Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: differences compared

Garmin’s extensive range of sports watches offers a plethora of options, but this abundance can sometimes lead to confusion when trying to pick the right one. In this article, we provide a side-by-side comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5. Launched in June 2021 and September 2023, respectively, these models are designed to meet the needs of different segments within the fitness community.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

This comparison aims to dissect the nuances between these two Garmin models, offering a clear perspective on their functionalities, design, and overall value. Read on to explore the nuances of the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5 and find out which one aligns best with your needs.

Key takeaways

The Garmin Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5 serve different purposes; the former is a runner-focused, cost-effective option, while the latter offers a broader range of health and fitness features with added smartwatch capabilities. Price plays a significant role in differentiating these two models, with the Forerunner 55 positioned as a more budget-friendly option compared to the feature-rich Vivoactive 5.

View on Garmin; View on Amazon (Forerunner 55, Vivoactive 5).

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Technical specs
Bottom line

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: Hardware

Look & feel

Put them side by side and you’ll notice that the Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5 share similarities in design. However, they also exhibit some quite distinct characteristics you should be aware of.

Both watches feature a round shape, maintaining a classic watch aesthetic that appeals to a wide range of users. The Forerunner 55 has a case size of 42 x 42 x 11.6 mm. This is slightly bulkier compared to the Vivoactive 5’s sleeker profile at 42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm. This subtle difference in size might influence the comfort level for users with smaller wrists. Unlike some other Garmin watches, both models are only available in a single size option.

In terms of build quality, the Forerunner 55 opts for a more basic but durable design. Its lens is made of chemically strengthened glass. Both the bezel and case are constructed from fiber-reinforced polymer, offering a lightweight yet sturdy feel. The Vivoactive 5, however, takes a step further in premium build quality. It features a case made of fiber-reinforced polymer, similar to the Forerunner 55. However, it elevates its design with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens and a stainless steel bezel, adding an extra layer of durability and a more refined look.

The physical buttons on these devices also differ. The Forerunner 55 has five physical buttons, providing a tactile and traditional watch experience. In contrast, the Vivoactive 5 simplifies this with just two buttons, leaning towards a more minimalist design approach.

Display, colour options, water resistance

Display technology is an important area where these two models diverge. The Forerunner 55 uses a 1.04 inch sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, which is power-efficient and offers good visibility in various lighting conditions. The Vivoactive 5, however, boasts a 1.2 inch AMOLED display, known for its vibrant colours and deeper blacks, providing a more visually striking experience.

Color options for these watches cater to different tastes. The Forerunner 55 comes in four color variations: Black, White, Monterra Gray and Aqua, offering a range of choices from classic to more playful. The Vivoactive 5, on the other hand, offers more sophisticated color options like Metallic Orchid, Slate, Cream Gold, and Metallic Navy.

Both watches are equipped with 5 ATM water resistance. This feature ensures durability and versatility for users who engage in various water-related activities. It also allows 24/7 wear.

Sensor technology

The Garmin Forerunner 55, it is equipped with fundamental sensors that are essential for fitness tracking. These include an accelerometer for tracking motion and pace, an optical heart rate sensor to monitor heart rate continuously. However, it lacks some of the more advanced sensors found in its counterpart. In terms of GPS connectivity, the Forerunner 55 supports GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO, ensuring accurate tracking of outdoor activities across various global positioning systems. However, it does not feature NFC for contactless payments, nor does it offer music storage capabilities, focusing instead on core fitness tracking functionalities.

On the other hand, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 comes with a more comprehensive suite of sensors. It includes not only an accelerometer and an optical heart rate monitor but also adds a blood oxygen sensor, compass, gyroscope, a thermometer, and an ambient light sensor. These additional sensors provide a more holistic view of one’s health and surroundings. Like the Forerunner 55, it also supports GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO for robust location tracking.

Moreover, the Vivoactive 5 steps up in terms of connectivity and convenience features. It includes NFC for contactless payments. This is a highly convenient feature for users who prefer to leave their wallets at home during workouts. Additionally, it offers music storage capabilities, allowing users to store and play music directly from the watch.

Battery life

The Forerunner 55 boasts a significantly improved battery life. In smartwatch mode, it can last up to two weeks, a notable enhancement from the 45’s one-week capacity. When using GPS, the Forerunner 55’s battery life extends to 20 hours. This makes it a reliable companion for long runs or extensive outdoor activities.

