Physical fitness has over the years evolved from being a mere personal endeavor to a thriving business opportunity. And in the recent past, there has been a proliferation of companies striving to make some of the best fitness trackers that money can buy. It seems as if the competitive capitalist culture has also not spared this emerging niche, especially considering that nowadays almost everyone on Instagram appears to own a fitness tracker of some sort. Or a smartwatch.
Some of these trackers include the Fitbit Flex 2, one in a series of Fitbit trackers and it’s arch rival – Garmin Vivofit 3 – one as well in a series of multiple Garmin fitness trackers. So if you’re in the market for a new tracker, you’re likely to encounter these two sitting pretty on a pedestal as people take turns to ogle at them. Looks aside, which one of these is really worth splurging cash on?
Fitbit Flex 2 vs Garmin Vivofit 3
1. Model range
Let’s be honest for a sec here. Fitbit has a wider variety of fitness trackers compared to Garmin. These include:
- Fitbit Zip ($59.95)
- Fitbit Flex 2 ($59.95)
- Fitbit Alta ($59.95)
- Fitbit Alta HR ($129.95)
- Fitbit Charge 2 ($129.95)
Well, of course, the focus for today – the Fitbit Flex 2 (£70.10).
On the other hand, Garmin has a smaller collection to choose from that encompasses Vivosmart 3 ($139.99), Vivosmart HR (£179.99), Vivofit 3 ($99.99) and Vivomove ($149.99). Fitbit’s broad range of trackers has not only aided its growth, but reviews from its products help it remain atop other fitness trackers. However, the small number of models under Garmin should not be a reason to undermine it as the Garmin Vivofit 3 was voted the best buy for a fitness tracker in 2015.
So as far as this goes, if you’re looking to blend in the Instagram crowd (pun unintended), then go for Fitbit Flex 2. If you’re the kind of person who likes to stand out, then the Garmin Vivofit 3 should be at the top of your shopping list.
Up close and personal, both fitness trackers come in a box, sealed and having some of the contents inside visible. The Garmin Vivofit 3 comes in one that has a heart on the front (if you bought the heart rate bundle); this signifies the heart rate strap package is inside. Inside the box, there are two straps, one for people with large wrists and a relatively smaller one. Additionally, you find a heart rate monitor, a heart rate strap, a USB stick, the Vivofit 3, papers with instructions and a second wristband.
The Fitbit Flex 2 has two wristbands as well (small and large), a USB charger, a removable Fitbit Flex 2 tracker, instructions papers and a wireless synching Dongle. The small wristband is 5.5 – 6-5 inches whereas the large one is 6.5-7.7 inches. Apparently, according to Fitbit, this should allow better adjustability across people of different wrist sizes.
So which packaging style stands out? We feel that Fitbit has done a better job in making sure that their trackers are optimized for almost anyone.
Is this a deal breaker for Garmin Vivofit 3? Probably not!
3. The Overall Design Language
Truth be told, the design language is among the prime considerations most people make while choosing one product over the other. In fact, it is the reason people fork some ‘serious cash’ for a certain brand of smartphones ( ahem! I haven’t mentioned names here ) despite the fact that they are ultra-overrated and with an arguably limited functionality to show for this. But let’s save that story for another day.
Back to our head-to-head battle!
The Garmin Vivofit 3 has the option of a clip-on so that you can attach it to any part of your body but recent models only have wristbands. However, the Fitbit Flex 2 only has wristbands which mean it can only be worn on the arm. The Fitbit Flex 2 wristband is made of elastomeric material, which is commonly used in sports watches for its durable and flexible effect.
Well, the Garmin Vivofit 3 has the same elastomeric material, but its clasps have been a problem for most users, especially runners. Despite the adjustable and different-sized wristbands, there seems to be an issue with the clasp. However, to counteract this problem, you can always buy a clasp fastener to secure the device on your arm. The armband can cause irritation to the skin and a skin rash to some since it’s worn over a long period hence the need for the clip-on.
As far as color goes, both devices have a broad range of colors to choose from. These vary from Black, White, Navy, Tangerine, and Teal for Flex and Maroon, Purple, Blue, White, Pink, Red, Yellow and Black for Vivofit 3.
