Garmin devices make great gifts. Plus, with so many great devices on the market, you’re sure to find some great deals throughout the season to simplify your holiday shopping (or, to treat yourself!).
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The recently released Garmin Forerunner 645 has mainly been notable thanks to its ‘Music’ version which offers on-board storage of up to 500 songs. Otherwise, the 645 is a nice upgrade from the Forerunner 630 but hard to differentiate from some of Garmin’s other watches — namely the Forerunner 935, Fenix 5, and the Vivoactive 3. We’ve compiled this comparison of those watches to help you decide which Garmin sports watch is right for you.
These four sport watches are fairly close in price, with the exception of the Vivoactive 3, which is at least $100 less than any of them. The Forerunner 645 comes in at under $400 until you add the music option, which brings it up about $40.
The Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 are priced very similarly (around $450-$500) but the Fenix 5 has much more of a range depending on the model you’re looking at. It goes up to $700 for some premium versions.
The Vivoactive 3’s regular price is just under $300.
The Forerunner 645 and Vivoactive 3 do a better job of looking like an everyday wearable compared to the other two, but all four have a solid design that will appeal to most. None of these have any particulars that make them unappealing in general (compared to some other watches that try too hard to be fashionable). They all have a rounded face, solid straps that can be changed out, and nice-looking screens.
The Vivoactive 3 is more of a smartwatch than a sports watch, and it has a vibrant screen and is very lightweight.
The FR 645 is similar in size to the Vivoactive. It’s easy to read even in bright sunlight, and it’s got some nice options for different screen looks. As we reported in our full review, there isn’t much to report in design changes between the 645 and others in the Forerunner lineup.
Those who love the design of the FR 935 and the Fenix 5 tend to be those who love the durable feel and rugged looks of the two premium watches. Both are built for hardcore athletes, so both offer some extras that make it built for extreme sports — plus the Fenix 5’s premium versions offer even better support and durability with a sapphire screen and more.
Check out how the Vivoactive 3 compares to the Fenix 5 here.
No matter which one you buy, you’ll get a few of the basic features, including:
- Onboard GPS
- Water Resistance
- 24×7 Heart Rate Monitoring: Zones, Alerts, Calories
- Activity Tracking: Steps, Calories, Distance, Floors, and more
- Sleep Monitoring
- Stress Monitoring
The FR 935 and Fenix 5 excel in multisport and triathlon tracking, so those two are the preferred watches for some athletes. The Vivoactive 3 and FR 645 are better suited for runners, cyclers, and swimmers (though they do not support open water swims). It’s worth paying more for either the 935 or Fenix if you have the money and/or if you have a need for a more robust sports watch. The Fenix 5 is the most durable watch, built expressly for standing up to outdoor adventures.
Head to Head Comparisons
Forerunner 645 vs. Vivoactive 3
The Vivoactive 3 has a touchscreen; the 645 uses button navigation only. The 645 has more advanced metrics for runners and it has the option for built-in music for $40 more. Overall, the FR645 feels more like a sports watch and the Vivoactive 3 feels more like a smartwatch. They have similar battery life (around 7 days; 13 hours in GPS mode) and very similar weight and dimensions. The Vivoactive 3 has golf support, but the 645 does not. And then there’s price — the Vivoactive is a lot less expensive. Our full review of the Vivoactive 3 is here.
Choose the Vivoactive 3 if you want to pay less or if you primarily want a smartwatch with some fitness tracking. Also, choose the Vivoactive if you want golf support or touchscreen. See the current price here.
Choose the 645 if you’ll use advanced running metrics or you want the built-in music feature. See the current price here.
Forerunner 645 vs. Forerunner 935 & Fenix 5
Here’s the thing: The only reason we would recommend the 645 is if either the non-music version fits your budget better or you want the music version specifically. Otherwise, it’s well worth the extra to get the Forerunner 935. The 935 is frequently marked down to under $450, so it’s not much more and you get so many more features. The only thing it lacks is Garmin Pay (NFC contactless payments), but that feature has been buggy at best on the 645 anyway. See the current price on the FR 935.
And, of course, we love the Fenix 5, but that’s really only worth the additional money if you need the extra protection and durability. The Fenix 5 lineup is made up of nice looking watches, so it might be worth saving up for if you love the look of them as much as we do. See the lineup here.
Over the past year, Garmin has released a number of new devices, making it harder than ever to pick just one wearable from the brand. Their latest offerings have the latest and greatest in technology and they feature a much more appealing look compared to some of their earlier devices.
