The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the latest in the brand’s mid-range offering. Sure, it sits beneath the stylish Garmin Venu and triathlete-focussed Fenix 6, but that’s because it’s geared toward semi-serious fitness enthusiasts.
It offers decent fitness tracking and smartwatch features inside a design that resembles the latter more than the former. But, ultimately, it’s a great middle-ground piece for those who are serious about training but don’t want to change their watch to go back to the office after a session.
Now, the downside is that the screen is a little fiddly to use if you get it wet; which may put some outdoor-types off. Plus, Garmin’s app ecosystem leaves a little to be desired. So it has the good looks, but it doesn’t stand up against the likes of the new Apple Watch 6, for example.
When switched off, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Garmin Vivioactive 4 was a Venu. Which isn’t a criticism, as it has a rounded metallic face which gives it a premium look. Unlike its chunky sibling, the Fenix 6.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is tough and usable. With options of a 40mm or 45mm case and many different straps to choose from, it’s easily customisable to suit your environment.
Also, it’s 5ATM water-resistant and has Gorilla Glass 3 on its Chroma screen. Meaning, it’ll stay with you in some underwater adventures and will survive the odd bump.
Inside the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are some pleasant surprises. For one, it comes with built-in storage for 500 songs. Plus the UI has had an update to make navigation easier using the touchscreen.
Furthermore, the UI changes are all positive. As with previous Vivo watches, you can scroll up and down your customised screens and get instant access to data such as your health stats, workout information, music controls and any other apps you have installed.
If you’re into hybrid watches you should know that, sadly, the Garmin IQ store is a little lacking, if any negatives need to be pointed out in the name of fairness. Meaning, outside of the dedicated Garmin Connect app, the app library has a limited offering, especially considering non-fitness apps. Even those apps that do work can feel a bit laggy compared to Fitbit apps, say; Nevermind the experience you get with an Apple Watch. If notifications and music controls are enough for you, then this is still a great shout.
Fortunately, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has great fitness tracking capability and that makes up for any smart feature shortcomings.
Of course, you get all the standard features that you would expect on a fitness tracker which includes accurate GPS and multiple activity tracking from jogging to yoga and skiing.
As for the more basic tracking, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 effortlessly matches the standard you should expect from a Garmin watch. Subsequently, the heart rate monitoring offers a decent breakdown of your intensity minutes during your workout.
What’s useful is the new guided workout animations for things like free weights and yoga. Similar to Fitbit, you get a graphical guide showing you how to do certain exercises. To access this, simply download it to the Connect app.
Extra Metrics and Sensors
Following this, there are some additional metrics that have been added by Garmin. Particularly, the ability to see your estimated sweat loss, pulse OX and respiration rate.
Firstly, when they say estimated sweat loss, it’s actually really hard to measure, but it does a decent job. You get this alongside a host of post-workout statistics, including a gauge of how well you performed, your heart rate zones and a recommendation for recovery times.
Secondly, the pulse OX sensor is a key update for the health-conscious out there. This will tell you how much oxygen is in your blood, which is a great indicator of your overall current health. And experiencing a significant drop can indicate a problem. Now, this is common on Fitbit models nowadays so it’s not only special to the Vivoactive range.
Finally, respiration tracking goes great with the guided breathing exercises. Liken to the Fitbit Sense, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is interested in your stress levels and wellbeing and judges this based on your elevated heart rate. On the whole, this feature works pretty well and provides better data than the Fitbit can.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 claims to offer up to 8 days between charges and reports from users say this is true to life. However, to achieve this, you need to limit the use of the pulse OX tracking.
Specifically, you can happily track a 30 – 45 minute work out whilst listening to music and check your health metrics a few times – every day, for those 8 days.
As you’d expect, using the pulse OX and GPS will zap the battery down to maybe 3-5 days. In fact, that’s actually really good considering.
Should I buy the Garmin Vivoactive 4?
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is not a cheap watch; sitting comfortably in the mid-range level. However, if you’re after a decent fitness tracker with in-depth metrics, a few smart features and a sleek design to boot, then it’s a solid choice.
The GPS is accurate and it serves runners and outdoor enthusiasts very well.
If a downside has to be pointed out, it’s that the app library is not a patch on competitors. So more casual users who are seeking a smartwatch with fitness features will be disappointed. If you’re such a user, head to our review of the Fitbit Versa 3 or Apple Watch SE, both in a similar price range.
If you cant wait for the next release
Read our article about the new Vivoactive 5 that is about to be launched.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is not a revolution from the Vivoactive 3 but it’s still a solid mid-range fitness tracker with smart features.
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Last Updated on January 22, 2023
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