Garmin Vivoactive 4 / 4s | Full analysis and opinion


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Garmin renewed its Vivoactive after the 3 turned 2 years on the market. The model that was presented a month ago, the Garmin Vivoactive 4, comes now with a major change, two sizes availableThe Vivoactive 4 of 45mm and the Vivoactive 4s of 40mm circumference.

It has also come with another version, the Garmin VenuBut that will have its corresponding test in due course. This analysis is solely and exclusively dedicated to the Vivoactive 4.

After making the presentation only a month ago and after a few weeks of testing, it is now that I can tell you all the good things that the new Garmin model offers. But I am also here to tell you the not so good things, because all the devices have their A-side and B-side.

This test unit has been temporarily loaned by Garmin and, once the analysis has been completed, it will be sent back. I want this to be clear because there is no compensation of any kind from Garmin, the test is totally independent. The analyses I carry out are always performed with the utmost objectivity and as impartially as possible. 

If you like this review and find it useful in deciding to buy your next GPS watch, please use the links on this page (well, you can buy that GPS watch you want or anything else, anything goes). You won't pay more than it's worth, but the seller returns a small percentage which helps to cover the cost of hosting the site and, obviously, my work. Or you can become a VIP member..

I do not entertain more, you have come to know all the details you should know about the Vivoactive 4, so let's go directly to the full test.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Overall operation - 9.5
Training possibilities - 9
Platform and applications - 9.5
Battery life - 7.5
Finish and comfort - 8.5
Price/performance ratio - 7.5



The Vivoactive 4 is a renovation of the Vivoactive 3. I emphasize the renovation, because it is simply an evolution and not a revolution. But that evolution serves to make the music has become something included as standard and has received many of the innovations that have come to Garmin this 2019.

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The good

  • With two buttons, its use is more intuitive
  • Music as standard on all models
  • PulseOx can be activated throughout the day, something that was only reserved for high-end models
  • Garmin Pay compatible for NFC payments, unlike Forerunner 245 
  • Optical active swimming heart rate monitor
  • Special editions of Avengers and Star Wars

The bad


  • To be a "full-fledged" smartwatch, Garmin needs to work better on its user interface and not adapt it from a watch with buttons.
  • No advanced training algorithms (all reserved for the Forerunner range)
  • If you come from a Vivoactive 3 you may not have many reasons to change and update the model

Garmin Vivoactive 4 / 4s, new


And what's new with the Garmin Vivoactive 4? As always and for your convenience, I'll leave you with a small list. When it comes to making a comparison, it's clear that the Vivoactive 3 is the model to look at.

  • Two sizes different: Vivoactive 4 in 45mm and Vivoactive 4s in 40mm
  • Sony GNSS chipset (like all the rest of the Garmin and other manufacturers' range)
  • Optical heart rate sensor Garmin Elevate v3 with Pulse Ox (pulse oximetry estimation)
  • Two buttons control panel in addition to the touch screen (on the Vivoactive 3 there was only one)
  • Music playback (previously only for Vivoactive 3 Music, now it is a basic function)
  • Garmin Pay (previously present)
  • Two new sports profiles: yoga and pilates
  • Training sessionsIt shows different strength, cardio, pilates and yoga exercises on screen through on-screen animations. The clock includes a series of training sessions that can be extended with others that you download from Garmin Connect. It is also possible to design yoga and pilates workouts from Garmin Connect
  • Body Battery to measure the amount of energy remaining (present in other models, new in Vivoactive)
  • Menstrual Cycle Trackingwhich was previously only in the application and will now also appear in the clock
  • Hydration monitoringYou can write down when and how much you drink throughout the day (new feature in Garmin)
  • Estimated sweat loss after training (new feature in Garmin)
  • Breath monitoring throughout the day, at night rest, in the Yoga sport profile and in the guided breathing exercises
  • Incident detection It is necessary to have the phone on you and it will activate if it detects a sudden fall, or it can be activated manually to warn that you are in a compromising situation (Already present in other models, new in Vivoactive)

As you can see we have the novelties we could expect in terms of hardware renewal (Sony chipset, music, etc) and the dose we could expect in its software, highlighting the possibility of seeing animations of the different exercises.

Vivoactive 4 at a glance

As I indicated earlier, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is offered in two sizesI think this is a positive change because the Vivoactive 3, with a little more than 43mm in circumference, was left in no man's land. For some it turned out to be a small watch, and yet others thought just the opposite. 

With the new model you can choose the size that best fits what you are looking for. If you want a small watch you have the Vivoactive 4s, with a fairly small size: only 40mm in circumference.

And if you have a bigger wrist and you want something with a bigger footprint, then you have the Vivoactive 4 with its 45mm. As you can see the 3 stayed right in between, making perhaps not everyone satisfied with its size.

These are the two options available for the Vivoactive 4. But whatever the size of the watch the two of them have the same functions. Even if I refer to the Vivoactive 4 throughout the test, it is the same for the Vivoactive 4s.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin Vivoactive 4s

Before we go into all the details, I would like to clarify what the difference between Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin VenuThe screen only, while the Vivoactive 4 use the transflective screen typical Garmin, the Venu has a AMOLED screenIn all other functions, both offer the same features. 

Every technology has its advantages and disadvantages. transflective screen of the Vivoactive 4 is perfectly visible in full sun and its consumption of energy is lesserIt also remains always on without a major drain on the battery. But it doesn't reach quality nor contrast of the screen AMOLED of the Venu, whose main problem is the reduced autonomy of the clock due to the consumption of that technology.

The Vivoactive 4 is still a touch screen clock. This is its main form of control, but for the new version we now have two buttons This second button is used to mark laps, go back in the menus or to access the main menu. 

This is a good addition as it makes the menu more natural and having a specific button to mark laps while training is always useful. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Buttons

If you come from another Garmin model you'll find the control mode is quite intuitive for what you're used to. From the main screen you can access the different widgets by sliding your finger up or down. You'll find the usual activity widgets, viewing steps, heart rate, calories, etc.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Buttons

Here we start to see news: now the clock records the breathing rateGarmin had started to integrate this metric into other models, but it used the chest pulse sensor and only during training. I've reserved a section exclusively for the new breath tracking features, so for now I'll just mention it.

This is not the only widget that appears for the first time, there is also another one that will do the hydration monitoringOf course, there is also a specific section below, as it could not be otherwise. That is why you have come to inform yourself on this page.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Hydration

And to continue with the widgets, the menstrual cycle monitoring (previously only through the app), and also the Body Battery.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Body Battery

Body Battery tells you how much energy you have remaining until the end of the day, and "recharges" at night or at other times of rest. 

It works as if it were the battery of your mobile phone. During the day and depending on your activity (sitting, training, walking ...) the energy available will decrease, being able to see at all times how much you have left available. And if we rest, we will recharge some of that energy.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Body Battery

It will help you to check if you have enough energy for a hard training series, or if you have had a difficult day, think about doing a recovery session.

All the movement on the screens is touch-sensitive, and if you want more information about any of them you can do it by pressing the screen or pressing the top button, to enter the widget. 

In the menu we find another option called "Shortcut". The Vivoactive 4 allows us to have a quick access function by sliding your finger to the right on the main screen. Things like music controls for quick playback or flashlight function with the maximum illumination of the screen, among others. I have selected wallet for direct access to Garmin Pay.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - NFC Payments

This is in addition to the quick control menu, which you access by pressing and holding the top button for one second and which also allows you to modify the items displayed here.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Quick Access Menu

I take advantage of the fact that I am talking about holding down the top button and I will now comment on the assistance and incident stop function.

They are two very similar functions, but it changes in the way it starts:

AssistanceEmergency Contact: Pressing and holding the top button will activate the countdown to send the warning to the emergency contacts you have chosen. You can activate the function if you have fallen, if you think something is wrong (because you are in an uncomfortable situation), etc.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Support

Incident detectionThe "Running" alarm: similar to the first case, but it starts automatically when it detects an incident while you're running or cycling (you must be training, it's not valid just to wear the watch). Basically a fast deceleration, sign of a fall. If it was a false alarm (because you simply braked in dry but without any accident) you'll have a short time to cancel the warning and not scare anyone unnecessarily.

In both cases, your contacts will receive a notification that you need help, along with a link to LiveTrack to see where you are. Both of these functions depend on your mobile phone to communicate, so you need to have it with you. 

This is all set up, of course, in Garmin Connect.

