Garmin Vivosmart HR review

Garmin's HR tracking band goes head-to-head with Fitbit

The only surprising thing about the release of the Garmin Vivosmart HR was that it didn't happen sooner. An update to the original Vivosmart tracker, the new version adds the same optical heart rate monitor as the new flagship Garmin Forerunner 235.

With the Fitbit Charge HR dominating the market and the Polar A360 promising heart rate tracking from the wrist, Garmin needed to act. And given it's started to incorporate optical technology into its running watches, a heart rate monitoring fitness tracker was an inevitability.

Essential reading: Vivosmart HR+ vs Fitbit Alta

But this is no clone. The Garmin Vivosmart HR offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring, smartwatch-style notifications and workout tracking for £119.99, which puts it in direct competition with the Fitbit Charge HR.

That feature set puts it within a relatively narrow niche of wearables. But should you buy it? Read on to find out.

Update: We've just reviewed the Garmin Vivosmart HR+, the upgraded version with GPS built in. If you're a runner, check it out.

Garmin Vivosmart HR: Design and features

As usual, we'll start off with a dissection of the look and feel. Sure, for many it's the quality of the tech that's paramount, but if we're going to be wearing something 24/7, it has to look good and be comfortable on our wrist.

The Garmin Vivosmart HR is chunky, that's for sure. It's comparable to the Microsoft Band 2 (without the stupid bulge on the strap) and not exactly couture.

The design is black and bland, and it's doubtlessly a piece of tech. It does come in two sizes for smaller wrists, but neither does the job of appearing feminine. The only thing going for the design is that it's so inoffensive it never stands out or jars. It looks relatively sleek and rarely snags or catches on clothing/jacket sleeves. It's also lightweight and you'll easily forget about it.

Another upside is the 5 ATM "water resistance" rating, which means it's good for the pool and wearing in the shower.

Check it out: Best waterproof fitness trackers

The screen itself is a 160 x 68 pixel LCD touchscreen with a backlight for reading in the dark that's initiated by covering the screen with your hand. It's basic, but does a decent job of showing your stats with a swipe across the display. The upside, however, is that the time is displayed permanently on the screen, so it does a good job of doubling as a watch.

The band will track your steps, sleep and flights of stairs ascended, and constantly keep tabs on your heart rate. In addition, it will monitor the amount of active minutes and how sedentary you are, and a lack of movement builds up on the Move bar. When the Move bar is filled you'll need to move around to clear it. It's no less annoying than any other nag tech, but relatively effective.

Read this: Garmin Forerunner 630 review

You can also skip music from the wrist and it works nicely with most music playing apps. Of course, a big part of the Vivosmart HR's feature set is the smartwatch notifications. We'll dedicate a section to that further down, but suffice to say the screen does an admirable job of keeping text readable and sharp, even if it's not quite big enough for full messages.

One slightly random complaint: the vibration motor inside the Vivosmart HR is horrible. Every buzz drills away at such a frequency it sets our teeth on edge, and it's damned noisy as well. A world away from the Apple Watch's lovely Taptic engine, it's something that needs to be addressed.

Garmin Vivosmart HR: Activity and sports

The main aim of the Vivosmart HR is fitness tracking, and that aspect is done with aplomb.

As you swipe through the screen you'll get updates on your steps against your goal, flights of stairs climbed, active minutes for the week, calories burned, distance walked in the day and your current heart rate.

Like the Fitbit Charge HR, the Garmin Vivosmart HR keeps tabs on your heart throughout the day and displays your resting heart rate on the watch. Any regular reader of Wareable will know the importance we place on resting heart rate as a metric of improving health, so having it measured on the wrist is a good thing. This is one area that the Vivosmart HR excels over its main rival Polar: the A360 while almost identical in terms of features does not use its optical monitor 24/7, and will not track resting heart rate.

Essential reading: Garmin Vivosmart HR tips and tricks

We were also impressed with the accuracy of the resting HR figure. Fitbit tracks your resting heart rate in its app as well, but we found Garmin's to be a lot more accurate.

Step tracking was also accurate and we tested against the Misfit Shine 2 and Fitbit Charge HR and didn't find any major discrepancies between the three. A couple of hundred steps difference across 14,000 in the day is pretty good.

Sleep is also tracked well, and unlike the original Vivosmart, the latest version will start tracking slumber automatically. You will need to check the stats in the Garmin Connect app, and it shows a weekly breakdown of your sleep quality as well a deeper look at each day. You get a graph showing time spent in light and deep sleep, as well as a second chart plotting movement. Unfortunately, the Vivosmart HR doesn't utilise the heart rate tech much during sleep, so there's little in the way of advanced metrics on offer, such as REM sleep.

