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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. Nicolas

    Hi Ray,

    I can’t wait for your test of this Garmin Fenix 3 HR.
    This watch is very close of what I expect:
    – can be worn as a day to day watch by just replacing the strap
    – can be used to track my different activities; mainly running 2 to 3 times a week but no serious training and and bike commuting
    – HR during activities without chest strap (it doesn’t need to be very accurate for me, I gave up with the chest strap because of the discomfort)
    – waterproof
    – 24/7 HR
    – decent autonomy
    – in addition notification from the phone and steps tracking are a “nice to have” feature

    The only drawback is the size of this watch as I have a wrist of a chicken (a little below 17cm)

    Ray I wonder if the protuberance of the optical HR is uncomfortable when the watch is worn all day long, could you check that during your review?

  2. Isabella

    Hi Ray,

    I was wondering…do you think the fenix 3 hr is worth getting over the fenix 3? I don’t mind using the chest strap, I prefer it for better accuracy anyway…plus, I was wondering….I know as a comfort factor it wouldn’t be ideal, but (obvious discomfort aside) on the fenix 3 could the the chest strap perhaps be worn all day and maybe to sleep in order to get resting heartrate?
    Also, I saw in your review of the tactix bravo it had indoor rowing as an exercise option, does the fenix 3 have that also?
    One more thing, I don’t recall you mentioning specifically how well fenix 3 does with stairs?

    • It’s just a bit too early to know at this point since things aren’t final yet (still in beta). Once they are, I’ll be reporting back with a review.

      As for rowing, yes, all Fenix3 units have that now.

    • Isabella

      Thanks, Ray, I really appreciate the response, what are your thoughts on wearing a chest strap all day on the fenix 3 (discomfort aside) and stair accuracy?

  3. Nick

    The saga continues with a reply by Garmin CS- after speaking to their administrator:

    Morning Nick,

    I have just spoken to my Administrator and he has confirmed you are 5th on the list for the Fenix 3 Sapphire HR Performer. Our first delivery contains 19 items and will arrive on the 8th February, meaning that you should receive it mid February. Our team will do their best to get the item to you as soon as possible. I hope this helps.

    Kind regards,
    Sophie @ Cotswold Outdoor

  4. What about CleverTraining, has anyone bugged them on ship dates? Are they getting a shipment of xx fenix 3 HRs and yy Fenix 3 HR Performer Bundles on some date? I could bug them, but I figure someone already has :)

    • Matthew B.

      According to Garmin (via Ray), REI will have a month exclusive from whenever they get their first shipment. Current REI estimates are Feb 12th-ish, so assume early to mid March for Clever Training’s first batch.

    • What!? Crap, I just went through and read that (sorry to ask an already answered question). I’m going through withdrawls, as I sent my Fenix 3 back this week – I’m so used to a watch now, and it tracking my sleep and stuff. Dang, a couple months out! I’m probably a bit late on switching over to them now. BOOO!! :)

    • Jonas Jakobsen

      Yup, in the same boat – I returned my TomTom Spark in hopes of getting my hands on a Fenix 3 HR shortly after.

      But now I’m stuck with my old Garmin FR 305 for atleast a month it seems, ugh.

  5. chad jackson

    Hmm interesting Amazon has my preorder in stock date as 2/3. So not so sure if there is an exclusive.

    • chad jackson

      Here is a clip of the order status on Amazon

    • Matthew B.

      Yup, Amazon is notorious for being very wrong on preorder dates for Garmin’s past couple watches. Would expect that to get pushed out to mid-March.

    • Nicolas

      Yes and if you go on the page it says “Usually ships within 1 to 3 months.” so it is not really feb 3th

    • chad jackson

      Just spoke with Garmin CS for Fennix 3 HR they stated no knowledge of a 30 day exclusive with any retailer (he double checked internally). He stated there is an internal email sent out if there is an exclusive release window with a retailer and none exist for the Fenix 3 HR. Earliest ship date he is seeing is 2/19 to retailers.Garmin website expected to have stock 3/14.

    • Matthew B.

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      I would trust Ray’s contacts over random CS agent.

    • chad jackson

      My past preorders have been pretty accurate with Amazon with an expected date. Had the same with the preorder for the Forerunner 235 expected date and it shipped a week earlier then the expected date. So not so sure where you get inaccurate with Garmin. My experience is the opposite

    • The way Garmin talks about exclusives is really funny. So if it’s for Best Buy, they’ll call it out on PR/web/etc… But for REI (and others), if that date is earlier, than Garmin won’t even mention units have shipped to them. It’s as if nothing existed until it goes to other retailers. Historically, Garmin.com is usually in the same boat as Amazon in terms of getting units pretty close to last.

      No, it’s not logical…

    • Bart Bloomquist

      Just curious Chad, did Amazon make their Feb 3 ship date?

    • Matthew B.

      Not Chad, but no, they didn’t. Just got a delay email to March-April.

    • Brad

      I just got off the phone with customer service at REI. The Fenix 3 HR are now in stock, and my order has an estimated arrival date of February 10th.

    • Robert Hattala

      Just check my order on REI, shows in process and est arrival of Feb 12.

    • Bart Bloomquist

      Yep confirmed REI said 41 in stock, card charged and scheduled for Feb 10th.

  6. joel engström

    I think Garmin is in a kind of awkward situation regarding the Fenix 3 HR. The 235 have shown that the optical sensor isnt good enough and now they are placing it on their top model. It’ll be interesting to follow…

    • Georgios B.

      Indeed, it will be extremely interesting to follow. Can you imagine what we are all about to see in the near future?

  7. Nate T

    How feasible is it to switch quickly between watch bands? Does anyone workout with any of the metal ones? I definitely prefer the look of the watch with the metal band, but am worried about how well it would hold up after prolonged use during triathlon training.

    • andy from embsay

      It’s easy enough to switch bands on the F3, so assume the F3HR will be the same. Two allen-key type tools that rotate in opposite directions to remove, then the reverse to put on a new strap.

      I think Ray may have put a video on the original F3 review.

      Just don’t lose the screws…

  8. Tom

    I was thinking about this nylon or what Garmin calls them fabric bands. Since they slip trough the watch and go underneath the watch between the watch and the hand, I want to ask if the HR will work with this bands!?


    • Will

      If there is any obstruction between the OHR sensor and the skin then it will not be able to read your heart rate.

    • Dmitry V.

      No, unless you make a hole for optical sensor. There should be a direct contact between the sensor and skin.

  9. Nick

    Just off the phone with CO, first batch on track for delivery to their warehouse next Monday with deliveries taking place on Tuesday on Wednesday.

  10. Sergio Gomez

    Thar kind of nylon straps are actually called Zulu straps (hence not Nato irrespective of its width). Great review as always. Keep up with the good work. Regards.

  11. Sergio Gomez

    That kind of nylon straps are actually called Zulu straps (hence not Nato irrespective of their width). Great review as always. Keep up with the good work. Regards.

  12. Nick

    Courtesy of mjulianb_ on the Garmin Fenix 3 boards:

    Fenix 3 HR FCC Filing – Internal Photos and Manual

    Hello all. FCC filing spills all the good details on the Fenix 3 HR.
    Comparison between the two internal chipsets: link to imgur.com

    Here are the PDF manual and the new internal and external photos.

    Manual : link to fccid.io
    Internal: link to fccid.io
    External: link to fccid.io

    First biggest noticeable change: Wifi chipset is completely different and MUCH smaller.

    Went from TI CC3100: link to datasheet.octopart.com…t-31668918.pdf
    to ATWILC1000: link to atmel.com

    Seems to be faster theoretical throughput. Can’t tell much beside that.

  13. Nick

    Default Fenix 3 HR FCC Filing – Internal Photos and Manual- courtesy of mjulianb_ on the Garmin Fenix 3 boards.

    FCC filing spills all the good details on the Fenix 3 HR.

    Comparison between the two internal chipsets: link to imgur.com
    Here are the PDF manual and the new internal and external photos.

    Manual : link to fccid.io
    Internal: link to fccid.io
    External: link to fccid.io

    First biggest noticeable change: Wifi chipset is completely different and MUCH smaller.

    Went from TI CC3100: link to datasheet.octopart.com…t-31668918.pdf
    to ATWILC1000: link to atmel.com

    Seems to be faster theoretical throughput. Can’t tell much beside that.

    edit: Also, might be a slightly different revision of the GPS chipset (although the same model number) — really hard to tell at low resolution.

  14. Mario

    Maybe too soon to ask but which would you buy if you didn’t have either, the fenix 3 or the fenix 3 hr?
    I just get decide how important that hr is in the whole package!

  15. Bill L

    I need help. I just bought the Fenix3 with HRM4 strap and it’s giving me crazy HR readings the two times I’ve used it. The first time it got weird on me for the first few minutes, showing my HR climbing up to 150 when I was only casually walking at an effort level that should have been in the 80s or maybe 90s. Slowing down didn’t help. Momentarily stopping didn’t either; I had to stop for about 5 minutes to get HR down to a reasonable rate. After that it seemed to work fine. I chalked up that first few minutes to being an anomaly and was feeling pretty good about my purchase.

    Today was my second use. Not feeling as good about it anymore. Again the HR climbed up to the 140s (reading my pulse rate with my finger on a vein gave 80) but this time didn’t come back down easily or stay in the correct zone for my effort level once I started moving again.

    I circled back home and decided to test it. I compared it with a HRM3 on another watch (on the same wrist) and watched in amazement as I saw the difference between them grow to 40-60 bpm.

