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Hands-on: Garmin’s new Fenix3 HR with optical HR, new Fenix3 bands, major software update


Update! My Fenix3 HR In-Depth Review has now been published (click here)! You can swing over to that post to read all the details!

Today at CES Garmin has introduced three new fitness devices, first up is the new Fenix3 with optical HR (called the Fenix3 HR), along with many new variants thereof.  Then there’s the Tactix Bravo, which is a Fenix3 sibling of sorts.  In addition, they also introduced a heads up display – the Varia Vision, which I discuss in this separate post.

Within that Fenix3 HR and greater Fenix3 family, they’ve added a small flotilla of other new Fenix3 band variations – roughly on par with the numbers required for a complete Brady Bunch re-union special.

Finally, for all existing Fenix3 folks, you’re about to get a slew of software updates adding in a bunch of new features, which I’ll discuss a few sections from now.

The Fenix3 HR:


(Note: Non-final units shown in my pics, might be some slight cosmetic differences in final production units)

When Garmin introduced their in-house ‘Elevate’ optical HR sensor this past fall, it was only a matter of time until the sensor found its way into higher end units.  While I thought that’d probably be more like spring rather than CES, it’s nonetheless here now starting with the Fenix3 HR.

The sensor is identical to that of the Garmin FR235, which was introduced this past fall.  It’s just simply now plopped into the back of the Fenix3 instead.


This means that it not only tracks HR data during most workout types, it also does it 24×7 as part of continual HR monitoring and recording.  You can see below the first portion of my day was relatively calm, and then I went for a run, where it spikes up.


That in turn allows Garmin to add the ‘Intensity Minutes’ widget to the Fenix3, since it’s able to monitor your HR and when it spikes into the realm of ‘intense’.

You’ll remember that intensity minutes are tracked over the course of the week with the aim of getting you to 150 minutes of intense exercise, per various health organizations guidelines that recommend 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.

So what’s the battery and weight penalty on this?  Well, here’s a side by side of the two non-metal/non-Titanium variants for size. You’ll see they don’t get any chubbier in width.


Meanwhile, it does get a bit heavier, about 6g.



The battery comes in slightly lower than the existing Fenix3.  So the regular GPS-on mode goes from 20hrs to 16hrs, the UltraTrac GPS mode goes from 50hrs to 40hrs, and the 24/7 non-GPS watch mode goes from 6 weeks to 3 weeks.

There’s currently only one color (grey) of the Fenix3 HR.  You can however also get it in a ‘bundle’ version, which includes the HRM-RUN HR strap.

Why would you need the HR strap you ask?  Well, that’s because certain capabilities require the higher level of detail currently only available via HR straps, specifically around heart rate variability (HRV), or HRM-RUN/TRI metrics.  Those features would be:

  • Specific Running Dynamics Metrics:  Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance and Vertical Ratio
  • Lactate Threshold, Performance Condition, and Stress Score (Note: VO2Max is fine with the optical sensor)

Without a HR strap, those features will not work.

In addition, while in swimming mode, you may need a separate strap (such as the HRM-SWIM or HRM-TRI).  Right now Garmin hasn’t fully determined/decided if the optical sensor will give accurate enough data in the water (something most other companies are also on the fence about).  So they’re saying they’ll likely go out with it turned off by default, but again, are still working through tests on the accuracy front there.

Before we get into a first run, here’s a quick overview of the Fenix3 I put together:

Ok, let’s dive into the first run.

Initial Use Impressions:


So how well does the optical HR sensor work in general?  Well, we know from the FR235 that Garmin’s Elevate optical sensor in the FR235 is generally good, but still has some quirks.  However, in order to figure out if those quirks have been resolved, that’s going to take some time in terms of weeks of testing across lots of different conditions (colder weather, intervals, downhill’s etc…).  And unfortunately, I just haven’t had weeks with the watch.  But rather, just one run.

For that roughly 5K run I simply did a fairly normal loop I use within the city.  I started off with about a mile-long warm-up, followed by a handful of short but hard intervals and slightly varying intensities.  The goal with these intervals is to see how quickly a device tracks the HR aspect.  For these comparisons, I was simply using a Garmin HRM-TRI.

Note again, this was a BETA device with BETA firmware, some period of time away from release.  Thus, stuff could get better or worse.

Overall it tracked steady-state fairly well.  On intervals, I see about a 7-9 second lag before it catches up and tracks.  There’s one moment after the 3rd interval that it seems to be flustered for a moment before catching back up.


All in, this is roughly consistent with what I saw with the FR235 optical HR sensor.  Since this is a shorter run than most of my runs, the lag due to the scale looks larger than it would on a 60-90 minute long run.

As for the GPS track, it looked mostly good.  It didn’t have time to do a full 15-20 minute GPS soak prior to start, so you might get a tiny bit more improvement there.  But the track is within a few meters of everywhere I ran, even correctly getting some of the bump-outs as I burned time at stop-lights and such.  One section though for a few hundred meters it went a bit across the road.


If you’d like to look at the Garmin Connect activity from that 5K run, you can do so here.

Again, it’s too soon to know how accurate the Fenix3HR optical HR sensor is across a wide range of activities or environmental conditions.  Once I’ve had a final production unit for a while, I’ll be in a better position to say.  Further, at this time Garmin states there’s been no additional physical hardware changes to the unit compared to existing Fenix3 watches.  This means no changes to either GPS or other performance aspects.

(Note: All of the accuracy related charts were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

New Fenix3 Bands & Editions:


In addition to the Fenix3 HR, Garmin has put out a few new editions of the Fenix3 at CES (adding to the already sizable stable of Fenix3 variants).  However, before we do that, we need a brief primer on decoding the Fenix3 names.  In reality, it’s super simple and is kinda like building a sandwich:

Prefix: Fenix3 (all of them have this)
Optical HR? Yes or no, if so, add ‘HR’
Sapphire Glass? Yes or no, if so, add ‘Sapphire’
Body Trim Type: Add Rose Gold, Gray, Silver
Band Type: Applicable to Titanium, Metal, Leather, and Nylon/Fabric.

First up is the new Fenix3 Titanium.  Now some of you may be wondering how this is different than the pre-existing Fenix3 Sapphire with metal band.  Well, this one uses a lighter Titanium band versus the heavier metal band.  If you’ve picked up the existing Sapphire edition, you’ll know it’s beastly heavy.  Whereas this is super light-weight, and honestly feels like plastic (but it’s Titanium):


Here’s two shots comparing them side by side.  The lighter silver colored one is Titanium, whereas the darker one is the Sapphire with metal band unit.



Like the existing metal band, it has a clasp closing mechanism:


The band requires a typical standard watch link remover tool in the event you want to change the band size (just like the existing metal one, and really all metal watch bands today).

Finally note that the bezel is indeed silver-colored Titanium, however the watch body is grey-colored.  Also note that the unit does come with an additional black silicone strap (identical to the black silicone strap seen above in the HR version).


Next, we’ve got the new leather and nylon straps (though Garmin calls them ‘fabric’ straps).


Note these are technically not NATO straps, because NATO straps are 20mm wide, and these are about 25mm wide.


These use a slip-through system where you install these new poles on the watch, allowing you to quickly slide different straps in or out in a few seconds without any tools:


Here’s the various straps:


Officially these are:

Brown Leather strap ($59)
Black nylon strap ($24)
Olive nylon strap ($24)

Finally, there are two additional new straps that I don’t have photos of:

Lime green silicone strap ($39)
Blue silicone strap ($39)

All of which add to the existing Fenix3 variants:

Fenix3 Gray
Fenix3 Gray with HRM-RUN Strap
Fenix3 Silver/Red
Fenix3 Silver/Red with HRM-RUN Strap
Fenix3 Sapphire Glass with HRM-RUN Strap
Fenix3 Sapphire Glass with Metal Band
Fenix3 Sapphire Glass with Leather Band
Fenix3 Rose Gold with Sapphire Glass
Fenix3 HR Gray with Sapphire Glass
Fenix3 HR Gray with Sapphire Glass with HRM-RUN Strap
Fenix3 Sapphire Glass Grey with Leather Strap
Fenix3 Sapphire Glass with Titanium Band

Got all that?  Don’t worry, I can’t keep track either.  Here’s a video I put together that attempts to explain it further.

What I am able to track is the steep price for the HR models of the new Fenix3.  The cheapest Fenix3 HR version costs $599 (does include Sapphire glass though).  $100 more than the existing Fenix3.  Oh, what’s that – you wanted the Titanium band with the Sapphire glass instead?  That’ll set you back $799!  Save your pennies folks, cause flashiness doesn’t come cheap these days.  At least you’re not Canadian (well, sorry if you are), because the list price for that version is $1,199.99.  You could have purchased almost an entire township for less than that, and still had money leftover to go to Tim Horton’s.

New Fenix3 Software For Everyone:


Next, Garmin is rolling out a software update that will add a number of new sports profiles and new features to the Fenix3 units.  While much of this was quietly released to the Fenix3 beta channel over the past few weeks, there are a few new items here.  Rather than belabor each point individually, here’s a complete list of all of the new functions.

New Sport Mode – Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) This can also measure/record stroke related metrics as well.
New Sport Mode – Golf: Including ability to download some 40,000 golf courses
New Sport Mode – Rowing: Can measure stroke relate metrics as well.
Gen2 Running Dynamics: This adds the new Vertical Ratio & Ground Contact Time Balance metrics that were found on the recently released FR630
Lactate Threshold Testing: This is for runners, allowing you to determine your lactate threshold heart rate & pace (also introduced on FR630)
Stress Score: Determines overall level of stress (also introduced on FR630)
Performance Condition: Gives you a “performance readiness” indicator towards the beginning of each workout (also introduced on FR630)
Music Control: This allows you to control the music on your phone.  It does not store music on the Fenix 3 device itself (also introduced on FR230/235/630).
Audio Lap Alerts: This allows you to get audio alert readouts of lap splits from your phone, or Bluetooth headphones if connected to phone (also introduced on FR230/235/630).
Last Swim/Bike/Run Widget: This new widget makes it easy to glance at your most recent workout for each category with out diving into the history sections.
‘My Day’ Widget: Sorta a compilation of your schedule for the day.
Do Not Disturb Feature: Allows you to separately mute your watch for things like smartphone notifications and such.
New Tactical & Jumpmaster Apps: These are items previously found on the Tactix series of watches. (Note: Previously at launch Garmin stated these would only be available on the Tactix Bravo once they hit production, however they have changed their mind and will also be available on the Fenix3/Fenix3 HR.)

All of these should be available immediately, or, if you’ve been using the Fenix3 beta builds over the past few weeks, they’ve mostly been there too.

Tactix Bravo:


I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because later today I’ll have a deeper post on it.  But for now the key thing to know is that Garmin has also released a new version of their Tactix watch, now called the Tactix Bravo.

This unit replaced the older Fenix1-based Tactix watch, which was focused on the military & law enforcement crowd.  The key attributes of that watch was a night vision goggle (NVG) friendly display, as well as being non-reflective for light.  Additionally, it has more software options such as a Jumpmaster mode and a Tactical mode.

Otherwise, it’s more or less your normal Fenix3 watch.  It shares almost all the same firmware options.  Which, is ironically why I don’t have a post here at the moment – since all the Tactix Bravo units I’ve had hands-on time with were running Fenix3 firmware, versus Bravo firmware.  Later today I’ll get more hands-on with the right units and be able to get ya proper photos.  So hang tight!

(Don’t worry, there’s plenty of other goodness going on today)



It’s clear that Garmin has thrown everything into making the Fenix3 line as expansive as possible, appealing to as many people as possible.  We see that manifesting itself in the numerous designs for not only the watches themselves, but the straps too.

The addition of the Garmin Elevate optical HR sensor into the Fenix3 is a logical next step for the company, and hardly one that wasn’t expected.  However, I figured the company might spend a bit more time to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their technology first.  It’s possible that given the Fenix3 HR release time-frame is officially “Q1” (meaning, anytime between now and March 31st, 2016), that this added time will allow them to sort through those items.  It’s also important to note that if you’ve been using the Vivosmart HR, that the Fenix3 seems to behave closer to the FR235 than the Vivosmart HR, since it has more watch surface area to cover light coming in than the Vivosmart HR does.

Still, it’ll definitely be an interesting product to watch going forward and to see the technology mature.  I’d also expect this will force both Polar and Suunto into putting optical HR in their higher end units going forward as well.  Competition is always good for the industry, innovation, and most importantly, for consumers.

