Review: Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. Apple Watch

When getting on my chubby girl journey I looked at wearables to help keep me motivated and focused. I landed on the Apple Watch. I’d already had it, it was connected to my phone, and I got all the data I thought I needed. Plus, it looked good on my little wrists.

Fast forward a year and I find I wanted something more. Tom has a Garmin Fenix 5. He also got a chest strap and sensors for his running shoes and the elliptical. He dumped and consolidated his data from Fitbits and his Microsoft wearable into a database and now has all his history together. I was educated daily on his fitness details with pretty charts and graphs in Garmin Connect. Why didn’t I get one of those? Simple, it is too big and manly.

So, when the Vivoactive 3 came out it looked interesting. Smaller, still stylish, and very much cheaper than my Apple Watch and Tom’s Fenix. But, I still loved my watch and the functions beyond fitness. The fact that I talk on my watch with my son in Nashville while cooking dinner is so cool. But, I was already switching off my iPhone for work to a Pixel2 and my cord to Apple is getting smaller by the day as I also no longer work on a MacBook Pro.

Again, the Vivoactive 3, was becoming more interesting and at about $250, while not cheap, trying it out seemed like a worthy endeavor. I broke down and ordered one. Took off my Apple Watch, and went Vivo for the week. Here’s what happened…

Vivoactive 3 Pros

Activities: I love that tracking activities is more granular. I have skiing and paddling as options now where Apple Watch only gave me Other. Somehow Apple thinks that the only way to exercise is in a gym, walking or running. Its just so urban.

Feedback: I love the breakdown in my workout intensity that Garmin Connect provides. I also like the intensity minute bonus for working in zone 4 and 5. Its much more motivating for little people. When apple tells says you only burned 190 calories in 30 minutes and you see for the same intensity your 160 pound husband gets 50% more calories, us competitive people go nuts. I still get my calorie feedback and love that there is a base and anything you do adds to that. Apple calculates your BMR and adds move calories. Somehow that always confused me even if maybe it is more accurate.

Sleep: With a longer battery life, I can now wear my Vivoactive to bed and get an understanding of my sleep patterns. A chronic insomniac, I’ve now gotten the feedback needed to adjust when I go to bed and recognize what wakes me up to help me actually get a decent night sleep. I got my first 8 hour sleep in I don’t know how long. Apple watch can do this to, but you need to download an app and then there is the issue of only a day’s worth of battery life. So, tracking sleep is not as easy.

Battery life: I can definitely leave my activity tracking on all day and don’t need to worry if my Vivoactive dies. I can’t run my Apple Watch all day on a hike or ski day, it’s dead by 3:00p in the afternoon. Charging the Vivoactive is also really fast. I took off one morning, plugged it in at 40%, took my show and got dressed, and I was at 70% in about 15 minutes. My Apple Watch takes a bit longer to charge but I just set it on its station at night and in the morning I’m all set. I only failed when I forgot the charging cord when camping on the weekend. Not going to be an issue with the Vivoactive.

Simple: It didn’t take reading the manual to know how to use my Vivoactive. The initial set up using Connect and then messing with the button was all the training I needed as I completed my set up. I like that you can click the button to move into activity tracking mode and with a few swiped on the face you see stats or can just slide your finger on the side to scroll. Apple Watch is easy as well, but scrolling with the side button isn’t optimal.

Simplifying: I already us the Garmin scale to weight myself. I always had to then enter that into MyFitnessPal then it got to Apple Health. Also, any activity I did I would have to open the Watch app and then it would push my activities to MFP. Now, Garmin Connect is my central dashboard. The issues I have with MFP connectivity are still wonky (I don’t get my food calories moving to Connect), but everyting else has giving me a single dash. I don’t need another app to get better more granular stats from my Watch. I don’t need to only look at my dashboards on a little phone screen.

Vivo Active 3 Cons

Funtions: Apple Watch wins out in apps and ease of use to take a call and text. I also have a better way to manage notifications so I’m not pelted every minute with something new. Vivoactive and Garmin in general need to work on managing notifications better. While I can respond to a call or text, its is not as simple. I also can’t talk on my Vivoactive. I need my phone with me at all times now. Yuck.

Style: I got the white version of the Vivoactive and the smaller face. It is still a bit bigger than I’d like but not horrid. I do wish the sides were not white and continued with the silver face down. I can change out the band for a stainless steel melenese or leather, but with the white walls of the watch it looks a bit strange. The Apple Watch gets points for style.

Waterproof: The claim that the watch is waterproof is generally correct and I and I am leaving it on while in the shower. However, the water dropping on the face does weird stuff and it will change modes, sometimes bringing up settings, that is a bit unsettling. I could use this time for charging, but I’m curious what will happen this summer when I am jumping off my paddleboard or body surfing through ocean waves. I didn’t have these issues with my Apple Watch.

Syncing: I really really really wish Bluetooth would take care of syncing regularly. I always seem to have to open the Garmin Connect app to bring all my vivo data into the app and connect. Maybe I need to find a setting. In the meantime, I like the auto syncing between the Apple Watch and the Watch app better.

Bottom line

I’m going to keep going with my Vivoactive 3 and live with the cons. I can’t say I’m not going to miss my Apple Watch and its BatWatch features or better style. But, maybe an upgrade to a stainless fenix will happen and style will follow. We’ll see. Right now, I recommend the Vivoactive 3 for women that want all the bells and whistles a sport wearable can give. Good price, decent style, perfect for upping your game.

 

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