So far, so good. With excellent daily tracking the Vivosmart HR is off to a strong start ‚Äď but what of more vigorous activity? Well, the Garmin is capable of tracking exercise sessions, but it's all a bit complicated. We'll try to unravel it here.

When you're heading out for a workout, you can press the button on the Garmin Vivoactive and start a tracking mode. There's no GPS built in, so distances will never be totally exact.

We took it out for a number of runs, and found the distances reported to be fairly on the money. Of course, if you're hunting down a PB then nothing short of total accuracy will be enough, but if you want to factor runs and gym workouts into your daily goals it's a nice touch.

There is an issue however. We took our Vivosmart HR out against a Garmin Fenix 3 with a chest strap for a couple of short runs, and the Vivosmart's heart rate recording bore very little resemblance to reality. We found it lagged behind the chest strap dramatically.

The two graphs above show the same workout (Vivosmart on the left, Fenix 3 on the right) ‚Äď and while the averages are actually fairly similar, the beginning of the workout is totally different. In fact, during the run, the two live readouts were rarely within 10bpm of each other. The Vivosmart struggling at the beginning of our sessions was a common theme.

It's hard to say it's definitively inaccurate, but we'd hesitate to rely on it for anything more than extra colour for our workouts. While the average HR results of a session stood up to scrutiny, while we found them noticeably anomalous during our sessions. There's no way we'd trust it for heart rate zone training in any sense. However, we also tested the Fitbit Charge HR at the exact same time, and didn't find that to be any more coherent.

Would we choose it over a specialist sports wearable like the TomTom Spark for detailed heart rate training? No chance, and it's a worrying indicator that Garmin's wrist tech may not be up to task.

Garmin Vivosmart HR: Smart notifications

Adding smartwatch notifications is the key way in which the Garmin Vivosmart HR can differentiate itself from the likes of Fitbit, and it handles this aspect well.

There's not a lot of science or tech in the way it deals with notifications. Any push notification from your smartphone is replicated on the Garmin. It buzzes (in that grinding whirring way) and displays the type of notification and a snippet of the message. That's a single line of a Whatsapp message or the start of a Skybet push.

It's enough to alert you to a notification if you're away from your phone, and let you know when it's safe to ignore your smartphone ‚Äď but it's nowhere near as useful as a smartwatch.

It's not possible to trim the type of notifications you receive either, which is a shame ‚Äď however, if you turn off push notifications on your smartphone then it will do the same job.

Garmin Vivosmart HR: The app

The Vivosmart HR syncs with the Garmin Connect app, which is available for both Android and iOS. It's one of the most complete ecosystems out there, even if the redesign has become a little complex.

You can review a host of graphs and charts that track your activity, but while we've been big fans of the app for tracking runs from running watches, the daily stuff is a bit confusing.

The app is made up of Snapshots, Leaderboard, Calendar, News Feed and More. Snapshots is your current day ‚Äď swipe the screen to look at all the different daily metrics. To see the history of your steps or sleep go to the relevant snapshot and then tap on the graph for a week summary. You can then compare over 7 days, 4 weeks or 12 months.

Leaderboard shows your progress against connections, of which we had none. Calendar lets you see a list of all your days and how active you were, and you can clearly see steps in blue, workouts in green and badges earned in orange. You can't see sleep here. The News Feed shows tracked workouts.

Once you get used to it, the app works well ‚Äď but it took us more than two weeks of testing to get used to it. When you learn to find the information you want the graphs are detailed, though ‚Äď the level of comparison is more detailed than any other fitness tracker we've tried.

There were some issues. The Vivosmart HR wouldn't sync with Garmin Connect for around a week until we totally unpaired it, 'forgot' it from the app and iPhone and reconnected. The worst thing was that during this period it forgot a load of activity and battery life also halved, which was extremely odd. It worked fine after we'd resolved the issue, but it's obviously not an isolated incident ‚Äď the Garmin Connect is rated one star on the App Store, mainly due to syncing issues.

Garmin Vivosmart HR: Battery life

Garmin states a five-day battery life, which is generally on the money and includes full HR monitoring and a few tracked runs. It slightly edges the Fitbit Charge HR, although both are on a par.

We did have a slight issue with battery life during the problems with syncing. Although the devices were technically paired, during this time the Garmin gave out on us in 2.5 days ‚Äď and in the middle of a hike. It was annoying, but seemed to be an isolated incident, and we were never able to replicate the issue.

