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Garmin Venu 3S evaluation: proper options, fallacious value

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You possibly can count on three issues from a Garmin: lengthy battery life, sturdiness, and extra health information than is strictly mandatory. 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 so much 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 should utilize 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.

If this had been about $100 cheaper, I’d say Garmin’s rivals (cough Fitbit cough) needs to be nervous. Because it stands, I’m having a tough time getting over the worth — even when it checks off a variety of the fitting 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 obtainable had been exorbitantly priced with a so-so characteristic set. So I’m happy that the Venu 3 sequence is a pleasant mixture of affordability, enjoyable styling, and luxury.

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The Venu 3 sequence is available in two sizes: the 41mm Venu 3S and the 45mm Venu 3. I’ve acquired smaller wrists, so I opted for the 3S. My evaluation unit has a gold stainless-steel bezel with a pinkish-purple case and strap. It’s recent and enjoyable with out being too garish. Generally with extra colourful watches, you need to 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 a good choice 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 midst of the evening both.

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

The colour choices on the Venu 3S are recent 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 typically do 30 to 60 minutes of day by 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 relating to 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 power 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 couple of years again, nevertheless it’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 is useful even when the watch itself doesn’t have LTE. I additionally suppose it’s the fitting 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 funds trackers have opted for prior to now.

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

In any other case, the sensible options are pretty fundamental. You get the everyday 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 acquired 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, nevertheless it’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 characteristic 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 might 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 often muck up these restoration metrics — particularly since earlier than the Venu 3 sequence, Garmin units couldn’t even account to your naps!

The brand new Sleep Coach characteristic 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 so long, so I’m glad it’s right here now. I take a variety of naps in the course of the busy tech evaluation season, and for essentially the most half, the 3S did a great job of catching after I snuck in some further Zzz’s. I wouldn’t say it was excellent. There have been a couple of instances the place it was somewhat off when it comes to period in comparison with my Oura Ring Gen 3. However general, it was ok 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, nevertheless it does make Garmin’s information simpler to visually digest.

Outdoors of sleep monitoring, the Venu 3 sequence additionally introduces audio guided meditation classes. I’m typically not a fan of those sorts of options, nevertheless it’s effectively achieved. You possibly can select a mantra that you just stick into your telephone, audio tracks, and an general theme whereas watching a guided visible on the wrist. It’s a great 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 provide comparable options on their units, and it’s good for skeptical of us like me to see how meditation classes affect your metrics. (That stated, I’m nonetheless unlikely to make use of this characteristic continuously.)

We’ve acquired 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 characteristic. I attempted it on the Venu 3S, and I used to be unsurprised to see that it detected no indicators of AFib. That stated, when you’re in fine condition and haven’t any recognized danger components, this isn’t essential characteristic. 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 techniques as a substitute of simply GPS. It’s not the extra correct dual-frequency GPS you’ll discover on the Fenix 7, 7 Pro, or second-gen Epix watches, nevertheless it’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 Ultra 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 when you primarily run longer distances, like half marathons or marathons. For people who prioritize GPS, I’d think about the Forerunner 265 as a substitute because it’s the identical value however comes with dual-frequency GPS.

These are what I discover to be essentially the most significant updates. However I’d be remiss if I didn’t observe that regardless of this being a life-style Garmin, this has a buttload of coaching options, too. You get Garmin Coach, which presents free and downloadable coaching plans for operating and biking. You get Physique Battery, which is Garmin’s metric for visualizing how a lot vitality you might have on a given day. You possibly can broadcast your HR to varied health club tools, 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, nevertheless it’s way 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 Series 9 is identical value, whereas the LTE variations of the Google Pixel Watch 2 and 40mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 price $400 and $270, respectively. The non-LTE variations of all three watches will be had for much less. In the meantime, the Venu 3S doesn’t have the potential for LTE, so its principal 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 explicit Garmin is aimed.

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

The in any other case glorious Venu 3S can also be a sufferer of Garmin’s bloated product lineup. I’ve stated it numerous instances, however Garmin may 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 comparable product that prices the identical, and there are a handful of other lifestyle Garmins that price a lot much less that might additionally enchantment to potential Venu 3 customers.

So who is that this for? Garmins are typically a greater match for disgruntled Fitbit customers. The characteristic set and battery life are comparable, as is the general concentrate on health over smarts. The value disparity can simply be robust to swallow. The Fitbit Sense 2, for example, is the priciest Fitbit, has an identical characteristic set, barely higher smarts, and you may typically discover it on sale for round $250. Garmin’s principal benefit right here is best construct high quality, no Google or server shenanigans, and no paywalled options.

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

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