FYI: You can now pre-order the new Fenix3 HR, Fenix3 Titanium (and the new straps) or Tactix Bravo units from Clever Training.  In doing so you support the site here, I appreciate it!

With that – thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to check out all of the DCR CES 2016 coverage, as well as a slew of updates that were only seen on Twitter.  It was a crazy busy week!


  1. Jason

    Really interested in the Optical HR sensor in the pool/Open water and how it performs – not expecting it to be great but would be great to know!

    • I agree, in the pool it’s probably enough for it to give you an instant readout at the end of a set for most of us so hopefully they will leave it as an option.

  2. Hammer

    Any word on if the charging cradle is the same form factor as the current Fenix3 or moving to the clothes peg style one like on a couple of the other recent watches?

    And oooh, new software!

    • Sorta.

      You can use the existing Fenix3 charging cable with the HR in a pinch, but you’ll just want to leave it sitting on a table since it would only clip on one side*. The new charging cable is slightly different in order to accommodate the ‘bump’ of the optical HR sensor.

      *I know this only because it’s how I did it.

    • Hammer

      Thanks for the clarification. I was hoping they might revamp the charger a bit while maintaining compatibility, as I find my watch doesn’t always securely clip into the charger.

  3. Nick Duck

    Hi Ray – looks like you have a busy week ahead. Thanks for the update. I have a 920XT. Any software upgrades for that ? I’d like the golf capability !!
    Keep up the good work. Nick

    • Changes made from version 6.10 to 6.20:
      Added support for the latest running dynamics. These include: Ground Contact Time Balance, Stride Length, and Vertical Ratio (requires a new HRM-Run, the original HRM-Run with sw ver 6.60, or HRM-Tri with sw ver 4.20).
      Improved average stride length calculation.

      In my case, besides the watch it also updated the HRM-Run to firmware 6.60 ;-)

  4. Benoit F

    Hi Ray,
    That’s a very nice preview. Just a quick question though. Does the Fenix 3 monitors the HR continuously or just during activitites. Does it allow to get the resting HR per day like the Garmin 235? and any news about a 930/935xt with the HR sensor too?

    • Benoit F

      Just reading your article again, I’ve now seen that it does 24×7 HR tracking, but I’m not sure about the RHR :)
      Keep up the good work!

    • It does. You can kinda see it in one of the photos, but it shows null because I was only wearing the unit that day and it hadn’t had a chance to capture RHR yet.

    • Ted D

      The HR graph in the photo – is that a widget or Connect IQ app that is available on the current production F3?

    • It’s all production. No Connect IQ stuff installed on those.

    • Jesper

      But is it a widget or a build-in app. I assume widget, just like compass, temp etc???

    • Ted D

      I’m currently running 6.52 on the F3 and I cannot locate that view.

    • Jesper

      I would like to get that widget too, but I guess Garmin has decided you only get it, if you buy the HR version. They probably think no one is crazy enough to wanna wear a strap all day.. But I know at least one person that is….

  5. Matthew B.

    Ray, their press release seems to imply that the Fenix 3 HR is a variant of the Sapphire line (“Garmin® introduces three new fēnix® 3 Sapphire multisport watches featuring wrist
    heart rate, new activity profiles and more band options”), but your post seems to imply it is not Sapphire. Can you clarify whether the Fenix 3 HR has a sapphire screen or not? Thanks!

    • I’m getting clarification on that, I’m seeing two different specs that are conflicting on that. I should have something by/around 9AM Pacific there.

    • hollyoak

      So sapphire it is indeed for the HR for $599? Seems too good to be true” (well relatively speaking!) given the current price of the F3 Sapphire is also $599?

    • Matthew B.

      So, I’m guessing they are backtracking on it being Sapphire, as the email they sent out announcing the product release have it separated from the “Sapphire” watches. Although, their press release clearly states it is Sapphire.

    • I’ve confirmed with them that it is indeed Sapphire. The confusion occurred because the marketing folks felt that adding Sapphire to the name for the HR products would have made it even more complex. So some releases went out indicating Sapphire in/around the name, while others didn’t (compounding the confusion).

      But yes, all HR versions have Sapphire glass (not to be confused with the previous ‘Sapphire’ edition which had both Sapphire glass and a metal band).

    • Matthew B.

      That’s fantastic news. Not that it’s a HUGE difference, but it makes the $100 price jump more palatable.

    • Dean

      I called Garmin and clarified on this. Yes, the Fenix 3 HR is $599 but that’s with the basic rubber band. Remember the basic Fenix 3 watch (Non-sapphire) is $499

  6. It’s really nice to see Garmin almost releasing a new watch in the Fenix 3 but giving everything to us existing customers. The Fenix is a nice watch, although My 920 is still a better sports watch in my opinion. Nice to see they learned their lesson with the clasp for the Ti model too – it has the small adjustments which the original Sapphire metal band lacks and so will fit more people properly. The original was somewhat pot luck.
    With the public beta program they also seem to have addressed the stability and weird bug issues a bit so hopefully we’ll see that extend out to the other devices soon as it’s a welcome change and one that is clearly appreciated in the forums.

    • ElectronicFur

      It really sucks that Garmin concentrate on releasing new products, whilst abandoning their current users. Garmin, please at least fix the Epix bugs. It already sucks enough that you are abandoning it and not adding the new features. But to totally abandon it is not a great way to treat loyal customers of one of your top-of-the-range devices.

  7. Software updates are always welcome

  8. Morgan Williams

    Small correction – the Nato straps look to be 25mm (not 35mm) according to your pic.

  9. theodosis iacoovou

    Great preview.
    I have noticed that the new vivosmart HR has three (3) led lights, which one is yellow in order to track light on lighter skin color. Is it the same case for the new Fenix3HR?

  10. Dave

    And now we know why they had the surprise discount on the F3 pre-christmas.

  11. The measurement show 25 mm not the 35 you mentiont.

    Thanks for the good post as always.

    • Thanks, corrected.

    • gingerneil

      I bought a couple of 26mm NATO straps from amazon, and they fit perfectly. However, the most comfortable strap, by far, is the Garmin Velcro one. Its chunky enough to hold the weight of the watch and stop it bouncing when running, and is ‘infinitely’ adjustable.

    • Tom

      does the velcro strap work with the HR sensor, because the strap will go between the watch and the hand?

  12. Kermit262

    Ray, now we know what was behind that censored photo! Great job getting this first look published so quickly.

    Good to see Garmin doubling-down on the fenix 3 lineup. Really like the addition of the new bands. And nice to see that they finally offer an HRM bundle with the optical HR. I’ve never understood why they didn’t do this with their other optical watches (FR 630, FR 235, etc.), since some people might want the convenience of optical HR, but at other times want the slew of additional metrics that a HR strap can provide.

  13. Dan

    Hi Ray,

    Any sign of Strava segments finding their way into a Garmin watch similar to how it works on the Edge 520?

  14. taniwha

    Thank you for the quick note.
    Speaking of opticalHR, is there any chance we’ll have a Vivosmart review?

    • Yup, next week. Just didn’t really want to publish it mid-CES, since honestly it’ll just get crushed in the torrent of posts otherwise.

  15. Nif

    The need to fix the gps first

  16. Johan Lundberg

    Any update of the poor GPS performance?

    • From the article.

      “Further, at this time Garmin states there’s been no additional physical hardware changes to the unit compared to existing Fenix3 watches. This means no changes to either GPS or other performance aspects.”

    • morey

      Yup- the GPS track that Ray linked above for his one run with the Fenix3HR confirms this. the trace is equally as iffy as prior Fenix3 traces. Other than that- I want the watch…well, maybe after a few dozen more firmware updates. :)

  17. Rob Montgomery

    I’m willing to bet the strap is 26mm, because that’s what fits the original F3.

  18. A Smith

    The one thing they could do to make the Fenix 3 more appealing to a wide base of consumers is maker it cheaper!

    It does exactly what I want, but there’s no way I’m spending the near side of 1000 on a watch.

    • John Lee

      Thanks for the sane comment. I can’t stomach the price either.

      That said, I’ll buy it second hand next year when the price is halved. I’m a sucker for data and I wanna have one device for everything – run, swim and sleep.

      The other bells and whistles ie music and message notifications, I don’t need it and I don’t want it when I’m zoning out during a run.

  19. Gabriel

    “Further, at this time Garmin states there’s been no additional physical hardware changes to the unit compared to existing Fenix3 watches. ”

    When you say “at this time” is it because you suspect this might not be entirely true?

    From my understanding so far, if you like the old band and do not want HR at your wrist you might as well have bought the watch while it was on discount last week?

    I did buy the discounted watch but was holding on it till CES, as I do not want wrist HR and the band is not important to me (you can buy separately), but I just want to make sure I’m not missing on any of the goodness/improvement down the line…

    Thanks for the CES coverage and keep up the good work.

    PS : I am canadian so that 1199$ price tag would apply to me, I hope it’s with wrist HR included at least? (ie worst case scenario)

    • Darren

      Ditto’s on the CAD issue. Really want multi-sport plus the optical HR gives a great secondary option to using the strap for some activities. On the fence with what to replace my 620 with. Cost / benefit is definitely and issue for us Canadian’s right now. Classic Fenix 3 for $550 CAD when someone puts them on sale again is looking like the best we will see for a while.

    • “When you say “at this time” is it because you suspect this might not be entirely true?”

      I’d say I’d give it an 80% chance I believe them, and a 20% chance I don’t.

    • Gabriel

      Thanks for your response.

  20. Mikey

    I take it this will be all from Garmin for CES. Thought they might have looked at the Vivoactive, but since they have a tie in with NBC’s Biggest Loser, they probably didn’t want to make any changes to item.

    I think you could easily substitute “expensive” for “expansive” in the summary. ;-)

    • This concludes all of Garmin’s announcements for CES*.

      *Ok, minus one I didn’t write about yet related to Garmin Connect analysis stuff, and some Connect IQ stuff.

    • Andrea

      Interested in IQ Connet announcement and Index Smart Scale review

    • Yes, scale up next week too. Basically just needed to finish unboxing the final boxed scale (the first scale I got was sans-box, so didn’t have a chance to do that).

    • Julian

      Do you have any guesses as to when they might update the Vivoactive?

  21. Jared

    Think the software update will finally fix the gps accuracy? mine has generally been good enough on the street but awful on trail runs/mountain biking. I also don’t understand why they are not putting the heart rate monitor on the sapphire.

  22. I would have preferred a brighter e-ink display with better resolution & bigger internal memory to store an openstreet map…

  23. Any word on whether Garmin addressed scratch-proofing the face on the HR model? If you read the reviews on Amazon, folks recommend going with the Sapphire because it doesn’t scratch. I’m considering the HR model but if the face is susceptible to scratching, maybe I’ll wait for the HR Sapphire (if there will be such a thing).

  24. Kachlicka

    Hi there! About that battery life on HR model, on garmin.com it states that it is the same as on regular Fenix – 20/50 hrs. So where is the mistake? Here or there? :)
    see link to explore.garmin.com and scroll down.

  25. Andrew Scott

    I figured Garmin would head down this path. I have a HRM-Run strap and I think it may be better to use it with the existing Fenix3 and save a few bucks.

  26. Jompi

    Another reason to wear an HR strap is that if you’re not able to wear your watch next to skin. There’s a lot of scenarios especially in cooler places where you need to wear your watch on top of your sleeve for example.

  27. MikeSpy

    Yeah… and it seems that they forgot about Epix :(

  28. Sam Rudman

    Rowing mode? Will it work if you are on a rowing machine? Any idea if rowing mode will be rolled out to any other watches?

    • 6co

      Don’t get too excited on the rowing mode. It just picks up cadence…
      Nothing like what the FR610 of 310XT could do with the ANT-FE profile unfortunately… so in short, it wont connect with your concept2 indoor rower, but rather read towing cadence from your wrist… No distance, pace, power or anything like that…

    • Neil Jones

      Yeah, disappointed we’re still not seeing any Concept2 support yet. I’m hoping that when Garmin Connect (the website) is updated “in the near future” to support the rowing apps that at least it’ll show proper row-related metrics so I can import TCX files from my C2 using an app like PainSled. Would have preferred to do it all through my fenix3, but I guess I’ll be waiting a while longer for that option…

  29. Volker

    Is the user able to disable the internal hr sensor???

