The Fitbit Charge 3 is as great as a fitness tracker can get before opting for a full-fledged smartwatch. It tracks active and resting heart rates, has smartphone notifications, and is the perfect companion for all exercise, on land or in the pool.
- Great ecosystem.
- Accurate heart rate monitoring.
- Smartphone notifications.
- Limited color options.
- No onboard GPS.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a full-fledged smartwatch, featuring a suite of apps, thousands of watch faces, and other widgets to complete the experience. It takes the fitness tracker to a higher level than the Fitbit Charge 3, which shows in its high price.
- Smartwatch feature set.
- Color display.
- Built-in GPS.
- NFC payment.
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 3||Garmin Vivoactive 3|
|Battery life||7 days||7 days (13 hours in GPS mode)|
|Heart rate monitor||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable watch face||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile payments||Special edition only||Yes|
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.
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.
Fitbit's best is the best for most people.
While it may lack built-in GPS, the Fitbit Charge 3 is still one of the best trackers around, with swimproofing, an excellent heart rate monitoring, and tons of tracking options.
Taking fitness tracking to the next level.
Garmin's Vivoactive 3 is a smartwatch with a fitness focus. It has tons of workout apps, as well as third-party services, like Uber, so it can take you more places than just the gym. It also has a suite of excellent fitness tracking features that go beyond standard tracking.
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.
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