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Garmin Fenix3 HR In-Depth Review


Last month at CES in Las Vegas, Garmin introduced their most advanced wearable device with an optical heart rate (HR) sensor in it – the Fenix3 HR.  This device took Garmin’s Elevate optical HR sensor and added it to their hugely successful Fenix3 watch, which has become Garmin’s most advanced watch for multisport athletes (seemingly surpassing the higher end Epix along the way with new features).

I’ve been using a few different versions of the Fenix3 HR since that timeframe.  However, this review is shaped on runs/rides/activities since the unit started shipping about three weeks ago.  As such, it’s a final production device with the final firmware on it.  Like always, once I’m done with this review I’ll wrap it back up and ship it back to the Garmin folks in Olathe, Kansas.

Within this period I’ve used the device virtually 24×7, attempting to understand all its ins and outs.  I’ve taken it running, swimming, cycling, skiing, and done general gym workouts as well.  Plus of course just using it as a day to day smartwatch.  Based on that, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on how well it works (and where it stumbles).

However – I’m doing something a bit different with this review.  Specifically, I’m just focusing on a few core features of the Fenix3 HR that are different from the Fenix3 that I’ve already reviewed.  That’s because the Fenix3 has a massive feature set.  Realistically there are hundreds of features in the unit, all of which would take months to review again in full-depth.  And realistically, 99% of those haven’t changed since the first edition.  So rather than you have to wait till spring to tell you what you already know, I’m just going to focus on the new stuff.  If you’re looking for some of the basics around how the Fenix3 works in general, swing on over to my existing Fenix3 In-Depth Review.

Sound good? Let’s get cooking!



First up, we’ve got to get this thing unboxed.  Thankfully, that’s a rather simple process.

Garmin-Fenix3HR-Box-Front Garmin-Fenix3HR-Box-Back

After taking apart the three-piece box, you’ll find basically three things:


You’ve got the charging cable, the watch, and the power adapter.


Starting with the charging clip, it’s very similar to the existing charging clip for the original Fenix3:


The difference though is that you’ll see a slight chunk taken out of the middle of it, which is where the optical sensor sprouts out of the watch.


That said, in a pinch, you can actually use the original Fenix3 charging cable, just don’t snap in both sides (kinda leave it alone sitting there).  Inversely, you can easily use the Fenix3 HR cable with a regular Fenix3.  There’s also the small wall adapter.  Or, you can just plug it into any USB port you find and it’ll happily charge.

Last up you’ve got the watch itself.  Basically, it looks just like the original Fenix3 from the front, but has the tell-tale optical HR sensor bump on the back.



Note that the Fenix3 HR comes in a few different strap variants. This review includes the regular strap, but there’s also a leather strap available.  You can use pretty much any Fenix3 strap you’d like though, assuming it doesn’t block the optical sensor (more on that later).

Size & Weight Comparisons:

For the most part, the Fenix3 HR isn’t really that much different from the regular Fenix3.  The exterior front-facing shell is identical.  So much so that outside of some very subtle style tweaks to the front, you’d be unable to tell the difference apart unless you really knew what to look for.


Of course the real changes are on the back of the unit – which houses the optical HR sensor.  It’s here that you find the small sensor bump.


This sensor bump is no different than that found on the FR235, Vivosmart HR, and Vivoactive HR – all of which contain Garmin’s Elevate sensor.


It’s a small bump that I honestly don’t feel at all, since that portion of your skin is fairly soft and so for me it’s just not something that I notice.  There are however a handful of people that do notice sensor bumps (from any number of companies).


When it comes to weight, it’s not terribly different there either.  You can see it below coming in at 90g, versus the original Fenix3 (red variant) being 83g.

Garmin-Fenix3HR-WeightScale-83g Garmin-Fenix3REd-WeightScale-90g

Note that depending on the exact band you place on the unit, you will get different weights or widths/textures.  There are no doubt a lot of options today in that category:


However, keep in mind that you are unable to use any strap/band system that blocks the optical HR sensor (at least if you care about the HR sensor).  For example, neither the fabric/nylon NATO-style straps will work (since they’d block the sensor) or the Fenix3 Quick Release Kit.  Both of which block the sensor entirely.  Again, you can use nylon straps, but you just won’t get optical HR readings and will want to disable the sensor and use a chest strap via ANT+ instead. Whereas the quick release kit simply won’t fit.

24×7 Optical HR Tracking:


The Fenix3 adds in the same tracking capability as other recent Garmin fitness wearables with the optical HR sensors.  Meaning, if you’re familiar with those (FR235, Vivoactive HR, Vivosmart HR) – it’s almost exactly the same here.

To start, Garmin has all the standard daily activity tracking such as steps walked, distance, and so on.  That’s all pretty much dial-tone baseline these days.


However, what’s new over the last few months is the 24×7 continual HR monitoring piece.  This means that it leverages the optical HR sensor to track your heart rate throughout the day.  It does this by turning on and off the green LED sensor at various times and then gathering your HR to record it.  The unit uses the accelerometer to know how active you are.  If you’re more active, it updates and records more frequently.  Whereas if you’re less active (asleep), it does so far less frequently.


I wrote an entire post about this just last week in far more depth, so you may want to check that out there for more clarity on how the rest of the industry works (including Garmin).  What I see though is that the Fenix3 HR acts fairly similar to how the FR235 does, and updates more frequently than the Vivosmart HR does. I just get far better battery life. About 1-2 weeks with roughly 1hr per day of GPS time (more on weekends)

However, I’m still prone to getting long multi-hour stretches without any resting HR updates.  Here’s a handful of images of a few recent days that show the update rates.

2016-02-26 12.42.56 2016-02-26 12.42.10

All of this data is available in two spots. First is the mobile app, as seen above & below.

2016-02-26 12.41.56

And then second, is on the device itself via the ‘Heart Rate’ widget, which you can access by simply pressing the up/down buttons.  It’s basically like a dashboard page.


Within that page you can view the last four-hour graphical history, as well as a 7-day rolling history, which shows you the average RHR too (seen a few photos up).

For the most part, despite the lower recording rates while I’m asleep or semi-inactive (such as typing like this), it does seem to get my RHR metrics in the right ballpark.  Typically for me my resting HR is in that 39bpm-42bpm range, and it seems to mostly be correct there.

2016-02-26 12.41.39 2016-02-26 12.41.29

Next, it’s worthwhile point out that the Fenix3 HR also adds in Intensity Minutes, which was also added to the original Fenix3 back in January.  Intensity Minutes is a new metric that Garmin added this past fall to other wearables that aims to track your total weekly exercise efforts.  This is based around the 5 days by 30-minute guidance that many heath organizations recommend.  So in this case, Garmin just totals it as 150 minutes of exercise per week – and then allows you to mix and match however you see fit.

You can also edit the amount as well, as seen below.

2016-02-26 12.48.26 2016-02-26 12.48.35 2016-02-26 12.48.46

You’ll also see this on the watch itself, however by default the widget is in the ‘hidden’ state, so you’ll just need to enable it.


For most serious athletes who are looking at the Fenix3, they’ll likely hit this without too much thinking – which is probably why Garmin doesn’t show the screen by default.  However, if you’re more of a casual athlete, then the 150 minutes guidance is a great goal to try and hit each week and is something that’s fairly achievable.  Note that you don’t need to kill yourself on these workouts to count – so don’t fret too much there.

Optical HR in Workouts:


Now that we’ve covered the portion of the day where you’re not working out – let’s dive into the workout aspects.  Like the 24×7 pieces, these too leverage the same HR sensor as other recent Garmin wearable products – so there isn’t a huge degree of hardware difference.  However, there are some minor differences.  Further, there is a bit more flexibility in battery than that of the other battery-constrained units (i.e. the Vivosmart HR).

The first thing to know is that the optical HR sensor isn’t enabled in all activities.  Rather, only ones in which Garmin believes accuracy is high enough to be usable.  So for example, it’s enabled in running and cycling – but not in swimming activities.  For activities that it’s disabled in, you’ll need to leverage an ANT+ heart rate strap (and more on that later for swimming).

You can always disable the optical HR sensor on your own accord though, via the sensors menu.  Think of it like a permanently paired sensor.  You can choose when or whether it’s enabled.


When you start a workout, it’ll start to acquire your HR.  In most cases, this won’t take more than a few seconds.  You want the little HR icon to illuminate a solid ‘red’ color.  If it’s blinking, then it doesn’t have a (good) lock on it yet.  So definitely wait until it’s happy.  But again, this almost always happens in a couple seconds.  In the below picture I have HR lock, but not yet satellite lock (the red circle around the outer edge).


At that point you’ll want to wait for your GPS to acquire, again, more on that in the later section on GPS accuracy.  Just ensure it’s green (not orange or red), then add a bit extra time for good measure.  Now, you’re ready to roll!

While working out, the optical HR sensor gives you baseline HR data no different than that of the ANT+ HR strap.  You’d never know the difference from looking at the main screen, since it’s just BPM (or whichever data metric you’ve configured).


However, there are some features that are unable to use the optical HR signal fully.  These are primarily due to the optical HR signal not giving enough data around heart rate variability (HRV) for these features to function.

Additionally, some Running Dynamics features require a separate accelerometer based in a chest strap (HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN) to be able to properly measure.  So those ones won’t work either.  Here’s what won’t work:

  • Some Specific Running Dynamics Metrics:  Ground Contact Time Balance and Vertical Ratio (others like cadence work just fine)
  • Performance Condition and Stress Score
  • Swimming HR: Both pool and openwater will require the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM HR straps.

Without a HR strap, those features will not work.

Garmin-Fenix3HR-Stress-Test1 Garmin-Fenix3HR-Stress-Test2

Just for clarity purposes, the following DO work with the optical HR sensor over the Fenix3 HR:

  • VO2 Max metrics, Lactate Threshold metrics (auto or manual), Recovery Advisor, Race Predictor, Records

Note that you won’t always trigger a VO2Max (or Lactate Threshold) result each run.  For example, in my case with the Fenix3, I appear to have only triggered it four times over the last four weeks.  Note that for cycling VO2Max, you also need a power meter.


I have however managed to trigger a couple of Lactate Threshold test results along the way using just the optical HR sensor of the Fenix3 (via Auto Detect).  This functionality was introduced with the FR630, and was carried through into the Fenix3 HR:

Garmin-Fenix3HR-LactateThresholdTestSettings Garmin-Fenix3HR-LactateThresholdTestValue

In my case, I suspect the Lactate Threshold test result was still a bit high, but as we saw with the FR630, it takes a number of ‘the right workouts’ (using auto detect mode) to get the correct result.  If you do a guided test, you’re far more likely to get a more accurate result upfront.  As to what the ‘right workouts’ are, it’s a bit hard to know exactly – other than usually more intense workouts with a longer period in the higher intensity zone.

HR Broadcasting:

Before we talk HR accuracy, I should briefly mention that the Fenix3 HR allows you to re-broadcast your heart rate over ANT+.  This means that the Fenix3 HR will take your optical HR reading and then re-transmit it so that other ANT+ capable devices, such as a Garmin Edge, can pickup your HR reading.

To enable this you’ll go into the sensor menu (which is somewhat buried), and then select ‘Broadcast HR’:


It’ll now show your current HR, and the time:


Meanwhile, if you grab something like a Garmin Edge device, you can pair it to the Fenix3 HR and receive your HR:



Note that one caveat is that you can’t see your regular activity screens in this mode, it requires you exit the broadcast mode:


You can however actually start a GPS activity first, and then enable broadcast mode.  So that does work, it’s just annoying that you can’t enable the broadcast mode and perhaps have it simply turn off at the end of the session when you save the file.  I note this because the Vivoactive HR does actually allow you to enable broadcast mode and not impact your ability to otherwise use the watch.

HR Accuracy:


Now it’s time to dive into whether or not the optical HR sensor is actually accurate.  The short version is that I found it built fairly well on top of the optical HR sensor of the FR235, and seems to have implemented a few software tweaks since then to improve in some of the edge cases of the FR235 that caused me challenges.  Note that because all of these units share the same physical optical HR sensor, we tend to see Garmin update the firmware across the board.  So while it’s been 3-4 months since I tested that, it has received firmware updates since then addressed at optical HR sensor tweaks.  I expect that to continue.

We’ll start with running, then talk cycling, and finally finish up swimming.  Basically, a backwards triathlon.  And yes, I said swimming.  What?  You thought I wasn’t going to at least try it?

Ok, first up is something rather easy – just a simple easy-paced run.  Now it’s funny in that this particular graph makes it look far less stable than it was.  That’s mostly because my HR was basically 130, +/- 3bpm.  So the scale on this graph makes it look kinda jumpy, when it’s really not that variable for the majority of it.


Here’s another run that was somewhat similar, from Barcelona this past weekend.  In this case, you see a bit of variation at the beginning and then they match except for one spot around the 17-minute marker.  For that first portion variation, I’d guess that the chest HR strap was actually wrong there, as it was an easy run that we eased into, so it’s unlikely that I’d have spikes with the chest strap then.  I also had the Apple Watch on this run, but the data from it was mostly useless in this regard.


Next, we’ve got a tempo run of sorts.  This nearly hour long session has four main chunks after the warm-up, with 2×10 minutes, then 2×5 minutes, then 4xSprints.  You’ll see that it generally does quite well on tracking the harder intensity tempo portions.  It does have a very slightly delay when I end each tempo section though, in that there’s some lag when I go from running hard to walking.  It’s more apparent in the middle sets, though it does fairly well in the last 5-minute set.

You see that during the final 4xSprints, which are basically 30 seconds long and at full-out running intensity, than things get fairly close.  It managed 3 out of 4 properly, which is actually much better than I’d see on the FR235 or many other wrist based optical HR sensors.  You’ll note that in another similar run, it struggled a little bit on these.  So sometimes it’s going to vary.


(Side note: There actually was a 3rd HR sensor on this graph, the Apple Watch.  However the track was so horribly wrong that it distracted from the graph, but you can find the same run in the Apple Watch review, should you wish to see it.)

Here’s another tempo-ish run of sorts.  It increases intensity over the first 30 minutes, then I do 3 different interval chunks of increasing intensities.  In general, the unit tracked very well on the bulk of this.  At the beginning, I see variations between the three units. I’m honestly not sure which track would be right.  It wasn’t the Apple Watch, but it could have been either the Fenix3 HR or the HR strap.  This is one of those examples where in low temperatures chest straps can struggle a bit.

You also see that slight delay at the end of a hard set, as well as being a bit short during the 30-second intervals.


Next, a longer run from this past weekend. This run was split up into 10 minute chunks with varying intensities.  You can see rather easily that it tracked quite well across all of these.  Interestingly, at one point at the 57-minute marker while running (and not stopping) I adjusted the strap to make it tighter.  For about the following minute, the unit wasn’t terribly happy about that. Lesson of the day: Don’t adjust the strap while running high cadence drills.


(Note that on this particular run I was running a beta build, in the last few minutes of the run, the unit did suffer a crash and restarted.  So I’ve focused on the 1hr 25mins prior to that point.  Again, it was a beta build.)

How about a switch up to cycling?  This is where I’ve seen some improvement compared to the FR235 (or the Vivosmart HR).  Take for example this ride, which was on the relatively smooth roads around the Spanish island of Mallorca.  In this case, the unit does very well except for one brief section at about the 55ish marker.  This is ironically when I was actually OFF the bike, taking a couple of quick photos before riding back home.  So you can judge that failure however you see fit.  My guess is that the much sharper cadence of my cycling shoes on the concrete tricked it (cadence often tricks optical HR).  You see a slight delay again in the last big dip as I crested a hill and started descending, but it’s not horrible.


However, it’s not always so good.  I find that the more variability I introduce into a ride, the more it struggles.  For example, on this ride across the city (full of cobbles, rough roads, stop/go, etc…), it seems to have some tough times.  I can’t say I’d use the sensor much in cycling when it looks like this.


To help settle this a bit, let’s go inside on a trainer for a workout.  In this case you can see that it tracked fairly well across the majority of the workout.  You see a few brief seconds where it momentarily separated or didn’t catch a significant shift.  But otherwise, it’s fairly similar.


Thus proving that the rougher roads is really the problem here, not so much the position of cycling.  So the summary there for cycling is that it’s likely OK when you’ve got smoother roads and more stable efforts.  However, when you’ve got rougher roads it seems to struggle more and is less reliable.

Finally, a brief look at swimming.  Yes, I had to try it out even though it’s disabled for swim mode.  To track it, I simply put the watch into indoor running mode.  This meant I didn’t get any swim metrics (pace/laps/distance), but I did get HR.


For my swim I wore the HRM-SWIM paired to a FR920XT on one wrist, and then the Fenix3 HR on the other wrist


I then went about my swim sets, which included 3x500m, followed by alternating 50m hard/50 meters easy.  This was the result.  Purple is the Fenix3HR, red is the HRM-SWIM.


For those that aren’t clear – no, it doesn’t track well.  Garmin says they’re continuing to work on accuracy in the water, and if they can get it to an acceptable level, they’ll enable it for the Fenix3 HR.

GPS Accuracy:

I wanted to briefly touch on GPS accuracy within the Fenix3 HR post, despite the fact that Garmin claims no components have changed between the original Fenix3 and the Fenix3 HR.

There has been much ado in some circles about the GPS accuracy of the Fenix3, specifically (mostly) in trail environments, though occasionally in city environments.  The majority of my running is in the city, though I do go out into the trails from time to time (including during this review cycle).  My city is the dense concrete buildings of Paris, which aren’t quite as tall as skyscrapers of NYC, though they make up for it in tiny little one-lane streets.  I also ride out of the city as well, so I’ve got plenty of non-city terrain too.  For example, my recent long-weekend in the mountains of Mallorca.

Overall, I’ve seen generally good performance with the Fenix3 HR.  There have been a handful of times (two specifically) where it has struggled.  However, out of the 30+ days of workouts otherwise, I haven’t seen any issues.  Nor has the eagle-eyed followers on my Strava account.  My Fenix3 HR is setup to wirelessly sync there, so the vast majority of the time it’ll sync via WiFi well before I get out of the shower on a workout.  As a result I’ll find more than enough comments from the gallery on what folks think.

A prime example being this run from a few weeks ago, where the Fenix3 HR shortly after starting went for a swim around some 8-10 story buildings.  What’s interesting is you can really see it struggling the first portion until that point.  So even though I had the green go on the satellite track, I only waited about 1-2 seconds before pressing start (because The Girl was giving me the Death Stare that we better get going).  Normally, I’d end up waiting 20-30 seconds longer – which seems to help significantly.  It’s as if the unit isn’t really quite ready yet.


Or nearby again, where it struggled the following night crossing a bridge.  It’s odd, I see this little section causing pain for many GPS devices, not just the Fenix3 HR though.  Perhaps it’s the taller buildings causing issues on the right side there.


However, the vast majority of the time the unit performs solidly.  I’m able to zoom in on complex sections throughout many runs and find it’s tracked well or on par with the FR920XT:


Or again, through the mountains without issue:


Or, through trails.  In fact, this earlier chart from last month with the Suunto Ambit3 Vertical  – actually compared the Fenix3 HR too.



