Garmin has gradually been moving their fantastic GPS watches to more of the everyday smart watch over the years. They have done a great job with including features like Garmin Pay, onboard music storage and playback, and smart notifications. They have done all this while still delivering solid GPS features and battery life.
The New Garmin Vivoactive 3 with LTE Connection
Now, they have made the next big step to put themselves more in the same arena with Garmin and Samsung – they have announced a Garmin watch with LTE (or, cellular) capability. There is no word yet on price but this new version of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 should be available in just a couple of months. It will be offered with the Verizon network – if you don’t have Verizon, sorry about that!
This cellular experience will be different from what you may expect from a smart watch like the Apple Watch. Since Garmin watches use smart notifications and a limited App Store, it is not the same as being able to do some of the things that you would with the Apple Watch. Also, it will not be able to stream music (but you will be able to download music over LTE).
Keep in mind that if you do want mapping for your runs, the new Garmin Fenix 5 Plus line up has that built in.
What Does the Garmin Vivoactive 3 with LTE Offer With Connectivity?
So, what will this new Garmin Vivoactive 3 LTE model do with cellular connectivity? Garmin has added an incident warning feature that will operate similarly to the Apple Watch Series 4 fall detection and notification. This is great if, when you are out on a run or workout, something happens that causes you to fall. It will notify your emergency contact and give your location.
You can also do text messaging, but it seems like that will be quite tedious unless the canned responses are good enough for you. With no microphone, you are limited to tapping away at the screen. Since, presumably, you would only be away from your phone when on the run, I can’t see sending detailed text messages being something that users go with.
It will also allow for live tracking – something which I love for races to keep loved ones up-to-date with my race progress. To me, this is something that is very useful about this watch feature. I would love to go out and race without a phone, if I was wanting people to be able to live-track.
Good, or Not Good Enough?
Admittedly, there is limited use for this cellular connectivity at this time but I am hoping that Garmin is able to expand on it and that this limited use allows it to be a very cheap add-on for Verizon customers.
Typically, smartwatch owners pay $10 per month to add their smartwatch to the plan. Since there will be so much less in terms of data usage, I think it should be at least half that amount for the Garmin Vivoactive 3, but I don’t think Verizon will be that kind. 🙂
Battery life is going to take a big with with LTE/Music/GPS on this watch as well so it may not be ideal for a marathon finishing over the 4 hour mark.
To check out a nice first-look at this new Garmin Vivoactive 3 with LTE to see how some of these features work, check out DC Rainmaker’s post about it.
I see this offering by Garmin as a way to give their users a feature that Apple offers in their LTE-connected watches. Like the music feature, I don’t think Garmin will just leave it with the Vivoactive 3 but will probably offer it with many watches going forward. I would hope that would include the better built, higher battery capacity Fenix watches as well. Plus, maybe this inclusion will also help Garmin app developers to put out some more useful apps.