The Samsung Gear S3 and the Garmin Fenix 3 HR are two top-tier smartwatches that serve two very different purposes. They also hit two very different price points: the Gear S3 retails for $299 and the Fenix 3 HR sells for $549.
Not sure which one to get? Here’s what you need to know before you make an informed decision.
Samsung Gear S3 vs Garmin Fenix 3 HR: Features
Both smartwatches have many of the same sensors, including a heart rate monitor, GPS sensor, and barometer. However, the Garmin watch is laser focused on collecting data about workouts and outdoor adventures. It allows you to collect data whether you’re running, hiking, kayaking, golfing, skiing, swimming, or participating in several other sports. The Fenix 3 also includes fitness training features like VO2 Max and Recovery Advisor, which calculates how long you should rest before you should exert yourself again.
The Samsung Gear S3, on the other hand, is a more general purpose watch. It has sport tracking features, but they’re mostly limited to running (though you can also track golf with an downloadable app). However, the Gear S3 is more powerful and features a speaker and microphone. That allows it to perform several other functions, such as call an Uber, display news headlines, and place and receive phone calls by tethering to your phone. It can also make payments with with NFC. As the number of apps expand, the number of functions of the S3 will increase in the future.
If you want to take a dip with your smartwatch, then you should probably lean towards the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. The Samsung Gear S3 is safe to wear in the shower, but you risk damaging it if you take into the pool. The rugged Fenix 3, however, is waterproof down to 10 ATM.
Samsung Gear S3 vs Garmin Fenix 3 HR: Design
Samsung offers two body designs for the Samsung Gear S3: the Classic, which looks like a classy, old school analog watch, and the Frontier, which sports a more sleek, modern design. The Fenix 3 HR, however, has a more rugged and industrial appearance. It has visible screws and looks like a tank on your wrist.
These are both fairly large and bulky watches. But the Fenix 3 HR is still more massive than the Samsung Gear S3. The Fenix 3 HR measures 2 x 2 x 0.6 inches, while the Samsung Gear S3 measures 1.93 x 1.81 x 0.51 inches. The Fenix is noticeably heavier too: it weighs 82 grams, a while the Samsung Gear S3 weighs 59 grams.
The interaction options for the Samsung Gear S3 are more sophisticated and diverse. You can use the touchscreen, two side buttons, voice controls, or the rotating bezel to navigate the interface. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR, however, can only be controlled with the five bulky buttons that surround the device.
The display on the Samsung Gear S3 is an order of magnitude more bright and versatile. It sports a 360 x 360 pixel Super AMOLED touchscreen, which allows it to display 16 million colors. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR has a 16-color Transflective MIP (Memory-In-Pixel) 218 x 218 pixel display. While the display on the Fenix isn't as flashy, it works well enough for weekend athletes.
Samsung Gear S3 vs Garmin Fenix 3 HR: Hardware
Out of necessity, the Samsung Gear S3 has a lot more memory and processing speed than the Fenix 3 HR. The Fenix 3 HR has a 4GB hard drive and 768MB of RAM. The Fenix 3 on the other hand has a 32 MB hard drive and 256KB of RAM. However, that doesn’t mean that the Fenix 3 is slower or less responsive. Since its apps are much smaller and simpler, it runs just as smoothly as any smartwatch.
The screens of both devices are tough. The Samsung Gear S3 is protected by Gorilla Glass SR+, while the Garmin Fenix 3 HR is protected by sapphire. However, since the latest versions of Gorilla Glass are more durable than sapphire, the Samsung Gear S3 is probably the most scratch and break proof.
The Fenix 3 HR has an impressive week-long battery life (though slightly shorter if you frequently use the GPS). The Samsung Gear S3 on the other hand, can only last two to three days before requiring a recharge.
Samsung Gear S3 vs Garmin Fenix 3 HR: The Bottom Line
Think of the Samsung as a jack of all trades and the Garmin Fenix 3 HR as the master of one. Namely, the Garmin is geared towards people are active, and can provide a wealth of in depth data for multi-sport athletes. The Samsung Gear S3 is a general purpose smartwatch, and can perform many of the same functions that your smartphone can. If you want a top notch sport tracking watch, and are willing spend top dollar for it, then the Fenix 3 is the watch to get. Otherwise, the Gear S3 is a fantastic smartwatch for day-to-day use.