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Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq (2021): Which Multisport Watch Is Better?

Garmin has a reputation for offering premium wearables — whether they’re running watches, outdoor watches, or even fitness trackers. The typical course of action for price-conscious buyers is to get an older model like the Garmin vivoactive 3. With the release of the Venu SQ, Garmin’s back to offering pocket-friendly multisport watches. In fact, it’s even cheaper than the vivoactive 3. Despite its price, the Venu SQ is functionally comparable to the vivoactive 3. The latter, however, boasts a better build quality. While they hold their own against other Garmin wearables, how well do they fare against each other?

Garmin vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin vivoactive 3Garmin Venu Sq
 Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch with Contactless Payments and Built-In Sports Apps,...Garmin Venu Sq, GPS Smartwatch with Bright Touchscreen Display, Up to 6 Days of Battery Life, Slate...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
Sizes43mm40mm
Dimensions43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm40.6 x 37.0 x 11.5 mm
FitWrist size of 127-204 mmWrist size of 125-190 mm
Weight43g37.6g
Display1.2″ transflective memory-in-pixel1.3″ liquid crystal
TouchscreenYesYes
Smart NotificationsYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Stress MonitoringYesYes
Women’s HealthYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Fitness AgeYesYes
Body BatteryNoYes
Blood Oxygen MonitoringNoYes
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANTBluetooth, ANT
Water Rating5 ATM5 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 7 daysUp to 6 days
Release DateAugust 2017September 2020

Design

Garmin’s Venu SQ sports a trendier rectangular face, while the vivoactive 3 has a more familiar round screen.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq Design
Garmin’s vivoactive 3 in Black with Silver (left) and Venu Sq in an Orchid Case and silicone band (right).

It’s quite obvious where these two wearables differ. The Garmin vivoactive 3 sports a circular display while you get a rectangular screen on the Venu Sq. Although the round face of the vivoactive lends it the feel of a traditional watch, Venu Sq’s approach offers more screen real estate. Like Apple and Fitbit’s own lineup of wearables, the rectangular design displays more at-a-glance information without the need to scroll.

Both device lenses are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and inlaid within fiber-reinforced polymer cases. However, Garmin’s older model is furnished with a stainless steel bezel that’s more durable than the anodized aluminum on the Venu Sq. The vivoactive 3 also uses a more energy-efficient transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. In contrast, the Venue SQ comes with an LCD screen with an optional always-on mode.

The standard variants of these wearables are available in different colors. If you’re going for the vivoactive 3, the regular models are Black with Slate or Black with Silver hardware. Garmin’s Venu Sq, on the other hand, has more interesting finishes. You can get the multisport watch in Shadow Gray, White, and Orchid. If these don’t pique your interest, the Venu SQ Music Edition expands the models to six more color finishes.

Like most smartwatches, the bands on the vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq are interchangeable. Garmin shares the two use industry-standard 20mm quick release bands. These straps are made from silicone, making them comfortable on the skin. The Garmin vivoactive 3 and Venu SQ are also waterproof up to 50 meters.

Sports and Fitness Tracking

The vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq have comparable fitness and activity tracking features.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq Sports and Fitness Tracking Comparison
Garmin has pre-loaded several sports modes on both the vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq.

Considering its price, the Garmin Venu Sq enjoys activity tracking features and sports modes comparable to the vivoactive 3. Both devices record standard metrics like steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled. They also share support for Garmin’s auto-goal, Move IQ, and Connect Challenges features. The vivoactive 3, however, is equipped with an altimeter to track floors climbed, a feature cut off from the Venu Sq.

Garmin has also preloaded both watches with several sports and activity modes. Here, neither watch has a considerable advantage over the other. The vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq both come with dedicated golf, swimming, running, and outdoor recreation profiles. Thanks to its altimeter, the Vivoactive 3 tracks floor climbing as a gym activity profile. Garmin’s Venu Sq makes up for this missing feature by adding Pilates and Breathwork.

When it comes to training and analysis, these sports watches offer similar feature sets, too. Users can get insights into heart rate zones and access to advanced workouts. Training plans are also downloadable for both. For runners, VO2 Max is monitored as well. But the Venu Sq takes a little step forward with its ability to measure respiration rate — a fundamental vital sign that should prove useful to athletes.

