Long messages are truncated but most shorter stuff is readable in its entirety with a quick tap, whatever the messaging platform. However, even without it the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a credible smartwatch stand-in, especially as it also provides access to a decent selection of third-party apps, widgets and watch faces via the Garmin IQ Connect store.
First up, general activity tracking is excellent. The watch keeps tabs on your steps, floors climbed and calories burned during the day, and it continually monitors your heart rate both during the day and the night, recording your heart rate at one-second intervals.
The Vivoactive 3 also supplies a stress score, reports your average resting heart rate and your estimated VO2 max — a measurement of lung capacity and, therefore, your general cardiovascular fitness levels.
It can estimate your lactate threshold, a measurement that, some say, is a better way to calculate exercise zones that your maximum heart rate. As for accuracy, that seems to be pretty good as far as optical wrist-based heart rate sensors go.
Likewise, the GPS worked well, tracking my position during an hour-long bike ride tightly and accurately. The only small negative point was that it did take a 30 seconds or so to lock onto a signal, particularly in built-up areas.
Battery life is superb, though, and this is where the Garmin Vivoactive 3 outdoes many of its smartwatch competitors. With Garmin rating GPS usage at 13 hours continuous, even if you do use it to track a couple of runs a day or an hour or two of cycling, it should last three to four days at least.