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Garmin Vivoactive 6 wishlist: All the features I want to see

The Vivoactive line remains a popular pick.
By

Published onJuly 9, 2024

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 on a user's wrist displays its watch face.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

For four years, Garmin’s Vivoactive lineup sat dormant, leaving fans unsure about the line’s future. Then, in 2023, Garmin launched the Vivoactive 5, a powerful watch with a brand-new AMOLED display and a host of upgraded health and fitness tracking features. During my review, I was thrilled with the device’s sensor accuracy and the overall user experience. And yet, here I am, already anxiously awaiting a new generation. Though it may be early yet, I’ve rounded up everything I want to see on a potential Vivoactive 6.

ECG capability

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Venu 3S rest face down, each displaying their sensor packages.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The upgrade I’d be most excited to see on a potential Vivoactive 6 is Garmin’s Gen 5 Elevate heart rate sensor (or an even newer build). To be clear, the Gen 4 on the Vivoactive 5 produced great heart rate tracking accuracy during my review period, and I have no complaints about its functionality. However, only the newest generation supports Garmin’s FDA-approved ECG app, meaning the Vivoactive 6 would need it to offer this critical health feature. A handful of Garmin’s latest models pack the newest sensor, including the Garmin Venu 3S seen alongside the Vivoactive 5 above. The image clearly shows how drastically different the two generations of heart rate sensors appear.

A barometric altimeter

Though the Vivoactive 5 was a major upgrade in a lot of ways, there were a few features removed from the lineup that had existed on the Vivoactive 4. The most notable of these was the 4’s barometric altimeter. Since the 5 dropped this sensor, it cannot provide certain metrics such as floors climbed or stairs. This also impacts certain sports modes, such as snowboarding. Despite living quite far from any snow-capped mountains, I’d like to see Garmin restore the barometric altimeter to the lineup in the next generation. An altimeter is a very basic element of most fitness trackers and one that shoppers should be able to expect at this price point.

Workout animations

garmin venu 2 review strength training total body muscle workouts
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Likewise, the Vivoactive 5 also dropped the handy workout animations initially introduced on the Vivoactive 4 in 2019. This feature is now reserved for the pricier Venu series. These guides can be extremely beneficial for users, especially anyone branching into new workout types or exercises. I was surprised and disappointed to see the feature removed from the Vivoactive 5, and I would like to see Garmin bring it back in the next generation.

On a related note, within strength training and yoga, the current model displays illustrations to show users exactly what muscle groups are activated during each exercise. I love this feature. I am that person at the gym who adores when a machine has a little color-coded anatomy sticker to tell me what muscles the machine will inevitably make sore. I would love to see the Vivoactive 6 expand this feature to provide even more guidance for more workout types.

Two case sizes

Another cut made from the Vivoactive 4 to the 5 was the secondary case size. The 45mm Vivoactive 4 launched alongside a 40mm 4S, giving shoppers two options. The latest generation arrived with just one 42mm model. I’d like to see the Vivoactive 6 land with a 42mm model packing a 1.2″ display and a second 45mm model with an even bigger screen.

More smart features

A Garmin Vivoactive 5 rests alongside a Venu 3S displaying each device's buttons.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Priced at $299 and packed with wellness tools, the Vivoactive lineup stands as a worthy rival to the Apple Watch SE. Both devices offer fantastic GPS and heart rate accuracy, colorful displays, useful sleep tracking, and a robust fitness tracking tool kit. However, the Vivoactive 5 falls drastically behind in terms of smartwatch features.

The Venu 3 at least offers on-wrist phone call support. The Vivoactive lineup doesn’t even feature a microphone or speaker. Waiting for Garmin to bring LTE to the lineup seems extremely unlikely, but Bluetooth phone call support would be a good start (instead of just notifications). I would also like to see the Vivoactive 6 add a voice assistant.

Garmin Vivoactive 6: What features would you like to see?

133 votes

Will there be a Garmin Vivoactive 6?

Garmin vivoactive 5 watch face
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The short answer is I hope so. The longer answer is that Garmin’s stable is crowded, with watch families seemingly overlapping. When the company launched the Vivoactive 5 in 2023, many shoppers were surprised, having assumed the Venu series had essentially replaced the older lineup. Now, with its AMOLED display, the Vivoactive 5 is more similar to its Venu counterpart than ever, and yet, it seems that Garmin is committed to both watches. So far, there are no rumors about a potential Vivoactive 6, but that doesn’t worry me.

  • Garmin Vivoactive — January 5, 2015
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 — August 31, 2017
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 — September 5, 2019
  • Garmin Vivoactive 5 — September 20, 2023

The timeline for a potential Vivoactive 6 is tricky. After the launch of the Vivoactive 4 in 2019, Garmin took what can only be called a development hiatus. We waited a whopping four years before the company seemingly resurrected the lineup with its latest model.

I am crossing my fingers we see a new generation before 2027, but I’m also emotionally prepared for it, just in case. I think it’s much more likely Garmin will return to a biannual launch schedule, which should put a sixth generation on shelves in the fall of 2025.

Should you wait for the Garmin Vivoactive 6?

Garmin vivoactive 5 Sports
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

At this point, I don’t recommend waiting for the Garmin Vivoactive 6, even though I’m confident it will be a great device when it arrives. Without any leaks or rumors, it’s impossible to know whether Garmin has even started developing the watch, and even harder to determine when we can expect it.

For anyone looking to buy a Garmin fitness-tracking smartwatch right now, the current Vivoactive 5 ($299.99 at Amazon) is a fantastic pick. If you can splurge, the Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon) adds a few more tools and capabilities, including on-wrist phone call support and Garmin’s ECG app.

Outside of Garmin’s stable, the Apple Watch SE ($269.99 at Amazon) is the best budget smartwatch for Apple users. On top of accurate health and fitness tracking, it packs a robust smartwatch experience and an extensive third-party app library. For Android users, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch FE (on the product’s website) is another powerful device at a very approachable price point.

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