Garmin is back with its latest basic fitness tracker with the Vivofit 4 with what Garmin claims have an impressive 1-year battery life.I have been using the Vivofit 4 for about a month now and put it through various tests. So if you want to know if this is the best budget fitness tracker of 2018 so far, then continue reading the Garmin Vivofit 4 review.
When choosing a fitness tracker you need to decide what you are going to use it for and the Garmin Vivofit 4 is aimed at those wanting something that is basic without all the complications and deep feature set like on the Vivoactive 3 or the Fenix 5 series.
I have been using the Vivofit 4 for about a month now and put it through various tests. So if you want to know if this is the fitness tracker for you, then continue reading the Garmin Vivofit 4 review.
Must read review: Garmin Vivosmart 3
Garmin Vivofit 4 Key Features
- Colour display
- Silicone band
- Display size 11 x 11 mm
- Running and walking sports tracking
- Time and date
- Step, distance travelled, calories burnt
- Sleep tracking
- Colour display
- Move IQ
- Silicone band
- Connectivity via Bluetooth Smart or ANT+
- Alarms and stopwatch
- No GPS or Optical HR sensor
Garmin Vivofit 4 review in pictures
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Garmin Vivofit 4 review – Design
- Small simple design, similar to the Vivosmart 3
- No Wrist based optical HR sensor
- Bands cannot be swapped out
The Vivofit 4 is a pretty basic design and if you have used a Vivosmart 3 or a Vivosport then you will have an idea of the design. The Vivofit 4 band is made of a Silicone material and comes in a variety of colours including standard black, plum, lime green-speckled black, and white. You also need to note that you cant get every colour in every size.
The Vivofit 4 features a screen that is pretty small at 11 x 11 mm with an 88 x 88-pixel resolution, so don’t expect to be able to see much on this screen. Whilst the screen is small, it does give you enough information and the type of user this fitness tracker is aimed at, you will not be needed to display multiple data fields. The Vivofit 4 is fine for glancing at the time or quickly checking your goal progress. You also have the option to try out different clock faces, which can be added from Garmin Connect Mobile.
Garmin has included on one single button on the Vivofit 4 which is in the middle of the band, just below the screen. Pushing that button will cycle through key stats like steps, calories, distance, standing hours.
Having a single button to control things does take a little getting used to if you used to using a touchscreen or a fitness watch with multiple buttons, but you do get used to it and whilst I was conducting the Vivofit 4 review I kept on reminding myself that the device maybe never have used a fitness tracker and this simple way of navigating the device is going to help.
Wearability and comfort
The Vivofit 4 is comfortable to wear, and that’s really important when this is a fitness band designed to be worn all the time with sleep tracking included.. I have been wearing it to bed for a week and not really felt the need to take off due to irritation, but just remember that all skin types are different.
It’s also waterproof with a 5 ATM resistance rating, so fine for showering with or taking in the pool. It won’t track swimming, but I was not expecting this with a fitness tracker at this price.
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Garmin Vivofit 4 review- Features
- Tracks steps, distance and other fitness data
- No built-in Optical HR
- No GPS
The Vivofit 4 is a basic tracking, but don’t be fooled by this if you are thinking of getting a fitness tracker for the first time or looking to buy one for someone that wants to track the basics. One of the things I really liked about the Vivofit 4 was the ability not to overcomplicate things when it came to the features and being able to see what you have achieved in terms of your overall activity as you might find with the higher end fitness wearables.
As I have already mentioned you can get the Vivofit 4 in various different colours, but you can also customise the colour display to match your taste. However the choices are pretty limited if you used to say an Apple Watch, but this tracker is not aimed at that group of users.
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Find my Phone
Garmin has included find my phone feature that is normally found on higher-end fitness watches. When I was using it worked pretty well as long as you are in range and I found this to be around 10 meters, outside of that range it was hit and miss.
Move IQ is a feature on Garmin devices that will Automatically track walking and running activities. As the Vivofit 4 does not have an HR sensor or GPS it uses the accelerometer to detect movement. I found using the Move IQ to be hit and miss and would be out on some activities. You can set your threshold for the amount of time doing an activity before the Vivofit 4 starts tracking it. So once you’ve been walking for, say, 10 minutes, your activity time will show on the tracker display (also accounting for the 10 minutes before it kicks in).
Step Challenges with Your Kids
Garmin has introduced Toe-to-Toe™ feature to challenge your kids to a step competition. Your vívofit 4 activity tracker can wirelessly connect to your child’s nearby vívofit jr. 2 or even another vívofit 4 to kick off an instant timed step competition. I didn’t get the opportunity to try this out, but I can see this being a great feature to motivate your family to move more.
Garmin Vivofit 4 review – Sports and activity tracking
- Tracks steps, distance, calories
- Despite no GPS the distance was pretty good
- Step tracking accurate
The Vivofit 4 is pretty basic when it comes to a fitness tracker. It doesn’t have GPS like the Vivosport, nor does it have a heart rate tracker. Both of these features are a surprising emission given that other fitness tracker around this price point feature one of both of these features.
So what does the Vivofit 4 track?
