There’s a lot of attention on watches at the moment – smartwatches, fitness watches and Bluetooth watches – but one company that’s been around all along is Garmin and its latest Fenix 3 watch is a combination of all of these models.
The Fenix 3 is a rugged sportwatch with GPS onboard and a 1.2-inch display that’s easy to read even in bright sunlight.
The device is aimed at athletes, adventures and anyone who loves the great outdoors.
On the design side, the Fenix 3 is made from stainless steel. It is smart and stylish and, despite the numerous features onboard, is slim enough to be worn under a long sleeved business shirt.
It is controlled using the five buttons on the edges. When we first received the Fenix 3 our first instinct was to tap on the screen and try and scroll through the menu but we quickly discovered it wasn’t a touchscreen.
Navigating the menus required pressing an up and down button on the left side with the select and back buttons on the right.
But when you’re in the menus or in the middle of your activities the next action is only a button press or two away so the fact there is no touchscreen is not a huge issue.
The strength of the device for athletes is the ability for it to be used anywhere – on the road, on a trail and on the water.
Users can choose their activity including running, hiking, skiing, swimming and many more.
It’s completely waterproof to a depth of 100m – something that rival devices like the Fitbit Surge and the upcoming Apple Watch can’t claim.
But one thing these other devices have that the Fenix 3 is sadly lacking is a built-in heart-rate monitor.
The Fenix 3 can track your heart rate but you need to wear a monitor around your chest.
But the strength of the watch is what it can do with your data. This is particularly attractive for athletes and their specialised training methods.
These advanced fitness metrics do a lot more than time your run and plot your course on a map.
With the onboard VO2 max estimator used in conjunction with a heart rate monitor, the Fenix 3 can calculate your running speed, show you your heart rate variability and even tell you the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute.
You can also track changes, fitness gains, compare with your friends and also get an insight into your recovery times.
The onboard GPS has GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) support provides faster location fixes and higher accuracy.
This is useful when you’re starting your activity and can also be used to set markers so you can find your way back on a trail or on a bushwalk.
Also onboard is an altimeter, a barometer so you can keep an eye on the weather and a three-axis electronic compass – tools to help you find your way in any conditions.
It also has Bluetooth so it can link smartwatch-style to your smartphone – iPhone or Android – to relay messages and emails.
And of course the Fenix 3 connects to your smartphone through the Garmin Connect app or the browser-based dashboard to track your information and your activities.
The Connect IQ platform is also a way to customise the Fenix 3 with apps, widgets and watch faces.
The battery life will change depending on what you’re doing with the Fenix 3.
It will last for up to three months in watch mode, up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode and 16 hours in full GPS mode.
The Fenix 3 from Garmin is a serious watch for serious users who don’t want to compromise what they’re doing to make up for the shortcomings of a device.
This device allows those users to venture far and wide and be provided with accurate information about they are doing and where they are while at the same time proving an easy way to view all of your notifications.
If you’re an adventurer, an athlete, an explorer or just love the outdoors – the Fenix 3 is the watch you should have on your wrist.
Garmin Fenix 3