Garmin Vivoactive Review

vivoactive review

At a Glance: Quick Ratings

Heart Rate Functions


Fitness / Sport Features


Ease of Use


Battery Life


Where To Get It

A Deep Dive Into The Garmin Vivoactive

>> REPLACED by Vivoactive HR, however, I still rate this model and consider it a competent GPS sports watch with Garmin Connect IQ support. This model is, in my opinion, a smarter looking time piece.

If you think the wrist based heart rate functionality of the Vivoactive HR is worth the extra money and drop in style, then get the replacement model.

If you’re happy to wear a chest strap for heart rate monitoring (still the most accurate method of HR acquisition) then stick with this model.

  • Who Is It For?

  • Video Review

The Vivoactive is for the use who likes the idea of an all day “smartwatch”. Encompassing the activity monitoring metrics of the Vivofit and Vivosmart with the additional advantage of an integrated GPS for running, cycling speed and distance PLUS smart connectivity to your smartphone giving access to call, email and text notifications. The Vivoactive has been designed for people interested in any or all of the following sports.

  • Swimming – counts lengths, swim speed and SWOLF (swim efficiency)
  • Golf – access to over 38,00 Golf Course maps !
  • Running – access to all essential run parameters including pace, distance. Also features auto lap, intervals and autopause. An internal accelerometer will even give speed and distance data when GPS signal is not available and you are running indoors or on a treadmill
  • Cycling – just like a regular bike computer the Vivoactive can measure ride time, distance, speed and calories. It is also compatible with optional sensors to give speed (without GPS, saving battery life), pedal cadence and heart rate
  • Walking – motivate yourself by monitoring distance and steps taken
  • iOs and Android Compatible
  • 3 Week battery life

It can come with or without a chest strap heart rate sensor adding accurate calorie burn data to your training sessions.

A True MultiSport Smartwatch

For around £200 you are getting about 7 products in one here. The Vivoactive is a great package and something that a huge percentage of the population could benefit from. What you are getting in the Vivoactive is the following:

  1. An Activity Monitor
    • Step Counter
    • Move Bar to display your level of activity throughout the day
    • Activity Alerts – reminding you to move if you have been stationary too long
    • Sleep Monitor
    • Auto Goal setting. Just like the Vivofit and Vivosmart the Vivoactive will automatically set your daily activity goal to an ACHIEVABLE level. As your daily movements and activities increase, it will raise your daily goal
  2. Heart Rate Monitor
    • A heart rate monitor is still the very best way to measure your training intensity whether riding in the Tour De France or doing your local ParkRun
  3. Smartwatch
    • A smartwatch is a piece of wearable tech that connects to your smartphone. Certain data and notifications can be passed from the phone to the watch including weather forecasts, incoming call, text and email alerts and more
    • The Vivoactive can also control the volume of your music in your smartphone device (Android or iOs supported)
  4. Bike Computer
    • Cycling Speed, Distance and time. Also optional support of pedal cadence and heart rate
  5. GPS Runners Watch
    • Pace, Distance, Time and Speed
    • Auto Lap alerts
    • Training Zone control (pace alerts)
    • Optional foot pod and heart rate monitor support
    • Internal accelerometer to give running performance when indoors
  6. Swim Watch
    • Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories)
  7. Golf Watch
    • Measures shot distance (calculates exact yardage for shots from anywhere on course)
    • Yardage to F/M/B (distance to front, middle and back of green)
    • Yardage to layups/doglegs
    • Download course data from 38,000 golf courses

Best Feature

It’s hard to say the best feature on such a brilliant product, but it’s probably the 3 week battery life and the ability to support both iOs (iPhones) and Android phones. Most SMARTWATCHES will support EITHER iOs or Android. The Vivoactive does both.

Vivoactive Image Gallery

Vivoactive HomescreenVivoactive with Weather appGarmin Vivoactive smartwatch / activity monitorThe Vivoactive in step counting mode

Smartwatch Notifications Explained

In this short video the team at Garmin give a clear explanation of how the Vivoactive interfaces with your iOs / Android device to push diary, email, text and phone call notification. Having an alert on your wrist to an emergency phone call from home or a text from your bike buddies telling you the meeting venue has changed can be very useful.

Top Alternatives

Next Model UP

The model above this is the Garmin Vivoactive HR. Personally I prefer the design of this watch, but for added functionality the Vivoactive HR get Garmin’s Elevate wrist based heart rate sensor.

If you want the convenience of strapless heart rate monitoring, then please consider the HR version. If you are happy to wear the chest strap for heart rate monitoring, then the Vivoactive is still a great watch.

If you’re looking for FULL ON wearable tech smartwatch functionality then we’d suggest the Polar M600 powered by Android Wear.

Next Model UP

If you want an activity tracker, but want to spend £100 or less, then please consider the Garmin Vivosmart.

It’s definitely not a smartwatch, but it still gives text, email and call alerts, acts as an activity tracker and time of day watch for 24/7 monitoring.

If you want a little more wearable tech functionality then I’d suggest the Vivosmart HR with weather forecasts, music control and smartphone alerts for texts and incoming calls.

