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First Look: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Cellular/LTE (for Verizon)

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Today Garmin begins their journey with cellular enabled wearables, announcing the first such device, the Vivoactive 3 Music Cellular/LTE. Actually, technically it’s called the Garmin Vivoactive 3 connected by Verizon, leaving zero doubts about who exactly it’s available for. And while pricing somehow isn’t yet available, the exact feature differences are clear – and I’ve had a very brief chance to dive into them on a functioning unit.

The watch is at its core a Vivoactive 3 Music – the same watch that started shipping last June with the ability to play music back on your Bluetooth Smart headphones. These new units though simply add another method of interweb connectivity (beyond the existing Bluetooth Smart via your phone options): 4G/LTE connectivity.  With that, the device can essentially perform all the same functions it would normally via your phone’s Bluetooth Smart connections, except now without your phone nearby, over LTE (i.e. you can do live tracking, uploading workouts, updating firmware, etc…)

However, Verizon partnership limitations aside, there are some other downsides to be aware of that may make you think twice about the usefulness of such a device. So, let’s dive into all those below.

First – note, this isn’t a review. It’s as far from a review as you can get. I’ve only played with a beta device and only briefly. I haven’t been able to go out for a run with it, or anything beyond just toying with the new cellular functionality. It’s just a first glance at a trade show (or, a back alley as was the case). Got it? Good. Let’s go.

How it all works:

Now first, if you want this entire post in one tidy little 7-minute and 39-second video, tap the play button below. I demonstrate the cellular emergency contact bits in real-time, as well as the text messaging bits – all over the device’s own LTE connection a mere 7 hours ago:

But, if you don’t want to rush into this relationship that way yet, let’s start with first looks: It’s almost identical. With almost being the key word there. As you may have noticed above, Garmin takes cues from Apple and adds a slight red ring to the right-side button – indicating this is the cellular version.

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You’ll notice if you open the menu that LTE/Cellular connectivity status/signal bars are now shown on the left side. Note that Garmin has *removed* WiFi from this product, LTE takes the place of that. So it’s either LTE or bust for getting music onto the device, somewhat an odd omission.

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Internally, it’s virtually identical to the previous Vivoactive 3 Music, except it got an ALT1210 chipset from Altair, which provides 4G/LTE connectivity. That’s the magic that allows it to hop onto Verizon’s cellular network. Additionally, it has a non-removable SIM card in there. That means it’s not an eSIM, nor is it a removable SIM. Hence why it’s purely a Verizon partnership at this point.  More on that in a bit.  The device requires its own data service plan, which in Verizon’s case falls under their ‘Connected Devices’ plans. However, it’s not 100% clear if there will be any special requirements here; either way, it’s a monthly cost of what looks like $10-$20 for the smallest 2GB package.

In any case, with all that behind us, let’s talk how it works, and first safety assistance features. This allows the user to send an emergency/help message to predefined contacts. So that could be used if you fell on your trail run and need help, or, it could be used if you believe someone is following you that shouldn’t be. To access it you simply hold down the right-side button for about 5-6 seconds. I’ve placed a phone next to it so you can watch the interactions. The phone’s Bluetooth is off, and each device is using their own cellular connection to communicate.

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(Side note: Sorry all these photos are less than ideally lit and are actually just snippets from my video. The CES show doesn’t start till Tuesday, and the parking lot/alley was our best hope for a non-music playing location for the video portion. I’ll get some prettier photos for this post where my camera doesn’t struggle lighting-wise from being in a bad scene of House of Cards, over the next 24 hours. Also, this mostly makes the screen look like crap.)

It’ll then give you a five-second count-down to either cancel the message or send it immediately. At which point it takes your location and sends it via the device’s cellular (4G/LTE) connection to your list of predefined contacts.

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Those contacts then receive a text message from Garmin’s online web service that notifies them of your exact position and that you need help.

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They can click on the link in the message to receive your current position. This position continues to be updated in the background until the watch forcefully stops the emergency alert. So it’s like a tracker of sorts. Note the phone number at the top is just a generic online platform number, and not the contact’s phone number.

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If you click on the first link you’ll get the location the alert was sent from. Whereas the second link will give you the watch wearer’s current/live location (in case they differ).

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Meanwhile, back on the watch, the person will see a little red notification banner at the top. If they tap on that they’ll be given the option to end the emergency alert.

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They can choose one of two options: End it immediately, or end it by telling their contacts they’re OK. Obviously, you’d probably choose the second option. Your predefined contacts then get a notification a moment later.

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All of this is pretty straightforward, but also is fairly binary in terms of what it sends to your contacts. It says you’re in distress with no additional detail. It’s really designed for just emergencies.

