The Garmin Vivoactive 4 looks quite similar to the Vivoactive 3 and Foreunner 645. A band of silver, but not shiny chrome, metal surrounds the edge of the watch. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3, but it’s not recessed like on the Fenix 6, which makes it a bit more vulnerable. However, every bit of this protection adds to the watch’s dimensions. We switched from the Forerunner 645 Music to the Vivoactive 4.
This is the watch we use to record our runs from week to week. The Vivoactive 4 is bigger, and significantly bigger. But if you want a slim watch, you should just buy the Vivoactive 4S, as it offers similar features with a slightly smaller display and battery. This watch is comfortable to wear, but again, the Forerunner 645 wins easily. The Vivoactive 4’s standard silicone strap is thicker and has less give than the Forerunner’s.
The lighter and smaller a watch is, the less likely you are to even notice it after a few hours on your wrist. We found that we tended to take the Vivoactive 4 off for a few hours every day. It’s only when you tighten the strap extra tight that unsightly marks appear on the wrist. There’s no reason to take it off except to charge it if you want to wear it all day. The Vivoactive 4 is water resistant at 5ATM, which is not only enough for showering, but also for swimming.
Garmin has always placed a higher priority on battery life than other smartwatch manufacturers, and the Vivoactive 4 continues that tradition. The Vivoactive 4s lasted about 4 days with music playing and GPS enabled on several 3.6-mile runs in my test, and can last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode. The larger Vivoactive 4 lasts about eight days on a charge, according to Garmin. The Apple Watch Series 5 lasts only 18 hours on a charge, so if battery life is important to you, the Vivoactive 4 is worth a look.
The pulse oximeter sensor significantly affects battery life. If you run the sensor day and night via separate settings in the Garmin Connect app, the watch will be empty after two days. It’s cool to see the pulse oximetry data in the app, especially when it’s logged as part of the sleep data in the app each morning, but unless you’re concerned that you might have a sleep disorder affecting your breathing, such as sleep apnea, it’s not worth the battery drain to keep it on.