Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

Garmin Vivoactive 4
Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

Garmin Forerunner 245

If running is your main passion, you can't go wrong with this GPS running smartwatch. Not only will you have access to advanced running dynamics, but you'll also enjoy extensive training features, a Pulse Ox sensor, Body Battery energy monitoring, and more.

Garmin Forerunner 245

Ideal running companion

Built-in GPS
Lightweight design
Advanced running metrics
Training status, load, effect
Pulse Ox & Body Battery
Lacks altimeter
No Garmin Pay
Music version costs more

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Vivoactive 4

For those who enjoy many different sports, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 may be a better fit. This attractive lifestyle watch is equipped with over 20 sports modes. You also get two size options, a touchscreen, an altimeter, and Garmin Pay.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Perfect lifestyle watch

Built-in GPS
Pulse Ox & Body Battery
Garmin Pay
Two size options
Music comes standard
Lacks advanced running dynamics
Shorter battery life in GPS mode

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. Vivoactive 4: It's all in the details

If you're searching for an Android smartwatch packed with tons of key features, you might find yourself choosing between the Garmin Forerunner 245 and Vivoactive 4. The same company makes them, but these wearables are geared toward two different types of users. If you're seeking a watch that offers detailed tracking and excellent battery life, you might find yourself eyeing the Garmin Forerunner 245. If you want a lifestyle watch that's attractive and full of useful features, you might prefer the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

They're similar in more ways than one, but these two devices differ in the detailed features they offer. As the name suggests, the Forerunner 245 is a better choice for dedicated runners who need endless details. On the other hand, if you'd prefer a lifestyle smartwatch that still comes with a solid fitness tracking suite, the Vivoactive 4 is a better choice. These are two of the best Android smartwatches you can buy, but it's up to you to decide which set of features will be the best fit for your needs.

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. Vivoactive 4: What's the difference?

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central Pictured: Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

When you take a step back and compare these two Garmin smartwatches, you'll immediately notice a few physical differences. The Forerunner 245 has a total of five physical buttons. There are three buttons 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.

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 you can also rely on the intuitive touchscreen for seamless navigation. Additionally, it comes in two case sizes: 45mm or 40mm, otherwise known as the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S, respectively. The only other physical difference between these two watches is that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a sleek stainless steel bezel that comes with this model.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Forerunner 245Vivoactive 4
Dimensions42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2mm45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8mm40 x 40 x 12.7mm
Display1.2-inch transflective, 240x240 pixels1.3-inch transflective, 260x260 pixels1.1-inch transflective, 218x218 pixels
BezelFiber-reinforced polymerStainless steel
SensorsHRM, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, compass, accelerometer, Pulse OxHRM, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, thermometer
BatteryUp to 7 days45mm: Up to 8 days40mm: Up to 7 days
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT+Bluetooth Smart and ANT+
ColorsSlate Gray, BerrySilver, Slate, Rose Gold, Light Gold
Quick-release bandsYes, 20mmYes, 22mm, or 18mm
Water-resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Garmin Pay✔️

There are some similarities worth noting as well. For example, both models are water-resistant up to 50 meters, offer smartphone notifications (with quick replies for Android users), and have built-in GPS. You'll also appreciate that both models provide a quick-release band system. When you're feeling like a change, it'll be easy to find Garmin Vivoactive 4 bands as well as Garmin Forerunner 245 bands.

You'll also have the ability to control your smartphone's music from your watch. With the previous Vivoactive model, you had to pay extra for a musical version of the smartwatch if you wanted onboard storage. Fortunately, music storage is a standard feature on the Vivoactive 4. However, that's not the case with this Forerunner model. So if you want music storage on your watch, you'll need to pay a bit more for the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music.

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

As you might've guessed, both watches can easily track your daily activities. The basics include tracking for steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, stress levels, sleep patterns, and intensity minutes. You'll also be able to use the Garmin Connect app to look at your activity data. Both watches have a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring your blood oxygen saturation levels. You also get the company's Body Battery energy monitoring feature on both watches. This feature will track your energy levels throughout the day to find ideal times for activity and rest.

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. Vivoactive 4: Choose your features

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central Pictured: Garmin Forerunner 245 (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

One way to choose between the Garmin Forerunner 245 and Vivoactive 4 is to determine the most important features to you. Some users will be disappointed to learn that you don't have access to Garmin Pay or an altimeter on the Forerunner 245, especially given the price. It's a running smartwatch to the core, but these features would be a nice bonus. You'll be happy to know that you get these perks on the Vivoactive 4. The Forerunner 245 still brings a lot to the table, especially if you're a passionate runner and that's your main reason for investing in a fitness smartwatch.

So, what are the benefits of choosing the Garmin Forerunner 245? Let's start with activity tracking and training status. While the Forerunner 245 has fewer sport modes than the Vivoactive 4, they're still pretty impressive. Some of the sports modes include trail running, treadmill, indoor track, indoor and outdoor cycling, pool swimming, yoga and, elliptical. Not to mention that when you're training for a run, you'll have access to insightful performance analytics. You can review detailed metrics to better determine how effective your training is with 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. It can measure even more metrics when you pair your running watch with a compatible heart rate strap or the compact Running Dynamics Pod. For example, you'll be able to track your cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio. These metrics are instrumental in understanding your form and progress as you gear up for your next race.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Source: Courtney Lynch / Android CentralPictured: Garmin Vivoactive 4 (Image credit: Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

You're probably wondering why someone might choose the Vivoactive 4 over the Forerunner 245. For starters, it offers more sports modes. You'll have golf mode, snowboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, outdoor rowing, and more. These are some great extras to have if you're an outdoor adventurer who's always looking for a new adrenaline rush.

Your altimeter will also come in handy for many of these activities, which tracks floors climbed and general elevation changes. Generally speaking, most people who invest in a fitness smartwatch (or even a more basic activity tracker) hope to see how many floors they climb at the end of the day. But, ever catch yourself opting for the stairs instead of the elevator?

The Vivoactive 4 offers additional perks that aren't related to fitness.

The Vivoactive 4 offers additional perks unrelated 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 all you need when you have a touchscreen. However, some people might argue that a touchscreen could be tricky when biking, swimming, or simply when you've got sweaty hands.

Last but not least, you'll have contactless payments with Garmin Pay. While this isn't a fitness-related feature, it's a nice addition if you're always on the go and don't have your phone or wallet on hand. As we mentioned earlier, you get two size options when choosing the Garmin Vivoactive 4. It also comes with music storage as a standard feature rather than requiring you to pay more for a model that has it.

Garmin Forerunner 245 vs. Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

It's easy to see that these smartwatches are excellent choices for different reasons. The best way to determine which one is a good fit is to consider your individual needs. Are you always counting down the minutes until your next outdoor run? Are you currently training for an intense 5K? Do you often find yourself wishing you had a more detailed breakdown of your training status and running dynamics? If so, the Forerunner 245 may be the smartwatch you've been dreaming of.

Alternatively, if you usually find yourself embarking on new adventures and trying all kinds of different activities, then you might be happier with the Vivoactive 4. The extra sport modes, Garmin Pay, music storage, and a touchscreen are all awesome perks that you won't find on the Garmin Forerunner 245. 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 will likely be the best smartwatch for you.

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.