarding the activity tracking. Say for example, that I don’t wan’t to use the watch for a bike ride, and I’d rather have my set and forget edge 25 mounted to the frame of my trail bike, will the activity I then sync to garmin connect be synced with the activity tracking on the fenix3?

    • No, Garmin doesn’t “back sync” to the devices from GC unfortunately (for other activities). Everything shows up right on GC, but not back on your other devices.

  121. Howard

    I currently wear a regular old Citizen Eco-Drive one one wrist and a Vivosmart on the other. I also have a Garmin 520 that I switch between my road and mountain bike. I’d like to get down to one wearable and while the Fenix is probably overkill for my uses it just looks so good.

    I’ve tried and returned a few other Smartwatches in the past (Samsung Gear Fit, LG Round) because I really don’t need all of those features. Even with my Vivosmart the only notification I use is showing the name of inbound callers.. Emails, texts, social apps are all shut off. All of those watches also don’t look or feel like a watch. The new Samaung Gear S2 Classic is tempting and I’m leaning towards it – the screen is absolutely beautiful, and I know the F3 isn’t as high resolution but I’m wondering how realistic the analogue watch faces are on the F3. Does it look very digital and pixelated or does it move smoothly? (Is the default analogue watch screen customizable?) Also, does the F3 screen stay on all of the time or does it turn off/on when you lift your wrist?

    I really like my Vivosmart and the Garmin Connect page and would love to stay in the Garmin ecosystem. The new Silver and brown strap looks sooooo tempting!:)

  122. JJ Lee

    I have decided to buy the Fenix 3. Does anyone here think the sapphire version is worth the extra money over the basic version?

    Are there any advantages using a Garmin HRM with the Fenix 3 over the Wahoo TICKR Run? I would prefer to buy the Wahoo TICKR Run simply because of the excellent reviews. If I’m going to get a Garmin HRM, then I mind as well get it with the Fenix 3 in a bundle, which Garmin sells.

  123. JJ Lee


    I forgot to ask earlier if the Garmin Fenix 3 record steps through the use of its barometer in activity tracking mode? I think the iPhone 6 can do that and that’s pretty impressive. It would be awesome if the Fenix 3 can do that in addition to the number of steps that it tracks.

  124. Ed

    Hello Ray

    The Fenix 3 has more detailed altimeter data fields (lap, max, avg, total for each parameter ascent, descent and elevation) than the Forerunner 920XT, which shows only totals. Would it be possible to download these extensive data fields through Connect IQ to the FR 920? It should be easy because they already exist. Does anyone has experience with this or can Garmin make them available in the C IQ store?

    PS I prefer the much lighter FR 920, which battery also lasts longer, to the Fenix 3: only hesitation are the lack of the extensive altimeter features.

    Thanks for your comment.


    • Yup, you could definitely download extended data fields. I haven’t actually looked for those specific data fields, but here’s the link to the store for a quick browse: link to apps.garmin.com

      Failing that, you can also usually ask a friendly app developer on the Garmin Forums to make a field for you. Those ones sound pretty quick/easy for a developer to create.

    • Ed

      Hello Ray

      Thanks for your answer. Didn’t find the specific altimeter data field apps in Garmin C IQ store though. I’ll ask on the G forum. Perhaps when no reaction you, as an authority, might be able to contact them. Would appreciate and help me lot.


  125. JJ Lee

    Is it just me or that I can’t use the DCR COUPON CODE on the Fenix 3? The Clever Training website says I’ll need to join the VIP program. Is that a one time fee or an annual fee?

    • Hi JJ-

      For the Fenix3 you’ll have to use the the VIP program as opposed to the coupon code, as it’s a Garmin requirement for certain products. But at $5 you’ll still save a ton, and the proceeds go to Girls on the Run, a great charity. The VIP program is here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Thanks for the support!

  126. Jay

    Well, I bought a fenix 3 and an FR920XT to compare first-hand. Since, at 59, my eyesight isn’t any longer quite that of an eagle, readability was a top priority for me. It turns out the fenix 3 has an adjustable-brightness backlight! AFAIK, the 920 does not. The fenix 3, at 100% brightness, blows away the 920 for readability (for most people who wear reading glasses, contrast actually matters as much as font size — anyone with reading glasses can prove this by using a keychain flashlight instead of glasses and read just as easily).

    I’ll be returning the 920 and keeping the fenix 3 (and waiting for a quick-release version, at which time I’ll upgrade).

    I got the sapphire version. I wanted to use the metal band but, like others here, at one size it was way too loose and the next size down (one less link) was way too tight (they really need to incorporate a fine-tune capability like a good metal watch band typically would do).

    So, for now, I’m using the provided black rubber band. It can’t be that bad, since the first day I wore it a very fine young woman sat next to be at the outdoor bar at a local restaurant on the water where I live and, while chatting me up, commented on my watch. :-) Plus, well, Ray says he wears it to the office and for all meetings even with execs.

    Just the same, I have ordered the brown leather band. I expect it will look classy enough for the office etc, but I’m not so sure how well I can expect it to be holding up after biking, running, and… swimming in the pool and the ocean. (Can I wear it in the pool and in the ocean and expect it to last awhile, does anyone know?)

  127. Martin Birk

    Some phones like HTC One M8 do not reconnect after bluetooth disconnect or out of range. I have made a free app for automatic reconnect :

    link to play.google.com

    • Oisin

      Interesting & cool….however my HTC one M8 reconnects just fine.
      It works better than the Android Wear watch which I previously used.

