In this article we present a side-by-side comparison of the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2. These smartwatches are recent additions to the smartwatch lineup of two leading wearable tech brands. The first was unveiled in September 2023, the second a year earlier.
Read on as we delve into the nuances of each watch.
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2 represent divergent yet equally compelling visions in the smartwatch market. Vivoactive 5 excels in outdoor and fitness tracking with its comprehensive sensor suite, ability to connect to external heart rate straps and music storage, Meanwhile, the Sense 2 focuses on advanced health monitoring, offering detailed insights into stress and heart health. Priced similarly, the choice comes down to personal lifestyle and health tracking priorities.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Fitbit Sense 2: Hardware
Design & display
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 features a round shape, which gives it a classic watch appearance, blending seamlessly with both casual and formal wear. Its case is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, providing durability while maintaining a lightweight profile. The lens is crafted from Corning Gorilla Glass 3, offering robust protection against scratches and impacts, and the bezel is made of stainless steel, adding a touch of elegance.
In contrast, the Fitbit Sense 2 sports a square shape, aligning more with the contemporary smartwatch design. This shape provides a broader display area, beneficial for interacting with the device’s features. The Sense 2’s case material is a combination of metal and plastic, offering a balance between durability and comfort.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The Vivoactive 5 is equipped with two flat physical buttons, facilitating easy navigation and control. This is particularly important during physical activities where touch screen operation might be challenging. The Fitbit Sense 2, on the other hand, has a single physical button. Which means it emphasizes a more minimalist design approach and relies more on its touchscreen interface for navigation.
Display, colour options, water-resistance
Both watches boast AMOLED displays, known for their vibrant colors and deep blacks, enhancing the overall user experience. The Vivoactive 5 has a slightly smaller screen size at 1.2 inches compared to the Sense 2’s 1.58 inches, which might affect readability and display of information.
As far as colour options, Garmin offers a a choice between Metallic Orchid, Slate, Cream Gold, and Metallic Navy. The Fitbit Sense 2 is available in Carbon/Graphite and Lunar White/Soft Gold, offering a more limited but sophisticated palette.
Both devices boast a water resistance rating of 5 ATM, making them suitable for activities like swimming and showering. This ensures durability in various environments.
Moving quickly on and we dig below the surface.
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2 cater to different aspects of wearable technology through their sensor arrays. The Vivoactive 5 is equipped with a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, and ambient light sensor, making it well-suited for a variety of fitness and outdoor activities. It does not feature an ECG or temperature sensor, focusing instead on general fitness tracking.
In contrast, the Fitbit Sense 2 includes specialized health sensors such as an ECG app for heart rhythm assessment, a temperature sensor for body temperature trends, and an EDA sensor for stress management. These features, along with its standard fitness sensors like the 3-axis accelerometer and optical heart rate monitor, position the Sense 2 as a more health-focused device. The Fitbit also has an altimeter for tracking floors climbed, a feature that is missing from Vivoactive 5.
Both models offer GPS and NFC capabilities, but the Vivoactive 5 stands out with its music storage feature, appealing to users who enjoy entertainment during their activities. This comparison highlights the Vivoactive 5’s strength in diverse activity tracking and the Sense 2’s focus on detailed health monitoring.
Both devices offer GPS connectivity, ensuring accurate tracking of outdoor activities like running, cycling, and hiking. The Vivoactive 5 stands out with its inclusion of GLONASS and GALILEO systems, offering enhanced positioning accuracy, which is particularly beneficial in challenging environments. NFC capabilities are present in both, facilitating contactless payments and adding a layer of convenience to everyday transactions.
A notable distinction is found in music storage capabilities. The Garmin Vivoactive 5 supports onboard music storage, allowing users to store and play their favorite tunes directly from the watch, a feature that is absent in the Fitbit Sense 2.
When it comes to battery life, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2 do not dissapoint. That’s largely due to the streamlined operating systems they run on.