One of the challenges with the Fenix3 in general is that it’s sold so well (well into the hundreds of thousands of units, if not closer to a million units).  As such, you see a higher volume of discussion on it, more so than really any other unit.  So even if the total ‘bad-track’ volume is the same as other watches on any given random day, then you’re going to hear more of it – just because there’s 20, 30, or perhaps 50 times more Fenix3’s out there than Suunto Ambit or Polar V800 devices.  Just my two cents.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections 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, more details here.)

Product Comparisons:

I’ve added the Garmin Fenix3 HR to the product comparison tables, so you can mix and match any of the products I’ve reviewed to see which features they have.  For the below comparison purposes, I’ve placed the Fenix3 HR next to the Fenix3 (original), and the Suunto Ambit3 Peak.  But remember you can create your own product comparison table as you see fit anytime with the product comparison tool here.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 24th, 2017 @ 1:45 pmNew Window
Product Announcement DateJan 5th, 2016January 5th, 2015July 10th, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateFebruary 2016February 2015Sept 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 100mYes - 100m
Battery Life (GPS)Up to 50hrs in GPS with optical off, about 20-25% less with optical HR onUp to 50hrs in GPSUp to 200 Hours
Recording Interval1S OR SMART1S OR SMARTVariable
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreat
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesMinimal
MusicGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Can control phone musicYEsYesNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesNo
Group trackingNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for cyclingYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNo
Crash detectionNoNo
RunningGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YEsYesYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)With HRM-TRI or HRM-RUN (Not via Optical HR)With HRM-TRI or HRM-RUNNo
VO2Max EstimationYEsYesYes
Race PredictorYesYesNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYEsYesNo
SwimmingGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for swimmingYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)WITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIMYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YEsYEsYes
Indoor Drill ModeYEsYesYes
Indoor auto-pause featureYEsNoNo
Change pool sizeYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths17M/18Y TO 150Y/M17M/18Y TO 150Y/M15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYEsYesYes
Can change yards to metersYEsYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYEsYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesNo
TriathlonGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for triathlonYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesNo
On-unit interval FeatureYesYEsBarely
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesNo
FunctionsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesNo
Virtual Racer FeatureYEsYesNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataYesYesNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)YesNoNo
GeocachingVia GPS coordinatesVia GPS coordinatesNo
Weather Display (live data)yESYesNo
NavigateGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYEsYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startYesYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYes
SensorsGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYEsYesNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYEsYesNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)No
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)With Connect IQ AppsNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoComing in updateNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapablenONoYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesYesYes
SoftwareGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressMoveslink Agent
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectSuunto Movescount
Phone AppiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix3 HRGarmin Fenix3Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

And remember again, you can mix and match your own comparison chart using the product comparison tool here.



So is it worth the extra cash over the regular Fenix3?  That’s really what this all comes down to, right?

It depends a bit on how you train and what sports you use it for.  For most people in running, it’ll likely do the trick most of the time.  There are certain pieces that lag a bit, but the majority of the time it’s good.  Meanwhile, for cycling it’s going to depend on the road conditions a bit.  I’d probably just use a HR strap there for now.  And lastly, for swimming, it’s not yet enabled – so you’d need a strap anyway if you wanted swimming HR.  Do keep in mind that if you use a quick release kit today with a FR920XT or Fenix3, then this won’t work with that.  But if you step away from the typical swim/bike/run triathlete realm that this multi-sport device is designed for, and instead focus on a less intense athlete – then it’s likely to fit the bill rather well.

The 24×7 piece, while it could use some more tweaking, is getting there.  I just wish they’d allow me to control the rate of optical HR update (and thus battery burn) to get a bit more accurate data at rest (sitting or sleeping).

As for the rest of the watch, Garmin has added boatloads of small features to the Fenix3 lineup over the past year.  None of which are earth-shattering, but many are appealing to specific niche requirements that folks have had.  And in the process, they are burying Suunto and Polar in terms of the feature arms race.  Some might argue however that at times, that arms race has led Garmin to introduce more bugs than their competitors. And that’s likely true.  However, I’d also wager that the vast majority of the bugs tend not to impact everyone (or even 1-2% of everyone).  Additionally, their semi-new open beta program has helped to keep those bugs for the people that love being on the bleeding edge (and providing feedback).

Overall, it’s pretty hard to beat the Fenix3 series, HR or otherwise, in today’s high-end GPS watch market.  On the flip side, one can buy more reliable 3rd party optical HR sensors for less than the added cost between the Fenix3 HR and the base Fenix3.  It then really comes down to a choice between accuracy and convenience (and 24×7 HR monitoring value).

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Fenix3 HR (select drop-down for specific variant)

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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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  1. Dulle

    Thanx for great review!

  2. Keith

    Thanks for another excellent review. The sooner they’re available in the UK the better!

  3. Nick

    Great review Ray!

    Have your tried the F3 HR with a metal band? I am curious how comfortable or usable the wrist based heart-rate would be.

  4. George

    Excellent review Ray!

  5. Robert

    Nice review. Quick check in the comparison


  6. frgrant

    New site for fenix 3 users! https://fenix3forum.com Hope you like it

  7. Brent Kendall

    You mentioned in the summary something about a quick release kit for the Fenix 3? I wasn’t aware they had a quick release kit for the Fenix 3.

  8. Yonadav

    Thank you for the review Ray.
    And now for the obvious battery questions 🙂
    Will it really do 16 activity hours with the optical HR?
    And how many with a chest strap and optical HR off?

    • Once you disable the optical HR, you’re in the same league as the Fenix3. I haven’t done a 16-hr GPS activity with optical enabled though.

      Part of the challenge in doing such a test is that if I just ran the optical HR sensor as I went about my day for 16 hours, it would place an unusual stress on the GPS chipset because I’d be indoors. When it has a hard time finding GPS, it increases power (thus reducing battery).

    • Stefan van Leeuwen

      During the Dolomiti di Brenta trail in Italy on the 9th. of September 2017 it lasted 11.3 hours. At a distance of 48.5 km and about 2850 mtr of climbing I got the warning message of a low power battery. So I saved te run a couple of km’s before the finish in order not to lose the entire recording.

  9. John Lemon

    In Hands-On review I was just asking when… U R Great! 😀

  10. Jesper N

    Thanks for yet another great review Ray. But I don’t quite agree with your closing remark. You make it sound like non-HR Fenix3 + e.g. RHYTHM+ = F3HR. But you’d be missing all the 24/7 HR tracking. Very sad, said the Fenix3 owner.

    BTW. The 8 hour battery life of the Scosche, limits this a bit too, even if Garmin was talked into enabling the feature on the non-HR version.

    • That’s fair on lack of 24×7, I’ll add that in.

      I do agree the battery life limits it, though, there are other options that get longer (Mio does for example).

    • David B

      I was thinking the same thing. I really like the idea of F3HR. It’s what I thought I was waiting for. But with battery life impacted I started to consider the possibility of wearing a separate heart rate monitor for the standard F3 to pick up (I also looked into the Rhythm+). But I suspect the software of the F3 is not configured in such a way that it could do this (but maybe it could be). I’m also unaware of an optical HRM with more than 8 hours battery life. And with F3 constantly receiving a signal from a separate device the battery may be affected just as much as the built in HRM anyway.

      Thus I ended up concluding the F3HR is the complete package I have been waiting for.

  11. Mark

    Excellent! Right on target, thank you for your time!

  12. Jon Briafield

    Awesome update. I so want to love optical HR, but I’ve yet to have a satisfying experience. I’ve tried the Scosche Rhythm+, Fitbit Charge HR and latterly the Vivosmart HR and I find it hard to trust the data. Always just too unpredictable for me compared to a chest strap – just yesterday I went on a run averaging 140bpm +/-5 for around 65% of the time, maxing at 164bpm and the vshr never went above 90bpm and gave me zero minutes of intense activity. The previous day I’d done a similar run and it was within 1 or 2bpm for much of the profile. I could live with a chest strap for activities and the oHR for non-activity monitoring if they allowed better manual adjustment to the reading frequency. I don’t doubt they’ll get there some day, but not convinced at the moment. Love my Fenix 3 and thnkfully no incentive to upgrade here for me. Can’t help wondering if the Suunto might just nail it first time, they seem to be suspiciously absent and the Ambit 3 sales must be non-existent these days unless from the bargain bin.

  13. Steve

    I have a Fenix 3 non-HR and I have a little feature envy with the 24 hr heart rate on my wife’s 235.
    Is there a way on the standard Fenix 3 to get 24 hour heart rate data using an external hr sensor?

    • No method there unfortunately.


      I have used my rhythm+ whilst sleeping to get through and my fenix 3 records (not recording an workout, just normal activity tracking) it and shows it in the all day heart rate chart of garmin connect. Obviously can’t get all day from the rhythm+ but it lasts as long as I sleep (~8hrs) so I get a decent rhr.

      As an aside, I wear the rhythm+ on my ankle whilst sleeping and it doesn’t bother me at all


      Through should read rhr…. Samsung predictive text….

    • Peter

      That sounds cool. Could you share a screenshot and also please describe the steps in your approach?

    • 6co

      but dont you have to start an activity to be recording the HR. This is weird…

  14. Phil

    Thanks Ray
    It seems Garmin have been adding functionality to the Fenix 3 and leaving the 920XT behind.
    Is there any reason to get a 920XT over a Fenix 3?

    • It has a bit bigger screen, and is a bit slimmer than the Fenix3.

      I think with regards to the FR920XT not getting as many updates, it is an older unit – and it’s also a cheaper unit than the Fenix3. So they’re basically betting people will pay for premium (FR920XT > Fenix3) to get additional software features. Thus far, it seems like people are.

  15. Andy

    So, it’s sounds like there would never be a quick release for this…the sensor gets in way. So would you say no on this model for triathlon?

    • It depends. For some people, they don’t mind having a watch on their person the entire race. So for them, sure, it’ll work.

      Note if you want to gather HR data during the swim (I don’t think it’s that valuable, but some might), then you’d need a strap anyway. In which case, you’re probably looking at the quick release…so at that point I’d just save the cash and get the original (albeit at the cost of 24×7).

    • Maarten Claes

      Hmm, i sure hope they provide a quick release kit for this one too.. 🙂 We spend enough -early adoptor- cash on perks like the Fenix 3 HR to deserve full triathlon capabilities.

      i’ve got it on me for one day now and compared to the TomTom Spark2.. the wrist strap is definitely better on TomTom for smaller/slimmer arms 🙁 . The ‘closing mechanism’ is really pinned into my arm wheres the TomTom strap is far more elegant/slimmer/easier on the skin. Apart from that & being more bulky.. it’s looks like the great device you reviewed about here. Thanks for that!

    • Catherine

      On the topic of using this for a triathlon… I am currently using a 910 XT and pairing it to a Mio wrist based HR monitor (I was waiting for the 920xt to come out with a HR option but still no luck there). I turn my heart rate monitor on before the event starts (don’t get any hr data during the swim but i don’t have to fiddle with turning the HR monitor on in transition, i just go, and it lasts through a half IM). I do not take my watch off during a tri (I use a separate garmin bike computer on the bike) so the quick release strap is not an issue for me. what i am concerned about is how I will get HR data during a tri? Will i have to stop in T1 to turn on the HR function for the bike/run portions? Will I be able to see my HR on my garmin edge 800 during the bike portion? (In the review you talked about having to enable broadcast mode to see HR on your bike computer-but then you don’t see your normal screens on your watch, but obviously i wouldn’t want to do that in T1 either, then have to turn it off in T2 so I can see my normal run screens). This is getting a little confusing on how it would work for a tri? I had high hopes to get rid of 2 straps (watch and HR monitor) on my wrist, but it kind of seems like this watch just won’t work for a triathlon to get HR data for the bike (on both watch and edge 800) and on the run on the watch without having to do anything extra in transition?

  16. Yonadav

    Incidentally, do you also get 24×7 HR-based calories?
    Couldn’t find calories mentioned in the text or in any of the screenshots.
    Thanks again for a great review.

    • Yes, like the FR235 the Fenix3 HR also uses HR during the 24×7 mode to determine calories.

      It’s on my list to get a deeper understanding of how that works for an updated Garmin-wide calories post.

    • Matt

      Thanks for the prompt reply.

      By any chance did the Mio Slice make an appearance at MWC? I was under the impression it was going to get officially introduced in Barcelona but i havent seen any news on it.


    • No, I didn’t see it there. Mio was in a bit of a ‘shared’ booth with other Canadian companies, but I didn’t see a rep handy when I swung by. So in many of these shared booths, it’s kinda like a desk/table at an airport. It’s yours, until you leave the chair – then it’s someone else’s. Mostly for ad-hoc meetings.

    • TR

      Since I’m tracking my daily calories with myFitnesspal for loss/maintenance (had bad nutrition habits), this would be an interesting 24×7 HR monitoring aspect to see – as in how close are calculated BMR calorie values vs. monitored ones and if using such monitoring would actually give a better total picture.

    • An in depth post on calorie calculation both in and out would be very useful. As I understand food manufacturers are allowed error rates of up to 20% on food labels (source: Novotny, J.A., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1 Aug 2012); 96(2): 296–301) and from experience I know calculations of calories used can vary wildly from one sports manufacturer or service to another. Meaning anyone relying on calorie deficit for diet for example is potentially going to be misled by a large margin.

      Some clarity on that would be great.

    • Harvey

      Thanks for citing that source – I had not been aware of that statistic, and find it pretty incredible. A 20% disparity is pretty significant!

    • Heather Riley

      Looking forward to the Garmin-wide calories post. Is this still in the works Ray? I am sure many would be interested in your findings. Thanks!

    • Eeks, still on a burner. Just not the front burner at the moment. Sorry!

  17. Matt

    Thanks for the great review.

    Been following your posts on all the great new Garmin products. I’m curious about the functional differences between the Vivoactive HR and the Fenix3HR.

    They both seem to have the same features aside from one being a touchscreen and the other not? Is there somthing im missing in the difference between the two?


    • Hmm, good call. Maybe I’ll put together a bit of a basic overview between the two of them and add them in. There’s a lot of advanced features that are missing, but some of the core stuff is that as a triathlete, the Vivoactive HR doesn’t have a multisport mode, so you’d have to end/start each portion of the triathlon separately (and, it doesn’t have an openwater swimming mode).

    • Gene

      A direct comparison of the two devices would be greatly appreciated. I was planning on getting a Fenix 3 HR via this site till I saw your Vivoactive HR preview (thank you for both!).

    • Robert Schloss

      Thanks for raising this question/idea. Was wondering the same thing (Vivoactive HR vs. Fenix 3 HR). Thanks for your ongoing quality reviews. Amazing how you can do it all so thoroughly. Much appreciated

    • MPodaru

      I was looking specifically at being able to connect and record a power meter on the bike, and it seems that the VivoActive would only connect if someone creates a 3rd party app for it, and even then would not be recording it as part of the ride file. That looks like another difference between the two models.

  18. keroma

    Hi, I am planning to get a watch for my sport life and thinking to buy fenix 3 HR or vivoactive HR. I like both of them have 24/7 tracking. I am a very normal user and don’t do some very serious training, I only go to swimming 3 days a week and bike when the weather is good. I would love to track my indoor swimming pool performance. I am not planning to do triathlon yet. But I will start to train running this summer.

    As the price is big different, you think vivoactive HR can fit everything i need? I know Fenix 3 look much better.

  19. Alex

    Thanks a lot for this great review.
    Am I understand you right the optical HR would not be the best choice for a mountain biker riding off road because the hard impacts would spoil the measurement ?
    So the regular strip is the best choice for offroad use?
    And whats about using it in a gym ?

    • George

      I pre-ordered the Fenix 3 HR and I MTB around 5 days a week.. I tried the OHR of the Fenix 3 HR while using a chest strap connected to my Edge 1000 for comparison. I have a XC Full suspension bike and the jarring made the HR go all over the place.

      I’m not sure if it was the jarring itself or the watch moving on my wrist (I do wear the band tight but you know how many bumps there can be on a MTB).

      I have decided to wear the chest strap while MTB as it’s not really much of a hindrance anyways.

      I’ve decided to just use the built-in OHR during gym workouts as it seems to track closely during my workouts.

  20. Craig

    Hi Ray, great review as always. The most exciting new feature with this and the vivoactive HR for us paddlers out there is a mode which measures stroke rate, stroke distance etc. Does this mode still record HR? I believe the swimming mode doesn’t. And anyone done any verification on how well it measures these paddling metrics? Thanks!

  21. SteveT


    Great review. Looks like Garmin is starting to hit home runs.

    I say the influence of your discussions/blog has helped Garmin “get it”?

    That REI link is calling my name. Lol



  22. Peter

    Hi Ray, great review. I’m close to purchasing a new watch mainly for running, everyday use, and hiking. Would also use it for the odd triathlon, cycling when I forget my computer, and miscellaneous.

    Been looking at this watch and the Suunto Ambit 3. However, I’m wondering if a new Ambit (4?) will be released soon. Would it be worthwhile waiting for news on the Ambit 4?

  23. Ted W

    You wrote a little on the GPS, even though Garmin says it didnt change any components. That would be a smart thing for them to say, since it would kill off F3 sales. That said. What does your gut tell you. Does the F3HR seem to track better. In your experience that is. I”m pretty happy with F3. I’ve had some terrible tracks (like during chicago marathon), or during some 50milers. I dont get broken up on that, but I would still prefer a nice track 🙂

    • Bart

      I can confirm that the semiconductor part of the GPS is exact the same on both models.
      They could have done some minor tweaking on the antenna but they would do that for both models.
      Any firmware improvements would be on both models to.
      So the answers would be simply be: the Fenix3HR has exact the same accuracy as the latest Fenix3 models have. The Fenix models however don’t have the best accuracy of the watches on the market today, but that’s a choice Garmin made (based upon more characteristics than only (expected) accuracy).

    • My gut tells me that already made changes at some point in the Fenix3 lineup, and this carried them through. However, my gut also tells me they probably made at least a few minor further tweaks here.

      As for chipset models – it’s one of the least important things. Antenna position/design and chipset (and watch) firmware have repeatedly proven themselves to be the most important factors in GPS performance. It’s just that everyone wants to use the ‘easy button’ reference of GPS chipsets, when in reality that’s not a huge factor.

      One can look at many previous Garmin watches to see that, or even Suunto – which uses the same/very similar GPS chipset between the Ambit3 Peak and Traverse/Vertical, yet, the 2nd ones have worse GPS accuracy due to new antenna position

    • Frank

      Got it. That clears up a lot. Thx!

    • Åsmund Tveitevoll

      What GPS watch is the most accurate? Trying to decide if i should keep my Polar v800 or get a FR630 or a Fenix3. The Fenix3 looks best, but is it as accurate as the FR630?

    • i0N

      Suunto Ambit3 Peak is the most accurate watch.

  24. Falko

    Great review Ray.

    What happens when a HRM-Run belt is paired as well? Which data will be stored?
    What quality is the glass?



    • The HR strap data will be used, if paired.

    • Filip

      Wih my Garmin 220 I experience a lt of probs with inaccurate strap readings. It peels of the chest, gets crazy when I sweat too much, sometimes moves. Now, if the same happens with the new strap used with Fenix HR, should I simpl revert only to the optic reading on hand? thank you!

  25. morey

    Can you pair an external Optical HR monitor (like a scosche rhythm +) for a swim activity? Or must it be the Garmin HRM swim/tri unit? i.e. will it display real-time HR during a swim if it can pick up an ANT+ signal?