  128. Mark

    Great write up, thank you
    Also appreciate all the update, thanks again

    I have a question please

    As a trail runner and hiker i want to be able to send a route to the watch and have it give me a arrow and distance to my next waypoint.
    I don’t really care about a map as i’ll have my phone and a paper map if needed, but it would be great to have the ability to check the watch to see which way the arrow is pointing for the next waypoint

    Will the watch do this?

    If so how difficult/easy is it to send a route to the watch please?
    I have a GPSMap64st so have the usual Garmin suspects installed on my PC like Basemap, can i just sent a route from Basemap to the watch?


    • Dr. D

      @Mark – I just spent some time testing turn-by-turn navigation. It worked well.

      The high level steps are:
      1) Create a route/course using http://www.ridewithgps.com (in my case) and export as a .tcx file
      2) Use an app created by Runningbadger (link to runningbadger.blogspot.co.uk) to convert the .tcx file to a .fit file
      3) Connect your watch to your PC and upload the .fit file to the NEWFILE folder within the GARMIN folder on the watch
      4) Select the course you just created which you will find within the Navigation Menu, then ‘Do Course’.
      5) The watch will prompt you to select the Activity (Run, Bike, Walk etc)
      6) Turn-by-turn prompts will appear in a timely manner.

      Note: My watch crashed a couple of times and I tracked it down to some ConnectIQ Data Fields, so I deleted all that I had uploaded and just used the stock fields on the watch. No issues since.

      Here is a detailed thread with all the information about turn-by-turn navigation from the Garmin Forums (link to forums.garmin.com)

      Best of luck.

    • Iván Higuera -Mendieta

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks you for such a compelling review. I have just recently bought a Fenix3. The first week I treated with a lot of care, but in spite of that, the watch face scratched a bit (the bezel too, but that is not that important). There is a way to fix the scratches?

      I have just recently notice that the watch face and the bezel can’t be replaced.

  129. Chuen

    Can I pair Fenix 3 to a Polar H7 bluetooth heart rate senor?

  130. Paul Roberts

    Course limits? Thanks for the great review. Given the additonal focus on navigation, can you please tell us if there is a (memory or array) limit on the number and size of courses with the F3 (and 920)? Reason is that I have hit the limit on my 910xt, which will accommodate no more than 50 courses. This appears to me to be a number limited by software (Firmware version 3.2), as when I delete the last one I can then add another (longer) one. This is a bit of a pain as I was hoping to break down a 3,000km thru-hike into around 150 days (I have already created them in Connect).

    Many thanks in advance if you can advise the answer on this!

  131. Jay

    Quick-release for fenix 3 is now available and shipping. If you can’t find it, it can be ordered on the Garmin site.

  132. Mimmo

    But the HRM data recorded with Mio Link during the pool swim session now is recorded into Garmin Connect?

  133. Mimmo

    Dcrainmaker have Garmin answered about your question to Mio Link? You said that Garmin had to do the some adjustments…

  134. brad

    Last night my Fenix 3 was charged 83% and when I woke up in the morning to go for a run it was at 18%. I know I’m not that active in bed ;-) Plus, the watch was on the bedside table. Any ideas what might have caused the battery drain overnight?

    • There was an issue way back when (like, March) on one specific firmware version where basically someone (I think it was the BT stack) didn’t shutoff properly and drained itself dramatically. It was solved in the next firmware version, but if I remember correctly the interim fix was basically just to let it die (battery), and then it was fine from there on out.

  135. richard1102

    Are there anyone who lives in hong kong in here ? Does the fellowing issue occurring to u as well ?

    I recently purchased a new f3, & logged a park run near by, I uploaded it to GC and tried to view my route by open street map layer , but unfortunately GC seems to fail to load the OSM map layer of China , either when I zoom in/out the map layer(* but I can still view the osm map layer of other countries ..strange) …i m using google chrome

    Hope someone can tell me how to solve this problem

    • Cool Man

      This is because China government does not allow other map providers to show the map data in China. Only the approved can display the China map information such as Baidu map. The solution is you need to switch the map provider to Baidu on the activity page.

  136. Heather

    Thanks for another great review. I was wondering about a few differences between Fenix 3 and Forerunner 620. I have heard conflicting information regarding some of the running information. A few examples would be the ability of Fenix 3 to do customizable auto lap, time/distance alerts, and view saved activities on the watch. Could you please clarify the differences in terms of a running watch as this would be my primary activity? Thanks.

  137. Asaf Gonen

    Hello and thank you all!
    I just got my own Fenix 3 and i want to change the Setting the Positition Format on my watch.
    I live in Israel and use an 6 digits N and 6 digits E.
    I was told to use ITM format but the only one i found was IRISH ITM, witch dosnt work..
    can any one help me?
    Again thank you!

  138. Nils

    The quick release for F3 seems to be available now!

    link to buy.garmin.com

  139. Angel

    I would to ask you for an advice.
    Since I have a fenix 2, presented on Feb 20, 2014 and I would like to substitute it with a fenix 3 (Jan 5, 2015), do you think it is better to wait for a probable fenix 4 on next January?

    Thank you very much!

  140. Eric K

    Ok – I am looking to start running more ultra running races and I have narrowed it down to the Fenix 3 and Ambit 3. Does anyone have opinions one way or the other?

