Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Which rugged GPS smartwatch wins?

The Garmin Fenix 7 and Polar Vantage V3 are two of the toughest-built, GPS-equipped smartwatches on the market today. With long-lasting batteries, access to offline maps, and no shortage of fitness, recovery, sleep and health monitoring features, both are great options for your next outdoor adventure.

These aren't inexpensive devices, mind you. The Fenix 7 is $650, and the Vantage V3 is $600. If you can justify a few more Benjamins, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 ($800) is also worth a look. All three of these devices are amply well-suited for extreme escapades. 

While the Polar V3 is available in just one version, Garmin's flagship adventure smartwatch comes in several different varieties ranging from $650 to $1,000. For this comparison, we're going to focus on the 47mm Garmin Fenix 7 standard edition ($650), which is the same case size as the Polar V3. 

Android and Apple users have access to both the Garmin Connect and Polar Flow apps. And even though the Fenix 7 is almost two years older than the Vantage V3, it supports more smart features, like mobile payment and offline music. But that doesn't necessarily make it the better device. 

So, which is the best smartwatch for you, the Garmin Fenix 7 or the Polar Vantage V3? Read on to find out.

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Price and availability

Polar Vantage V3 on the wrist of our reviewer.

Both the Polar V3 (shown) and Garmin Fenix 7 support offline maps. (Image credit: Dan Bracaglia/Future)

The Polar Vantage V3 was announced in October 2023 and is available now for $599 in Midnight Black, Sky Blue and Sunrise Apricot. The V3 comes with a 60-day free trial of Strava Premium. Users can also download one free region from the route planning app Komoot

The Garmin Fenix 7 was announced in January 2022 and is available now for $649 in Silver with a Graphite band.  

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Specs compared

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Fenix 7Polar Vantage V3
Display size and type1.3-inch MIP 1.39-inch AMOLED
Barometer YesYes
Heart Rate monitorYesYes
SpO2 monitor YesYes
ECG monitor NoYes
Skin temp sensorYesYes
Music storageYesNo
Mobile paymentYesNo
Phone notifications YesYes
Battery Life18 days (watch mode) / 57 hours GPS mode)12 days (watch mode) / 61 hours (GPS mode)
Water resistance 100 meters50 meters

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Battery life and display

The Garmin Fenix 7 boasts an impressive 18 days of battery life in standard watch mode and 57 hours in GPS mode. Also significant, the Polar Vantage V3 offers 12 days of battery life in watch mode and 61 hours when running the GPS in any one of its 150+ activity-tracking modes. 

Both of these devices have 47mm bezels, but the Polar has a slightly larger 1.39-inch screen compared to the Garmin's 1.3-inch display. Each is touch-sensitive and made from reinforced Gorilla Glass. 

However, the V3 sports a brighter, richer and crisper AMOLED screen, while the Fenix 7 uses an older MIP display. Both are viewable in sunlight, but the Polar is definitely a nicer watch to look at. 

Battery life winner: Tie

Screen winner: Polar V3

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Design and build quality

A photo of the button case on the Garmin Fenix 7

The Garmin Fenix 7 (shown) has 100 meters of water resistance compared to the Polar's 50 meters.  (Image credit: Future)

The Fenix 7 and Vantage V3 have matching case dimensions — 47mm in diameter and 14.5mm in thickness — with physical buttons around the bezel. However, the Garmin is noticeably heavier at 2 ounces (watch only) compared to the Polar V3, which weighs 1.4 ounces (watch only). The Garmin also has a noticeably larger bezel.

For wrists smaller than 6.5 inches, both devices may wear large. This is no big deal if you go for the Garmin because the near-identical Garmin Fenix 7S  — also $650 — is 42mm instead of 47mm. You get a slightly smaller screen (duh) and a little less battery life. But it's a great option for folks who don't like oversized wrist candy.

For wrists smaller than 6.5 inches, both devices may wear large.

Garmin has a stainless steel bezel, reinforced polymer case (plastic), and stainless steel back. While the Polar features an aluminum bezel and case with a plastic back. 

Make no mistake, both of these devices are built to take a pummeling, but the Garmin may be a better choice if you foresee a lot of water-based sports and activities in your future. 

Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch rear.

Both devices monitor for serious health conditions. However, only the Polar (shown) is cleared to do ECG readings.  (Image credit: Future)

With 50 meters of water resistance — down from 100 meters on its predecessor — the Polar V3 can be worn for short periods during surface swimming. The Fenix 7, on the other hand, has 100 meters of WR, which is good for hardcore watersports like wakeboarding and jet skiing. You can also safely wear it while snorkeling. 