    • James Matthisen

      Yes — I’m using the Mio Link. under the Fenix3 HR watch band, on outside of wrist. Works great for swimming. but no storage of the HR data, like previous Fenix3.

  26. Steve T

    Any difference in comfort between the F3 rubber band and the F3 HR silicone band?

  27. Erik

    I’m looking for an upgrade to my Basis Peak and have been eyeing this as a proper upgrade to 24/7 hr tracking and feature set. In your opinion, would this be a good upgrade? I’m typically running, cycling, or in the gym with weights. Thanks!

    • Harvey

      Based on the comments in this review, and what he wrote about 24/7 HR tracking devices in general, few devices (and nothing from Garmin) match the Peak’s true 24/7 HR monitoring.

  28. Nick Young

    Is it feasible to use the optical hr sensor for 24/7 hr recording, but then use a hrm run strap for workouts? Does it require you to disable the optical sensor and enable the strap sensor and then do the same in reverse each time you begin and end an activity? Or is there a way to set a priority or a default sensor for hr data for each activity?

    • Harvey

      If it detects a strap, it uses that rather than the optical HRM.

    • Carl Andersson

      Hi Nick – I have the Garmin Forerunner 235, and I do exactly what you’re describing here. I use the optical for 24/7 hr recording, but I use a HR strap for workouts. The watch detects it automatically when you chose an activity, and it will always prefer an external HR source over the built-in optical.

  29. Hayley S

    Fantastic review thank you! Just waiting for UK release 🙂 do you think the oHR will be released in silver and if so when? I have bezel scratch anxiety.

  30. Yan

    Great review ! Can someone tell me which application is used to do the graph comparison in this article ?

    Thank you

    • It’s a custom app I have, I’m slowly working to open it up to more and more beta testers.

    • yan

      Still no idea when ? Or if there are some similar app on the market ?


    • No set date (it’s honestly not a high priority item), but if you’re doing a lot of charting I can add you to the beta program.

      You can also use MyGPSFiles.com as a good option for basic HR & GPS graphs. Or, you can also use Golden Cheetah to a degree, and exporting from there to Excel (how I used to do things).

  31. Ralf

    Thanks a lot!!!! Finally answered my battery life questions befor a purchase ( still running on Felix 2)….

    One question remains though. How tight do you have to wear it to get accurate HR measures? I like to wear it a little loose, say like I can put a pen below the strap for example.



    • It should be snug. I need not leave an imprint, but it shouldn’t shift at all. If the pencil slides in easily, then it’s too loose. But if the pencil is very snug, it’s probably OK.

  32. Daniel S

    Hey, thank you very much for the review that was ver good, I do have a question, and sorry to drag on the whole swimming hrm thing but I’m still curious, as it is not enabled during swims, how does it look on the 24hrs hr monitoring? do you see a gap during say an hour swim or does it continue to record separately from the activity? say like it does with step counting (it keeps adding steps during swim activities). Do you see a spike in your daily heart rate monitoring due to a swim or a gap?

  33. Jesper N

    One this that really annoys me on the Fenix3, is the music control. It can only control the native Music app on iOS. Not your favourite streaming service.. And it lacks the volume.
    The good folks at Garmin said it someting to do with BLE vs regular BT, when I argued that my old Pebble does it just fine…. Don’t quite get how the new version BT can do less…

  34. acousticbiker

    Thanks for another great review! As someone who doesn’t wear a heart rate strap, I’m enjoying the F3HR so far – feel like I’m getting pretty much the same battery life as I did on F3 and GPS is definitely locking faster for me. A few questions:

    – You mention that ‘outside of some very subtle style tweaks to the front…’ – I haven’t noticed any but can you describe what you’ve observed?
    – On Running Dynamics, I’m actually showing Stride Length
    – Do you know how to access VO2m data? I see it popup at the end of a run if I have a new high, but then can’t find a history of it.
    – Cool on the Lactate Threshold! How do you set it to Auto Detect (or do a manual test for that matter)?

    • acousticbiker

      Actually, I found the VO2m and Lactate Threshold stuff on the watch, but still curious about the subtle style tweaks to the front!

    • RE: Style tweaks: You can see little things like the strap has a very subtlety different pattern, the watch-face has different markers. You can use this picture to compare side by side and see the few tweaks: link to dcrainmaker.com

      RE: Stride length: Hmm, I’ll triple-check

    • George

      Great review Ray! But a little confused now so, your opinion is to buy the F3 without OHR or with and would be helpful for triathlon or should I check something else or wait for something else? I am not looking for a specific answer but your opinion in general with the watches exist now let’s for a multipurpose sports what would be your order in watches from 1 to 5 for example

    • Milkywaye

      Presumably the strap differences are to stop stray light coming in through the strap holes?

    • acousticbiker

      OK, I see. Yes, the strap is different (and I actually find the F3 strap to be ‘cooler’ due to the larger/more holes). I attributed the dial markings to be a function of the sapphire version (same as before).

      Thanks for checking on stride length – checked again on more recent runs and still have it!

  35. Marc Steingrand

    Looks interesting but seems HR still need improvement
    I have ordered mine will see
    It looks like it’s not so great for mountain biking ..

  36. Vtanzi


    Still no support for Stryd or run power?

  37. Jon P

    Hi Ray

    Great review thank you…I’m currently a vivoactive owner and a FR 225, but I DID have a Fenix2SE which I returned when the Bluetooth simply fell over and wouldnt get back up. My question is about navigation, I want to set uup routes and then follow then via the app…but I don’t think *anyone* has really nailed this in a wrist-worn form factor —is that fair? Is the orig Fenix3 the best I will get with that for the time being…?? If so I might wait and get the Fenix3HR to get HR and nav in one device…

    Also, I used bikehike to create routes, and with the “follow road” in Google maps feature, the Fenix2 would buzz with a change in direction every few steps – was this because it was detecting many little course points in the GPX file?? and therefore when creating a route, should I be a bit more careful in when I put my course points, so that I only get a BUZZ when i actually need to change direction (rather than just following the curve of the street?) and therefore NOT “follow roads”??

    Thanks again Ray, best site on the web
    Jon P

  38. scott Buchanan

    Purely out of interest going forward….. if/when we see a Fenix4 will the HR be the default or will Garmin offer a choice?

    • Laurens

      That is impossible to say as Garmin has not announced the Fenix 4 yet and looking at the fact they released the Fenix 3 with HR it looks like they wont for at least another year.

      However it seems most likely that Garmin will put in an HR as the Fenix is a top tier range and most features from the lower ranges are included.

  39. ElIJ

    Thanks for the review. Since the Fenix 3 HR bundle only comes in Sapphire lens minus the metal band, It is not a fair comparison to the Fenix 3 sapphire bundle when iprice wise. They both cost $649.99

  40. Nedim

    On GPS accuracy:
    My Fenix was BY FAR the worst GPS I ever owned (starting with MotoACTV way back when, plus I own(ed) 1/2 dozen Garmins). Thank you REI for letting me return it. The most comprehensive test I know of also shows terrible results (link to fellrnr.com). As do generally all MediaTek devices. For me, it was useless. Sorry.

    On price:
    $599? No.

    If they switched back to SirfStar and made it $350-400, I’d most certainly go for it. Too bad.

    • Kevin

      Couldn’t agree more. The Fenix lineup continues to disappoint on GPS accuracy. The Fenix 3HR manages to lower the bar even further (is this even really possible?) I test everything on the market, and the 3HR is unsurpassed in underachievement. Sad, as I thought Garmin had made forward strides with the 235 which tracks surpringly well with the Ambit 3 and V800, both of which are excellent.

  41. Zach

    Great review as expected. I was curious about your thoughts on how the optical heart rate did during weight lifting / gym workouts.

  42. Steve L

    That’s a great review!

    Quick question:
    Will the fenix track indoor elliptical trainings? As treadmill runs at best?
    If yes, only with a footpod?



    Any word on when Garmin will integrate with Google fit? They announced it a while back but have not seen any integration actually take place.

  44. Raymond_B

    Thank you for the review Ray! Is the performance on the Fenix3 HR compelling enough to make you want to stop using the standard Fenix3 and Scosche? How would you say the two optical units compare?

    • EliJ

      What if you did not own a any Fenix 3. Would you go with the HR sapphire or the original sapphire?

    • Jim Correia

      Is having all day HR available via the Fenix HR a compelling enough reason to buy the Fenix HR over a Fenix 3?

      What are the wins for the non-HR version these days that continue to make it a compelling choice? Cost? Style options? Longer battery life?

    • Dmitry V.

      It’s not only a question of 24h HR – optical sensor can be also used in some activities to provide reasonably enough data.

      Battery life is almost the same (once your disable an optical sensor).
      Style options… Yes. Although F3HR is just launching so I think that they will add more options for it later. And you can install a different strap easily (ones that don’t block the sensor).
      Cost… Yes, this is the main thing.

  45. Dan

    Thanks for the review Ray. Any word on a Rose Gold model? My wife is very interested, but only if she can get the rose gold model as it is more suited for work and training.

  46. Thanks as always for the amazing review, Ray.
    Its not making my next purchase decision any easier; I’m looking for the best way to balance measuring road riding stats (200km plus per week, with power measurement coming) and 2 X basketball games a week plus walking, workouts and sleep tracking. I currently use a gen 1 Vivofit, paired with a chest strap for hoops and a 520. I’d really like to have 24×7 heart rate, and while I’m in the Apple ecosystem and the Watch appeals to me, the idea of getting the Fenix3 HR with the Run strap (that way I can leave the watch off but still measure stats) to replace all my devices is really appealing. Plus I like the idea of getting my geek on and writing an app that uses the HRM-Run data in hoops specific ways.
    I’ll most likely wait for the Vivoactive HR review before committing, unless you (or any of your awesome readers) have better ideas…

    Oh, any word on a QR kit for the HRM?

  47. Mat

    Thanks as always for the amazing review, Ray.
    Its not making my next purchase decision any easier; I’m looking for the best way to balance measuring road riding stats (200km plus per week, with power measurement coming) and 2 X basketball games a week plus walking, workouts and sleep tracking. I currently use a gen 1 Vivofit, paired with a chest strap for hoops and a 520. I’d really like to have 24×7 heart rate, and while I’m in the Apple ecosystem and the Watch appeals to me, the idea of getting the Fenix3 HR with the Run strap (that way I can leave the watch off but still measure stats) to replace all my devices is really appealing. Plus I like the idea of getting my geek on and writing an app that uses the HRM-Run data in hoops specific ways.
    I’ll most likely wait for the Vivoactive HR review before committing, unless you (or any of your awesome readers) have better ideas…

    Oh, any word on a QR kit for the HR version?

  48. jose

    Thanks for the review Ray.
    I was wondering did you try or plan to try the new sport mode Rowing ? do you know how is it going to work? what data can we obtain from it? and how accurate it is ?

    • I have no tried rowing, in large part because I lack a boat (or a rower). However, I do have it on my list of things to write-up a general ‘how it works’ on…once I find both of the above.

      I do know though that it works both indoors and outdoors (two modes), but beyond that, not too sure. Sorry!

    • Gabriel

      Something I know that the fenix 3 lacks the support of ANT+ FE (the Fitness Equipment protocol)… old Garmin devices do support these..

      link to forums.garmin.com

      The Concept 2 Rower for instance would transmit data, but the fenix doesnt support it. (yet?)

    • jose

      Thanks Ray and Gabriel for the answers

      Gabriel from those Garmin forums it looks like this mode don’t give you stroke rate. If it don’t give you stroke rate I don see the point of it.
      I am actually a kayaker not a rower and I don’t normally use indoor equipment. For the outdoor mode it would be really good to see the combination of stoke rate with speed. With a stroke rate alert when it fell out of a certain range.

    • Jared

      The calorie count on rowing mode with a regular fenix 3 is way off. It just assumes an average pace based on your HR (I think).

      I’d be very curious how the well the optical heart rate works on the rower. I did try rowing with a MS band one and it struggled quite a bit. However the apple watch was pretty good.

    • Bryce Eichelberger

      Hey Ray, awesome review. I wonder if you’ve had a chance to check out the rowing features on the Fenix 3 HR? Worldwide, I would think most of us rowing indoors are using a Concept 2, which gives reliable data for wattage; the rower will then give you an estimation of calories burned per hour. The calorie value from my Fenix 3 HR is about 25% lower than the Concept 2 estimation… Do you think the calorie count from the Fenix 3 HR is the more accurate one, even though it is based on the optical heart rate (which is slightly less accurate than a chest strap)? Thanks.

    • I haven’t had a chance to try it out rowing unfortunately. I’m sorry!

    • Bryce

      Thanks. Just to throw it out there for anyone interested… while indoor rowing I’m finding that generally the optical HR reported is much lower and more erratic than the data from the HR strap. Tightening or loosening the strap doesn’t seem to help. Oddly, doing a round of pushups before rowing seemed to improve the optical data, but I’m not sure if that was a fluke yet.
      That said, the heartrate data while running is accurate for me, and I love the fitness tracking. This is a quality piece of equipment for sure.

  49. Scott

    Thanks for the review …

    Can you go a little deeper into the stress teat? From my readings I thought this was an option directly on the fenix 3 hr unit

  50. James L

    Ray – thanks for the great review. A couple of questions:

    I noticed the REI link on your site – is there a way that you can get money from them if the watch is ordered there?

    You mention that the Fenix 3HR has been in production for a few weeks. I have been regularly checking Amazon, Garmin, and REI websites and they all say something to the effect that the watch ships within 30 days (Garmin says they will email you when the watch is available – I’ve not received an email). Any suggestions on how to get this watch.


    • The REI link on the side there does indeed support the site. 🙂

      REI has/had (for another 3-4 days anyway) an exclusive of on the Fenix3 HR, as such, basically every site is saying the same thing. In the case of REI, they did ship out units back earlier this month, but inventory will be rather varied. With exclusives, it doesn’t mean that they’ll have a ton of units, just that they’ll have them first.

      As for Amazon and Garmin.com, they tend to get them last (fwiw).

    • James L

      Ray – thanks for the response – it is very helpful. One other question. I have been concerned that the apparent delay in production rates could reflect a potential quality issue with the Fenix 3 HR rather than just a shortage of parts. Has initial quality been a problem with previous Garmin products? I had an older Forerunner which was great, and I am looking forward to enjoying this product as much as I did the previous one.

      Thanks for all that you are doing.

    • Nah, low-volumes are totally normal for Garmin in the first few months. As is usually the case, Garmin overestimates when they’ll start manuf, and then retailers overestimate when and how many units Garmin will send to them. And consumers in turn translate “Q1” to “Two weeks ago”, even if there is still a month left in Q1. 😉

    • James L.

      Thanks, Ray – appreciate your experiences. Best wishes.

    • Bstu999

      Contrast Issues. I bought a Garmin FR 235 and will have to return it. The contrast is not enough especially when I wear it as a daily watch. Outdoors in bright light it is fine. I still have a FR 410 and it is fine. I primarily want a GPS smartwatch that I can wear daily, with good contrast that I can add speed and cadence sensors (cadence most important). I primarily cycle (85%) . I have a Microsoft Band which I have no contrast issues but I have limited capabilities especially add on devices like cadence

    • James L.

      Ray – got mine yesterday, and successfully used it today during my workouts. Found all of the features worked as you described, and I was very happy with the fenix 3 HR. Most notably, the fenix 3 heart rate behaved very reliably compared to an elliptical machine, and the calculated calories in Garmin Connect were very different than those that the machine reported (I believe the Garmin since they are base on Firstbeat technology). Don’t believe that I could have been as successful without reading your reviews. I am very appreciative of the value you provide to folks trying to select these devices. Best regards.

  51. Di

    I enjoy your reviews and your all inclusive and fair approach. As a lady distance running I am trying to decide between the Fenix(r) 3HR and the Forerunner(r) 235. I have taken weeks to review features. I am concerned with the size and weight of the Fenix vs. the 235 and the battery live for long runs (50k, 100k and 100 miles). Any information on what women are saying? I have also checked the women’s page of your website. Keep up the great research that is helping us enjoy our sports.

    • It’s going to depend on your wrist size a bit. For The Girl (my wife), she simply finds the Fenix3 (any version) far too heavy and big for her wrists. She’s 5’2″ tall. She loves the smaller Forerunner lineup though (she currently uses a FR620).

    • Ali

      Di – I can’t speak to the battery life for the long distances, but I am a woman who uses the Fenix 3 and I love it. It is on the heavier side, but I’ve gotten used to it. I wear it 24×7 and never notice it. I swap out the bands for cooler girlie colors. I’m a fan of the perlon straps which you can find in 24mm width, which fits this watch fine (although 26mm is technically the proper size). There is more customization with the Fenix than there is with a FR. I would go with Fenix. FWIW, I have a 6″ wrist.

  52. Marc Steingrand

    Ray do YouTube an idea if you can adapt the bikemount from the normal F3 and use it on your arm
    You could make a hole and than use it But you still won’t get skin contact

    Any thoughts?

  53. Marc Steingrand

    Ray do you have an idea if you can adapt the bikemount from the normal F3 and use it on your arm
    You could make a hole and than use it But you still won’t get skin contact the question would be if it still work for 24/7 monitoring

    Any thoughts?

  54. Jack

    Great review as always. Ordered mine on REI today. No telling when it will come though.

  55. Lukas Moller

    So I am someone who has never owned a fenix 3, but I am trying to decide between the HR and the standard sapphire model, do you personally think it is worth it to get the HR version, or do the added benefits not outweigh what you would get with the standard sapphire package?

  56. John Elliott

    Ray, thank you for the review. Garmin customer support said that the F3HR could be worn either on the outside or on the inside of the wrist with no problems. Have you tried wearing it facing inward towards your body? If so, any issues on HR or GPS? Thanks for any info!

    • Dmitry V.

      Facing inwards should be even easier for optical HR as the skin is thinner there. (but this depends on individual’s position of blood vessels which is unique for every human)

    • Either option is fine. I’ve used both and for me, I don’t notice too much of a difference in most situations. However, in general those that are on the ‘edge’ of optical HR working often find better luck with the sensor on the inside of their wrist. The softer skin means that the sensor is able to ‘dig in’ a bit deeper and reduce light. It also tends to be less hairy, and is usually slightly less tanned. Sometimes those tiny differences can be make or break for some people.

  57. Gabe

    Ray – any indication from Garmin about releasing the Fenix 3 HR in other colors? At least silver.

    Also care to test scratch the bezel (going back to garmin right?) to see if it stands better to scratches ?

    • Stace

      Hi Ray,

      As others have questioned, any idea if it will be released in other colours? Notably Silver and leather strap??

      Thanks, as always :0)

    • It stood up well to scratches, except one whack against a non-sanded sharp metal adjust of a counter at an airport last week. You can see the scratch just barely on left edge of bezel.

      Otherwise though, I hit it on numerous rocks/walls/objects without issue.

      No idea on other colors, but I’d bet eventually. But probably not anytime soon.

  58. Thomas Wylie

    Hi Ray, great review again. Since this is a “new” garmin product. Do you think they will add in some of the newer features from other devices such as support for the varia line I.e. Rear radar and or eye piece thingamy? Or will those stay specifically for the edge devices ? Have you heard anything from Garmin regarding this.

    I have a F3 and the rear radar plus eye piece would be perfect for me for cycling.



    • When I talked to them about it, it was something they said they were looking at and keenly aware of feedback on (for both F3 and 920xt). But that’s where things stand. Given the Vivoactive HR got support for it, I can’t imagine the watches costing 2-3x as much will be far behind.

