Garmin Vivofit 2 review

Long-term battery life and a backlight are the plus points of this sequel

The Garmin Vivofit 2, the micro-update to the original fitness tracker of the same name has been strapped on the wrist of Wareable for the last week or so, keeping track of our steps, sleep and more.

The Vivofit 2 is a budget fitness tracker, costing just £99.99, putting it in the middle ground between the real wallet-friendly Jawbone UP Move and Misfit Flash and the bank-busting Fitbit Surge and Garmin Vivosmart.

Read on to see if it's well placed enough to earn a Wareable recommendation…

Garmin Vivofit 2: Design and build

A quick look at our Vivofit 2 images and you can see that not a lot has changed from the original Vivofit that landed last year. It's the same rubberised strap combined with a two-colour LCD display.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivoactive review

However, while the strap used to be no-frills, and incredibly likely to come open, the newcomer offers a range of interchangeable colour options (13 in total) as well as some swanky Jonathan Adler designed options, which you can buy in an accessory pack of three. There are also steel designs on offer too.

Garmin Vivofit 2 review

Sadly, our review sample was a plain black one. But like the original Vivofit, you can pop out the actual tracking module and pop it in any strap you see fit.

The unreliable strap has been improved by way of a twisty clasp that keeps it all secure, although it is a bit of a pain to get it closed and turned. Quite literally, in fact, we got a nasty pinch that woke us up one morning.

Garmin Vivofit 2: Features and UI

Garmin Vivofit 2 review

The display now packs a backlight, which you activate with a long hold of the side button. Further holding the button brings up the new stopwatch feature, which you can use to time your workouts, meaning the level of detail for your activities is a little bit more in depth.

Further holding brings up the sync and pair options, but more on that later. Syncing, unlike the original, is now automatic ‚Äď meaning it should tally with your smartphone or your connected PC using Bluetooth, whenever it's in range. Sadly, this doesn't really work in practice and more often that not you're left to manually sync by tapping the button.

What's the difference: Garmin Fenix 2 or Fenix 3

In daylight, the display is clear, and easy to read and has a somewhat retro charm. You can cycle through your recorded metrics ‚Äď the time, the date, your steps, your goals, KMs covered and calories burned ‚Äď by tapping the button. The Vivosmart 2 isn't a touchscreen affair but it's a simple, tried and tested formula, and it works well.

Unlike the Garmin Vivosmart, which keeps you updated with regards to notifications from your synced smartphone, there's no smartwatch-style updates on the Vivofit 2 which is a shame because basic functions such as incoming call and text alerts would have made it a much more significant upgrade.

Garmin Vivofit 2: Fitness tracking

Garmin Vivofit 2 review

In terms of activity tracking the Vivosmart 2 is the same bag of tricks as its older brother. It'll keep track of your steps, distance walked, calories and sleep and, like other ANT+ / Bluetooth Smart devices, it can be paired with heart rate monitor for bpm-based training.

The Vivofit 2 automatically sets your daily goals based on your recent activity; it's not just a 10,000-steps-fits-all setup, and your goal target is displayed as a countdown during the day. It's a feature we liked on the original as it makes your progress is more organic.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Forerunner 225 review

Calorie counting is done using an algorithm based on your personal stats combined with your activity, and distance recording is estimated using a calculation from the accelerometer; unlike the recently announced HTC Grip there's no built-in GPS.

The Move Bar, unique to Garmin activity trackers, also encourages more movement. After an hour of sitting on your back-side, the band gives you an audio alert and displays a red move bar that gradually builds, making you feel more and more lazy and adding to your guilt. You need to get up and walk for a couple of minutes to reset it and wait a further 10 minutes or so for the shame to subside.

There's sleep tracking on board, but it's not exactly feature-rich ‚Äď it simply tracks your levels of movement in the night, rather than providing periods of REM and the like ‚Äď and, annoyingly, you have to press and hold the band's button to tell it you're going to bed. Not ideal if you like nodding off in front of the TV.

Garmin Vivofit 2: The app

Garmin Vivofit 2 review

The Garmin Connect app and web portals have both seen significant updates in the last few months and the result is that it's now pretty comprehensive. In fact, it's the same platform that more specialised wearables such as the Fenix 3 or the Forerunner 920XT use and, if you've worn one of those before, you'll even see your historic info.

