Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review – Compact activity tracker with big features

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Activity Tracker Review

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review

Whether you are a total exercise novice or a former fitness fanatic, Garmin’s new Vivosmart 3; with its funky features and wellbeing tools; can help you live a fitter lifestyle. From its stress breathing exercises to its rep counting, step tracking and calorie burning tools, this little watch will enable you to achieve big results.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review


  • Water resistant touchscreen
  • Auto-activity tracking
  • Rep counting
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Wrist based heart rate
  • Customize with Connect IQ app store


  • No built-in GPS
  • Simple and plain design
  • Slow raise to wake movement sensor

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review – making time for fitness

Read my review of the Garmin Vivosmart 3 to see how this watch helped me increase my fitness levels without the need for a personal trainer.

Sticking with a fitness routine when you have kids is almost impossible – after all you if you can’t grab five minutes to have a shower in peace how on earth can you ever manage a workout? As a busy mom of two, finding the time between work, kindergarten clubs and the daily humdrum of life has meant that there is little time left to indulge my passion for exercise.

That is not to say I am not on the go, however these days you are much more likely to find me scooting on the school run, power walking to collect the shopping and cramming in an hour’s workout at the gym when the rest of the house is still fast asleep. With less time at my disposal I was interested to understand just how active I was being on a day to day basis, and perhaps more importantly how more active I should be.

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 appealed to me over other alternatives currently on the market, due to its tracking functionalities. Not only did it cover the essentials such as steps, calories and distance but it could also measure things like sleep patterns, stress levels and heart rate to provide me with guided breathing exercises and an overall wellbeing score. Its simple yet subtle water-resistant design meant that I could wear it all day long – even during my precious 5-minute shower!

garmin vivosmart 3 features

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review – new and exciting features

Unwrapping the box for the very first time, I was surprised at how dinky and understated the Garmin Vivosmart 3 was! For a little tracker it certainly seemed to pack in a lot of features.

The first feature (which I was eager to test) was the VO2 max tracker – a health measurement based on the maximum amount of oxygen in your system. By using the inbuilt heart rate monitor and a few other metrics, the Vivosmart 3 soon assigned me with my fitness age. According to the manual, the lower your fitness age is compared to your actual age, the fitter you are. A quick glance at the outputted statistic soon informed me that there was work to be done on the exercise front!

Also based on the heart rate monitor is the stress level reader, there to give you an indication of when you are experiencing higher than normal levels of stress. As predicted, mine tended to sky rocket in the mornings as I was dashing out the door on my commute and would peak again at around 7pm, perfectly timed with the bedtime meltdowns. I did opt to try the guided breathing exercises (when I remembered) to counteract these stressful moments, and did find that they actively helped to soothe and calm me down.

One smart feature housed within the Vivosmart 3 that I particularly liked was the rep counter. Essential for those early morning gym starts when you have a million and one things on your mind that somehow seem to prevent you from counting to the number 10! Another nice touch was the ability to control my music with the simple tap of a screen which helped make a sweaty workout much more bearable.

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Existing activity tracking features

We all know that there is no better antidote to the stresses and strains of modern day life than exercise, but there are times when we still need to keep up with our busy lifestyles and stay connected. The fact that I could view emails, text messages and social network notifications on my watch whilst working out, gave me the best of both worlds.

Being more about functionality than high spec technology, the ability to track my daily steps, floors climbed, calories burnt, heart rate peaks and sleep patterns were the features that I found most interesting. Although available at a glance on my wrist, my day-to-day stats were best viewed in the Garmin Connect app. Here I could receive detailed analysis of my daily performance and could pit myself against my peers in terms of performance. Appealing to my competitive streak, I found this to be a great motivational tool.

I love my sleep; unfortunately, other members of my household are not quite as keen. It is therefore not uncommon for me to up during the night with the “sleep thieves” or lying in bed desperately trying to get back off to the land of nod. In the mornings I would find it fascinating to see how much restful v’s movement time was tracked, and enjoyed being able to laud this over my husband when he moaned about being tired.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review - What I loved about this tracker

What I loved about the Garmin Vivosmart 3

For the money the Vivosmart 3 is perfect for someone like me, who simply wants to take the first steps to a fitter lifestyle.