    Thanks for the help,

  141. Ray, thanks for all your continued efforts and churning out great info. I recently (this eve) clicked on the clever training link to then click thro to the Fenix 3 cart. I was interested in the ‘Sapphire performer bundle’ SKU 010-01338-25 and compared it to the std version of the Fenix 3 SKU 010-01338-20, 010-01338-50, 010-01338-60. I note towards the bottom of the page under “what’s in the box” that the product inclusions for the sapphire don’t include a USB charger, AC adapter or a manual? I figure this is an oversight as I would imagine the ‘performer bundle’ would include everything. Am I right or ??? thanks rusty

  142. DT

    I love the F3 and I think it is the best watch that Garmin has done for Multisport. I just read that the F4 would be coming in January. Is that correct?
    Thank you for your support

  143. Jeroen

    Already mentioned: there is a quick release kit released not so quickly.

    Since the dimensions are similar: is the fenix 3 quick release kit compatible with the fenix 2?

  144. Dav

    I would like to know if it’s possible to display a data field like the visualHR but only on half a page or 1/4 of a page in a running mode or any other mode, because I would like to put the cadence and pace on the same page. Otherwise I think it’s possible to actually program it but it’s a little bit too complicated (sorry for my English pals!).

  145. Tobi

    Since the last updates (Connect mobile & Android 5.1) I had issues with the smart notifications on my Fenix 3 (coming from the Galaxy S6). Sometimes it works, sometimes not, SMS yes, WhatsApp just “if the wind was OK”, Incoming calls every time…
    After a number of emails with Garmin Support I got this Feedback, which I guess is quite interessting for others, too:

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I am happy to help you.
    A new feature of TouchWiz, which is part of Samsung’s version of Android 5.1 and higher, is removing background processes. This feature of Samsung’s is called SPCM and is an aggressive task manager that turns off applications running in the background. This will kill the Garmin Connect Mobile application and tasks associated with it, and cause the disconnect you are seeing. We are working on finding ways around this issue. However, root access to the phone is needed to disable the feature.
    If you are on Android version 5.1 or higher, we strongly suggest contacting Samsung to encourage them to disable this feature, or allow the user to toggle the feature on or off.

    Have a nice Weekend

  146. George

    Can you create a weight training mode?

  147. Carlos

    I have a FEnix 3 and i just use live tracking once, and in website, just my position appears, not the entire track that i made until the moment? is like thaT? How to do it?

  148. Robert

    Hi there, I’m in the market for a multi-sport watch and I’m curious to hear everyones opinions on the Forerunner 920XT vs Fenix 3. DC Rainmakers awesome review of the Fenix was in March 2015 and with the speed that technology changes, I’m curious to know if there have been any compelling updates for either in the last several months. Or, is anyone aware of any future release information that will make one stronger over the other?
    To assist, the main purpose I’m using the watch is to collect swim, run & bike data and would like to sync the data via bluetooth or wireless to training peak.


  149. Megan

    My comment is similar to the previous one – with the holidays just around the corner I’m hoping to get a Fenix 3 but am wondering if it would be wise to hold off until early 2016 if a Fenix 4 is likely to be released. Any thoughts on this, Ray?


  150. Matt Chitwood

    Does anyone have insight into how basic functionality from older watches is rolled into the newer devices? I recently discovered on my Fenix3 in Open Water Swim OWS mode it shows distance in yards all the way up to 9,999 yards at which point it converts to showing whole miles (6 vs 6.4 for example). On the 910XT it would show yards until about 300 yards and then the display shows distance in miles… because typically in open water you are swimming distances that would be measured in larger increments (miles or kilometers). It seems to me that this would be something simple to build into the newer devices (Fenix3) or make it something configurable in the OWS app, but it doesn’t appear so.

  151. David

    My solution is to always do OWS in metric. That way the change from m to km doesn’t really cause any problems. I just wish I could configure the activity that way. BTW: I do not own a fenix, just a 920XT and a 910XT before that.

  152. tommays56

    The Ambit 3 is my most trail challenged watch and has gotten “lost” many times now

    The 920XT does great on the road but also struggles to provide good pace/distance on trails as they still have only allowed pace on the footpod

    So when the 5.0 firmware came out I exchanged the Ambit for the F3 and am quite happy as the pace/distance now on the footpod allows very good results in any GPS condition

  153. Zrody

    I’m between fenix 3, 920xt and fr620. I know that are differents watches.
    Fenix 3 was my first option, but the problems with gps accuracy, had made me think in the other twos.
    I need the watch for running and cycling. I have a fr60 (with foot pod) and I want improve to a gps watch.
    My other option is buy a cadence and velocity sensor for the fr60.
    But I really like the fenix 3, but the comments in the web are so differents. I don’t know what to do.
    PD: Sorry for my english.

    • Carlos Goncalves

      I have some problems with gps accuracy in my fenix. I made a 10km run and the track was a almost a straight road, but in some places, track is no right, as picture…

      What can i do to solve that?