Wareable guide: Using Garmin Connect

However, if all you're using is the Vivofit 2, it is quite basic and lacks some of the slick visual elements of the Jawbone or Misfit platforms.

You can sign in using an existing web account like Yahoo or Google though, meaning one less password to remember and both web and smartphone apps present your data in a clear and concise manner. It's also nice that you can combine your Vivofit 2 stats with calorie and nutrition information from MyFitnessPal.

However, we lost count of the amount of times our Vivofit 2 lost its connection with our Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone during the day, for unknown reasons and for varying lengths of time, and we had to re-pair the device at least five times over a week's worth of use.

Syncing issues were our big bugbear with the original and it doesn't look as if much has been done to rectify the problem.

Garmin Vivofit 2: Battery life & extras

Garmin Vivofit 2 review

A major plus point for the Vivofit 2 is the fact its battery life is a whopping year long. Packing two replaceable CR1632 coin batteries, you won't need to worry about charging cables at all.

The Garmin Vivofit 2 is also 5ATM water resistant, meaning you'll have no worries taking it swimming and recording your efforts.

Garmin Vivofit 2
By Garmin
The Garmin Vivofit 2 essentially addresses a couple of the minor quibbles of the original ‚Äď most notably the lack of a backlight and the unreliable strap ‚Äď but fails to sort out our main problem its predecessor: buggy syncing. Sure, the auto-sync option makes it a touch simpler, when it works, but the amount of times you have to connect and reconnect, and the amount of times the app simply says "disconnecting" is frustrating at best, unusable at worst. Syncing-worries aside though and the Vivofit 2 is a competent, reliable-when-it-comes-to-tracking, fitness tracker, with a great battery life, decent design and affordable price-tag that, while maybe not different enough to warrant an upgrade from the original, certainly is a device first time wearable buyers might want to consider.

  • Reliable activity tracking
  • Comfortable design and build
  • Great battery life
  • Numerous syncing failures
  • No smartphone notifications
  • Not a major upgrade

What do you think?

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  • flwahm·

    This one would be great if they added heart rate or blood pressure tracking on the device, as well as sleep tracking comparable to the Basis Peak --- would be awesome. I love this has a longer battery  than the Vivosmart and Vivoactive opposed to having to charge every couple of days. I think that is important for those of us that really want 24 hour tracking. 

    Lea Hunt

    • Bea·

      Very  disappointed with mine . Can't seem to learn how to use it ! Don't find the instructions are clear ! 

  • AEC·

    Hi, thanks for your review. Only question is: does it track your swimming activity (or is it merely waterproof)? I would like to know the distance I swam, for how long and how many calories I burnt doing so. Does this work properly for this purposes? Thanks very much!

    • p.lamkin·

      No, it won't track swimming stats.

    • jknowles111·

      What I use for swimming with the viviofit2 is the activitytracker it works great for swimming. The first time I used it for swimming it saw I did 136 yards. And on strava it said 126 yards. 

      • TWF77401·

        What is this activitytracker you speak of?

    • LGLong·

      Does the vivofit2 track your time and distance when cycling? I thought it did but can't get figure out how to do it. 

    • JeanA·

      I found that while moving the arms it will track steps.....I do water fitness and while doing some of the exercises I need to move my arms at the same rate of my feet to track.

  • Dek134·

    only had my vivofit 2 for a month and already it has packed in. I was told it was probably the batteries which I replaced but it is still dead. I will be returning it for a full refund and will buy a different fitness tracker 

  • DanSparrow·

    I have to disagree with some points in this review. 

    For one, I like that the vivofit and vivofit 2 don't have smartphone notifications. I carry my phone with me while I'm working out so it'd be redundant. Additionally, the battery life is what totally sold me on these because I don't have to worry about charging it ever, and I think smart phone notifications might kill the battery. 

    I also really like the simple low profile design of them, they fit my wrist really well and are comfortable, unlike a lot of the other trackers I tried on. 

  • drake·

    No explanation in the box of how this POS works, I keep pressing the so called button and all I get is the time.  There damn server doesn't even work half the time.  Stay clear of this.

