The Garmin Venu 3 is a superb premium smartwatch. It’s aimed less at the fanatical athletic performance crowd, and instead offers the best interpretation of wellness data I’ve seen on a Garmin so far, and a great alternative to Oura and Whoop. However, most features are available on rival Garmins such as the Forerunner 265 and Vivoactive 5.
- Great wellness features
- Premium build
- Superb battery life
- Lightweight sports metrics
- Some patchy sleep data
- Not as slick as Apple Watch/Samsung
Rather than an all-action sports watch, the Garmin Venu 3 is a wellness-focused smartwatch, with some decent elite athletics features. It puts much more emphasis on your daily life and metrics than it does on sports tracking.
Many people will come to the Venu 3 because of the Garmin brand, but while it has plenty of sports tracking skills, it’s basic compared to Forerunners, Fenix, or other dedicated sports watches. Here’s my full review.
Design and screen
- Both 45mm and 41mm cases available
- AMOLED touchscreen
- Sports three physical buttons
Available in two case sizes, the standard Garmin Venu 3 features a 45mm case that comfortably fits a male wrist. Additionally, there’s a smaller 41mm Venu 3S variant designed with women in mind, although many will find the standard 45mm fits nicely.
The Venu 3 boasts a vibrant 1.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, sporting a 454×454 resolution that offers excellent readability for the wellness widgets and workout data that dominate the UI.
Constructed with stainless steel, the Venu 3 has a high class and quality feel. The finish isn’t as opulent as the stainless steel Apple Watch models, but it boasts an overall premium package.
On the right-hand bezel, you’ll find three physical buttons, rather than the standard five on sporty Garmins. It might take a little adjustment to get used to this control scheme. The top button grants access to sports profiles and apps, the middle button leads to recent apps and widgets, while the lower button serves as the back function.
It offers full touchscreen functionality, allowing you to access wellness widgets and recent apps by simply swiping from the main watch face. All menus can be navigated and selected through touch interactions.
Software and features
- Can display notifications from paired smartphone
- Android users can make and receive calls on watch
- App support limited compared to Android and Apple
The Garmin Venu 3 can display notifications from a paired smartphone, although you can’t easily tame the number buzzing the wrist, and so I quickly turned this off. Being able to exclude apps would be a welcome addition.
For Android users, the Venu 3 allows you to make and receive calls directly from your wrist, and speak to your phone’s voice assistant.
The Venu 3 gets access to the Connect IQ Store. While it’s not quite an app store, it offers a wealth of additional data fields, widgets, and watch faces. This means access to music streaming services like Spotify, and you can sync playlists for offline listening during runs.
Garmin Pay is available on the Venu 3, but it’s worth noting that bank support is somewhat more limited compared to services like Apple or Google Pay.
Notably, the Venu 3 lacks an LTE version, preventing users from going completely untethered.
In summary, the Garmin Venu 3 offers a commendable array of connected features. However, it still falls behind competitors like the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 6 in this regard.
Fitness and health tracking
- Over 30 sports tracking modes
- Fitness analysis remains basic
- Greater focus on wellness than sports
The Garmin Venu 3 comes packed with a wide array of fitness features. There are over 30 sports tracking modes, including running, cycling, swimming, and golf tracking, with the addition of new modes tailored for HIIT and cardio workouts.
But those looking at the Venu 3 must understand that while it’s a versatile smartwatch capable of tracking lots of sports, it doesn’t cover any in detail.
For instance, when it comes to run tracking, you’ll see basic metrics such as pace, distance, and calorie burn. It can monitor your heart rate zones – but that’s about it and less than what’s available on the Apple Watch SE.
Fitness analysis remains basic, although VO2 Max estimations and recovery advice are presented among the wellness stats widgets. I did enjoy the summaries of my workouts via the new Workout Benefit screen.
The Venu 3 lacks multiband GNSS, which affects its accuracy in areas with tall buildings and dense tree cover. This is available on the slightly cheaper Forerunner 265, which reiterates that it’s a better choice for runners.
However, after conducting several runs and comparing it to the multiband-powered Apple Watch Ultra 2, I found that GPS accuracy on Venu 3 was generally excellent for most types of sessions.
I also assessed the new Elevate 5 heart rate sensor, a feature inherited from the Fenix 7 Pro. It performed impressively, even when compared to a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap. Heart rate readings during steady, tempo, and high-intensity runs were consistently within 1 bpm of the chest strap across high-tempo 5K and 10K runs, making it easily recommendable.
