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Garmin Smartbands Review

garmin-smartband-review

Last Updated on September 29, 2021 by ashwinig 

Quick Overview

Smart bands have witnessed unprecedented demand in this lockdown. People have suddenly realised the importance of good health and for once have had the time on their hands to do something about their fitness levels. So, the New Year resolution of health-conscious lifestyle has found the way out of the closets and dusted to be incorporated within the lifestyle. One major stumbling block that most people face is how to keep a tab on the fitness journey and the progress made.

This is where smart bands come into play. These nifty little devices have come to the rescue of countless people that have been racking their brains on how to track their fitness journeys. The smart bands give you a fun, easy, and convenient way of tracking your metrics and comparing your daily, weekly, and monthly data to track your progress. This not only keeps you motivated to stay on track but even shows you viable results and problem areas to streamline your routine.

This article will focus on Garmin’s smartbands. Garmin is one of the best smart band brands in the fitness tracker category. Read on to find out what Garmin has to offer and which Garmin will suit your best. 

Why Garmin?

When you are faced with so many options, it becomes mighty difficult choosing just one. You have to sift through so many parameters just to shortlist the devices that meet your requirements. Then from these, you start the process of zeroing in on that one particular band which beats them all as per your checklist. Just going with the toppers makes your life far simpler and much easier.

Here are some points why you should consider Garmin when on your next Smart band shopping spree:

  • Well respected and established brand
  • Brilliant performance value
  • Solid reliable devices
  • Good feature list
  • Frequent firmware updates
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Unbeatable battery life
  • Low maintenance
  • Ease of availability

Best of Garmin Smartbands

  • Vivofit 4
  • Vivosmart 4
  • Vivosport

Vivofit 4

Pros

Cons

1 Year Battery Life

No Phone Notification Support

Excellent Device Response

Lack of Heart Rate Sensor

Accurate Trackers

Small Display

Premium Sporty Look

 

Vivofit has been ranked as one of the top contenders of 2019 by the customers and reviewers alike. It does not offer much beyond the basic tracking but what it does offer you, comes with a brilliant performance and smart intuitive interface that is sure to bowl you over. Garmin is known in the fitness industry by the professional trainers and it is the 76go-to brand for serious athletes. It brings this expertise to your wrist with Vivofit in a cost-effective segment.

Design

Garmin loves minimalistic designs and this is apparent with Vivofit 4. It is a rectangular looking display set in a strap that wraps around the display with large well-defined boundaries. The look is decidedly sporty with the textured band and the whole semi-chunky feel. The straps are made of good quality rubber or silicone depending upon which color you opt for. The texture is only on the front of the band and there is a smooth backside for comfort.

But the fabulous thing about the device is that the look is completely dependent on the strap. So, you can opt for a more weathered down strap to get a more formal or feminine look to the device. This is easier done than said owing to the amazing third party options you have at your disposal.

Garmin has been improving upon the looks making it better and more premium with every successful turnout of the Vivofit series and Vivofit 4 is one fine looking device. Wit Vivofit 4, Garmin has replaced the older under the wrist button wrap style of Vivofit 3 with a more traditional tang buckle closure. This looks and works way better than the previous style.

Display

This device redefines the meaning of small displays. Garmin Vivofit 4 has a tiny screen space. The display is just 0.46 inches making it the smallest you will find in the smartband market. But don’t let the size deter you from the quality. The display is a Transflective Memory in Place display makes you take a pause and gives you excellent picture quality.

You get an always-on display with this band. It is a very handy feature and ensures that you do not have to wait for the screen to “wake” up to get your stat to read or to simply get the time. The display resolution of 88x 88 pixels, gives you a nice versatile and rich color experience with no bleeding whites or pesky shadows on the screen.

The auto-brightness adjustment feature of this band uses the ambient light sensor and allows you to have a clear read even under bright sunlight. This feature can also be turned off and you can opt for manually setting the brightness level. It is a very helpful feature especially at night when you do not want to wake up with a torch shining on your wrist!

Input

There is no touch screen feature in the Garmin Vivofit 4. The screen is supported with a snazzy chrome finish button that has a multi-functional use. The interaction is done with this button that sits just below the screen in a rectangular shape mimicking the screen design and acting like its extension.

The button works on the tap and holds command. A single tap lets you toggle between the screens and holding the button will let you choose your page and scroll.  Double-tap is the back button and also the going to the home screen button.

Fitness and Health

Garmin is a popular name with the professional fitness segment. It is known and used by both trainers and athletes alike. However, when compared to other fitness trackers, Garmin Vivofit 4 feature set is a little underwhelming. To begin with, no fitness tracker is complete without heart rate tracking and that is exactly what Vivofit 4 lacks. This is further compounded by the lack of GPS. But enough said about what this device lacks.