    • Artur

      You are not alone…
      Below is link to polish page. Don’t read it but just see pictures (digits will help you understand contents)
      The topic is “What is about Garmins?”)

      link to warszawskibiegacz.pl

      Best regards…

  154. cyclingfool

    I received my F3 bundle about 3 weeks after the first REI shipment on pre-order. I use it mainly for running and cycling and it has done well. Added a few pool swims too. Have both Garmin and Wahoo speed/cadence sensors, foot pod and multiple HR straps. I connect it to my IOS phone (5 and later 6) and everything just works. Steps upload fine and sometimes have to open phone app for it to sync. It connects to sensors almost always. Only issues I have ever had was one of the upgrades did the battery drain thing, but after I let it drain completely to shutoff and then recharged, it was fine. Wireless function is completely seemless. I set that on initial config and have not installed but one upgrade via garmin express and that was due to wanting to download a course and got the upgrade while I was there(away from home wireless at that time). After all the complaints about GPS tracks, I went back and started looking closer and really don’t see any issues. I have been on Garmin products since the 605 and even have the 310xt and F2. I checked gps tracks all the way back and they all look about the same to me…running on a sidewalk, it might put me 3 ft off into the road. It cuts a corner here and there, but all of the little issues you see when you zoom in on f3 tracks are there on my 310, 705, 800 and F2 tracks also. Some are better than others at times. I have a few rides that I use the 800 and F3 for comparison and they are very close. I did a 79 mile ride and the F3 was actually .04 mile longer ride than the 800 reported. I think DC is right. Most people come here to complain about bad units…I come here to learn more how some of you guys and gals explore and use more of the features on the watch than I do. Thanks to DC and all of you for teaching me how to use more of the features of my watch. I think the F3 and 920 are almost identical in features and hardware, but the F3 looks so much better. Your choice, but I would recommend the F3 coming from a very happy F3 user. I wander if the F4 new goodies list included the wrist based HR for those of you triats out there? DC, any updates on new features expected on the next round of multisport watches?

    • Ryan

      I’m with Cycling Fool, loved my F3 since I have had it.. Wish I had waited a little longer so I could have got the leather strap option (although, not the best choice for swimming).. I wear it 24/7.. I have only had one instance when it struggled and that was on a mtb doing plenty of switchbacks.. I use the 500 edge on my bike always.. And this is the only time there was a discrepancy of any note..

    • Zrody

      Thanks cyclingfool and Ryan!
      I have another question:
      Can I get the pace and distance from the foot pod in outdoor and record the track with gps at the same time?

    • tommays56

      Yes with 5.0 the footpod does pace/ distance while recording a track and the pace is very responsive

    • Frank

      I’ve been waiting for this foot pod based speed/pace display capability and am in the process of exchanging my flaky (3rd) fenix2 for a fenix3. While I wait, I have a few questions for those of you that have used this newly “restored” capability:

      1. Is the foot pod derived instant pace information used only for display purposes or is it also used to estimate distance even when running outdoors with a good GPS lock?

      2. Is the failover capability also back? In other words will the foot pod stand in when you run into the hypothetical tunnel and hand things back over to the GPS when you come out the other end?

      3. Does the fenix3 accommodate multiple foot pods in line with it’s overarching sensor pool concept?

      4. If the answer to #3 is yes, can each foot pod have a separate manual calibration?

  155. phil

    I see now,Garmin have released a quick release kit for the fenix 3. But looking at the pictures I’ve seen ,it dont look as if you can charge the watch with QR fitted.anyone have any idea if this is so ?1

    • phil

      I’ve just heard back from Garmin Support,and they have confirmed that you do need to remove the quick release mechanism from the watch for charging.

    • gaijin

      That’s not the case. I have the QR kit for the fenix 3. For charging, the part that attaches to the watch just unsnaps and swings out of the way – very easy, no disassembly required.

    • gaijin

      Here’sa pic that shows how high the whole QR setup is:

  156. Norm Goody

    I SURRENDER. I have posted numerous times about my problems with F3 and OWS. I have dutifully updated watch yet no improvement. The GPS track “quits” about 1/2 way through almost every ocean swim I have ever done (many dozens). (documented in numerous prior posts). However, I otherwise LOVE the F3 and it appears to work flawlessly (tho have not checked run pace accuracy recently).

    While I was really hoping to have “1 watch to rule them all” I have finally given up and, with the current Clever Training sale (26% discount), I went ahead and ordered a 920XT. I really do want an accurate training/racing watch and the F3 just isn’t it.

    the “good news” is that I plan to put my metal band back on my F3 (didn’t work for training= either too loose and floppy and couldn’t feel alarm vibration for intervals or too tight when wrists swelled a bit) and now will have a gorgeous “smart watch” for wearing to work and as aback-up if I don’t have the 920 available.

    I really tried but it seems that Garmin just didn’t make the translation form sport to casual in going from 920 form factor to F3 (since they are o/w pretty identical in features?).

    I hate spending so much for duplication, but even the F3 sapphire is reasonably priced compared to an Omega or T-H 9with SO many more features) and my 920 can be the sport-only ugly-assed workout watch it was always intended to be (the 920 is just FUGLY! but I guess it works?)

  157. Norm Goody

    BTW- what happened with the latest update of the Garmin Connect app for iOS? What were they possibly thinking? It went from “very functional” and useful to a “Kardashian” (kinda pretty to look at– but does no real work and is a dumbed-down mess….).

  158. Chuen

    If I have a portable battery charger for my Fenix 3, could I keep charging the battery of the watch and recording a more acute GPS data plus heart rate during the event?