Incident Detection - Garmin Vivoactive 4

Lastly, I would like to briefly touch on the smart functions, for it is not for nothing that the Vivoactive series from Garmin boasts of being the "smartwatch option"of the blue triangle brand. These intelligent functions are composed of four things:

  • Notifications
  • Applications and spheres
  • Wireless payments
  • Music playback

The Vivoactive 4, like previous Garmin models, allows you to view the smartphone notifications In addition to viewing the notification instantly, you can also view previous notifications from the notification widget itself

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Notification

You can either delete the notification (which will remove it from pending notifications on the phone) or, if you're an Android user, reply with predefined messages. But there's no microphone to answer messages by voice.

Support for applications and spheres by Connect IQ is complete. If you're already from another Garmin model, you know what it offers, otherwise You should know that it is composed of applications, clock faces, widgets, and data fields, each of which serves a specific purpose, although they are all installed from Garmin's own application store.

Garmin Pay is not a novelty in the Vivoactive 4, already the Vivoactive 3 offered this function. Here you can see the list of supported banks and cardsLittle by little, payment for NFC is being implemented all over the world and it's already a real possibility, and when you make a payment with your watch, they don't look at you funny anymore.

As for the music playbackNote that it is available on any of the Vivoactive 4 models. On the Vivoactive 3 or other models of the brand, it is necessary to opt for the "Music" version to poder enjoy the ability to listen to music directly from the watch without making use of your phone or an external player.

We have 4GB of memory to store musicwhich you can sync directly from your computer or through streaming music services such as Spotify, Amazon Music or DeezerAfter having the music inside the watch, you will simply have to pair a Bluetooth headset and you will be able to listen to music completely autonomously. In addition, it offers the same functions that were already present in the Vivoactive 3 MusicIn that respect nothing has changed.

And after this brief review, let's switch to what we have in sports mode.

Setting up and sports

When it comes to sports, this is where we will see the most differences in the Vivoactive 4, at least if we compare it with the model it replaces. Both in terms of configuration and training possibilities, the new model offers more (although without reaching what a Forerunner offers).

Starting with the data screens, which now offer a more traditional configuration than in the previous model. The maximum per screen you can select is 4 data, but now there are no limitations with the data we want to choose.

We can choose the data we want within the three available screens to configure (this is a limitation with respect to Forerunners), but we no longer have a limited selection with the upper or lower data.

That's how the screen was displayed on the Vivoactive 3, with two data that we could freely choose, and two other much more basic data.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 - Data Display

And this is how it looks in the new model, a much more normal display compared to the rest of the brand's watches.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Data Display

The rest of the options are the usual ones for a watch of this type: alerts, automatic turns and pauses, use of GPS and GLONASS, etc.

Where there is news is when it comes to programming and following training sessions. The Vivoactive 3 allowed to execute advanced trainingsIt did not offer the same features as its brothers the Forerunners: it did not let them set goals (for example, running between 3:45-4:00 or between 160-170 ppm). it is possible do it on the Vivoactive 4.

However, to design these training sessions we must use Garmin Connect, there is no possibility of programming training sessions of any kind from the clock. But the programming of Garmin Connect is very complete, being able to select the different phases, rhythms, objectives and the way to fulfill them. It is easy to carry out and very intuitive. And in the same way, you will be able to synchronize training sessions from the TrainingPeakss, if it's the one you use.

Garmin Forerunner 245 - Advanced Training

After setting up your training and synchronizing it to your watch, you can select it before you go out to train (or if it is on the calendar it will remind you when you select the corresponding sport profile). On the watch screen you can see at any time where you are in your training and whether you are meeting your target.

Using the example of the previous training, we will have 15 minutes of warm-up without any kind of goal, beyond the jogging pace you want to do. After a minute and a half break, a series of 5 1 kilometer intervals will start, for which there is a set running pace: between 3:35 and 3:45 min/km. If you go over that pace (both above and below) the clock will warn you with vibrations.

After completing the kilometer, there is automatically a two-minute recovery period, after which we return to the interval (and there are "only" four minutes left).

These are not the only trainings you can do, the Vivoactive 4 is also compatible with Garmin Coach adaptive training plansIt's a free training platform that allows you to choose a target distance, to be completed in a given time. Once you select your target, Garmin Coach will ask you which days you want to train and you can even choose one to be the day of the long roll.

This is not a training written in stone; Garmin Coach modifies the plan in case there are variations. If one day you have not trained as you should, it will be taken into account in the following days' training, adapting it to those changes. 

I leave you this gallery so that you can see for yourself what it offers and what you can select.

You know the best part? IT'S TOTALLY FREE!

I have not tried them personally because my main sport is triathlon and my training is guided by my coachso I can't tell you more about how it works. I guess you understand the concept of how it works anyway.

Another area where the Vivoactive 4 stands out is in the number of sports available. The Vivoactive 3 already did, but in the case of the 4 the list is even longer. Of course all basic sports are covered (running, swimming, or cycling), as well as weight training, skiing, rowing sports, elliptical ...

But in this model we have two new profiles: yoga and pilatesThe first one is the "Exercise Animation", with the possibility of showing exercise animations, something that I will talk about later in its own section.

What do we not have in the Vivoactive 4 compared to the Forerunner models? Training and route navigation metrics. Of the advanced metrics that are available thanks to Firstbeat only the VO2Max estimate has exceeded the cut-off.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - VO2Max

Finally, remember that the Vivoactive 4 is compatible with external sensors. You can connect any sensor you can think of, whether ANT+ or Bluetooth, with the exception of cycling potentiometers (you can use Stryd, because it does so through a Connect IQ application). This includes chest sensors, speed and/or cadence sensors and even radar Garmin Varia for cycling.

New features in the Vivoactive 4

What we find in the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are mainly features from other models in the range, but it also has some things we haven't had the chance to see in any other model so far.

At the moment I will briefly detail the smaller or less important news, leaving a specific section for video-guided training, the newest feature to be released in Vivoactive 4. 

Breathing and exercise rate

With the Vivoactive 4 we will have the breathing rate by using the watch's own integrated optical sensor, and it will also record it during the daily activity, which we can see as part of the physical statistics widget.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Buttons

As is natural with all these types of metrics, that data is synchronised with Garmin Connect, where you can see more complete graphs and details than those included in the clock so you can see how the day or several days are progressing.

In addition to the monitoring of the breathing rate, the Vivoactive 4 adds a new series of breathing exercises. You might think that this is something we have seen before in other brands with simple relaxation exercises... but no, Breathwork (which is what the activity is called) is something quite different. It actually has its own application in the activity menu.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Breathwork

When it comes to breathing, we must choose what type of breathing exercise we want to do by selecting the technique.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Breathing techniques

Each one of them has a different purpose: to de-stress before going to sleep, to relax and concentrate, etc.

Think of these techniques as a training series. On the clock display you can see what you have to do in each exercise and the number of repetitions. In general, these are quite long exercises, as I say it is not the typical 3 minute exercise.

Once you have started the exercise you can follow the instructions on the clock display, where it will indicate whether you need to breathe in, breathe out or hold your breath.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Breathing Exercise

You might wonder how it works when recording the breathing rate. Well, it's surprisingly accurate. I've done the test by counting the breaths in one of the exercises and the clock makes a correct measurement. Maybe when it's time to do averages (because it indicates breaths per minute) it dances a breath up or down, but the overall result is good.

Monitoring of hydration and sweating

Another small innovation that is present in the Vivoactive 4 is the hydration monitoring, which is done through a new widget that you can turn on or off from the clock options. 

You can select the usual amount you drink; by default it is 250ml, 500ml and 750ml, but you can change it in different amounts. Every time you drink a glass or a bottle you make a note of it.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Hydration Widget

As with the activity steps or others, you can also set reminders and a daily goal, although in this case it's more of a reminder to write down what you've drunk than a reminder to drink.

You can set your target zone manually or automatically (again, as with the steps). If you choose automatic target zone, the watch will vary your target zone on the days when there is most activity, in order to compensate for fluid loss during training.

However, the updated target is not displayed in the input widget, but in Garmin Connect it is.

Because that's another new feature of the watch, which now includes an estimate of fluid loss through sweating during workouts. It's a step up from what was presented with the Edges, where you could add at the end of the activity how much fluid you had ingested (and it made recommendations as to when and how much you should drink).

When you complete an activity you will have a new field, which is the estimated amount of fluid you have consumed. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Sweat Loss

Where does this estimate come from? From the different data the watch has such as weight, temperature, pace and distance, training intensity, etc. This is then used for the automatic target which I have told you about earlier.

As for the accuracy of the data, being based on an algorithm and given the physiological differences between all of us - regardless of weight, age, height... some people sweat more than others - for some it will be closer than for others.

In my case I am a "big sweater". Category "river". I've done tests in the past to do the calculations for hydration and nutrition strategies (basically, weighing yourself before and after a workout and adjusting with the amount of fluid ingested) and what the Vivoactive 4 estimates falls short of what I usually need. 

