Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review: A Versatile Everyday Watch

Mobile Accessories

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 stands out among other everyday watches for a number of good reasons. But perhaps the main stand-out factor is its price tag, which ultimately varies depending on the sales that are going around. And with that, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 can offer you some of the features that you would otherwise be getting from its smartwatch competitors. Not only that, for an average asking price of just a little over $300, you would be able to do more in as much as you can with smartwatches sold for over $600 to $1000.

So, is the Garmin Vivoactive 4 worth its price tag? Is it a budget smartwatch and how does it fair compared to other watches? Are the features enough to justify buying one? What are the pros and cons? If you have the same questions, you have come to the right place as we will be going over the highs and lows of this smartwatch.

 

Inside This Article

  1. Pros and Cons of Garmin Vivoactive 4
  2. What’s New with Garmin Vivoactive 4
    1. Price
    2. Design and Display
    3. Companion App and Setup
    4. Health and Fitness Tracking
    5. Widgets
    6. Battery Life
  3. Vivoactive 4 vs Vivoactive 4S
  4. How Does Vivoactive 4 Compare?
    1. Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Garmin Vivoactive 3
    2. Vivoactive 4 vs Venu
    3. Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945
  5. Verdict

 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Overview

Banner photo of Garmin Vivoactive 4 watches
Photo from buy.garmin.com

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is widely perceived as a watch perfect for the masses. It can be used by an average runner who would want a fitness watch but works perfectly with a GPS. However, anyone who is a big fan of the watch would say that all Garmin Vivoactive watches would fit as a fitness watch. Comparing it to, say, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, the latter is more of a smartwatch that has fitness capabilities. On the other hand, Garmin watches are straight-up fitness watches that have smartwatch features.

We think it’s a plus that this watch can store music in the library. It can also play music from Spotify, Amazon, and Deezer. Additionally, you can also make payments using Garmin Pay.

Adore

  • GPS chipset and optical heart rate sensors found in new Forerunner and Fenix watches.
  • External sensors compatibility
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • Bluetooth connections to other accessories

Against

  • Uses two companion apps to get your customizations done.
  • The same pricing regardless of variant.

Buy Garmin Vivoactive 4 from Amazon

 

What’s New with Garmin Vivoactive 4

Now that we have a rough idea of what this watch offer, let’s break some of its features down, even more, to see whether this will be worth it for you or not.

 

1. Price

What makes Vivoactive 4 a great prospect if you a looking for a new smartwatch is its appealing price point. This is not to say that it is cheap as you would still have to spend at least $349, depending on the merchant, to get it. But for a reasonable price, you will get some of the features you will see on more expensive Garmin watches. For instance, it has the same chipset and optical heart rate sensor as with Fēnix 6 and Forerunner 745, which both sell at least two times more.

To give more context in terms of pricing, the Vivoactive 3 Music was sold for $299. That means, there is a $50 price difference between the two series.  We think the added price is well within the threshold of acceptability, given the general improvements on the series 4 of the watch. The older Vivoactive runs on an ALT1210 chipset, which is although power-efficient, is a bit behind its newer peers.

 

2. Design and Display

Photo by Garmin

Let’s first discuss the materials from which the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is made. Its screen features a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Comparing it to Forerunner 745, which uses the Corning Gorilla Glass DX, there is a downgrade in terms of front surface reflection but has the same scratch resistance. For the bezel material, Vivoactive 4 uses stainless steel, with its exterior reinforced with fiber polymer and a polymer rear cover. The watch bands are also as flexible as the watch itself. Thanks to QuickFit 22 bands, you can easily switch between silicone straps that go for the mood.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is comparatively lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Watch; the latter has an aluminum frame, making the watch itself heavier. Comparing it to the Fenix 5 Plus, Garmin Vivoactive has the same screen size as the former. However, Fenix has a stainless steel exterior, giving it a bulky feature.

The watch is sleek with the always-on, sunlight-readable Garmin Chroma Display technology. Of course, the watch is touchscreen and does come in color display. Speaking of the display, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch has a crisp resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. And these watch display features go along with size; the watch comes in two versions: 40mm and 45mm. The 45mm version fits the wrists with a circumference of 135-200 mm.

 

3. Companion App and Setup

Enough with the exterior for the time being. Let’s dive into the watch itself. Of course, as is with other smartwatches and fitness watches, there are a number of ways to customize the watch from inside-out. One way to do that is by downloading the Garmin Vivoactive 4 companion app called Garmin Connect app.

To use the watch, you must first download the Garmin Connect app from either Google Play Store or Apple App Store and set up an account. Once the app has been download, pair the watch to the app via Bluetooth and key in the code displayed on the watch. From there, it’s easy to give access to your watch to send you notifications of calendar appointments and other sorts of notifications.

