Vivoactive 3 Review – A Runner’s Friend

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The Garmin Vívoactive 3 is one of the best fitness-based smartwatches you can find. 

It comes with a wide range of fitness tracking features for different types of athletes, including runners, golfers, swimmers, and more. 

It can handle contactless payments and comes with built-in sports apps. This review explores the main features, benefits, and downsides of this smart watch.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Things You Need To Know!

There are three crucial things or functions that you should know about the Vivoactive 3.

Contactless Payments: The Garmin Pay contactless payment system allows you to make payments against purchases made through your smartwatch. This feature is available with particular bank cards.

As a point though, my go to card is Discover and it doesn’t seem to be playing well with my iPhone/Vivoactive. So, there definitely seem to be some hiccups with this feature. 

Apps: It comes with over 15 sports and GPS apps, and you can also install new apps through the Connect IQ store. The preinstalled apps allow you to track various activities, including running, yoga, and swimming, among others.

Connectivity: The smartwatch keeps you connected through smart notifications, as you can pair it with smart devices. 

It also monitors your fitness levels using VO2 max. Besides, it can also make performance estimates for you.

Things I Liked

This Garmin device offers connected features like automatic uploads to its server called Connect. 

That allows keeping records of my performance history. It also supports Live Track. Another thing I liked in this fitness tracker is that the battery can last up to a week when used in the smartwatch mode.

So, this fitness watch ticks almost all the right boxes. It comes with GPS, it is accurate and practical, it has heart-rate and altimeter sensors, and it can track swimming as well. 

It can track both fitness and stress levels. So, it shows how my body responds to different types of situations. It can estimate both my fitness age and VO2 max. 

Another feature is heart rate variability or HRV tracking. This feature helps calculate and track stress levels.

I also liked how it is possible to customize the interface’s looks. I have played around with watch face by uploading new faces and widgets from the Connect IQ.

Things I didn't like

There is only one downside that I found in this device. Garmin Pay currently supports a minimal range of cards. 

It only supports the Visa card of Bank of America, U.S. Bank, and Capital One. MasterCard is supported only from Bank of America, First Tech Federal Credit Union, BECU, U.S. Bank, and a couple of other banks. 

According to the company, they are adding more banks and credit unions. Once Garmin addresses its contactless payment system’s lack of reach to most banks, this fitness watch will become the perfect device.

Vivoactive 3 Features

1. Accuracy

The GPS and heart rate monitor both provide accurate information. The Elevate tech used in the heart rate monitor looks like a critical accuracy driver here. It has significantly improved accuracy since Garmin introduced its heart rate wearable.

When it comes to GPS tracking, the company has had a long history of providing a high level of accuracy. The strength training rep counter is also highly accurate and reliable.

2. Apps

If you want to get complete information about your training and progression, Garmin Connect is just the right app for you. This app from Garmin powers the Vivoactive. Also, 15 sports apps come preloaded in the smartwatch. You can also use it with Connect IQ. This store provides you access to over 1600 apps. Then there is the option to install new apps, watch faces, and widgets. 

Most of the apps on Connect IQ are related to fitness activities. You will find specialized apps for running, hiking, skiing, stretching, biking, and other sports activities and exercises. That makes it an excellent store for athletes and fitness freaks like me.

Garmin’s app comes with improved functionality and design. Every time I open the app, it introduces me to the activities I did during the day. It displays within “My Day.” The top portion shows the workout cards related to my activities for the day. 

The lower cards provide info about the following:
Calories burnt
Stress levels
Heart rate
intensity minutes

And more. Tap on the cards provides me detailed information about the specific activity. There is also a section called a summary card. It shows my yesterday activities. Then there is a summary of the past week as well. The cards are set in an easy to use and access manner. They are also quite informative. The detailed data displayed can also include graphs.

There is a section within the app known as Challenges. That is where you can challenge your friends. You can also use this section to participate in the weekly steps challenge. 

To take a look at my activities and performances during the past month, I check the ‘calendar.’ It uses color codes to highlight different achievements. 

More Page:

There is more to be found on the ‘More’ page. It has the following options:
Define my favorite activities
Define notifications
Set email preferences
Access personal settings

This section seemed a little complicated initially, but I got used to it. 

3. Connectivity

The device has a Garmin’s Connect app that I can use with my Android phone. It is also compatible with iOS devices. We need to download the Connect app and create an account to be able to view the data in-depth. The device can connect to my phone through Bluetooth Smart to control music. Other connectivity features include smart notifications and connection to accessories. 

