Garmin has just announced the Vivosmart 5, a fitness band for those who do not need the hardcore tracking features of its advanced watches. Its predecessor the Vivosmart 4 has been around since 2018.
The new band has several important upgrades, including a much better touchscreen experience, but also loses one key feature that is useful in a casual tracker. Both the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Vivosmart 4 lack GPS, and use Connected GPS instead. This takes location data from your phone, so if you want a full standalone runner’s watch you may be better off with another Garmin like the Fenix 7.
Here’s how the two generations of Vivosmart band differ.
Vivosmart 5 loses stair counts
Garmin has removed the barometric altimeter from the Vivosmart line. This is used to estimate how many flights of stairs you ascend each day, and it is particularly worthwhile for those who want all-day passive tracking.
You end up with a count of both steps and stairs, even if you climb mountains rather than floors of buildings.
A larger screen
The Vivosmart 5 has a much larger display than the Vivosmart 4. While only slightly longer, it’s significantly wider, 10.5mm to the Vivosmart 4’s 6.6mm.
This will make touchscreen operation feel less fiddly, and lets data sit more comfortably on the display.
Both screens are monochrome OLEDs, but the increase in size also comes with a bump to resolution. The Vivosmart 5’s display has a resolution of 154 x 88 pixels, up from 128 x 48 in the last generation.
A chunkier band
A lager screen comes with a commensurate increase in size, but the Vivosmart 5 remains a small, light band. It is 19.5mm wide, to the 15mm of the Vivosmart 4.
There are two strap sizes available, and using the figures for the larger, the new Vivosmart 5 is just under 10g heavier. It weighs 26.5g, up from 17.1g for the Vivosmart 4.
That increase is quite large proportionally, but it’s nothing to put you off wearing a Vivosmart 5 for its full seven day battery 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 insights, which in other recent Garmin watches means you get a quick summary of the night — such as “a long but not restorative sleep”, or similar.
This is likely tied to another important, largely behind-the-scenes feature: respiration rate tracking.
Activity incident deception and pricing
The Vivosmart 5 also gains a safety feature, incident detection during tracked activities. These detect severe motions that suggest, for example, you have come off your bike.
This results in a text message sent to specified contacts. Such a feature seems more essential in something like the Fenix 7, but is good to have at this lower level.
The Vivosmart 4 and Vivosmart 5 are intended for similar audiences, folks who don’t necessarily need full GPS and a huge raft of tracking modes. And there’s just a slight bump in price for this generation.
A Vivosmart 5 costs $149.99, for either of the two available strap sizes, up from $129.99 for the Vivosmart 4.