If you're looking for an AMOLED sports watch, the Garmin Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5 are both worthy of a place on your shortlist, but what's the difference between them? They launched around the same time and look almost identical at first glance, but there are some key differences you should be aware of.
First of all, there's the price. The Venu 3 is much more expensive than the Vivoactive 5, which will definitely be a factor to consider. For that extra cash you get a more premium design, with a stainless steel bezel rather than plastic, and a choice of two sizes. The Venu 3 also lets you use your phone's voice assistant and take calls via Bluetooth, has a handful of extra workout modes, and supports Garmin's ECG app is you're in one of the countries where it's enabled.
If you've made up your mind, we've found today's best deals on both watches for you right here. Otherwise, read on to learn more about the key differences between these two stylish wearables.
- Garmin Venu 3 is more expensive
- No significant deals available yet
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 launched on September 20, 2023, with a list price of $299.99 / £259.99. The Garmin Venu 3 launched on August 30, 2023, priced at $499.99 / £449.99. If you want a Venu 3 with a leather band, this is available in the UK for £499.99.
Both watches are still very new at the time of writing, so you won't find any big discounts on either yet. However, we may see some deals on Black Friday. Here at Advnture, we're rounding up all this year's best Black Friday Garmin deals, including any offers on the Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5.
- Garmin Venu 3 comes in two sizes
- Venu 3 has metal bezel, Vivoactive 5 is resin
- Venu 3 has extra button and microphone
The Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5 are both round-faced, minimalist watches that are a far cry from Garmin's chunky Fenix and Forerunner devices, but they're not identical.
The Garmin Venu 3 comes in two sizes: 41mm and 45mm diameter. Both are 12mm thick The smaller version (known as the Venu 3S) is Garmin's smallest GPS watch
The Vivoactive 5 comes in just one size: 42.2mm diameter. It's slightly thinner than the two Venu 3 models, measuring just 11.1mm thick, but it's not a difference you'll actually notice when it's on your wrist.
The Venu 3 has a more refined look thanks to its stainless steel bezel. In the UK it's also available with a leather strap for an additional fee. The Vivoactive 5's case and bezel are both made from reinforced resin, which is a little lighter, but doesn't look quite as slick. It's only available with a silicone band; if you want leather, you'll need to buy a strap separately (the watch takes Garmin's 20mm Quick Release bands).
Both watches are operated using a touchscreen and a set of buttons on the right-hand side of the case. The Vivoactive 5 has two buttons, while the Venu 3 has three. Unlike the VIvoactive 5, the Venu 3 also has a microphone grille on the left-hand side, which lets you take calls and use your phone's voice assistant via Bluetooth.
- All devices have AMOLED touchscreens
- Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3S screens are the same
- Venu 3 screen is larger
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3S use the same AMOLED touchscreen display, which measures 1.2in (30.4 mm) in diameter, and has a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels.
The full-size Garmin Venu 3 has a screen measuring 1.4in (35.4 mm) diameter, with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels.
- Venu 3 supports ECG app
- Venu 3 has more activity modes
- Venu 3 lets you take calls and use phone's voice assistant
Both the Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5 are GPS sports watches, with profiles for tracking a wide range of sports, but the Venu 3 has more options to choose from, including hiking, indoor climbing, and bouldering. More activities may be added to the Vivoactive 5 with future software updates, but it's not guaranteed.
If you're a keen cyclist, it's worth noting that only the Venu 3 allows you to control a Smart Trainer from your wrist.
The Venu 3 has Garmin's latest heart rate sensor (the same one used in the Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro), which has LEDs spread over a larger area to detect changes in blood flow more accurately. This should result in more accurate metrics across the board. The Vivoactive 5 uses the previous generation heart rate sensor.
Both watches can track sleep, including naps, and give you guidance on how to improve your rest and recovery through Garmin's Sleep Coaching. You will also get a Body Battery score that tracks your energy levels throughout the day, with suggestions to help you make the most of your day while avoiding bottoming out.
The Venu 3 supports Garmin's ECG app, which allows you to check for signs of an irregular heart rhythm. It can't diagnose or treat a medical condition, but its findings could be a useful starting point for a conversation with your doctor. The app is only available in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam at the time of writing, but will hopefully be rolling out in more territories soon.
As mentioned above, the Garmin Venu 3 has a microphone, which allows you to take calls and access your phone's voice assistant via Bluetooth. The watch doesn't have LTE, so you can't make calls without a connection to your phone.
The Venu 3 has twice the internal storage of the Vivoactive 5, giving you more space for apps and activities (8GB compared to 4GB).
- Venu 3 has longer battery life than Vivoactive 5
- Venu 3S and Vivoactive 5 have similar battery life
- Always-on mode will drain battery quickly
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 has a maximum battery life of up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, and 21 hours in GPS-only mode.
The Garmin Venu 3 has a maximum battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, and 26 hours in GPS-only mode. The more compact Garmin Venu 3S has a smaller battery, and therefore needs charging more frequently. It'll run for up to 10 days in smartwatch mode, and 21 hours in GPS-only mode.
Whichever watch you choose, using the screen's always-on mode will reduce battery life dramatically. Neither the Vivoactive nor the Venu has solar charging to extend battery life. Garmin has patented a system for integrating photovoltaic material into an AMOLED display, but it hasn't made its way into any production watches yet.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.