Garmin takes alặng at Apple và Fitbit with a smartwatch that can traông xã advanced workouts.

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ByCaitlin McGarry11 December 2019

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Our Verdict

The Vivoactive sầu 3 is one of the best fitness-focused smartwatches available, but the Fitbit Ionic has music storage & the Apple Watch Series 3 has more apps.



There"s no doubt that Garmin handily beats both Apple và Fitbit when it comes to tracking exercise, making it the best smartwatch for fitness-tracking, but the Vivoactive 3 has a few drawbacks when you look beyond workouts.

Editor"s note: Garmin"s next-ren $349 Vivoactive sầu 4 is now on sale. The smartwatch comes in two sizes & offers built-in music storage.

Fitness: Where Garmin shines

The Vivoactive sầu 3 has built-in GPS and a heart rate sensor, which are becoming de rigueur for smartwatches these days. But Garmin has been outfitting its activity trackers with both of those features for years now, và the accuracy of the company"s sensors is well-proved at this point. That holds true for the Vivoactive sầu 3, although the differences between Garmin"s devices & those of its rivals are shrinking.



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I wore the device for three 3-mile runs & found that the Vivoactive sầu 3 latches onkhổng lồ a GPS signal in less than a minute & accurately tracks heart rate during exercise. You launch a workout by pressing the watch"s side button and choosing from a litany of activities (seriously, it seems like Garmin can track just about anything). You can also kiến thiết your own workouts in the Garmin Connect smartphone ứng dụng and then sync them khổng lồ the watch.



The Vivoactive 3"s display is superbright & easy to see even when you"re running outside. While you run, you can see stats lượt thích mileage, pace and heart rate. After syncing your workout to the Garmin Connect tiện ích, you"ll see a maps of your route.



The Vivoactive 3 uses its heart rate sensor lớn measure your V02 max score, or what your fitness age is, & monitor your bao tay levels throughout the day. The Garmin Connect phầm mềm stores public information from other Garmin users about popular courses & segments, & compares your data against them. I liked being able khổng lồ see how quickly other runners conquered a difficult uphill stretch of a course I run regularly (although I"m a little peeved that they were much faster than me).


Design: Simple, round, easy khổng lồ use


The Vivoactive sầu 3 shares many features with its rivals, the Fitbit Ionic & Apple Watch Series 3. The Garmin device"s interface relies on a combination of touch-screen controls & a side button or crown. For instance, viewing a smartphone notification requires tapping on the watch face, but pausing a workout happens with the press of a button. This was all easy enough khổng lồ figure out.


Unlượt thích the Ionic and Apple Watch, the Vivoactive sầu 3 has a round watch face that makes it look more like an analog watch than a fitness tracker or smartwatch. You can install new watch faces in the Garmin Connect phầm mềm, but the preinstalled one is just fine. It always shows the time, although the display dims when you"re not actively using it to conserve battery.

Many smartwatches are bulky or just way too large on my fairly small wrist. This is true of the Ionic, which loses major points for its gigantic square shape. The Vivoactive sầu 3 is big, too, at 43 millimeters, but looks more lượt thích a fashionably oversized analog watch than an obvious Bluetooth device or a fitness tracker.


Pressing on the watch face reveals a menu; from here, you can change your watch face, set an alarm, view your stats and change the watch"s settings. Swipe up from the watch face to lớn see an overview of your day, check the weather or view your most recent notifications.

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I liked that the Vivoactive sầu 3 would show me the entirety of a text message or the full text of an alert. More basic fitness trackers will tell you if you have a text but won"t show you the whole thing. However, I wasn"t able to respond to messages right from my wrist, which would be useful.

Downsides: Sleep-tracking and no songs

Design và fitness are where Garmin"s Vivoactive 3 excels, but it"s not a perfect smartwatch. The device gets pretty decent battery life — about three days with GPS & heart rate use — which means you can wear the watch overnight, but the sleep-tracking leaves a lot to be desired. One night, I forgot to wear the watch, leaving it on a table. The next day, the device reported that I had slept solidly for 9 hours. Shouldn"t a watch with a heart rate sensor be able lớn figure out that a human isn"t wearing the device, let alone sleeping while doing so?