    Next experiment was to “forget” all connections and then connecting each watch with the other strap. I got exactly the opposite results, now with the Fenix3 registering correctly and the other watch showing 40-60 bpm higher. So it’s the strap, not the watch.

    Last experiment was to pair them both to my Fenix3 and see if I could switch between them mid workout. It turns out I could. I started with the one that came with the Fenix3, the HRM4. My heart rate registered low at that point and I started walking again. Again it climbed up to the 140s-150s. At one point it showed 144 while I was counting 87 with my finger on my pulse, and when I switched the connection from the HRM4 to the HRM3, then it showed a HR around 87. The HRM3 agreed with reality. The HRM4 didn’t.

    Clearly, the HRM4 isn’t reading correctly, climbing to ridiculous levels for no reason.

    How do I remedy this? Does it require replacement? Is there a software fix for it? Is there a possibility something in the neighborhood is influencing one strap and not the other? Yes, I’m wetting it – under the faucet, in fact. Yes, I’ve moved it around on the chest. Both are similarly tight. Besides, I would expect a problem in any of those areas to result in fewer readings and so show a lower HR than actual, not more.

    Any thoughts? Are others having a similar issue? Any insight you can offer? Thanks.

    • Tomas

      Mine does that occasionally. I’ve found that simply lifting the HRM away from the skin (no need to take the strap off, just grab your t-shirt around the monitor itself and pull) for 10-20 seconds clears the error.

  16. Nate T

    Received an email this afternoon from REI asking that I reconfirm my order (they do this periodically on backordered/preordered items). In their follow-up response, they stated that they still expect to ship their allotment on February 11.

  17. Jack

    I feel like I have seen this answer somewhere on this site but I cannot find it. I just replaced my black rubber Felix 3 band with the pinned leather one. Question, does the leather band stain from sweat?

  18. yannis

    any chance of doing a full review on the “new” fenix 3 HR with all the software updates?

    • My Fenix3 HR review will be somewhat of a ‘abbreviated’ version of a full review. It will be essentially some intro/unboxing/overview stuff, and then dive into ~three specific sections:

      – HR Accuracy in various sports
      – GPS Accuracy
      – 24×7 HR/activity mode

      I don’t (at the moment anyway) plan on doing a full/massive bulleted review with other sections such as things around general use in various sports. Basically, I just want to concentrate on what’s different in this unit from my Fenix3.

      Open to thoughts otherwise, but I suspect that’s all that people care about.

    • Nick

      Makes perfect sense to me. In addition, this would mean that we get the updated review sooner rather than later! Having said that- when can we expect to see it?

    • Timing will depend on having a final F3HR software version from Garmin to base my tests on. Once I have word of a given version being considered ‘final’, then I’ll use that data forward for my review.

    • Nick

      Thanks for clarifying- looking forward to it!

    • Nicolas

      Great! that’s exactly what I am waiting for.

    • Nicolas

      If I may add a topic
      – battery autonomy with HR always on (and without it)

    • Scott

      I appreciate the work you put into this. I’d love to know if HR recording during open water swims will be possible. Even if it’s not recording the whole time, it would be helpful to know during resting periods.

    • I do plan to test that functionality and have OW/Poo spots lined up in my schedule to allow that (HR testing in those scenarios). Assuming the feature is enabled in the final production firmware.

    • Juro

      I was actually thinking quite hard about why do you need a “poo spot” for your review… then I realized it must’ve been the Evil Autocorrect himself again :)

  19. Zo

    On the picture captioned “Next, we’ve got the new leather and nylon straps (though Garmin calls them ‘fabric’ straps)” I see straps with double loops but I can’t find where I’d buy those straps. On the Garmin site the straps are different.

  20. eaglesven

    Just want to thank you for the great work!

  21. Tommy Haywood

    I accidentally just ordered this!

    I would love to use the leather nato/zulu strap with it. Any thoughts on using a leather punch to make a hole for the HR. Do you think that would work?

    • Dmitry V.

      You will need quite big puncher. Just make sure that you position it correctly. It should be more like shown here – link to cdn.silodrome.com

      But thinking about it – this may actually provide some additional shading from external light and could even help to optical sensor.

    • Tommy Haywood

      Yeah I was thinking multiple holes with a belt hole punch. 26mm leather nato straps are only 15 quid on Amazon

  22. Dominick D.

    REI has shipped their first batch. Got the shipping/tracking email yesterday 12/5. est delivery 2/12 for me in NJ.

    • Brent


    • Dominick D.

      Typo above: shipped 2/5 delivery 2/12

    • BD

      I got the same email yesterday! Looking forward to getting it in time for a long weekend run.

    • Shawn

      Very disappointed that I have my order with Clever Training.

    • Shawn

      …actually more disappointed that they acted like they didn’t know, but it seems like they knew they wouldn’t get them until March. I’ll think twice about ordering something new from them in the future.

    • Chad

      A week or two ago, when I went to Clever Training the site said the watch was expected in March. This week I decided to preorder with REI because of comments here mentioning their 30 day exclusivity. Unless their site said something different when you preordered don’t be mad at them. It’s not their fault REI got exclusivity.

    • Shawn

      I talked to them and ordered when the watch was first announced and when it was first placed on their site. And they were not forthright with me. Whether exclusivity is ‘their fault’ or not, I have reason to think twice about ordering from them in the future – be it because they don’t have exclusivity or because they were misleading.

    • Brad

      Mine shipped on 2/5, with delivery on 2/9 (it helps living in Portland, OR, when it is shipping from Pacifica, WA)

    • Chad

      Thanks for the clarification. I would feel similar.

    • Cristian

      I ordered mine from CT in the week it came out. I remember the dropdown being “February”.

      Sometime around when I saw the first comment in here that REI had an exclusive, I went back to CT and saw that the dropdown changed to March.

      So I don’t know if they initially knew about the REI exclusive or not. And to be honest, I don’t care. To me, this watch is a gimmick. Yeah it’s cool to have, but far from a necessity – I train as hard as I can possibly every time I train. The watch won’t change anything other than giving me bragging stats: “Look how hard I trained today, mom!”.

      Plus, within that extra 30 day waiting, I’ll see what the others say about the watch, and if I don’t like what I hear, I’ll cancel my order.

    • Dominick D.

      REI now showing ‘Estimated arrival date not available’ when trying to place an order for the F3HR – looks like they sold their initial allotment.

    • I can say without doubt CT didn’t know at launch it was an REI exclusive – nobody did. It wasn’t decided then, but rather afterwards once REI started claiming it. Lots of upsetness was lobbed at Garmin over it, from CT. Not so much for the fact that it was an REI exclusive – but because they weren’t upfront about it.

      Those of you who have supported via CT in the past know that they are very cautious when it comes to dates. As soon as they heard from Garmin, they shifted the dates till March (Garmin had initially told them late Jan, so they aimed for Feb initially just in case).

      That said – I do appreciate the support via Clever Training (and definitely bummed on the Garmin misleading). In cases like this, you can also support via REI on the link on the sidebar.

    • Dominick D.

      Hey Ray,

      I have not seen this really discussed – but with the addition of the oHR sensor does this now bring into question potential hardware related issues arising from the sensor that will affect performance/durability of the watch in other areas over time? In addition, will the sealed (non oHR) version of the Fenix 3 prove to be more “durable” – and thus better suited for more extreme environments?



    • Dominick D.

      sorry for the large image – supposed to be my avatar.

    • We haven’t seen any issues with Garmin optical HR-capable devices and waterproofing (going back to the FR225, FR235, or Vivosmart HR). I haven’t seen any issues yet with the Fenix3HR either on waterproof. Though, I’ll likely toss it in the chamber for fun.

  23. Rowdy

    Thanks for all of the great information Ray. I was curious if the case on the titanium is the same color as the case on the leather version. In some pictures the cases appear to be the same color and in others the titanium appears to be a little lighter. Thanks.

  24. Gerome

    Hey Ray and guys!

    Would any of you fine folks running the latest production firmware of the Garmin fénix 3 HR (seeing as some of you have already received the final version of the device) please be so kind to post whether the watch’s optical heart rate sensor is able to display the heart rate in REAL TIME while running the Pool Swim and/or Open Water app(s) in/under water and whether it logs the HR rate data for post-activity analysis like the HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri do?

    If so, I’d also be very interested to know how does the quality of data produced by the optical heart rate sensor found in the fénix 3 HR units released to the general public compare to the quality of data produced by the HRM-Swim/Tri?

    Thanks! I really appreciate your replies!

  25. Gerome

    Oh dear!

    I’ve just found this in the Owner’s manual: “NOTE: The device cannot record heart rate data while

    What about the Heart Rate Widget itself? Does it work under water without running the Pool Swim and/or Open Water app(s) when you’re just idly swinging your arms under water?

    • andy from embsay

      Are you sure that’s the F3HR manual? I can’t find that on Garmin’s website anywhere – just the F3 and F3 Sapphire.

    • Gerome

      Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s the fénix 3 HR manual:

      fccid dot io/pdf dot php?id=2891951

      The NOTICE is situated in the left lower quadrant of page 7.


    • andy from embsay

      Good find anyway! Thanks!

      Glad to see it can broadcast HR data to Edge and Virb etc.

    • Dmitry V.

      This looks just like a precaution to avoid negative feedback, unless they fully tested it and managed to get stable and repeatable results. So – too early to judge, let’s wait for Ray or someone else checking this.