The app will then give you a tutorial on how to navigate the platform; from how to swipe left and right, up and down, a run-through on how to set up important fitness apps, and more.

There’s also another app to use if you wish to download free watch faces, apps, and others on your watch. The Connect IQ Store is a library of added third-party features that any Garmin watch user can take advantage of to fully customize his/her watch. With the exception of apps that need to be purchased, others are free to download.

Download Garmin Connect App for Android and iOS

Download Connect IQ Store for Android and iOS

 

4. Health and Fitness Tracking

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is an advanced fitness tracker as it is equipped with some of the more advanced all-day trackers used in tracking sleep, steps, distance, as well as some other things that are expected from an all-day fitness tracker.

The watch includes a Body Battery, a proprietary Garmin feature that indicates the level of energy you would have for an up-coming activity like exercise. It gets data from a pattern the watch observes based on how much exercise you have done previously, how much sleep you got, as well as glancing at your heart rate variability.

In addition, it comes with a feature called Pulse Ox Sensor which reads the level of oxygen in your body. And lastly, it also has a feature called Stress Tracking, Garmin’s proprietary version of Heart Rate Variability. This feature has the ability to signal any physiological or emotional stress.

These features, which we have seen on Vivoactive 4 fancier brothers, are just about what makes this watch an advanced fitness watch.

 

5. Widgets

Photo by Garmin

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch does come with pre-installed widgets that will allow you to do more. In fact, there are lots of them that tend to be a bit overwhelming. Personally, we love the health and fitness widgets such as the Body Battery, heart rate, hydration, pulse oximeter, and stress tracker. Of course, there are also other widgets that one user would rather put aside like Golf and menstrual cycle tracking if you are a male.

Thankfully, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 allows you to customize the widget loop based on your preference. If you use one widget more frequently than the other, you can change their order on the loop via the widget settings. You can also remove the widgets that you don’t use from the loop at once.

Here are some of the widgets that you can use on your Garmin watch. Note that some widgets would require Bluetooth connections with a smartphone.

  • Body Battery™ 
  • Calendar
  • Calories 
  • Floors climbed 
  • Garmin® coach
  • Golf 
  • Health stats 
  • Heart rate 
  • History 
  • Hydration 
  • Intensity minutes
  • Last sport
  • Menstrual cycle tracking
  • Music controls 
  • My day 
  • Notifications 
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Respiration 
  • Steps 
  • Stress
  • Weather

 

6. Battery Life

GPS and music features are the two main battery juice burners in the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The product developers claim the watch can run for eight days straight without charging considering it’s only used as a watch. However, using the GPS and music features on top of its watch capabilities, the watch can run for six hours before it requires re-charging.

Furthermore, the watch charges pretty easily using the proprietary charger that can be plugged from the rear-end of the watch. There is also a standard USB that can be plugged into a phone or computer charger.

 

Vivoactive 4 vs Vivoactive 4S

Side-by-side photo of Garmin Vivoactive 4 series watches
Screenshot from Donavon Hornbeck on Youtube

Garmin is offering two options for the Vivoactive 4 series. Fans have been excited about this, considering the hype surrounding this value piece of a watch. And we thought it better to put in a side-by-side comparison between the two versions. So, in trying to get either one of the versions, the question really is: which do you prefer in terms of size. As an overview, the Vivoactive 4 is bigger compared to the Vivoactive 4S in terms of size. That is because the former has a bigger battery compared to the latter; meaning the former gets better battery life than the latter.

So, in what other areas do these two watches differ? See the table below.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Garmin Vivoactive 4S
Battery Up to five Days battery life Up to five Days battery life
Design Circular, Flat Dial Design Circular, Flat Dial Design
Display 1.3 inch (3.3 cm) Display 1.1 inch (2.79 cm) TFT Display
Screen size 1.3 Inch 1.1 Inch
Screen resolution 260 x 260 pixels 218 x 218 pixels
Price $349 $349

In addition to these, both watches support Android and iOS devices. In terms of color, the Vivoactive 4 comes in Black, Grey, and Silver options. Whereas, the Vivoactive 4S comes in Black, Grey, Powder Grey, Rose Gold, and Light Gold options. The Vivoactive 4 has timer and calendar reminder features, whereas the Vivoactive 4S has none.

So, in terms of pricing, there’s really not much difference between the two. However, the small nuances that make up these watches do separate them from one another.

 

How Does Vivoactive 4 Compare?

Still not convinced to whether buy a Garmin watch or not? We thought better to put in a comparison between the Garmin Vivoactive 4 series watch to other watches with similar niche to help you decide.

