Fitbit Versa 2 vs. Garmin vivoactive 3: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Versa 2
Fitbit Versa 2 (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2

The Fitbit Versa 2 is a great smartwatch for the everyday user who wants to keep track of steps, activities, sports, workouts, sleep, heart rate, and more. The generous battery life and swim-proof design are great, and the Alexa support for voice control is a bonus. If you're serious about sports, it has features geared toward particularly active individuals, too, like on-screen workouts, 15+ exercise modes, and personal cardio fitness level scores. Plus, you can get phone notifications and listen to music from the watch.

Fitbit Versa 2

Best for everyday user

Sleek design
Detailed sleep tracking and Sleep Scores
On-screen workouts
Proprietary charging
No GPS without your phone

Garmin vivoactive 3

Garmin Vivoactive3 Smartwatch Cropped

For sports buffs, the Garmin vivoactive 3 might be the best choice. It hones in on sports-specific features like 15+ preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps like Vo2 Max estimations, so you can see how your body responds to different circumstances. It monitors your stress levels and has a GPS for recording your pace, distance, and location without the need for your phone. With up to seven days of battery life and a sunlight-readable screen, it's the perfect wrist companion for your daily workouts.

Garmin vivoactive 3

For the sports buff

Vo2 level monitoring
Up to 7-day battery life
Receive/respond to messages
Built-in GPS
Basic screen
No voice control
Proprietary charging

If you're looking for a smartwatch that will focus on fitness while you workout, participate in sports, or go for daily jogs or runs, the Garmin vivoactive 3 is that unobtrusive smartwatch that doesn't really look like a smartwatch. But it can keep track of all of your fitness data, automatically uploading it to Garmin Connect. The Fitbit Versa 2 does almost all of the same things, so it comes in at a close second. But if you are looking for something sporty that you can disguise as a wristwatch, the vivoactive 3 is the better option.

Smartwatches that keep up with you

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

When it comes to your workouts, you really can't go wrong with either of these smartwatches. Both come with 15+ preloaded workouts for everything from treadmill to rowing machine, yoga, and swimming. You can keep track of your fitness level with the Garmin vivoactive 3 through Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology, which will tell you your fitness age, heart rate variability, and even calculate your stress level. It can also monitor physical and emotional sources that might cause you stress so that you know when to take a breather to calm down.

You can track heart rate, fitness score, and more with the Versa 2 as well, but to get more detailed data requires a subscription to the Premium service.

Before delving into other aspects of both watches, let's look at a breakdown of how they compare in terms of specs.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Versa 2Garmin vivoactive 3
Operating systemFitbitOSProprietary
Battery life6+ DaysUp to 7 Days (Up to 13 Hours with GPS)
Mobile paymentsFitbit PayGarmin Pay
Voice controlAlexaNone
Weight1.87 oz.1.52 oz.
DisplayAMOLEDTransreflective MIP Chroma
Water-resistantDown to 50 metersDown to 50 meters
Display brightness1,000 nitsSunlight-readable
Music storageUp to 300 songs, connect with Deezer PlaylistsUp to 500 songs, only from iHeartRadio
BodyAnodized aluminumStainless steel

Both devices track of all the basics you'd want a premium smartwatch to track these days, including workouts, sports, and steps. Also, these devices monitor calories burned, sleep, heart rate, and more. Both can also track female menstrual cycles, which is a bonus, allowing ladies to see reminders and log details and symptoms.

What really sets the vivoactive 3 apart, however, is the added benefit of GPS so you can leave your phone at home while you go out for a run, jog, or bike ride and still keep track of your pace, distance, and location. It also lets you create your own custom workouts that you can download to the watch.

Your look and style

When it comes to style, both options look great on your wrist and can be worn anywhere. But the Fitbit Versa 2 screams smartwatch, with its square face that resembles an Apple Watch and bright and bold screen options. The Garmin vivoactive 3 has a more understated design. If you don't tap on its screen or show your stats as you exercise, others might simply think it was just an everyday wristwatch.

If you are looking for something sporty that you can disguise as a wristwatch, the vivoactive 3 is the better option.

With both, you can customize the screen with thousands of watch face options. But the vivoactive 3 goes a step further, allowing you to upload your own photo using the free Face It feature. You can also use the Connect IQ store to download tons of different apps and widgets, like Uber, Accuweather, and SmartThings.

There are thousands of personalized watch faces for the Versa 2 as well, including the Bitmoji app through Snapchat. And it has tons of compatible apps as well, including Starbucks and Strava, both of which come preloaded. But most focus on fitness and health. However, the Versa has the added benefit of being able to use Alexa voice control to do things like control smart devices, set a wake-up alarm, and more, right from your wrist.

All day, every day

Fitbit Versa 2 with leather band being held

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

When it comes to every day activity, either option is a good choice. Both devices are swim-proof down to 50 meters, which means you can swim, shower, wash dishes, or run in the rain without worry that you might damage the device.

Both can run for days before they need a recharge, which is an important feature when you want to track not only activity but sleep as well. If you have GPS enabled on the vivoactive 3, though, keep in mind that this will impact battery life big time, as you'll only get up to about 13 hours of use before it needs to be recharged.

The vivoactive 3 also has a neat Side-Swipe interface so you can easily use your thumb or index finger to scroll or navigate menus on the screen quickly. The Versa 2 has swiping menu options as well that are pretty easy to use, but you will likely defer to the app for most things.

Let's get together

If companionship is what you're after, both devices have robust online communities where you can connect and compete with friends and others within the community to challenge yourself and try to meet (or exceed!) fitness goals. But the vivoactive 3 has the ability to receive and respond to messages right from your wrist. Plus, you can access social media, and music controls. While you can receive messages on the Versa 2, including instant messages, e-mail notifications, and social media, you can't reply.

Speaking of music, you get better access to music from the Versa 2, which integrates with Spotify and other services like Pandora and Deezer. And you can upload your own playlists. The vivoactive only lets you store songs from iHeartRadio, which might be a dealbreaker if you want to be able to listen to tunes without your phone and don't subscribe to that service.


These two smartwatches really are neck-in-neck, and you can't go wrong with either of them. If you want to make more of a smartwatch statement, the Versa 2 is a great option that is sleek in design. You can choose an understated watch face and track everything you want to track, from activity to sleep and heart rate, accessing everything on-screen or using the intuitive app.

If you want to make more of a smartwatch statement, the Versa 2 is a great option that is sleek in design.

If you prefer having a more standard watch design on your wrist with a circular face, the Garmin vivoactive 3 might be the better option for you. Plus, it has tons of features geared specifically towards sports lovers, including Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology, Vo2 Max estimation, heart rate variability, and customizable workouts.

Don't discount the Fitbit Versa 2 if you are really into fitness, though. Both are great options. But for the sports fanatic who loves to jog, run, bike, or participate in tons of outdoor activities, and wants to leave your phone at home and still be able to enjoy music, GPS tracking, and more, the Garmin vivoactive 3 could be the watch for you.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.