Garmin Fenix 3 HR Review

Garmin Fenix 3 HRThe Garmin Fenix 3 HR is a great and much needed upgrade to already successful Fenix 3 and in this iteration brings to the table an onsite class leading heart rate sensor and a flotilla of band color variations. And good news for existing Fenix 3 owners is they will receive a slew of software updates, which we’ll get into later on in this review of Fenix 3 HR. The HR sensor plopped into the back of the Fenix 3 is no ordinary one and is the Elevate optical heart rate sensor introduced this past fall.

With the Elevate HR sensor onboard, the Fenix 3 is not only track heart rate data for most types of activities it is able to complete this task round the clock as part of its continual HR monitoring and recording feature. The integrated heart rate sensor does of course make the Fenix 3 HR a bit heavier than the non-HR version, 6 grams to be exact, but regardless still showcases a robust build and eye catching appeal.

Garmin Fenix 3 HRThe battery life of the Fenix 3 is also a bit lower than its predecessor, trimming down from 20 hours to 16 hours in regular GPS on mode and from 50 hours to 40 hours in UltraTrac GPS mode and from 6 weeks to 3 weeks in the 24/7 non-GPS watch mode. Although the Fenix 3 can be currently had in just a glorious grey color variant, it can also be ordered in a bundled version that comes with a HRM-RUN HR strap.

The big question you probably have at the moment is why do you need to pair the Fenix 3 with a heart rate strap when it comes with one built in? Well, that’s simply because some metrics can only be determined by a higher level of detail available only with HR straps. These include stress score, performance condition, lactate threshold, vertical ration and stride length among others. Adding to this, you may need to pair the Fenix 3 HR with a separate strap such as HRM-TR or HRM-SWIM when in swimming mode.

What’s in the Box?

Watch Only

  • USB/Charger cable
  • User guides
  • AC adapter with plug
  • Fenix 3 HR
  • Black silicone band

Bundled Version

  • HRM-Run
  • User guides
  • AC adapter with plug
  • USB/Charger cable
  • Fenix 3 HR
  • Black silicone band

Highlights of the Fenix 3 HR

  • Integrated heart rate sensor
  • Fitness tracking features
  • Class leading battery life
  • Sunlight readable proprietary Garmin Croma display
  • outdoor navigation features such as barometer, altimeter, 3-axis compass and TracBack feature

New Software for Existing Fenix 3 Users

Garmin Fenix 3 HRBefore getting into the features of the Fenix 3 HR, it is best to highlight the new software update existing Fenix 3 users will receive. The update will add a plethora of new features and sports profiles such as a sports mode for stand up paddleboarding, last bike/run/swim widget, a Do Not Disturb feature and a My Day widget.

Fenix 3 HR Features and Design

The newest feature and biggest and only sizable difference between the Fenix 3 HR and other the Fenix 3 is the addition of a heart rate monitor. This significant integration means that you no more have to wear a chest strap to keep track of your heart rate during several activities. Adding to this, integrated HR monitoring also saves you a considerable amount of money invested in an additional device.

Garmin Fenix 3 HRGarmin has recently ditched the Mio heart rate sensor for its proprietary Elevate heart rate technology. In addition to tracking sleep patterns and counting steps, on the wrist heart rate monitoring provides accurate calories burned information, and measures the intensity of your fitness activities. The Forerunner 225 is the only other Garmin fitness watch to be embedded with Elevate HR technology, and although an excellent fitness watch does fall short of featured when compared with the Garmin Fenix 3 HR.

The older versions of the Fenix 3 HR were undoubtedly chunkier, and this latest version is too but only a bit more refined. This GPS fitness watch is appointed with a 1.2 inch Chroma color screen and its waterproof rating has significantly increased from 50 meters to an astounding 100 meters, making it perfect to wear while swimming deep in the pool or other extremely water activities including snorkeling.

The case of the Fenix 3 HR is embedded with five buttons two on the right and three on the left of the face. Scrolling up and down and controlling the backlight can be done with the buttons on the left, while start and stop activities with the top right button and the lower right button can be used to set lap times during activities or move back through menus.

Garmin Fenix 3 HRApart from the ability to track the activities of the Fenix 2, the all new Fenix 3 HR now supports open-water swimming, indoor running (non-GPS), trail running, hiking, snowboarding, paddleboarding, indoor and outdoor biking and XC skiing. The Fenix 3 HR can connect to a wide range of bicycle power sensors, foot pods and even external thermometer owing to ANT+ technology. When successfully paired, these sensors add even more detail to the already comprehensive activity data mix.

With Garmin’s LiveTrack feature, users can share their activities with family and friends through the Garmin Connect app or Garmin Fit. To do this, you simply need to add the email address of the people you’d like to share your data with and upon accepting your invite will be able to see your average speed, distance travelled, time on a specific activity and even amount of elevation gained and your location in real time.

Garmin Fenix 3 HRThe Fenix 3 HR also sports the popular “Move Bar”, which alerts you to get up and move when you’ve been idle for over an hour. The all new Garmin Connect IQ Store even allows you to download and install third party apps that simply add much even more functionality to the Fenix 3 HR fitness watch. With previous versions of the Fenix 3 HR, located proper satellites took more than a minute to connect to, but that’s considerably expedited to a few seconds thanks to the stainless steel EXO antenna.

When paired with a compatible smartphone such as Android or IOS, the Fenix 3 renders useful notifications such as email, text, call alerts and app notifications right on your wrist.

Pros of the Fenix 3 HR

  • Integrated class leading HR sensor
  • Supports a wide range of activities including snorkeling and paddleboarding
  • Wi-Fi and ANT+ compatible
  • IQ store for supported third party and Garmin apps
  • Waterproof up to 100 meters

Cons of the Fenix 3 HR

  • a bit pricy but well justified considering this is an all n one fitness tracking watch

Final Thoughts

The Fenix 3 HR is a beautiful, robust and efficient fitness watch and probably the best Garmin has designed and manufactured until now. It arrives with everything you need to get started including a slew of features to support almost any activity you have in mind. The Fenix 3 HR fitness watch allows you share your data with your friends and family and even your location in real time. If you’re looking for a fitness tracking watch that is serious an all-rounder including an onboard heart rate sensor, the Fenix 3 HR won’t disappoint.

Physical & Performance

Physical dimensions1.77″ x 1.77″ x 0.46″ (45 x 45 x 11.7 mm)
Display size, WxH1.23″ (31.1 mm) diameter
Display resolution, WxH215 x 180 pixels
Color display
Weight1.5 oz (42 g)
BatteryRechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life11 hours training, 9 days watch + activity tracking + notifications + heart rate
Water rating5 ATM
High-sensitivity receiver
Smart notifications (displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone)
Vibration alert
Music control
Find my phone
VIRB® control
Watch functionsIncludes date and alarm

Maps & Memory

History200 hours of activity data

Running Features

V02 max estimate
Recovery advisor
Race predictor
Accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod)
Personal records

Cycling Features

Bike speed/cadence sensorYes (optional)

Performance Features

Heart rate monitorYes (wrist-based)
Foot podYes (optional)
Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed)
Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap)
Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout)
Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts)
Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace)
Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal)
Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals)
Heart rate-based calorie computation
Calculates calories burned
Training Effect (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness)
Customizable screen(s)
Shock Resistant

Activity Tracking Features

Step counter
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)

Garmin Connect™

Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data)
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer)


  • Connect IQ™ app support: Yes
  • Wrist-based heart rate: Yes

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