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Best Deal: Forerunner 45 at Amazon
"An unobtrusive and high-performing fitness tracker loaded with features."
Best Budget: Vivofit 4 at Amazon
"Offers a suite of fitness tracking abilities while boasting a battery life of over one year"
Best Fitness Tracker: Forerunner 935 at Amazon
"All the best activity tracking capabilities paired with plenty of smart features and GPS."
Runner-Up, Best Fitness Tracker: Vivosport at Amazon
"Also offers some smartwatch features like music playback controls and smart notifications from your phone."
Best for Athletes: Forerunner 945 at Amazon
"Tailored to triathletes, it has all the fitness tracking features you could ever yearn for."
Best Smartwatch: Vivoactive 3 at Amazon
"An excellent blend of smartwatch features, a slick design, and a reasonable price."
Best Hybrid Watch: Vivomove HR at Amazon
"Offers some of the same features as a smartwatch while maintaining a more classic, analog watch design."
The Garmin Forerunner 45, the company’s lowest-priced entry to date, is an unobtrusive and high-performing fitness tracker loaded with features usually reserved for more expensive models. You’ll be able to receive notifications from your smartphone, as well as track a variety of fitness and sport metrics. It will count your calories and steps to help you keep on track of your health in addition to updating you on your “body battery,” or how ready you are for your next workout. The sports tracking function is best suited for runners, though there are different modes for elliptical users and yoga doers, too. It records time, heart rate, and estimated distance using GPS positional tracking, but you can personalize metrics to serve your individual workouts and goals.
The Forerunner 45 uses Garmin’s usual five-button setup and features a low-power LCD screen. It is available in four colors: purple, white, black, and red. You can also download new watches from the online store, for added flair.
One problem with a lot of smartwatch and fitness trackers: they're always running out of battery. Some smartwatches even require a daily recharge, like your phone. That’s not the case with Garmin’s Vivofit 4. The Vivofit 4 offers a suite of fitness tracking abilities while boasting a battery life of over one year.
As far as smarts go, the Vivofit 4 is fairly simple — it mostly functions as a watch and a step counter, though the small color display can also show the weather. There’s no GPS or heart rate tracking. But, if your goal is to simply make sure you’re getting up and moving around often enough, the Vivofit 4 can help. Because of its long battery life and ability to be worn in pools and showers, you can keep the Vivofit 4 on 24/7.
This tracker has a built-in accelerometer that allows it to accurately track and identify your movement, so it can recognize and classify all the different activities or exercise you do. It can also track sleep to see if you’re tossing and turning or resting peacefully. So, if you're just looking for a streamlined activity tracker without all the bells and whistles, the Vivofit 4 is a great budget option from Garmin.
If you want all the best activity tracking capabilities paired with plenty of smart features and GPS, then the Garmin Forerunner 935 is hard to beat. As a fitness tracker, the Forerunner 935 is our top pick, but do keep in mind that it lacks onboard music storage.
One of the best selling points for the Forerunner 935 is its stellar battery life. The watch can get up to two weeks per charge in smartwatch mode. And, though GPS severely reduces that life, the Forerunner 935 can still muster up to 24 hours of battery life with both GPS capability and heart rate tracking enabled. All that, and it has a 1.2-inch color display to show your activities, smart notifications, calendar info, and more.
Because the GPS function lasts a long time, a lot of your tracking can include positioning data. So, whether you’re running, golfing, hiking, skiing, biking, or open-water swimming, the Forerunner 935 is able to track your activity and highlight where you’ve been.
If you’re not after a traditional watch design, the Vivosport is a very capable fitness tracker that offers a solid feature set including a suite of sensors, a handy 0.38-inch color display, and a swim-ready construction.
The Vivosport comes in multiple colors and sizes, each with a polymer case and silicone strap. They all also include heart rate monitoring and GPS. The basic smartwatch mode will last up to a week on a single charge, while GPS mode can last up to eight hours. If you only use the GPS during workouts, then you should be able to go a few days in between charges.
The Vivosport can track steps, speed, reps at the gym, running, and biking. While you’re exercising, it can also monitor your heart rate and let you know when you’ve reached specific heart rate zones. Beyond that, it also offers some smartwatch features like music playback controls and smart notifications from your phone.
If you're looking for fitness-based features first and foremost, the Garmin Forerunner 945 is one of the most impressive smartwatches on the market. Tailored to triathletes, it has all the fitness tracking features you could ever yearn for, whether you're focused on running, cycling, swimming, or some combination of all three. But it also uses coaching features and intelligent software elements to determine the effectiveness of your workouts. VO2 max tracking will factor in heat and altitude to recommend optimum performance while aerobic and anaerobic feedback is given on a long-term basis to help you figure out whether you’re building power and efficiency over time. Plus, its long-term training options will help you decide if your workouts are appropriate or too strenuous, and when you should be taking breaks or pushing yourself.
Of course, there are other more smartwatch-focused features like Garmin Pay built right in, along with advanced GPS maps (inclusive of GLONASS and Galileo), a whole app store to customize your needs, and smartphone notifications. It comes in a light, hard-plastic build with a silicon band, and you can even store up to 1,000 songs right on-board to listen to music without being tethered to your smartphone.
Courtesy of Amazon
For an excellent blend of smartwatch features, a slick design, and a reasonable price, the Vivoactive 3 is our top pick. The Vivoactive 3 offers a classical watch design and fits standard 20mm watch bands. There are a variety of configurations for the Vivoactive 3, some using polymer cases and others using a mix of polymer and steel. However, Garmin’s smartest version, which features music playback and Verizon connectivity, is built with a polymer case.
The Vivoactive 3 features a color screen with a 1.2-inch diameter. The screen uses a transflective memory-in-pixel display, which is visible in bright conditions without the need for any backlighting. Beyond being readable in sunlight, the display also helps the watch run for up to 5 days per charge.
The Vivoactive 3 has GPS tracking, a heart rate monitor, smart notifications from your phone (with the ability to send text responses and reject phone calls on paired Android devices), apps for calendar and weather, support for Garmin Pay, and many activity tracking tools. Whether you’re running, golfing, cycling, or swimming, the Vivoactive 3 can help track your activity.
If you're the type who prefers a classy watch face to a high-tech screen, then that's where a hybrid smartwatch can come in. These devices offer some of the same tracking features and notification functions as a smartwatch while maintaining a more classic, analog watch design.
The Vivomove HR is Garmin’s shot at this corner of the market. There are both Premium and Sport versions available, with the key difference being that the Sport model is more affordable and lighter thanks to a polymer case, whereas the Premium model has a stainless steel case. Both have stainless steel bezels around the watch face.
There are multiple color options for each model, and they come with different strap types. Each watch is rated to withstand five atmospheres of pressure under water. A "Smartwatch Mode" enables the heart rate monitor, smart notifications on the mini OLED display, and some light activity tracking. The battery can last up to five days in Smartwatch Mode and continue to function for two weeks after that (with more limited features) before needing a charge.