Garmin Forerunner 235 vs Vivoactive 3: Which Is Best for You?


Garmin has provided the market with amazing gadgets for a variety of functions, and Garmin watches are created to keep an eye on your daily activity and thereby getting an accurate estimation of where you stand in terms of a healthy lifestyle.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the different aspects regarding the Garmin Forerunner 235 vs Vivoactive 3 comparison.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Forerunner 235: Specs Comparison


Garmin Forerunner 235

garminvivoactive3whiteGarmin Vivoactive 3

Release Date

21st of October 201531st of August 2017

Battery Life

Smartwatch mode: 9 days. GPS mode: 11 hours.Smartwatch mode: 7 days. GPS mode: 13 hours.


1.8×0.5×1.8 inches1.7×0.5×1.7 inches


1.4 ounces1.5 ounces


Built-in GPS, Bluetooth, WiFiBuilt-in GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi


Calls, texts, and appsCalls, texts, apps (Can respond to messages on Android)

Water Resistance

Resists water up to 5 ATMSwim-proof


Control smartphone musicControl music from connected phone

Platform Support

Android, iOSAndroid, iOS

Virtual Assistant


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars



Garmin Forerunner 235 Overview


  • Comfortable to wear
  • Many useful functions
  • Great display


  • A little overpriced
  • Heart rate monitoring isn’t the most extensive

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a good smartwatch overall. It feels as comfortable as it looks, and its display is great and shows many useful info. Its heart-rate monitoring is very accurate, although not the most extensive. All-in-all, it’s a good bang for you buck.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Overview



  • The ability to make payments
  • Great display
  • Superb screen resolution
  • 15 built-in sport apps


  • No built-in music storage
  • Doesn’t have a multi-sport mode

With the addition of Garmin Pay, the Vivoactive 3 is able to compete with rivals on the market. It packs fitness tracing features, health, and lifestyle features to satisfy all audiences. With its durability, style and versatility, it suits just about anyone.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Forerunner 235 Comparison


Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin Forerunner 235’s lens is made of chemically strengthened glass, and its strap is made of smooth silicone. Its dimensions are 1.8 x 0.5 x 1.8 inches and weighs 1.4 ounces.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3’s lens is made of chemically strengthened glass, with a smooth silicone strap. The bezel is made of stainless steel, and the case is a fiber-reinforced polymer with stainless steel rear cover.

It also has a quick release band for more practical use. Its dimensions are 1.7 x 0.5 x 1.7 inches and it weighs 1.5 ounces. So it has many additions design-wise but is still as portable and light as its counterpart the Forerunner 235.

Winner: The Garmin Vivoactive 3.​​


Garmin Forerunner 235 

The Forerunner 235’s display isn’t the most colorful, but its transflective screen compensates for that as it’s easy to read when you’re outdoors, and also in dim lit circumstances thanks to its backlight that provides more than enough illumination.

Compromising some colors for better functionality would seem suitable for a more practical user. Its size is 1.23 inches and its resolution is 215 x 180 pixels.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3’s display is quite bright which facilitates reading the variety of information displayed like milegage, pace, heart rate, and even a map of your route after connecting it to the Garmin connect app.

All of this infromation is displayed with attractive colors that step up your workout.

The Vivoactive 3’s screen is also a touchscreen, so it facilitates dealing with the watch. Its size is 1.2 inches and its resolution is 240 x 240 pixels.

Winner: The Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Garmin 235 vs Vivoactive 3: Heart Rate Monitor

This feature is important because it tracks your heart rate throughout the day and during activity, which gives you a general idea of how well your heart is functioning.

Both trackers have very detailed focus on your heart rate stats, where they have heart rate alerts to notify you when your heart rate is above or below a target zone or custom range.

They also keep track of the calories you burn according to your heart rate. Moreover, they store your heart rate zones to calculate the heart rate that will most efficiently burn your fats.

Finally, both watches have HR broadcast that broadcasts your HR data over ANT+ to paired devices.

Garmin Forerunner 235 

The advantage the Garmin Forerunner 235 has is that it estimates your heart rate recovery time so that you know how much time your heart requires to go back to its usual rate.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 

The advantage the Vivoactive 3’s advantage may seem a bit more practical because it uses % HR max to accurately determines the best exercise intensity for each workout you do.

It’s more accurate than the general 220-age multiplied by certain percentages, which turned out wasn’t a very reliable method of calculation.

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 also has V02 max, which is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that you can burn during intense activity.

Sport Recognition

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has the ability to keep track of your step count, calories burned, floors climbed, distance traveled and duration of intense workouts.

