Search results for

All search results
Best daily deals

Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Garmin vivoactive 5 watch face
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Garmin Vivoactive 5

Garmin Vivoactive 5 review: Should you buy it?

The latest updates to the Vivoactive line were well worth the wait.
By

Published onFebruary 9, 2024

Garmin Vivoactive 5

Garmin Vivoactive 5

True to trend, Garmin officially brings an AMOLED display to another popular lineup. The Vivoactive 5 features a colorful new screen, an upgraded heart rate sensor, and a host of added health and fitness tracking tools. In short, it offers a similar, well-rounded experience to the Garmin Venu 3 but at a fraction of the cost.

MSRP: $299.99

See price at Amazon

What we like

Vibrant, AMOLED display
Refreshed user interface
Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
Heaps of added health and fitness tracking tools
Lower price point than predecessor
Accurate heart rate and GPS sensors

What we don't like

Removed barometric altimeter
Eliminated workout animations
Won't be ECG app compatible
Garmin Vivoactive 5

Garmin Vivoactive 5

True to trend, Garmin officially brings an AMOLED display to another popular lineup. The Vivoactive 5 features a colorful new screen, an upgraded heart rate sensor, and a host of added health and fitness tracking tools. In short, it offers a similar, well-rounded experience to the Garmin Venu 3 but at a fraction of the cost.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is the latest addition to the Vivoactive lineup, a series that hadn't seen a new model in four years. The fitness-focused smartwatch marks the line's first AMOLED display and adds many of Garmin's around-the-clock health and fitness tracking tools. It even includes some of the company's newest features first introduced on the Venu 3. Unlike its predecessor, the Vivoactive 5 is available in just one 42mm case size.
  • What is the price? Priced $50 less than the previous model, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 is listed at $300.
  • Where can you buy it? The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is available now from Garmin.com, as well as from third-party retailers such as Amazon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Garmin Vivoactive 5 for five days. The review unit was supplied by Garmin.
  • Is it worth it? In a vacuum, the Vivoactive 5 is a solid device with an attractive display, ample health and fitness features, and a great price. It's significantly better than its predecessor and well worth the upgrade for anyone committed to the Vivoactive line. In many ways, it feels like a pared-down Venu 3, especially now that both lines feature AMOLED displays. The Vivoactive 5 provides a budget-friendly alternative to the Venu line and adds another reliable pick to Garmin's watch stable.

Update, February 2024: Added minor updates to the capabilities of some Garmin Vivoactive 5 alternatives.

Should you buy the Garmin Vivoactive 5?

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 on a user's wrist displays its watch face.

For years, Garmin’s Vivoactive series ran the table in popularity, offering a balanced blend of smart features and wellness-tracking tools. That is until the Venu series arrived. With its colorful displays and boosted smart features, the Venu lineup seemed to replace the Vivoactive line, and in fact, we didn’t see an upgrade to the latter for roughly four years. Finally, the Vivoactive 5 landed with an AMOLED display of its own and a trove of software updates. Approachably priced at $299, the device situates itself neatly between Garmin’s square-shaped Venu Sq 2 and the Venu 3.

For the first time on the Vivoactive line, the latest model swaps its MIP screen for a vibrant, colorful, AMOLED display.

The Vivoactive 5 comes in a single 42mm case size with a 1.2-inch touchscreen that’s no longer an outdated MIP display. Instead, it features a 390 x 390 resolution AMOLED display covered in Gorilla Glass and surrounded by an aluminum bezel. The screen is nearly identical to the Venu 3S, though the overall impression of the device is more casual.

Given that the Vivoactive 5 only features two buttons, I relied on the touchscreen more heavily than I tend to on most three or five-button Garmin watches. Overall, the display is responsive and reliable, though, like many watches, it struggles with wet or sweaty hands. Fortunately, the watch also features a revamped interface, with organized app/activity menus, a Recents menu, and expanded shortcuts, so navigation is fairly streamlined.

Garmin vivoactive 5 sensor

Turned over, the Vivoactive 5 reveals another significant upgrade compared to the Vivoactive 4, though not as impressive as I expected. Where the previous generation featured a third-generation Elevate heart rate sensor, the newer device features a Gen 4. This is an improvement, but it’s not Garmin’s newest Gen 5 sensor, as seen on the Venu 3. That means the Vivoactive 5 will not be eligible for an ECG app down the line. The Venu 3 meanwhile has received FDA approval to feature Garmin’s ECG app.

Instead, the watch leverages its sensor for activity tracking and overnight stats. The Vivoactive 5 is the second Garmin watch to offer automatic nap detection as well as on-device sleep coaching and sleep recommendation factors, all of which work as well as they did during my Venu 3 testing.

These tools and their corresponding stats are used to calculate useful metrics like Body Battery. Considering the device also now features heart rate variability tracking (HRV), it’s easy to dub the watch a more robust training companion than the Vivoactive 4.

Garmin vivoactive 5 Sports

Other tools added to the line are Garmin’s Morning Report and Daily Summary, which condense users’ key metrics for quick consumption (one in the morning and the other before bed). I love waking up to a friendly, wrist-based greeting. Garmin also added Recovery Time and Workout Benefit and the ability to add on-watch interval workouts and several new sport profiles, including wheelchair-specific ones. The line still doesn’t offer the company’s highest-end fitness tracking features, like Training Readiness, but it packs an impressive toolkit for active shoppers at this price point.

