Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review: Best Fitness Smart Watch [Guide 2023]

We will share our hands on Garmin Vivoactive 4 review and our final thoughts to help you make a clear decision on whether it is worth buying for fitness or not! Does it really deserve credit for its features and price tag? Yes, it gives pretty much everything you need from a fitness smart watch and it covers most of the features of other high-end smart watches on the market place.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review: Hands on Test Results and Expert Insight

Let’s go ahead and jump right into the Vivoactive 4. First things first, it’s important to talk about the price. The Vivoactive 4 is $349, they upped the price $50 in comparison to the Vivoactive 3 music which was $299. But, for that they’ve given you a few extra features that we’ll be talking about here and one of them is the extra button which we think was a nice added improvement.

For us, every Garmin watch is fitness first watch. What we mean with that Garmin’s watches are really good fitness watches, but also tend to have or they also have Smart Watch features. In this case the Vivoactive 4 is not exceptional!

Frankly, the way we see it as a watch for the masses. We think that it is a watch that’s kind of somewhere between being a fitness watch and a GPS watch. So, it is built for the average runner, maybe someone who isn’t like a professional runner, but still wants to get fast.

Here is the table that we have listed the key features and sensors of the Garmin Vivoactive 4:

The Features #Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review
Latest Price TagRates on Amazon
Lens MaterialCorning® Gorilla® Glass 3
Bezel MaterialStainless Steel
Case Materialfiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
QuickFit™ watch band compatibleyes (22 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm
Display Typesunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Display resolution260 x 260 pixels
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 8 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours
Water Resistance5 ATM
ConnectivityBluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi
Smartphone Music ControlYes
On Device Music StorageYes, up to 500 songs
MemoryData Recording for 200-hours
Highlighted Sensors & Features
Barometric Altimeter
Heart Rate Monitor
Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation
CompatibilityAndroid & iOS
LiveTrack & Incident DetectionYes

To better understand the Vivoactive 4 Review, we would like to list the updates and key features between the older version and the new version in the following section:

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4: Main Differences

Here, we’re doing a comparison of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4. So, essentially, what we’re talking about is what’s new with the Vivoactive 4 and is it worth buying the new version or upgrading the older Vivoactive 3 to 4.

Similarities between Vivoactive 3 and 4

So, let’s start off with the similarities between the Vivoactive 3 and 4. The Vivoactive 4 has just small upgrades over the Vivoactive 3. Therefore, you will see that they are pretty much the same. Here are the things they have in common:

They both have basically the same sensors, a risk-based heart rate sensor. Also, the water resistance is the same and they are resistant up to 50 meters or 5 ATM. Moreover, they both have GPS GLONASS and Galileo, so you can use GPS by itself or GPS and GLONASS or GPS and Galileo depending on how you prefer. So, they have three different types of satellite tracking. Also, they both have the touchscreen display which you’ll notice, definitely. Overall design and looking are almost the same. Both Vivoactive 3 and 4 have button. But, the Vivoactive 4 has two buttons versus one button on the Vivoactive 3.

Similarities between Garmin Vivoactive 3 and 4

Not sure if you’re really going to care about these two buttons, but we kind of actually prefer having them. We are not always a huge fan of touchscreens. By the way, the touchscreen works well and we don’t have like major complaints about how it works. But it’s the less accurate and less ideal when you’re sweating a lot or working out a lot. For this kind of cases, we don’t like sticking to just having touchscreens. That’s why we prefer having two buttons versus having just the one.

Vivoactive 4 has 2 buttons

These two smart watches have interchangeable bands. So, if you want sport bands, you can use that or you can upgrade to like leather bands or whatever you want. Both Vivoactive 3 and 4 do use standard sizes. The Vivoactive 4 uses 22 millimeter bands and the Vivoactive 3 uses 20 millimeter bands. Therefore, you’re not going to be able to use them on the respective devices. However, you can find other standard bands for them.

What they’ll actually do, pretty much the same stuff for you. Both smart watches will do the same in terms of Activity tracking, its steps calories burned distance traveled, setting a daily goal, getting various reminders, alarms, and then as far as Fitness goes its run cycles swim (swimming indoors not outdoors) and so on.

Also, they’ll estimate your VO2 max. They do have something called move IQs. When you go running, you don’t even actually have to tell it you’re running. It will recognize that you are running.

They both have live track as well. So, if you want to go running, bring your phone with you. You can have somebody else keep tracking of you on your runs. That’s kind of like a safety feature or if you just want to see how somebody’s doing.

So, they both have the bulk of the stuff which is very similar. As far as smart features go, we think it’s all the same.

Both Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4 support storing up to 500 songs from your personal library on Spotify, Amazon music and Deezer. So, you have plenty of sources to choose from. But again up to 500 songs, you can store them on the watch or listen though by connecting your mobile phone (You can control the music that’s playing on your phone).