Whereas the second feature – regular text messaging – would probably be used for most other scenarios: Such as just wanting to be picked up after you’ve completed a one-way 20mi run or something. This feature allows you to text anyone or any number just like you normally would on your phone, except on the watch face itself (and without your phone needed).

To access this, simply swipe to the right once from your device. That’ll bring up the texting menu to choose a contact/number to send to, or to simply continue to a conversation thread with an existing contact:

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If I choose an existing thread, you’ll see the contents of that thread, as well as the option to reply to that person.

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Then, you can go ahead and select pre-defined messages to send to that person (which you can customize), send them your location, send them an emoji or you can break out the mini-keyboard. Here’s the first two of the pile of pre-canned text messages:

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And here’s a few emoji. Don’t worry, they look way better in person than in the sketchy parking garage:

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And here’s the keyboard. Certainly there’s no part of typing on this keyboard that’s terribly fun. It does have predictive text options, though; it’s essentially like going back to your 1998 Nokia phone. Which is fine, you’re not about to carry out an entire sexting conversation on it, but rather, just to get across some quick details.

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All of this works pretty well. In my brief testing, the messages from the watch to a separate phone were virtually instant.  However, going the other direction did seem to vary a bit more. Sometimes it was instant, and sometimes it took upwards of 30 seconds. It’s not clear if that was service issues, beta issues, or what-not. At this point, I’m not super worried about it.

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So the last piece – music. Unfortunately, the device I had as of Sunday evening didn’t yet have music on it. Instead, that device is on its way later today (Monday), so I’ll be able to demo that then and post an update. However, here’s the skinny in bulleted form:

– Music acts just like before with the Vivoactive 3 Music, except now you can download your music over LTE/cellular (thus, no WiFi is required to download new songs)
– This will support all existing Garmin music providers, including Spotify which is coming shortly
– Like before, you’ll select the playlists/songs you want to download from that music platform, and then the device will download them
– Once downloaded, you can play back via Bluetooth Smart headphones

There is no microphone in the Vivoactive 3 Music Cellular/LTE, and thus, no conversations or the like. So that’s where it differs a fair bit from Apple, but, I suspect that’s also fine. I’ve only ever taken a call once or twice on my cellular-edition Apple Watch. From a sports standpoint I haven’t found that feature as useful. But, to each their own.

However, what is more of an issue in my mind is the lack of true streaming of music. As noted, you to download the music first, then you can play it back. This sounds like a bit of limitation of how the existing music apps work on the Vivoactive 3 (and all Garmin devices), and hopefully is something Garmin can address (it sounds like I’ve got a meeting about that Tuesday morning). This means usefulness from a music standpoint is semi-limited.

If you primarily load music from home, then this probably wouldn’t get you much. Whereas if you travel a lot and are in hotels with protected WiFi hotspots, this would be a benefit for you. For example, here in Las Vegas at CES, all WiFi hotspots are protected – so either you’d have to download new music from your phone’s portable hotspot, or you’d be out of luck. With this cellular Vivoactive 3, you could do that over regular cellular networks instead.

Oh – one fairly useful scenario here is the race tracking one. The unit fully supports Garmin’s Live Tracking functionality over 4G/LTE without your phone needed, so you can go for a race and have it automatically notify your contacts and let them see your exact position. After the race you could use the text messaging functions to find your family/friends and meet back up again.

Beyond what I’ve described above – everything else is the same in the Vivoactive 3 in terms of functionality. No additional workout modes or features or such.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’m sure there’s bound to be plenty of questions about this device, and most of them probably not fitness focused. Here’s what I figure will be the most common questions. I’ll keep adding to this over time.

How much will it cost?

Garmin hasn’t announced the cost yet. The current Vivoactive 3 Music sits at $299, so my guess would be no less than that. I can’t imagine they’d charge any more than Apple would in terms of difference between cellular and non-cellular ($100 price jump). Though given Apple has more advanced cellular functionality in terms of microphones/speakers that Garmin doesn’t have, I don’t think a $100 price jump is valid.

When will it be available?

Sometime in Q1 2019 – so, before March 31st, 2019 in theory. I suspect Garmin will use every bit of that timeframe, though, I could be wrong.

What carriers does it support?

Just Verizon. Only Verizon. Did I mention just Verizon? The unit is technically called the ‘Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Connected by Verizon’, so…yeah.

When will it support other carriers/countries?

Garmin hasn’t announced any plans there. And that’s probably going to be a tough and long road. Like Apple, each carrier has to be ‘dealt’ with individually (connectivity pricing, activation, etc…), and as such that’s a slow process. Unlike Apple, Garmin simply doesn’t have the leverage over those carriers that Apple does with Apple Watch. And remember, even the Apple Watch cellular variant isn’t available in many countries.

What happens if I travel outside the US with it?

The non-cellular functions will continue to work (GPS, Bluetooth Smart, downloaded music, etc…), but the cellular-specific functions won’t work. Since it doesn’t have WiFi though, you wouldn’t be able to download music outside the US with it.

