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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Decent battery life
Wrist-based heart-rate monitoring
Some activities are automatically recorded
Offers several wellness features
Swiping motion can be finicky
Fit is challenging on smaller wrists
Poor screen visibility in daylight
Workout data accuracy is questionable
The Garmin Vivomove HR boasts smart features in an attractive analog watch package for fashionable daily wear, but it earns the most points for general wellness support rather than training or sport workout accuracy.
We purchased the Garmin Vivomove HR so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you’re interested in moving more and monitoring daily activities with the help of a chic fitness-tracking watch, the Garmin Vivomove HR is worth a closer look. The is an accessory aimed at those who like to be active and stylish too. I wore and used this watch for over a week and was impressed with the look of it, level of wellness data captured, and the overall support it offers for general well-being.
Some people enjoy the sporty design of an Apple Watch or Samsung smartwatch. But if you feel like you’re compromising utility over personal style with those options, the Garmin Vivomove HR offers a happy middle ground.
The watch I tested was fitted with a brown leather band and gold stainless steel case. If you were to glance at it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there’s a lot going on underneath the surface. With a simple turn of the wrist the OLED, placed discreetly in the bottom center of the watch face, illuminates for at-a-glance access to step count and other data. The watch hands also conveniently move out of the way for better visibility and return to reflect the current time when not in use.
The overall size of the Vivomove HR is 43 x 43 x 11.6 millimeters (HWD) and the display measures 0.38 x 0.76 inches. On larger wrists, this won’t be a big deal, but smaller wrists like mine could face a fit challenge since the face is on the larger side. But the device as a whole only weighs 56.5 grams, which won’t weigh you down. It also comes with a 5 ATM water-resistance rating, which means you’re good to use this for lap swimming and other water sports, and won’t need to worry about rain and snow exposure. I wore this watch in the shower and when washing dishes and found it to be effective against repelling water and always dried quickly.
In terms of design quirks, in lieu of a typical micro USB charging cord, this watch features a charging clip with a USB connection. The clip opens easily and must be placed directly onto the charging contacts on the back of the watch face in order to charge/transfer data. This charging method is a bit of a quirk of some Garmin watches, but it eliminates the need for charging ports that could be at risk when exposed to moisture.
Setting up the Garmin Vivomove HR is easy through the Garmin Connect app. I already had the mobile app downloaded on my iPhone, which made the fast setup process speedier. The app immediately detected the Vivomove HR and then presented on-screen instructions for calibrating the watch hands, setting the wrist placement (right or left), widget preferences, and touring basic functions. This took a matter of minutes since the Garmin Vivomove HR was nearly fully charged out of the box.
I wore the Garmin Vivomove HR during waking and sleeping hours and never experienced discomfort while I slept. If I did experience any issues, it was during the day when conducting routine tasks—especially typing. Invariably the watch would shift and the larger face made contact with my wristbone.
The wellness data, especially with consistent daily wear, was helpful and motivated me to move more.
During sleeping hours, though, I wasn’t disturbed by any shifting of the timepiece. And since sleep mode is on by default, I wasn’t bothered by notifications or the screen illuminating. When trying to fall asleep or during waking moments, I was occasionally startled by the green light from the heart-rate sensor on the back of the watch face. If you get a tight fit against your wrist, this shouldn’t be an issue.
In terms of overall ease of use, the only actions you’ll need to master are touching and swiping the screen: there are no buttons or bezels to deal with. Touch prompts sound like a no-brainer and an appealing way to interact with the watch, but I found the screen to be fussy and slow to respond at times. If I didn’t tap the screen in just the right way, I had to repeatedly tap until I could stop or start a workout timer. And if I failed to complete a full sweeping motion through the widgets, the screen wouldn’t advance to the next item. Instead I ended up just drilling down further into that particular category.
For example, if I didn’t fully swipe past the weather widget information for the day, the screen would take me to the weekly forecast. Then I had to press the back button to get to the general widgets screen. With continued use, I became savvier with touch and swiping actions, but it was still a consistent issue when trying to start/stop workout timers. This was an even bigger issue outside and in bright sunlight, which made the screen virtually undetectable.
The Vivomove HR is a well-rounded device. Not only does it look fashionable as an everyday accessory, but it also offers stopwatch functions, monitors heart rate (resting and active), automatically tracks activities such as running, walking, and even using an elliptical machine, and tracks steps, calories, and other fitness data such as VO2 max.
