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Fitness band faceoff: Garmin vivofit 3 vs. Fitbit Alta

James A. Martin | July 8, 2016
Garmin is giving Fitbit some serious competition in the activity tracker market today, thanks to its top notch fitness devices, including the new vivofit 3 wristband. Here's how Garmin's new band stacks up to Fitbit Alta.

4 ways Garmin vivofit 3 bests Fitbit Alta

vivofit 3 battery lasts longer

Garmin says the vivofit 3's coin-cell battery lasts for up to a year. Even if Garmin's claim is a bit of an exagerration, battery life is still a big advantage for vivofit 3, because Alta needs to be recharged at least every five days, according to my tests.

You can swim with vivofit 3

As is the case with all Fitbit products, Alta isn't designed to be worn in the shower, pool, the ocean or any other body of water. Garmin's vivofit 3, like the company'svivoactive HR, is designed for swimmers, as well as runners. (I wore my vivofit in the shower and had no problems.)

vivofit 3's display always shows the time

Garmin's wearable is an always-on watch as well as activity tracker. Alta only shows you the time when you double-tap its screen or raise a wrist, and even then the display turns off quickly.

vivofit 3 gives you more data

Garmin's mobile app provides a lot more activity data than Fitbit's software. That said, the information Fitbit delivers is usually sufficient for my needs. For some people, the level of detail in Garmin's app may simply be overkill.

3 ways Fitbit Alta bests Garmin's vivofit 3

Alta offers smartphone notifications

Alta displays call, text, and calendar notifications from your smartphone on your wrist. Garmin's vivofit 3 does not.

Alta's app is much more intuitive

Fitbit's mobile app is generally easier to use and navigate than Garmin's Connect software, which is dark and cluttered.

Alta is more attractive

For my tastes, Alta is far more attractive and stylish than vivofit 3. In fact, it's Fitbit's best looking wearable to date.

Is Garmin vivofit 3 or Fitbit Alta right for you?

If you're looking for a basic and affordable wristband activity tracker, Garmin's vivofit 3 is a solid option and a serious Fitbit Alta competitor. However, vivofit 3's is a bit clunky looking. Alta is much more stylish, and because you're supposed to wear your tracker every day, looks are a good reason to choose Alta over vivofit 3.

If you're new to activity tracking, you should poll your friends, family and colleagues on which brands they use - Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, Misfit, or something else - before you buy a wearable. Fitness leaderboards can be incredibly motivating, and they're generally restricted to one brand, so it's a good idea to give top consideration to the product line the majority of your friends use.



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