Size: 45mm, 41mm
Display: Touchscreen AMOLED
Battery life: 15 days (26 hours GPS)
Durability: 5 ATM
Compatibility: iOS, Android
There are excellent smartwatches and excellent fitness trackers, but there are very few devices that are equally excellent as both. In terms of fitness-tracking smartwatches, the $449 Garmin Venu 3 strikes a solid balance of convenience, intuition and accuracy.
Building on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Garmin’s latest lifestyle flagship introduces quite a number of upgrades across all areas of wellness. Nap-tracking and a new sleep coach work on tracking your rest while daily summaries offer behavioral insights. An abundance of sport profiles, added Recovery Time suggestions, and on-watch interval creation keep you tuned into your activity, while a Guided Meditation feature leverages the Venu 3’s built-in mic for doses of mindfulness.
While it’s giving you real-time guidance on how to most efficiently sleep and exercise, the Garmin Venu 3 stays powered for up to two weeks. That’s a tough estimate for even the best smartwatches from the big names to match, but of course, there’s more to gauging the wearable experience. This Garmin Venu 3 review has everything you need to know about whether it’s the right smartwatch for you.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Price and availability
The Garmin Venu 3 is available now for $449. That’s the same price as the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, but up $50 from the standard Venu 2 that launched in April 2021. It appears you can still purchase both the Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2 Plus, though I’d only recommend doing so if you can find them at steep discounts.
I tested the Garmin Venu 3, which measures 45mm. Garmin also offers a Venu 3S model, with the ‘S’ indicating a smaller 41mm watch face. Both models cost the same and offer practically identical specs (minus battery life, details below) so it simply depends on your sizing preference.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Design
The Garmin Venu 3 is pretty indistinguishable from the Garmin Venu 2, as well as the original Garmin Venu before that. The Venu family is Garmin’s flagship for the lifestyle category of devices — a.k.a. not niche-specific devices like the Forerunner, Approach, Instinct watches. With its round face, trio of side buttons and shiny hardware details, it looks most comparable to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
All three buttons trigger different controls, with the top opening a quick menu of workout choices and apps, the middle showing recently used apps, and the bottom acting as a back button. A long press of each button launches more features, such as the voice assistant and setting menus. This smartwatch also operates via touchscreen, but the buttons are still necessary for navigation.
As for the display, the Garmin Venu 3’s color AMOLED screen has multiple brightness levels and an ambient light sensor that can adjust the brightness based on your environment. It also has an always-on display option, though it’ll cut into battery life. And even then, the display isn’t as bright as the MIP display on the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro. But having tested the watch in a variety of “normal” lighting conditions, the Venu 3 fared just fine.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Fitness and health tracking features
The Garmin Venu 3 has all the fitness-tracking basics. Step counts, move goals and stairs climbed tracked my normal activity, while more advanced workout features promoted effective exercise. With dozens of built-in workout types (including some that show form animations), I had no struggle finding the presets I needed for a variety of activities including walking, swimming, biking, strength, and tennis. There’s even a pickleball option, for those who have taken up the trendy sport.
Of course, you can also run with the Garmin Venu 3 and learn how to run a 5K or how to train for a marathon using the Garmin Coach’s free adaptive training plans. That said, the Garmin Forerunner 265 is the best running watch for the same price, with added control buttons and the fan-favorite Training Readiness feature. If running is simply a slice of your workout behavior, though, the Venu 3 might have more of the versatility you’re looking for while still supporting VO2 and on-watch interval workout creation. In my experience, the GPS loaded up in seconds and accurately tracked all my outdoor exercise, so that’s not a concern if you’re deciding between the two watches.
Recovery is a much bigger priority on the Garmin Venu 3 than it was on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. Now, my Body Battery reading offers deeper insight into the factors that impact my score. The ELEVATE V5 optical heart rate sensor monitors your heart rate and HRV around the clock to provide guidance on behavior. For example, on a busy work day that I didn’t get up from my desk much, the watch alerted me that I should try to move a bit before going to sleep. Otherwise, the handy Health Snapshot feature can give you a full overview of what’s going on with your body in just two minutes. (Side note: it baffles me that the Apple Watch hasn’t copied this feature yet.)