  159. len ellis

    Ray –

    Now that Fenix 3 has a quick release kit, would you prefer it to 920xt? my experience with fenix3 is good but not great. it tends to read me as having run farther than the actual distance (from mapmyrun and runs with other gps watches, iphone, etc).

    how would you compare a fenix 3 on a quick release mount vs an edge 520?


  160. Dan P

    I absolutely fell in love with my Fenix 3 when it arrived. It is an absolutely beautiful device. Unfortunately, I have experienced a lot of battery issues. My watch battery would completely drain wishing 2-3 days in watch only mode and even faster during activities using a hrm. I was so excited about the Fenix 3 that I sold my 920XT to cover a portion of the expense. Garmin Tech Support insisted that there was nothing wrong with the device and suggested that I just charge the battery every day. Unfortunately, this was not a satisfactory resolution for me. I ordered another 920XT through Clever Training today as I was extremely pleased with the one I previously owned. I will be returning my Fenix 3 tomorrow ? I hope all other Fenix 3 owners are having a more positive experience than what I have had over the past 6 weeks. I am going to sacrifice the extra features and go back to the trusty 920.

    • Norm Goody

      I just said similar thing above. After many months- I give up on the F3 as a tri watch. Fortunately, I am able to keep my F3 as my daily driver and purchase the 920 for workouts. Wished I could have gotten by with just one device, but the F3 has just been completely unreliable for OWS- no matter how hard and careful I am to keep wrist out of water- basically, worthless for OWS. Don’t use it for bike. Haven’t checked run accuracy since recent updates.

    • Alex

      Please tell me what features have Fenix3, which do not have 920Xt?

  161. Remco Verdoold

    Sensor pool issue
    So basically when I start the Run it opens the sensor pool and starts searching for sensors. Usually it finds my tempe, HR and food-pod. But for the fun I sometimes cycle ten minutes on my tacx trainer before the run. If I then select Bike it still gets my food-pod (yes spinning with running shoes), but also my power (bushido smart) and my speed/cad. It then completely messes up my distance though speed and power are shown correctly (its in bike-indoor mode).
    Would it be wiser to have the sensor pool looking for sensors that make sense for that sport?
    Additionally, sometimes after updates it opens the sensor pool, but just doesn’t connect to any sensor (can’t find), do you have the same problem? A normal restart usually solves this problem.

  162. Ivan

    I’m seeing 20% and higher discounts pop up on Garmin Fenix 3 and 920 XT and Polar V800 on webshops that normally use prices close to list price.
    I didn’t expect such price drops on the Fenix 3 now, which I was about to order.

    What would be the reason behind these discounts?

    Must take deal or a sign that better stuff is coming soon?

  163. Denys Mavrynsky

    Thanks for the nice review. I’m considering buying this watch to replace my ugly Polar RCX5 (together with GPS sensor it costs almost the same, but lacks a lot of features)
    One thing which confuses me: are decimals available during timer set-up in intervals? I mean, is it possible to set-up intervals for let’s say 22.5 sec?
    During track workouts, I usually set-up timer so that I hear “beep” when crossing each 100m mark. This helps to keep a constant pace on medium (1-3 km) distances. Polar allows to set it up only to even amount of seconds (22 or 23 sec), which gives 10 sec/km (16 sec/mile) difference between steps, which is quite a lot. I don’t see any technical reason why decimals set-up wouldn’t be possible, except of software engineers laziness.
    In the comments below, somebody mentioned that intervals shorter than 1 min are not available. If it is not fixed yet, it’s a shame too.

    • “except of software engineers laziness” … no not true, if you have ever programmed for a processor that has limited space then adding something like decimals uses up a lot of space that could be used for other more important things. Sometimes it’s all about adding the most wanted features not everything and the kitchen sink.

    • chukko

      I beg to differ. Implementing decimal there is very trivial – you can just keep the value internally in tenths and just display as decimal – no need to involve floats at all.
      But i do agree that the laziness is surely not the reason – having to enter one more digit would waste time for 99% people who dont need decimals and also it is very questionable it is is worth the effort to implement if you are possible one of the very few people on the planet who would need that.
      It would be nice if garmin opened an auction where people would be williing to pay to get some features implemented. That would show quickly how important that really is.

  164. Manas

    Hi Ray,

    I see that on your holiday deals thread you have mentioned that Garmin has releases a beta firmware granting the Fenix3 the new Running Dynamics. However as I read your review of Fenix 3 above, it already has the running dynamics. Do you mean that now, after the beta firmware, Fenix 3 is capable of advanced running dynamics such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, etc.

    Please let me know as I am planning to get the Fenix 3 while the Thanksgiving deal is on.


    • Phil

      Advanced running dynamics such as Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, etc. are now on the Fenix 3.
      Check out this link from Garmin support.
      link to www8.garmin.com

    • Mark

      Phil (or other beta testers) – In checking out the beta 6.19 post on Garmin, I had a quick questions, what’s the usual timeframe for beta releases to convert to regular public releases (ex – typically 30 days)? I realize it varies from release to release. But, what’s typical? Thanks.

  165. Tom S


    I realize the screen sizes are slightly different between the Fenix 3 and the 920 with the 920 being slightly bigger. Do you really notice a difference in practices during a run? Eyesight is not an issue.

  166. Alex

    Fenix3 vs FR920XT? Please tell me that it is better to take?