Cycling statistics are on the basic side, but swimming enthusiasts will find a comprehensive set of metrics, including stroke detection, length tracking, and SWOLF scores. While more basic than Garmin’s dedicated Approach golf watch range, golf tracking offers access to a complete catalogue of 40,000 preloaded courses, providing distances to the green’s front, middle, and back.
The Venu 3 centres on health and wellness tracking, more than its emphasis on fitness. It’s been updated to include ECG, so users can perform spot checks for signs of Afib. It’s only been released in the US, Vietnam, and Hong Kong so far, but ticks a big box for those considering the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch for health features.
Swipe up or down from the main watch face and you’ll get a series of health widgets, covering everything from steps and heart rate to stress, energy levels, recovery times, workout details, active minutes, HRV Status breathing rate, and more.
The revamped user interface on the AMOLED display with ‘live’ animated widgets provide you with real-time insight into your current wellness status. That really elevates from the Venu 2 and older Garmin devices. This enhances the usability of features like stress tracking, which I previously found lacking in practicality.
Garmin has also given its Body Battery feature a makeover, which monitors your energy levels and now has the ability to ‘recharge’ after rest. And this finally makes this feel more useful and relevant as a stat to keep an eye on.
Additionally, the inclusion of HRV Status, an analysis of heart rate variability, aims to provide insights into your need for rest. However, interpreting this data may be challenging for individuals with less understanding of heart rate variability – and it’s a poor cousin of Training Readiness that doesn’t make the cut (and is available on the impressive Forerunner 265).
The ability to track respiration rate through a widget is a notable addition, as it can serve as an early indicator of illness. However, while baseline data generally aligned with the Whoop 4.0, the Venu 3 didn’t detect or display an elevated respiration rate when I had a chesty cough (which was apparent on Whoop), which is concerning.
The Venu 3 is a top wellness watch that feels more useful than previous attempts by Garmin. It outperforms the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch in this regard, but should be noted that most of these features appear across the Garmin range.
The enhanced sleep monitoring feature debuted on the Venu 3, and it can track daytime naps and incorporates the Sleep Coach, which analyses your sleep history to provide personalised advice on sleep needs. Compared to the Whoop sleep coach, Garmin’s recommendations are more attainable and presented more simply.
But I did find some accuracy issues. It tends to provide more generous sleep duration estimates than devices like Whoop, Fitbit, or Oura. I did find some instances where the Venu 3 recorded sleep while reading before bed or lying in having a morning coffee, which is concerning.
However, the sleep was responsive to the quality of sleep, and I noticed factors such as alcohol consumption or disruptions in sleep patterns have a dramatic effect. So, it’s still a useful tool, even if there are some issues to iron out.
- Battery life lasts up to 14 days between charges
- With all features active, battery lasts 10 days
- 10-minute charge provides 20% battery
The Garmin Venu 3 boasts an outstanding battery life, and this is where it really competes with the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch.
Garmin claims that the Venu 3 lasts 14 days between charges. Even with all features active, including the always-on display, I managed to achieve approximately 10 days of battery life.
The Venu 3 charges rapidly, providing roughly 80% charge within about an hour and even a quick 10-minute charge got me over 20%. The standard Garmin charging cable connects to the back of the watch, but it tends to come loose easily, which can be somewhat frustrating.
The GPS battery life varies depending on the selected mode, but with maximum accuracy (All Systems GPS), it consumed approximately 5% per hour during a run. This translates to around 20 hours of continuous GPS tracking on a single charge, aligning with Garmin’s estimates.
Should you buy it?
You want the best Garmin smartwatch going
The Garmin Venu 3 is visually a cut above, and has top heart rate and GPS performance, along with an excellent battery life.
You want a running watch
Runners should immediately go and buy the Forerunner 265 now, as it offers a superior range of features for such use.
The Garmin Venu 3 is a top smartwatch with a focus on wellness and some solid sports tracking too. Heart rate and GPS accuracy is faultless, and this is a solid watch for those people who like to workout, but don’t need loads of metrics or analysis afterwards. Battery life is excellent, but as a smartwatch, it can’t compete with the likes of the App Store and Apple Pay.
The biggest competition comes from Garmin’s own stable. The Forerunner 265 is a much better option for runners – and the Vivoactive 5 is simply a less premium looking version that offers most of the same features at half the price.
But if you’re looking for a smartwatch that puts you in tune with your health, and proper battery life, the Garmin Venu 3 comes highly recommended.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry-standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main tracker during the testing period
Thorough health and fitness tracking testing
You might like…
No, there is no mapping feature on the Garmin Venu 3 smartwatch.
Yes, the Garmin Venu 3 does have a touchscreen, allowing you to navigate the watch with prods and swipes.