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Essential guide to the circular smartwatch


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We knew it was coming and now it’s official; Garmin has officially unveiled the Vivoactive 3, the natural successor to the Vivoactive HR. It’s one of the three big new trackers Garmin announced at IFA 2017, alongside the Vivomove HR and the Vivosport.

As sporty GPS-packing smartwatches go, there were very few reasons to fault the Vivoactive HR, but it did have some faults and it looks like Garmin has addressed them along with adding some pretty handy new features.

First look: Garmin Vivoactive 3 review

Until we get our hands on one for a full review, here’s what to expect from the Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Design

For starters, the blocky rectangular design is gone (yay) replaced by a more traditional circular watch body. Available in 3 colour models, you can grab the Vivoactive 3 in black or white with a stainless steel finish or in the more expensive black and slate option. All three with have the option to switch out the bands but those additional bands are sold separately. At 11.7mm thick and weighing in at 43g, it’s significantly slimmer and lighter than its predecessor and all offer the same 5ATM waterproofing rating as its predecessor so it’s safe to swim and shower with.

Hands ons: Garmin Vivomove HR review | Garmin Vivosport review

At the heart of that round watch body is an always-on, 1.2-inch Chroma display with 240 x 240 pixels resolution to ensure good visibility in all conditions. It’s not going to rival the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear Sport for colours and sharpness, but for sports lovers it should be more than suitable. There’s now a new Side Swipe control on the side of the watch that aims to make it easier and quicker to navigate menus, widgets and stats. An ambidextrous design means it can be worn with the solitary physical button on either side of the watch to make it more comfortable to use as well.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Sports tracking

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Essential guide to the circular smartwatch

In terms of sports tracking features, there’s more than 15 sports tracking modes available, which now includes yoga, cardio, elliptical and stair stepper. The core modes remain, running, golf, swimming and cycling with the latter offering compatibility with Garmin’s Varia accessories as well as speed and cadence sensors.

Rep counting first introduced on the Vivosmart 3 makes the cut as does a new customised workout mode that let’s you build routines on the Garmin Connect app and download them to the watch. Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor is also on board to keep a closer eye on workout intensity but also unlocks all-day stress tracking by monitoring HRV (heart rate variability). All of that data as standard can be reviewed in the Garmin Connect smartphone app.

It’ll also double as a fitness tracker as well counting steps and monitoring sleep while core Garmin features like the Move Bar, Auto Goal and Move IQ features will help motivate you to stay active.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Smartwatch features

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Essential guide to the circular smartwatch

This is a smartwatch of course so there’s is smart notification support in tow and now you can respond to messages and social media updates, a feature not previously available on the Vivoactive HR. You’ll still be able to take control of music playback and access Garmin’s Connect IQ store to download additional apps, watch faces and data fields. Features like Find My Phone and Watch modes are also on board.

There’s also NFC on board and that unlocks the biggest new feature; Garmin Pay. Thanks to FitPay integration, you can use the Vivoactive 3 to make contactless payments. It will support Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards letting you add cards to your Garmin Pay wallet.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Battery life

In terms of battery life, the Vivoactive 3 can deliver up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. That’s roughly the same as the up to 8 days and 13 hours in GPS the Vivoactive HR managed.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: Price release date

So let’s talk pricing. The black and white with stainless steel finish models of the Vivoactive 3 are priced at $299.99 with the black and slate model jumping up to $329.99. If you compare that to what the Vivoactive HR cost when they first launched then that’s roughly the same.


On paper, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’ve been a fan of Garmin’s smartwatch. Contactless payments when you need to grab a drink on that sweaty run, new tracking modes and improved battery life. And there’s of course that more attractive-looking design. You’ve done well here Garmin.



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