*Expert Review* On Garmin Vivoactive 3
Commensurate with Garmin’s sports tech legacy, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 includes a heartrate sensor, GPS tracking and an array of built-in applications focused on keeping tabs on a variety of athletics, from running and indoor cycling to skiing and snowboarding.
Although the Vivoactive 3’s focus could be on fitness, this versatile wearable also offers a lot of other features to shout about, including smart notifications, an on-board payment system called Garmin Pay together with both sleep and real-time stress tracking. And its own design reflects its sporty yet smart credentials, since it looks more like a wrist watch when compared to a bulky fitness tracker.
It’s no real surprise that the Vivoactive 3 does fitness well. In the end, the Garmin brand is really as synonymous with high-end sports devices since it has been GPS systems nowadays. Talk with any runner or triathlete and they’re going to likely cite among Garmin’s Forerunner, and even Fenix, bands as a common gadget.
But that hasn’t stopped Garmin from venturing right into a more consumer-focused space either. Devices in the Vivofit, Vivomove and Vivosmart ranges may be aimed at those that like training, but could possibly be described more as lifestyle wearables given they care as much about step counts, sleep and stress as personal bests and optimizing performance.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 doesn’t fit neatly into either category. At around half the cost of the brand’s high-end fitness devices, just like the Fenix 5X, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a far more affordable option yet still packs a punch in terms of sports tracking.
It has on-board lifestyle features, like sleep and stress tracking, but can be geared up to contend with similar multi-purpose smartwatches using its notifications and payment system.
As you’d expect, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 isn’t occupying this appealing space all alone. Retailing at £279.99 ($249.99, AU$449) it’s entering at an identical price to new devices from a number of the biggest names in wearable tech.
We also will have a ‘Music’ version, that will cost around £50 / $50 more to get – this adds in music playback functions but maintains the same function group of the bottom model we’ve reviewed here.
That music streaming (and downloading) happens to be limited to iHeartRadio in america, with Deezer just around the corner for other territories – although the latter still hasn’t launched at time of writing.
Which means you’re stuck using MP3s, for those who have any around, and you will chuck up to 500 on the website.
With that now up to speed, you could argue the Vivoactive 3 rivals the Apple Watch 3, in addition to the Fitbit Ionic. They’re by no means identical, but all three are driven by fitness, look good, are made to be worn 24/7 and so are smart.
Garmin may be a company favorite among those seriously interested in fitness, however the question now could be whether a multi-purpose smartwatch just like the Vivoactive 3 gets the on-board specs, style and mainstream visibility to contend with famous brands Apple and Fitbit.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 price and availability
There are three different colors of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 from which to choose. There’s black silicone and slate, that is a premium-looking dark grey and costs £299.99/$329.99/AU$499.
It also will come in black silicone and stainless, which is silver, together with white silicone and stainless, which both cost slightly less at £279.99/$249.99/AU$449.
Which makes the Garmin Vivoactive 3 just a little significantly less than similar devices that also straddle the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch, just like the Fitbit Ionic, LG Watch Sport and the Apple Watch 3 (with just GPS rather than cellular capabilities).
It’s also considerably significantly less than a lot of the brand’s more specialized multi-sports ranges.
For example, if you are buying wearable to see you through an enormous selection of activities with super accurate tracking, the Fenix 5X could possibly be your best gamble at $699.99/£629.99/AU$949.
Alternatively, if you’re solely buying a device for running and nothing else, you could choose the Forerunner 30 at £129.99 (around $175/AU$225). But most runners would like to opt for something similar to the Forerunner 235, which still undercuts the Vivoactive 3.
In short, if you need a Garmin fitness device there are certainly cheaper options. But you’d have to make certain that fitness is your only focus, otherwise it could seem sensible to consider the Vivoactive 3 instead.
At 43g, and made out of a stainless casing, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 feels weighty enough to be premium, but such as a normal watch once it’s strapped on. It’s a global from Garmin’s previous Vivoactive HR device, which in lots of ways felt and looked similar to an inexpensive, blocky sports watch when compared to a quality wearable.
That’s the running theme with regards to the look of the Vivoactive 3, although filled with smart features and a bevy of sensors, it looks and feels as though a ‘normal’ watch.
That is especially the case compared to wearables built solely for tracking, like Garmin’s latest Vivosport or Vivosmart devices. It even looks more watch-like than its closest competitors, which may very well be because both Fitbit Ionic and Apple Watch 3 have square (or square-er) faces.
With a depth of 11.7mm the Garmin Vivoactive 3 sits flush against our arms. This coupled with a brilliant flexible silicone strap produces an extremely comfortable wear. That was the case throughout our whole review period, even during the night and at the fitness center.
The silicone strap is flexible and incredibly simple to can get on and off. But once it’s onto it feels secure, even after a run, swim and a HIIT class. But unless you like the strap, it is possible to replace it with any other 20mm quick release band.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3’s screen measures 1.2 inches and includes a 240 x 240 pixel display, that is a size that suits a variety of wrists both big and small, yet still delivers information without you needing to squint to start to see the stats.
Like a great many other Garmin watches, the Vivoactive 3 includes a color transflective screen. Initially this looks a lttle bit dark, especially when compared to Fitbit Ionic’s OLED display, but it has been created that way to make it better to read, even in sunlight, also to make a huge saving on battery life too.
The display is always-on, but dimmed. The backlight occurs when you flip your wrist up. That is helpful for quickly checking enough time, but we found keeping that setting on meant it came on a whole lot at night time. However, you can customize whether it occurs or not, and how long for.
There’s a tiny bezel across the edge of the screen with lines onto it to show where in fact the hours are. And unlike a whole lot of similar devices, there’s just the main one button privately of the screen. The best thing about this is you can decide during setup whether you want to buy facing toward the body, or facing toward your wrist and hand.
We wore the Vivoactive 3 on our left wrist, so find the button to be closest to your hand to create it better to push with this right. This button is pretty important because, among other activities, it permits you to access the sports menu and in addition works as a back button.
Some persons are bound to love the minimal effect this gives, others who are being used to multi-functional sports watches with plenty of buttons and dials could find it lacking.
On the lower of the Vivoactive 3 there’s a four pin charging port, which is small and can not be felt on your own skin, plus the device’s optical heartrate sensor, which again, sits flush against your wrist.
We reviewed the Vivoactive 3 in black silicone and slate, that is a premium-looking dark grey that costs slightly a lot more than black silicone and stainless or white silicone and stainless.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is waterproof up to 50 meters, which is ideal if you are a swimmer and helps it be better to shower and wash-up without fretting about taking it on / off all the time.
Add to that the actual fact the screen is Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and the case is manufactured out of a reinforced polymer and you have one durable device on your own wrist that’ll withstand the most grueling of workout routines.
In terms of design, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 certainly ticks all the right boxes and justifies the purchase price point, providing a wrist watch that looks premium, but most of all for a 24/7 wearable, feels c