Garmin Vivosmart review: ‘just smart enough’

Garmin’s newest fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart, is an activity tracker and smartwatch rolled into one. Like most fitness trackers, Garmin Vivosmart counts steps taken, calories burned and distance walked. But the device also syncs with your smartphone, so you can get notifications on your wrist about incoming calls, texts, Facebook messages and Tweets. At $169.99, vívosmart is pricier than Soleus Go, another fitness tracker that also features some smartwatch capabilities and that retails for about $60. However, Garmin Vivosmart costs less than smartwatches geared toward fitness enthusiasts, such as the Samsung Gear 2, which retails for $299.

Garmin markets its new tracker as a tool that can make your daily routines more healthful. The device automatically sets individualized step goals that challenge you to increase your activity throughout the day. Garmin Vivosmart also keeps track of your downtime, giving you a gentle reminder to get up and move if you’ve been sitting for an hour or more. [Best Fitness Tracker Bands]

Garmin Vivosmart - Black (Large)


SMART NOTIFICATIONS - Monitor calls, texts, meetings, emails and other notifications with vibration alerts so you don't miss a beat; SLEEK TOUCHSCREEN BAND - Double tap to reveal the hidden OLED ...

Made by: Garmin, Available: In stock

I used Garmin Vivosmart for a week to see if the device could get me moving more throughout the day. Here’s what I found:


Overall Rating: 5.7/10

Garmin Vivosmart really did get me to think more about my daily physical activity, and motivated me to work toward a new goal every day. The device’s smartphone features were also useful, allowing me to check a text or see who was calling me while I was running or walking the dog.

However, Garmin Vivosmart wasn’t very user-friendly, and I sometimes got frustrated when trying to tap or swipe the device’s screen.

Garmin Vivosmart – Design/Comfort: 6/10

Garmin Vivosmart is worn on the wrist and comes in five different color options. However, the colorful part of the band is actually hidden underneath the device’s black plastic outer layer, so no one but you will really notice if your tracker has a pink underbelly or a blue one.

Though it’s part smartwatch, Garmin Vivosmart is definitely built more like a fitness band than a timepiece. Since the device weighs just 0.6 ounces, it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing this tracker — that is, until you get a phone call or text. Even though it’s small, the vivosmart’s vibrating notifications are strong — designed to get your attention and spur you to action. The screen of the Garmin Vivosmart is easy to read both indoors and out, and you can control the brightness of the display from the main menu.

The device comes in small and large sizes. I have a medium-size wrist and wore the small version of the tracker, which fit just fine, but I had a little trouble getting the device strapped to my wrist. I finally figured out that it was easiest to put the Garmin Vivosmart on upside down and then flip it around so I could see the display screen. Once it was on my wrist, the device was very comfortable, which was good since I wore it 24 hours a day (it’s water resistant, so I kept it on in the shower and the pool).

Interacting with the device was another story. In order to start tracking your stats, you’re supposed to double-tap the screen. This sounds simple enough, but I found it often took at least a few tries before I got the screen to light up. I had a similar problem when I swiped my finger across the screen to see my stats (such as steps taken, or calories burned). It was frustrating that I had to keep repeating my actions to make the device do what I wanted.

Garmin Vivosmart – User-friendliness: 5/10

Garmin Vivosmart comes with a very small instruction manual, which led me to believe that setting up the device would mostly be self-explanatory. But that wasn’t the case. Unlike with other trackers I’ve reviewed, such as Moov, setting up the Garmin Vivosmart wasn’t intuitive. The device syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth, but I had to try a few times before I got the tracker to pair with my iPhone. I also had to re-pair the device after a few days because it had stopped syncing with my phone.

There are a few apps you can use with Garmin Vivosmart, including Garmin Connect Mobile and MyFitnessPal, which lets you record information about your meals and workouts. Garmin Connect is supposed to sync with your device automatically after the tracker is paired, but I had to pair my device twice before the app started syncing data automatically.