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 conjures up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, which can extend to 21 days in battery saver mode. This longevity is ideal for those who venture on prolonged outdoor activities or prefer less frequent charging. On the other hand, the Fitbit Sense 2 offers up to 6 days of battery life, a respectable duration that supports its advanced health-tracking features without the need for daily charging. While it doesn’t match the Vivoactive 5’s extended life, it provides a balance between functionality and battery endurance.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Fitbit Sense 2: Technical specs
Here’s a detailed comparison table for the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2.
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Fitbit Sense 2
Fiber-reinforced polymer, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 lens, stainless steel bezel
Flexible, durable material with aluminium case and buckle. Optional woven band from polyester
Number of Physical Buttons
42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm
40.5 x 40.5 x 11.2 mm
390 x 390 pixels
336 x 336 pixels
Weight (without strap)
HRM, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, thermometer, ambient light sensor
3-axis accelerometer, Optical heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox, ECG & EDA Scan compatible electrical sensors, altimeter, Ambient light sensor
GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
Up to 11 days (smartwatch mode), 5 days (always-on display), 21 days (Battery Saver Mode), 21 hours (GPS-Only Mode)
Up to 6 days
Metallic orchid, Slate, Cream gold, Metallic navy
Carbon/Graphite, Lunar White/Soft Gold
Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Fitbit Sense 2: Features
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a versatile device, ideal for fitness buffs. It offers a comprehensive suite of features for tracking various activities, including running, swimming, cycling, and more. Its robust build and extensive sensor array make it suitable for rigorous outdoor use. The inclusion of music storage and GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO support enhances its appeal for those who seek a standalone device for fitness and navigation.
The Vivoactive 5 offers a richer array of performance-type statistics, benefiting from Garmin’s extensive experience in developing sports watches. This expertise is evident in the detailed metrics and comprehensive data analysis provided by the device, catering to users who seek in-depth insights into their physical performance. For example, their running or cycling pursuits. The device also has the advantage of being able to connect to external heart rate monitors. This is important for gathering accurate heart rate data at high intensity exercise.
In contrast, the Fitbit Sense 2 is more health-focused, offering detailed insights into the user’s wellness and stress levels. It includes an EDA (Electrodermal Activity) sensor for stress management and an ECG app for heart health, catering to users who are more concerned with their overall wellness. Additionally, the device also spits out skin temperature readings and a floor count. The Sense 2’s health tracking suite is comprehensive, making it a strong contender for those who want in-depth insights into their health metrics.
Both watches offer standard smartwatch features like notifications, NFC for contactless payments, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The Vivoactive 5’s music storage capability allows for phone-free entertainment, which is a significant advantage for users who prefer to leave their phone behind during workouts. The Fitbit Sense 2 only offers smartphone music control. But it compensates with its health-centric features and Fitbit’s renowned app ecosystem.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Fitbit Sense 2: Price
Both retailing at around $300, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2 are competitively priced. For the Vivoactive 5, the price level is justified by its extensive feature set, particularly its robust fitness tracking capabilities and outdoor functionality. The Fitbit Sense offers value through its advanced health monitoring features.
It’s important to note – Fitbit offers an optional Premium Subscription. This provides users with an enhanced experience through additional insights, personalized guidance, and a wider range of health metrics and wellness content. In contrast, Garmin does not offer a similar subscription service, as their devices, including the Vivoactive 5, come with a full suite of features accessible without extra cost. While the Fitbit Premium Subscription can enrich the user experience, it’s important to note that Fitbit’s core functionalities, including detailed health and fitness tracking, are robust and comprehensive even without the subscription.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 vs Fitbit Sense 2: Final thoughts
The Garmin Vivoactive 5 and Fitbit Sense 2, each priced around the $300 mark, stand as testaments to the diverse paths wearable technology can take. The Vivoactive 5, with its robust build, extensive sensor array, ability to connect to external heart rate monitors, and outdoor-oriented features, is an ideal companion for those interested in their athletic pursuits. Its ability to store music and support multiple GPS systems makes it a versatile choice for those who seek a blend of functionality and entertainment in their outdoor pursuits.
On the other hand, the Fitbit Sense 2, with its sleek design and health-centric features, appeals to users who prioritize wellness tracking. Its advanced sensors for stress management and heart health monitoring make it a compelling choice for those who are keen on keeping a close eye on their overall well-being.
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