Vivosmart 4 | Image source: Garmin

Garmin’s new FCC filing is for a “Smart Band”. Could this be a Whoop competitor?

Garmin has filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) paperwork for something that is referred to as a “Smart Band”. Could this a Whoop competitor or is it something else?

A plethora of different filings from the sports wearable giant have come through the FCC recently. Hence, we are expecting a few Garmin launches in the weeks ahead. One of these is the Venu 2 Plus (or Pro), which reportedly comes with a third physical button and possibly a larger than before 1.4 inch display.

Another is the much anticipated Fenix 7. That one was even referred to by name in one of the newly published FCC documents. Rumors are the screen on the next generation Fenix range will gain touch functionality in addition to the five physical buttons. Those that claim they have seen the timepiece say the touchscreen functionality is switched off when you are in exercise mode. This is a surefire way of dealing with accidental swipes and touches. Reportedly, the Fenix 7 will also come with an AMOLED display model which will carry the moniker EPIX.

Essential readingBest fitness trackers and health gadgets

Whether we see one or more of these devices at CES 2022 remains to be seen. Garmin will be there so there will be some sort of product launch. The company typically uses the annual gathering to make exciting announcements. Last year was an exception, but that was the only year where the event adopted a virtual format. In 2022, things will, more or less, be back to normal.


Garmin “Smart Band”

An interesting FCC addition from Garmin was filed a couple of days ago. That one is for something that is referred to as a “Smart Band” – FCC ID IPH-04352. The short term confidentiality on the filing runs out on March 3rd 2022.

Some are speculating this could be a Whoop competitor. We are highly skeptical of this. Now on version 4.0, Whoop is an activity and health tracking device that has no display. Instead you are meant to use the app or website dashboard to view the extremely detailed recovery stats, SpO2, temperature and other vitals metrics. The latest generation is smaller in size and, in addition to the wrist, you can now wear it on other parts of the body such as a torso, waist and calf.

Whoop is popular with professional athletes who are primarily after the detailed recovery insights. But the service comes with a monthly subscription. For many, that’s where the attractiveness of such a device tends to fade.

So far Garmin has chosen not to take that route and we applaud them for that decision. In our mind, if you buy a fitness device you should have access to most of the stats it is capable of producing. Unfortunately more and more companies are choosing the subscription route. Fitbit and Oura are recent examples.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs Garmin Vivosmart 4: activity band face-off
Vivosmart 4 | Image source: Garmin

Although Garmin does lack in recovery stats depth, we don’t expect they will release a Whoop-type band with a subscription service. More likely the FCC “Smart Band” is a reference to the Vivosmart 5 or Vivofit 5. Both are well due for an upgrade.

The Vivosmart 4 was released in September 2018 while the Vivofit 4 is a simple fitness tracker that dates way back to December 2017. Our money is that this will be the Vivosmart 5 as we suspect Garmin might make the Vivofit range redundant soon.

Then there is the outside chance this could be an update to the Vivosport. Many have given up hope we will ever see a new version of that one as it was launched 4 years ago with no updates since. For a long time Vivosport was pretty much the only fitness band around with built-in GPS. Now there are a few other options.

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