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 matches the Forerunner 55 with up to 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode. However, its battery saver mode takes the lead, offering an impressive 21 days of usage. This extended battery life is particularly beneficial for users who require long-term tracking without frequent charging. The Vivoactive 5 also provides various GPS modes, including a GPS-only GNSS mode that lasts up to 21 hours and an all-systems GNSS mode for up to 17 hours.

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: Technical specs

Here’s a detailed tech specs comparison table for the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Garmin Vivoactive 5:

Garmin Forerunner 55
Garmin Vivoactive 5
Release Date
June 2021
September 2023
Case Material
Lens: Chemically strengthened glass; Bezel and case: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer; Lens: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3; Bezel: Stainless steel
Number of Physical Buttons
42 x 42 x 11.6 mm
42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm
Display Type
Sunlight-visible, transflective MIP
208 x 208 pixels
390 x 390 pixels
Screen Size
1.04 inches
1.2 inches
Weight (without strap)
37 grams
36 grams
Accelerometer, Optical Heart Rate
HRM, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Pulse Ox, Thermometer, Ambient Light Sensor
Built-in Speaker
Music Storage
Bluetooth, ANT+
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Cellular Connectivity
Battery Type
Battery Life
Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days; GPS mode: Up to 20 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days; Always-on display: 5 days; Battery Saver Smartwatch Mode: Up to 21 days; GPS-Only GNSS Mode: Up to 21 hours
Operating System
Garmin OS
Black, White, Aqua, Monterra Gray
Metallic Orchid, Slate, Cream Gold, Metallic Navy
Typical RRP

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: Features

The Forerunner 55 focuses on essential fitness tracking features. It includes sensor technology providing basic yet crucial data for fitness aware. This model excels in running-related metrics, offering pace tracking, distance, and time. Which makes it an ideal choice for those who are primarily focused on running as their main form of exercise. However, it lacks some of the more advanced health monitoring features found in high-end Garmin watches.

On the other hand, the Vivoactive 5 extends its functionality beyond basic fitness tracking. It includes a broader range of sensors which allow for more comprehensive health monitoring. Some of the additions include blood oxygen level tracking, Sleep Score and Insights, nap detection, Health Snapshot, Morning Report, Wheelchair mode and more.

The Vivoactive 5 is also equipped with a variety of workout modes, making it more versatile for different types of exercises beyond running, such as swimming, golf, and yoga. This makes it a more all-encompassing fitness device suitable for users who engage in a variety of physical activities and who are interested in a more detailed understanding of their overall health.

Smartwatch-type features

In terms of smartwatch-type features, both models offer notifications for calls, texts, and apps when connected to a smartphone. However, the Vivoactive 5 goes a step further by including NFC for contactless payments and music storage capabilities, allowing users to make payments and listen to music directly from the watch. These features enhance the overall convenience and usability of the Vivoactive 5, making it not just a fitness tracker but a more comprehensive smartwatch.

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: Price

Regarding pricing, the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5 are positioned at different points in the market. The Forerunner 55, with a typical retail price of around $200, offers great value for runners who need essential tracking features without the frills of a full-fledged smartwatch. The Vivoactive 5, priced at about $300, is positioned as a more premium option. This price difference reflects the additional functionalities and advanced features available in the device.

Garmin Forerunner 55 vs Vivoactive 5: Final thoughts

It’s clear from this comparison that the Garmin Forerunner 55 and Vivoactive 5 cater to distinctly different user needs. The Forerunner 55 is a straightforward, runner-focused device. It offers essential fitness tracking features, making it an ideal choice for those primarily interested in running metrics and basic health monitoring. Its strength lies in its simplicity and focus, providing the necessary tools for runners without overwhelming them with additional features they may not need.

On the other hand, the Vivoactive 5 is a more versatile and feature-rich option. It not only covers a wide range of fitness activities but also offers an AMOLED display versus the MIP of the Forerunner. Its smartwatch capabilities, including NFC and music storage, further enhance its appeal to a broader audience looking for a comprehensive wearable device.

View on Garmin; View on Amazon (Forerunner 55, Vivoactive 5).

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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