  30. Teriemer

    Anything new on 920XT? This could be software, version etc.

  31. David Lima

    Ray, Did you know if for the new metrics of garmin 630 will require the new (last model) of HRM RUN for fenix 3?

    • Graham Rose

      the older strap gets an update with all the new metrics

      The new strap is really just the new more comfy one :)

  32. Seems like if you are happy with the current non-HR Fenix 3 with either a HR strap or optical band then this watch offers nothing new unless you want it as a daily activity tracker?

    If you use it just for activities, then they are equivalent once the software upgrade is released? Is that correct?



  33. Dan

    Does the watch broadcast the Heart rate to other devices? Not sure if I missed that in your article or not.


  34. Gonzalo


    Is the processor power changing in the Fenix 3 HR? Or do you believe there is going to be a Fenix 4 optical HR in the near future?

    The reason for asking this is that in one of the Moxy forums with Garmin, it was mentioned that with the current processing capability on the Fenix 3 and Forerunner 920, logging extra data into the .FIT file may be difficult

  35. gtMode

    In titanium version, is the bezel from titanium or only the band?

  36. Imre

    Holy crap, that Titanium version looks plain awesome.. Too bad it costs a fortune.
    BTW, link to CT site for the Fenix3 variants (HR, Titanium) are not working, Tactix is correct.

  37. Does this mean a possible update of the Vivoactive in the making with an optical HR sensor as well?

  38. DeJealousy

    Thanks Ray, I have been waiting to see if the next update will be Fenix 4. Your updates from CES was a line breaker for me to stop holding on purchasing the fenix 3; after reading your review I just went ahead and purchased the Fenix 3 from CleverTraining as a DCR VIP Member. Thanks always for the heads up. HR doesn’t add no value to me as I prefer not to touch up my wrist with 24/7 light rays. My arm strap HR will always come handy when needed.

  39. Sean

    Pretty sure the Music Control has been there since the F3 get go. It’s the one that does play/pause, ff, rew and volume up/down. Is there yet another control that does track title or something now?

    • Jorge

      From what I can tell, it’s music control during an activity that’s new. Before you’d ‘have’ to pause, resume later, switch to the widget and then reopen the activity.

      Now if you hold down mid activity you can access the watch features as normal with the activity continuing in the background. Pretty neat!

    • Christopher

      I’ve been trying to figure this out. What do you have to hold down during an activity to access the normal watch controls? I’d love to be able to control my music mid-activity!!

    • goughy

      During an activity, you would long press the left down button to see the normal watchface. Then press the start/stop button to return to the normal activity pages again. So I’m guessing you still long press the down button to access the clockface but can then scroll through the normal non-activity screens to access functions like music control

  40. Ronald Crandall

    Really wish there was a trade in deal for my current sapphire fenix 3 to get one of the new optical ones.. oh well. I’ll have to wait a few years and by then I’m sure something out will be even better :P

  41. Terra72

    Ticks all the boxes for me. Do you know if it is available for pre-order in Europe (UK ideally)?

  42. Ali

    FWIW- no need to buy expensive watch bands from Garmin. I’ve been switching out my Fenix 3 bands with 26mm nato straps for a while. Much less expensive options on ebay or amazon.

    Also – grey is ugly. And the bezel is easily scratched. I wonder when silver or rose gold will be available with the optical HR?

    • goughy

      I’ve been wondering what the nato straps are like on the F3’s? In particular with swimming? I wouldn’t mind having a few strap options (say a leather for nights out) but couldn’t be bothered with having to remove pins etc. It seems the nato straps would solve that for me.

  43. Ethan

    Will the new Fenix 3 staps fit on the first gen Fenix 3? Example, can I replace the metal band on my sapphire with the titanium one?

    • Patrick NL

      Seeing how they’re only listed at the old models at the moment and they’re Nato-like (meaning they cover the underside of the watch, therefore blocking the optical heart rate sensor) I’m pretty sure they’re either meant for both or exclusive for the older ones. Though I suppose you could still pony up the extra money for a sensor which you then block by a strap costing extra.

  44. I keep on thinking the Fenix would be a great watch for my triathlon training, daily activity/sleep tracking and just general checking-the-time watch duties, but I’m hardly going to drop over $1000 for it…(yep, Canadian girl here. Maybe I should buy that township)

  45. Sterling

    Are the audible alerts still as soft as a mouse fart? Also, does this unit accept / store waypoints that you can GoTo via bearing?

    I’ve wanted a Garmin wrist mount for sailing for YEARS, however the count-down-to-start notifications are so soft it’s basically useless :(

  46. Konstantinos Velaoras

    So, there is no fenix 4 for this year?
    I am confused…

  47. James

    Any chance of a rolling pin shot of the HR side by side with the standard F3? It would be good to see how much thicker the HR is, if at all.

  48. BD

    Wouldn’t a NATO strap block the HR monitor? They pass under the lugs and sit between the watch back and the arm, at least on a normal watch.

  49. Ricardo Palma

    Hi Ray,

    No “Floors Climbed” in the new firmware release?


  50. Bill

    Any updates for the 620? With the same HRM run, they could add these features to that watch as well…but knowing Garmin, they’ll probably keep them out so to keep them an exclusive feature of the 630 (running watch categories).

  51. inzi

    Hi, first comment ever here, and then it’s just such a negative-nancy one, sorry for that:
    Darn, after reading your review about the classical fenix 3 I just could convince myself to buy it after several months of overthinking and re-reading your review (I really wanted an optical HR sensor for daily tracking + eventual swim HR measure (no, TomTom spark was not a real alternative due to many problems)) . I was so overwhelmed with the now “old” fenix 3 that I threw all the original packages into the bin and now there’s no chance in giving it back.

    Do you think there is much room to improve the optical sensors? -Would you expect to see a huge leap forward in the technology within, let’s say, two years?

    All the best

    • Yeah, I think if we fast forward even 6 months optical HR sensor tech will be so much further along. The number of companies getting into it now is mind-boggling. 2 years is like 20 years in this part of the industry.

    • Terra72

      do you think the improvement will be primarily driven by better hardware or software (e.g. more sophisticated algorithms)?

    • JJ Lee

      I would like to know too.

    • Both. We’ll continue to see improvements in software, but hardware advances may help a bit. I suspect much of it will be software improvements though. Additionally, battery improvements will enable companies to be more flexible with optical HR sensor battery burn, increasing accuracy.

  52. Elisha

    Do you know if the Fenix 3 HR will come in Sapphire colors?

  53. Thom

    Hi Ray, any word if a HR strap will override/disable the optical HR? Would like to be sure the strap takes priority during training (swim, bike, run, etc). Thanks for the great work.

  54. Ken

    Any sign of a bike mount that attaches to the new poles that come With the new straps.

  55. Andy

    Hi Ray

    Thanks for the posts. Any news on wether the Vivoactive is getting a HR upgrade?

    I’ve been looking at the Vivoactive to do runs/cycling/indoor/outdoor etc (not hardcore) but would rather have the HR built in so maybe this new Fenix 3 is better rather than buying the current Vivoactive?

  56. AJ

    Hi Ray – on the new software I’m mostly interested in the Rowing profile. Do you know if the stroke metrics work on an indoor rowing machine, or it only useful outdoors on the water? Thanks

    • Dr D

      @AJ – I have used it on a Concept 2 machine. Note that all is get is the Stroke information.

    • David Z

      I had the same hope. I wish it would let us manually input the distance at the end of the workout. I do think the calories burned estimate is a little more accurate. By which I mean closer to the calories the machine gives me for a workout.

  57. gabe

    “The sensor is identical to that of the Garmin FR235, which was introduced this past fall. It’s just simply now plopped into the back of the Fenix3 instead.”

    This is bad news. I’ve tested the 235 and it’s not good at heart rate tracking. Expect HR drop outs, heart rate lag, etc. Buyer beware.

    • Agreed. I have also been testing the 235 vs. my Viiiiva strap + Fenix 3 combo and the Elevate, is like most oHRMs, not that great for any sort of dynamic training (I use it a lot in mixed workouts of ride, strength train, run, etc.) But I do like getting the 24×7 BMR/Calorie data and the sleep data and can always connect an HR strap for the workouts where I think the oHRM sensor will suck if it’s important to get high res data for that workout.

    • George

      My 235 has been fine for what it is. I don’t expect wrist-worn optical HRM to be as responsive as chest straps, simply due to the nature of the technology. For steady runs it’s been great not putting on a wet/cold chest strap before going out in the cold. I know I’ve seen some people mention dropouts but I’ve not yet seen any, so I wouldn’t want a reader to believe that is a universal experience.

      Garmin NEEDS to do a better job of setting user expectations though. If they let people think the optical HRM in the Fenix3 is supposed to be just like using a chest strap they’ll have another megathread on their forums to rival the GPS Accuracy one.

    • I think it’s important to note that optical HR sensor performance will vary quite a bit from person to person, and from workout conditions to workout conditions. Also, aspect like light will definitely play an impact.

  58. RAFrisk2

    All these new bands but no QUICK RELEASE????

    C’mon GARMIN……….

  59. Ray, thanks for this. Fantastic updates and great to see the new models, bands, software, and oHRM. But that marketing tagline (“Find Your Both”) is TERRIBLE. They would have been better off sticking with one of the sub-tag-lines they came up with in the ad like “Ruggedly Handsome.”

    Of course I still want the damned Fenix 3 with the oHRM in it and now have to order it. Damn them. :)

    Have fun at CES. Sorry to have missed you there this year.

  60. Andy

    So would a quick release work on this? I mean, don’t the sensors have to be on the skin?

  61. Mike S.

    “At least you’re not Canadian”

    Hey! I resemble that remark!

    It would be cheaper to order it from the US – even with the hit on exchange. If the price of oil ever bounces back the looney should improve.

    Your move Polar.

  62. Bartek_Zet

    Thanks for the information Ray! I’m really impressed by the great job you do.

    One question: does the software update solve the problem that Fenix 3 doesn’t store HR data from external optical HR sensor in pool swimming mode? Or does Garmin intend to fix it, so it works as in open water swimming mode?

  63. Klaus

    Thanks for the great preview.

    You mentioned that Specific Running Dynamics Metrics, Lactate Threshold, Performance Condition, and Stress Score will still require a heart rate strap.

    Would you expect that to change in the future with software updates to the optical sensor?

    • Patrick NL

      I don’t expect that in the near future (upcoming 2-3 years) and I don’t expect Garmin to hurry that development since the extra straps will give them a nice income boost. The optical technology isn’t there yet, and the way of measuring (blood flow versus electrical pulse) is different so it’s not a simple straightforward software update.

  64. Mihir Shah

    Pretty disappointed about no vivoactive gen 2 announcements. Is any of this new software coming to the current gen vivoactive?

  65. Cesare

    I know it might sound like a stupid question, but:
    I have a FR 620 with HRM-Run sensor.

    How can I update the software of the heart monitor strap?

    Thanks a lot in advance for answering ;-)


  66. Laurent

    Good morning Ray, what is the weight of FENIX 3 TITANIUM?
    Do you know if the bracelet will be alone sold? and at what price?
    Do you know if the crown of the watch will be sold? and at what price?

    Thank you Ray for all her informations

  67. Chris

    Hey Ray, thanks for the initial review. Very informative as always. Do you know if the Fenix 3 HR with optical heart rate sensor will have the ability to send your heart rate to a Garmin Edge bike computer? It would be great (and likely safer) to be able to see your HR without having to rotate wrist, especially when aero.

  68. Craig

    Looks like its not a Nato strap, its more like a Zulu strap. A Nato strap has an extra loop of fabric, so its double thickness under the watch. Which means it can’t just slide on or off.

  69. Luke

    Garmin just complicated things. Just when I made the decision to buy a 235 and use as my everyday watch, Garmin comes along with a Fenix that does all of those things and more, and looks better to boot. The only thing is, I could almost get 2 235s for the price of the Fenix 3 I ‘d really want, the titanium with metal strap.

  70. Mike

    Possibly stupid question here…
    I’ve had my Fenix 3 pretty much since release, using it as my daily watch and for Triathlon training.

    I’ve noticed that the ski/board app isn’t listed on my watch or on my IOS Garmin Connect app. Am I mistaken in thinking that I had a specific app or have I managed to delete it or was there never one to start with.

