If you are looking for one of the latest fitness trackers there’s a good chance the Fitbit Charge 3 and Garmin Vivosmart 4 will be on your shopping list. These are two of the most recent offerings from two of the giants in the field of fitness trackers – but which one comes out on top?
Hot on the heels of the launch of the Fitbit Charge 3, with its stylish slim design and wealth of features, came the Vivosmart 4 from Garmin. While neither of these is a smartwatch they certainly have a wealth of clever features that make them some of the most technologically advanced fitness trackers out there.
They have appeal for fitness fans and the fashion-conscious, while being fairly similar in features and price. These are two of the most recent offerings from two of the giants in the field of fitness trackers – but which one comes out on top?
Who is Fitbit?
Based in San Francisco, California, Fitbit is certainly a well-known American manufacturer of fitness trackers and watches. The company has been around since 2007 and has since won many industry awards.
The first product in the Fitbit range was a tracker. However, the company now manufactures a wide range of products including the Fitbit Zip clip-on tracker, and a selection of wristband style trackers which includes the Fitbit Alta and the Fitbit Alta HR.
Who is Garmin?
Garmin Ltd is another American company, founded in 1989. Initially, its main business was GPS technology for the automobile, marine, aviation and outdoor activities markets. The move to the activity tracker market was made more recently.
Garmin manufactures a wide selection of GPS tracking devices with a number of applications and also a range of fitness trackers as part of the Vivo series; including the Vivosmart, Vivofit and the Vivoactive.
The Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker offers users a grayscale 22mm OLED touchscreen with a resolution of 100 x 150 pixels. The Vivosmart 4 also has a grayscale OLED screen 19.3mm and a pixel resolution of 48 x 128 pixels.
The display of both trackers remains off by default until the user raises a hand, taps on the screen or if there is an alert of some type. The larger screen of the Fitbit charge 3 makes reading any alerts and stats a little easier than those displayed on the Vivosmart 4.
Materials and colours
Firstly, the Vivosmart 4 has aluminium case and features a polycarbonate lens and a silicone strap. The Charge 3 is lighter – 16g against 29g – with an aerospace-grade aluminium case and a Corning Gorilla Glass display. The buckle and housing of this tracker are made from anodised aluminium.
For the more fashion-conscious the Vivosmart I available in four different colourways, as is the Charge 3 – although ones of these features a white band which may be less partial for many users. Furthermore, both trackers have easy-clean rubberised straps
Both trackers are very easy on the eye and feature a slim, stylish and sleek design that makes them great for wearing with any outfit, not just sporting gear.
The Vivosmart has the smallest display, making it a little harder to read. And because the menu on the Vivosmart scrolls in a horizontal direction it can be easy to miss an alert if you are not paying attention.
Both trackers come with a small and a large band, so there is no problem ensuring that you have a good fit.
The Vivosmart 4 offers the most basic tracking features. However, it does not have GPS. The Charge 3 can connect to the GPS on your phone in order to not only log mileage but also give you accurate estimates of distance for walking, bike riding and running.
Unlike the Charge 3, the Vivosmart 4 supports an ANT+ connectivity so it can link with a chest strap for use as a heart rate monitor. The Vivosmart 4 offers automatic tracking of walking and running type exercises, so there is no requirement to launch the workout.
These are the major differences in features between the two trackers. The rest of the features are similar, including water-resistance up to 50 metres, sleep tracking and basic daily step counting.
Both trackers offer the similar battery life at around seven days. However, it is worth noting that because the Vivosmart 4 includes a Pulse Ox Sensor, the battery may not last as long as it is claimed. This is because it monitors the blood oxygen saturation level of the user for the whole night while they sleep.
Both trackers do have some smartwatch features. The Vivosmart 4 offers vibration alert and notifications when you receive calls, texts, emails or social media alerts. It also offers Bluetooth® Smart and ANT+® connectivity. You can also respond or reject calls through the wristband, and you can even control the music on your smartphone with it.
The Charge 3 allows you to view calls, messages, social media updates and weather alerts – this is done with a vibration alert. However, you are not able to make calls or respond to them via the wristband. There is also no music control feature.
The Pros and cons of the Fitbit Charge 3
- The OLED display screen is larger
- 24/7 sleep tracking and heart rate monitor
- Priced affordably
- Battery life of 7 days
- Water-resistant and swim-proof up to 50 meters
- Features stopwatch, timers, app alerts and weather
- Limited number of watch faces
- No control for music
The Pros and cons of the Garmin Vivosmart 4
- Pulse Ox Sensor
- Body battery energy monitor
- Offers advanced sleep monitoring
- All-day stress tracking, VO2 max estimates
- Water-resistant and swim-proof up to 50 meters
- Slimmer design
- No GPS features
- Smaller display screen
You’ll pay around £100 ($128) for the Garmin Vivosmart 4 and £120 ($155) for the Fitbit Charge 3 – so price is not much of a deciding factor between these two models.
If you are looking for something with GPS trackability, then only the Charge 3 is going to offer you this feature. Likewise, if you require a tracker with heart rate monitor capabilities, then the Vivosmart 4 is the way forward.
Both of these trackers offer the quality you would expect from their respective manufacturers. So, if neither of these features are of particular importance to you, your final decision may, in fact, be swayed by the look of the tracker and the ease with which you can read the data it provides. If, of course, you need a particular feature, then the choice is very clear. The Vivosmart 4 is great for tracking heart rate or the Charge 3 might be best for its GPS capability.
How Do We Test Smartwatches?
We take pride in the amount of time and effort that we put into testing and reviewing smartwatches. We know that you’re relying on us to give you the key information that you need to decide whether a certain model is right for your needs, and that’s why we put each and every one through its paces with a rigorous approach to testing.
We examine the design of each watch to see whether it’s stylish and appealing while also remaining highly functional and easy to use. Is it comfortable to wear? Does it look good on wrists of all sizes? Does it offer customisation options or interchangeable straps and faces? We examine all of these elements.
We look closely at integrated features and fitness tracking capabilities. Is there GPS? Are there LTE capabilities? Can you make contactless payments? Is there storage for songs and podcasts? Sleep tracking and activity tracking for different sports? We test these elements and look at the effect that each have on the power, processing capacity, memory and battery life of each device.
Then we bring all this information together in an informative review so that you can make the best choice about whether the smartwatch that we’re reviewing is really the best one for your requirements.