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Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch Review

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch  Review

The Garmin Vivoactive HR is a fitness watch that is designed for the athlete and the everyday Joe. The Smartwatch using both a touchscreen and button controls to switch functionality.

Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch

Garmin designed the Vivoactive as a one-stop shop solution for those who want a product that can track all-day activities including step count, floors climbed, calories burned and sleep. Of course, it comes with other features including smartphone Bluetooth notification integration (iPhone and Android compatible).

Best of all it has both a built-in optical heart-rate sensor and GPS sensor for tracking a variety of activities. 

If you play golf, the Vivoactive can track golf information but don’t expect it to really improve your score and certainly will not make you play like Tiger Woods. The smartwatch is also useful for those more extreme sports like downhill and cross-country skiing.

Tracking sessions indoors isn’t a problem either since the Vivoactive was built to monitor indoor rowing, walking, and strength training.


For starters, the Vivoactive is much bigger than those step counters like the Fitbit. This may be a turn off for some, but for me who normally wears a larger Garmin 920 XT, it is smaller and less bulky.


Garmin designed the Vivoactive HR to be waterproof for up to 50 meters, so swimmers and triathletes out there don’t need to worry about getting the sucker wet and swimming with it.

Garmin uses an always-on display rather than having to fumble around with buttons all the time to turn it on.

Battery Life

Garmin designed the Vivoactive HR to last up to eight days, but turn the GPS tracking on and you will probably get about 13 hours. As long as you keep your GPS workouts reasonable, no ultra runners out there, you can easily get a weeks worth of usage before the next charge.

Garmin Connect

The Garmin Connect app lets you customize watch faces and customize screens. You can also upload workout and other related information via Garmin Connect. The app also allows you to add new activities to the watch if the pre-loaded ones aren’t enough.

Heart Rate

Yes the Vivoactive HR is a true heart rate monitor that detects heart rate via your wrist. While wrist HR monitors are good, I find chest strap monitors more accurate. That said there is something to be said for the convenience of a wrist HR monitor.

Technical Highlights

Technical Highlights

Here are some of the technical highlights for the Garmin Vivoactive HR

  • Regular fits wrist circumferences 5.39″ to 7.68″ (137 to 195 mm), GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution color touchscreen. Display size-28.6 mm x 20.7 mm.Display resolution:205 x 148 pixels
  • 24/7 HEART RATE MONITORING – Elevate wrist heart technology gives you heart rate all day and night without an additional strap, Heart rate is not available while swimming
  • LONG BATTERY LIFE – Up to 8 days in watch/activity tracking mode. Battery life: GPS mode: Up to 13 hours. Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days
  • SMART NOTIFICATIONS – Set any notification from your mobile device to display when paired with a compatible smartphone. Water rating:5 ATM, Compatible with Android 4.4 OS or Later, Bluetooth 4.0 or Later and AppleiOS 10.0 or Later,iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
  • Retail: $249.99 USD
  • In The Box – You get vívoactive HR, Charging/data clip and Manual


What is the Battery Life of the Vivoactive HR?

Typically you can get around 8 days of usage before needing a charge. With the GPS tracking continuously on, it will reduce the usage to about 13 hours.

Is the Vivoactive HR Waterproof?

YES – Garmin says it is rated up to 50 meters, which would make quite a big dive. Triathletes and Swimmers will not have to worry about the watch getting wet.

How Do You Change The Settings?

You can use the Garmin Connect App to customize the watches face and screens you need to use.

Bottom Line

While I think the Vivoactive is a cool concept, I think it tries to do too much. For me, if I am into really into sports tracking (running, cycling or swimming), I much rather get the Garmin Forerunner or Fēnix.

Still for those looking to get a rather cool smartwatch and don’t want to pay for the higher priced Garmin lines you may be happy with the Vivoactive HR. It just isn’t for me.

About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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