Nor did I expect absolute reliability, it is an algorithm that must be adjusted to all users.

Training sessions at Vivoactive 4

Without a doubt the most important new feature of Vivoactive 4 is the new animated guided training sessions. You've already seen that there are other new features present, but this is the one that Garmin gives most importance to. 

These guided workouts are available in the sports profiles where having a guide makes sense: strength training, cardio, yoga and pilates. Although once the platform is up and running, I would suggest Garmin add running or swimming technique exercises, two sports that could benefit very well from this new feature.

Dissecting what guided training consists of, is basically the same concept as the interval training we can create for other sports (the ones we have seen before), but in this case it comes predefined and with small videos that show how you should perform the exercise.

On the one hand we have the training sessions themselves. Each sport profile has a series of training sessions that are previously loaded in memory and which you can access from the sport menu of the watch, before starting the activity.

Let's say you want to do strength training, you must go to a certain profile and select it to get to the screen before starting the activity.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Force Profile

Before you start training, you need to slide your finger from bottom to top (in the direction of the arrow on the screen) to show the additional options. This is where you will find the training sessions.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

Here is a list of exercises that are already loaded on the clock.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

Each sport profile has 3 different workouts (although they may seem more, right now they are repeated because the same exercise appears with a name in English and Spanish).

Don't think they're just any old thing, there are exercises with a lot of different steps that take quite a while, like this yoga exercise that has no less than 77 steps.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

In addition to those 3 exercises for each cardio, strength, yoga and pilates profile; from the Garmin Connect application you can download a number of additional exercises.

The catalogue is very complete. We have a total of 57 different exercises (for the 4 sports in which it is available). When searching we can use several filters to find what we need: type of activity, muscle groups to work, objectives, duration or difficulty.

So not only do you have the ones that appear on the watch, you can download any of the ones that appear in the "catalog". Don't like any of the ones shown? Don't worry, you can create one of your own with the exercises that you find convenient.

However, these trainings that we create manually are not accompanied by videos, at least for the moment. The only ones that incorporate videos are those that we can download completely.

It is precisely this possibility of seeing the animations of the exercises that makes this function special. How does it look on the clock? Let me show you.

Once you have selected your training and started the activity, you will first be presented with the name of the exercise you need to do, along with the number of repetitions.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

Then the animation of the exercise to be performed will appear.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Exercise Animation

Remember that Garmin watches, in the force profiles, can count the reps and the type of exercise. This also applies to this type of workout, so if you are being sent 8 reps the watch will count them down one by one, you would not need to press any buttons to indicate that you are done.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

If instead of strength training you are doing yoga or pilates exercises where you have a specific time to do the exercise, this is the one that will appear on the screen.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

You can also see it on the screen where it tells you the exercise to do. On the outside of the sphere you can see a circle that is eliminated as time goes by.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

By sliding the screen down we will find the data screens that you can configure with the data you prefer. 

And here it is worth mentioning that in the yoga and pilates profiles we have two new data: breathing frequency and stress.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Strength Training

Garmin has worked on this function quite a bit. You have seen that it is not a simple function where you have added 2 or 3 exercises of each to cross out one more box in the feature list. 

The best thing the Vivoactive 4 has to offer is precisely the wide density in the number of workouts available. There are currently more than 50 you can download to the clock, and that number will probably increase in the future.

Optical pulse sensor and Pulse Ox

As with all recent Garmin models, the Vivoactive 4 is equipped with the brand's latest optical pulse sensor, the Garmin Elevate v3.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Garmin Elevate optical pulse sensor

This is the same sensor that we can see in the most expensive Garmin watches, such as the Fenix 6, Forerunner 945 or the MARQ of thousands of euros.

This sensor includes pulse oximetry estimation which, unlike models such as the Forerunner 245If we can use it throughout the day to make regular blood oxygen estimation measurements.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Pulse Oximetry

However, this will be at the expense of the full autonomy of the watch, since it is a function with a high battery consumption. You can also use it only at night, helping the watch to identify the different phases of sleep.

Let's talk directly about the optical pulse sensor while playing sports, which is ultimately what someone buys a watch like this Garmin Vivoactive 4 for. But before I show you comparisons of different sensors, I would like to remind you of some basics of optical sensors.

Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.

In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.

Let's go with the training. I'm going to focus on 4 different types of training, which are the most frequent ones you're going to do.

I will start with the simplest thing for the optical pulse sensor, a training at a constant pace. Accompanying the Vivoactive 4 I carry a Suunto 9 on the right wrist along with a Garmin Forerunner 935 paired with the sensor HRM-Tri. Not for any particular reason, simply because they are the ones I had on battery that day.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensorAs you can see there is not much to highlight in a training of this kind. The two optical sensors and the chest sensor go perfectly together.

Suunto 9 has three wrong peaks in the first 10-12 minutes of training, but it recovers quickly.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

The training is very smooth and there is only a slight change in intensity on the last stretch, as it is uphill, but here too there is no problem with the sensor of the Vivoactive 4.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

We're going to increase the difficulty level a little bit. Now I'm going to show you a training with fartlek type rhythm changes.

This time the comparison partners change, but not the chest sensor which is still Garmin's HRM-Tri. But in this case it is paired with the Garmin Forerunner 945while the watch I'm wearing on my right wrist is the Polar Vantage M.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

In this case the graph we have to pay more attention to is the blue one, which is the one that corresponds to the Vivoactive 4, with the FR945 and Vantage M in green and red respectively.

At first glance it seems that the overall result is good for most of the training, although there are areas where the blue graph stands out slightly, starting with the first minute and a half where you can see that the Vivoactive 4 has a somewhat complicated start. However, it recovers soon and at the first change of pace it is perfectly on par with the chest sensor.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

There is a bit of a delay in both the upstroke and the downstroke, but it is much shorter than that shown by the Vantage M, which does have a more pronounced delay in the intensity changes.

It is a behavior that is repeated in the second and third intervals. A slight delay, but less than in the case of Vantage M.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

However, it is somewhat more erratic in the fourth interval, where it has three wrong peaks.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

But already in the fifth he behaves as he should. 

We now move on to pure series training. This time it's Fenix 6 which is part of the comparison, which already includes the latest update of the optical pulse sensor.Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

The intervals are shown perfectly defined and are perfectly coincident with the data shown from the chest sensor.

However, the measurement is not perfect. Both optical sensors show the usual behaviour with the typical slight delay not shown by the chest sensor.

Here you can see the second and third interval enlarged.Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensor

You can see how the graph of the FR945 reacts much faster when stopping than the two optical sensors. Even in the case of the Vivoactive 4, in the second interval it is somewhat slower than the Fenix 6.

However, this is the behavior we can expect from an optical sensor on the wrist, at least for the time being. It doesn't mean it's the desired behavior, but it's where we have one of the Achilles' heels.

What's the other one? Cycling.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - Comparative optical sensorIt's far from perfect, but this type of graph has improved a lot in the last few years. A few years ago, if the graphs were the same, it was just a coincidence, but right now there is quite a lot of similarity.

The start of the training is totally erratic for the two optical sensors, although as the pace increases they all catch up. The next noticeable error does not occur again until the 28th minute, which is when I stop to mount the front light on the bike.

As soon as I return to training, I go back to "normal" with the optical sensors. Does this mean that I would be comfortable using only the optical sensor for cycling training? Well, if I have no choice, 1TP10I would trust the data it provides. But given the choice, I would always opt for the chest sensor.

Garmin has been doing a good job with the optical sensor for some time now, and it's with the Garmin Elevate v3 with the sensor that I'm getting the best performance, especially on hard workouts like series days.

Not that the others are bad, they are more or less on par, but the Garmin sensor stands out because it is the one with the least delay in the intensity changes (although the delay still exists).

GPS Performance

I think it is already becoming repetitive, and I suppose I will continue to remember it in all the races ahead in this year 2019, but I have to add it once more.

The Vivoactive 4 incorporates the Latest GNSS chipset by SonyThis is not something special, as it is the same chipset that mounts almost all (or even all) of the devices that have come to market since the end of 2018.

The reason for Sony's dominance is simple: its low battery consumption is key to providing the hours of battery life that all watches offer right now, at least when it comes to use with GPS on.

This chipset includes the possibility of using the combination of satellites that we choose: GPS only, GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GalileoAt the moment the recommendation is to use the GPS + GLONASS option, it is the option that Garmin has worked hardest on and the one that should offer the best results. However, soon the GPS + Galileo option should be equal or more satisfactory.

Just like the optical sensor tests you saw earlier, the GPS comparisons are done the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my regular workouts.