Does the device have an eSIM?

No, it has a non-removable SIM tied to the carrier’s networks (Verizon). My guess here as to why they went this way is that it was a relatively well known ‘good’ in terms of connectivity onto Verizon – but also perhaps onto other carriers down the road. Whereas an eSIM does increase the logistical provisioning challenges for most carriers, even if it’s technically better.

A removable sim, on the other hand, is more appealing to most consumers, but also increases waterproofing challenges (this device is waterproofed to 50m), as well as usually slightly increases the size more.

Does it have its own phone number?

Yes, it does by default. However, Verizon users can have it provisioned to share their phone’s number so that texts go to both places.

Can I download music over cellular/LTE?

Yes, you’ll do so just like you did before over WiFi, except it’ll simply use that cellular connection instead.

Can I stream music over cellular/LTE?

No, at this point you have to pre-download it (via cellular/LTE) before you can press play. This seems to be a limitation of the current Garmin music app architecture, which was based on the notion of WiFi download. I expect this will change, and is something I’m discussing with Garmin in a meeting on Tuesday. So stay tuned there.

Will Spotify be available for it?

Yes, and Garmin has committed to that in their press release.

Will Spotify be available for existing Vivoactive 3 Music folks?

Yes, a variant of the app that was released for the Fenix 5 Plus series and Garmin Forerunner 645 Music will shortly be released for the Vivoactive 3 Music. It sounds like this is a very near-term thing in the final testing/certification phases, though no exact date/day was given.

Does the Vivoactive 3 Music have a microphone on it?

No, and as such you can’t do calling on it – even with Bluetooth headphones that may support calling. No calling related functions are built into it. When I asked why not have microphones on it, Garmin says that they selected to keep the Vivoactive 3 Music LTE a “data only device”, “in order to keep the device as small as possible”.

Where will it be sold?

Current plan is from Verizon itself, as well as authorized Verizon retailers. It sounds like there may be some other options beyond that – but for now, that’s the plan.

When will you post an in-depth review?

This is semi-tricky. First, Garmin has to finalize the device’s hardware/software. And then, we can get to the second part: A review. Given I don’t live in the US, that’s a bit trickier since it wouldn’t work overseas. Still, I’m often in the US, and perhaps the timing will work out for a review down the road.

Will my existing Vivoactive 3 now work on cellular?

No, this requires additional hardware inside that enables it to connect to cellular networks.

What’s the battery life like?

Garmin states battery life as 5 days in smartwatch mode and 4hrs while in a workout with GPS + Music + Livetrack over LTE/4G (so basically the works). It’s got higher battery life if you’re not using all of those features concurrently. This is though a drop in battery life from the Vivoactve 3 Music.

When will Garmin make other 4G/LTE enabled watches?

I don’t know. But I suspect this won’t be the last watch. At the same time, I also don’t expect we’ll see a rush of other watches either. It’s going to take some time for Garmin to figure out all the kinks (mostly logistical/procedural) for this product before they probably apply those learnings to other devices.

What else is Garmin announcing at CES 2019?

There’s no other fitness/outdoor related announcements at CES for Garmin. There may be some non-fitness device stuff (automotive or cars or boats or planes or something), but I don’t follow/care about those things.

Wrap Up:

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As most expected, Garmin’s first foray into connected wearables wouldn’t be a problem solver for everyone. Transitioning to making devices compatible with the world’s telecom companies and networks is incredibly difficult. Not so much for the technical challenges, but for the political aspects of convincing and working with carriers. Hence why we see Garmin focusing on a single carrier in a single country. Frankly put: Garmin isn’t Apple, and can’t strongarm carriers to support their devices overnight at their whims.

Of course, technology moves quickly – and thus I see this as Garmin’s first swing at things, hardly the end state. The company wouldn’t comment on what, if any, other carriers globally they’d be partnering with. Nor of course are there any prices specified here. We don’t know if they’re going to go with an Apple-like $100 device cost bump between the non-cellular and cellular watch versions, or something more reasonable like $50. Personally, I think an extra $100 bump would be a deal killer. Garmin simply doesn’t have the cellular-focused features to warrant that. But that’s just my two cents.

In any case – I’m looking forward to digging into the watch more down the road once it’s ready. At present, Garmin has only defined that timeframe as “Q1 2019”, which stretches from last week till the end of March 2019. I expect Garmin will probably use every bit of runway possible on this one. Just my gut feeling (which, I could be wrong about).

With that – thanks for reading and feel free to drop any questions down below!

Follow along on Twitter for all the latest news from CES 2019, plus subscribe on YouTube where I’ll be putting out more content than usual from CES this year!

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100 Comments

  1. the5krunner (tfk)

    Assistance and incident detection with an SMS being sent?

