They are both highly functional GPS watches that actually share a lot of similarities. But there are also some key differences between the two watches.
In this post, we will make the similarities and the differences explicitly clear.
Vivoactive 3 Music vs Forerunner 245 - Key Differences
Vivoactive 3 Music vs Forerunner 245 - Key Similarities
Vivoactive 3SEE PRICE
Forerunner 245SEE PRICE
Features Unique to Vivoactive 3 Music
Barometric Altimeter - Vivoactive 3 Only
The inclusion of the barometric altimeter is one of the reasons the Vivoactive 3 is such a well-rounded activity tracker.
From a running perspective, the altimeter unlocks better incline and decline data when you step out onto the road or the trail. It also comes in handy when hiking, mountain biking or measuring how many stairs you take in a typical day.
Payments from watch - Vivoactive 3 Only
Even though the Forerunner 245 was released a year after the Vivoactive 3 Music, it doesn’t have the ability to process payments from the watch.
Garmin have removed this function from the FR245, because it would be too similar to the FR645 (it’s more expensive sibling) if it was included. You can read more about the differences between the Forerunner 245 and the Forerunner 645 here.
Floors Climbed (Flights of Stairs) - Vivoactive 3 Only
We just mentioned the barometric altimeter, and we need to mention it again.
The Vivoactive 3 is able to measure your movements up and down stairs because of the altimeter.
This differs from the Forerunner 245, which doesn’t have an altimeter, and therefore can’t measure floors climbed or running power 😞 (more on this point later).
Golf Mode - Vivoactive 3 Only
Naturally this is only relevant to golfers.
The Vivoactive 3 is one of a select few Garmin activity trackers that has the added benefit of Golf tracking.
As a super passionate golfer, this could be a deal breaker in my case. The info that you get (distance to green, bunkers, and shot distance tracking) can literally influence your strategy and enjoyment of the game.
A lot more sports modes - Vivoactive 3
The Forerunner 245 brings a lot of sports modes to the table, but not quite as many as the Vivoactive 3 Music. The list below shows all the sports and activity modes that are only found in the VA3.
- Floor Climbed
- Golf Mode
- XC Skiing
- Stand Up Paddleboarding
- Outdoor Rowing
Features Unique To Garmin Forerunner 245
Advanced Running Dynamics - FR245 Only
This is one of the most important differences between these two watches.
The Vivoactive 3 Music can’t handle advanced running dynamics, while the Forerunner 245 can.
This basically means that when paired with an appropriate Garmin accessory (HRM-Run, HRM-Tri or Advanced Run Pod), the Garmin Forerunner 245 gives you access to the following measurements:
- Ground Contact Time
- Ground Contact Balance
- Vertical Oscillation
- Vertical Ratio
- Stride Length
At this point it’s worth mentioning that both the Forerunner 245 and the Vivoactive 3 can’t measure running power when paired with a suitable Garmin accessory.
This is because the Forerunner 245 lacks an altimeter, and Garmin requires an altimeter to calculate running power.
In the case of the Vivoactive 3, Garmin have removed advanced running dynamics compatibility, which is also required to measure running power.
If this is important to you, you will need to turn to the Forerunner 645, Forerunner 935, Forerunner 945 or the Fenix 5 series.
Pulse Oximeter - Forerunner 245 Only
This is another key difference between these two units.
The Forerunner 245 is packing a Pulxe Oximeter, while the Vivoactive 3 isn’t.
The main point of a pulse oximeter is to measure your blood oxygen levels, but Garmin are using it to improve the following measurements as well:
- Sleep quality
- Stress levels
- Body battery score
In other words, the combination of the wrist-based HRM and the Pulse oximeter allows the Forerunner 245 to provide health stats that will never be available on the Vivoactive 3 music.
Much Better GPS Battery Life
Even though the Smartwatch battery is pretty much the same, it’s the GPS battery where these products are worlds apart. The bullet points below should make this crystal clear:
- Vivoactive 3 GPS Battery Life – 13 Hours
- Forerunner 245 GPS Battery Life – 24 Hours
By changing to Sony GPS chip sets (for the FR45, FR245 & FR945), Garmin have unlocked some serious wins in terms of GPS batter life. The 24 hour lifespan of the FR245 is case in point.
Can you clarify all the activity modes they share?
I most certainly can. The tables below show all the activity modes and sports modes that each watch brings to the table. It also highlights the extra sports modes that are only found in the Vivoactive 3 Music.
|Forerunner 245 - Sports Modes||Vivoactive 3 Music - Sports Modes|
|01) Strength Training||01) Strength Training|
|02) Cardio Training||02) Cardio Training|
|03) Elliptical Training||03) Elliptical Training|
|04) Stair Stepping||04) Stair Stepping|
|05) Indoor Rowing||05) Indoor Rowing|
|06) Yoga||06) Yoga|
|07) Running||07) Running|
|08) Treadmill Running||08) Treadmill Running|
|09) Indoor Track Running||09) Indoor Track Running|
|10) Trail Running||10) Trail Running|
|11) Cycling||11) Cycling|
|12) Indoor Cycling||12) Indoor Cycling|
|13) Pool Swimming||13) Pool Swimming|
|15) XC Skiing|
|17) Stand Up Paddleboarding|
|18) Outdoor Rowing|
|19) Floor Climbed|
So which one should you buy?
This is a tough one, mainly because the Vivoactive 3 Music is still one of the most featured packed GPS activity trackers in the world right now.
In my opinion, it comes down to this…
If running is your primary sport...
Go for the Forerunner 245 Music. It gives you access to advanced running metrics, a much longer GPS battery life, and the ability to display more running stats on the screen when you’re training.
The body battery score is also a very handy feature that you can use to assess your planned training sessions and adjust the difficulty if need be.
Ultimately, the Forerunner 245 gives you an excellent combination of running specific features, without breaking the bank too much. In terms of value for money and total features, it’s the best running specific watch in Garmin’s product line-up.
If you do lots of different sports & fitness activities...
The Vivoactive 3 Music is the smartwatch for you. It includes a barometric altimeter (important for trail running, mountain biking and hiking) and it has significantly more outdoor sports modes.
The biggest downfall of the Vivoactive 3 is that it can’t measure running power or advanced running dynamics (when paired with an appropriate Garmin accessory).
Despite this drawback, the Vivoactive 3 Music is closer to the Fenix 5 Plus (Garmin’s flagship multisport watch) than the Forerunner 245 is. With the Vivoactive 3, you basically get a Fenix 5 Lite, for a fraction of the cost, quite literally (the Vivoactive 3 is less than half the price of the Fenix 5).