- Calories burnt
- Intensity minutes
- Distance travelled
- Sleep monitoring
Overall I found the steps and distance travelled matched up with the daily wearable I use. Calories burnt was a little out and so was intensity minutes. I suspect this is because of the lack of optical HR sensor that would drive these data points.
The Vivofit 4 also has Garmin’s Move Bar which reminds you to move if you have been stationary for a period of time. This technology features in other Garmin fitness devices and works well. The only thing I found that was missing is because it does not have a motor to vibrate, I would often miss the move bar notification.
Garmin has also included auto goals which learn your fitness activity and steps goal and will adjust based on recent activity. I personally don’t like this feature as if you don’t do a lot of activity over a period of time, the steps and activity goals will be lowered to the point of pointless.
Running and walking
When it comes to sports tracking with the Vivofit 4 its limited to running and walking. So you cant use it for cycling, cardio or swimming. Using the Vivofit 4 for running and walking despite it not having built-in GPS was pretty accurate in terms of distance and pace.
Below is a snapshot of the run I did with the Vivofit 4 when also wearing a Fenix 5. As you can see with the pictures the distance was not that much out with the Vivofit 4 registering 5.32 km distance and the Fenix 5 registering 5.38, so pretty close for the Vivofit 4 with no GPS.
When it came to pace with the Vivofit 4 again it was pretty much spot on both for pace splits and average page. The Fenix 5 being 6.13 and the Vivofit 4 landing at 6.17, so again pretty good for a fitness tracker without GPS.
When it came to calories burnt it was way out and this may be a result of the Vivofit 4 not having an optical HR monitor. I did notice it did improve with time to match the Fenix 5, but it was still out. Just one thing to note, calories burnt is very subjective and I always take with a pinch of salt. You will also get no elevation data with the Vivofit 4 due it not having GPS, but for the type of person, this fitness tracker is aimed at then it is not to much of a concern.
Overall I was impressed with the accuracy of the Vivofit 4 for running and walking activities, however, I did have a couple of complaints. The screen is a little small to look at when you are running and you only get time, distance and steps when scrolling through the screens using the button. However, if you wanting a bigger screen and the ability to scroll through data points when out running then you probably best going with another device like the Vivosmart 3 or a Vivoactive 3
Must read review: Garmin Vivoactive 3
Sleep tracking is about as accurate as I’d expect for a device like this. Without a heart rate monitor its pretty much an estimation of your sleep state as other devices would use the heart rate data to detect your sleep state. I found it pretty good at tracking time I went to sleep to the time I woke up, but I was disappointed with the lack of sleep data and If had been designing this Vivofit 4 I would have left it out as it does not really give you much.
Garmin Vivofit 4 review – App
- Works with Garmin Connect Mobile
- Syncs periodically
- Customisation is done via the app
For those of you that read Active JR often will know I am a big fan of Garmin Connect and GCM. The Vivofit 4 works with Garmin Connect Mobile on iOS and Android devices over Bluetooth. I found pairing the Viviofit 4 with both an iPhone running iOS and a Pixel 2 running Android was easy and straightforward.
The Vivofit 4 syncs with Garmin Connect periodically by syncing either from the device or via GCM. Syncing the Vivofit depending on the amount of data takes up to 1 minute, so no quicker than any other Garmin fitness tracker, but a little slower than the likes of Fitbit or Apple.
I have already mentioned you can customise the Vivofit 4 and this done via Garmin Connect Mobile. The customisation options are pretty limited, but it’s still there. You can also set the stride length for running and this is useful if you improve your running technique. But that’s about it in terms of customisation and settings on the Vivofit 4, its basic and this will appeal to lots of people that want a simple to use fitness tracker.
Garmin Vivofit 4 review – Battery life
- 1-year battery life (Garmin claims)
- 2 x SR43 user replaceable batteries
- Handy not having to charge the battery
The Vivofit 4 has claimed year-long battery life, running off two SR43 batteries, so you won’t need to plug it into juice it back up. Of course, because I have only had the Vivofit 4 for just under one month, I cannot confirm if the battery life is as long as Garmin claims.
However I suspect the Vivofit 4 battery will last a long time and pretty close to the 1-year battery life as it won’t have to the heavy lifting of a smartwatch, plus it does not have the drain of a GPS chip and an optical HR sensor.
I had a go at removing the battery and simulated changing the batteries and it was pretty easy to do. You simply remove the Vivofit 4 body from its band and then use a small Philips screwdriver to remove the screws.
Best budget Fitness tracker 2018?
At the start of the Vivofit 4 review I said is the Vivofit 4 the best budget Fitness tracker of 2018 so far and I think it is…. so far. Yes, you can get other fitness trackers that are around the same price and or cheaper. But ultimately you get what you pay for. The Garmin Vivofit 4 is a solid budget fitness tracker with enough features for the user this device is aimed at.
I am Jon R and the editor of Active JR that covers wearables, fitness tech and smart home. I have a huge passion for technology having worked in the sector for over 18 years in a variety of roles and I like combining this with fitness.
My reviews and information will talk about how the product works in reality and not just what the marketing departments want you to think.
You can contact Jon on Twitter @ActiveJR1