Samsung Galaxy Watch vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch

If you're someone who prefers the look of a traditional watch with a rotating bezel, you'll love the Galaxy Watch. It's available in two large sizes with a beautiful screen, onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, mobile payments, and optional LTE connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Premium lifestyle pick

Optional LTE connectivity
Onboard GPS
Mobile payments
Rotating bezel
Two size options
Heavy and bulky

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3 isn't the newest wearable on the market, but it's a great budget-friendly watch with key features. You'll have access to 15 preloaded sports apps, onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, Garmin Pay, and activity/sleep tracking.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Budget-friendly option

Onboard GPS
Mobile payments
Great battery life
Reasonably priced
15 preloaded sports apps
Lacks LTE connectivity
Music storage isn't standard
Not as durable

The best way to choose a smartwatch is to determine how you plan to use it. The Samsung Galaxy Watch, for example, is designed for those who want a luxurious timepiece that is equipped with many attractive features. If you're looking for LTE connectivity, military-grade durability, music storage, and mobile payments, this is the watch for you.

Alternatively, if you'd like to keep things simple and save a few bucks, you might be better off with the Garmin Vivoactive 3. It has GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, and mobile payments. Both of these wearables have their perks, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch wins in terms of features and functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Watch: A premium experience

Samsung Galaxy Watch

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

Nowadays, many people buy a smartwatch so they can stay connected without having to rely on their phones. The Samsung Galaxy Watch was made for those people. Having LTE connectivity on your wrist is becoming more and more popular. This means you'll be able to take calls and stream music without having your phone nearby. As you might've guessed, that means this smartwatch has both a microphone and speaker built in.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy WatchGarmin Vivoactive 3
Display46 x 49 x 13 mm43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm
Dimensions1.3" AMOLED display1.2" transflective color display
SensorsGPS, GLONASS, accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, heart rate, lightGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Battery life3 to 4 daysSmartwatch mode: 7 daysGPS mode: 13 hours
Water resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Optional LTE✔️
Music storage✔️
Mic & speaker✔️
Mobile payments✔️✔️

Another perk is that the Galaxy Watch is available in two different stainless steel case sizes: 42mm and 46mm. It has a beautiful AMOLED display with a touchscreen and rotating bezel for effortless navigation. The battery life will last approximately 3-4 days depending on your usage. It's waterproof up to 50 meters as well.

The Galaxy Watch is capable of tracking your activity and health stats.

The 22mm interchangeable bands are easy to swap out when you feel like changing your style up. It's worth noting that this watch can feel pretty bulky and heavy on the wrist, especially during high-intensity workouts.

It may not look like a fitness tracker, but the Galaxy Watch is capable of tracking your activity and health stats. In addition to onboard GPS and heart-rate monitoring, your wearable can also track your sleep patterns and stress levels. It can automatically detect and track six different workouts. There are 39 other workouts to choose from on the Galaxy Watch, too.

Garmin Vivoactive 3: The affordable route

Vivoactive 3

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

If you're buying a smartwatch for the first time or you'd rather not spend a lot of money, you might find yourself considering the Garmin Vivoactive 3. You won't get higher-end perks like LTE, a mic/speaker, or military-grade durability, but it excels in many other areas. It comes in a 43 mm stainless steel case with 20 mm quick release bands. It has a standard transflective color display with an easy-to-use touchscreen.

The Vivoactive 3 comes with 15+ preloaded sports apps that are ready to use.

Some of the main features include onboard GPS, 5ATM water resistance, heart-rate tracking, 7-day battery life, sleep monitoring, and female health tracking. The Vivoactive 3 comes with 15+ preloaded sports apps that are ready to use, including outdoor running, treadmill, biking, pool swimming, rowing, skiing, yoga, and more.

You'll be able to control your phone's music from your watch, but there is no onboard storage available. If this is a must-have feature, you'll need to pay more for the music version of this wearable. You'll have notifications on your wrist and you can answer or reject a call when it comes in, but you'll need to have your phone on hand or be connected to a Bluetooth headset to take it.

Bottom line

Both of these smartwatches are full of features, but your decision will come down to what type of experience you're looking for in a wearable. Those who love the look and feel of a luxury watch that keeps you connected on the go will appreciate the Samsung Galaxy Watch. With LTE connectivity, you can take calls on your wrist and stream music without your phone. The military-grade durability ensures that your watch is built to last. Other noteworthy features include Samsung Pay, GPS, heart-rate monitoring, and 5 ATM water resistance.

While there is a fair amount of overlap between the two, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is more of a standard smartwatch. You won't have premium features such as LTE connectivity or music streaming, but it succeeds in other aspects. It's great for those who want to start tracking their health and fitness. It offers a week of battery life, GPS, heart-rate monitoring, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. Whether this is your first time buying a wearable or you're shopping on a budget, the Vivoactive 3 is great for basic tracking and smartwatch features.

However, it's worth noting that there's a new version of the Vivoactive 3, called the Vivoactive 4, which comes with music storage, more preloaded apps, and better overall tracking.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.