  • lol·

    I have just bought a vivofit and its too big for my wrist. i dont mean around my wrist as the strap can be made small but the actual device sticks out half an inch on either side of the front of my wrist . its too flat and needs to curve more which as its rigid it wont do. I cant wear it as it catches on everything and looks stupid. I am a normal sized woman by the way and weigh 64 kilos and 158 tall. So why are they mad e only for people with thick wrists. .

  • TKBKT·

    Love my Vivofit 2, with a few exceptions - like 1) it can update your stats by Bluetooth to only a limited number of high-priced phones;  and 2) intermittent problems with uploading of complete data (consistent and full heart rate data as an example).  

    Just fyi, you might want to update this review.  More sleep info is provided and you do not have to remember to put it in sleep mode any longer.  An update a while ago fixed this. I verified it using my device.  (You can still manually put it in sleep mode though, if you want to.) Sleep info includes bar graphs and data on movement, deep sleep, light sleep, and awake times, and sleep trends over time.

  • iamkuchibhatla·

    Is the tracking function useful for Gym workouts (treadmill, stationary bike etc) ??

  • Adventurers2·

    I've had my Vivofit2 for about 2 months. It's not accurately tracking steps. It won't sync on my mobile. Have to use the ANT stick. Disappointed with it. The reviews were great, which is why I chose it over other fitness bands. 

    • no-nonsense·

      I too bought the Vivofit2 based on good reviews, but tracking of steps is not accurate at all. It will add steps whether I am driving or sitting at a desk and has no relationship to actual activity. There is no button that I can see for sleep monitoring, calories, heart rate monitoring that I can see. Very disappointed.

      • JoeBR·

        Tracking of steps is based on your arms moves (there is no GPS). My experience is step counting is triggered by driving (although not many steps) but its very rare to be triggered when sitting (you need to shake it back and forth which is not a common move). But again it does not have GPS nor reads phone GPS which I believe is ok given price and battery approach. And all in all it will count 200 to 400 steps more in a 7k steps day which is not that bad. 

        Simple sleeping time can be triggered if you give it a long press on the button. When you wake up, you can press again and that will store the sleep hours on the app. Pretty simple and kind of useless but again sounds aligned with the price and battery approach. 

        Calories can be seen using the same button (calculated based on your step counting). Heart rate can be enabled if you have a heart rate sensor band which needs to be purchased separately (as said on the packaging and on the manual) . 

        What I would improve is the band which works but is somehow tricky to close and if not closed right might open. I believe the apple watch sport band design is a better approach although probably would trigger a price increase.

  • Chandran·

    Which feature is unique to the Garmin Vivofit 2 and not found on the original Vivofit?

    A. Number of calories burned

    B. Sleep tracking

    C, Backlit display

    D, Personalised daily goal

  • Cambo·

    I actually really enjoy my vivofit 2, it's comfortable, waterproof, tracks my steps, accurately if not I can customize will track numerous activities if you first time them(start/stop function) sync the activity then choosing edit and telling it the activity you did, and there's quite a few choices, even ones like rowing, and open swim.

    The syncing can be slow but I only sync a couple times week because it'll hold all of my data for a week, and I don't need to check my progress everyday.

    It doesn't track stationary machines because it does gage distance, however it does that without GPS.

  • Kahlua·

    Bought a vivofit 2 in July( 3 months ago) The unit packed up yesterday, I live on the Isle of Man and have driven all around the island today to try and buy replacement batteries, nobody has that type. Don't know if the batteries have gone flat, or the Vivofit 2 has packed up. Beware if you live on the Isle Of Man order spare batteries for it when you buy one.

  • gvgrc1·

    does vivofit2 track time calories for cycling

  • meg·

    do I have to keep Bluetooth on the whole time I'm wearing the vivofit 2? 

  • meg·

    do I have to keep Bluetooth on the whole time I am wearing this band? Or can I just turn it on when I'm ready to sync?

    • p.lamkin·

      Nope - just when you want to sync.

  • Charklene·

    So how do I know when the VIVOfit2 is going into sleep mode automatically (If there has been an update to do so? I cannot find any details on it)

  • Charklene·

    I have had this for 2 days now and after 22 attempted syncs, it finally synced just now. I got many "bad files uploaded" and just plan errors connecting. Also the site was under construction most of the morning. Once synced there was no sleep data. I did not put it into sleep mode to test the "auto" sleep mode theory....there is none. No "auto sleep mode" not sure where that info came from in a previous post. You have to hold the button till it says sleep. Not sure I am going to keep this since the entire idea of having it is to track your fitness/activity levels. How can you do that if you can't sync it?