As part of recovery, the new sleep coach on the Garmin Venu 3 provides a Daily Summary with recommendations based on your sleep trends and recent activity. On my normal routine, my sleep coach told me my “needs” align with my normal baseline of eight hours per night. But the idea is that if I exercised or strained myself excessively on a given day, the coach might suggest more rest. Alternatively, if the new nap-tracking feature detects I got meaningful zzz’s in the middle of the afternoon, the coach could say I’ll get by with less shuteye overnight.
Compared to sleep tracking from other smartwatches I’ve tested, the Garmin Venu 3 is one of the only ones that detects when hours of sleep doesn’t necessarily mean I had restorative sleep. In fact, after a particularly stressful day, my Venu 3 said in my Morning Report that my eight hours of sleep was non-restorative, earning a dismal 50 sleep score and 30 Body Battery reading. In my experience, only the Oura Ring Gen 3 similarly knew when I had an off day and needed to prioritize recovery.
Some other health-tracking tools available with the Garmin Venu 3 are menstrual tracking, pregnancy tracking, hydration tracking and even a jet lag management feature. I didn’t necessarily need these to be part of my daily routines, but they’re there if they matter to you.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Smartwatch and connectivity features
The Garmin Venu 3 looks to keep you more connected than some of the brand’s sportier watches thanks to a built-in microphone and speaker. With Android and iOS phone call support, making and answering calls from my wrist was a breeze. The voice assistant, which I set up with Siri via my iPhone, let me carry out some simple commands, too. New for the Venu 3 is the audible Meditation Activity, which guides you with cues to follow, instead of needing to keep an eye on your wrist while you’re trying to calm your mind.
I like how the speaker can play music out loud, too. The watch can store playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music and more. Garmin Pay, mirrored notifications, calendar alerts and tools like timers are also integrated into the user experience. More programs can be installed with the Garmin Connect IQ store, though the third-party app selection is extremely limited compared to the watchOS and Wear OS wearable app stores. I find Garmin Connect IQ is primarily useful for exploring 100s of watch faces, if the dozen or so built-in options aren’t to your liking.
Another way the Garmin Venu 3 might lack appeal compared to the Galaxy Watch and Google Pixel Watch, and Apple Watch is the continued lack of LTE support. Garmin doesn’t make connected smartphones like many other top smartwatch manufacturers, but it still feels like something Garmin should work towards introducing if it wants the Venu 3 to steal some Apple, Samsung and Google customers.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Battery life
Battery life is a big reason I enjoyed my Garmin Venu 3 testing experience. The Venu 3 has up to 14 days of battery life, while the smaller Venu 3S gets up to 12 days. Throughout testing, I haven’t needed to recharge it once. That said, I opted out of using the always on display mode, which cuts the battery life back to 5 days. Either way, I appreciated not needing to bring the charger with me when I went out of town for a weekend.
Compared to my other favorite long-lasting smartwatches, the Venu 2 Plus falls between the Fitbit Sense 2 (6 days) and the Garmin Forerunner 265 (15 days). Continuous GPS use will cut down on your battery life estimate, with the Venu 3 lasting up to 26 hours with GPS-Only GNSS or 20 hours with All-Systems GNSS.
Garmin Venu 3 review: Verdict
The Garmin Venu 3 is the Garmin watch that best rivals the likes of the “smart” smartwatches such as Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch and Pixel Watch. Though it lacks enough third-party apps and LTE, the built-in mic/speaker makes the watch as convenient as any. Pair that with thorough fitness tracking and recovery features, and the Venu 3 is an easy smartwatch to recommend.
I will say the price similarity between the Garmin Venu 3 and Garmin Forerunner 265 may complicate the choice for those runners in the market for a smartwatch. I’d say that for training or goal-oriented needs, the Forerunner is the best option. But for a more versatile experience, the Venu 3 is hard to beat.