Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review

///Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review
Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review

You may be wondering where is Vivosmart 2? Well, Garmin doesn’t seem to be interested in following the serial numbering of the products, that’s why you get the Garmin Vivosmart 3. After the Vivosmart HR+, this fitness tracker is somewhat a game changer for Garmin.

With this fitness tracker, Garmin is introducing the VO2 Max tracking in its devices along with rep counting and exercise detection. Fitness is still the highest priority for the brand and we think you will find it useful not only for day-to-day wellness tracking but for some serious fitness metrics as well.

With this fitness tracker, the brand in venturing into the lower segment of the market. How successful is the Garmin Vivosmart 3 in our benchmark? Let’s find out.

The Good and The Bad of Garmin Vivosmart 3

The Good:

  • Accurate VO2 Max feature

  • Stress level score feature is unique

  • Advanced sports tracking features for weight lifters

  • Waterproof

  • Notification support for all phone applications

  • 5-day battery life

The Bad: 

  • No GPS

  • Cannot be synched with phone GPS

  • Uninspiring design

  • Not all features work perfectly under intense conditions

Features of Garmin Vivosmart 3


Not one of the strength of the Garmin Vivosmart 3, but its design is made to be functional. The entire black unibody look is not very stylish. The monochrome screen when turned off entirely blends with black rubber band, making it almost invisible. We also found the screen to be a bit smaller than normal.
Before you run to conclusions, remember that we mentioned the Garmin Vivosmart 3 is designed to be functional. With the new look, you may have to compromise on the style, but it is comfortable enough to be worn anytime anywhere. Also, its waterproof and you can take it swimming anytime you want. There are a few things about the design of the Garmin Vivosmart 3 you seriously need to consider before betting your money. The rubber built attracts a lot of dust and it won’t be easy for you to keep it all clean. Available in two versions-small/medium and large-you need to pick the right size as unibody build means you won’t have a choice with size afterwards.

The display is not always on and you need to tap or raise the wrist to awake the screen. We liked how bright the display is now. Even on a sunny afternoon you won’t have trouble reading the data. At times, however, the display was unresponsive in our test, especially with the raise-to-wake gesture. You can scroll through various by swiping the screen up or down and with a tap see more data. For instance, when you tap on data from your heart rate monitor you can find the past hour log as well as your highest and lowest bpm data.

Activity tracking

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 is provided with all the basic activity tracking features like the optical heart rate monitoring and step and sleep tracking. This fitness tracker monitors your steps and heart rate throughout the day. In our review, we found that the optical HR monitor in the Vivosmart 3 is pretty accurate. You may get a lightly higher heart rate on the device screen, but in the Vivosmart 3 app you get accurate data as the app algorithm adjusts data.

Step tracking capability of the device is also pretty good and there is not much difference when we compared results with some high-end fitness trackers like the Fibit Alta HR. Step tracking as a day-to-day fitness metric is not that useful, but it gives you a close data on how often you move and the distance you cover.

Sleep tracking is another feature in the Garmin Vivosmart 3 that we think is highly accurate. For our review, we compared this fitness tracker with the Fitbit Alta HR to see how it performs in tracking sleeping hours and other related data. The sleeping tracker does nicely to track the time between you fall asleep and wake up. Anything beyond that you will need to consider some other fitness tracker. Also the Garmin Vivosmart 3 does not make use of rest heart rate data to find out when exactly you are in REM sleep. If you need a general overview from your sleep tracking, then this fitness tracker is for you.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review

Stress Tracking is the serious deal in the new Garmin Vivosmart 3 fitness tracker. Garmin is pushing its products to be better health and wellbeing tracking devices, and this feature is a small step towards that goal. The Stress tracker monitors your heart rate variation to establish how stressed you are. The stress level scored between 0 to 100. Also a graph representation of your past hour stress level is also provided in the metric, just swipe left to see this graph. Well, you get to know how stressed you are, then what? The Garmin Vivosmart 3 has the Relax Timer, a feature like Apple Watch Breathe, it helps you with guided breathing to relieve all the stress.

Our reviewers worn this fitness tracker for a week to closely monitor how well stress tracking performs. It is safe to consider this feature as reliable except it misses a few times, where it signals danger when you are entirely calm or label you as ok when you are stressed. But what we think the real value of the stress tracking feature is in the data it provides over the day. When you see the data it collects through the day in the portal or the app you understand how stressed you are on a daily basis. It also helps you to point out hours of the day when you are most stressed. For example, you may be more stressed when you are at work. This will help you to work out on your stress through breathing exercises.