Taking both the Vivoactive 4 and other models, and checking where the problems appear, I have no defined route to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget.

Things like clouds, leaves on trees or simply the satellite position can alter the GPS results from one day to the next, which is why I prefer to do this type of comparison instead of having a predefined path and assess it from there.  

I start the comparison with this series training with roundtrip on the same segment of the promenade (well, really from the road area of the promenade).

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

I liked this workout not because of the differences that can be seen, but because of the consistency at all times. There are three Garmin models I'm using, all three with the same Sony chipset (and the Fenix 6 with the latest GPS update available) and on a very repetitive track. 

In the descent there is a slight error, but at the marked point where some pass over the houses had not yet reached the kilometer of activity, so they had not yet obtained the best possible signal. 

However, in the area where I have done the series of roundtrips there has not been a single moment in which any of the three have made an incorrect track.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

It doesn't mean it's perfect, because if you look at all the return tracks (18 in total) two lanes of road are being covered, which means that in some return there has been a couple of meters of deviation, but it fits perfectly into the margin of error that we can expect from any GPS clock.

Little more to say about that workout except that there is no excursion outside of the passing zone. So we go with a different one, a smooth workout without excessive pace. At lower speeds the GPS finds more problems to show a good track.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

Before enlarging the image we can already see that there are a couple of points where you can see differences, so we're going to start zooming in to see what the differences are.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

In this image I have pointed out two different things. Firstly the graph of the Suunto 9 It's not that I made the perfect measurement, on the contrary. I hadn't used the clock for a long time, so the satellite cache was not updated and it took a long time to get a signal. I clearly didn't have more than 4 satellites because as soon as I started the training the problems came. Not that I had any problems, I just would have needed more time.

I have also pointed out a small error in the Vivoactive 4, moving several meters off the actual path, although it quickly rejoins the other two that are measuring correctly.

But from that point onwards things are perfectly normalised in all three models.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

This point is good to appreciate differences in behavior. In a short space I make very pronounced turns and the area of passage is very limited, so you can see perfectly if one has gone outside the correct area.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

This time the Vivoactive 4 has been the most successful, except for the arrival at the bridge crossing, where it goes slightly long, the rest of the turns are the most successful, being the Suunto 9 the one that shows a little more irregular.

On the way back I put them in a somewhat more compromising situation, running under a fairly lush row of trees, something that makes signal reception difficult.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

This is where Suunto 9 suffers a lot, but it's been misleading since before (since it left the promenade), while both Garmin behave more or less correctly, with some zigzagging due to the difficulty of the area.

From that point on everything works quite correctly between the three watches.

Let's go with another different day in which I do a quite similar tour, but with an interesting point that I will show you later.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

Different day, but same bridge crossing. This time the Vivoactive 4 has been slightly imprecise at the entrance to the bridge, as has the Vantage M which has also gone quite far from the climb to the crossing. At that point it is the FR945 that has made it perfect. Once crossed there is some zigzagging, but overall the results are good from all three.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

Further on it is the Vivoactive 4 that gets slightly lost, making the route in the first arrow above the garden of one of the urbanizations and being the only one of the three that does it.

At the second mark, the Vivoactive 4 is again slightly inaccurate, and is carried by the FR945 (both on the left wrist/hand), but it is the Vantage that is almost 100% accurate.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

The correct route is the one marked by the Vantage M, while both Garmin watches are lost, and the Vivoactive 4 deviates considerably further when it reaches the roundabout.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

Here I show you the most interesting part of the training. Here I cross the road by a lower passage, so the satellite signal is totally lost. The interesting thing is to see how long it takes for the watches to recover the signal after having lost it at one point and appearing seconds later several meters from where they lost it.

I have marked the actual route with the orange line, showing which is the entrance to the underground passage (the direction of travel is from right to left). 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

You can see that the FR945 has been lost for a while before entering the passage, so it's not to take much notice of what its route says... But the Vivoactive 4 also brings me to this point by running over the trees for a while before reaching the crossing point, something that is not normal from what we have been seeing so far.

Up to the point of entry in the small tunnel the most precise has been the Vantage M. At the time of the exit? The three take a few seconds to recover the signal, I calculate that about 4 or 5. But the three do it quickly and correctly, without making strange triangulations that deviate us from the retal route tens or hundreds of meters, which is what can totally distort the data of a training (because I add 300 meters more in losses of satellite of this type).

In short, the three watches have performed well in recovering the satellite signal, regardless of whether one has done so one second before the other.

Finally, I would like to comment briefly on a cycling training session.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

As usual there is no major problem when riding a bike, the speed is much higher, so the graphs are much more accurate as there is less zigzagging. 

There will always be some points where there will be small discrepancies of one meter to the left or right, but it also has to be seen whether the watch goes on the left or right wrist. There is already a difference of almost 50cm, which adding a small error of 20 or 30cm means that we are about one meter apart. And yet, in almost all the training the graphs are perfectly superimposed.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 - GPS Comparison

In general the graphics we have been seeing so far is similar to everything I have been seeing in other trainings with Vivoactive 4.

Most of the time the results are good. There are points where there are slight errors, but I don't see recurrent errors or big failures. The typical route exit, but with quick return to the real route, including in complicated areas with buildings or trees. 

But I think that for the vast majority of users the result obtained is more than acceptable.

Buy Garmin Vivoactive 4

I hope that this in-depth review has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the page and by doing so the work I do, the best way to do that is to buy your new device through the links I provide next. And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you do!

Through these links you will not only get a competitive price and the best customer care, but also I will receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. That's what allows me to keep offering you reviews like the one on this page.


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If you have any questions, remember that you have the comments section below. I will answer all your questions as soon as I pass by.

Opinion Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a small evolution of the 3. And I emphasize the evolution, because there are no big changes in the clock. It is true that now there are two sizes that will make you find a version that fits better to what you are looking for, and that all versions include music, but none of its main claims is a major jump from the previous model.

It doesn't mean it's a bad clock, far from it. In fact, when looking for negative points to include in the summary, I couldn't find many, beyond the battery problems I had at rest and that Garmin solved after a software update.

Your main competitor will be in your own home, and when choosing, many will surely hesitate to opt for the Vivoactive 4 or the Forerunner 245It is a legitimate doubt, because both have a very similar price and in some aspects the Vivoactive 4 is superior: it has an altimeter (not only for activities but also for counting ascended floors), sweat and hydration metrics, breathing rate, Garmin Pay...

So what does the Vivoactive 4 not have that is present in the FR245? Well, mainly all the advanced training metrics (race dynamics, training status, Training Effect, etc.) and route navigation.

So if you are a user who is primarily looking for sports performance, the FR245 has that extra set of features not available in the Vivoactive 4. But otherwise you will find more interesting features for your day-to-day life in this new model of Vivoactive.

Anyway I think Garmin has managed to place the Vivoactive 4 in the exact spot for which you are looking for a watch of this type. It is a model that will satisfy the vast majority of people who do sport (whether running, cycling or whatever) but do not train with the aim of competing. The GPS performance is good in any use and the optical pulse sensor shows very good graphics (with slight errors, but very valid at all times).

And all this without forgetting that this is a smart (or slightly smart) clock with good autonomy, a screen that is always on and the ability to play music or sync with platforms such as Spotify and Amazon.

You know that if you have any other questions not answered in the test, you have the comments below. And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Congratulations on the article.
    Brutal as ever.
    I want route navigation and barometric altimeter, but I can't afford the Fenix????.
    Let's see if Black Friday brings out any bombshells

    1. Good morning,
      First I want to congratulate you x the review, one of the most complete I've seen, and you have solved a lot of doubts with the photos and comments (especially about the race option, which is the most interesting for me), regarding the race, I wanted to ask you if you think q with some update in the future they could include the advanced running options q they have in the Forerunners, or they don't have the necessary sensors?
      Thank you very much.

      1. Thank you, Dani.

        No, those functions will not come. It's not a question of sensors, they are licensed from Firstbeat and as such Garmin has to pay a unit fee on every watch they sell that includes it.

        Regardless, these are features that Garmin reserves for Forerunner models.

  2. Thank you very much Eduardo, I was looking forward to it!

    In the next few days I'm asking, of course from your links.

  3. Thanks Eduardo for this great analysis!
    How's the battery? Has it reached the 7/8 days promised by Garmin? There are a lot of complaints about this, but it's supposed to be corrected with an update... Is it true?
    Another thing, do you have any application for a flashlight? Have you tried it for swimming in a pool? Thanks for these notes... Of course when I ask for it I will do it through these links and I encourage the rest to do it too!

    1. I've gotten to almost 5 days with PulseOx at night and a few hours of GPS. The 8 days that Garmin promises is "up to", which is simply on with nothing else.