  • dhpraise·

    I had mine for about 6 months. I have to say I was enjoying it just fine but, the band design they made for this is a very bad design! It kept popping out. I had my husband start putting it back in for me. I thought maybe i was not putting it together right, but it didn't help. It kept popping out to the point that I lost it!!! I am really disappointed, my husband bought it for me as a birthday gift. Please consider changing the band design so no one else looses theirs! 

    • nickskeys·


      There is an aftermarket band that you can buy that has a wristwatch type clasp that is VERY secure.   I think they run about $14.00 apiece, and come in an array of colors.

  • KHorner·

    I had my Vivofit for half a year or so, and loved many things about it.  I dislike charging my fitness devices, so the "never had to charge it once" battery on the Vivofit was like gold to me.  I liked the display very much, and it was easy to read and easy to scroll through the various outputs (steps, steps to goal, calories, etc.).  Oh, and the fact that they have a shifting goal for steps based on one's recent history is fantastic. Not "one size fits all", like all those other devices that set the goal at 10,000 and that's it.  Anyway, lots to love about this more affordable tracker.

    The one con for me was a deal breaker, however. I could never get the device to sync with my phone. Oh, actually I *could* get it to sync...sometimes...but only after grief and too much time spent.  I like my trackers and fitness watches to make my life easier, not more frustrating, so that was the end of my relationship with the Vivofit.

    All that said, I gave it to my mom, who doesn't care about looking at stats and such online or on her phone, so it all worked out. She loves it. 

  • Wladmin·

    Will rig up

    i had rec'd the FitBit Flex as a gift. Simple and functional. used for about 4 months. My wife rec'd the Garmin VivoFit (original).

    I decided to also try vivifit .... I liked the multi display... Watch, etc.... Flex was too simple.....

    My observations:


    - I like not having to charge frequently flex was every 5 days or so.....

    - also a waterproof device so seldom need to take off unlike some of the other devices like FitBit HR

    - syncing is not as easy as FitBit app, getting things to sync between the Vivofit Tracker, my smartphone and desktop took a while, but seems fine now

    . You need to actually brute force (repeated attempts) to get things synced... Not very intuitive, until you finally get it working, Note: a partial install, turns off some settings so only one thing shows (steps).  I found a helpful thread that explained it...

    I like that it can sync with heart rate monitor device, which i also purchased (as part of the bundle). But have only tested it the one time out of the box....

    Favorite Garmin feature is the Red Move bar, you would be amazed how fast the 1 hour and the 2 hour mark crop up.....

    Fitbit Flex:

    - simple, but the LED lights only display meant i was required to interface thru the app on either phone or desktop

    The ability to set alarms (vibration) is nice, Garmin lacks this

    - i showered with it and did alot of hot yoga (sweaty). It catches water in the pocket where  the tracker sits in band and gets quite smelly.... And worse,  the silicon band retains the smell..... Had to try dishsoap to msk odor, baking soda to try and absorb it... Limited success.....;  Have not noticed that with Vivofit after a couple weeks of similar use..... This may be because it is more plasticky of a band.....

    I plan to rig up a couple O-rings as safety loops in case the clasp accidentally pops off.... This should work with either device, to give you a fighting chance not to lose it.  BOTH bands have popped off, and the scary thing is they leave your wrist they land stealthily!!!!

    both help me be concious of upping my activity.

  • jennifero2324·

    I got the vivofit 2 today and it will not sync to my mobile Garmin app. Says due to me not having smart Bluetooth. Anyone know how problem can be solved?

  • Joanne·

    I have the Flex and have been using it for a couple of years. I like all of the visual features of the Vivofit 2 but am getting big discrepancies in the number o f steps. I'm wearing both the Vivofit and Flex on the same arm. I'm also testing with the stepz app on my iPhone today. Stepz and Fitbit are within a couple percentage points of each other so far. But the Vivofit is showing about 30% more steps.

    Has anyone else had this experience?

