Garmin Vivosport Review: Better than the other Vivo Fitness Watches?

garmin vivosport review

At a Glance: Quick Ratings

A Deep Dive Into The Garmin Vivosport

After just 4 days of testing the Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker, it was apparent this was going to be the Best on the Test.
The Garmin Vivosport is the one that Polar, Fitbit, Mio, etc will use as their benchmark for excellence in [year]. Sleek, light, discrete with built-in GPS, wrist-based heart rate, VO2 Max, Stress Testing, and much more.
This Garmin Vivosport review has been prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.

Who Is It For?

The predecessor of the Vivosport was the Vivosmart HR+.
I still hold that product in high esteem and it’s certainly worth considering if you want something under £100 / $130. Garmin is at the forefront of fitness tracker design and innovation.
As a professional tester of Garmin’s watches, it’s actually quite hard finding superlatives for their continuous stream of superb products.

The Vivosport is the pinnacle of Garmin’s hard work. Simply put, it’s the fitness tracker that all other fitness trackers want to grow up to be

The Vivosport takes the VivosmartHR+ and adds some very exciting new features like a color display, Stress Testing, and VO2 Max prediction.
The Vivosport is for anyone who wants to monitor their daily activity levels but also wants to track sporting performance when running, hiking, at the gym or cycling.
The built-in GPS makes it a better option than those fit-bands that share the GPS with your phone (Eg. the Fitbit Charge 2 or Polar A370.)

The new Garmin Vivosport is a combination of everything good from the​Garmin Vivosmart 3 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR+.
Essentially it’s a smart fitness tracker equipped with built-in GPS, wrist-based heart rate utilizing Garmin Elevate, and a bright full-color Garmin Chroma display.
With a 7-day battery life in smartwatch mode and the ability to support 8 hours of GPS training, it shouldn’t spend too much time on the charger.
The ANT+ heart rate broadcast feature makes the Vivosport the perfect fitness tracker for customers with a Garmin Edge or other similar GPS bike computers (ANT+ HR compatible).

Sizing >  I have quite small wrists, 17.5cm circumference, and I was testing the Large unit. I’d personally have selected an S-M version. Please use a tape measure to check the circumference around your wrist and buy accordingly.
Small-Medium suitable for 120mm to 190mm
Large suitable for 150mm to 210mm

Video Review

Watch my video review below – a 20-minute video demonstration, in-depth product walkthrough. The aim of my videos is to give the viewer a genuine feel for the product as if it were on their own wrist. In this video, I walk you through the main home screen, settings, and exercise mode.

Main Features and Functions

The list of features found on the Vivosport will send a shiver down the spine of the developers of other fitness trackers.
Everything about it exudes quality and an obvious desire to give the customer what they’ve been asking for. It is quite clear that Garmin’s marketing department has been attentively listening to feedback on forums and such.
The Vivosport really will be the fitness tracker that all other brands aspire to well in to [year]

Key Features

  • 7-day battery life in smartphone connected mode – 8 hours GPS life
  • ULTRA slim (no uncomfortable HR sensor bubble like the Vivosmart HR)
  • Garmin Chromo full-colour display – brilliant in bright/direct sunlight
  • Built-in sports apps including running, cycling, cardio training, strength training & hiking
  • SWIM proof (30m water-resistant)
  • Built-in GPS
  • Garmin Elevate LED Heart Rate sensors (no chest strap required)
  • Optimized for both indoor and outdoor exercise modes
  • 24/7 heart rate tracking giving access to VO2 Max Fitness testing, all day Stress Testing
  • Four-Fold Breath – a breathing & relaxation function similar to that found in Fitbit Charge 2, Blaze etc
  • Garmin Move IQ automatically classifies popular sports then adds them to Garmin Connect
  • Smartphone notifications and alerts
  • Heart Rate Broadcast mode – turn on to send your exercising HR to ANT+ compatible devices eg Garmin Edge

Achieve your Daily Fitness Goal

Setting an achievable yet challenging daily activity goal is easy with the Vivosport. Just trust the Garmin Connect App to set your goals automatically.

If you want to override the auto goals, no problem, you can manually set your activity goal from the app.
Related Article: Garmin Vivofit 3 Review, User-Friendly Activity Tracker?

Full Colour Garmin Chromo display

As can be seen from the image ABOVE, the Garmin Vivosport’s color display is bright and easy to read even in the brightest direct sunlight.
When running/exercising outside the Vivosport’s display is super bright and clear.
Unlike competitors’ OLED monochrome displays the Vivosport actually gets easier to read the brighter the sunlight.
When training in low light conditions the automatic gesture activated backlight illuminates the display for easy reading

Accurate Heart Rate and GPS speed/pace feedback

The Garmin Elevate LED heart rate sensors have been available on their sports watches since the Forerunner 235 in 2015.
In the last few years, Garmin has made its heart rate sensors better and better.
It won’t be long until we don’t worry about comparing the heart rate accuracy of these sensors to a traditional chest strap sensor – they are getting better all the time. The built-in GPS provides accurate feedback on your speed/pace for any outdoor sport.

