Category Archives: Garmin vivoactive HR

Garmin vivoactive vs vivoactive HR

A comparison chart of product features and specifications between Garmin vivoactive and vivoactive HR GPS smartwatch.

Note: This comparison by GPSCompared is a basic guide based on Garmin published specifications and features at their official website. And by no means that this comparison is definitive. There might be other similarities and differences which are not covered here.

Garmin vivoactive smartwatch
Garmin vivoactiveGarmin vivoactive HR
Garmin vivoactive
Garmin vivoactive
Garmin vivoactive HR
Garmin vivoactive HR
View the model availability and the current price at Amazon.comGarmin vivoactiveGarmin vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch
Introduction DateGarmin introduced vivoactive smartwatch on January 5, 2015Garmin introduced vivoactive HR smartwatch on February 19, 2016
What's Difference
Physical & Performance
Physical dimensions1.72" x 1.52" x 0.32" (43.8 mm x 38.5 mm x 8.0 mm)Watch only: 1.19" x 2.24" x 0.45" (30.2 mm x 57.0 mm x 11.4 mm).

Regular fits wrist circumferences 5.39" to 7.68" (137 mm to 195 mm);

X-large fits wrist circumferences 6.38" to 8.86" (162 mm to 225 mm)
Display size, WxH1.13" x 0.80" (28.6 mm x 20.7 mm)0.80" x 1.13" (20.7 mm x 28.6 mm)
Display resolution, WxH205 x 148 pixels148 x 205 pixels
WeightWithout bands: 18.0 g (0.63 oz);

With bands: 38.0 g (1.34 oz)
Regular bands: 47.6 g;

X-large bands: 48.2 g
Battery lifeUp to 3 weeks (10 hours in GPS mode)Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode (with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, No-GPS),

up to 13 hrs in GPS mode
Barometric altimeterNoYes
Electronic compassNoYes
Maps & Memory
Waypoints/ favorites/ locationsNoSave location
Running Features
Personal recordsNoYes
Performance Features
Heart rate monitorYes (optional)Yes (wrist-based)
Golfing Features
Digital scorecardNoYes
AdditionalPairs 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

Connect IQ™ Support: yes (watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps)

Wireless Connectivity: yes (ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart)

Supports heart rate and heart rate zone: Yes (when used with an ANT+ heart rate monitor)

On-device data fields/screens: Daily step count, goal countdown, inactivity timer, distance, calories, time of day/date, heart rate*, bike speed*, VIRB® action camera/remote*, music player controls*

On-device sports apps: running, indoor running, biking, indoor biking, walking, pool swimming, golfing,
Calculates floors climbed: yes

Calculates intensity minutes: yes

Move IQ, Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptical): Yes

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

Connect IQ™ Support: yes (watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps)

Wireless Connectivity: yes (ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart)

Supports heart rate and heart rate zone: yes

On-device widgets/screens: My day, intensity minutes, heart rate, last sport, smart notifications, weather, VIRB® action camera/remote, Varia remote, music player controls, calendar, steps, calories, sleep, run, bike, swim and golf

On-device sports apps: running, indoor running, biking, indoor biking, walking, indoor walking, rowing, indoor rowing, pool swimming, golfing, ski/boarding, cross country skiing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP)
What's Common
Physical & Performance
Color displayYesYes
BatteryRechargeable lithium batteryRechargeable lithium battery
Water rating5 ATM5 ATM
Smart notifications (displays email, text and other alerts when paired with your compatible phone)YesYes
Vibration alertYesYes
Music controlYesYes
Find my phoneYesYes
VIRB® controlYesYes
Watch functionstime, date, calendar, and alarmtime, date, calendar, and alarm
Running Features
Accelerometer (calculates distance for indoor workouts, without need for a foot pod)YesYes
Cycling Features
Bike speed/cadence sensorYes (optional)Yes (optional)
Performance Features
Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed)YesYes
Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace)YesYes
Heart rate-based calorie computationYesYes
Calculates calories burnedYesYes
Swimming Features
Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories)YesYes
Golfing Features
Measures shot distance (calculates exact yardage for shots from anywhere on course)YesYes
Yardage to F/M/B (distance to front, middle and back of green)YesYes
Yardage to layups/doglegsYesYes
Activity Tracking Features
Step counterYesYes
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)YesYes
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)YesYes
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)YesYes
Garmin Connect™
Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data)YesYes
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer)YesYes
Official Specs and Features
Learn more from the manufacturer site.Read more about Garmin vivoactive at garmin.comRead more about Garmin vivoactive at
Amazon Customer Reviews
Read all the reviews inclusive of the most helpful favorable review and the most helpful critical review (if applicable)
Click here to read the reviews on Garmin vivoactiveClick here to read the reviews on Garmin vivoactive HR
Check Price
View the model availability and the current priceGarmin vivoactiveGarmin vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch


Coming from the company that has been developing a wide variety of sport-specific watches, activity trackers, and GPS-based navigational devices, the vivoactive and vivoactive HR by Garmin are more like smartwatches rather than stand-alone tracking devices.

In addition to fitness tracking capabilities, both are equipped with smartphone notifications and some built-in sport apps. They are compatible with Connect IQ store, Garmin’s own app store, where users can customize watch face and download more apps.

Most smartwatches in the market today are not really intended as sport equipment. Despite their water-resistant ratings and the availability of compatible sport apps, those watches focus on being communication devices, particularly to bridge the interactions between users and their smartphones.

