Garmin Vivoactive: Everything you need to know about the sporty all-rounder

The specs, price and release date details for the new Vivoactive fitness smartwatch
Garmin Vivoactive: All you need to know

Garmin was keen to cover all the wearable tech bases during CES 2015. Not only did it reveal the feature packed Fenix 3 and out new, chic, designs for its Vivofit 2 band, but it has also announced the multi-sport-tastic smartwatch, the Garmin Vivoactive as well.

Essential reading: Garmin Vivoactive HR vs Fitbit Blaze

With Android Wear-esque styling, GPS connectivity and a go-it-alone OS and app store, Garmin obviously thinks it's on to a winner. With so many sporty bases covered, as well as notifications and music controls, the Vivoactive may well be the jack-of-all trades you've been waiting for.

Garmin Vivoactive: Design

Garmin Vivoactive release date price review

Smartwatches have moved on from the time when Sony could get away with a blank, black square on a strap but Garmin doesn't seem to have got the message, sadly. While the Vivofit 2 gets all sorts of colours and patterns, the Vivoactive comes in just black or white models, albeit with a fairly thin 8mm body. Its full dimensions are 43.8 x 38.5 x 8mm and it weighs just under 40g.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivoactive

It does have interchangeable straps though, and it's not half as chunky as the likes of a Fenix 3 which makes for much more of an everyday design that can be hidden under shirt sleeves. It's also lightweight enough to be suitable to the sports its designed to work with - but more of that later.

Garmin Vivoactive: Colour touchscreen

As with the Fenix 3, the Vivoactive uses a colour LCD that Garmin says is easily readable in direct sunlight. The difference here is that the Vivoactive's is touchscreen. There are two capacitive buttons below the screen, as well as buttons on either side, but otherwise swiping and pressing icons is how you will navigate the device.

Wareable guide: Running better with Garmin Connect

The display is a fairly mediocre 1.38-inch, 205 x 148 pixel one, giving a ppi count of 183. To put that in perspective, even the original Android Wear smartwatches - the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live - beat this easily.

However, you're not likely to be interested in the Vivoactive for its display - it's the sports features that you're after.

Garmin Vivoactive: Sports and fitness

Garmin makes great GPS running watches. It also is a dab hand when it comes to golf wearables and, with the Vivofit and the Vivosmart, the company has proved its credentials when it comes to fitness tracking as well. So why not combine the lot? That's exactly what the Vivoactive does, and some...


The Garmin Vivoactive is more than a casual running aid - it's actually got a lot in common with the dedicated running watch, the Forerunner 620 - as it offers not only GPS run tracking but also advice on pace and cadence. You'll have to strap a separate heart rate monitor strap on to make the most of the bpm training but, for everyday runners, there's plenty on board the Vivoactive to be excited about including post-run summaries containing calories burned and personal records.


The Vivoactive takes the features of the company's basic golf wearable - the S2 - and adds them to the list of functions of the new device. So that's details of more than 38,000 courses around the world, with real-time on the course information on pin yardage and dog-leg and hazard lay-ups. There's also a digital scoreboard and you can record your drive lengths with one tap of a button.


The GPS-powered cycling app records your time on the bike, the distance covered, and your speed and calories.


Don't worry about your SWOLF, the Vivoactive has that covered too. The accelerometer combines with an algorithm to determine distance, laps, calories burned, session average, interval and length pace; as well as the number of strokes per length and interval and session averages.

Fitness tracking

Of course, this being a Vivo branded device, basic activity tracking is on board too - so steps, calories and so on, and the Garmin Move Bar - designed to keep you, er, moving - is also present and correct.

Garmin Vivoactive: Smartwatch skills

Garmin Vivoactive release date price review

On top of the sports and fitness features, the Vivoactive also acts as a basic smartwatch with notifications from your smartphone for incoming calls, emails, calendar reminders and texts popping up on the display. Social media updates from Twitter and Facebook are also officially on board and we're told other third party app notifications will be available too.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Forerunner 920XT review

Music playback controls are available to the user and there will also be functions to control a Garmin VIRB action camera.

Garmin Vivoactive: Connect IQ platform

Like the Fenix 3, Connect IQ is present on the Vivoactive, which means a host of apps and add-ons will also be available. The fact that Garmin's new software is open source means that the Vivoactive will evolve over time too - as developers tap into the SDK.