It seems we have a tie here. And in any case, it all comes down to your personal taste and preference. We shall leave this one for you to decide. But for the record, if it were up to me; Fitbit Flex 2 all the way.
The Fitbit Flex 2 might boast of a better design than the Garmin Vivofit 3, but the latter outdoes the former when it comes to matters of the heart…Ummh…no display. Surprised? Here’s why.
Flex 2 uses LED lights whereas Vivofit 3 has an OLED screen. And on top of that Fitbit has a preferable ecosystem compared to Garmin. All fine, all good. However, the lack of figures on the Fitbit Flex 2 is not amusing to most people who prefer to see numbers rather than dots. The Vivofit 3 has an easy-to-read screen with a red bar that records inactivity. And this is super helpful since you may wander off into sluggishness and one look at your wrist can tell you how much time you have wasted doing nothing.
The Fitbit Flex 2, unlike its predecessor – the Fitbit Ultra – does not have a readout display but rather five dots take the role of the screen. If you ask me, this is a cruel joke, really.
But feelings aside. Let’s be objective today.
This may be a downside, but it has been made up for by Flex’s’ low power Wi-Fi through Bluetooth. The intuitive addition enables syncing to your smartphone or tablet, and the dedicated Fitbit Fitness app ( which you will need to install on your device) shows all your numbers for the day.
But the task of constantly pulling out your phone or waiting until you get home to be able to view your statistics for the day is not exactly thrilling. And I also think that’s why some folks will not give Mr. Flex 2 here a second glance despite that he’s better looking and all.
And the gravitation towards team Vivofit 3 doesn’t stop there.
Vivofit 3 has a clock. It may seem like a small thing ( to you, maybe ) but it enhances its style as it can double up as a watch. After all, no one wants to over-accessorise their Mondays by sporting a smartwatch and a health band on the same damn wrist.
5. Now the Price
Cash is king. It limits what we own, what we will own in the future and what, of course, we will never come close to owning.
Speaking of which, at times the specs dictate price especially when it comes to tech. That is if a gadget is not merely overrated, as it seems to be the case today.
Look, the Fitbit Flex 2 goes for $99.95 whereas the Garmin Vivofit 3 goes for US$99.99. The irony of this pricing is that Vivofit 3 has better specs (especially the numerical display and superior battery life), and yet it is the less expensive band here.
6. Battery life
In a world of smartphones that demand a dutiful nightly charging regimen, one can only stomach so much of bad battery life in their lifetime. I mean, we are already weary of phones that have burdened us with the awkward responsibility of tugging power banks and universal chargers wherever we go. So, yes, battery life is a big deal.
End of rant.
Now, the Vivofit 3 boasts an impressive 365 days of battery life without recharging. In fact, it uses replaceable coin batteries making the USB charger it comes with sort of a free accessory. Fitbit Flex 2 has a Lithium-polymer battery with a dismal battery life of five days. Which implies that you can plan to charge it over the weekends so as to comfortably get the best out of it throughout the weekdays – the busiest days. Charging takes up 1-2 hours.
Do I really need to announce a winner here?
7. Water Resistance
In case you didn’t know, swimming is also a fitness activity. And, obviously, you swim in water. So I understand that manufacturers have been striving to make waterproof devices that allow their users to enjoy an occasional dip every once in a while. This is commendable. But how are they faring?
The Flex 2 has been tested up to 1 ATM. In other words, it can withstand sweat, rain or splashes such as showers but it is not entirely waterproof. And – off the record – this is a hindrance that Fitbit ought to fix since a good number of fitness trackers in the market are already waterproof. Yes, Fitbit, you make very good-looking bands. But what good are they for if I have to take it off every time, I want to hit the pool right out of the gym?
Funny enough, the companies’ stance on this is that all electronic devices need to be dry to avoid damage to both the device and the customers’ skin.
Ruggedness aside, the strap is another issue on its own as far as water is in the picture. Having used it for some time while swimming and showering, I noticed it had begun to degrade and rot, the good thing about it was that you can buy new straps any time.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Garmin Vivofit 3 can handle water with swimming recommendations of up to 50 meters. However, Garmin recommends immediate rinsing of the tracker after swimming or showering to prevent damage to the device or your skin. Rinsing it with a dry towel thoroughly before putting it back on your wrist often does the trick.
