Image source: Garmin

Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs 4: a detailed comparison

Garmin has made official today Vivosmart 5 (view on Garmin’s website / Amazon). Its predecessor has been around for some two years now so the device was well due for an upgrade.

The company is on a good run and has launched a slew of devices in the first quarter of 2022. The Vivosmart range is Garmin’s answer to the likes of Fitbit Charge 5 and Xiaomi Mi Band – a fitness band that is slim and sleek. It is something for those who do not want a smartwatch on their wrist.

We actually expected Vivosmart 5 to launch in 2021 before the holiday shopping period. However, Garmin released only a few products last year – probably due to the chip shortages, energy crisis in certain Asian countries and pandemic. 2021 was definitely not a great year for wearable tech. This year has already seen a slew of new Garmin products and it is looking like the run will continue in the months ahead.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

How does Vivosmart generation five improve on its predecessor? Read on to find out.


Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs 4: Design and hardware

Look and feel

The Garmin Vivosmart range is the company’s flagship fitness band. Sure, there’s also Vivosport but that one hasn’t seen an update in years. Vivofit is another option but Garmin may decide to discontinue that one, as well.

The last Vivosmart introduced a very small form factor, some would say perhaps too small. The touchscreen OLED only measures 6.6 x 17.7 mm which makes it difficult to fit too much on the screen. Hence its limited use.

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

This time around Garmin has increased the size of the screen by 66% making it much more useful (10.5 x 18.5 mm). The measurements show that it is both wider and longer. This means larger, easier to read text.

Mind you it is still the same quality and type as before, but the bigger size means it can fit more pixels (88 x 154 pixels versus 48 x 128 before). As before, the display switches off when not in use – a turn of the wrist or tap on the single physical button wakes it up.

Some Vivosmart 5 watch faces display a data field – and you can tap the watch face to scroll through steps, heart rate, battery level, date, weather, calories burned and intensity minutes. The last data field you selected stays in the background by default. Next time you wake up the display it will show.

Garmin Vivosmart 5
Image source: Garmin

Of course, this means that the dimensions of the device have increased slightly. The depth goes up from 10.5 to 10.7mm, while the width and length go up from 15 x 197mm (223mm for large) to 19.5 x 217mm (255 for large). The weight has also gone up by around 8 grams. Not too much of a problem, this is still a device with a very small form-factor.

Other than that not much has changed as far as design. Both Vivosmart 5 and 4 are swimproof and have a polycarbonate case. The previous generation pretties this up with an Aluminium bezel – the new generation has doesn’t have this. But lens material is now bulit from acrylic whereas before it was polycarbonate.

Finally, Vivosmart 5 gets one more design trick. You now have the ability to swap its bands around for other ones. Before you had to do with the one you bought.

Loses barometric altimeter but adds new generation sensors

A few changes under the hood as well. The sensors both generations have in common include heart rate, blood oxygen, accelerometer and ambient light. Strangely enough Vivosmart 5 loses the barometric altimeter. Which means that it is not able to track floors climbed like its predecessor.

Unfortunately no built-in GPS on either generation. Many had hoped Garmin would boost the Connected GPS capability of Vivosmart 4. This makes it more difficult for Vivosmart 5 to compare with Fitbit Charge 5 which does have built-in GPS – meaning it can tap into a sattelite signal for detailed tracking of outdoor activity – with no smartphone required.

No NFC for Contactless Payments, either, if that was what you were hoping for. This item was on some peoples’ wish lists for Vivosmart 5.

Battery life is about a week between charges depending on the settings. Which is pretty decent for a fitness band. So it remains unchanged.

Here’s a table illustrating the hardware similarities and differences between the Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4.

