Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review! Should You Buy It?

garmin vivoactive 3

Product Name: Garmin vivoactive 3

Overall Rank: 4/5

Price: $179.99 CAD

Best Place To Buy: or

Guarantee: 1 year

I’ve been looking around for quite a while, for a wearable device that would replace my old TomTom Spark 3 GPS watch. I needed a watch that was affordable but at the same time would give me accurate fitness metrics like my Spark 3 but with something more. Let’s say that I needed more insights about my health and fitness level and how I could improve in long term.

As technology change quickly I now wanted a smartwatch, a wearable is now taking the lead in the wearable market leaving behind the fitness tracker device. I did a lot of researches and try different wearables in the past months and I found a great bargain on Amazon. The Garmin Vivoactive 3. Sold at half price on Black Friday this watch pick my curiosity.

Packed with built-in GPS, waterproof ATM5 and optical HR sensor this watch is a great contender to surpass my old but efficient TomTom Spark 3 watch. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks and we will see if this watch can be a great option for your.

What’s in the Box

The Garmin vivoactive 3 comes in a nice small box that gives a lot of information about what the watch delivers. I love that most of the crucial information about watch is printed on the box.

Here’s some pictures showing the side and the front of the watch.

Credits: Wearable website

Here’s what you get inside the box (pretty well packed).

  • Garmin vivoactive 3
  • Service Manual and Disclaimers Notes
  • 3 pins charging cable

Hardware and Design

Lightweight and Beautiful Design

Weighted at 43 g, you forget quickly that you are wearing this beautiful watch. The design of the Garmin vivoactive 3 is stunning. You can see the details on each side of the watch, it is well-made.

The white model looks great like the other models. Image Credits: ZDNet

Each of the three colors for the casing that are available looks sharp. The colors available are Slate, White and Stainless. I bought the ”Slate Hardware” model for more homogeneity but I can say you will be please with any colors.

Rugged Screen with Bright Display

The watch comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen (1.2” diameter) that is made hard and will resist to any big scratches. The touchscreen display is 240 x 240 pixels, it is bright but it is not the brightest that Ive seen. The wearable is also sunlight sensitive and will adjust depending on the light intensity. You can also set your own brightness in the settings of the watch to save some battery.

Side button and Side Swipe Control

The watch is controlled with three methods: touchscreen, side button and sideswipe control. Selecting a menu or parameter can be done while taping the screen. To navigate in the menus you can use either the touchscreen or the side Swipe control.

The Swipe Control on the left side of the watch is sensitive and easy to use. The best swipping experience is still with the Tizen OS that is used on Samsung smartwatches. The right button allow your to turn off or on the watch and also to start a workout (e.g.: run) depending on your sport choices.

Strong hard strap

The strap of the vivoactive 3 looks and feel great.

Fast Charging (but sloppy charging cable)

Charging the Garmin vivoactive 3 is really fast. It takes about 1-1.5 hours to fully charge the watch. One thing on the bad side is the charging cable, more specifically the connector. The connection feels loose when you connect it to the back of the watch. Not sure if it made like that or not (maybe my cable is defective) but you will need to be gentle every time to use it.

Fitness Features

Accurate readings beside HR

After using the watch for more than 2 weeks I found that most of the sensors are accurate. The accelerometer sensor that tracks steps need some tweaking when first using the watch but then you will barely see a difference (-/+ 400 meters with the treadmill or my TomTom Spark 3 watch.

Garmin HR Sensor

Garmin vivoactive 3 Optical HR sensor (Image credit: Amazon)

The only bad thing with the watch is the HR sensor that lacks accuracy. When running on a treadmill at a mid pace I (130-140 bpm) the watch was recording a HR higher than 20 bpm (160-162)! I was disappointed.

Waterproof and Automatic Tracking

The watch is completely waterproof and you can use it while swimming up to 50 meters of depth. The vivoactive 3 is also capable to track automatically tons of exercises like running, biking, hiking with the Move IQ feature Garmin branded.

Software and Apps

To be able to see all the information recorded by the watch you must be connected to a iOS or Android phone via Bluetooth. So the Bluetooth pairing is done using Garmin Connect .

Garmin IQ Store

Connect IQ Store

This is where your customization of your watch begins. From the IQ Store you can download some widgets or apps that are compatible with the Garmin vivoactive 3. You also have a wide selection of watchfaces that can be downloaded and then installed on your watch. The download is a bit slow but nothing to get you frustrated.

Here’s a bunch of watchfaces that I loved and used:

pictures here

The store is well organized and give great suggestions with his ”Trending Apps” list. You can also have fitness apps called ”Performance Metrics” that can be uploaded to your watch. I love the Strava app and the dwMap. The last one allows to pre-records a route/map that can then be loaded on your watch. That way you have your next workout route to make.

Garmin Quick Connect App

Garmin Quick Connect

My Day

Garmin Quick ConnectThe Quick Connect App displays a lot of fitness data and insights. The main interface (called My Day) shows all the fitness values that are relevant for you. Once the app sync with your watch it will give you heart rate in real time plus a 7 days data summary including like heart rate, steps, calories, stress level, sleep hours (average). This summary is editable, so you can remove a statistic or add one easily.