    • Manas

      I am in the same dilemma. However I got the Forerunner 920xt a few days back while the discounts were going on (got it for just $370 with HRM!!!). Did not get much chance to test it out but have logged 2 activities with it and it seems to perform as stated. However it is definitely not for daily wear. It can be your activity and sleep tracker but I prefer it to track just my runs and biking.

      On the other hand, I have researched extensively on the Fenix 3 and everywhere I have seen mixed reviews. It is on sale right now but I am still not confident to pull the trigger on it. Reason being if I want it as a daily office watch, then I need to get the Sapphire version (which is $100 more than the base version). Some issues that I foresee are changing the straps frequently as I cannot wear a steel one for my workouts and neither a rubber one to office. I track 3-4 activities a week and I cannot just change straps every other day. Then I have heard a lot that the bezel and the steel strap scratch very easily, and I am scared of this happening to a $500 watch.

      The only reason I would go for Fenix 3 is for the looks and that it can be doubled as a daily (office) watch. I would definitely not wear it as a 24/7 activity tracker or take it to bed with me for tracking my sleep. There are better (and much cheaper) devices available to do this.

    • Alex

      Great buy for the price! Probably the best investment of money from all the propositions submitted by the heart rate monitor is now. Congratulations!
      Fenix 3 look cooler, but also too big for everyday wear, like 920XT. If you do not want to wear every day 920XT because of the design, I would not get hung up on this, it’s all stereotypes and I do not care what others think about how I look, for example, the same Steve Jobs dressed like a bum. But with this watch conversely people will think that you are an athlete, that you exercise and generally a great guy.
      Incidentally, the DC Rainmaker writes that on a normal version of the Fenix 3 there are no scratches on the screen after a long wearing. Therefore Sapphire version is useless, especially Sapphire twice as heavy.
      I think Fenix 3 makes sense to take if often go hiking, a trip to the mountains and the forest, because they have a useful function for this (or even better to take Garmin epix). And if more involved in running, swimming and cycling, it is best to take the 920XT.

  167. Kale

    Great review as usual. Subscribed for comments and questions!

  168. I bought this watch after reading this review. 8 months later and I still love this watch. I use it for everything from hiking, biking, walking, swimming, and running. It tracks my sleep, has bluetooth notifications (like an Apple Watch). It’s pretty damn awesome. I have a full hiking-centric review and some tips and tricks on my blog here:

    link to hikingguy.com

  169. Jonatan

    Hey, just to let u know, quick release kit for Fenix 3 is already available!

    Thanks for the great reviews!

  170. Larry

    Just go the Fenix 3 from CT today. Also went for the fabric band as I plan to use this over some jackets this winter while Nordic skiing. I’m not getting how the fabric bands are suppose to go together. The base band is no problem, but the extension adds a lot of extension. The left picture show the maximum you can open the base band and still have all the velcro mating for maximum safety. The right picture show the smallest size I could figure out with the extension. I need the extension when wearing a jacket, but it’s not working size-wise. What am I doing wrong?

    • Larry

      Since I was on the phone with Garmin today regarding my defective Fenix 3, I also asked them about the fabric bands. They acknowledge the sizing is kinda wonky, with the expander targeted at down filed Michelin man type jackets. Might just sew up a DIYer special.

  171. lee talbot

    thanks f or the awesome review. i’ve been looking at the FR230 after your review on that as well, but am in 2 minds in relation to it. i only currently do running and am not intersted in the optical HRM so on the face of it the FR230 would be perfect for me (coming from the FR220 and 210 before it).

    ..but I hate the way it looks. the whole point for me would be so I have one device that looks ok wearing normally as well as performing for running. I think i can get hold of a fenix 3 for approx £50 more than the FR230 so was wondering what your thoughts would be? I had been looking at the vivoactive but its missing custom workouts (very annoying).

    I really like the look of the fenix 3 and as far as i can tell it does absolutely everything the FR230 does (and an absolute ton more that i probably wouldnt use) and also looks great. someone tell me what to do lol!

  172. Manny

    I have a couple of question on the Fenix 3 watch. Appreciate if some one can help me out there.

    1. The backlight does not get displayed while pressing keys or when receiving alerts (like every mile completion). I have set the backlight to Auto and have turned it on for Keys and Alerts. Don’t know what I am missing here. I recently upgrade to firmware 5.10.

    2. How do I calibrate the Altimeter and Barometer. Seems very erratic to me as the watch displays loss of altitude while it has been sitting on the table for the past 12 hours!!!

    3. Is there a way to increase the sound volume for alerts and the vibration as well. It feels very feeble compared to my old and faithful 310xt.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Kermit262

      @Manny, regarding number 1, I just had that problem with my new Fenix. Settings > System > Restore Defaults solved it. Of course, you’ll have to reconfigure your watch afterwards, but at least your backlight will be working properly. Don’t know about the altimeter and barometer – I don’t pay much attention to them. And no, there is no way to increase the sound volume of alerts and vibrations.

  173. Larry

    New Fenix 3 from CT. After 3 days both the compass and step counter stopped working. Reloaded firmware, hard reset and talked w/ Garmin support. Looks like the IMU inside the unit is dead. CT is doing an exchange rather than go through Garmin directly which might take longer. CT is a great vendor!

  174. Gord

    Since an update a few weeks ago my vibration alert is barely perceptible.
    Noticed this on the update page:-
    ‘Improved vibration profiles to be differentiated based on alert type.’
    Does this mean you now get different levels of vibration, and can you alter the level of vibration as it is useless at this level. Or has my unit gone faulty.
    Garmin support are just telling me to do the usual reset/update crap.

