Forerunner 235, Vivoactive 3, or A.N Other?

portlandersportlanders ✭✭✭
I need a watch / tracker to replace my samsung gear fit2 which has terrible battery drain and i fear won't last a half-marathon distance.

Apart from the battery drain i really like the watch/tracker, and use the following features daily - sleep tracker, steps, hm, running, notifications (email / calls / text / facebook, etc) so would like to see these in the new watch which would also have a much improved battery life, have some water resistancy to say 50m (salt water if poss), and have the ability to sync to strava.

My budget is around the £200 mark, I would have liked some music storage but wouldn't give-up the quality of the above preference for that, and so think that's above my budget.

So from my research todate i've come up with 2 options, the forerunner 235 and the vivoactive 3 - both garmins. I'm tending to favour the vivoactive as it seems to encompass more with still a decent battery suitable i think for say a marathon run (my ultimate goal). I like the round dials on these in preference to the fitbit ionic which again i would put appearance before the ability to store music as the watch will be for everyday wear.

Anyone have a preference over these 2 models, or perhaps can suggest an alternative?

Thanks in advance


  • PeersPeers ✭✭✭
    I had the vivoactive 3 briefly, but it froze on me and wouldn't come back to life.  The shop didn't have a replacement so I got a refund.  That isn't the experience everybody has with the device though.  It was a good watch up to that point.

    I currently have the Fenix 5 and 100% recommend it, but it may be stretching the budget a little.  Battery life of over a week even with using the GPS 7 hours+ a week.  Have had it last 10 days+ when doing less running.  The Vivoactive 3 lasted around 4 days with a few hours GPS use during that time.

    The 235 seems a good solid watch.  It's been out for more than 2 years now and expect a replacement will be on the way soon.  It was on my shortlist, but the only thing that stopped me was the styling.  I wanted something I could happily wear all day and didn't look like a sports watch.

    I'd recommend checking out DCRainmaker reviews if you have not seen them already, as they are probably the most in-depth out there;

    Vivoactive 3 -

    Forerunner 235 -
  • I have the vivoactive 3.. I got it about ,4 months ago.. at first I thought it was awful and too complicated to figure out how to work everything out.
    But as time has gone by, and as I am training for next weekends marathon I have found it invaluable. It does take a minute or so to find the GPS signal, but once found I haven't found any issues. There are masses of stats to be mulled over from your runs if you download everything via playstores connect.
    Before any big run using GPS I always charge up the battery, and have found no problems even with being out four a four hour run.
    I do find that the first 10 minutes of a run my heart rate goes really high, and is wrong...
    The watch gets charged up really fast, about 45 minutes unlike the older Garmin's which take hours to charge.
    The watch face can be changed to whatever face you want, including day and date.
    My old Garmin's watch strap broke and the watchstrap couldn't be changed but with the vivoactive 3 you can change the watchstrap, without having to bin the watch.
  • Many thanks for the comments, I went in to Currys yesterday and got the chance to see the watches in the flesh, tried the fitbit iconic which was comfortable - wasn't allowed to try the VA3 unless i bought it first - i could have then opened the box, tried it on, and if not liked it got a refund..... seemed a bit of a pathetic system to me.... so when i got home i ordered the VA3 from Amazon, at least there i can give it a couple of weeks use before deciding if i like it or not... cheaper from Amazon too, just a couple of quid over budget.... look forward to trying it out and will report back how it goes.
  • PeersPeers ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Hope it works out well for you. I did like the watch while I had it.

    Came here to post the 235 is currently £140 on Sports Direct, but I guess you don’t need it now
  • Cheers Peers, i'll see how i get on with this one. The 235 i ruled out as i'm used to a touch-screen, could just see me hitting the watch face of it wondering why it won't respond lol
  • I would recommend Forerunner 235, I did a heap of research and that came out as the best low-cost running watch for me. Vivoactive looked nice, especially if you like having more smart watch features, but the touch screen and higher price were downsides for me.

    I recommend the Runner Window Connect IQ app if you go with a garmin watch, it's an activity screen that shows all the useful running data on one screen (cadence, average pace, current pace, HR, time, distance, battery etc).
  • Well, been a week since i got the VA3, and wow! so much better than my previous gear fit2 - primary reason for change was the battery life, where the gear fit2 would barely last a half marathon distance whilst the VA3 takes only about 20-25% juice over that distance. I also find it lighter and a more pleasing design overall being that i use this as my everyday watch.
    Still got lots of options and settings to figure out, but have installed a custom timing screen that NicBathgate recommended, thanks fella, it shows everything i need on the one screen and is easy to read.. Brilliant!.

    Just like you say Dave turpitt, it's a hell of a learning curve, but i'm enjoy finding out how to do more things, but yeah well impressed, even got a pack of glass screen protectors (don't even use these for my mobile) but want to ensure i protect this beauty. 
  • Apologies for the thread revival but does anyone know of any good deals on the 235 at the moment? I see Blacks have it for £185, but the £140 Sport Direct deal mentioned above has expired now.

    My Fitbit Surge has always been a little unsatisfying as a running watch, so I'm looking to change (and the Surge is falling to bits so I have an excuse). I don't want to spend as much as £350 on a Garmin 645, but I think I would use a bit more functionality than the Garmin 35 provides. I am aware the 235 is getting a bit old now so am wary of "over paying" for it only to find out the "245" is released very soon.