Vivosmart 5
Vivosmart 4
Bezel material
None
Aluminium
Lens material
Acrylic
Polycarbonate
Case material
Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
Strap material
Silicone
Silicone
Interchangeable bands
Yes
No
Physical size
19.5 x 10.7 x 217 mm (length 255mm for large size)
15 x 10.5 x 197 mm (length 223mm for large size)
Touchscreen
Yes
Yes
Display size
10.5 mm x 18.5 mm
6.6 mm x 17.7 mm
Display resolution
88 x 154 pixels
48 x 128 pixels
Screen type
OLED
OLED
Weight
Small/medium: 24.5 g
Large: 26.5 g
Small/medium: 16.5 g
Large: 17.1 g
Battery life
Up to 7 days (excluding Pulse Ox sleep tracking)
Up to 7 days (excluding Pulse Ox sleep tracking)
Water-resistance
Swim
Swim
GPS
Connected GPS
Connected GPS
Sensors
Heart rate, SpO2, accelerometer, ambient light sensor
Heart rate, SpO2, accelerometer, barometric altimeter, ambient light sensor
NFC
No
No
Music storage
No
No
Memory/history
7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
RRP
$150
$130

Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs 4: Health & activity tracking

The Vivosmart is a pretty capable fitness band. It has the main sensors most people need to track activity around the clock. Plus it taps into Garmin’s excellent ecosystem of supporting software, including the Connect app and website dashboard.

You’ll find activity and sleep tracking, all-day stress monitoring, Body Battery, abnormally high and low heart rate alerts and more. And while these devices may not have built-in GPS, an edge they have over the Fitbits is that there are no premium features. When you purchase the device, you can access all of its features – no annoying and costly subscription fees required, thank you very much!

What’s new and different?

As mentioned, the latest Vivosmart has lost the ability to count floors climbed. But it improves on its predecessor in other ways.

One of these is that sleep tracking now comes with a Sleep Score, giving users an analysis of the quantity and quality of their sleep. Users also get insights meant to help them improve their kip time.

Another improvement is to do with the blood oxygen sensor. You now have the option of 24 x 7 monitoring along respiration rate. This is in addition to on-demand and nightly measurements.

Garmin has made use of the larger display by allowing you to view more types of information without having to reach for the smartphone app. Vivosmart 5 also comes with realtime settings sync with Garmin Connect mobile. This is something that has been introduced on the last generation Garmin devices.

Incident Detection is now part of the feature-set along with Assistance. Both need your smartphone in close vicinity in order to function. The same is the case with LiveTrack which allows you friends and family to follow your training activities in real-time. Performance metrics include Vo2 max and Fitness Age. There are also HIIT workouts now along with some additional sports profiles.

Here’s a table illustrating the hardware differences between the Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4.

Vivosmart 5
Vivosmart 4
Respiration rate (24 x 7)
Yes
No
Blood oxygen
yes (spot-check, during a portion of sleep, and all-day)
yes (spot-check and optionally in sleep)
Fitness Age
Yes
Yes (in app)
Sleep Score and Insights
Yes
No
Hydration
Yes
Yes (in app)
Women’s Health
Yes
Yes (in app)
Calendar
Yes
No
Realtime settings sync with Garmin Connect mobile
Yes
No
Safety and tracking features (Livetrack, Incident Detection, Assistance)
Yes
No
Floors climbed
No
Yes
Gym activity profiles
Strength, HIIT, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Indoor Rowing, Treadmill, Pilates and Yoga
Strength Training, Cardio Training, Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Yoga
HIIT
Yes
No

Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs 4: Bottom line

The Vivosmart is a very capable little fitness band that doesn’t cost too much. It is for those that do not like a smartwatch on their wrist – something that is small and discreet.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 loses the barometric altimeter of its predecessor but improves on it in other ways. The display is some 66% larger, blood oxygen is around the clock, it comes with respiration rate, Sleep Score and insights, safety features, HIIT and a few additional sports profiles.

If you’re holding on to a Vivosmart 4 and its still working, there’s probably no point in upgrading. But if you’re in the market for a new fitness band Vivosmart 5 is the one to go for.

You can pick up the devices on Garmin’s website and Amazon. The latest generation comes in two sizes (standard, large) and three colourways: White, Black and Cool Mint. Any of these will set you back $150 on the company’s website. The predecessor generation can be picked up for around $20 less.

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