Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Which is Better?

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3

Both the Garmin Forerunner 235 and Garmin Vivoactive 3 are amazing devices that come from a reputable and trustworthy company. Whether it’s getting more insight into your fitness stats or enjoying fun capabilities that make life more productive and fun, you’ll find something for yourself in both devices.

What would make you pick one over the other, though? I’d say purpose. If you’re looking for a device that acts more as a fitness tracker, you should opt for the Forerunner 235. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a device with extra smart features, I’d recommend the Vivoactive 3.

Still, want more info to finalize your buying decision? Read this full and thorough comparison, and you’ll definitely be able to pick between the Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. the Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3 Comparison

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Display Size1.2-in. display1.2-in. touch screen display
Water Resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Battery Life11 hours13 hours
Heart MonitoringAvailableAvailable

Garmin Forerunner 235 Overview

Garmin Forerunner 235


  • Resting heart-rate stats
  • Sharp looks with a lightweight design
  • Great value for the money


  • Faces some issues with syncing
  • Subpar sleep-tracking
  • Some plastic in its construction

The Garmin Forerunner is an amazing smartwatch that has everything that you will need. its highlights are a GPS for tracking runs and a 24/7 wrist-based heart-rate monitor.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Overview

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music


  • Accurate distance tracking
  • Reliable GPS and a heart-rate monitor
  • Decent battery life
  • Clear, touch display that’s easy to read


  • Sleep tracking isn’t very accurate
  • Doesn’t have onboard music storage
  • Garmin Pay isn’t very commonly available

The Garmin Vivoactive is a mesmerizing smartwatch that has a lot of captivating features. Its design and fitness tracking are one step ahead of all of its peers.

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Vivoactive 3 – Short Answer:

Personally, I think the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a better choice as it comes at a more affordable price yet offers more or less all the same functions. It also has that added advantage of a touchscreen and a mobile payment service.

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Vivoactive 3 – Full Comparison:

1. Design and Display

Both the Forerunner 235 and the Vivoactive 3 have nice designs, but the Forerunner 235’s is a little outdated. They have a traditional round face design that makes you feel like you’re wearing a regular watch, not a tracker. Though the Forerunner 235’s design is simpler and more classic. Both devices are comfortable to wear and don’t feel like a burden with their silicone straps and 1.5-ounce weights.

Moreover, both are equipped with 1.2-inch displays where you can clearly see your stats. However, the Vivoactive 3 has a 240 x 240-pixel resolution, which beats the Forerunner 235’s 215 x 180-pixel one.

As for the navigation, the Vivoactive 3 gives you more options as it’s equipped with a single side button coupled with a touchscreen that enables you to easily set alarms, change watch settings, and view recent notifications or various stats.

On the other hand, the Forerunner 235’s display isn’t a touchscreen, despite looking like one. You can navigate its menus through the buttons on the edges.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3.

2. Performance and Durability

Both watches are compatible with both iOS and Android through the companion Garmin Connect app, where all your data is synced and through which you can install new watch faces.

Also, the two watches have silicone straps, but the bezel of the Vivoactive 3 is made from stainless steel, which gives it more durability.

Not only that, but it’s also treated with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, unlike the Forerunner 235 which utilizes chemically strengthened glass.

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 has a memory for seven timed activities and 14 days of activity tracking while the Forerunner 235 saves up to 200 hours of activity or around eight days.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3

3. Fitness and Health Features

Both the Forerunner 235 and Vivoactive 3 pack a lot of great fitness features. This includes built-in GPS with GLONASS satellite location tracking to accurately track your runs, jogs, or walks.

They track your steps and view metrics such as distance and speed with super high accuracy, something that Garmin sensors are famous for.

Of course, this includes the precise 24/7 heart-rate monitoring that contributes to various other stats, including VO2 max, which estimates the level of oxygen your body utilizes to indicate how athletic you are.

You can swim or hop into showers without taking either off as both of them are water-resistant up to 165 feet. And while both of them have sleep-tracking, I’d say it’s not that reliable on either device.

To add an element of motivation, the Garmin app allows you to see public information from other users, including popular courses and segments, to compare your performance against theirs.

In this area, though, the Forerunner 235 takes the cake as it comes with audio prompts. You can activate them during runs to notify you if your pace is falling short of your goal, for example. It’s also equipped with various advanced workouts, including Auto Pause, Manual Lap, Auto Lap, LiveTrack, and more.

However, the Vivoactive 3 comes with Move IQ, which is able to detect periods of movement and form familiar exercise patterns, including swimming, walking, running, biking, or using an elliptical machine, and later tags them as “Events.”

Admittedly, though, this may cause a few tracking problems if you forget to push an activity button before you begin, start exercising spontaneously or do a workout other than the five available.

Winner: Garmin Forerunner 235.

4. Smart Features

Smart features may not be as essential as fitness or health features, but they definitely make things easier and can change the ways you enjoy your device.

Both the Forerunner 235 and Vivoactive 3 can be connected to a smartphone and deliver notifications of your calls, emails, social media, text messages, and reminders.

Through Garmin’s official store, Connect IQ, you can download various widgets, apps, watch faces, and data fields that enhance your smartwatch experience. You can also control your music through the watch instead of having to get your phone out to turn the volume up or down or skip to the next song.

The Vivoactive 3, however, comes with the added benefits of Garmin pay, which enables you to make online payments. You might not be able to use it that much as Garmin pay isn’t as commonly available as other options, but it’s still an advantage.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3.

5. Battery Life

Both watches give you the option to extend battery life. On smartwatch mode, the Forerunner 235 can operate up to 9 days, while on GPS mode, it only lasts 11 hours.

On the other hand, the Vivoactive lasts seven days on smartwatch mode and 13 hours on GPS mode.

In other words, if you’re going to be activating your GPS a lot, you should opt for the Vivoactive 3, while if you won’t be using that feature as much, go for the Forerunner 235.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Garmin Forerunner 235 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Final Thoughts

All-in-all, whichever choice you go for, you’ll be getting high-quality, performance, and value for the money.

But if you’re looking for a fitness-focused device with plenty of options, including a recovery advisor and thorough fitness tracking, you should opt for the Forerunner 235.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for the more affordable option or if you want to get a solid combination of fitness tracking and smart features, you should opt for the Vivoactive 3.