Recently Fitbit and Garmin announced the latest versions of two of their more popular fitness trackers.  For Fitbit, the Charge 3 was announced and for Garmin the Vivosmart 4 was introduced to us.  These are two similar fitness trackers but there are differences so we’ll be taking a look at what they have to offer and which one might be best for a particular preference or need.

Product render of Fitbit Charge 3, front view, showing clock default

Right off the bat one of the major differences between the Fitbit Charge 3 and the Garmin Vivosmart 4 that might immediately sway your vote is that the Charge 3 supports connected GPS while the Vivosmart 4 doesn’t.  Neither has a built-in GPS but the Charge 3 can use the GPS from your smartphone to get more accurate distance estimates for those outdoor runs, walks, or bike rides.

However, the Vivosmart 4 supports ANT+ connectivity, while the Charge 3 does not, which means that it can connect to external heart rate monitors, like chest heart rate straps.  This is useful for those that do a lot of resistance training, weight lifting, running, or just more intense workouts because the heart rate data will likely be much more accurate for these types of activities than what an optical wrist heart rate sensor is capable of.

For light to moderate intensity workouts, wrist heart rate sensors are usually good enough.  If you do a lot of bike riding, walking, jogging, or other moderately intense activities then the built-in heart rate sensors should do a good job on either device.

Another notable difference, at least at the time I’m writing this, is that the Vivosmart 4 has its’ blood oxygen sensor turned on and this means that blood oxygen levels will be monitored, most importantly during sleep, to possibly detect sleep apnea.  The Vivosmart 4 doesn’t alert you that you might have sleep apnea but rather lets you look over the data and show it to your physician if you feel you should.

The Charge 3 also has a blood oxygen sensor, as does the Fitbit Ionic and Fitbit Versa, but this feature has not been enabled yet on any of these devices as Fitbit awaits FDA approval, I’m assuming.  I’m hoping this feature will be enabled in the near future for the Ionic, Versa, and Charge 3 but there’s no timeline provided by Fitbit just yet.



The rest of the features are quite similar.  They are both suitable for swimming so you can wear them at the beach and in the pool.  Both have a similar design and screen technology.  Both or black and white OLED screens and claim up to 7 days of battery life.

The new Garmin Vivosmart 4

The new Garmin Vivosmart 4

For sizing, the Charge 3 comes with both small and large bands so you don’t have to guess which size you need before ordering.  The Vivosmart 4 is available in small or large.  You’ll just to measure your wrist to order the right one for you.

An important difference is that the strap for the Charge 3 is replaceable while the strap for the Vivoactive 4 is not but Garmin is good about supporting their products.

For Android users, quick replies are available for text message notifications.  For iPhone users, you’ll still get your notifications but won’t be able to respond to them through either tracker.  That’s an Apple thing.

Retail pricing on Fibit’s site for the Charge 3 on Fibit is $149.95 for the regular version and $169.95 for the Special Edition.  (Subject to change) With the special edition you’ll get a woven band and Fitbit Pay is supported.  Pricing, as of the date I’m writing this for the Vivosmart 4 on Garmin’s site is $129.95.

You can pre-order the Charge 3 through Fitbit or through Amazon and the standard version will ship October 1st with the Special Edition shipping November 12th on Amazon.  The Vivosmart can be pre-ordered through Garmin or Amazon and elsewhere and it looks like it will be shipping some time in October.



Below are the specs for both so you can get a better idea what each offers:


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Last Update: September 6, 2018