Brand new in the fall, or almost fall of 2019, is the Garmin Vivoactive 4. It comes in two different sizes. The diameter of the Vivoactive 4 is 45 mm and the 4s is 40 mm. There’s no differences between the two besides size. You’ll find the same features on both though the larger version may have a little better battery life but both promise about a week’s worth of battery which is pretty good.

I don’t do unboxing videos of products as I receive them but I wish I did when I received the Vivoactive 4s because I could have shared my surprised reaction. Usually, it’s a very routine experience because I know what to expect from most products but I wasn’t expecting such a nice look and nice weight to the 4s. I was expecting a plasticy feeling super lightweight watch that felt kinda cheap, well, at least in comparison to the Garmin Fenix.

But that’s not how the 4s feels at all. It’s not heavy by any means but it doesn’t feel cheap and it shouldn’t considering it cost over $300. So, I was very happy with my first impressions. This is a watch that I’d want to wear on a daily basis. It’s fancy enough for just about any occasion but also ready for the gym.

Vivoactive 4s unboxing
Vivoactive 4s Unboxing

I chose the white version with the rose gold accents. It’s also available in other colors including black, dust rose with light gold accents, and powder gray and silver. The metal bezel and buttons are stainless steel.

There’s now two buttons on the Vivoactive instead of just one which I appreciate. Actually, I prefer the 5-button setup of the Fenix and Forerunner models. I can do without touchscreen for a fitness watch but two buttons are better than one.

Vivoactive 4s buttons
Vivoactive 4s Buttons

The screen is the usual transflective display that most Garmin watches have and so far I’m not super impressed with the responsiveness of it. I think the screen of the Vivoactive 3 Music was more responsive. This makes me wonder if I would prefer the new Garmin Venu which is pretty much the Vivoactive 4 but with an OLED screen.



Now I’m really tempted to test the Vivoactive for a while, send it back, and get the Venu and see if the screen makes a difference. It’s early. We’ll see.

Setting up the watch on my iPhone XR using the Garmin Connect app was a breeze. It went very smoothly and quickly. Syncing has been quick and reliable and notifications are coming through as they should. No connectivity issues so far.

In my first quick little GPS test, it connected fairly quickly considering I was standing beneath a large tree and it didn’t do too bad throughout the rest of the test.

One thing that concerned me is that my heart rate was measured too high early in the activity and then settled down to a more reasonable number after about a minute or so. Hopefully, this was just a fluke. So, come back for more in-depth testing results on the heart rate sensor.

9/13/2019 UPDATE: I did a second test and it went much better. GPS connected quickly as before and the heart rate was much more accurate, so this is encouraging.

Also, the automatic workout detection worked today. You can set the watch up through the Garmin Connect app to automatically detect workouts, like walking or running. It detected a 5-minute walk like a champ.


Back of the Vivoactive 4s
Back of the Vivoactive 4s

New to the Vivoactive 4 is Pulse Ox which measures blood oxygen. I first experienced this with the Forerunner 245 Music. Breathing rate, or respiration, is also now measured. You’ll find Garmin’s Body Battery equipped on the watch which lets you know how much energy you’ve gained or lose by working out or resting. Advanced sleep tracking is supported with the Pulse Ox sensor. Hydration is now supported on the Vivoactive. You can manually enter in how many cups of water you drink throughout the day, similar to Fitbit.

20 mm quick release silicone strap
20 mm quick release silicone strap

Also new are animated workouts which I’m eager to try out once a muscle strain heals itself. Oh, it stinks to get old. There are animated on-screen workouts for yoga, pilates, and more that show you proper form and technique which I think is helpful. These are workouts that you usually don’t need a gym for and a very effective at building strength.

I’m going to try to get this review out fairly quickly because I know many people are interested in the Vivoactive 4 and 4s and will be comparing it against the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 which is coming late September. The Fitbit Versa 2 will be available next week which is another close contender to the Vivoactive series.

It’s no coincidence that all these watches are being released at nearly the same time. You might have noticed the Apple Watch Series 5 was also just unveiled. The Vivoactive, Versa, Galaxy Active, and Apple Watch are the most popular fitness tracker/smartwatches today and compete heavily against each other and you’ll probably want to do a little research if you’re trying to decide which one is right for you.

Vivoactive 4s on the wrist with that transflective display that is perfect for outdoors. Just wish the black bezel was smaller.

But back to the Vivoactive 4s. My first impressions are that it’s a good looking watch, especially the color combination I chose. Of course, that might be personal preference but I think a lot of people will like the look and size of the watch.

I could live with a little less of the black bezel on the display and more screen because the diameter of the watch case itself is perfect on my wrist. If the screen went edge to edge it would be much more ideal. I’ll let you know if the small screen causes any issues. So far it hasn’t.

Anyway, check back in a few days. I’ll have in-depth tests of the GPS and heart rate sensor uploaded and then the full review will soon follow.

You can check out the Vivoactive 4s on Amazon.

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Last Update: September 15, 2019