Garmin’s new Venu 3 smartwatch, which starts at $450 and launches on Wednesday, comes with more granular sleep tracking features than its predecessor and a battery that it claims can last for 14 days. It represents Garmin’s latest effort to compete with general interest smartwatches made by Apple and Samsung, which have become bigger rivals to Garmin in recent years thanks to their expansion into running metrics.
Garmin is leaning into battery life as a key differentiator. The Venu 3’s battery life claims are nominally higher than those of the Venu 2, which the company says should last for 11 days in smartwatch mode. Whether the Venu 3 lives up to those expectations remains to be seen. But if it meets even half of Garmin’s claims, the Venu 3 would be a major improvement over devices like the Apple Watch Series 8 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, which typically need to be charged nightly to make it through a full day.
That said, the Venu 3 lacks the broad app ecosystem and optional LTE connectivity that you’ll find on other general-purpose watches. But Joe Schrick, vice president of Garmin’s fitness segment, believes the Venu 3’s compromises are worth the longer battery life.
“We believe in wearing it all the time,” Schrick said during a press event ahead of the Venu 3’s debut. “You cannot tell someone how they’re doing if you missed their sleep.”
Garmin is also introducing some new health and fitness-focused features, particularly those aimed at sleep tracking, mental wellness and workout recovery. These categories have become a bigger area of focus for smartwatches and fitness trackers in recent years as device makers seek to extend beyond exercise and activity when it comes to wellness tracking.
One of the Venu 3’s headlining features is nap detection, which automatically logs short snoozes and factors them into the Body Battery report, or a snapshot of your energy levels based on factors like activity, stress and sleep. Garmin also says Body Battery will show more details about how specific factors like sleep or stress are impacting your score.
The Venu 3 is also getting a new sleep coaching tool that provides a sleep score to assess the quality of your sleep along with recommendations to improve rest. Products from Fitbit, Oura and Samsung provide similar sleep scores. There’s a new mediation feature aimed at reducing stress too.
Garmin’s new wellness metrics reflect the broader move toward mental wellness and sleep that’s been occurring in the smartwatch industry over the past several years. Fitbit, for example, began offering stress management features with its first Sense smartwatch, which debuted in 2020. Samsung recently revamped its smartwatch software to display its sleep score more prominently. And Apple rebranded and expanded the Apple Watch’s Breathe app to become a new wellness tool called Mindfulness in 2021.
Garmin is also making the Venu 3 more accessible than previous models. There’s a new wheelchair mode for tracking metrics intended specifically for wheelchair users, such as daily pushes instead of steps. Garmin will also provide new workouts tailored to wheelchair users.
The Venu 3 inherits some features found on Garmin’s other watches that are meant to make data more digestible and applicable to the individual user. That includes a morning report that provides an overview of your sleep, recovery and heart rate variability when you wake up, along with metrics that show how workouts impact the body and how much recovery time is needed.
The Venu 3 includes a built-in speaker and microphone, which were previously available in the Venu 2 Plus but not the standard Venu 2. The watch is available in two sizes and includes an AMOLED touch screen.
The Venu 3’s arrival comes during what is expected to be a busy season for smartwatch launches. Apple recently announced that it’s holding an event on Sept. 12, where it’s expected to announce the Apple Watch Series 9, according to Bloomberg. Samsung introduced the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic in August, and rumors suggest Google is working on the Pixel Watch 2.