Garmin Vívosmart 3 Review

January 31, 2018
Garmin Vívosmart 3
Garmin Vivosmart 3-1
Garmin Vivosmart 3-2
Garmin Vivosmart 3-3
Garmin Vivosmart 3-4
Garmin Vívosmart 3 Garmin Vivosmart 3-1 Garmin Vivosmart 3-2 Garmin Vivosmart 3-3 Garmin Vivosmart 3-4
On Wrist Use
Software Support
Battery Life

The Good

  • Wrist-based heart rate technology
  • Automatically detects specific exercises
  • Tracks stress level
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Waterproof to about 50 meters

The Bad

  • Excessive navigation on small touch screen
  • No GPS sync through phone
  • Automatic activity tracking can be delayed
  • Weights rep counting inaccurate
The Garmin Vívosmart 3 has a streamlined and comfortable design and tracks heart rate, steps, stress, sleep duration, and even repetitions during weight lifting. Like most fitness trackers, accuracy is not perfect on the Vívosmart 3, and unlike many non-GPS fitness trackers it doesn’t connect to a phone for GPS. Wellness tracking is prominent with the stress tracking feature on the watch, which then offers a guided breathing feature to help drop stress levels. We found that all the features are nice for thorough fitness and wellness tracking, but are also a bit much to navigate on a small screen, so the Garmin Connect app is where data can really be observed and understood.

On Wrist Use

The Garmin Vívosmart 3 is lightweight with a subtle style made up of a thin, textured rubber that sits flush on the wrist. The band is adjustable and comes in two sizes: small/medium and large. The display isn’t always on, but can be illuminated from either a tap or raise of the wrist. We found that sometimes it took an extra shake to wake up the display. The watch tracks a lot of fitness and wellness stats, and it can be a lot to manage and scroll through on the small display. Once we became familiar with the navigation, we could see the time of day and number of daily steps on the home screen, then scroll through the different screens like heart rate, stress level, and calories burned by swiping up and down. Tapping on any particular screen showed more data. While the watch can be worn while swimming, the screen doesn’t respond as well when it’s wet. The wearer can track activities manually, or via the Garmin Connect app. The watch can detect movement and begin tracking automatically.

Software Support 

Wearers of the Garmin Vívosmart 3 can download the free Garmin Connect app to view a breakdown of stats compiled in categories that include Activities, Health & Performance, and Workouts. The app also connects to an online community where users can share their progress and join challenges. The app’s home screen displays the resting and high heart rate numbers, as well as resting and active calories for the day. We found the app had the ideal combination of a simple layout that offers as little or as much information as the user desires to see.

Battery Life

While the battery life of the Garmin Vívosmart 3 can vary, we found the device could go five days without a recharge, even when it was used full time. The device is easy to charge with a specific cord with a USB on one end and a proprietary clamp on the opposite end that connects to the watch.


The many features packed into the Garmin Vívosmart 3 make it stand out among other fitness trackers in the industry, including the stress level tracker and guided breathing feature. While the watch tracks steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and intensity minutes, the Move IQ feature automatically detects exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and elliptical training. It can also automatically start a timed walk or run activity. The device can capture strength training repetitions as well, although our testing found this feature wasn’t totally accurate. In addition to the fitness and wellness tracking, notifications from a phone are displayed on the wearer’s wrist. We were able to see a notification and then decide to read more or not, straight from the watch. The display screen also has the option to control music playing from the connected smartphone.


The Garmin Vívosmart 3 is not totally accurate at all times in counting steps or picking up exact heart rate, but it creates moderately reliable numbers for basic reference. In our testing process, we counted out 500 steps and the Garmin tracked 507, a 98 percent accuracy. Like the other trackers, the count of steps throughout the day would increase even when testers were not walking, so the inaccuracy was very apparent then. For heart rate, we found the Garmin Vívosmart 3 to be very accurate. We counted heart rate at a desk after recovering from a morning workout to find that 67 beats per minute counted was tracked by the watch at exactly 67 beats per minute. During recovery in an intervals workout, we counted a heart rate at 110 beats per minute and the watch indicated 112 bpm.


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