      There was a problem with battery consumption at rest, but this has now been solved with one of the updates.

      It does have a flashlight function, which can be configured to have the option in the quick menu or from the shortcut by sliding it to the right.

      I've swum in a pool, without any problem like any other Garmin. The only thing you don't have is the possibility to record technique exercises or similar, adding the meters afterwards.

      And thanks for ordering through the links!

  4. Thank you very much Eduardo for the complete analysis!

    I would like to know the approximate battery consumption using gps and music (bluetooth) as it will be my main use...

    Thanks again!

    1. Maximum 6 hours, assuming you finish charging and make a direct start. At the moment of truth that time will be reduced because if you use it during the rest of the day with heart rate, notifications, etc., the total available autonomy will decrease. With general use and GPS+music calculates about 5 hours of training.

    1. No, there is no football profile for the watch, you will have to use any of the available ones with GPS use.

  5. Edu, as always a spectacular analysis, but I have one or more doubts, I would like your advice about which watch to have. My problem is that 4 months ago I had a total hip prosthesis, and now the running is over, but not the swimming, the spinning and the gym, I would use the GPS for the walks, but I am interested in the swimming, spinning and gym metrics, and the truth is that I do not know whether to decide for the vivoactive 4 or the vantageM, and even more so now that I know that in October the updates of the polar will come, with the new metrics of the ignate. The truth is that I have doubts and my birthday is coming up, you could do a comparison of swimming with the Garmin and the polar. Thank you very much Edu, I hope I am not a bore with my doubts, thank you, no thank you very much.

    1. What is going to come to Vantage M is focused on training control, focused on competition and having a proper training. I don't know if that's what you're looking for.

      I think for your kind of multisport use, but without focusing on anything specific, the Vivoactive fits best.

      1. Thank you Edu for your answer, I have been looking at the specifications and there is something I don't understand and I hope you will get it out of me.
        This is in swimming functions and I don't know what it means.
        One more thing with vivoactive4 I can create swimming trainings in garmin connect and run them in the pool.
        Thank you very much, Edu.

        1. Rest time I guess you mean when you press the lap button and create a rest block. It's not a break, because it keeps counting the time, it's a rest.

          Alerts can be set to vibrate when you have exceeded a certain distance or time.

  6. thank you very much for the review. Great work yours. I was one of those who hesitated between the 245 and the 4... I think the latter suits me better because I'm not a runner either. That said, considering that I don't have a penny the choice is easy: none 🙂

  7. For swimming, running, biking, rowing and weighing, which one is better? The Ignite Polar, the Vivoactive 4 or the Forerunner 245?

    1. The Vivoactive 4, for the simple reason that it is the only one that has specific rowing metrics.

      1. I'm also telling you it's indoor rowing. Don't you think with the generic cardio profile these activities could be covered?

        Spinning or indoor cycling has 245 no?

  8. Thanks Eduardo for the quick response, not bad 5 days of battery life to be connected to the phone.
    As far as swimming is concerned, it does recognize styles automatically, doesn't it? The only thing you can't do is register them manually, I understand... In the end what interests me is to know the meters swum in each style. 245 improves in this aspect?
    Thanks again!

    1. Yes, it recognizes swimming styles. What it doesn't have is the possibility to indicate that you are doing exercises (legs, one-handed, etc.) and then add the distance. 245 has that.

  9. Very good Eduardo. Great job as always. Between the vivoactive 4 (or the Venu which I also expect analysis) or the Forerunner 645M... Which one do you stay with? This one being newer, carrying the new chip etc is a plus, the 645M is older, but with the metrics to see cadence etc, training state... It's a point for the 645M... Greetings.

    1. Thank you, Andres.

      The Vivoactive 4 and the FR645M "are quite different". I'm putting that in quotes because yes, they are similar in many ways, but it totally changes who they are aimed at.

      If you want all the training metrics that the FR645 provides, it is clear that this has to be your choice. If you are a runner and you are going to use this data, it is something you do not have available in the Vivoactive. The latter is a multisport watch that is not focused on any particular activity, while the 645 is clearly focused on running.

  10. Amazing article and super hard work. I have looked for opinions to decide for this watch, but never so good, detailed and understandable as yours. Congratulations. Thanks to your article, I have decided that soon I will buy this watch (and of course from your links).

    I'm a woman, with a normal doll, but I'm afraid that it will be too small, and I can't find any physical store with stock to try it on, what do you recommend?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Thank you, Ana.

      If you have a small wrist and want a watch to wear every day, you will be much more comfortable with the 4s. With those conditions I doubt very much that you will regret buying the 4s, and if you order it at Amazon in case it doesn't fit you will be able to make the return without problems.

  11. After watching many videos and reading many articles, I have to say that this is the best analysis I've seen but in length (I do not think there is anything like it on the Internet) and that has helped me out of doubts. Thank you very much for your great work. I will buy the Vivoactive 4 and I will do it through one of your links.


  12. Thank you very much, a sensational article!
    Now the questions.
    I had the Vivoactive 3 and returned it, I could not with the backlight, the day screen was excellent, but with the backlight I found it horrible.
    I've seen in some videos that have improved the screen, both with natural light and backlighting, what do you think?
    And then the autonomy, 5 days, but once?, in the time you've tried it that's the duration?,

    Thank you very much again.

    1. Thank you Juan Antonio

      The technology is the same as in the Vivoactive 3. The designs change, it will be a little better or a little worse (it looks the same to me), but that's how transflective screens work. You always have the Venu, you can wait to see the proof.

      I don't understand what you mean by "once". 5 days has been the average that has lasted me, making normal use of the watch and with more or less long workouts. Here it depends on the use of each one, if you train more you will have less autonomy, as if you make more use of music playback.

  13. I was interested in this vivoactive but I have some doubts if you can solve them for me
    I move around in my daily life on a bike, I train on a climbing wall (indoor), bodybuilding, and cardio, all these activities will be recorded by my watch? I am especially interested in where the climbing wall
    On the other hand, I also do mountaineering routes in Picos de Europa, and I wanted to know if it's possible to put routes and follow them, using .gpx files
    If those things are not possible on this watch, what more or less economical alternatives do I have?
    Thank you for your time.

    1. The Vivoactive does not have native route navigation (yes through dwMaps), so in that case it is better to choose another option. For that use, the Garmin Fenix 5 has everything you need.

  14. Hello Edu, first of all thank you very much for this complete analysis, the truth is that you can see the work you have dedicated to it! For hobby triathletes, non-professionals, I understand that this clock is going to spare no? And another question, the issue of the lighting of the clock, at night it is off or dimmer?
    Thank you! Of course if I take this or that Gramin's, I'll take it through your link, you deserve it!

    1. Thank you, Bea.

      Personally I don't like to recommend the Vivoactive for triathlon for two main reasons: it has no open water swimming and there is no triathlon mode in which you can chain the three sports together. If you don't mind that and, as you say, it's very hobbyist and you don't mind too much then it can be useful.

      The display is always off, unless you press the button or turn your wrist to activate it.

  15. Hello!
    One question, why is the grey vivoactive 4S 20 euros cheaper than the black one? Are they the same or does the grey one have a worse feature?

    Thank you!

  16. Hi, Eduardo. Thanks for this analysis and all the ones you do.

    At this moment I'm looking for a watch to give to my wife, she will use it mainly for swimming and hiking, I also want it to have a battery that will hold well if you don't use the gps because I think it will be the one that takes more time ( I, about three years ago, after reading your review I bought a Fenix 3HR, and I'm very happy, some failure in the altimeter, but for the rest it's perfect).

    The thing is that I thought the Vivoactive 4s was the most suitable, but I'm torn between that model, the Fenix 5s, and the Vantage fleece.

    could you help me decide?

    Thank you very much.

  17. Impressive analysis, one of the best I have seen on the Internet. It has solved many doubts I had about this watch, especially with the accuracy with GPS and heart rate. Anyway I would like to consult some more questions, to see if you can help me decide completely. As for sport I want to use the watch for training in the gym and especially for walking, but not for a walk, but at a good pace and long distances. I am interested in keeping track of the pulse, to know what interval I move (warm up, fat burning, aerobics, etc.). And I think I've seen in the manual of the watch, that the intervals of pulses can be set only for running and cycling activities. In the walking activities do not you mark in what heart rate range are, of the five possible. And another question. While you're doing an activity, can you read notifications and change the music, or can not leave the activity. Thank you very much in advance

    1. What I assume the manual is referring to is that you can't create an advanced workout for the "walking" profile, but you do have all the heart rate data, etc.

      During the activity you have access to notifications, music, etc.

