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Garmin Venu 3/3S Review

When it comes to fitness watches, there are SO many options on the market. Not only that, even within a single company like Garmin there are a LOT of choices!

As a result, it can feel pretty overwhelming when you are in the market for a new fitness watch. It seems like every time I turn around there is someone asking for recommendations…in person, on social media…everywhere!

Whenever I see someone asking what watch they should get? I always recommend the Garmin Venu 3S. You see, I have had mine for about six months, and I am absolutely in LOVE.

I will always take the time to answer the question and give my two cents on why I think the Venu 3S is a great choice.

Garmin Venu 3S Pink Box

Now, I will readily admit that I have had an Apple Watch for years. And when I say years, I do mean years. I got the very first generation/version of it when it came out, and I was a die hard fan.

One of my favorite things was that there were so many ways to use it to be more active. I absolutely loved closing my rings, and as time went on I also grew to love the sleep data that it shared. 

I crashed my bike, wrecked my watch, and bought another instantly. To the point where I showed up at the apple store during COVID and BEGGED them to sell me one even though I didn’t have an appointment.

So, you might be wondering how a girl who was so dedicated to her apple watch, came to enthusiastically recommend the Garmin Venu 3S to anyone who would listen.

In a nutshell? This watch perfectly fits exactly what I need from a watch right now.

Garmin Venu 3S Display Off

It’s more geared towards fitness/well-being, and less focused on notifications and texting. It’s comfortable and so pretty, and fits my active lifestyle so much more.

I want to be less plugged in and more focused on living my life, and the Garmin Venu 3S is the perfect fit for me and where I am right now.

Curious about why I think this is the best fitness watch available? Read on for my detailed review of the Garmin Venu 3S! 


Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • The Garmin Venu 3S is an incredibly powerful, versatile, and customizable fitness watch. 
  • It is very attractive, lightweight, and has great, adjustable strap options. 
  • It comes in 2 different sizes Venu 3 (45mm) and Venu 3S (41mm). I find the Venu 3S to be more than big enough for my purposes and comparable to the larger version of the Apple Watch .
  • The features are nothing short of incredible. You can track EVERYTHING from workouts, to sleep, to stress levels. There is even a fancy sleep coach that was introduced with the 3S that will tell you exactly how many hours of sleep you should get depending on your activity/sleep patterns! 
  • The battery life is awesome. It says up to 14 days – I personally usually get about 7-10 days on a charge depending on my usage. 
  • The watch is very attractive and comes in a variety of colors. I love the way it is round and looks just like a normal watch on my wrist. I should note that some of the more fashionable colors are only available in the Venu 3S (smaller size).  

Cons:

  • The price. This is not the most expensive Garmin watch out there, but it is still an investment. What you get for the price is a good value, however compared to some of the other Garmin watches in my opinion. 
  • Notifications on the Garmin watch are there, but not really in your face. For me this is a plus because I want to be more present in my life and not tied to my watch/phone, but for some who are used to the ease of texting on an apple watch it could be a disappointment. 
  • Learning curve: This watch does take some intentional setup to get it customized the way you like. It’s definitely not as plug and play as an Apple Watch.
  • Garmin watches cannot make calls on your own. If you tend to forget your phone on a long bike ride, unlike some versions of apple watches you cannot have cellular service with your watch alone. 

Price & Where to Buy:


All of the Garmin Features that You Know and Love (as well as some new ones!) at Your Fingertips  

The seamlessness with which the Garmin Venu 3/3S fits into the Garmin world is amazing.

It syncs so easily with my Garmin bike computer, and I love that I have all of the Garmin data right at my fingertips.

I can start an activity right on my watch, and it syncs right up to Garmin Connect which also syncs with my Garmin bike computer.

This is true if I am going for a walk or a hike as well. I can very quickly start the activity on my watch and get moving.

Also, there is SO much data available on the Venu 3/3S and in the Garmin Connect app.

One of my favorite features is the body battery and the sleep coach. This feature was new to the Venu 3/3S. Although, my understanding is that the sleep coach has been pushed out to other versions of the Garmin too!

The sleep coach will tell me how much sleep I should get each night based on how I have been sleeping prior. It also assigns me a sleep score, and my sleep is directly related to my body battery number. The better I sleep, the more recharged my body battery is.

This information is SO helpful when I am deciding what kind of workout I am going to do each day. Additionally, it helps to manage my stress through the day.

Speaking of stress, the Venu 3/3S also measures stress. This is really helpful if you are focused on overall wellness. Managing stress and stress levels is a huge part of increasing your fitness. It is so rewarding to see my stress levels go down after a workout.

Finally, I just was invited to join a beta program on the Garmin Connect app. It asked me what my goals are, what metrics are important to me, and customizes my home screen to reflect this.

The new Garmin Connect Beta Interface/home page.

I love that a company like Garmin is constantly updating its software and technology and pushing these updates out to previous versions of its watches. 

Super Customizable to Fit Your Lifestyle and Your Needs

I will say there was a bit of a learning curve when I was setting up the watch. It wasn’t quite as plug and play/intuitive as I might have liked. However, this means that I was able to customize it to give me the information that I want at my fingertips.

