Thursday, October 18, 2018

Smartwatches have struggled to find a niche over the past couple of years, but it seems that manufacturers have now firmly settled on fitness as the best focus for their fancy wearables, with the launch of several new sports-focused smartwatches.

The Fitbit Ionic, Samsung Gear Sport and Garmin Vivoactive 3 were all unveiled at IFA Berlin, and of these three it’s the Garmin that looks the most impressive all-round package for fitness enthusiasts.

The Vivoactive 3 has taken all the latest fitness tech from Garmin’s other wearables – VO2 max estimation, automatic rep counting, structured workouts (including pre-loaded workouts), and a new optical heart rate sensor – and crammed it into a round-watch design that can be worn at all times.

As you’d expect from a Garmin wearable, the Vivoactive 3 is waterproof to 50m, and has built-in GPS. It also boasts a seven-day battery life (13 hours in GPS mode) which is excellent for a smartwatch.

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This is the first Garmin device to feature contactless payment capabilities – Garmin Pay – which is a must in a smartwatch. However, the Vivoactive 3 lags behind competitors by not having space for music, although you can control playback on your phone using the watch.

Another way the Vivoactive 3 marks out its sporting credentials as superior to other smartwatches is by connecting with cycling power sensors and running footpods. It also has Garmin’s latest all-day fitness tracking features such as Fitness Age Estimation and Stress Monitoring, which launched this spring.

In short, if you want a smartwatch that doesn’t sell you short on serious sports tracking, the Vivoactive 3 currently looks your best bet, while the Apple Watch Series 2 and Fitbit Ionic excel in everyday tracking and the Apple Watch is best for connectivity with third-party fitness apps.

Garmin has also announced two other new wearables – the Vivosport, a slimline GPS fitness tracker, and the Vivomove HR, a touchscreen hybrid watch. All three new devices will be available before the end of 2017, with the Vivoactive 3 priced at £279.99, the Vivosport £169.99, and the Vivomove HR £169.99

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