  18. Congratulations for the analysis, Eduardo. As always, one of the best you can find on the internet. I am a user of a Suunto Spartan Trainer and basically I practice mountain biking, running and sporadically some gymnastics, swimming and hiking. My doubt comes because I wanted to change to a pulse meter with barometric altimeter to have better measurements of the accumulated unevenness and I do not know if the metrics provided by the Vivoactive 4 are similar or inferior in cycling and running to those of the Spartan Trainer. It is a good replacement or would you recommend another model for the activities I mention ?

    1. No, the metrics are very similar. The only thing you're going to lose is route navigation, which already depends on whether you use them or not.

  19. Good morning! Congratulations for the article, thanks to you I have decided to buy this Garmin, and of course I will buy it from your links, but I have a doubt: is it compatible with the Nike Run app? That is, if I go out to run without a mobile phone, when I get home the race data could be synchronized with the Nike app?

    Thank you very much 🙂

  20. Hi, Edu. I run 3 times a week from 5 to 10km. Would you recommend the Vivoactive 4 or the Forerunner 245? Thank you.

    1. The doubt is pretty much summed up in the opinion section. FR245 has the training metrics, if it is something you are going to use because you are competitive and want to structure your trainings based on load, it is something the Vivoactive doesn't have. If you are simply running to stay active, the Vivoactive 4 also has things the FR245 doesn't have (like wireless payments or altimeter).

  21. Thank you very much Eduardo!
    With this article I've solved a question I had about which device to buy. They are the most complete tests I've seen. What I don't remember is if this watch tells us if it's improving the physical shape? Greetings

  22. Great review Eduardo !
    I was looking for a watch for daily use and monitoring me day by day, and in the sports I do (crossfit and bike). Looking at the watch range I am between POLAR IGNITE ( better sleep study, better aesthetics, cheaper ) and VIVOACTIVE ( measurement of stress levels, energy, complementary yoga and pilates workouts, better and more diverse relaxation techniques). I am a bit hesitant, which would you recommend in your opinion and why ? THANK YOU

    1. It's quite a personal decision. Both are quite similar and I think what differentiates them most, besides the display technology, is the size of the screen. I personally prefer the size and range of the Vivoactive 4, but what I do say is that if the Ignite meets your requirements, that money you save.

  23. Hi Eduardo! The best review I've seen by far on the internet! You have helped me decide to buy the Vivoactive 4 and I will do it through one of your links 🙂 But before buying it I have a question regarding the advanced running workouts that I read does not have the Vivoactive 4 ... What kind of analytics can not be measured if we compare it with a Forerunner for example? Thank you very much in advance!

      1. Thank you very much for the answer Eduardo!

        I think that for the use that I am going to give it and since I want to have a follow up of my daily activity, as well as having some of the "smartwatch" functions, the vivoactive will adapt well to me.

        I'm at 95% convinced to buy the Vivoactive 4, but today I saw a Black Friday offer from FR935 for £300 and I started to wonder if it would be worth buying it since it is a higher-end watch (despite losing features like music or Garmin Pay). What do you think? (I live abroad and I saw the offer in a local sports shop)

        Thank you very much!

        1. I think that if the Vivoactive 4 fits the 95%, the FR935 is not an ideal choice for you because it is a model focused purely on triathlon. Yes, it has notifications and so on as a smartwatch, but I think that for the use I understand you will leave many functions unused and does not have any of the features of the Vivoactive 4 that can compensate (Garmin Pay, better finishes, etc.).

          1. Okay thank you very much for the answer! I will go for the Vivoactive 4 without any doubt 🙂 I congratulate you again for the great analysis of the watch and I will make the purchase through one of your links 🙂 Best regards!!!

  24. But it becomes so extensive, that it would have to have headings with direct links.
    After reading the whole thing, my question is: do the notifications have sound? I haven't been able to configure it to warn me when it starts after an auto-pause and neither the incoming notifications. I come from a foreruner 35 and every time it pauses or starts it emits a sound.

    1. Thank you Jose

      You should see the menu to access each section at the top of the page, whether you are logging in from your phone, mobile or computer.

      There's no sound, just vibration.

  25. Hi, Eduardo,
    Great analysis and waiting for the next one as usual...
    I was hesitating between the Vivoactive 4, Venu and polar vantage M. But on Thursday I saw the Venu on sale from Amazon in black for 303 euros and bought it (within minutes it went up in price). I already have it but I haven't opened it yet.
    I didn't mind having a transflective screen in order to have a bigger battery and always visible, but since I have a small wrist I took the venu. My doubt is whether the Vivoactive really gives a much bigger feeling on the wrist or whether it will be much bigger.
    There's a lot of difference in the actual battery? I like to keep the notifications off.
    For day to day and to work arranged has much more presence of one another?
    In short, for the same price you get?

    Thanks for your help! And encourage people to buy through the links to help this great site that helps us so much!

    1. The Vivoactive 4 is a bit bigger, but it's not over the top. It doesn't feel like an excessively large clock.

      As for the battery, the Vivoactive 4 took about 2 days more autonomy than I'm taking from the Venu. As a presence, no doubt the Venu's screen wins.

      Personally, I would keep the Vivoactive 4 for its autonomy.

  26. Hi, Eduardo,
    Thank you for your analysis, I have read this and the Vivoactive 3 and I am hesitating between those two. 3 if you say that does not warn, but I would like to know if the 4 warns you with vibration or beep when it ends and begins each interval in a training, as I would use mainly to make series in race and if not warn in any way would be a roll to be aware of the clock. Currently I have the onemove 500 decathlon I bought 2 years ago when I started running and I would like to change for another better, is a fairly basic and I can only program series by duration of each interval, not by distance or I can add the average time, although this if I warn by beeping when each interval begins.

    1. Yes, the Vivoactive 4 has full training, just like the Forerunners.

      If you are going to do many series, it is better this one above 3 (besides the two buttons, more comfortable for marking manual beads).

  27. Hi Eduardo, thanks for your article. Like many people, I'm hesitating between the Forerunner 245 and the Vivoactive 4s. I do swimming, gym and mountain walks (walking fast). At first I thought I'd go for the vivoactive, but now that I know that the first one allows me to record swimming technique exercises I've started to hesitate more. Is there any update planned for the vivoactive in this sense? Does the Forerunner offer any other swimming features that the vivoactive doesn't have? Which one would you recommend? Thanks!

    1. If you're going to do a lot of swimming, the Forerunner is definitely a better choice for a very simple reason: the buttons.

      You can't use the touch screen in the water

  28. Since mid-November I've been using vivoactive4 and I've noticed a couple of problems that you might be able to solve for me.
    The first one refers to the loss of connection between the clock and the phone (the pairing was not a problem). What happens is that if the phone and the clock are separated and remain disconnected for a few minutes when they approach, they do not reconnect. This does not happen at all with the other garmin devices I use (currently a vivosmart 4 and previously a vivoactive 3 and a vivoactive HR, all of them with the same phone).
    Another problem that I have not been able to solve is the lack of update of the VO2 values, both with Vivoactive 3 and Vivosmart 4 are updated after each timed exercise and reflected in the time charts. Vivoactive 4 stopped recording the VO2 a few days after having it.
    Finally I have also observed that the Body Battery with the Vivoactive 4 has a very different performance than with the Vivosmart 4. With the latter the energy recharge is very contingent on the rest time and the wear and tear with the activity level. In the Vivoactive I have observed how it is practically impossible to obtain a higher recharge of the 70% when in the Vivosmart it easily reached 100%
    I tried to talk to the Garmin SAT and it was useless, after asking me for a lot of data they limited themselves to sending me a generic email telling me to uninstall Garmin Connect and reinstall it adding that if it doesn't go well it will be a phone compatibility problem. No comments.
    Anybody got the same problem? Any possible solution. The only thing left to try is to reset the factory clock before returning it.
    Thank you very much.

  29. Hello, Eduardo. Thank you very much for your very interesting and comprehensive analysis
    I currently have a Fitbit Charge 2 and this decided to make the jump to a Garmin Vivoactive 4, which I will buy through your link.
    I usually do Spinning or Indoor Cycling, and the Fitbit has a modality for this exercise.
    I've been looking, though I haven't found the Vivoactive 4 to have it.
    Could you please confirm that for me?

    1. Both Garmin Venu and Vivoactive 4 have profiles for indoor cycling and elliptical. Additionally you have the possibility to install an application to have other elliptical data through Connect IQ.

      As for presbyopia I can't tell you, because fortunately I don't have that problem. I guess your problem will be with smaller data fields, in that sense in both cases it's the same and you can set up screens with two or three larger data than if you have 4 on screen. If what you need is higher screen brightness to see it more clearly (more contrast), then the Venu will suit you better.

