Choosing a fitness smartwatch is all about finding the right balance between fitness software and phone-connected smarts. Most fitness-focused watches just aren't very smart, prioritizing efficiency and battery life over everything else. The new Garmin Venu 3, on the other hand, is the closest the company has to a "mainstream" smartwatch; thanks to Black Friday, the Garmin Venu 3 is $399 ($50 off).
I reviewed the Venu 3 very recently, noting how it walks that narrow tightrope between targeting fitness freaks and more casual athletes. On the "smarts" side, it has a built-in mic and speaker for Bluetooth calls and voice assistant commands, plus a new ability to respond to texts with more than just quick replies, a revamped UI, and a new wheelchair mode that works very well.
Garmin Venu 3:
$450 $399.99 at Amazon
The Garmin Venu 3 has a beautiful 1.4-inch AMOLED display surrounded by a stainless steel bezel, classier and skinnier than your typical Garmin watch (but still with a robust two-week battery). Under the surface, it has Bluetooth calling, voice assistant passthrough from your phone, tap-to-pay, music storage, and the core Garmin software suite you know and love.
Price comparison: Best Buy - $399
On the fitness side, the Venu 3 has thousands of animated exercises on your wrist, custom workouts for both indoor gyms and outdoor runs, "workout benefit" summaries when you finish, recovery recommendations based on your fitness level, accurate all-systems GNSS tracking, Sleep Coaching with a revamped heart rate monitor, and a bunch of other perks that most fitness watches can't offer.
All of these perks combine to make the Venu 3 the best fitness smartwatch of the year. Of course, Android and iOS users used to smarter watches like the Galaxy Watch 6 or Apple Watch Series 9 may find the Venu 3's limited software too restrictive in what it can do. But if fitness features really are your priority, the Venu 3 is the right choice.
Depending on what you really want out of your watch, you'll find plenty of other great Black Friday watch deals, Garmin or otherwise, that I've curated at that link. If you're specifically looking for a Garmin watch, but want something a bit more affordable, the Vivoactive 5 is also $50 off, making it $150 less than the Venu 3 for a somewhat similar (if downgraded) experience.
Or, you can look at the Forerunner 265, also $50 off for Black Friday — making it the same price as the Venu 3. It doesn't have the mic and speaker, but its fitness software is actually more robust for runners and cyclists.
Be an expert in 5 minutes
Get the latest news from Android Central, your trusted companion in the world of Android
Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.
For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.