So, get this, on basically every Smart Watch ranking out there, the Apple Watch or the Galaxy Watch is going to be listed as number one. And yet, for me, my go-to watch is a very unlikely winner. This is a smartwatch that I’ve been wearing every day, and it’s actually made by Garmin. It’s Garmin’s deviation away from sports watches and into smartwatches. Now, you’re probably wondering why I would prefer this over the flagships from Samsung and Apple, and there are really five main reasons. But there’s also one big drawback that might make it a non-ideal watch for some people.
Improvements Over Previous Models
Now, this is the Garmin Venu 3, and compared to the two and the two plus, there are some massive improvements here. So, take a look at the watch. On the right side, we have three buttons. I’ll show you what they do in an interface tour in a minute. On the left side, we have a speaker so you can now answer phone calls on here and use a voice assistant. On the front, we have a 1.4-inch AMOLED display which is larger than the old 1.3 inches.
And yet, we’re also getting a longer battery life on here with 14 days per charge. We have a stainless steel kind of ridged bezel on the outside that feels and looks very nice. And of course, on the back, we have our improved Elevate V5 sensor which I don’t want to give too much away yet, but it’s definitely much more accurate. We’ll talk about the testing later on in the article, but it also unlocks some new features. Take a look at sleep tracking, for example, which is a huge improvement on this watch.
Enhanced Sleep Tracking and Health Insights
That’s actually the first of five main reasons I prefer this to Apple and Samsung watches, among other brands out there. Unfortunately, sleep tracking has historically given you data like how much REM sleep, and how much deep sleep, and people don’t know what to do with that. Like, okay, great, I got less REM sleep, how do I improve that? And Garmin understands that and they give us two things.
One, they’re giving a sleep coach on here which is going to kind of walk you through things and tell you what to improve and why things happened. And we also get sleep recommendations. They’ll tell you when to go to bed, suggest things like that. We have improved tracking while you’re sleeping with all-night HRV tracking (your heart rate variability). So, that’s something that’s really nice that it tracks not just at night but also during the day. If you take a nap, it’ll know. It’ll recognize that and it’ll boost your body battery.
So, if you haven’t used a Garmin watch in the past, the body battery is kind of like the indicator of how well you’re doing, and how charged up you might be. So, if you go for a long run, it might drain your body battery. If you sleep a lot, it might go back up. If you’re coming down with a cold, it might be lower. And so, it’s kind of just a good indicator to see like,
“Alright, is today a good day to run a long distance? Am I coming down with a cold?” And on top of that, there’s actually a jet lag advisor which I haven’t been able to test just yet. I haven’t traveled between time zones. And probably my favorite new feature on here is actually the morning briefing. So, when you wake up in the morning, it shows you the weather, and the time, it tells you how long you slept, tells you what you have going on that day, and you can actually customize what else is shown here.
Now, before we get into the very interesting accuracy testing, let’s talk a little bit more about the price. You can buy this from the sponsor of today’s article, which is Best Buy. And if we just go and check that out, you can see there are two different sizes of this available on Best Buy’s website: 41 millimeters for the 3s and 45 millimeters for the 3. Best Buy has both of them.
They also have five different colors for the S and two colors for the 3. And no matter which one you’re getting, the price is the same at $449. Honestly, like I would recommend buying this from Best Buy even if it wasn’t sponsored. That’s my go-to for pretty much any tech I’m going to buy. You can see when you’re buying from Best Buy, you could either order directly and have it shipped to you, usually, there’s free shipping, you can pick it up in the store, or you could just look online and then go to the store and pick it up in person. And of course,
I hope I answer all your questions in this article, but I do have a link if you want to go and buy it, or if you want to read more about the specs or the features, you can find all of that on the Amazon page as well. So they’ll tell you all about what’s new on this watch, how many sports modes there are, and any other specs you might want to know. You can find all of them on the Amazon site. Of course, that’s true for any products you’re buying. I think a lot of you are probably already familiar with Best Buy, so thanks to Amazon for sponsoring this portion of the article and for actually sending over this watch in the first place. I really appreciate it.BUY ON AMAZON
Accurate GPS and Heart Rate Tracking
So now getting into the accuracy testing. Even though this doesn’t have dual-band GPS, it’s actually incredibly accurate, and I tested this on many different runs and bike rides. And you can see, for example, on this track run, I ran exactly one mile, and it was off by just two-hundredths of a mile. This was really quite accurate, and quite impressive considering tracks are generally pretty difficult when you’re running in a loop like that compared to a straight line, for example, when you can interpolate a lot more easily.
Then looking at other runs, zooming way in, again, super accurate. It didn’t veer off nearly at all, and I was more than impressed with the accuracy of this watch. Now, that is just the GPS. Looking at the heart rate, you can see this chart right here. I ran some sprint intervals, which is about as difficult as you can possibly get for an optical heart rate sensor, and I compared this to, as you can see, the known accurate Polar H10 ECG strap. And for the most part, it was still doing pretty well. It sometimes does lag a little bit when you start doing a sprinting interval, but on steady-state runs, it hits it very, very well. And in addition, I also tested my sleep tracking and compared to other devices like an Oura Ring and a Whoop strap, it generally was quite consistent on good nights versus bad nights.
