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Garmin Vivofit 3 review - suffers at the hands of its siblings

Riyad Emeran
13 Mar 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT (as of 23rd of May)

The Vivofit 3 has a huge one-year battery life but we'd rather charge the Fitbit Alta occasionally instead

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Specifications

Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: No, Display: Yes (LCD), Battery life: 12 months

Garmin Vivofit 3 review: App and web portal

The Garmin Connect platform has improved a lot in the past year. Since Garmin’s expertise used to lie primarily in more hardcore sports tech like GPS running watches and cycle computers, Garmin Connect was geared towards those devices and related activities.

Now, the firm has made a big effort to make Garmin Connect more approachable and usable for people who are just using a fitness tracker for logging daily step activity. While it’s still not as good for this type of activity as Fitbit, it’s a far better experience than it used to be.

Firing up the Garmin Connect app will display the snapshot screen for your day, with your step count and sleep data prominently displayed at the top. The bottom half of the screen will display additional info such as calories burned, active minutes, flights of stairs climbed, etc. Unfortunately, since the Garmin Vivofit 3 doesn’t have an altimeter built into it, that stair count will just remain blank.

Swiping the screen right and left will display more detailed data on specific stats like steps over time, sleep for the past seven days, recent activities like running or swimming, etc. There’s useful data in there, but it seems a bit counter intuitive when most fitness tracker apps let you swipe back to get to previous days' data.

Of course, you can look back at previous days by simply tapping the calendar icon at the bottom of the screen and my confusion is more a result of using an ever changing array of fitness trackers and apps. If you’re using a Garmin tracker every day, locating your previous data in the calendar tab will become natural very quickly.

You can log your food intake within Garmin Connect, too, but the smarter option is to link it with MyFitnessPal, thus pulling in your food diary data from there and also sharing your activity stats the other way, the upshot being that you’ve got a dynamic calorie target to work with each day.

The Garmin Connect web portal gives you access to all your data, but it’s really designed for the heavy Garmin user. If you’re using a Forerunner running watch and an Edge cycle computer as well as a fitness tracker, each of them will live in their own dynamic tile within your browser.

You’ll also find tiles for your daily step counts, your recent bike rides, recent runs, segments cycled or run, etc. You can move the tiles around and arrange them to suit you, but unless you’re using other Garmin equipment it can look a little sparse compared to, say, Fitbit’s web portal.


Garmin Vivofit 3 review: Verdict

The Garmin Vivofit 3 is a fitness tracker that wants to be a style accessory, but it doesn’t really achieve those aspirations and at £90 it's up against some stiff competition. While there are some new features, there’s not enough here to justify an upgrade for existing Vivofit users, especially since the accuracy of the auto activity detection is questionable.

Ultimately, the Vivofit continues to be something of a disappointment, which is odd considering Garmin also makes the best fitness tracker available, the Vivosmart HR. Obviously the Vivosmart HR is more expensive (around £120 at present) and more complex but it's still a good buy for practically anyone.

But if you are a casual user looking for a basic fitness tracker that won’t break the bank, should you go for the Vivofit 3? Well, only if you hate having to charge your tracker every 4-5 days. If that describes you then the Vivofit's one-year battery life will be a godsend. Everyone else would be better off grabbing a Fitbit Alta instead. 

Buy Vivofit 3 now from Amazon

Hardware
Wearing modesWrist strap, clip-on
PedometerYes
Heart-rate monitorNo
GPSNo
DisplayYes (LCD)
WaterproofYes
Smartphone connection
OS supportAndroid 4.0+, iOS 8+, Windows 10
WirelessBluetooth
Battery
Battery sizeCR1632 coin cell
Battery life12 months
Buying information
Price including VAT£90
Warranty1 year

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