    • Janepie33·

      I have had my Vivofit 2 for a week and I think it is massively over counting my steps. It has added steps when I was sitting down on a train and while I was driving and one I day woke up to find that I had walked 59 steps without even leaving my bed!

      It's a bit frustrating, but the red bar gets me up and moving instead of slouched in front of the TV.

  • DaveT·

    My wife has just purchased a Vivofit2. Likes everything about it,but having problems getting distance covered more accurate. Currently way out. Did the whole step count/distance process but wit a stride length of .84 meters,only registered 2.2km instead of the correct 4.5km. So we increased the stride length to 1.5m, but only registered 2.8km on a 5km walk. This was on he same course so terrain was identical. Really don't know what to do now,and with our fitness/health programme,distance is critical. No problems with syncing but it seems that the stride length changes are not getting through to the device.

    • DaveT·

      Didn't mention that the steps on the latest walk seemed quite accurate,just over 6000: so using actual stride length of .84km this would be pretty close to the 5km mark,which was the actual distance. Si it appears that the steps,or strides are not registering e correct length. Is a step the same as a stride?

  • momof5·

    I purchased the Garmin Vivofit 2 after reading and comparing the different activity trackers.  I bought this one with the ANT stick and heart rate band bundle together.  I have absolutely LOVED this!  It's comfortable (had to get used to the band feel on my arm), the new lock feature on the band saves it from falling off or coming loose.  I had to set my steps/strides in the Garmin connect so my steps/distance was accurate.  Played with that a little as I saw that my Runkeeper on my phone uses GPS and Garmin does runkeeper showed my actual miles running/walking, whereas the Garmin was a little behind.  Just a little tweaking seemed to fix that.    I love how it will automatically sync your data even if you miss syncing it a night or two.  I read that it will save for up to a week, which was helpful when I was in Cabo and couldn't get wifi for 24 hours or more and was surprised when it showed my previous two days steps/activities!! 

    I use everything on the Garmin connect and I can look back at what I have done as it keeps everything for months past.  It does not seem to sync automatically when I log on, as I have to refresh it a couple of times to make it all sync on my computer.    I also like the sleep button feature and used that for a week to see how well I was sleeping..shows your deep sleep (no movement) and light sleep (movement) and how many hours each and even a graph showing the times you were in deep sleep vs light.  It is very accurate as I could see when I got up in the middle of the night and the graph showed the exact time I was up!!

    The only problem I had was when, after 3 weeks of continuous use, my Garmin connect notified me that my batteries were already low!  These are to last up to a year+, so I was pretty shocked..but not much.  I purchased this as a Garmin fully refurbished bundle with a 1 year warranty, so I figured the batteries weren't replaced.  I contacted them thru support, and within 24 hours, my free replaceable batteries are on their way!  BTW, when it shows your batteries are low, I am now on day 8 of "batteries low, please replace".  So it's comforting to know that when you get the alert on your computer, they won't die immediately!  You can find the replaceable CR1632 batteries at most hardware stores for about $2.50 for a pack of 2.  I went ahead and got them just in case mine didn't arrive in time.  I would like to know if it stores your information up to the death of the batteries..I would hate to have lost all that tracking.

    All in all, many people have reported this in bad reviews, and I have to totally disagree.  My husband has the fitbit and has to charge it via cable every 2 days or so.  I love how this will last up to a year and I can wear in the shower or the pool where his is not waterproof.  That was another selling point for me as I am outdoors constantly, boating, swimming and didn't want to worry about water or running in the rain.

    I also love that you can buy colored bands for this to match your outfits or just style it out instead of having just black.  Way to go, Garmin!  Just please work on your syncing mode so you don't have to continually refresh on computer to get it to pop up when you are competing with others each day! :)

    Love this and would buy it again and recommend to all that want an amazing, functional tracker that is comfortable, readable, easy to use and see and GREAT on the price tag when you don't want to spend more than $150..go with the Garmin Vivofit2!! 

  • Tomswim·

    Bought one thinking it was suitable for tracking swimming, not really the right product but wearing it on my ankle and using the tracker/stop-watch function has rendered it usable.
    Also assumed it would be a gps unit being from Garmin, wrong again, apparently their swim tracker watch doesn't use gps in swim mode either ?
    Waterproof so wearing it 24/7.
    I'm finding it to be a nifty little time wasting toy.