  2. Matthew B.

    Is it just me, or does this feel very “Forerunner 225”-esque? In that this is just a hold over product until a real, designed-from-the-ground-up-around-LTE watch launches this summer/fall?

    • Sorta but not entirely. This watch has been in development for a long time, so in a sense it’s built on the Vivoactive 3 for that purpose – but it’s also what probably make the most sense.

      I do agree that eventually Garmin will age past the Vivoactive 3 to a new generation, but it’s sorta one of those cases of you’ve either gotta crap or get off the pot.

    • Raul

      Interesting comment, the 225 did indeed come to mind when reading this article. As a side note it’s too bad they moved away from the Philips sensor because their Elevate solution simply cannot be relied upon to provide meaningful data.

    • The challenge with the Philips sensor (aside from the licensing cost) was simply the poor battery life for 24×7 tracking (basically, nonexistant).

    • gingerneil

      Agreed.. replace “quick, get an HR sensor into something” with “quick, slap a SIM in it”.

  3. Adam

    So I shouldnt expect a 945 or any new Fenix just yet then. Sigh

    By the way a small super picky / non-important editing point. Should “Will my existing Vivoactive 3 now work on cellular?” be bolded too as its another question.

  4. Raul

    Thanks for the review, a bit “meh” without any calling options, even over BT. A connected FR935 would be the only reason for me to upgrade from my FR935+Phone combo.

    A typo I think towards the end “But I suspect this won’t be the first watch”, where it should probably be “But I suspect this won’t be the LAST watch”.

    • Yeah, I think it’s mostly just a case of having to start somewhere. The Vivoactive 3 is a relatively safe watch to start on, with mass market appeal. Whereas a Fenix/Foreunner Tri watch requires more of an international uplift side of it.

  5. Re, text messaging from the watch, you said, “This feature allows you to text anyone or any number just like you normally would on your phone, except on the watch face itself (and with your phone needed).”

    Did you mean with your phone *not needed? If your phone is needed, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a watch like this?

  6. Frank B.

    Any ideas when the new Edge 10xx will be released?
    This year, next year- what do you think?

    • Generally speaking we see things tied to Eurobike/Interbike. I don’t know about a new Edge 1030 – I think something like the Edge 520/Plus is in more of a need of a refresh than an Edge 1030.

  7. Michael Prytherch

    #Disappointed to be honest… it is effectively just cellular data link like a Kindle or TomTom SatNav, this means I still have to take my phone with me if I want to be contactable, so what’s the point of having it ? I have the Apple Watch Cellular which is brilliant as I can go out without my phone, listen to music etc., but as we know it just sucks somewhat as a workout device.

    • ryanovelo

      Not sure which post you read but you are fully contactable via text message. Just not calling.

    • As Ryan notes, no need for phone on you. You can text fully from the device itself. You can’t take voice calls, but most of the time taking voice calls on your wrist looks/feels awkward anyway.

    • As an Apple Watch user, I have to say I disagree a bit. It’s unusual to take calls on your wrist, but when I do it, I do it because it’s more convenient at that moment than grabbing my phone. That’s the great thing about Apple Watch, the little things it does that add up throughout the day. I don’t intentionally make calls on my watch as opposed to my phone, but when you’re in a pinch and a call comes in that you need to pick up, answering on your wrist is the better option sometimes. Also, if you have a spouse and little kids, and both parents have Apple Watches, the new Walkie Talkie app can be very useful (and fun).

    • Michael Prytherch

      Ummm…. Am I supposed to give a different number out to everyone on my contacts… Excuse me… on the off chance I am out on my bike or running or walking the dog, please text me on this other number… I will text you to let you know, really !!!! you telling me you would be happy to have a 2nd number that people needed to use to contact you, lets get serious here.

    • Edward S Raybould

      Ray covered this in the FAQ. By default it has its own number, but if your main phone is through Verizon, it looks like this watch can be provisioned with the same number. Verizon calls this NumberShare.

    • Tyler

      Here’s the link to how texting works, depending on your carrier and operating system:

      link to buy.garmin.com

    • Andrew M

      What about voice calls with a BT headset?

    • Michael Prytherch

      But it doesn’t mention sending texts with the same number, I admit this isn’t as important as receiving but still…. and no voice… Apple have set the bar here, Garmin have given a 1/2 way house and it is poor, Apple have shown you can get full integration and it works very well, I would of purchased one of these if the integration was as good as Apple Watch, but as it stands today I seen zero reason to buy one over the standard watch.

    • The short version here is that if you’re an Apple-central user with iMessage, the experience will suck. No matter how someone paints it, it’ll suck. And honestly, it’s not actually Garmin’s fault. It’s Apple’s, they’re blocking it.