You can listen music from Spotify and Amazon Musics Store via both Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 4

With the Vivoactive 3, you have almost all the widgets and apps that the 4th edition can offer. You get notifications that show up on your wrist. You have Garmin pay, so you can pay for goods and services on the go (It is pretty much similar to Apple pay).

Battery life is really similar as well. It’s about 6 to 7 days in Smart Watch mode which is mostly depending on your usage. It can last anywhere from 5 to 6-hours in GPS mode with music on. Again, it will depend on a lot of other things. The Vivoactive 4 has a little bit better battery life but it’s pretty much the same thing.

The Key Differences Between Vivoactive 3 and 4

So, why would you pay up for the Vivoactive 4, if it’s like almost the exact same thing as the Vivoactive 3? Well, we’ll tell you! Here are the main differences between Vivoactive 3 and 4:

  • Case size
  • Material of bezel
  • Weight
  • Hydration tracking
  • Respiratory tracking pulse-ox
  • Screen workouts for Pilates and Yoga
  • New Generation of Heart Rate Sensor

Let’s go through these items one by one and make a side by side comparison of Vivoactive 3 vs4.

Vivoactive 3 vs 4: Main Differences

Case Size

The first thing is that the 4th edition comes in two different sizes. So, you’ve got a 40 millimeter and a 45 millimeter watch face.  On the other hand, the Vivoactive 3 only comes in 43 millimeter case size. Therefore, you just have more options with Vivoactive 4. If you have more of a petite wrist, then you may go with the 40 mm watch face size. If you’re fine with having a little bit larger of a watch, we think that the 45 millimeter size is more comfortable.

Due to larger case size, the Vivoactive 4 with 45 mm case size offers better battery-life in comparison to the Vivoactive 3.

Material of Bezel

Also, this is something most people won’t notice but we do think it’s an upgrade. You have the stainless steel or we think it’s just a metal bezel on the Vivoactive 4. But, you have just a like a hard polymer on the Vivoactive 3. It just kind of makes it feel like more of a premium watch.


Now, having said all of that, the Vivoactive 3 was actually just a little lighter than the 4. We doubt you’ll notice but it is a little lighter. We don’t think this is going to be a deal breaker for choosing one over other.

Hydration Tracking

On the Vivoactive 4, you get a bunch of other metrics to track or use on the watch. For example, the hydration tracking is one of them. You can actually do that on the watch. So, if you want to track how much water you drank that day, you don’t have to do in the app. You can now actually log that on the watch.

Respiratory Tracking Pulse-OX

Also, you did get respiratory tracking pulse-ox shows up on the Vivoactive 4. We think this is probably the most overrated thing ever from Garmin, unless you are a mountaineer or somebody that does a ton of exploring or like serious hiking. We doubt you’ll care about Pulse OX. Because, it tells about your blood oxygen saturation which is only need to track at high altitudes. But, that shows up now on the Vivoactive 4.

Screen Workouts for Pilates and Yoga

One thing that is kind of interesting, you do have on screen workouts for Pilates and Yoga. So, you can actually start the app and you even have like a little avatar that guides you through workouts.

New Generation of Heart Rate Sensor

Last thing smaller, you probably wouldn’t notice, is that the Vivoactive 4 has the new generation 3 heart rate sensor of Garmin. Definitely, it has better accuracy, and it technically is a little bit of a different heart rate monitor.

Our Verdict for Vivoactive 3 vs 4 Comparison:

Our verdict for Vivoactive 3 vs 4 comparison: We recommend choosing the Vivoactive 3, if you can find it in the stores or clearance. Why you should get the Vivoactive 3 over the Vivoactive 4? The first reason is the price. The Vivoactive 3 is more affordable than the Vivoactive 4. We’re talking about a device that’s $250 versus $350.

We don’t know, if the reasons are compelling enough to pay $100 more for the Vivoactive 4. But, a lot of people are going to say; Hey, the Vivoactive 3 was just fine.

By the way, we do look for deals frequently and we post about them on our website. We find amazing deals on Garmin watches on Amazon that you might want to check out and compare the price tag for Vivoactive 3 and 4:

Latest Rates for 3rd Edition

Market Price for 3rd edition

Check the Rates and Discounts on Amazon

Latest Rates for 4th Edition

Market Price for 4th Edition

Check the Rates and Discounts on Amazon

If you look at all the little things and add them up, then maybe they mean something to you. But, we are not swayed by respiratory tracking or hydration on watch tracking or on screen Pilates workouts of Vivoactive 4.

We think the new heart rate sensor is nice, we like the new bezel, we like the new designs. The software of Vivoactive 4 has felt very snappy, fast and intuitive, we like having the new things. However, we think the Vivoactive 3 is a darn good watch. Let us know what you think about our final decision on the debate of Vivoactive 3 or 4!

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs 4S review: Main Differences

What are the main differences between Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S? First of all, prices of these two watches are the same. So, Both Vivoactive 4S and 4 come in at $349. Therefore, regardless of which version of the watch you get, it will cost the same. In this case, which one you should pick, the Vivoactive 4 or 4S?

