The Vivoactive 3 is Garmin’s main competitor in the all-purpose smartwatch space. It looks attractive and in terms of value for money, is one of the best devices out there. But let’s face it – the watch was released back in 2017. This is forever in wearable technology time. The device is ripe for an update.
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In our review we found Vivoactive 3 to be a pretty solid fitness-focused timepiece which dishes out fairly accurate data and provides a cohesive fitness tracking experience. And all this functionality is packaged in a device that is stylish enough to appeal to both men and women. Something that looks and feels like a regular watch. Garmin’s wearables have certainly come a long way when it comes to design and functionality. The days of chunky, geeky looking smartwatches are long-gone.
So what should we expect from the next generation watch? Here are all the rumours, leaks and some of what we would like to see on the Vivoactive 4.
Vivoactive 3 is much more in line with Garmin’s Fenix and Forerunner range than its predecessor. Coming in at only 43 grams, this is a lightweight sports watch that is unisex in design. We certainly hope Garmin sticks with this form-factor. The thickness of the current generation watch is only 11.7mm so there is a bit of room for slimming down, but not too much.
You navigate the Vivoactive 3 via the single physical button and touch display. This serves the purpose well, due in part to the upgraded processor which makes scrolling seamless. Whether Garmin decides to stick with a single physical button is questionable.
So far there’s been only one leak of the Vivoactive 4. There’s no way to tell if it’s genuine or the product of someone’s imagination but you can see the pic based on info from that source above. This shows a device with two physical buttons instead of one. It was posted via a Youtube video which cites an “official Garmin source” (Youtube username: czandor). The video, however, was subsequently removed at the request of Garmin.
Regardless of how many buttons it has, we are guessing Garmin will not ditch the touch-screen. An additional button might make navigating the device while exercising less of a hassle. It’s not very easy to work a touch screen with sweaty fingers and would certainly resolve the problem of accidentally cancelling an activity!
Interestingly, the original Vivoactive HR did come with two physical buttons, but these were located under the rather chunky, squarish display. We’ve moved to a round screen since then.
The same leak (as well as some others) also suggest the Vivoactive 4 will sport an AMOLED display. The current version has a transflective, memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen which measures 30.4mm. This works well under sunlight and there’s also a backlight which helps visibility under low light conditions.
A big selling point of Garmin watches is the fact that they have an always-on display. The problem with an AMOLED display is that an always-on option would quickly eat into battery life. It will be interesting how Garmin deals with this problem. We certainly hope they do not lose the always-on functionality. But a flashier screen certainly does make sense considering the device will be pitted against the likes of the Apple Watch, Fitbit Versa and Galaxy Watch.
Similar to devices in the Fenix range, it is also rumoured the Vivoactive 4 will come in several sizes. There will be a large version dubbed “4”, and a smaller one dubbed “4s”. The exact sizes of these remain a mystery.
Advertised battery life of the current watch is 7 days. In reality, though, you will find it keeps going a day or two less. And while this is pretty decent battery life, we certainly hope Garmin does not stop here. We hope to get at least a week between charges on Vivoactive 4 – even with an AMOLED display.
As far as waterproofing is concerned we expect no change. The current iteration has a 5 ATM (50 meter) water resistance rating, which means it is good for swimming and can easily deal with all weather elements. While Garmin has some 10 ATM devices in its range, it would not really make too much sense to go beyond 5 ATM.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 comes with lots under the hood including a built-in GPS, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer and heart rate sensor. And while this is great, there’s always scope for improvement.
So far we have not seen any leaks on what functionality we can look forward to so what follows are our guesstimates based on devices the company has released since 2017. And there’ve been quite a few!
We certainly expect all the smarts of the current generation to be ported over to Vivoactive 4. The latest crop of Garmin smartwatches as well as the Vivosmart 4 all come with a PulseOx sensor. The next Vivoactive could very well see the addition of this. The sensor tracks your blood oxygen saturation during the night to improve on sleep insights. If you wish, you can also manually take readings throughout the day.
And while this is probably where the list of sensors will end, Garmin has become better at utilising existing technology to come up with additional functionality. This is mostly through Firstbeat metrics.
Vivoactive 3 only has four Firstbeat metrics: VO2Max, All Day Stress & Recovery, Calories Burned and Fitness Age. Compare that with the Forerunner 945 which has a total of 18! Of course, we don’t expect all of these to make their way to the Vivoactive 4, but some (such as Body Battery) surely will.
Another feature that we’ve seen included on some of Garmin’s recent watches is Incident Detection. Considering the target user group, it would make sense to include this on the next generation timepiece. Similar to the Apple Watch, when an incident is detected, Incident Detection sends an automated text message and email via your smartphone with your name and GPS location to your emergency contacts.
Finally, its quite possible built-in storage for music comes as default this time around. The Music iteration of Vivoactive 3 has enough room for up to 500 songs and Garmin will probably stick with that. It also comes with NFC and a separate LTE (Verizon) edition. Most likely, LTE will remain as an optional add-on on Vivoactive 4 as it adds to the selling price.
Price and release date
Garmin announced the Vivoactive 3 at IFA in 2017. This year’s event starts on September 6th. The company has debuted a string of devices at the Berlin gathering in recent years so they surely will have something in store in 2019. The company has a few fitness trackers which have not seen a refresh in a while. So possibilities that spring to mind include the Vivosport 2, Vivofit 5, Vivoactive 4 and Vivomove 3.
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This means there’s a decent chance we’ll see the next Vivoactive about a month from today. An announcement would make sense, along with a launch in September or October as it would come ahead of the all-important holiday sales period. The other option, of course, is CES 2020. But we expect Fenix 6 to make an appearance in Las Vegas and that’s likely to grab all the headlines.
As far as pricing is concerned, the Vivoactive 3 sells for $170 on Garmin’s website, the version with NFC for $185, the Music iteration for $200 and the LTE edition for $350. If it is to remain competitive with the Apple Watch and Fitbits, Vivoactive 4 will probably come in around the $200 price point or slightly above.
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