Garmin Vivosmart HR
By Garmin
As an advanced fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart HR does a sterling job at a decent price. Accurate steps and sleep, resting heart rate and decent notifications all wrapped up into a comprehensive (and complex) app make it a top alternative to the Fitbit Charge HR. Dull looks, dubious live heart rate data during tracked activities and syncing issues are a downside, and it's in no way capable of replacing Garmin's own sports tech ‚Äď but for those looking for a super-charged fitness tracker, the Vivosmart HR is a serious contender.

  • Accurate step and sleep tracking
  • Emphasis on resting heart rate
  • Good notifications
  • Sports tracking
  • Dubious live heart rate accuracy
  • Horrible vibration alert
  • Some syncing issues
  • Not exactly great looking

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  • are·

    "We were also impressed with the accuracy of the resting HR figure. Fitbit tracks your resting heart rate in its app as well, but we found Garmin's to be a lot more accurate."

    "However, we also tested the Fitbit Charge HR at the exact same time, and didn't find that to be any more coherent."

    Vivoactive HR test Dec 15

    • Dubious live heart rate accuracy

    Charge HR test Feb 15

    • Accurate heart rate tracking

    I really don¬īt get this info to add up?

  • yafizicist·

    I got one of these and really liked it. I ended up sending it back because of the hr inaccuracy during cycling. As an activity tracker and hr rate monitor for running it's great. I really liked the app. However if you're quite sporty it's probably not as good an idea.

  • ultraleds·

    The HR new Version Is quite big  and not easy to read the screen at times ,but it also has a sharp strap which cuts into your skin and leaves deep red marks (I can no longer wear it after using it for one week) I never had this problem with the original fading oled screen Vivosmart

  • MasonK·

    I have been using the vivosmart HR for a while now and have been happy with it.  It is a good balance between a smart watch and just an activity tracker.  I feel that it is much more comfortable than any watch I have had.  If the band feels to to tight and cuts into your skin, loosen it.  The heart rate function is not really constant.  It seems to take an average while not working out.  When you tell it that you are doing an activity, like a run or weightlifting, the HR function becomes constant and was right on for me.  I worn my Polar chest strap at the same time and they were always within 2-5 BPM.  The Garmin seemed to respond faster actually.  The HR becomes constant when you put the device on the HR readout screen as well so you can find your current HR within a few seconds. The app is nice as well.  You can keep track of your activities by name.  The sleep data was interesting as well and seemes to be right on.  You need to set the device up for you specifically to get good data out of it.  I recommend spending a few minutes and determining you step length and putting it into the app to make the device as accurate as possible.  All in all moat the the issues that people are having with the device are their own fault.  Also, the vibration for notifications is almost hard to detect.  The only time a "teeth rattling" vibration is felt is when you reach a goal.  And... It's not teeth rattling.  The screen is not hard to read if you can read normal things too.  

    • jendayiB·

      I beg the differ about the notifications. It is vibrant and intense and loud. I was in a meeting today and the other people in the room could hear the thing going off every time I got a notification.

      • iospetrosky·

        Isn't it possible to just disable the vibration? And maybe have just the display to blink?

  • ratman·

    I bought this with great hopes that it would be somewhat close in its ability to monitor heart rate. It does a good job and is within 4bpm or so of actual heart rate "When it Works". I have found that when you are working out it works about 30% of the time. The problem is not only can you not see what your HR is (it will show something way low like 74 when you have been lifting or working out hard) the Intensity Minutes which is one of the things it tracks doesn't work because it requires it to be able to monitor HR along with movement to come up with it's calculation for how many intensity minutes you did. Very disappointed to say the least. I do like however the notifications it displays from your smart phone. The display is easy to read and seems to be pretty accurate on steps tracking. Thing is there are a ton of other activity trackers out there that are way cheaper that will track your steps. I bought it for the HR monitoring and it has failed to work consistently. i have wore it tight, loose, on top of my wrist (like it should be worn) even on the bottom side of my wrist and nothing seems to make it work consistently. The manual says to wear it up and away from your wrist bone which i have done and it doesn't seem to help. Maybe it is just a defective model and others are not having the same issue. I hope that is the case but for me it just doesn't work as advertised.

    • danborg79·

      Try wearing it facing the underside of the wrist. I tried it and tightened the strap just one notch more from I use everyday. The readings are now consistent and spot on during workouts. I have compared it with a Nike Triax C3 which comes with a chest strap. It's old tech but did a good job for the past 8 years.

