4 things the Garmin Vivoactive does better than the Fitbit Ionic

Both Fitbit and Garmin have long had a presence in the consumer electronics market, with both companies focusing on fitness gear and GPS accessories. In 2018, that means both companies are producing fitness bands, with notifications and other smartwatch features present as well. Fitbit's latest device is the Ionic, while Garmin's current flagship is the Vivoactive 3.

I've been wearing the Vivoactive 3 for a little over a month, primarily as a smartwatch. I don't do any fitness tracking in my normal use, but did for the purposes of this article. Here are some things the Garmin Vivoactive 3 does better than the Fitbit Ionic!

The design

Tastes are subjective, but I think most people would agree that the Vivoactive 3 looks significantly better than the Fitbit Ionic. With the right watch face, it doesn't look any different than a regular wrist watch. The Ionic looks… unique, to say the least. Whether that's good or bad will depend on the wearer, but if you want a fitness tracker that can blend in with any wardrobe, the Vivoactive 3 is the device for you.


Both the Ionic and the Vivoactive 3 have swappable bands, but the Vivoactive 3 uses standard 20mm connections while the Ionic uses a proprietary system. Fitbit has had a history of quality issues with its watch bands, so a standard connection is much more comforting. Third party bands for the Ionic are about the same price as standard 20mm bands, but the standard bands will work on more devices.


With its round display and single button, the Vivoactive 3 can be worn on either wrist. Even better, the interface can be flipped so that the single button is on the left or right side of the watch. This may not sound like a big deal, but when I had the button on the right side of the watch, I kept accidentally pressing it when I would hinge my wrist up. Meanwhile, the three buttons on the Ionic mean it can really only be worn in one orientation, so you'll have to adjust how you wear it if you accidentally press one of the buttons.


The Vivoactive 3 retails for $269, while the Ionic runs for $300. A $30 difference isn't much in the long run, but money saved is money saved.

A few places that are equal

In my experience, the Vivoactive 3 was perfectly accurate for fitness tracking, and most reviewers have found the Ionic to be equally great. Both watches have tap-and-pay option for NFC-enabled payment terminals. Both Fitbit and Garmin allow users to customize their watch faces, with a healthy store of third party options. Both watches support iOS and Android, but Fitbit actually goes one further by supporting the tens of Windows 10 Mobile users.

What say you?

Have you used the Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3? Share your experience below!

More: Fitbit Ionic review: More fit than bit

Tom Westrick