The Garmin Forerunner 645 and 645 Music are the most recent releases and they have the significance of joining the well-loved Forerunner lineup and being the first Garmin wearable with music storage.
We took an in-depth look at FR 645 to see how it stacks up to the competition and to determine who might love it. Let’s dig in.
Size-wise, the 645 is smaller than the Forerunner 935 and about the same as the Vivoactive 3. It weighs in at 42g, with a physical size of 42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm and a display size of 1.2″ (30.4 mm) in diameter. The screen resolution is 240 x 240 pixels.
The screen makes use of sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel technology, so it’s easy to read in bright sunlight. The trade-off here is that the screen isn’t as vibrantly colored as some other types of smartwatches, but it’s perfectly clear and easy to read anyway.
Essentially, the 645 resembles all its most recent predecessors in the Forerunner lineup (as well as the Vivoactive 3), so there isn’t much new to report in terms of design. It’s a nice looking watch with a sleek body and attractive screen. You can customize the watch screen and choose which information you want to see when you look at it. The interface is good — it’s easy to navigate and the available information on the watch is useful.
Let’s look at an overview of the key fitness and smart features:
- Water Resistant: Rated 5 ATM
- On-Board GPS
- Garmin Pay: NFC Contactless Payments
- Smart Notifications
- Text Response (Android Only)
- 24×7 Heart Rate Monitoring: Zones, Alerts, Calories
- Activity Tracking: Steps, Calories, Distance, Floors, and more
- Sleep Monitoring
- Stress Monitoring
- Preloaded Gym & Outdoor Activity Profiles
- Preloaded Running, Cycling, and Swimming Profiles
- Up to 7 Day Battery Life (14 hrs GPS; 5 hrs GPS with Music)
- Music Storage (On 645 Music Model)
As you can see, it’s fully loaded.
There are smartwatch capabilities, and you can add apps and do fancy things like contactless paying and respond to a text message from your wrist, but it really shines when it comes to the fitness and activity tracking features. Like other Garmin devices, the FR 645 makes great use of Garmin’s excellent tracking and GPS technology. There’s a bit of everything when it comes to sports and activities, so most people (save for hardcore athletes, triathletes, and so forth) should find it to be just right for their tracking needs.
One of the most notable features is the Music functionality available on the FR 645 Music version for about $50 more. This is Garmin’s first offering with built-in music and Bluetooth playback. You can store up to 500 songs on your wrist and go run or do whatever activity you want without needing your phone.
On the down side, it doesn’t work with some of the biggest names in streaming. Only iHeartRadio and Deezer are supported.
Vs. Forerunner 630
- Lighter in weight and smaller overall
- Better screen quality
- Addition of features like contactless payments, text responding, and music
- More sensors, including: barometric altimeter, gyroscope, thermometer
- Swimming profiles
Bottom line? The FR 645 is a huge upgrade from the 645.
Vs. Forerunner 935 & Fenix 5
The FR 645 is pretty similar to the Forerunner 935 and the Fenix 5, with the latter 2 being more expensive and available with some nicer styles (like the Fenix with sapphire glass). The differences are mainly the addition of Garmin Pay, text responses, and music on the 645. The FR 935 and the Fenix 5 also have multisport modes and openwater profiles, as well as advanced navigation and better durability. They also have a better battery life, even without the music.
Who Should Buy the Forerunner 645?
Those who are after the 645 Music are probably most excited about the music. Even outside of the music addition, the FR 645 is a pretty exciting watch from Garmin. It has many of the best features found on premium watches like the FR 935 and Fenix 5, but it costs less. You can even save $5o by choosing the non-music model if that’s not something you’ll use.
For some athletes, triathletes, runners, and marathoners, the multisport modes, open water tracking, and durable design of the more expensive watches are worth the extra money. But for nearly everyone else, the 645 offers basically everything you can need from a smart running watch.
Some early reviews found the 645 to be buggy, but it seems like many of those kinks have been worked out, and the reviews are mainly positive from customers. There are some drawbacks — like the lack of integration with streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, as well as mediocre battery life — but overall it’s an intelligently designed watch with plenty of features. If you are considering making an upgrade from a FR 630 or 235, you’ll see a huge difference. If you’re brand new to Garmin, you’ll likely be pleased by all Garmin watches offer, the solid app, and the wearable design of the Forerunner 645.