Custom watch faces will also be part of the Connect IQ platform and, of course, all the activity data is synced to the powerful Garmin Connect ecosystem - check out our comprehensive guide to Garmin's online portal.

Garmin Vivoactive: Battery life and extras

Garmin Vivoactive release date price review

The rechargeable battery lasts up to 3 weeks in the basic activity-tracking mode, or up to 10 hours using GPS functions. That's pretty impressive, we're sure you'll agree - we will of course test these claims during our full review.

It's 5ATM water resistant rated, that means it's good in up to 50m of water.

Garmin Vivoactive: Price and release date

There's no exact release date at the moment, all we know is that the Vivoactive is coming in the second quarter of 2015.

As for price, it's launching at a very decent $250 in the US, £199.99 in the UK.


  • bing says:

    Does the Garmin vivoactive read and record HR while swimming with the HR strap?

    • p.lamkin says:

      Yes, it should do - make sure you use a waterproof HR monitor though ;-)

    • CoachDavid says:

      no the straps don't transmit underwater. You can look up the steps on garmin. They have that in the spec

  • sungrd1 says:

    It's too bad that did not think to curve the watch so it fit better on the wrist.  Easy for me to say, there's probably a ton of logistics and costs for doing that but without a bend it's pretty big. 

    • Kidney says:

      not very comfortable wearing it all day. Face too big and square I think.

  • Quadradomus says:

    I have had the Vivoactive for just 24 hours now. I want to like it very much, but is it just me or what?  I find the direction manual to be very vague.  It is the most non-intuitive thing I've ever owned.  I basically just scroll through the screens, trying to guess how to operate it.

    Has anyone out there found a web link or something that gives a better demonstration of how to operate this tracker?  If you listen to that one online reviewer, "DC Rainmaker?"  He will start off by saying to put the tracker into "Bluetooth" mode, but he doesn't give any indication of how to do that.  Yes, I realize it is within settings, but that was after a lot of trial and error.

    Today this thing died after just 10 hours of usage.   OK... so I see I was in GPS mode, and that is expected.  So.... don't I need to be in GPS mode all the time?   If I am having it track my steps during the day, how would it do this without being in GPS mode?  Maybe I'm missing something.

    • j.stables says:

      Firstly, have you succeeded in pairing the device with the Garmin Connect app on your phone? Secondly, you don't need to start any modes to start tracking your daily life (steps, sleep, etc), it does it automatically. You only need to enter one of the modes when you start doing sport, and then end that activity when you're done.

    • Mitra says:

      GPS isn't needed to track steps. These trackers use accelerometers to measure steps. The GPS is intended for training purposes to know what speed, distance, and grade (% incline) traveled during exercise. It helps to pin point training intensities you may need to work on.

  • NeoVdV says:

    When I start an activity of course I like to see all the data for that activity all the time displayed

    I also would like to have the possibility to go see the main watch face to check the actual time !!!  sure when walking !

    • sasky says:

      Press and hold down the watch face for a few seconds and the time will be displayed.

      • MattS says:

        Thanks for this tip. I was unaware of this feature. Is there a user-guide that states this and I just missed it? If no, this is an opportunity for improvement.

  • Jignesh says:

    I have Ben using vivoactive for the past Frgrew months and very happy with it. I'd like to know how to goto the watch mode while doing an activity? While running the watch is that function mode but then I'm not able to the current time. Any suggestions. 

  • Kidney says:

    I wore it at night to track my sleep and it vibrated vigorously at 3am and woke me up! Not worn it since at night.

    • jogger says:

      You didn't give details as to why it vibrated! Did it say one of your kidneys is missing?!

    • Mark9375 says:

      A bit late but never the less 

      Go to the activity tracking page (the one that displays steps distance calories etc) then hit the capacitive menu button and click start sleep 

      Now it will not bother you at night (make sure to wake it up by long pressing the action button and click the wake up button) 

  • Vivek72 says:

    Sometime when I am on my long run - display switch from showing me total distance and total time to lap mode. Has anybody know how to make it come out of lap mode to total distance mode? Thanks!

  • Davidst says:

    is it possible to upload info from my myzone heart rate monitor to the connect app?

  • thegate says:

    How do I change date on vivoactive HR.  When I charge through laptop it keeps dropping the date to a week before.

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