The wellness data, especially with consistent daily wear, was helpful and motivated me to move more. The Move Bar, while annoying, ultimately encouraged me to avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing by simply reminding me to move if I hadn’t been very active in the last hour. But when it comes to accuracy as a fitness tracker, I wasn’t wildly impressed.
On a few short 1 to 3-mile runs, the Vivomove HR recorded my speed as up to 1 minute faster than my Garmin Forerunner 35 running watch. Heart rate was also considerably more elevated according to the Vivomove. And when I launched a strength training activity, the counter was always behind by about five reps. The Move IQ technology that auto-detects workouts didn’t always get it right either. Frequently when I was walking, the watch logged that stretch of movement as a running or an elliptical machine session.
Fortunately, saving workout information and viewing any activity from the watch is easy and foolproof through the Garmin Connect app. If you prefer to set this watch up and sync data using your computer, the Garmin Express software allows you to complete the same steps for setting up and configuring the device along with syncing data with your Garmin Connect account and checking for software updates.
It’s entirely possible to choose between either setup, despite the quick-start instructions that indicate everything should be done through the mobile app. But using the app alone and syncing regularly helps send automatic software updates directly to the device when not in use. At any point you can log in to the Garmin Connect web app, regardless of which way you decide to sync data, to view your information on a larger display and download it.
The key features of the software revolve around basic activity tracking from climbing flights of stairs to monitoring all-day stress levels (based on heart rate) to breaking down hours of deep versus light sleep. While this is information you can glance at on your watch, the app distills all of this general wellness into daily, weekly, and monthly reports.
There’s also plenty of customization power when it comes to organizing the activity tracking data you see on your watch display and in the app itself. You can choose the widgets displayed such as music controls to control music on your smartphone and the number of intensity workout minutes you’ve reached for the week. And if you prefer to shuffle the way that data is arranged in the mobile app, there’s a simple drag and drop feature that helps you do that.
This complementary software also places the control in your hands when it comes to social media sharing and integrating with outside fitness-tracking platforms such as Map My Run and Strava—which you can easily do from the Garmin Connect mobile and web apps.
In terms of design quirks, in lieu of a typical micro USB charging cord, this watch features a charging clip with a USB connection.
Garmin says that this watch can last for over two weeks in watch mode and up to five days in smartwatch mode—which I can confirm. This claim tracked even with frequent glancing at the display and toggling through the widgets as well as receiving regular text and email updates throughout the day. I didn’t see the battery drain in any consistent way until the fifth day. And recharging the watch was fast: it took about only one hour.
The Garmin Vivomove HR ranges in price from around $200 for the Sport version that comes with a silicone band to $350 for Premium leather-band alternatives. There are certainly cheaper hybrid smartwatch options on the market. Both the Withings Move Steel HR and Fossil Smartwatch HR Collider retail for less than $200. And while they offer similar features such as message previews, heart rate, weather and sleep data, and even GPS, neither offers a touchscreen display and unique health data like stress level readings based on heart rate patterns.
The Withings Move Steel HR ($180 MSRP) also occupies a similar space. It matches the Vivomove HR by offering optical wrist-based heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, water-resistance up to 50 meters, and smartphone notifications. The Withings Move Steel HR also has a stylish analog watch look, but if you prefer a flat over curved face and a touchscreen you can interact with, the Vivomove HR takes the prize. Heart-rate tracking inconsistencies plague both watches, but the Withings does come with connected GPS compatibility.
While this is a boon for distance tracking during workouts, the downside is that you’ll need to have your smartphone with you. The Withings Move Steel HR battery longevity is supposed to be 25 days and an additional month without smart mode turned off. But if you prefer the touchscreen interaction rather than the dual displays—one dial that monitors step count progress by percentage and one LCD that displays notifications—the Vivomove could be worth the extra money.
A quality hybrid watch that’s best for general wellness tracking and basic smart features.
The Garmin Vivomove HR isn’t the watch to reach for when you want to accurately log running or cycling workouts, but if you want a larger bird’s-eye view of your wellness, this is worth considering. It’s stylish enough for work and everyday wear and possesses thoughtful design details and health tracking features other hybrid smartwatch competitors don’t.
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