    I would prefer Garmin as I have an Edge 520 for cycling so am already familiar with how Garmins work, although I wouldn't completely discount a TomTom or a Polar (I used to have an "old fashioned Polar HRM 15+ years ago which lasted me for ages until I replaced with the Fitbit Surge).

    Thanks in advance.
  • FWIW, I bought a second-hand 235 from a regular on another forum I use. But I noticed that Amazon Prime day has the 235 for £155 today if anyone is looking for one.
  • I've just ordered a 235 from Wiggle.
  • I brought a watch last year, although it seems to be mostly the same models doing the rounds as there are now. In the end, I thought about what I really wanted and it was a running watch rather than an all around fitness watch.

    I went with the Polar M430 and really please and it is really good with being able to easily customise runs to do interval training, run to pace targets etc. The GPS is good and it is quite affordable. It has one of the best HR tracking on it which is also really useful for training. All this has kept me stick with the running. I've also supplemented it with a Milestone Pod to get a it more accurate live pace reading.

    I'm really happy with the battery life and don''t need to charge it often and had no issues with the quality of the watch, whereas I had heard of quite a few issues with Garmin models waterproofness etc.

    It does sleep tracking, though not as much detail about deep sleep as a fitbit, and tracks activity towards a 100% goal. And I figured if all that side of it becomes more important to me, then I could just get a MiBand 2 for £20; but it hasn't become that important to me.

    The main two negatives for me are that it is pretty average looking, not something I would want to wear all the time; however, for me that isn't a problem once I decided that I was really only interested in wearing a watch for running and I like to wear my nice watch that was a gift from my wife anyway. The other is than in an ideal world it would have music on it as I didn't want to run with my phone. I fixed that as I have a tiny mp3 player that I run with using an armband.

    Each to their own and all that, but thought would add my perspective.
  • Adding to an old post, sorry. I currently have a TomTom Sport Cardio, but the heart rate monitor seems to have died. Also, not happy about a couple of other things, but one great thing about it for me is that the display digits are big so I can read it without my glasses.
    I have been looking at the Forerunner 235, am not sure I would be able to read it. I know you can configure the data screens and I would prob have to only have one field, but haven't been able to look at one working in the shops. Any thoughts/recommendations.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    With a single field, the display is huge.  Even I could see it without my contact lenses (-5.25 prescription). Depending on how bad your eyes are, you might get away with 2 fields.  You can also move between 2 screens, so that would give you 2 or 4 fields depending on how you set them up.  The maximum is 4 fields per screen.

  • I have the 235 and Garmin connect on iPhone, the voice alerts changed from male to female? anyone know how to change this setting.
  • I recently lost my Garmin 235 during a house move (annoying!) - looking at getting a new watch. Interested in the Vivoactive 3 because I could use it for golf too. I really liked using the 'Finish Time' setting on the F235 - does the Vivoactive 3 have this option?
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    Is that the "race predictor"?  If so, then the V3 doesn't have it, according to the DC rainmaker review site.

    Out of interest, how do you use a running watch for golf?
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    Nessie said:

    Out of interest, how do you use a running watch for golf?
    I guess Garmin have a FORE!runner series.
  • I've just bought a Garmin 245 Music, £249 on sale from Wiggle. It's an updated 235 with many trickle down features from above, and lots of music storage (including Spotify sync which works seamlessly).

    I've used Garmins for years, mostly cycling computers, and always been miffed how they tend to have weaknesses. This one, dare I say it, seems spot on. Would recommend.
  • I loved my Garmin 235. I've since moved onto the Garmin 935, which I love even more, but the 235 is an excellent running watch with lots of added extras.
  • Another vote for the Forerunner 235.
  • I still have my garmin vivoactive 3 and I have so many running stats from the last couple years... its still working very well.. and I also use it for reading WhatsApp/fb messages and answering phone calls if my phone is close.

    One of my friends has the Garmin Fenix 6x which has so many more stats, and we both use garmin connect, so we can both see what sports/runs/cycle rides each of us have done.

    The Fenix 6x looks like its the next step up from the vivoactive 3
  • interesting thread
  • 2 years on and the Vivoactive 3 treated me well, it did everything i asked from it - swim, walk, cycle, run.
    But i talk in past-tense as 2 weeks ago i changed to the Fenix 5 Sapphire, saw a deal i could resist and would need to change next year anyway as will be entering an ultra and needed more battery life from my device. 
    I'm totally blown away by the Fenix, yes it doesn't have the touchscreen of the VA3, nor can i pay for things with the Fenix - but it takes the swim, walk, cycle, run activities to a more in-depth level, it feels more of an activity watch and looks awesome too. 
    Very pleased with my progression. 
  • dave turpittdave turpitt ✭✭✭
    I still have my vivoactive 3..its done me well..I've had numerous watch strap changes.. I keep thinking of upgrading.. and the forerunner 945 looks nice but very expensive..perhaps I'll  stick with my vivoactive 3 for a while the longest runs I do will be marathon length and the vivoactive 3 can handle that 
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