Garmin Vivomove HR review
It may not have the fitness tracking of a classic Garmin runner’s watch but the way the Vivomove HR incorporates low-leg smarts almost invisibly is ingenious.
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The Garmin Vivomove HR is a hybrid watch that pushes the worlds of Smart and “dumb” watches closer together than most.
It has a little semi-hidden screen on its front that lets you read notifications, check your exercise stats and even stress levels. Sure, it doesn’t have apps like a Vivoactive 3, but is far smarter than other hybrids that try to look like an analogue watch.
The main rival is the Nokia Steel HR, which looks a little more elegant but has fewer fitness and Smart features.
Garmin Vivomove HR price and release date
You can buy the Garmin Vivomove HR now around the world after it was announced at IFA 2017. The RRP for the cheapest version is set at £169.99 or 199.99 (about AU250), but you may be able to find it for a little bit less.
If you want the more expensive metal and leather version of the watch it will cost £249.99 or 299.99 (about AU380). That one isn’t available in all markets right now though. For example, in the UK you won’t be able to buy that version until Q2 of 2018 so that’s probably set for the end of June this year.
The Garmin Vivomove HR’s main design goal is to pass for an analogue watch. And it’d pull it off if it wasn’t for the Garmin name on the front. We all know Garmin doesn’t make plain old watches, right?
Its face is a flat circle with a reactive finish, sending beams from its centre when it catches the light. There are little “minute” pips around the face’s edge and normal-looking minutes and hours hands.
Until you look a little deeper there’s no obvious sign this is a smartwatch. Garmin makes a Premium version, but this is the more affordable standard Vivomove HR, which has a slightly sporty yellow minutes hand. You can also get it with a pink and gold face, and white strap.
Both of these standard models look Smart, but not super-expensive. The edge of the glass covering is not perfectly finished. You can see it too much, where we should really see just the metal bezel and the face below.
However you can upgrade to the altogether classier-looking Vivomove HR Premium models. These get rid of the colorful parts to the face and switch a silicone strap for a leather one.
Their construction also appears to be slightly different. The standard Vivomove HR we have here has a steel surround, but the part below that forms the underside and the strap mount is hard plastic. Premium models use more metal.
It feels like the kind of hard plastic you might find on one of Garmin’s higher-end runner’s watches, not cheap and flimsy stuff. Not as classy or expensive-feeling as steel, though, is it?
Plastic does help keep the weight down. This watch is very light, and the silicone strap has a good bit of give to it. You can do it up fairly tight without it feeling too tight. Wearing it 24/7 is viable.
Screen and features
So how is this a smartwatch? The Garmin Vivomove HR has an LED screen below its facia. It’s a two-line monochrome display that pops up when you double tap on the little display area or flick your wrist.
Look closely in a well-lit room at the right angle and you can perceive the screen’s border when the screen is not active. But you do need to try.
The Garmin Vivomove HR has no buttons, no crown. You interact with it through the touchscreen. This highlights one of the watch’s few real issues. Using the touchscreen can often feel fiddly.
On occasion a double tap doesn’t seem to register, particularly in the first few days as you get used to the Vivomove HR. It’s a strange issue as flicking through the actual pages of the watch’s micro interface is fast and responsive. Only the double tap gesture trips things up.
The screen is also not that clear outdoors. Inside it’s very bright and reasonably sharp. However, the more ambient light it has to deal with, the less bright and sharp it appears.
Some have all-but written off the Garmin Vivomove HR because of this. Reviewing it in London, though, where the sun is an infrequent visitor, we actually found it entirely usable while out on the street.
Let’s get a little deeper into what this screen part does.
Double tap on its window and you’ll see the home screen display. You choose what this shows: we picked the date and our step count. Flick right-to-left and the Vivomove HR scrolls through pages of exercise stats and Smart features.
On the smarts side you get the weather, music controls and your notifications. You won’t want to pore over the day’s messages on a Vivomove HR. It can only fit a word or three on the screen. However, it’s surprisingly effective at relaying quick SMS and WhatsApp messages.
Checking quick notifications lets you avoid getting your phone out.
The Vivomove HR’s screen uses software very similar to Garmin’s small fitness bands. This watch is a bit like an analogue model with a Vivosmart 3 crammed in under the surface.
