When it comes to portable gad­gets, one of the first lead­ers in smart brands will prob­a­bly be Garmin — the Amer­i­can com­pa­ny has long been a rec­og­nized author­i­ty among man­u­fac­tur­ers of devices to accom­pa­ny an active lifestyle. This review includes the com­pa­ny’s most advanced sports smart­watch­es. The gad­get is com­plete­ly stuffed with sen­sors and wire­less mod­ules and has many func­tions to help with train­ing, var­i­ous sports, and even for nav­i­ga­tion dur­ing hik­ing or moun­taineer­ing trips.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire Specifications

  • Screen: trans­flec­tive TFT, 1.2”, 218x218
  • Built-in mem­o­ry: 32 MB
  • Wire­less inter­faces: Blue­tooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, ANT+
  • Sen­sors: barom­e­ter, altime­ter, dig­i­tal com­pass, ther­mome­ter.
  • Nav­i­ga­tion: GPS, GLONASS
  • Bat­tery: 300 mAh
  • Dimen­sions: 51x51x16 mm
  • Weight: 85 grams

Packaging and equipment

The watch is packed in a black card­board cube box. In fact, there are no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion marks; brand­ing is done using an out­er case made of thick glossy paper. Inter­nal man­age­ment pro­vides a clock, charg­ing cred­it, pow­er lock, mul­ti-coun­try plug selec­tion, and doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Appearance

Fenix ​​3 is avail­able in two-tone solu­tions: black and gray, sol­id or with a sil­ver bezel. The Sap­phire ver­sion adds a white case and rose gold bezel option. Such watch­es look very “lux­u­ry”, but the direct pur­pose of the gad­get is to be ben­e­fi­cial dur­ing moments of increased phys­i­cal activ­i­ty — the option does not seem very prac­ti­cal.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Most of the round case with lugs is made of plas­tic, but there are also met­al ele­ments: a bezel, a but­ton and a small pan­el on the back of the device. Inter­est­ing­ly, the bezel mount­ed around the closed let­ter glass, although made of a sol­id met­al ring, has a mat­te out­er cir­cum­fer­ence and a glossy inner one. It’s unusu­al and beau­ti­ful.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The watch is con­trolled using five but­tons, all of which are locat­ed around the perime­ter of the case. Fur­ther, indi­cat­ing the main func­tion­al but­tons are trans­formed on the out­er ring of the bezel, and icons indi­cat­ing addi­tion­al action but­tons are on their ends.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

On the back of the watch there is a four-pin charg­ing con­nec­tor.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The mas­sive body is sealed and pro­tect­ed from water up to 10 atmos­pheres: you can safe­ly swim and dive in them with­out fear for their per­for­mance, but you can­not use them while div­ing.

Garmin offers a vari­ety of strap options in dif­fer­ent col­ors and mate­ri­als, includ­ing sil­i­cone, met­al, and cas­ing. If none of the stan­dard col­ors suits you, you can buy any suit­able strap of a suit­able size: the design body allows for their replace­ment.

Ergonomics

A watch with a sil­i­cone strap does not feel heavy and your hand does not get tired. How­ev­er, the body of the gad­get itself is quite bulky and will not fit every wrist, and a woman’s chair can take over the post of pres­i­dent. When buy­ing, you should keep this in mind and be sure to try on the “watch”, and not pur­chase only based on attrac­tive tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The qual­i­ty of the sil­i­cone strap is excel­lent: it is very soft and does not put pres­sure on the case, it is pleas­ant to wear. But a white strap, again, is not very prac­ti­cal — it will grad­u­al­ly lose its col­or, espe­cial­ly with con­stant wear and an active lifestyle.

Screen

The Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sap­phire watch has a 1.2‑inch TFT dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 218x218 pix­els, and it is trans­flec­tive. In an exam­ple, this means that if there is suf­fi­cient out­door light­ing, it does not require room light­ing. There is a sep­a­rate but­ton to turn it on, but the func­tion can be reas­signed to any oth­er. There is no auto­mat­ic wrist rota­tion when turned on.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The screen matrix uses MIP (mem­o­ry pix­el) tech­nol­o­gy, which allows you to main­tain a con­stant image with min­i­mal ener­gy con­sump­tion; more of it will be con­sumed only when draw­ing a new one.