The watch also lacks onboard music storage & has no integration with music apps. You can control tuy nhiên playbaông chồng from your smartphone using the Vivoactive 3, but if you leave sầu trang chủ with just your smartwatch, you"ll have sầu khổng lồ work out in silence. Both the Ionic and Apple Watch tư vấn local tuy vậy storage, so you can exercise without a phone nearby.

Garmin Pay: Easy khổng lồ use, if you can

Like Fitbit & Apple, Garmin wants lớn make its smartwatches capable of doing more on their own. The company introduced a mobile payment system with the Vivoactive 3 called Garmin Pay so you can pay for items on the go by simply holding your watch near a payment terminal. You can tell whether a store or restaurant accepts sản phẩm điện thoại payments if there"s an NFC inhỏ on the checkout stvà.

Setting up Garmin Pay in the Garmin Connect điện thoại thông minh app is fairly easy. You can add payment details manually or by snapping a photo of your physical thẻ, then verify your card with the ngân hàng or credit card issuer. The whole process takes just a few minutes.

To actually use Garmin Pay in a store, long press the Vivoactive sầu 3"s side button and tap on the wallet inhỏ. You can store multiple cards in your wallet and choose between them by swiping down. You"ll see a pholớn of your thẻ và its last four digits khổng lồ make sure you piông xã the right one. I was in a hurry when I used the Vivoactive lớn pay for a pack of gum at Duane Reade, & using the watch khổng lồ pay was far faster than digging into lớn my bag khổng lồ find my wallet và pull out my debit card, especially given how slow chip card transactions have become.


But Garmin Pay doesn"t tư vấn that many cards at launch, which limits its usefulness. Visa cards from Bank of America, Capital One & U.S. Bank và Mastercards from BECU, Bank of America, Capital One, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, U.S. Bank và VACU are currently supported. More card issuers are being added in the coming months, but the roster is nowhere near as expansive sầu as Apple Pay, which has a lengthy head start.

App Store: Limited lớn (mostly) fitness

Like Fitbit và Apple, Garmin has an tiện ích store for its smartwatch. But while Garmin says its Connect IQ store has more than 1,600 apps, big-time apps unrelated khổng lồ fitness are few và far between. There are plenty of watch faces & workout apps that you can install from the store in the Garmin Connect app, but they"re extremely specific. There are apps for hiking, stretching, setting a stopwatch, skiing, biking and running, but you"ll be hard-pressed lớn find popular điện thoại thông minh apps that are unrelated khổng lồ working out. An tiện ích that shows your Lyft driver"s ETA và another that does the same for Uber are useful, but you still need your phone khổng lồ hail a ride.

It"s a good thing that Garmin is so committed to fitness, but a smartwatch should be more versatile. The Vivoactive sầu 3 would be more useful when you"re not exercising if it had more apps that can control smart trang chủ devices, deliver news headlines lớn your wrist và offer more insights into lớn your health using the watch"s sensors. It has a few, but not enough. When it comes to lớn fitness, though, Garmin"s store has everything you could want — và then some.

Bottom Line

Garmin"s Vivoactive sầu 3 is an extremely fitness-focused smartwatch, much more so than the Fitbit Ionic or Apple Watch Series 3. That makes this device perfect for extremely fitness-focused people. The watch also looks better on the wrist than the Fitbit Ionic does.

The Apple Watch Series 3 without LTE is the best smartwatch that most iPhone users — those who aren"t serious athletes — can buy. If you don"t care so much about style (and don"t have sầu an iPhone), you might lượt thích the Fitbit Ionic, which also offers powerful fitness-tracking, and is building out an phầm mềm store with more popular apps that you will recognize. The Ionic also has room for music, which the Vivoactive sầu 3 does not.

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But there"s no denying that Garmin makes the best fitness trackers you can buy. If the company made the Vivoactive sầu 3 a more well-rounded smartwatch with more popular apps, tư vấn for more cards in Garmin Pay & music storage, then the device would be worth every bit of its $300 price tag.


Chuyên mục: Kiến thức bổ ích