Coming to the features it offers, Garmin Vivofit 4 gives you, your daily step count, calories burned and distance travelled. These are all very basic features but each one is done excellently well. Without a built-in GPS, you cannot expect the data to be spot-on accurate but the device does exceptionally well in this regard. Bottom line is that Vivofit is one of the best trackers you will find in the market. You will have no complaints about the metrics presented, all thanks to the excellent approximation algorithm.

The device also offers data on your high-intensity workout minutes as opposed to low-intensity time duration. The device uses Garmin Move IQ technology to auto-detect activities based on your wrist movements. Then you have the option of competing within the Garmin family and setting target-based goals to keep motivated.

Sleep tracking is brilliant with spot on deep sleep cycle metrics. Also, the device has no trouble picking up on daytime naps and including those in the total sleep clocked.

Notifications, Durability, and Lifestyle

This device does not offer any phone notifications support. There are no incoming calls and text alerts on this. You also do not get any third-party app support. This is quite a major setback for those looking for an overall device.

Apart from notifications, Garmin Vivofit 4 does have a few lifestyle features up its sleeve. These include, find my phone feature so that you never have to run around looking for it, calendar updates to keep your schedule sorted, automatic syncing to keep all your data and records safe amongst others.

On the durability front, Vivofit 4 comes to you with a chemically strengthened glass front that easily withstands the daily bumps and bruises. It is also dust and fingerprint resistant. The water resistance is 5ATM which gives you good swim support.

Battery Life

This is the best feature of Vivofit 4. Garmin does away with the charger altogether with 2 replaceable SR43 button batteries. These small batteries give you a smart band life of over 1 year with mixed-use.

Final Take

Vivofit is Garmin’s attempt to enter the mid-price range of the smart band platform and it does this effortlessly. You will not be disappointed with this Garmin despite the lack of notifications and heart rate sensor.

Vivosmart 4

Pros

Cons

Sophisticated Design

Lack of GPS

Good Battery Life

Small Display

Efficient Tracking

Delayed Response

Garmin Vivosmart is a “smart” device when it comes to data ad data analysis. It not only tracks the metrics well but also analyses these metrics efficiently. The Vivosmart series from Garmin not only allows you this specialized content but also tack son everyday lifestyle features to make this band more accessible and convenient than its other fitness-oriented products.

Design

The design of Garmin Vivosmart is a scaled-down more sophisticated and premium looking design from Vivofit 4. However, the basic concept remains the same. The rectangular capsule is surrounded by the strap in which it sits snugly.

The capsule has an outer chrome finish boundary as opposed to the strap boundary in Vivofit 4 and Vivosmart. This chrome finish is largely responsible for the snazzy looks and classy feel. This device is meant for any and every occasion including your formal meets and greets.

It is a slim and sleek looking device that works against the Garmin culture of chunky sporty devices. It comes in plenty of colours to suit your needs and the bands are not interchangeable so you must think and pick the colour that suits you. The bezel is aluminium and has a different coloured chrome finish to them ranging from azure blue to silver and slate.

Display

Garmin Vivosmart has a 6.6x 17.7 mm OLED display. The display size is 0.75 inches and carries with it a display resolution of 48x 128 pixels. The screen is bright and vivid with good contrast settings.

There is an auto-brightness adjustment feature that adjusts the brightness levels to give you the best possible read. The ambient light sensor that this feature depends upon is excellent. This will never let you squint in the sunlight to see your metrics which is a problem faced by too many smart bands out there.

Durability

The device comes with the standard chemically strengthened glass that ensures that this device easily withstands the normal scratches and cracks that might come it’s way.

It is also water-resistant to 5ATM. This means that you can submerge this device up to 50 meters of water. You can take it swimming and even the shower. However, it will be better to keep the device away from the Jacuzzi and the sauna.

Fitness and Health

Garmin Vivosmart gives you beyond just the basics on the tracking front. It does all the usual step tracking, calories burned, distance travelled and floors climbed. Beyond this, it also gives you heart rate monitoring, VO2 max level monitoring, continuous stress level count, and Body Battery energy monitor as well.

Then you have a host of supported activities from running, jogging, walking, hiking, climbing to yoga, and controlled breathing. You can do gym routines, strength training, and much more with this device keeping one step ahead of you at all times. 

There is even the auto-detection mode to help you along with your routine without having to pause and set the device going. The only thing is that this device is more preferable indoors because of its lack of GPS. But this is only if you want detailed metrics of your outdoor workout schedule.

Notifications and Lifestyle

You get all the notifications that you might want. All the incoming calls and texts are duly alerted and all the third-party apps as well.

On the lifestyle front, you have an alarm clock, weather updates, clock, and stopwatch amidst others. You also have calendar updates to keep on top of our schedule.

