The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a fitness band from Garmin that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the company’s more complex watches. The Garmin Vivosmart 4 was the device’s predecessor, and it’s been around since 2018. And we loved it. But there comes a point when we just need an upgrade.
In addition to a better touchscreen experience, the new Vivosmart 5 band features several other essential changes, but it also loses a critical feature that is useful for a casual tracker. Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4 both lack GPS and instead use Connected GPS. We find this a shame as we’d love to see both features and feel it detracts from the smart side of the smart band.
If you want a standalone running watch, you’re better off with a more advanced Garmin like the Fenix 7 or new Epix 2, which uses your phone’s location data. We’ve reviewed these extensively and you can find our Epix 2 review here and our Fenix 7 review here.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 Vs. Vivosmart 5: A Breakdown
Here is what I found in a comparison of the Vivosmart 5 vs Vivosmart 4…
It appears that the Vivosmart 5 is no longer counting stairs
We were surprised to see that the barometric altimeter is no longer available on the Vivosmart range thanks to Garmin. The number of flights of steps you climb each day can be estimated with this tool, and it is especially useful for people who prefer to measure their progress throughout the day. I am one such person so the loss of specific data is a shame, in my opinion.
A larger screen
I really like the Vivosmart and can see why it’s Garmin’s most popular fitness band. On the other hand, the Vivosport has not had an update in years. It’s possible Garmin may also withdraw Vivofit, which is another alternative. If so, you’ll find a nice discount on this version.
I think the most recent Vivosmart has a very compact design, which some argue is too compact. The touchscreen OLED is small 6.6 x 17.7 mm, making it difficult to fit much content on the screen. Because of this, it has very limited applications.
I did notice the difference in screen size between the Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4. It’s only 0.5mm longer, but it’s 10.5mm wider than the Vivosmart 4. As a result, touchscreen operation is more user-friendly on the 5, and data will take up less space on the display.
Despite the fact that they both have monochrome OLED screens, the larger one has a higher resolution. There are 154 x 88 pixels on the Vivosmart 5’s display, up from 128 x 48 on the previous iteration. This really does make a difference to your view of the screen.
A wrist rotation or a push on the single physical button is all it takes to bring the display back to life. And I find that really useful.
On various Vivosmart 5 faces, you can tap a data field to view your steps, heart rate, date, weather, and battery level. Your most recent data field is automatically kept in the background. So for example, when I got out of bed, I saw that on the screen.
As far as design goes, I don’t notice much change. A polycarbonate case protects both the Vivosmart 5 and the Vivosmart 4. Compared to the previous version, the new model does not have an aluminum bezel. The lenses are also now acrylic rather than polycarbonate.
At long last, the Vivosmart 5 receives yet another visual flourish. You may now switch out the bands on your watch if you want to. I like having different ones to suit different outfits, and a specifically durable one for the gym. Before, all you had to work with was the one you got.
A heavier build
The device’s overall dimensions have expanded significantly as a result of the higher screen size. The dimensions increased by 23% from 15×197 to 19x217mm.
The depth, however, stays the same at 10.5mm, while the breadth and length both increase by 10.7mm (255 for large). Moreover, the weight has increased by about 8 grams. Still, this is an extremely small device with a very limited storage capacity.
You’ll feel that the new Vivosmart 5 is slightly (about 10g) heavier than the previous model, now weighing 26.5g up from the previous model’s 17.1g. In terms of proportion, it’s a significant increase, but wearers of the Vivosmart 5 should not be put off by it. I certainly wasn’t, but it is noticeable.
The Vivosmart 5 does away with the elevation sensor in favor of a more accurate sleep tracker. You’ll get a concise summary of the night with the new band, such as a phrase like “a long but not restorative sleep” or something similar, along with a sleep score and insights.
It’s possible that this is linked to another essential, but generally unseen, feature: respiration rate measurement.
In addition, incident detection during tracked activities is now available on the Garmin Vivosmart 5. These may detect vigorous motions, such as if you’ve fallen off your bicycle. During a particularly energetic time at a recent Ninja Warrior session, it did ask me if I’d fallen (which I had).
The incident detection feature is able to send an automated text message to your designated contacts. The Fenix 7 has a similar feature, but I think it’s a nice perk to have on a more basic device like this.
People who do not need complete GPS or a plethora of tracking settings will find the Vivosmart 4 and Vivosmart 5 useful.
Monitoring your physical fitness
Fitness monitoring modes for both indoor and outdoor activities are available on the Vivosmart 5, but if you’re a walker (like me), runner, or cyclist (not like me), be aware that it doesn’t have its own GPS. As a result of this, you cannot leave your phone at home if you want to keep track of your pace and route while you’re out and about.
Connected GPS monitoring is less precise than onboard GPS, although this isn’t likely to be an issue for most leisure activities.
The option to send an emergency alert to a trusted contact by pushing and holding the button on the Vivoactive 5’s casing is a new feature that casual users are more likely to appreciate. In the event of an emergency, your contact will receive a text message with your location data, which is a feature that Garmin has incorporated into all its current devices and which Fitbit has yet to match.
The barometric altimeter is gone, but newer sensors are added
There are also a few tweaks to the engine. Heart rate, blood oxygen, accelerometer, and ambient light are among the sensors shared by the two generations.
As we’ve mentioned, the barometric altimeter is missing from Vivosmart 5. As a result, it lacks the functionality of its predecessor in terms of tracking floors climbed.
NFC and battery life
If you were looking for NFC for Garmin Pay, you’ll be disappointed to learn that it doesn’t exist.
Depending on the settings, the battery for both devices can last up to a week without recharging. For a fitness band, that’s a good number, and it makes sense that Garmin has not made changes in that area.
The Vivosmart 5 costs $149.99, up from $129.99 for the Vivosmart 4, for either of the two available strap sizes.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Vivosmart 4 – Conclusion: Both are good competition for Fitbit
The Garmin Vivosmart is often compared with the Fitbit Charge, and I think this is wise. They’re both decent fitness tracker bands from two well-regarded giants in the market.
If you want a good-looking fitness tracker, I would recommend you look no further than the Garmin Vivosmart 5. Fitbit’s official mobile app recently had information about three incoming products, and we have reason to believe that one of these may be the Fitbit Inspire 3.
The next entry-level Fitbit may have the same vibrant color OLED display as last year’s Fitbit Luxe, but we don’t know much else about it yet. As such, it may appeal to individuals who find the Vivosmart 5’s monochromatic display less appealing.
We, on the other hand, believe that the case will be similar to the last one. Aside from the lack of a GPS module, we don’t expect the Fitbit Inspire 3 to come with the stress-monitoring EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor that is found in the Fitbit Charge 5 either.
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