Keep a close watch on your fitness routine


Another day, another vivo-something from Garmin.

The new Vivoactive 3 smartwatch though, looks radically different from its predecessors, which have either square or rectangular designs, and resemble running watches.

With its circular stainless steel bezel and minimalist design, the Vivoactive 3 looks more like an analogue watch instead. It comes in three colour combinations: black/ stainless ($449), white/stainless ($449), and black/slate ($499, the version tested).

It has a 1.2-inch (240 x 240 pixels) round touchscreen display with a side button on the right. On its left is a touch-sensitive panel for quick scrolling, called the Side Swipe.

During set-up, you can choose which side you want the side button to be, and the display will be flipped accordingly. As I wear my watch on my right hand, I selected the button to be on its left. I then swopped the top and bottom watch straps to wear it. You can also buy any off-the-shelf 20mm watch straps to use with it.

A short press of the side button will lead you to the workout page, while a long press will lead you to a round menu of options such as “turn on”, “do not disturb” or “power off”.

To view your physical activity stats, just swipe up or down the display or scroll on the Side Swipe.

As a smartwatch, the Vivoactive 3 is limited in terms of displaying notifications and replying SMS. As a fitness tracker, it is more well-rounded. It can monitor your all-day physical activities and sleep. It has a built-in heart-rate sensor for all-day heart-rate monitoring, and can track your exercise intensity. It can also track your swims.

In terms of step tracking accuracy, it recorded a mere 3 per cent more steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 3.

But you have to wait for around 90sec to get a GPS lock before runs. Its GPS distance tracking is quite accurate, recording only 200m more than the actual distance on my usual 5km jogging route.

To track your swims, you have to first set the pool length. It recorded one fewer lap in a 500m swim I did, over laps of 25m.

The watch accurately pin-pointed the time I went to bed and woke up, as well as recorded the amount of light and deep sleep I had.

The Vivoactive 3 is supposed to be Garmin’s first wearable to support the company’s contactless payment, Garmin Pay. At press time, Garmin Pay is still not available here.

According to Garmin, the Vivoactive 3 is supposed to last up to seven days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode. In my tests, with the latest firmware, the Vivoactive 3 lasted for three days when connected to my smartphone for notifications, along with a 5km run and a 500m swim during this period.