      • mbarnes·

        Thanks that's a great suggestion, I'll give it a go because I haven't found the readings accurate at all for running.

    • oakridger·

      l bought  the HR Vivosmart a few weeks ago and find it inaccurate also. Sitting down and swinging the arm will cause the step count to change. Also, l cannot wear it for a full day as the "bump" under the band digs into the wrist and gets extremely uncomfortable, leaving an indentation and redness on the skin.

  • jakeypops·

    Does anyone out there know how to set up the notifications on the vivo smart hr? It will buzz it will say new message but it does not let you read the message. please help...

    • j.stables·

      You only get a snippet of the alert ‚Äď not full messages.

    • djdprairir·

      I'm still figuring mine out, but here's how I can read most of my notifications, with the exception of long emails:

      Go to the notification

      Tap once on the screen, that will bring you into the notification, and you'll see an arrow on the side (you can exit that notification by hitting the arrow - but don't do that if you want to read the notification).  You can then scroll through multiple notifications if you have them.

      Tap on the screen again, not on the back arrow, but on the (or a) notification (IE the center of the screen). 

      Tap on the screen again when it brings up READ (or you can scroll to the side to DISMISS, tap on the screen when that's up and it will dismiss the notification).  This one is a tricky tap I find and the response time is a bit slower.

      Then, if the message is too big for the screen, tap on the down arrow to move down in the notification. 

      Once you've read the notification, you can repeat the above, but scroll to DISMISS instead of READ to clear the notification.

  • Jesusn28·

    ok help understand. What do you mean with smart notifications?. Does this include incoming calls?. Like if you get a call, will it show it on the vivosmart hr?

    • Panagiotis·

      Yes it does and it works perfect

      • Johncreek·

        Can we answer or reject incoming calls from the device itself?

  • Pik·

    I have use this item since the first week it came out. The battery life is horrible.  I  barely average 2 days, before I must charge it.  Only use  heart rate, steps and notifications. At altitude battery life is even less.  At over  8300 ft, life before charge is barely 1 day.  Other than battery life, the item is good.  But, if you have to constantly charge it, why bother having it.  Very unhappy.  Will be looking at more of an upgrade to Suunto. 

    • Buluga·

      I just got mine this week and fully charged it.  I don't use notifications and keep Bluetooth off unless I am syncing it to the app and I track one 2 1/2-4 mile run a day and am only averaging 2 1/2 days...kinda frustrating when it's supposed to last around 5 days.

  • penguins24·

    What app was used to display the heart rate results of the Vivosmart HR and Fenix 3?

    • fb_1015389257·

      The Garmin connect app, both are Garmin products and both use the same app.

  • Ramexises·

    The HR function is terrible. 

    I bought the Vivosmart HR purely for the HR component having moved on from a Fitbit HR.

    I fit into a rare category where my HR rarely drops below 90 at rest. 100 is normal.

    I have had a heart transplant so the nerves  are cut and the heart is no longer regulated normally.

    The Vivosmart HR rarely picks up my HR (I found the best place was inside my wrist) and shows my average HR as around 55.

    Whats most annoying is that it is programmed to actively deceive when it cannot detect hr. 

    I. E. Instead of indicating no reading it shows an average for a person of your profile and fluctuates around that, pretending it is reading. 

    If you don't know what your hr is then you would be fooled into thinking it is reading this rate. 

    Add to the fact that it is difficult to read in unlit places, I cannot recommend this if HR is important to you. 

  • Fixxme·

    Got the Garmin vivo HR, what a royal pain in the ass to use. The backlight stinks, instructions stink, go with the fitbit. All the apps for the fitbit work better than the Connect app for Garmin. Fitbit is in this market to win, Garmin seems like they don't care much about the wearables so much. They need to stick with what they know, stay away from the Garmin wearables for now.

  • danborg79·

    The watch is a great tool...took off my everyday Casio...can easily replace my Nike Triax C3 during workouts as well now! For heart rate readings during workout I wear it on the the inside of the wrist and slightly tighter than how I wear it during the day. The notifications are I know who texted and why and who's calling while on my bike...before I take a call from my helmet bluetooth. What I would like to find is an iOS app which can actively read the heart rate during a workout and notify me if I am outside the HR zone. Once I can get hold of this my Nike will be up for adoption. But until then it's awkward to have to look at the watch every few seconds to ensure I am within the zone. Other than that the watch is very responsive, good looking and discreet, and so far very reliable...with a great backing from Garmin support. I also think it's nicely priced too. 

