Ideal running companion

Garmin Forerunner 245

Comprehensive smartwatch

Garmin Vivoactive 4

If running is your true passion, you can't go wrong with this GPS running smartwatch. In addition to advanced running dynamics, this model also offers extensive training features, a Pulse Ox sensor, and incident detection.

$248 at Amazon

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Advanced running metrics
  • Longer battery life in GPS mode
  • Pulse Ox sensor

Cons

  • Lacks altimeter
  • No Garmin Pay
  • Music version costs more

For those who like doing a multitude of sports rather than just one, this GPS smartwatch will serve you well. It's equipped with over 20 sport modes, after all. You also get a touchscreen, an altimeter, and Garmin Pay.

$270 at Amazon

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Pulse Ox sensor
  • Garmin Pay
  • Two size options
  • Music comes standard

Cons

  • Lacks advanced running dynamics
  • Shorter battery life in GPS mode

When you take a step back and perform a side-by-side comparison of these two smartwatches, you'll notice a few physical differences. The Forerunner 245 has a total of five physical buttons, three on the left side and two on the right side. All navigating will be done via these buttons since it doesn't have a touchscreen like the Vivoactive 4 does.

The Vivoactive 4, on the other hand, has two buttons on the right side of the watch for accessing menus. This will be an adjustment for some users, but the touchscreen is intuitive and won't take long to learn. The only other physical difference that's noticeable is the sleek stainless steel bezel that comes with this model.

It's all in the details

Where these two devices differ is in the detailed features they offer. There's certainly an argument for each of them. Whether you're a dedicated runner or a versatile athlete, you'll find that both of these smartwatches are helpful in their own ways. It's up to you to determine which features will have the most impact on your workout routine.

Forerunner 245 Vivoactive 4
Dimensions 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm
Display 240 x 240 pixels, 1.2" diameter 260 x 260 pixels, 1.3" diameter
Bezel Fiber-reinforced polymer Stainless steel
Sensors GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, compass, accelerometer, Pulse Ox GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, thermometer
Battery Smartwatch mode: 7 days
GPS mode: 24 hours
Smartwatch mode: 8 days
GPS mode: 6 hours
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+® Bluetooth® Smart and ANT+®
Colors Slate gray, berry Silver, slate
Quick release bands Yes, 20 mm Yes, 22 mm
Water resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM
Notifications ✔️ ✔️
Touchscreen ✔️
Garmin Pay ✔️

There are some similarities worth noting, like the fact that both models are water-resistant up to 50 meters, both have smartphone notifications (with quick replies for Android users), and both have built-in GPS plus a few other overlapping sensors. You'll also have the ability to control your smartphone's music from your watch. Previously, you had to pay extra for a music version of the Vivoactive smartwatch. Now, music storage is a standard feature on this model. However, you still need to shell out more money for a music version of the Forerunner 245.

Both watches have a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring your blood oxygen saturation levels.

Of course, they both track daily activities, like steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, all-day stress tracking, sleep monitoring, and intensity minutes. Both are also compatible with the Garmin Connect mobile app where all your activity data will be stored. Both watches have a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring your blood oxygen saturation levels. They also both have the Body Battery energy monitoring feature, which tracks energy levels so you can find ideal times for activity and rest.

Both of these smartwatches come with built-in Incident Detection. If you need assistance, your location will be shared with your chosen contacts. This feature can be triggered automatically if an incident is detected or manually if you need help. Keep in mind that you'll need to have your smartphone on you to use the Incident Detection feature.

What's the difference?

Garmin Forerunner 245Source: Garmin Pictured: Garmin Forerunner 245

As for the differences, well, there are a few factors that might make or break your decision. Many users will be disappointed that you don't have access to Garmin Pay or an altimeter on the Garmin Forerunner 245, especially at this price point. It's a running smartwatch through and through, but these features would be a nice bonus. You get both on the Vivoactive 4. With that said, the Forerunner 245 still brings a lot to the table, even more so if you're a passionate runner and that's your main reason for investing in a smartwatch.

Let's get to the good stuff: activity tracking and training status. While the Forerunner 245 has fewer sport modes than the Vivoactive 4, they're still impressive. Some examples include trail running, treadmill, indoor track, indoor and outdoor cycling, pool swimming, yoga, elliptical, and more. Not to mention that when you're training for a run, you'll have access to exclusive performance analytics. View detailed metrics for a better look at how effective your training is, including training status, training load, and training effect.

While the Forerunner 245 has fewer sport modes than the Vivoactive 4, they're still impressive.

It doesn't stop there. When you pair your running watch with a compatible heart rate strap or the compact Running Dynamics Pod, it can also measure cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio. These metrics are essential for understanding your form and overall progress as you gear up for your next race.

Garmin Vivoactive 4Source: Garmin Pictured: Garmin Vivoactive 4

So, what does the Vivoactive 4 have that the Forerunner 245 doesn't? More sport modes, for one. You'll have golf mode, snowboarding, stand up paddleboarding, outdoor rowing, and more. These are great extras to have when you're a free spirit who's continually looking for a new adrenaline rush. This new watch is available in both a 40mm and 45mm model, so you can pick the size that works for you.

Your altimeter will also come in handy for many of these activities, which tracks floors climbed.Generally speaking, most people who invest in a fitness smartwatch (or even a more basic activity tracker) are hoping to see how many floors they climbed at the end of the day. Ever catch yourself opting for the stairs instead of the elevator? It also helps with incline and decline data.

The other Vivoactive 4 benefits aren't related to fitness, but they're still nice features to have.

The other Vivoactive 4 benefits aren't related to fitness, but they're still attractive features to have. One of these features is the touchscreen. You only get two physical side buttons, but that's really all you need when you have a touchscreen. However, some people might argue that a touchscreen could be tricky to use when biking, swimming, or simply when you've got sweaty hands.

Last but not least, there's Garmin Pay. Again, this isn't a fitness-related feature, but if you're paying for a smartwatch, it's a neat addition to the package. Not all merchants are going to be compatible with this, but contactless payments are becoming more and more prevalent so you'll be ahead of the game. The thought of not having to carry a bulky phone or wallet around when you exercise is appealing, isn't it?

The best choice

It's easy to see that both of these smartwatches are excellent choices. The only way to honestly figure out which one is going to be the best choice for you is to assess your needs. Are you always counting down the minutes until your next run? Are you preparing for an intense 5K? Do you often wish you had a more detailed breakdown of your training status and running dynamics? If so, the Forerunner 245 is probably going to be your dream smartwatch come true.

Alternatively, if you regularly find yourself embarking on new adventures and trying new activities, you might be happier with the Vivoactive 4. The extra sport modes, Garmin Pay, music storage, and a touchscreen are all great perks. Let's not forget about the altimeter for floors climbed. It's also an essential feature for trail running, mountain biking, and hiking. If you like to do a bit of everything, this is the smartwatch for you.

Ideal running companion

Garmin Forerunner 245

Run to your heart's content

If you're a runner, this decision is probably a no-brainer. The advanced training support and detailed metrics you need for all of your running needs are available right on this smartwatch.

Comprehensive smartwatch

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Do all the activities you please

Don't like the idea of being tied down to one specific activity? You can do them all with this smartwatch. As a bonus, you'll have a touchscreen, music storage, an altimeter, and Garmin Pay.

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