Some models do not even include built-in GPS, meaning the tracking functionality relies on smartphones’ GPS. Such design also forces users to carry their smartphones for basic position and distance tracking features.

Garmin vivoactive

GPS-enabled Garmin vivoactive fills the gap between bare minimum activity tracker and true smartwatches. In terms of functionality, it covers both activity tracker and smartwatches products. For those who emphasize more on fitness and sports rather than smartphone-related routines, Garmin vivoactive should deliver. This is because the interface of the device is designed to highlight its functions as sports metrics tracker.

Garmin vivoactive is square-face watch with a screen that measures at 1.13-inch W x 0.80-inch H. It produces colored images and texts at 205 x 148 pixels resolution. Despite the small size, the touchscreen is in fact high resolution and sunlight readable. All of those are contained in an 8mm thick watch.

There are three different variants available, but each is different from another only in colors. Garmin also offers bundled purchase with Heart Rate Monitor. Powered by rechargeable lithium battery, vivoactive stays on for about 3 weeks in activity tracking/watch mode or 10 hours with GPS on.

For better tracking accuracy, vivoactive is equipped with GLONASS receiver too, while its 5 ATM water rating makes it suitable for more demanding sport activities including swimming and snorkeling.

On the inside, Garmin vivoactive has five sport-specific apps installed including for activity tracking, running, swimming, cycling, and golfing. Activity tracking features cover all the functionalities seen on previous Garmin devices. It counts steps you take on daily basis, calories you burn, how long you sleep, and level of inactivity represented by a dynamic bar.

Activity tracking is the default function when the watch is not working on any other sport mode. One of the best things is that vivoactive does not use only the pre-determined step goals, but it can learn your today’s steps and increase the number based on your achievement. In case you fail to break your yesterday’s record, the goal will be reduced as well.

The inactivity bar appears when you have been stationary or physically inactive for about an hour and continues to build up. You can reset it by walking for several minutes. Statistics for calories burned and distance travelled are displayed on the bottom of the screen.

Basic running metrics are measured, too. You can configure target pace and compete against that in your run. Other features include Auto Pause and Auto Lap. When running on a treadmill or indoor where GPS signals are difficult to find, Garmin vivoactive uses its accelerometer to calculate distance. You don’t have to use separate foot pod sensor, but Garmin still makes it compatible nonetheless.

Cycling app provides indoor and outdoor modes which differ in terms of GPS use. When cycling indoor, vivoactive needs to be paired with ANT+ sensors to measure metrics. It is compatible speed sensor, cadence sensor, speed/cadence sensor, heart rate sensor, and temperature sensor. You can pair them all with the watch and let them work simultaneously.

The next sport app is swimming, which has similar features to those of older generation of Garmin swim-specific devices. It calculates basic metrics including laps, calories burned, strokes count, length pace, time, and interval distance.

Preset pool lengths are available, but you can manually adjust that to get precise measurement. When you start tracking your swim, vivoactive disables its touchscreen and re-enables it when you stop.

Another interesting addition is Golf app which also provides quite complete range of features. When paired with a smartphone, vivoactive can download more than 38,000 worldwide courses data.

GPS kicks in to measure layup, dogleg, and distance to the front, middle, and back of green. Individual scorecard is available and you can measure shot distance too. During use, the accelerometer is active to count your steps.

Let us not forget that Garmin vivoactive also offers smart connectivity features not only with smartphone but also VIRB action camera. When paired with compatible Android, Apple, or Windows 10 Phone devices, vivoactive displays any notification the smartphone receives for examples text messages, calendar alerts, incoming calls, etc.

It even has Find My Phone function to trigger alert on your phone, useful when you forget where you put it. Garmin vivoactive can act as remote control for VIRB action camera and smartphone’s music player.

Garmin vivoactive HR

To put it in simple way, vivoactive HR is the improved version of vivoactive. The most noticeable difference is that vivoactive HR comes with wrist-based heart rate sensor, called the Elevate, to track your BPM 24/7 without using separate heart rate strap.

The addition of Elevate and all-day heart rate tracking greatly affects the battery life. When used as both smartwatch and heart rate sensor, vivoactive HR manages to stay on for up to 8 days with its GPS disabled.

In sport mode, the battery lasts for about 13 hours so this is better than standard vivoactive. Apart from those, vivoactive HR adds two more built-in apps: paddle boarding (paddle board and row – indoor or open water) and skiing or snowboarding. The former tracks pace, time, strokes, and distance; the latter measures speed and distance by considering incline or slope.

Garmin Store IQ offers numerous apps for vivoactive and vivoactive HR, so users can download and install more additional apps to customize watch face and add functionalities.

Reference & Sources:

More resources on the differences between Garmin vivoactive and vivoactive HR from the internet.

  1. vívoactive® HR,
  2. Garmin’s new Vivoactive HR & Vivofit 3, DC Rainmaker, February 22, 2016
  3.  vivoactive HR vs vivoactive, ShuffleRun, February 21, 2016
  4.  Garmin Vivoactive In-Depth Review, DC Rainmaker, April 7, 2015
Disclaimer:Information provided is believed correct and true to the best of our ability based on the manufacturer published information. However, GPSCompared is not responsible for typographical errors or incorrect data. Please visit the official manufacturer product page for more details on the specifications and features
Note: This writer neither own this product nor have the personal experience in handling it. However this article is produced based on manufacturer published facts and other relevant sources (if applicable).

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