It also has a unique feature, which is available only for Android devices. I can decline calls or answer text messages right from the smartwatch. Device connectivity is also possible through ANT+. It allows me to see my emails and social media updates right on my wrist. LiveTrack enables me to share my sports and performances with friends. My completed activities get uploaded to the Garmin Connect network. There is a 4-pin charging port at the bottom of the watch. It is tiny, and you don’t feel it on the skin. 

4. Comfort

This fitness watch is not just good to look at; it is also comfortable to wear. The silicone band makes comfortable wear even when worn 24 hours a day. The band is highly flexible, making things even more straightforward. 

5. Style

The smartwatch has a traditional watch-like circular design. Also, there are three different color combinations to choose from. I picked the black one. The other two options are white and black with silver. It has a sleek design and looks like a standard watch. I like this aspect of this fitness watch. It offers the practical functions and features to be a fitness tracker while having the aesthetics that can be accepted by anyone, even someone who is more fashion-conscious like me. The smartwatch features a beautiful stainless steel casing. 

6. Durability

It is a durable smartwatch that is popular among athletes. The watch’s case is made using a unique, reinforced polymer. It has durable stainless steel accents all around. The face is made of toughened glass. The screen is robust, made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a name that has a reputation for durability in the smartphone and smartwatch industry. I can wear it all the time I am running or working out, without worry about scratches.

7. Face

Garmin has created a unique smartwatch and fitness tracker in the form of Vivoactive 3. It is unlike the square-shaped wearable devices, which are the usual norm. It looks more like a standard watch and doesn’t draw much attention, but it still looks elegant. 

As already mentioned, the face is made of special toughened glass. It has a 1.2-inch touch-screen. The screen is easy to read and clear enough in all conditions. I never had an issue reading it, even in bright sunlight.

8. Band

The band is the right size for me. It is perfect to wear on wrists of circumference up to 204mm. 

It’s adjustable between 127mm and 204mm. They make the bands out of silicone and it feels pretty good I must say. The material is inert and hypoallergenic, after wearing it through sweaty runs my skin still feels fine.

9. Ease of Use

You can access all the functions and apps through the touch feature. There is only a single button on the watch, but the touch-screen eliminates the need for additional buttons. The touch-screen allows me to scroll through the menu without any issues. It is easy to use and is quite responsive.

10. Water depth 

I have taken the watch for a few swims without any issues. The company claims that it is waterproof up to 50 meters underwater. So I decided to wear it in the shower as well. It’s held up so far.

Battery life - How often do I need to charge it?

The Vivoactive 3’s battery can last for almost seven days in the smartwatch mode. 

When used in GPS mode, it lasts around 13 hours. 

This watch uses an innovative memory-in-pixel screen to save battery life. 

When not using GPS, I charge the phone once every six days. As already mentioned, the 4-pin charger port is at the bottom. It comes with a tiny cable that you can plug into this port, with the other end to a USB port.

Why buy this Garmin Vivoactive 3?

To start with, it’s comfortable. You’ll actually wear it for more than your run. It aslo comes with lots of attractive features. 

There are the preinstalled sports apps, but you can also choose from hundreds of specialized apps for each activity on the Connect IQ store. From swimming to hiking to running, you can find a dedicated app for any event.

Ease of use is another reason. The touch-screen allows you to scroll quickly through the menu. The single-button design further adds to its looks. 

Another reason to wear this fitness watch is its durability. It is made of polymer, stainless steel, and toughened glass. 

The Vivoactive 3 also supports contactless payments using Garmin Pay. Even though it only covers a few banks and institutions, it is a promising feature. New banks are being added to the list, which will make the process beneficial for more users. 

The battery life is long enough when used in a specific form. And I can wear it while swimming without any worries about water seeping inside. It uses unique technologies to monitor both heart rate and stress levels. 

Final Thoughts!

This fitness watch has everything a runner and gym-goer need.(yes I’m hype)

To recap, it features sports activities tracking, smart notifications, payment system, GPS, a nice design, and more. 

But, it’s comfortable too. I’ve found myself diving more into the features over time. I’ve even used the Bluetooth connect feature to skip through songs. 

I could easily pull out my phone, but.. the watch is now integrating into my DNA. If you feel me on that.

Overall, I say yes. If you pick one of these up, or a newer version be sure to let me know how you liked it.

Author Picture - Conor


Hey everyone 🙂 My name is Conor. I'm passionate about technology, zen, and improving the quality of life so many of us share at a desk!

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