      As of today, only the Apple Watch is allowed to utilize iMessage to send messages. So while you can be an Apple device user with a shared number, iMessage won’t see that, since it sends it at the internet data layer, rather than as a legit telecom text message. So Garmin recommends turning iMessage off, to force those messages to be delivered to both locations via regular text.

      If you’re an Android user, it won’t much matter, since you don’t have iMessage. So all’s the same there.

      I think this will be a key sticking point in the usefulness of texting on a device like this, since I’m certainly not going to turn off iMessage, just like I’m also not going to bother giving out a second number. We aren’t back in the 1980’s with pagers again.

    • JR

      Most Verizon Android users I know use the Verizon Messages app, which also works at the internet data layer. I’m not going to quit doing that and lose the ability to text on airplanes or from my ipad or desktop.

  8. Greg

    What about live streaming/tracking a race? I want this feature for two and only two things

    1. Text Messaging for ermergency or pickup
    2. Live streaming races/runs so my wife knows where I am

  9. James

    I’m wondering what affect does this cellular addition have on battery life? Is the cellular data always on? It would seem to need to be in order to be effective for text messaging.

  10. Stephen

    Nice! I’ll be patiently awaiting the 745 or 945 with cellular later this year, hopefully before fall marathon training long-runs start 🙂 The main thing I want is live tracking/emergency button to keep the wife happy on longer runs without needing to drag the phone along.

    One question I have, as an iPhone user, is how will this work with iMessage? Not well I assume? If I got one and had it provisioned to share my normal number, any texts I get from people (with iPhones) will go out as iMessages, not SMS, thus not get forwarded to the watch? I guess I’d be better off keeping this with it’s own number and only sharing it with a few key people for emergencies?

    Thanks!

    • I’ll try and find someone that has a shared number and see how it works on iMessage.

    • Garmin-Blake

      Please reference the FAQ below for information on how to use this device with your iPhone. There will be limitations for users who are using iMessage.

      link to support.garmin.com

    • ekutter

      Thanks Garmin-Blake for chiming in here. Always good to see that someone official from Garmin is reading these reviews.

      So basically it works just fine with the iPhone as long as you turn off iMessage. For the most part, that probably isn’t much of an issue since pretty much everyone has unlimited messages compared to the old days where they cost 10 to 20 cents. Would really only be an issue if you have a non-LTE iPad or a mac that you also want to receive messages on. Also could be an issue for foreign traveling and remote locations where you have wifi but no LTE.

    • Jesper

      I’m sorry, but this is a HUGE issue. You then have to turn off iMessage on your macbook and ipad too. ALL of them, if you have more.
      But to be fair to Garmin, it’s more a flaw in iMessage. Apple ought to make a iMsg “master-device” and only mark iMsg’s delivered, if it on that device. Been tricked several times while travling to countries with poor roaming agreements. If you leave the ipad behind on hotel wifi and on the go with no data on the phone, iMsg sux….

  11. DLinLV

    Thanks Ray, will consider it when they add this function to a 935 model. Maybe wont happen, but nothing I need yet.

    I’ll be at Sands on level 2 taking in the show on Tues and Weds. Will say hey if I see you zipping by.

  12. gingerneil

    An interesting first toe in the water for Garmin. You have to start somewhere… I wonder if one of the Verizon network techies is a triathlete…. 🙂
    I STILL just want to replace my ipod shuffle with a small *wired* device that will stream (or locally sync) Google Play Music and last for 15-20 hours.
    Looking at you Pebble Core!
    Why cant I buy something like that ? I’ve looked at the Jelly Pro mini android phone – but unsure…

    • Chris

      Mighty Audio, although it’s Spotify, not Google Play Music, and ~5 hours, not 15-20. Size of a shuffle, and looks like one too.

    • Greg

      Get a fenix 5+, I had mighty and wouldn’t last a marathon. Love the garmin music.

      I think this is to get out tech and work out the kinks…almost a public beta. I don’t think most serious athletes need it to do voice. Text and garmin live tracking work,

      Plus…streaming music a joke. Just do Spotify offline with garmin music. What’s the difference and you won’t be eating battery.

      For those with fenix 5+ watches, you know the music actually isn’t that bad…and will get better, so lte would be nice for an emergency or tracking. I won’t be taking phone calls on my runs anytime soon, nor do I want to as it’s nice to disconnect.

    • gingerneil

      I’ve looked at Mighty and its no good for me as I’m not a spotify user.
      Get google music onto the garmin and I will look to upgrade to the 945 Music (when it appears – surely it will).
      I had a fenix 3 and it was way too big and bulky for my running – so went to the 935 and don’t want to go back to a bigger watch.
      There would still be the issue of needing BT headphones – most only seem to last for 5 hours – so that battery limit remains!

