Garmin Vivoactive 4
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a good all-round cardio GPS watch with touchscreen and solid basic running functions.
- Easy to use and efficient model: ideal for accurate tracking without a steep learning curve
- Versatile: a good balance between smartwatch and sports watch
- Deezer and Spotify playlists easy to sync
- Available in two sizes depending on your preferences
- Good ergonomics with the touchscreen completed by two buttons
- Barometric altimeter (rare at this price)
- Basic training tips (especially due to the lack of Training Load and Performance Condition data)
Model: Garmin Vivoactive 4
Comfort, size and fit
- The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is available in two sizes: normal and S.
- The classic version weighs 50 g with a 22 mm wide strap.
- The S (small) model weighs 40 g with an 18 mm wide strap.
- In comparison, the Vivoactive 4 is larger than the Garmin Forerunner 645. If you are looking for a discreet watch on your wrist the S version may be a good solution.
- The watch comes with a silicone band with a textured pattern by default. This is rather thick but still comfortable overall.
- The quick and easy replacement system (no tools required) makes it easy to change the strap if you wish.
- Garmin’s Vivoactive line offers touchscreen watches and the Vivoactive 4 is no exception.
- The screen has a diameter of 33 mm for the standard model and 28 mm for the S. In comparison, the previous model (Vivoactive 3) has a 30 mm diameter screen.
- The resolution is 260 x 260 pixels for the standard version or 218 x 218 pixels for the smaller version.
- A silver frame surrounds the outside of the screen. The display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 3 technology to prevent scratches caused by friction and impact. However, it is not recessed as on the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, which makes it slightly more vulnerable.
- It should be noted that the Vivoactive’s screen (as on other Garmin models) is transflective. This means that it reflects outside light. So, the better the weather outside, the brighter the screen will be. It is thus the opposite of LCD or OLDED screens (like the Apple Watch) which must increase the brightness to compensate for the outside light. Logically, transflective screens are less energy consuming and more practical for outdoor use: the watch is naturally lit and there is no need to activate it to see your pace, for example.
- The case is 45 mm (40 mm for the S version).
- The watch is water resistant to 5 ATM, i.e. 50 meters deep.
Ergonomics and ease of use
- As mentioned above, the screen is touch-sensitive. It is complemented by two buttons on the right side of the watch. Unfortunately, if you wear the watch on your left wrist, it is not possible to invert the display of the watch.
- The touchscreen is used to change the information on the screen while the physical buttons are there to pause or end a workout. This prevents pausing your workout by mistake while using the touchscreen.
GPS accuracy and navigation
- In general, the accuracy of GPS is good and on par with other Garmin watches.
- However, users have noticed a few discrepancies during the somewhat convoluted passages.
- This model integrates a new Sony GPS chip (like all the brand’s new watches) for better accuracy.
- In addition, the watch has a barometric altimeter, which is appreciable for the price. On the other hand, it is not possible to calibrate it manually.
- New safety features make it possible to detect an accident and send an emergency alert if necessary. In addition, there is LiveTrack, which allows your family and friends to follow your progress live via a web link.
- Note that this model does not offer route tracking like Forerunner.
- The watch is equipped with a new generation heat rate optical sensor to measure your heart rate.
- In practice, the result is very satisfactory with results comparable to those provided by a belt (also compatible, if you want better precision).
- However, the first reviews of users mention the fact that the Broadcast mode which allows to send the data to other devices is not very reliable. However, it is expected that this will be corrected by a Garmin update in the future.
Heart rate sensor
- Autonomy is 18 hours in GPS mode (15 hours for the S version), which is a 50% improvement over the Vivoactive 3. That’s very decent and sufficient for many people, but less than the Forerunner 245.
- If you use music in addition to GPS, the battery life increases to 6 hours (5 hours for the S).
- So, count about one charge every 4 or 5 days with regular training. A charge takes about 1 hour.
- The battery can last up to 8 days if you do not use the GPS or music.
- The Garmin Vivoactive 4 allows you to display up to 4 data field at a time on the screen with a maximum of 3 screens, for a total of 12 data fields. That’s less than on Fenix or Forerunner models, yet more than enough for most athletes.
- This watch offers several sports profiles including running, cycling and swimming. It is also well suited for other activities such as yoga or even golf.
- However, this is not a watch designed for triathlon or outdoor use in general, although there is nothing to prevent it from being used in these situations as long as it is limited to basic functions.
- It is possible to use certain external sensors with an ANT+ or Bluetooth connection, such as a cardio belt, for example.
Intelligent coach and training programs
- The watch makes it easy to create and upload your own custom workouts or upload plans to Garmin Coach in Garmin Connect. This makes it possible to program complex training programs with many different phases, such as interval training.
- Audio and vibration cues inform you of important events during your workouts (e.g. change of pace, heart rate, distance, etc.).
- The main missing features compared to the higher end models are the Performance Condition and Training Load which allow you to evaluate your physical condition and adapt your training.
- The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a full-fledged activity tracker that allows you to keep track of your activity even when you’re not actively working out by counting your steps, the number of floors you’ve climbed and your calorie expenditure.
- The most interesting function is Body Battery which gives a score out of 100 to your fitness based on the range of data collected by the watch. It’s a way of simplifying complex data into a single indicator.
- It also measures breathing rate, blood oxygenation and hydration, even though these data are not really useful and do not replace regular check-ups with your doctor.
- As far as sleep monitoring is concerned, the watch allows you to follow the phases of your sleep per night (i.e. light, deep and REM sleep). However, note, that this data is only available in the Garmin Connect application.
Activity and sleep monitoring
Music and applications
- The main innovation on this new model is the music player that now allows you to synchronise your Deezer and Spotify (Premium) playlists. It’s still possible to transfer your MP3 files if you wish.
- The watch has a 3.6 GB storage capacity.
- The contactless payment function can be found with Garmin Pay but it is not very useful given the few banks that support it.
- This model does not have a 3G/4G (LTE) connection.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
How long does the battery last?
The Vivoactive 4 Pro model has a battery life of 18 hours in standard GPS tracking mode (15 hours for the smaller S version). When listening to music in addition to GPS tracking, the battery life is 6 hours and 5 hours respectively for the standard and S models.
Is it worth buying the Garmin Vivoactive 4 if you already have the Vivoactive 3?
This new model has 50% more battery life and it’s now possible to listen to its Spotify/Deezer playlists (which was only possible on the Music version of the Vivoactive 3). In addition, the ergonomics are also better with an extra button to complement the touchscreen. The Vivoactive 3 now costs half the price of the 4, so it’s still a good option if you want to save money.
Which watch should I choose between the V4 and the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music?
These two watches from the same brand are both strong on their fundamentals (i.e. precise GPS and heart rate tracking) but have different profiles. The Vivoactive is more versatile, more general-purpose, while Forerunner is, as its name suggests, more running-oriented with smart training features. The V9 is also more ergonomic with its touchscreen, although it depends on your taste. The Vivoactive 4 is a little less expensive than the Forerunner 645.
Does the Vivoactive 4 have maps?
No, by default it’s not possible to load maps on this model. Such feature is reserved to higher end models like the Forerunner and the Fenix. However, some users note that there are some apps that can allow you to have some navigation functions, like dwMap. Also, if you enter a saved location in the watch, the compass arrow of the watch will point to its direction.
Is the Garmin Vivoactive 4 Waterproof?
Yes, the Vivoactive 4 is water-resistant up to 5 ATM which is equivalent to a depth of 50 meters.