Until the color display-packing Garmin Venu arrived on the scene, the Vivoactive was the watch in Garmin's collection that you reached for if you wanted a mix of smartwatch and sports watch features.
It first emerged in 2015 as a square, feature-packed option in Garmin's range and we were big fans of that first Vivoactive and the iterations that have followed it since then.
The Vivoactive is the jack-of-all-trades Garmin device, aimed at the general user. In many ways it's comparable to the Fenix 6 in the breadth and scope of tracked sports ‚Äď but the level of metrics and detail for each is quite basic. However, for those that like to run, swim, golf and keep an eye on their fitness, it's a powerful device.
The impressive Vivoactive 4 landed in the second half of 2019 ‚Äď and has been a roaring success.
And despite the Garmin Venu (and cheaper Venu Sq) taking over as Garmin's proper smartwatch, the Vivoactive 4 remains popular thanks to better battery life.
So what can we expect from a Garmin Vivoactive 5? Has the rumor mill served up anything so far? What do Garmin watches that have launched since the 4 tell us about what could be heading to the watch next? Here's what we think we can expect from the next Garmin Vivoactive.
Garmin Vivoactive 5 release date and price
So when could we see the Vivoactive 5? The Vivoactive 4 was announced in September 2019 with the first version of the Vivoactive 3 landing in 2017. A 2021 update seems entirely reasonable as it would follow roughly the same window between launches.
In terms of pricing, we'd highly expect it to be around the price it sits at now. The larger Vivoactive 4 launched at $349.99 with the smaller Vivoactive 4S coming in at $349.99. Both can now be found for less if you shop around.
Staying around this price would be a key way once again to separate the Vivoactive from the Venu, which offers most of the same features, but crucially has that full color AMOLED touchscreen display.
Vivoactive 5 Sq ‚Äď and a cheaper model?
There hasn't really been any talk of Garmin adding a square alternative, especially as it moved away from the design used on the early versions of the Vivoactive. But it did decide to introduce a square version of the Venu after initially offering a round design to house its first color display.
The Venu Sq, as well as the change in shape, also drove down the cost. So there's chance we could see a cheaper Vivoactive, aimed at heading off the threat of the likes of Huawei and Amazfit.
We were pretty happy with the move to a round face, though Garmin may well entertain the idea of bringing back the square, or a more rectangular look this time, if there's demand for it.
It already offers the current Vivoactive in two sizes, so we wouldn't entirely rule out the idea of a version that takes design cues from the Venu Sq too.
Garmin has actually brought LTE connectivity to the Vivoactive already when it introduced the Vivoactive 3 Music Connected by Verizon in early 2019. The issue here, as the name indicates, is that it was only available through Verizon.
Since then, there hasn't been another Garmin to offer that untethered life, but with the likes of Fossil Group and tech brands like Oppo, along with Samsung and Apple, offering that LTE support, it might signal a good time for Garmin to bring it back on a much wider scale.
Now having seen the impact that using LTE can have on watches that already provide it, no doubt Garmin will want to be able to deliver it without hampering battery performance.
If the Vivoactive 3 was its move to dip its toes into adding that extra connectivity, now might be the time to bring it back properly.
Daily workout suggestions
When Garmin announced the Forerunner 745, the natural triathlon watch successor to the 735XT, one of the new software features it introduced was the its new Daily Workout Suggestions.
It's a feature that taps into the heart-based analytics generated by Firstbeat, which Garmin now owns. The feature is currently aimed at runners and cyclists and looks at effort, current level of training and recovery level to recommend running or cycling-focused workouts based on those insights.
It's a feature we praised in our time with the 745 and one that has since rolled out to other watches like the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945. It may well be one that Garmin decides to keep for its Forerunner range, but it feels like a great one to have on the Vivoactive and other watches too.
Animated workouts 2.0
Along with the Venu, the Vivoactive 4 debuted Garmin's new animated workouts feature which you can follow on the watch for activities like yoga and Pilates. It was a pretty well implemented feature, but it does feel like there's scope for it to evolve and we are sure Garmin has plans to do just that.
You already have the ability to create custom workouts, but we think offering a richer collection of workouts you can follow from across a wider range of activities, plus richer animations to show off those exercises, is the way to go.
Time for a smart assistant?
Along with LTE, one other feature Garmin has so far steered clear of is bringing a voice assistant to its watches. It's the kind of feature we've been largely underwhelmed by on watches, though the Amazon Alexa integration on Fitbit's smartwatches and even the offline voice assistant on Huami's latest Amazfit smartwatches have shown promise.
The presence of a smart assistant on a sports-focused smartwatch actually makes a lot of sense. Especially when you're in the middle of a workout and don't want to reach for your phone.
There's been no indication really that Garmin will take the Vivoactive series down this route, but the idea of something like the offline voice assistant we've seen from Amazfit navigating menus and sub-menus, and offering more assistance with its fitness-focused features, seems pretty desirable.