    • Gerome

      That’s why I said it would be REALLY interesting if someone were to START the Heart Rate Widget on the fénix 3 HR and submerge their wrist in the water (say a bathtub) (and ideally have another watch on the other wrist paired to an HRM strap – hint: Ray :D ) to see if the optical heart rate sensor works correctly when submersed in order to gauge the potential for Garmin to add support for real time underwater heart rate monitoring sometime in the future!

    • Matthew B.

      Alternatively, you could just say you’re doing a “running” activity and then gather HR results.

    • Gerome

      Matthew B. – If your post is purely about testing whether the OHRS works underwater or not, then sure, whatever bakes your potato, but if you suggest to use that method in a real life situation, then the problem with that approach is that you wouldn’t be able to document the other swimming metrics which are arguably more important than the ability to view your heart rate in real time.

      Ideally, Garmin adds a Heart Rate (as measured by the OHRS) Data Screen/Data Field to the Pool Swim and Open Water apps.

      Less ideally but still acceptably, you’ll be to run the Heart Rate Widget while having the Pool Swim/Open Water app(s) running in the background, logging all of the relevant swimming metrics.

      Even less ideally but somewhat satisfactorily, you’ll be able to create a custom activity/app of sorts, mimicking the functionality of the Pool Swim/Open Water app(s), while at the same time adding the OHRS Data Screen/Data Field.

      Having said ALL of that, it’s imperative to test the functionality and accuracy of the optical heart rate sensor itself when the watch is submerged and in motion first (preferably in the way I described in my previous post found above).

    • Matthew B.

      The intent was solely to be able to record swimming oHR to compare against regular HR strap. That is obviously not a long term solution.

    • At present, with a production Fenix3HR & the current production firmware, when you go into swim mode, it will continue to keep the optical HR sensor enabled. It appears to do so accurately while underwater as well.

      However, once you press start to begin an activity, the optical HR sensor is turned off – and the HR value in the data field will null.

      I’ve asked for clarification if this is the final/expected behavior. As noted previously, Garmin was on the fence on leaving it enabled in swim mode.

    • Matthew B.

      To clarify, it tracks well underwater? Even while swimming?

    • No, it shuts off the optical HR sensor as soon as you press start on a swimming activity.

    • Matthew B.

      I meant prior to the activity starting. Your statement “It appears to do so accurately while underwater as well.” — I didn’t know if that implied it seemed to track accurately underwater (prior to activity starting) and if so, that was just stationary underwater or moving (swimming) underwater.

    • Sorry, gotchya. In my case I did a standing test underwater measuring after my swim to see if it measured correctly. For my next swim I’ll try a few laps with it in that standby mode to see if it’s accurate or not.

    • Matthew B.

      No problem, thanks Ray!

      Now that you’re on the “official” firmware, what are your overall impressions of the oHR sensor? Similar to the performance of the 235 from an run/bike tracking and/or all-day standpoint?

    • Gerome

      Hey Ray!

      1.) Is it possible to launch the Heart Rate Widget while having the Pool Swim/Open Water app(s) running in the background logging all of the relevant swimming metrics?

      2.) Is there any custom app available that overrides the behavior of the watch that turns off the OHRS once you start an activity? If not, do you think it’s possible to program such a thing within the fénix 3 HR/CIQ hardware/software/firmware limitations imposed on by Garmin?


    • RE: HR accuracy in general: Give me a few more activities to decide.

      RE: Widget access from within swim: No, once you start the swim, even going to the RHR widget shows the HR as crossed out (off)

      RE: Other apps: You could easily use another app to record HR in the water, the question is both whether the HR data will be accurate while swimming, and then the loss of swim (lap/stroke/etc…) metrics. I don’t know if 3rd party apps in CIQ can ‘recreate’ the swim functionality.

    • Matthew B.

      Thanks Ray.

      Mine arrives on Friday so I’ll also give my impressions after a few activities as well. My experience with the 235 was sort of the same as many: awesome for 24/7 tracking (RHR), sometimes awesome/sometimes poor running HR, mediocre to poor “cross training” tracking. I’m imagining it won’t be terribly different until a next-gen Elevate sensor is launched. Understanding those limitations, I still think it’s going to be a great watch. I also have my fingers crossed for indirect GPS accuracy improvements.

  26. Jennifer

    Thanks for the great review, Ray. I was considering purchasing the 230/235 or the 630. But after reading all the issues people are having with the wrist based HR on the 235, the complaints about no pace alerts with the 230/235 and the issues with the touch screen on the 630, I’m now considering the Fenix 3. I currently have a 305 and before that ran with a 205. I don’t do triathlons. I just run. But I do like to make custom workouts and set pace zones, so that my watch beeps when I’m outside of the pace set. I had thought I wanted the wrist based HR, but with all the inconsistencies, I think I can just wear a strap when I run and skip the 24-7 HR. Now that the Fenix 3 has all the features of the 630, but without the touchscreen, it’s looking like what I want. Has anyone else decided on the Fenix 3 over the 230/235 or 630? I’m also wondering if the plastic strap is as comfortable on the Fenix as the one on the 230/235? Thanks.

    • Bill L

      Hi Jennifer. I did. I decided on the Fenix3 instead of one of the others. I can’t compare the straps’ relative comfort since I only have the one, but it’s pretty comfortable. I came to a similar conclusion as you. The optical HR seems to be more of a gimmick than a useful tool at this point. It has power consumption issues. There is some concern about its accuracy. There is some talk of it being slow to respond to sudden changes in intensity. All of those matter to me, so rather than wait for Garmin to sort it out over the next few years, I decided to pick one of the other watches. Since I do triathlons as well as run, the Fenix3 was the better choice for me. Touch screen isn’t a selling point for me; pushing a button is no harder than swiping a screen. Even more, I get compliments on what a handsome watch I’m wearing. I’m happy with it so far, will be happier when Garmin replaces the strap with one that works. Customer Service was very easy to deal with. They agreed mine was flawed, I sent back the defective one and they are swapping it out with a new one. I’m just waiting for it to arrive, using an old strap in the meantime. Have you come closer to a decision?

    • Jennifer

      Hi, Bill. Thanks for your feedback on the comfortableness of the strap and the looks of the watch. From the pictures, it does look very nice. I do think the Fenix 3 will likely be the one I choose. But I would like to try in on in a store first. I’m just concerned about the size of the watch on my small wrist. As far as the features, it has everything that I want. Also, have you had any of the issues with GPS accuracy that others on this forum have mentioned? Thanks.

    • Bill L

      Hi Jennifer. My initial impression upon taking the Fenix out of the box was that it did seem a bit large, but after it became my daily wear watch, it’s funny how it became just the right size. You’ll have to see how well it sits on your smaller wrist, though, so by all means try one on in a store. As to GPS accuracy, I don’t have any issues with it. It records my go-to runs the same as anything else I’ve ever used. GPS isn’t completely accurate ever, though, as Ray has discussed and every manufacturer mentions in their 2-3% fudge factor range disclosure. A couple of weeks ago 20+ of us went on a 23-mile training run, and our various Garmins, Suuntos, and Tom Toms recorded it as being between 22.7 and 23.2 (no consistency of one brand versus another in reporting). Close enough.

  27. Cameron


    With the F3 HR looking like it wants to be the watch for any activity, is there any concern about the small amount of memory for downloading things such as maps / golf courses etc.

    • Gerome

      I believe there’s no map support for the fénix 3 HR, and I seriously doubt there ever will be!

    • Cameron

      Cheers Gerome – I thought there may have been a possibility of a third party software developer trying to bring something in via Connect IQ. So based on your response – you think the fénix 3 HR is future proofed (as much as Garmin likes to future proof anyway)

    • Dominick D.


      Check that out – closest you can get to a basecamp functionality via connect iq

    • Gerome

      Cameron – Unless Garmin somehow resurrects the epix (MWC Barcelona 2016?), adding OHRS and an adequate post-purchase customer support (IKRLOL!), I’m hesitant to say so.

    • Cameron

      I probably should have written NOT future proofed. I guess that is expected really – you don’t want to stop the cash cow.

      Thanks for the link Dominick – I guess at this stage that will do. Never possible to get all boxes ticked. The epix just doesn’t look good to me so would hope for a big cosmetic change (picky – yes I know)

  28. Nick

    UK release date now pushed back to 16.02-18.02;

    While disappointing, this would hopefully allow those who pre-ordered to read the first batch of reviews prior to actually owning the watch.

  29. Sameer

    I currently use the garmin epix for trail running. What does the Garmin fenix 3 HR bring to the table besides me being able to ditch the hrm band?

    • Dmitry V.

      Epix sits higher in Garmin’s product range. And the only reason many retailers dropped prices for it significantly is its design that was not welcomed by many people.

      So, actually, only optical heart rate sensor. Which is not 100% replacement for the chest strap, as strap will provide more detailed data. (but I think there is also something on connectivity side, that Fenix3 has and Epix – no. WiFi?)
      And – design.

    • Sameer

      On garmins website the fenix 3 HR lists at 599 and the epix at 549 can u envision a epix HR !

    • Gerome

      Customer support.

    • I’d guess that the chance of a Garmin Epix HR right now is between 0% and 1%. Close to 0%.

      I think they’ll eventually re-attempt Epix, but I don’t think that’ll be anytime soon. I suspect they’ll wait for color touch screen technologies that are weather resistant to improve more and provide a better experience while also being trail-friendly (long battery life). Today, those are somewhat exclusive of each other (though, the Epix gets very close there – it just doesn’t sell).

  30. Cal Driver

    Thanks, as always, for your in depth review. I almost can’t wait for the HR to come out!