  59. Will James

    Cotswold Outdoor now advising that mid-April is the likely delivery date for UK pre-orders. Citing the same component availability issue.

    • Tommy

      Mid March, not mid April

    • Will James

      Nope, thats not a typo. I only placed my order about a week ago so there may be some with pre-orders due to be fulfilled before mine, but mid-April was definitely what i was told.

    • Andy from embsay

      CO website still saying mid-March though? I know I’m second in line for when they do get stock so still hopeful of next week.

  60. Dmitry V.

    Ray, thanks for great review!!

    And info from Garmin about other versions of F3HR? I’m mostly interested in a non-coated (“silver”) bezel and/or titanium band. (don’t like coated metal bezels as they are prone to scratches and I tend to use watches for more than 2-3 years)

    • Ketiv

      According to @GarminOutdoor on Twitter, the Fenix 3 HR will not be available in Silver or Titanium and isn’t planned either. 🙁

    • Dmitry V.

      When I asked this question, they replied that it is _currently_ available only with grey bezel, but I can leave feedback/suggestions on relevant section of their site. Which I did and would definitely ask others to do.

      link to www8.garmin.com

      Can understand why they don’t want to damage current sales and give comments on future products and variants availability. This is expected.

  61. Jonathan

    This may have been answered in previous fenix 2,3 posts, but I am still using my Fenix 1. Has Garmin fixed the issue of using both bluetooth and ANT+ at the same time yet?

    • Phil A

      People use the Ant+ and BLE together all the time on the Fenix 3. No issue with both being on.

    • Mike P

      @Jonathan: I’m in the same boat as you still using the Fenix1 – just in case, to add to Phil’s comment, Fenix1/2 are limited on the hardware side re concurrent Bt & ANT+ use.

  62. Phil A


    I was wondering if there is a cell tower near that area that is problematic with multiple GPS devices. I have noticed the only time my Fenix 3 has issues is when it is a certain distance from a cell tower. There is a cell tower that is right next to one of my running areas and I have GPS spikes in exactly the same spots in a fairly circular pattern around it. Has to be far enough away that the signal hits you but not too far. Appears to be in the 500-1200ft range from the top of the tower.

  63. Scott

    Ray, any chance we can get you interested in golf?! Trying to find a decent review of how that function performs.

    • I believe I lack the multitude of hours in the day required for the sport.

    • Jack

      Scott… I have used the Fernix 3 for golf a good bit. Pretty much every Saturday for awhile now. The watch does not provide any swing metrics like swing speed or tempo, it just basically tells you how far you are to the front, middle, and center of the green. It has some other distance functions, like length of shot, that I do not use. I have used many GPS golf devices and I have to say this watch works fine. It does not switch over to other holes when you hit way off of the fairway and it really does not drain the battery down. A few of the Garmin golf specific watches really drain the battery fast. This is not the case with the Fenix. I like it. My golf buddies give me shit because they say I have a belt buckle on my wrist but other than that it is fine.

  64. Gabe

    Ray – for comparison sake of the Fenix 3 HR in water would you test the Scorche HR in run mode to see if it fairs any better in water?

    curious if any IR in water is terrible or it is more due to placement.


    • Some folks have done so with luck on both Scosche and Mio. I’ve had slightly more luck with Mio, only because I find it easier to get the HR strap to stay on my wrist (since it’s designed for that).

      Both the Scosche and Mio posts have numerous folks posting test swimming results in the comments section (wearing units right next to watches).


    • We did some tests with our telemetry service with the Mio HR in the pool and the Mio worked quite well.
      Obviously, the wrist must be above the water.

      See HR tracking in the swimming pool W3Schools

    • morey

      I’ve had very good luck with the Mio while swimming. Cinch it down snug, and place it right next to the watch (In my case, an Ambit2).

      Will I be able to pair the Mio with the Fenix HR in swim mode and get real time HR? i.e. will the Fenix3 just treat the Mio as if it’s a Garmin Swim/Tri monitor? Or will it only pair with the Garmin strap when in swim mode?

  65. Cameron

    Hi Ray – again another quality review however I think it seems to leave the OHR in the OK area. Do you think it is a firmware or hardware issue? Finding it difficult to justify an extra £150 for it and would like to see basemaps added too. I know the jury is out on the benefits of measuring HR whilst swimming however if the technology is there it is always great to have data (maybe it is just the data nerd in me). Hopefully in the future 24 x 7 monitoring is closer to recording data 24 x 7 and not just if you are moving.

  66. Adi Gerblich

    Now that we finished with Fenix 3, I think it time to see the long awaited report on Epix. Thanks for your excellent reviews, great work.

    • Michael

      I don’t see there is a chance we will see this review from Ray. Epix is already close to a year on the market.
      I use epix for around 5 months already and for my needs (triathlon, hiking, endurance MTB and 24×7 watch) it is still the best device on the market.

    • Michael

      Adi, one more thing – Epix unlike fenix fully supports Hebrew in smart notifications, which may be important for you 🙂

  67. marklemcd

    Does the Fenix 3 or Fenix 3 HR have audio alerts when running or cycling? So when I have the lap at a mile it will send an audio notification through my phone to my earphones with the lap info?

    • Jonathan Burchmore

      Yes, they should both support audio alerts through the GCM app. The option is called “Audio Prompts” and is under the device settings in Garmin Connect Mobile (on Android, at least).

  68. John

    Hi Ray,

    I’m about done with my android wear device and becoming very interested in a Garmin. My main complaint with android wear is that the Bluetooth connection keeps dropping between the watch and the phone. It’s happened with more than one android watch now. How well would you rate the Fenix 3 on this issue? Once it’s paired, does it have a consistent connection? Thanks.

  69. William

    Update on US availability: Garmin rep told my local running store to expect Fenix3 HR stock the week of 3/14 or 3/21.

    Hopefully, we’ll see more order movement around that time.

  70. Alex

    Any news on the release of the hr model?

    • Dmitry V.

      Have you read other comments? 🙂

    • James L.

      I ordered one from REI on 3/1, and I am being told it should ship on 3/14….FYI

    • Shawn McClelland

      Yeah, well I ordered from Clever Training Jan 6!!! That’s 2 months ago.

      And still have no idea when it will be shipped. Sc#$! Garmin and Clever Training. Garmin needs to work on both communication and execution. I definitely got hosed by going with Clever Training and will likely think twice in the future, but Garmin what is wrong with you?

    • Shawn

      Haha… After writing this I got an email saying it was pushed back to March 21st. Umm… You guys will have had my money for like 3 months by the time I get this – nice for you Clever Training

    • Pretty much all Fenix3 HR’s have been delayed, outside of the initial REI shipments per the 30-day exclusive they got (albeit didn’t communicate to any retailers until afterwards).

      Also note that specific models often dictate differences in delivery dates (i.e. straps, bundles, etc…).

    • Steve Alleyne

      Good to know! I was considering one for my birthday this month to finally replace my 310XT. I’d get it with any newer generation Garmin watch but in addition to the convenient heart rate monitoring when I want it I’m really excited about faster GPS locking here in NYC.

  71. Alvin

    thank you for yet another outstanding review!
    I am in the market for a GPS watch for a beginner triathlete. I used the comparison feature of your site to compare the F3, F3 HR, and the 920XT. Based on this I cannot see a reason to not go with the 920XT.
    I have read that the screen size is limited on the 920XT, could you confirm this?
    Any other major reason to go with the F3, or F3 HR if not too keen on optical HR?

    thanks again!

  72. Ryan

    Hi DCR,

    If and when do you think Garmin will add the optical HR to the Forerunner 920XT? (Possibly a 930XT model, or perhaps a 920XT HR model?)

    Thanks for your expertise! Long time reader.

  73. Victor

    I need to decide between a regular fenix3 or the fenix3 hr. It all really comes down to having 24/7 HR monitoring. I am confronted with two questions:

    1. Is the fenix3 HR generally too bulky to be wearing 24/7? I am a regular size guy but is it just me that finds the proposition of wearing something this bulky all day even when sleeping a bit much? This is for someone who doesn’t even wear a regular watch.

    2. Is 24/7 HR monitoring absolutely necessary? What actionable insights can you get from such data? I have read Rays HR article. Need to read it again. But really, why do I need to know my heart rate 24/7? Also if it’s that necessary, can that data be gathered over a period ( say a week) using the regular garmin and a scosche+


    • John

      1. Try it and see if you like it. Most retailers have 2 week type return/exchange policies. The Vivoactive HR will be a lot lighter so that might be an option as well. Of course, from reading other posts in this thread, it’s going to be a long wait for these watches. I want one now.
      2. Need is too strong of a word. It’s nice to have it as an option and it does not add very much weight. I’m not sure how much heart data matters as everyone is different.

    • Bart

      Victor, I never wore a watch before getting my fenix 2 I wore it most of the time after getting my vivoactive I wore that one 24/7 so I didn’t know if I would be able to wear the fenix3 HR 24/7 coming from the vivoactive. I am 5’8 and weight 157 and I have been wearing this watch 24/7 with no issues. I went wit the HR version for the simple reason if I did not like the OHRM I would just turn it off I now know what my resting HR is that data going to help my training…to early to tell but one thing is certain it’s not going to hurt it. For light workouts and 24/7 for me the OHRM works real well for intense workouts I simply wear my TRI or swim strap.

    • Dmitry V.

      “Is the fenix3 HR generally too bulky to be wearing 24/7?”

      My current watch is Citizen Skyhawk with metal band. Great watch, but is almost 180g. It took me several month to get used to its weight and I still sometimes remove it during the day. But, in general – not bad. So from my perspective, Fenix 3 (/HR) with its 80g is almost weightless 🙂

      It terms of size, it will depend on your wrist. Mine is almost 19cm.

      “Is 24/7 HR monitoring absolutely necessary?”

      I want this as I generally have too high RHR and work on reducing it. Also had some history of heart conditions amongst my relatives, so would be useful to monitor my heart.

      “over a period ( say a week) using the regular garmin and a scosche+”
      I thought that scosche+ has a battery live of only 7-8 hours. Garmin supports 24/7 HR only with build-in sensor (possibly, due to power consumption).

  74. Martijn

    Thanks for the review. Can’t wait when it will be availeble in The Netherlands.

  75. Josh Potter


    I’m looking at getting either the Fenix 3 (non optic HR) or the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. I’m joining the military soon, so ruggedness and battery life is a must. However, I’ll also be using them for longish runs (15-20 miles), and potentially triathlons and open water swims. Which would you suggest?


  76. Konstantinos Velaoras

    Hi there.
    Thank you for great review.

    Any idea of an Epix 2?

    than you

  77. BartW


    Maps on Fenix series?
    looks like the Fenix 3 family is getting bigger and bigger with al the different models. (Basic, Sky, HR, Tactics)
    I am still not sure if the watch is ideal for me because one of the things i would realy love to have is some very basic local maps when running trails (area 15x15km) no pre-defined routes so i make decisions a-la minute in the field (hoping they are not dead end).
    Now my eye fell on the brand new Quantix 3.
    In pictures on the site you can clearly see screens with maps !
    When looking at the specifications the line “Full Color CourseView Maps” is added. (Built-in memory unchanged)

    Can you ask garmin if the maps are comming to the “normal” Fenix 3 series as well?
    Or do i have to buy a Quanix 3 ? (hope it will support not only nautical but also topo maps)

    • BartW

      picture of a nautical map from the garmin site, so it’s not just a specification error.
      link to static.garmin.com

    • Dmitry V.

      Have you looked at Garmin Epix? It supports maps.

    • Dmitry V.

      Seems like Quatix supports a “different” kind of maps or will require connection with GPSMAP device.
      link to buy.garmin.com
      link to buy.garmin.com

    • BartW

      Thanks for the info.
      I’m aware of the Epix but that isn’t a sport watch anymore (size (lack of advanced hr strap support)). 90% of my time i just need a tri watch without the maps, the Fenix is 90% OK but i already have a watch that does 80% of my needs so the difference is only 10% (thats the bad luck of already having a device)

      Bad news however, the picture i linked to is just a simpel garmin watch face! (downloadable in store) Not an active map or even a map streamed to the device.

    • Michael

      BartW, how is it?
      Size – it is the same size as fenix, and the display is more convenient for sports. It allows more visible fields on one screen

      It has “advanced HR support”, it does not have lactate threshold and independent right/left step height (is there any one who really uses it?)

      I use epix as a TRI watch, and for my opinion it is the best tri watch ever, if you use it as 24×7 watch as well.

    • Dmitry V.

      “I’m aware of the Epix but that isn’t a sport watch anymore (size (lack of advanced hr strap support))”

      This surprises me, as in Garmin’s model line Epix is positioned above Fenix 3, having all the same functions as F3 (apart from WiFi, if I’m right) plus maps. Are you sure about HR Strap support?

      The only difference is that Epix has not had such commercial success as Fenix 3 and many retailers dropped its price significantly.

      “the picture i linked to is just a simpel garmin watch face”
      Well, Bravo D2, Taktix, Aquatix are still the same Fenix 3, with slightly different colours and firmware.

    • The Epix supports Gen1 Running Dynamics, but not Gen2 Running Dynamics.

      Retailers dropped the price because Garmin removed the MAP (minimum advertised price) policy back in November, allowing retailers to price it as they see fit.

  78. Tommy Haywood

    Update from Cotswold Outdoor…

    They are expecting a “shipment of 50 in 2 days time”. Apparently I’m around 30th in the queue 🙂

    • andy from embsay

      Seems like a few people were told yesterday that Cotswold sound pretty confident they’ll have their delivery today – so with a bit of luck should be able to pick mine up tomorrow or Thursday.

    • Will J

      Assuming we’re talking CO UK, they’ve just told me that they’re expecting to receive a large enough shipment from Garmin to cover all of their pre-orders thats due to arrive with them on Friday (10th), so deliveries made early next week

    • andy from embsay

      I don’t think we can believe anything they say – two people on the Garmin forum were told yesterday by CO their shipment would be arriving today!

    • andy from embsay

      Someone on garmin forum reckons they’re coming to CO in two lots – some today and some Friday. Wishful thinking?

    • andy from embsay

      Another update from Cotswold:

      “The stock arrived in the warehouse yesterday afternoon. It will take a couple of days for the stock to be scanned in and allocated. I would imagine they will be dispatched later today or tomorrow”

    • Tommy Haywood

      So latest update from Cotswold Outdoor UK. They told me Friday that they were in the warehouse and “picking” the order. Nothing yet so i contacted them again. They are not shipping any time soon and have no idea when they will be. They are “waiting for an update from Garmin”. Sounds like they were told not to ship them.

      I’ve cancelled my order. Ill put the £500 towards the vivoactive HR as and when that makes it to market!

  79. Dave

    Here was an excerpt from my conversation with REI this morning:
    David: I was told on the last chat it would be sent out march 11th
    David: is that still true?
    David: or has that date moved again
    Monica: The shipment from Garmin to us has been delayed
    David: ok thank you what is the new ship date?
    Monica: March 17 is the expected ship date.
    David: thank you
    David: have a great day

    • Andy

      Garmin just told me backordered until 3/22.

    • Keep in mind that for whatever reason, Garmin.com orders have always historically been near-last in fulfillment (last place is Amazon). No, it’s not logical, but that’s the way it is.

    • Dmitry V.

      Actually, this is most logical as otherwise other retailers will be too uncompetitive compared to Amazon (and Garmin, as an obvious place to go).

    • Andy

      Sorry, I meant REI support.

    • Dave

      I am sure REI is getting tired of me asking this question but here is today’s update:

      David: When are you getting them in stock?
      Tori: oooh I see – I forgot the backstory. We are getting the watches in stock 3/17/2016. We would then get the watch to you 3/22/2016.

    • In the US, Garmin sets MAP policies (Minimum Advertised Price), which means that unless specifically authorized (rare), retailers cannot set a different price for a product (nor offer bundles). Most major companies in the US do this as well, including GoPro, Apple, Fitbit, and basically everyone I can think of.

      Such practices are illegal in the rest of the world.

    • Dave

      Email confirmation from REI this morning that it shipped with arrival 3/15. It is just the watch no bundle.

  80. Scott

    Ray, I vaguely recall reading some optical HR sensors will sometimes have issues with weight training. I think the particular issue was where it would not be able to read the HR during heavy lifts. I don’t believe the cause was known. This may be due to the restricted blood flow from tensed up muscles or the HR sensor itself. For those who are having to add more of weight/strenth training into their triathlon training, how would you say this F3HR holds up from that perspective? Thanks.

  81. morey

    If the optical HR sensor locks onto your cadence- which in my case about matches my maximum HR (180-183 or so). Will that mess up all the VO2 max and lactate threshold calculations?

    • I’m not sure entirely. I’d bet it would hose it up, since I don’t believe Garmin is doing HRV on the optical HR sensor, but just using plain HR since they would be the first to do so. And that seems unlikely given other more established players with higher accuracy levels can’t get it right during activity yet.

    • Pavel

      Hi Ray,
      thanks for great reviews. I got brand new Fenix 3 HR (no added heart strap) and I was disappointed it does actually NOT measure lactate (it says HR monitor required). I noted that in you first review you said this was not available but in the ‘in-depth’ you said it was? Any idea? VO2 works BTW – and so does stride length… The SW version says 3.0, reportedly up to date… Cheers. Pavel

    • Hal Takahara

      I thought the R-R data was required for calculating VO2 Max metrics and Recovery Advisor with the Firstbeat algorithm, so, when I saw your said in your review, these features DO work with the optical HR sensor, I was assuming Garmin somehow figured out to get HRV even during intense workout , but you believe that’s not the case? If that is true then what they figured out would be a different model to estimate VO2 Max and recovery without HRV…. That’s what you think?

  82. Mark Duncombe

    I am looking to replace my original Fenix (Hiking, Running, Skiing, kayaking), my Edge 500 (road cycling and mountain biking) and VSHR (general activity tracker and am considering the Fenix 3. Part of me thinks one device to do everything… great. or is it.

    Does the Fenix 3 make a good bike computer or just an OK bike computer? I know its designed for cycling, supported by Strava etc but I cant help but think a dedicated bike computer like the Edge 520 or Wahoo Elemnt might be a better option as cycling is my primary activity. I am tempted by both the Edge 520 and elements ability to navigate a predefined course with a basic map, although the chances are I would only use this functionality perhaps once a month.

    any thoughts?

    • Paul S.

      I think you’ll be very unhappy if you use just a Fenix 3. Never mind that maps are now out of the question, but the form factor for a watch simply isn’t as good for cycling as a dedicated cycling device. On your wrist, you can’t really see it. On the bike, and it’s much smaller and harder to see than a cycling GPS, and can display fewer fields. (And if you get the 3 HR, then it’s on your wrist if you want it to get HR.) Like you I have a Fenix, and I replaced it with an Epix (because maps). I rarely used either for cycling, and never without also bringing my Edge 800. (They’re for hiking and cross country skiing, where they do a fine job.) As far as I know (owning neither) Fenix 3 can do (almost) everything a 520 can do, and at least one thing I know of (Tempe) that the 520 can’t, so it would work for cycling, but it’s the form factor and maps you need to thing about. The virtues of a single device are vastly overrated. If my 800 broke today, I’d use the Epix as a stopgap, but I’d be getting a 1000 as soon as I could.