  • SinghNamita·

    The Garmin vivofit is a great step tracker intil the batteries need replacement. After 18 months of purchasing the device (super long battery life!), my device died. I replaced the batteries, but the device is still not working!! Called Garmin and they suggested I send it in at a cost of $35....a super expensive deal. Since I loved this tracker, I bought 8 more for family and friends. However, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS DEVICE. It makes sense to buy something that needs charging or an apple watch that can be taken into a store for battery replacement. NEVER BUY A GARMIN FITNESS TRACKER, THEY DO NOT STAND BY THEIR PRODUCT.

  • JenniferLee·

    I was so happy when my hubby got me this. But the step counter is right out to lunch :( i walked 600 steps in my sleep last night, all while it tracked my sleep....

  • TAH·

    I am so very disappointed with the Vivosmart HR. It does keep my heart rate, sleep, and resting heart rate. Themes important reason I wanted this was because it would track intensity minutes. No matter what I do, it does not consistently track them. That is not the only real problem, it does not sync with the app without spending a great deal of time. It really is quite useless. I hope they improve tremendously. 

    • raja777m·


      I'm a Vivosmart 1st Gen user, and I have to long press the screen, then click on running man icon, then it starts my intensive workout logging.

      I'll be getting my GVS HR in a couple of days and I may answer after that :).

  • Keninchester·

    I've had the device for around 3 weeks. Overall I really like it. The sleep monitor, steps etc. like the review said. All great. But when I do gym workouts it's just horrible.  I finish a cardio and I'm bent over exhausted and hr says 72 bpm.   Trainer says its laughable. Or else I'm in far better shape than I think.  I hope they can do software improvements.  

  • speedybike·

    Whenever I have removed the vivosmart HR,  couple of hours later I have had an unpleasant tingling around my wrist to the exact shape of the device.  This as lasted for about 30 minutes.  Has anyone had a similar experience.

    • Scotiagirl·

      I have noticed a " soreness," in the area where I wear the tracker. I have loosened the band, but the tracker actually sticks to my skin in a square area wear the detection is. I have been using mine for about ten days.

      My android cell phone has also stopped working. Is it the tracker? I don't know?

  • jlsquirch1·

    Horrible HR tracking.  It was so so bad that I exchanged the unit after a week of use because I couldn't believe it could be so terrible. I had done all software upgrades and tried every level of tightness around my wrist.  Inside the wrist, outside, low to the hand, higher towards the elbow,  everything you could think so.   I got a second unit and to my shocking surprise the second unit out of the box did a better job thank the first but still,  not accurate at all.  Again,  I've tried everything and it is from marginally working to completely inaccurate. It really doesn't deserve "HR" as part of the name.  They should have named it vivosmart-II but never vivosmart HR.

  • paola·

    I  just bought the vivosmart HR and my HR isn't  reading can someone tell me how xan I make it work? ?

    • raja777m·


      Did you strap it, on the underside of your hand?

      Please watch a couple of review videos, they might help :)

      Good luck.

  • yen·

    This is a lousy review.

    I was totally against these things BUT I bought one out of curiosity and they're amazingly handy, interesting and informative.

  • LiliaK·

    This device has greatly exceeded my expectations.  I needed a replacement for my NikeFuel.    

    My requirements are the following:  (1) can set a step goal and track against it, (2) display a directional count of calories to compare workouts, (3) can be used as a watch, even in a dark room, (4) sleek and relatively minimalistic style.  

    Garmin Vivosmart HR passes the first 3 requirements with flying colors.  For #2, yes its count of calories appears lower than my heart monitor - this is fine for me, I'm looking for a directional measure.

    #4 - the device is a little thicker than my NikeFuel but I got used to it after a couple of days, and don't feel it on my wrist anymore.  I do not even mind wearing it when I sleep.

    What I did not expect but grew to love since I started wearing the bracelet a couple of weeks ago:  (1) sleep tracker, (2) app that has a nice interface and gives a wealth of metrics around my health and fitness activity, (3) mileage tracker for my runs as I don't usually have my smart phone with me when I run outside, (4) alerts for text messages and calls [I do not find the vibrating at all annoying, in fact, it is fairly discreet.]  (5)  two way link between MyFitnessPal and Connect app.

  • jrj·

    I live in England.  I cant set weather in celsius because distance is set in miles. It will only show farenheit. Does anyone else have this problem. Is there a work around?  Thanks 

  • ttgirl706·

    I've had the VIVOSMART HR for about a week.  Very disappointed with the inaccuracy of the actual HR monitor.  I'm burning over 1,000 calories on treadmills and elipticals but I log into the vivo app and it tells me I've only burned 100 cal???? How is this accurate? Over 1 hour of cardio and 100 cal??? Sending back. 

