Garmin Vivosmart 3
Garmin Vivosmart 3

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review – Strengths and Flaws

Garmin Vivosmart 3
Garmin Vivosmart 3

Garmin introduces another wearable, which we take a closer look at in the Garmin Vivosmart 3 review. We introduce some of the new features and also take a closer look at the accuracy of the heart rate monitor.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

What remains the same

Since we have already taken a close look at the predecessor Vivosmart HR, we will not go into all the details again in this Vivosmart 3 test. Like the Vivosmart HR, the Vivosmart 3 offers:

  • a good 24/7 activity tracker (steps, sleep, calories, distance traveled, climbed floors)
  • integrated, permanent heart rate measurement at the wrist
  • Minutes of intensity over the course of the day, based on recommendations from leading health organisations such as the WHO (World Health Organisation)
  • functionally mature and extensive Smartphone notifications (SMS, mail, calendar, incoming calls, various apps)
  • Possibility to control the music app on the smartphone via the display.
  • Find my phone function

In particular, we take a look at the accuracy of the heart rate monitor and the new features, such as the new touch screen operation and the new fitness and training features.

What’s new?

The new highlights at a glance:

  • Measures the stress level during the course of the day
  • Slim design with discrete OLED touch display, visible only when in use
  • Measures VO2max and determines fitness level
  • Measures sets, repetitions and rest periods during strength training and automatically recognizes some exercises performed, see below
  • Stopwatch and countdown timer
  • Leaner design compared to its predecessor Vivosmart HR

Garmin Vivosmart 3 – Direct Competitors

The Vivosmart 3 fitness band inherits the Vivosmart HR and enhances it with further functions. You should know that the Vivosmart 3 has no GPS receiver, unlike the Vivosmart HR+. Direct competitors of the Vivosmart 3 are for example the Polar A360, the successor Polar A370, the Fitbit Alta HR and especially the Fitbit Charge 2 (links to our reviews at the bottom of the article).

In addition to promoting a more active lifestyle, the Vivosmart 3 is also suitable as a lifestyle gadget, like most fitness bands. Garmin’s athletic style wearable is designed for sports and fitness enthusiasts.

The newly developed, permanently measuring and particularly flat integrated HR sensor contributes to improved wearing comfort compared to its predecessor. The overall slimmer design is also a great benefit. To compare the design and optics, two images are enclosed which contrast the predecessor and the Vivosmart 3:

Vivosmart 3 Test: Operation and Display


Initial setup and synchronization of the Garmin Vivosmart 3 can be performed directly on the smartphone (Android, iOS or Windows Phone) or alternatively on the PC (Windows XP and higher) or Mac (OS X 10.6 or higher) using the Garmin Connect App. Activity data can be synchronized wirelessly via Bluetooth at any time. Synchronization with the Connect App is fast and much faster than with the comparable Polar A360, for example.


Garmin has given the Vivosmart 3 a new gesticulated and tap-activated OLED touch display, which is responsible for the entire operation of the wearable. A button like at the predecesor model is no longer available. The display is normally deactivated and completely invisible, i. e. it is not possible to read the time from the side of the display. On the other hand, a deactivated display protects the battery and makes the band look discreet.

The more or less successful operation is carried out via:

  • Arm movements: Turning and lifting the wrist to the body turns the display on. Works often, but not always reliably. Misinterpretation on the part of Vivosmart 3 can lead to unintentional switching  the display on of. The display is also activated automatically for alarms and messages.
  • Wiping/Tip/Double-tip gestures: Activate display, scroll through widgets and menu options, make selections. Also here: Usually works fine, but the surface seems to be a bit oversensitive, so you can end up in the wrong menu.
  • Press and hold: To access the training mode, settings and other features, hold your finger on the display for a while.

Tip: To ensure that the wiping gestures above all function reliably, you should wipe your finger over the entire width of the display and not apply your finger from the middle of the display.

The display is easy to read and also ensures that it can be used in bright environments. The display is only not readable in direct sunlight. A slight turn of the wrist is enough to read the display.

Vivosmart 3 in everyday life

Stress Level

One of the new 24/7 functions is the determination of the stress level in everyday life. With the help of heart rate variability (HRV), the Vivosmart 3 diary leads you through stressful and relaxing phases of the day, helping you to integrate short breaks into your daily life or to identify stressful moments. The measurement of the stress level works like this:

  • The stress level is indicated on a scale from 0 to 100. Values between
    • 0 and 25 represent an idle state
    • 26 and 50 represent a low stress level
    • 51 to 75 indicate an average stress level
    • 76 to 100 a high stress level
  • The device analyzes the HRV while inactive to determine the overall stress.
  • For example, the measurement includes values from training, physical exercise (Move-IQ events) or sleep.
Stress level of the last couple of hours

In the Garmin Vivosmart 3 review, the stress level function seems to do its job quite well. The stress level is difficult to counterbalance, but the measured value fits very well, provided that the fitness bracelet is worn day and night as often as possible.