  31. David

    REI shows order by 2/9 to receive 2/12…..is that correct?

  32. Chad

    I preordered the Fenix 3 HR bundle from REI on February 3, and was initially given delivery date of February 17. I just chatted with REI and she said, it should be delivered on February 15, now. :D

    • Kenneth

      I am getting mine today after I was told it was pushed back to March 1st just a few days ago.

    • youhavechad

      That is awesome.

    • Chad

      While, REI estimated my delivery February 17; it arrived today. :D I’m loving it so far. My first Garmin watch. I had the Polar v800 and Apple Watch; the Fenix 3 HR seems to be what I have been looking for.

  33. Ivo Verhaar

    I am looking for a hiking gps watch for holidays, but i want to be able to work without a computer as much as possible. Meaning using my iphone 6 as the interface where possible to upload poi, routes etc. mapdata could probably be uploaded at home.
    i do not need the real sports functions. ok maybe a bit for skiing. But as long as i can record gpx/kml basic data and export it for photos linking i am already happy.
    i do want weather forecast/alarm
    i do want navigate to a poi (heading distance, maybe even a small simplified map), route and of course trackback.
    8-12hrs running time (could be with a bit less detail).
    off line usage of the gps!
    even considered a pebble or a apple watch…which would tick most of the boxes but not the weather alarm because no barometer.

    currently the traverse and fenix3 look most promising. but do not know how nice it will work with an iphone as main connection. Can you shed some light on this or recommend?

  34. thomas dahbura

    Great review, thanks for providing that level of detail-One question though- aside from some of the aesthetic differences between the new Fenix3 and the old fenix3 is the only difference the HR feature?

    • Gerome

      It has a sapphire glass domed screen.

    • Matthew B.

      Well, the Fenix 3 Sapphire has that screen — from a “what’s available on the current Fenix 3” vs “what’s available on the Fenix 3 HR”, optical HR is the only advertised* change.

      *There are minor chipset changes (wifi for one) that may lead to differing performance overall, but the only way to tell will to be through testing.

    • BD

      Mine arrived today. The box says “Fenix 3 HR Sapphire Edition,” so it seems it’s definitely a sapphire crystal. It isn’t domed, though (Google “domed sapphire” for what that looks like) — it’s flat. Not that I care either way, but I thought I’d mention it.

    • Dmitry V.

      ” It isn’t domed” (sapphire crystal)
      This is really great! (less reflection, easier to put a protective sticker for touch events)

  35. youhavechad

    Looks like Garmin placed finalize version of manual up today. link to static.garmincdn.com

  36. Wesley S

    Anyone know when Best Buy will have this in stock?

  37. Andrew

    Ray –

    Is there a way to push my VO2 Max to the Fenix 3 HR? I just got one and am kinda bummed I can’t figure out how to get my current VO2 Max on it…


  38. Frank Stanton

    Ray, wondering if you’ve had the chance to test the Fenix3 HR with a metal band at all? I am looking to buy a Fenix3 HR to suppliment the remainder of my outdoor use that isn’t cycling related (to be honest, it will cover cycling when I don’t want to risk my EDGE 810 on my handlebars, like certain mountain bike rides where an OTB moment is possible, but mostly used on backcountry backpacking trips, hiking, canoeing, xc skiing, etc.) and was wondering if it is compatible with the metal band. If not, is it because the metal band doesn’t allow the watch to stay close enough to the wrist, or something else? Or that it’s anticipated one would wear a HR strap? This watch would be replacing what I wear daily, and while I’m not opposed to silicone (I wear a RoadID that deteriorates after about a year of use, as do pads/ear pieces on most of my eyewear), it doesn’t hold up as well long term to my sweat as my 15+ year old stainless steel watches do.

    • Dmitry V.

      It seems more like marketing. Fenix 3HR with titan band and uncoated (“silver”) bezel looks ideal for me as well.
      Steel or titan band could be reasonably tightened.

      If you are looking for constant daily wear, look at titan band, as it almost twice as light compared to steel. (I currently wear Citizen Skyhawk on a metal band – approx 190g. It is a lot!)

    • No testing there, for me just using the regular Fenix3HR rubber band.

  39. Pete Webb

    Hi, I do enjoy reading your reviews here in the UK, always very insightful.
    I do like the look of the Fenix3 and am looking to soon upgrade my old Suunto Ambit2.
    Is a switch to Garmin the way to go, or is there a Amit4 on the horizon, any thought?

  40. Shawn

    Argg – Stupid Garmin – Stupid Clevertraining. I think I’m just canceling and not getting a watch, I’m starting to adjust to no watch again.

    Thank you for your recent pre-order for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire Grey Performer Bundle. Based on information available from the manufacturer we expect our first shipment to arrive to our warehouse the second week of March. Unfortunately at this time we do not have confirmation regarding quantity available on the first shipment and cannot guarantee how many orders will be fulfilled immediately. We will continue working with the manufacturer to get any additional information as this date nears and keep you up to date.

    • Nicolas

      Second week of March, this is too bad, because it means it will not be available in France before end of March and I was hoping to have it for a race I have mid March


  41. BD

    Mine arrived today! Pre-ordered from REI in January. The box says “Fenix 3 HR Sapphire Edition.” It comes with the rubber band, a “Quick Start Guide,” and a thick book I thought was the manual but is the FCC-type warning in like 20 different languages. No user manual, which is annoying but whatever.

    My everyday watch is a Seiko Marinemaster 300. It is large and heavy (around 210g). The F3HR is quite a bit larger but much lighter. The band is a lot softer and more pliable than an isofrane dive watch strap or the rubber strap of a G-shock.

    Battery was at 94% when it arrived. But I charged it, and as soon as I plugged it in, it booted up, asking me to select language, enter height, weight, etc. It asked to set the time via GPS. I said “no” because I was indoors, so it set some weird time and date (noon on Saturday the 30th). Without a manual, I couldn’t figure out how to reset the time. It is not intuitive in the watch menus. For anyone else with this problem, what I did was start an activity that uses GPS (run) and it finds the sats and sets the time based on them. There’s probably a better way, but that worked. It only took 1 or 2 seconds to find the satellites. I didn’t even see it search, it was just there right away. I had turned on GLONASS as I was fumbling through the menus. Maybe that made it quicker.

    I haven’t done anything but play around in the menus. One weird thing is it has buzzed a few times to say “move!” but I was not sitting still at the time. I wonder if it is set to tell you to move at certain intervals, because I was up and walking around and it was still buzzing and saying “move” occasionally. I need to figure that out.

    Actually, I need to figure all of it out. I’ll read the manual online. I hurt my Achilles tendon last week, so I may not run this weekend. Once I do, I’ll compare the F3HR data to the HR readings from the Fitbit and the GPS track from Runtastic, which are the tools I’ve used up to now.

  42. Mitch d


    I see they will be selling a sapphire with the leather “NATO” strap. Does that include the black nylon strap to change out or will that be a separate purchase option?


  43. Dominick D.

    So far two workouts in with the F3HR

    1. 3 mile run wih F3HR on left wrist and I also wore my ambit 3 on right wrist with sunnto chest strap hrm.
    results: both units tracked within 1-3bpm from each other from the start. Pretty happy with that.

    2. Cross training indoors – Same setup with both watches – burpees, medballs, pullups, pushups, sled pushes and etc… The only noticeable difference was a few second lag for the F3HR to catch up to the suunto. Both average HR were only 2bpm off at the end of the 45-minute session.

    Tomorrow is a 15 mile trail run – will wear the F3 with garnin hrm-run in addition to the F3HR – will report back…

    Also the rhr and chart data is pretty cool!

    • fearless farang

      Thanks for your initial review. Seems like you are one of the very first to receive this watch. I am currently wearing my 920xt, but the chest strap is increasingly bothering me. Would you consider the Fenix 3 HR a suitable pure running watch alternative, without a chest strap and without the advanced running data?

    • Dominick D.

      It is too early to tell – I fear there are too many variables day to day (due to the limitations of the technology) to truly rely on it as a standalone HR monitor for running –

      For me so far, it has been very reliable and quite enjoyable to have it built into the unit – the advanced running data isn’t something I look at – but as an ultra trail runner mainly the ‘accuracy’ of HR recovery and approx expenditure of calories for endurance events will usually lead me to rely on the hr strap for races and long training runs. BUT for anything else the oHR rocks! (Note: for fartlek style runs and interval training, including hills, I find the oHR to be limited in available of immediate HR data – which isn’t terrible since I am experienced enough, and everyone should be, to feel where they are at and when the next interval should begin.

      Looking forward to Ray’s additional data this week –

  44. Sam

    As an activity tracker, has the F3HR a correct HR sampling frequency ? The VSHR takes too few data (when you sleep or ‘does nothing’ it takes something like 2 measures per hours). But the F3HR cost many more, has a bigger battery, perhaps things are different. Or not. I’m interested.

    • It’s far better than the VSHR, and more in line with the original FR235’s 24×7 sampling. Attached is a graph from yesterday, showing it.

    • Oh, and the blank spots are where I took the watch off (first to download/charge, and then for long security lines at LHR yesterday).

    • Sam

      Thanks Ray.

      But if I read well the graph, as an activity tracker (out of workout), it seems to have often between 1 and 2 measures per hours. Not always, but often.

      It looks rather similar than the VSHR. I join a picture (the activity has few HR data because I used my Forerunner 610 while training). Blank part is when I was in shower.

