If there’s one company that has managed to keep up with Fitbit when it comes to fitness trackers and other wearables, it’s Garmin. We’ve already seen some great Garmin smartwatches released over the past few months, but the latest addition to the fitness tracking lineup is coming with the Garmin Vivosmart 5.
When you consider that Vivosmart 4 was released throughout 2018, we say that the arrival of Vivosmart 5 is long overdue. But rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Garmin is “playing it safe” by offering a very similar design, with just enough changes meant to make old Garmin fans happy with the upgrade.
Those who are trying to avoid the smartwatch trend entirely and just want one of the best fitness trackers have plenty of options to choose from. While the Vivosmart 4 has slipped to the bottom of the list, after the launch of the Fitbit Charge 5, there is little reason to believe that the Vivosmart 5 will not restart the charts directly. But what makes this so interesting, at least from my point of view, is that Garmin’s latest fitness tracker has completely changed the way I think about wearables.
Garmin Vivosmart 5: Price and Availability
The Vivosmart 5 was announced in April 2022, and was immediately available to order. There are many different band colors available, and the Vivosmart 5 is priced at $150, which makes it directly competitive with the Fitbit Charge 5. You can buy the Vivosmart 5 from Garmin, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Kohl’s, and others. major retailers.
Garmin Vivosmart 5: What’s Good
One of the Vivosmart 4’s primary complaints was the screen and the capacitive button located under it. Garmin addressed both of these issues with the Vivosmart 5, where you’ll now find a touch button raised above the screen, providing an easier solution to interacting with Garmin on the go. The touchscreen display has also been increased, and while it’s the same height as its predecessor, it’s about 10mm wider, providing more information on the screen.
Garmin has also chosen to change things up for its user base, as much as possible finally Swapping gangs. With previous iterations, you were limited to choosing a color when you purchased the Vivosmart 4, and you weren’t able to change things up after the fact. With the Vivosmart 5, the fitness tracker can actually be removed entirely from its silicone bracelet, and Garmin has started offering replacement straps if you want something a little different.
These were the two biggest changes to Garmin’s latest fitness tracker, and both were decisions Garmin often had to make if it wanted to keep up with Fitbit. But there’s also a lot more to it than the Vivosmart 5 does, in addition to the big screen and interchangeable bands.
|category||Garmin Vivosmart 5|
|an offer||0.41 x 0.73 inches / 88 x 154 pixels / OLED|
|water resistant||5 atm (swimming)|
|Dimensions||Small / Medium: 19.5 x 10.7 x 217 mm / Large: 19.5 x 10.7 x 255 mm|
|Weight||Small / Medium: 24.5g / Large: 26.5g|
|memory / history||7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data|
|Battery life||up to 7 days|
|sensors||Heart rate, SpO2, accelerometer, ambient light, ox pulse|
|GPS on board||❌ (Online only)|
|Connection||Smart Bluetooth and ANT +|
|Colors||Black, white, cool mint|
Unlike my colleague Michael Hicks, I am not a runner, nor do I train for any kind of marathon. But I still love using smartwatches and fitness trackers to monitor things like heart rate, sleep tracking, and subtle reminders to stop sitting in front of my computer for too long. Oh, and being able to see notifications coming through my phone is a really nice touch.
If you’re concerned about Garmin dropping any of its major (or even minor) health tracking features, you’ll be glad to know that’s not the case here. Once you take a look at the spec sheet for the Vivosmart 5, you might end up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of fitness and health tracking features that are packed into this little wearable. These include heart rate, SpO2, stress monitoring, exercise tracking, and much more.
And while it’s great that all of these metrics can be tracked, what’s even more impressive is the companion Garmin Connect app. All of your information is laid out in a way that makes it easy to distinguish one area from another, while also letting you dive deeper into each option.
One example is the body’s battery function, which tells you how much energy is drained throughout the day. It also provides a good indication of how well you slept in an effort to tell you whether you should take things easy or push yourself. There is a “daily timeline” graph that provides measurements throughout the day, with clear indications of when your stress levels have risen, providing an overview of the last day, the last seven days, or the last four weeks.
