Image source: Garmin

Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs Fitbit Ace 3 vs 2: the battle of kid friendly trackers

A good way to get your kids moving is to buy them a fitness tracker. There are many reasons why this might be a good idea, childhood obesity being a major one.

Many of the big name brands are focusing on this part of the market. Garmin and Fitbit are arguably the leaders in this area but don’t be surprised if you see Apple and other companies join in the fun.

Essential reading: Best activity trackers for kids: make fitness a habit, not a chore

Fitbit has three fitness trackers specifically designed for kids, Garmin has three. In this article we compare the latest offerings – Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs the just announced Fitbit Ace 3 vs Ace 2.

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Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs Fitbit Ace 3 vs 2: Design and hardware

When it comes to looks, Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 is very distinct from the previous two generations. The square form-factor makes it look more like a smartwatch than a fitness tracker.

The thing has a transflective 64-colour memory-in-pixel (MIP) display that measures 14.11 x 14.11 mm. Its resolution comes in at 112 x 112 pixels.

The device has retained a silicone and plastic build which make it very robust. These types of materials also make it very lightweight – Vivofit Jr 3 weights only 25 grams.

Powering everything is a coin cell battery. You’ll just need to remember to replace it about once per year.

As you’ve probably guessed from the look, this generation is meant for younger kids – 4 and above. Garmin’s previous generations were means for slightly older children.

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Vivofit Jr 3 | Image source: Garmin

Fitbit Ace 3 and Ace 2 are almost alike. They both come with a rugged design and a large display. The third generation is only an iterative upgrade. The main physical difference it brings is that the edges on Ace 3 are curved and the single physical button on the left is a bit more shielded by the silicone band. The display has also been slightly improved.

Put Ace 3 or Ace 2 next to Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 and you’ll notice a similar lightweight build. Not only are the materials the same, but both also have bumpers around the display to keep everything protected and 5 ATM water-resistance.

A major difference is that Fitbit devices retain the fitness tracker design. The screen is elongated and grayscale as compared to the color one you can find on Garmin’s device.

The other important difference is battery life. Fitbit Ace 3 needs to be charged every 8 days, Ace 2 every 5 days. The Garmin will keep going for a year but you’ll need to purchase a coin cell battery replacement to keep it going longer.

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Fitbit Ace 2 | Image source: Fitbit

Here’s a comparison of technical specs.

Garmin Vivofit Jr 3
Fitbit Ace 3
Fitbit Ace 2
Age range
4+
6+
6+
Material
Silicone and plastic
Flexible, durable elastomer material. The tracker and clasp are made with surgical-grade stainless steel.
Flexible, durable elastomer material. The tracker and clasp are made with surgical-grade stainless steel.
Battery
Up to 1 year (1 x CR2025 user-replaceable)
Up to 8 days.
Up to 5 days.
Water-resistance
5 ATM (up to 50 metres)
5 ATM (up to 50 metres
5 ATM (up to 50 metres)
Display
0.56″ x 0.56″ (14.11 x 14.11 mm), color, sunlight-visible, transflective 64-color memory-in-pixel (MIP)
0.72 inch touchscreen PMOLED
0.72 inch touchscreen Grayscale OLED
Weight
25 grams
20 grams
20 grams
Sensors
Accelerometer
3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor (plus optical heart rate sensor – but this is deactivated and cannot be turned on)
3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor
Activity tracking
Daily steps, sleep, activity, distance.
Daily steps, active minutes, sleep, calories.
Daily steps, active minutes, sleep, calories.
Smartwatch functions
Call, text, email notifications
Call, text, email notifications
Other
– Parents can assign tasks and chores
– Free parent-controlled app includes fun and educational mobile adventures for kids and chore/behavior management for parents
– Kids can earn coins to redeem for agreed-upon rewards managed by parents
– bedtime reminders and alarms, Fitbit App: Kid View, timer and stopwatch, move reminders, clock-faces, fun incentives, 1-hour active minutes goal
– bedtime reminders and alarms, Fitbit App: Kid View, timer and stopwatch, move reminders, clock-faces, fun incentives, 1-hour active minutes goal
RRP
$79.99
$79.95
$69.95

Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs Fitbit Ace 3 vs 2: Activity tracking and smart features

These devices are primarily meant for fitness tracking – everything else is secondary. The trio does not have a heart rate monitor that is enabled, but it does have an accelerometer which allows for tracking of basic stats. It all revolves around the hour of daily moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity that is recommended by WHO.

Fitbit’s devices have an active minutes goal which tallies with this metric, in addition to tracking steps, sleep and calories. Animated clock faces are there to keep your kids engaged, along with celebratory messages and badges. You’ll get a wider selection of clock faces if you opt for Ace 3.

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Fitbit Ace 2
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The accompanying smartphone app allows parents to customise reminders and alarms. This has a separate parents view and a kids view. The first can be used to tailor privacy options and keep an eye on little one’s activity. Kids can use the second view to check their own stats and participate in step competitions with others, including family.

Garmin’s strong point is gamification. Their devices try to engage kids by providing educational mobile adventures. The more active your kid, the more fun facts and mobile adventure trails are unveiled.

Another useful feature of Vivofit Jr 3 is that it allows parents to use the accompanying app to assign chores and rewards. These will be synced to your kids watch so they’ll know exactly what needs to be done. Unlike Fitbit, Garmin only has a parents app which is an important difference to note.

A new addition that was introduced with Vivofit Jr 3 is an ICE (In Case of Emergency) widget on the watch. Parents can use this to input their child’s emergency contact information for quick access if needed.

The final difference worth mentioning are notifications. You kids will get them on the Fitbit fitness bands, but Garmin doesn’t allow for this. They will, of course, need to have their mobile phone with them in order to see text/email/call notifications – and their parents can pre-approve contacts.


Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs Fitbit Ace 3 vs 2: Bottom line

Garmin and Fitbit are leading the way when it comes to kids fitness tracking. Both have a solid offering and devices that span multiple generations.

Garmin Vivofit Jr 3, Fitbit Ace 3 and Fitbit Ace 2 have a similar, robust build and adequate water-proofing. The main difference when it comes to looks is that Garmin’s device is designed to resemble a smartwatch while the Fitbits come across as fitness bands. Vivofit Jr therefore has a larger display, which is color unlike the greyscale of the Fitbits.

Another notable difference is how to keep the devices going. You’ll need to charge Ace 3 every eight days, Ace 2 every five days, while the Garmin operates on a coin cell battery that you’ll need to replace once per year.

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Fitbit Ace 3
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As far as fitness tracking, all of these devices offer similar stats. These revolve around the 60 minutes of daily exercise that is recommended by WHO.

Vivofit Jr 3 is more suited for younger kids with its adventure games and hands-on approach for parents. The Fitbits will give your little ones a bit more independence as they function more like a traditional fitness trackers with their calorie tracking and smartphone notifications. Ace 3 is the slightly better option over Ace 2 as it comes with improved battery life, a slightly better display and some more clock faces but it is $10 more expensive.

Whichever device you choose, it will not break the bank. The difference in price is negligible so the decision will really come to the design and brand that you prefer, and some of the nuances.

You can buy Vivofit Jr 3 on garmin.com. Fitbit’s devices can be found on Amazon and fitbit.com.

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