Garmin Vivomove Sport review: The fashionable smartwatch with a hidden screen
Garmin’s new-for-2022 Vivomove Sport is a hybrid smartwatch in the truest sense, as it has physical hands that move around the dial, and a screen that stays totally hidden until it’s needed. It’s the antithesis of the Fitbit Versa 3, which is its biggest rival and will appeal to anyone who finds the Fitbit’s boring design off-putting. The good news is, the design isn’t the only thing to like about the Vivomove Sport, as I’ve found out.
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is very good at disguising its hybrid smartwatch status, due to the small OLED screen being completely hidden until it’s needed. When I say completely, I mean it. I dare you to look a the photos with the screen off and tell me there’s one there at all. I really like this approach, especially as more hybrid smartwatches now integrate always-on E-Ink screens, where the design edges away from “watch” and far closer to “smartwatch.”
Not so here, and it looks great for it. The dial is simple, with Garmin’s branding stamped on it, six hour markers, and some superfluous chronograph-style markings on the bezel. The surface has a subtle vinyl record-style finish which is barely noticeable unless you look really closely, while the baton hands are silver. There’s no second hand, no buttons on the case, and no crown either.
The case is made from fiber-reinforced polymer (which Garmin has used for other models, including the Fenix range) and it has glass over the dial with a very slight curve at the edges. It’s smooth and warm to the touch, but it can get greasy. It’s attached to a basic rubber strap that’s in black on my review sample, but you can get the Vivomove Sport in Ivory, Cocoa, or Cool Mint colors too. The Vivomove Sport is very light at only 34 grams and comfortable to wear. I’ve had it on for 24-hours a day for five days without irritation or problems overnight, or even the need to adjust the strap due to it getting too hot or sweaty.
I like the design. It’s very understated but the simplicity means it goes with anything, especially in black, and the 40mm case size is modest and suitable for most wrists. You won’t make a statement wearing the Vivomove Sport, but because of the hidden screen, you won’t advertise you’re wearing a smartwatch either. It just looks like a fairly ordinary fashion watch. It’s exactly what a good hybrid smartwatch should be, and ideal for anyone who dislikes the inherent sportiness of a fitness Band or the geekiness of a full touchscreen, but who understands the need for a screen to increase usefulness but doesn’t want to see it all the time.
Screen and menu
Garmin’s decision to hide the screen works from a design standpoint, but what about when it’s switched on? It activates when you raise your wrist or double tap on the glass, ready to show the time, battery status, and date information. Cleverly, you also tap the glass to operate the menu system, allowing Garmin to avoid buttons on the case, and it’s an accurate and reliable system. Swipe on the area with the screen to show steps, heart rate, health data, and more. The hands automatically rotate out of the way when you view these screens.
I didn’t activate blood oxygen monitoring for sleep, which would likely reduce the use time further, but with these settings, it’s in line with Garmin’s battery life expectations. It’s longer than you’ll get with a full smartwatch like the Apple Watch but less than you get from very power-efficient smartwatches like the Huawei Watch GT 3. Five days’ use is good, but considering the small screen on the Vivomove Sport, I would have liked it to be longer.
Price and availability
The Vivomove Sport costs 179 and is available now from Garmin’s online store.
The Garmin Vivomove Sport’s subtle, goes-with-everything design and real hands make it an excellent everyday hybrid smartwatch, and because it’s still filled with Garmin’s comprehensive health and activity tracking expertise you’re not sacrificing much over getting this instead of a more expensive model.
The accurate gesture controls and bright OLED screen make it fast and easy to use, it works with Android and iOS, and the Garmin Connect app is packed with data. On the less positive side, the five-day battery life is decent but not outstanding and the OLED screen’s low resolution is distracting, but the area of most concern is the accuracy of its tracking. Discrepancies between the Vivomove Sport and other smartwatches indicate it may over-report, and an update may be needed to optimize the performance.
I’ve worn the Garmin Vivomove Sport for 10 frustration-free days at the time of writing. I’ve only had to charge it once, it tracked my activity and sleep, reliably delivered notifications, looked good on my wrist, and didn’t become uncomfortable. Definitely recommended at the reasonable 179 price.
Is there a better alternative?
