Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review: The Latest & Greatest Garmin Smartwatch?

In this Garmin Vivoactive 4 review we’re diving deep into the ins and outs of this amazing Garmin watch.

What is the Garmin Vivoactive 4?

vivoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a multi-sport smartwatch with a myriad of different uses.

Among other things, it utilizes Bluetooth technology to sync with your smartphone and smart devices.

The most attractive feature of all?

It is Garmin’s most affordable all-inclusive device.

The Vivoactive 4 became available to fitness and health enthusiasts in September 2019.

It served as the base model for all higher-priced Garmin watch models.

Some of what wearers will enjoy includes syncing with your calendar, weather forecasts, texts, calls, emails, notifications, music streaming options, health, and fitness tracking data, and of course, GPS.

packaging

Impressive innovation technology comes standard with Garmin.

You’ll be amazed at how much information this smartwatch can provide in the form of data and tracking.

Garmin smartwatches can be found at wide-ranging price points.

Key Features

The watch boasts an impressive list of features.

This Vivoactive Garmin review digs into the details with some of the more prominent categories.

On Sale
Garmin 010-02174-11 Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated...
  • Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for...
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may...
  • Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga,...

For a quick overview of what you get when you purchase a Garmin Vivoactive 4, here’s the essential list:

  • Fast GPS syncing
  • Fitness tracking
  • Uses Connect IQ App store for software additions (A word of caution: Avoid game apps because they’re known to activate and interrupt other apps accidentally)
  • Music Streaming and Onboard Music Storage
  • Heart-rate tracking through wrist-monitoring “Elevate” technology
  • Smartphone syncing (calls, texts, emails, notifications, and alerts)
  • Various sensors to track health, sleep, fitness, distance, speed, and more
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Water-resistant
  • Safety and security features
  • Location sharing

How do these features play out for wearers?

We’ll start with the most popular category, and the main reason Garmin fans are choosing this particular watch: fitness.

Fitness

The Vivoactive 4 makes for the perfect workout companion. This model is widely used and highly regarded by the marathon running elite.

As a multi-sport smartwatch, and if you’re into other sports, you’ll enjoy a vast array of exercise tracking features and reporting.

fitness

Full GPS helps track your location, distance, number of steps, speed, and even offers alerts on your optimal pace to get the most out of your workouts every time.

Stat stacking brings easy-to-read data that show wearers’ past performance stats.

Animated video fitness instruction delivers high-quality, detailed information regarding proper fitness techniques and form.

When you purchase your Vivoactive 4, you’ll find it comes preloaded with the 20 best different exercises.

On-stream Yoga, Pilates, Cardio, and strength training are also delivered via animated videos.

You can use Garmin Connect IQ to download more exercise apps, or even design your workouts, including animations.

A few other key fitness features of note are the breathwork exercises, the golf club sensor, and a temperature sensor.

Health & Sleep Tracking

The Vivoactive 4 tracks every breath you take!

This model was made specifically with health in mind as opposed to just being a fitness and GPS smartwatch.

Consider it your ever-present health adviser.

sleep tracking

Respiration tracking, along with a pulse oximeter, collects and returns data about your breathing, stress, sleep, and blood-oxygen saturation levels.

Every athlete and weight-trainer knows the importance of sleep, and the Vivoactive 4 offers more sensors and greater tracking capabilities in this specific area.

The Pulse OX sensor found in the Garmin Connect App displays your Sp02 reading from data that are stored as you sleep.

Your sleep is tracked even when you’re not wearing the watch!

It reports your sleep time, wake time, and also breaks down your nightly rest in terms of light, deep, and REM sleep.

As a disclaimer, the FDA has not issued clearance on the Garmin Vivoactive 4 as a medical diagnostic tool.

However, this is not due to a lack of quality data reporting.

The watch is exceptionally accurate.

Hydration tracking keeps tabs on how much liquid you ingest. Sweat loss during workouts is taken into account as well.

With the respiration, blood-oxygen levels, heart rate, and other sensors used, the Vivoactive 4 can effectively measure and display your current stress levels.

In the case of a bike crash, a running injury, or any other emergency, the Vivoactive 4 offers incidence detection.

When an incident occurs, your watch will send your location information to a predetermined phone number.

Music & Spotify

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 plays music and offers a few different application options.

playing music

On-watch music streaming allows you to listen or watch music videos.

Built-in music storage comes standard, and users have a choice of using Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon music.

Keep in mind; you can only have one of these downloaded.

Battery Life

Garmin leads the way in the best smartwatch battery life across the board.

The Vivoactive 4 is no exception, offering a lengthy battery life in comparison to its predecessors.

With GPS and music playback activated, your Vivoactive 4 battery lasts up to 4 days.

