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  • venu 3 square
    Garmin Venu 3
    Our top pick

    The Garmin Venu 3 is an excellent smartwatch with a crisp AMOLED display. The built-in altimeter can track how many flights of stairs you climb or your elevation during workouts, and you can use your voice assistant directly from your watch.

    • Voice assistant and on-watch calls
    • Altimeter for tracking elevation
    • Jet Lag advisor
    • More expensive
    • Angular bezels
    • Fewer colour options
  • vivoactive 5 square
    Garmin/ Pocket-lint
    Garmin Vivoactive 5
    A great value alternative

    The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a big upgrade, with a beautiful AMOLED display, improved battery life, and a host of features including Sleep Coaching and Nap Detection. It's also very competitively priced.

    • Excellent AMOLED display
    • Excellent price
    • Sleep Coach and Nap Detection
    • No altimeter
    • No voice commands or on-watch calls
    • Aluminium bezel, not stainless steel

Another week, another product release from Garmin. With so many new products being released by the fitness and wearables brand, it can be hard to keep track. The company released two new smartwatches within the space of a month, with the launch of the Garmin Venu 3 being closely followed by the Garmin Vivoactive 5. What's the difference between these two smartwatches, and which one should you choose? We go head-to-head with the Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Venu 3 to help you decide.

Price, availability, & specs

The Garmin Venu 3 launched in August 2023. It's currently available for $449.99/ £449.99 from Garmin or the same price on Amazon. The price is the same for both the 41mm and 45mm models.

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 followed less than a month later, in September 2023, and is available to buy now in the US with a price tag of $299.99/ £259.99. It's available directly from Garmin, or you can find it on Amazon for the same price. You'll have to wait a few weeks for your Vivoactive 5 to ship in the UK.

Let's take a look at some of the key specs to see how the two smartwatches compare:

  • Garmin Venu 3Garmin Vivoactive 5
    Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
    Battery Life14 days11 days
    Onboard GPSYesYes
    Offline Media StorageYesYes
    Health sensorsYesYes
    Dimensions45 x 45 x 12mm, 47g42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1mm, 36g
    AudioOffline music supportOffline music support
    Mobile paymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay

Design and build

It's a strange design quirk that the Venu 3 now looks more like the Vivoactive 4 than the Vivoactive 5. That's because the stainless steel bezel that's been a feature of the two previous Vivoactive models has been replaced with a much more subtle curved aluminium bezel. The switch to aluminium makes the Vivoactive 5 lighter, at 36g with the included band, compared to 47g for the Venu 3.

The Venu 3 is also available in two sizes, at 41mm and 45mm, whereas the Vivoactive 5 ditches the two size options from the Vivoactive 4 and only comes in a 42mm model. The Venu 3 is a fraction thicker, at 12mm, compared to the 11.1mm of the Vivoactive 5.

Another noticeable physical difference between the two smartwatches is that the Venu 3 has three buttons on the right-hand side of the watch, compared to two on the Vivoactive 5. That's because the third button is used to activate your voice assistant on the Venu 3. The Vivoactive 5 doesn't have a microphone or speakers, so there's no support for a voice assistant or making calls from your wrist.

The Vivoactive 5 is available in four colours: Orchid (purple) case and bezel, Slate grey bezel with black case, Cream Gold bezel with white case, and Metallic Navy bezel with navy case. The silicone bands all match the colour of the case. The Venu 3 has fewer colour options; you can choose from a silver stainless steel bezel and white case and silicone band or a Slate (grey) stainless steel bezel with a black case and silicone band.

Displaygarmin venu 3 sleep coach

The display is one of the biggest upgrades in the Vivoactive 5 over its predecessor. It's made the move from a battery-friendly memory-in-pixel (MIP) display to an AMOLED display with an optional always-on mode. In always-on mode, the display is dimmed to a lower level in order to preserve battery life, but when you raise your wrist, the brightness increases to the default level.

This is the same display as in the Venu 3, although the 45mm Venu 3 give you more real estate at 1.4 inches compared to 1.2 inches for the Vivoactive 5. The upgrade to AMOLED is a significant improvement over the Vivoactive 4, making it much easier to read in darker conditions; the displays of both smartwatches look crisp and clear.

Functions and features

Garmin Vivoactive 5
Garmin/ Pocket-lint

The Vivoactive 5 has a huge number of features that are found on the Venu 3, although it's also lost some of the key features from the previous model in order to keep down the price. Both smartwatches have Garmin's Sleep Coach feature, which aims to improve your sleep with recommendations. Both also offer nap detection if you like a little lie down during the day. Recovery time information is also available on both smartwatches, which indicates how long you'll need to recover after an activity. There's also support for a similar range of activities, including open water swimming and a wheelchair mode for tracking pushes rather than steps, as well as popular Garmin features such as Body Battery.

There are some key differences, however. The Venu 3 includes the V5 optical heart rate sensor, compared to the V4 in the Vivoactive 5. Although it's not yet available on the Venu 3, the V5 sensor is capable of taking an ECG, so this may be something that is added in an update.

There's also no altimeter in the Vivoactive 5, which was a feature of the previous model. It means that although the Venu 3 is able to track the number of flights of stairs you've climbed or record your elevation when exercising outdoors, the Vivoactive 5 can't.

As already mentioned, the Venu 3 includes a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing you to use your smartwatch to make or receive calls or to use the voice assistant on your connected smartphone. The Vivoactive 5 doesn't support these features. The Venu 3 also features a Jet Lag Advisor that can inform you of when you're likely to experience jet lag on a journey and can provide advice to minimise the effects, such as when and when not to expose yourself to light and when to go to sleep.


The Garmin Venu 3 has a battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, which drops down to 5 days if you're using the always-on display. When you're using GPS for tracking your activities, you can get up to 26 hours of battery life.

Despite the upgrade to the more power-hungry AMOLED display, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 still sees an increase in battery life over the Vivoactive 4, up from 8 days to 11 days, or 5 days when using the always-on display. You can get up to 21 hours of use between charges when tracking activities with GPS.

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

With Garmin releasing a flurry of new products, it can be hard to keep track. Despite the Vivoactive 5 following hot on the heels of the release of the Venu 3, it's the latter that's the better option. Although the Vivoactive 5 runs it close and has many of the same features as the Venu 3, some key features could be deal breakers for some people, such as being able to make and receive calls on your smartwatch, the ability to track your elevation when you're working out, and longer battery life.

garmin venu 3
Garmin Venu 3
Editor's Choice

A smartwatch that's packed with fitness features, from sleep coaching to jet lag advice.

However, if you're not that fussed about making calls or using a voice assistant on your smartwatch, and the lack of altimeter isn't a big deal, then the Vivoactive 5 is a great smartwatch at a significantly lower price. The new bezel design and range of colours also make it feel a little more fun than the Venu 3, which feels more about function than style.

vivoactive 5 square
Garmin/ Pocket-lint
Garmin Vivoactive 5
A great value alternative

A stylish smartwatch at an excellent price that's still packed with features.