Finis Smart Goggles review

Accurate smart swimming goggles with some disappointing display problems

Finis Smart Goggles
(Image: © Michael Sawh)

TechRadar Verdict

The Finis Smart Goggles are connected goggles that carry the promise of tracking swims and displaying progress in real time, so you don’t have to wear a watch and break your stroke to check your progress. While they work reliably on the tracking side of things, the display isn't the easiest to see. They offer rich stats in its companion app, but the cheaper, more feature-packed Form smart swimming goggles will give you a better all-round experience.

Pros

  • +

    Accurate swim tracking

  • +

    Swim data nicely presented in app

  • +

    Compatible with third party apps like Strava

Cons

  • -

    Digital display was hard to see during swims

  • -

    Flimsy charger

  • -

    Slightly awkward to turn off

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Two-minute review

The Finis Smart Goggles can be connected to a small module that fits into the corner of one lens, and tracks swimming metrics like laps, stroke type, splits and rests. It also packs in a digital display that you can use to keep a close eye on performance and receive feedback during your swim.

From a tracking accuracy point of view, the goggles perform very well, reliably capturing data like distance, pace, rest time on par with Garmin and Coros pool swim tracking. It also offers a nice breakdown of sets, recognising swim strokes in the companion app.

Sadly, while tracking seemed reliable, the experience of trying to glance at the tiny display wasn’t great and as a result didn’t feel very useful to have at our disposal during swims.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

The companion Ciye app isn’t the best-looking, but it does present your swims nicely and does offer the ability to connect to third party apps like Strava, Swim.com and Apple Health.

The smart swimming experience overall though isn’t perfect and feels limited in comparison to Form’s Swim Goggles (opens in new tab), which offer a vastly superior display, a slicker app and compatibility with third party devices like the Apple Watch, Garmin watches and Polar’s OH1 heart rate monitor. It now has a workout subscription service too.

If you really want a pair of smart swimming goggles, grab the Form ones instead and in return you’ll get something that delivers on all fronts.

Price and availability

The Finis Smart Goggles (opens in new tab) are currently only available to buy in the US, Australia and Canada, but the company plans to roll them out in further markets later. Price-wise you’ll have to pay $235 / AU$350, which is pricier than rivals like Form and its Smart Swim Goggles, which come in at $199 / £199 / AU$265.

Design

Out of the box, these smart goggles look like pretty regular goggles. You can pick them up in white/smoke or with blue or mirror lenses, but the design and the way the smarts are applied remain the same across all models.

You’ve got five different size nose bridges to ensure you get a good seal and fit and they’re easy to slide into place. The strap is adjustable though we found it a little on the long side, though it didn’t get in the way during swims.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

You also have the tiny tracking module with the built-in display, which fits inside the left goggle lens. Once it’s in, there’s a raised button on the top of the goggle gasket you can press to start tracking. There’s also two small charging points where you can magnetically clip on the charging cable, so you don’t need to take it out when it needs powering up.

That little tracker is powered by a company called Ciye (opens in new tab), which stands for Coach in Your Eye. Ciye and Finis don’t specify what sensors are packed in here to track swims, but we do know they are capable of tracking splits, laps, rest time and swim time. Post-swim, you can also see pace, lap details, total swim time and rest time. They work in open water too, though currently they can only capture swim time if you're not in a pool.

That tracker can only sit on the left side of goggles, and while you can use it in a different pair of goggles, they have to be another pair of smart goggles, which will cost you $35 a pair.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Packed onto the outside of the Ciye tracker is a small digital display, again with no details on resolution, but it’s a very simple OLED-style black and white display with room to show around four or five words at one time.

From the Ciye companion phone app, you can adjust where the text is positioned on the screen to get a comfortable view, and turn the screen brightness down or up along with choosing what to show on that display, so you can prioritize laps, swim time or sets. You can also enable a shorthand display mode if you don’t want to fill the small screen with a lot of text.