The Garmin Vivomove Sport’s biggest competitor is the 230 Fitbit Versa 3. Throughout my time with it, I was reminded of how convenient and easy to use the Versa 3 is, traits it shares with the Garmin watch. However, I far prefer the Vivomove Sport’s design and real hands, plus it’s significantly cheaper, but I do consider the Versa 3 to be even more comfortable to wear 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
If you want a hybrid smartwatch with real hands on the dial, the best alternative is Skagen’s 195 Jorn HR, which has an E-Ink screen behind the hands. It shows a similar amount of information to the Garmin Vivomove Sport, but isn’t as easy to use and doesn’t have a touchscreen. However, it’s more customizable, and the design and materials used in its construction make it more desirable.
If you want a hybrid watch with a digital screen we recommend the 149 Casio G-Shock GBD-200, or its surf-orientated sibling, the 180 GBX-100NS. Both have basic fitness tracking and notifications, plus all the durability you expect from the brand. Finally, if you’re still considering a full smartwatch, here are the best models available at the moment.
How long will it last?
The Vivomove Sport has 50 meters of water resistance and is suitable for swimming, while the plastic case should prove hardwearing. Garmin is an established company so there shouldn’t be a problem about the Connect app continuing to work over the coming years.
There’s scope to grow with the Vivomove Sport should your exercise routines or needs or interests change too, making it a safe purchase even if you’re just starting out with tracking and unsure what the future will hold. It’s not a high fashion piece so it should look fresh in a few years, and the 20mm strap is on quick-release pins so it’s easy to change if it breaks. You’ll get three or more years’ use out of the Vivomove Sport.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It’s a great alternative to a Fitbit, with a more watch-like design and reasonable price.
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: The hybrid you’re looking for
Bottom line: If you’ve ever found yourself longing for a traditional watch that still has a nice set of features, you’ll love what the Garmin Vivomove Sport has to offer. It can track your heart rate, activities, sleep patterns, stress, levels, and more. You’ll also have smartphone notifications and music controls. This hybrid smartwatch offers the best of both worlds in a fashionable yet efficient package.
- Sleek, attractive design
- Heart-rate monitoring
- Activity/sleep tracking
- Body Battery Pulse Ox
- Five days of battery life
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With each year that passes, Garmin manages to further expand its smartwatch lineup. This year started with two new releases at CES: the Garmin Vivomove Sport and the Venu 2 Plus. These two watches are a shining example of Garmin’s unbelievable range.
While there are plenty of differences between the two, the Vivomove Sport is a perfect demonstration of how Garmin has mastered the art of packing essential features into its more affordable and traditional-looking hybrid smartwatches. It’s less than half the price of some of the other Garmin smartwatches on the market, which will appeal to budget shoppers who don’t need all the bells and whistles.
A hybrid smartwatch like the Garmin Vivomove Sport may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re shopping for an Android smartwatch, but don’t be too quick to judge. Whether you’re new to wearables or you know that you’ll only need a few essential features, the Garmin Vivomove Sport might surprise you.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Price and availability
The Garmin Vivomove Sport officially launched at CES on Jan. 4, 2022. The company’s new hybrid smartwatch is available in four variants that retail for 179.99. You can buy the wearable directly from Garmin or third-party sellers like Amazon and Walmart.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: What you’ll like
If you’re tired of smartwatches with tons of buttons and hefty designs that way you down, the Garmin Vivomove Sport will be a breath of fresh air. The 40mm plastic case and the silicone Band are just under 34 grams combined. There are four color schemes to choose from: Ivory with Peach Gold accents, Cocoa with Peach Gold Accents, Cool Mint with Silver accents, and Black with Slate accents.
This hybrid smartwatch is compatible with 20mm interchangeable bands. So when you’re ready for a change, there will be plenty of Garmin Vivomove Sport bands to pick from. The silicone Band featured with the watch is comfortable and flexible, a blessing during intense workouts.
Using only the touchscreen, you’ll be able to view your notifications, start an activity, and take a blood oxygen reading. The hands-on watch will move out of your way whenever you interact with the touchscreen. Aside from your notifications and a few other words, the Garmin Vivomove Sport relies primarily on symbols.
For example, there’s a symbol for Body Battery, and underneath, it will tell you if your percentage is increasing, decreasing, or holding steady. Likewise, there’s a symbol for stress monitoring, and underneath, it will tell you if your levels are low, medium, or high.