  13. Justin

    No other fitness watches/devices for CES, I’m kinda surprised, the top end watches are going on two years (the fenix 5 plus line only exists to fix to radio problems they created). Does this mean tech right AFTER ces? (like February)

  14. Nemo

    You didn’t mention anything with regards to waterproofing. I assume it can get wet (in the rain) but you wouldn’t want to swim with it?
    This is getting a lot closer to what I’ve wanted in a “connected” sports watch. Being able to deal with an emergency and/or notify a loved one where I am on long weekend workouts or races without having to carry my phone everywhere has been on my want list since I first strapped on a running watch.

  15. Andreas

    Hi. What a pity, no other announcements at CES. Are there any updates/ announcements expected in the near future for Forerunner series like Forerunner 45 or 245? Thanks 🙏

  16. kevin mcgovern

    Thanks for the comprehensive review of the oSync navi 2 Coach ages ago.

    I have been researching bike comps “other” than the usual (garmin, etc) to find an alternative.

    I had an 800 which was ok but the charge input went wonky.

    Then got an 820 bundle last year and it was nothing but trouble from day one. Cadence and speed never seemed to tally (auto sensors not magnets). When In the end the HR went completely dead I lost patience totally.

    I corresponded with Garmin support for months and got nowhere. They kept sending one line questions for me to answer and send back, probably designed to exhaust my patience which it did. Everything of a problem that I informed them of they just kept asking the same questions again and again. Nothing was resolved. The unit was replaced by the retailer for a new one but the same problems persisted so I got a refund and have not had a good comp since.

    Sorry for the Garmin rant but it still rankles me.

    I have been wondering about the oSynch navi 2 coach possibilities BUT:-

    Question: Is the oSynche navi 2 coach still in production. Their website states it is not currently available. Why would a company that manufactures and/or sells a product do this? Surely they must have them unless stopped production.

    If they are ended then it may not be wise to pay so much for an obsolete item.

    By the way, in your review you mentioned the auto pause function being the same as the “break” one. However there does not appear to be a “set lowest speed ” configuration part to set it to stop recording speed when slowing at e.g. lights, on the free PC software. Can you help please.

    Kev

  17. Eric Poulin

    Ray, would you know if Garmin has any plan to had support for Google Play Music for the Vivo3 Music? I know spotify is not even there but in case you would have heard rumbling you could be allowed to share….

    • Tyler

      I second this.

      Also, what’s the price, Garmin-Blake?

    • Greg

      Does any non google device support google music? Maybe sonos, but no wearables. Plus Spotify is Much bigger and cross platform,

      Least be happy they have Spotify as that was almost never gonna happen

    • Tyler

      Greg, while I agree that Spotify is much bigger, Google isn’t trying to build a walled garden for their service, like Apple does.
      Google Play Music (a terrible service name) can be used on any (non-wearable) device, including iPhones, and on any BT speakers, if not natively, by Chromecast.

      The only non-Garmin wearable I’m aware of that allows streaming (or downloading from a streaming service) of any music service is Samsung Galaxy watches, with Spotify, and that’s very recent.

    • Sorry, slight delay of game on responses on this post. Comment notifications had got funneled off to a folder and I completely missed them.

      I don’t think any other streaming service is ‘off the table’ at this point, from Garmin’s perspective. They’ve got someone onboard who’s entire job in life is working with these companies’s repsective streaming partnership teams (Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc…). And it sounds like they maintain contact with all of them. How and whether that labor fruits anything, will remain to be seen…

  18. Erik B.

    – The fact that it’s not e-SIM, but real SIM is a disappointment.

    But more interesting is the used technology. Does it use full LTE or any of the narrow-band technologies, like NB-IoT or LTE-M (I think Verizon has committed itself to NB-IoT)? Any narrow-band technology would make sense, as it then hardly uses any battery and can be on 24/7. BTW, Ray, do you know of any development in that direction? Of course, real time music streaming might be difficult, but all other use cases (and a lot of new ones) can then be realized.

  19. Fred Smith

    Sounds like a good first step, though the removal of Wifi is just a weird choice.

    I don’t get why they can’t make calls if the bluetooth headset has an inbuilt microphone. I would find this much easier than trying to type an sms on the keyboard.Garmin already has a list of ‘recommended’ headphones.

  20. Gabe

    As someone who has an Apple watch series 4 SS with LTE activated I am finding very little usage of mobile service only because i often already load up music via apple music and the connection on the watch seems to suffer where i live (Los Angeles).

    I will say it’s not worth the $10 a month premium.

    Most places i am with my iphone. Be it cycling. And if im running without a phone not taking phone calls is a big loss IMO.

    hat feature is actually most useful.

  21. Gonzalo

    Ray

    Why Garmin does not use an e-sim? Is it more difficult ?

    • Yeah, I talked to them a bit about this. It’s partly because of where they started the project and the tech available. And partly due to just getting something out into the market that would be accepted. eSim increases complexities for many other telecom partners, versus an embedded SIM.