Moving on to the device itself, the band you get with the Vivosmart 5 is honestly my favorite fitness tracker band I’ve used in recent memory. It is soft to touch and does not cause any irritation on my wrist. But there’s also a slit in the back of the bracelet to help keep it from sliding out of place throughout the day.
Moving from an Apple Watch Series 7 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic to a Vivosmart 5 originally made me feel like I’d hate everything about it. Not that I didn’t want to use a fitness tracker, but being able to view notifications in a jiffy felt like it was impossible at first. But over time, I’ve already learned that I don’t need to see a full preview of the notification before I decide if I need to take my phone out of my pocket.
Instead, it changed the way I think about notifications and wearables in general. Honestly, the Vivosmart 5 eased my need to always feel connected to everything and anything dramatically. Now, I can tell when a notification is coming and who it is from, before I decide whether or not I need to respond right away. Of course, not everyone will feel the same way as I do, but it was definitely worth noting, as there are some other fitness trackers that try to put a lot of information on the screen despite the smaller screen size.
Garmin Vivosmart 5: What’s Not Good
One major feature missing from the Vivosmart 5 that might make you look elsewhere is the lack of a GPS chip. Technically, Garmin can use your phone’s built-in GPS (Garmin calls it connected GPS), but if you want to leave your smartphone behind and track your path, you’ll be a little disappointed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the connected GPS functionality, but it will put a further drain on Garmin’s battery life.
This is directly related to my other issue with the Vivosmart 5, where the battery life is not as much as I would have liked. I have tried resetting the tracker completely and even pairing it with a different phone but I still can’t get it out for more than a couple of days. This is probably the only model I’ve received from Garmin, as I’ve seen others claim they get five or more days off on a single charge. And honestly, that’s not a huge issue for me, considering both the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic need to be charged on an almost daily basis. But it appears your mileage may vary when it comes to battery life.
Speaking of extra links, I really hope we stay away from this proprietary-enforcement nonsense. It wasn’t fun five years ago, and it still isn’t fun now. I’d like Garmin to make it possible to charge any of its best wearables using the Qi standard instead of forcing users to rely on the oddly shaped charging cable. This isn’t geared toward Garmin specifically but it’s a frustration I have with the market in general.
Garmin Vivosmart 5: Competition
Even if Garmin doesn’t price the Vivosmart 5 at $150, the closest competition would be the Fitbit Charge 5. But given that both fitness trackers come at the same price, that’s the direct competition. There in this space.
Both have more health tracking features and sensors than you can get away with. Both can be customized with different watch faces and watch straps, but there are many reasons why you might want to choose one over the other. But Fitbit is a bit ahead with its own built-in GPS chip, rather than having to rely on your smartphone for tracking.
Fitbit’s Charge 5 uses a colorful and vibrant OLED display, while the Vivosmart 5 uses a monochrome OLED display. And with Fitbit offering a larger screen, that means there’s more information to see at a glance, as opposed to Garmin’s screen feeling too small to actually be useful.
Garmin Vivosmart 5: Should You Buy It?
You should buy this if…
- Want to upgrade from Vivosmart 4
- You don’t want a traditional smartwatch
- Want to track practically every health and fitness metric imaginable in a wearable
- Want a fitness tracker that’s comfortable to wear
You should not buy this if…
- Want a fitness tracker with built-in GPS
- You want the best possible battery life
- Want a bigger screen
The answer to the question of whether you should buy a Garmin Vivosmart 5 is always subjective. But if you’re tired of the state of the smartwatch market and want to try something else, the Vivosmart 5 is a great place to start. It’s competitively priced, offers plenty of health and fitness tracking sensors, and the Garmin Connect app is simply great.
You’ll miss the built-in GPS, which can be a bit frustrating for some. And you won’t find an NFC chip, but it probably won’t be a big deal anyway. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Garmin’s latest fitness tracker, and I bet you will too.
Garmin Vivosmart 5
Incredibly simple, yet rich in features
The Garmin Vivosmart 5 surprised me during my time with it. For what appears to be a basic fitness tracker on the outside, Garmin has packed a lot of smarts into a lightweight, convenient package. Unless you really need (or want) a GPS on the plane, this is the fitness tracker to get.