      1. Thank you very much for your answer, Eduardo.
        For me, not having to put on my glasses every time I have to consult the watch is very important so I will almost certainly decide on the Venu, which I will of course buy via your link.
        Thank you for your help.

  30. Thank you very much for your answer, Eduardo.
    For me, not having to put on my glasses every time I have to consult the watch is very important so I will almost certainly decide on the Venu, which I will of course buy via your link.
    Thank you for your help.

  31. Great summary, without a doubt the most complete one I've found. I'm hesitating between buying the previous model (vivoactive 3 for 180 euros) or this one (330 euros). My main activity is running, 10 km runs, and I want to prepare for half a marathon. Which one do you recommend? Thank you very much.

    1. Being mainly a runner with the Vivoactive 4 you will be better. It allows more level of configuration (which is appreciated), complete trainings that the Vivoactive 3 does not have, and above all a specific button to be able to mark laps that when doing series is very important.

  32. Good afternoon, I want a Smartwatch to go to the gym as well as to go for a run and be in shape, I have been hesitating a lot lately and I don't want to make a mistake, I am studying an opposition and I want the time spent in sports to be fruitful, I don't mind answering calls or messages or the NFC payment.
    My alternatives are Polar Ignite (economical) and Garmin Vivoactive 4. What would you recommend?
    Best regards and thank you very much, great blog 😉.

    1. If you are doing opposition I suppose you will do quite a lot of series work, and in that case you are interested in marking laps manually, something that the Ignite can't do and therefore I would rule it out. So the Vivoactive 4 would be the option, or wait for the new Suunto 7 (although it's almost twice the price).

  33. Hi, Eduardo,

    Fantastic analysis- I'm hesitating between the Vivoactive 4 and the Forerunner 245 Music considering the use I'm going to give it. Basically I'm going to use it in Indoor (Gym), both in elliptical and static bicycle as well as for all kinds of Crossfit or strength and toning exercises. Sporadically I also go for a run. In any case for me the music is fundamental, that's why I was thinking about these two models. Which of the two models would you stay with (in terms of prices the 245 music would be about 50 ? cheaper)? Do you see any other similar model that I should also consider?

    Greetings and thank you very much

    1. For that kind of use the Vivoactive 4 is where it works best. The FR245 is a watch primarily designed for running. With the Vivoactive you will have things like Garmin Pay or barometric altimeter.

  34. Congratulations on the analysis. One of the best I've ever seen.
    One question, one of the uses I'm going to give you is for running in the mountains. Can you have accumulated data of unevenness after a workout without having to consult the website of garmin conect?

    Thank you and a greeting.

      1. Hello my name is leonardo I am from argentina I wanted to congratulate you for the complete analysis I currently have the forerunner 235 and I am in doubt between this model vivoactive 4 and the forerunner 245, I use my heart rate monitor mainly to train foot races, and occasionally bike that I recommend because there are things of the vivoactive that I like that. The forerunner does not have and biseversa? Thank you and I look forward to your response

  35. Hi, Eduardo,
    First of all, congratulations on the page, it's the best by far in terms of analysis in this world.
    At the moment I still have a vivaactive HR in use, which has been in need of renovation for some time, but I have not found a replacement. I was almost decided on the vivoactive 3 until the 4 appeared...Let's say that the use is quite generic, indoor cycling, gym machines, home exercise, hiking, and a little bit of swimming. I prefer a little more autonomy in a watch of this type and, for now, I am not very interested in options such as music, nfc, etc... So I have two doubts that maybe you can help me to finish deciding: vivoactive 3 or 4? and outside garmin is there another comparable option?

    Greetings, thank you very much and congratulations for this great page.

    1. Thank you, Martin.

      The Vivoactive 4 has slightly more battery, but the main difference is the size. The 3 is a small watch, while the 4 is a large watch. I would value that primarily.

      Another model to consider is the Polar Ignite

  36. Another question Eduardo. It is about autonomy. Without carrying active notifications or connection to the phone, only pulse control and about three days of gps 1-30h a week. And control of put in those sessions. How long do you think the battery will last?
    Thank you very much for your answers. Regards

  37. Hi, I am a neophyte in these types of watches and world Garmin and I was considering buying a watch to record and get info from training sessions of Indoor Rowing and Hiking. Does this model includes Rowing as a sport to monitor? Would you recommend another model for these 2 sports?

    Thank you!!! And congratulations for this review is the most complete I've seen by far!!!!

  38. Very good. The analysis, spectacular as always.
    I have a question. For my work I am very interested in having alerts of blood oxygen saturation, in case it falls below a certain percentage, it will vibrate or something. Does this watch have this function, do you know if any other watch of higher range has it? Thank you very much for your attention.

    1. Thank you Luis.

      No, oxygen saturation monitoring does not allow you to program alerts. It can be active for "constant" monitoring, but it is not like the resting heart rate that takes a reading every second. In the case of Pulse OX it is approximately once every hour, due to the high power consumption of the function.

      Yes 1TP10You could make a query at any time through the widget and see the result at that time, but not have an alert to warn you if there is danger of hypoxia.



    1. Thank you Joxi.

      With that kind of use I think you should stick with the original idea of the Vivoactive 4. The features you're going to use in both are going to be the same, and the Vivoactive 4 has a more up to date processor and GNSS chipset.

  40. Hello my name is leonardo I am from argentina I wanted to congratulate you for the complete analysis I currently have the forerunner 235 and I am in doubt between this model vivoactive 4 and the forerunner 245, I use my heart rate monitor mainly to train foot races, and occasionally bike that I recommend because there are things of the vivoactive that I like that. The forerunner does not have and biseversa? Thank you and I look forward to your response

    1. If you mainly do running and prepare for different tests, the 245 will be better suited to your use, as well as providing you with training load metrics.

  41. Good morning,

    First of all thank you very much for all your website.

    Maybe I missed it and you mentioned it in the analysis, but this version allows the download of HRM-TRI data, does it allow true-up? does it allow multi activity?

    many thanks


    1. Thanks Angel. I'll move on to quick answers:

      - Does not allow use of HRM-Tri for swimming
      - True-up support
      - It does not allow multisport activities (triathlon, duathlon, etc).

      1. Well, I didn't mean for swimming, I was using it for Jambox because I can't wear a watch due to my gloves, but I guess it's the same thing... I don't download them, right?

        Thank you very much.

  42. I think I made a mistake in buying the Garmin vivoactive 4 instead of the forerunner 245, especially since I spend more time running than other sports but I wish I had the option of poder to set up my training routines for running at least from the Garmin connect app.

  43. Hi, Eduardo.

    Thank you very much for your website. I've been following you for a few months and I find it very complete.
    I have a very important question. I am a runner and mountain biker. My current watch is the FR620 and it's more than worn out. I am preparing for my first marathon and I am hesitating between the 645 music, the Vivoactive 4 or the FR245. The idea is to carry only one device and avoid mobile, mp3.... What do you advise me. I have read the posts you have written and I have this doubt.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Thank you, Jorge.

      My choice would go towards the FR245. Now it is easier to find prices (you can find the best deals in the Forerunner 245 test.

      The Vivoactive 4 is a good watch, but it is more oriented towards multi-activity, while the Forerunner will help you in the load control part of training, which will certainly help you prepare for that marathon.

  44. Hello
    If you value the accuracy of the data I do not recommend the vivoactive 4, it is a good watch, but inaccurate GPS, your data are quite acceptable on bike routes, compared to the GPS GARMIN ETREX 35, but in my routes walking around town is simply pitiful, to that must be added an erratic and late autopause that makes horrible experience of use
    It is also quite limited in its use, so much so that you CANNOT PAUSE A ROUTE AND RETURN TO IT HALF AN HOUR LATER, it saves itself and you can't do anything else.

    1. Thank you very much Juan Antonio.

      Discarded the VivoActive4. I had read that the battery bad until the update, but if the GPS goes bad too, for training series and so on I don't see it reliable.

      Thank you very much for your input, it has been very helpful. Now I only have the two FR and the 645 left.

    2. In urban environment conditions at walking pace, the performance of any watch is going to be bad. Difficulty in receiving satellite signals coupled with a low speed...

  45. The vivo does not have a bad battery, the problem is the same for all Garmin, the more data and more screen updates the more consumption, without a second hand or without updatable data every second you can do 6 days with everything activated, and without GPS activity, keep in mind that the touch should consume energy.
    The main problem is the Sony chip yesterday for whatever reason it is not accurate neither in the vivo nor in the venu, maybe there are problems in other models, I don't know about that.
    Of course mine leaves much to be desired, especially on foot, LAMENTABLE.