The display will wake when you lift your wrist to look at the time. You can also double-tap on the display to wake it up manually. The main menu shows you the time and your current stats, such as steps and heart rate for the day. When you swipe to the left, you can view more detailed information such as your Body Battery, stress levels, notifications, weather, and music controls. There are a few different brightness settings, but I found the auto setting to be sufficient most of the time (more on that later).
Source: Courtney Lynch / Android Central
I’ve always been a fan of the Garmin Connect app, which comes in handy when using a watch like the Vivomove Sport. However, you’ll need to rely on the app when you want to view more detailed data regarding your metrics and progress. You can choose what cards and data are displayed on the main page.
If you’ve been spoiled by colorful AMOLED displays and side buttons galore with your past smartwatches, the Garmin Vivomove Sport may take some getting used to. For starters, it’s not a bright and beautiful display like you may have experienced with other wearables.
The monochrome OLED only exists on the bottom half of the display, so space is limited. You’ll be doing a lot of swiping to the left or right. You also won’t have any side buttons to help with navigation, so the small touchscreen is your only hope. While receiving smartphone notifications is convenient, it takes quite a bit of swiping to read most things across the display.
Garmin isn’t the only brand that delivers a wide range of hybrid smartwatch options. Fossil is another major player in this arena. However, I have yet to see a Fossil hybrid smartwatch that comes close to the Garmin Vivomove Sport.
The Fossil Hybrid HR and Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR are worthy contenders, but only if you want to save a few bucks or if you’re looking for a very particular design. These watches also utilize the E-Ink display, which is underwhelming at best. However, if you’re seeking extended battery life, you might be willing to settle for fewer features and a lackluster display.
In terms of pricing, Garmin’s own Venu Sq and Garmin Lily are similarly priced options worth considering. The Venu Sq will give you a full-color LCD and a squarish design rather than a circular one. You also get onboard GPS and NFC payments. If you desire, you can upgrade to the Venu Sq Music to indulge in onboard music storage.
If you’re firmly focused on a hybrid, there are more premium models available in Garmin’s lineup. The Vivomove Style comes to mind, which is more expensive for a few reasons. The hidden display uses an AMOLED panel with higher resolution, so you get some color rather than a monochrome setup. It also uses both the top and bottom of the display, so you’re not limited to just the bottom portion. You get a sturdier aluminum 42mm case, different strap options, and NFC payments for Garmin Pay. If these bonus perks are worthwhile, you might be willing to pay more for the Garmin Vivomove Style.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if.
- You’re looking for an affordable watch with basic health/activity tracking.
- You don’t want or need a full AMOLED touchscreen or side buttons.
- You’re seeking a stylish but subtle design that doesn’t scream “smartwatch.”
You shouldn’t buy this if.
- You’re looking for a premium smartwatch with tons of features.
- You need an advanced fitness smartwatch with built-in GPS.
- You’re not a fan of the traditional analog watch aesthetic.
Some people have a very clear idea of what they want from their wearable. Others are still figuring it all out. If you’re the latter, you might stumble across the Garmin Vivomove Sport and be pleasantly surprised. It might look like a traditional watch on the surface, but there’s more to it than that. It comes with heart-rate monitoring, activity tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, Body Battery, stress tracking, and more.
Those who know exactly what they want from a smartwatch may not be impressed by the Garmin Vivomove Sport. Not everyone is fond of the traditional analog look, so that’s something to consider. Additionally, there’s no onboard GPS or advanced tracking features like you’d typically find on Garmin’s running watches. You won’t have any extra perks such as NFC payments or onboard music storage, either. However, if you’re content with basic tracking and features, this hybrid smartwatch won’t let you down.
The most important thing to understand about the Garmin Vivomove Sport is that it’s not your average hybrid smartwatch. It’s a step above other options on the market without being a full-fledged smartwatch. It allows users to enjoy the best of both worlds by combining the perfect amount of style and functionality.
As long as you’re not expecting premium features associated with high-end watches, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll have a robust activity/health tracking seat that covers most of the key metrics users want. You won’t get any extra perks, but that might not bother you too much for the low price tag. Garmin has managed to take a wearable that seems pretty basic on the surface and load it up with some of the best tracking features possible.
