Product Name: Garmin vivoactive 3
Overall Rank: 4/5
Price: $179.99 CAD
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.
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 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
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:
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
The 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.
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.
From 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!