      Of course we can’t compare both with only two graphs. I just note they looks similar ;)

      If you used the F3HR yesterday… either you really like it or you prepare a new post about it :)

    • It varies based on activity. In my VSHR, it could go 2-3 hours without a day point if I was just lounging around/working quietly. However, the F3HR will update at least a few times per hour if I’m not doing anything.

      But, as soon as I become active (even just getting a glass of water), it seems to trigger to turn on.

      I guess when I compare my VSHR graphs to my F3 graphs, it’s totally different. The above is somewhat unique (the one I posted) in that for 3+ of those hours I was on a plane yesterday.

    • Sam

      ” In my VSHR, it could go 2-3 hours without a day point if I was just lounging around/working quietly.” => It isn’t something normal. I complain about the too low HR sampling frequency of the VSHR, but in normal circumstance it take at least 1 measure per hours, often 2, even when you’re asleep. (firmware 2.9, it was the same with previous 2.6). See the graph I posted, it’s rather a common one.

      I don’t want to pollute the comments with VSHR stuffs, but I think it’s important to give this informations, especially if we compare the two products.

      Thanks for the informations about de F3HR.

    • Josh

      Very cool chart. I wonder if the battery issue will prevent the 235 from being able to go back to this frequent sampling rate?

    • Josh

      Not sure why the above reply inserted here, it was meant as a reply to Ray’s chart above.

  45. David

    Received my Fenix 3HR yesterday and did some intervals on the treadmill this morning. Wore my HRun and that recorded my HR in connect. Is there a way to compare the HRun data with the HR sensor on the F3HR in connect, or do I need to wear an additional watch to capture both sets of data?

    • Dominick D.

      David – I think when you connect the HRM-Run the oHR from the watch is disable – so you would have to wear an additional watch or use your iPhone to capture HR data from another HR monitor.

  46. Chad

    Does anyone know how to track elliptical or stair climbing on the watch?

  47. George

    Hi Ray
    Will the review come anytime soon about the F3 HR?

    • Nick

      I have been checking on a daily basis- I cannot wait for Ray’s review!

    • I expect it mid-next week. Just a few more runs and I think I’ve covered all my ‘run’ types (and ride types and swims, etc…).

    • George

      Well in my case I already preorder it and here in Greece they say by Garmin that will have it to stores in March.
      But nevertheless a review by you will be good news for me and others if you don’t see anything bad for a first touch until we have it on our hands,so finger crossed don’t see anything bad ?

    • Nicolas

      Great, except bad surprise I think this fenix 3 HR will be mine when it will be available in France


    • I’ve got a meeting with the Garmin France folks this week anyway, so I’ll check-in on where France deliveries are. Usually those folks know the rest of Europe as well (at a high level anyway, for the bigger countries like UK/Spain/Germany/etc…).

    • Jonas Jakobsen

      Feel free to ask them regarding Denmark as well. ;)


      Looking forward to your review.

    • Nicolas

      Thanks Ray,
      one site I purchase from regularly told me they don’t expect it before March

    • Steve

      Can you tell the folks at Garmin how many of us would really love to see a Titanium version of the HR?

    • Tommy Haywood

      I’ve been given a shipping date of next Monday (22nd of Feb) for mine from “Cotswold Outdoor” in the UK. Or at least their customer service said that’s when the are “expecting their first batch”. It would be interesting to see if that is accurate based on what you hear back from Garmin.

    • Sampling rate is per the setting. Default is ‘Smart Recording’ (roughly every 3-7 seconds), however I always change it to ‘1-Second’ recording.

      If a HR strap is paired to the F3HR, and said HR strap is within range, it will use that instead.

      Garmin Connect can handle numerous devices in terms of data upload (I often upload 2-5 devices per ride). However at present it will show duplicates/overcounting.

    • Tommy

      Thanks Ray.

      I think this was meant to reply to my post #643. This info is useful.

      What I really need to know is, if I use my Edge to record a ride, will connect know not to count steps from the F3HR (without me actually recording an activity on the F3HR)?

      I get this problem today while using a fitibit. It records thousands of steps while i’m on the bike, despite it knowing I was doing a ride. I think the vivosmart also has this problem.

    • Garmin also counts steps while riding. Not sure why companies keep it this way, always seemed wonky to me.

    • Nicolas

      Hello Ray, did you see people from Garmin France? Were they able to give you an estimated date of availability?


    • No, didn’t meet with them (since the Vivoactive HR & Vivofit3 units didn’t make it in time). That said, meeting with Garmin folk Sunday in Barcelona, so have it on my list there.

  48. Dominick D.

    Some data from a run today; I wore the F3HR on my left wrist and the F3 on my right wrist with HRM-RUN on my chest.

    Before I list some of the relevant data I was using this run to check in real time the oHR abilities – I noticed after some quick hills and picking up my pace the F3HR took between 10-20 seconds to stabilize and match the HRMRUN when increasing my HR – and almost identical 10-20 seconds to stabilize and match when I recovered and lowered my HR. When I was just maintain my Z3 pace both watches read identical BPM.

    Distance: 10 miles
    Terrain: Mostly trail some road
    Temp: Frigid, 1F with wind chills below zero
    Elevation: Just 1000ft gain, rolling hills.

    Average HR:
    F3 = 152bpm
    F3HR = 153bpm

    Max HR:
    F3 = 167bpm
    F3HE = 181bpm

    Avg Run Cadence:
    F3 = 147spm
    F3HE = 147spm

    Avg Stride Length:
    F3 = 0.96m
    F3HE = 0.96m

    F3 = 1,522C
    F3HR = 1,873C

    Despite the cold, the elevate sensor performed pretty well, I am pretty satisfied with this run’s data. Hope to see more from Ray when he is able to post his much more thorough review ( I am still trying to figure out how to do that HR graph overlay ) when I do ill post it here too….


    • Dominick D.

      Ah got it –

      Orange line is the F3HR
      Blue line is the F3

      The last mile was an uphill fast finish – seemed to trick the oHR slightly – may speak to the higher calorie expenditure and max HR difference –

  49. Johnny

    Hi Ray. Do you know if Garmin are planning a Fenix 3 or another model with some memory (similar to the Garmin Epix) but with the ability to store and play music to bluetooth headphones?

  50. Tommy Haywood

    Hi Ray,

    Do you know how the HR samples when i’m using a HR strap and another Garmin device to log an activity? I use my Edge 1000 and HR strap for riding and wont change that once I get my F3HR. If I pair the strap with the F3HR as well, but don’t record the activity on that, will it switch off optical and log the HR in the background from the strap? Also, how does Connect handle multiple devices on 1 activity? Will it use the Edge 1000 data and not record any steps/HR on my daily summary from the F3HR? I hate the fact my Fitbit Charge HR knows I did I bike ride, but still logs ‘000’s of steps!

  51. Is Fenix 3 compatible with ANT+ FE-C?

    Can it read the ANT+ power data, velocity and cadence of a hometrainer?

    Thank you.

    • No, it does not support ANT+ FE-C (only the Edge 520 and any day now, Edge 1000, do). However, perhaps someone will come along and make an ANT+ FE-C app for the wearables line.

      Do keep in mind that aside from Elite, all of the rest of the ANT+ FE-C trainers out there also transmit over standard ANT+ sensor types, so the Fenix3/HR can easily pick those up instead.

    • Hello.

      Today I was Able to test the “Elite Qubo Digital Smart B + ” I could connect to an Ant + dongle of my Garmin Swim to Zwift program and all data is read .
      I have found it impossible to link Fenix ​​3 with the power meter Which is what interested me,
      Is there any inconsistency That Is not Reported by the manufacturers?

  52. Nick

    Cotswold Outdoor CS:

    So last Tuesday we had this email through ‘Garmin have sent through an update on the Fenix 3 HR E3312132. Unfortunately they haven’t managed to ship these prior to Chinese and are now expecting delivery the w/c the 22nd of Feb at the earliest. And unfortunately still can’t confirm what the UK allocation of stock will be’.

  53. adels.ng

    Will there be a HR version in rose gold?

  54. Robert H

    Just got my Fenix 3 HR on Friday, let it update and I though everything is good but it is saying software version 2.20. Maybe I missing something but isn’t the new version 6.80? Can someone shed some insight?

    • That’s the correct version. I don’t know why they dropped down to 2.x vs 6.x, but I’ll poke around and see if I can find out the secret reason.

  55. Hannes

    Did anyone try swimming with the Fenix HR? Does it recordHR data?

  56. Gianluca

    Hi, to all. Actually I own both a Fitbit Surge and an Apple Watch. This is my activity:

    – Winter/Autumn:

    Gym: 70% (body building + crossfit)
    Bike: 20% (touring with MTB)
    Swim: 10% (swimming pool)
    Run: 10% (easy run)

    – Sping/Summer:

    Gym: 35% (body building + crossfit)
    Bike: 35% (touring with MTB)
    Swim: 25% (open water)
    Run: 5% (easy run)

    Fitbit Surge is very good at HR when running. It is not perfect but sufficient when training in the gym and biking. It does not work in water.
    Apple Watch is a bad sport device, very good when running, but really bad on not-cardio activies.

    I was thinking to buy a Garmin Fenix3 HR to have a better device than Fitbit Surge, but I am afraid of the big expense, because I fear that Garmin will trash it for a newest Fenix4 in a matter of a few months.

    Just a few questions:

    1) Does Garmin support old products for many years?
    2) Do you think Fenix3 would be good for my activities? I would be interested, most of all, in open water and swimming pool activies and biking, to check calories burnt.

    Regards and thanks.

    • Dmitry V.