    • Mark Duncombe

      thanks Paul

      Maps are not the deal breaker as use Viewranger on my phone as well as having an Oregon 600 which can be handlebar mounted if I am desperate for maps. The Oregon gets used mostly for sea kayaking BTW.

      I used to use the original Fenix (Garmin handlebar mount) on my bike and never really was completely happy with it as the process of using it always felt clunky, which is why I bought the edge 500.

      In theory the Oregon can also be used for cycling but last time I tried, Strava didn’t play ball with the elevation data and kept overwriting it with its own data unless I edit the files and spoofed Strava into thinking it was an edge. It also looks ridiculous mounted on the stem, way too big. Not a fan of touch screen either, it rains a lot here.

      Wrist HR not an issue for cycling as I always use a heart rate strap on the bike.

      The Fenix 3 would get used for hiking a fair bit and although I have GPS and detailed topo maps on my waterproof phone I am still a fan of map and compass, using a grid ref from the Fenix to back up my map and compass skills.

      So that leaves me with just that unsatisfying feeling I got with the original Fenix on the bike.

  83. greg tuorto

    love your reviews. Do you have any idea when it will be GA? been stalking the sites for a while – and have become incredibly impatient.

  84. Seb

    After swimming without the Swim HRM strap, do you still see a spike in your 24hr heart rate monitoring due to a swim or a gap?

  85. Nicolas

    Good news the French shop where I preordered the F3 HR called this afternoon to tell me they had received the watch. It is on my wrist right now, 😉

  86. I just received a despatch confirmation from Cotswold Outdoor saying my watch has shipped

    • Cwaff

      Me, too. I have also received an email from Parcelforce confirming shipment with an expected delivery date of tomorrow (Thursday 10th). Much sooner than I was expecting. Looks like Cotswold was near the front of the Garmin queue somehow.

    • Gary

      I’ve Just reached for the card after reading your comments lol I also found ESCAPEOUTDOORS 15% discount code which worked a treat (UK only ) Here’s hoping i get it as soon as you guys.

    • Cwaff

      Mine arrived today from Cotswold. I also used a discount code and they honoured it. Seems amazing given it’s brand new on the market. Just getting to grips with how everything works with it. First Garmin having previously used Suunto and TomTom running watches. Impressions so far are good… Seems to do almost everything you could want…or think of.

  87. Shawn

    Come on Clever Training, where’s my watch?
    Clearly going with Clever Training for Garmin releases is a big mistake. If they weren’t holding my money for ransom since January then I could go right now and in-person buy one (business trip to Europe).
    Live and learn, still got a couple weeks wait with Clever Training.

    • As far as I know, no additional units have been sent to any US retailers outside of the initial batch to REI. The only F3HR’s that I’ve seen in the last few weeks have gone to folks in Europe.

  88. Steve Fitz

    Ray, as always great review. I hate to ask this question but I will.

    I put off buying the Fenix 3 six months ago waiting for 4. Since 4 is unlikely coming in the next 6-12 months here is my question. When the 4 comes out what do you expect it to have or what is on your wish list? I am trying to decide if waiting is worth it.


  89. Yuri

    I just want a good deal – the link you gave does not give 75$ discount, just a regular price of 599$. What do I do to get the discount?

    • For Clever Training and the Garmin Fenix3, you need to sign-up for the VIP program (it’s a Garmin requirement). It only takes a second though, and is here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      You simply add it to your cart on checkout and then it’ll save you the 10%. Thanks for the support!

  90. Alfredo

    Just wanted to say that I got an email from Amazon confirming that my preorder for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR performer bundle will be in stock March 16. Very excited

    • Shawn

      ?? Seriously, is Clever Training on the very bottom of Garmin’s list? I guess amazon and rei are much more powerful, I should have thought about it a bit more before ordering.

    • Alfredo

      This is for the bundle only. The base model still shows preorder. Will chime back in on the 16th to confirm shipment. For me, Amazon has been pretty consistent with their ship dates in the past.

    • Clever Training will ship out all backorders of the Fenix3 HR bundle versions today. The base versions will arrive next week. Said differently, they’re ahead of everyone except REI with the previously noted exclusive.

      Thanks for the support.

    • Sorry, the base should arrive the week after (March 21st). Mentally thought it was next week already.

      In any case, all bundles ship out today. Enjoy!

    • Shawn

      Well that’s good news, I ordered a bundle – but they haven’t said anything since the last delay til March 21st email they sent me. Maybe they are a bit skittish at this point after the Garmin delays. Well, I’m hoping.

    • Alfredo

      Just got notified by Amazon that the performer bundle has shipped and will be arriving tomorrow. Weird, they must have received a very limited quantity because the product page states that the item has not yet been released.

    • Alfredo

      Got it today!

  91. Karsten

    Thanks for the great review. Just a observation from using the Fenix 3HR for the last few weeks. The optical heartrate is incredibly inconsistent. Sometimes running the same pace on the treadmill I can get reading that are half of what my real heartrate is. Sometimes I use both the HRM run and the optical heartrate and it seems to add BPM to my actual heartrate. I have tried wearing it tighter and looser. Shaving my wrist to have the sensor on bare skin. Nothing has increased the accuracy of the optical sensor. Is there an update coming or any advice on how to increase the accuracy of optical HR.

    • Shawn

      What do you mean you use both? Two different watches? I thought it uses one or the other? I think after this many delays there is likely no way I will be satisfied, but ‘sunk costs’ at this point. I’m invested 🙂

  92. At least for my fenix 3 HR device – The internal heart rate monitor is now activated for the indoor swimming mode without workarounds. Will test the accuracy later today 🙂

  93. big vern

    Anyone know how to change the colour on the clock (watchface) so the minutes and hours can be different.
    (the non HR fenix 3 gave you a range of colours to choose from, mine was set to green, this one seems to be only able to change the backgrpound colour)

    Also the HR widget seems to track HR very inaccurately compared to when tracking HR when doing an activity, is the sampling/algorithm different in the widget (maybe to save battery).

  94. Andy

    My REI order placed 2/29 just went from “backordered” to “in process” with a deliver date of 3/17.

  95. Jack Haylett

    Was your REI order a bundle or just the watch?

  96. Yonadav


    One final question if I may: I just swapped my 920xt for a fenix 3 hr and discovered two more steps back beyond the shorter battery life and the lack of quick release kit which I already knew about and are not an issue for me. They are (a) no di2 support, which has been “coming in update” since March 2015 (b) no key shortcut for power meter calibration.

    Any ideas on how committed Garmin is to address these and how soon?

    Thanks again,


    • Hmm, I’ve got an e-mail thread already going on various electronic shifting stuff with Garmin, so once I get back a response on my most recent question, I’ll ask them about F3HR support and then toss in the shortcut key one while I’m at it.

    • Yonadav

      Thank you—much appreciated.

    • Nick Yanakiev

      I bought the F3 OHR as well, so far so good! The watch is very stable and I find the optical HR to be very accurate during an activity. A very compelling package as a whole.

      What I am not so happy about is the complete lack of attention from Garmin- I have not seen a single update for their new watch. I am told that F3 OHR and the regular F3 are not similar enough to have common betas/regular updates.

      This would also mean that there are no betas for the watch, which I find very disappointing. I am sending it back the moment I see this being a second Epix.

    • Yonadav

      “Garmin is currently working on updates for the fenix 3 HR. We do not currently have an ETA, but it is coming soon. The fenix 3 HR will also have a beta path just as the fenix 3 does now. Once started, the fenix 3 HR should start getting updates at the same rate as the fenix 3. We appreciate your patience in the meantime.”

      From Garmin on link to forums.garmin.com

      We shall see 🙂

    • Ben


      How long is the battery lasting for you? It’s my primary concern about the watch. I like everything about it but worry that the OHR will diminish the battery life significantly.


    • Yonadav

      No race data yet but in terms of normal use I find I need to charge my 3HR closer to twice a week compared to my 920XT at once a week or less for the same training volume. But this is also because I do more with the 3HR outside actual training compared to the 920XT like answer calls, scan emails, check heart rate, check barometer, etc. It feels reasonable to expect that when the novelty wears off it will last 30% less than then 920XT instead of 50% less.

    • Martin Roy

      Any update on the DI2 support?

  97. Marc steingrand

    I am frustrated garim realeses a beta version which includes the cranck length settings for P1 and then i would expect they include it in there official version as well. So i installed the 3.9 yesterday and guess what, crank length is not included, how come Garmin please ,……

    • It was in there up until 6 (I believe that’s when it dropped out), then it came back in beta firmware versions. It’s in there again as of 6.84: link to www8.garmin.com

      Alternatively, as noted above you can simply use the current production firmware and then go to the Garmin Forums and within the PowerTap P1 thread folks will generate a settings.fit file which takes care of it for you to use with existing production versions.

  98. David McClain

    Nice review. Doesn’t look like the watch is available though. Amazon link says not released yet. Any idea when it will be available to the public?

    • It’s available and shipping already. REI started shipping in early February, and other retailers like Clever Training shipped out on Friday.

      I believe someone said Amazon has at least some bundles planned to ship this week or next.

      Still, expect availability to be limited. I know Clever Training had a handful of units available on Friday afternoon after shipping all bundle backorders. I don’t know if that’s still the case today.

    • David McClain


  99. drew

    is this sapphire or a poly face?

  100. Sonny7

    Currently I am using a Polar v800 as GPS sportswatch, however I am thinking of switching to a Fenix 3 HR.
    However, this weekend I encountered something strange! My girlfriend is using the Garmin FR 230 at the moment and this weekend we did our first ride on the race bike again (spring is coming!). However, after recording the workout with both GPS watches which went perfectly fine with both watches we saw that the activity tracker in both watches behaves significantly different. The daily goal percentages were totally different between both watches:
    Polar v800: 267%
    Garmin FR230: 98%

    Apparently the Garmin activity tracker does not add cycling and other GPS running workouts to the daily goal (step wise and percentage wise). Is this not available for Garmin GPS sportwatches? If yes, how do you enable this? Is this the same for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR?


    • No, Garmin doesn’t ‘purposefully’ give you step credit for cycling (on any device) It somewhat frustratingly does give you accidental step-credit though.

    • Sonny7

      Thanks Ray!! This does clarify it. Is there a reason for not implementing this? If yes, don’t you find it a bit strange? After a 4 hour cycling workout it still shows your daily goal as 98%, while it should be far more.. (similar to Polar’s percentages).. It feels a bit ‘unfair’ that I have to get up from the couch again to get the full 100%, while I already did an intensive workout.. I know it sounds lame, but you as a GPS sportswatch expert also knows that you sort of get ‘addicted’ to better/higher numbers 😉

    • Paul S.

      I don’t understand why you care. Cycling doesn’t involve “steps”. Lots of activities don’t involve “steps”. I’d say you’ve more than hit your daily goal after 4 hours, so you should choose a goal other than “steps”.

    • Most activity trackers are of the ‘what have you done for me lately’ type, with ‘lately’ being the last hour.

      Mio is attempting to tackle this problem with their PAI concept, or basically like rollover minutes for fitness.

      Nike tackled the issue by just making something up (Nike Fuel), which was basically just a variant of calories. So ultimately, if you think of calorie goals instead (as Paul suggested), it’s probably a better option.

      Like international currencies, there’s an exchange rate for everything – just a matter of deciding which currency you want to use.

    • James L.

      So, here is another “spin” on this – I created an activity called “Elliptical” to monitor my elliptical machine workouts, and assigned it a type like indoor cycling thinking it is more like biking than running and I have a cadence sensor. The fenix 3 did track everything, but it called it “indoor biking” in Garmin Connect. I was also given credit for “steps” during the same time period – maybe because I was moving my arms while I was on the machine? I guess, it really doesn’t matter to me unless for some reason it uses the step count to calculate extra calorie expenditures….I don’t think that it does – I think it only uses Firstbeat.

  101. Dmitry V.

    Ray, may I ask what is your resting/workout blood pressure? (Diastolic and systolic)

    Very impressed with your resting heart rate and was curious how this effects blood vessels.

    (sorry for going off-topic and not asking about F3HR availability 🙂 )

    • Hmm, I actually don’t know!

      I do have a little machine around here somewhere, so maybe I’ll take it out and see what the numbers are.

    • Victor

      Can you measure your blood pressure whilst working out? How ?

    • Resting I can, but not while working out.

    • Paul S.

      Basically you do it the same way as when resting. I’ve had two stress echocardiagrams done, and both times they put a cuff on me while I was running on the treadmill. It was one of those medical blood pressure machines, so it would periodically (like every minute) take my blood pressure. It was interesting to see how high it went. I have high blood pressure, so 140/80 is not unusual for me without medication, but I remember systolic going over 200 while I was running (don’t remember what diastolic was).

    • Dmitry V.

      You don’t need to measure it during the exercise. It does not change so quickly. So even when this is done in hospitals, they put you on bike and will gradually increase the resistance, allowing you to work out several minutes at each stage, and blood pressure (and ECG) is measured straight after this “steps”, while you are on bike, but stopped and motionless. This will show how your hear react to load and how quickly recovers after that.

      Slightly similar to VO2 max, but without the mask 🙂

      So while you wont be able to do ECG at home or normal gym, taking blood pressure at relaxed, gradual load, 5 and 10 minutes after exercise is doable with common blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometre).

    • Dmitry V.

      Yes, and this is exactly the point. (as high systolic could be quite dangerous for brain and heart arteries)

      I also have a high blood pressure. (I suppose that such stress tests and Echo are done on the bike (at least, in Ukraine) as it is much easier compared to treadmill)

    • Dmitry V.

      “I actually don’t know!”

      World will never be the same again!! Ray, I thought that you track everything. 🙂 (even relatively cheap and old Omron M10-IT will keep track of measurements on PC and can upload (e.g. to Microsoft HealthVault) or export data).

    • Paul S.

      Personally, I like my Withings Bluetooth cuff which makes everything almost automatic, and can be done from my iPhone. But I used to use an Omron and record manually onto an app on the phone, and that wasn’t a great hardship.

      Odd thing is, my physician’s office has a web site where I can link my WIthings account, but it does’t show my blood pressure readings. Maybe they think they’re just not accurate. They do show “steps”, which I pay no attention to (the Withings app nags and nags until you turn “step counting” on), and which I consider far more bogus than my self-measured blood pressure could ever be. I keep telling them they should allow linking to Strava.

  102. Terje Rosten

    No questions here, since your detailed review totally covers it all (at least for a noob on GPS-sportswatches as I am). I simply want to say thanks, to you and all the others spending time and effort on writing informative and good reviews on the web.

    I’m looking forward to find the watch available in stores here.

    Best regards from Norway
    Terje Rosten

  103. Jack

    Ordered my f3hr bundle from REI 3 weeks ago. Called them today and they said it would not be shipped until 3.31. This is 2 weeks later than they told me 2 weeks ago when I inquired. She said there was an issue with supply. I guess we all know that by now. O’well. My old school f3 will have to do until then.

    • Chris

      Same situation in Germany, homepathic dosis were delivered this week but not to me. backorderd to end of march….
      Wait and Wait…. last change for garmin to deliver and of march… otherwise i will chancel the order and wait a couple of month for the next order. Than we a good discount by Internet dealer because everone will sell it….

  104. Ali Al Balushi

    Can I use titanium or metal watch band for the Fenix 3 HR instead of the silicone band?
    Dose the optical HR sensor work well with them?

    • Igor

      Yes, you can use the original metal band. It does not affect the optical HR. I found the metal band more comfortable to wear.

    • Dmitry V.

      Thanks, Igor! (Спасибо!)

      Have you had any issues with different sport activities and metal band? I mean like it being too tight for some (e.g. weight lifting) and not tight enough for others (running)? With rubber strap it is easy to adjust it, but not with metal.

      What type of band are you using? Garmin metal, Garmin titanium or titanium from AliExpress?

    • Igor

      Response to Dimitry’s post (which came to my e-mail but I cannot see it here):

      Thanks, Igor! (Спасибо!) Have you had any issues with different sport activities and metal band? I mean like it being too tight for some (e.g. weight lifting) and not tight enough for others (running)? With rubber strap it is easy to adjust it, but not with metal. What type of band are you using? Garmin metal, Garmin titanium or titanium from AliExpress?

      Dimitry, on the opposite, I had problems (alergenic) with rubber band on my older Vivoactive as well as on my new (bought before Easters from Garmin Czech Republic) Fenix 3HR (tried during Easters in running and hiking). Yes, the correct size of the metal one (original grey Garmin bought at decent price) is a matter of lottery, and it is heavier, but during running (with body HR belt, not recording HR from the wrist) and in the pool I have (after 2 excercises yesterday and today) positive experience. The size is OK, no lifting, weight does not felt. And no alergenic reaction on my skin (of course, after the excercise it must be dried). All other functions, wrist HR during day/night wearing, plus/minus the same as with body HR connected to Vivoactive, altimeter, synchro with Samsung etc. with no problems up to now (soft updated). The only problem will be in mounting it on my bike, I will either have to use the rubber band or wear the metal on my hand.
      So far so good deal (“pakupka”).

    • Dmitry V.

      Thanks for info, Igor!

      “original grey Garmin bought at decent price”
      The reason I asked is that there is a Chinese band made in exactly the same design, but from titanium. Approx. 40% lighter.

      With bicycle mount, I suppose that something like this (see picture) and standard Garmin watch mount will work.

    • Igor

      Dimitry, many thx. I know, that the titanium band is lighter, but I do not have good experience with Chinese products bought on web (fakes even from trusted sources…). I bought the original metal one and I´m still satisfied 😉
      With regard to the cycle mount (as you posted pictures), where did you find it? I´ve just browsed web and did not find it 🙁 And I would buy green one only for my Cannondale Flash 🙂 🙂 , if available on some British web sellers dispatching to the Czech Republic. Many thx.

    • Dmitry V.

      “do not have good experience with Chinese products bought on web”
      Well, I saw several positive reviews of mentioned band on Garmin forum. And don’t forget that most of such things are produced in China nowadays and then just re-branded and sold at much higher prices.

      “With regard to the cycle mount (as you posted pictures), where did you find it”
      I hope my answer will not disappoint you too much? 🙂
      1. link to aliexpress.com
      2. link to aliexpress.com

    • Igor

      Thx. no disappointment 😉
      But I´ll not buy it, the metal band has a fixed size, therefore there could be a problem with correct mounting it on the bar. On bike I´ll rather wear it on my wrist.
      Rgds and again thx for your comments.

  105. Alfredo

    Are there any benefits to using the foot pod with the included HRM-Run when running indoors or outdoors?

  106. Shawn

    Got mine from Clever Training Monday – it’s been a couple months since I returned the Fenix 3, so it’s taking a couple days to get acclimatized to wearing a (big) watch again.

    We still can’t control the 24/7 recording frequency right?

    I got an off (24/7) reading once while stretching and doing back exercises, so it has thrown off my resting heart rate determination for that day, is there any way to adjust this after the fact?

    My blood vessels in my wrist must be really clear or full of cholesterol from my poor diet and highly visible (I’m just making that up, I don’t know if that would help or hurt) – but I get what seems to be great readings even when strength training (bench press, squats, deadlifts,..). I did have that 24/7 recording blip though.

    • ShawnD

      Did you order the bundle version from Clever Training? I ordered the standalone F3 HR and I understand Clever Training isn’t shipping those pre-orders yet. Next week supposedly.