The purpose of a fitness tracker is simple: to guide you as you try to lose weight, tone up, or improve your overall health. Whether you need the motivation to get up and exercise, guidance on what to eat, or heart rate monitoring for health reasons, there is a tracker for it. And Garmin has it. Known for their GPS capabilities and sporty design, Garmin continually provides users with new and innovative products.
What sets them apart from other brands, like Fitbit, is their focus and commitment to performance. Garmin doesn’t just produce devices that look good; instead, they make eye-catching models that can meet all your exercise and lifestyle needs. Whether you swim and need something waterproof, or cycle and need mapping, Garmin has a tracker to meet your needs. What makes Garmin the best? Here’s a rundown:
- Quality: Durable and sporty, their devices are made with high-grade materials meant to take a beating. Whether it’s a basic tracker or a high-end smartwatch, all their gadgets are built to stand up to everyday wear and extreme weather, making them worth your time and money
- Design: From subdued and understated to vivid designs, there is a style for everyone. They have traditional smartwatches, multi-sport trackers and more.
- GPS: Most brands don’t offer GPS, but Garmin does on a number of their devices. GPS ensures more accurate readings and lets you go for a walk or run anywhere without worrying about getting lost.
- Versatility: Garmin makes trackers for all ages, so if your kid is on a softball team, or you want to get them off their tablets, you’re in luck!
Best Garmin Fitness Trackers Buying Guide
Now comes the fun part — finding the right tracker! We have Garmin’s top devices here, and each has something for every lifestyle and price point. We have ranked and reviewed our favorites here. Read on to find your perfect match.
In 2017, Garmin entered the smartwatch market with the Vivoactive 3, a water-resistant, GPS-enabled smartwatch, and the hybrid Vivomove HR, a more fashionable smartwatch without GPS but with all of Garmin’s excellent tracking capabilities.
Both of these devices do the basic smartwatch stuff, such as provide smart notifications, but it’s easy to see the target customers for both. The Vivoactive 3 is sportier and the Vivomove HR is more elegant. The absence of GPS and contactless payments on the Vivomove makes it less appealing to athletes and fitness buffs, but the great design makes it perfect for everyday wear even in the dressiest scenarios. Read our comparison of the Vivoactive 3 versus the Vivomove HR here.
The Vivoactive 3 is our top Garmin smartwatch pick because of the built-in GPS and Garmin Pay. It also has a screen that’s easier to see in bright light. Though we like the Vivoactive better overall, the Vivomove HR is up to $100 cheaper, so it’s a good option for those on a budget, or those who don’t need onboard GPS.
Some of Garmin’s best known and best-reviewed devices fall under the “multi-sport watch” category. There are the highest number of wearables in this category as well, with 6 total available (plus watch-size dive computers and multi-sport marine watches). The Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935 are our top picks in this category, but the Forerunner 235 is still a really good watch with a smaller price tag.
The Fenix 5 is rugged and built to endure all kinds of indoor and outdoor sports. It’s durability comes from the design — including stainless steel bezel and buttons and a reinforced housing — and it features water resistance to 100 meters. The addition of GPS and GLONASS makes this a top choice for triathletes and marathoners, and a full spectrum of fitness and health tracking means that you will want to wear this all the time. Ongoing tracking of your training, data to help you improve your form, and a multitude of activities, maps, and more make this a sports watch that truly goes the distance.
The Fenix 5 comes in several varieties, including Sapphire, 5S, and 5X. These distinctions have to do with the look, whether the watch has sapphire glass, and/or whether the watch is Wi-Fi enabled or includes preloaded topographical maps. Be sure to check the specs on the Fenix you’re shopping for before you buy. Find it at Amazon.
The Forerunner 935 is slightly less expensive than the Fenix, and it’s a bit more lightweight as well. Beyond that, it’s basically the same as a Fenix in terms of tracking and multisport capabilities. Like the Fenix, the FR935 has excellent battery life and offers GPS and GLONASS, water resistance, and plenty of tracking functions.
The difference between these two is very minimal, but the Fenix is more durable and has more (expensive) options for models, so for some it is more appealing. The biggest draw for shoppers when comparing the two is design. The FR is significantly lighter than the Fenix, making it a less intrusive everyday wearable. It will also save you a bit of cash (though it’s still just under $500, making it a pretty big investment). Find it at Amazon.
