What you need to know
- The Garmin Vivoactive 5 was announced on Wednesday, as predicted by several leakers.
- The Vivoactive 5 has a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, 11-day battery life, 4GB music storage, advanced sleep coaching, and wheelchair mode.
- Unlike the Vivoactive 4, the 5 only ships in one size and switches from stainless steel to an aluminum bezel.
- Garmin also lowered the price from $349 to $299 compared to the last generation.
Garmin's breakneck pace for 2023 watch releases shows no sign of flagging. On Wednesday, it announced the Garmin Vivoactive 5, the first watch in that lineup since 2019. For the most part, it's a major step up compared to that model; in other respects, it's taken a step back.
The 42mm Vivoactive 5 has a 1.2-inch, 390x390 AMOLED display — the same size and resolution as the Garmin Venu 3S.
The Vivoactive 5 takes several cues from the new Venu 3 series, which launched in August. It has Sleep Coaching with nap detection and heart rate variability, meditation mode, Morning Report, and the new wheelchair mode.
Unlike the Vivoactive 4, which came in two sizes, the Vivoactive 5 ships in just one model. And the Vivoactive 5, unlike its predecessor and the Venu 3, uses an aluminum bezel instead of stainless steel. In terms of color options, you'll choose between Slate bezel/ Black case and strap, Cream Gold/ Ivory, Metallic Navy/ Navy, and Metallic Orchid/ Orchid.
Though the Vivoactive 5 weighs less than the last generation and has a similar aesthetic, fans may still lament the loss of steel, even if aluminum is better than the usual plastic-heavy Garmin look. The renders above show how Garmin has removed the last model's distinct, thick bezel.
Beyond aesthetics, Vivoactive 4 owners will appreciate the switch to AMOLED while still getting improved battery life. Instead of 7–8 days, you get a respectable 11 days, and the 21 hours of GPS-tracked activity is a slight boost over the 4 (15–18 hours).
Also like the Venu 3, the Vivoactive 5 will have All-Systems GNSS tracking, but not dual-frequency GPS. That gives you a more accurate option, but not the best tracking available. Also, unfortunately, the Vivoactive 5 loses two key sensors compared to its predecessor: a gyroscope for more accurate wrist movement tracking and an altimeter for judging your efforts at high elevations.
Because of these downgrades, Garmin was able to lower the price of the Vivoactive 5 to just $299, $50 less than the Vivoactive 4 and $150 less than the Venu 3.
Like the Venu, the Vivoactive 5 has more generalized Garmin software, without the more focused sporting tools you'd get on other 2023 Garmin watches like the Forerunner 265 (running) or Instinct 2X Solar (adventuring). You also miss out on the Venu's built-in mic and speaker, though you still have NFC tap-to-pay and music storage.
Of course, compared to the Vivoactive 4, you do get more modern Garmin software tools. Aside from those mentioned above like Sleep Coaching, you'll most appreciate that the Vivoactive 5 can now tell you the impact of a workout on your fitness and give you an estimated recovery time.
Garmin has made a point of leaving behind lower-resolution, battery-saving Memory-in-Pixel (MIP) displays that it depended on in the past. In fact, it announced on Tuesday that it would sell a new Tactix 7 watch with an AMOLED upgrade for the first time. Announcing yet another new watch a day later is entirely on brand for Garmin.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.