    How can I reinstall it as it doesn’t seem to be listed in the Garmin app store?

    I’ve run the update released for 6.5

    • Patrick NL

      I think you can enable or disable (hide or show) apps via the Garmin Connect app on your mobile phone. I recall seeing it there. Fwiw it’s showing up for me after the update.
      If all fails do a factory reset after you backed up your data.

    • Oscar

      Could you have it hidden? Go to Settings – Apps – Look for Ski/Board – press start and Toggle the show switch to On. All apps work the same way.

    • Mike

      Thanks Oscar!

      Settings, Apps, Add New

      and I was able to put the app back in. Clearly I must of hidden it at some point!

  71. Arnout

    Any recommendations for pre order in Europe?
    I can’t find the HR on the Clever Training site yet but prefer shipping from Europe to prevent a customs charge.

    • Terra72

      I’m also keen to find an EU pre-order option. The garmin website refers to various Europan/UK dealers but no one is offering the HR version yet as far as I can tell.

  72. Todd

    Hi Ray,

    Cheers from the Cold of Canada….regarding the fabric strap option, does the clip on charger have enough tolerance when the thickness of the wrist strap is added to Fenix3 back side? I have the original Sapphire and like the option of a fabric strap add-on.

    Thanks for this fantastic Blog.

  73. Jennifer

    Can you use the Fenix 3 HR while charging? Obviously, the HRM wouldn’t work, but could you still use it for GPS functionality as you can with the standard Fenix 3?

  74. Tom L

    Ray – Can you comment on how comfortable the watch is? Presumably between the need to wear optical HR devices snugly and the bump concentrating pressure on a much smaller area the Fenix 3 HR feels different than the Fenix 3 to wear. I haven’t seen you mention that in this post or in the 235 post.

  75. Carlton

    No optical HR on the titanium version?? I can’t justify upgrading my sapphire metal band version if I’m not getting optical HR.

    And also, why the black watch body on the titanium version? I’d rather have the whole thing be the same color.

    So instead of pre-ordering today, I’m waiting for a Titanium HR version – preferably with a titanium-colored watch body.

  76. Kirk

    Any idea if the new firmware will measure stroke rate for kayaking? Sorta in between rowing and SUP so might work on one of those modes. If that was the case I could be tempted to upgrade my 910xt.

    • gabe

      i kayaked with dolphins recently at marco island.

      i used row and it did provide a stroke rate.

      Here you are.

      link to connect.garmin.com i dont see any info on stroke rate though it did appear on the watch face during the event.

  77. DT

    Ray, great review as usual. I bought a Fenix 3 grey through CT and I got the frame scratched so many times that I decided to sell it and buy a silver one. The little scratches do not pop up the same way in the silver one. Any comments on whether the Fenix 3 HR will come as well in silver? Alternatively, have they found a solution to that? I know so many people that went through the same with the sapphire one.

    • gabe

      I had the same problem with my black. i have the silver now and it looks great with a black band.

      I do highly suggest changing the red to black. it looks much MUCH classier. In fact the red is so ugly it works best with a black face watch IMO.

      The solution? there are some clear skin wraps you can purchase on amazon that protect the bezel.

      honestly i think the silver and black combo looks better than all black.

    • Kermit262

      Funny, I had the black band with silver bezel and grew tired of the stark contrast. Have the grey bezel with black band now and am much happier. Different strokes.

    • gabe

      It does look great grey/black – dont get me wrong. i had it for a year it just the grey scratches become an eye sore.

      good luck

    • DT

      Gabe, do you have the link for the skin wraps? Cannot find any. Do you think that it will solve the problems we had wit the sapphire? I am doubtful to change my silver for a sapphire HR? Thoughts?

    • gabe

      link to amazon.com

      i believe there is a clear one too.

      Given how frustrated i was with the 235 im not certain i’d “upgrade” to the HR version.

      Unless you want all day HR and then wear straps for the real workouts. just seems like data collecting versus being purposeful

  78. Jorge

    Thanks as always Ray.

    ‘Go to sleep’ mode seems to have disappeared with the new software update or am I looking in the wrong place?

    • I agree! Here I am ready to go to sleep and I am on my PC trying to figure out how the new update works. Maybe it automatically detects sleep now?

  79. Michael Fiola

    I hope you have a good lock on your place there in Paris. You must have $10K worth of watches alone!

  80. The Eric

    Hi Ray!

    Very much off topic, but do you think Powertap might announce the implication of advanced cycling dynamics on their P1 pedals? I’m hoping this will occur soon-ish.


  81. Eduardo

    Any idea when the golf app will be available?

    • Patrick NL

      New firmware is live with the golf app. Just connect to garmin express and update.

    • Justin

      updated to 6.5 but how do you add courses? Checked connect and the mobile app and can’t find it anywhere

    • Josh Styon

      I’ve got the same issue. The Golf App and Widget showed up on the watch with both the beta and the production releases, but courses aren’t available on Connect. FWIW, I’ve got a Samsung S5 running version 3.1.3 of Connect. This appears to be the latest release.

    • Jake M

      I’m in the same boat, Fenix 3 has been updated to 6.50 and has the golf app and widget but Connect version 3.1.3 has no access to golf courses, metrics, activities, etc. The Play Store lists 3.1.1 updated December 9, 2015 so I guess we wait for an update.

    • Dylan

      Had the same problem…it’s been a while since your query but if you still have a problem, delete garmin connect mobile and re-install. It should then display the option to download courses between LiveTrack and Connect IQ Store in the “More” Menu

  82. A

    I think i will stick with F3 non-HR , i have a Vivosmart HR as daily activity tracker, F3 will be for training only with separate HR strap.

    The F3 HR will be too big for me as daily activity tracker and also the batter life is quite short.

  83. I have a F3 Sapphire and an Apple watch.

    I know, I know – two totally different watches.

    But I find myself wondering – if the F3 could do my day to day HRM jobs – it’s an infinitely better *activity* tracker than the Apple Watch. Battery life is better too. It’s not quite as good a notifier, or notification tool – but it’s “good enough”

    Does the F3 HRM replace the Apple Watch on the wrists of any other geeks out there?

    • Ali

      Me! I had a Fenix 3, got an Apple Watch…. sold the Apple Watch on ebay. Now I’m back to Fenix 3 full time. Love it. Do NOT miss the apple watch in any way. :D

    • I keep going back and forth. I like the Apple Watch daily progress tracker – I like it’s smaller size – but I’d give up the smaller size for the Fenix 3 HR, I think.

    • Ali

      Personally, I found I wasn’t really using the apple watch to its full capacity. I was basically just reading text messages (not responding) and trying to make it work for my workouts… Garmin is way more appropriate for my needs.

    • I’ve sorta gone the other way, using the Apple watch for running with the Strava or ismoothrun app. I have an Edge on my bike so the F3 is reserved for swimming and tri events. I wear the Apple Watch all day, it’s in a different league for notifications, calls, directions, apps, etc. If Apple Watch 2 turns out to be waterproof with swimming and tri apps, then my F3 (which I do really like) will be on eBay

    • acousticbiker

      Is it just me or does the color/finish of the F3HR bezel look slightly lighter/different than the original F3? (I’m looking at the side-by-side comparison, about the 5th photo from the top).

      Also, Ray, how does the F3HR rubber strap feel? For whatever reason it looks a bit cheaper than the original F3 rubber strap (which had larger holes and holes all the way around the band).

    • I didn’t notice any major difference wearing it.

    • acousticbiker

      Thanks, Ray – and did you notice a difference in the bezel or is the difference in your photo due to lighting? Or maybe this is one of the potential hardware differences that they told you were not going to be different ‘at this time’?

  84. tangmu

    Thanks for all the info. I just want to point out that watch bands are made of silicone, and not silicon. Just one letter different, but completely different materials.

  85. Daniel

    Manual sleep mode is disabled with v6.5 update. Now you have to manually correct when you went to sleep because auto-detection is quite way off…
    Also, how does it detect a nap during the day?

  86. Klaus

    I had an F3 or rather, I had 2 F3’s, one with poor GPS accuracy that was returned for another that also had bad GPS accuracy. I’d be excited about the F3 HR, if it weren’t for two things:

    1) F3 owners are still seeing GPS accuracy issues under cover and when their route has lots of turns – as a Mtn trail runner, that’s important to me.

    2) From what I read in reviews, Garmin’s Elevate optical HR platform is not yet on par with the better optical options out there, like Scosche’s Rythmn+.

  87. Joel

    I’m upset! The activity tracker used to show my steps and a progress bar towards my goal, and now all it shows is a calories counter – how do I get steps back? (Other than going online or on the app?)

    • Daniel

      You have to enable the steps widget.
      On your fenix 3 go to Settings>Widgets>Steps and enable it.

  88. Phellan

    800$ for the titanium version???? Whoa has Garmin gobe nuts?? Really expensive for what it is.
    As for the HR version, I’ll wait till it can detect HR variability.

    • jomu

      Phellan, I don’t think you want to wait that long ;).
      As far as I understand, it should be almost impossible to accurately measure HRV from oHR, since the signal in oHR does not have a pronounced spike like the electrical ECG Signal. The latter is used for HRV.

    • Phellan

      I never liked optical HR, since it can’t detect my HRV and it is something that I must know. I guess that for casual runners or people optical HR is fine, but not for me really.
      Anyway I’ll have to wait a bit to see Garmin lowering the pricw for that titanium beauty.
      I really hope they’ve sorted out the GPS accuracy.

  89. Luca massetti

    Hi Ray, thanks for your last articles on garmin products.
    I had the 920xt then got the fenix 3 but realized that I prefer the 920xt for training.
    When ca we expect the 930xt/935xt with optical HR? I would avoid to buy the fenix 3 with optical HR and then have to change it after a couple of months.
    Will really apreciate to know it.

  90. kevin

    Thanks for that!
    It seems like i lost my sleep function on my current Fenix3. I wasn’t able to tell my watch I was going to sleep yesterday, did we loose something with the update?

  91. Ronen Barak

    It is not clear whether the titanium variant has HR optical sensor or not?

    • Hendrik

      My understanding is that the Titanium version does not have optical HR built in.
      In my opinion this is a big marketing mistake. Since optical HR is a feature I personally see as a must (for my needs/usage), this means the Titanium version is not an option for me even if I would have been ready to pay its enormous price tag. And I am certainly not the only one…
      Leaving out features like this from the most high-end version of the watch is really a strange decision. You would expect that for USD 800 you would get all bells and whistles, after all if you are not interested in optical HR you could just turn it off.

  92. Filipe Jorge

    I have updated my fenix3 to the new 6.50 firmware and a bunch of problems started to occur.

    1. My alarm stopped working
    2. my intervals would not accept the new edit and kept going back to the last one i used
    3. i finish my run today with total 10700 steps and after i restart the watch it went down to 7500.

    garmin is a master in updating flawed firmware. Im pissed off. 500 bucks on a watch that suddenly became useless.

    • Joe

      I updated yesterday as well and everything is still working, the only hiccup was that I had to change my watch face design back. Fingers crossed that everything is okay. I am looking forward to seeing the balance data from today’s run.

    • Filipe Jorge

      I ran today and the balance did not work, do i need to update the hrm-run as well?

    • Jared

      I see the balance working on mine but I did update the HRM-RUN as well. It’s been really helpful for me as it shows my preference for my right foot which has been causing hip pain and it has helped me keep it in check while I run.

    • Joe

      How do you update your HRM run? Mine did not show up either :(.

    • Jared

      Hmm, I did it as part of the beta, there was an update file that you can put in a specific folder on your F3 over USB, then it synced to my HR strap when I next connected it.

      It looks like they want you to use Garmin Express now, but it probably works a similar way:
      link to www8.garmin.com

  93. Will Ash

    Hello – I am trying to figure out if there has been any change at all to the Fenix 3 Sapphire with the metal band (the original sapphire). From what I gather there hasn’t been?

  94. Gunnar

    For what it’s worth, I’ll offer my two cents on Garmin optical heart rate.

    I have a forerunner 235 and I like the 24/7 heart rate monitoring. It’s also worked well for while running (even in the cold). The best part is I now have HR while commuting by bike. I don’t have time when commuting to deal with an extra strap and with optical HR on my watch is easy squeezy to get that data now.

    It was interesting to see my 24 hour HR trend when sick a few weeks ago. My resting HR went from low 40’s to almost 60 for a few days.