      I don’t think there’s any doubt’s that’s where things are going, but it’s tougher for a Garmin to wrestle with telecom’s than it is for an Apple. Heck, even here in the Netherlands I still can’t get an Apple Watch Cellular edition if I wanted.

  22. Jesper

    I hope this “reply to text” function finally finds it way to other current Garmin devices. Like the EDGE’s and VA3 (music/non-music). Not in the form of a LTE variant, but using bluetooth and the phone. So a software update.

    It’s been on my wish list for a long time now… It really sux to have to stop and pull out the phone, when you have a “big” touch screen right there in front of you….

    Knowing Garmin, they might wanna say “You must buy the new version, to get this feature”, but with the expected poor adaption rate of “Garmin LTE”, it would not be a fair selling point….

    Do you know Ray or can you poke Blake or Carly pls.

  23. Tony

    Really is a half baked cake, not sure why they don’t bring a mature product to the market , more people i know in the local community are over the issues Garmin are delivering with newly released products and switching out to competitors

  24. simon gordon

    but can it make and receive phone calls ? if not then i still have to carry my phone and then i might as well just use my phone data connection…

  25. John

    If Garmin wants more of a ‘smartwatch’, why not have more functions standard for most smartwatches? Rather than the limited and expensive Verizon only LTE connectivity, why not have just WiFi? Why not include a speakerphone and a microphone? The watch is so light it would not have been that heavy with those options included. Basic smartwatches have these features. I have worn the VA3 as my daily driver this last year, and I see nothing appealing about this new product. Garmin, if you’re listening, I’m disappointed. Its just my opinion and do not mean any offense to anyone interested in this.

  26. sal

    Oh Garmin! You don’t make my decision easier!

    I’m a runner (no bike, no swim). Actually I’m using a FR 935 with the RD Pod and often the Humon Hex Sensor.
    And as I like to listen to music (mostly streaming or radio, no playlists) while running, I wear also my AW4.
    Too many gadgets!!
    My hopes were set in this new Garmin-watch. But …

    no strava segments
    no running dynamics
    no music-streaming
    no LTE for Europe

    So I keep running like… Ray 🙂 with several Gadgets *lol* and keep waiting. Maybe for a FR 945 LTE or a Fenix 6 with LTE 🙂

    PS: yes I know… 645 Music or Fenix Plus, but no streaming.

  27. inSyt

    So in a couple of years from now, Verizon can charge whatever they want and will probably get away with it as WiFi has being removed?

  28. Brian Thompson Thompson

    So – Let me get this straight…are all connected features only available with a Verizon subscription? So if I don’t pay Verizon a monthly fee then the distress message, the music downloading, the Garmin Live connect…all of that is unavailable???
    If that’s correct then wow….not a good deal. I do like the colors though!

  29. Jesper

    Price in now online. 399 usd
    link to buy.garmin.com

  30. Paul

    I can’t see this ever getting outside of the USA.

    Even in the UK which has huge amounts of Banking competition, only a handful of banks support Garmin Pay. I can’t see any of the cellular (or mobile to UK readers) companies taking this product on, most of the networks don’t even know what “a garmin” is. 🙁

  31. Justin

    Verizon is CDMA and the rest of the world is GSM for the most part so there’s that.

  32. Hussam

    As far as I know, most cellular wearables that share your Primary device phone number cannot roam internationally.

    So while you can travel to another State where Verizon network is available, traveling abroad will not work for the watch. (You can only use Bluetooth, WiFi, but no 3G/LTE)

    I appreciate if you can confirm with Garmin.

    I can’t wait to have eSIM-enables Fenix series.

  33. Nick

    Does anyone know if there will be a successor to the Vivoactive 3 music this year?

    Living in Europe I know I won’t be able to get the Vivoactive 3 music connected by Verizon which leaves me with the VA3M which was released last year. I am wondering if I should hold off on getting it if a newer model could be released in Q3/Q4 this year.

    • Jesper

      I’m sure Ray know, but I’m also pretty sure he can’t tell 🙂

      But Garmin run more than a year between major updates. The VA3M is just a “facelifted” update to the VA3. Like this LTE upgrade.

      So to get a feel for the release cycle, you should probably look at the time between the original VivoActive, the VivoActive HR and the current VA3.

      I seem to remember buying my VA-HR start 2016. The first VA3 is from Sep 2017 and the original VA from Jan 2015. So some 14-16 month between…. I’d guess start 2020 before we see a VivoActive 4…. But the ones that know, probably won’t confirm or deny….

