The "Swiss Army Knife" of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish


DESIGN 8.0 out of 10

EASE OF USE 8.0 out of 10

USE OF INFORMATION 8.0 out of 10

MOTIVATION 8.0 out of 10


  • It seems and behaves just like any other watch.
  • monitors a variety of sporting events.
  • Strong internal sensing capabilities
  • A thorough experience tracking your fitness progress.
  • Brilliant display


  • A few functionalities are available on the smartwatch.
  • There are no sophisticated performance metrics.
  • There is no built-in memory for storing music.
  • Battery life does not live up to the hype.

Garmin’s primary rival in the market for all-purpose smartwatches is the Vivoactive 3, which was released in 2018. This is an improved version of Garmin’s Vivoactive HR fitness tracker, which ranks among the top fitness trackers on the market in terms of the number of features that it packs for the price. Garmin has taken all of these functions, added a few more, improved the sensors and processor, and packaged them all into an appealing spherical shape. The device can now be found in stores.

I was able to get a good look at it for the first time at the IFA in Berlin at the beginning of September, and I came away adequately impressed. Garmin has come to the realisation that in order to appeal to a larger user base, it needs to provide a form factor that is more aesthetically pleasing. And in this regard, the Vivoactive does not fall short of expectations. In no way does it.


The design of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 now more closely resembles that of the Fenix and Forerunner product lines. This lightweight sports watch measures 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 centimeters and weighs only 43 grams. The design of this watch makes it suitable for both men and women to wear.

The body itself has a high-end appearance and feel thanks to the polymer plastic shell and the stainless steel bezel that it features. Additionally, it is highly durable and long-lasting. You have the choice of selecting from three different color options, including black, white, and a gray version that is priced somewhat higher (all with matching, swappable bands).

In contrast to the Vivoactive HR, which has two physical buttons, navigation on this watch is accomplished through a combination of swiping on the touch display and pressing the single physical button. In this regard, the Vivoactive 3 operates effectively and has a high degree of responsiveness. This is due in part to the fact that the processor has been updated, which can be seen in the prompt scrolling and animations.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

In addition, there is a swipe strip on the side that has a subtle roughness to it. This strip enables users to scroll by gently rolling their fingers up and down the strip. This is an innovative function for sure, which might come in handy in a variety of situations, such as while you are jogging. Unfortunately, the sideswipe loses some of its sensitivity when it gets wet, and it does not function at all when it is submerged in water. Even though it is a great choice to have available, I don’t believe that it will be used frequently by very many people.

You have the choice of wearing the watch on either your left or right wrist, which is another feature that could prove to be handy in some situations. Simply switching the bottom strap with the top strap is all that is required of the user. The face rotates, but because of this, the button is always located on the same side of the watch, regardless of which hand you wear it on. The only drawback to this is that the gesture-based backlight activation only seems to respond in one particular way when it is used. It’s possible that this is something that can be fixed with an updated software version.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

The sunlight-readable, transflective, memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen has a diameter of 30.4 millimeters and is incredibly vivid. It is also very easy to read both inside and outside. The bezel is not very large, which frees up a lot of room for the color display that is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which has 240 240 pixels. The lighting makes it possible to see what’s on the screen even when there isn’t much available light.

When taking into account the cost as well as the capabilities of the timepiece, it is reasonable to expect that the Fitbit Ionic and the Apple Watch will be its primary competitors. Despite the fact that these two have superior screens, it is important to note that, in contrast to the Apple Watch, the display on the Garmin remains permanently lit (but dimmed so you can still see the watch face). In addition, many people are likely to find the round design appealing because it appears to be quite similar to a conventional watch. In any event, it is a significant advancement in comparison to the boxy and dated-looking Vivoactive HR, and this upgrade applies to both the looks and the comfort of the watch.

In spite of the fact that it has a very modest form factor, there is a good deal of activity going on behind the scenes. In addition to GPS and GLONASS, it has a barometric altimeter, an optical heart rate sensor, an accelerometer, a compass for navigation, a thermometer for determining the temperature outside, and a barometric altimeter.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, gets a makeover to make it more fashionable.

