Garmin Fenix 3 review

Fantastic fitness watch comes at a price

Garmin Fenix 3
Garmin Fenix 3

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Top marks for collecting data then, but can you actually do anything with it? Enter Garmin's well-established Connect app for iOS and Android, which syncs to your Fenix 3 via Bluetooth. You can use it to store your course routes and times as well as download watch face widgets (there aren't many, but they're all interesting to test out).

Garmin Fenix 3

Past activities like runs, hikes and swims are all easy to sift through and look back on, and there's an impressive level of detail here. The overall dashboard that keeps an eye on steps or sleep is more rudimentary and won't have you ditching your Jawbone or Fitbit just yet.

There is some attempt to give you coaching advice - the daily steps goal is automatically adjusted based on how you've been doing lately - but by and large the data analysis is left up to you. This is by no means a problem unique to Garmin though, and it's something that most wearables and associated apps can all get better at.

Garmin Fenix 3

The watch and app are very good at tracking where you've been and how you've done, with goal achievements and personal bests popping up on screen as and when you hit them, and you can go back and edit stats as well as share them with friends through the integrated social elements.

One feature we did like was the ability to set routes and waypoints before you venture out and then see if you can hit them along the way - the smart timepiece will even guide you if you go off course. It means you're not just stuck retroactively reviewing your past performance but can set detailed targets for your next adventure in the hills.

Garmin Fenix 3

There's also a clean-looking interface for reviewing your statistics from the comfort of a Web browser. With a wealth of export and review tools, it puts the likes of Google Fit to shame, though all that data can get a bit overwhelming unless you know how to act on it. If you want as much detail as you can get on your running, cycling, swimming and hiking, Garmin Connect has you covered.

Extra features

Smartphone notifications are fairly basic - any app can send you alerts, but only a few (including texts and emails) can be shown on screen. There are no options to reply or interact with notifications so this is very much a one-way, read-only system. It's handy, if you want it, but it's hardly a key selling point.

Garmin Fenix 3

You can also monitor steps, distance, sleep and calories as with any other fitness tracker - what's more the Fenix 3 buzzes if you've been sat in the same place too long. 

Step tracking is very accurate but sleep is a little hit-and-miss: it only records how much you moved around, and you don't really want to go to bed with something this size on your wrist anyway.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.