- Forerunner 235: A great GPS sports watch with long battery life, lightweight construction, and a price tag on par with Fitbit and Apple smartwatches. It’s best for runners. See our full review here.
- Forerunner 35: A bit more budget-friendly (under $200), the 35 has GPS but not GLONASS, has plenty of metrics but not advanced metrics, and is lightweight but not super attractive. It’s still a good option for plenty of shoppers, however. It’s just not the best Garmin has to offer.
- Forerunner 735: The 735 is mid-price for a Garmin sport watch. It’s going to give you more metrics and better durability than the 35 or 235, as well as some smartwatch features. It’s excellent as a multi-sport watch but doesn’t feel as well-made as our top picks.
Related: Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. Fenix 3
Recent Release: Garmin 645 Music
While we haven’t reviewed this brand-new sports watch just yet, it might be appealing if you’re in the market for a running watch. Its biggest draw at this point is the music storage available on the watch. Early reviews aren’t entirely positive, but it is still worth a look.
Vivosport, Vivosmart 3, & Vivofit 4
In the fitness and activity tracking category, Garmin offers three affordable options at different price points. They are not perfect fitness trackers, but they perks and are definitely worth checking out. We like the Vivosport the best out of the three, but it’s also the most expensive at just over $150. That extra cost gets you built-in GPS, long battery life, and a screen that’s much improved over past trackers.
Related: Vivosport vs. Vivosmart 3
The Vivosmart 3 is a mid-priced fitness tracker at under $150: it’s un-flashy but comfortable to wear and it has some great tracking features including sleep and stress tracking. Until the release of the Vivosport, this was our favorite Garmin tracker, and we even preferred some its features over the Fitbit Charge 2 (see our comparison of the two here).
The Vivofit 4 comes in well under $100, making it a worthy opponent to Fitbit’s $150+ fitness trackers, and pitting it against smaller brands that tout small price tags. It can be buggy, but for simple step tracking, sleep tracking, and other basic activity tracking features, you can’t be the price.
- Read our full review of the Vivosport here
- Read the full review of the Vivosmart 3 here
- Read the full review of the Vivofit 4 here
For Kids: Vivofit Jr. 2
Garmin offers an activity tracker for kids that encourages movement and responsibility. With rewards, challenges, and a comfortable, water-resistant design, it’s one of the best activity trackers on the market for kids.
Discontinued & Discounted
Over the past year or so, Garmin has released a huge number of new wearable devices. Their newest models are more standard in the world of smartwatches and fitness trackers, and their latest products boast top of the line technology. Even so, older models have ranked consistently high on our lists and others’, so if you want to save some money and still get an excellent device, these are worth considering:
- Vivoactive HR: This smart GPS watch isn’t the most attractive GPS watch out there, but it’s a solid watch with great tracking features and good heart rate tracking. Currently, this now-discontinued watch is up to 40% off its original price, making it well worth a look.
- Vivosmart HR: Looking for a no-frills, heart rate monitoring, GPS activity tracker? Check out this one, currently available for almost 50% off the original price.
- Vivofit 3: A basic activity tracker that is water resistant and boasts a long battery life, check out this older Vivofit model, now available for under $60.
Fitness Tracking 101: Buying Considerations
Before we get into the best devices from Garmin, let’s make sure you know what you need and what to look for in a device. Here are some basic questions to ask yourself before you shop:
- What are you going to use the device for? Are you an athlete who needs interval training? Do you want a device that will help you hit daily goals? Why you want a tracker, and what you’ll use it for is an essential consideration. For instance, if you run, you’ll want enhanced GPS for run times and mile splits. See other Fitbit Trackers for reference. On the other hand, if you are beginner you’ll something with move alerts and heart monitoring to help you get on track with a routine.
- What is your budget? How much you want to spend is another important factor. Knowing what you want can help you avoid paying for extras you don’t need, saving you money.
- What is your lifestyle? Do you have kids? Do you live near water? These factors will help you customize your device. For instance, if you work in an office, you may want a traditional looking watch that doesn’t draw attention. However, if you are at the beach most of the time, you’ll need something that is waterproof
The Garmin Vivofit 4 is the newest device in the Vivofit line of popular fitness trackers. The Vivofit line is known for its small size and easy to understand interface. It doesn’t try to go overboard and become a smartwatch but accomplishes the basic goals of a fitness tracker.