 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Garmin Vivoactive 3

Now, if you have a Vivoactive 3, the question is whether Vivoactive 4 is worth upgrading to. We already know what the new cool features of the latter are. So, where does Vivoactive 3 stands at?

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Garmin Vivoactive 4
Design Water-resistant, comes with GPS capabilities, has a touchscreen display, has one side buttons for more flexible command performances. Water-resistant, comes with GPS capabilities, has a touchscreen display, has one side buttons for more flexible command performances.
Exterior Customization Interchangeable 20mm bands. Has a hard polymer finish.  Interchangeable 22 mm bands. Has a stainless steel bezel finish.
Activity Tracking Steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and daily goal tracking features. Steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and daily goal tracking features.
Screen size 43mm 40mm and 45mm

To put it simply, the Vivoactive 4 has better battery life compared to Vivoactive 3. So, why do you have to upgrade if they are more likely just the same watch but with slight changes? The answer is simple: Garmin watches are often considered fitness watches but with smartwatch features. This means every upgrade comes with changes in what the watch can do. In Garmin Vivoactive 4 series watches, you now have a feature that tracks your hydration levels. You also get respiratory tracking called Pulse Ox, which is perfect for those who love extreme sports and activities like hiking.

Lastly, the Vivoactive 4 comes with upgraded heart rate sensors that have better accuracy in readings.

 

Vivoactive 4 vs Venu

Both Vivoactive and Venu are Garmin products. But each watch has its own pros and cons. So, here’s a quick rundown of where each watch stands.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Garmin Venu
Design and display Comes in two versions: 45mm and 40mm.

Has the same thickness as the Venu.

Has a smooth bezel finish.

Comes in shadow grey and matte black colors.

Has backlight features for better display at low-light areas.

Only comes in a 43mm version. 

Has the same thickness as the Vivoactive 4 and 4grams lighter.

Has etchings on the bezel finish which adds texture.

Comes in shadow grey and matte black colors.

Has an AMOLED display.

Features Touchscreen.

Has heart rate monitor. 

Gets better battery life.

Gets up to seven days of battery life depending on use.

Up to six hours of GPS use.

Touchscreen.

Has heart rate monitor. 

AMOLED display takes battery life faster.

Gets five days of battery life at best.

Up to six hours of GPS use.

The smallest yet stark difference between Vivoactive 4 and Venu watches is related to the display. The Garmin Venu does not support white backgrounds for its activity apps. The display on Vivoactive 4 is comparatively better with the white background, which makes the display easier to see when you are being active outdoors.

Other than that, both watches are able to play music from Spotify or Amazon, have good fitness tracking features, capabilities to respond to notifications, and have Garmin Coach.

Buy Garmin Venu Watch on Amazon

 

Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945

Now, here’s another side-by-side comparison of Vivoactive 4 with another Garmin watch — the Forerunner 945. Both watches come with the usual Garmin features like Garmin Pay and music-playing capabilities. But then again, Garmin knows to put small nuances to separate one watch from another. Here’s a quick rundown of these nuances.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Garmin Forerunner 945
Design and display Comes in two versions: 40mm and 45mm displays.

Equipped with the Gorilla® Glass 3

Has a 47mm display and a 1.2-inch color display.

Weights 50grams.

Equipped with the new Gorilla® Glass DX

Features Up to eight days of battery life depending on use.

Has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

Compatible with Android and iOS devices.

Has the Pulse Ox sensor.

Claims up to two weeks of battery life depending on use.

Has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

Compatible with Android and iOS devices.

Has the Pulse Ox sensor.

Map features come in handy in places you are unfamiliar with.

Pricing $349 for both versions $599.99 + $750 triathlon bundle (optional)

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is considered Garmin’s top-of-the-line triathlon watch. While it’s great as a fitness watch, which the Vivoactive 4 does well too, the Forerunner 945 is perfect when you combine other physical and active activities such as swimming, hiking, and running. Also, the Forerunner 945 is an improved version of its predecessor: the Forerunner 935. The former aims to address the issues users reported in the latter.

Buy Garmin Forerunner 945 Watch on Amazon

 

Verdict

With the number of fitness and smartwatches out in the market today, it is hard to choose which to get. However, a quick glance at the watches’ features would help you narrow down whether a watch is worth buying or upgrading to. Sometimes, features help a buyer justify the price tags. However, your considerations would largely depend on your budget and what you want a watch to do for you. Garmin watches are perfect fitness watches that have smartwatch features. In the Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch series alone, for an asking price of $349, you’d already been able to get the best out of a watch; features that you would also get from watches sold for a little over $600 or over $1000.

So, did we help you decide on your next fitness/smartwatch purchase?

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