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Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: key differences

Fitbit Charge 3 vs Garmin Vivosmart 4: Which is best?

It looks like the fitness tracker market is hotting up with Garmin revealing the Vivosmart 4 and Fitbit revealing the Charge 3. Both fitness trackers from Garmin and Fitbit offer some very impressive features for keeping track of your overall health right through to your fitness activities, so let’s see which is best between the Garmin Vivoasmart 4 vs the Fitbit Charge 3.

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  • Gray with rose gold
  • Berry with light gold
  • Azure blue with silver
  • Black with midnight

The Fitbit Charge 3 colours are;

  • Black with graphite
  • Blue-gray with rose gold
  • Lavender woven with rose gold
  • White with graphite

The big difference between the fitness bands is you can’t change the band on the Vivosmart 4 like you can on the Fitbit Charge 3 with Fitbit offering different band colours and materials, with more available via third-party marketplaces.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Sensors

Garmin has included a heart-rate sensor on the Vivosmart 4 on the rear, along with a Pulse Ox sensor to measure blood-oxygen levels, which will measure how well your body is absorbing oxygen while you sleep.

The Charge 3 also has a heart-rate sensor as well as a relative SpO2 sensor for sensing sleep apnea and other sleep-related issues, which is similar to the PulseOX sensor on the Vivosmart 4

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Along with the sensors listed above, you also get an Accelerometer and altimeter in both fitness bands, but neither of them includes a GPS chip to track activities. However with the Charge 3, you can connect it to your Smartphones GPS to track running or cycling activities, but you can’t do this with the Vivosmart 4.Vivosmart 4 vs Charge 3

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Water resistance

Both fitness trackers are waterproof to 50 meters and offer swim tracking as part of the fitness tracking package, which was a complaint of both on the previous versions.

I have not had a chance to test out the swim tracking of these fitness bands, but once I have, this section will be updated with accuracy statements.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: battery life

Battery life has been improved on both the Vivosmart 4 and the Charge 3 moving them both up from 5 days to 7 days battery life. However I just want to caution, the more you use either of them, the less you will get out of the battery life. So for example when I tested the Vivosmart 3, the battery life was only lasting 3 days.

Something else that is worth pointing out, Garmin says battery life will be reduced when using the Pulse Ox sensor for sleep tracking.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Fitness features

In terms of fitness features both the Charge 3 and the Vivosmart 4 are well matched, but both offer a different take on some of the health tracking, but before we do let’s tackle some of the common features.

Both fitness trackers off, steps, distance, floors climbed, active minutes and calories burned. They all offer a resting heart rate and heart rate zone measurements to gain progress on your fitness journey.

You also get auto activity tracking with both bands with Garmin’s Move IQ™ and Fitbit’s automatic exercise recognition, which in short records certain exercises if you forgot to start your fitness tracker and it detects increased HR and movement at the same time.

Both the Garmin Vivosmart 4 and the Fitbit Charge 3 offer a feature to measure your fitness condition. Garmin calls this fitness age and Fitbit calls this Cardio Fitness score. Essentially both of these features give you information based on your workouts using heart rate data to determine your fitness condition.

Sleep tracking seems to be built into most fitness wearables these days and the Vivosmart 4 and the Charge 3 is no exception. Whilst each device offer different terms of the sleep tracking, both essentially offer the same level of insights.

Finally, both fitness trackers feature an Optical Heart rate sensor that is used to track you’re all day heart rate and used during any activity.

So let’s move onto the fitness features that tell both the Vivosmart 4 and the Charge 3 apart.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 fitness and health trackingGarmin Vivosmart 4

First, up is the  “all-day stress tracking,” which tracks the interval between each heartbeat to calculate and display your stress level. The Vivosmart 4 also introduces a feature Garmin calls Body Battery, which “uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to gauge your body’s energy reserves at any moment, so you can plan your day to optimize times for activity and rest.

Garmin has included a Pulse Ox sensor similar to what is featured in the Fenix 5x Plus. The key difference here is that the Pulse Ox is used to measure blood oxygen saturation levels whilst you sleep to give you insights into your sleeping data. You can also use the Pulse Ox sensor during the day if you wish.