Challenges and Active Calendar

The challenges allow you to enter or create a challenge with people that your have added with the app or that your have found. I haven’t found many challenges to enter so I was a bit disappointed. As for the Calendar, your can see all your fitness data from each day and months that where sync with your watch.

News Feeds

This menu allow your to see your last workouts and your connections can also like or comment on them. Cool but not very useful if you don’t have any friends that uses Connect IQ.

Side Menu

Side Menu Garmin ConnectFrom the side menu you enter in each feature’s settings that you want. By example, if you click on ”Activities” you can see your last runs or walk that you have performed during 7 days, 4 weeks or even 12 months! You can also enter your shoes for runners/cyclists to monitor their usage and see if you need to interchange them or just throw them out in the garbage.


Insights is a feature that I really love. When you start up it will give you some insight about your health. By example, it can tell (with the data recorded) that you have taken 68% more steps than other users. You can compare yourself with everyone or by select your gender and/or age. This information can help you get better or motivate you.

Garmin Pay (Contact less Payments)

This feature is similar to Samsung or Apple Pay. Once you add a credit card to your account you can start paying using your wrist. Pay attention that this feature is not available/compatible on all stores and only a bunch of credit card carriers are supported (for Canada).

Pros and Cons


  • The beautiful design of the watch let your wear it on any scenarios (workout, meeting, gym, etc…)
  • The bright display is easy to look on any type of conditions
  • Fast Bluetooth connectivity with a smartphone using Garmin Connect
  • Wide variety of watchfaces and apps available with Connect IQ
  • Good Battery life (13-14 hours) when using GPS Tracking


  • Heart rate Sensor is inaccurate. Not good enough for advanced runners or when doing intervals.
  • Garmin Pay feature is only available with some banks/credit cards in North America.
  • OS is less intuitive and user-friendly than Wear OS or Tizen OS.


The Garmin vivoactive 3 is a great all-around smartwatch. Designed with great details and a beautiful touchscreen your will enjoy using it on any type of days. From the workout session to the business meeting it will fit your perfectly.

Having a great selection of watch faces and apps to customize your watch is to keep in mind too. On the software side the Garmin Connect companion app does the job well by displaying your all the fitness data that your need and will also show some great insights about your health (and where your can improve).

On the sensors side, they all work great beside the optical HR (heart rate) sensor that lacks accuracy. Please take note that your need to adjust the distance recorded by the watch the first times your use the accelerometer.

So the answer to the main question is YES! For all it can give your, it is a no brainer. If heart rate is a fitness feature that your must use your can still connect a heart rate chest strap for better accuracy. But unfortunately for me, it doesn’t surpass my TomTom Spark 3 watch due to the HR issue.

I hope you enjoyed my Garmin vivoactive 3 review!

Make sure to drop a comment if you have any questions or have some experience with this beautiful watch.

Happy new year and stay active!

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About Alvaro ''Al'' Paez

I am a passionate fitness/wearable enthusiastic person who loves to share to the world, news and reviews about what I call fitness wearables. Ive been using wearables since many years and I found they can be a useful tool to improve your health, increase your fitness level and lose weight. There's a fitness wearable for every person. Let me show you the good path! Alvaro ''Al'' Paez.

View all posts by Alvaro ''Al'' Paez →

38 Comments on “Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review! Should You Buy It?”

  1. My colleague at work has just gotten the Garmin vivoactive3 and I must commend that the performance really got me enving him. This watch is really great to see from both the level of appearance and how active it is when it cones to performance. I like this a lot and also, the performance is really top notch. Having sweat for long time duringnour last adventure, it did not affect the watch in the tiniest bits. Thanks

    1. Hi Rodarrick, 

      Your friend seems to have a great experience with this watch. I had the same kind of experience beside the HR issue. Al:) 

  2. Hey Al, great review of the Garmin Vivoactive 3! 

    I’ve been looking t getting a new fitness band, or Fitbit, or whatever really works the best for someone that goes out to the gym a few days a week really. How accurate is the Vivoactive 3 overall? You said the Heart Monitor was a bit off, is it the same for the steps counted?

    All in all, I really like the colors they offer and the design is quite sleek. I’m looking forward to trying one out eventually!

    1. Hi Tyson, 

      In terms of accuracy it is good for the everyday person but for someone that wants to do intervals or check the heart rate, it lacks a little bit. You still can use a HR chest strap to get better HR readings compared to the on wrist optical sensor. Al 

  3. It’s always a very good thing for one to see a good fitness watch to use. It’s sad that I got one for my Christmas gift but I have has my eye on this type because I was told the Garmin company produces great products. I engu you already have one yourself. Maybe later in the year I’ll grab this one. It looks like a casual watch and I like that

  4. Hello Alvaro, I must say that this review is very helpful and informative. I really like this smartwatch because I enjoy exercising with my friends. This could even be a great gift for my best friend. Thank you for sharing your knowledge about Garmin, I will definitely give it a try. All the best, Danijel

  5. Hiya Al,

    Thanks for your comprehensive article about the Garmin Vivo Active 3 wearable. I love user experience based reviews as it’s great to get a first hand account from someone who’s actually used the product or service especially if it’s an expensive item. I have a Fitbit, I’m not sure which version, I got it because I wanted to know how many steps I was taking., turns out a lot more than I thought! It’s great apart from the whole resetting at midnight thing it does. I find that super annoying as I’m more active later in the day and my Fitbit is missing some of my best work! 

