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Garmin Venu 3S review: right features, wrong price

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You may count on three issues from a Garmin: lengthy battery life, sturdiness, and extra health information than is strictly crucial. All that’s true of the $449.99 Venu 3S. However in comparison with the corporate’s beefy multisport watches that is, technically talking, Garmin’s most smartwatch-like watch.

That’s not a excessive bar to clear, however there’s lots to love right here. There are new coronary heart fee sensors which help EKG readings for atrial fibrillation detection. Garmin has additionally added a extra superior sleep coach and, lastly, nap detection. On the wellness entrance, it consists of audio meditation classes. And just like the Venu 2 Plus, it additionally has a mic and speaker so you need to use your telephone’s voice assistant. The Venu 3 sequence can also be the primary to introduce a wheelchair mode. There are a number of design tweaks and a few extra premium options which have trickled all the way down to the Venu 3 sequence — all of which add as much as a greater general expertise from its predecessors.

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If this had been about $100 cheaper, I’d say Garmin’s rivals (cough Fitbit cough) ought to be nervous. Because it stands, I’m having a tough time getting over the worth — even when it checks off plenty of the appropriate bins.

Lengthy lasting, sporty stylish

A number of years again, each Garmin leaned closely on rugged, chunky design sensibilities and black or neon colours. The few stylish choices accessible had been exorbitantly priced with a so-so function set. So I’m happy that the Venu 3 sequence is a pleasant mixture of affordability, enjoyable styling, and luxury.

The Venu 3 sequence is available in two sizes: the 41mm Venu 3S and the 45mm Venu 3. I’ve obtained smaller wrists, so I opted for the 3S. My evaluate unit has a gold stainless-steel bezel with a pinkish-purple case and strap. It’s contemporary and enjoyable with out being too garish. Typically with extra colourful watches, you must make a tradeoff for extra formal occasions. You don’t actually have to do this right here. I used to be in a position to put on this to some enterprise occasions, and there are extra muted shade choices that also have a trendy aptitude. The 1.2-inch OLED show is crisp, and you’ve got an honest number of watchfaces and problems to select from.

The 3S can also be slim and cozy to put on, measuring 12mm thick and weighing 40g with the strap. I examined this watch all through the autumn and had zero points with the case catching on my numerous jacket sleeves. I by no means had the urge to tear it off in the course of the evening both.

This isn’t the hardiest Garmin, however that’s advantageous because it’s clearly aimed toward extra casual-to-intermediate customers. I’m not significantly mild with my units and this factor survived a number of bouts towards my kitten’s fangs. I wouldn’t advocate it if you happen to’re partaking in excessive sports activities or susceptible to whacking your units towards door jambs, however you’re advantageous for on a regular basis exercises.

The colour choices on the Venu 3S are contemporary however muted sufficient for on a regular basis put on.

Battery life was additionally on par with what I anticipated. The 3S will get 9 to 10 days on a single cost the always-on show disabled. With it on, that’ll drop to round 4 to 6 days, relying in your utilization. (I usually do 30 to 60 minutes of each day GPS exercise on the best GNSS settings when testing, with all notifications enabled.)

Extra wellness than smarts

Garmin watches are good, however they’re extra just like Fitbits than the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch on the subject of smarts. They’re health trackers which have some sensible options, and the Venu 3S has greater than most Garmins.

The principle factor that makes the Venu 3 sequence sensible is the flexibility to take calls from the wrist and work together together with your telephone’s voice assistant over Bluetooth. This was launched on the Venu 2 Plus a number of years again, but it surely’s nonetheless not one thing you’ll discover in Garmin’s product lineup outdoors these three watches. All of it works effectively. Calls sound clear, and it turns out to be useful even when the watch itself doesn’t have LTE. I additionally suppose it’s the appropriate transfer for a platform-agnostic wearable to make use of your telephone’s voice assistant. It’s much more sensible than Amazon Alexa, which is what Fossil watches, Fitbits, and another finances trackers have opted for up to now.

Just like the Venu 2 Plus, the brand new Venu 3 sequence enables you to join together with your telephone’s voice assistant.

In any other case, the sensible options are pretty primary. You get the standard alarms, timers, calendar, and climate. It additionally helps contactless funds by way of Garmin Pay. However like each different Garmin watch, the third-party app ecosystem is paltry. You’ve obtained Spotify for offline playlists, however the Garmin Join IQ retailer isn’t wherever near what the Apple App Retailer or Google Play Retailer has to supply. Garmin has a bunch of third-party integrations with outdoorsy apps like Strava and Komoot, but it surely’s not fairly the identical factor.

The place the watch shines is in its mixture of wellness options. Significantly with regard to sleep monitoring — an space the place Garmin has tended to lag behind the competitors.

Sleep Coach is a brand new function that contextualizes your sleep information by factoring in your nightly coronary heart fee variability (new to the Venu 3 sequence), age, exercise historical past, and any naps you may need taken. That’s a giant deal, since a lot of Garmin’s platform facilities round coaching and your physique’s bodily readiness to tackle extra pressure. In my expertise, Garmin’s so-so sleep monitoring would sometimes muck up these restoration metrics — particularly since earlier than the Venu 3 sequence, Garmin units couldn’t even account on your naps!