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Another feature that comes from the Fenix 5 series is if your heart rises above a threshold you’ve set and If you’re inactive for more than 10 minutes and your heart rate stays above your set threshold, you’ll get an alert. This is a great feature to spot potential issues with your heart and be able to act fast.

Finally, Garmin has included Strength and rep counting for when you are working out in the gym, this feature allows you to. keep track of how many reps you do in the gym and based on my testing on the previous Vivsmart 3, it works pretty well.

Fitbit Charge 3 fitness and health trackingFitbit Charge 3

Whilst the Charge 3 does not have built-in GPS, you can connect the band to your smartphone and use the GPS from that. This allows you to track your outdoor activities using GPS and get information like Pace and distance and this is useful for runners.

The Fitbit Charge 3 also has more fitness tracking profiles with 15 available and this includes cycling using GPS from the connected smartwatch. This, of course, gives you greater flexibility in what you want to use it for.

A stand out feature for females on the Charge 3 is the female health tracking. This feature on the Charge 3 with the Fitbit app helps you track periods, record symptoms, see a predicted ovulation calendar and more.

Like the Vivosmart 4, the Charge 3 also features a SpO2 sensor that can be used whilst you are sleeping to get you insights into your sleeping patterns. However, the key difference with the Fitbit Charge 3 is you cant use this outside of sleeping and you can’t see the data on your wrist. But if I am being honest, this type of data is best viewed on the app together with other data.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Smartwatch features

True to its name, there are also a few smartwatch features built into the Vivosmart 4. You can check the weather, receive notifications (with Android smart replies), find a missing phone, and control music.

Fitbit also offers notifications and Android quick replies on the Charge 3, as well as weather tracking. Unfortunately, you can’t control or store music with the band.

You can also run third-party apps on the Fitbit Charge 3, but these are pretty limited right now and don’t expect to get the same standard of app featured on the Apple Watch though.

With mobile payments the new thing onto build into wearables, Fitbit has included Fitbit Pay on the CHarge 3, but on the special edition model. However, Garmin has not included Garmin Pay on the Vivosmart 4.

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The other thing to consider is the apps that both of them use, the Vivosmart 4 uses Garmin Connect Mobile and the Charge 3 uses Fitbit app. Whilst both are very good apps, I think Garmin Connect Mobile is better laid out and offers greater insight of the data the fitness tracker records.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Price

The $129/£119 Garmin Vivosmart will be available for purchase in three to five weeks according to Garmin, while the Charge 3 will cost $150/£129 for the standard model and $170/£149 for the NFC model and is slated to arrive in October.

Garmin Vivosmart 4 vs Fitbit Charge 3: Which one?

My honest view on this is, it all comes down to personal preference and the features that you want. Whilst both the Vivosmart 4 and Charge 3 offer similar features,  users would be happy with both, there are some features that you need to take into account.

Why Buy a Charge 3 over a Vivosmart 4?

The obvious one is GPS, whilst none of them has built-in GPS, the Charge 3 can be connected to your smartphone. So if you are wanting to track outdoor workouts like running or cycling then the Charge 3 is the obvious choice.

If style is key to a purchase of a fitness band, the Charge 3 offers you the ability to swop the bands out and you also get Fitbit Pay with the special edition model.

The final thing is the women-specific health tracking, which Garmin has not even touched on with any of its trackers yet.

Why buy a Vivosmart 4 over a Charge 3?

The Body Battery energy monitor along with the all-day stress tracking is a useful feature, especially if you are very active and want to keep track on your body condition and this is a strong feature on the Vivosmart 4.

I also think the heart rate monitoring features are good on the Vivosmart 4. The ability to have the Vivosmart 4 warn you if your heart rate rises above a certain threshold is good.

Finally, the biggest feature for me is the Garmin Connect Mobile app, I think it offers a battery to understand app along with better insight into your health and performance.

So that’s a wrap and I hope this has been useful to help you decide on the 2 fitness trackers. If you have any questions or a comment, please them below and subscribe to receive a notification when the full reviews land.

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Jon Ratcliffe
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 and I like combining this with fitness. My reviews 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

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