Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. 4: Which One Is Better?

As a smartwatch, fitness tracker, and Multisport GPS watch manufacturer, Garmin has been a longtime market leader.

They make precise, high-quality timepieces. Fitness tracking information is available to help you keep track of your health and fitness level.

The Vivoactive 3, one of their best-selling timepieces, just received an update, resulting in the Vivoactive 4. The new version builds on the improvements made in version 3 rather than radical changes. While there are similarities between the two versions, and they both look great, the more recent model has some interesting new features worth checking out.

Let’s compare the Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4 to see which is better for your requirements and wants.

What is the difference between Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4?

Vivoactive 4 is the upgraded version of Vivoactive 3, which offers two alternative sizes and an expanded feature set. Here’s a short rundown of the difference between these Multisport GPS watches.

Differences and similarities

The Vivoactive 4 has two sizes, perhaps the most significant distinction (4 is the regular size, and 4S is the smaller). If you have a tiny wrist and want a less bulky watch, this is a wonderful option.

Several fundamental characteristics are shared by both the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive 4.

  • Wrist-based heart rate monitor;
  • Comprehensive activity tracker
  • GPS Fitness Tracker that includes steps, sleep, and stress; sensors including a barometer, compass, and accelerometer;
  • Garmin connect app for data uploading to your phone Garmin pay for contactless payments on the go;
  • Smart notifications to display smartphone notifications on the watch;
  • Preloaded indoor and outdoor activities to track many types of workouts;
  • Find my phone and my watch.

Additionally, the Vivoactive 4 detects breathing rate and blood oxygen levels (blood oxygen tracking), notifies users when they need to rest, and calculates energy levels using its Body Battery meter. This list of additional metrics you may use to monitor your health.

You can only use the Vivoactive 3 with Garmin Connect and the Connect IQ Widget to measure your hydration levels and women’s health. Underwater, heart rate can also be calculated.

Both watches log your daily steps, calories burned, and distance traveled for activity tracking. When you’ve been inactive for a specific time, you’ll be notified by a move bar.

All of the built-in profiles may be used to monitor strength training and cardio activities such as ellipticals and stair steppers. There are also yoga and Pilates routines on the Vivoactive 4 and animated workout shown on the monitor.

The Vivoactive 4 has additional features that the Vivoactive 3 does not. All versions of the Vivoactive 4 can now store and play music, animated workout modes, Advanced Sleep Monitoring, and Garmin Coach.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4
Garmin Vivoactive 3

The size and layout

The Vivoactive 3 features a 1.2-inch circular color display with a resolution of 240 240 pixels. There are 43.4 square millimeters of casing in total.

The Vivoactive 4 has a 260 x 260-pixel screen resolution and a 1.3-inch circular color display with a somewhat bigger bezel in a 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm body.

Transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) technology allows the Vivoactive 3 and 4 to feature sunlight-readable displays. The Vivoactive 4’s clock, alerts, and animated workouts use very little battery life.

Even if you’re outside, you can see the screen perfectly thanks to this technology. As a result, the screen will seem crisper even in the most overcast situations.

You’ll be able to keep updated on your progress when you’re out on the road for a bike ride. A fast flick of the wrist activates the display’s front light in low-light situations, such as indoors or in a dark room.

Battery Capacity

There are slight differences in battery life between the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive 4. Still, it’s crucial to remember that the features you utilize will affect how long the device stays powered up.

The battery life of the Vivoactive 3 is impressive, lasting up to seven days when used as a smartwatch and up to thirteen hours when used with built-in GPS.

The Vivoactive 4 has eight days of battery life in smartwatch mode and 18 hours in GPS mode. However, you’ll only get around 6 hours of battery life while using GPS and music simultaneously.

The Vivoactive 4S has a smaller battery since it is smaller. So it is less than the basic version 4 but more than the Vivoactive 3. Here, you’ll receive seven days of smartwatch use, 15 hours of GPS use, and five hours of GPS and music use.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Elevate wrist heart rate monitors are included in the Vivoactive 3 and 4 health features.

This enables you to monitor your heart rate while exercising, going about your everyday routine, and even while you’re sleeping. When you’re at rest, the watch will tell you whether your heart rate is too high or too low.

The heart rate sensor monitors your heart rate variability, which is crucial to determining a person’s stress level and assessing their health. The watch will alert you if your stress levels grow so that you may find a strategy to reduce your tension.

When your stress level rises, Vivoactive 4 will notify you and advise you to take a break to perform some breathing exercises. You may start a breathing workout by using Mindful Breathing.

Stress and breathing may be reduced with the aid of the watch, which keeps you aware of your breathing patterns.

There are ways to connect external chest heart monitors to the Vivoactive 3 and 4 with ANT+ sensors or Bluetooth.


Both watches include a compass, an altimeter, and a GPS with GLONASS and Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitoring.

The Vivoactive 4 also has an oxygen saturation sensor (the pulse ox) to measure blood oxygen saturation levels and a gyroscope for event detection.

The Vivoactive 3 comes with a built-in thermometer, but the Vivoactive 4 needs an extra accessory to use the built-in thermometer.