The brand new Sleep Coach function contextualizes your sleep information and considers components like naps and exercise into your general sleep want.

It’s baffling that Garmin had omitted nap detection for thus lengthy, so I’m glad it’s right here now. I take plenty of naps in the course of the busy tech evaluate season, and for probably the most half, the 3S did job of catching once I snuck in some additional Zzz’s. I wouldn’t say it was excellent. There have been a number of instances the place it was a little bit off when it comes to period in comparison with my Oura Ring Gen 3. However general, it was adequate and I felt extra assured in my restoration and coaching load metrics.

On the wrist, you additionally get extra detailed metrics than earlier than. It’s not a drastic change, but it surely does make Garmin’s information simpler to visually digest.

Exterior of sleep monitoring, the Venu 3 sequence additionally introduces audio guided meditation classes. I’m usually not a fan of those sorts of options, but it surely’s effectively carried out. You may select a mantra that you simply stick into your telephone, audio tracks, and an general theme whereas watching a guided visible on the wrist. It’s use of the OLED show and microphone. I additionally dig that it tracks your coronary heart fee, respiration fee, and the way that impacts your general bodily stress. Oura and Fitbit supply related options on their units, and it’s good for skeptical people like me to see how meditation classes influence your metrics. (That stated, I’m nonetheless unlikely to make use of this function incessantly.)

We’ve obtained Garmin’s newest coronary heart fee sensor array, which now helps EKG and AFib detection options.

It’s additionally encouraging to see that Garmin lately expanded the number of devices that now support its EKG and atrial fibrillation function. I attempted it on the Venu 3S, and I used to be unsurprised to see that it detected no indicators of AFib. That stated, if you happen to’re in good condition and haven’t any recognized threat components, this isn’t a must have function. As for coronary heart fee accuracy, I discovered that it was correct to inside about 5 bpm of my Polar H10 chest strap throughout exercises.

One other neat little replace: the Venu 3S now helps a number of GNSS programs as an alternative of simply GPS. It’s not the extra correct dual-frequency GPS you’ll discover on the Fenix 7, 7 Professional, or second-gen Epix watches, but it surely’s a step up. That stated, I did have some wonkiness in my GPS outcomes early on in testing the place the Venu 3S was a few tenth of a mile off from my Apple Watch Extremely and telephone. That’s not an enormous drawback for informal customers or at shorter distances like a 5K or 10K. It’s extra of a factor to remember if you happen to primarily run longer distances, like half marathons or marathons. For folk who prioritize GPS, I’d think about the Forerunner 265 as an alternative because it’s the identical value however comes with dual-frequency GPS.

These are what I discover to be probably the most significant updates. However I’d be remiss if I didn’t word that regardless of this being a life-style Garmin, this has a buttload of coaching options, too. You get Garmin Coach, which affords free and downloadable coaching plans for working and biking. You get Physique Battery, which is Garmin’s metric for visualizing how a lot power you have got on a given day. You may broadcast your HR to varied health club gear, view HR zones, get restoration time estimates, and think about on-screen muscle maps for power exercises. It’s not as expansive because the top-of-the-line Garmins, but it surely’s rather more complete than what you’ll discover on a Fitbit.

A pricier Fitbit different

The one factor I don’t like concerning the Venu 3S is that it’s $450. The mobile 41mm Apple Watch Sequence 9 is similar value, whereas the LTE variations of the Google Pixel Watch 2 and 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 value $400 and $270, respectively. The non-LTE variations of all three watches might be had for much less. In the meantime, the Venu 3S doesn’t have the potential for LTE, so its foremost benefits are battery life and health monitoring. And with health monitoring, these competing flagships ship a good-enough expertise for the informal customers at whom this specific Garmin is aimed.

Whereas there’s lots to love concerning the Venu 3S, the primary factor I didn’t like was the $450 price ticket.

The in any other case wonderful Venu 3S can also be a sufferer of Garmin’s bloated product lineup. I’ve stated it numerous instances, however Garmin might stand to prune its choices in order that its merchandise aren’t competing with one another. Like I stated earlier, the Forerunner 265 is a really related product that prices the identical, and there are a handful of different life-style Garmins that value a lot much less that may additionally attraction to potential Venu 3 customers.

So who is that this for? Garmins are usually a greater match for disgruntled Fitbit customers. The function set and battery life are related, as is the general give attention to health over smarts. The worth disparity can simply be powerful to swallow. The Fitbit Sense 2, as an illustration, is the priciest Fitbit, has an analogous function set, barely higher smarts, and you’ll usually discover it on sale for round $250. Garmin’s foremost benefit right here is healthier construct high quality, no Google or server shenanigans, and no paywalled options.

It boils all the way down to what sort of Garmin you need to spend money on. For many athletes on the lookout for a less expensive Garmin, the Forerunner watches are probably a greater use of your cash. That is for the Garmin customers who need an itty bitty bit extra sensible performance from their machine — and don’t thoughts paying a premium for it.

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