Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Fitbit Ionic vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3

apple watch series 3 vs fitbit ionic garmin vivoactive comparison header
Apple
Wearables are getting smarter, more stylish, and now offer enhanced performance features, making your watch nearly as valuable as your smartphone. After Apple’s annual, world-stopping September press conference, the world now excitedly awaits the release of the Apple Watch Series 3, which adds built-in cellular capacity to an already impressive device. While it’s likely a revolutionary device upon its launch, there are other products capable of many of the same things — even if they’re not quite as smart.

The Fitbit Ionic is available for pre-order for a cheaper price and offers exciting new features of its own, including upgraded fitness tracking and music storage. In addition, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is impressive with its contactless payment solution and tons of preloaded applications. So, is the most expensive smartwatch on the market worth all the hype? Let’s put these three devices side by side.

Specs

Apple Watch Series 3

apple watch series 3 vs fitbit ionic garmin vivoactive thumb

Fitbit Ionic

apple watch series 3 vs fitbit ionic garmin vivoactive thumber

Garmin Vivoactive 3

apple watch series 3 vs fitbit ionic garmin vivoactive thumber

GPS-enabled Yes Yes Yes
Processor S3 N/A N/A
Operating system WatchOS 4 Fitbit OS Proprietary OS
Body dimensions 38mm: 38.6 x 33.3 x 11.65 (mm)

42mm: 42.5 x 36.4 x 11.65 (mm)

29.21 x 21.0 (mm) 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 (mm)
Resolution 390 x 312 pixels 348 x 250 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Weight 52.8 grams (1.86 ounces) 50 grams (1.76 ounces) 43 grams (1.52 ounces)
CPU Dual-core N/A N/A
Screen Ion-X strengthened glass (aluminum cases)

Sapphire crystal glass (stainless steel and ceramic cases)

Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Waterproof Yes, up to 50 meters Yes, up to 50 meters Yes, up to 50 meters
Display Second-gen OLED Retina display with Force Touch N/A Chroma
Battery 18 hours 4 days 7 days
Available ceramic casing Yes No No
LTE Yes No No
Base price $330 (without cellular), $400 (with cellular) $300 $300 (stainless-steel), $330 (slate and black)

Smartwatches are getting smarter — and the performance of your watch is beginning to matter as much as it does for your phone. With all three products featuring GPS, the only stand-alone spec is the Apple Watch 3’s LTE capacity.

Apple is the only company that’s released information on its engine, highlighted by a 70 percent faster dual-core processor. Without specific details on the other two, we can only surmise the Apple Watch 3 is the most powerful to date due to its necessity to keep up with a constantly developing Apple Store.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 3

Design, display, and durability

Apple has always been the innovator of design, boasting sleek and stylish interfaces combined with a variety of band styles and colors. The Apple Watch 3 also sees a welcome return of the rotating crown. This time, however, Fitbit goes head to head, matching the Apple Watch 3’s 1000 nit display. Though still not as sleek, Fitbit upped its resolution to 348 x 250, a huge improvement over its predecessor, the Blaze. Apple boasts two different resolution options: 340 x 272 for the 38mm and 390 x 312 for the 42mm, again inching away for first place.

Although Garmin’s Vivoactive 3 keeps up in certain aspects of performance, the fitness-based product lags in fancy display features. With a 240 x 240 resolution display, it trails its competition. Where the Vivoactive 3 makes up ground rests with its durability. All three products are rated to be waterproof to depths of 50 meters, with both the Ionic and the Vivoactive 3 utilizing Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Apple’s own strengthened glass is on par but this time around the Apple Watch 3 doesn’t stand out in terms of durability. We’re going to appoint Apple Watch 3 the winner in this category but by a sliver, due to its 3D touch display and fashionable options.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 3

Battery life and charging

apple watch series 3 vs fitbit ionic garmin vivoactive crop

With wearables gaining popularity in the outdoor realm, wearers now require more performance in terms of battery life. A weekend spent camping means two whole days without the opportunity to charge your phone and this is the category where Apple fails to leave a positive impression — and one in which Garmin absolutely shines.

Like the Apple Watch Series 2, the Apple Watch Series 3 only offers up to 18 hours of battery life — and even less when GPS is activated. The Fitbit Ionic leaves Apple in the dust with more than four days of battery life. Then there’s the Garmin Vivoactive 3 which stays charged for up to a week. Ideal for extended periods of time in the wilderness or otherwise remote areas, the Garmin’s wearable sets the bar extremely high, albeit with less power-requiring features.

