Reviews - January 29, 2024

Garmin Venu 3 review: This (expensive!) watch tracks your workouts expertly, but it also tells you when to rest.

As SELF’s Fitness Director, I many Since I have a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, I know I have a few basic necessities. The device must accurately measure distance, speed, and heart rate during exercise (no GPS lag!). It’s ready to use and operates intuitively. You can sync seamlessly with your phone without any troubleshooting.

But if you’ve read our list of the best fitness trackers, you’ll know that there are: too many A model with additional features that help you better understand your body. The new Garmin Venu 3 smartwatch ($450, fits firmly into this camp. The brand promises to “give you a more complete picture of your health.” But can it deliver on its ambitious and holistic promises? We grouped together a sample to find out. Read the full review.

How I Tested It

I based my review of the Garmin Venu 3 on criteria recommended by SELF’s expert panel. These criteria focus on things like ease of use, distance and heart rate accuracy (among other metrics), battery life, and special features. I wore the smartwatch for over a month and only took it off when needed. That means I showered and slept with it on my wrist. I tested the Venu 3 during a variety of workouts, including outdoor and treadmill runs, strength training routines, indoor cycling sessions, and yoga classes.

ease of use

To me, a watch should be ready to use right out of the box, without any special instructions. So I pay particularly close attention to things like intuitive setup and (lack of) learning curve.

First Impressions

When I unpacked the Garmin Venu 3, I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty it looked. I tried it in French Gray (a bright mushroom color with gold accents) in the smaller 41mm case size (perfect for smaller wrists). And I thought it looked a lot more stylish than other devices I’ve tested (including one of my favorites, the Garmin Forerunner 265, which has a decidedly more rugged look).

Like its predecessor, the Venu 2, the latest version is a combination of a touchscreen and physical buttons, which we think is the best of both worlds. It’s easy to scroll through the screen, and the Venu 3 has three buttons that can come in handy when your agility is compromised (for example, when you’re running in cold weather with gloves on and need to mark lap intervals).

watch face

You can use preloaded watch faces or choose your own in the included Garmin Connect IQ app. I chose the latter and picked a busy face that showed a ton of metrics including time (of course), date, battery, heart rate, steps, and a fun little bar chart showing my step count. Last 7 days.

One of the great things about Venu 3 is that everything is very intuitive right from the start. Pressing the top button takes you directly to the exercise menu. Swipe up or down to see a breakdown of all your key information. In addition to the metrics mentioned above, my custom lineup includes total number of runs per week, body battery (which Garmin calculates for how much energy you have during the day), sleep score, recovery, and phone notifications. Touching one of these will take you to a separate screen with more details. I really appreciate it because I often have to go to the app to get that information.