    • Manny

      This is very true. The vibration is barely perceptible. If you have used 920xt, you would know what a true vibration alert means. Even if I am lost in thoughts and running, it would bring me back to reality :)

      Fenix 3 has really disappointed me on this front. I’ll try restoring the defaults to see if it works. What did the Garmin support guys tell you?

  175. Antz

    I have a new Fenix 3 with Firmware 5.1.
    I have paired a footpod but don’t always use it.
    I don’t have the HRM-Run sensor, but use a normal style Garmin HRM.
    I have an intermittent issue whereby the cadence isn’t showing for outdoor runs (w/o HRM-RUN/footpod), on some runs I get cadence data which I assume can only be from the internal accelerometer, but on others I get no cadence data.
    Has anyone else experienced this? Do I have a faulty unit with an intermittent problem?
    Thanks for any help.

  176. Manny

    Sorry to bother again, but I am also seeing high battery drain from Fenix 3. I am loosing as much as 6% overnight (12 hours) with the watch just laying flat on the table.

    The altimeter calibration is off, bluetooth is off, activity tracking in on (move alert is off). Wifi upload is probably on as I dont know where to switch it off from. Is this normal? I also have a 920xt but that looses only 3% for the same time period. Is this a problem with 5.10 firmware or some problem with the watch itself.

  177. Mark

    DC –
    What’s your sense/experience as to when a beta software version gets pushed out as an official update?

    (With 6.19 & now 6.24, a lot of good stuff has been added to the F3. But, after bricking iPhones through jailbreaking, I’m too chicken to go beta on my F3.)

  178. Leonardo

    Just a question… Is it possible to upload cycling workouts to the Fenix 3 to follow during your training session???the ones that guide you during the training??? I would like to know this before upgrading to the Fenix 3…
    Thanks in advance!

  179. Joel

    Is there a way with the Fenix (Or Gamin in particular) to graph EPOC for an activity like you can with Suunto’s Movescount.

    It is one of the most useful bits of info I find, but haven’t seen it anywhere for Garmin products.

  180. david

    Hey Ray,

    Now that the quick release kit for the Fenix 3 is among us, is the reduced weight and profile of the 920xt sufficient advantage over the added functionality of the Fenix 3 to justify buying one? I want to get a watch for a 56 miler I have in the summer with a view to moving on to triathlon next year. Thanks and as always, sterling work!

    • tommays56

      I have owned the 920 for one year and the Fenix 3 for two months

      Over this time both watches have had huge amounts of updates and they are still coming

      As of now the 920 battery life max is about 17 hours and much less if you start using navigation and all the features, the stability of the firmware has gone down as it use to be crash free and now doing simple things like going into the calibration setting during and activity can crash the watch which never happened in the past

      As the F3 now stands it is more stable in my case has better battery life as well as well as charging during and activity and so Many better built in functions that are useful starting with something as simple as the navigation BUG which points the right way on all screens to the new beta which has real watches multipliable alarms and about 100 things the 920 lacks

      There is really not enough space here for me to list all the better things

      most everything is better done

  181. Hi, I can’t find the komoot app on connect IQ… Where do you find this? Thanks.

  182. Andrew

    Any word on the release date for the Fenix 4?

  183. Mario

    How does it work with firmware releases for the Fenix 3? I have the latest 5.10 but I have seen on a recent post from Ray that they have a 6.24 beta version and many many previous releases that were never pushed out.

    link to www8.garmin.com

    Can we safely update to these beta firmwares or better wait the official being pushed out from garmin express app?

  184. John

    Ray, I browsed the comments but was unable to locate this topic. Forgive me if you already covered this. After reading your in-depth review and the part regarding cycling, I was wondering. Is there even a need to get the Garmin Edge 25 for keeping track of my cycling activities. I am new to cycling and was contemplating getting but after re-reading your review, I was left with the impression that it is not necessary as the F3 does the same tracking/monitoring as the Edge 20/25. Did I read into that correctly or should I still get the Edge 25?

    Thank you Ray for all of your efforts for review and your time in answering this question.

    • Harald

      I skipped on a “smaller” Edge and still use my F3 with the bicycle holder
      link to buy.garmin.com

      good enough for me, same functionality like the smaller Edges

      might upgrade to the Edge 520 in spring, though – although to be honest all the data I need and want to gather can be provided from the F3

      oh, and I use 367 bikefields, so that I can see speed, average speed, cadence, HR and timer stuff on one page. Big enough font for me actually, too

  185. Jasper


    Ryan: thanks for the great site!

    Does anyone know wether you can see your vertical speed an hour on a Fenix3 without starting the GPS? This can be very usefull when hiking or backcountry skiing.


  186. Peter

    Excellent review, many thanks.

    Just a clarifying question: can you use the HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri just like with the FR9290xt? It’s kind of implicit in the text that you can, but since it wasn’t included in your table of compatibles I thought I should ask.

  187. Rick Gofton

    Hello – Looking for a recommendation between 920XT, Fenix 3 and Epix. My activity is :
    1. 30 – 40 miles/week running. Mostly roads but some trails. Want to expand routes and know how I am doing week to week comparably.
    2. Hiking trails, once per month, plus some backcountry hunting and fishing during the year.
    3. Some urban walking (smart phone does most what I need here, I suppose).
    4. I am in my late 40’s, so reading glasses are needed for smart phone stuff – hope the screens are large enough to read w/o glasses
    The main thing is the running but would like the GPS to look good for daily use.