  34. Zach

    Shouldn’t all fenix owners be outraged that after paying premium money for their device that Garmin has debuted music and now LTE (heartrate too?) on lower end devices? I’m smart enough to know you make Vivo too, Garmin! lol

    • Zach

      Quote:
      DC Rainmaker

      January 7, 2019 at 10:38 am #13

      Yeah, I think it’s mostly just a case of having to start somewhere. The Vivoactive 3 is a relatively safe watch to start on, with mass market appeal. Whereas a Fenix/Foreunner Tri watch requires more of an international uplift side of it.

    • I’d really repeat this part over and over again:

      “Yeah, I think it’s mostly just a case of having to start somewhere.”

      Garmin repeated this numerous times as well. The Vivoactive lineup is their mass market device. It’s a device they can pitch more easily to carriers than a $700 watch. After all, these carriers have watches from Apple, Samsung, etc.. on display at the $300-$400 price point. Throwing a Garmin in at $700 is honestly a non-starter for any meaningful sales.

  35. David Tucker

    This is actually something really interesting. First on your comment about the voice calling on the Apple Watch. I totally agree with you, personally, that there’s no value there for me. However my wife is a doctor and got the Apple Watch solely to have it when she is out running and on call. She can leave her phone at home and go for a run much easier than she could with the phone. She bought it after one of her other doctor friends who also is a runner said that was why he had it. So while definitely a very specific use case…a great one for Apple.

    On the flip side, I think the Garmin functionality is better. I can use it even without having Verizon. I don’t use an iPhone. I don’t want to talk on it. I actually didn’t even think I would even really care about it until I was out for a run this morning and tripped on a crack and lost my keys in the process. I had no phone, no keys, and if my neighbor’s nanny hadn’t found our spare key, I’d still be outside on the front porch bleeding 8D If I’d had a watch that I could send a text to my wife in that situation, that would be great. And it does livetracking which the Apple Watch can’t do either.

    I’d actually take livetracking for a fitness product over voice calling any day (obviously Apple’s watch isn’t solely a fitness product) and will seriously consider this watch when it comes out. I’ll still need a Fenix/935 for triathlon and I’m a bit concerned about the poor battery life on this thing but if this is only a device I’d use when out for runs, I don’t ever have training sessions long enough for it to matter.

    • David Tucker

      Also, for the record, someone found my keys and took them to the JCC since they had my gym tag on it so I did get them back too. 8)

  36. jack

    Is Garmin going to hold of on releasing Spotify for the existing VA3M until the LTE model is available?

  37. hermot

    Do you have any idea if watch faces will be able to do background communications over LTE?
    Have you tried copying a watch face from another device, like the 3M, onto your 3M LTE to see if features like weather or any other online service works?

  38. Mark

    This is available today (not in any of my local stores though, only by ordering).

    $399.99 straight up
    $349.99 with a 2 year contract
    $16.66/month for 24 months ($399.84 total)

  39. Adam

    Quick question about the Garmin Pay feature i couldn’t find an answer to anywhere – assuming your bank and retailer support it, could you pay with your watch without having your phone on you? Or does Garmin pay require a Bluetooth connection to your phone?

    Also Verizon now has a cheaper data plan just for this watch – $5/month for 250mb.

    Thanks for the excellent review! Still on the fence about this or waiting for the possibility of a FR245 with LTE.

    • Edward Raybould

      I have Garmin Pay on my Garmin fenix 5X+. Once it’s been set up on the watch you don’t need the phone at all, and I’ve used mine away from the phone. Just input your PIN and wave your watch over the pay terminal. If I recall you’ll use your phone (Garmin Connect Mobile) initially to set up Garmin Pay.

    • Adam

      Huh – so you can leave your phone at home and pay with your watch without a data connection? That’s neat. I assumed you needed some sort of data connection to use it.

    • Edward Raybould

      That’s correct. Most recently I used it at a vending machine that takes credit cards but also supports contactless payments. I had left my phone at my work desk and I was definitely outside of Bluetooth range. The data connection in this case is the one that the merchant has to their card processing company. Using your watch is equivalent to making a purchase with a physical card and swiping/inserting.

    • Jesper N

      Just to be clear. You don’t need at connection on your side. The Garmin Wallet will create an virtual credit card in the watch and it does everything via NFC when paying.

    • Adam

      Awesome. Makes sense now that I think about it like there is a digital card in the watch. Thanks for the replies!

  40. Ali

    Hey Ray,
    any news on a UK release of this watch? Been waiting patiently for ages now! Or even better LTE into any FRs?

    Thanks

  41. Willy

    Have you heard anything new on the cellurar options on garmin or any other device (besides apple)?
    For me, the next big step would be to leave my phone at home, being able to receive/make calls and listening to music. I just want only one device. Especially in summer, the cell´s just a pain in the… so, the upcomming apple watch and finally some esim providers here in Austria will do the trick. –> bye Garmin … (maybe – besides — I really hate garmins software bugs … its not pretty and sometimes really frustrating)