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Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review

If you don't mind a device with average features, this product is great for fitness tracking
Garmin Vivoactive 4
Credit: Garmin
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $350 List | $281.47 at Amazon
Pros:  Large screen, accurate stair counter, accurate step counting, variety of trackable metrics
Cons:  Bulky, poor screen quality, expensive
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Jared Eastlick and Jessica Riconscente  ⋅  Sep 12, 2022
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 9
  • Fitness Impact - 30% 7.9
  • Health Impact - 25% 6.4
  • Ease of Use - 20% 4.8
  • Ergonomics - 15% 5.4
  • Display - 10% 4.9

Our Verdict

If you're looking for pure performance and elite tracking capabilities, look no further than the Garmin Vivoactive 4. Making our list of top fitness trackers, this wearable delivered stellar results across the board regarding tracking health and fitness. We were particularly impressed with how accurate the altimeter was. On the other hand, we believed that the display and profile design were lacking. The only thing going for this low-quality display is its visibility outside. The bulky profile may look fashionable, but it is somewhat impractical for sleeping and putting on clothing as it will likely get in the way. If you are okay with sacrificing display for peak performance, then the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has your name written all over it.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Garmin Vivoactive 4
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $350 List
$281.47 at Amazon
$280 List
$249.00 at Amazon
$100 List
$56.95 at Amazon
$230 List
$154.50 at Amazon
$31 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Large screen, accurate stair counter, accurate step counting, variety of trackable metricsFeature rich, larger screen, sleek, smart notifications, lots of appsEasy to use, accurate step counter, excellent smartphone appGood value, great fitness tracking ability, excellent battery lifeVery inexpensive, minimalistic, available in multiple colors
Cons Bulky, poor screen quality, expensivePoor sleep tracking, expensive, poor battery lifeNot the most comfortable, so-so cycling trackingCould be more convenient to use, doesn't have the most smart functionsLimited fitness/health tracking abilities, display can be hard to read in direct sunlight
Bottom Line If you don't mind a device with average features, this product is great for fitness trackingHigh cost, but in return, you get great health and fitness recordings along with an app-rich menu for versatilityOffering great all-around performance on a budget, we think this wearable tracker is a fantastic option for any bargain-conscious shopperThe fitness features packed into this wearable make it an excellent choice for the priceThis bare-bones model can't do too much but it is one of the least expensive trackers we have tested to date
Rating Categories Garmin Vivoactive 4 Apple Watch SE Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitbit Versa 3 Lintelek ID115HR
Fitness Impact (30%)
7.9
7.3
6.8
7.4
3.6
Health Impact (25%)
6.4
7.5
6.9
6.7
4.8
Ease of Use (20%)
4.8
7.9
7.8
7.0
8.0
Ergonomics (15%)
5.4
7.6
6.2
6.0
4.8
Display (10%)
4.9
8.9
7.3
6.6
5.5
Specs Garmin Vivoactive 4 Apple Watch SE Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitbit Versa 3 Lintelek ID115HR
Heart Rate Monitor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Altimeter (stair tracking) Yes Yes No Yes No
Battery life Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days; GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours; GPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours Up to 10 days 2-5 days 5 days with HR on
8 days with HR off
Charge time 1-2 hours 2.5 hours 1-2 hours 2 hours 1-2 hours
Memory 200 hours of activity data 32 GB 7 days of detailed motion - minute by minute; daily totals 30 days Saves 7 days of detailed motion data; Saves daily totals for past 30 days N/A
Water Resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM IP67
Operating Temp -4 -140 F 32 - 95 F -4 - 140 F -4 - 140 F N/A
Notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications Text, call, push notifications
Vibration Motor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
GPS Tracking Yes Yes No Yes No
Multi-Sport Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Music Control Yes Yes No Yes No
Sleep Tracking Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Silent Alarm Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the epitome of function over form. This tracker performed excellent on our impact tests but was mediocre regarding ease of use and display. We think this wearable is perfect for those seeking pinpoint accuracy at a nominal cost in comfortability.

Performance Comparison


Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the vivoactive 4 is top quality in fitness tracking capabilities.
The Vivoactive 4 is top quality in fitness tracking capabilities.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Fitness Impact


Our tests first began by looking at the tracking performance of various fitness activities. In particular, we measured the accuracy of the step, cycling, workout, and stair trackers. We also evaluated the depth and quality of the community features offered. The test results resoundingly demonstrated that the Vivoactive 4 is one of the top trackers on the market in terms of fitness impact.


The first metric we decided to take a look at was the accuracy of the step and distance counter. For this test, we walked three one-mile tracks, comparing the results of the Vivoactive 4 measurements with our own via a mechanical tally counter. We were struck by how deadly accurate and consistent these results were. Across our three trials, the average step difference was only seven steps. Distance walked was only off by 0.02 miles despite walking a little above a mile in two of the three trials.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the vivoactive 4 produced some of the most accurate step tracking...
The Vivoactive 4 produced some of the most accurate step tracking results we have tested.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

We then examined the efficacy of the cycling tracker. This tracker gives a variety of metrics to track cycle performance, like HR, lap distance, speed, and time. Our tests found the Vivoactive 4 remarkably consistent in its readings, performing well above most other trackers.