When it comes to the battery life of the Vivoactive 3, Garmin claims that it can keep going for up to a week on a single charge, and it can keep going for 13 hours with the GPS turned on. Although this is an optimistic estimate, previous experience has shown that you should be able to get approximately four to five days of use out of it. It is currently unknown whether or not an impending upgrade to the firmware will fix this issue. However, given the current state of affairs, you shouldn’t plan on getting 7 days’ worth of use out of the device. In any case, this is a really good battery life, and it gives Apple something to strive for in the future.

This is a watch that may be worn at any time of the day or night because it is water resistant. The Vivoactive 3, just like the majority of other Garmin products, has a water resistance rating of 5 ATM (or 50 meters), which indicates that it can withstand any kind of weather. It is also fully capable of keeping track of the length of time you spend swimming.


Although the Vivoactive 3 may not have as many flashy display elements as its competitors, it more than makes up for it when it comes to tracking activity. You won’t have any trouble getting the most important information out of the device, including information that is reasonably accurate regarding the number of steps, calories, distance, and floors. If you are having an especially sedentary day, the tracker will prompt you to get up and move by sending you motivating messages and nudging you with movement reminders.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, gets a makeover to make it more fashionable.

The Garmin app will provide you with comprehensive information regarding your light, deep, and average awake times in the morning. You will also receive information regarding your heart rate when you are at rest. The developer is now working on an update for the app, which should hopefully be available in a reasonable amount of time. This tackles certain issues that have to do with the ease of use and the friendliness of the interface.

In the realm of athletics, the Vivoactive 3 is capable of tracking virtually anything imaginable. There are a total of 15 pre-installed sports profiles, including brand new ones for snowboarding, cardio, yoga, stair steppers, and elliptical machines. In addition to that, you can install others.

One simple touch of the side button is all that is required to begin any given activity. Select the activity you want to do, then when you’re ready to get started, press the button once more. In order for the GPS to acquire a lock on your location while you are jogging, you will need to wait.

Because it is equipped with Move IQ, the Vivoactive 3 is able to automatically differentiate between a variety of activities such as walking, jogging, and cycling. This ensures that you will receive credit for your workout, even if you fail to manually switch it on before beginning your routine.

You’ll also be able to spice things up by designing your own individualized workouts with the device. You were able to put a multi-step workout into the watch, which was a feature that was previously only accessible on Garmin’s high-end sports watches. You may, for instance, begin with a five-minute warm-up, then proceed to complete eight intervals of one hundred meters, and then wrap things up with a five-minute cool-down.

If you do not enjoy listening to music while you work out, you will be relieved to know that you do not need to bring your smartphone along with you when you go for a run. Your pace, distance traveled, ascent or descent, split times, and other relevant data will all be tracked by the watch. It will keep an eye on people running on treadmills and the indoor track. The timepiece uses both GPS and GLONASS, which provides an increased level of precision. When it comes to precision, the system is usually within 5% of the actual distance tracked.

As for how quickly it can obtain a GPS signal, it performs similarly to how other Garmin watches do, neither better nor worse. This somewhat depends on the location that you are in as well. It’s a little counterintuitive, but I’ve seen that Garmin devices, for example, have trouble picking up a signal in the middle of London owing to all the interference, but they have no problems doing so in less populated locations.

Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor is built in, as expected, to the wearable device. Although it does not provide the same level of accuracy as a chest strap, it is currently one of the most accurate wrist-worn heart rate tracking systems that can be purchased.

Garmin has not added advanced Firstbeat measures such as recovery, training load, and others, which is something that will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to certain users. My best opinion is that this is done to maintain the allure of its high-end range. You will need to purchase one of their more expensive watches, such as the Forerunner or the Fenix, in order to do this.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 does a reasonably good job of monitoring your swimming workouts by providing information on your lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories burned, and swim efficiency while you are in the water (SWOLF). It is able to tell the difference between freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly, among other swimming strokes, thanks to its stroke detection feature. Unfortunately, the responsiveness of the touch screen drastically decreases when it is submerged in water, and you should not even consider using the side-swipe function. Additionally, there is no tracking in open water.