    • Just as a heads up to folks – Clever Training received a large stash of Fenix3 HR base units today (a week ahead of schedule), which should cover about 75% of existing base backorders (all bundle backorders shipped last Friday for orders prior to Friday) They’re hoping to get them all out today before various shipping cutoffs.

      They’re working to see/validate if the shipment covering remaining backorders is due in early as well, or as planned for next week.

      Thanks for the support!

    • …and just confirmed that all other Fenix3 HR base units will arrive tomorrow, with additional stock for leftovers (new orders) to ship out.

      There’s also a new Fenix3 HR bundle shipment arriving tomorrow that’ll cover all but one person (sorry, you drew the short straw).

      Thanks again all!

    • RV

      Do you know if they have any bundles left? Expected delivery?

    • Yup, I heard a few hours ago that Clever Training is expecting another big shipment on Thursday, of both unit types. They’ll have excess of both types, so any units ordered today should ship out either Thursday afternoon (or at worst Friday morning). Just depends on what time the UPS/FedEx truck arrives. If it arrives in the morning then no issue, but obviously if it comes in at 4PM, more of an issue.

  107. Aaron Troia

    Too bad it cant utilize a smart phone accelerometer (via Bluetooth) for the running metrics, I have the RHYTHM+ that I use with my FR15 for running and rather not buy another HRM when I choose to upgrade.

  108. Thanks for this review ! much appreciated ! I was checking the clever training membership to support your excellent work, do you have any experience with their shippings to France, especially the customs (I think you are in Paris) ? Thank you

    • Thanks!

      They can ship to France. In general you’ll get dinged the 19.7% customs import fee though. If you hang out a few weeks longer, there will be an option here too (same 10% deal, free shipping, etc… – but no need for import taxes since shipped here). Testing completed over the past few weeks and the hope is to start sending out invites over the next week or two to European based DCR Supporter readers (link to dcrainmaker.com).

    • Great news Ray ! Thanks ! So I’m looking forward to receive your invite 🙂

    • Swift

      What about the shipment to the Netherlands? I´m definitely getting this but now looking for the best deal. Bever has it but for 600 euros.. Great review as always!

    • Hi, is there something equivalent for Italy? I would like to support your blog and buy from CleverTraining, but I’m afraid of taxes and shipping fees.

    • Yes – Clever Training UK is now in beta mode. A handful of products have been loaded and you’ll see those on various product review pages on the left sidebar (it’ll have a big ‘CT Europe’ logo below the existing Black/White Amazon/CT logos).

      Right now the system does accept/ship orders, but we’re doing it a bit quietly at first. As of today, the Fenix3HR (and Vivoactive HR) aren’t yet loaded. I believe that’s slated for any day now. Mostly just to manage things slowly at first.

      With CT Europe, all taxes are included, and the DCR 10% discount still applies as well. Shipping is free above a certain threshold. Cheers!

      link to clevertraining.co.uk

    • Gianluca Musumeci

      Thanks for replying, I will buy from them when I will.

    • Tom

      Any update on when Fenix 3 HR will be on there. I’m just on the cusp of buying but would hold of to support DCR/Clevertraining if it’ll be available imminently.

    • Got some clarity this morning on this. It sounds like it won’t be till July 1st, for the Fenix3 HR. This is due to some policy that Garmin UK has around not allowing online-only retailers until then for that specific product. 🙁

    • Gianluca musumeci

      So do you mean that, apart from the online Garmin shop, here in Europe we don’t have any opportunity to buy fenix3hr from clevertraining before July?

    • Unfortunately not. It’s a Europe/UK Garmin policy that Garmin has to protect non-online sales.

  109. Josh

    I’m interested in hearing how instant pace has compared with the 230. I continue to be impressed by how incredibly accurate the 230 has been for me. Splits are lining up with what instant pace is displaying, GPS tracks are solid, probably the most solid of any Garmin device I’ve used.

  110. Shawn

    Wow, I know you and everyone else said the OHR is not good for strength training – but it had been so good when running I tried it out this morning when I was doing bench press.

    I wonder what the algorithm is doing or what is going on that it won’t react to HR changes?

    I thought I would try it during squats tonight and see if it’s the same.

    • James L.

      I noticed the same thing when doing benching – little change in HR. There did seem to be some, but it was delayed. In other exercises, like core workouts, it did measure appreciable HR increases. Not sure what to think of this, as HR is mainly for aerobic workouts while weight training is more anaerobic which is a different calorie expenditure….at least as I understand it.

  111. Mike Barro

    Having HR variability issues with the F3 HR. I’ve worn it loose, tight, top and bottom of the wrist. Usually reads too low but occasionally too high. And every once in a while it seems accurate. When I called Garmin they said they have had no reports of that yet. I am thinking it is my tiny weeny wrists. I usually wear it at the second to the last slot in the wrist band. Note: Seems accurate just at rest just off when running. Anybody else with small wrists having the same issue?

    • James L.

      FWIW, I think I have small wrists, but I am actually quite pleased with the performance of the OHR on the fenix 3. It tracked the bpm that I observed on an elliptical machine very well, at least on one machine – on the other, it was more stable while the machine’s values had wild fluctuations. I see about 2 1/2 slots in the band when I wear the watch.

    • Jennifer

      I wear mine on the very last slot. I have small wrists, clearly, and I haven’t had accuracy issues.

  112. Victor

    I am having trouble figuring out how to set alerts for HR zone changes. I can only set an alert for high, low or any one specific zone – but not zone changes. I’d like to trigger an alert as I transition from one zone to another. Is this possible? Maybe I am missing something.

  113. Kyle Mit

    If I wear with a HRM strap, which HR sensor takes precedence? Will it average the two in case one peaks/drops out? Also, any thoughts on optimal watch strap tightness for optical HR measurements. Thanks for amazing writing and reviews.

    • Hendrik

      My understanding is that whenever a cheststrap hrm is connected, the fenix 3 will use that data instead of the internal optical hrm. It will not use both simultaneously (and I think that is a wise decision).
      While I own no fenix 3 HR (yet), my extensive experience with my mio fuse is that the band should be tight enough so that no light can enter between the backside of the watch and your skin. Therefore, the watch should not be able to move with respect to your arm/skin. This means it should be snug, but overtightening is not necessary. It also means that the required tension depends somewhat on the roughness of the activity: running and mountain biking require more tension than static spinning.

  114. Casper Martens

    I simply wanna say thank you for your effort in making this thourough review ??

  115. Jon

    Hi Ray

    Great review once again, I was planning on getting a Fenix 3 when you posted about the HR release in January so thought I would go for the HR version instead.

    I pre ordered on 7th February from Cotswold Outdoors as I live in the UK. The device was delivered on Friday so before end of Q1.

    I have never pre-ordered a Garmin product previously as I have always bought Garmin products a few months after becoming readily available.

    CO first gave me a date of mid February which came and went, I was then told this was because Garmin missed their first shipment date and I should expect the unit at the end of February. This time came and I was told it would now be expected mid March due to an issue with one of the components. I was then told they expected the delivery on the 11th March and the number expected would cover my order as I was 41st on the list. After a few problems with the Cotswold internal systems the watch was finally delivered on Friday.

    When speaking to Cotswold they did advise me that it was quite normal for Garmin to promise a delivery of say 20 units and only 10 would actually arrive plus they experienced heavy delays and problems with the release of the Fenix 3 this time last year.

    My question is, do Garmin usually make a hash of releasing a new device? Or is the retailer over promising on delivery dates even though these have been advised by Garmin? Or a bit of both?

    Any advice for me next time if I pre order a Garmin device? If Garmin do quote Q1 end I should expect this even if a retailer indicates an earlier date?

    Thanks again


    • Dmitry V.

      Combining information from previous similar posts and Ray’s replies to them – it is a mixture of both. Some retailers are overoptimistic. And Garmin is not overspending for huge production in advanced of launch.

      As far as I remember, Garmin quoted “Q1”, not “Q1 end”. So, with my experience in high-tech logistics, this just says that SOME DEVICES will be available somewhere in Q1 and proper availability in retail channels – somewhere by mid Q2. 🙂

    • Dmitry is right, it’s a mixture. It’s partly that Garmin always does a slow-ramp to protect against early issues.

      Meanwhile, many retailers overpromise. Having watched folks with CO order status over the last year or so post here, I’d be safe in saying that either:

      A) Their local Garmin rep horribly overpromises (every time)
      B) They (CO) overpromise

      I’d hedge more towards B than A, since we don’t see this issue as prevelent with other UK retailers.

      CO is correct in that they can pre-order 500 units, and only get like 6 units. In theory Garmin focuses distribution towards retailers that have actual confirmed orders (versus just stocking shelves), but if you’ve only got 1,000 units world-wide to go around, it doesn’t leave that many per retailer.

      For the first few weeks of production of most Garmin products, a 1,000 unit production week is pretty normal (or even high). After that, you’re talking 10K/week type numbers easily. Hence why the backlog tends to clear real quick after a few weeks.

  116. Albert

    Thanks for the review as always Ray.

    I have a question regarding the integration of the watch with Apple iPhone. Specifically, will it pass along the heart rate data from the optical sensor to Apple phone in a way that I can see it on Wahoo Fitness (and also on the Apple Health Kit?

    • Petteri Hallikainen

      At the moment only following (picture) are enabled as a source for Apple Health. My guess is that no heart rate in the future but Ray knows better.

    • Unfortunately no passing of optical HR data onwards to Apple Health. :-/

    • Richie

      Ray, it looks like there is more data being shared between Connect and Apple Health due to Connect’s recent update. Can you comment on this? I see that heart rate is being deposited into Apple Health, but what about the opposite direction? In terms of the Connect side of this equation, will Garmin pull data from Apple Health? Are we finally going to be able to record steps with our iPhones or Withings (etc.) devices and have the step data go to Connect?

    • It seems like they’re going that way. If you look under some of the settings options, you’ll see an icon that seems to indicate it’ll soon be both ways. Plus, the most recent update asked perms to read all that data.

      That said, as of today mine isn’t importing steps (from phone to GC). Perhaps soon it will, not sure.

    • Richie

      If Garmin flips whatever switches they need to flip to start receiving data from Apple health, it will be a boon for Garmin/Apple users. I’m sick of needing multiple apps for my own data!

      Now we just need a mode to sample heart rate with greater frequency…

  117. Todd

    Thank you DCRainmaker and Clever Training. Garmin Fenix 3 HR showed up at my doorstep this afternoon.

  118. Rob

    On some forum I noticed people talking about that the Fenix 3 HR has a bit better ”build quality”… bezel scratches less, GPS a bit better, and that the ”firmware” is a different version/branch, etc.

    Are their people here that can confirm this or is it just fairytales….

    I’am still not sure if I should buy the Fenix 3 (non-saffire) or the Fenix 3 HR… so any advantages for the one or other would be welcome to understand to make the dission (to spend more money) a bit easyer 😉 hopefully.

    • Todd

      There was nothing wrong with my fenix 3 HR. Bezel and band were in great shape. I have not had a chance to test out the GPS, but I have owned all the Garmin fenix versions through the years with firmware upgrade the GPS only gets better. Both HR and non HR are great units. I choose to update from the non- HR to the sapphire version for the durability. The additional HR sensor helped me validate spending the extra money.

    • Darren Spicknell

      I’m wondering the same. I’m almost thinking ordering a sapphire silver with leather band due to the bezel scratching concerns. The HR I do really like but I feel the silver hides scratches better.

    • Todd

      I had the fenix 3 for over a year before selling it to upgrade for to the fenix 3 HR. I wore my fenix 3 almost everyday to work and during workouts. The gray did not show scratches or wear which I would consider noticeable. It is a rugged watch which can take a beating and with the sapphire glass now I can hit it even harder.

    • Darren Spicknell

      Thanks Todd. Really making my decision tougher. Like the idea of the optical for resting HR and other non strap activities. However do really like the look of the silver on the classic. Best of both worlds would be a silver sapphire HR, but if that comes something tells me it might be a while. Seems there is not enough of the HR’s to go around as is.

    • Todd

      I really like the matte gray/silver versus the true silver color. The gray definitely gives it a more rugged look, but still can be professional or provide a dressy look. I am a little disappointed about not being able to use any of the leather band options on the optical sensor version, but at the same time when running or hiking do I really want a sweaty leather band or do I want to continuously have to change bands out by activity.

  119. Alfredo

    I’m having an issue where I weigh myself every morning on the Garmin Index Scale and it syncs fine with Garmin Connect however that data is not being pushed to the Fenix 3 HR. I believe my vivoactive would update my weight once I synced with the mobile app. Anyone experiencing the same issue?

  120. Shawn

    After a week with this thing, I will say I really like it.

    Every couple days I get a blip on the 24/7 recording where it drops erroneously low though.

    Is there a way to edit the resting heart rate after the fact? It throws all the garmin connect stats off having these occasional blips.

    And, what’s up with these ‘Insights’ on the phone app, that could be interesting – nothing interesting yet, but it could be.

  121. Jon

    Loving the Fenix 3 HR so far but been getting some odd altimeter readings over the last few days. The figure is going up steadily when I am sat at my desk in my office, then down again in the evening. Tried a master reset but still the same. Any ideas? I have emailed Garmin support, see what they come back with.

    • Nick S.

      Same issues with mine. Called Garmin support and said they are aware of the out of whack altimeter readings. They said it was a software issue and are working on a resolution. Tech said he added me to the email list to be notified of progress or resolution of the issue

    • pierre

      Hi Jon, Nick, I don’t think it is a problem, the altimeter works with the barometer unless you have you GPS activated. When you start an outside activity, when the GPS is activated, the altimeter will make an auto calibration from where you are (P19 in the manual) from there it will help to have a precise position.
      When in normal mode (no GPS), it should work like an airplane altimeter, you need to calibrate it because as the barometric pressure change due to weather systems, it has the same effect that is you climb or go down. A depression system for example, will decrease the barometric pressure, so you altimeter will show a climb, the same thing happened will climbing in a plane as the pressure decrease at high altitude. So, I think, when you are at you office or home, with out GPS activated, you need to calibrated, manually or by GPS like the manual says, it will activate the GPS to get you actual elevation.
      I’m curious to see what Garmin will come up with as I think it’s normal what you are seeing ! What you see on you watch in the picture, you would see a drop in the barometric pressure for the same period, like bad weather coming with low pressure system !

    • Jon

      Hi Pierre, I have also been getting some odd temperature readings, like 1 degrees c when I am sat in my warm office. I have since noticed that when the altimeter is manually calibrated it goes back to the previous reading within a few minutes. Garmin have advised that they want to replace my watch using the normal warranty procedure. Overall I am impressed with the watch, I have been comparing the HR data on rides to a chest strap and my Edge 1000 and I am fairly impressed, there tends to be a bit of a lag for a few seconds but the readings are generally spot on and better than I was expecting.

    • Pierre

      Hi again, also very satisfied with the watch, good luck with you next one and I hope the delay will not be long !


    • Josh Karch


      Can you send me information about this out of whack Altimeter bug? I just wrote Garmin support (and beta support) a very long email about the Altimeter. My altimeter started randomly drifting this morning. I bought it yesterday from REI and returned it because the Altimeter went wacky, then I swapped it out and had the same issue, even with Firmware 2.91 beta. It does behave like a software issue, almost like a 1/x or sign swap issue and an integrator wind up problem because the barometer dropped when indicated altitude dropped. The altimeter showed an altitude of 400 feet when the barometer was set to 29.92. When I took a GPS fix, the altimeter reset to 50 feet, and rather than rising by 0.35 inhg, it fell 0.35 inhg.

    • Bill

      Barometric pressure measurement is extremely erratic. Barometer will fluctuate about reasonable barometric pressures, then begin fluctuating to extreme positive and negative values. Please see the image showing the unit dropping to -7759mb, then climbing to 6517mb within a 12 hour period. This renders the barometric altimeter useless during activities, reporting extreme ascents and decents. I experienced this issue on the original fenix 3 HR that I purchased, returned it, and am now experiencing the same issue on a second fenix 3 HR. Garmin’s initial response to me was to re-calibrate the altimeter. Not very helpful. I too would appreciate any updates from Garmin regarding this issue.

    • igor

      Mine is working correctly. No bugs like you are describing. Altimeter and barometer are accurate. Sorry you have a bad luck.

    • Igor

      BTW, mine software version is 2.20 and on Garmin Connect I do not have any updates, software is up to date.

    • Josh Karch

      Disable auto calibration and turn off Bluetooth.
      Force altitude to a known elevation and wait for pressure to reset to 1012 millibar. Sometimes this takes time. Upgrade firmware to 2.92 beta. Enter a known elevation for calibration. Leave auto calibration off for time being. After a day or so, reenable Bluetooth but leave off autocal. Garmin support is aware of issue. It is software, not hardware. I returned a watch too. Incidentally do you have an iPhone? Garmin says only iPhones have this problem. Mine is working now of that helps, but had the same problems you had last week.


    • Bill

      Thanks Josh. I am paired with Android OS, Gslaxy S5 running version 5.1.1. I had already upgraded my fenix 3 HR to version 2.92 hoping there had been an undocumented fix. I am waiting for the barometer to reset as you’ve described. I will let you know if this fix/work around works for me.

    • Josh Karch

      Bill, you may have to physically set your altitude once disabling bluetooth. I also disabled GLONASS in my situation and set pressure units to inhg because I use it for aviation applications. Once I did this, the altimeter reset and the barometer defaulted to 29.92″(1012mb) From there I reset altitude to a known height (or used the GPS) with autocal disabled and it seems to have worked ever since. the key seems to be getting the unit to recognize an issue and snap the barometer setting back to default. I haven’t had an issue since so I don’t know what to make of it, but the new firmware doesn’t hurt anything–


    • Bill

      It took a full week to get the barometer and altimeter to synch with one another in a stable manner. Once they did, with regular calibration/auto cal on, the f3hr has worked well. I have been very happy with the overall performance. I am running the 2.92 beta firmware.

    • Frank

      I think that’s a feature not a bug. Barometer included!

    • Peyton

      Jon, did you ever get a fix from Garmin on the Altimeter issue? I bought a Fenix3 HR last month and started experiencing the issue about 3 weeks in. I opened a ticket with Garmin support and they wanted to exchange the watch. I mentioned this and other posts I’ve seen that point to a software issue, but they didn’t acknowledge this was a known issue and proceeded with an exchange. I’m now 4 days in on the replacement watch and the issue has started again. Seems like this is a wide spread enough issue that this should be a priority for a fix. This is one of their premium devices and very disappointing to spend this kind of money and have such an issue go unresolved this long (seems this has been ongoing for 9+months). Aside from this issue, I do love the watch.

    • Hi all,
      I am having the same issue: wrong barometric readings and wrong altimetry readings. I calibrate it manually, and in a random way it goes wacky. I have it with glonass and bluetooth on paired with an Iphone. To me it seems that turning off bluetooth and glonass is not a suitable solutions. I have contacted garmin support, will wait for an answer soon enough (hopefully)

    • I managed to fix the altimeter errors by calibrating it by gps outdoors, and then turning off auto calibrate. I did it to fix errors with altitude, causing erratic staircase recording. Fixed now.

