Vivoactive 3 review: Garmin’s often the underdog, often the better choice


The battle to make one of the best all-purpose smartwatch has by no means been harder. There are plenty of new wearables across the $300 mark that need to be your gadget of selection for each health and all-day put on. Since health continues to be essentially the most sensible use for wearables, most corporations observe the identical sample: make one of the best health gadget for the cash and complement it with different sensible options that will be most helpful to the plenty.

Garmin’s newest try and execute that plan is the $300 Vivoactive three, a tool poised to tackle the $329 Apple Watch Series three (with out LTE) and the $300 Fitbit Ionic. It has severe health chops—as most would anticipate from a Garmin gadget—in addition to a bunch of typical smartwatch options. The stakes are excessive for Garmin, given the Vivoactive’s value and its competitors: the gadget should give customers one of the best worth for his or her cash by being each a strong health watch and sensible gadget, whereas additionally being distinctive sufficient to steer potential customers away from related units. Some of the Vivoactive three’s health and smartwatch options are Garmin signatures (and may be discovered on different Garmin units), however others are options essential to sustain with the Joneses within the wearable house.


The Vivoactive three is a breath of recent air in comparison with the Vivoactive HR. While Garmin’s earlier gadget was boxy, cumbersome, and usually unattractive, the Vivoactive three is a big enchancment. It appears and seems like a daily watch, however is not as heavy or giant as some wearables masquerading as timepieces. Some Android Wear units which have conventional watch designs are large in comparison with these common timepieces. But Garmin’s Vivoactive units have at all times been the corporate’s greatest rivals to high-end Apple and Fitbit wearables. I used to be completely happy to see Garmin step up its sport with the Vivoactive three’s design as a result of the Vivoactive HR felt overwhelming and unattractive in comparison with the competitors.

The Vivoactive three’s chrome steel case measures 43.four x 43.four x 11.7 mm and weighs simply 43 grams. It’s the right measurement for my small wrist. Although I like bigger watches, I additionally do not need to have a distracting, behemoth of a tool on me always. My overview unit had black and silver , however it’s also possible to get the Vivoactive three with white/silver , or a slate case with black accents. The complete design is waterproof as much as 50 meters as nicely, so it could observe swimming workouts and you may safely bathe with it.

The gadget has one button on the case that is used to entry the wheel-like show menu and sport profile menu. Garmin additionally added a “side swipe” mechanism that allows you to scroll by way of screens by gently rolling your finger up and down alongside the other facet of the watch’s case. It’s barely textured so you could have some tactile suggestions, and it really works nicely as an alternative choice to the Vivoactive three’s touchscreen.

Using facet swipe was a bit clumsy for me, however that is as a result of I wore the Vivoactive three with the button positioned near my wrist bone, dealing with away from my physique. During the gadget’s preliminary setup, you possibly can select the most well-liked orientation of the gadget in your wrist. If you are right-handed like me, and you intend on utilizing facet swipe typically, I like to recommend turning the case so the textured facet faces your wrist bone and hand.

The 1.2-inch, 240 x 240-pixel show is not as vibrant as these of comparable units just like the Fitbit Ionic or the Apple Watch Series three, however it’s backlit and visual in direct daylight. When resting, the show is at all times on however dimmed so you possibly can nonetheless see the watch face. The show’s backlight mechanically comes on if you flip your wrist as much as verify the time and the sunshine is customizable, letting you select how lengthy it stays on earlier than it turns off mechanically once more.

Inside the Vivoactive three are the standard sensor suspects: accelerometer, barometric altimeter, compass, thermometer, GPS/GLONASS, and Garmin’s Elevate heart-rate sensor. The underside of the Vivoactive three reveals Garmin’s onerous work in minimizing the house between your wrist and the optical heart-rate monitor. Much like Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch, the Vivoactive three would not have any raised edges, bumps, or unevenness beneath the case so the gadget lays fully flat in opposition to the wrist. This ought to higher stop stress pockets from forming, or house and air coming in between the gadget and your wrist, each of which may breed inaccurate heart-rate readings.

I favor the look of the improved heart-rate monitor on Garmin’s gadget over the Fitbit Ionic’s, as a result of the previous’s underside nonetheless narrows earlier than changing into completely flat. As a outcome, the Ionic is appears and feels thicker than the Vivoactive three, to not point out it is awkwardly formed as nicely. The Vivoactive three’s flatness makes it extra snug than different high-end wearables, whereas additionally growing its heart-rate monitoring accuracy.

The Vivoactive three additionally helps customary 20mm quick-release bands to allow them to get replaced with bands of various colours and supplies. Garmin additionally claims the gadget’s battery will last as long as seven days on a single cost, or 13 hours in GPS mode. After updating the Vivoactive three’s firmware, I had a problem with its battery: it was depleting like loopy, lasting solely 24 to 36 hours at most. Before the issue began, my gadget bought about three to 4 days on a single cost—not dangerous, however inferior to the Fitbit Ionic’s seven-day battery life.

Garmin is conscious of the difficulty and is engaged on a repair for it, and the corporate suggested me to cost the gadget absolutely earlier than turning it off and again on once more. After doing so, the battery life appeared to bounce again: after two days of consecutive day and night time use (together with each day exercise, exercise, and sleep monitoring, in addition to about 20 minutes of GPS use), the battery life was right down to 62 p.c.

The bands and the general case design make the Vivoactive three the closest factor you may get from Garmin (by way of design and options) earlier than leaping into the costly Fenix household. While Garmin additionally sells the Vivomove HR, it is clearly focused to ladies because of its “hybrid smartwatch” branding, metallic colorways, and the truth that it is categorized beneath “women’s wearables” on Garmin’s web site. The Vivoactive three is the extra highly effective, unisex model of the Vivomove HR, and the extra accessible model of the Fenix 5 wearable that begins at $599.

Listing picture by Valentina Palladino

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