Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs. 3: Understanding the differences
The Vivoactive 3 is almost four years old now, but it's still one of the best Android smartwatches on the market, especially if you're on a budget. However, if you're all about having the latest and greatest features, you might prefer the newer Garmin Vivoactive 4 instead.
From offering two different sizes to making music storage a standard feature, there are a lot of positive upgrades here. Both the Vivoactive 4 and Vivoactive 3 offer a solid fitness tracking experience that will meet the needs of most casual lifestyle athletes. If you were a fan of the original Vivoactive 3, you'll certainly appreciate all the features that come with the latest model. It's not the cheapest Android smartwatch, but it may just be worth it for all that you get this time around. It's easily the better choice as far as features are concerned.
Garmin Vivoactive 4: Tons of new features
If you recall, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 only comes in one size: 43mm. You'll be glad to know the Vivoactive 4 is available in two sizes: 45mm and 40mm. These models are known as the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4s, respectively. The only difference between these two models is the size and overall battery performance. It's worth noting that the color options vary a bit as well. The 4S comes in Light Gold, Rose Gold, Slate, and Silver. However, the standard Vivoactive 4 only comes in Slate and Silver.
Like its predecessor, the Vivoactive 4 has a sunlight-visible, 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 returning to the previous menu and lapping during workouts. There are multiple third-party Garmin Vivoactive 4 bands to pick from, but both models come with a silicone band.
|Vivoactive 4||Vivoactive 3|
|Dimensions||45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8mm
40 x 40 x 12.7 mm
|43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7mm|
|Display||1.3" transflective, 260x260
1.1" transflective, 218x218
|1.2" trasnflective, 240x240|
|Sensors||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, HRM, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, HRM, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer|
|Battery||Smartwatch mode: 8 days (45mm)
Smartwatch mode: 7 days (40mm)
|Smartwatch mode: 7 days|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi||Bluetooth Smart and ANT+|
|Water-resistant||5 ATM||5 ATM|
Another notable difference to be aware of is battery performance. The Vivoactive 4 offers an impressive 8 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and 6 hours in GPS and music mode. Being that it's slightly smaller, the 4S dips down to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 5 hours in GPS and music mode.
Other than the physical differences, there are quite a few tracking improvements. The Body Battery is a great new feature that allows you to check your energy levels throughout the day. 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 over 20 preloaded workouts, preset workouts that can be downloaded through the Garmin Connect app, the ability to create customizable workouts, and Garmin Coach training plans.
The Vivoactive 4 offers a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation levels.
The Vivoactive 4 offers a Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration tracking for monitoring the number of breaths per minute. The combination of these two features also leads to more insightful sleep data. You'll also have Body Battery Energy monitoring, hydration tracking to manually log daily water intake and underwater wrist-based heart rate for swimming.
Additionally, the Vivoactive 4 offers many on-screen workouts for strength training, cardio, yoga, and Pilates. You can follow along with your watch as it demonstrates the proper form and technique for a selected workout. It also provides you with breathwork activities intended to promote focus and relaxation while reducing stress levels.
Last but not least, music storage is standard on both the Vivoactive 4 and 4S. This is a big upgrade from charging 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. You can enjoy phone-free music when you're working out. Needless to say, this is a highly-desired feature among fitness enthusiasts, and Garmin delivered.
Garmin Vivoactive 3: Great for basics
If you're a beginner, on a budget, or you simply don't want to spend a lot on a smartwatch, you might find the older Vivoactive 3 to be a better choice. At its core, it's still an excellent fitness smartwatch that's ideal for basic health and activity tracking. As long as you won't miss some of the more premium perks available on the successor, it's a pretty great deal.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 only comes in one size.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 only comes in one size, which is 43mm. The watch comes in Rose Gold, Slate, and Silver. It's also easy to find third-party Garmin Vivoactive 3 bands when you feel like changing things up. Music storage isn't a standard feature, so you'll have to pay more for a model with that perk. The standard Vivoactive 3 gives you 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode.
As far as the similarities go, the Vivoactive 3 also offers built-in GPS, activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, stress tracking, smartphone notifications, Garmin Pay, and 5 ATM water resistance. You'll have access to some of the same workouts as well, including strength, cardio, and elliptical training along with stair-stepping, floor climbing, indoor rowing, and yoga.
It's worth mentioning that you will be missing out on a handful of the more advanced features. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 doesn't offer a Pulse Ox sensor for blood oxygen tracking, Body Battery Energy Monitoring, breathwork, respiration tracking, or animated on-screen workouts.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs. 3: Which should you buy?
Not surprisingly, the price of the Vivoactive 3 has been significantly marked down since its successor was released. If you're content with the more basic tracking and features offered by the predecessor, it's an unbeatable deal for those on a tight budget. It's also an ideal option for someone who is buying a Garmin smartwatch for the first time and doesn't want to break the bank. It's not as advanced as the Vivoactive 4, but you still get a decent set of features for this low price point.
However, if you're craving more details and you don't mind spending a bit more, the Vivoactive 4 is an excellent pick with a lot to offer. It boasts many well-deserved improvements, like two size options, standard music storage, and a long list of tracking features that help you get a deeper look at your overall health and fitness. If the price tag doesn't spook you, you'll be more than happy with the Garmin Vivoactive 4.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch
Track every little detail
If you liked the Garmin Vivoactive 3 but were left wanting more, you may want to think about upgrading. The new Vivoactive 4 tracks every little detail to give you a complete overview of your health and fitness.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch
Cover all the basics
Not too concerned about tracking every little detail? The Vivoactive 3 might be right up your alley. With that said, it lacks more detailed tracking, and you'll have to pay more for a model with music storage.
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