    • TR

      > It’s also worked well for while running (even in the cold).

      How do you know if you didn’t compare it to a chest HR belt measurement ?

  95. tim

    Can you buy the leather “nato ” strap seperate? I see you have a price listed but have been unable to find it for sale online. Anyone know where to get one?

  96. Andy

    Couple of questions, sorry if it’s been asked before.

    1. Can the new Fenix with HR on the wrist be overridden with a chest strap?

    2. Does anyone have experience of Indoor running with the current Fenix 3? and if so, is it any good?

    thanks in advance for any info.

    • Andy

      Scrap that first question, just read the article and it does work off a HR strap as well.

      But still interested on the Indoor running, how good is it?

  97. Matt H

    DC Rainmaker no longer impartial shocker!

    The internet was in uproar as Ray Maker posted a photo showing his allegiance to a well known Scandinavian furniture store. Ray a noted “influencer” in the world of Triathlon (a torturous sport carried out by odd people for the purpose of fun, exercise and competition, that includes communal drowning, panting and crying) has hinted that he can in fact “be bought”.

    We are still waiting to hear from Ray after we posed the question “Ray, are you rotten to the core?”.

    • Matthew B.

      Can’t tell if this is satire? And if so, how it is funny? Perhaps I’m missing something.

    • I think a reference to the IKEA product placement :)

    • Matt H

      Unfortunately explaining it won’t make it funnier (quite the opposite). If it helps, I thought it was hilarious*

      *Your mileage may vary.

    • Matt H

      Whoops, Sorry Ian, I cross posted with you, no malice intended and yes, spot on.

    • Funny Tidbit: When we first moved to Europe 3 years ago we spent a lot of time in Ikea. At the front are of course those paper measuring tapes. One night we went to grab one, and the whole stack of like 50 of them came with it. So, we just stuck it in our cart.

      Still have and use them years later (the stack is just nailed to the wall). Best Ikea product we have.

    • 6co

      just fell off my chair!!

    • Fran

      “Best Ikea product we have.”


  98. Mike

    Will the oHR be able to rebroadcast through ant+ to another edge device or computer. I’m assuming bluetooth is out of the question since this is Garmin.

    • Yes, it does via ANT+.

    • Hogesyx

      Does it broadcast like the Vivosmart HR A/FR535 where you need to toggle a specific mode? Or you can enable to rebroadcast even during an activity recording?

    • Patrick

      I can’t seem to find any literature on Garmin’s site that says it can re-transmit the HR data, or what kind of modes would allow the HRM to send data without actually triggering an activity.

  99. Does Garmin proofread before they post? The following is from their website on the Fenix3 HR.
    •Stride length — determines a responsive current pace

  100. Per V

    Does the basic non-HR Fenix 3 bundle come with the new HRM-Run strap? (seems like it from the web page) And is it a new part number so it’s possible to separate old from “new” basic Fenix 3 gray HRM bundle? Looking to buy one, but if I can wait 1-2 weeks and get the new strap for the same price I will consider that.

    • George

      Performer Bundle includes the strap.

    • Jonathan

      Based on the Garmin website listings, I would guess that the current Fenix3 watches will not be bundled with the new HRM-RUN strap at least until the current stock of bundles runs out. 1-2 weeks seems optimistic for any new bundles showing up. Garmin seems much more focused on the new Fenix3 versions at the moment.

  101. Christoph

    Hi Ray,

    Two questions:

    1. Could you maybe compare (diagram) it as well to the Scosche Rhythm+? It would be very interesting because the Rhytm+ is a very popular device discussed here a lot.

    2. I wonder if the placement differs, or if it’s similar and just software problems. The “surface” is quite different, if you have it on your upper arm for example there is a lot of mass. On my wrist I’m unsure if it really sits tight enough go give accurate results.

    • King Art

      I’m on the third week on my sosche rhythm+. It has been pretty reliable. I wore two watches and compared the HR difference between the HRM and rhythm+. They are well within the 10% margin.

      I appreciate an optical HR on the Fenix3. But the rhythm+ does allow u to wear the watch over clothing say while you ski or snowboard or any sports that need protective wrist clothing layer/armor. I would gladly upgrade to the Fenix3 HR if there are more hardware changes while keeping the rhythm+ in my arsenal. Chest straps are just too uncomfy

  102. George

    I’m dying from amount research on the 920xt and Fenix 3, along with combos they are offered with.
    I already have an ANT+ belt so don’t really need the HRM-run with the cadence option…

    Looking into the 920xt Tri bundle or Fenix 3 with HRM-swim, I got 20% on what ever I get, some deal I am trying to get most out of..
    I am also a rower and the new IQ app supports rowing pace, not much of info but a good start.

    What to buy what to buy

  103. jules van dam

    so I am looking to buy a watch mainly for swimming. F3 a bit expensive for my needs, whilst i do tris my phone and strava seems enough for my level. Any rumours of a new garmin swim? I want one for open water and pool.
    Or should I be looking for some other solution?

  104. Michael B.

    Does anyone know if optical HR watches work during the winter when you can’t wear them next to your skin? I currently use a Garmin 610 and a Scosche Rhythm+ but would like the new Fenix. But, here in Colorado, half the year you have to wear your watch over one or more shirts. Thanks!

    • George

      I doubt man, shirts probably give optical interference. Pretty sure it has to be on the skin. Needs optical response to detect heartbeats. If someone patents that on a wearable wrist watch, he would make $$$

    • George

      Optical HRMs must be in direct contact with your skin. Fortunately you can use either the internal oHRM or you can use an external ANT+ HRM.

      So in winter you can either wear the watch between your glove and sleeve, pulling up your sleeve when you want to look at it, or you can wear it over your sleeve and use your Scosche Rhytnm+ or a chest strap under your clothing for the HR signal to the watch.

      Presumably it’s not winter there all twelve months of the year, so apart from the coldest winter months you get the benefit of the inbuilt oHRM while retaining the flexibility to use the other HRMs when necessary.

    • Michael B.

      Thanks George, makes sense. Just what I was thinking. Half the year or more I get the advantage of oHR. However, Ray seems to think that wrist based oHR doesn’t work as well as my Scosche. It is difficult to figure out what to do but I know that chest HRM straps cause me severe skin irritation, so they are a no go. Thanks again for the response.

  105. Kenneth

    Does anyone know if this watch works with the current fenix 3 quick release kit?

  106. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Not that I have used it, but Jumpmaster is on the Fenix 2 … Looks to be pulled from Fenix 3.

    I think there are still a number of features (this, multiple alarms) on the F2 that never made their way to the F3.

    @Ray ?

    • Jared

      I have the F3 and updated to the production 6.50 firmware that was just released and Jumpmaster is still an option for me, maybe they were saying it will be removed in another future production release. Multiple alarm support is also there, not sure how long its been there though, I’m pretty sure it was there before this release.

  107. Puffolino

    Get lost more and more, shouldn’t all Fenix 3 models do the same?

    The garmin web site says “creating POIs” on the sapphire model but not on the “cheap” models! And why some watches are able to do 30 and other 50 routes?!

    See here: link to buy.garmin.com

  108. Eric

    Right after I buy a Fenix 3…… what is the thickness like in relation to the regular fenix 3? Any plan to show a direct comparison?

  109. Paweł

    I’m curious whether Rowing app will support Concept 2 pairing?

  110. dean

    I really wish Garmin could “retrofit” the wrist Heart rate monitor into existing Fenix 3 watches. For example, they could have a new buckle or wrist strap that would make it possible for the regular Fenix 3 watch to start using a wrist sensor. I would buy something like that. I just bought my Fenix 3 not long ago and that feature is not cool enough for me to get a whole new watch. Do you think that’s remotely possible?

    • gabe

      no chance. return the watch.

    • Gingerneil

      I used to loop the strap of my 220 through the scosche Rhythm+ to make them ‘one unit’. Find the right strap, and bingo. No way garmin would do it – they don’t have a standalone optical sensor on the market, and I don’t expect to see one.

    • Klaus

      Interesting idea. I have a Rythmn+ and might have to give this a try. Thanks!

    • DS

      Do you have the link for the strap?

    • DT

      I do as well. Any idea of which strap is that?

    • Gabriel

      Would this setting allow you to use the fenix 3 just like a fenix 3 hr ? I mean having resting HR and everything or the software part for that is limited to the fenix 3 HR?

      Usually I think the watch only record HR in an activity ….

    • Gabriel

      Never mind, i just saw that the Rhythm+ autonomy is 8h of reading, having to recharge the device 3 times a day would defeat the purpose.


    • gingerneil

      The strap is taken from this watch (I still have the watch part sitting in a drawer doing nothing!)
      link to clasohlson.com
      I think it was someone on the garmin forums who found this and pointed me at it. I am sure others watches are available that come with straps that would fit.

    • Frank

      The band does not interfere with the operation of the on/off switch on the SR+? Mine takes almost no pressure to turn on or off.

  111. Soren E.

    Hi Ray.
    Is is possible to turn off the 24/7 HR tracking in The Fenix 3 HR ? And turn it On When running etc. Mainly to save batteri time.

  112. Goran

    they sure are running wild with these prices, i expect fenix 4 will cost an arm and a leg

  113. Sims

    Any news on updates for Garmins D2 Bravo? I’m a pilot and want to get the Bravo, but they didn’t feature some of the features from the first model. Thanks

  114. RFinco

    They really need to fix the HR sensors in their line – There’s no way I’m going to buy a watch with a feature that doesn’t work. If I wanted a non working optical I’d get a fitbit.

    Still sitting here in the dark…with my Mio Alpha 2…waiting for someone to catch up.

  115. Nick Young

    What’s the thickness of the f3hr vs the original f3? 6g isn’t too bad of a weight difference, but the f3 is fairly thick as it is.

  116. Marcin

    Great post (as per usual here).

    I myself currently have Fenix3 Sapphire (bought it July 2015) and since then it is my all day round watch to track it all…

    Cycling, Running, Indoor Cardio, Steps, etc…

    Now my question would b: Is it worth replacing my existing one for the HR model (i see a benefits in the day-2-day usage but I am unsettled in the idea on why do you still have to wear chest band for more accuracy.. It almost feels like little to non benefits when it comes to investing in the new watch and perhaps wait for newer refreshed model with new hardware ???)

    I hope someone could give me a strait answer :)

    BTW UK price is £499 (link to buy.garmin.com) which is exactly what it was when i was getting my original one few months back…

  117. Ranjit Doolapeta

    I have read your reviews, the recent software ver 5.10 is draining the Fenix 3 battery fast and it is very bad, once charge doesn’t last even for a day and the battery drains out in a day’s time when the watch is in ideal position. Is there an fix to this issue.

  118. Graham

    [quote] New Tactical & Jumpmaster Apps: These are items previously found on the Tactix series of watches. (Update: While these are in the public Fenix3 beta today, Garmin has clarified these will be removed in the final/production Fenix3 software version, and only available on the Tactix Bravo units.[/quote]

    Just as a note – I’m on the final build, and didn’t run any betas and i have both apps installed on my watch

  119. Matt

    Do you know if the heart rate monitor can be turned off and on from the watch to bring the battery life up to that of the existing Fenix 3 units? Also, is there any durability or comfort drawbacks to the new sensor? Thanks!

    • Niterider4

      These are exactly my questions also. I had a regular F3 on order with the basic heart strap, but I cancelled my order when the HR version was announced. The HR version would be perfect for me (despite the $839 CDN price tag), as long as it is comfortable to wear with the OHR and as long as I can turn off the OHR to conserve battery life.

    • Kelly

      You can turn off the ohr in the fr235 so I would think that you could in this as well.

  120. Mike

    Hi Ray, I’m on the market for a Sport watch and have since few days M400 which I may not keep, my questions is
    does make sense to get the Fenix 3 HR now or weit for better Optical Sensors or just get the Fenix 3 Sapphire Bundle.
    I like the idea not having HR Strape but is the HR on the Fenix 3 good enough?
    What I do? I run and bike

  121. Jack


    I see on the Garmin website that the Fenix watches do not support auto lap. Is that true? Does that mean on a long run i will not be able to see my average pace for for each mile after download?

    • George

      The fenix3 definitely supports auto lap by distance. You can also select the distance. I’ve used half mile for aces to get more distinct lap pace info.

      What made you think otherwise?

    • Additionally, I refer you to Garmin.com Rule #1.

  122. ted b.

