By Brenda Stolyar – PC Mag
The latest version of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is the company’s first device with LTE connectivity. It also comes with a few new safety features. We go hands-on at CES.
Garmin has released a few iterations of its Garmin Vivoactive 3 fitness tracker, but its latest version of the Vivoactive 3 Music is the company’s first device with LTE connectivity. It also comes with a few new safety features.
But unlike the Apple Watch Series 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch, those who want to take advantage of LTE will have to go through Verizon’s network. Let’s take a closer look.
LTE Connectivity Through Verizon
To use the LTE functionality on the new Garmin Vivoactive 3 (Verizon), you don’t have to be an existing Verizon customer, but you will have to sign up for a data plan. Part of the purchase process requires specifying whether you’re already on Verizon or a different carrier. Depending on which you choose, you’ll be provided with different monthly data plans.
But here’s where it gets a little tricky. Those with Verizon will be able to receive calls and text messages from their primary phone number to the smartwatch. But those on a different carrier will be assigned a new phone number to which notifications will be sent. That phone number is free, but you’ll have to pay for the data plan. Those with an existing Verizon account have the choice to add an additional phone number.
It’s clear that those with a Verizon number will have the easiest time navigating between calls and text messages on their phones. Having a second phone number means your smartphone won’t sync the history of interactions, so you’ll have to refer to your smartwatch instead.
The Vivoactive 3 Music (Verizon) is a little more compatible with iOS than Wear OS smartwatches. Rather than only being able to view notifications, you can also interact with them too. If you’re using your primary phone number on an iPhone, you’ll still be able to answer text messages using the watch—by either typing your own message or choosing from a premade response. You’ll also be able to answer calls and text messages as well.
But there’s one caveat—you’ll have to turn off iMessage in order to receive notifications on your smartphone to your watch. So if you’re okay with using SMS for majority of your time with the Vivoactive 3 Music, the experience should be a breeze. Otherwise, you’re better off switching to Android or opting for a secondary phone number.
Those with a Verizon phone number can also choose the carrier’s Message+ app as the primary messaging app on their iPhone. That way, you’ll still have read receipts and the ability to sync all your text messages between your smartphone and watch.
Regardless, it’s clear that unless you’re okay with having two phone numbers, then the connectivity aspect of the device will be far more enjoyable to use for those who already have their primary phone number set up with Verizon.
Design, Specs, Battery Life
For the most part, the connected version of the Vivoactive 3 Music is identical to the previous version in both design and display. The only difference is the new one has red accents sprinkled throughout—sort of as an homage to Verizon’s signature red logo. You’ll notice it along the top and bottom of the watch and on the crown.
It only comes in one color variant—a slate polymer case with a black silicone watch band. In person, the all-black is extremely sleek looking and will allow you to pair it with both gym clothes or even business casual. But the 20mm watch bands are also interchangeable, so you can swap them out to mix and match with your attire. As with other versions, it’s extremely lightweight. When I tried it on, it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything on my wrist at all, which will be enjoyable for workouts.
The Verizon-connected addition is also the same as the original Vivoactive 3 Music in terms of specs; there’s built-in GPS and Garmin’s Elevate heart-rate monitor. As for the processor, the Verizon-connected Garmin is powered by an ALT1210 chipset from Altair Semiconductor.
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