In order to provide a more integrated experience with fitness and sport, the device manufactured by Garmin goes a little bit further than its predecessors in the Vivoactive series. For instance, it will monitor the level of cardio fitness you possess (VO2Max). This is a measurement that, in essence, tells you how fit you are as an individual. The Garmin Connect app will also provide you with information regarding how your performance compares to that of others of the same gender and age.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

A new rep counting function and pre-loaded gym exercises are also included in this update. This functionality was introduced for the first time with the launch of the Vivosmart 3 at the beginning of this year. Having said that, I still consider this to be a work in progress. When it comes to identifying your exercises, the algorithms have approximately the same amount of success as they do failure, and their rep counting is not always accurate. You may, of course, make the adjustments manually. However, doing so will result in you squandering a significant amount of time in between sets tinkering with your watch. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Garmin will continue to enhance this functionality, since it has the potential to develop into something that is truly helpful.

And let’s not overlook the stress monitoring during the entire day. The Vivoactive 3 will alert you if it detects a rise in your heart rate even while you are not physically active. You will discover that the statistics, due to the fact that they roughly match real-world circumstances, make for interesting reading. There are breathing techniques that might help you remain calm when you realise that life is becoming stressful for you. It’s important to keep in mind that what your Garmin reads as high stress levels can actually be the result of something else entirely. For instance, if you participated in a very taxing workout the day before, the effects of that exertion could manifest as increased stress the following day.

Both Apple and Fitbit have not yet released a function that is comparable to this one. The gadget has an additional benefit over the Apple Watch and the Fitbit Ionic in that it supports accessories like cycling sensors and footpods right out of the box. This is the product’s second advantage.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

For features unrelated to fitness, the Garmin device will deliver notifications (calls, texts, calendar events, and push notifications from your favorite apps), and it will also allow you to send simple responses to texts (for the time being, this feature is only available on the Android platform), as well as answer or ignore incoming phone calls. In addition, there is an app store where you can download native apps as well as third-party apps and watch faces. You can also check the weather, locate your phone or other device, and manage the music that is playing on your smartphone.

When compared to the Apple Watch, the functions listed above are all very fundamental components of a smartwatch, yet the Vivoactive 3 lags far behind in this regard. The absence of offline storage for music is glaringly clear. This is something that is now standard on a wide variety of other devices, like the Apple Watch and the Fitbit Ionic, amongst many others.

Oh, and there’s also something called Garmin Pay. Because the Vivoactive 3 features an embedded NFC chip that can store your credit card information, you won’t need to carry your wallet around with you. FitPay is the company responsible for enabling this capability, and it supports debit and credit cards issued by major issuing banks that are Visa and Mastercard branded. Because Garmin Pay is about to be live any day now, we haven’t had the opportunity to test it. The passage of time will reveal whether or not this newly added functionality becomes popular.

Overview: Summary

The Vivoactive 3 is an excellent all-arounder that represents a significant improvement over its forerunner. This is a timepiece that will appeal to both men and women equally due to its lightweight form-factor. When it comes to both appearance and functionality, Garmin’s wearables have certainly advanced considerably over the course of the previous year.

It is important to note that the device does not come equipped with the advanced performance data that is available on Garmin’s top-of-the-line sports watches. However, the price will increase significantly as a result of this change. Additionally, its wristwatch capabilities aren’t particularly advanced, and it doesn’t offer a way to save music locally on the device itself. The lifespan of the battery is the final drawback. Only about four days of use may be expected between charges, which is far less than the seven days that are stated. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that one of the upcoming firmware updates will fix this problem.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of activity trackers, the Vivoactive 3, receives a makeover to make it more stylish.

This is a very reliable fitness-focused timepiece that serves up data that is rather accurate and offers an experience that is consistent with fitness monitoring, despite the fact that it may fall short in some of these categories. And all of this functionality is bundled into a device that not only makes things more comfortable but also makes them look better. Something that mimics the appearance and weight of a traditional wristwatch.

The Vivoactive 3 will be able to meet all of your needs if you are interested in getting into better condition and monitoring your activity around the clock.

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