Vivosmart 3 Review: Accuracy of the Heart Rate Monitor

In a test run we want to convince ourselves of the accuracy of the heart rate sensor of the Vivosmart 3. In order to be able to compare the measured HR data, we took Polar’s heart rate chest strap H10 with us, which can store HR data in its own local memory even without a smartphone. HR chest straps such as the HR10 or Garmin Premium HR straps are well known for very accurate HR frequency recordings.

And here’s the result:

In the upper part of the graph, the direct comparison between the two devices can be seen, in the lower part the respective HR average. As so often observed in our reviews, optical heart rate monitors initially struggle with the acquisition of the correct heart rate, such as the Vivosmart 3, and we often give this tip: warm up a few minutes before the actual training. After that, as you can see in the graphic, the Vivosmart 3 is astonishingly accurate, at least for uniform running units.

The following average and maximum values are the result of the devices:

  • Average heart rate
    • Vivosmart 3: 157 bpm
    • Polar HR10 Chest Strap: 156 bpm
  • Max. pulse
    • Vivosmart3:184 bpm
    • Polar HR10 Chest Strap: 183 bpm

Sport Functions Vivosmart 3


The Vivosmart 3 is Garmin’s first fitness wristband in the lower price segment that measures the VO2max and thus the endurance performance. Fitbit has been offering this function for some time now, for example with the Fitbit Charge 2: The VO2max calculates the current fitness and sports age from the VO2max in conjunction with the free Garmin Connect App and thus informs you immediately about personal progress.

The VO2max provides information about cardiovascular fitness. The value represents the maximum oxygen uptake in millilitres, which can be utilized per minute and per kilogram of body weight at maximum performance. The Vivosmart 3 calculates the VO2max based on the heart rate and training data, whereby the more often you perform workouts with the device, the more accurate the value becomes. This means that in the first few weeks you get a less exact value. However, a VO2max-value can be obtained by carrying out a manual 15-minute walking test with the Vivosmart 3. With improved fitness, the VO2max increases.

Also for strength athletes

Strength athletes should prick up their ears with the Vivosmart 3, because the Vivosmart 3 can be used in the gym for weight training. And: the Vivosmart 3 can do much more than we knew at the beginning. We have announced practical functions such as counting sets, repetitions and rest periods, such as weight lifting. In the Vivosmart 3 review, however, we find out that some types of exercises are detected completely automatically and counted as accurately as possible. Since the Vivosmart 3 is worn on the arm, leg exercises are not counted. However, leg exercises can be entered manually in Connect.

During strength training activity you can record sets of exercises. A sentence is a series of repetitions of a single movement. Starting and pausing a set must be done manually. In the app you can find an option “Auto-set” in the BETA-phase, which we have not tested in the review yet. During the exercise, the repetitions made so far and a resting phase timer between the sets are displayed:

After the exercises, there’s a summary on Vivosmart 3:

Curl and triceps extenders are automatically detected and entered in Garmin Connect as such. When it comes to the number of repetitions, the Vivosmart 3 also cuts a good figure and counts almost all repetitions. You can get more out of it with a little practice. For example, to increase accuracy, you should only interact with the device at the beginning and end of each block and during recovery phases. You should also repeat repetitions with a large, even range of motion. To ensure that the last repetition is also recognized, the arm on which the device is worn should be returned to its original position. You can set up unrecognized exercises yourself, marked with “Select Exercise” at the top.

For weight training, you can also define alarms that cause the bracelet to vibrate during the exercise. These include time, calories and HR alarms. The data fields can also be customized for a total of two pages with two fields each. You can select: timer, repetitions, heart rate, heart rate ranges and no data field. A third page that is not customizable displays the date and time.

Only a few of the fitness wristbands known to us offer functions for weight training at all.

Move IQ

Thanks to Move IQ 2.0 technology, the fitness tracker also automatically recognises the start time, the end of certain sporting activities – no matter whether it’s a break in the mountains, a workout or cycling through the city. From when the acquisition of a permanent, intensive movement should start can now also be preset individually – for example after 2,5 or 10 minutes. This prevents the sprint to the subway from being saved as a running lap.

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Price, Purchase and Availability

The Vivosmart 3 is already available in black and two additional colours in S/M size, for example:

Buy Garmin Vivosmart 3: Check for availability Shopping Logo

Garmin Vivosmart 3 Review- Result

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 review continues to progress and reveals more and more details. Some of the strengths and weaknesses are already apparent. The fitness band is typical of Garmin and is very suitable for everyday use and comfortable. The hr sensor delivers good results in a first run training session. The Vivosmart 3 is also very interesting for strength athletes, especially since there is a lack of competition in this area. We currently see the weaknesses in the sometimes over-sensitive operation via the display, which can lead to unwanted action. However, if you observe the above mentioned tip, the display can be operated reliably.