Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Garmin Forerunner 45 Comparison

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs forerunner 45

Both the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and the Forerunner 45 are decent and useful smartwatches for active sports enthusiasts and runners. Both watches are perfectly capable of tracking running and other light activities and both of these watches are less expensive than many of Garmin’s other popular watches.

At A Glance
Which Garmin Watch Should You Buy?

With these similar attributes in mind, what are the differences between the two watches that make one stand out over the other?

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 and the Garmin Forerunner 45 are both geared towards beginner to moderate levels of fitness. The Vivoactive 3 has a few features that make it stand out over the Forerunner 45, with the addition of touchscreen technology being the standout difference.

Both of these innovative smartwatches score high marks in all the essential key points for rating a fitness watch. This article will explore everything that needs to be known about both products, with a specific emphasis on what makes the watches different from one another. Read on to find out more and discover which is better suited to your needs.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Garmin Forerunner 45

  • Built-in sports apps
  • Contactless payments
  • Music and all-day health monitoring
  • Innovative performance condition technology
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  • Battery lasts up to 7 days
  • Wrist heart rate monitor
  • Garmin Coach training plan support
  • Enhanced mapping feature
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What Are the Similarities and Differences Between the Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs the Garmin Forerunner 45?

When testing the Vivoactive 3 and the Forerunner 45, the immediate detail to stick out is that both of these watches are very similar to one another. Both of these watches can track running, cycling, cardiovascular exercise, and even yoga training.

The watches are so similar to one another, that it helps to pinpoint exactly the shared features between each watch:

  • Both watches can track all of the expected performance metrics. This includes steps measured throughout the day, heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring, stress increases and reduction, and V02 max.
  • Both watches share the same range of notifications. This includes notifications from a text message, calendar, weather notifications, control of music from a smartphone, and notifications for finding your connected phone.
  • Both watches have enhanced safety features. If you pair either watch to a smartphone, you can take advantage of the LiveTrack and Incident Detection features.

Each watch has a wide range of similarities, yet there are important differences in both design and features to take note of.

vivoactive 3 vs forerunner 45 comparison


Garmin Forerunner 45: This watch is much smaller than the Garmin Vivoactive 3. The Forerunner 45S is only 39mm (45 is 42mm), which means that this model is the essential model for users with smaller wrists in the Forerunner series. The Forerunner 45 fits snug and comfortable around the wrist, with a silicone base to decrease wrist burn during workouts.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: The Vivoactive 3 isn’t much larger than the Forerunner 45, yet this watch is still a bit smaller than other popular Garmin watches. This means that the Vivoactive 3 is 34% heavier than Forerunner 45S, and 22% heavier than the Forerunner 45 (the Vivoactive 3 Music is 22% heavier than the Forerunner 45S, and 9% heavier than the Forerunner 45). Keep in mind that these are all pretty normal GPS watch weights though.

Differences in Key Features of the Vivoactive 3

  • Health statistics. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is filled to the brim with new and exciting features, making this one of the most app-friendly models in all the many Garmin lines. One of the key differences between the two models is that you can now keep up with the new heart rate and step tracking features during your fitness session that goes beyond the basic features of the Forerunner 45S. Additionally, you can take advantage of a new underwater optical heart rate tracking feature.
  • Body temperature tracking. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 now allows for users to keep track of their body temperature. This can be incredibly important depending on the level of fitness users are experiencing. Additionally, if exercising outdoors, in either cold or hot temperatures, this feature can help you gauge when you are pushing yourself too hard or, if you are not pushing hard enough.
  • Barometric altimeter. This new addition to the performance tracking features in the Vivoactive line is a scientifically-backed and technologically astute assessment of performance tracking for elevated terrain. This feature of the Vivoactive 3 allows users to access rough outdoor terrain that increases fitness metrics during an activity. With Vivoactive 3, you can now track how hard you are working.
  • Innovative performance condition technology. Like most models in the Garmin Vivoactive series, the Vivoactive 3 also analyzes heart rate, heart performance conditioning, and heart rate variability based on a wide range of different performance types to give real-time assessments of how you are faring during your workout and how long you can continue before you reach various thresholds. The Forerunner 45S has a much smaller selection of performance tracking features in Garmin Connect.