Garmin Vivomove Sport
Bottom line: The Garmin Vivomove Sport has great potential. If you don’t need premium features or advanced tracking, you’ll be pleased with this unique wearable. As far as activity/health tracking, you’ll have all the essentials. Remember that the touchscreen only exists on the bottom half of the display, so that navigation can be tricky. The faint OLED panel is hard to read in direct sunlight, too. If these drawbacks don’t bother you, the hybrid life might be for you.
Garmin Vivomove Sport smartwatch review
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is a super option for those would like quality fitness and lifestyle tracking without the expense and commitment of a full smartwatch. The combination of classic, physical watch hands with a hidden OLED screen make it ideal for anyone wanting to avoid the bulkiness of a full-on smartwatch with endless widgets and settings. The lack of on-board GPS will likely be the deciding factor in any purchase, though the option to pair to a smartphone for GPS tracking means it’s still possible to dabble with more in-depth stats, albeit at the cost of battery life.
- – No independent GPS
- – Pairing for a signal, or broadcasting HR significantly compromises battery life
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The Garmin Vivomove Sport is a great choice for anyone wanting to track day-to-day activity and recovery without being overwhelmed by a plethora of data and analysis that’s arguably fit for a pro. Its sleek, discreet and lightweight design offers a range of functions that should satisfy most fitness enthusiasts.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: first impressions
The traditional watch face is, in my opinion, a great selling feature. Even with all the technology that exists in watches these days, it’s rather satisfying to lift your cuff and see watch hands that tick in perfect rhythm. They are easy to see, even in low light, as are the numbers and minute markings.
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is available in a range of colours so that most tastes should be satisfied: Cool Mint, Cocoa, Black and Ivory, each colour has its own unique hands and accents. I’ve been testing the black version, always a good option if you want to avoid colour clashes with sports kit or casual clothing. The straps are interchangeable, retailing at £34.99 each. Removing them is really easy and the retracting pin seems sturdy. I’ve had the watch on pretty much 24/7 since receiving it, never feeling like it was making my wrist sweaty or irritated while exercising. The strap seems pretty robust but it’s good to know that spares are available and a whole unit isn’t ‘lost’ if the strap breaks.
The watch hands are prone to becoming misaligned if you run or ride off-road. Garmin says any vigorous activity can affect them. The first time I noticed this the watch was five minutes slow, even though the digital clock was spot on, I panicked somewhat. They came to rest at 9.10 when I interacted with the watch, rather than 9.15. Thankfully it’s a two-minute fix via the settings menu on the watch (or using the app). Certainly worth knowing if you undertake ‘vigorous’ exercise.
Look and fit
The watch is far from chunky. For comparison I’ve used the Forerunner 945 in photos below. The Vivomove Sport feels much less intrusive on the wrist, with a smaller face and less depth. I never felt the need to remove it when heading out to socialise. It doesn’t grab the eye or scream ‘tracking-obsessed athlete’.
I’ve recently tested a lot of kit that comes up very small around the forearm, having the Vivomove Sport on, rather than something like the 945, makes life a little easier from this perspective.
Operation and customisation
On the lower half of the watch face, there’s a hidden touch screen. A double tap (or customised wrist gesture) activates the OLED display. The hands move away, enabling you to view up to 10 different widgets and delve into any of them with a further tap. The display’s very easy to read, offering good clarity (though not the quality of some more expensive alternatives) and a well-judged level of brightness. That said, the amount of text available to see is very limited due to both the size of the watch face and its shape, more on this later.
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is 100% customisable using the settings menu on the watch itself. Vibration settings, brightness, timeout, gesture mode and sensitivity are just some of the settings that can be adjusted, though opting for certain levels will drain the battery more than others.
Screen activation is customisable: gesture, gesture only while exercising, no gesture. Naturally the double tap is a constant. Wrist action-activation has been 100% reliable, even during exercise. Once the screen is activated you can swipe through widgets and access menus. Swiping and tapping is responsive and accurate.
Syncing of day-to-day stats with the Garmin Connect app has been 100% reliable. For testing purposes, I’ve used both Android and Apple phones. They are equally intuitive to navigate and offer immediate detail, with more graphics and averages. Or you can ‘collapse’ this opening view to something more succinct, with the option to delve into any field from there.