The Vivoactive 4 also offers many other workout features that record your estimated calories burned, HR zones, calories consumed, and many others. There are 25 exercises ranging from fitness, sports, and even yard work.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the vivoactive 4 is also useful in other activities like...
The Vivoactive 4 is also useful in other activities like high-intensity interval training (HITT).
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The excellent altimeter was the last metric that sealed the deal for this test. Many fitness trackers on the market do not have an altimeter, and those that do are mostly low quality. The Vivoactive 4 does not disappoint in this aspect, and we found its altimeter reliable in calculating climbed steps.

Health Impact


Next, we measured how the Vivoactive 4 performs in health tracking. We gauged how well the tracker measures heart rate, dieting, motivation methods for lifestyle changes, sleep tracking, and its waking alarm efficacy. Compared to our last test, health impact was slightly lower, but overall, the Vivoactive 4 performed well above average.


Our heart rate monitor test compared the readings of the Vivoactive 4 with a wearable chest monitor. We discovered that this tracker had an absolute average difference of 5.9 bpm, which is quite good. The only complaint we have with this feature is its relatively long adjustment lag for changes in heart rate.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - we think the heart rate monitor will get the job done well, but we...
We think the heart rate monitor will get the job done well, but we would not consider it to be flawless.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The diet logging feature is intuitive and allows users to easily set up a coherent food diary. Not only can the user scan the barcode on food, but with premium, you can take a picture of your meal, and it will give you a nutrient breakdown. We found this feature particularly helpful for those not wanting to tediously log every ingredient. For instance, if your meal is chicken, broccoli, and rice, you can record it as one entry rather than three separate ones.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - this tracker will help you track nutritional/dieting information...
This tracker will help you track nutritional/dieting information better than most other trackers on the market.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

This tracker includes various lifestyle functions such as a stress meter and relaxation notifications. The waking alarm gets the job down, although it could be a tad louder for heavier sleepers. Lastly, we found the sleep tracker accurate and reliable in measuring time awake at night.

Ease of Use


Our third set of evaluations examined how easy to use and user-friendly the Vivoactive 4 is. We ranked based on battery life, syncing/paring speed, clasping mechanism, ease of navigating through the app and menus, and how water resistant it is. The Vivoactive 4 did not impress us in this series of tests, performing below average overall.


The Vivoactive 4 battery life can vary depending on the setting. Smartwatch mode lasts up to eight days, GPS mode with music lasts up to 6 hours, and GPS without music lasts up to 18 hours. We found the syncing/pairing function annoying as it took quite a while for the GPS to connect. We proceeded to the next step, and eventually, the GPS did connect.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the charge of the vivoactive 4 can vary depending on how it is used.
The charge of the Vivoactive 4 can vary depending on how it is used.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The companion app had all the information we needed, but we felt it was less compartmentalized than other apps. Everything seems to be cramped, especially on the iPhone version. Luckily there is an option at the top to make it more condensed, but this is not enough to consider it visually appealing.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the companion app made us go a little cross-eyed from the bulk of...
The companion app made us go a little cross-eyed from the bulk of information presented on our phone screen.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The best thing going for the Vivoactive 4 in this category is it is easy to put on. It is a simple strap-style watch with a notch that protrudes out and inserts into a slot.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - you will find that this tracker is very easy to put on.
You will find that this tracker is very easy to put on.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ergonomics


Now we move on to rating and scoring how well the Vivoactive 4 feels while wearing, the aesthetic appeal, and the quality of the profile design. We concluded that this tracker fails to make any meaningful impact.


Despite its large size, this tracker does a great job at not applying too much pressure on the wrist. It is thicker and bulkier than many other fitness trackers, which may not be ideal for some. For the consumers who want a larger screen that is easy to see outside, the Vivoactive 4 will not disappoint.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the bulky profile of the vivoactive 4 may cause some annoyances when...
The bulky profile of the Vivoactive 4 may cause some annoyances when doing certain activities.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The difficulty with the bulky profile is that it gets caught when wearing jackets or backpacks. Our testers noted that those wearing jackets should pull the sleeve over the watch since it consistently gets caught during use.

Display


Our last set of tests examined the quality of display and responsiveness of the Vivoactive 4. This last test was disappointing compared to other fitness trackers.


The best part of the display for the Vivoactive 4 is its readability outside; other than that, it is unremarkable. The resolution of the tracker is very low compared to most quality trackers on the market. Again the Vivoactive 4 reminds us that it is much more interested in functionality than aesthetic appeal.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 fitness tracker - the display on the vivoactive 4 is bare bones and unremarkable.
The display on the Vivoactive 4 is bare bones and unremarkable.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

We found this wearable to be adequately responsive. The display responds to simple left, right, up, and down movements. We did notice that scrolling up and down was only possible with fast finger flicks but unresponsive to slow movements. Lastly, we noticed there are very few smart notifications. This tracker is great for exercise but not very useful when trying to answer calls or text messages.

Should you buy the Garmin Vivoactive 4?


The Vivoactive 4 is an excellent fitness tracker for health and outdoor enthusiasts who want the most accurate data. This watch is on the pricey side and probably not for more casual consumers who value user-friendliness and appearance over elite metric tracking.

What other fitness trackers should you consider?


Maybe the Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not satisfy those unwilling to make such steep sacrifices in interface and display. If so, the Apple Watch SE has great tracking abilities and a solid interface. For those seeking a cheaper alternative that is still solid, we recommend the Fitbit Charge 5.

Jared Eastlick and Jessica Riconscente
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