Winner: Garmin Vivoactive 3

Software

While Fitbit and Garmin started out as primarily fitness trackers, Apple has long been reputed for its innovative performance technology. A huge range of WatchOS apps are already available on the Apple Store and the upgrade to watchOS4 features Siri and a ton of additional fitness applications.

Fitbit remains much more passive in this category, simply sending notifications to your wrist. The hardware lacks a microphone, handwriting, or voice recognition features and the new Fitbit OS needs time to build up its application library — though, it is still making promising strides. One of Fitbit’s strengths is automatic exercise tracking that doesn’t require user input.

Apple Watch Series 3 buying guide heart rate

Garmin developed its own proprietary OS that supports notifications from your phone similar to the Fitbit OS in a bold launch onto the OS playing field. The watch also supports applications downloadable via Garmin’s Connect IQ library. Health and fitness play prominent roles in all three products, which offer a varying range of preloaded fitness programs.

Although all three operating systems display tangible advances in technology, Apple’s Watch 3 again takes the nod here in terms of software capability and its new WatchOS4.

Winner: Apple Watch Series 3

Price and availability

While the Apple Watch Series 3 has proven to dominate in most categories, it comes with a hefty price tag — at least if you’re hoping to utilize that LTE technology. However, the price differences between these three aren’t nearly as drastic as you might think. The Apple Watch 3 with GPS costs $330 while the LTE-enabled model bumps it up to $400. The Fitbit Ionic lists for $300, which isn’t terribly far off from the solely GPS-enabled Apple Watch 3. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 also retails at s$300 for the stainless steel version but bumps up to $330 for the black or slate models.

The Apple Watch 3 and Fitbit Ionic are both only available via pre-order through Apple’s and Fitbit’s website, respectively. You can purchase the Garmin Vivoactive 3 in stores or online from Best Buy.

Overall Winner: Apple Watch Series 3

Apple watch series 3 features

Comparisons aside, the revolutionary integration of LTE capability into a smartwatch earns the Apple Watch Series 3 the most notoriety. Fitbit and Garmin both offer impressive devices of their own, no doubt, specifically in terms of battery life and waterproofing capacities. The Apple Watch Series 3 is simply a sleeker, well-designed product with a more powerful operating system.

That is, as long as you have an iPhone. The Apple Watch 3 Series isn’t compatible with Android devices, so if you own an Android, the Fitbit Ionic might be the way to go.

Product Review

The Xperia 10 Plus feels great in your hand, but you'll still want to put it down

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone with an unusual design, and one of the cheaper models out there vying for your attention is the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, with its 21:9 aspect ratio screen.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for April 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Mobile

Amazon cuts prices on Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 3 smartwatches

In the market for a new smartwatch? The Apple Watch is the best one, and right now it's a little more affordable than it usually is. The Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple Watch Series 3 are both available at discounted prices straight from…
Deals

Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches get big price cuts

The Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 are at some of the lowest prices we've seen since so far this year. With discounts from Amazon and Walmart, now is a great time to find spring savings on wearables.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Trash

How to save yourself money by buying a refurbished iPhone

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new iPhone, and it can be very expensive. Save yourself some heartache and some money with our guide on how to buy a refurbished iPhone.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Mobile

BlackBerry Messenger to shut down in May, be replaced by enterprise version

BlackBerry Messenger for consumers will shut down at the end of May, nearly six years after it was launched. The app is going back to its roots, in a way, as it is being replaced by the much simpler BlackBerry Messenger Enterprise.
Mobile

These are the key settings to change on the LG G8 ThinQ smartphone

The LG G8 ThinQ is finally available. There are a lot of settings turned off by default that may be useful in improving the experience of using the phone. We've rounded up 11 key settings for you to change on the G8.
Mobile

LG reportedly files patent for triple selfie camera on smartphone

LG has reportedly filed a patent for a smartphone with three front-facing cameras. However, if the patent turns out to be true, it may come down as just another gimmick for the struggling mobile phone manufacturer.
Mobile

Best iPhone 7 Plus screen protectors to shield your big, beautiful display

Cracked screens are expensive to replace. Fortunately for you, we've rounded up what's available in terms of protection for Apple's large iPhone 7 Plus. Here are the best screen protectors you can buy.
Mobile

Samsung says the Galaxy Fold needs more improvements before it's released

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

Add style and functionality with the best iPad Pro 9.7 cases

No tablet should be without protection, especially an expensive one. Check out our picks for the best iPad Pro 9.7 cases, so you can add some protection, functionality, and style to your new device.
Home Theater

Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones get a $93 price cut

Good head-fi is expensive, but a premium set of headphones is worth it. If you're in for a pair, then you're in luck: The excellent Bose Quietcomfort 35 Series II is on sale right now from Rakuten with a two-day coupon code that can save…