Review Summary

Specification from Garmin’s Website

GPS Smartwatch for the Active Lifestyle

  • Ultra-thin GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution colour touchscreen
  • Built-in sports apps, including GPS-enabled running, biking and golfing plus swimming and activity tracking, let you view your stats even when away from your phone
  • Pairs with your smartphone to gently vibrate and display alerts for incoming calls, texts, emails and calendar items plus notifications from social media and other mobile apps
  • Customise with free watch face designs, widgets and apps from our Connect IQ™ store
  • Battery charge lasts through all your activities with up to 3 weeks in watch/activity tracking mode or up to 10 hours using GPS

From the company that has been developing robust, dedicated wearable technology to improve training metrics for athletes for more than a decade comes the GPS smartwatch for the active lifestyle. Introducing vívoactive — the ultra-thin, lightweight smartwatch with built-in Garmin sports apps that you can wear every day to help you keep a healthy balance between work and life.

From Work to Workout

Play harder, work smarter, live better with vívoactive. Built-in sports apps keep you active while smart notifications allow you to stay in contact with pressing work matters — all so you can keep your life in balance. The high-resolution, colour touchscreen stays readable in direct sunlight, so you can view your stats when you step out of the office for a run. The ultra-thin profile — 8 mm — is comfortable to wear all day and can easily transition from office to golf course. You won’t have to worry about vívoactive keeping up with your active days. The rechargeable battery lasts through all your activities with up to 3 weeks in watch/activity-tracking mode or up to 10 hours using GPS.

Built In Sports Apps

vívoactive features built-in sports apps that track your stats — even when away from your phone. Simply tap to choose among GPS-enabled running, golfing and cycling apps plus swimming and activity tracking.

Great for Runners

Whether you’re training for a 5K or just for life in general, the running app uses GPS to capture essential running data such as distance and pace. A built-in accelerometer and wrist-based speed and cadence trackers eliminate the need for a separate foot pod when running on an indoor track or treadmill and also when GPS is unavailable. You can set up vibration alerts for heart rate¹, pace and run/walk intervals. Other training features include Auto Lap® and Auto Pause®. Automatic sync with Garmin Connect™ Mobile gives you a post-run summary, including calories burned and if you scored any personal records, such as your fastest or longest run to date.

Ready, Steady Pedal

The GPS-enabled cycling app measures time, distance, speed and calories. Compatible with sensors² such as speed, cadence and heart rate monitors to measure your progress on training rides as well as daily commutes.

Ready for a quick 18

Pair with your smartphone³ to download course maps from our golf course database — with more than 38,000 courses worldwide — to play favorite and new courses. The golfing app keeps maps updated and tallies hole number and par. GPS measures layup and dogleg distances, as well as distances to the front, middle and back of the green, to improve usability over the entire hole. Individual stroke play scorecard lets you see if you’re under or over par. Measure shot distance at the press of a button. Round timer counts up time on the course, while the built-in accelerometer tracks your steps.

In the Pool

Auto Length accelerometer-based technology automatically gauges total and interval distance; laps; calories burned; session average, interval and length pace; and stroke count, including number of strokes per length and interval and session averages. Let the swimming app calculate your efficiency with swolf, which adds the time and the number of strokes it takes to swim a pool length. View your time and interval distance at a glance. Interval Count lets you seamlessly pause and then resume your workout.

The thin profile cuts through the water, and its 5 ATM water rating means you can swim, sweat and shower with it on, worry-free.

Count those steps

vívoactive follows your progress even when you’re not engaged in a specific activity. The activity tracking app tracks your steps to learn your current activity level, then assigns an attainable daily step count goal. As you meet your milestones, the device will adjust your goal for the next day. The red move bar appears on the display after 1 hour of inactivity and builds when you’ve been sitting too long. Just walk for a couple of minutes to reset the move bar. Set the sleep mode when you go to bed and vívoactive will monitor your rest. It also tracks your calories burned.

Smart Connectivity

vívoactive gently vibrates to alert you to all the same notifications you receive on your compatible Bluetooth-enabled device4. Receive caller ID and missed call information for incoming calls. Text messages include sender information and message. Email messages come with sender and subject. vívoactive also displays notifications from Facebook®, Twitter® and other social media platforms, as well as other mobile apps, including weather alerts and temperature. Simply touch and swipe the screen to read more, or clear the screen with the press of a button.

Custom Apps and Watch Faces

Personalise vívoactive with free downloads from our Connect IQ store. You can customise your watch face, add data fields and get apps and widgets that provide information at a glance.

Vivoactive Homepage options


Challenge Yourself

Stay up to date on your progress for each of the built-in activities with automatic syncs with Garmin Connect Mobile. You can earn virtual badges for extra motivation, join online challenges and connect, compete and compare with friends and family around the world. View your history and stats right on the smartwatch.

Show Your True Colours

vívoactive comes in basic black or bright white to coordinate with your philosophy of style. Swap out additional bands to show your true colours, or dress it up with a leather option in black or white.

Optional coloured straps to personalise your Garmin Smartwatch

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt has been a tech geek for as long as he can remember. Whether it's laptops, cameras, or projects, he's obsessed with it all. When he's not researching the latest tech products, he likes to go on long hikes with his dogs.

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