Garmin Fenix 3 vs Garmin HR vs Garmin Sapphire

garmin fenix 3 vs garmin sapphire vs hr

We couldn’t be more impressed with the incredible features and overall quality of the Garmin Fenix 3 range of hiking watches. In fact, the Garmin Sapphire topped out best hiking watch review!

In this article we’ll take a careful look at the comparisons between the Fenix 3 Standard, the Fenix 3 HR and lastly the Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire.

The first thing to note about Garmin, is that they simply rule the world of wearable navigation. The Suunto watches come close but Garmin leads the way in 2016.

First Look

The Garmin Fenix 3 standard is an older model but the HR and the Sapphire that are practically identical except for these key features. You’ll find that the Garmin Sapphire comes in 5 variations whereas the HR and the standard have only 1. This does not mean you can’t “upgrade” you’re strap at a later stage.

In terms of navigation, Garmin uses GLONASS as well as GPS for more accuracy and broader range. Let’s check out some differences.

The Fenix 3 Standard


As the older model of the family, you’ll notice small changes in ergonomics of the design on the other two newer models. These are improvements made in response to the feedback from customers who have bought the Fenix 3 Standard. For this reason alone we’d strongly consider looking at the 2 newer models.

The Garmin HR


The HR has a built in heart rate monitor below the body which makes contact with your wrist to track your heart rate.

The Garmin Sapphire


In our opinion, this model is the perfect watch for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities.

Watch Strap

There are 5 options available in various combinations. However, the most common model is the dark grey metal strap combined with the dark metal watch body.

garmin fenix 3 sapphire range

The metal strap can be professionally adjusted to fit perfectly which is a great additional feature. We love the look of the strap. It’s tough and elegant at the same time. The alternative plastic or leather straps might be better for excessive sweating and other extreme sports.


Garmin has incorporated their advanced Sapphire technology for a stronger, more scratch resistant glass. We have not found any issues with the other models though, but tougher is certainly better.

Watch Interface

Being a smart watch, you can switch between a large range of screens and face designs.



The “time face” can be customized to suit your exact desire, from digital to analog including some very modern designs compared to the classic look faces also available.

Activity Tracking

This tracks general movement steps. This also shows calories burned and overall distance travelled. You can set a goal for the day and a blue tracking bar will give you your progress.


You can access the compass screen at any time. (Without enabling GPS) This beautiful clear face is highly responsive and the great thing is, you don’t have to keep your wrist perfectly horizontal like with a magnetic compass.

The Altimeter

The built-in altimeter measures elevation of your hike with a trailing graph. It’s highly accurate and is beneficial when hiking outdoors along mountain trails and uneven topography.


Here you have a barometer which completes the trio of the ABC watch features (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass)


This monitors temperature from your wrist, although you can also use Tempi to accurately measure temperature of the environment.


A clear display shows the temperature as well as the high’s and low’s for the day. It also includes precipitation. This information is being pulled from the internet via the connection with the smart phone. You can check forecast for the next few days or see a more detailed weather screen which shows hourly forecast if needed.


This syncs with the smart phone calendar and shows upcoming appointments.


Your smart watch can show notifications straight from your smart phone. These include emails, facebook notifications, text messages, etc.


Great Video Showing Differences between the Garmin Sapphire and the Standard model Hiking Watch

For further reading we suggest the article by DCRainMaker. We hope you enjoed our quick overview of the differences between the Garmin range of outdoor watches.

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1 Comment on "Garmin Fenix 3 vs Garmin HR vs Garmin Sapphire"

  1. What is the difference between Fenix hr 3 and Fenix hr sapphire

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