Garmin has just announced the Vivosmart 5, a fitness band for those who don’t need the hardcore tracking features of its advanced watches. Its predecessor the Vivosmart 4 has been around since 2018.
The new band has several significant improvements, including a much better touchscreen experience, but also loses a key feature that’s useful in a casual tracker. The Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4 do not have GPS and use connected GPS instead. This takes location data from your phone, so if you want a full standalone runner’s watch, you might be better off with another Garmin like the Fenix 7.
Here’s how the two generations of Vivosmart tape differ.
Vivosmart 5 loses number of stairs
Garmin has removed the barometric altimeter from the Vivosmart line. This is used to estimate the number of flights of stairs you climb each day, and is especially useful for those who want passive all-day tracking.
You end up with a tally of steps and stairs, even though you’re climbing mountains rather than floors of buildings.
A bigger screen
The Vivosmart 5 has a much larger screen than the Vivosmart 4. Although slightly longer, it is significantly wider, 10.5mm compared to the Vivosmart 4’s 6.6mm.
This will make touchscreen operation less cumbersome and allow data to sit more comfortably on the screen.
Both screens are monochrome OLEDs, but with the increase in size comes an increase in resolution as well. The Vivosmart 5’s screen has a resolution of 154 x 88 pixels, compared to 128 x 48 in the last generation.
A larger group
A lighter screen comes with a commensurate increase in size, but the Vivosmart 5 is still a small, lightweight strip. It measures 19.5mm wide, compared to 15mm for the Vivosmart 4.
There are two strap sizes available, and using the numbers for the larger, the new Vivosmart 5 weighs just under 10g more. It weighs 26.5g, compared to 17.1g for the Vivosmart 4.
This increase is quite large proportionally, but it doesn’t discourage you from wearing a Vivosmart 5 for its full seven-day life. Both watches are rated for this longevity between charges.
We lose an elevation sensor in the Vivosmart 5, but gain better sleep tracking. The new band will show you a sleep score and sleep information, which in other recent Garmin watches gives you a quick summary of the night, like “long but not restful sleep”, or similar.
This is likely related to another important, largely hidden feature: breath rate tracking.
Deception and Activity Incident Pricing
The Vivosmart 5 also gains a security feature, incident detection during tracked activities. These detect violent movements suggesting, for example, that you have gotten off your bike.
This results in a text message sent to the specified contacts. Such functionality seems more essential in something like the Fenix 7, but it’s nice to have at this lower level.
The Vivosmart 4 and Vivosmart 5 are aimed at similar audiences, people who don’t necessarily need full GPS and a host of tracking modes. And there’s just a slight price hike for this generation.
A Vivosmart 5 costs $149.99, for one of two available strap sizes, compared to $129.99 for the Vivosmart 4.