The Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 are top-tier fitness bands from two renowned wearable tech brands. Released in September 2023 and April 2022 respectively, they appeal to those preferring a more compact and less obtrusive alternative to traditional smartwatches. This comparison aims to deliver a thorough side-by-side analysis, assisting potential buyers in determining which device best suits their lifestyle and fitness objectives.
The Charge 6 stands out with its comprehensive health tracking features, built in GPS, and smartwatch functionalities, making it a great choice for users who embrace technology. On the other hand, the Vivosmart 5 offers straightforward, essential fitness tracking in an easy-to-use format. However, its pricing seems slightly high for the features it provides. If you’re a Garmin enthusiast and find the Vivosmart 5 at a discounted price, it could be a worthwhile option to consider.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: Hardware
Design & display
Both the Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 feature a rectangular shape, but they diverge in their build materials. The Charge 6 boasts a more premium feel. It packs a aerospace-grade aluminum case and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display, reflecting a commitment to durability and style. This choice of materials not only enhances the device’s resilience but also gives it a sleek, modern appearance.
In contrast, the Vivosmart 5 opts for a polycarbonate body with an acrylic lens, prioritizing practicality and a straightforward design. While this may not exude the same level of sophistication as the Charge 6, it offers a reliable and functional build for everyday use. Unlike the Fitbit, the Garmin comes in a choice of sizes. You can pick it up in a ‘large’ or ‘small’ size.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
A notable design element in the Charge 6 is the reintroduction of a haptic physical button, a response to user feedback seeking tangible interaction. This feature adds an element of tactile feedback that many users find reassuring and convenient. The Vivosmart 5 also includes a physical button on its face, maintaining a balance between touch and physical interaction.
Display, colour options, water-resistance
Regarding the display, the Fitbit Charge 6 impresses with its AMOLED screen. This delivers vivid colors and sharp imagery, thereby enriching the user experience during interactions with its diverse features. In contrast, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is equipped with a smaller greyscale OLED – PMOLED display. It, despite its efficiency, falls short of the vibrant display quality offered by the Charge 6’s AMOLED screen.
Additionally, Fitbit devices, including the Charge 6, come with an always-on display feature, providing continuous access to information. This feature can be turned off to extend battery life, offering users flexibility based on their preferences and usage patterns.
The Charge 6 steps up in terms of personalization with color options like Obsidian, Porcelain, and Coral. The Vivosmart 5 offers its own range of colors. These consist of Black, White, and Cool Mint, providing a more subdued but equally attractive palette for users to choose from.
Both devices boast a 5 ATM water-resistance rating, ensuring they can withstand activities like swimming and showering. This feature is crucial for users who engage in water-based activities or simply want the peace of mind that comes with knowing their device can be worn 24/7.
Below the hood, both devices showcase a robust array of sensors. The Fitbit Charge 6 is equipped with a 3-axis accelerometer, an optical heart rate monitor, a Pulse Ox sensor, skin temperature sensor and multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with ECG and EDA Scan apps. It also includes an ambient light sensor and NFC for contactless payments, enhancing its utility in everyday scenarios.
In terms of GPS connectivity, the Charge 6 stands out with its built-in GPS and Glonass support, offering precise location tracking without the need for a connected smartphone. This feature is particularly beneficial for those who require accurate tracking of their routes and activities.
On the other hand, the Garmin Vivosmart 5, while also featuring a 3-axis accelerometer, Pulse Ox sensor and heart rate monitor, relies on connected GPS, meaning it requires a smartphone to provide location data. This is drawback for users who prefer to leave their phones behind during outdoor workouts.
Worth noting is that neither of these devices have a barometric altimeter for counting floors climbed. They also do not offer music storage capabilities.
The battery life of wearable tech is a crucial aspect for users, balancing the need for longevity with advanced features. The Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 both excel in this domain, offering up to 7 days of battery life under typical usage conditions.
