Garmin Vivoactive vs Forerunner: Selection Guide [2023]

Here in this post, we would like to make in-depth comparison of Garmin Vivoactive vs Forerunner. This time, we are comparing the Vivoactive 4 with the Forerunner 255. You may be wondering why there is only the Forerunner 255, but not the other Forerunner models such as the 645, the 745 and the 955. Because, in the Forerunner series the 255 is the only one which is comparable to the Vivoactive 4 in terms of the price and features.

On the other hand, other Forerunner Series such as Forerunner 645, 745 and 955 are high-end running watches and does way better than the Vivoactive 4 in many aspects.

So, which one is better, the Vivoactive 4 or the Forerunner 255? First off, we need to understand what Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 255 are made for. Basically, the main difference between the Forerunner 255 and the Vivoactive 4 is their design intent. the Forerunner 255 is a dedicated running watch. On the other hand, the Vivoactive 4 is a fitness smartwatch!

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 255 Main Difference is their design intent

You may find following table helpful which we have put to help you better understand the design intent of Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 255:

Comparison of #Vivoactive 4Forerunner 255
Our Selection forMore of a Fitness Smart WatchMore of a Running Watch
Deals & DiscountsCheck on AmazonRates on Amazon
41 mm / 46 mm
Bezel MaterialStainless SteelFiber reinforced polymer
Display Size1.3 inches1.3 inches
Physical Button25
Touch ScreenYesNo
Screen Resolution260 x 260 Pixels260 x 260 Pixels
BezelStainless SteelFiber-Reinforced Polymer
Battery LifeSmart Watch Mode 8 Days GPS on 6 hoursSmart Watch Mode 14 Days & GPS on 30 Hours
Case size45 mm in diameter46 mm in diameter
41 mm in diameter
Wrist band22 mm22 mm
Features for RunningBasic Fitness FeaturesSpecial Running Training Status &
Running Dynamics
Water ResistanceUp to 50 m (5 ATM)Up to 50 m (5 ATM)
Garmin PayYesYes
Altimeter MeasurementBased on Barometric AltimeterBased on Barometric Altimeter
Sleep Score &
Health Snapshot
GPS SensorsGPS, GLONASS & GALILEOMulti-frequency Positioning sensor
Text response &
Reject phone call with text
(Android™ only)
LiveTrack & Incident DetectionYesYes
Training Load & StatusYesYes
Point-to-point navigation
Bread crumb trail in real time

So, although there are a lot to talk between these two, we would like to high light the main differences between Vivoactive 4 and the Forerunner 255.

  • The first one and the most notable one is how you navigate through the smart watch menu. The Vivoactive 4 has 2 buttons and touch screen for the navigation through its menu. On the other hand, the Forerunner 255 has 5 buttons, but no touch screen. It may seem a handicap at first glance. But, when you are sweating a lot and working out a lot, the touch screen becomes less accurate and less ideal. Instead, we prefer the 5 buttons of Forerunner 255 in comparison to 2 buttons and touch screen of Vivoactive 4.
  • The second most notable difference between them is the active training status reporting. When you take a look at the Connect IQ, the Forerunner 255 will give you a status reporting for your training (we will be talking about this later). On the other hand, Vivoactive does not support Running Dynamics and Training Status Reporting features.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 255 Key Differences

Let’s dig into the other differences between them which may help you for your final decision on Vivoactive 4 or Forerunner 255.

Running & Smart Watch Features of These Two:

When you connect Forerunner 255 to Connect IQ, you can see your training status, since the Garmin Forerunner 255 has the Running Dynamics and Training Status features. Training status feature will give you an idea of where you’re at in terms of your training load. If you doing over training, under training or if you are being productive etc. You are not going to get these with Vivoactive 4 since it does not support the Training Status and Running Dynamics features.

Another key point between them is how they measure your elevation during your course. Both Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 255 have barometric altimeter and it will give you highly accurate elevation measurements based on the barometric pressure measurements. By the way, the barometric altimeter feature is also included in Forerunner 745 or the 955 models.

