Does the Garmin vivosmart 5 have GPS?

Garmin Vivosmart 5 screen close-up
(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Does the Garmin vivosmart 5 have GPS?

Best answer: Yes, it has GPS. However, it only works as connected GPS with a smartphone — GPS capabilities are not built-in.

What is the difference between connected GPS and built-in GPS?

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With fitness trackers and smartwatches that have GPS built-in, you can leave your phone at home and go for a run, walk, cycle, hike, or other outdoor activity while still tracking your route. You can then look back at the app to see not only how many steps you took, your heart rate, calories burned, and more, but also the distance traveled and even a map of your route.

With devices like the Garmin vivosmart 5 that have connected GPS, you can still do all of this, but your phone needs to be in your possession. The tracker or smartwatch pairs with your phone and uses its GPS antenna to log data that way. This includes location, distance, and speed. The vivosmart 5 does not have the ability to do this on its own. You also need to possess a compatible phone. Garmin vivosmart 5's connected GPS feature works with Android 7.0 devices or higher that natively support Google Play Store and iPhones with iOS 13 or higher.

What's the value in having GPS functionality?

The value in having GPS is that you can log routes and check how you progress over time; you can see if your pace is faster or slower and where, and what might impact it (e.g. steep inclines.) You can log favorite running routes or hiking trails as well, making it easy to take the same trip again or share with others. You can also compare stats like pace, heart rate, and calorie burns to see improvements.

For runners who want to be as lightweight as possible, they may find value in being able to leave the phone at home and travel without any added bulk. In this case, a tracker with built-in GPS is preferred.

For those who don't mind bringing the phone along, connected GPS like what's found in the Garmin vivosmart 5, which we named among the best fitness trackers, will suffice, and accomplishes the same thing by leveraging the phone's antenna.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.