Once I was all synced up, however, the app worked seamlessly, getting updated info from the fitness tracker periodically throughout the day. The data is displayed in an easy-to-read format on your phone, showing you how many steps you’ve taken and calories you’ve burned, and how many more you have to go to meet your goals.

However, I didn’t understand the calories section of this app. My tracker faithfully showed me, on my wristband, how many calories I had burned throughout the day, but I couldn’t get that data to appear in the app on my phone. Instead, the Garmin mobile app directed me to the MyFitnessPal app, where I was prompted to enter highly detailed information about my meals. At this point, I just gave up, since I wasn’t sure of the serving size of the omelet I had eaten for breakfast. But if you’re really interested in tracking calories, and will take time to enter detailed info, the app seems well-equipped to help you.

Garmin Vivosmart – Value of information: 5/10

Garmin Vivosmart does a great job of tracking steps taken and can also be used to track calories, sleep and distance walked. Unfortunately, once this data is collected, neither the device nor the Garmin Connect app give many hints on how to use the information. I’m not sure how my step goal was calculated every day, or how many steps per day is ideal by Garmin’s standards. The device also tracked my movement while I slept— including total time slept and light versus deep sleep — but I wasn’t sure what to do with this data either

The smartwatch features of the Garmin Vivosmart were useful; when I was running, I could just leave my phone in my pocket and read texts right on my wrist. However, there’s no way to respond to texts or answer calls with the device, so I still had to take my phone out of my pocket to text or call someone back.

Garmin Vivosmart tracks how long you remain inactive and then buzzes you on the wrist to tell you to get moving. While I wasn’t surprised to learn that I spend a lot of time sitting (I’m a writer, after all), it was good for me to see just how long I can go without walking around. The device’s move bar automatically buzzed me after an hour of downtime, and I found that those buzzes were very helpful.

Garmin Vivosmart In the pool

Like most fitness trackers I’ve brought into the pool, the Garmin Vivosmart does an OK job of registering activity in the water. I used the device while swimming laps, jogging in the shallow end, doing kickboard exercises and treading water. It registered some of my movements and recorded them as steps.

The Garmin Vivosmart also lets you keep track of how much time you’ve spent in the pool. However, to do this, you have to press the activity-recording button on the tracker before you jump in the water. I found it almost impossible to manipulate the device’s display screen once it was wet.

Garmin Vivosmart – Enjoyment/Inspiration: 7/10

I liked using Garmin Vivosmart even though I wasn’t always sure what to do with the information it tracked. The device got me to think more about my everyday physical activity. And the “move bar” feature was really good at getting me on my feet every hour or so.

While I’m not a competitive person, I found I really like competing against myself — pushing myself to complete my step goal every day and cover a bit more ground than I had the day before. If I were a competitive person, I probably would have enjoyed Garmin Connect’s community feature, which lets users interact with one another and compare stats. You can also see how your physical accomplishments measure up to those of professional athletes.

Another really enjoyable feature of the Garmin Vivosmart is its super-impressive battery life. I wore the device every day for a week and only had to charge it once.

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Garmin Vivosmart - Black (Large)


SMART NOTIFICATIONS - Monitor calls, texts, meetings, emails and other notifications with vibration alerts so you don't miss a beat; SLEEK TOUCHSCREEN BAND - Double tap to reveal the hidden OLED ...