    Awesome, I was waiting for wrist based HR in a top end watch…can’t wait for the eventual in depth review!

  123. Was looking to buy my first smartwatch, mainly for timekeeping, running and hiking. Also toyguns-hiking aka airsoft. I also want the phone notifications. Was looking at the Suunto Traverse but the Tactix Bravo seems to scratch that itch too, and maybe handle wear & tear better. The NVG compatibility is nice but not essential.

    Thoughts on whether I should wait for the Bravo or just get the Traverse?

  124. Patrick

    Thanks for all your hard work on this site, i read your reports for a lng time!

    About the Forerunner 630 you told us: “A few of you have asked about whether or not about why there isn’t a FR635. Essentially Garmin noted that the bulk of the feature differences between the FR235 and FR635 are dependent on a true heart rate strap (i.e. advanced Running Dynamics, VO2Max-based metrics like Lactate Threshold, etc…). Said differently, if they launched a FR635 they felt that people would need a HR strap to use most of the higher end features.”
    Why the garmin fenix 3 should have optical HR and the forerunner 630 not, what does garmin say to this topic?

    All I want is a sport watch with 7×24 HR, waterproof, activity and sleep tracking, wearing the whole day with not so strong arms, play football without hurting other persons, internal accelerometer (play indoor and count steps), several methods for measuring stress, VO2Max, HRV and so on, extend it with a heart rate belt.
    A smaller Garmin Fenix 3 HR.

    I have currently the Polar M400, but I wish me a GPS sport watch like a “Garmin Forerunner 635”, “Garmin Forerunner 925” or a “Polar V800 optical.
    In years, what do you think, how long do I have to wait?

    Sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker!

    • While I didn’t ask, I suspect they’d say that the Fenix3 has (in theory anyway) a broader base of features that make it a more interesting candidate than the FR630 for optical (initially). Meaning, folks like hiking are more likely to use the Fenix3 than FR630, and thus, the optical HR is perfectly suited for hiking.

      Of course, the lines are all blurred now, as the Fenix3 has become Garmin’s premier everything watch, rather than being initially hiking, then multisport.

      I actually didn’t expect optical to hit the Fenix3 line till late spring or so, so perhaps we’ll see them refresh other units later (or sooner).

  125. Ed

    So where is that follow up article on the Bravo Tactix? ;)

    • Sorry! Just been swamped. Was somehow in meetings/discussions till almost 1AM last night. Eeks.

      I got the photos, just need to wrap some text around it. Which, should be super-quick since honestly there’s not much to talk about there. It’s got like 2 unique features compared to a Fenix3.

    • Yeah, I’m very curious myself since I have an itch to buy a smartwatch and am considering the Tactix Bravo, the regular Fenix 3 and the Suunto Traverse. Thing is there’s a big price difference between the TB and the F3, is that just for the Night Vision compatibility and protection coating?

  126. Marc steingrand

    Hello. I have the f3 and dowloaded the new software uodate configured the user id page which i was aked to complete on my pc , and know i see the user id page on my F3 qnd dont know how to go back to see my watchface , any help please…

  127. Canadian runner

    Hi. With the regular Fenix 3 …..how do I enable Do Not Disturb for Notifications? For night time

  128. Canadian runner

    How do you do not disturb for notifications on F3…..

  129. Pierre


    I’m doing road bike and running, around 70% / 30% respectively, in the winter on a Élite trainer (BT and Ant+ compatible) and running on a treadmill, using as of today a Garmin Edge Touring, bike GPS and a FR10 for running. I was tempted with the FR235 but then began to look at the Fenix3 and even more after they annonce the new one last week.
    Now, in late december I ordered a Tickr X HRM for its great features including BT and memories, that I could you use with my treadmill, my BT Trainer, Apps on my Iphone, Ipad etc, very versatle. I then tought buying the F3 HR with the HRM-run for full garmin compatibility and probably having to sell my new Tickr X, with regret because I would have to deal with Gamrin and Wahoo to look at the dynamic data.

    I read on the HRM review that Garmin dynamic data were private, I guess that it is still the case and Garmin haven’t decided to share it, and they will not (or never) be compatible with other vendors.

    What would you do or recommended, keeping the Tickr X and buy a dongle for my Iphone/Ipad for BT use (Élite Trainer), painfull for data analysis, or go with the Garmin-run HRM (no BlueTooth)……or any other Garmin or strap ?
    I’m considering here that I will use the built-in monitor of the F3 for basic tracking and often use a chess strap for dynamic data !

  130. Stevek

    Thanks for the great review Ray!
    Is the “body” of the Titanium watch different than the other versions?
    I ask because I’d like to get the new HR version, but would like to add the new Titanium strap, at least as an option to dress it up.

  131. Frank

    I updated my f3 to 6.5 last might. Today I discovered it had gone Ant sensor blind. Can’t see previously paired HRM’s or foot pods and won’t connect to new ones.

    Anybody else?

  132. Somu


    After upgrading my Fenix 3 Sapphire software to 6.5, the device image from activity record has disappeared. I just shows grey background. I reset the watch to factory defaults and set up again. But the issue persists. Have you heard similar cases?

  133. John

    Can you put the rubber strap on the new Fenix 3 that comes with the new leather and nylon straps? I thought I heard DCR say that they have a different pin set and wonder if they are compatible.

  134. Alejandro

    Ray, thanks for this review. It’s awesome.
    Now, it looks from the marketing site that the screen has been improved and is now more readable in sunlight (something that the Fenix 3 doesn’t do particularly well).

    Any thoughts on that?

  135. wojtek

    Ray, any chance to get from Garmin some info, why they are not planning to update 920xt? until now, 920xt and F3 were almost identical (except the temp sensor and F3 being round), now it seems F3 remains in update path and 920xt not. I asked garmin, but they said there are no announcements of updating 920xt (whatever it means..)

    • I’ll poke about a bit. I can understand why some recent hiking/navigation/etc features aren’t being put on the 920XT – since there has always been a fair bit of difference in those areas. But I’d agree it’s a bit odd for other features that are more multisport focused (like LT testing).

    • wojtek

      Thanks. Of course, I meant especially the LT test, stress factor – in general let’s call them the “630 add-ons”.

  136. Mario

    I believe, that there will be no update for the 920xt with optical HR, because I think Garmin is planning for autumn this year the 930xt and 935xt with optical HR, so, it make no sence . Also, after releasing the fenix 3 HR it will be no Fenix 4 this year, I think spring 2017. (Sorry, for my English)

  137. Jared

    REI support told me the Fenix 3 HR has an updated GPS antenna compared to the old models. Is that true?

    • I don’t believe that’s accurate (and Garmin has said as much when I asked them if anything else, including GPS or Antenna, has changed).

  138. Canadian Runner

    WIDGITS. Stocks

    Are we restricted only to USA stocks and indexes?

    Can I track Canadian stocks and iToronto stock exchange index…

    If not, great opportunities for techies to develop more stock widgits

  139. Jason

    Nice review as always… do you think this is the best 24×7 and RHR capture device now? But won’t sync into iOS right?

    Hope you get some rest now CES is done!

    • TR

      I’d say this is the best one because of the battery life it offers with 24/7 HR monitoring. If it’s worth the difference from Garmin FR 235 because of that ? Probably not for battery life alone.

      I came to a personal conclusion if optical HR device with 24/7 monitoring is worth the extra 100$ compared to its sibling without optical HR. The answer is: yes, if you’re actively trying to loose weight and track your calories/meals with myFitnessPal.

      When I recently got a FR15 (replaced from FR110 by Garmin) with activity tracking and started using and entering meals to myFitnessPal, the Garmin integration was really beneficial and I immediately saw results. If I think that with 24/7 monitoring one could get even more accurate resting caloric consumption, I’d say this is worth the extra money.

      Regarding possible errors when working out, I’d still get/use the external chest HR belt, just to be sure for that accuracy. For casual workouts, optical would do just fine though.

  140. Pascal

    Ray,Fenix 3 Sapphire old version came by default metal band,new Fenix 3 Sapphire HR is delivered with one rubber strap? Is there any possibility to have metal band on new HR model?

  141. Frank famularo

    Can the sequence of widgits and apps be changed on watch,based on personal preference?

  142. Cristian

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the great articles on your website! Very helpful!

    I saw two differences between the HR version and the non-HR version on this page : link to buy.garmin.com

    It seems that the HR version does not support “Full Color CourseView Maps” and “Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest)”. The non-HR version is marked as supporting those features.

    Does Garmin rule #1 (their website is not accurate) apply in this case? Or is that really how it is, and the HR version lacks those two features?


  143. Doug J

    The Fenix was to receive an update that added Di2 for cycle.
    Does the Fenix HR include Di2 or is the update for both watches due soon?

    Was hoping the HR model included Di2 but nothing listed.

  144. E Wall

    Im curious on which one I should pick up, the HR or the Titanium? Which material is tougher, the metal or the Titanium? Seems off that they wouldnt include HR on the Titanium version, sense its already 800 bucks, adding HR to that would only up the anti. Theres always ppl out there willing to pay more for a better product. But I am curious to know the pros and cons between the HR and the Titanium.

  145. Boris

    Last days I was chasing for the info regarding what features / metrics will be missed using the Fenix 3 HR without HRM-RUN strap, but nothing concrete I can see. Do you have such insight?

  146. Rakete


    one question: What is the deal with the cadence and your value of 100? so little? or per foot? Hm?

    Greetings Rakete

  147. paola

    cosa serve my day

  148. paola

    cosa indica la prima immagine? dell’omino che sale le scale

  149. Juris Rats

    Thanks for the review.
    A quick question (I am a Fenix 3 user for 2 months): how can one get 6 weeks battery time on Fenix 3? Mine probably could get 10 days – I usually use gps almost every day, but had a week without a workout due to injury. Still, the watch used most of its battery during that time – like went from 100% to 20%…

  150. Tri

    Is it possible to turn of the heart rate monitor from the watch to bring the battery life up to that of the existing Fenix 3 units?

    • John

      I have the question. “Is it possible to turn of the heart rate monitor from the watch to bring the battery life up to that of the existing Fenix 3 units?”

    • John

      In regards to the question that I also had about being able to turn off the heart rate monitor. I went on the Garmin website. They don’t have a manual for the Fenix 3 HR but they do for the FR 235 which uses the same oHRM. Here is what it says on page 5.

      “Turning Off the Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
      The default setting for the Forerunner 235 is Auto. The device uses wrist-based heart rate automatically unless there is an accessory heart rate monitor connected to the device.
      Select Menu > Settings > Heart Rate Monitor > Off.”

  151. Marc steingrand

    Ray do you kmow if the quickrelease for the F3 will work with the f3 HR

  152. jesper

    Does anyone know if you can get the 4 hours HR trend/graph (widget?), if one was crazy/ambitious enough to wear the a HR strap all day??
    I’d like to track my HR, without having to start an activity. And not have to buy the F3 HR or vivo-what-ever-fit, but hold on to my non-HR F3, until Fenix4 comes around with the touch screen :-)

    • Jesper

      Found this one. Looks very similar to the one shown in the first picture in this blog. But not quite the same. Colors are different and the RHR is missing. So I’m assuming the functionality behind, is very different. One being just a graph and Garmins app, a smart thing, that also talk to connect.
      link to apps.garmin.com

  153. Liam C

    Hi Ray,

    I’m a marathon runner who cycles occasionally and plays a lot of golf. I loved the F3 when I first saw it but understood it didn’t support playing golf in the way that Garmin’s golf-specific watches do. Sounds like this new update might address this – do you know anything about what this change means for playing golf? Will the watch recognise courses automatically or do they need to be downloaded? If downloaded, how many courses can it hold? Will it just show distance to centre of green, or front / middle / back, position of sand traps, doglegs, etc. If this watch can properly support golf, I’m buying one next day!

    • Jesper

      It just shows the gren front/center/back. No graphics of the hole. There is also a “layup” page, but it seems to just be doing the math for you. If you are 270 out, and want 100 to go, it’ll tell you to hit a 170 club. Very useful Garmin :-(

    • Jesper


    • Liam C

      Hi Jasper,

      Thanks for that, very interesting. I am starting to think there’s going to be one of these on my wrist soon! Do you know if you need to download courses, and of so, how many courses can be stored on the watch? Or does it “know” which course you’re on and give you the details for that course automatically?


