Garmin Fenix 3 Review

Garmin Fenix 3 Review

The current King of Multisport watches has found its way onto my arm. But how good is it really?


The days of GPS devices that look like computers strapped to your arm are officially over and you realise this as soon as you lay eyes on the Garmin Fenix 3 – ooh la la


garmin fenix 3 06


As Garmin’s highest spec’d watch the features list includes Bluetooth, WiFi, advanced navigation functionality (plus GLONASS), activity and sleep tracking, smartwatch functionality, colour screen… it’s just jam-packed!


I couldn’t help but ooh and aah as I unwrapped the Fenix 3 for the first time. That sexy big-face looked up at me and I was in love. I’ve used it for more than 6 months and I always seem to discover more features hidden within its settings and submenus.


In all honesty, I have my reservations about activity and sleep trackers in general as you find that the novelty quickly wears off after the first few weeks. The only thing that matters to me is that the device is as accurate in the mountains and forests as it is on the road, but activity trackers are an industry standard, so there.


garmin fenix 3 08

All I want to do is go sleep, but I still have 14 steps to reach my target!!!


Here are my thoughts about the Garmin Fenix 3:


What worked

  • The design is smoking hot and it looks good with your running kit or in a suit at work


garmin fenix 3 09


  • The silicone strap is awesome. It fits comfortably and is very durable
  • It’s one of the few devices that can be set up without connecting it to a PC (except if you want to connect it to your WiFi network)
  • Garmin have made it a sports watch first with added smartwatch capabilities. It really is a well-balanced device on that front. Plus Garmin is leading other manufacturers with their colour screens
  • The standard running metrics are great and I’ve almost never needed to customise the default settings for the other sport modes. However, it is very simple to tweak further if you want to get that personalised touch


garmin fenix 3 07


What needs work

  • The watch is aimed at trail runners and other mountain dwellers, yet the bezel seems to be a scratch magnet. The silver bezel hides scratches better, but maybe a knurled bezel like the Suunto Traverse Alpha should be the next design change
  • Syncing activities with the cellphone app can be buggy at times with many people needing to disconnect and then reconnect to the app for it to work. I experienced the same and every few app updates you would see this behaviour return, but then quickly get resolved with another update. I’m happy that the developers are releasing fixes and updates all the time, but maybe it should be more aligned to a delivery schedule as opposed to being sporadic
  • Some of the earlier units experienced a “teleportation” issue where the GPS tracks would just bounce all over the place (see this Facebook thread about it). As luck would have it so too did mine. This leads to my biggest gripe…


garmin fenix 3 01

Last time I checked, I couldn’t fly


  • Garmin South Africa’s customer service SUCKS! Slow responses to emails plus when they finally do respond they spelt my name incorrectly (pet peeve of mine). After sending my watch to them for repairs, all they did was wipe it down and apply a firmware update that got released during the time the watch was in their possession – I could’ve done this myself. I had to send it back to them again with more screenshots of the unresolved issue the very next day after they returned it. They finally decided to send me a new one, but it was like pulling teeth even though my device was still under warranty! These devices cost upwards of R7k – the least they can do is act as if they actually give a toss about their customers <rant over>


The verdict

The poor experience with Garmin South Africa’s Customer Service did make me seriously consider never splashing out the cash on a Garmin device ever again. But in all honesty, I can’t fault the watch – the replacement has been working spot on


It is a great device and, in the time that I’ve had it, I’m yet to uncover all the complex functions nestled within.


As with most Garmin devices, the strength lies in the ability to customise it to suit your personal preferences – from the colour of the minutes on the watch face, to the amount of smart notifications pushed from your phone, to the metrics displayed per sport.


garmin fenix 3 04

Impressive, but what the heck does all of this mean?!?


In all honesty, what we all want is:

  • A solid and reliable multisport device that is accurate in the deepest and darkest places we venture,
  • Bluetooth and WiFi so that we don’t need to plug our devices into a PC to track and analyse our workouts, and
  • Battery life that will make sure we can track our progress until we cross the finish line at any event


The Fenix 3 does all of that plus it looks fantastic.


There is no doubt why it is the current king.


If I have left out anything in particular that you may think is a critical feature/experience that you’ve had with the Garmin Fenix 3, please feel free to comment below.


– Peace



Not just a pretty face






  • Phillip Gibb

    April 12, 2016 at 10:50 am Reply

    Nice, it is a fantastic watch, looks so hardcore it will make me run faster and longer (and higher).
    Does it lets you see notifications from your phone? I wonder how much battery that would kill.

    I was looking at the new HR version of the fenix 3 which I thought would be cool because it did not need a HR strap, but some metrics are not available without the strap, meh.

    If I ever got one it was have to be with Discovery’s 25% off (or did you know Momentum also has a massive discount option) along with a payment plan and insurance. Actually, the only way my wife would let me own this watch is if I won it – yes I made the mistake of letting her see the price. I see that Garmin SA are running a fenix3 competition, hint hint.

    • Fareed

      April 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm Reply

      It let’s you see notifications on your phone even while running. It became a bit much when my arm used to vibrate for a WhatsApp message at the 6km mark. I’ve now got it set to only notify me of calls and meetings.

      The only concern I’ve had over the Fenix 3 HR is the lower battery life due to the HRM adding to the drain. But, if you are cool with charging your watch more frequently then it shouldn’t matter. On the metrics side of things, I’m not too bothered – I’m too slow 🙂

      Just ask the wife to get it as a birthday prezzie lol

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