Charging and battery life
A supplied proprietary cable takes the watch from ‘critical’ to full in about an hour and a half, dependant on just how low it’s become. Running times depend heavily on whether you make use of the functions that require pairing with another device, levels of vibration, time-out duration and gesture settings. The majority of the time I’ve been using it without pairing; this has a huge impact on the battery. I’ve been getting five and a half days out of it before it needs more juice, that’s with the gesture setting switched to ‘exercise only’ and the shortest time-out setting. When the battery capacity drops to ‘critical’ only the watch (hands) functions. you can’t use any of the Smart features. It lasts another day in this state before finally giving up. The watch throws up a warning when it needs charging.
The battery life might be considered inferior to some alternatives, it’s worth remembering that several settings can be ‘dialled’ down if you want it to last longer. I have been peronsally very happy with the run time between charges, but then I haven’t relied on pairing for GPS so much.
You can customise the watch face in the Garmin Connect app, choosing from a range of faces and preloaded widgets that provide at-a-glance information.
Swiping the screen scrolls through 16 different the widgets, some of which require a paired smartphone. For most (myself included), 16 will be too many to have available all the time. You soon realise which ones are not getting used and can quickly remove them (using the app).
Entering personal details (height, weight, age, HR zones etc. ) in the app allows the watch’s widgets, such as steps, hydration, heart rate, calories, Body Battery and Intensity Minutes, to operate more accurately. The latter two are based on activity, stress and sleep. You can pre-set goals for steps, hydration and Intensity Minutes, which are displayed too. The weather widget, notifications and calendar required a paired Smart phone. There are also music controls though, unsurprisingly at this price point, no on-board music.
Some widgets offer more detail on the watch itself, plus options to edit. For example, you can view the previous days steps, your heart rate data for the last hour, register changes and symptoms linked to your menstrual cycle, track pregnancy, add fluid intake to your hydration status or view all recent Smart phone notifications. The latter lives up to it’s namesake: the text is so small that you don’t really want to read much more than the primary notification (receipt of mail, text, call, money etc…). If you do opt to read an entire message, it can be time consuming and tedious tapping to see it all (if it is lengthy). When paired to an Android, it’s possible to send a standard reply to a text message, for example, “Thanks” or “Okay, I’ll get back to you soon.” This is great if you’re busy and your phone is stowed away somewhere.
Is the Garmin Vivomove Sport good for cycling?
The Vivomove has 14 pre-loaded activities, 10 can be pre-set on the watch at any one time. For walking, running and cycling, the watch relies on a paired Smart phone for a GPS signal. You can still time an activity without it, but obviously the resulting data is in no way location based. In such cases, the run/walk stats are based on your pre-set stride length (enter a known distance and the number of steps it takes to cover the distance, and Garmin Connect can calculate your step length) and by comparison to using a device with an on-board GPS, can be inaccurate. For the run below, I used the Vivomove Sport and a Forerunner 945, while I want to claim the Vivomove’s stats, I should keep in touch with reality. If performance and precise stats are not so important to you, the Vivomove will still provide fitness trends, even if the underlying data is not 100% accurate.
Pairing for a GPS signal eats the battery, it’s worth ensuring that you have plenty of charge before starting a run or ride of any distance if you are pairing. The lack of on-board GPS didn’t bother me for cycling; I always have my phone in my jersey when out riding so could pair to that, if I wanted to. Running is a different case; I never run with my phone. This won’t be an issue for everyone; many run with a phone for music or personal safety, so it’s really not a negative in this case.
While doing a timed activity, you can view up to 5 different customised data screens, all of which are configured via the app.
Starting a timed activity is intuitive, if a little tedious in comparison to a fully featured smartwatch. There’s no auto-pause function, just the option to stop timing with a double tap, followed by resume, save or discard.
If the battery enters its critical level during the activity, it’s not possible to view any of the screens and the final data set may fall short. Below you can see the result of a ride that was being timed when the battery level entered ‘critical’ at some point. While the route and time have been recorded, average speed and distance have been omitted.
