Valentina Palladino

Garmin created the perfect various to the Apple Watch when it got here out with the Vivoactive three Music. For 2019, has Garmin up to date that gadget with the Vivoactive four collection, which incorporates the 45mm Vivoactive four and the 40mm Vivoactive 4s. Minor modifications accompany equally minor smartwatch software program modifications on this gadget, however that is as a result of new health options steal the present.

Garmin added a ton of health enhancements to this watch, together with optionally available all-day pulse ox measurements, hydration monitoring, new respiratory workouts (that do not suck), new customized exercises, on-screen animations, and extra. Unsurprisingly, all these enhancements add as much as the Vivoactive four’s $349 beginning worth, which is at the least $100 greater than what the Vivoactive three Music goes for these days.

These options add a number of worth and push the Vivoactive four forward of even the Apple Watch by way of health, however I nonetheless have a gentle spot for the Vivoactive three collection—and loads of pleased customers could skip this improve.


I examined the 40mm Vivoactive 4s and instantly seen the newly added sleek-and-shiny touches on the watch’s case. The circumference now has a skinny casing of steel, and the 2 facet buttons are steel as effectively. The Vivoactive 4s contains a further facet button for lap, again, and menu entry, and whereas it took a couple of tries to get adjusted to the brand new enter methodology, I used to be capable of navigate the watch utilizing it, the opposite facet button, and the colour touchscreen pretty simply.

The show itself is a backlit, transflective memory-in-pixel panel, which, compared to LCD panels, makes use of expertise that permits it to devour much less energy. That is one of many components that lets the Vivoactive 4s rise up to seven days of battery life (by Garmin’s estimation). It has primarily the identical high quality as earlier Vivoactive shows, so the watch face is at all times seen, and you will not have bother studying it whereas operating outdoors within the solar.

Whereas acquainted, this show is in stark distinction to the AMOLED panel on the brand new Garmin Venu smartwatch, which was introduced concurrently the Vivoactive four collection. That gadget, nonetheless, begins at $399m due not solely to its AMOLED panel, but additionally for some further options that are not current on Vivoactive four units (hold a watch out for Ars’ evaluation of the Venu within the coming weeks). Because of that large distinction, the Venu will extra carefully evaluate to the Apple Watch Sequence 5.

Garmin Vivoactive four

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Contained in the Vivoactive 4s is a slew of fitness-tracking sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, optical coronary heart fee monitor, onboard GPS/Galileo/GLONASS, pulse ox, compass, and a thermometer. Each the center fee monitor and the GPS have been up to date with new sensors, so they need to be much more correct and extra environment friendly than these in earlier Garmin wearables. There’s additionally cupboard space on the Vivoactive 4s for music, and all Vivoactive four smartwatches have onboard music storage as a typical function. Meaning you will not pay additional for it such as you needed to when Garmin first launched the Vivoactive three Music after the Vivoactive three had been out there for a short while.

Garmin has improved its units considerably over the previous yr or two in relation to music storage. I had a “higher late than by no means” perspective when Garmin lastly added music storage to a few of its wearables, and I used to be pleasantly shocked to see that the desktop interface for transferring tracks wasn’t as horrid as these of different smartwatch makers. Since then, Garmin has added help for downloading tracks and playlists from Deezer, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Amazon Prime Music, so paying subscribers can obtain music to hearken to whereas operating (and utilizing a pair of related Bluetooth headphones) with out their smartphones current.

Total, I would argue Garmin has a greater system for downloading and taking part in music from a smartwatch than Apple does, and subsequently the remainder of the competitors as effectively. Whereas Apple makes it extremely straightforward to choose tracks to sync and play music off of its watches, you are restricted to the music and different audio you could have in your iTunes account and Apple Music (when you subscribe to the latter). It is also very helpful to make use of an LTE-equipped Apple Watch to stream Apple Music playlists whereas understanding. However customers aren’t locked in to 1 ecosystem with Garmin, and I am going to at all times desire that over the choice. Sadly, although, which means we are going to doubtless wait a very long time for Apple Music integration to reach on Garmin smartwatches—if it ever occurs in any respect.

New software program
All-day pulse ox

There are a number of new health options on the Vivoactive 4s, however let’s begin off by speaking about one which immediately impacts battery life: optionally available all-day pulse ox. The SpO2 sensor contained in the Vivoactive 4s permits it to measure the extent of oxygen in your blood based mostly off of coronary heart fee and respiratory knowledge it collects. Most wholesome folks will see a pulse ox share near 100 within the Garmin Join app after the SpO2 sensors collect sufficient knowledge, however percentages dramatically decrease than that would sign well being issues. Like most client wearables in the marketplace at this time, the Vivoactive 4s is not a medical gadget, however it will possibly seize helpful data that customers can share with their docs who can then resolve if there’s an issue that must be addressed.

On earlier Garmin units just like the Vivosmart four, pulse ox may very well be measured on the fly by customers or enabled throughout sleep to seize extra knowledge over the course of the night time. Now, you possibly can allow continued pulse ox measurements all day lengthy, and the Vivoactive four will periodically take readings all through the day.

However this fixed monitoring will dramatically cut back battery life, and until you could have a identified drawback along with your blood oxygen ranges that you just wish to monitor in a brand new means, I would not suggest it. For the primary few days of testing the Vivoactive 4s, I enabled pulse ox throughout sleep, and I acquired roughly 4 days and 4 nights of battery life out of the smartwatch. That is slightly greater than half of Garmin’s estimated battery life for the gadget in smartwatch mode (as much as seven days). It is nonetheless an excellent battery life for a wearable by regular requirements, however you’ll have to cost the Vivoactive 4s about twice every week when you select to allow pulse ox whereas sleeping.

I nonetheless consider pulse ox data is not mandatory for many customers, nevertheless it’s encouraging to see Garmin embody an SpO2 sensor in almost all of its new wearables and truly use it. Fitbit has been touting the SpO2 sensor present in nearly all of its wearables launched for the reason that Ionic, however the sensor is not lively in any Fitbit units—and there is no telling when Fitbit will put it to make use of.


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