Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 3: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge 4 (Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4

Those who want a detailed tracking experience in the form of a compact yet powerful device will be in good hands with the Fitbit Charge 4. It has features like built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, 5 ATM water resistance, and other new perks that make it an attractive option.

Fitbit Charge 4

The latest and greatest

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
20+ exercise modes
5 ATM water resistance
NFC payments
Seven-day battery life
More expensive
Only five hours of battery in GPS mode

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 3 isn't the newest device on the market, but it still has plenty to offer in terms of activity tracking and smartwatch features. You'll enjoy onboard GPS, 15+ preloaded sports apps, heart-rate monitoring, Garmin Pay, and music controls.

Garmin Vivoactive 3

A fine wine

Onboard GPS
Heart-rate monitoring
5 ATM water resistance
NFC payments
7-day battery life
Music storage model costs more
Older device
Only 15+ preloaded sports apps

If you're feeling torn about whether you should buy a fitness tracker or a smartwatch, there are some key factors that should help you narrow it down. When it comes to choosing between Fitbit Charge 4 and the Garmin Vivoactive 3, it's a close call. They're available at a very similar price point and offer many of the same features.

It goes without saying that if you're committed to having a more traditional wearable on your wrist, you'll probably prefer the Garmin Vivoactive 3. However, if you prefer something lighter for workout purposes, the Fitbit Charge 4 might be more appealing. If that's not enough to help you decide, this breakdown of similarities and differences should settle it.

A powerful fitness tracker

Fitbit Charge 4

Source: Fitbit (Image credit: Source: Fitbit)

The Charge 4 is a highly anticipated new addition to the Fitbit lineup. It's finally equipped with onboard GPS and Fitbit Pay is now a standard feature. Previously, you'd have to shell out a bit more for the Special Edition to enjoy mobile payments. You also get Spotify Connect & Control. Those who use the music app will now be able to easily control their music right from their fitness tracker.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Charge 4Garmin Vivoactive 3
Display1-inch grayscale OLED1.2-inch color transflective
SensorsGPS, altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitorGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, altimeter, accelerometer, heart rate monitor, compass, thermometer
Battery lifeUp to 7 days5 hours in GPS modeUp to 7 days13 hours in GPS mode
NFC payments✔️✔️
Onboard GPS✔️✔️
5 ATM water resistance✔️✔️
Music controls✔️✔️

There's also a new Active Zone Minutes feature to look forward to. It uses the heart rate sensor to ensure you have an optimal workout each time you exercise and you'll earn credit when you get your heart pumping. It also gives you daily and weekly goals to work toward. Fitbit keeps finding ways to give users a highly detailed tracking experience.

Fitbit keeps finding new ways to give users a highly detailed tracking experience.

Sleep tracking is still present with a few tweaks. An upcoming software update will bring the "smart wake" feature to the device, which uses machine learning to find the optimal time to wake you up. You'll also have the option of setting alarms and activating Sleep Mode to maintain your daily routines and sleep schedules.

The Fitbit Charge 4 may have received a lot of amazing upgrades, but they're built on the foundation that made its predecessor so great. That means you still get all of the previous features that users swear by, like 20+ exercise modes, automatic activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, Cardio Fitness Score, sleep tracking, guided breathing sessions, reminders to move, female health tracking, to name a few. You'll also enjoy a full week of battery life before it needs to be recharged (with only five hours in GPS mode).

A feature-packed smartwatch

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

You'll be able to do a lot with the Garmin Vivoactive 3, too. It also comes with onboard GPS, mobile payments via Garmin Pay, and music controls. Your watch can track your heart rate, steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned, and distance traveled.

Garmin's Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology lets you monitor key health aspects.

Garmin's Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology lets you monitor key health aspects. For example, it can calculate your VO2 max and fitness age. These two factors are physical fitness indicators that can improve with time and regular exercise. It also tracks your heart rate variability (HRV), which helps you monitor your stress levels.

Other perks include 5 ATM water resistance, 7 days of battery life, sleep monitoring, and menstrual tracking. You'll also enjoy 15+ preloaded sports apps including outdoor running, treadmill, biking, pool swimming, skiing, rowing, yoga and more. Thanks to Garmin Connect, all of your activities will automatically be uploaded to the app when you're finished.

Time to decide

Considering that the Fitbit Charge 4 and Garmin Vivoactive 3 don't differ much in price, your decision will likely come down to preferred features and what type of tracking experience you're after. The Vivoactive 3 has been a favorite since its release a few years ago. In fact, there's already a successor available with a more expensive price tag and more features. If you're already a fan of Garmin wearables, that's another reason to consider this impressive smartwatch.

Oftentimes, there's not much too compare between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Given how advanced the Fitbit Charge 4 is, that's not the case here. It's just as capable as Vivoactive 3 when it comes to key features, battery life, and health/fitness tracking. Some might say the Fitbit Charge 4 is ahead of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 in certain aspects. Not ready to commit to a smartwatch yet? Want the newest tracker on the market? These are just a few reasons you might end up choosing the Fitbit Charge 4.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.