The image qual­i­ty is quite enough to use the watch for its sport­ing pur­pose: the dis­play dis­play is high enough, the image is clear and smooth. At the same time, the con­trast and view­ing angles of the screen are very mediocre. The matrix is ​​not mono­chrome, but the num­ber of col­ors dis­played is lim­it­ed. All this does not mean that the gad­get has a bad screen: Garmin Fenix ​​3 is a smart­watch of a dif­fer­ent class and pur­pose than most mass mod­els; reli­a­bil­i­ty and low pow­er con­sump­tion are at the fore­front here.

The dis­play on the Fenix ​​3 Sap­phire ver­sion, as the name sug­gests, is cov­ered with extreme­ly scratch- and abra­sion-resis­tant “sap­phire crys­tal”. Do not for­get that such glass remains frag­ile and still requires care­ful han­dling.

Names

Since the dis­play clock is not touch-sen­si­tive, all con­trol is done using but­tons. The top left one is respon­si­ble for the back­light and pow­er of the device, two alarms are for open­ing the menu and mov­ing through its items. There is a sup­port but­ton at the top right, and a return but­ton at the bot­tom. You can nav­i­gate wid­gets direct­ly from your home screen. Their default selec­tion is quite large: the user has access to a com­pass, altime­ter (altime­ter), barom­e­ter, ther­mome­ter (the last three dis­play infor­ma­tion in the form of graphs). Sev­er­al more wid­gets only work when con­nect­ed to a smart­phone — music play­er con­trol, cal­en­dar, weath­er data and alerts. There is also a spe­cial wid­get for con­trol­ling Garmin VIRB action cam­eras.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

To start track­ing data dur­ing a work­out, you main­ly need to press the “Start” but­ton on the screen, then select the type of activ­i­ty — not only sleep or run­ning modes are avail­able, but also swim­ming, cycling and even ski­ing or snow­board­ing. After press­ing Start again, you need to open the appli­ca­tion, and the GPS/GLONASS sig­nal lev­el will be dis­played in the sta­tus bar at the top. As soon as satel­lites are detect­ed, the watch will noti­fy you with vibra­tion and a sound sig­nal: it will appear only once when you press “Start” and begin your work­out. It is, of course, not nec­es­sary to wait for a con­nec­tion with satel­lites, but this increas­es the accu­ra­cy of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion data, and posi­tion­ing thanks to A‑GPS is quite fast.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Each train­ing mode in the appli­ca­tion cor­re­sponds to sev­er­al screens with var­i­ous infor­ma­tion, and their order and con­tent can be flex­i­bly cus­tomized. Con­sid­er­ing the but­ton con­trol, this may take some time, but once you have con­fig­ured the gadget’s inter­face, you will be able to use it with max­i­mum com­fort in the future.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The Fenix ​​3 does­n’t just have the stan­dard clock func­tions — alarm, stop­watch and timer. Among the many pos­si­bil­i­ties, there is one rather mys­te­ri­ous one — using the method of sun­set or sun­rise for a peri­od set by the user.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

You can also acti­vate the smart­phone search with the watch: it starts ring­ing the far door as soon as the cor­re­spond­ing func­tion is acti­vat­ed on the Fenix ​​3.

To turn off the device or block the but­ton from acci­den­tal press­es, you need to hold the pow­er but­ton for a few sec­onds and then select the desired menu item.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The device in operation

When con­nect­ed to a com­put­er, the Fenix ​​3 smart­watch uses flash stor­age tech­nol­o­gy. All ser­vice files are pub­licly avail­able on it, but, of course, you should not save them, at least if this is not required to fol­low any instruc­tions from the man­u­fac­tur­er. The total mem­o­ry capac­i­ty in the watch is 32 MB, of which 23.5 MB is avail­able for installing pro­grams and stor­ing data.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

