Delivering a relatively middle-of-the-road set of results, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 didn't necessarily perform poorly in our tests — it just didn't do well enough to claim an award. This fitness tracker does have a few interesting features and functions, offering the ability to connect and interact with a variety of other Garmin devices and detailed sleep tracking, but we don't think these are enough to make it a competitor to the top models.
Garmin Vivosmart 4 Review
Pros: Detailed sleep tracking, accurate step counting, can be helpful for dieting
Cons: No activity reminders, so-so screen visibility
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Vivosmart 4 does offer some detailed sleep and fitness stats that might be interesting to some people, like the ability to act as a pulse oximeter, measure stress, or energy left through its Body Battery feature. However, we don't think these completely redeem its flaws for the vast majority of users.
The Vivosmart 4 did perform fairly well in our most significant testing metric, earning a higher than average score when it came to fitness impact. This tracker did very well in our step counting trials, only having an average error of 3 steps or so off the true count after three distinct 1-mile walks. It also provided decent results when tracking a cardio workout, measuring things like calories burned, exercise duration, average and maximum heart rate, moving time, speed, and heart rate zones. The Vivosmart 4 does rely on your phone's GPS module to collect this data, so you can't leave your phone behind and expect to get the same level of results.
You can also select specific activity profiles to track, including walk, run, cardio, and strength training, with the option to add elliptical, swimming, stair stepper, or yoga as well. The Vivosmart 4 will track the number of stairs climbed throughout the day as well, though we did find it would miss them occasionally. It only counted 9 of the 10 flights in our test.
You have some community compete or share options through the smartphone app, including a feature where you can go toe-to-toe with someone else in a step contest. You can also connect this to MyFitnessPal if you are trying to monitor your calorie intake and the daily RMR estimate of calories burned seems to be fairly accurate, matching what we would expect for our tester's height, weight, and age. The sleep tracking is automatic, with the Vivosmart 4 measuring the amount of time you spent in REM, deep, or light sleep, as well as any time that you were awake. However, we did find that it missed some of the times we were awake in our tests but it may get better with long term use as it learns your sleep patterns.
This fitness tracker is overall very easy to use, with a reasonably straightforward interface and companion app. The app can be a little cluttered in our opinion but you can usually find what you are looking for without too much searching around. The Vivosmart 4 has a typical battery life and is water-resistant to take in the pool or shower, with a nice watch-style band and clasp that make it a snap to take it on and off. This model can also receive just about any push notification that your phone can, giving you a discreet way to check your phone without pulling it out of your pocket or purse.
The band isn't overly stiff, so it's comfortable to wear for long periods of time and it has a low enough profile that it doesn't usually get caught on stuff. It's a sleek looking watch that we think is actually quite stylish, with a bezel that is a nice compliment to the band.
We did find some deficiencies with the fitness tracking of this model, namely its lack of a dedicated cycling profile. We tried to use the running profile to track a bike workout but found the data didn't match up that well with data tracked from another app. The Vivosmart 4 also failed to impress when it came to its heart rate monitoring, having an average difference of 17 bpm off of our control chest strap monitor.
We also wished that this tracker had an option to enable alerts to remind you to get up and move but it does alert you to take a stress test periodically. The Vivosmart 4's display can also be hard to read in direct sunlight and the touchscreen will occasionally fail to register some of our taps.
The Vivosmart 4 isn't the best value, as it scored in the middle of the group overall and doesn't cost that much less than the top-tier models.
This fitness tracker has a few standout features, like more detailed sleep tracking and its Body Battery energy measurement, but also has some glaring omissions in our mind. It might be a great choice for some people that value these features or have other Garmin devices that this can interact with, but we think most people would probably be happier with some of the other models out there.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer