Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch – Pay-n-Play!

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The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch Review – Contactless Payments and Wrist-based Heart Rate.

There is no doubt that Garmin has been a “Big Boy” in producing awesome sporting gadgets in the past. Yet once again Garmin threw in their latest flagship smartwatch, Garmin Vivoactive 3, in a bid to improve the brand’s performance in the market. Unlike any of the previous releases from the company, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 seems to have assumed a completely new design with awesome capabilities. This, of course, means that it has taken exercising into a completely new ground.

Now, just about every feature you can think of being in a 21st-century smartwatch will actually be present in Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Wrist-worn Garmin vivoactive smartwatch

Wristworn Garmin vivoactive smartwatch

Is it a GPS tracker? Check that.

Is it a heartbeat sensor? Well, check that too. …wait, I did hear something about “mobile payments”, is it present? Sure, check even that one.

But somehow, it doesn’t look very sporty like its predecessors (in my opinion). Despite the look though, this smartwatch is really a game changer in sporting as we will see.

Related: Garmin Fenix 3 review

In this edition, we basically did cut through the chaff and analyzed the finest details we could about this smartwatch. By using the word “chaff”, I mean we will explore “what is” and “what is not” about the Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS smartwatch. And by the word “basically”, I mean we may have to go through about 2000 words together.

Don’t worry, just grab a cup of cappuccino and I assure you, this won’t take long. I mean it! That said; let’s begin our review with…

Build Specifications – Packaging

Off the box, the watch comes packaged with only the Vivoactive 3 smartwatch, a USB charger/data cable, and a user’s manual.

Design & durability

Unlike the earlier fitness-wear that assumed a rectangular shape, Vivoactive 3 actually took a round shape (much like most modern smartwatches). This is the reasons I considered it not very sporty (by looks).

Colors and design

Colors and design

But also, the design serves to help the watch to sell more as the new design looks cute and quite normal with a look that is rather unisexual (allow me to call it so).

Now, if you have used any popular smartwatch, you will admit that it is sometimes hard and slow to get through the process of actually navigating through the menu icons. Samsung sort of added a rotating ring-like bezel in Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch to reduce that problem. Apple has just ignored that problem. But Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 design incorporated a casing that is sensitive to touch and I assure you this really makes the watch extremely easy to use.

Lastly, this watch has a steel casing and a plastic band. This makes this watch extremely friendly and durable as it is not susceptible to either rusting or breaking.

Running with vivoactive 3

Running with vivoactive 3


This watch uses a normal USB cable charger and the same for data transfer. One main reason why this watch’s battery stands out is the fact that it can last up to 7 days (when in normal mode) or stretch up to 13 hours if used in continuous GPS mode.

Other Features

This smartwatch has a length of about 1.2 inches with a stainless steel casing. On the internal features, Gamin Vivoactive 3 has got the following main features:

  • Heart rate sensor
  • Altimeter
  • GPS feature
  • VOA2 Max Estimation feature
  • A compass
  • A wireless synchronization
  • Garmin Pay
  • Swim metrics
Heart rate sensor and Garmin Pay functionality

Heart rate sensor and Garmin Pay functionality

The top 3 main competitors to Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch

The Garmin Fenix 5S Sapphire smartwatch: this watch takes much after the Vivoactive watch 3 and has a concussion of the earlier predecessor Garmin HR. Nevertheless, Fenix 5S is able to extend a little longer battery time than Vivoactive 3 and has a better screen resolution than both of them.  This watch is also durable and has a better user interface than Vivoactive watch 3 though it is also rather expensive and is currently rated at about $650

Apple Watch 2 smartwatch: Apple spits affluence. This watch has the elegance that is coupled with performance in such a manner that I find it difficult to rank it as a formidable competitor in a Garmin Vivoactive 3 smartwatch review. It has a strong connectivity, a stable GPS, an awesome variety of applications and great memory storage. Nevertheless, this watch costs between $350 and $550 (in some countries), something that is way above most watches of equal performance.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: this is an earlier version of Garmin that focused on fitness (much like Vivoactive 3). Nevertheless, this watch had weaker properties e.g. it had smaller battery duration and poor watch connectivity when compared with Vivoactive 3. It also supported fewer applications than the recent release. Nevertheless, the Vivoactive HR costs just about $200 which is way much of a bargain. So, if you are on a fixed budget, this option will be much better.