If you’re looking into the Vivofit 4, chances are you’re looking for a low cost and simple fitness tracker. It doesn’t have apps to speak of like more advanced Garmin products but tracks fitness stats all the same.
You’re also probably wondering if its worth the upgrade from your Vivofit 3, 2, or 1. We’ll explore that while the Vivofit 4 is a relatively new product, it does make the case for an intuitive tracker.
The Vivofit design has remained generally the same over the years, but like the Vivofit 3, the Vivofit 4 sports a wider band but smaller interface than the Vivofit 2 or 1. A large interface doesn’t necessarily mean that one fitness tracker is better than the other.
The Vivofit 4 tries to keep things simple by utilizing a firm band and intuitive interface that you can understand but still play around with. A color display is new to the Vivofit 4, which makes the display easier to read and fun to play with.
It would be easy to mistake the Vivofit 4 for the Vivofit 3, but the 4 sports a more circular band and is only flat along the display.
The real kicker with the Vivofit 4 is its battery life. You read it correctly-about one year of life with no recharging necessary.
The following are the primary stats that the Vivofit 4 tracks:
- Calories burned
- Sleep cycles
- Inactivity (a bar fills up if you remain stationary for too long)
This device is compatible with other Garmin products as well, in particular in the Vivofit line. If you have a child who has the Vivofit Jr. or Jr. 2, you can coordinate challenges and competitions with them via the Garmin Connect app.
A new addition to the Vivofit 4’s features is Move IQ, which detects what type of movement you are currently engaging in. It tracks walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical use. In the case of walking and running, it starts an onboard timer by itself.
The Vivofit 4 is also rated to handle showers and near surface swimming.
With every new product, there are bound to be some unhappy customers. The main problem with the Vivofit 4 right now is its buggy technology. This is not an uncommon problem with new products and certainly not for Garmin.
While reception of the Vivofit 4 may be shaky right now, once patches and updates come out for it, you’ll probably see a lot more happy customers. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other Garmin or Fitbit products if you’re not looking to drop hundreds of dollars on wearable tech.
In terms of improvements, the 4 isn’t a massive shakeup from the 3, especially in design. However, in a similar manner of the Vivofit Jr. vs. the Vivofit Jr. 2, the Vivofit 4 has the slight edge in features and a new display.
Click here to shop the Garmin Vivofit 4.
The Vivofit Jr. line of fitness trackers designed primarily for kids, but we won’t judge adults for wearing them. They come in more colors and designs than most top of the line Garmin products, so that’s a testament to their appeal.
If you’re considering either the Vivofit Jr. or the Vivofit Jr.2, then maybe there is a kid in your life whose literally bouncing off the walls, or trying to be more active. The Jr. series is a perfect way to track some very simple stats without purchasing a complicated and expensive smartwatch or fitness tracker.
So what’s the big difference between the two? Let’s explore.
The Jr. series is well known for its designs. The Jr. uses some abstract colors and designs while the Jr. 2 is more prominent for its bands featuring characters from Disney (Star Wars, Marvel, and Mickey Mouse).
The Jr. 2 has a slightly larger band than the Jr., but its nothing too out of the ordinary. Regardless of which one you choose, your kid is sure to turn some heads with either the Jr. or the Jr. 2. Both devices are safe to swim with.
Winner: Jr. 2
Despite being smaller than most mainstream Garmin products, the Jr. 2 has a couple of small additions over the Jr. With the Jr. 2, you can set up to 8 reminder alerts for activities or chores and can play the toe to toe challenge (compete with other Jr.2 owners in fitness challenges).
Both devices have compatibility with the parental control app, which allows adults to set chores, activities, and goals for the day. However, the Jr. 2 does have the edge in customization and abilities when it comes to the reminders you want to set. If your child is the type that has trouble “remembering”, the Jr.2 will keep those reminders close to him or her.
At first glance, one might not be able to tell the two devices apart save for their band designs. On closer inspection, you’ll find that the Vivofit Jr. 2 has the slight advantage in features. The key to the Jr. series of fitness trackers is making sure the wearer stays active.
Both devices have over one year of battery life. The programmable challenges and competitions with other Jr. owners is a great way to keep your child on task and focused with his or her fitness goals.
To sum it all up, there aren’t blatant differences between either series of the Vivofit, and the original Jr. model is sure to work fine for most kids. However, if you’re looking for expanded abilities with the Vivofit, the Jr. 2 is the best choice.
Click here to shop the Vivofit Jr.