Battery Life

Garmin claims that the device will give you 7 days on standby and this is largely true. In mixed-use, life goes down to about 3 days.

Final Take

Garmin Vivosmart is a slimline device that looks and breathes premium. It is the upper segment cousin of Vivofit 4. This sleek-looking device comes loaded with fitness features to amaze you with their performance value. Couple this with the lifestyle features this band offers and you have yourself a device that is aimed at making you and keeping you active and motivated with less stress and more convenience.

Vivosport

Pros

Cons

Efficient GPS Tracking

Slow Connection Time

Good Heart Rate Accuracy

No Swim Support

Battery Life

 

In a nutshell, Vivosport is all that Vivofit is not. Apart from not supporting swimming, Vivosport is an all-rounder with sports. It takes the sports segment to center stage and does not let go. You get an awesome GPS tracker and very fair heart rate tracking and high-end feature like VO2 max and stress level count with this device. As far as accuracy is concerned this one is a Garmin through and through with the spot on trackers and smooth performance.

Display

Vivosport has a slightly larger display than Vivofit at 0.85 inches of screen space. It is a similar Transflective Memory-In-Pixel kind of screen, and apart from the mouthy name this screen also has a few pointers in its favor. The screen sports a display resolution of 72x 144 pixels ensuring a bright screen with good clarity. The colourful display makes for a much more interesting experience and adds a fun element to the band.

The always-on display is a breeze with the Transflective screen since this type of screen uses minimal battery life to display images. The auto-brightness mode is powered by the ambient light sensor and it works brilliantly. You do not even know the difference while stepping out of doors with this sensor working in the background to adjust the brightness levels. However, there is a slight bluish tinge that seems to plague the device on and off.

This display really cannot compare with the exceptional Samsung display but it does come in very practical and handy with a lot less strain on the battery power.

Design

Garmin Vivosport rivals smart bands like Samsung Gear Fit Pro 2. Though by itself the device looks a little broad and chunky when you compare it to these devices, the appeal is obvious. Vivosport comes with a small display and is completely “wear me with anything” kind of wearable. In this, it is very versatile as well. You can flash and flaunt it or you can keep it under wraps. It all depends upon your mood. 

The compact design can look a little dull especially with the black/ grey strap color but it is far from boring. The small display lends it a cute factor that is in direct contrast with the sporty feel making this an interesting device on the whole.

There is a black strip of the band surrounding the rectangular display, and this makes the display blend in seamlessly with the strap. It is a touchscreen display with no buttons physical or otherwise to detract with the simple structure of the device.

Input

The medium of interaction in Garmin Vivosport is the touchscreen display. There are no buttons or any other accessory to aid in the touchscreen. However, the performance of this touch factor is amazing and you will not register any lags in the response.

The device works amazingly well in tandem with the commands. You can do a single tap-hold for heading to the main screen and double-tap to select and scroll. The other commands are equally simple and you will face no problems getting the hang of it.

Fitness and Health

Vivosport is hands down the best sports-oriented tracker you can get in the market. It will monitor your step count, calories burned and distance travelled without any fuss whatsoever. The band even auto detects the number of stairs you have climbed along with monitoring your sleep log. Even the greater than 10-minute runs, jogs or walks are auto-detected and filed separately from the daily count in the app.

The modes supported can be activated by long-pressing the clock face. The band supports a variety of sports and you will be quite content with those offered. You also get gym routines and modes for weight lifting, lunges, and jumps.

There is water-resistant to 5ATM and this makes it able to withstand water pressure to up to 50 meters without any problems. So, you can take this one to your pool sessions. However, the band does not support swim tracking. It will not measure your swim length or even your swim duration. Even your heart rate sensor gets a little wonky when underwater and your time in the pool will have pretty inaccurate vital measures.

Hiking, walking, climbing, and running are the ground force of this device. You will get accurately detailed metrics with routed maps for these activities. The maps are a very handy tool to have especially when you are up and about in the great outdoors. Vivosport heart rate sensor uses the elevate hardware for monitoring and supports augmented heart rate reading alerts as well. This means that if your heart rate reaches the above normal range you get alerts on your device to take a break and re-calibrate your activities.

Notifications, Durability, and Lifestyle

Vivosport, fortunately, comes loaded with phone notification support. You get alerts for incoming calls, texts, and all third party app alerts. You get to choose from 8 watch faces and these can be further customized as well to display a different set of information.

You have an alarm clock to wake you up on time and calendar support to help keep your appointments on track. Apart from this you also get find my phone feature and weather updates.

The screen is chemically strengthened and tuff to scratch and cracks under normal pressure. The water resistance stays true and you will not find any water damage on the device.