    • JEsper

      I have only tried it quickly indoor (it’s frost and snow here in Denmark)
      You need to download the courses with the mobile app and it list the ones nearest. Once you start the round, it looked like it also did a download. I’m guessing (hoping) it was just from the phone to the watch. I guess turning off wifi and mobile data would tell, but I have not tried that

  154. Ben boujemaa

    Hi the fenix 3 hr , It is available in France maintenantou well right? and thank you

  155. Steve

    Will there be a quick release kit available for the F3hr? Also will the new band system work or will it cover the optical sensor. Even if it does cover the optical sensor will you be able to use it with the hest strap instead? Also are all the F3hr’s with the sapphire crystal? Thanks

  156. Anton

    I wonder if non-proprietary straps will fit the f3 hr.
    There are several really nice rubber (faux leather) straps suitable for both sweaty sports and business meetings.

    Is it Garmin straps only? Or “anything that fits, goes”?

  157. Rob

    Hi Ray,

    Now with the option to do 24×7 monitoring through optical sensors… do you know if their has been any testing if this is save for people. It does seem harmless, but not sure…


    • Optical HR sensors have actually been common in medical devices for years, it’s just their improvements in algorithms and accuracy during activity has led to sport use.

  158. Glajda

    Is the difference in battery life only due to oHR or is the battery in Fenix3 HR actually smaller than in the original Fenix3 (to save some space for the HR sensor)?

    • Matthew B.

      According to Garmin’s website specs, they both have a 300mAh battery (but Garmin’s website specs aren’t known to always be accurate).

    • Indeed, it’s due to the optical HR sensor.

    • Glajda

      So if we disable the optical sensor or use the HRM strap we should get the same battery life as the original Fenix3?

    • Gabe

      if youre so concerned about the battery life dont buy the optical one.

      simple. you’re better off anyways getting the regular version.

    • Matthew B.

      You can disable the oHR and would (almost surely) get the same battery life as the standard Fenix 3. There are many situations where that would be appropriate and applicable. Recommending someone not get because of battery life concerns seems to be a bit of overkill.

  159. george

    are there functional differences between the HRM Run and the HRM Tri?

  160. Terra72

    Will the fenix 3 HR broadcast as well as receive ANT+ data other than HR data?

    Specifically, if cycling with an F3, would I be able to transmit speed, distance, etc to a non-GPS bike computer, in the same way that the Wahoo RFLKT does for phone-based GPS data.

    This would be particularly useful in triathlon events and far superior to the quick release alternative as the oHR would continue to record on my wrist.


  161. Matthew B.

    Hey Ray, Any word from Clever Training/Garmin about preorders of Fenix 3 HR? REI is saying warehouse is expecting them Jan 24, but they’ve been way wrong in the past (although they did have the exclusive on Fenix 3 last time around).

    (BTW, sorry for starting this already!)

    • I’ve heard roughly first week of February, but that was a week or so ago when that was the global answer, so let me circle back and see what’s up.

    • Gabe

      if it’s anything like what happened last year with the Fenix 3 – REI received their orders 1st (some deal with Garmin?) with Clever Training receiving preorders several MONTHS later.

    • Ugh.

      Just checked with CT. They in turn checked with Garmin. REI does indeed have an unannounced exclusive for 30 days from the first unit shipping, which puts CT’s deliveries in the late-February camp, if REI’s dates hold. CT previously just had a blanket ‘February’ date, based on Garmin’s estimates to them.

      Sorry, neither they or I realized the exclusive. For those that do want to change to REI, you can still support the site with this REI links: link to avantlink.com (simply search from there once landed)

      Sorry all. :(

    • Arnout

      Hi Ray,
      Do you have a similar link for people on the mainland Europe? :)


    • Cristian

      Well, I for one will not change my order from CT to REI. In fact, I think exclusive deals like this go against the free market and the common good (a monopoly even for 30 days still sucks).

      So I’ll patiently wait 30 extra days and as a pay back to REI, will avoid buying anything from them in the future.

      As easy as that.

    • Yup, I agree.

      I appreciate your support!

    • George

      Just to play Devil’s Advocate…

      Why aren’t you also boycotting Garmin? Any exclusivity deal requires agreement of both parties, so Garmin is just as complicit in this as REI. More so actually as REI can be expected to try to compete with other retailers whereas Garmin is agreeing to adversely impact their channel members.

    • EF

      They did the same thing with Best Buy and the VSHR.

    • From memory, the only exclusives Garmin has done have been:

      Epix: 30-day REI
      Vivosmart HR: 60-day Best Buy
      Vivosmart: 60-day Best Buy
      Vivofit Red: Someone had this exclusive, but nobody bought it, so it lapsed quickly
      Vivoactive with purple band: Dick’s (not exactly sure on the terms there)

      REI actually didn’t have an exclusive on the Fenix3 (original), they just managed to get the first box. Inversely, there are other cases where CT has gotten earlier and more shipments of fitness products than REI.

      While I’m not a fan of exclusives, I think it’s only fair to everyone that they just be declared upfront on launch day so that consumers aren’t ‘punished’ after the fact (the Vivoactive HR is a good example of this). Pretending an exclusive isn’t there is just annoying to everyone, but especially consumers.

    • John

      They are free to roll out a product however they want and we are free to buy it from where ever we want. But as Ray stated they should be upfront about it. I ordered the F3 HR bundle from CT. For me there is no tax because I’m in NY and they are in FL and for $5 a year, I joined the CT VIP program (the link is on this website) and saved $65 off the purchase price.

    • Russ

      So there will be a Vivoactive HR! I knew it! Just kidding. I think you meant Vivosmart HR in the comment above.

    • Gotta say I’m really disappointed with this since CT is one of the few vendors that charge my card before they ship. Normal I wouldn’t care so much because of your VIP discount (THANKS for that) but in the case it’s a lot of money to have tied up for an extra 30 days that I didn’t know about up front. Switching to REI is not an option for me since they don’t ship to Canada.

    • BD

      If REI has a one month exclusive, then 24 January may be correct. I looked on B&H, and they have an expected arrival date of 24 February.

    • Josh

      According to the Rei rep today that advised my order status, warehouse isn’t expecting them now until February 17, previously it was Jan 22.

    • Tommy Haywood

      Ive been given an expected shipping date of “mid feb” in the UK from Cotswold Outdoor

    • Nick

      F3 OHR now available at REI- CO confirmed that they are getting their first batch on 8.02.16 (I believe the first batch will only be enough to cover pre-orders though).

    • youhavechad

      I preordered from REI, early this week and I have an estimated date of 2/17.

    • Dominick D.

      Ditto – even as of this morning if you placed the order from rei-co delivery date was 2/17

    • Terra72

      I received an email update from Cotswold last night, saying “expected delivery date has now been moved back slightly to either the end of the month or the beginning of March”.

      I ordered on 23 January so should be part of the first batch of recipients in the UK.

      Frustrating but impressed that CS reached out to me proactively.

  162. Colin Wright

    Hi, great write up I really enjoy your reviews especially on the Garmin Fenix 3. I am looking to purchase the Garmin Fenix 3 but i do have a couple of questions if you don’t me asking

    Should I pay the extra £ and buy the Sapphire version? and the next question is excluding the new HR Fenix 3 is the new range of Fenix 3 just a cosmetic change (strap, colour etc.)

    Thank you in advance

    • I personally wouldn’t pay extra for Sapphire, I don’t think it’s worth it. But to each their own.

      As for beyond the optical and software that everyone gets, no, it’s just the straps/colors. In theory there’s no further changes to the units, according to Garmin.

    • colin wright

      Thank you thats help with my decision


  163. Charlie

    First sentence: “Today at CES Garmin has introduced three new fitness devices today” (repeat “today”)

    • Colin Wright

      “Today at CES Garmin has introduced three new fitness devices today” (repeat “today”)

      I can’t see any spec changes other than software which all existing Fenix 3 will be getting or have i missed something?

    • John

      I wonder if they improved the finish on the bezel. There have been complaints about that in the past. Other than that I think they are the same with new straps.

    • Umm, they added the optical HR sensor (hardware).

    • colin wright

      As my question said “excluding the new HR Fenix 3” is the new range of Fenix 3 just a cosmetic change (strap, colour etc.)

      Thank you anyway

    • I think your question must have gotten cut off, as your question in this thread did not include that. It simply said:

      “I can’t see any spec changes other than software which all existing Fenix 3 will be getting or have i missed something?”

      Though, I see you posted another question up higher/elsewhere that’s different. I’ll answer there…

  164. JK

    Hi – I didn’t see this question, so sorry if it’s already been asked, but does the OHR work while swimming? I’m seeing some watches with OHR don’t track HR in the water, so curious about Garmin’s OHR. Thanks!

    • See this section of the post:

      “In addition, while in swimming mode, you may need a separate strap (such as the HRM-SWIM or HRM-TRI). Right now Garmin hasn’t fully determined/decided if the optical sensor will give accurate enough data in the water (something most other companies are also on the fence about). So they’re saying they’ll likely go out with it turned off by default, but again, are still working through tests on the accuracy front there.”

  165. Robert


    Are the colour of the Fenix 3 Sapphire and Fenix 3 Sapphire HR identical (the watch, without bands)?


  166. Richard Owen

    I have been using the TomTom Multisport Cardio for over a year now and it was great to ditch the HR strap but I’m probably going to go for a non-optical device just as Garmin are rolling it out to all of their top-end devices. The accuracy issue is definitely one of the considerations as sometimes the HRM just doesn’t turn up to the party (yesterday it took 1Km before deciding that my HR was 150). The other issue is that you always have to have it next to your skin – a real issue now winter has finally arrived in the UK.

    I have the 920XT Multisport package on order with the HRM-Tri strap that will cover me for most swimming applications (as long as I don’t do a big push off the wall) and definitely suits me for triathlons. I really considered getting the new Fenix 3 HR but the price hike is massive as you can only get it with the Sapphire upgrade. If it was a £50 upgrade to the standard Fenix 3 then I might have gone with it but the RRP is just crazy on this.

  167. slaesch


    how to use the nap-time-function after the update to 6.5?

  168. Teh

    Hi DC, I’m having doubts about the wrist HR, since I like to run my watch pretty loose on my wrist, would the wrist based HR module still work if my watch is sliding up and down my wrist while I am running?

    • morey

      not a chance. the optical sensor needs to be pressed against your skin, not moving. It doesn’t necessarily need to be ultra tight, but it needs to not move.

  169. Gareth

    hi Ray,

    please could you assist, according to the latest updates for the fenix 3 I should be able to download golf courses to the fenix, but am unable to. I can downloaded the course to mu mobile but no where have I got an option to send to fenix.

  170. Florian

    About the Fenix 3 HR and NATO strap, as a part goes under the watch case, it will cover the HR so do they plan to create one with a hole or there is no NATO strap planned with it? I really loved it and found convenient for triathlon by flipping it inside my arm on the bike.

    • If you buy a Fenix3 HR, it doesn’t have a NATO strap. You can indeed buy a NATO strap for it, but as noted it will block the hole. I’m not sure there’s much they could do about that – because the point of the NATO strap is quick flexibility. So the whole wouldn’t line up for everyone.

  171. Nick

    I am rather interested in this- especially if Garmin has made modifications to the parts of the design responsible for GPS tracking accuracy. Be it the antenna or other parts of the current setup.

    When is this product expected to be available in the UK???

    • Garmin has stated that they haven’t made any changes to the unit (I did ask about GPS related changes). Whether or not they actually have, I don’t know.

  172. Lorenzo Servitje

    Any updates on how this new version (software i suppose) works with Stryd’s power meter? Can it pick up the running for metrics from it, for instances?

    Sorry, just one more clarification: So they don’t sell a fennix 3 hr sapphire titatnum? They all have sapphire, as you said, but you need to buy band separately?

    • No changes yet. That’ll basically depend on Connect IQ updates coming this quarter, in order to make that whole situation better (or, Garmin could just make our lives easy too).

  173. Lubo lukac

    And something for inline skating? many people loves this sport and I think that is not very distinguishable from running. Maybe need only change the calorie measurement and Vo2 …

  174. Lubo lukac

    And something for inline skating? many people loves this sport and I think that is not very distinguishable from running. Mabe need only change the calorie measurement and Vo2

  175. Konstantinos Goneos

    Hey Ray,
    Manual sleep mode in 6.50 is gone?

  176. Jim C.

    Thanks for the first look, Ray.