The Vivoactive 5 adds key wellness tools from Garmin's ecosystem, including heart rate variability tracking, Morning Report, Recovery Time, and more.

Digging in deeper, I found a few more additions and some omissions. For cyclists, the device adds eBike sensor support. However, it doesn’t see cycling power meter support like the Venu 3. Likewise, you can configure interval workouts on-device and customize activity data pages, but the device no longer shows animated workout guidance like its predecessor. Instead, workouts like strength training now display illustrations that highlight which muscles a workout will challenge. Finally, the device drops the 4’s barometric altimeter, eliminating stairs climbed and elevation tracking.

A map with GPS Data shoes how the device performs compared to Garmin's Venu 3.

Fortunately, what the Vivoactive 5 does track it does so very well. Throughout my tests, the Vivoactive 5’s GPS data closely matched that of the more expensive Venu 3. You can see how the routes are largely consistent on the neighborhood run above. Both recorded routes on the correct side of the road, and neither dipped into lawns. One exception is on Megan Ct in the top right corner. Here, both devices took a wider turn than I ran in reality.

Charted heart rate data shows how the device performs compared to Garmin's Venu 3.

Likewise, the Vivoactive 5 recorded reliable heart rate data as well. The graph above shows the Vivoactive 5 relatively aligned with my Venu 3 during a run with intermittent sprints. Both devices were within two or three beats of my Polar H10 strap. Generally speaking, the Vivoactive 5’s heart rate sensor is great. It may not be as exact as Garmin’s high-end watches, but it’s more than adequate for the average, active user.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 charger

Finally, despite its vibrant display, the Vivoactive 5 claims 11 days of battery life in default mode and five days in always-on mode. These estimates lined up with my experience during this review. After three days with 60 or so minutes of GPS workouts per day, the device had just under 30% left. Compared to the Apple Watch on my other wrist, that’s a fantastic stat.

A Garmin user activates the device's onscreen flashlight.

Of course, compared to Apple’s devices and the Venu 3, the Vivoactive does not have as much all-day functionality in terms of smart features. Users won’t find on-wrist phone calls or voice assistant support. The Vivoactive 5 does, however, provide music storage, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and an on-screen flashlight.

Garmin Vivoactive 5Garmin Vivoactive 5
AA Editors Choice
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Vibrant, AMOLED display • Accurate heart rate and GPS sensors • Automatic nap detection and sleep coaching
MSRP: $299.99
A well-equipped AMOLED smartwatch
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is the next-gen version of one of Garmin's popular smartwatch lines. Enjoy a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, 11 days of battery life, and a rich set of activity and health tracking features.

What are the best Garmin Vivoactive 5 alternatives?

A Garmin vivoactive 5 rests on a green granite surface alongside alternative devices.

Teetering between a budget-friendly device and a full-blown smartwatch, the Vivoactive 5 faces a lot of competition. Below are the best Vivoactive 5 alternatives.

  • Garmin Venu Sq 2 ($249.99 at Amazon): For anyone on a strict budget, Garmin’s square-shaped smartwatch lands at $50 lower than the Vivoactive 5. The device offers 24-hour heart rate monitoring, 25 sport modes, SpO2 tracking, and more.
  • Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon): Priced significantly higher, the Venu 3 is the best smartwatch Garmin has to offer. Unlike the Vivoactive 5, it features on-wrist phone call and voice assistant support for a more well-rounded experience, plus an ECG app.
  • Apple Watch SE 2 ($269.99 at Amazon): Apple’s budget-friendly model is the best Vivoactive 5 alternative for iOS users. The SE 2 drops a few health sensors in favor of a lower price tag.
  • Apple Watch Series 9 ($392.67 at Amazon): For the best Apple Watch experience available, the Series 9 is the newest model featuring a powerful processor, updated watchOS software, and a pink case color.
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ($299.99 at Samsung): The best Wear OS smartwatch for Android users is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 or 6 Classic. Both devices offer similar experiences, but the Classic model features a rotating bezel for easier on-device navigation. The Galaxy Watch is also now FDA approved for monitoring signs of sleep apnea.

Garmin Vivoactive 5 specs

Garmin Vivoactive 5
Display
1.2 inch AMOLED, optional always-on 390 x 390 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Dimensions and weight
42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1mm
20mm band
36g
Build materials
Anodized aluminum bezel
Fiber-reinforced polymer case
Silicone band
Battery
Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode (5 days with always-on display enabled)
Up to 21 days in Battery Saver Smartwatch mode
Up to 7 hours in all-Systems GNSS mode + music
IP rating
5 ATM
Sensors
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Compass
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Connectivity
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Compatibility
Android, iOS
Garmin Pay
Yes
Smartwatch features
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Colors
Metallic Orchid, Slate with Black case, Cream Gold with Ivory case, Metallic Navy with Navy case

Garmin Vivoactive 5 review: FAQ

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 features a water resistance rating of 5ATM, making it safe to wear it while swimming to depths up to 50 meters. It is also safe to shower with the Garmin Vivoactive 5.

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 does not have maps.

Yes, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 has built-in GPS.

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 does not support wireless charging. Instead, the device uses a proprietary charging cable.