Click here to shop the Vivofit Jr. 2
Wear Action is exploring the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. On this first day of exhibits, we hit up the Las Vegas Convention Center, where there wasn’t much pertaining to fitness tech, but plenty of cool stuff nonetheless. Let’s take a look at recent announcements and a few of the cool things we saw today.
Garmin’s Big Announcement: Forerunner 645
Garmin generated buzz with their launch of the Forerunner 645, a sports watch that can give other smartwatches a run for their money. The 645 includes contactless payments and music storage (if you choose that option) that holds up to 500 songs. It has all the fitness technology, sports features, and smartwatch abilities as the Vivoactive 3, but it’s geared toward runners and hard core athletes. It also has physical buttons instead of touchscreen navigation, making it a more appealing option to some shoppers. It’s available to order now.
Caught Our Attention: Jetson
While the LVCC didn’t feature much in terms of fitness gear, wearables, or equipment, we did still find a cool up and comer that deserves some love here. Jetson has some pretty cool electric bikes, scooters, and hooverboards to help you get active.
What’s Creating Buzz
Here at CES, the biggest buzz is around smart homes, smart cities, AI, and voice assistance. Fitness tech is quieter, as is everything wearable related. This is largely due to late-2017 releases and the rumors that big brands will be releasing devices on their own terms.
What We’re Looking for Tomorrow
Tomorrow will be a huge day for us, as we’ll be venturing over to the Sands Expo where all things fitness and wearable live. We’ll bring you up to date on what we see over there tomorrow, but here’s what we’re looking forward to.
- VR: VR is HUGE this year, with plenty of companies showcasing VR for fitness.
- Wearables: While there won’t be too much to see that’s new, we’re still excited to take a peek at the offerings.
- Sleep/stress/swim tech: We’ve seen a lot leading up to CES about the growing trend of wellness, sleep, and health based tech. There are plenty of sleep and stress trackers and devices, as well as some cool new tech for swimmers.
- Shoes: Rumor has it there are some neat items to wear, including IoT-enabled shoes.
Check back tomorrow for even more from CES!
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.
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
Garmin has released a number of new devices over the past year, including several in 2017 alone. Two of these devices are similar enough to confuse shoppers a bit: the fitness trackers Vivosport, released this fall, and the Vivosmart 3, which came out this past spring.
Both are fitness trackers (as opposed to the smartwatches getting a lot of the spotlight) and, at first glance, seem to be very closely related. Let’s take a look at these two wearables head to head to help you make a decision between the two.
Winner: Vivosmart 3
For many shoppers, the price difference between these two is the biggest influencer. The Vivosmart 3 is the less expensive of the two, though there are good reasons for the bigger price tag on the Vivosport of course.
The Vivosmart 3 is under $150 when regularly priced. The Vivosport is just under $200 (it’s worth noting that both go on sale for around $50 off on occasion).
The overall design of the two devices is very similar – both have a minimalist black band, slim design, and matching clasps. The Vivosport is slightly thinner (18.5 mm versus the Vivosmart 3’s 21 mm) but it is just a tad heavier (24.1g versus 20.4g). There are a few color differences in the bands themselves, with the Vivosmart 3 coming in all black or all purple, and the Vivosport available in all black, black with fuchsia, and black with lime green.
The primary difference in this category is visible on the screen. The Vivosport has an always-on color screen and is easier to read in sunlight. In contrast, the Vivosmart 3 has an on-demand screen that is not in color, and, while you can read it in the sunlight, it can be difficult to see at times.
As you might have guessed, the higher price tag of the Vivosport means that it comes with more features than the Vivosmart 3. Both are water resistant to 50 meters, track heart rate 24/7, and track activities including steps, workouts, and so forth. Both track sleep and stress, and both use the Garmin app to provide you with a ton of data.
The Vivosport has just a few more features, and they’re pretty important. The first is built-in GPS, which the Vivosmart 3 lacks. This extra feature means there are also some bonus tracking features such as LiveTrack; there are also a few others not dependant on the GPS but new nonetheless, like additional sports profiles and more options for auto-activity tracking and pausing. The Vivosport also has a longer battery life at a whopping 7 days (versus five days on the Vivosmart.) Do note that this will change if you use it in GPS mode – it’ll last 8 hours in that case.
