Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. Garmin Instinct

Vivoactive 3
 GarminVivoactive 3Buy NowGarminInstinctBuy Now

Basic Info

Suggested Price$299$300

Activity & Fitness

Cycling (Bicycling)


Duration7 days14 days


Windows Phone




Resolution240 x 240128 x 128
Size1.2 inches0.9 inches


Audio Speaker


Barometer or Altimeter
Ultraviolet Sensor
Water Resistance5 ATM10 ATM




Operating System

Comparing Instinct and Vivoactive 3

Garmin Instinct and Garmin Vivoactive 3 are two popular smartwatches designed to cater to fitness enthusiasts and outdoor adventurists. Both products have a wealth of features and functionalities, making it challenging to choose the right watch that suits your needs.

When looking for a smartwatch or fitness tracker, it is essential to consider factors such as design, user interface, battery life, and value for money. In addition, it is crucial to evaluate the product’s overall performance, brand reputation, and compatibility with your lifestyle.

Garmin, a well-established brand in the wearables industry, takes pride in offering high-quality smartwatches. The company has a strong reputation for its innovation, cutting-edge technology, and exceptional customer support.

In this article, we will delve deep into the details of Garmin Instinct and Garmin Vivoactive 3, their comparisons, and the differences that set them apart. This comprehensive guide aims to help you make an informed decision when choosing between these two remarkable wearables.

Design and Build

Garmin Instinct

Materials used: Polymer case, reinforced fiber, and silicone strap.
Size and Weight: 45 x 45 x 15.3 mm, 52 g.
Display/Screen: Monochrome, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display with 128x128 pixels resolution.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Materials used: Polymer case, stainless steel bezel, and silicone strap.
Size and Weight: 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm, 43 g.
Display/Screen: Color, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display with 240x240 pixels resolution.

Comparison of design and build quality

Similarities: Both devices have a polymer case and silicone strap, making them lightweight and comfortable to wear. In addition, both the Instinct and Vivoactive 3 feature a transflective MIP display that ensures easy readability in various lighting conditions.

Differences: Garmin Instinct sports a rugged and more robust design, suitable for outdoor enthusiasts. It is slightly larger and heavier than the Vivoactive 3, which has a sleeker look suitable for daily wear. The Instinct has a monochrome screen, while the Vivoactive 3 boasts a color display with a higher resolution. Besides, the bezel of the Vivoactive 3 is made of stainless steel, adding to its premium feel.

Pros and Cons: Garmin Instinct’s rugged design makes it more durable and resistant to damage, but it may not be suitable for people who prefer a sleek, everyday watch. On the other hand, the Vivoactive 3's stylish design may not provide the same level of resistance, but it is more suitable for people who want a good-looking watch with a higher-resolution touch screen for daily use.

Features and Functionality

Garmin Instinct

Operating system: Proprietary Garmin OS
Sensors: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, and thermometer
Battery life: Up to 14 days
Fitness tracking: Steps, distance, calories, sleep, heart rate, and swim tracking

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Operating system: Proprietary Garmin OS
Sensors: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, and accelerometer
Battery life: Up to 7 days
Fitness tracking: Steps, distance, calories, sleep, heart rate, swim tracking, and cycling tracking

Comparison of features and performance

Similarities: Both devices run on Garmin’s proprietary OS and offer a wide range of fitness tracking features such as steps, distance, calories, sleep, heart rate, and swim tracking. Both smartwatches are also equipped with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo tracking systems, allowing for precise location tracking during outdoor activities.

Differences: Garmin Instinct has a longer battery life (up to 14 days) compared to the Vivoactive 3 (up to 7 days). The Instinct also includes a thermometer sensor, which is absent in the Vivoactive 3. On the other hand, Vivoactive 3 offers cycling tracking, a feature that is not available in the Instinct model.

Pros and Cons: The Garmin Instinct has the edge in battery life and additional sensor features, making it ideal for extended outdoor adventures. However, the Vivoactive 3 caters to those looking for cycling tracking options and a sleek tool for everyday fitness and health monitoring.

User Interface and User Experience

Garmin Instinct

Display: Monochrome, transflective MIP display.
Navigation: Physical buttons.
Apps and Customization: Limited customization options, no downloadable apps.
Compatibility with Smartphones: Android and iOS.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Display: Color, transflective MIP display.
Navigation: Touchscreen and physical side swipe button.
Apps and Customization: Downloadable apps and extensive customization options available through the Garmin Connect IQ store.
Compatibility with Smartphones: Android and iOS.

Comparison of user interface and user experience

Similarities: Both watches are compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, allowing users to manage notifications, control music playback, and access smart features.

Differences: While Garmin Instinct relies on physical buttons for navigation, the Vivoactive 3 offers a blend of touchscreen and side swipe button controls. The Vivoactive 3 also provides numerous customization options and access to downloadable apps through the Garmin Connect IQ store, which the Instinct does not support.

Pros and Cons: Garmin Instinct’s physical buttons may be more reliable and user-friendly during outdoor activities or while wearing gloves. However, the Vivoactive 3's touchscreen interface and access to a broader range of apps and customization options make it an attractive choice for those who prefer a more personalized and feature-rich smartwatch experience.

Price and Value

Garmin Instinct

Cost and value for money: $300, offers rugged design and extended battery life suitable for outdoor enthusiasts.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Cost and value for money: $299, provides additional features such as cycling tracking and touchscreen interface while maintaining a sleek design for daily wear.

Comparison of price and value

Similarities: Both devices have a similar price point in the range of $300, offering value for money based on their respective target users.

Differences: While the Garmin Instinct is built for outdoor adventurers who prioritize durability and battery life, the Vivoactive 3 is designed for everyday usage, offering versatility through its combination of fitness tracking features, touchscreen controls, and customizable interface.

Pros and Cons: Buyers looking for a rugged, durable smartwatch with long battery life will find the Garmin Instinct a more suitable option. Conversely, those who prefer a sleek design, additional features, and customizable options will find value in the Vivoactive 3.


Ultimately, the choice between Garmin Instinct and Garmin Vivoactive 3 boils down to personal preferences surrounding design, features, and intended use. The Garmin Instinct is the ideal watch for outdoor enthusiasts and those who require rugged durability and extended battery life. However, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is better suited to those who want a sleek, customizable smartwatch with cycling tracking and enhanced navigation features, perfect for everyday use and fitness enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Garmin Instinct suitable for diving?

While the Garmin Instinct is water-resistant up to 10 ATM, it is not recommended for diving activities due to the absence of specialized dive features and possible pressure limitations.

Can the Garmin Vivoactive 3 store and play music?

Only the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music variant has built-in storage for music. The standard Vivoactive 3 model can control the music playback on your connected smartphone but cannot store or play music independently.

Do both devices offer sleep tracking?

Yes, both Garmin Instinct and Vivoactive 3 provide sleep tracking features, allowing users to monitor sleep patterns and quality.

Can I receive notifications on both devices from my smartphone?

Yes, both Garmin Instinct and Vivoactive 3 are compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, enabling users to receive notifications such as calls, texts, and emails.

Do these devices require a separate chest strap for heart rate monitoring?

No, both the Garmin Instinct and Vivoactive 3 come equipped with built-in wrist-based heart rate monitors, eliminating the need for additional chest straps.

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