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Hands-on with the vivosmart 4, Garmin's Fitbit Charge 3 competitor
The Fitbit Charge 3 is turning out to be one of the most exciting fitness trackers of the year, but Garmin doesn’t want to admit defeat that easily. That’s why Garmin is launching the vivosmart 4 fitness tracker to take on the latest from Fitbit.
To compete with the Charge 3, Garmin first had to make a device that was enough of an upgrade from the lackluster Vivosmart 3 that launched last year. That device had an awkward design, a mediocre display, and plenty of UI issues. The vivosmart 4 seems to fix all of those things.
The design is much classier this year, with the device sporting a higher-end silicone strap and a metal trim around the display. It has an OLED screen that’s easy to see in direct sunlight, and quite frankly looks way nicer than last year’s model. It is quite small though. It’s easy enough to navigate around the user interface, but smartphone notifications are not easy to read on the small display. Notifications scroll through like an LED ticker display. I don’t have any suggestions on how Garmin could make this better, either — it’s just the downside to having a narrow screen.
With the vivosmart 4, Garmin is touting its new Body Battery metric that will attempt to estimate your body’s energy reserves. This essentially gives you an energy “score” that will help you determine if you should stay home and rest or go out on that long run. The Body Battery score is gathered using information from stress, heart rate variability, sleep, and activity.
The vivosmart 4 also comes with a pulse ox sensor for measuring your blood oxygen saturation levels at night to help you better understand your sleep quality. It also ships with advanced sleep metrics (yes!) that will tell you how much deep, light, and REM sleep you’re getting, and how much you moved during the night.
The vivosmart 4 has an updated version of Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor that can now alert you if it senses you have an abnormal heart rate. It’ll also keep tabs on your VO2 max, your daily stress, and offers a relaxation timer if you need help calming down.
Elsewhere, you’ll be able to check the weather, control your music, and utilize the built-in “find my phone” feature all from your wrist. You can also receive smartphone notifications of any kind, and even reply to texts with preset messages (Android only). Finally, Garmin says the vivosmart 4 will last you seven days on a single charge — that’s two days longer than the vivosmart 3.
The biggest omission on the vivosmart 4’s spec sheet is the lack of any GPS connectivity. It’s no surprise to see that the device doesn’t have a built-in GPS module, but you can’t connect it to your phone to use GPS either.This is probably the biggest reason to buy the Fitbit Charge 3 over the vivosmart 4, since the Charge 3 comes with Connected GPS. Of course, Garmin also has the Vivosport activity tracker, which does have a built-in GPS.
Before we get into pricing and availability, check out the full list of Garmin vivosmart 4 specs below:
|Garmin vivosmart 4|
6.6 x 17.7mm
48 x 128 resolution
7 days (excluding pulse ox sleep tracking)
7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
Ambient light sensor
Bluetooth Smart and ANT+
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Control smartphone music
Find My Phone / Find My Watch
VIRB Camera Remote
Dimensions and weight
Small/medium: 15 x 10.5 x 197mm
Fits wrists with a circumference of 122-188mm
Large: 15 x 10.5 x 223mm
Fits wrists with a circumference of 148-215mm
You can pre-order the Garmin vivosmart 4 right now for $129.99, with estimated availability slated for 3–5 weeks from now. It’s available in four color options: berry with gold bezel, powder grey with rose gold bezel, azure blue with silver bezel, and black with slate bezel (the one in this article).
New Garmin vivomove HR and vivoactive 3 Music colors
- Rose gold bezel/case with gray suede band (includes additional granite blue silicone band): $349
- Onyx black bezel/case with tan suede band (includes additional black silicone band): $349
- Stainless bezel with sea foam case and silicone band: $199
- Slate bezel with sandstone case and silicone band: $199 (Going on sale at a later date)
- Gold bezel with berry case and silicone band: $199 (Macy’s exclusive)
The vivoactive 3 Music, one of our favorite GPS running watches, is also getting a new color option: granite blue case with a silicone band and rose gold accents. I really love this color. It’s available now on Garmin.com for $299 at the link below.
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