If you’re thinking about picking up one of these and you’re trying to decide between the two, the question is which do you prefer in terms of size? Outside of that the only difference is Vivoactive 4 has a slightly bigger battery than the Vivoactive 4S, since the Vivoactive 4 has a bigger the watch face and case size. Therefore, it allows a larger battery to fit in. So, it does get a little bit better battery life in comparison to Vivoactive 4S. The following table we have put together will help you understand the main differences between Vivoactive 4 and 4S:

Comparison of #Vivoactive 4 ReviewVivoactive 4S Review
Quick Release Bandsyes – 22 mm, Industry standardyes -18 mm, Industry standard
Physical size45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm
Display size1.3″ (33.0 mm) diameter1.1″ (27.9 mm) diameter
Display resolution260 x 260 pixels218 x 218 pixels
Weight50.5 g40.0 g
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: Up to 8 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 15 hours
Latest RatesCheck on AmazonCheck on Amazon

Outside of the listed things in the table, the software, hardware inside and everything else are all the same for Vivoactive 4 and 4S.

Our Verdict for Vivoactive 4 vs 4S Comparison:

We definitely recommend Garmin Vivoactive 4 over 4S, unless you have a petite wrist. If you’re fine with having a little bit larger of a watch, we think the Vivoactive 4 has a comfortable size of 45 millimeter. Moreover, display size, display resolutions and the battery-life of Vivoactive 4 is better than Vivoactive 4S, since it has a larger case size compared to the 4S.

Features Review for Garmin Vivoactive 4

So, let’s go and take a look at some of those features real quick on the back of the box of Vivoactive 4:

Full List of Features for Vivoactive 4

Health Features

Considering the Health Features you have in Vivoactive 4,

  • There is Pulse-OX. If you’re not familiar with that then you probably don’t need it. But, Pulse Ox is basically letting you know how well your body’s acclimating to altitude.
  • Hydration Tracking
  • Of course we have a heart rate sensor on the back of Vivoactive 4. As soon as, it recognizes that it’s actually touching your skin, it will start using that data and it is 24-hour heart rate. So, it’s just always checking your heart rate as long as you’re wearing it.

Smart Watch Features Review of Vivoactive 4

Now, we are getting into more of our Smart Watch features:

  • So, it can store music. We have stored 342 songs on Vivoactive 4. Also, It can use Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and a couple others as well.
  • The Vivoactive has on screen workouts for Pilates and Yoga
  • It has Garmin pay. So, you can use that to do contactless payments. By the way, we don’t personally use it.
  • We have some safety and tracking features. It features live tracking. So, if you want to go running, bring your phone with you. You can have somebody else keep tracking of you on your runs.
  • One cool thing about it is that you can give it an emergency contact. So, you can hold the button down, if there’s some kind of emergency. It will contact the emergency contact for you.
  • As well as the most of the other smart watches, it has GPS.
  • It has a ton of built-in sports apps that you can track using the watch.

Battery-life Review

The Vivoactive 4 has a battery life of 8-days on Smart Watch mode. With our usage, we’ve been getting about 3-full days battery life. Without using the GPS or music, it lasted 8-days. Because, both GPS and playing music are the biggest battery burners on it. So, if you’re using both of these features, you can get up to 6- hours of battery life.


It has 45 mm face size option with 22 mm bands, as well as 40 mm with bands of 18 mm. These bands are quick release so you can easily swap them out for something different, if you prefer.

Water Resistance

It is water resistant up to 5-ATM (50 meters). Also, we have used it while swimming and also used it in the shower. So don’t worry about it getting wet, the Vivoactive 4 continues to work with no concerns.

Bottom-line for Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review

Our verdict for Vivoactive 4 Review: We definetly recommend the Vivoactive 4 as the best fitness smart watch. Because, it is not as expensive as the high-end smart watch and it still covers most of the smart features of its premium competitors. It is compact and has a great battery life.

By the way, if you are looking for a solid smart watch with a long battery life, we would recommend the Garmin Instinct. In this case, you may want to read our Garmin Instinct vs Fenix comparison where you will find more information about the Instinct.

References: Introduction to Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S and its user manual

Let’s Review FAQ for Vivoactive 4 and Our Answers

How to reset Garmin Vivoactive 4?

It is very easy to reset Garmin Vivoactive 4 by following these steps as decribed in the following video:

Is Garmin Vivoactive 4 waterproof?

Answer: The Vivoactive 4 is water resistant up to 5 ATM (50 meters).

Can you swim with Garmin Vivoactive?

Answer: We have used it while swimming and also used it in the shower. So don’t worry about it getting wet, the Vivoactive 4 continues to work with no concerns.

How to change watch face on Garmin Vivoactive 4?

How to change the time on a Garmin Vivoactive watch?

You can easily set the time by following these steps:

  1. Select the action key.
  2. Select Settings > System > Clock > Set Local Time > Manual.
  3. Select Time, and enter the time of day.