Being able to broadcast heart rate to a paired Garmin device will appeal to many cyclists, even if it does eat battery. It’s much better to see your heart rate on a bar-mounted GPS device than having to glance at your wrist. The heart rate sensor isn’t as reliable as a chest strap; it lags and can drop out if you are moving about a lot; sprinting or climbing while cycling aren’t great for it. If there is no dislodging of it (by clothing or otherwise) and you are relatively still on the bike, the reading is pretty accurate. All averages are influenced by the Vivomove not auto-pausing at junctions.
While some of the other activity options might be pretty niche (Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Pilates, Toe-to-Toe), it’s good to see swimming there, with the options of customising pool size and recording lengths. Garmin claims that the watch withstands pressure equivalent to a depth of 50m, and no, I didn’t test this. There is also a strength training feature allowing you to record sets via a timer with the device counting your reps (which you can edit if necessary). An increasingly popular option on smartwatches to do some guided, stress-busting breathwork is also there.
You don’t have to specifically start a timed activity for the Vivomove Sport to register it. When your movements match familiar exercise patterns, the Move IQ feature automatically detects the event and displays it in your timeline (grey). Move IQ events show activity type and duration, but they do not appear in your activities list or newsfeed.
The Move IQ feature can automatically start a timed activity for walking and running using time thresholds you set in the Garmin Connect app. These activities are added to your activities list as well as your timeline (green). Its accuracy is impressive. even very short bike errands were detected. If I was investing in the watch to specifically track fitness, I’d probably not bother using the timed activity function. The beauty of the Vivomove Sport is that it works while you FOCUS on other things, and it does this very well.
Tracking and analysis
The watch is continually tracking your heart rate. This is what informs many of the recovery monitoring widgets, so Body Battery, Stress and Intensity Minutes all use heart rate data to function. It will send timely reminders to ‘Move’, or to ‘Take a break’ (which has happened while I’ve been sitting down several hours after a long ride). how does it know I’m sat at a laptop, busy writing a review?!
Sleep tracking is accessed in the app and isn’t so different from any other smartwatch. I always take this kind of data with a pinch of salt, I’ve never had any two smartwatches agree on one single night (about both duration and quality). It’s a good guide though and certainly reflects how I feel like I’ve slept the vast majority of the time.
Assistance, Livetrack and critical heart rate
The Garmin Vivomove Sport boasts safety and tracking features that must be set up in the app and rely on a bluetooth connection to a paired phone. The Assistance feature allows you to send a message with your name, LiveTrack link, and GPS location (if available) to the emergency contacts you entered in the app.
LiveTrack allows family members to send a request to view your location in real time. You can invite followers using email or social media, allowing them to view your live data on a web page.
The Vivomove can also be customised to alert you when your heart rate drops above or below a pre-set rate.
Value and verdict
At £159.99 / 179.99, the Garmin Vivomove Sport is going to challenge its hybrid smartwatch competitors. Fitbit’s £199.99 / 229.95 Versa 3 is a comparable performer, but if it’s the classic watch face you’re after, this won’t tick that box. If classic looks are a priority, it could be worth considering one of Fossil’s Hybrid smartwatches, for example the £189 / 199.99 Bronson or Skagen’s £189 / 195 Jorn. I can’t comment on ease of use or tracking features here though.
If you are looking to track fitness and lifestyle with a high quality hybrid smartwatch via a fully integrated app, the Vivomove Sport is certainly worth considering: it looks great on the wrist, is fully customisable, reliably tracks day-to-day activity, and syncs seamlessly with a dependable app to provide more than enough data for any enthusiast hoping to make fitness and lifestyle gains. Only the battery life doesn’t quite match some of its competitors. Nevertheless, it doesn’t lag too far behind… making it a small price to pay given the data gathering quality and functionality on offer.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: specifications
- Lens material: Chemically-strengthened glass
- Case material: Fibre-reinforced polymer
- Quick release bands: Yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
- Strap material: Silicone
- Physical size: 40 x 40 x 11.0 mm. Fits wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm
- Touchscreen: YES
- Display Size: 0.34″ x 0.73″ (8.6 mm x 18.5 mm)
- Display Resolution: 72 x 154 pixels
- Display Type: OLED
- Weight: Case only: 19.0 g. With silicone strap: 33.8 g
- Battery life: Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days. Watch mode: Up to 1 additional days.
- Water rating: 5 ATM
- Memory/history: 10 timed activities; 14 days of activity tracking data