  46. Despite being a musician, I don't like to listen to music during my sports activities. However, I have not found anywhere what podría be the duration of GPS with music off. Considering that my activity tends to be mainly in the mountains, it is not uncommon for it to extend for 12 hours or more. I guess I will need a more expensive watch, but I would like to know this data.

    1. The maximum autonomy for the Vivoactive 4, without music use, would be 18 hours. After that there may be variations depending on notifications, screen usage, Connect IQ, etc.

  47. I have the vivoactive 4
    With GPS active all the time, the real autonomy would be a minimum of 10 hours.
    My download rate with original data fields is 8% hour, with other more complete data fields the duration is shorter.

    I hope I have helped you

  48. Hello !! Great information, very useful! In race mode does not have the pause button when you want no? You can stop it when you stop or when you program to a certain FC, but hit the button and stop it you can't no?

    Thank you !!!!

  49. Impressive analysis, one of the best I have seen on the internet. It has solved many doubts I had about this watch.
    I would like to ask some more questions, to see if you can help me to make up my mind. In terms of sport I want to use the watch for HIIT training (indoor) and running/swimming. In terms of information and customization of workouts for running/swimming I think it would be enough, although I do not know if it is more focused on HIIT training, or in this case the Polar algorithms with the Ignite/Vantage M range would win the game. In addition to the functions such as pulse oximetry, "training load", "nighly recharge", "body battery" which do you think really add more value, since not all of them have all of them.

    Thank you for the really good work you do and for your response.

    1. Thank you, Jose.

      The fundamental difference will be in the training load and rest analysis metrics that Polar has. It depends on whether you are going to use them to regulate your training based on the data they provide.

      In any case, for this type of use, either of the two platforms will work for the 100%.

  50. Good afternoon Eduardo, as always it is a pleasure to read your reviews.
    I purchased the vivoactive 4 to test it for a few days, but I can't get the average lap pace (or lap pace) from one second to one second. The average pace of the activity if you can, and I also know that the current pace is 5 in 5, but in this device it seems that the lap pace also goes from 5 in 5, and of course, for the series or changes of pace this does not work for me.
    Would you be able to tell me if this is a fault with my unit or is it just the way it is?
    Thank you in advance

      1. Good Eduardo, when I said that the pace was in multiples of 5 seconds, I meant the lap pace, not the (current) pace. In all garmin I have used, and also in the suunto the (current) pace is in multiples of 5, that takes some years so, but I mean the lap pace, ie the average pace of the current lap I'm doing, which for the first time I get in multiples of 5 seconds, and I do not know if it is my unit or all vivoactive 4, since the rest of Garmin range (including the vivoactive 3) if that field comes every second.
        anyway, is there an external app in garmin connect that can provide this data?

        1. I haven't used the Vivoactive 4 for a while so I don't know if Garmin has made any changes, but I can tell you that in the rest of the range the average pace per lap is to the second, although it is also true that in the 945 LTE I am seeing changes in this regard and in some sections it is using the 5 seconds rounding for the lap.

  51. Thanks for the reply. I came from a garmin 945 and will have to go back to it for the lap pace to be 1 Second in a second.

  52. Hello, first of all congratulate you for your blog and your articles on social networks. I follow you for a long time and I love the analysis you do, they have no waste, and I hallucinate with the level of detail you get to dissect the devices hehehehehehe. Well, let's get down to business. I happened to have my eye on the vivoactive 4 as a gift for my partner. I'm looking for a multisport with music option, and if possible, pay by card (he likes gadgets). I thought to ask at the Corte and they told me that the model is already discontinued. Is this true? Is there a replacement in sight? Obviously I can still buy it, but to do so knowing that it may soon be a discontinued model... Like that not. Anyway, enlighten me! Best regards and thanks in advance.

  53. Hello,
    The reviews are great. I'm thinking of changing a Tomtom Runner 3 and I'm between the fénix 5 plus and the vivoactive 4. There is a price difference of about 100 €. Which one would you recommend?

  54. Hi, is it possible to put route navigation to the vivoactive 4 through some external application? I think that on the Forerunner 235 if podía do this.

  55. Hello, congratulations for the site, not only for this analysis for all the work you do and what you facilitate to make a decision on these gadgets.
    My question is the following, I have been using the polar m430 for almost two years, very happy for my use which is two days of climbing, two days of running and depending on the week another climbing or running. In the subject of running I don't compete, at most with a friend, and before the viral apocalypse I used to run 10km, now post confinement I'm finding it harder to get into a rhythm. Anyway the case I intend to change watch, I would like to continue in polar to keep the data and such but as they refuse to put the music option and I want to limit the number of gadgets I am between this and the fr245, I know that the latter has more metrics, but I am not clear if this vivoactive has them in the application or not even that, which surprises me since some I have them in the polar application despite using a watch as limited as m430.
    In general, considering that I run for leisure and to complete my sport which is climbing, I don't know whether to choose the vivoactive or the fr245.
    Thank you very much! Best regards.

    1. Thank you, Daniel.

      Since your main use is climbing my recommendation is that you opt for a model that has a specific profile for it. The Garmin Fenix 6S fits you perfectly for that use (and the rest you indicate), although you will have to pay a little more.

      It was on sale during Amazon Prime Day, but will be back on Black Friday.

  56. Hello Eduardo! Which one do you recommend, Polar Ignite or Garmin Vivoactive 4?
    The sport I practice the most is bodybuilding and I do some running.
    I am 45 years old and I practice gym 4/5 days a week.
    What I am most interested in is for you to provide me with interesting data on training.
    There is another one besides these two that you would recommend.
    Thank you and greetings.
    Congratulations on your analysis. They are beastly.

    1. The Polar does have metrics for training load, rest, etc. That's something you're not going to find on the Vivoactive, so if you're interested in that data you're better off with the Polar.

  57. Good afternoon Eduardo! Tell you that I am delighted with the analysis you do. Which one do you recommend, I go out to run 2 or 3 times a week between 8 and 10 km per day ,I also do mountain biking, walking, gym maintenance and swimming little. I am hesitating between the vivoactive 4, the vantage M or the Fr245. Which one do you recommend? I am open to suggestions too. I like with large dial and music

      1. Thanks Eduardo. Now I will wait for an offer for the Vivoactive 4 and if not I will go for the Vantage M that I also see that fits me.

  58. Do you think it is still worth it in December 2020 or should I wait for a new one to come out? Best regards!

  59. Hello Eduardo! First of all, congratulations for the complete and enriching analysis.
    My profile is similar to Clara's (comment December 7). I am hesitating between Forerunner 245 and Vivoactive 4. My activity is focused on gym workouts, swimming and walking/running routes in the mountains. As for swimming, I think I can do without the manual presetting of style that offers the forerunner 245 but, my doubt is, if it is possible to make training plans in the Vivoactive as for running, as I have seen in some video. Greetings!

    1. If you don't race competitively, you'll find the Vivoactive 4 has features that you'll find more useful and get more out of.

      As for workouts, no problem, you can also do them with the Vivoactive 4.

  60. Thank you very much for your site, Eduardo. Whatever watch I buy, I will buy it through your links. Thanks for your work.
    I expose: I want to monitor my heart rate, oxygen saturation... monitor for health. I mostly do HIIT (high intensity interval exercises with my own body), weightlifting and run at least once a week about 10-15k. With HIIT I have very fast heart rate rises. I don't know which watch to choose... Vivoactive 4? Polar Vantage M2, Ignite2? I always have my phone on me when I train and I always train with music. I don't know which one to choose... I've also thought, to keep my heart rate in check, I would opt for a watch + chest strap or the new Polar.
    What would you recommend? Maybe another model?
    Thank you very much for your time.

    1. Thanks Chema for collaborating with the web. For HIIT I would recommend the Polar Verity Sense, I think it is the one that will give you the best result for the energetic movements you do. Better than a sensor on the chest, although it is estimating, but the chest sensor can be constantly moving.

      As for the watch is less important, because you will not have anything specific to the sports you practice. If you are interested in sleep metrics and training load the Vantage M or M2, and if you do not care about the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

  61. Hi, Great review as always. For a gift, this one seems to have everything you need. General health measurements, good set of sports activities... Thanks a lot for the review and the comparison with Venu.

    Of course, purchased through your link.

  62. Hello Eduardo! Thank you for your effort for the best reviews on the net. Do you know anything about the vivoactive 5? Is there any rumor about possible dates and features ?

  63. Congratulations for the article Eduardo.
    I have seen the differences in the sport metrics between the V4 and the FR245. The doubt I have is if in the application of Garmin if you see the training load using V4? I am not a professional, but I prepare some race.
    Thank you

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