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Hands-on: Garmin's vivoactive 3 Music lets you listen to music on the go

One of our favorite fitness watches, now with music and payments on-the-go.

Published onJune 27, 2021

garmin vivoactive 3 music gps running watch

In our initial review, one of our biggest gripes with the Garmin vivoactive 3 was that it didn’t have support for music storage. It looks like Garmin heard our request and did something about that.

Garmin introduced the vivoactive 3 Music — a running watch that allows you to store up to 500 songs and listen to them during your workout. You can either load up your own music if you have it downloaded to a computer, or download playlists from iHeartRadio if you subscribe to that service. Deezer support will be added in the future, too, though we’d certainly like to see more integrations like Spotify or Play Music.

A newer version of this device is now available. The Garmin vivoactive 4 is the follow-up to the vivoactive 3 and 3 Music, and adds more sport profiles, longer battery life, and more health-tracking features. The Garmin Venu and Venu 2 are also out now, which both have OLED displays and nearly the same features.
garmin vivoactive 3 music gps running watch

I wasn’t able to use iHeartRadio playlists during the testing period, but I did load up my own music from my computer. The process is much faster than Fitbit’s method to load music on the Ionic or Versa. With the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music, you simply plug the watch into your computer, sync it with Garmin Connect, and select the music you want to be loaded on your watch. That’s about it. Alternatively, you’ll be able to drag and drop your music files into the Windows file manager or the Android Device Manager if you use a Mac.

Once you’ve loaded up your music, you can connect and listen through a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Music streaming from the watch is pretty seamless. Though, my music did cut out every once in a while when paired with the Fitbit Flyer.

Also read: The best running watches you can buy

garmin vivoactive 3 music gps running watch

Aside from a slightly redesigned bezel on the new watch (and music support, of course), the vivoactive 3 and Music version are basically the same. That means you get a fantastic running watch with a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, 5ATM water resistance rating, Garmin Pay support, and seven-day battery life. You can check out our full Vivoactive 3 review right here to learn more.

The vivoactive 3 Music is available for just over $200, but we’d recommend checking out a newer Garmin device in 2021. Head here for a definitive list of the best Garmin watches you can buy.

Garmin vivoactive 3 Music
The cheapest way to get contactless payments and music on a Garmin watch
If you're looking for a Garmin GPS smartwatch and don't want to pay an arm and a leg (seriously, the new watches are expensive), you'll definitely want to check out the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music. It has music storage, Garmin Pay support, and all the fitness features you get with the standard vivoactive 3 watch.

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