      “because I fear that Garmin will trash it for a newest Fenix4 in a matter of a few months.”
      What makes you think so? Where Fenix 3 is lacking?

      I think that F3HR was an update for this year. And it is far ahead of present competitors.

    • Ak

      Unfortunately, Fenix3 HR won’t record HR while swimming.

    • Keroma

      Do you know if there is any watch can track HR in the water? I am regular swimmer and I wanted to check my performance and also track my HR level during swimming.

  57. Volker

    Hallo dc, you wrote:

    “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.”

    But on final FW 6.80 of the f3, they are still available. Did garmin change their mind?

  58. Ben boujemaa

    Sera t’elle disponible avant mars ?

    • Nicolas

      @ben a priori non ce sera en mars. Ray a dit un peu plus haut qu’il rencontrait les gens de Garmin France cette semaine et qu’il allait leur demander les date de dispo en France.


  59. Yonadav

    Do we know if battery life for Fenix3 HR at 16 hours is with optical HR and would it be 20 hours like a normal Fenix3 with the chest strap? Just worried since those battery lives are best cases and sometimes much less in reality.

  60. Nick

    Just spoke with CO in the UK- first batch of F3 OHR expected on 22/02/2016!

    • Dmitry V.

      Have you told him how many people would love to see titanium (or at least “silver”) version with HR?

    • Tommy

      I’m not sure what Cotswold Outdoor would do with that info. Someone should tell Garmin though

    • Tommy

      Don’t get your hopes up. While they have stuck to this date, I’ve seen many people getting differing stories. They have said to some people they have no idea how big the first batch is.

      I pre ordered the performer bundle. Good news is they now have all the models available

    • andy from embsay

      If they get them next Monday, that’ll be almost exactly the same as the F3 launch last year, when REI shipped in the first week of Feb and CO shipped theirs in the last week.

  61. Nick

    I cannot wait for DCR’s review- he mentioned that it will be going live mid week, which means it should be out by the end of today!

    • Gabe

      Ray has done most of it already – see Fenix 3 review plus refer to the Forerunner 235 HR review for the optical HR part.

      On the garmin forums users of the Fenix 3 HR have already confirmed what we were expecting. Good HR tracking when not doing intense work outs. Poor tracking during intense workouts. Those users are already saying they’ll stick to the HR strap for those workouts.

    • Nick

      I am keeping an eye on the forums as well.
      However, getting Ray’s opinion on HR accuracy during more intense workouts and his views on potential future improvements are still key.

      Not to mention that I am looking for something a tad more in-depth on the GPS accuracy side.

    • George

      That’s true about the hr but in Garmin forum doesn’t say still anything for the gps of F3 hr

    • I believe I said ‘mid-next week’ on Sunday, so basically around the 24th. I’m easily on target for that.

      In general, I’m seeing some improvement over the FR235 for intense workouts actually (optical HR). I’m in general seeing significant improvement in cycling over the FR235, to the point where I’d put it in the B+/A- range (compared to being barely a C before).

      The only area where I see it still struggle a bit is super-short hard sprints (sub-20″) on bike or run, where it just lags a bit. This is somewhat common to optical HR sensors, but I see it a bit worse here than the Scosche for example.

      As for GPS accuracy, it’s mostly on par with before. I’ve had two odd-ball moments at the beginning of two recent runs, but everything else is clean.

      Attached is an interval workout from last night (F3HR vs HRM-TRI vs Apple Watch). The first section all three differed significantly. I don’t know which is correct, but I’d actually give it to the F3HR if I had to guess. Beyond that, it tracked well. The only part it struggled was in my 30″ sprints. These are done from basically walking pace to sub-5-min mile pace. So, hard and quick. It was more just delayed than anything.

    • Terra72

      Ray – in most of Europe, the convention is that the week starts on Monday, not Sunday. So when you said middle of next week, we all assumed you meant 17 February, not 24 February!

      Thanks for the interim updates though.

    • Robert

      Hva you tried it (Fenix 3 HR) for weight lifting?
      And do you have to wear the watch really tight for it to work well?

      Best regards,

    • Swift

      I wonder how it compares to the Mio fuse (based) senser as I feel its the best optical sensor

    • TomG

      You are right, but it’s not Europe, it’s ISO 8601 ;-)

    • Terra72

      ISO 8601 is a beauty – the closest thing we have to a metric system for time

      So practically European ;-)

    • Mark Duncombe

      Hah, I read it as being 17th feb as well and have been checking the website every few hours

      Still, got to enter the Clever Training giveaway :-)

  62. Ray

    Does the Fenix 3 HR support rebroadcasting HR over BT Smart to another device like Runkeeper on my iPhone?

  63. atom

    I *just* ordered a Fenix-3 Sapphire bundle! I wasn’t keeping track of stuff that wasn’t available in shops, but I figured a Fenix with built-in optical HR would be the next logical step in the Fenix line.

    Oh well… For less money, I’ll get longer battery life. That works for me.

    I would’ve thought that built-in HR would mean longer battery life, since it’s not using some form of wireless comms with an HR monitor, but apparently some other design and engineering trade-offs were made.

    • Gabe

      Ha stop trying to convince yourself – i should have waited!

      just go return the thing. Battery life is just a quick charge away.

  64. Keroma

    Is it possible to do a test if Garmin Fenix3 HR work in the pool with OHR?
    I would like to get this watch if it can track the HR in the pool, so I can keep track the performance and my cardio level.

  65. Nick

    Apparently the Garmin Fenix 3 OHR is now due in early March. To my surprise, I was told that customer service at CO cancelled my original order made exactly one month ago as the item was not in stock (obviously, as a pre-order);

    On top of that, I was kindly informed that I am no longer on the pre-order list as my order had to be redone internally. Quite absurd if true!

  66. Bill L

    Ray or anyone – Are there any known issues with using the HRM4 with the Fenix3? I got the Fenix3 a few weeks ago and it came with that chest strap (customer service was surprised, said they thought it only came with the HRM3-Run – but that’s what was in the box). They agreed it didn’t work and swapped it out for me. The replacement just arrived, and it is malfunctioning in exactly the same way. That makes me wonder if 1. they just sent the old one back, or 2. this is an issue with that strap and the Fenix3 in general; they’re incompatible for some reason. It’s just wrong. It started out reading 20 bpm too high while I was at rest and as I started walking, slowly increased up to 140 while a physical count for a full 60 seconds only showed a rate of 80. 60 beats off is clearly wrong, and that’s exactly what the strap I returned did. I have a HRM3 (not Run) that seems to record correctly. Anything I should know before talking to customer service again (they’re closed)?

    • Dmitry V.

      This looks just like a faulty unit. No reason why it should not work with Fenix 3.

    • Bill L

      Kudos to Garmin customer service. I’ve tested both my old Garmin HRM3 and now 2 HRM4 (red housing) on both the new Fenix3 and an older “other brand” watch, and while the HRM3 worked fine while, both HRM4s gave similarly screwy results. Garmin CS said although there is no known issue, they’d replace it with an upgrade to the HRM-Tri at no additional cost and no need to return the faulty strap. I’m concerned that 2 out of 2 straps that bundle with the Fenix3 just didn’t work, but it seems to have worked out for me (assuming the replacement works). I do tris as well as run stupidly long distances, so it’s a good fit. Here’s hoping.

  67. Wauzi

    Hi all!
    Antoni knows if the fu al version of HR comes with the wrist sensor disabled in the swim mode?


    • Yes, the current production units have it disabled in swim mode. They’re continuing to work on the accuracy in swimming to see if they can make it acceptable enough for public release (on the Fenix3 HR).

    • Karsten

      I used it in SUP mode today and it worked great while surfing, kept track of my heart rate with no glitches. My GPS however was all over the place. It had me surfing on a freeway about 500 yards away and doubled my milage.

  68. Nicolas

    I have just pre-ordered min in a French shop. They said it will be available beginning of March. I know this may not be true but anyway I’ll wait until they receive it.


  69. EF

    Question about data portability for Ray or anyone with a F3HR: I currently use the RunGap app to sync HR from GC to HealthKit. Has anyone tried / know if it’s possible to get the continuous (all-day) HR measurements into HealthKit?


  70. Samuel

    Great review. I’m considering whether I should buy the Fenix 3 HR sapphire, the Fenix 3 sapphire HR bundle or the VivoActive HR. How is the notice of the HR sensor (is it annoying)? I am looking forward to your answer.

    • Dominick D.

      I do not notice the oHR module at all – the only difference is having to wear the watch one “notch” tighter than the F3.

  71. Dominick D.

    Probably the first user of the F3HR to use the oHR exclusively on a 50k –

    With a few training runs in to understand the device and how the oHR responds to me I decided to use it for a trail 50k I did yesterday.

    Course was three laps of a 10 mile loop with about 1100 feet of elevation gain each lap – course was icy, muddy, rocky, steep in sections, typical of the US Northeast in the winter.