There are enough similarities between these two devices that you can be assured that they are both excellent fitness trackers. Here are a few of the key features you will get with either device:
- Slim, lightweight, and discrete design
- Activity tracking, including calories burned, floors climbed, and more
- Sleep tracking
- Stress tracking 24/7
- Vo2 Max and fitness level scoring
- Relax and breathing mode
- Auto start for running and walking
- Plenty of workouts to track (including rep counting)
- Water resistant to 50 meters
We really like Garmin’s emphasis on overall wellness on these and other recent trackers, so either of these are great options for overall health tracking.
The Vivosport does everything the Vivosmart 3 does, and more, so the differences here are what the Vivosport can do that the Vivosmart cannot. These differences are:
- Built-in GPS
- Longer battery life
- Always on display
- Color 72 x 144 pixel, sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel display
- Better sunlight visibility
- Slightly thinner design
- A few additional functions for fitness tracking
The GPS is a pretty substantive difference, and is one that will likely make the decision easy for some. The other big difference is in overall design, with the much better screen on the Vivosport being a fairly big deal.
We really, really like the Vivosport. Garmin made significant improvements over the Vivosmart 3 (which we already really liked, too), so there’s very little to be disappointed in. The extra cost is well worth it to gain GPS and an improved display. If it’s in your budget, we say grab a Vivosport.
Having said that, if you are looking for something at a lower price point and you don’t care about GPS, a Vivosmart 3 won’t disappoint. It’s still accurate in tracking even without the GPS, and you get all the other amazing features it offers. You might struggle a bit with the less-than-perfect display, but it’s honestly not that big of a deal.
Bottom line? The Vivosport gets our vote, but we think you’ll have a great tracker in either of these standout Garmin devices.
Garmin hit the market hard this year with their newest lineup of wearable tech. Garmin’s smartwatches, the Vivoactive 3 and Vivomove HR, plus the fitness tracker Vivosmart 3, which launched earlier this year, have taken most of the spotlight, but one other Vivo- device is worth talking about: the Vivosport (see it on Amazon).
A bit confusingly (beyond the names – Garmin sure likes the “Vivo” moniker), the Vivosport strongly resembles the Vivosmart 3. We’ll compare the two a bit later, but first let’s see how the Vivosport stands on its own.
While a lot of these are available on other Garmin devices, the Vivosport is jam-packed with fitness features. Some of the key specs include:
- Built-in GPS
- Daily fitness monitoring, including VO2 max and fitness age
- Activity tracking, including steps, floors climbed, and inactivity
- All-day stress tracking
- Heart rate monitoring
- Smart notifications
- Battery life up to 7 days (8 hours in GPS mode)
- Always-on, color display
- Water resistant to 50 meters
As you can see, there’s plenty going on with the Vivosport, and it doesn’t disappoint in the fitness capabilities. Garmin keeps up with the pack in a lot of the fitness tracking abilities – one key example is rep counting. It also tracks time, distance, speed/pace, and can map out your ride or run for you.
The Vivosport is lightweight and pretty slim. It’s comfortable to wear all day, if not the most fashionable fitness tracker. The screen design is a big upgrade over some of Garmin’s other trackers. The always-on color screen looks good and is easy to see in the sunlight. Water resistance makes it even simpler to wear all the time – you can swim or shower in it without any problems.
Screen usability is simple enough. The touchscreen has you tap or swipe to do what you need to. The Vivosport comes in sizes small/medium and large. There are a few different color options if all black isn’t your thing.
Vs. Vivosmart 3
The first thing you’ll notice when putting the Vivosport up against the Vivosmart 3 (see on Amazon) is price: The Vivosmart’s list price is about $60 more. So what does that extra chunk of dough get you?
The biggest feature difference is built-in GPS – the Vivosport has it while the Vivosmart 3 does not. Beyond that, the differences come in design. The Vivosmart 3’s display is not always on, it isn’t color, and it is a bit harder to read in the sunlight. The Vivosport, on the other hand, has the better screen, plus a slightly more streamlined and thinner design.
Related: Vivosmart 3 Review
On the surface, there’s very little difference between the Vivosmart 3 and the Vivosport, but the Vivosport is the better option because of GPS and the newer aesthetics. It might not be worth it to everyone to spend the extra amount to get those features, but the Vivosport is a great option for a fitness tracker regardless.
You can save a bit and pick up a Vivosmart 3, but our verdict is that the price tag is worth it on the Vivosport if it’s in your budget. You’ll get all the great tracking features Garmin offers, a vibrant screen, thin design, and GPS capability.