However, it’s important to note that the battery life can vary depending on the usage intensity and activated features. For instance, the Fitbit Charge 6’s battery life drops to about 5 hours when GPS is continuously used, highlighting the trade-off between advanced functionality and battery longevity. Turning on the always-on screen option for the Fitbit will also dramatically eat into battery life.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: Technical specs
Here’s a detailed tech specs comparison table for the Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Vivosmart 5:
Fitbit Charge 6
Garmin Vivosmart 5
Aerospace grade aluminum case, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, anodized aluminum
Polycarbonate body, acrylic lens, silicone strap
1 haptic physical button on the side
1 physical button on face
36.78mm x 23.1mm x 11.2mm (H x W x D)
S/M: 19.5 x 10.7 x 217 mm; L: 19.5 x 10.7 x 255 mm
260 x 170 pixels
88 x 154 pixels
0.26″ x 0.70″ (6.6 mm x 17.7 mm)
Weight (w/o Strap)
S/M: 24.5 g; L: 26.5 g
3-axis accelerometer, Optical HRM, Pulse Ox, ECG & EDA compatible, Light sensor
3-axis accelerometer, HRM, Vibration, Light, Pulse Ox
Up to 7 days, 5 hours with GPS
Up to 7 days
Obsidian, Porcelain, Coral
Black, White, Cool Mint
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: Features
The Fitbit Charge 6 is a device that leans heavily into the health and fitness realm. It’s designed for users who are looking for a comprehensive health tracking experience, with a focus on detailed metrics. The Garmin Vivosmart 5, while also a robust fitness tracker, offers a more straightforward approach, suitable for users who prefer simplicity and essential tracking functionalities.
Both devices are equipped with a range of sensors for fitness and health tracking, including heart rate monitors and accelerometers. The Charge 6 stands out with its enhanced heart rate tracking algorithms, promising up to 60% more accurate data during intense activities as compared to the predecessor generation. Additionally, the device has the ability to take ECG, heart rate variability, skin temperature variation overnight and there’s the galvanic skin sensor which helps capture more accurate stress data. None of that is available on the Garmin.
In terms of smartwatch features, once again, the Charge 6 takes the lead with its integration of Google Wallet for payments, and YouTube Music controls. These features enhance the Charge 6’s utility beyond fitness, making it a versatile lifestyle device. The Vivosmart 5, while offering basic smart features like notifications, doesn’t match the Charge 6’s range of functionalities.
The Vivosmart 5 does offer one extra. It comes in the form of Incident Detection and Assistance features, enhancing user safety. However, these functions require the proximity of your smartphone to operate effectively. Similarly, the LiveTrack feature, enabling friends and family to monitor your training activities in real time, also depends on smartphone connectivity. Additionally, the Garmin provides superior smartphone music control capabilities compared to the Fitbit.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: Price
In terms of pricing, the Fitbit Charge 6 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 are closely matched, with the Charge 6 priced around $160 and the Vivosmart 5 slightly lower at about $150. Which is a bit surprising considering that Charge 6 offers advanced health tracking and smartwatch features, while the Vivosmart 5 focuses on basic fitness tracking.
One key consideration for potential Fitbit buyers is the optional monthly subscription, Fitbit Premium. This service unlocks comprehensive long-term health statistics and additional features, enhancing the overall utility of the device. In contrast, Garmin offers a more straightforward approach; all features and statistics available on their devices are accessible without any additional subscription, providing a complete experience from the moment of purchase.
Fitbit Charge 6 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: Final thoughts
The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a suitable pick for those already invested in the Garmin product ecosystem. However, when compared to the Fitbit Charge 6, its advantages are limited, making its nearly identical pricing of $150 somewhat surprising, especially considering the frequent discounts available for the Fitbit model.
The Fitbit Charge 6, on the other hand, boasts a more upscale construction, featuring a larger and more legible AMOLED display with an always-on option. It surpasses the Vivosmart 5 with additional health features like skin temperature variation tracking, ECG functionality, heart rate variability and a galvanic skin sensor. Furthermore, it includes built-in GPS and NFC for contactless payments, offering a comprehensive package. While there is an optional subscription for extended features, the base functionalities of the Charge 6 provide substantial value without it.
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