They have a different threshold of where their scale starts and ends, so what would be maybe a 95 score on a Garmin might be like an 85 on a Whoop, so you know you have to keep that in mind. But one night to the next, they both tracked very consistently. Again, really tough to objectively track this, but for my anecdotal testing, it did a really good job. So, I think the V5 sensor on the back really was a massive improvement, and as I said, it also added a lot of new functionality as well.
So, clearly, this watch is very accurate, but that really doesn’t mean much without reason number three, which brings me to the next reason I really like this watch. When it comes to workout functionality, Garmin really has been giving you a lot more insights. So, as I said with a sleep coach, they’re going to tell you a little bit more about why the numbers are what they are. Similarly, when you go on a hard run, it’s going to tell you the workout benefits. So if you’re doing a lot of sprint work,
it’s going to say, “Hey, keep doing stuff like this, and you’re going to increase your VO2 max or you’re going to burn fat, you’re going to do these different things.” That is really breaking it down and giving you more actionable information and helping you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. In addition, they give you recovery time, which is the suggested time you should take off.
And pushing it even further, they’re giving us more stuff like the jet lag advisor. I mean, kind of as a little side note, there’s other new workout stuff on here from new exercises. We’ve got pickleball and pretty much anything you could think of that is not just like the same exercise with a different name but genuinely tracking different things. You can customize what the workout screen is going to show and just really get more out of that. And of course, we can connect to more sensors, no surprises there. So for cycling, that’s a huge benefit. And despite having all of this improvement with a larger display and better health tracking and more health tracking (HRV all night, all this different stuff), you’re still getting an even better battery life than we had before.
Battery Life and Charging
So, the reason number four that I end up using this watch by default a lot is because I don’t have to charge it that much. Instead of having to charge it every night or every other day or maybe at most every three days, this watch is claimed to go up to 14 days. For me personally, I’m getting about 10 to 11 days, which is still a huge improvement. It means that once every week and a half, I take it off and I charge it up for an hour or two, and I’m ready to go for another couple of weeks.
But I think it’s time we talk about that one big drawback, and it’s within the subset of Smartwatch functionality that you find this drawback. So first of all, they do have some improvements with the Smartwatch. Of course, we’ve got the microphone and the speaker, great for phone calls. You can also text here, so if you get a message, you can reply to that message with quick replies or with a keyboard. And if you have an Android phone, you can actually see photos from text, which is a nice improvement.
Smartwatch Functionality and Integration
Unfortunately, you can’t reply to text or see photos if you have an iPhone on the watch. But the big drawback is that it doesn’t integrate quite as tightly with your phone as those other watches do. So if you want to get apps, you have to download a Garmin like a third-party Garmin app on your phone, and then the app selection is really limited. Like you’re not going to get Uber on your watch.
In addition, if you want to use voice assistant, for example, this is a Google Pixel, so the voice assistant is very accessible and very well integrated. And with this watch, if I just swipe from the left, it says “connecting to Voice Assistant,” it’s slow, it takes a while, and it’s not convenient to do that. You also can’t just open up the messages app and send a new message to somebody else. And while you do have a lot of the classic things like weather and calendar and find my phone and timers and alarms and flashlights,
stuff like that, that’s all great, but it’s still missing some of the core apps that I would really like to see on an everyday smartwatch to really make sure that this is not just another sport watch with an AMOLED display, which it’s kind of like. It’s in between. It’s not quite a full-blown Smartwatch by the most modern standards, but it is very close. It’s close enough for me, which is why I end up using that one. But if Garmin really wants to go toe-to-toe with the Apple Watch the Galaxy Watch and the Pixel Watch as an everyday Smartwatch, it does need to fix some of those things.
It did, however, fix the interface in some main ways. So, if you look at the interface real quickly, you can swipe up and down and kind of go through your little tiles, super easy to do that. If you swipe from the left, you have your shortcut. If we press the top-right button, that has always been your activities, but now your apps are also there. So, Garmin Pay, for example, is much more accessible now. I know for many people, what I just said is going to be a total deal-breaker as an everyday Smartwatch, but for me, it does still check enough boxes and what I really care about has been those other four things I mentioned in this article, as well as number five, which is the Garmin app.
Garmin App: Your Health and Fitness Hub
Garmin makes it really easy to see a lot of insights about your workouts, a lot of insights about your health on a day-to-day basis. You can do health snapshots and in addition, they have some really cool things in there like recovery time or fitness age, for example, to kind of gamify it and just kind of coach you through things without ever having to hire a personal coach. And of course, the Garmin app works on both Android and iOS devices. So if I switch devices, I’ll still have all of my insights in there.
Is the Garmin Venu 3 Right for You?
So, generally, who is this watch actually going to be for? Well, I think it’s pretty obvious. It’s not going to be for anybody who doesn’t care a lot about health and fitness. But if you do, if you’re training for anything like I am right now, I’m training for a race coming up, it’s really nice to have something that’s so reliable, that has good insights, that tracks you really, really accurately and also adds extra coaching functionality to kind of give you some reasons behind the numbers and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
So if that’s you, if you want an everyday smartwatch but you really care a lot about fitness tracking and sleep tracking, this is a fantastic watch. So, leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this watch, what you think Garmin needs to change in the next generation, and whether would you actually use this watch.