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Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 (2021): Which Smartwatch Should You Buy?

If you’re in the market for a fitness watch, Garmin and Samsung are two reliable brands. Both offer midrange-priced devices packed with sports modes, smart features, and health monitoring tools. The Garmin vivoactive 3, for instance, is an older model but one that holds well against newer competitors. It’s a sleek and durable watch with enough sports and activity profiles.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is Samsung’s fitness-focused model. Sportier than the flagship Galaxy Watch 3, the Samsung Active 2 is a lightweight tracker that puts a premium on fitness and wellness. Below, we compare the two devices to help you decide which watch to buy.

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin vivoactive 3Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
 Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch with Contactless Payments and Built-In Sports Apps,...SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active 2 (40mm, GPS, Bluetooth, Unlocked LTE) Smart Watch with Advanced Health...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
CompatibilityAndroid, iPhoneAndroid, iPhone (limited)
Sizes43mm40mm, 44mm
Display1.2″ transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)1.2-inch Super AMOLED (40mm), 1.4-inch Super AMOLED (44mm)
Build MaterialFiber-reinforced polymer case and stainless steel bezel, silicone strapsStainless steel or aluminum case with leather or silicone strap
Smart NotificationsYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Stress TrackingYesYes
Blood Pressure MonitorNoYes (availability may vary)
ECGNoYes (availability may vary)
SpO2 MonitoringNoNo
Women’s Health TrackingYesYes
Sports ModesOver 15Over 40
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT, GPSBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS (LTE variant available)
Contactless PaymentsGarmin PaySamsung Pay
Water Rating5 ATM5 ATM, IP68
Battery LifeUp to 7 days1.5 to 2 days
Dimensions43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm40 x 40 x 10.9mm (40mm), 44 x 44 x 10.9mm (44mm)
Weight43g37g (40mm), 42g (44mm)

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a more streamlined form than the Garmin vivoactive 3.

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 Design Comparison
Here’s a look at the design of the Garmin vivoactive 3 (left) and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (right).

While they are smartwatches, the Garmin vivoactive 3 and Samsung Watch Active 2 also look and feel familiar. Thanks to their round display and quick-release silicone straps, you get a more traditional watch aesthetic. Despite being an older model, the vivoactive 3 still holds its own when it comes to design. The stainless steel bezel, while thick, lends the watch a robust appearance. Garmin’s fiber-reinforced polymer case, on the other hand, gives the vivoactive 3 strength and durability.

In contrast, Samsung’s Watch Active 2 sports a more refined form best captured by its thinner bezel. Thinner, however, doesn’t mean useless. On the Active 2, the bezel is touch-enabled for scrolling. Similar to Garmin’s vivoactive 3, Samsung’s sporty wearable is also made from stainless steel, although there is a cheaper aluminum version as well. Unlike the vivoactive 3, however, the Active 2 comes in two sizes โ€” 40mm and 44mm. Both Active 2 variants boast a vibrant AMOLED display, whereas Garmin uses a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen.

Now, you can get the vivoactive 3 and Watch Active 2 in different colors. Garmin’s wearable is currently available in black with either silver or slate bezels. Samsung’s fitness watch, on the other hand, comes in variations of silver, black, and gold, depending on the material. If you’re not a fan of the straps on these watches, they are swappable for dressier alternatives like leather. Both the vivoactive 3 and Watch Active 2 are also waterproof up to 50 meters.

Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Active 2 comparison.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

While the Samsung Active 2 tracks more workouts, the Garmin vivoactive 3 has more accurate readings.

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 Fitness and Activity Tracking
Garmin and Samsung both offer pre-loaded sports modes as well as auto workout tracking.

Like most fitness-focused watches, Garmin and Samsung’s wearables track your standard metrics. These include calories burned, floors climbed, and steps taken. The vivoactive 3 also comes with over 15 preloaded sports apps, while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has over 40. Garmin’s built-in modes include profiles like skiing, paddle boarding, and snowboarding. On the Samsung Active 2, you get dynamic workouts, pilates, and mountain climbing, among others.

Samsung shares that the Active 2 can automatically track seven of these activities. With the Garmin, auto activity features are limited to running and walking exercises only.

While having fewer activities to track, the Garmin vivoactive 3 has the edge in terms of accuracy. Tests show that the wearable has a highly accurate step counter and above-average heart rate monitor. Although it comes with upgraded sensors, the Samsung Active 2’s heart rate readings can be sluggish. The same can be said with its GPS and altimeter, affecting the reliability of some of the metrics tracked.