Differences in Key Features of the Forerunner 45

Enhanced mapping features. With the Forerunner 45, you can now customize maps and routes with Glonass and Galileo GPS protocols which allow it to track in a wider range of environments and terrain than what can be achieved with traditional GPS technology. The mapping technology is now colored and interactive, which allows you to receive even more detailed and visually attractive routes based on your location.

The differences between the two are fewer and far between, yet the Vivoactive 3 just has a better overall implementation of standard Garmin features. You can use much more in the Vivoactive 3 through Garmin Connect, which gives it a slight edge over Forerunner 45.

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Should I Buy the Garmin Vivoactive 3 or the Garmin Forerunner 45?

With the similarities and differences in mind, which of these two watches is the better choice. We feel that the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is the superior watch of the two. The Forerunner 45 is a decent watch for the limited features given, yet it isn’t always imperative for some users to want a smartwatch that is packed with features; simplicity is sometimes all that is needed.

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is all about variety; variety in fitness selections and variety when it comes to what you need to be tracked and monitored and how. The Vivoactive series is all about running and jogging, but this model is the one that many Garmin enthusiasts have been waiting for due to the inclusion of so many new apps for a wide variety of fitness routines and types.

One of its biggest advantages is its barometric altimeter in Vivoactive 3. Without this, you can’t track floors climbed, and your elevation stats are less accurate. Unfortunately, several Garmins, including the Forerunner 45 and 245, don’t have altimeters.

If you’re worried about elevation data though, you can always sync your workouts to Strava afterward, which will correct your stats.

Another perk of the Vivoactive 3 is its many tracking profiles. The Forerunner 45 doesn’t track pool swimming, but the Vivoactive 3 does. The Vivoactive 3 is all about convenience; this model is a complete evolutionary upgrade in the line, which means that some previous concerns with other models have been improved upon for your convenience. Such as the inclusion of various types of sports and fitness performance dynamics as opposed to just running or jogging.

The technology is improved upon and there are more performance tracking features in Garmin Connect, which goes beyond simple velocity to even pinpoint performance targets in various areas of the body as opposed to just an overall assessment. The watch is comfortable and lightweight, therefore, you can rest assured that this model is definitely worth the purchase.

The Forerunner 45 is a great watch yet there are some noticeable downsides when compared to Vivoactive 3. The aesthetic appeal may be a sticking point for some potential buyers, yet this should not be a determining factor.

More noticeably, the watch is small and may be hard to read in dim light. The battery is not as great as other models in the Forerunner line. Additionally, the screen resolution is a bit lower and hard to read than other models, even in bright sunlight.

Vivoactive 3 wins in this comparison.

Are These GPS Running Watches Worth the Cost?

When it comes to affordability, the Forerunner 45 is one of the standout watches in the series for those looking for a budget smartwatch. The quality is not sacrificed for a smaller price, and as long as you like smaller frames, this Forerunner model is a great value for such a smaller price.

Vivoactive 3 is also not going to break the bank if you decide to go with this superior watch. The price is not too far off from the Forerunner 45, and you get so much more for a slight increase.

If you are looking for a smartwatch that makes the process of checking your performance statistics easy to navigate with enhanced performance features and project charts, then the Garmin Forerunner 45 is certainly a model worth considering.

But, if you are looking for a very similar watch that also has many more features that are accessible with a larger frame and performance metrics for tracking atmospheric pressure and elevation, the Vivoactive 3 is certainly the watch to consider.

There are very few downsides to Vivoactive 3, and the sheer compatibility enhancements of this model are hard to resist. If you enjoy running and jogging or, swimming, bicycling, or triathlons, the Vivoactive 3 is certainly one of the highlights of the Vivoactive series.

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