    • fb_1015389257·

      Did you actually manually enter the activity in? You're supposed to turn on the intensity thing when you're doing a workout and turn it off when you're done so it tracks the workout and enters it into the app, otherwise it just tracks your steps.

  • sonylove3·

    In the settings you can turn off which apps send you alerts to the watch. I hate my gmail coming through on my vivosmart, and you CAN turn that off :)

  • fb_1015389257·

    I was a first gen vivosmart user and I loved it, I loved how it wasn't chunky at all, it was quite dainty really but still hardy enough for the band to not break or disintegrate like the Fitbit bands always do (coming from someone who works at a store that sells these products, we've had shitloads of fitbits returned for that issue). And I liked the screen being built into the band. I didn't mind that it didn't have a hr (I didn't buy the one that came with a strap, just bought the watch alone), although it would've been nice but wasn't a deal breaker because I was mainly using it for step tracking, I don't really work out or anything, and any activities I did do, like the odd casual bike ride or swimming during summer, I just activated the workout tracking on the band or entered it in manually to the app. And obviously because I used it while swimming, it was also waterproof which I liked, so I didn't have to take it off to shower and could wear it to keep an eye on the time when I'm swimming. I also loved the smart notifications, and that was my reason for buying that watch over any of the others, as well as its slim appearance and being waterproof (I was going on a holiday where there'd be lots of swimming and water park visits soon after I purchased it which is why I wanted a waterproof one).

    Unfortunately the old model has a tendency to have pixels die in the screen though. The one I bought my aunt I had to swap over for her for this issue, my mum's did it too but sadly she didn't take it in to swap over before the warranty ran out even though it happened long enough before it did run out that she could've swapped it, so she's still using it as it is because the rest of it's functions still work fine. I swapped my own watch over once for that issue just before the warranty was up, but then my new one did the same thing within 3 months, so I've now just yesterday swapped to the new hr model. And my opinions on it compared to the first model so far are thus:


    So much chunkier! And the hr monitor isn't flush to the back of the band so I get a square hr monitor indent in my arm which isn't great, I had to loosen my band a bit so I don't know how accurate the hr readings will continue to be with it looser.

    Why change the vibrate? I can put up with and will probably get used to it, it's not a deal breaker, but the first vivosmart's vibrate was much nicer. 


    The larger and brighter screen is nice, even though I did like the smooth, continuous appearance gained from the screen being built into a transparent part of the strap with the old model, instead of the shiny lcd screen in the middle of the matte band making it more apparent that it is a watch with the new one. But I guess that different design was why the old one was prone to dead pixels so I suppose they had to change it, and it is easier to read now. 

    The HR monitoring is good, as I said above I don't do a lot of workouts or anything, but I do go on walks and there's my daily steps, so step counting is all I really need and it's accurate enough with daily activities such as those, plus the hr makes my step count more accurate instead of it counting steps as I bounce around in the car or wash my hair in the shower like the other one did. This is good from a fitness perspective for a number of reasons but for me personally, it's especially good if I've had a low step count day because I'll be more inclined to go for a walk to boost it since I can't rig it now!

    The hr monitoring will also be good for if I decide to go on a run or something, to see how it rises and it can let me know how unfit I really am (oh goody) and hopefully motivate me to get more fit. And basically it's just interesting being able to check my hr, I plan to check it when I'm stressed at work to see if it goes up haha. 

    The new floors climbed function could be interesting, except I work in a workplace 5 days a week with only one set of stairs, which I only use probably a maximum of twice a day on average when I need to get change from admin for the till, because admin is the only thing up those stairs. And my house only has like three steps at each door to get in and out of the house, so I'm probably never going to meet my floors climbed goal, but it's a good addition in theory since stair climbing is great cardio. 

    It's still completely waterproof, which puts it above some of the other trackers for me because I like to leave it on all the time, my arm feels naked without a watch on it now. It still has the smart notifications which also puts it above some others for me. Overall, I do like the new one, I just hope they rethink the aesthetics of it for the next generation, maybe take a leaf out of Up's book, the up2 and up3 are gorgeous, they just don't have the screen and smart notifications function, only 3 led lights, and also aren't waterproof, so they weren't really what I wanted but damn they look good. And the up app allows users to enter their activity tracking and their food intake into the same app, whereas the connect app doesn't, they tell you to use the my fitness pal app to log your food and then sync it with the connect app, but it never freaking works, never has, it's supposed to sync your Garmin connect logged steps to MFP and your calories from MFP to Garmin Connect by connecting the two accounts. This isn't reflective of the watch though, it's a compatibility issue or something between these two parties, and it'd make life so much easier if they'd fix that issue. 