Health Features

The Samsung Active 2 offers more health monitoring tools than the Garmin vivoactive 3.

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 Health Features Comparison
Stress, sleep, and heart rate โ€” just some of the stats measured by the Garmin vivoactive 3 and Samsung Active 2.

Being an older model, the Garmin vivoactive 3 comes with fewer health tools than the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. Nonetheless, the wearable still manages to hold its own in a sea of health functionalities. For instance, the device offers wrist-based heart rates, including alerts for abnormal readings. You also get access to all-day stress monitoring, which works in tandem with the device’s relaxation breathing reminder.

Samsung’s Watch Active 2 is equipped with 24/7 heart rate tracking and stress monitoring, too. But the Korean tech giant’s wearable enjoys a few more advanced capabilities. The Active 2, for instance, comes with ECG and blood pressure sensors. You even get handwashing reminders (similar to the Apple Watch 6) that detect when you wash your hands. Keep in mind that these features don’t make Samsung’s watch a medical device whatsoever.

The Garmin vivoactive 3 and Samsung Active 2 have a few more health tools in common. Both devices come with comprehensive sleep monitoring features. Sleep data are synced to their respective companion apps to give users insight into their nocturnal habits. There’s also support for tracking women’s menstrual cycles, as well as alerts when you’ve been idle for too long.

Smart Features and Battery Life

Samsung’s Active 2 is the better smartwatch, although Garmin’s vivoactive 3 offers more battery life.

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Samsung Active 2 Smart Features Comparison
Garmin’s vivoactive 2 and Samsung’s Active 2 come with a plethora of apps.

When it comes to connectivity, the Garmin vivoactive 3’s age shows. The watch only supports Bluetooth and ANT. In contrast, the Samsung Active 2 comes with Bluetooth, Wi-FI, NFC, and even LTE options. Nonetheless, both wearables are compatible with Android and iPhone, although the Active 2’s features are limited if you’re on iOS. Garmin and Samungs’s wearables also allow users to control their phone’s music. Samsung’s device, however, supports offline music playback with its limited storage.

As expected, you get smart notifications for both the vivoactive 3 and Watch Active 2. Garmin’s device allows text responses and phone call rejection via text when paired to an Android phone. Samsung’s Active 2, on the other hand, allows users to make and answer calls remotely. If you get the LTE model, you can even make calls directly from the watch. 

Garmin has the edge when it comes to battery life. On smartwatch mode, the vivoactive 3 can last up to 7 days. With the GPS turned on, you get a more modest 13-hour runtime. In contrast, Samsungโ€™s Active 2 has a battery life of 1.5 to 2 days only, which can also decrease depending on usage and settings.

Verdict

The Samsung Active 2 is great if you prioritize smart features. However, the Garmin vivoactive 3 is better if you put a premium on accurate readings.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a solid upgrade from its predecessor. It’s a sleek, fitness-focused smartwatch packed with features. If you’re looking for a wearable with plenty of workouts to track and smart features to use, this is a good option. However, it’s not exactly the most accurate when it comes to monitoring key metrics, particularly heart rate. And for many fitness enthusiasts, accuracy is the key.

With this in mind, you’ll probably be still better off with an older device like the Garmin vivoactive 3. See, Garmin’s watch doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of today’s wearables. The interface may not even be as immersive as other Garmin devices. But you can count on the watch for accurate readings of key metrics. If you do not need offline music support, ECG, or blood pressure sensors, then the vivoactive 3 is a more affordable and reliable purchase.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Garmin vivoactive 3 a good watch?

The vivoactive 3 is an older model of Garmin’s midrange sports and fitness watch. Despite missing a few smart and health features, it’s still a solid device known for its accurate readings and robust design.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which is better, the Samsung Active 2 stainless steel or aluminum model?

The Samsung Active 2 stainless steel model is the more premium model of the two. The material used is also more scratch-resistant compared to aluminum.

๐Ÿ“Œ How much data can be stored on the Garmin vivoactive 3?

Garmin shares that the vivoactive 3 can store up to 14 days of activity tracking data.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 compatible with the iPhone?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is designed with Samsung smartphone users in mind. That being said, the Active 2 is still compatible with the iPhone 5 and above running iOS 9.0 or higher. Some Active 2 features, however, will not work on iOS.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.