    I had a basic plan in mind going out;

    1. Stay under 150bpm the first 5 miles
    2. Stay under 160pm on the hills
    3. Average under 10min per mile pace per 10 mile loop
    -ended up finishing in 5:40, which I account to saving weight on not wearing a chest strap…..ha JK!-

    The watch and oHR responded astoundingly – given on prior runs I had seen the watch take 15-20 seconds to settle in once I threw some sprinting, or hill climbs in I took that into account and was able to work within that “window”

    So not much more to report other than I am confident using the oHR thus far –

    • Fearless Farang

      Wow Dominick, …. 50K’s & in these conditions. Not exactly an urban family fun run. I am currently using the Forerunner 920XT, which is a great watch. However, the HRM chest strap is really bothering me on each and every run. I have never had a heart condition, but wearing this strap gives me a slight idea what a mild chest constriction might feel like. I am not really into detailed running dynamics, just time run, heart rate, calories burned & GPS. The Fenix 3 (HR or not) definitely has a lot of functions that I would never use and paying a premium for these unwanted features is something I am still resisting. However, if the oHR on the Fenix 3 HR definitely works, I will probably purchase this model. Have you had any experience with the 920XT, Dominick? and what are your thoughts in comparing these 2 watches? Thank you so much for taking the time to inform the visitors to this site about your experiences.

    • Dominick D.

      Thanks! Do not have any experience with the 920XT, sorry! Im very pleased with the F3 oHR for the majoirty of my running and 24×7 HR. Expectations outside of that are not as high, but its all about understanding the sensor and how it works on your arm –

    • Tommy


  72. Andrew

    On the fenix3hr can you turn off the 24/7 heart rate recording? Or is it always in recording mode? Question pertains to battery life. thanks so much!


  73. Gabriel


    does anyone know if you could use the quick mount plate of the F3 with the F3HR?
    I would really like this type of Mount but I doubt it will work with the optical HR on the bottom of the watch..

    Thanks in advance

    • No, it blocks the sensor.

    • Gabriel

      thanks for your reply..

      It is clear that the optical HR doesn’t work.
      I thought more of a mechanical point of view.

      I want to mount the watch on my bike. Then I have to use a HR strap no matter what.

      For running I would change to the rubber strap and not the strap+quick release..


  74. Tommy

    Hi Ray,

    I know your in-depth review is due shortly, but I wonder if you could provide some insight. Now the Vivosmart HR has been announced with “smart” auto activity recognition, do you think that feature will find its way to the Fenix 3 in a future firmware update? Could you pose the question to Garmin please?

    For me this is a killer feature as it would (or could) prevent counting steps while cycling.

  75. Jonathan Winter

    So Cotswold uk have just confirmed that my order of the Fenix 3 HR is delayed till mid March due to an issue they are having with a component. Disappointed to keep waiting. Hopefully it won’t be delayed again.

    • Tommy

      Same update:

      “Unfortunately we have heard that Garmin are delaying the release until mid March due to an issue they are having with one of the components. We do not yet have a more precise date.”

    • andy from embsay

      Odd that there’s apparently a problem with a component but they’re releasing these things in the US?

    • Nick

      Got told the exact same today. Mid March it is- for the time being.

    • Dom

      It is most likely lack of availability of this component for production of the units – nothing defective.

    • Tommy

      Clearly they are telling porkies as it is already released. They just don’t have stock

    • Fearless Farang

      I have just cancelled my order for the Fenix 3 HR. Too many uncertainties and the sparce information that is available points to inaccuracies with the GPS antenna and repeatedly revised delivery dates. For the price Garmin is charging for this device, I am not willing to become one of their beta testers. As a long distance runner I am also not into golf, stand-up paddling, I don’t need to control music from a smart phone that I do not carry, don’t need to monitor my sleep patterns & also don’t need a compass. Just a sturdy metal watch with metal buttons, preferably with a reliable wrist based pulse measuring system. Maybe in a few years time. Until then I stick with my 920xt.

    • Dmitry V.

      “and repeatedly revised delivery dates”
      This is just a new product introduction. I suppose you don’t expect that Garmin started production half year ago to prepare enough stock for launch date? Even Apple and Samsung can not afford this.

      “I am not willing to become one of their beta testers”
      This is just a new variant of Fenix 3 that was on a market for almost a year. It is not a completely new product.

      “Just a sturdy metal watch with metal buttons”
      Just curious, why have you placed an order for a plastic watch, if you need a metal one?

    • “and repeatedly revised delivery dates”

      Just be aware that it’s often hard to separate between Garmin advised dates, versus retailer dates.

      Officially, Garmin is just Q1 – so anytime before March 31st.

      The challenge is that Garmin also provides dates to retailers for when they’ll start receiving product. Retailers have three choices there:

      A) Pass along the same date to consumers
      B) Pass along an earlier date to consumers to win over business
      C) Pass along a later date to consumers to be safer knowing Garmin misses earlier retailer dates

      I’ve seen all three variants of the above. For example, CT often follows method ‘C’ above. Usually it works out, albeit not always. Other retailers in the US follow A/B, and some also follow C.

      Except there’s one catch: Garmin typically doesn’t provide quantities to retailers until the day of a shipment. So a retailer that has on backorder 500 units, will likely only get 20-30 units in their first shipment. And they don’t know when shipment #2 is (could be the next day, or two weeks later). Thus getting back to how a retailer handles their date chain.

      In theory, Garmin would just tell retailers Q1, like they tell consumers. Then everyone would have to put ‘Q1’ on their websites and the world would be happily surprised. But alas, they don’t do that – and thus this ensues.

    • Fearless Farang

      I paid a pre-order deposit after a firm delivery date was announced. The delivery date was then revised a number of times. Initially I don’t expect anything from Garmin, other than adhering to their time line before fishing for deposits from their dealers. The current Fenix 3 HR seems to have problems with GPS accuracy and one would have thought that Garmin worked on this problem for the HR version. A gentleman in this thread states that this is apparently not the case, with him surfing on urban freeways, ‘500 yards’ away from his real ocean location. Then there are other Fenix 3 owners complaining about flashing screens and various display inaccuracies. At least the top part and the buttons of the Fenix 3 HR appear to be made of metal, that is what I meant in my previous post. My guess is that the price for the HR will drop considerably after the initial shop front – sleep over customer base have taken delivery of the first batch under the roaring applaus of individual retail staff.

    • George

      Well I find you a little aggressive don’t forget that you are just one buyer like the rest of us that just don’t have the patience to wait for it others do just keep in mind that and also from what I reed in the Garmin forums ppl who have the F3HR they don’t say that this unit has neither gps or flashing screens or anything else atm the only thing that they have to say is that the OHR in intensive workouts doesn’t respond well but that we already knew it that the cause they say you to use the strap.

    • Fearless Farang

      I sincerely apologise to you George, if you find my post ‘a little aggressive’. I have no intention(s) to upset you. Of course, everyone has the right to form their own opinion and I formed mine based on the feedback that I have discovered on social media, including ‘Karsten’s’ post earlier on in this thread. I have plenty of patience, but I do not like to be fooled. If someone does not keep appointments with me on 3 occasions, I will not wait for the 4th time. Again, no aggression intended. By the way, most of my own workouts are intense, so I best keep the (optional) HRM strap with me, should I decide to push the purchase button. My very first car was a Citroen 2CV. If the starter motor failed, you could use a hand-crank that was provided with the car. I had to use it on a number of occasions. A fitting analogy, at least for me.

    • George

      I understand you and you are right about the miss guidance from the seller about the f3hr but don’t forget he wants to sell also but that’s no excuse as for the gps from karsten the only thing I can say all units have bad days and I don’t think the gps for surfing is the proper way to test it but that’s my opinion butnevertheless,I don’t see lately posts in forums about the gps accuracy for F3hr as was seeing about the f3 ,also the current unit ,from what I read has a solid firmware atm (don’t have same firmware as f3) never mind time will saw us if it is a good unit or not.

    • Fearless Farang

      Thanks George. I will wait for your particular feedback, should you decide to purchase this watch. The GPS of my current 920xt is spot on, with Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (or Glonass) engaged. Prior to this watch I owned the FR620, which had to be replaced by Garmin on 2 occasions. The GPS was terrible on this watch, with me often having to stand outside my (low rise) house for up to 5 minutes to obtain the neccessary satellite signals. I bought the 920xt after neighbours started to become a little suspicious regarding my behaviour. The touchscreen on the FR620 also only worked when the watch face was dry, which wasn’t the case on rainy days and when I generated too much sweat. As you can see, I have a bit of a history and mixed feelings with Garmin, going back several years. But I am still loyal and filled with hope. This is why I initially paid my Fenix 3 HR deposit. Everything will be revealed in March?/April?/May?, component/firmware updates permitting. And Garmin, I am available should you are reading these posts and looking for additional pre-release testers. I don’t want free merchandise, just willing to provide intensive use/realistic feedback.

    • Dmitry V.

      “At least the top part and the buttons of the Fenix 3 HR appear to be made of metal”
      Only bezel. Main body is plastic. If you are really interested in metal watch with optical HR – look at recent Android Wear models. Although that is a very different category.

      “My guess is that the price for the HR will drop considerably after the initial shop front”
      Anyway it will be more expensive than Fenix3 due to sapphire crystal and optical HR sensor. So I would not expect a significant drop. As this is definitely a well desired watch. (not like Epix)

    • Dmitry V.

      “A fitting analogy, at least for me”
      I suppose there is some confusion about HR sensors. HR strap and optical HR sensor both could measure a heart rate but they work very differently and, as a result, have different areas of use. Optical HR is good for 24/7 monitoring, for light workouts or gym. HR strap can provide much more accurate data (and measuring resolution) so it is much better for activities such as running or cycling. Although this depends on what person needs.

      At least – this is my current understanding.

      Another example. I would love F3HR to be able to use optical sensor in the pool to show approximate current HR. But I would still use HR strap for more accurate data. (although not sure if Garmin will implement support of such scenario)

  76. Pieter

    Hi all,

    @ DC; great respect for your work here, you have been able to build the best/ most complete review platforms I have come across.

