Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire: should I buy it?

Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire HR

A well-made, stylish running watch

Powerful GPS tracking
Long battery life
Can monitor a multitude of activities
Not the most competent fitness tracker

The bottom line

The Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire is just a variant of the popular Fenix 3 - coming with a more rugged, ‘life-proof’ shell with more scratch-resistant glass.

It still brings all the great features of the Fenix 3, such as multi-sport support (and we really mean multi-sport… this thing will log pretty much anything you want to do and give you some good metrics with it) and long battery life to the mix.

It’s a good few years old now, and it still hasn’t dropped incredibly in price, but it's getting some strong price drops in the sales so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Fenix 3 Sapphire: what you need to know

The Fenix 3 Sapphire is the premium version of the Fenix 3, ideally designed that want to fuse fashion with fitness, with the Sapphire HR adding in a wrist-based heart rate monitor to the mix.

The design is large, weighty and rugged, but with the range of colors on offer you’re going to get a real sense of the premium quality it brings - and for the higher price, that’s to be expected.

The metal-strap versions are weighty and aren’t as useful for fitness - you’ll want to swap them out for rubberised versions for a more comfortable experience - but it’s certainly robust.

The Sapphire HR model’s heart rate monitor uses tech we've seen in other watches like the Forerunner 935 and we found it to be a touch hit and miss in our tests - so you’ll need to think about bringing a chest strap into the mix if you want true accuracy.

Comparison to Fenix 3

The Fenix 3 lacks the sapphire glass on top (as you might imagine) compared to the more premium version, and is a lighter and more easily-wearable… wearable.

The price is also cheaper, due to the lack of premium materials used (comparatively, the Fenix 3 is still very well made) but beyond that there isn’t a great amount of choice.

It’s mostly in the colors that the differences lie: with the Fenix 3 you’re only getting the gray or silver models, but with the Fenix 3 Sapphire you’re treated to gray, rose-gold or titanium, with a selection of bands changing the way it looks.

Should I buy it?

The Fenix 3 Sapphire is a strong watch that packs in loads of great choice - but make sure you can get it for a good price.

The main reason you’d go for it is the aesthetics… the rose gold color is really popular, and can’t be found easily elsewhere in the Garmin ecosystem. It is an older watch though, so look for some good deals before deciding over spending a bit more on a newer model - if you can find the heart rate bundle for under £300 / $400 you’re onto an absolute winner.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.