Gear Review: Garmin vivoactive 3

I had a Garmin Forerunner 210 for 4 years, and I was less than 2 years into the Forerunner 235 when I came upon extreme watch envy: the Garmin vivoactive 3.

Technically, my friend HW was wearing the vivomove HR (rose gold trim with white band), but I was immediately impressed by the sleek design. I didn’t even know it was a Garmin! I did some research and found that the vivomove didn’t have GPS (a no go for me). However, the vivoactive 3 is similar in design -though not quite as stylish – and has GPS and a heart rate monitor.

While I was seriously tempted, my frugality ruled over my vanity, and I decided to hold off on the vivoactive 3. I still had a working Forerunner 235 after all, even if it did look a little busted up.

Then, shortly after my initial research, Amazon Prime Day rolled around and guess what was on special? The vivoactive 3! Even better, the Gypsy Runner offered to get it for me as a super early birthday present. What a guy. [Insert emoji with heart eyes here.]


Forerunner 235 (left) vs. vivoactive 3 (right)

So, I’ve had the vivoactive 3 for 3 months now, and here’s how I feel about it so far (mostly relative to the FR 235):


  • I love the design. It looks like a normal watch as opposed to a fitness watch. The face is smaller, which is less overwhelming on small wrists like mine.
  • The HRM is much improved compared to the 235. It seems more stable and accurate, so far.
  • The display has a better designed, I like the color screen.
  • I like that the default notification is a vibration, not a beep.
  • Strap doesn’t get as gunky as the 235.
  • I can control music more easily from my watch. (I think there was a way to do it on the 235 but I never figured out how.)
  • Sleep tracker works better than the 235.
  • Additional fitness activities: 20+ on the vivoactive 3 vs. 4 activities that were available on the 235.
  • Customizable everything (sometimes this is a con).
  • Super fast charge time. I can get a full charge in under an hour.

About even (vs. 235):

  • GPS finding – still fast on the vivoactive 3.
  • Garmin Connect wireless syncing, including sending workouts to the watch.

Cons (vs. 235):

  • Need to recharge every 3-4 days, whereas I used to charge my 235 once a week. However, since it charges so quickly, I can get by with short charges every other day (like while I’m in the shower or brushing my teeth).
  • The strap/back of the watch can be a little uncomfortable at times (gets stuck against my skin).
  • Too many options – can feel overwhelming.
  • No basic interval workout setting like in the 235.

I don’t get why there’s both a touch screen *and* a sensitive wheel on the left side that essentially do the same thing. Seems redudant. I’m also still trying to figure stuff out, like how to get iPhone notifications while I’m running (at least the phone calls are still coming through). However, overall, I really like the vivoactive3. I think it’s a nice combination fitness + lifestyle smart watch.


There are a million different watch faces to choose from. I decided on this one.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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