Garmin gave its Vivosmart activity tracker a big overhaul ahead of IFA 2018. The new $129 Vivosmart 4 not only looks very different from last year’s Vivosmart 3, but it also includes a sensor that (until now) was only available on Garmin’s most expensive wearables: a pulse oximeter.
The Vivoactive 3 was a breath of fresh air compared to its Vivoactive HR predecessor, and now the Vivosmart 4 breathes new life into the “smart” series.
The Vivosmart devices have always prioritized value for money—often, they haven’t been the most attractive or slim bands, but they stuff a bunch of important fitness-tracker and smartwatch features into their tiny frames. Attractiveness isn’t sacrificed as much anymore with the Vivosmart 4, so those who care about style can get it along with all the other smart features they want.
Next to the optical heart-rate monitor that lives on the underside of the device is a pulse-ox sensor that measures blood-oxygen levels. Garmin recently introduced this sensor to the high-end Fenix line as an optional feature on the Fenix 5X Plus—a device that can cost over $1,000, depending on the model. Seeing Garmin bring this feature to a more accessible device is refreshing, particularly a feature that not only triathletes or extreme outdoorsmen and women will want to wear.
Pulse oximeters measure the level of blood-oxygen saturation, which can be useful to know when you’re exercising in high altitudes. It’s most accurate when taken by a medical professional using expert equipment, but the sensor helps the Vivosmart 4 stand out among the competition. There are users who would love to invest in a Fenix device but don’t have the hundreds of dollars necessary to do so—now, those users have a capable alternative in the Vivosmart 4 with pulse-ox power. It doesn’t appear that Garmin wants to sequester pulse ox to its most expensive wearables, so I hope to see pulse ox trickle down to the Vivoactive line in the future as well.
A new feature being introduced on the Vivosmart 4 is Garmin’s “Body Battery” estimation. It tells you when is a good time for you to workout or rest based on collected data like sleep, continuous heart rate, stress levels, and more. No one wants to push themselves too far with intense workouts day after day, because they could injure themselves in the process. The Body Battery estimation should help users decide when to rest and when it’s safe to attempt another hardcore training session.
The Vivosmart 4 will also be able to do all of the things existing Vivo wearables can, including track daily activity and sleep, manage stress with guided breathing exercises, control music playback, receive smartphone alerts, and reply to Android text messages. The Vivosmart 4 also has the perk of being water-resistant, so users can track swimming with it.
Garmin promises up to seven days of battery life on this new device. Garmin devices have been known to have great battery lives, and the Vivosmart 4’s estimated time between charges along with its feature set put it directly in competition with Fitbit’s Charge 3. A week’s worth of battery life appears to be the sweet spot for most new fitness trackers, and it remains one of the advantages these devices have over more complicated smartwatches that last only two or three days on a single charge.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 will be available later this year, starting at $129.