Garmin S40 Vs. Garmin VivoActive 3 Review

Garmin s40

Is it time to upgrade your GPS golf watch? If you are not getting enough battery life from your current watch, or it lacks some of the features you have been pining for, the answer is yes. You can’t have a starter GPS watch forever so when it comes time to trade yours in for a better model, consider these two watches from Garmin.

Vivo Active 3

Today we will be reviewing and comparing the Garmin Approach S40 and the Garmin VivoActiv 3. Both models are a step up from what we would call starter watches (watches that are easy for a beginner to use, affordable and have all the basic features).

They are for anyone looking to fine tune the details of their golf game or are avid runners, cyclers or fitness enthusiasts. They are both from Garmin which is a brand we have come to trust over the years. Let’s have a look.

The Garmin Approach S40

Garmin has been making GPS devices for decades. With the Approach S40, they are meeting the needs of serious golfers who want a wealth of information at their fingertips. The S40 is the follow-up to the S20, a reliable and trusted GPS golf watch.

Right off the bat you have upgrades, though. First of all, the S40 is a touchscreen watch with a chemically strengthened glass face.

S40 Features

Garmin s40 GPS Watch

It has all the essential features we have come to expect like 41,000 preloaded courses, the Green View that measures distances to the back, front and middle of the green, course information like pars and hazards and GPS tracking that lets you know which hole you are on.

It also has fitness tracking features including a pedometer and a sports profile menu with different metrics depending on the activity. You can connect it to Bluetooth devices and it comes with 64MB of storage space.

The feature that stood out to us about this watch is its auto track features which automatically senses and measures the distance of certain shots you take in your round. We enjoyed comparing the distances of our drives using this feature and roundly razzing the person with the shortest one.

Another thing we really like about the Approach S40 is that it is sturdy. It feels weighty enough on the wrist to let you know it isn’t made of cheap material, yet its light enough to not obstruct your swing. The watch itself is encased in metal while the wristband is made of a beefy yet flexible silicone.

The Garmin VivoActiv 3

Vivoactivethree Music Banner

If customizable gadgets are your forte, the Garmin VivoActiv 3 may be right up your ally. One of our team members geeked out on the Connect IQ store. He pointed out that you can actually download different digital watch faces and download apps and custom widgets.

It was actually pretty cool to see how different we could all make our VivoActiv 3’s look. But this is definitely a watch for an active individual. With a heartrate monitor, distance tracker (for running, cycling etc.) and downloadable workout regimens, this watch goes far beyond the golf course.

Vivoactive 3

It features a 1.2 inch touchscreen display that lets you swipe through screens that show your V02 max, fitness age, your steps for the day, the time and much more. If you sync it with your phone via it’s Bluetooth connectivity, you can even see text messages and control music playing through a linked device.

Vivo Active 3

The Garmin VivoActiv 3 can be linked to the Garmin Connect app which stores your workout and exercise data and lets you compete and compare with other Garmin Connect community members.

This watch features a gorilla glass 3 color LCD display. We like the upgrade to gorilla glass because one of the problems with these kinds of glass touchscreen watches is that they can crack or chip during certain activities.

The battery will last you about 7 days in Smart Watch Mode and about 13 hours on GPS mode. The wristband is also made of silicone.

Price Comparison

The Garmin Approach S40 will run you about $250 while you can find the Garmin VivoActiv 3 for about $200.

Performance Comparison

While the Garmin VivoActiv 3 is a great overall sports and fitness smart watch, it doesn’t offer much outside of GPS if you are a golfer. We like the way the S40 feels on the wrist and it is definitely more helpful when you are on the links.

Pros and Cons of the Garmin Approach S40

Garmin s40 Golf Gps Watch Review


  • Limited 1 year warranty
  • Battery lasts 15 hours in GPS mode and nearly 10 days on Smart Watch Mode
  • Drag and drop pin positioning feature
  • Automatically tracks helpful stroke information
  • Color touchscreen display
  • Water resistant for up to 5 atmospheres.


  • It does not come with gorilla glass
  • The touchscreen freezes sometimes
  • Text and phone call notifications on the watch were spotty
  • It isn’t sensitive enough to detect and measure putts and chips

Pros and Cons of the Garmin VivoActiv 3

Garmin VivoActive


  • Sleek stainless steel design
  • Monitors various health metrics
  • Different sports profile settings
  • Interactive Connect IQ app
  • You can control music playing through a synced device
  • Easy to change the wristband


  • Not very helpful for golfing
  • Charging cable is flimsy
  • Heartrate monitor seems inaccurate at times
  • The downloadable apps are a bit buggy

Our Recommendation

When all is said and done it really comes down to what you intend to use your watch for. If you just want some helpful health and fitness tracking, the Garmin Vivo Activ 3 is the better choice. But our recommendation has to go to the Approach S40. I mean, we are golf nuts after all.

While the Approach S40 is more expensive, it offers great features like the automatic shot measurement and drag and drop green pinning.

Both the Garmin Vivo Activ 3 and Approach S40 have their place but we suggest going with the Approach S40 if you are a golfer. If you are, then definitely check the Garmin Approach S40 out!

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Check Out The Best Price For Vivoactive 3

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