    I have been looking the web for an answer to my question but have not yet been able to find one, that is why I hope any of you may be able to help out.

    Simply put, I would like to know if it would be possible to do 24/7 heart rate tracking with the Fenix 3 using a 3rd party tracker such as the Fitpal* (if it comes out)? Or is the Fenix 3 hr the only one that supports this function in its software?

    I could of course, go for the Fenix 3hr and not use the optical tracker but I’m not sure if it shuts down when paired to an other sensor (battery life..).

    Tried to keep it as simple as possible, hope I managed..

  77. Kenneth W.

    I have an Up3 for tracking hr and sleep in addition to my Fenix 3, is sleep tracking improved in 3 HR?
    It would also be interesting to know if time awake ever would be removed from Sleep reports, I am not interested in my sleep period i.e. time between going to bed and leaving bed as I have a 13 month old at home and there can be hours awake in between…

  78. Gabriel

    Hey Ray,

    I`ve a question regarding the connect IQ store.
    There is a section “fenix 3 / quatix 3 / tactix bravo” and a section “fenix 3 HR”
    Then there are apps tagged with “fenix 3” and “fenix 3 HR”

    As I would need the quatix apps (tagged only with “fenix 3”), do you know if I could use them on the “fenix 3 HR” too?
    I would highly appreciate if you could test this for me, as it would change my order to “non-HR”.


  79. Marcel

    Ray – I’m looking to (pre)order a fenix3 HR from London. I’ve tried to use the REI, CT and Amazon links but none of them work. I suspect this is due to my European location.

    How can I buy from London and support you? (and which European retailers might deliver early…)

    • I’m super close on announcing a European retailer with the same deals for readers in Europe as in the US. We’ve been doing test shipments the last few weeks, and fine tuning the site for Europe. We’re working through a punch-list of remaining quirks/bugs. I’ll likely do some sort of beta roll-out to interested DCR users before announcing it more broadly. And I’d guess the DCR gold-star folks is a great place to start. ;)

    • ToniM

      I know you said something about this in the past but now it sounds closer, really great news Ray!

    • Terra72

      Great news.

      Am I right to conclude from your answer that your definition of Europe includes the UK?

      How close is super-close? As in days / weeks / months?

      I have a pre-order for the Fenix 3 HR but with the delivery window slipping into March anyway, I would be happy to switch to a different deal.

    • Marcel B.

      Thanks – Ray – good news!

      Would love to try this for the fenix3 pre-order (I’m on your list)

    • Nick

      I would be very interested in ordering through that as well!

    • Chris K

      Delivery of all new Fenix Models have been postponed to sec. week of Marc. for Europe or at leased to Germany. Just to let you know.

    • Yes, UK is included.

      Exact dates are tough. Not days, but likely a few weeks. I hope not months, but then again, I would have said that a year ago. But at least now things are cooking and shipments flying around. So I’m optimistic it’s close.

    • Nick

      I hope that the release of Ray’s review of the F3 OHR is due to go live any moment now. I have been revisiting the blog on a daily basis for the past week or so and cannot wait to take a look at his take on the watch!

  80. paul linck

    With the Garmin Forerunner 235, the only way to broadcast the HR data to other devices (e.g,. bike computer) is to put the watch in HR broadcast mode so its useless for running during that time. In a triathlon with the Fenix I would like the HR data to be broadcasted to my Edge 520 (or 1000) during the bike like but still record the bike like with HR while riding. That way I have the bike leg on both (in case one fails which happens) but also have the full tri on the fenix3.

    Will it be possible to broadcast HR while still using the watch as normal or will it need to be in broadcast mode like the 235?

    • Martin

      If you check in the manual, which is now available, in tells the following:

      Broadcasting Heart Rate Data to Garmin Devices
      You can broadcast your heart rate data from your fēnix 3 device and view it on paired Garmin devices. For example, you can broadcast your heart rate data to an Edge® device while cycling, or to a VIRB® action camera during an activity.
      NOTE: Broadcasting heart rate data decreases battery life.
      1 Hold UP.
      2 Select Settings > Sensors > Wrist Heart Rate > Broadcast HR.
      The fēnix 3 device starts broadcasting your heart rate data, and appears.
      NOTE: You can view only the heart rate widget while broadcasting heart rate data.
      3 Pair your fēnix 3 device with your Garmin ANT+ compatible device.
      NOTE: The pairing instructions differ for each Garmin compatible device. See your owner’s manual.
      TIP: To stop broadcasting your heart rate data, select any key, and select Yes.

    • Paul linck

      Yes, I get *how* to broadcast. The question was can the Fenix be used to record activity while HR is being broadcast and based on your manual quotes the answers is NO. The Fenix3 behaves identical to the Garmin 235 in this capacity – i.e. it can not broadcast HR data AND be used to record an activity at the same time. It essential just becomes a wrist based/optical HR sensor in this mode and does nothing else.

      That is what I expected but its a shame. I want to record an activity on my Fenix while it is broadcasting my HR to another device. I definitely want to do this in Ironman so i have the complete bike data on both devices – edge 1000 and fenix3. In its current state, I would have to swim, then switch to broadcast HR mode for the bike (to use my edge 1000) and then switch to run mode for the run which is not ideal.

    • Dmitry V.

      “I want to record an activity on my Fenix while it is broadcasting my HR to another device”
      Why not use HR Strap instead? It will provide more detailed data and could record HR during the swim. (and – send data to several devices)

      I really interested in optical sensor in F3HR, but I don’t think that with it you can completely forget about HR strap. (obviously, depends on scenario)

  81. Gella

    I called REI today and they have a back order ship date of 3/13/16 for the Fenix 3 HR. Just FYI if anyone was curious.

    I also have a question, I have petit wrists. Will I have issues with the optical sensor being able to read my heartrate? Or is wrist size not an issue for function? I went to a store and tried on a regular Fenix 3 and I *think* I can get past how big it is aesthetically on my wrist but would prefer to get the Rose Gold option if the optical HR is going to be a a wash anyway with my wrist size.

  82. BD

    Kind of an off the wall question, but I noticed in Garmin Express my F3HR has 16 slots for apps/widgets/watch faces — the same as I saw described for the F3. But I read elsewhere the F3 capacity for these is 512KB? F3HR says 1024KB. Is this a difference between the F3 and F3HR? Or was the information I saw about the F3 incorrect? Not that it makes much difference — I’m more likely to run out of slots way before hitting the memory limit anyway, but I thought maybe it was an unannounced upgrade.

    I’ve had my F3HR since 2/12 and I’m happy with it. Went on an 8 mi run with one of the custom run datafields and it was great to see so much info at a glance. GPS tracking matches my iPhone 6+ using Runtastic at the same time. HR seems accurate so far. No complaints.

  83. Arnout

    New date in the Netherlands 7 March according to Garmin.
    Patience is a virtue.
    Bever.nl claims to be first in line in NL to get supplies of the Fenix 3 HR.

  84. Brian Gray

    Will the Fenix 3 HR transmit HR data for ANT+ so that, for example, I can use it instead of a chest strap when turbo training with Perf Pro Studio? Thanks

  85. Byron Rodas

    Great article!! Really helpful. i’m looking into getting a Garmin Fenix 3 HR, but it doesn’t come with the strap i want….were can i get the brown leather strap that you stated for $59?

  86. Nick

    Curiously enough, being tired of waiting for Garmin to get their act together and release this watch in Europe, I am starting to become less and less interested at the expense of the Vivoactive HR or the FR 235, for that matter.

    The GPS tracks that I have seen until now, especially in comparison with the F3, do not point to any improvement to what was my biggest gripe with the F3. The FR 235 seems to not suffer from the types of GPS problems I saw on all three units that I went through….

  87. frgrant

    New forum about fenix 3! http://fenix3forum.com

  88. Nick

    Just cancelled my order for the F3 OHR. I got rather tired of waiting with no information being given on when this product will be available. I guess that I will buy the Vivoactive HR when it becomes available.

  89. Gerome

    Could someone please post the link to the review of the F3HR? I can’t seem to find it anywhere!

    • Nick

      As far as I am aware, Ray’s review has not been published yet..

    • Not yet, however, until it is later today, you can read the Apple Watch review I published this morning. Which includes numerous Fenix3 HR tidbits in the accuracy section…

    • Mark Duncombe

      you little tease Ray :-)

    • John Lemon

      Ray, I really admire your work… absolutely the best and most competent source of knowledge on electronic sport gadgets on the Internet.

      And now… probably one of the most stupid questions you’ve ever got.

      I am considering buying Garmin F3 HR, however Im bit scared of the opinions of GPS tracking failures and so on. Your In-Depth review would be critical in making my decision – are you going to publish it before 10th of March? if not… Do you think I shall preorder my Fenix or would it be a big mistake? ;)

    • Dominick D.

      Ive used the F3HR for 2 weeks now and over 30 workouts and a 50k race – the watch is fantastic. GPS is better than my F2 – I can appreciate you waiting for the review but do you actually think he’s going to say the gps is so poor that you should get the F3 instead? order it!

    • John Lemon

      Thx for buoying me up! :)

  90. Lorenzo Servitje

    Wondering if I can get the titanium band on the F3HR—would that look weird since the bezel will not be Ti as in the no-HR F3 saphire?

  91. Hi All!

    A few hours ago (3 hours and 56 minutes to be precise), I published the Fenix3 HR In-Depth Review. You can find that here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    As is usually the case, I’ll be closing the comments on the preview post – but feel free to hit up the new post for any comments/questions.

    Thanks everyone!