Finding a device I really dislike is rare, but I really dislike the Garmin Vivofit 3 fitness tracker.

From the set-up onwards, it was a frustrating experience.

It connects with your phone through the Garmin Connect app. Doing so isn’t intuitive at all. You find the device deep in the app’s settings menu (rather than on the opening page as you might expect) and pair it from there.

Theoretically, the Vivofit 3 should auto-sync with the Connect app “three to four times per day” or you can sync it manually by holding down the main button until the sync icon appears. In reality this didn’t happen. I was able to get the Vivofit to sync once and then never again.

The band is pretty standard compared to other fitness trackers, but the buckle is complicated and fiddly. The little LCD screen displays the time and flashes with a chime if you sit for too long or if you reach your daily goal.

I didn’t realise I had set a goal so I was surprised when the Vivofit chimed to say I had reached it. I was even more surprised when I realised the screen said “goal!” an hour later, because I hadn’t pressed a button to dismiss it. The display also defaults to American date formats (this can be changed deep within the menus of the Connect app). Initial set-up also requires your weight and height in imperial units, another annoyance.

As a day-to-day pedometer the Vivofit does what it says on the tin. It doesn’t have any more sophisticated measurements, such as heart rate, but it gives you a basic rundown (steps, calories, etc).

After a few days of using it, I realised there was no way of charging the battery. Looking through the guides didn’t help until I saw on the box that the battery lasts “1+year”. Is this a disposable device? Not technically. It’s not easy to do but you can change the battery, though if you do this be careful not to break the waterproof seal.

Overall, I was disappointed in the Vivofit 3. It’s really just not worth wearing and feels more like a $40 device than a $180 one.

Garmin Vivofit 3 $179

Our writer received this product on loan for this First Look. First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.

by Hadyn Green