The Garmin vivoactive 3 was released in 2017. And has since been given an upgrade in June 2018 with the Garmin vivoactive 3 music and again just recently with the Garmin vivoactive 4. The vivoactive 3, however, did and still does a great deal to retain the company’s image as a fierce contender in the world of sports technology.
Its features include stress monitoring giving you an incredible insight into the stress your body is under, intuitive fitness tracker software and innovative design and layout. There is no doubt that Garmin vivoactive 3 is still one to consider when looking for an affordable GPS watch. But is it the one for you? This Garmin vivoactive 3 review seeks to answer this question for you.
The design of a Garmin device is what attracts consumers to the brand. Opting for the circular watch face, this gives the vívoactive 3 a classic, natural look when worn similar to Samsung smartwatches. Its design defies the square watch design of Fitbit, Apple and the vivoactive HR. But the vivoactive’s materials ensure a great deal of protection for its sensors and microchips. The case material is built with high strength, fiber-reinforced polymer and stainless steel back cover. One of the sturdier Garmin watches.
The materials that are used to provide reliable protection for the watch. However, it must be noted that the case on the vivoactive 3 music is just made up of polymer. The black stock band that comes with the smartwatch is built from silicone and is 20mm industry standard, allowing for interchangeability with just about any standard watch band.
Screen & Display
The screen display of vivoactive3 is made up of transflexive memory in pixel technology. The advantage of this technology is that it uses the backlight and light reflected from an external source.
The innovative material makes the Garmin vivoactive 3 extremely readable and usable in sunlight. Unfortunately, the resolution of the display isn’t as fantastically eye-catching as, say, an Apple Watch. The interface often appears pixelated and blocky, though it must be noted that this does not hinder the usage.
Comfort to Wear
Comfortability is one of the most significant advantages this watch has over its competitors. It’s sleek design and use of materials result in an extremely comfortable wearable tracker. It is even possible to forget that you are wearing the watch.
The comfort and sleekness of it further adds to its ease of use. The stock band also allows for a wide range of different wrist thickness, with a circumference of 127-204 mm. The watch’s circular design certainly helps its comfortable and lightweight wearability.
The sideswipe function is worth a mention as well; you can scroll using the side of the circular watch face. This feature adds a dynamic style to the Garmin smartwatch and helps analyse and read data fields easily.
Weight & Size
The weight is 43g, as previously mentioned. The screen is 1.2 inches and boasts a 240×240 pixel display, noticeably lower than the Apple Watch that came out around the same time. Though the resolution isn’t entirely impressive, the weight and size make the vivoactive 3 the right choice for a wide range of wrist sizes, making it wearable for en masse.
The circumference range of 127-204 mm is massive, accommodating a wide variety of people. Even though the watch is on the heavier side, it certainly does welcome people of various sizes and shapes.
Bands & Accessories
Garmin still offers a wide range of accessories to help modify and refine the usability of the smartwatch. The Garmin vivoactive 3 strap the watch comes with is black. A brilliant, smooth silicone band that provides comfort and security.
Garmin offers silicone replacement bands in several colors including slate, rose-gold and aqua. They also provide a selection of embossed leather replacement bands. A leather band helps to transform the look of the watch to a more formal, presentable style for when you hang your running shoes up.
Features & Performance
Fitness & GPS
The fitness tracking features the watch has is where it comes into its own. Its 15 sports apps allow users to ensure all of their exercise activities are tracked. These 15 sports apps include incredibly niche activities such as golf. You can download popular courses onto the smartwatch to help your performance. The apps also include a mode catering for paddleboarding, even snowboarding! It is an all-round fantastic activity tracker, helping with your training, no matter what sport. The niche sports apps on the Garmin fenix 5 are more productive, but this watch does a lot.
The watch provides modes engineered to track your cardio exercise, running, walking and even gym workouts. It also has a cycling feature and can be connected to a cadence sensor to optimise your bike ride results. It streamlines your swimming workout as well, perfect for triathletes! It tracks all the necessary gauges, such as calories burned, floors climbed, and distance travelled. It has a stopwatch feature. It’s compatible with the Garmin chest strap. For running and general fitness tracking, this watch certainly does its job, tracking accurately everything you need to know.
Being that Garmin is a company that has an adept knowledge of GPS, the vivoactive 3 is an immensely accurate GPS tracking watch. You’ll get an accurate readout from the trackers of where you’ve run and for how long.