    • contacted the support, received instructions on resetting and restarting the watch. Working so far, they said a new update will fix the issue

    • Mike

      Hi. could you please describe more what do u mean with “wrong readings” ? an example would be perfect.
      because me (fenix3HR) – if i calibrate altimeter manually (gps on, glonass off) and go for run, if i end on the same place where i started – sometimes i have difference +/- couple meters. then later (next day or next days) if i start the same place again – altimiter does not show (in most cases) the same altimeter (difference couple of meters from 1-20).
      is this normal or is it also already wrong ? thanks

    • negative barometric pressure, and negative values for elevation (up to -5000 meters, and high values up to 20000 meters)

    • are there people whose watch is working properly with the latest firmware in place. In case I will ask garmin for a substitution. 400 euros watch which tell me -1400 meters seems a bit too much to me…. and Garmin it seems it is a known bug since march 2016

  122. vinny

    Fenix 3 HR acquired and setup but is it me because I can’t see the display while inside. I have been searching how to brighten the display.

  123. James L

    You can change the backlight by going to settings>system>backlight. You can control the intensity and duration of the backlight. I had the same problem. ?

  124. Mario

    Great review… as always 🙂 I have an interesting story with Fenix 3 HR … Maybe you can help me… I bought Fenix3 HR last week and since the begining I have issue with heart rate recording during workout. Always the same pattern… after around 10 min of running my heart rate jumps roughly 40 bpm and it stays there (even above my HR Max) till the end of the workout. I tried move the watch on the wrist, cover it with sleeve (to warm it up), tighten the strap but no change… After 5 days (3 runs) I returned the watch to the shop and took another item but HR behaviour was the same. Yesterday (during workout and after HR jump) I move the watch to another wrist and HR dropped close to acceptable values… Maybe you noticed something like that? Any ideas on how to deal with it?


  125. AG

    Hello Ray! Thanks for the review. Do you have any ideas what prevents Garmin from introducing ANT FE-C control (Tacx smart series) to f3? Is it more protocol/hardware limitations or firmware update can fix it in the future? What is your guess?

  126. Pierre

    Great review Thanks !
    Have received my F3 HR (bundle with HRM-run) on march 16th, I can’t say that it’s the best sport watch on the market because I haven’t tried other watches in the same league, but I can believe reviewer that says it’s the best ! Simply wow after one week of intense use playing with the menus and configuration, plus and a couples of runs. the battery looks great. The wrist HR gave me good values, so far very satisfied with all the options.

    I have a question though using the HRM-run strap, do we have to disconnect it after an activity, because when I take it off of my chest, even if the wrist HR is set to “Auto” in the menu, the HRM-run stay connected and when I go to the HR widget, the value start to climb reaching over 200 PPM, so I have to go in the menu and disconnect it, I though it was automatic after removing it from my chest ?


  127. Mikael


    Great text as always!
    Can you turn of the 24/7 hart reate monitoring?

    Kind regards Mikael

  128. Johnnie Engesser

    Just purchased a Fenix3 HR and I can’t find an explanation for the two bar type scales on the left (white) and right (red) of the digital default clock screen. Also no explanation for the 0-15 grid around the right upper quarter of the same screen? Can you explain?



    • Phil

      Hi Johnnie.
      The white scale represents your steps, when it reaches the top you have reached your daily goal.
      The red scale is the move bar. If you’re inactive for an hour the longer red line is drawn followed by a smaller line for every consecutive 15 minutes. When it’s full you haven’t moved much for 2 hours.
      Have fun.

    • Phil W

      I would also like to know why the 0-15 grid is white on the Fenix 3 HR/Sapphire? Thanks.

  129. Vincent

    I was wonder did you also encounter strange OHR readings during the time you used this watch?
    I and almost everyone with my seems to be getting wacky readings during rest and activitites.

  130. Petteri Hallikainen

    Thanks Ray for great review. Just got my F3HR a week ago which was ordered after this review with HRM-tri. Works like a charm and Garmin has made good job. Happy with this.

  131. David McClain

    Received mine in the mail with an additional Garmin brown leather strap that i just love. The bundle I purchased included the HRM running heart rate strap for additional running metric data. I was wondering if I should still purchase the “shoe pod”, or if the running heart rate strap takes the place of the pod?

  132. Ian Ayling

    Thanks for another comprehensive review.

    Was wondering if you’ve seen or heard if they will be doing a titanium version of the HR? I want to combine this as a training / day watch as I thought the Fenix3 Titanium was a really nice looking timepiece but held off buying when I heard the HR version was coming out.

    I saw that you can buy the HR watch and a separate titanium strap but not sure how good that would look.

    Any thoughts on this?



    • Igor

      Hi, I was also thinking (and curious whether HR version will be also in titanium) about titanium version, but the combination of silver rounding and grey/black body with silver band (on non-HR version in Garmin shop) does not look good. My new Fenix 3 HR with separately bought metal (grey-black original, I do not know why they do not supply it in one package, separate purchase is expensive 🙁 but thanks to our local Garmin shop at decent price) band looks good even with my daily working suit with tie 🙁 Look at it in some shop and you will not wait. Should be the whole watch in silver, it would make sense, but the current color combi is strange.

  133. Amul

    Have you noticed any difference in the GPS activity for outdoor running on Fenix 3HR vs 920xt? I’ve had the Fenix 3HR for over a week now and has been working great for swimming (pool) and cycling (indoor and outdoor). For running however I noticed that the pace/speed is not as smooth as the Forerunner 920xt. The Fenix 3HR dooms to be more spikes. I was just wondering if it was just me or if the GPS works a little differently on the Fenix 3HR ?

  134. Swift

    Dear Ray,

    So how is the shipment to Europe via Clever training arranged now?
    You mentioned “hang in there for a week ar two more for also 10% deal, free shipping, etc”

    I would like to order soon one soon and would like to do it by giving you some support too.

    • Currently you can ship to Europe from the US, but then you’re paying the taxes/duties upon arrival (however they may be per country).

      Soon, you’ll be able to order directly in Europe, and have things arrive a heck of a lot faster, and have VAT included. Also, you won’t need the VIP program in Europe (just the DCR coupon code).

    • Dmitry V.

      It would be great. At least, there are some people in the UK who are waiting for this 🙂 (ideally with “silver” bezel, but I don’t think this is something you could easily influence)

    • swift

      Guess I’ll be waiting a little bit more then. Any idea when? I subscribed to your newsletter not this miss any new also related to this.
      The Clever Training page doesn’t mention any taxes upon selecting my country but I find that odd.
      I would be paying 599 euro from the local Bever shop vs 510 euro from Clever training (VIP program and shipment costs included) without any additional taxes.
      Best regards.

  135. Marcio

    Hi Ray, just heads up that Garmin Fenix 3 HR is already having a bug, my unit does not record HR during any activity, despite the fact that I can see the HR in the 4 hours tracking, HR is ON (auto). Garmin recognized the issue asked me to return the watch directly to them. Do not know if I am the only one facing it. Regards, Marcio

    • emilio

      I Actually had the same issue. Bough my watch last Friday and after firmware updates, resets, I even installed the Beta version its still not working. As I live in Miami, I took the watch to the new store GARMIN just opened here. Experience was completely disappointing as they agreed theres a hardware issue but they couldn’t replace it in site (Although they had plenty of units in stock). Really frustating you drive to one of the two Garmin stores in USA and they are not able to solve the problem immediately. Instead to make things worst they got you on the phone for 30′ to talk with customer service and get into a 6-8 days replacement process.Very disappointed…….

  136. Josh Karch

    Example of drifting altimeter. Was 400 ft last night, 20k today, GPS cals disabled.

  137. Petteri Hallikainen

    Ray, I would need help. On my F3 HR, I have tried to create new app for gym workout – I chose pre-ready strength and also one app for pre-cardio. Problem I have is that accelerometer is not active (GPS is off), meaning I can’t get the distance for my circuits that includes running. Indoor running works fine with accelerometer but I don’t want to use that if running is only one of the many in that workout. Did I miss something or this how it works?

    • Mike

      so exactly the same problem i have ! so if someone could advice what to do..
      one of solution might be create new app and rename it from indoor run app.

  138. Wesley

    Just got the Fenix 3 HR. Anyone using an app to just track HR during weight lifting? I dont care about tracking reps and which workout, just want to track HR for calorie burn. New Garmin user here.

    • Paul S.

      There’s no correlation between heart rate and calorie burn during weight lifting, since it’s anaerobic, so the number your Fenix gives you will not be correct (and apparently the heart rate from the optical sensor may not be right). But a little simple physics can get you want you want. The energy needed to lift a weight m a distance h is simply mgh, where g is 9.8 meters/second^2. So take the weight in kg, multiply by the distance you lift it in meters (including repetitions) and g, and you’ll get the number of joules you just used. 1000 joules is approximately 1 C because the efficiency of your muscles is about 1/4.

    • Thanks Paul S. – very interesting.

      That would be a great Connect IQ Widget or app if someone could do it. Enter the weight and then use the accelerometer and GPS to count reps and work out energy used 🙂

    • Paul S.

      There actually are such things as stand alone devices already, and I found this link using Google. I’ve no idea how well they work.

    • James L

      I’ve been interested in the Wahoo TICKRX heart rate strap which has, I think, an accelerometer in it for counting reps using one of their apps. If you had a foot pod, an accelerometer on your chest, and a Fenix 3 on an arm, it seems you could make a good estimate of the exercise and number of reps. I’m hoping Garmin tries to do something with this technology, perhaps, using their TRI heart rate strap and their foot pod.

  139. Daniel Estabrook

    Any trouble with battery life? Mine was fully charged last night before bed, and over 8 hours it went down 24%.

    • Igor

      Hi, it´s strange, mine Fenix 3 HR is 10days new, until now 3 recharges (I´m “playing” with it…), last charge 48h ago, still on my wrist with HR function (smart, not every secs), 30min indoor pool, 1h GPS running (with body HR), 2h GPS biking (with body HR) and battery at 65% level. Do factory reset, full charge, no specialties (widgets, applications) and you will see. If still draining, time for warranty 🙁

  140. Jason Skrzypiec

    I just wanted to say thanks for all the reviews and info you provide. I was planning on waiting for the vivoactive hr, but after reading your review of the f3hr, and seeing a coworker with one, I am glad I didn’t wait. I used the discount from CT, and even with the free shipping, got it in 2 days. Can’t wait to get off work, and give the run a try.

    • igor

      I have been using Vivoactive since April 2015, I was satisfied except for battery life with GPS (on bike 5,5hrs only). I was also thinking about new Vivoactive HR, but my new Fenix 3 HR is a piece of watch, no complains until now. But Vivoactive and Fenix are both good gadgets, each for a slightly different use.

  141. mario

    thank you for this fantastic review! I got mine three days ago and am very excited learning all the features. thank you.

  142. I put both the Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR through the wringer this morning, 12 mile 5400′ winter mountaineering excursion. Solely to compare heart rate of optic v strap. I am a 20 year veteran of the strap, so I was venturing out of my comfort zone. Verdict? The HR was wildly inaccurate, both high and low. I was using ski poles with snowshoes. When not using arms (such as in hiking or running) they both were very close in tests I did yesterday. So, bottom line, if you are using your arms (XC skiing, snowshoeing or even Euro-style Ultrarunning), forget the HR.

    • Igor

      Pls do not forget that nobody is presenting HR wrist measurement as a full replacement for chest HR belt! The wrist HR feature is a kind of geek or “modern” way how to monitor HR 24/7 during non sport activities. And for sport/outdoor/adventure accurate HR monitoring the body belt is still the only solution.
      BTW, how tight was your wrist band during your “arm” activities? I´ve compared at the same run mine Fenix 3 HR with metal band (pretty tight during the activity) in wrist HR measurement (in second mode, not the smart one) with chest HR measurement on Vivoactive and the difference (in lows and highs) was not so tragic.
      My recommendation – for accurate measurement wear body belt, for daily overview use the wrist HR.

  143. Hannes

    Hallo everyone,

    I have a Fenix 3 HR since 3 days and everything works fine till yet.
    It is only not possible to connect theWatch with my TACX Bushido smart (Bluetooth and Ant+ Version)

    Can someone tell me how to connect the two devices (Bushido has the newsest update, my Fenix3 HR has V2.20)?


  144. Stefan

    For the continual OHR data to show up in Germin Connect does the unit have to be configured as THE activity monitor?

  145. Marc

    I’m a current owner of a MS-Band 2, and on the long run, one of the key features I’m looking at for when I will replace it is the smart alarm, which wakes you up to 30 minutes before your target wake up time by analyzing your sleep cycles to avoid ring within deep sleep time. I understand this rely on partly on HR monitoring, and I was wondering if the Fenix 3 HR was having such a feature?

  146. marc steingrand

    hello i just got my f3HR yesterday, and stared using it i udatded to software 2,92 but not sure if i have to do something special to get my HR , shown up, i feared it since 7:00 am and now ate 8 PM still not having an HR measurement .. i have the th sensor in the automatic mode , hope this is correct . in the screen the small heart is blinking from red to grey..

    any help much appreciated

    • Yonadav

      Same thing happened to me but was fine after turning my watch off then on. Happened both with 2.91 and 2.92.

    • Igor

      Strange. Mine is detecting my HR on my wrist within 5 secs and then steadily lights red and it is changing following my movements. Like with the chest strap.
      And I have soft version 2.20 (and no possibility to update, according to Garmin Up-to-date, maybe it is an European version of soft, who knows.

    • Hendrik

      This is normal.

      2.20 is the latest current official firmware.
      2.91 and 2.92 are beta firmware.

  147. MR

    Hi community!

    So it seems that the major benefits of the HR version is the 24/7 HR tracking. According to reviews and other comments for intense workouts you still should use a strap? Is this correct?

    Also. For the non HR version you can get for USD 400. The HR with strap version is 650 USD.
    So, DC community which version should one get?

    • Igor

      For me difficult to say. I have my first Fenix 3 HR only 2 weeks. When using secs mode (not smart one) of wrist HR measurement, it is more accurate. But for running and biking which I do,the chest strap is better,it shows you more info. So in principle you could be right if you take the price, but if you follow trends, there is no other than HR choice 😉

    • James L

      I’ve had mine for 3 weeks, and the HRM seems to be giving me accurate enough information for calorie burn and intensity minutes….I think that these two are insensitive enough to the OHR to give reasonably consistent results though I need to validate this more. I am not sure yet about HR training. I have compared the HR readings to those on an elliptical machine, and they are very close to each other (within a few bpm). I have noticed a problem with Paring of the HRM with activities if I do not wait long enough – leads to very inaccurate results. Also, the variability when working out with weights seems to be too high (I think this is expected of all OHR). In general, I get reasonably consistent HR data for the same activity on different days. I like the 24/7 and RHR that I get, and the watch is superb in all other ways. I suspect a decision on which watch to buy would come down to cost and how much accuracy in HR is needed.

    • Dmitry V.

      “For the non HR version you can get for USD 400. The HR with strap version is 650 USD.”
      Compare apples with apples – HR version has also a sapphire crystal, not mineral glass.

  148. Steve

    Could someone let me know if there is any stainless steel on the backing of the Fenix 3 HR? Thanks, greatly appreciate it!

  149. Erick B

    The GPS on mine is WAY off. The heart rate and altimeter actually work though. I changed it from smart recording to once every second and that did not help. I am wearing it on my wrist. I am wondering if i put it on the handlebars if that will help. But, then that negates the whole reason for having HR on my wrist. Plus, I would need to purchase a heart rate strap just for that. I have already shed out nearly $700 for this thing.
    I have mainly used it biking in the woods.

  150. Vitor Vinagre

    I’ ve just bought my Fénix 3 HR, but it just can’t connect to any device by Bluetooth…
    It just doesn’t get noticeable.
    Anyone with this problem?



  151. matt

    Hi. Does anyone know if it’s possible with the fenix 3 HR when using the Rowing app can you set intervals based on the stroke count. For example 20 strokes then 20secs rest, then 30 strokes then 30 secs rest etc. When i go to set custom workouts it seems to only let me choose time, distance etc but not stroke count. Thanks

  152. Greg Martin

    So do you think the optical HR is a better purchase than the Fenix 3 with the HR strap?


    • Igor

      It depends, if you do not want 24/7 HR tracking, then buy F3 without wrist HR, but when you buy F3HR, for some activities and more accurate HR results you will still need chest HR strap. My suggestion, if you can afford it, buy F3HR.

    • Dmitry V.

      Slightly differently. Fenix 3 HR + HR strap is a better purchase than Fenix 3 Sapphire + HR Strap.

    • Igor

      😉 that´s what I wanted to say, F3HR (currently sapphire version only) + chest HR strape 😉

  153. Bstu999

    I have trouble with the amount of contrast on newer Garmin devices. I have an old FR 410 and have no problems. How is the Fenix 3HR for contrast both indoors and outdoors

  154. Rene

    Hello Ray,
    I would like to buy the Fenix 3 HR, but I don’t have have very good result with an optical Heartrate.
    I have used a Mio Link together with my Fenix 3, but the heart rate is not very accurate in my opinion.
    I am only using it for running.
    Will the optical heartrate of the Fenix 3 HR be better or will this be about the same result?

    Thanks for this nice in depth review!

    • In general most folks find the Mio sensor of higher sport quality than that of Garmin’s Elevate. However if your issue with link was connectivity (i.e. drops), then this would resolve that.

  155. Mo

    When would be the best time to charge this watch for maximizing battery life? Thanks.

  156. Rene

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for helping everyone with such a nice review and all answers to everones questions!
    I currently use the Sapphire only with the metal band.
    That is why its not so tight on my wrist. Mostly when I have a shirt with a long sleeve I put the watch over the shirt. Will this effect the outcome of the hartrate as its too loose on the wrist or if I wear it over my shirt.
    I am still in doubt to buy it or not :-).

    Thanks again!
    Rene Haveman

  157. Bob

    I own one of these for a couple of days now and this review is clearing up a view things for me. Thank you for that! What does annoy me is activity tracking combined with a simple ride on a bike. When i get home several 1000 steps are added within the step counter. And it seems there is no way to automaticaly turn of the step counter when a certain app (in this case biking) is started.

    You are right about the HR sensor combined with bumpy cycling, better use a strap! 🙂

    How did you fit the Fenix 3 on your tri bike?

    • Igor

      Hi, it´s quite strange, I had the same problem adding steps during cycling on my previous Vivoactive, but with the new F3 HR I´ve not experienced it any more, no added steps (only few during stops) to activity tracking.

  158. any word on if they will be making a rose gold model? thanks

  159. Leo

    Nice review, as always very helpful. But after reading everything I have just one question.

    It’s really painful changing the band between normal and metal one??? It’s easy ?? Or take to much time??

    I think I will get the fenix 3 Sapphire with Metal band because I think looks great with the office clothing, for sports the normal band has a better fit, but if it’s difficult changing the watch bands, I think the HR is the way to go.

    Thanks in advance….

    • Dmitry V.

      Depends on your definition of “painful”. To do this you just unscrew several screws, put the new band and screw it back with the supplied screw-driver (simple and reliable system). If doing this from time to time – seems OK. If you will be looking to do this several times per week – not.

    • Leo

      I was going to do that 3 times a week. I think is too much.

      I will ask in the newest comments below about how is running with the metal band.


  160. Sally

    Hi. Your reviews are brilliant. I’m a very amateur athlete but I always look to your reviews for guidance as to how a device will suit me and I find them very helpful
    In the past, your “shopping” links don’t work because Amazon didn’t seem to be able to ship to Australia, but I’m def going to try them from now. I am going to purchase the Fenix 3 HR. I wish they would make one for women- not so much in weight, but in colour and design – we do like pretty things!