Heart Rate Accuracy

I have now tested the Vivosport for 4 days. In that time I have run 5k, cycled 20 miles, and performed 2 x indoor training sessions.
For each session, I wore a chest strap sensor connected to a Polar M400 for comparison to the heart rate acquired from the Vivosport.
I won’t bog you down with stats and graphs but I will state that I experienced ZERO dropouts or other erratic heart rate data.
The graph below is from a progressive 5 km run. The aim of this style of running is to run each kilo faster than the previous one.
The graph clearly shows the progressive increase in heart rate throughout with ZERO errors, spikes, or dropouts.

Personal Records for Running, Cycling, etc

Keeping track of your running and cycling PR’s is easy. The Vivosport will tell you at the end of a run or bike ride if you’ve achieved any new personal records.

This was my first outing with the Vivosport so it recorded PR’s in 1 mile, 1 km, and 5k.
Related Article: Garmin Forerunner 35, the PERFECT sports watch for running?

Ultra Slim design

Aside from the monochrome display and some other new fitness features, a key improvement of the Vivosport over its predecessor, the Vivosmart HR+ is its discrete, slim, low profile design.
There’s no uncomfortable heart rate protrusion, it’s barely noticeable.
The Vivosport fits comfortably on the wrist with no rubbing or chaffing (something some customers of the Vivosmart HR+ complained of)

Garmin Fitness Age and VO2 Max

Following an intense exercise session, the Vivosport provides feedback on your predicted VO2 Max fitness score.
It’s an automatic test that is performed each time you exercise, alternatively, you can re-test your VO2 Max at any time by re-running the test.
The result shown below followed a sub 24 minute 5k run. The VO2 Max score of 54 correlates well with other similar tests I have performed on Polar products and Garmin Forerunner / Fenix watches.

>>Looking for the perfect alternative for a running/sports watch? Check out the Garmin Forerunner 920XT, read it here!<<

Smartphone Notifications and Alerts

Smartphone notifications are a feature that I rarely get excited about, I find them often too intrusive especially when training. However, what Garmin do exceptionally well is allow the user to set which apps and phone features have notification permission.

Post Training Data Review

The level of feedback from the Garmin Connect app and website is second to none.
The screen captures below were all taken from my first 5k run with the Garmin Vivosport. The Connect app gives access to speed, pace, distance, elevation, heart rate, laps (automatic or manual), map of the route and much more.

Graphical Presentations – Pace / HR / Cadence & Elevation

For even more details it is possible to view graphical presentations of key training metrics such as pace (or speed when cycling) heart rate, cadence (running strides per minute) and elevation

Garmin Vivosport Marketing Video

“Work out how you want, where you want with vívosport. Featuring built-in GPS and a selection of indoor and outdoor activity apps, you can take your game on the go. Or not. The choice is entirely yours”

Top Alternatives

Next Model UP

The model up from this one would be something from their range of FULL-size sports watches, either from the Forerunner range or one of the Vivoactive watches. The new Vivoactive 3 or it’s predecessor the Vivoactive HR offer very similar functionality on a full-sized platform. Both provide feedback on swimming (pool or open water) something the Vivosport does not support. Garmin Vivoactive 3 review – traditional watch style – Garmin Connect IQ app support.

Next Model DOWN

The models below the Vivosport are it’s predecessors the Vivosmart HR+ and the Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker (Review here). The “+” denotes the model with built-in GPS. These models can be found online at a great price and are still highly recommended. Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review – GPS & wrist-based HR – monochrome OLED display (predecessor to Vivosport)

Competitors Alternatives?

I’ll be as frank and honest as I can be here. The Vivosport is BETTER than all the other fitness trackers listed below. It’s sleeker, functionally superior and has the brightest, clearest display, especially in direct bright sunlight.Polar A360 review – No GPS, color display – stylish fitness tracker with sporty biasFitbit Charge 2 review – Wrist-based heart rate but no GPS – aimed at general fitness

Review Summary

I’ll quote on of my opening remarks to summarize the Garmin Vivosport

The Vivosport is the pinnacle of Garmin’s hard work. Simply put, it’s the fitness tracker that all other fitness trackers want to grow up to be …

It’s quite simply brilliant. It’s technical enough for a majority of keen runners including competitive club runners. It’s simple to use and features all the essential activity tracking features necessary to motivate and inspire you to a fitter better person.
The Heart Rate broadcast features make it an excellent partner for those with Garmin Edge cycling computers. Your heart rate can be broadcast to your Edge unit so goodbye chest strap.
There is no other rating other than a gold-plated 5 Star that we could give the Garmin Vivosport in our Review.
Related Article: Garmin Vivomove HR Review, simple and elegant!

Features & Functions Tables

Garmin Vivosport General Features / Specification

Activity Tracking – steps, floors, calories, etc

Training, Heart Rate, Running & Cycling

Clock/ Sensors and Smart Features

* features & functionality tables courtesy of

External References

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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