Garmin Vivoactive review

After Garmin introduced Vivoactive in Thailand, there have been quite a few gadget hunters asking about this model. I’m not surprised, I’m one of them. Here is a review providing hopefully enough information. Otherwise, just let me know. Any questions, comments very welcome (except folks selling SEO services, viagxx etc 😉 – those comments are NOT welcome).


Here comes the Garmin Vivoactive Review:



Garmin is known to design and produce some of the best high-tech GPS equipment in the market, and the Vivoactive is no different! Regarded as the first sports enthusiast’s smartwatch, the Vivoactive is not just limited to running activities, but designed for more than one sport. So if you indulge in a variety of activities that require specific tracking features and GPS, the Vivoactive is a powerful contender. This GPS watch is able to direct crucial data such as texts, calls and other notifications from your phone to your wrist, and captures detailed data about your swims, bike rides, runs and even golf games.

Garmin vivoactive

Garmin vivoactive

With regards to golf tracking, the onsite GPS and Garmin’s huge library of over 38,000 golf courses available for download lets you know exactly how far you are from the hole, and where exactly you are from the green. Adding to this, it measures distances to the front, center and back of the green and layups, and even keeps track of individual stroke plays and the score.
The Vivoactive is simply a jack of all trades, and apart from its sports tracking capabilities also serves as a fitness tracker and smartwatch. The many notifications that are directed from your phone to the Vivoactive may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that they disappear after roughly 10 seconds and are stored for future viewing in the notifications menu. In terms of its swimming tracking, this watch is waterproof up to an astounding 50 meters, which for most swimmers is completely sufficient.

What’s in the Box?

  • Vivoactive watch
  • Band
  • Quick start guide
  • USB charging cable
  • Soft strap heart rate monitor (optional)


Garmin vivoactive

Garmin vivoactive

Vivoactive Features and Design
Upon first glance, the Garmin Vivoactive looks relatively similar to the Apple Smartwatch owing to its featherweight and slim design at just 0.32 inches thick. With regards to its weight, the watch weighs just 38 grams, making it the lightest GPS watch in its class or at least one produced by any exclusive and esteemed sports company. Add to this is a slender 1.38 color touchscreen complete with two buttons, one on each side.
The button on the right side takes care of several of the watch’s functions such as accessing the settings and starting and stopping activities, and the left side button handles the power functions such as briefly turning on the backlight for roughly 5 seconds (to save battery power) and powering on/off. All other functions of the Vivoactive are achieved by either touching or tapping the screen.
The watchband is crafted of traditional rubberized plastic that is extremely comfortable, and available in a choice of black or white colors. If that’s not enough choices, you can also dress up your Vivoactive with a black or white leather band or 5 different color silicone bands. Just like a traditional fitness band, the Vivoactive is able to keep track of your calories burned, steps taken, distances traveled and even sleep.

When paired with optional sensors, the device can track ambient temperature, running cadence, heart rate as well as pedaling cadence and speed for cycling. As mentioned before, this GPS smartwatch can display notifications, calendar items, text, e-mails, and calls right on your wrist, but you do need access to your smartphone to reply to them. One of the noteworthy features of the Garmin Vivoactive is the “Find My Phone” app, which will cause your phone to ring in the event it is misplaced.

Garmin also provides access to its very own app store for free – IQ Connect Store, which can be accessed via the Garmin Connect smartphone app to download widgets, apps, and faces to look at data in a whole new way. When new apps and widgets are available, they can be they can be instantly downloaded and installed without even plugging in the Vivoactive to a computer.

Setting up the Vivoactive

Getting started with your Vivoactive as simple as using it and entails downloading the Garmin Express software from the official website and signing up for a Garmin connect account. To receive smartphone notifications on the smartwatch, you will have to download and install the Garmin Connect mobile app and pair it with your smartphone. Simply tap on the widget located in the main menu or the setting button and then swipe until you arrive at a Bluetooth screen to manage your notifications such as turning them on or off.

Using the Garmin Vivoactive

With the Vivoactive, you do have to worry about syncing your data such as daily activities and workouts as it does this task on auto-pilot when connected to the Garmin mobile app via Bluetooth. For syncing data right away, you can either plug the device into a computer and use the Garmin Express software or refresh the buttons on the app. Another superb feature of the Vivoactive is its ability to function as a standalone device, meaning you can view your stats such as calories, step count, and distance traveled right on the watch by tapping on the history widget and without opening the mobile app.

Garmin states that the battery of the Vivoactive when fully charged will last for 3 weeks, but will be less if you use GPS functionality, other functions or streaming notifications from your smartphone to your watch. The Vivoactive is designed to collect a wide range of data such as speed, elevation and pace distance for runners and cyclists and indoor and outdoor swimming metrics for swimmers, which are all displayed on the Garmin Connect app screen or online.

The Vivoactive also provides you data about your nocturnal patterns such as the number of hours you slept and your movements, without the need to press any buttons or putting the device into sleep mode. Other advanced tracking features of the Garmin Vivoactive are VO2 max, vertical oscillation and even measure your step per minute cadence right from your wrist, which in itself it a unique feature for wrist-worn wearables.

The Garmin Connect mobile app is well laid out provides a detailed view of individual workouts and activity tracking at the top and in chronological order at the bottom. All the data is then displayed through clear graphs to offer you a comprehensive insight of your workouts, all from your smartphone. With the Garmin Connect mobile app, you can also earn virtual badges for motivation, and join online challenges with other users.


  • Smart notifications
  • Waterproof up to 50 meters
  • Onsite GPS and step tracking
  • VO2 max and vertical oscillation measurement
  • Garmin Connect app
  • Seamless management of notifications


  • Menus can be overwhelming in the beginning
  • Sleep tracking not up to par with other similar devices
  • Only one programmable alarm

Garmin Vivoactive Key Features:

  • High-resolution color touchscreen display
  • Can be paired with a compatible smartphone
  • Onsite GPS capabilities
  • Measures distance, time and speed
  • Over 38,000 courses worldwide
  • Free downloads of data fields, watch faces, widgets, and apps
  • Battery when fully charged lasts up to 3 weeks
  • Optional 5 different color swappable bands to choose from

Final Thoughts:
The Garmin Vivoactive is a unique fitness device that is designed to appeal to a wide audience. It can be used to for several different sports and boasts solid features especially considering its price tag. All the data can be controlled seamlessly with a dedicated app and online and is a great choice for day to day use. Garmin also provides free access to its app IQ Connect Store, from where you can download widgets, apps, and faces specifically for the Vivoactive. You can also customize your Vivoactive with different color bands and also leather or silicone bands. Garmin has bundled an amazing set of features in this fitness tracker so if you’re looking for a smartwatch that can handle your truly active lifestyle, the Vivoactive is the ultimate choice.


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