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Garmin Forerunner 245 vs vivoactive 3 – Which is Right for You?

 

Garmin’s Forerunner 245 and vivoactive 3 are two of their bestselling fitness smartwatches. Both models have received excellent reviews, and each offer a bevy of features. So it can be difficult to decide which one best meets your needs.

There are more similarities than differences between these watches. This article focuses on the differences in detail to help decide between the two. After all, they are both great watches.

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs vivoactive 3

Physical Description

Both of these watches have round faces, which is the more popular look these days. Their display type, size, and resolution are identical. They both have silicone bands and can fit a wide range of wrists. They are close in how much they weigh.

Two differences you will find between these watches is the battery life. While they both last about seven days in smartwatch mode, there is a difference in GPS mode. The Forerunner 245 can track GPS for almost double the time of the vivoactive 3. This may just mean charging your Forerunner less often. But if you routinely run very long distances, or spend weekends away in the woods, it might be a more important feature.

Another difference that could be substantial for the data-heads out there is memory storage. Forerunner 245 can store 200 hours of activity. The vivoactive 3 can track 7 timed activities, but 14 days of activity tracking. 200 hours is just over 8 days. In other words, the Forerunner 245 is better designed to track discrete workouts; the vivoactive 3 is designed with constant activity tracking in mind.

Finally, as far as physical display and options, the vivoactive 3 is more modern, with a touchscreen display. The Forerunner 245 lacks this feature. Having some features accessed via a touchscreen can make using the vivoactive 3 a bit easier. Both do also include push-buttons.

Read our full review of the Garmin Forerunner 245

Read our full review of the Garmin vivoactive 3

Activities

When it comes to using these watches to monitoring your activities, they both are actually really good watches for this and comparable to each other. They both have the things you would expect, such as the step counter, calories burned, distance and intensity tracking, and even stress tracking.

When it comes to activities other than running, both of them are comparable to each other, offering tracking during swimming and cycling. You can even track your cardio workouts and a variety of strength training options, like rep counting.

The primary differences you’ll find between these two is that vivoactive 3 has the feature of Floors climbed. This activity is only an advantage though to someone who actually likes track stairs of floors, which is a smaller majority of people.

Alternatively, the Forerunner 245 has a snazzy training feature that is not in the vivoactive 3: Body Battery Energy Monitor. Essentially a recovery meter, it uses a handful of biometric measurements to estimate how your body is bouncing back from workouts. This might not be used by everyone, but could be helpful to remind a runner that sometimes rest is the best way forward. The Body Batter feature lets you know your energy might be too low for physical activity.


vivoactive 3


Hardware

Both of these watches track your heart rate, and can meaure heart rate zones and calories burned. You can even send your heart rate data to paired devices like smartphones. Both watches have an accelerometer, necessary for measuring movement.

The Forerunner 245, however, has additional heart rate monitoring features. Heart rate reserve, recovery time, and auto max heart rate round out the fitness picture your data create.

One new senor that is really interesting in the Forerunner 245 (that the vivoactive 3 lacks) is a PulseOx sensor. Medical types will know  this measures blood oxygen saturation. This allows you in real time to evaluate your physical condition, which better helps you plan your workout goals and effort in the moment, and you can adjust your effort if needed.

Don’t sell the vivoactive 3 short though. It has a couple sensors that could come in handy that the Forerunner 245 is missing. You’ll find a barometric altimeter and thermometer on the vivoactive 3. The barometric altimeter can detect air pressure changes and elevation data (as opposed to GPS-based altitude readings), and of course it’s always a nice bonus to know the temperature.

Software

Many standard training features are found in both of these watches, such as GPS speed, laps, and downloadable training plans and workouts.

Given that, runners might find a surprising gap in the vivoactive 3: it lacks interval training functions. The lack of such a popular and useful mode might push many runners to the Forerunner 245. Interval training is a popular way to workout. Being able to set timers and sets to your workout is, for may, a necessity.

There are handful of other more arcance training modes the Forerunner 245 has that the vivoactive 3 leaves out. This accentuates the Forerunner’s provenance as a training tool and the vivoactive’s roots in wearable fitness trackers. Plus the Forerunner has extra notifications and software, such as “virtual partner” and “race,” an activity which can just give you extra fun ways to monitor your progress.


Forerunner 245


Extras

The Forerunner 245 is really focused on offering running features. It provides more data tracking options than the vivoactive 3. These are not features that everyone will use, but they can still be interesting to review. Stride length, cadence, and vertical oscillation (tracking the amount of bounce in your stride) may, for some, be data overload. Other might find this information useful for working on running form.

The vivoactive 3 also has features not at all on the Forerunner 245. An example is how it tracks activities such as golf, with yardage, a scorecard, and a round timer/odometer. The runner who is also a golfer would find this very useful.

The Forerunner 245 has a few outdoor recreation features that could be very useful, like point to point navigation, Tracback, or their bread crumb trail feature. All of these are useful when running outside and unfamiliar with the route. These and a few others are great features that the vivoactive 3 doesn’t have.

Both watches offer the same connectivity and phone features that you would want on the go. You can access weather, calendar, text responses, music, smart notifications, find my phone or watch, and many more features. The vivoactive 3 adds Garmin Pay, allowing you to pay for your stuff on the go at participating locations that use contactless card readers.

The Forerunner 245 and vivoactive 3 both have an important safety feature called LiveTrack. This allows you to be located if something happens. But the Forerunner 245 has a few extra safety features: Incident Detection, Assistance, and Live Event Sharing (all while using your Smartphone).

Compatible Accessories

The Forerunner 245 does offer a useful accessory to use with the watch that vivoactive 3 does not. This is the Running Dynamics Pod, which is a small device you attach to your waistband that gives you accurate running dynamics data such as stride, cadence, or oscillation to help improve running stride.

For the multisport athlete, both watches are compatible with cycling accessories. They each also have a heart rate monitor strap they are compatible with, but the Forerunner 245 has a few strap options, while the vivoactive 3 only has one to purchase.

Price

Let’s talk dollars, cents, and value for a minute. The Forerunner 245 is about $50 more expensive that the vivoactive 3. Is it worth the extra spend?

This is definitely going to be a personal preference. It will matter what features you want in your smartwatch. Overall, we’ve listed quite a few more features the Forerunner 245 has that the vivoactive 3 does not have. You’ll still find a few gems in the vivoactive 3 that the Forerunner 245 doesn’t have, but not as many. The question is: will you use these extra features?

They both have the same basic needs as a smartwatch designed to track your activities. In summary, the Forerunner 245 is going to be worth that extra cost if you really want to get into detailed tracking of all of your activities, with extra data to analyze what you are doing during your training.

If that extra data isn’t important, then there is no reason to spend the extra money. The vivoactive 3 has all the things you might need, plus a touchscreen, golf tracking, and Garmin Pay. Both smartwatches are great options, and we think you’ll enjoy using either one of them.


Garmin Forerunner 245

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Garmin vivoactive 3

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The Wired Runner