  • xbrymilx·

    I have had the Vivofit 2 for over a month.  In the meantime I tried the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Blaze.  I came back to the Vivofit 2 each time.  The main reasons were that the HR monitors on the two Fitbit units are just not very accurate during workouts.  I also found out how important not having to charge the battery is and how important not having to remove it prior to getting in the shower is.  I did not get anywhere near the 4-5 days of battery life on either of the Fitbits.  

    The Vivofit does exactly what it claims to do.  I don't understand why reviewers list as a con, features that it does not claim to have.  I have seen multiple reviews listing no GPS as a con.  It does not claim to have GPS!  It does not claim to count steps!  It does not have 24/7 HR monitoring.  

    Now for some real cons.  I have experience some sync issues, perhaps 4 or 5 in the past month.  Not a huge deal, but Garmin should address this.  The app is so-so when compared to Fitbit's.  It would be nice to see a Time Spent in each HR Zone for the workout summary.  The app appears to have the function but mine always says No Data Available.  It would also be nice to add a target for calories burned.  There is a calendar that shows goals achieved.  As a wishlist item, it would be nice if it also displayed in some way days that you worked out on the actual calendar so you could see at a glance how well you are progressing for the month.  One nice feature is that it does allow you to manually add a workout, which is nice.  But without the heart rate data, the calories are not very accurate.  But it is better than nothing.

    All-in-all, this is a good tracker especially if you like low maintenance. Not having to charge the battery or remember to take if off around water is awesome.

    • xbrymilx·

      Correction: I meant the Vivofit 2 does not count stairs/elevation. It does count steps.

      • vivofit2-exer·

        Does the Vivofit 2 measure your distance (or elevation) on a mtn bike?

  • cin·

    Am I missing something?  I just got the Vivofit 2 and it is supposed to have a backlight feature.  There is no backlight function coming up when I scroll through the functions. Am I doing something wrong?

    • jmas77·

      press the button for a second and the backlight will come on. you won't be able to tell the difference in a brightly lot area, but in a dark room you can. the backlight doesn't stay on all the time.

  • cheeselove104·

    This product was amazing. Got it delivered recently and It has everything that one needs. I have experienced other fitness trackers but this one is by far the most reliable and easy to use.

  • kmswb·

    Does the Vivofit 2 have a stopwatch function? If not which fitness trackers do?

  • Nickc609·


  • vivofit2-exer·

    Does the Vivofit 2 track mountain biking?  I tried using it today for distance and nothing was recorded.  I saw on another comment that someone put it around their ankle when biking.  What do you recommend? On the Garmin interface do you think I should just map out the ride and record how long it took?

  • joachim99·

    I lost my auto-stick for my watch vivofit2 how to get an other one myself Sn 43 0438814

  • SickofVivofit2·

    Battery life of a year? Dont make me laugh. I have never had a set of batteries last more than 5 weeks in mine. And today when I synched I found I had lost a whole week of data - a week in which I had walked about 100K steps. Im done with it. When these batteries die in a week or two I will switch to another brand of tracker, which is sad as I liked the fact that all the Garmin stuff was integrated and had a single dashboard, but Im not throwing any good money after bad on this rubbish.

  • Stevens1952·

    Not enamoured of the Vivofit 2. Had the Vivofit 1 for 2 years and wish I hadn't changed. Far fron being an 'upgrade' it does not give as accurate step count as the old one , more and the band is so soft that It is often impossible to change view as the strap just doesn't connect to the part on the watch. I used to be able to scroll through functuons easily whilst walking or jogging with the V1 but now have to stop and hold band tightly. Both sizes perform badly.

  • Lugenia·

    Have you ever thought about putting a 'diet' tracker on the same site as the Vivofit 2's app. Something like My Fitness Pal, etc, so that we can track our daily Carbs, Protein & Fat intake along with our activity, all within the same app?

  • dragonmyst·

    this is the tracker I have, and I am very pleased with it! I used to have the fit bit charge, and I like this one better due to the battery life,and secure clasp. I lost my charge when it fell off, the clasp  wasn't  very secure. This isn't even possible with this. I like the app a whole lot better too. I like the social aspect of challenges and the like.