Review of Garmin Venu 3S 2024

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By introducing the Venu 3S, Garmin enthusiasts searching for a more compact wearable now have a more appealing alternative compared to the brand’s other timepieces like the Venu 2, Epix Pro, or Fenix 7 Pro. While those constitute some of the finest Garmin watches you can acquire, the Venu 3S fits in as a similarly top-notch smartwatch with a more condensed design.

Similar to the traditional Venu 3, the 3S provides a variety of advanced attributes, such as a built-in speaker and microphone for taking calls, the capability to download and save music, and a plethora of health and fitness tools. It’s a dependable combination of an efficient activity tracker and a multi-featured smartwatch.

I’ve experimented with a range of the top-notch smartwatches, including the Apple Watch Series 9, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, and the Fitbit Sense 2. Although the Venu 3S requires more time to grasp compared to those, it’s a superior smartwatch that offers some of the finest health and fitness tracking capabilities among anything I’ve assessed.

The Venu 3S is more compact and lighter than the standard Venu 3 and is ideal for individuals with narrow wrists

A side-by-side shot of the screen and underside of a Garmin Venu 3S.

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When comparing the Venu 3S to the standard Venu 3, the size discrepancy is evident. While the Venu 3 measures 1.8 inches in diameter, the 3S is at 1.6 inches. The 3S also weighs less than the 3, which is a minor but appreciated change for those with narrow wrists who prefer wearing lighter accessories.

The smaller Venu 3S watch face is a significant upgrade from the bulky, uncomfortable Venu 2 model. The Venu 3S is 0.3 oz lighter than both the Venu 2 and the Venu 3, which may sound trivial but I did find it to make a noticeable difference, especially during workouts or when I wore it to sleep.

The Venu 3S also features a thinner silicone strap than the Venu 3 and it comes in five color options: French Gray, Pebble Gray, Sage Gray, Dust Rose, and Ivory. Like Garmin’s other Venu models, wearers can further personalize their watch with add-ons from a selection of over 15 strap colors.

Another advantage of the Venu 3S design is that it complements and elevates outfits rather than diverting attention from styling. That’s not the case for many of the broad, techy-looking smartwatches currently available.

Garmin’s advanced fitness tracking system is fantastic for novices and experienced athletes alike

The intensity minutes screen on a Garmin Venu 3S.

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The Venu 3S remains faithful to the traditional fitness tracking features you anticipate from Garmin. Like the Venu 2, it concentrates on rest and recuperation, which aided in identifying when I needed to either go easy one day or when I could increase the intensity of my workouts. I also enjoyed its straightforward workout customization, the animated on-screen workout functionality, and the running-specific features that monitored my running power, stride length, cadence, etc.

The Venu 3S syncs with the Garmin Connect app which consolidates all tracked health and fitness data. This gave me an effortless way to access all my tracking metrics, and its calendar function is an entertaining way to monitor progress from week to week.

Garmin updated the Venu 3S with a microphone and speaker, both of which were absent from the Venu 2 and 2S, and this feature is a notable highlight. This enables audio prompts and coaching techniques that effectively kept me accountable in the initial weeks of wearing the watch. I appreciated utilizing these features on days when I struggled to get motivated on my own. It also proves beneficial during activities as you can set tracking alerts during, for instance, cycling or swimming that can encourage you to modify your goals or extend your exercise time in future workouts.

Garmin watches tend to cater more to advanced users but the 3S does a commendable job of accommodating first-time wearers and novices as well. The watch provides beginner tracking features for those who simply wish to monitor fundamentals like steps taken, calories burned, and sleep duration.

One of the Venu’s major selling points is aiding you in comprehending certain health indicators

The meditation app screen on a Garmin Venu 3S.

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Garmin’s Venu 3S enables you to gain detailed insights into your health. This includes distinctive information concerning sleep patterns, nervous system regulation, menstruation, and pregnancy.

For the sleep tracking, the watch monitors movement during typical sleeping hours. It can then relay the total hours of sleep, sleep movement, and sleep stages I experienced throughout the night.

The stress tracking feature is also a beneficial function that provides valuable information on how my body manages stress each day. This operates by monitoring my heart rate data and comparing it to my usual levels throughout the day over time, including during sleep. I could then see when throughout the day my stress levels peaked and could opt to take a walk during those times, or simply sit and meditate.

The menstruation tracking feature involves more manual input than sleep or stress tracking as it necessitates me to personally track factors like my physical and emotional symptoms, the dates my cycle started and ended, and any supplementary health and nutrition information. However, over time, the watch leverages that data to forecast period and fertility timing.

A slight nuisance of the Venu 3S was the inconvenience of having to wait for the watch to learn the “real me.” It took a few days of logging my health and fitness data for the watch to truly start adapting to my body’s rhythms. This is ultimately acceptable since the watch needs to go through these processes but I couldn’t help being a bit impatient.

Strong smartwatch functionality and downloadable music are a significant advantage

The Venu 3S is akin to other Venu models in that I could download music to the watch without needing to use my phone when I wanted to skip a song. All it took was a simple tap on the watch’s screen and I could navigate through my playlists effortlessly.

Being able to concurrently take phone calls and check emails while tracking my steps and hydration levels helped alleviate some of the strain on my hands, wrists, and fingers—a godsend when you’re on the computer for hours in the day typing, leaning forward, and staying still. These are the trademarks of modern smartwatches, and the Venu 3S excels in this aspect.

One minor annoyance I encountered with the Venu 3S was the inability to view photos or reply to texts on the watch. I utilize an iPhone and these features are only accessible to Android users (similar to other Garmin watches).

The Venu 3S provides up to 10 days of battery life and charges to 100% in an hour

The battery life screen on a Garmin Venu 3S.

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The Venu 3S’s 10-day battery life (in smartwatch mode) is shorter than Venu 3’s 14-day lifespan, but this was a compromise I was content to make once I started engaging with my Venu 3S and gave it time to learn my habits. That battery life does take a bit of a hit with the Always On Display, as I got roughly five days with it. The watch charges relatively quickly, too, needing around an hour before reaching 100%.

I did find that constantly checking notifications, playing music, using GPS, and tracking activities deplete the battery rather swiftly. However, there is a battery-saving mode that strips back most of these features but does extend the watch’s usage to 20 days. As a camper and hiker, this proved useful on several multi-day trips I embarked on while wearing the watch.

Should you purchase it?

The Venu 3S is a worthwhile investment if you’re keen on discovering a high-quality smartwatch that’s stylish and lightweight with a broad array of health and fitness tracking tools. It’s capable of suiting a wide spectrum of users, from novices to advanced athletes, and serves as a fantastic bridge between Garmin’s entry-level watches and its premium outdoor wearables.

However, what makes the Venu 3S even more appealing is its smaller form factor. Individuals with slender wrists will likely be drawn to the wearable’s condensed design — I certainly was.

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