The goggles themselves feel well built overall. They weren't bulky to wear in the pool, and didn't create any horrible drag in the water. It was good to see some extra lens protection thanks to the added chemical-resistant anti-fog coating as well. It's a shame that you can't move the tracker to the other side of the goggles though, and that it won’t work with non-Finis goggles.

Performance

So how well do the Finis Smart Goggles perform when it’s time to get tracking? Well, we’d say there’s some good and some bad news.

We’ll start with the good, and that’s the reliability of the tracking. First, you have to choose to add pools to the phone app to make sure data is accurate. You can add and edit pools to make sure the precise distance is covered and change from metres to yards or vice versa, but that does all need to be done from the app.

Then, when it’s time to start, you simply hit the button on top of the goggles and get swimming.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

One issue we found, though, is that it’s not easy to simply turn off the goggles. You have to wait 10 minutes for them to shut themselves off and it’s easy to accidentally start tracking a swim when you don’t mean to.

We pitted it against the swim tracking modes on the Garmin Enduro and the Coros Pace 2. Two sports watches we’ve found pretty reliable in terms of tracking pool swims. All of the stats you’ll get here are pretty standard ones you’ll find on most swim tracking watches, but things like distance, pace, recognizing rest times seemed very reliable in our testing. 

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Once you’re done swimming, hit that button again to end the workout, and if you’ve got your phone nearby, you can sync the swim over to the Ciye app. In that app you can see a more detailed breakdown of your swim including seeing individual strokes and breakdown of a performance. If you want to send your swim data to other apps, you can connect it to Strava, Swim.com and Apple Health.

Outside of showing your swim tracking history and unlocking some basic achievements, there’s not a huge amount to revisit the app for. You can add other Ciye users to your tracking community, but you can’t do things like create or follow workouts, which would be a useful feature to incorporate here.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Now onto the bad stuff, which is centered around the display. It’s a small screen for starters, which is designed to let you glance at and not dominate your vision and possibly prove to be a distraction as you swim.

One fundamental flaw we discovered despite using the screen positioning feature in the app and turning the screen up to full brightness, if you don’t have perfect eyesight, it can be hard work to see that display.

We wear glasses and contact lenses, both of which have to come off before entering the pool, and we found it difficult to see the screen clearly enough to soak up real-time stats and feedback. Even a very deliberate squint made it so difficult to view the stats, and put us off our swim. Playing around with the screen positioning and nose bridges didn’t really address this issue for us either.

Finis Smart Goggles

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Thankfully, the screen doesn’t get obstructed by water and there’s a small notification light that faces you as opposed to others to let you know it’s tracking. The screen simply wasn’t big enough, sharp enough or clear enough. If your vision is fine, you’ll likely have no problem here, but that simply wasn’t the case for us.

On the battery front, it’s a good experience. Finis claims they should last anywhere from four to six hours and for a 40-minute swim, we saw a battery drop-off of just 2%. Though we did find on the odd session that the battery drained dramatically, for the most part that seems to be caused by the goggles not shutting down properly and trying to force a connection to our phone.

The battery should last through solid week’s worth of swims, though it’s not without its issues. When it is time to charge, we’d definitely have preferred a less flimsy cable that's harder to knock out of place.

Buy it if

If you want goggles that can track your swims
Finis promises that its smart goggles will accurately track pool swims, and for us they did. All those stats are presented nicely inside the companion app, too.

You want smart goggles that are easy to use
The Finis goggles are extremely simple to use, and syncing them is nice and snappy too.

Don't buy it if

If you want the best smart swim goggles out there
Form’s Smart Swim Goggles are cheaper, and give you a better display, more features, workouts and richer compatibility with third party devices.

You don’t have the best eyesight
As glasses-wearers, we really struggled to get a good look at the built-in display, which is disappointing when its tracking skills generally impress.

Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specializes in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he also co-ran the features and reviews sections of T3, and has a long list of bylines in the world of consumer tech sites.


With a focus on fitness trackers, headphones, running wearables, phones, and tablet, he has written for numerous publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men's Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff, and has appeared on the BBC Travel Show. Michael is a keen swimmer, a runner with a number of marathons under his belt, and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.