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.
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.
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.
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.
On the back of the watch there is a four-pin charging connector.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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$, Fenix 3 Sapphire — 530$.
- the possibility of detailed determination and analysis of results;
- GPS tracking;
- flexible configuration of network applications;
- secure execution.
- Few functions for interacting with a smartphone.