Smartwatch Features

While the Vivoactive 4 has a slightly improved battery life, its base model, the Vivoactive 3, lacks onboard music storage, even though both watch models are compatible with third-party apps via Garmin Connect IQ.

If you’re an Android user, you’ll be able to get alerts from your phone and respond to or reject calls through text messages.

The weather and calendar applications are pre-installed on both watches, and you can add more via the Garmin Connect IQ app store. Garmin Pay is also available on both watches, which lets you make an NFC-based contactless payment solution with your watch.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Edition or Vivoactive 4 are your only options if you seek that feature. Stream up to 500 songs via Bluetooth headphones from these watches’ onboard music storage. While you may use either watch to manage your phone’s music playing, the regular Garmin Vivoactive 3 does not support music storage.

However, the Vivoactive 4 has a slight advantage in battery life. With GPS turned on, the Vivoactive 3 has a battery life of up to 13 hours and seven days when used as a smartwatch. The Vivoactive 3 Music provides five hours of GPS and music playback on a full charge.

Up to six hours of GPS use and up to eight days of audio playback are possible with the Vivoactive 4, which can also function as a smartwatch.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4
Garmin Vivoactive 4

Navigation And Map

The Vivoactive 3 has a GPS feature that allows you to store areas you’ve visited. The GPS has good levels of accuracy in my test.

This casual wear may be used for compass navigation. It’s a useful tool for figuring out how far you are from your desired destination. You’ll also learn how to get there from this guide. Before going to a previously stored location, make sure the watch has found satellites.

Apps like Maps and Find My Car can only be downloaded via the Garmin Connect IQ app, which is required for the Vivoactive 4. Apps will allow you to store destinations, traverse locations, or go home.


You can monitor many different activities with both the Vivoactive 3 and 4 models. Sporting activities such as running, cycling, swimming, or hiking are all included in the program. There are many more options, such as golf, outdoor rowing, indoor rowing, elliptical training, stair-steppers, yoga, etc.

Although the Vivoactive 4 features built-in yoga and pilates exercises, they monitor similar activities.

It’s possible to make your workouts exercise using Vivoactive 3 and 4. These are downloadable workout exercises you can download to your watch.

To log your on-screen workout, sets, and rest periods, you’ll need a watch that has a built-in timer or pedometer.

Training Aids

Physio TrueUp must be enabled on the Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4 GPS Fitness Tracker. To keep track of recuperation time and training load, you may sync your data with Physio TrueUp here.

Using Garmin Coach, you may connect with a professional running coach who can assist you in achieving your running objectives. This service not only provides instruction but also a free training plan with dynamic routines tailored to your running demands.

Workouts may be made more accessible or tougher depending on how well you do once you download them to your watch.

For runners of any ability, there is a range of options available. Athletes of all levels may benefit from the training load routines.

Health Monitoring

You may download the Women’s Health Tracking function to Vivoactive 3 and 4 via the Garmin Connect app. Pregnant or menstruating women may use this to keep track of their cycle and get advice on diet and exercise.

The Vivoactive 4 has capabilities that the Vivoactive 3 does not have to assist you in keeping track of your health while you’re out and about.

Monitoring your energy levels during the day and sophisticated sleep tracking are the two main functions of the Body Battery Energy Monitor. In addition, this tool scans your deep sleep, REM sleep phases, and breathing data.

Hydration tracking is also available, which alerts you when it’s time to refuel and keeps track of how much water you’ve consumed. Additionally, you may use respiration monitoring to monitor your breathing during the day and at night.


A chest strap heart rate monitor like the HRM-Dual can be used with Vivoactive 3 and 4 through Bluetooth Smart and ANT+. The strap size is ideal for adults. Bike Speed and Cadence sensors from Garmin are also compatible with the watch.

The Vivoactive 4’s quick-release band lets you swap out the watch band. This feature enables you to change the look and feel of the watch for both work and play.

Other Features 

Vivoactive 3 and 4 have a large number of common characteristics. The Vivoactive 4 update, on the other hand, adds a few new functions.

You may use the Vivoactive 4’s safety features to send an emergency alert to chosen family members and friends. The coordinates of your current position will be sent to them via your watch. This is automatically sent if you are in a bicycle accident.

Vivoactive 4 may also be used to stream music, and you can download up to 500 songs so that you can listen to music when you are out on a run or hiking.

You can use Garmin Pay to make purchases with either the Vivoactive 3 or 4, so you don’t need to bring your credit cards. Downloading multiple watch faces lets you personalize your wristwatch to reflect your style.

You can download a variety of widgets and applications from the Garmin Connect IQ store to keep tabs on anything from the weather to your Uber journey home.

Final Verdict

Vivoactive 3 and 4 are excellent devices. The most significant difference is that the 4 and 4S now come in two different sizes.

Battery life and audio playback are two of the new features of the Vivoactive 4 that are worth mentioning. However, the other new capabilities may not be used as often.

Since the Vivoactive 3 is being phased out, you may get a great deal on it.

Even so, the Vivoactive 4 is less expensive and offers superior battery life and music.

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