Vivoactive 3 Music LTE voice calling?
Garmin launched the Vivoactive 3 Verizon with LTE support at CES 2019 and it was received with mix reactions. Some rejoicing that Garmin had moved onto support LTE in its Wearables and others questioning why it does not have voice calling like an Apple Watch.
In this article, I will take you through my opinion why the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon is no Apple Watch, why voice calling is a bad idea and what should be Garmins focus with LTE on future wearables.
What is the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon
So if you have not heard, the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon is a variant of the already successful mid-range Garmin fitness watch family. The only difference between the Vivoactive 3 Music vs the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon is, the latter has LTE capabilities.
The Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon will only be in the US, be available on Verizon and sold via the mobile network. (for now)
Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon LTE features
Before we get started on the lack of voice calling and why Garmin is possibly going in the right direction with LTE support, let us take a quick look at what LTE gives you on the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon.
- Live Track feature with LTE
- Garmin has included Live Track for some time, but not you can use the mobile connection on the Vivoactive 3 Music to let people track you in real time, all without a phone.
- Emergency Contact feature with LTE
- If anything should happen, hold the watch’s button until the watch vibrates three times to activate the assistance feature, which discreetly sends a message with your real-time location to your preloaded emergency contacts.
- Incident detection with LTE
- Sends a message with your real-time location to your preloaded emergency contacts if an incident is detected during an outdoor walk, run or bike activity.
- Sending text messages limited to 320 characters with LTE
- You can even initiate, receive and respond to text messages on your watch
- Downloading music from Select music providers, all phone free using LTE
- Use your Verizon connection to download your favourite songs and it looks like Spotify, Deezer and iHeartRadio will be supported. However, you cannot stream music only download music as you can over wifi.
- Battery life with LTE
- Whilst the battery life is not an LTE feature, you can only get 4 hours of battery when using LTE. So if you were to use LiveTrack whilst on a Marathon, it would probably run out for the average user before the end.
Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon voice calling?
So the biggest questing being asked since the announcement at CES 2019, why no voice calling on the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon?
Leaving the technical reasons to one side, I think it boils down to the fact that Garmin does not have the resources or desire to develop voice calling on a Garmin Wearable.
Garmin has plenty of product lines within its SPorts and fitness area and whilst it does have wearables with Smartwatch features, it is not a smartwatch company. So for this reason, any Garmin Wearable will never have the same cellular capabilities as an Apple Watch and will never compete against it.
What should Garmin focus on with LTE in a wearable.
Whilst Garmin has launched features like texting messaging on the Vivoactive 3 Music and downloading of music from many of its supported music providers, this is not where Garmin should be focusing.
The biggest focus for Garmin should be in the safety and location tracking capabilities that LTE can bring. When I saw the announcement, it was not the SMS and music downloading over LTE, it was the features around location, safety and incident detection that really made me take notice.
As I have already said, Garmin wearables are fitness and sports trackers primary with smartwatch capabilities secondary. So Garmin should look at ways that LTE can support fitness and sports tracking and not waste any resources on the voice, SMS or Music, it’s simply a waste of time when the likes of Apple have stacks of resources and this is an area they excel in.
What are the barriers for Garmin with LTE?
One overlooked point with the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon is the limited mobile network support and plans.
First up, Verizon is the only support mobile network provider and its US only of course. But I think that is partly deliberate on Garmin’s part. The reason being is that this is the first step into LTE support and it is really a beta test rather than launching a whole new line of wearable.
By launching with one mobile network and one country, it allows Garmin to test and learn from the features and try and understand the direction that they need to go with LTE capabilities in future Garmin wearables.
However that being said, it is not all in Garmin’s gift, unlike the Apple Watch, Garmin does not have the clout of Apple to be able to dictate to mobile network providers terms and how things will work. So Garmin has to work with them and this will be one of the biggest barriers.
The other barrier will be the cost of data plans for the Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon. At present they are pretty high and how many people will want to pay the same amount for the Garmin device when they can get an Apple Watch with far more?
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Verizon conclusion
In the main, I am excited with Garmin’s announcement around LTE support on a wearable. But others will be certainly disappointed that it does not have voice calling or other mobile features like the Apple Watch.
However, if Garmin does stick to the path of using LTE for safety and tracking and can overcome the mobile network challenges and prices, they could really be onto a winner and show some innovation in a sector that really needs something new.