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Fitbit Charge 3 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Which should you buy?

When compared side by side, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a great fitness tracker for most people. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the Vivoactive 3 has, because the Garmin tracker is more for intense athletes and/or people who want even deeper metrics (or for folks that don't mind the expense).

Top tracker vs. smartwatch

The Fitbit Charge 3 is just on the fitness tracker side of being a smartwatch, while the Garmin Vivoactive 3 takes things over to the other side, so that's where you'll see the most major spec differences.

Fitbit Charge 3Garmin Vivoactive 3
Step counterYesYes
SwimproofYesYes
Battery life7 days7 days (13 hours in GPS mode)
Heart rate monitorYesYes
Built-in GPSNoYes
Customizable watch faceYesYes
StopwatchYesYes
Sleep trackingYesYes
Mobile paymentsSpecial edition onlyYes
App compatibilityAndroid/iOSAndroid/iOS
Third-party appsNoYes
Multi-workout trackingYesYes

Between the Fitbit Charge 3 and Garmin Vivoactive 3, there is no clear winner, only because they're for different people, although the Fitbit Charge 3 is perhaps the best fitness tracker for most people. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is for people who want even more out of their fitness tracking, as well as full-on smartwatch features.

While the Charge 3 will track your steps, reps, heart rate, sleep, and a few more things, the Vivoactive 3 does all of that, plus it helps you figure out your fitness age, your daily stress levels, VO2, and more.

The Fitbit Charge 3 is for people who want a fitness tracker. The Vivoactive 3 is for people who want a smartwatch.

You should get the Vivoactive 3 if you want to be able to make mobile payments and track your runs/bike rides without your phone on you, since it has built-in NFC and GPS. With the Charge 3, you need to have your phone on you. However, with the Vivoactive 3 you can leave it at home. All of your GPS information will sync with its app when you get back near your phone.

You should also get the Vivoactive 3 if you need more than "just a fitness tracker" can offer. Sure the Charge 3 has everything you need for your workout, but it can't help you call an Uber, but a Vivoactive 3 can.

The Fitbit Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy before investing in a full-on smartwatch. The Charge 3 has a great all-day heart rate monitor, a stopwatch, automatic activity tracking, bands that can be swapped, customizable watch faces, and more. However, if that's still not enough, you're going to want to go full-on smartwatch. It's just that simple.

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.