  161. J

    But what about the GPS, the Fenix 3 have recieved alot Of critisism because Of It’s poor performance in the woods and under trees. Is the F3HR any better for mtb and trail running?

    • Nick

      I bought the F3 OHR about two weeks ago. Quite happy with the watch overall, there is now a beta programme for it as well. Optical HR performance has been good with more and more improvements being made.

      GPS, on the other hand, is in the same state as with the F3- OK in best case scenario conditions and not that good when there are trees/buildings around you. You can clearly see that in the below run from this morning- I can assure you that I never ran through trees and on the roof of those houses:

      link to connect.garmin.com

      What puzzles me is that Garmin is completely ignoring this obvious issue- there have been no GPS chipset updates for more than 6 months!!!

    • Rob

      I expect their is not be much more they can actully improve on the hardware/gps side (that will be Fenix 4). So any update to improve upon GPS is that they do some software ”optimalisation”.

      my 5 cent.

    • J – There’s an entire section in the review dedicated to GPS. You’ll find it under the section titled ‘GPS Accuracy’: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Nick

      Well, there is no way of knowing that for sure. Any update is better than nothing. I would ask the store where I got the watch for an exchange if I did not know from experience that getting a new watch will not change anything.

      I would return the watch for a full refund if I still could. The watch is quite great on all other fronts but I find the GPS to be poor at best.

    • Kevin

      Gps accuracy is absolutely deplorable in the F3HR. No watch is perfect, but this model is the worst I’ve seen….period. Maybe there will be some magical updates to improve down the road. Ambit 3 can’t be beat in the hiking/tri/running space. For pure running, Garmin FR235 is actually very good on gps, and the price point is favorable.

  162. Igor

    Hi everybody, today I´ve experienced strange behavior of Bluetooth on my Fenix 3 HR. BT connection suddenly stopped working and could not be reconnected with my PC and phone (two different S-sungs) any more. Also ANT+ HR chest strap stopped working with no success to reconnect. Wi-Fi transfer worked normally. I had to make a hard reset (several times) after which BT still cannot connect to none of my gadgets (it shows paring number but after several attempts it fails to pair). ANT+ HR chest strap is now working as well as Wi-Fi transfers.
    Would you suggest any way how to make BT alive?
    Many thx.

    • Igor

      Problem solved, paring was not possible during server shut down (probably due to no possibility to authorize the device). Now BT is working 😉

  163. Keasha

    Hi Ray! Any chance that Garmin intends to release a rose gold version of the Fenix3hr?

  164. Richie

    Ray–thanks for everything. I had a strange occurrence with my fenix 3 hr today. I wore it all night, went for a morning run, and wore it to work this morning. For some reason around 11 pm the device stopped recording heart rate it appears. The heart rate recorded throughout my run, and according to my watch (under the 4 hours widget) it recorded all morning. Connect however doesn’t log any heart rate after my run. Any idea how to force this data off my watch and onto connect? I plugged the device into my computer to no avail. Seems like the data is stuck on the watch itself.


  165. Leo

    Hello. Nice review as always very informative.

    I am wondering about how it’s confortable and functional to run with the metal band. Have you or anyone tried to run with the Fenix 3 HR with a metal band or the Fenix 3 Sapphire with the metal band? Any advice about that?

    I am trying to figured out if get the fenix 3 hr or the fenix 3 sapphire with the metal band. I like the looks of the metal band but I am very interested in if it’s functional for running. Changing band 3-4 times a week it’s not an option, just because if you loose that little screws… oh Lord what a problem!!!

    Thanks in advance….

    • Igor

      3 weeks ago I bought F3 HR with rubber band, after couple of days (due to alergenic reation of the rubber to my skin) I bought original metal band. I am wearing watch all day long (sometimes also during night, but not regularly) with nearly everyday running and/or cycling and/or swimming. I do not have any problems with the metal band weight and size (it must be comfortably tight around the wrist, not “free”). No problems during running, swimming and cycling (except for the fact that during cycling I have to wear it on my wrist and not on handlebars). Of course, you cannot adjust it on the spot like the rubber one, but up to now I have not experienced any problems.

  166. OK, so I’ve had a few watches. Got tired of “trying” them all out. Now because of the rainmaker’s review I am out $599

    Well, it is my birthday. I should receive it tomorrow overnight from Amazon.

    I welcome myself to the club!!

  167. Yauuik

    John, You won’t be disappointed.

  168. Thanks for the in-dept review.

    I finally settled for Fenix-3 (Non-HR), Why?

    1. I only need HRM during my workout
    2. As a data junkie, chest strap would be required to have access to most of workout data, hence, either F3HR or not, I would still need a chest strap.

    Thanks again for making me save few ££ ?

  169. Ray Girardi

    as always thank you for your time and expertise in your reviews!! Quick Q, when will the Fenix 3 HR be available on Clever? …wasn’t sure if it was a mistake or not but site only shows Fenix 3 not the new HR.

  170. john cesta

    Just received my fenix 3 hr today. Loving it.

    Does anyone know if there is a watch face with the heart rate on it. Maybe there is a reason it can’t appear but I can’t find one with the heart rate on it.


    • Georgios 5-0

      what about : DomiPulse Version 1.6-upd1 (Connect IQ / Garmin)

    • Igor

      It is an application, not a watch face. But pretty good. Thx

    • Igor

      Nice application, but it drains battery (constant wrist HR measurement). For occasional use nice.

    • Jack

      The watch face SpaceGMT allows one of the data circles to show HR. It is configurable. Its a great looking watch face… really clean. Once of the cleanest faces I have seen and it does not drain the battery.. I do feel, after using it for a few weeks, that the HR data that it shows is behind a bit. For example, when I am lifting weights, the heart rate on this watch face is usually different than the HR shown on the HR widget. So I do not think it is good for tracking HR while working out. Although, while working at the office, and generally throughout the day, it gives a heart rate that seems to be acceptable. It would be great if this face tracked exactly with the HR widget. None the less I am going to keep it as my face and try the domipulse app listed above for when I need more accurate HR readings. BTW, when I bike and run I use the chest strap as I feel this OHR is just not there yet. It is a fun toy though.

    • Igor

      Hi, nice watch face, but the HR value is a very strange one, it does not show either actual wrist or chest strap values. Therefore, in my experience, nformation for nothing 🙁

  171. Chappo

    Does anyone know if HR data is recorded from the watch (i.e. no strap required) in all other non-swimming modes? I’m specifically interested in Skiing and SUP modes.


    • Igor

      Hi, I’m not using SUP and skiing, but mine wrist HR is recording (whilst chest strap disconnected) during running, hiking, climbing, cycling and other mode which I tried) and as it is written in the review, HR wrist recording is disabled for swimming (which I can confirm) only. I.e. wrist HR should record during skiing and SUP.

    • Chappo

      I’ve managed to get useful Optical HR readings when SUPing (unless paddling forcefully), running, cycling and walking, but definitely need a chest strap when using a rowing ergometer.

  172. Manny

    Hi Thanks for the great review!!!
    I recently got my Fenix 3 HR and I went out for run with my old garmin 620 without the strap! I just wanted to compare the distance which was 100% accurate however I did notice my bpm was 101 when running my at intense! Sub 7 for the last two mile of 6 mile total! I have had my 620 for more than a year and whenever I am running that hard with strap, my bpm is around 180!!! There was no V02 recorded for a first run even at intense run. Second I decided to run with strap with 620 and Fenix HR. Prior to taking of both watch had same bpm +/- 5 reading. when I started running and results were far off. for fenix 3 hr
    1m – 7:07 min/m HR120 bpm
    2m – 7:19 min/m HR116 bpm
    3m – 7:25 min/m HR111 bpm
    4m – 7:19 min/m HR105 bpm
    5m – 7:25 min/m HR107 bpm
    6m – 7:27 min/m HR115 bpm
    7m – 7:32 min/m HR190 bpm
    8m – 7:24 min/m HR195 bpm
    9m – 7:19 min/m HR198 bpm
    10m – 8:10 min/m HR189 pbm

    as for 620 bpm was +50 bpm from mile 1 throu mile 6 and -30bpm from mile 7 to mile 10.

    Aslo heart monitor chart on the phone has gaps of 1hr or more randomly and I haven’t taken this watch for more than 70hrs. I want to say the the fenix 3hr sensor is a bust but I want your thought on this before I return the watch for replacement.

    • John Cesta

      We should give poor ray a break. I mean, he didn’t make the watch, and he doesn’t run the marketing or sales or research and development dept at Garmin, at least I don’t think he does.

      He just reviews theses things to give us a realtime view of what we can expect and an inside look at the feature set.

      Every human body is different and environments are different day to day. All the watch does is try and capture what it can, the best it can. Fenix 3 hr has to be one of the most sophisticated machines in its class. It’s not very old at this point. I’m sure a few tweaks are in order.

      Personally I love this thing. All my friends have very expensive regular watches like Rolex omega etc but they don’t have half as much fun with their watches as I do with mine.

      I’m going for a run today with my fenix hr and my vivoactive with the scoche strap. (That’s a nice combination)


  173. Ethan

    Any chance that the Fenix 3 heart rate Elevate sensor will be updated in the short term near future by Garmin? Worried about buying the Fenix 3HR and having Garmin release a new Fenix 4 or other new version in the next couple months with a better sensor…….


    • Between 0% and 1%.

      It just started shipping less than 2 months ago.

    • Igor

      Why? Mine is working correctly, in several bike rides compared with my old Ciclosport HAC 4 Pro a the difference is +/- 2-3m.

    • Steve Fitz

      I asked the Garmin rep about F4 at the Boston Marathon Expo and he said there will never be a F4 because the name matches with some Asian bad luck name so F5 will be next and at best it would be 2nd quarter 2017. Have no idea if he is correct.

    • Dmitry V.

      “Number 4 (四; accounting 肆; pinyin sì) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death” (死 pinyin sǐ).”

    • And yet there was an iPhone 4…

    • Dmitry V.

      And Galaxy S4. Maybe guys in Apple and Samsung have better pronunciation to pronounce 4 and death correctly in Chinese. Or they just have common sense and ignore such silly superstitions 🙂

  174. Anthony

    Really happy F3 user, however, would really really love the on demand and always available hr, in my opinion that’s about the only thing missing from my F3, is that enough to jump to the F3 HR, or should I wait for the release of the next watch which im sure is liable to be 1st quarter 2017????????????????????????

    Just looking for opinions……..Thanks in advance

    • Igor

      Hi, as far as I know from various reviews, none of the existing wrist HR trackers (on various wathes or wrist bands) is meant for sport (interval, fluctuating in quick sessions) purposes, they are mainly for fitness HR tracking. And also bear on mind that HR measurement on wrist is not as accurate as with chest strap due to various reasons (“cold hands”, fat under the skin etc), the best results with HR wrist measurements for example for me is when I’m warmed up and the sensor/wathes are “upside down” on my wrist. Such measurements I have closely similar to chest HR strap ones. The chest HR strap is currently the only accurate HR measurement for sport purposes.
      Please correct me (Ray or whoever else) if I’m wrong. Thx.
      I have my F3HR wrist sensor mainly for 24/7 fitness tracking (already compared with paralel wearing of chest strap with Vivoactive that was similar) and for sport I’m still using HR strap (btw if I’m not mistaken, V02 is measured with chest strap only, not with wrist one).

    • Manny

      Igor, VO2 is achievable with F3HR without chest strap.

  175. Martin Lind Ommen

    Thanks for a good review.
    I have just bought a fenix 3 HR, and are enjoying the vast amount of features a lot.
    One thing I can’t seem to figure out, is if it is possible to transfer your training calender to the watch via connect mobile. So far I have only managed to transfer the training calendar through USB via garmin express.
    Are there other features (assuming I am right) that are only available via garmin express, besides WIFI setup?

    • Igor

      Yes, connect your F3HR with smartphone via bluetooth and then it will be synchronised.

    • Martin Lind Ommen

      Thank you very much for the reply Igor.
      I will continue to try that, but for whatever reason that hasn’t worked yet. But I am glad that it is supposed to work. Perhaps I have given up too fast, instead of giving it time.

    • Igor

      Martin, allow on your phone discoverable BTmode, then go to Garmin Connect app, add device F3HR and then authorise it with 6digit pass code. You must be online to verify your F3HR with Garmin server. Then every time you open Garmin Connect it starts to synchro. But when I authorised Wi-Fi server via Garmin Express, every time I finish excercise I synchro it via Wi-Fi (through watch setting), it is much quicker.

    • Martin Lind Ommen

      Thanks for the guide.
      My watch and phone are connected, and synchronise, transfer workouts manually and upload activities and so forth. It is only planned workouts in the training calender that are not showing up on the watch. Even after manually triggering syncing between phone and fenix.
      But as you say that it should work, I will continue trying.

    • Igor

      Aha, planned workouts… I’m not planning, therefore do not have experience with synchro. Ask Ray or Garmin directly.

    • John Cesta

      Could find something here………
      link to www8.garmin.com

    • Martin Lind Ommen

      Thanks John.
      I had already looked there without any luck. (Of course that does not mean the info isn’t there, just that I haven’t found it.)
      The only search hit for training calendar says that you CAN sync scheduled workouts via garmin connect, but no specifics. And so far I have only managed to transfer them via garmin express.

    • Martin Lind Ommen

      I managed to figure it out myself now.
      You still need to trigure the transfer online by clicking send to device. This will open up garmin express (which I assumed meant you would need to sync via garmin express). However, next sync with connect mobile also transfered the training calendar.
      I guess I up until now have used express, and therefore not realised it actually worked like this.

      But thank you both for your help.

  176. John Cesta

    If anyone knows…….

    I have a Schwinn 270 and would like to capture the ride on my Garmin fenix 3 hr.
    I know there are some sort of pods or sensors available does anyone know which ones I can use.



  177. Ethan

    Curious if anyone ever figured out a good way to fix the very easily scratched finish on the Fenix 3. Just scratched my Fenix 3 HR. I’ve got both and seems they didn’t make any improvement in the durability of the finish……


    • Dmitry V.

      What part of the watch have you scratched – bezel?
      I don’t think there is any easy chance to fix scratches to PVD coating – this is the same with other watches that has PVD coating. Although there were some photos on Garmin forum with this coating completely removed. (to do this you need to unscrew the bezel, protect the glass and carefully polish the coating off)

      For me this is the reason why I would love Garmin to release F3HR with “silver” (uncoated) bezel.

  178. john cesta

    Today I ran 3 miles. Yes I know….. I’ll get there.
    Anyway, I wore my Fenix 3hr on one wrist and my vivoactive and scoche rythm+ on the other. Boy they were almost identical in everything.

  179. Brian

    I’m currently testing out a Fenix 3 HR, but my dilemma is asking myself is it worth the $400 premium to keep the Fenix 3 HR over the incoming Vivoactive HR. I run a good amount of time and, if I’m honest with myself, all I really need for a watch are GPS (with 1s sampling), cadence tracking, optical HR and the ability to pair an ANT+ chest strap and the Vivoactive HR checks all that.

    As I said above, I’m currently trying out the Fenix 3 HR and all the stats are nice for running, but a lot of those stats (like ground contact time and vertical oscillation) are directly tied to just having a better cadence. I do enjoy the build quality a lot… but again is paying out $400 more worth it? I don’t know. I have 2 or 3 more weeks to really decide.

    $250 vs. $650 (I bought the Fenix 3 with the HRM run bundle)…

    Anyone else on the same boat and trying to figure it all out before the Vivoactive HR comes out in 2 to 3 weeks? Will I really miss not having V02Max, Lactate Threshold and the gen 2 running stats? The awesome build quality and look of the Fenix 3 HR.. But I’ll have $400.00 back to reallocate for my budget.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions…

    • John Cesta

      My answer to you Brian for me is that

      #1 I love gadgets especially technology.

      So while I certainly never go skiing or kayaking or don’t even ride my bike I own a Fenix and never looked back.

      The way I saw it is that half my fun is playing and learning and testing. With all the other watches I owned: vivoactive, basis, zen watch, vivosmart, Samsung etc they never gave me enough to work with.

      I don’t buy a lot of stuff. These days, I buy a guitar every now and then. I don’t fish so I don’t own a fishing boat, I don’t collect art, I don’t watch sports and pay $$$ of dollars for games.

      I make money and pay for kids college and their stuff. So as I see it I deserve the best of the trivial stuff I do buy for myself.

      Besides all that let’s go back to reason #1 I love gadgets especially technology.

      I say: GO FOR IT!!

    • James L.

      I’m basically in the same boat as John – I love new technology, and the F3 HR is the best technology currently available. I am really enjoying using the watch, and learning a lot about how to increase my fitness level by taking advantage of the measurements the watch provides. I have a core group of 5-6 activities where I use the watch, and another 2-3 that I use it periodically. In addition, it provides steps and HR monitoring – love it!!

    • Chris

      Hi Brian,

      I was in the same boat. I think you should keep the Fenix 3 HR . 95% of my use with this watch is for running. I received a FR 630 for Xmas, and just bought the Fenix 3 HR (and promptly put the 630 on Ebay.) I am getting used to the girth of the Fenix 3 compared to the 630. The 630 is a great watch, but the Fenix 3 gives me more options if I want to try a triathlon, or trail run, or add waypoints, etc. I agree with you about ground contact, and vertical oscillation metrics (they aren’t useful to me and end up being metrics for the sake of metrics) I need to increase my cadence, and that will improve the other metrics. I think this watch has everything I want and plan to have this watch for a least 2-3 years. I also, don’t like the look of the Vivoactive HR, it reminds me of the tomtom nike gps, and the fenix should be more durable. Another option is to just get the Fenix 3 HR without the chest strap, as it saves you 50 bucks (but you get penalized down the road if you buy the strap separately.) I think you will get more milage out of a Fenix 3 HR, and won’t be longing for a watch for at least a year. Good luck with your decision.

    • Doug

      I’m having the exact same predicament! haha, I’m curious to what you decided Brian and how it turned out?

  180. Bárður

    Hi and as always a great site.
    I have had the Fenix 3 HR for 5 days and I like it so much. The ski app, indoor rowing and indoor and outdoor running works as I wanted, the HR and weight from my scale also. But I have 2 problems.

    First I use outlook on my Samsung S6 phone and the email sync but not the calendar. I cant figure out how to sync that with the calendar witdget on the Fenix 3.

    The second is indoor bike, it measures time and HR but I get no distance from the Life Fitness bike in my gym. I dont now if it has and ANT but I have an app in my phone that has QR code reader that read from the bikescreen. Is there a way to transfer that data or any other method to get distance from the indoor gym bike.

    • Bárður

      update the calendar works now, I get alerts 15 min before a meeting in my outlook calendar 🙂
      Now only the indoor bike lacks distance

  181. John Cesta

    Well judging by the replies everyone is in a boat. No worries there as the Fenix has features for a boat and is waterproof. Haha

  182. Peter

    Have you tried if it’s possible to install the tidal tables?
    Even if they say it’s not supported.

  183. Niki Crewes

    Is there any way to see the lactate threshold and stress score measurements any place other than on the watch? I think its a cool feature and would like to see how my training is progressing over time. Thanks for the great review! Just convinced me to go out and get one.