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Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Which is best for you?

There's a lot of similarities here. Is the Venu 3 worth the extra $150?
By

Published onFebruary 13, 2024

Garmin Vivoactive 5
MSRP: $299.99
Check price
Positives
Vibrant, AMOLED display
Refreshed user interface
Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
Heaps of added health and fitness tracking tools
Lower price point than predecessor
Accurate heart rate and GPS sensors
Negatives
Removed barometric altimeter
Eliminated workout animations
Won't be ECG app compatible
Garmin Venu 3
MSRP: $449.99
Check price
Positives
Highly accurate GPS and heart rate sensors
Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
On-device phone call and voice assistant support
Up to 14-day battery life
Larger display
Negatives
No ECG app
Pricey compared to competitors
No LTE model

Garmin is extremely prolific when it comes to smartwatches, constantly churning out new models and updates. With the arrival of the Vivoactive 5, we see a very different watch to a line that hadn’t been updated since 2019, one much more akin to the Venu 3.

If you’re in the market for a new Garmin watch, you might have a tough time making a decision between these two. So which should you buy? Let’s take a look in this Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3 comparison.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Specs

Garmin Venu 3Garmin Venu 3SGarmin Vivoactive 5
Display
Garmin Venu 3
1.4-inch AMOLED, optional always-on
454 x 454 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Garmin Venu 3S
1.2-inch AMOLED, optional always-on
390 x 390 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Garmin Vivoactive 5
1.2 inch AMOLED, optional always-on 390 x 390 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Dimensions and weight
Garmin Venu 3
45 x 45 x 12mm
22mm band
47g
Garmin Venu 3S
41 x 41 x 12mm
22mm band
40g

Garmin Vivoactive 5
42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1mm
20mm band
36g
Build materials
Garmin Venu 3
Stainless steel bezel
Fiber-reinforced polymer case
Silicone band
Garmin Venu 3S
Stainless steel bezel
Fiber-reinforced polymer case
Silicone band
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Anodized aluminum bezel
Fiber-reinforced polymer case
Silicone band
Battery
Garmin Venu 3
Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode (5 days with always-on display enabled)
Up to 26 days in Battery Saver Smartwatch mode
Up to 11 hours in all-Systems GNSS mode + music
Garmin Venu 3S
Up to 10 days in smartwatch mode (5 days with always-on display enabled)
Up to 20 days in Battery Saver Smartwatch mode
Up to 8 hours in all-Systems GNSS mode + music
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode (5 days with always-on display enabled)
Up to 21 days in Battery Saver Smartwatch mode
Up to 7 hours in all-Systems GNSS mode + music
IP rating
Garmin Venu 3
5ATM
Garmin Venu 3S
5ATM
Garmin Vivoactive 5
5 ATM
Sensors
Garmin Venu 3
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Barometric altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Garmin Venu 3S
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Barometric altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Compass
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Connectivity
Garmin Venu 3
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Garmin Venu 3S
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Compatibility
Garmin Venu 3
Android, iOS
Garmin Venu 3S
Android, iOS
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Android, iOS
Garmin Pay
Garmin Venu 3
Yes
Garmin Venu 3S
Yes
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Yes
Smartwatch features
Garmin Venu 3
Make and receive phone calls
Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Siri support
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Garmin Venu 3S
Make and receive phone calls
Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Siri support
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Colors
Garmin Venu 3
Silver bezel with Whitestone case
Slate bezel with Black case
Garmin Venu 3S
Soft Gold bezel with French Gray, Dust Rose, or Ivory case
Silver bezel with Sage Gray case
Slate bezel with Pebble Gray case
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Metallic Orchid, Slate, Cream Gold with Ivory case, Metallic Navy with Navy case

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Design

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 rests alongside a Venu 3S displaying each device's buttons.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3 share a lot of the same DNA with an almost identical design. There are a few differences, including the number of buttons on each device, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference at a glance. Size-wise, the Vivoactive slots in between the Venu 3 and Venu 3S, coming in at 42.2mm. In contrast, the Venu 3 is 45mm, while the S model is 41mm.

Despite the similarities, there are some key differences aside from size. The Vivoactive 5 swaps the Venu 3’s stainless steel construction in favor of aluminum. This detracts from the premium look and feel to some degree, but the Vivoactive 5 is still a very attractive watch. Due to the difference in materials, you’re also more likely to scratch and ding the Vivoactive.

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3S rest side by side, displaying their Activities menus.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

On the positive side, the Vivoactive 5 is 4g lighter, so it may actually feel a bit more comfortable on your wrist. Garmin’s new watch also has the same 5ATM water resistance and Gorilla Glass protection found on the Venu 3 family.