  188. Phuong Nguyen

    I have been out for running/biking with both fenix 3 and scosche rhythm+. Running dynamics enabled from setting, however, the function does not show up at all. Neither the VO2 max. Anyone has the same issue ? What’s ur advice ?

    • Phil

      Running dynamics are calculated from the HRM-Run & HRM-Tri only, not the Scosche Rhythm+.
      VO2 MAX is partially calculated using HRV (Heart Rate Variability) this is not possible with the current generation of Optical Heart Rate Monitors, although I think you should get some sort of a reading albeit an incorrect one.
      Don’t get hung up on these limitations, you have the best tech available today. If it’s good enough for Ray……..
      All the best.

  189. Steven

    Is anybody starting to have a reduced battery life for their fenix3?

    I was getting up to 10 days sometimes before recharge when I first bought the watch about 6 mo ago. Recently I’ve noticed that I’m recharging every 48-72hr. Last night I was at 22% and the watch was dead in the morning (7hrs).

    • Identical problem. Seems to have started around the last update.

    • Norm Goody

      same here. just started noticing it as well. Fully charged. Removed from charged and left it on nightstand for 2 days (in standby- “watch” mode) and 2 mornings later it was dead.

    • JPT

      Same for me. Went from about 10 days between charges to just 2 days. This morning the Fenix was at 5% when I was expecting 75% at the lowest… this *is* a very big deal

    • Try a soft reset

      Hold the light button down then from the menu power off or simply hold down the light button until it powers off. Then simply press the light button to power on again and it should solve poor battery life since 5.x

    • Norm Goody

      twice in past week by battery has run down to “0%” and I watch was “dead” (i.e., powered off). Required charging before I could re-start. Not sure if that is same as “soft reset” but it still as the problem.

    • Brandon

      Same problem here… pick my watch up on black-Friday, so I’ve had it for about 30 days and my watch has severely drained on me probably 12 times… I see on the Garmin forums, lots of folks having this issue.

    • Thanks, that solved the problem.

  190. tommays56

    While the 6.31 beta was a full on bust the 6.32 beta is the best stuff they have released to date

    They really nailed down and added so many useful and fun things WHILE speeding up the responsiveness and stability of the watch

    If you don’t feel bold i think this one will allow a general release within two weeks :)

  191. Josh

    With the Fenix 3 now having the ability to get current pace from foot pod, where does this watch sit in terms of your personal use as your go to device for running? If it is still your go to, are you using the foot pod? And finally, is the useage of foot pod resulting in more accurate gps tracks on outdoor runs?

  192. Jeff Kohn

    Just got a fenix 3 for x-mas and I’m trying to add the Bushido smart as a sensor. Does anyone have any tips? The Bushido should be recognized as a power meter, correct?

    • Yup, ensure your Bushido Smart (must be a Smart) has its firmware updated. Then jump on it and start riding (so it’s transmitting power). Then go ahead and search from the Fenix3 for a new power meter.

  193. Richard1102

    Hi ray…i wonder will the auto calibration still be working, after I manually entered a known altitude reading to my f3 ? My fenix 3 is running fw 5.10…auto calibration setting : ON

  194. Lauri Selänne


    Does the Fenix 3 support audio cues through paired Phone -> headphones
    It would be nice to have split times, hr etc.
    On trail there is no time check out your wrist.
    99% of runs & rides I’m listening music. Strava , polar beat & wahoo fitness apps all have nice mid-training audio cue/alerts.
    This 500$ watch should be able to do the same ☺️

  195. Reinaldo

    I have a Fenix 3, for swim when I log into Garmin Connect it not show the temperature chart.

    Are you able to assist with setting temperature chart?

  196. Tommay56

    The beta releases continue to be solid,resolving old problems and adding great new features with today’s 6.4 going smooth I would expect a public release very soon

    The only battery hungry item I have seen is continuous auto altitude calibration in watch mode and it is easy to turn off and not really needed when it’s being used as a smart watch

  197. Mariana Cabrita

    I have the Garmin Fenix 3 and I swim in the 25m pool whenever I go swimming I count the pools that do and Garmin score never quite right. Does anyone know why this happens, can I fix this problem?

    Best Regards,
    Mariana Cabrita

    • Andy C S

      Olá Mariana, o meu funciona na perfeição a todos os níveis na piscina. O problema mais comum tem origem no impulso dado no início de cada pista, mas eu nunca sequer tive esse problema. Tenta dar mais impulso após a viragem.

  198. Manny

    I am having a problem with the Altimeter on my Fenix 3. I have turned off Auto Calibrate feature and have calibrate it manually by entering the altitude of my home (which is 35 meter). However when I recently went on vacation to a hilly area (around 8000 ft/2300 meter altitude) and returned back, the watch shows my home altitude as 90 meters.

    Did any one faced this problem with Fenix 3? Also while on my vacation, I was comparing the altitude on the watch with the known altitudes that were displayed at trail-heads/roadside. There too, it was off by 3-4%. Not sure if this is a bug or the best possible performance of the watch.

  199. JamesC

    looking at the Garmin news room, there will be a new line of Fenix3 with optical HR on the way – link to newsroom.garmin.com