Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review

7.0 score
[Editors rating (7.0)] = (WalkJogRun) score (7.0)/10

Editor rating: 7.0 / 10
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Smartwatches are a great way to track your daily activities and monitor your health or fitness progress. On top of that, they can also make your life easier by allowing you to carry things you need like your wallet, your music, and even your social media right on your wrist. The most common smartwatch choices are generally those by Apple or Fitbit, but don’t overlook the Garmin Vivoactive 3.

This smartwatch offers loads of practical features including Garmin Pay, Garmin Connect, menstrual cycle tracking, a long battery life, and more while still being offered at a reasonable price. Though it has its detriments when it comes to its style and certain functions, on the whole, it’s still worth the consideration when you’re picking out a wearable. Keep scrolling to learn more about the features offered in this watch.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Built-in GPS
  • Garmin Pay
  • Garmin Connect
  • Input custom workouts
  • Tracks periods and stress
  • Heart rate monitor inaccuracy
  • Not stylish
  • Some technical difficulties

Activity Tracking

First and foremost, the most basic feature of a smartwatch is activity tracking. Like Fitbits, Apple watches, and many of its other fellow smartwatches, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 keeps tabs on your daily activities via sensors, including the calories you burn, the distances you travel, the steps you take, as well as your sleep patterns. Besides that, the Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology also monitors your VO2 max (aka your maximal oxygen consumption, which is a factor that reflects cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance in physical activity) and fitness age. These two things can be used as indicators of your health and physical progress.


It all sounds good enough, but the real question is - how accurate is this activity tracking? Gamin says that it provides a “close estimation” based on what the sensors catch. However, it’s definitely not 100% accurate. As we’ll mention later, its accuracy is especially limited when it comes to swimming or intense exercise. However, reviewers have said that the sleep tracking and other features are fairly on point.


Garmin says that the battery in this model can last up to 7 days when in smartwatch mode. However, when in GPS mode, this feature really eats through the battery and lowers that time to only around 13 hours. This may seem like you’ll constantly have to plug it in and that it will be annoying. However, if you just charge it at night like you do your phone, it shouldn’t really become an issue. Its battery life is relatively long; to put it into perspective, the Fitbit Versa has a battery life of 4 days and the Apple Watch Series 4 has a battery life of only 18 hours.


When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can stay connected no matter where you are. You’ll be able to see emails, texts, and even get social media updates. You also get access to music controls and, if you’ve lost your phone, you can find it using your watch. With Garmin Connect, your activities are also automatically synced to the Garmin fitness community. There, people can find each other, join challenges, compete, give each other encouragements, and share their progress in their fitness journeys. You can get the Gamin Connect app free on your smartphone or access it for free on the web.

Garmin Pay

Don’t just carry your smartphone around on your wrist - take your wallet, too. Thanks to Garmin pay, you can make purchases directly with your watch. Most places that let you tap your card will most likely let you pay with your Vivoactive 3 as well. Make sure to check with your bank first, however, because not all banks will allow you to use your watch. This feature is super convenient and easy for when you forget your wallet at home or when you just don’t want to carry it around with you. Features in other smartwatches similar to this one include Fitbit Pay and Apple Pay.

Heart Rate Monitor

As we mentioned already, this model includes the Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology. Not only does it measure your VO2 max and fitness age, but it also - surprise! - tracks your heart rate. This is one of the main cons of this watch, however, because many reviewers said they had issues with their heart rates being underestimated when doing intense exercise, but working just fine when at rest. On top of that, the company itself admits that the heart rate monitor has very limited accuracy during swimming. For those who frequently hit the pool, it would recommend you use the HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri heart rate monitors instead. Besides that, it also calculates and keeps track of your heart rate variability, an indicator of stress levels in everyday life.

Menstrual Cycle Tracking

Not only does the watch track your daily activities and your sleep, it can also keep track of menstrual cycles. Garmin Connect has a menstrual cycle tracking feature, through which you can log physical and emotional symptoms during your period, as well as add your own notes. In addition, depending on the phase of your cycle, you’ll get education about training and nutrition that matches your body’s needs. Another option is to get period reminders so that you’re never caught off guard. Though most of these features are those offered in smartphone apps anyhow, it’s still great to be able to access it more efficiently.


When it comes to style, it’s the same thing with clothing, footwear, and accessories: it’s subjective. What one person finds fashionable might be ugly to somebody else. It all depends on the trends you decide to follow, and the colors and designs that you like. As a result, it can be hard to discuss style alongside features like battery life, which don’t vary from person to person. We will say that, in our opinion, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 smartwatch has an average appearance. The simplicity of the watch straps and face give it a sleek look, but the three tracking circles are very obvious on the dark face and make it easy to tell that it’s a smartwatch. If you’d like a more traditional appearance with the same practical smartwatch features, Garmin offers more fashionable options like the Vivomove HR which might suit your tastes more.


The screen of this smartwatch is the Garmin Chroma Display. In full-color LCD with a native resolution of 240x240 and an extra-durable glass, it is clear to read even in direct sunlight and is suitable for outdoor usage. The Side-Swipe interface allows for quick navigation of the menus and widgets. However, some reviewers have had issues with the touchscreen malfunctioning. Others complained of the touchscreen being too sensitive, but since the screen can be locked during an activity, you can easily prevent this from getting in the way of your workouts. Lastly, thousands of watch faces are available from the Connect IQ store so that you can customize your watch screen to your liking.


Whether or not this product is “worth the money” will mostly depend on your needs and your budget. However, in general, we’d say that the Vivoactive 3 is a good price for the benefits it offers. It’s more pricey than the typical Fitbit, but much cheaper than the latest Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 4. Earlier we mentioned the Vivomove HR, a more stylish and sleek alternative to this model - the Vivoactive 3 is much more affordable than that model, too. Overall, this is a great watch for those who want the benefits of GPS and activity tracking (with additional features like customized workouts and menstrual tracking) but don’t care so much about the appearance.

Bottom Line

To conclude, Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a practical watch for tracking workouts and daily activities. Its built-in GPS is useful for tracking your location and activities without phone connection required. Garmin Pay means you can tap and make purchases with your watch, and Garmin Connect allows you to connect with a whole community of people that you can compete and share your progress with. Some cons of this watch that we found were inaccuracies with the heart rate monitor during intense exercise, as well as a potentially oversensitive touchscreen and a sporty look that may not match your business suit. As a result, we would recommend this watch for people who want access to a wide range of practical features for an affordable price and are willing to deal with the stylistic and potential technical downfalls.