    I expect that we’ll see most of the behaviors of the optical HRM from 235 in the Fenix HR.

    Have you gotten enough extended time with the Fenix HR to determine if the battery life problems that plagued the 235 have been solved?

  177. Bill L

    I like the new software upgrades and am getting ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. However, there has been mention in the comments of several of Garmin reviews of a possible Fenix4 coming, generally referenced as a Fenix3 with a touch screen. So two questions come up for me: 1. if that description is accurate, is there any indication when the 4 might come out, and 2. what is the verdict on the touchscreen? There have been some mixed comments on the 630, so would it be worth the extra money for that specific touch screen feature, or would the 3 be the better choice? Thanks in advance for your replies.

    • Jim C.

      I’m puzzled about the touch screen on the 630. Did Garmin change to using a capacitive touch screen?

      I don’t have a 630, but the resistive touch screen on my 620 (nearly 2 years old) has been fine. It’s way easier to use reliably on a running watch (in the rain, wearing gloves) than my Apple Watch.

    • In general in the tech world, when people speculate they simply add another digit to an existing unit numeric (i.e. 3 to 4), and then add features they want. Very rarely (virtually never) are these based in fact, especially so with Garmin. Rather, just speculation.

    • Bill L

      Ah. Thanks, Ray. So no word about a touch screen version of the Fenix3, then, just wishful thinking. There were several references to something happening in that arena in a few months. Got it.

      As to the second part of the question, do we like the touch screen feature as we see it on the 630? I ask because I have the opportunity to get a Garmin at a fantastic discount, so price isn’t much of an issue for me. For me, the choice is between the 230 or either the 630 or Fenix3. My primary sport is running, but I dabble in triathlons – though not currently. I have thoughts of getting back into them. They’re great cross-training for my running, and my local tri club for some reason still has me listed on their Leadership page so I should probably do some! (I should also say I’m kind of over the oHR primarily because of power consumption issues and would more likely get a Scosche at this stage of the game. If Garmin improves the oHR, I’d consider it then.)

      So, again, do we like the touch screen enough to make it a “must have”? I could imagine it could be more of an annoyance than anything else if it’s somewhat temperamental.


  178. Joel

    Can you please post a pic comparing the thickness of the new watches(235/630/Ambit3 Vertical/Fenix 3/Fenix 3 HR)?

  179. DT

    Ray, any reason why Garmin doesn’t produce the Fenix 3 HR in Silver as well? I had a Grey and the bezel got scratched so easily. The Silver doesn’t show the scratches the same way. Thank you for your support

  180. Haemish Graham

    Do you know if Training Effect (TE) works without the separate heart rate strap? Thanks.

  181. Nick

    I spoke to Garmin UK today, the F3 OHR was supposed to be released on 6.02.16 but the release date has been tentatively pushed back to 13.02.16.

  182. James

    Great article, very informative. I have to say that I am really upset that they removed the tactical application from the fenix 3. A few of my buddies have it, but as I am just able to update now I don’t. It is very disappointing that GARMIN are withholding functions in the hope of squeezing money out of armed service personnel.

  183. Soren Engelbredt

    Hi Ray.
    When do you expect to come with a in depth review of the F3 HR ?

    Thanks for a great blog.

    • A few weeks or so after final production unit and firmware. I don’t know when that will be, sounds like early to mid February based on various ship dates retailers have said (officially it’s Q1 per Garmin).

  184. Jonas Jakobsen

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the write up, much appreciated.

    On the Titanium watch, is the only difference the color of the casing/housing/bezel, or is it actually made from another material?
    Besides the strap of course.

    Hope to be able to pre-order in Europe soon, just returned my TomTom Spark as that was a bit of a disappointment, but can’t set a finger on TomToms service as they took it back after 2 months.


  185. Nate T

    Hopefully this hasn’t already been asked (and answered)… Has Garmin indicated if they will ever allow multiple activity trackers to sync to one account? I could see myself using the new Fenix 3 HR as a daily watch and to track my workouts, but would like to use something smaller like a Vivosmart HR to record HR and sleep data at night. As far as I know, this isn’t possible today since you can only define one activity tracker in Garmin Connect.

  186. Rob

    I’ve read something about optical HR monitoring on the wrist, suffers problems with weight training?

    Anyone know anything about this, and if this is a problem with the Fenix 3 HR?

    • Some devices do struggle there. It remains to be seen if that’ll be the case with the F3HR.

    • Gabe

      any light seepage on these wrist HR optical sensors creates drop outs.

      So for resting HR the fenix 3 HR will be perfect. Any movement you should rock a chest strap.

      Besides if youre lifting weights you need to wrist flexibility – i put my fenix 3 in my pocket when doing cleans or when wearing wrist straps doing overhead lifts.

      Ray – perhaps suggesting people wear their OHR watches on their biceps could improve accuracy hah

    • Karsten

      I have been using the Fenix 3HR for a couple days now and it seems spotty in its readings. I went for a 4 mile run and it was perfect. Had it on all day and it said my resting heart rate was 43, pretty low for me. Tried it rowing today and after 1000m of rowing fast had my heart rate at 50bpm. That is definitely not accurate. Then I did some crossfit and about 10 minutes into it jumped up to 176. I’m not sure I would trust the bpm readings as much as the chest strap. Just curious have you heard any problems for people with darker skin with optical heart rate sensor? I am pretty dark from being indian and living in SoCal.

    • Dmitry V.

      Have you tried moving it to another hand? Or to inside of the wrist? Or just relocating slightly on the hand. It relies on light that should reflect from your blood vessels, so skin tone and blood vessel position will definitely affect optical sensor.

    • Karsten

      I experimented for the last few days wearing on both hands, wearing it tighter, looser, under my wrist. I finally came upon something that seems to have worked. There is some hair on my wrist not too much, but enough that the thought occurred to me that maybe the sensor was so intermittent because of it. I shaved the area under the watch and it seems that the heartrate is more consistent now. I took it out surfing and the heartrate worked fine. My GPS however was all over the place. It doubled my milage and showed me surfing on a freeway 500 yards away. Looks like I have another issue to work on.

  187. Rob

    Just in case anyone was wondering REI just advised February 16th is expected arrival date. The rep said it was expected to ship from Garmin February 12th. Of course, this may and probably will change but figured there are a few people that want to know.

    Best Regards

    • Rob

      For the Fenix 3 HR. I apologize for that missing important information.

    • andy from embsay

      Cotswold have them for pre-order in the UK, and are saying mid-Feb. Just checked and my F3 Sapphire arrived with them on 26 Feb last year.

  188. David Keogh

    I was just wondering if anyone had any idea if the jumpmaster app will be kept in the fenix line?

  189. Alan

    HI DCR, I am looking forward to buying this watch (Garmin Fenix 3 HR). Today I own the Fitbit Surge buts its HR monitoring is the very poor and the GPS battery usage duration no longer suits my long rides. I am really looking forward to your second review of this new Garmin Fenix 3 HR especially on GPS Accuracy, battery usage and HR accuracy both with strap and without strap(using the watch HR during a tabata workout). Thank you and looking forward to your next review…

  190. Nick

    Order placed. Cotswold informed me that the next 15 or so pre-orders they get will be dispatched when they get their first shipment on 8.02.2016; Can’t wait!

  191. What’s the weight difference between the titanium and reg metal bands?

  192. Nick

    Naturally, I cannot wait for Ray’s review!! I very much hope that he has already got his hands on a final production unit.

    I am very curious as to how the integrated heart rate sensor performs. Battery life and GPS accuracy are two other aspects of great interest.

  193. Havard

    Did Garmin get around to enable WiFi setup through the mobile app yet, or is that still missing? I’m not buying anything from Garmin again until they tear themselves loose from needing a computer.

  194. Kenneth

    I placed a pre-order from REI using a bunch a gift cards I received through the years. I was told earliest delivery was Feb 16th.

    • Nick

      I spoke to Cotswold Outdoor today- they are expecting a couple of units at their warehouse on 8.02 with delivery by 12.02. I might just get mine on time for my 28th birthday on 10.02!

    • Nate T

      I’m hoping that they stick to that delivery date… would love to have this for the Ragnar Del Sol event February 19-20.

    • Kenneth

      I initially heard Jan 24th delivery and now Feb 16th. Either way, I am excited and finally upgrading from the Garmin 305.

  195. Robert Whittier

    Do you know if you can TURN OFF the optical sensor, to improve battery life? (or if I were wearing one of the fabric straps?)

    Thanks for a great write up!

  196. Jeff

    Any word on the GPS accuracy issue being addressed in this or any of the previous software updates?

  197. Mark Nonato

    Any idea if you can get the Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire Titanium with Optical HR?

  198. Nick

    UK release has now been pushed back by one week to mid February.
    Garmin seem to be having some manufacturing/supply chain issues as the US release also got pushed back if I am not mistaken?

    • Jonas Jakobsen

      Hi Nick,

      Do you know any site where you can pre-order it yet?



    • SS76

      I would be very leery about becoming a beta tester for Garmin given their failure to deliver on the Garmin FR235 and the Vivosmart HR. It appears they have work to do with getting consistent accurate results on this new Optical sensor.

    • Nick

      Yep- just head over to link to cotswoldoutdoor.com

      When I placed my preorder a couple of days back, I was told that they have about 13 units left for preorders. All orders that come after that will take even longer to fulfil.

    • Nate T

      They are working on it though… a new update was just posted (v2.90) for the VSHR that appears to address some of the issues that have been identified.

    • Jonas Jakobsen

      Thanks, unfortunately they don’t have any left in the first batch – confirmed by calling them.

      Guess I’ll have to wait until a Danish site puts them up for pre-order, all the shops I’ve spoken to claim release in March in Denmark though, very annoying! :(

    • Nick

      Yep..the UK release date just got pushed back to mid February now. God knows when it will be released in the end.

    • As for delays, do keep in mind that Garmin has always stated Q1. While retailers have differed, the ‘goalpost’ as always been Q1.

      As for why they’d wait – my guess is that they’re incorporating feedback in from beta testers. Which, seems like a logical thing to do…

    • Matthew B.

      For folks who aren’t paying close attention at home:

      – The Fenix 3 HR has been delayed (slightly) from the initial estimates retailers got from Garmin, but they are well within their Q1 window.
      – Inquiries into whether Ray has a watch or not was met with “nothing to share at the moment” – which would make a whole lot sense if he was an under an NDA for beta testing the watch.
      – His guess as to why they’re waiting to release is that they’re incorporating feedback from beta testers.

      Fill in the blanks.

      Likely they are trying to fix the polling/accuracy issues the VSHR and 235 experience before launching it, which is a pretty good idea if you’re launching a $600 device that incorporates a relatively new oHR platform.

  199. What could be the reason for Garmin not having a Titanium HR version?

    • Matthew B.

      Price, SKU proliferation, limited customer demand – to name a few.

      – Price would be too high
      – They need to start with the most popular combination first, see how it sells, go from there – especially if this is going to replaced in the Fall by a Fenix 4
      – How many customers are going to be looking for a $900+ GPS training watch?

    • Paulo Pires

      I don’t think price is the question here. 900 is not so that expensive… for someone that is going to pay 800…

      The way I see it, not having HR in the Titanium is going to hurt those sales. Because if you pay 800 for a fitness watch you really want to buy the Full Extras version. You don’t want to have to decide betwwen Titanium or HR.

    • Cristian

      I’m not an expert, but I think the reason is purely technical.

      For the optical HR to work, the watch needs to be securely in place, which might not be reliably done with a metal strap. Even if it works “most of the time” I guess they might not want to be sued like Fitbit with the device not showing good data.

    • You can make the titanium band pretty tight. I’m pretty sure the reason is more along the SKU proliferation realm.

  200. Philip

    I have seen screen shots of the Fenix 3 HR where you can see your heart rate throughout the day with a nice graph. With the recent software update on all the Fenix 3 watches, if one were to purchase a Fenix 3 Sapphire (non-HR in the wrist) and just wear the chest strap all day, would you be able to see and get the same information?

    • No, there’s no functionality to connect to an external HR strap for 24×7 monitoring. :(

    • Isabella

      Dang, that’s what I really, really want….

      Another thing I’d like: A mode selection where you can select to wear it somewhere else…like on an ankle, or in a pocket, or clipped to a sportsbra…I always want to wear it, but prefer not to always wear it as a watch.