It’s all go at Garmin, which has announced updates to the Fenix, Vivomove and Vivoactive trackers in the past week, alongside launching an entirely new smartwatch – the Venu.
While most Garmin watches are tailored towards committed sportspeople, the Vivoactive is a more rounded tracker, offering a fine array of everyday activity stats and an attractive design. It also now has music storage as standard – the Vivoactive 3 had models with and without music – and a PulseOx sensor, which measures your blood oxygen saturation. Garmin is adding this to the majority of its trackers but for the moment it’s largely useless unless you’re at altitude, although it may allow for more in-depth sleep tracking in the future.
The other major new feature on the Vivoactive 4 is far more interesting: guided workouts, which come with animated instructions you can follow on the watch. There are workouts across a range of activities including yoga, Pilates, strength and cardio sessions. You can also create your own workouts in the Garmin Connect app using the animations.
As you’d expect from a Garmin device, the sports tracking is top-notch. The Vivoactive 4 has a built-in GPS and heart rate monitor, as well as 20 modes for tracking different kinds of exercise. It doesn’t offer the detailed training analysis you get on Garmin’s Forerunner or Fenix watches, but the Vivoactive’s native sports tracking beats that offered by Fitbit or Apple.
Garmin has improved the everyday tracking on the watch, bringing in new features like hydration and respiration tracking. You can also follow several different guided breathing sessions, which are designed to help you focus or relax.
The Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes – the standard 4 is 45mm and the 4S is 40mm. The two watches have the same features, but battery life is longer on the 4 at eight days or six hours of GPS plus music, compared with seven days and five hours on the 4S.
That long battery life is what puts the Vivoactive 4 ahead of its closest competitor, the new Garmin Venu. The Venu has all the same features as the Vivoactive plus an AMOLED screen, and the cheapest model costs £299.99. That is close enough to the £239.99/£259.99 for the Vivoactive 4S/4 that we’d expect many people will happily pay the difference to get the far better screen on the Venu, unless they value a longer battery life. The Venu’s screen reduces the battery life to five days, and if you set it to always-on, which the Vivoactive 4’s screen is as standard, you can expect that battery life to drop to more like two days.
The Vivoactive 4 looks a great all-round sports watch with an attractive design – but with the Venu on the market, it has a significant rival from within, as well as the competition from Apple, Fitbit and Android Wear devices. It will go on sale in September.