  • Corinne·

    Can anyone tell me why my Viviosmart HR reads that I've burnt 651 calories overnight (before my feet touch the floor and more than my spin class!) whilst it's been on the bedside table?  I did go to bed before midnight.  All the other readings which should be 'O' for the start of the day are correct.  During numerous conversations with Garmin support they have suggested "re-set", leave outside for half-an-hour, "it estimates how many calories you use overnight"!  (I can guestimate myself thanks). Any comments very welcome please.  

    • ringin10·

      Your body will burn "x" amount of calories to keep you alive, so from midnight until the time you woke up your body burned 651 calories for normal functions.

  • runtherapy·


     I got this a few weeks ago and also noticed syncing issues. Does the app have to be open in order for it to sync wirelessly? Also, if it does not sync for a few days does it lose the data? I realized mine didnt sync for a few days and I didnt do it manually for a few days and it seems like I have lost the data. Any thoughts, advice, suggestions would be great! Thank you!

  • hazel·

    I got the vivosmart last week and would like to know how you set it up to log swimming please.

  • Hybris·

    Very disapointed.

    Got this after reading the review from the WireCutter and it worked well for a couple of weeks. Then I began to see some random issues : heart rate indicating 37 in the middle of the day, sleep tracker missing several hours of sleep during the night, long time to adjust heart rate display while exercising, counting stairs when I was walking in the street...

    Also, it supposedly tracks swimming, but it doesn't. When you go to the physical activity tracking menu, you get the choice between run, cardio and the only thing you can track when swimming is pretty much just the time you spend in the pool...

    All this stuff actually made me wonder how accurate is all the data I have been looking at so far... So now I completely distrust the information this unit is giving me...

    I was really hoping this would be the right unit answering all my needs to track my physical activity, especially swimming, my vitals signs like heart rate and sleep quality and now I feel that this was a waste of money. At best I use it now for time display and number of steps, which seems to be the only really accurate data I can get from it.

    I guess it's like the underwater MP3 players, there's no real reliable/durable/easy/comprehensive product on the market so far... Quite unbelievable considering we are in 2016...

    It feels like this is still a developing market, far from mature product wise.

    I am thinking now that maybe it's been damaged by going in the water, but it shouldn't have as it's labelled as water resistant up to 50m... so maybe if you just use it out of the water it will stay reliable...

    Anyway, huge disapointment altogether.

  • markraby·

    Buyer beware. Garmin has been surprisingly unresponsive to consumer feedback. I have been sending their innovation team two suggestions for months however these suggestions have been repeatedly ignored. Here are two very quick and easy ways Garmin could (but refuse to) improve their Garmin Connect app.

    1. Allow daily competitions in the leaderboard between friends as a dropdown menu from weekly competitions

    2. Allow users to preview which badges they can earn ahead of time. It's hard to get motivated for something that has already happened in the past. It would be great if the app could show how many badges you can earn and how many you have earned.

    Alas, I suppose these two incredibly basic common sense suggestions were repeatedly ignored and I have been unsatisfied with this product since the day I bought it. I regularly check to see if Garmin has updated their app to include these very logical features however Garmin never fails to disappoint me. Garmin Connect is disconnected from their users and it will take some serious action on Garmin's part before I am able to view this company favourably any time soon.

  • zukkiz68·

    i have a simple question. Why is it that the calories that I burn and show up on my vivosmarthr, don't show up on Connect? I want to keep track of them. 

  • arthur09·

    i have a garmin vivosmart hr but after coupe of use the screen scratch. but its nice i can were this at water when i swim. can you help me how i can remove the scratch on the screen so i can see lot better?.

  • rictidoc·

    really disappointed that Garmin Viviosmart HR cannot pair with Iphone S4 model. Garmin support says Apple is working on it but no ETA. Not useful if you can\ only pair with PC so I sen tit back

  • Malene·

    Has anyone used it for swimming exericeses? 

    • Mamacrig·

      I need to know the same thing. Don't know how to set it up for swimming exercise. 

  • S1piller·

    Hi I live in a small town and am having trouble getting a large watch. Can you change bands from a regular to large. 