Health and Safety

Garmin’s budget watch — the Venu Sq — has more health and safety features than the vivoactive 3.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq Health and Safety Comparison
Although both devices keep an eye on your heart rate and stress levels, the Venu SQ can also measure respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation levels.

Aside from being a fitness companion, the vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq offer health monitoring tools as well. Both devices come with wrist-based heart rate monitoring called Garmin Elevate. Some of the key insights from this sensor include daily resting heart rate and abnormal heart rate alerts. Users can also keep tabs on their stress levels and be prompted by a relaxation breathing timer.

With the Venu Sq, however, you get a few more advanced features. The budget watch comes with a blood oxygen saturation level monitor, a staple feature in other devices like the Apple Watch 6 and Fitbit Sense. As mentioned in Sports and Fitness Tracking, the Venu Sq measures respiration rate as well. It’s also equipped with the Body Battery Energy Monitor to “estimate your energy reserves throughout the day”, shares Garmin.

Even when it comes to safety functions, the Venu Sq offers more than the vivoactive 3. The entry-level multisport watch comes with livetrack, incident detection, and assistance. With the vivoactive 3, you’re limited to just livetrack.

Smart Features and Battery Life

The Garmin vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq share the same smartwatch features. The former, however, has a slight edge in battery life.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Venu Sq Smart Features
Use the vivoactive 3 to pay (left) or the Venu Sq to check your day (right).

While the vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq are marketed as multisport watches, they have several smartwatch features, too. Of course, the calendar and weather apps are also present on both devices. Smartphone notifications are also a staple. But you don’t just get simple texts or call alerts. Users can also respond to a text or reject a phone call via a text with the watches — as long as you’re paired to an Android phone.

For those who listen to a playlist while running or training, the vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq allow users to control their smartphone’s music. However, you can’t save tracks on the device themselves. To enjoy offline music support, you’ll need the Venu Sq Music Edition — a watch that comes with an additional $50 on the price tag. Apart from music control and support, these wearables also feature contactless payment via Garmin Pay.

According to Garmin, the Venu Sq has a battery life rating of 6 days in smartwatch mode. Turn on the GPS, and the watch will last a more modest 14 hours. You’ll also drain power faster with frequent use of features like the Pulse Ox. Meanwhile, the vivoactive 3 boasts a battery life of 7 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours when in GPS mode.

Verdict

You get more bang for your buck with the Garmin Venu Sq compared to the vivoactive 3.

If you’re not too keen on spending over $300 on a smartwatch, then the Garmin vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq are attractive prospects. The vivoactive 3 is an older model of Garmin’s midrange multisport watch. While it misses out on newer health features like Pulse Ox, it still holds its own against newer models thanks to its quality build and reliable tracking features. And with its round screen, you get a familiar aesthetic not too far from traditional watches.

Still, the entry-level Garmin Venu Sq feels like a more compelling purchase. A well-rounded GPS watch with advanced health features, it’s as future-proof as its pricier counterparts. Being a budget model, however, its design isn’t up to par with other Garmin devices. But it’s hard to complain when you get everything else — a touch screen wearable with plenty of activity and tracking modes and just enough smart features.

FAQs

📌 What’s the key difference between the Garmin vivoactive 3 and Venu Sq?

The Garmin vivoactive 3 sports a circular screen while the Venu Sq features a rectangular display. The Venu Sq can also measure respiration rate and comes with Pulse Ox, a feature missing on the vivoactive 3.

📌 Does the Garmin Venu Sq come with an ECG app?

No, the Garmin Venu Sq does not have the ability to measure ECG.

📌 Is the Garmin Venu Sq waterproof?

Yes, the Garmin Venu Sq is waterproof up to 50 meters. The watch can be used in pools for tracking and monitoring swimming activities.

📌 Does the Garmin vivoactive 3 support offline music playback?

The standard Garmin vivoactive 3 does not support offline music playback. The vivoactive 3 Music Edition, on the other hand, has been discontinued.

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.