Start from: $140.00
amazon Garmin Vivosmart review: just smart enough
Item Weight

0.6 ounces

Product Dimensions

8.6 x 1 x 0.4 inches

Item model number



1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

Display Size

1 inches

Battery Life

168 hours

First of all, I will recommend this smart wristband, Garmin Vivosmart, to other people.Then, bad things first.Cons:1) Don't include the complete user's manual within the packaging. It does come with a "quick start". But that brief "instructions" do not tell you about all the features of Vivosmart. To save your time, the link is Don't support non-Latin characters, such as Chinese. On the wristband, it will just skip non-Latin characters. (Note: skip, not replace them with squares or spaces) But it's fine. I didn't expect to check messages from this small band. As a reminder of what's going on, it should be enough.3) The companion app on the phone needs more work.4) Price could be lower. :)Now, it comes the good things.Pros:1) Notifications! It's the number one reason I choose Vivosmart. I used to own a Fitbit Force, which was guaranteed with a "coming soon" notification function that never came before the bands were recalled. I paired it with my iPhone 5s. The notification feature works perfectly so far. And thus, I have to turn off notification for some unused apps in order not to be annoyed.2) Waterproof! It has a waterproof rate of 5 ATM. It means that you can definitely swim with the Vivosmart on. But please make sure that you attach the black clasp, which is included, in order to secure your band from falling off. If you swim in salted (sea) water, don't forget to clean the band with clean water afterwards.3) Anti-lost/find-my-phone function! You can use the wrist band to find your phone when they are still connected through Bluetooth. Vivosmart will make your phone play a sound even in silent mode while you are trying to find it.Read more ›
September 15, 2014
I have used virtually every fitness band since the original Jawbone UP disaster. (UP, Nike, Polar, FitBit, Shine, etc.)I have also tried the Pebble Steel smart watch. But a smart watch is a notification / control device first and a health device second. Plus battery life typically is no more than 1 day.All of the monitors had strengths and weaknesses.I am not a fitness fanatic, but I am a senior citizen who is of necessity health conscious.Of the simple devices I liked the UP24, but the way the bracelet fit was a problem for me. I was constantly catching it on clothing etc. But their ecosystem was the best I have seen to date.Of all the fitness monitors with display, I have best liked the Polar Loop, the Garmin Vivofit and now the Vivosmart. I prefer those three because they can pair with a heart rate monitor for those times where I am at the gym and need to stay in a particular HR zone.The Polar loop was excellent BUT the touch display required a solid connection to your wrist before a finger touch was detected. Plus when you are in motion you have to use both hands to see the display.The Garmin Vivofit was near perfect for me. I loved the battery life and the always on display. I didn't like not being able to tell the time at night.The Vivosmart is the best of the lot for MY use. Water PROOF. Reasonable battery life, it turns on with a raise of my wrist, it has all the fitness features I need (including heart rate) AND it has a moderate number of alert capabilities.I have carefully tuned my iPhone to only include certain types of alerts in the notification center. For example email only from those in my VIP group. That keeps the number of alerts on my wrist to a minimum.My only issue is with the Garmin Connect service.Read more ›
September 14, 2014
I Love it ~I won't go to in detail because on this review because many users have already given the Pros and Cons of this Awesone Device which are the same views as mine so I won't Beat a Dead Horse. I will say that after returning my useless up24 that counted my hand movements instead of my footsteps, I am Proud to say that I'm an owner of this device. After 3 weeks I've walked 200K steps lost 2.2 lbs and have correlated my steps against the pedometer in my iPhone 6+.My unreliable up24 logged 100+ steps from my Bed to the Bathroom which actually took 19. (Review posted on Amazon) For users hoping that unreliable device will help you reach your fitness goals... Good Luck. Tidbits on this device.. I've challenged other VivoSmart users and enjoy battling other fitness gurus to see who will have walked the most steps via their Connect App and enjoy tracking my sleep patterns.Pros : Alarm clockIPhone notificationsBrief snippet of emailsNow MyFitnessPal Works and SyncsComfortDesignheart rate monitorWater ProofCons: wish it synced Better with IPhone like the Fitbit App:WORTH EVERY STINKING PENNY !I would buy again, it does all that I need but if they come out with a new version I would get it and the band on the back fixes the issue VivoFit users had when the device slipped off~ BRAVO GARMIN
January 11, 2015
Garmin Vivosmart review: ‘just smart enough’
7.3 Total Score

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