  • dixiek·

    All I want is a HR monitor and a step counter.  I don't have a Smart Phone and don't know if my old Flip phone has Bluetooth capabilities.  I need to talk to AT&T.  Is there some tracker that works independently of a smart phone?  I could use a USB cord to hook it to a computer but do any of them - I don't care how big - save info. right on the tracker until I get to the computer?  HR and steps is all I am interested in.  I purchased a Fitbit Charge at Costco but after talking to someone at Best Buy I returned it without opening.  I maybe barking up the wrong tree...  I am seventy years old and would like to be able to do something to keep in shape.  

    Thank you anyone who will take the time to answer.

  • dixiek·

    This is dixiek - I think I found what I need - A LifeTrak C210.  It's a stand alone and the only thing it does not have is an alarm.  I can live with that!  Thanks for you site and if anyone has any other suggestion, please reply.


  • SCfit·

    Absolute rubbish, does not track activity minutes and I am on to my 3rd in six months. When it worked it was absolutely great and I did not care too much about the slight inaccuracies. The app was fun, the band is easy to wear but since all of their updates it does not track my intensity minutes which was what motivated me. What is the point of a fitness tracker that does not track your fitness, just an overpriced pedometer

  • rustyvan·

    My Vivosmart HR battery life can last a week if keeping bluetooth off unless syncing it to Connect. No problem when wearing it in the gym shower, takes about an hour to finish charging, surprisingly running distance recorded is about the same as my iPhone GPS tracking. 

    2 complains:

    1. Sometimes move bar will not clear even though walking for at least 30 mins.

    2. Music control does not support Spotify.

  • jhube·

    I have had one of the VivoSmart fail on me and three VivoSmart HR (that was offered as a free replacement) fail since last September, so I am not impressed with the performance of this product.  Actually so disgusted with the last one failing again that I just can't go through the call to customer service again.  Shopping for a different product that is hopefully more reliable and works!

  • Namunzi·

    I have found that mine only accurately tracks walking and running if I am freely swinging my arms.  I went for a hike using hiking poles and it recorded less then half my real distance.  Using a push lawnmower it measured about a quarter of my distance.  This is significant after two hours of mowing. 

     It would be great if I could use the app on my phone to fill in activity details (like carrying a 20 pound pack, or pushing a stroller or lawnmower) and then leave the phone behind while the wrist band tracked stuff, for swimming or at work when I walk all day but am not supposed to have a phone on me.

  • fairielady63·

    I've had the Vivosmart HR for two months now and largely enjoying it's features.

    However, last night during a meditation group the heart rate was very erratic and looked as though I was running around at high speed.  This morning it's still doing the same.  I've looked for updates, but none required,  I've had to charge it again today after only one day's use, usually lasts for at least 4 days.

    Has my product become faulty?  Any ideas welcome


  • michael312·

    I like the Vivosmart HR, it was a very nice product but unfortunately after owning the strap for 6 months the strap broke while exercising. I looked everywhere for a replaceable strap and eventually called Garmin to find out that they do not sell replacement straps. Garmin then gave me the option to have the entire device replaced for more than half retail price.

    I would not recommend purchasing this product, Garmin does not cover any damages to device and does not provide any options for simple fixes. I would recommend other active watches, such as Fitbit or Apple

  • clairedaven·

    mine doesn't work. It's that simple. Occasionally it will agree I've climbed stairs. Occasionally it will agree that I've had a heart rare for the sustained 10mins to record my intensive activity. But most of the time it thinks I'm asleep.  Or dead.  I'm tired of it. It's a great watch is all. .......

    • clairedaven·

      And the 'Garmin email support' is less than., who wants to.know they're working on it???

  • carloslesmes3·

    there is NO wrist band replacement, for a product that you wear 24/7 this is the big issue. This is a product for 6 months.Never buy it. Garmin did not foresee this eventuality.

  • JeannieM·

    I feel a slight vibration when my Garmin Vivofit HR is not notifying me of anything.  What is it that makes it do it?

  • waste·

    I am so unsatisfied with my vivosmart HR I already sent one back and I am ready to get rid of this one. Nothing on it works, HR way off, no notifications can't get it to light up, too expensive for a waterproof pedometer, don't buy this product.

  • manousos·

    My Garmin Vivofit does not connect with my Lenovo A-7000. I have tried any possible way. Did anybody have the same problem with me and can help me? Thank you anyway.

    • manousos·

      garmin vivosmart hr

  • Kerijac·

    I use a rolator walker but have been trying to increase my activity level. The wristband does not track my steps when using the walker nor does it track stairs climbed when using the banister. I have also been disappointed with the tracking of my activities in the pool (my main reason for choosing this tracker). Overall, I am disappointed.