Another first is coming to Garmin smartwatches: LTE connectivity. Garmin announced at CES today that it has partnered with Verizon to bring cellular connectivity to its Vivoactive 3 Music smartwatch. The already powerful wearable will get the ability to download music anywhere and share the wearer’s location to contacts without a smartphone present.
Unlike on the Apple Watch, Wear OS, or Samsung devices, the LTE connectivity in the new Vivoactive 3 Music isn’t primarily used to stream music. Garmin says that constant connectivity will let users download tracks from services like Spotify and Deezer for offline listening from anywhere. That’s news in itself, as Garmin recently announced that Spotify would be available on its Fenix 5 Plus smartwatches. Its CES announcement shows that the Spotify Connect IQ app will soon make its way onto the Vivoactive 3 Music as well.
Garmin’s announcement highlights the location-sharing conveniences of cellular connectivity. Those wearing a new Vivoactive 3 Music will be able to press and hold one of the watch’s buttons to send a text to emergency contacts with their real-time location at any time. The new “incident detection” feature adds another level of protection, sensing when the wearer experiences an impact while walking, running, or cycling and sending a location-sharing text to emergency contacts automatically.
These new features supplement LiveTrack, a feature Garmin has had for a while that lets users share their real-time locations with anyone they please (if they have a smartphone with them). This lets users show their friends and family where they are when they compete in races and competitions. On a more serious note, it also keeps loved ones in the loop when the user goes off on a long run or hike in unfamiliar territory. With LTE, Vivoactive 3 Music wearers don’t have to bring their smartphones along to use location-sharing services.
While it’s disappointing that there’s no mention of LTE connectivity being used to stream music from services like Spotify, Garmin approached LTE in a way that will speak to its most dedicated users and fans. LTE gives the Vivoactive 3 Music an edge for the most athletic among us because it adds another level of convenience and protection to a device that has almost everything else necessary in a high-end smartwatch: an onboard GPS and heart rate monitor, NFC for Garmin Pay, and much more.
The new Vivoactive 3 Music pays for LTE connectivity in battery life: while the non-LTE watch gets at least seven days on a single charge, Garmin estimates the LTE model to last only up to five days. With music playing, GPS on, and cellular data in use, the smartwatch should last a minimum of four hours.
Pricing and availability for the new Vivoactive 3 Music with LTE will come later in Q1 2019.