Battery Life

The device gives you 3 to 4 days on mixed-use. It claims a good 7 days but that is only on standby. With really aggressive use you can expect a maximum of 2 days.

Final Take

Garmin Vivosport is one sleek device with a lot of high-end technology crammed under its hoods. It shares the same fitness level performance and features set that you would expect from a Garmin smartwatch. Very aptly named as Vivosport this one is for all the sports enthusiasts out there that love changing their routine and doing multiple activities. You can go from hardcore cardio to weights and back to basics with this nifty baby on your wrist.

Cross-Comparison

Device Name

Garmin Vivosport

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin Vivofit 4

Device Type

Fitness Smartband

Fitness Smartband

Fitness Smartband

Predecessor

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Garmin Vivofit 3

Release Date

August 2017

August 2018

February 2018

DISPLAY

Display Type

Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)

OLED

Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)

Display Size

0.85 inch

0.75 inch

0.43 inch

Display Resolution

72 x 144 pixels

48 x 128 pixels

88 x 88 pixel

Input Type

Touchscreen

Touchscreen

Touch key

Always-On Display

Yes

Yes

Yes

DESIGN

Shape

Rectangular

Rectangular

Rectangular

Dimension

32 x 21 x 10.9 mm

21.2 x 19 x 9.4 mm

Weight

24.1 g (Small Band)
27 g (Large Band)

16.5 g (Small Band)
17.1 g (Large Band)

25.5 g (Large Band)

Casing Material

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate

Strap Material

Silicone

Silicone

Silicone (black)
TPU (white)

Bezel Material

Aluminum

Strap Size

122-188 mm (Small)
148-215 mm (Large)

122-188 mm (Small)
148-215 mm (Large)

122-188 mm (Small)
148-215 mm (Large)

Screen Protection

Chemically strengthened glass

Chemically strengthened glass

Chemically strengthened glass

Water Resistance

Yes, 5ATM

Yes, 5ATM

Yes, 5ATM

Swimming

Yes

Yes

Yes

Colors

Slate

Limelight

Gold Berry

Gold Gray

Silver Blue
Black

Black

White

MEMORY

Internal Storage

14 days of activity tracking data

14 days of activity tracking data

4 weeks of tracked data

Memory Card Slot

No

No

No

CONNECTIVITY

Bluetooth

Bluetooth and ANT+

Bluetooth and ANT+

Bluetooth and ANT+

GPS

Yes

No (Connected GPS)

No

Cellular Technology

No

No

No

NOTIFICATIONS

Calls Alert

Yes

Yes

Yes

Email Alert

Yes

Yes

Yes

Event Reminder

Yes

Yes

Yes

SMS Alert

Yes

Yes

Yes

Third-Party App

Yes

Yes

Yes

Weather

Yes

Yes

Yes

FITNESS TRACKING

Blood Oxygen Level

No

Yes

No

Calories Burned

Yes

Yes

Yes

Distance Travelled

Yes

Yes

Yes

Floors Climbed

Yes

Yes

No

Heart Rate Monitoring

Yes

Yes

No

Preloaded Sport Mode

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sleep Tracking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Step Count

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stress Level

Yes

Yes

No

Swim Tracking

No

Yes

Yes

VO2 Max.

Yes

Yes

No

MEDIA

Audio

No

No

No

Music streaming

No

No

No

Bluetooth music

No

No

No

Camera

No

No

No

SENSORS

Accelerometer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Altimeter

Yes

Yes

No

Ambient Light

No

Yes

No

ECG

No

No

No

Gyroscope

No

No

No

Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

Yes

Yes

No

Pulse Oximeter

No

Yes

No

BATTERY

Battery Type

Lithium polymer

Lithium polymer

2 x SR43 replaceable battery

Battery Life

GPS Mode: Up to 8 hours
Standby Mode: 7 Days

Standby Mode: Up to 7 days

Mixed usage: 1 year+

CHARGING

Charging Type

Charging cable

Charging cable

No charging

Charging Time

About 1-2 hrs

About 1-2 hrs

CLOCK FEATURES

Time and Date

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stopwatch

Yes

Yes

Yes

Alarm

Yes

Yes

Yes

OTHER FEATURES

Camera Control

No

No

No

Music Control

Yes

Yes

No

Find My Phone

Yes

Yes

Yes

Text response

No

No

No

MISCELLANEOUS

Payment system

No

No

No

Compatibility

Android

iOS

Android

iOS

Android

iOS

Interchangeable band

Yes

No

Yes

Voice command

No

No

No

 

 

 

 

Bottom Line

Garmin is an excellent brand with a solid reputation for churning out the best. The only downside with this brand is affordability. Most of Garmin devices are high on cost and not very budget friendly. Vivofit 4 is the cheapest Garmin smart band, and it lies in the mid-price range bracket.

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