But, if you would like to take a quick look for the other Forerunner models, you can check out the following articles:

Display of Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 255

The Vivoactive 4 features a 1.3 inch touchscreen with a 260 by 260 pixel resolution. The wider display with touch screen capability and a higher resolution gives a great and clearer viewing angle as well as more intuition. Likewise, The Forerunner 255 has a 1.3 inch display with a screen resolution of 260 by 260 Pixels. Both Forerunner 255 and Vivoactive 4 have displays that are sunlight visible and come with transflective memory and pixel.

Touch Screen vs Buttons

Another difference is the how you control these two watches. For example, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 only comes with two physical buttons and a touchscreen display that you can swipe. On the other hand, the Garmin Forerunner 255 has five physical buttons for control.

Which one is better touch screen or the buttons? Well, it depends, but for running specifically, we do prefer the buttons over touch screen. When you get sweat, the touch screen becomes less accurate and less responsive.

Battery Life: Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 255

The battery-life Vivoactive 4 can last up to 8 days on normal use and up to 6 hours when the GPS on. However, the Forerunner 255 has a battery life of up to 14-days on normal use and 30-hours when the gps mode is on which is way better than the Vivoactive 4.

Short Review for Garmin Vivoactive 4:

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Short Review

This circular and flat shaped garment fitness tracker is touch and comes with an analog clock face.

The Vivoactive 4 features a 1.3 inch touchscreen display with 260 by 260 pixels screen resolution. Additionally, it has a 22 millimeter wide silicone watch band and fits a wrist circumference of 135 to 220 millimeters.

The Vivoactive 4 comes with a stainless steel body. There are buttons at the top and bottom. The top button is for shortcuts and exercise, while the bottom button is for settings and going back.

For contactless payments, the gadget supports Garmin Pay. For music, it has a 3.5 gigabyte memory storage which is compatible with Spotify, IHeartRadio, Deezer and Amazon Music.

There are animated workouts for cardio, strength training, Pilates and Yoga. You also get respiration tracking and hydration tracking, pulse oximeter recordings, stress tracking, advanced sleep tracking and more.

The Vivoactive 4 can last for up to eight days, when in normal use. It can last up to 6 hours with the GPS enabled.

Related Articles: Vivoactive 4 In-depth Review

Pros & Cons for Vivoactive 4

Pros for Vivoactive 4

  • Longer battery life of up to 8-days
  • Wider display with more pixels
  • Barometric Altimeter
  • Music Play

Cons for Vivoactive 4

  • Fewer colors to choose from

Short Review for Garmin Forerunner 255

Garmin Forerunner 245 Short Review

The Forerunner 255 is small in size compared to the other Forerunner models. It comes with a 1.3 inch transflective memory and pixel display. It has a screen resolution of 260 x 260 pixels without touchscreen support. To compensate for this, the smartwatch has five physical buttons for control. Its bezel is made of fiber reinforced polymer for durability.

The watch uses quick release bands of 22 millimeters and has various sensors ranging from GPS, Galileo, Glonass, Pulse Ox, and accelerometer.

The gadget supports smartphone notifications and is compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile App (Connect IQ). It tracks and monitors your sleep, stress, distance traveled, steps taken and calories burned. To get the music version, you need to pay extra cash. In terms of battery life, this model has a 7 day battery life when in normal use. But, when in the GPS is enabled; the watch lasts up to 24 hours.

Related Articles: Garmin Forerunner Review

Pros & Cons for Forerunner 255

Pros for Forerunner 255

  • The 30 hour battery life span when in gps mode
  • The model comes with advanced running stats
  • Altimeter is included

Cons for Forerunner 255

  • Standard model lacks music storage. You need to get Forerunner 255 Music version and pay extra for music.

Bottom-line for Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 255

So which Garmin Smart Watch is better, Vivoactive 4 or Forerunner 255? The Forerunner is more running focused. We definitely think the Forerunner 255 is the better option, if you’re strictly a runner or let’s say super competitive runner. But, if you’re an average runner that’s just going out for 5-6 mile run, then we would say the Vivoactive 4 is a great watch for you which is more focused on fitness trainings.

You can check out following links to find the best deals and discounts on Amazon for Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 255:

If you already decided which smart watch to go with, but wondering what running shoes to pick, we have prepared following articles to consider:

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S support and how to use video:

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

Garmin Forerunner 255 support and how to use video:

References: Introduction to Garmin Forerunner 255 and its user manual