To con­trol the device from a PC, use the Garmin Express pro­gram. Essen­tial­ly, this appli­ca­tion is required one time — to set up a wire­less con­nec­tion in the watch via Wi-Fi, so that in the future they can down­load updates and syn­chro­nize with the cloud ser­vice with­out using a com­put­er or smart­phone.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The main tool for ana­lyz­ing train­ing and sports activ­i­ty is the Garmin Con­nect web­site. Its inter­face is a set of pan­els that dis­play wid­gets with var­i­ous infor­ma­tion. The choice of wid­gets is huge: they pro­vide sta­tis­tics on var­i­ous para­me­ters, infor­ma­tion about dura­tion and loca­tions, dis­play changed data and a lot of oth­er use­ful infor­ma­tion. The num­ber and sequence of pan­els, sets of wid­gets, their appear­ance and dis­played infor­ma­tion can be cus­tomized by the user to his lik­ing.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

The Garmin Con­nect ser­vice is also avail­able for mobile devices — in the form of appli­ca­tions for the Android and iOS plat­forms. It acts as an alter­na­tive web ver­sion, but none of the infor­ma­tion is avail­able only on the site.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Con­nect includes a built-in Con­nect IQ store that lets you down­load addi­tion­al apps, watch faces, and wid­gets to your smart­watch. Despite the name “store”, all “pur­chas­es” from it are free — just click the “down­load” but­ton on the select­ed page and in a few min­utes it will become avail­able on the watch. There are not so many appli­ca­tions in Con­nect IQ, but there is prac­ti­cal­ly no “garbage” among them — enthu­si­as­tic users are includ­ed, so most of them are unique and con­tain tru­ly use­ful func­tions.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Impor­tant noti­fi­ca­tions, calls, SMS, mail and social media mes­sages can be received direct­ly on the Fenix ​​3, but the watch only allows you to view mes­sages. In order to answer them, you will have to equip your­self with a smart­phone.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Wireless connections

Smart watch­es have received a set of wire­less con­nec­tions that can envy some smart­phones. First of all, this is a Blue­tooth 4.0 LE mod­ule with low pow­er con­sump­tion, with the help of which the gad­get is syn­chro­nized with a smart­phone. To syn­chro­nize with the cloud with­out using a smart­phone, it sup­ports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n in the 2.5 GHz fre­quen­cy band. Fenix ​​3 also has sup­port for the ANT+ pro­to­col, allow­ing you to con­nect var­i­ous sports acces­sories to the watch, such as heart rate mon­i­tors or addi­tion­al pedome­ters.

Autonomous operation

The built-in bat­tery capac­i­ty of Garmin Fenix ​​3 is 300 mAh. Not unlike oth­er “smart” watch­es, with full con­trol, the Garmin gad­get works for a very long time — up to six weeks in watch mode. Of course, it is unlike­ly that any­one will use the Fenix ​​3 exclu­sive­ly in this mode, but even in train­ing mode with the active use of all sen­sors dur­ing bat­tery life it is impres­sive: up to 50 hours with­out using GPS or up to 20 hours using GPS in mode peri­od­ic sur­vey. The watch can last the least in the mode with con­stant use of GPS — the bat­tery is com­plete­ly dis­charged in less than four hours. How­ev­er, the Phoenix 3 is one of the longest-lived watch­es in its class.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gymGarmin Fenix ​​3 Sapphire review: in the forest, in the mountains, in the gym

Results

The Garmin Fenix ​​3 should­n’t be con­sid­ered your aver­age all-around smart­watch. Yes, with their help you can read noti­fi­ca­tions and con­trol the music play­er, but their main (and rich­est) func­tion­al­i­ty is “tai­lored” for lovers of an active lifestyle. For some­one who does not play sports on a more seri­ous and reg­u­lar basis, they are just a beau­ti­ful toy.

But if reg­u­lar train­ing and active, reli­able rest are part of your lifestyle, this watch will not dis­ap­point you: Fenix ​​3 is cur­rent­ly one of the best and high­ly cus­tomiz­able tools for plan­ning and track­ing your phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the best is not cheap: the aver­age price of the reg­u­lar ver­sion of Garmin Fenix ​​3 costs 430$, Fenix ​​3 Sap­phire — 530$.

Pros:

  • the pos­si­bil­i­ty of detailed deter­mi­na­tion and analy­sis of results;
  • GPS track­ing;
  • flex­i­ble con­fig­u­ra­tion of net­work appli­ca­tions;
  • secure exe­cu­tion.

Minus­es:

  • Few func­tions for inter­act­ing with a smart­phone.