Design and build quality winner: Garmin Fenix 7 

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Health and fitness features

Garmin Fenix 7.

The Fenix 7 is a better choice for tracking activities like bouldering and standup paddle boarding.  (Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Fenix 7 and Polar Vantage V3 each offer comprehensive, top-of-class health and fitness-oriented features. 

Both devices monitor for serious medical conditions by keeping tabs on heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and skin temperature via dedicated sensors. However, only the Polar V3 performs ECG readings to monitor for potential signs of Atrial fibrillation (AFib). 

While many of the other devices in the Fenix 7 line are cleared for ECG readings by the FDA, the Fenix 7 standard is not. 

The above sensors additionally inform rest and recovery insights for the devices. You can also track menstrual health with the Fenix 7 and Vantage V3, as well as sleep, energy levels, stress and more. 

In terms of sports and activities tracked, both devices cover an impressive array. The Polar technically has a greater number of options at 150+ profiles. However, the Fenix 7 has better support for trendy activities like bouldering, standup paddle boarding and cyclocross. 

The Apple Watch Ultra on a wrist showing the new Map view for hikers.

The original Apple Watch Ultra is a good alternative to either of these devices, especially if you want smart features in addition to fitness ones.   (Image credit: Future)

Post-workout, both the Garmin and the Polar provide detailed insights into your efforts, along with rest and recovery tips. You can also receive daily sleep reports and training suggestions, create your own workout routines and more.  

Similarly, both these devices are as equally well-suited to help you prepare for an ultramarathon as they are to track a multi-day hiking adventure. 

Whichever option you choose, you're getting a multi-band GPS-equipped device capable of pinpointing altitude as well as location. Additionally, both the Garmin and the Polar support offline maps, which is especially handy for trips into the great outdoors. 

Health-tracking winner: Polar V3

Fitness-tracking winner: Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Smartwatch features

home screen on the Garmin Forerunner 965

Other smartwatches worth considering for around $650 include the original Apple Watch Ultra — a better option for those craving smarts and fitness-focused chops — and the running-focused Garmin Forerunner 955 (shown). (Image credit: Future)

If you're looking for a rugged, GPS-equipped smartwatch with plenty of smart features, look elsewhere — neither the Garmin Fenix 7 nor the Polar V3 have all that many to write home about. 

On the Fenix 7, smart features include mobile payment (via Garmin Pay), on-wrist smartphone notification, music control, and, most notably, onboard storage for offline music listening. You can also download a small selection of additional apps and watch faces from the Garmin IQ Store. 

The Vantage V3 also supports on-wrist notifications and music control via Bluetooth. However, that's the extent of its smart features. 

So, Garmin easily beats Polar in the smart features department. However, when it comes to smarts, both fall short of the best smartwatches in 2024, like the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.

Smart features winner: Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin Fenix 7 vs. Polar Vantage V3: Overall verdict

Ultimately, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Polar Vantage V3 have more in common than not, which makes crowning a winner hard. So, let's start with similarities: Whichever you choose, you're getting a 47mm circular device that pairs a well-sized touchscreen with physical buttons around a metal bezel.  

Each boasts fantastic battery life, top-of-class holistic and fitness-based insights, impressive health monitoring tech, precise GPS tracking — with support for offline maps — and massive databases of trackable sports and physical activities.  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Fenix 7Polar Vantage V3
Battery life (15)1515
Display (10)710
Design (10)88
Build quality (20)1815
GPS (10)1010
Health monitoring (10)910
Fitness tracking (15)1413
Smart features (10)74
Overall 8885

What sets the Garmin Fenix 7 and Polar Vantage V3 apart? The Garmin has 100 meters of water resistance compared to 50 meters on the Polar, making the former a better option for water-based usage. The Fenix 7 also supports mobile payments and offline music downloads, niceties missing on the Vantage V3.

The Polar smartwatch, however, has a brighter, crisper and better-saturated AMOLED screen that's easier on the eyes in direct sunlight than Garmin's MIP display. The Vantage V3 is also $50 cheaper than the Fenix 7. Those two points are not quite enough for the V3 to overtake the Fenix 7, though. 

It's a close one, but the Garmin Fenix 7 beats out the Polar Vantage V3 by the skin of its teeth in this head-to-head showdown of the adventure-ready, GPS-equipped flagship smartwatches. 

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.