Just like any of the modern smartwatches, Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 seems to have sought much into delivering a variety of sporting features while still addressing the aspect of elegance and acceptability even among those who are not interested in fitness. When asked keenly, you will definitely note the following:


  • A longer battery life: This is perhaps the main reason all fitness-minded people ought to get it. Nobody really enjoys charging watches and watches over and over again. Now, we have all heard of smartwatches that stay 24 – 72 hours once charged. But an offer with 7 days of battery life or rather 13 hours of live GPS (as Vivoactive 3 does) is whole new cattle of fish.
  • Garmin Pay: Garmin has joined Samsung and Apple in using mobile payments. It is no longer about “swiping a card” anymore. You can just need to wave a watch and go. That sounds cool, doesn’t it?
  • Many fitness games and guides: this watch arrives with 15 preinstalled games and one can easily download additional applications or even compete with nearby devices which actually makes sporting more interesting.
  • Water resistant: look, you don’t even need to get worried should your watch fall over the washing tub anymore. This little boy has got you covered. Though it isn’t way too good, it is just good enough to help you while swimming or in such like conditions.
  • It is light-weight: though the exact weight of the watch is not recorded, the Vivoactive 3 seems to be just light (about 1.6 oz.) enough to be negligible while carrying out the normal exercises.
  • Easy to use: with a pretty interface and a touch-sensitive ceasing, this watch makes it very easy to navigate, unlike most smartwatches.
  • High watch compatibility: Now, this little watch is compatible with Android and iOS watch platforms. This means it is usable to more watch users than those that are compatible with only 1 watch platform like most Apple smartwatches.


  • Poor interface: on analysis, it was clear that about 9 in 10 of all critics of Garmin Vivoactive 3 were focused mainly on the poor image relays and poor graphics portrayed by the device. Certainly, being a smartwatch that focuses mainly on fitness, one may not easily find its applications as attractive as the likes of Apple.
  • Software incompatibility: there are also complaints that have been raised on the incompatibility of the watch with some of the application that is supposed to run on the device.
  • Quite costly: it is not that I am trying to be vindictive on Vivoactive 3, but considering what it presents on the table against its competitors, I am somehow skeptical of this watch’s high price tag. But I suppose it is just because it is too new. Soon the prices may get to settle.
  • Battery: though most of the Garmin products have been reported to have a good battery, it was clear that some of the releases have had battery issues and thus one may have to utilize the use of a warranty in such like cases.

Product Video

One of the official product videos:

Here is my take…

In the recent years, smartwatches have really become a battleground for the biggest tech-giants. Willy-nilly, it is not because watches have become a new gadget than phones but rather because the portability of watches has been a driving factor that drives most buyer preferences. Despite that, a few companies have minded considering producing awesome, easy-to-use and cheap sporting/fitness watch like Garmin have done. When considering all the features reviewed above, it was my view that Garmin Vivoactive 3 smartwatch is likely to become a game changer.

A summary of all analyzed online reviews gave this watch a rating of 9.2 out of 10. 

This means that just about 9 in every 10 buyers of this watch actually enjoyed using it. Though it may not stay high rated for long in the market (owing to the rapid inventions that keep arising in technology), as at now, Vivoactive watch 3 stands as one of the best fitness watch one ought to try out in 2017 – 2018.

Also suitable for casual wear

Also suitable for casual wear

Where can I buy Garmin vivoactive 3?

I recommend buying it from the trustworthy online store, Amazon. Get direct access to the European and US stores by clicking the buttons below.

Always click the button to check recently updated price and additional info and reviews.

More info & Questions

Your own experiences with a product always intrigue me. If you have other questions or concerns, write them down in the comment section at the bottom. Here are a few examples of what other Amazon buyers have to say about this activity tracker:

“Great fitness/smartwatch! Touchscreen is very smooth with zero lag” by Hallucinating Elvis

“Good-looking runner’s smartwatch with some flaws” by Mr. A. Milne

“Goodbye Apple watch, hello Garmin.” by Travis

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Technical Specifications

Here are the most important tech specs:

General Design:
Name Garmin vívoactive 3
Type Smart Fitness Watch wearable
Weight 43 g
Dimension 0.5 x 1.7 x 1.7 in
Size One size
Materials Stainless steel and silicone, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Interaction Touchscreen and button
Interface 30,4 mm diameter transflective MIP display
Resolution 240 x 240 pixels
Battery Type Recharchable lithium-polymer battery
Battery Life 7 days normal, GPS mode: Up to 13 hours
Colors Black with slate frame, Black with stainless steel frame, White with stainless frame
Water-Resistant Yes
Water-Proof (depth) Yes, Swim, 5 ATM
Vibration Yes
Sensors Heart rate sensor, GPS, GLONASS, Barometric altimeter, 3 axis Compass, Accelerometer, Thermometer
Memory 7 activities with timing, 14 days of data
It Tracks:
Steps Taken Yes
Intensity minutes Yes
Distance Yes
Activity time Yes
Calories Burned Yes
Sleep Monitoring Yes
Move Reminder Yes
Heart Rate and Zones Yes
UV -
Floors climbed Yes
24/7 (All day) Yes
Other features:
Time Yes
Barometric height Yes
Alarm Clock Yes
Guided Workouts Yes
Timer Yes
Stop watch Yes
VIRB Remote Yes
Smart Notification Yes
Music Control Yes
Find my device Yes
Garmin Pay Yes
Wireless or USB Wireless
Sync Method Bluetooth Smart and ANT+
Mobile App Garmin Connect
Maintenace & FAQ:
Manufacturer Garmin
Manual Product manual


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