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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Slim and lightweight design
Has Sp02 sensors
Useful body battery feature
Overly generous step counter
Imprecise heart rate monitor
Straps aren’t removable
No built-in GPS
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a good option for those who want to lightly track activities and monitor their sleep, stress, and energy.
Fitness trackers have come a long way over the last few years, and you can find options in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and price ranges. The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is priced in about the mid-range, and it offers a few cool perks in addition to the standards like calorie counting and step counting. I tested the Garmin Vivosmart 4 for a month to see how it performs compared to other similarly priced fitness trackers on the market.
The Vivosmart is lightweight, weighing only 16.5 grams (for the small/medium size). It has a very slim profile, with the silicone band measuring only about a half of an inch in width. Now, this is great for style purposes, as the band looks great on the wrist. But, the slim design isn’t particularly functional, as the screen is extremely small and somewhat hard to read from a distance (especially if you have poor vision like me). The tiny screen measures a mere 0.26 inches wide by 0.70 inches tall.
The Vivosmart 4 has a unibody design, and you cannot remove the tracker portion from the band. I was somewhat disappointed to see that I couldn’t switch out the bands for other colors and styles, especially considering Garmin has such attractive band options. Unfortunately, you can only choose one—grey with rose gold trim, berry with light gold trim, azure blue with silver trim, or the band I tested, black with midnight trim. The band also comes in small/medium or large sizes. The small/medium size fit my wrist well, but when I had my husband try on the band, it wouldn’t fit around his wrist. Other trackers, like the Fitbit Charge 4, come with both a small and large band.
The Vivosmart 4 is one of the more comfortable fitness trackers I’ve tested. Most of the time, I’d forget I was even wearing the tracker until it vibrated. The band’s side edges are rounded off, making it feel more comfortable against the skin.
The buckle doesn’t press into the skin or cause irritation, but the sides of the silicone band do leave indents on the wrist after long periods of wear. The Vivosmart 4 is waterproof, and you can wear it in the pool, wear it while showering, and in the rain without damaging the device. You really only have to take off the Vivosmart to charge the battery.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 performs exceptionally well in some areas and mediocre in others, making it a decent device for runners or everyday users who want a device to track their general health and wellness, but a not such great device for fitness buffs who want seamless and accurate workout tracking.
The Vivosmart 4 has some cool perks, like a pulse ox sensor that can track blood oxygen saturation levels, and a body battery feature that uses a variety of data (oxygen, sleep, heart rate, etc) to determine how much energy you have available. The body battery feature is perhaps the most useful tool within this tracker, as it lets you know when you need to take it easy and when you have more energy available to spend. There’s also a stress monitoring widget you can place right on the tracker’s interface, which I also found incredibly useful. I was in the process of moving while testing the Vivosmart 4, and I could watch my stress levels rising as I went through the stresses of packing, moving, and buying and selling my homes.
The body battery feature is perhaps the most useful tool within this tracker, as it lets you know when you need to take it easy and when you have more energy available to spend.
On the downside, the Vivosmart 4’s step counter isn’t exactly accurate, although this tends to be a common problem with fitness trackers. I also saw some issues with the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, as I tested the heart rate monitor against a chest monitor, and it was off by as much as 10 beats per minute.
Workout tracking is somewhat lacking in the Vivosmart 4. It has a feature called Move IQ, which is supposed to identify periods of movement that match familiar exercise patterns like walking, running, biking, swimming, or using an elliptical machine. It then automatically starts timing the event for you. This feature is only accurate some of the time though. It detects walking pretty consistently, but it doesn’t do as good of a job at detecting swimming or biking. For strength training, it has a rep counter, but you can also turn on auto-set, and the Vivosmart 4 will attempt to automatically determine when you’re performing a repetitive motion and estimate the number of reps. These features aren’t always accurate though, and you may have to go in and edit the data afterward.
I tested the heart rate monitor against a chest monitor and it was off by as much as 10 beats per minute.
Overall, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 is capable of providing an abundance of useful data, but it requires a bit more effort on the part of the user to obtain this information. If you do things like add a custom stride length, edit any activities that didn’t track accurately, track hydration and weight goals, use the female health features, and pair the Garmin Connect app with the My Fitness Pal app, you can get a comprehensive health and fitness tracking experience.
The Vivosmart 4 doesn’t have any hard buttons, but rather a monotone touchscreen that you double-tap on the bottom portion to awaken. You scroll up and down to navigate through the various functions. I’m not in love with the interface, which isn’t particularly intuitive or feature-rich. Although companion apps are important to any good fitness tracker, the Vivosmart 4 relies too heavily on its app. It doesn’t have built-in GPS either, so it’s more tethered to your phone than some other fitness trackers on the market.
The Garmin Connect app is pretty comprehensive though. You can customize your widgets and choose up to six displayed activities. You can also enable smart notifications, which will send call and text alerts to your Vivosmart 4 or send all notifications. I made the mistake of selecting “all notifications,” and I received, well, all notifications (from my video doorbell, security camera, and shopping apps). I quickly changed the setting to receive notifications for calls and texts only.
The Garmin Connect app allows you to dive as deep into your fitness tracking as you want. If you’re a runner, it can track everything from your cadence to your max pace. It provides charts and graphs of your long term activity level, heart rate, stress, body battery, and more. You can also use insights to compare that data with the averages in your age and gender category.
The battery is supposed to last for up to seven days, but the battery life depends largely on the features you use and how frequently you use the tracker. If you’re only passively tracking a few metrics, your battery might last a full week. If you’re constantly checking your heart rate, pulse ox, stress levels, sleep, and counting reps several times a day, your battery will not last that long. I got three and a half days of battery life when taking full advantage of the fitness tracker’s features.
The battery charges using a clip-on charger. It took an average of 90 minutes to reach a full charge (from about 10% full).
The Vivosmart 4 retails for $130, which is slightly high for this unit. You can find a refurbished version on Amazon for around $80, which is a more reasonable price.
I found the Garmin Vivosmart 4 much more comfortable than the Fitbit Charge 3. I also like the body battery and stress monitoring features in the Vivosmart 4. On the other hand, the Fitbit Charge 3 has a more accurate heart monitor (according to testing). The Fitbit Charge 3 (view on Amazon) also offers a ton of workouts in its Fitbit app, and slightly more seamless activity tracking for weight training and high-intensity workouts. If you want a day-to-day fitness tracker to track your sleep, stress, and energy levels, the Vivosmart 4 is a great option. If you want a larger screen and easy tracking for activities like weight training and cycling, you may prefer the Fitbit Charge 3.
A comfortable band with unique perks.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a great option for anyone who wants to track their sleep, stress, energy, and cardio, but there are better options out there for weight training.