    Do wearables adjust for stick/crutches users? You said it can track lots of activities, what about swimming?   Thank you for giving me the benefit of your experience to help me make an informed decision when I decide to upgrade my wearable, krs PurpleLioness 

  6. Hey thank you for the awesome post!  The Garmin Vivoactive 3 looks amazing and innovative.  I like the style a lot, and the white one has to be my favorite of the three!  I really like that it is waterproof and not just water resistant.  That is great for swimmers!  I can deal with the heart rate monitor if it means getting all the other features!

  7. This is really a nice review on Garmin Vivoactive 3. I have it and it performed flawlessly for me and it is very attractive. The user interface is very logical and easy to use. It has its own GPS so does not rely on the phone for GPS data or require a connection while recording and activity.

    This is just awesome for anyone especially if you’re into sports. You will find it useful,

    1. Hi Kell,

      Correct, this watch has built in GPS and works great with it. The app makes it easy to see your tracked route. 

  8. Thanks for this review

    Garmin vivoactive 3 seems to a good wearable healthy device. You talked of it being durable, blue tooth connectivity, the beautiful looks and much more all attract me to try it out. also, the price is fair compared to other healthy devices that have the same features as germin vivoactive 3. I am soon trying it out. thanks again.

  9. Thanks for a good review. For me, a smartwatch needs to be a bit attractive as well as do all the things that it should. The Garmin Vivoactive definitely fits the part. I like how it looks in white!

    I need a watch that tracks everything and waterproof is a must because part of my weekly exercise routine is swimming. Does Garmin Pay work in Europe?

  10. Thanks a lot for your honest review! I like the fact of you showing real facts that, to some users, may be a disadvantage.

    The heart bit inaccuracy doesn’t really bothers me (I can live with it). Battery life, look and feel is the best for me.

    To tell you the truth, I’ve gotten I love with it since the first picture. Thanks for your post!

  11. I found Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a great smartwatch for all. It’s design is awesome and having a beautiful touchscreen. On the software side the Garmin connect companion app does the job well by displaying all the fitness data that we needed. Their are wide variety of watch faces and apps available with connect IQ. I found its battery life is also good while using GPS tracking.

  12. I encountered your review about Garmin Vivoactive 3 at perfect time! My dad used to have one of Garmin’s watches and it recently got broken. He’s on the market for a new one, so I will tell him about your opinion. I think he will consider buying it after hearing about your pros and cons (he doesn’t really care about Heart rate Sensor, but does appreciate good battery life).

  13. Hello there, thanks for this awesome article it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.i have heard alot about the Garmin Vivoactive3 smart watche….but after reading your article I think I am convinced now and I would get it once I go on Amazon to shop for some stuffs

  14. Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about Garmin vivoactive 3 and explanations are given.

    I plan to buy a smartwatch for a long time. I have read many articles on the internet but this is the best. After reading this article I will definitely order a Garmin vivoactive 3 because it is perfect for what I need.

    Thanks again for this post. If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Good luck!

  15. Garmin, Vioactive, I love the design of this Garmin, and I love the fact that it adjusts to sunlight, when I am riding by bike, with my fit-bit, I cannot see the numbers, HR, until I stop and look at it, side ways while shading from the sun, Looks like a great buy, not to expensive, this gives me a lot to think about, when I am ready to purchase a new monitoring system while riding my bike.

  16. My husband kept looking like a watch just like this one. He found one in the mall but i was too expensive. Then we found one on an app that someone was selling, but it was scratched up. Boy these men and their watches. Nowadays, technology is all in the watch. However, I was watching a movie the other day from many years ago and the watch had recordings. I thought this was new. lol

  17. Hey, Your review is very awesome for everyone like me. Garmin Vivoactive 3 comes in a nice small box and having lot of information about the watch. It is very light weight and looks very beautiful. It has automatic tracking with waterproof. I found it is the best watch I have seen yet. I am planning to buy this soon. I hope everyone is interested to buy this useful product. I will also share this with my friends.

  18. I’m glad I found this review about the Garmin Vivoactive 3 wearable. Your article is really unique and informative. I really like this smartwatch. My friend loves to exercise. This is a must-buy for my friend. This will be a great gift for my friend. I really like that because this watch is trace everything and waterproof. If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Thank you so much for sharing with us such a beautiful article.

  19. One thing I consider whenever I want to get a device is a great battery life and for Garmin Vivoactive 3 the battery life is simply amazing. It has a beautiful design and screen display. Glad to see that it was able to meet your needs and I’d love to own one of this smart watch. 

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