8. Sleep Time Data Capturing
As much as Fitness trackers primary use revolves around analyzing data related to working out and day-to-day physical activities, they have recently claimed a sweet spot in sleep tracking.
And by virtue of this alone, the Fitbit Flex 2 triumphs comfortably the Garmin Vivofit 3 – both in ease of use and accuracy.
By tapping the device five times, it activates sleeping mode and signals you that it is time to get some shuteye as it does its thing. Again, in the morning, you only need to tap the device another five times. This turns off sleeping mode and builds up the statistics just as you start fixing your daily cuppa. The Flex 2 records the time you went to bed, the time it took you to fall asleep, the number of times you woke up throughout the night, the number of hours you were in bed and calculates your sleep efficiency. How convenient.
The Garmin Vivofit 3 has a rather mediocre sleep tracking method. Just like the Flex 2, you have to tell the device when you are about to sleep by selecting sleep from its options. After that, Vivofit 3 records the time you spent in bed and the movements you made. Even so, the information is not as detailed as that which is shown by Flex 2 as by morning, most of the data is actually not as comprehensive. Vivofit 3 records at one-minute intervals and this makes it hard to make a conclusion considering that a good chunk of us enjoy several hours of deep sleep.
Garmin bows out at this juncture. No questions asked.
Featurewise, it’s mixed opinion affair. It seems like, for every feature that Flex 2 has over Garmin, Vivofit 3 compensates and lashes back with an even better deal.
Some of the features that make Fitbit Flex 2 better than Garmin Vivofit 3 include; an alarm clock, which you can use it as a reminder as well. It also has a silent alarm that vibrates as opposed to ringing, which may disturb other people or wake you up in a rather shocking manner. It can track your calorie intake, and it can automatically sync with whichever device you intend it to.
Unlike Vivofit 3, Flex 2 is compatible with MyFitnessPal, Lose it, Endomondo, Run Keeper and Spark People (popular apps designed to aid in losing weight), Windows and Mac operating systems. Flex 2 is also considerably lighter than Vivofit 3.
Flex 2 also has a rechargeable battery, which most consider an excellent feature as opposed to the once-a-year dispensable one for Vivofit 3.
However, Vivofit 3 also has a few features which make it better than Flex 2, one of which is actually the sole purpose of a fitness tracker – detecting activities. The Garmin Vivofit 3 fitness tracker automatically detects any activity the moment it starts, such as jogging, running or even swimming. And it is exceptionally good at this.In fact, you will begin to appreciate this once you loop in the fact that you have to manually enter data in the other fitness trackers.
In addition, it has higher water resistance thereby shortening the process of having to always take it out and put it back on every time you come across water. Yes, you will be surprised to know that most people do not have time to take their wristbands off when hopping in the shower or washing their hands before a meal. To take comfort in the fact that your fitness tracker will be performing perfectly even after coming into contact with water is a plus for Vivofit 3.
As discussed earlier, Vivofit 3 has an annual battery life with a dispensable battery. As much as many would prefer a rechargeable battery, I would prefer not worrying about charging my tracker for a whole year.
The best feature that makes the Garmin Vivofit 3 completely overshadow the Fitbit Flex 2 is its ability to detect your heart rate. You can actually sync a heart rate monitor to it and exercise without a phone. Vivofit 3 also provides accurate information on calories burnt making it very easy to come up with proper workout and dietary choice plans. It may not be as fashionable looking as the Flex 2, but hey, Vivofit 3 makes up for all that with its amazing specs. What’s more, Vivofit 3 is the best for athletes who use GPS watches as it easily connects to them and can be worn instead of the watch.
Both of these fitness trackers have little to no issues when it comes to synching, the only difference being Flex 2 supports more devices as opposed to Vivofit 3. Otherwise, synching is not a major hurdle.
However, If we were to be unbiased and objective, the Garmin Vivofit 3 is clearly the better pick here. Not only is it less expensive, but it also has two features that most would appreciate in their fitness trackers – the clock display and the ability to track one’s heart rate.
In fact, you don’t have to be a work-out junkie to make the best out of it. For instance, if you have a heart problem, it can help with your recovery by helping ou figure out what activity does what to your heart. FYI, this is just a quick example; there’s no limit to the much you can do with an accurate pulse rate tracker.
Garmin Vivofit 3 all the way!