Being able to wear this activity tracker 24 hours a day without the faff of taking it on and off (often forgetting where I put it) was a huge bonus, and the fact that it sat unassumingly on my wrist meant that I wasn’t self-conscious when wearing it.

I loved plugging in to Garmin Connect at the end of the day. The insights provided interesting metrics with mini graphs to show my peaks and troughs in activity and although the need to better each day’s performance did start to get a little addictive, it saved money that I may have spent hiring a personal trainer.

What could be better

Overall the Vivosmart 3 exceeded my expectations, however I can imagine if you were big on running – I am not – that the lack of a GPS would put people off purchasing this tracker.

Although the strap was understated, I also found it to be rather flimsy and tended to catch on my clothing. Whilst this isn’t a major issue, the fact that the straps are built in rather than interchangeable could mean that this value for money watch becomes an expensive purchase, should it break.

The only other bugbear I have with the Vivosmart 3 is the screen. While the light sensor adapts to offer a bright enough screen during daylight, I sometimes found that it took a while to activate and get up to full power. There are just little niggles and for the money, certainly not a deal breaker.

Garmin Connect App

Style and design

If you want an activity tracker with wow factor, then the Vivosmart 3 probably isn’t for you. If, however, like me you need something practical, functional and easy to wear then this tracker more than stood up to the job.

I opted for the purple version of the Vivosmart 3, which given the limited choices available felt the most feminine of the 3 on the market (black and blue being the alternatives). The strap itself fit snuggly on my wrist and stood up well against the daily grind. It was plunged into the washing up bowl, flung around erratically at a step aerobics class and sat inconspicuously on my arm whilst I tossed and turned in my sleep.

Now I am all for “saving time”, so the fact that the screen display automatically turned on at the flick of your wrist was a nifty battery saving feature. There were times however – just like me first thing in the morning – when the raise to wake gesture appeared slow to respond.

Its touchscreen device meant that my fingers also received a workout as they swiped from screen to screen and the resolution and clarity were fit for purpose – even in a glaringly bright gym.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Activity Tracker - Purple and Black

Battery life

Garmin told me to expect 5 days usage from the Vivosmart 3 before charging, yet I somehow managed to eke this out to 6 days. Whilst I commend myself for this, I think it just goes to show how little exercise I managed to do over the week!

Charging was quick and easy to do for any techno-phobe like me as the cable simply plugged into my everyday USB charger. It was also a relief to see that even when I was mid workout and my battery dropped to low, the screen simply locked whilst allowing me to continue to track until I was done.

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Comparison to others on the market

When it came to me purchasing a sports watch, Garmin was the brand that came top of mind. That is not to say, however, that I didn’t look at what else was available on the market. I was particularly taken by the Fitbit Charge 2 in terms of looks and affordability.

Just like the Vivosmart HR it placed functionality over fashion and whilst it offered a better analysis in terms of sleep tracking, the fact that it was not waterproof was a real turnoff for me. Due to my hectic lifestyle, I needed a watch that could remain on the wrist all day, every day despite what activities I was doing.

The other contender was the Vivosmart HR+ – the ‘older brother’ to the Vivosmart 3. The differences between the two watches are minimal, but if you are a serious runner and know your pacer from a streaker (this is someone who keep their clothes on apparently!), then the need for a built-in GPS is probably key. If like me, you would rather people didn’t keep tabs on you, then the Vivosmart 3 with its additional touch screen, more than sufficed. the good news is that the Vivosmart 3 is the more affordable choice (so that should keep the husband happy too).

Is the Vivosmart 3 worth buying?

If you don’t yet have an activity tracker or a smartwatch, but want to work towards a fitter future then the Vivosmart 3 is the activity tracker for you. Great value for money it is packed full of fitness tracking devices that are aimed at gym-goers rather than hard core runners, and funky features to help you maintain your wellbeing.

Best GPS Tech

At Best GPS Tech we found it frustrating that there were limited websites available, willing to provide an honest opinion on the latest GPS technology to aid our interests. We enjoy creating content around GPS products from the industry leaders such as Garmin, FitBit and more. We hope you find the site informative in helping you make the right buying decisions.

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