It also keep track of cycling activity such as distance and time cycled, preloaded cycling profiles, and a speed and cadence sensory support.

It also triggers an alarm when you reach your cycling goal. However, it doesn’t extend to other sport activities such as dancing or kickboxing.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 has the ability to recognize when you’re running, biking, swimming, and elliptical training if done for at least 10 minutes; this is thanks to its Move IQ feature that detects activity patterns and has the ability to distinguish between a variety of them, as well as document them.

Next to walking, running, and cycling, it also helps you through your golfing sessions by keeping track of yardage, displaying a digital scorecard, and tracks your strokes, putts per round, greens and fairways hit.

It also has preloaded swim profiles and keeps up with swimming data like pool swim metrics such as lengths, distance, pace, stroke count, and calories. It can also detect the stroke type such as freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Winner: The Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Vivoactive vs Forerunner: Floors Climbed

Garmin Forerunner 235 

The Garmin Forerunner 235 lacks the barometric altimeter sensor so it doesn’t keep track of the floors you’ve climbed throughout the day.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

More effort is exerted into floor climbing, so it’s a nice addition to keep track of that and the Vivoactive 3 has an altimeter that lets you do just that thanks to its barometic altimeter.

Winner: The Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music vs Forerunner 235: Notifications

Garmin Forerunner 235 

The smartwatch has the smart notifications feature, as well as calendar, weather and controlling smartphone music. It’s also equipped with a “Find My Phone” feature and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 

Besides all of the aforementioned features, the Vivoactive 3 allows you to respond to or reject phone calls with a text (available for Android only), has a “Find My Watch” feature, and the ability to make payments through the Garmin Pay feature.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3.


The Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 both have a GPS sensor that keeps track of distance, time, and pace. It also sends a map of your route when connected to the Garmin Connect app.

Winner: Tie.

Water Resistance

Garmin Forerunner 235 

The Forerunner 235 is water resistant down to 5 ATM, but it isn’t swim-proof.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3 is water resistant down to 5 ATM and swim-proof; which means you can take showers or go swimming with it.

Winner: Vivoactive 3.

Sleep tracking

Both the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 have sleep tracking.

You simply set your usual sleep hours in the user settings on the Garmin Connect app, and the device automatically detects your sleep and monitors your movements during sleep hours.

Then statistics of total hours of sleep, sleep levels (Light, Deep, or REM), and sleep movements are saved for you to view them on your Garmin Connect account.

Winner: Tie.

Battery life

Garmin Forerunner 235 

The Garmin Forerunner can bet set to two modes: smartwatch or GPS. If set to Smartwatch Mode, it can last up to 9 whole days, while it lasts 11 hours on GPS mode.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 also has both the smartwatch and GPS modes. On the Smartwatch mode, it lasts up to 7 days, and it lasts up to 13 hours on the GPS mode.

Memory (History)

Garmin Forerunner 235

It provides you with 8 days and a half of activity data with its big memory.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 

It delivers 7 timed activities, or 14 days of activity tracking data so you can go back and draw a comparison between your stats.

Winner: The Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Colors available

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Forerunner 235 is available in 3 colors: Black and gray silicone, frost blue silicone, and marsala silicone.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 

The Vivoactive 3 is available in 3 colors: Black and stainless hardware, black with slate hardware, and white with stainless hardware.


Both the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 have the TrueUp feature that was released to Garmin Connect app to allow you to have one single account that can be logged into from many devices so that you can have multiple activity trackers.

Garmin Connect merges the data and sends it to other compatible devices so that steps counted on one device can be displayed on another.

Winner: Tie.

Garmin Forerunner 235 or Garmin Vivoactive 3 Is Better?

The Forerunner 235 shares many features with the more upgraded Vivoactive 3, however, it could be viewed as a gadget made for the more practical end of the customer spectrum.

It focuses more on fitness and specifically running. This is why its battery lasts longer, as its life isn’t distributed on other activities that may not be very fitness-related.

While the Vivoactive, which has turned out to be the winner in many of the compared aspects in our review, has way more extensive features. The most notable are the touch screen and payment service.

So the long story short in the comparison between Forerunner 235 and Vivoactive 3, what can help you decide is that if you’re more concerned with the practical side and use of the smartwatch, and would like a tracker with a battery life that has your back, as well as more color choices, you should go for the Garmin Forerunner 235.

Whereas if you’re into the extras, the more stylish design, display that pops, additional features, and have more activities that you would like to keep track of, then you should go for the feature-packed Garmin Vivoactive 3.