A new addition to the Garmin Vivosmart 3, is the VO2 Max feature. Some other Garmin devices already have this feature for a while now, but this is the first time you will find it in a low-cost fitness tracker. VO2 Max is an abbreviation for maximum volume of oxygen body can process during any activity. It is considered to be a much better stat for measuring overall fitness of the body. For the Vivosmart 3 to gauge your VO2 Max level you need to get yourself a little sweaty.

With this new feature you get the idea how fit you are in your overall well-being within the bracket of your age and gender people. You can even share your VO2 Max score with family and friends using the social feature of the app. While the score will not be as accurate as you get when tested using high-end medical lab equipments, but as a general purpose fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 does a nice job.

Sports tracking

Without a GPS, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 can be a miss as a serious running watch. However, as a low end fitness tracker Garmin has tried it to make as it as close to an ideal fitness tracker as possible.

Heart tracking during normal day-today activities is good, but during the intensive sports activities you will see the heart rate monitor struggling to keep up with accuracy. You can set the fitness tracker to track your sports activity manually or automatically. If you intend to use auto tracking in the device you can set parameter from the app. You can also switch device to running mode with a long press on the screen and swiping to a run icon. In the Activity section of the app you can set what all information you want to be displayed on the device screen. For instance, for running mode, you can select heart rate, timer, reps and heart rate zones.

Distance tracking was a concern as Garmin ditched GPS on this fitness tracker. Our reviewers took the Garmin Vivosmart 3 out for a spin to see how accurate its accelerometer based distance tracking is. Over the short distance we found that the Vivosmart did fall back in estimating the distance correctly, but over the long distance it fared well. Fortunately, you get option to manually adjust the stride length tracker from the app for optimum accuracy. Altogether we found that this fitness tracker despite absence of a GPS can track distance with good accuracy. We think Garmin knew their accelerometer based distance tracker is good enough to meet average fitness needs and that’s why there is no inbuilt GPS in the Vivosmart 3. However, we were more disappointed by the fact that Garmin has not provided this fitness band with smartphone GPS support.

Heart rate monitor also fluctuates a lot during running. We found a major spike in heart rate with Garmin Vivosmart 3 as compared to other fitness trackers. Garmin needs to work on this major flaw of this fitness tracker as heart rate monitoring is one of the main features of this device.

While accessing the running data on the app and portal we found there is a need of improvements in some segments. You get metrics like pace, speed and heart rate, but no map of the run. App crashing on a few occasions is also an issue, but with the latest update we found, Garmin Vivosmart 3 has really improved the functionality of the app though work on some of the layout still remains. App can do a lot better if made more intuitive and supported by guidance demonstrations to use its features.

Some strength training exercises like weight lifting can also be tracked with the Garmin Vivosmart 3. Our in-house bodybuilder (reviewers!) gave this feature a shot. Impressively, this Garmin device can very accurately measure your reps as long as you are maintaining right posture and fully extending your muscles. We found that if you maintain a loose form, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 misses to pick up reps accurately. If you are taking a break between reps, then you need to tap on the screen and tap again before starting with your workout.

Notifications and battery life

Notification alert is a feature you will find almost in every fitness tracker these days and the Vivosmart 3 is no different. Even it gets a step ahead and supports notifications from all smartphone applications. Small screen may be a bit of a problem to read texts easily, but it does one job nicely, of informing you who is calling or texting you. Also, social app notifications keep you connected. Furthermore, you can use the device to control your music with basic play, pause, back and forward options.

Garmin Vivosmart is powered by a battery that lasts for five days before it needs recharging. We found this fitness tracker easily functions for 5 days with all its features running, even on a few occasions we found it lasted a day longer.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review

Reasons to choose Garmin Vivosmart 3

The price is a major reason why you should consider the Garmin Vivosmart 3 over any other fitness tracker if your needs are average. If you don’t need a running device with GPS, this fitness tracker is the closest to a quality device you can get at its price. Advanced features for weight lifting, stress level score, VO2 Max and optical heart rate monitor, are reasons enough to consider it. If you need more, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 is waterproof and can track your fitness underwater accurately.


The Garmin Vivosmart 3 is a low-cost fitness tracker which is designed to fit day-to-day fitness needs. You can rely on this fitness tracker to monitor your daily stress levels. Heart tracking and VO2 Max score provide a more accurate fitness score. If you want a fitness tracker to passively monitor your health and don’t have needs to fiddle with the UI a lot, this device should be your pick. It packs a lot more feature at the price it is offered. Serious runners and athletes might give it a miss due to lack of GPS but for an average person, it is the cheapest fitness tracker that offers premium features.


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