If kept in smartwatch mode, it reaches even further: up to a full week!

charging battery

Opting for the larger 45mm, Vivoactive 4 option does grant a longer battery life than the smaller option and gives you an extra day of run time for each of the different modes.

Wearers have found that the Pulse oximeter drains the watch’s battery more than anything if allowed to run day and night.

The result is about two days before needing to be recharged.

Style, Design & Display

The Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes: 40mm and 45mm.

For the 45mm, the dimensions are 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 millimeters.

For the 40mm (sometimes referred to as the Garmin Vivoactive 4s), the dimensions are 40 x 40 x 13 millimeters.

display design

Gorilla glass three-screen protection makes for some of the most durable and protective glass options in the tech industry.

The display is not recessed, and the screen runs 1.3 inches with a 260 by 260-pixel resolution.

The transflective MIP screen adequately reflects light to make for easy reading in bright sunlight.

However, when indoors a front-light may be needed.

The Vivoactive 4 does emit light in darkness, but it requires touchscreen interaction or wrist-flick activation. Whenever additional lights are not on, the watch uses very little power.

The always-on display runs 24/7 until your battery dies, which is great for when you’re on the move, exercising, and don’t want to fool with having to press extra buttons.

Improved touchscreen implementation is another added feature in the Vivoactive 4 series. Users now have two buttons (less than with the Fenix and the Forerunner) in addition to the touch screen.

The wrist-flick feature also lets users quickly cycle through informational screen menu options.

Pressing one of the two buttons allows wearers to pause.

This makes the Vivoactive 4 feel like a smartwatch more so than other exercise watches.

Lastly, if you’re not happy with the watch-face display, you can download new ones from the ConnectIQ app store.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Your questions answered.

Is Garmin Vivoactive 4 Good for Running?

Yes. This is the best option for elite marathon runners. Distance runners get to customize training plans and can sync them with the Garmin Connect Desktop app to receive advanced metrics and insights.

running

If you have a specialized coaching plan, the Vivoactive 4 has fully customizable training exercises that you can connect to your Samsung Galaxy for example.

Is Garmin Vivoactive 4 Touch Screen?

Yes. The Vivoactive 4 uses sturdy gorilla glass as your touchscreen. This feature shines in that it brings fewer interruptions from bumping or accidentally pressing buttons. Most of the other models, including the Forerunner and the Fenix, do not offer a touchscreen and come with more buttons.

What is the Difference Between the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4?

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has become the new benchmark and base model for all higher tier Garmin smartwatches. It’s a significant upgrade from the Vivoactive 3. That said, the Vivoactive 3, while offering not quite as many perks, gives a lot of bang for your buck, more than any other model.

Vivoactive 3 has older hardware, which significantly reduces the price. It does not have the notable health stats upgrades and offers far less in the way of tracking health and workouts.

Unlike the new Garmin Vivoactive 4, the threes do not offer Spotify offline playback. The Vivoactive 4 also includes onboarding music storage which requires additional purchases with the Vivoactive 3.

The Vivoactive 4 comes in two size options, while the Vivoactive 3 only comes in one. The larger option for the Vivoactive 4 makes the difference, as it’s perfect for those with smaller wrists.

One innovation available in Vivoactive 4 is the addition of the second button. This works for wearers as a shortcut to preferred exercises as well as a function start/stop button. The second button is a significant upgrade in ease-of-use for seamless navigation through apps.

Which is Better: Vivoactive or Forerunner?

The new Vivoactive is significantly cheaper than the Garmin Forerunner series. It also offers a touchscreen that causes fewer interruptions than the Forerunner.

One of the most significant upgrades the Forerunner offers (that the Vivoactive 4 doesn’t) is month to month activity, workout, and fitness tracking.

Check out the specs on each and keep in mind what kind of activities you’ll be engaged with. This will help you decide which watch is right for you and how much you ought to spend.

Be sure to check out our other Garmin watch reviews for a more in-depth comparison.

Conclusion

Like many other Garmin watch reviews, we find that this watch is a fantastic all-in-one multi-sport, GPS, and health companion.

Whether you’re counting your steps, measuring your speed and distance for running, swimming, paddle boarding, golfing, or monitoring your stress, health, and sleep, this watch brings a lot to the table.

It’s significantly cheaper than some of the other options like the Forerunner and the Fenix.

For the money, it offers a lot and is used as the base model for everything else.

Garmin’s products are proven to be dependable and durable more than any other brand on the market.

Tracking and best GPS accuracy are impeccable, and a longer battery life than the Apple Watch and other competitors is guaranteed.

If you’re in the market for a new smartwatch, or you want to up your fitness game, or you want to start improving your health, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a lot to offer.

On Sale
Garmin 010-02174-11 Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated...
  • Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for...
  • Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may...
  • Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga,...

Links, prices and images pulled from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2020-09-18.

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