The overall footprint of the Vivoactive 5 isn’t too much different from the Venu 3S, it’s just a tad bigger.  You also get the same AMOLED screen type, as well as the same screen size and resolution.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Features

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3S rest face down, each displaying their sensor packages.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Vivoactive offers a similar experience to the Venu, minus a few sensors and features. There’s no built-in microphone or speaker here, though you can still listen to music via a Bluetooth device. If we’re honest, the speaker was pretty limited anyhow, and we didn’t find this a hindrance during our review. You also still needed to connect to your phone to take calls. You’ll still get notification alerts about an incoming call, you’ll just have to dig out your phone to take it.

Beyond this, you’ll find the storage is cut in half at just 4GB. That said, unless you store a lot of music or audiobooks, this won’t really matter. There’s also no barometric altimeter, which can record steps taken or elevation climbed. That’s a bummer for hiking enthusiasts who want the most accuracy here.

The Vivoactive 5 offers a similar experience to the Venu 3 as fitness tracker, but does not boast as many smart features.

Avid cyclists might prefer the Venu 3 as the Vivoactive cuts some of these features, such as the ability to control turbo trainers or connect to power meters. Thankfully, you can still connect to speed and cadence sensors.

Probably the biggest downside is the heart rate sensor. While the Vivoactive still packs this feature, it uses the previous generation of Garmin’s technology known as Elevate 4. The E4 is also still a very capable sensor with two LED blocks and four light sensors, just the latter has six LED blocks and four light sensors. The Venu 3 family is going to be a bit more accurate, but the Vivoactive 5 is still a great choice for most.

The good news is you’ll still have access to all the same sleep features as the Venu 3. You’ll also get Body Battery, Pulse Ox, menstrual tracking, stress tracking, and more.

Battery life is also slightly better than the similarly sized Venu 3S at 11 days versus 10. The Venu 3 still manages to one-up the Vivoactive here at 14 days, but that’s really just down to its larger size.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Price and colors

  • Garmin Venu 3: $449.99
  • Garmin Venu 3S: $449.99
  • Garmin Vivoactive 5: $299.99

As previously mentioned, there are two case sizes available for the Venu 3. Both models come in at $449.99. The former comes in just two colorways: a Silver bezel with a Whitestone case or a Slate bezel with a Black case. The latter comes with a Soft Gold bezel and either French Gray, Dust Rose, or an Ivory case. Not interested in Gold? Conversely, you can get a silver bezel with a Sage Gray case or a Slate bezel with a Pebble gray case.

Turning to the Vivoactive 5, there’s just one size available for $299.99. As you can see, that makes it $150 cheaper than the Venu 3 series. There are also a few different color choices on offer. There’s a model that comes with a Metallic Orchid bezel and case, a Slate bezel with a Black case, a Cream Gold bezel with an Ivory case, or a model with a Metallic Navy case and bezel.

See price at Amazon
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Vibrant, AMOLED display
Accurate heart rate and GPS sensors
Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
See price at Amazon
Garmin Venu 3
Garmin Venu 3
Highly accurate GPS and heart rate sensors
Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
Up to 14-day battery life
See price at Garmin
Garmin Venu 3S
Garmin Venu 3S
Good battery life
Next gen sleep tracking

Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3: Which should you buy?

A user access their voice assistant via their Garmin Venu 3.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Venu 3 has a premium design, more advanced sensors, and a some key smart features you won’t get on the Vivoactive 5. But does that make it worth $150 more? It really depends. If you’re a cyclist, absolutely. If you do a lot of uphill activities like hiking and want that altimeter, yes again. The vivoactive 5 is a solid fitness companion but it doesnt offer features like voice assistance or onwrist phone call support. For those tools, we recommend the Venu 3.

Vivoactive vs Venu 3: Which should you buy?

422 votes

If none of these features are that important to you, the Vivoactive comes very close to matching the Venu 3 family. In many ways, it feels more like a Venu 3 Lite than a successor to the aging Vivoactive 4, and that’s meant as a compliment. You’ll save a good chunk of change with the Vivoactive and you’ll still get a great watch out of it. Either way, you’ll find the same incredible fitness tracker experience Garmin is known for minus a few features.


Frequently Asked Question

Yes, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3 both have 5ATM water resistance.

Yes, both the Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5 have GPS technology onboard.

No, neither the Garmin Vivoactive 5 nor Venu 3 have wireless charging technology baked in.

The Venu 3 is capable of answering calls on the device. Unfortunately, the Vivoactive 5 doesn’t have a built-in speaker or microphone so you’ll get alerts but will need to take the call on your smartphone.

The Venu 3 features ECG technology but unfortunately this is not offered on the Vivoactive 5.

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