At first glance, the biggest difference between Garmin’s newest smartwatch, the Vivoactive 3, and the beloved multisport GPS watch Fenix 5 appears to be price. The Fenix 5 is significantly more than the Vivoactive 3. So what accounts for that huge price difference? How do these two devices compare? We set out to answer those questions and bring you this guide so that you can make an informed decision.
Here’s our take on the Vivoactive 3 versus the Fenix 5.
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In terms of design, the bodies of the two watches are very similar. Both have a round face and nearly identical bands. But the Vivoactive 3 is much lighter (43g vs. 83g) and is smaller overall. The Fenix comes with more color schemes and metal options, whereas the Vivoactive has just 3 color combinations. There are additional watch straps available for both devices, so you can easily change out your strap on either watch.
The Vivoactive has a more vibrant and impressive screen, as well as improvements in the interface – after all, it is the newer device and thus boasts the latest and greatest in Garmin’s tech. The pixels are slightly higher, but both have sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel, meaning the screens are easy to read even in bright sunlight. It is touchscreen, unlike the Fenix which operates solely through buttons. The touchscreen of the Vivoactive functions well, even if your hands are wet.
The screen materials are different in these two, however. On the Vivoactive 3, the screen is Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The Fenix 5 comes in mineral glass with the option to upgrade to sapphire crystal display, which offers stronger screen protection.
To recap, here are the key design differences:
- Vivoactive 3 is lighter, smaller, and has a more vibrant screen
- Fenix 5 has more color and material options
Smartwatch and General Features
The Vivoactive 3 is marketed as a smartwatch. Although the Fenix 5 has plenty of smartwatch-esque features, it is a multisport watch first and foremost – it’s going to be more focused on fitness and sports rather than functioning as a smartwatch. That doesn’t mean it won’t do some of the smartwatch things you need. In fact, there are only a few features that the Vivoactive 3 includes that the Fenix 5 lacks (music control and NFC contactless payments are the primary ones).
When it comes to general features, the Fenix makes up for some of the cost difference in a few ways. First, it has more internal memory (64 mb versus the Vivoactive’s 7 timed activities/14 days of tracking data). It also boasts a longer battery life (not by much, but still more than the Vivoactive). And finally, it has a higher water rating – 10 ATM versus the Vivoactive’s 5 ATM.
Key things to know about feature differences:
- Vivoactive 3 has more smartwatch features, including music control and Garmin Pay
- Fenix 5 has more memory, a better battery life, and higher water rating
Health and Fitness Features
The Vivoactive 3 is a smartwatch, sure, but it was created with fitness taking center stage. You’ll get all the fitness features you expect on a Garmin device, including HR monitoring, step counting, automatic rep counting, fitness age, Vo2 Max, and more. It also has stress tracking and built-in workouts, plus GPS and barometric altimeter for tracking floors climbed. These features are also available on the Fenix 5. The primary difference is that the Fenix has much more when it comes to fitness features.
There are, for example, over 80 sports profiles on the Fenix; the Vivoactive has just 15. The Fenix also has features the Vivoactive lacks, such as multi-sport mode, open water swimming, and triathlon modes. The data from the Fenix is just overall much more comprehensive. For many shoppers, the Vivoactive has enough for fitness tracking to last them a long while. For hardcore athletes, cyclists, ultra-marathoners, competitive swimmers, and the like, the Fenix represents much more comprehensive data and uses.
The Fenix 5 is also more durable than the Vivoactive, making it a better option for rock climbers and other outdoor athletes who might put their device to the test.
When it comes to health and fitness tracking, here’s what to know:
- Vivoactive 3 has all the primary features: stress tracking, HR, step, rep counting, and so on
- Fenix 5 is perfect for competitive athletes, triathletes, and so on
The Vivoactive 3 and the Fenix 5 are both solid sport watches with plenty of features. The Vivoactive is less expensive, but it lacks much of the multisport capabilities and comprehensive data that
the Fenix includes. The Fenix 5 is more durable, but it’s also heavier. The Vivoactive functions more like a smartwatch, with additional smart abilities that the Fenix 5 does not have.
Choose the Vivoactive 3 if:
- You want to spend less
- The smartwatch features are important to you
- The fitness features address your needs
- You like touchscreen functions
Choose the Fenix 5 if:
- You are a serious athlete and/or want the extra fitness features and data
- You want the extra options, like premium bands and sapphire screen
- You need a durable and tough sport watch
- You don’t need smartwatch features like contactless payments and music control