When strength training, the vivoactive 3 does its best to recognise different movements. However, it can get problematic if the exercise you are doing does not involve limb movement like push-ups. Though what is an advantage is the edit rep feature. The vivoactive lets you review and edit the reps it has recorded using its trackers. The ability to edit allows you to maintain an accurate readout on less precise exercise movements.
The heart rate monitor has a fantastic feature known as the VO2 max. Measuring your oxygen level and usage every time you go for a run or walk, the vivoactive 3 will give you a great overall fitness reading. Your ‘fitness age’ is how your results are presented. This feature can be great for those looking to improve their stamina. VO2 Max uses a simple, intuitive color gauge.
The stress monitoring characteristics the phone employs are useful too. The smartwatch uses Firstbeat analytics in its heart rate sensor to gauge the nature of one heartbeat to the next. This is known as heart rate variability, which can hold a lot of crucial information about your stress levels. The watch also has a breathing app, enabling the user moments of guided stress relief. There is also an option to receive smart notifications reminding you to breathe correctly.
So, when it comes to fitness, Garmin’s multisport watch has you covered. All you need to do is find the right shoes!
The sleep tracker functionality on the watch is straightforward to use. It You will need the Garmin Connect app to see the read-outs of your sleep, as you can’t see them on the watch. The watch uses a combination of optical heart rate monitoring, variability, and motion sensors to chart what stage of sleep you are in, and when you move around. It will also attempt to map any time you are awake.
The watch’s breakdown of your sleep pattern will then be able to view on your smartphone. This watch provides a fantastic insight into the events of a deep sleep, to see if you are counting sheep peacefully.
The Garmin vivoactive 3 music is a fantastic gadget to have if you want your running soundtrack to go unhindered. You can download 500 songs onto the watch using the Garmin Express and listen via Bluetooth headphones. The watch’s touchscreen interface allows you to pause and skip certain songs with a simple touching of the wrist, allowing you to skip songs while running.
Though there’s not much else that separates the watch from its predecessor, if you are an avid music listener, this is the watch for you.
Garmin Pay presents a fast, secure and easy way to make payments via your vivoactive 3 without the need for credit cards. Within the smartwatch is a chip that enables the use of contactless payment. Garmin Pay means you can swipe your watch face on any NFC card machine to pay for your purchase, so as not to interrupt your running.
Security is often a primary concern of users when considering new payment methods. However, Garmin Pay ensures safety and ease-of-use through the use of watch specific card numbers. Additionally, your card number is not on the device.
Garmin does well to best competitors when it comes to battery life. 13 hours in GPS mode is undoubtedly impressive. The battery life is much longer than the Apple Watch that released at a similar time. This long battery life may be due to the simplicity of the screen, as its resolution does not require a whole lot of energy to power.
You can also reduce the backlight and manipulate when the backlight times out if you wish, further adding to the watch’s energy.
The Garmin vivoactive 3 comes loaded with 15 sports apps already installed, which makes it great for those looking for activity tracking with little maintenance. Past that, the Connect IQ store has a wide selection of different apps. These include several updated and amended watch faces that show your stats on the home screen like Infocal. Plus some great navigation apps such as Maps Nav that can help you to find your destination by merely lifting your wrist.
With the vivoactive 3 Garmin have made a fantastic sports watch, there is no doubt about that. It provides a wealth of workout routines and monitors to help optimise your health. Originally price at $249.99, it’s a lot to pay for smartwatch two years out of date, and the forerunner comes with even more fitness features than this watch. However you can find the vivoactive 3 for a lot cheaper now on Amazon, and that makes it a valuable buy.
This Garmin vivoactive 3 review has proved that it still is a beneficial and intuitive watch. Its design is simple yet effective. The display, though not incredibly well defined, is visible in sunlight. The preloaded sports apps can sometimes be problematic, and there is more to be had on a watch like the Forerunner 945, but for the most part, get the job done. For these reasons, I believe that the Garmin vivoactive 3 is a good, and worthy purchase.
Liam writes articles for a myriad of sites and publications. With a deep-set love for electronics and music, often finds himself drawn to writing about the latest bands and gadgets. He has a degree in Drama and English, enjoys acting, producing music and writing in a number of formats. He also works as a copywriter, providing content for clients around the world.