Fresh perspective

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Classic outlook

Garmin Vivoactive 3

The Vivoactive 4 is changing the way you track, or more specifically, what you track. You can now track hydration, respiration, blood oxygen saturation, and more besides the typical fitness routine. Did we mention on-screen workouts and music storage? It's pricy but given the upgrades, it's worth it.

$295 at Amazon

Pros

  • 20+ preloaded sports apps
  • Body Battery™ Energy Monitor
  • Respiration and hydration tracking
  • Music storage
  • Garmin Pay
  • Built-in GPS

Cons

  • Expensive
  • 45mm has fewer color options

The Vivoactive 3 was an instant hit when it was first released in 2017. Today, it still has plenty to offer in terms of tracking and smartwatch features. You'll enjoy 15+ sports apps, onboard GPS, Garmin Pay, heart-rate monitoring, plus activity, sleep, and stress tracking.

$117 at Amazon

Pros

  • 15+ preloaded sports apps
  • Built-in GPS
  • Garmin Pay
  • More affordable than ever

Cons

  • Music storage isn't standard
  • Lacks onscreen workouts

The Vivoactive 3 was first released two years ago and has been a popular choice ever since. Now that there's finally a successor available, it's important to compare the two wearables so you can decide which one is the better pick. The Vivoactive 4 brings with it some subtle changes that are worth discussing, as well as some big changes that just might win you over.

From offering two different sizes to making music storage a standard feature, there's a lot of positive upgrades here. Both editions provide you with a solid all-around fitness smartwatch that's going to meet the needs of most casual lifestyle athletes. If you were a fan of the Vivoactive 3, you'll certainly appreciate all the features that come with the new model. It's got a hefty price tag, but it may just be worth it for all that you get this time around.

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New additions

Vivoactive 4Source: Garmin Pictured: Vivoactive 4

With the previous model, the only size option was 43mm. The new Vivoactive 4 is available in 45mm and a model called the 4S, which is 40mm. Both watch sizes are the same price. The only difference between the two is size and battery performance. Additionally, the 4S offers a rose gold variant while the 4 is only available in slate and silver.

Like its predecessor, the new model comes with an always-on transflective display. However, you'll now have two buttons on your watch instead of one. The upper right button is for selecting, stopping, and starting while the lower right button is for going back and lapping.

Vivoactive 4 Vivoactive 3
Dimensions 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm
Display 1.3", 260 x 260 pixels 1.2", 240 x 240 pixels
Sensors GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer
Battery Smartwatch mode: 8 days
GPS with music: 6 hours
Smartwatch mode: 7 days
GPS: 13 hours
Connectivity Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi® Bluetooth® Smart and ANT+®
Water-resistant 5 ATM 5 ATM
Touchscreen ✔️ ✔️
Notifications ✔️ ✔️
Garmin Pay ✔️ ✔️
Music storage ✔️
On-screen workouts ✔️
Incident detection ✔️

The Vivoactive 4 offers an impressive eight days of battery life in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS and music mode. The 4S dips down to seven days in smartwatch mode and five hours in GPS and music mode, which is what you got with the more expensive Vivoactive 3 Music model. The standard Vivoactive 3 gives you seven days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode.

As far as the similarities go, both the Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive 4 offer built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. You'll have access to some of the same workouts, including strength, cardio, and elliptical training along with stair-stepping, floor climbing, indoor rowing, and yoga. They both come with stress tracking, sleep tracking, and heart-rate monitoring.

Garmin Vivoactive 3Source: Android Central Pictured: Vivoactive 3

Other than the physical differences, there are quite a few tracking improvements. The Vivoactive 4 now offers a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration tracking for monitoring the number of breaths taken per minute. The combination of these two features promises more insightful sleep data. You'll also have Body Battery™ Energy monitoring, hydration tracking to log daily water intake, and underwater wrist-based heart rate for swimming.

The Body Battery is a great new feature that allows you to check your energy levels throughout the day by collecting data from heart rate variability (HRV), sleep, stress, and activity. This will help you schedule workouts and rest at the most ideal times. Speaking of which, you'll have plenty of options for workouts, including the sports apps with preloaded workouts, preset workouts available to download from Garmin Connect, the ability to create customizable workouts, and Garmin Coach training plans.

Not to mention that the Vivoactive 4 boasts over 40 on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates, which takes a page out of Fitbit's book. You can follow along with your watch as it demonstrates proper form and technique for a chosen workout. It also provides you with new breathwork activities that are intended to promote focus and relaxation.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Source: Garmin Pictured: Vivoactive 4S and Vivoactive 4

Last but definitely not least, both the Vivoactive 4 and 4S automatically come with music storage rather than charging you more for a model with this feature. You'll be able to download your favorite playlists and songs from third-party services such as Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music. This means you can now enjoy phone-free music when you're working out. Finally! This is a highly-desired feature among fitness enthusiasts, and Garmin delivered.

How to decide

Not surprisingly, the price of the Vivoactive 3 has been marked down thanks to this new release, which makes it a fraction of the cost of the new Vivoactive 4. If you're content with the more basic tracking and features offered by the predecessor, it's a great deal for those on a budget. However, if you're craving more and don't mind spending more to get it, the new Vivoactive 4 is an excellent pick. Keep in mind that at this price point, you can spend just a tad more for the Garmin Venu, which has a stunning AMOLED display and many of the new features you see here.

When all is said and done, we feel good about the Vivoactive 4. It brings so many well-deserved improvements, like two size options, standard music storage, and a long list of tracking features that help you get an in-depth look at the state of your overall health and fitness. If the cost doesn't deter you, you're going to be more than happy with the new Garmin Vivoactive 4.

Fresh perspective

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Track every little detail

If you've been anxiously awaiting a new Garmin smartwatch, this one is a winner. It gives you a fresh perspective by tracking every little detail to give you a complete overview of your health and fitness.

Classic outlook

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Cover all the basics

Not concerned about tracking every little detail? The Vivoactive 3 might be right up your alley. Keep in mind it lacks more detailed tracking and you'll have to pay more for a model with music storage.

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