For example, I was able to choose a watch face that shows my body battery, my steps, the watch battery, and my intensity (activity) minutes all in one place!

Garmin Venu 3S Face Option
The watch face that I chose.

At a glance I can see exactly where I am at for my step goal for the day (which Garmin automatically adjusts depending on previous activity) and how charged my body battery is.

I also absolutely LOVE that the Garmin watch defaults to a weekly activity goal. My Apple watch had a daily goal and I found this to be stressful.

I would always feel a little guilty on rest days if I didn’t “close my rings” on my apple watch. Now I can take a rest day without feeling like I am somehow doing my body a disservice.

Now of course I know that taking a rest day is totally fine, but it would still bother me to not see that ring closed. I prefer technology that is more in line with what my body’s actual goals are than technology that seems to encourage me to be active for at least x number of minutes every single day.

Now I do not consider myself to be a hardcore athlete, but I have talked to some who are and even they can be bothered by this feature of the apple watch.

There’s something about doing a four hour ride one day and then your watch being a big jerk the next day and encouraging you to do even MORE that can be really frustrating and borderline unhealthy. 

The Venu 3/3S is easily one of the most comfortable and attractive sports watches on the market right now. 

One of the first things that I noticed about the Venu 3S is that it’s just pretty. I ordered mine in soft gold/dust rose and it’s just so attractive which I absolutely LOVE.

Isn’t she lovely?!

Other fitness watches, even other Garmins, can look very sporty and utilitarian which is fine, but I am really enjoying this more feminine option.

It’s big enough to do all of the things it needs to do. The display on the smaller version for me feels even bigger than my Apple Watch (I had the larger sized apple watch for reference).

If I want it to feel a little more sporty I can always put a different band on it, but for my purposes right now this is perfect.

Garmin offers a variety of band options that you can order with your watch if you order from the Garmin website which is really nice. It also sells the bands separately if you want to be able to swap them out later (I am eyeing the navy band for a little contrast!).

Not to mention the Garmin Venu 3/3S  is incredibly comfortable.

I tried a LOT of different Apple watch bands over the years including the sport band that was stretchy and continuous and I could never seem to get the right fit. It was either too tight or too loose, or it would actually give me wrist pain which was NOT good.

The Garmin Venu 3S bands have SO many holes that you can find one that works for you.

I do notice that if I want an accurate heart rate reading I have to make it pretty tight. If it’s too loose it is definitely not picking up on my increased heart rate on a ride.

So, I just tighten it a bit for the ride and then loosen it up when I am done. Easy peasy! 

The Battery Life of the Venu 3/3S is Incredible

One of the biggest problems that I had with my Apple Watch is that I needed to charge it every day.

As a result I was always missing out on either movement time or sleep data, and it was incredibly frustrating.

The battery life on the Venu 3/3S though is incredible. I generally get about 7 days with my usage, and it charges quickly.

I have the battery life on the face of my watch, and every time it turns from green to yellow I just throw it on the charger. After about a half hour to an hour or so, and it’s good to go again.

If You Are Used to an Apple Watch There Are Some Features of the Apple Watch That You Might Miss  

The Venu 3/3S does alert/vibrate with notifications like many smart watches, however it is not the primary function of the watch. This may be good/bad depending on exactly what you what your fitness watch for.

If you like to talk to text on your watch and make/answer calls on your watch the Venu 3/3S may not be for you. It does not do these functions the same way, if at all.

Additionally you must have your phone close by in order to receive notifications and calls. One of the things that I loved about my apple watch was that I could have service on the watch alone if I forgot my phone at home.

I have found, though, that I like the more gentle notification system of Garmin very much. I don’t feel like I am quite as attached to my phone as I used to be, and this suits my lifestyle very well. 

Bottom Line: Garmin Venu 3/3S 

I could not be more enthusiastic in my recommendation of the Garmin Venu 3/3S.

I am a huge fan of the Garmin interface, the customizability, the attractiveness, and the features.

Garmin Venu 3S Heart Rate
You can broadcast the heart rate on the Venu 3S directly to your Peloton.

Additionally, the Venu 3/3S is a nice mid-range choice for a Garmin watch. Though it doesn’t have all of the features of the more expensive Garmin options it still offers a great range. There are truly more features than I use, and I do not feel like I am compromising at all with a more mid-range Garmin watch price point.

It is less focused on notifications and being an extension of your phone, and more focused on health than a lot of the smartwatch families available on the market today.

This is a really important distinction. If you aren’t as interested in the health data and are more concerned about connectivity/notifications then you should look at a different brand of watch.

However, I truly believe that in the realm of fitness watches for women who ride that a Garmin watch is the way to go, and that in the Garmin family the Venu 3/3S is a great choice.  

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About The Reviewer

stacy smith

Stacy Ann Smith is a New England-based cyclist who strives to stay upright on her bike.  She is the founder of Sascy Cycling, and her mission is to encourage women to love their body and focus on what it can do, not what it looks like.  When Stacy’s not cycling she is teaching high school history and eating pizza with her husband and son.

IG: @sascycycling

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