Is the Garmin Vivosmart 5 worth it? [In-depth review]

Digital Life Central is reader-powered. We are a participant in the Amazon LLC Associates Program and other affiliates programs. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

The recently released Garmin Vivosmart 5 is not perfect but has a lot to offer for those willing to combine health, fitness, and smart features in a well-priced and small form factor. Discover all the good and the few bad we think about this device.

One Minute Summary

Even if the Garmin Vivosmart 5 was released nearly three years after the Garmin Vivosmart 4, both devices share a very similar form factor. Fitbit recently released the Charge 5, making the fitness tracker market even more competitive. Beyond steps and fitness tracking, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 makes the most of its last-generation sensors to deliver plenty of health metrics: heart rate, on-the-spot oximetry, stress analysis, Heart Rate Variability, body battery, respiration level, fitness age, sleep tracking, woman health and more. 

Even though vital metrics are highly dependent on the underlying algorithms, I found the analyses to be more than what could be expected from a $150 price range device.

Garmin built its reputation on building devices fit for runners and triathletes. The Vivosmart 5 may be small, but it comes with all you can expect from a fitness device from tracking running, of course, but also pilates, HIIT training, elliptical, and even yoga! The data provided are detailed and worth a high-end device. What is missing is what Garmin is famous for…a built-in GPS. Cutting corners on the GPS is somehow disappointing, but I understand that choices had to be made to keep the battery, up to 7 days, and the price point in an acceptable range.

Overall, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is still not the perfect fitness tracker we could have expected but is getting close. It lacks a bright multicolor screen and gets stuck in the past with a monochrome display which only benefits is to give the Vivosmart up to 7 days of battery life. Comfortable to wear, waterproof, and compatible with iOS and Android, the Vivosmart 5 is more than an incremental step from the Vivosmart 4 and is an excellent choice for those looking for a well-balanced, fitness-heavy, and reasonably priced fitness tracker. For sports addicts willing to get the most out of a wearable device without breaking the bank, the Vivosmart 5 is a solid choice.

Garmin Vivosmart 5
  • Easy-to-use, comfortable smart fitness tracker, once setup through the Garmin Connect app, has a...
  • Get an uninterrupted picture of your health with up to 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode;...
  • Understand your body by monitoring your respiration, Pulse Ox (Pulse Ox not available in all...
  • Get a score for your sleep quality, plus get further insights on how to improve your sleep via the...
  • Reach your fitness goals through fitness age, step tracking, calories burned, intensity minutes and...

Last update on 2022-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How I tested the Garmin Vivosmart 5?

I tested the Garmin Vivosmart 5 for nearly two months and compared it to the famous Fitbit Charge 5. 

I wore the device while sleeping, exercising, and even swimming. I dug deep into the different features of Garmin’s newest fitness tracker. In my mind, there is little doubt that the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a serious contender in the hyper-competitive world of fitness trackers. Moreover, with one week of battery life and very accurate sensors for fitness and healthcare, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 would be one of my favorite entry-level devices if Garmin inexplicably did not cut corners on two of the most critical features of any fitness tracker: the display and the GPS.

Do you want to know more? Keep on reading, and I will tell you all the good and bad I think about this device which may not be a breakthrough innovation but is somehow to consider if you are serious about your training.

Garmin Vivosmart 5

Health Features

- Heart Rate (All day, Spot check)

- Heart Rate Alerts (Low, High)
- Respiration Rate
- Blood Oxygen Saturation (All day, While sleeping, Spot)
- Fitness Age
- Body Battery
- All Day Stress Analysis
- Sleep Analysis
- Hydration
- Women's Health

Activity Tracking

- Strength

- HIIT

- Elliptical

- Stair Stepping

- Indoor Rowing

- Treadmill

- Pilates

- Yoga

Lifestyle Features

- Connected GPS

- Calendar
- Weather
- Control Smartphone Music
- Find my Phone
- Find my Watch
- Notifications

Battery Life

Up to 7 days

Water Resistance

50 meters (Swimming)

Compatible Devices

iOS, Android Smartphones

Design

I will not say that the design of the Vivosmart 5 is its strong point. Instead, the fitness tracker design is standard at best and boring at worst. Do not expect to attract eyes when wearing it, but even if the Vivosmart 5 is not as shiny as an Apple Watch, it doesn’t mean Garmin’s latest fitness tracker is not swart. In a nutshell, do not judge the Garmin Vivosmart 5 by its cover!

Compared to the last generation Vivosmart 4, the 5 has a bigger screen and more pixels but unfortunately keeps a not-so-bright monochrome OLED display. When I say that the screen of the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is not-so-bright, I mean it as the display can become unreadable in bright daylight. 

The Fitbit Charge 5 is on the left and Garmin Vivosmart 5 on the right.

Vivosmart 5

Vivosmart 4

Screen Size

10.5 x 18.5 mm

6.6 x 17.7 mm

Resolution

88 x 154 pixels

48 x 128 pixels

Display Type

OLED monochrome 

OLED monochrome

Lens Material

Acrylic

Polycarbonate

Underneath the screen, the button allows quickly starting an activity or toggling between the menus. This combination of touchscreen and button gives a lot of flexibility, and I welcome that Garmin kept this unusual but somehow convenient user interface. 

The band is comfortable and made of silicone. Despite wearing it extensively, I did not develop any Garmin rash, which is a good point considering that my wrist skin is prone to becoming itchy when wearing low-quality bands. As for the colors, do not expect too many as only three (black, white, and light green) are available. If you want more color options, replacement bands can easily be found in online stores for a couple of dollars, even though you should not expect too much from the build quality.

Battery Life

When Apple struggle to deliver more than 18 hours of battery life with its flagship device, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 will not disappoint you. Thanks to its low brightness display -I know, I am a bit obsessed with the screen-and lack of built-in GPS, the Vivosmart 5 will easily last close to one week in normal conditions of use. The device weighs no more than 25g, so Garmin indeed did a fantastic job at optimizing the energy consumption. The provided charging cable is the standard Garmin cable that will work with all the company’s devices.

Connectivity

The Vivosmart 5 is compatible with iOS and Android smartphones. It makes the most of the excellent Garmin Connect App which in our opinion is one of the best available. It should also be mentioned that contrary to Fitbit, all of the features and historical data are available for free. No need for a monthly subscription. Garmin devices may be a bit more expensive than their competitors but once the hardware is bought, you do not have to worry about paying anything extra.

The Vivosmart 5 is also perfectly compatible with the popular Fitness apps such as Strava or MyfitnessPal. The integration is straightforward.

Health Features

In the last couple of years, health features have become a standard component of any fitness tracker. Some devices, such as the Fitbit Charge 5, even include an electrocardiogram and the possibility of detecting arrhythmia. The Garmin Vivosmart 5 does not go as far but has nothing to be ashamed of regarding health tracking.

Relying on Garmin Connect, its excellent companion app, on its partnership of Garmin with Firstbeat Analytics for the algorithms and two types of sensors, the Garmin Elevate Heart Rate and the Pulse Ox, the Vivosmart 5 comes with the possibility to measure:

  • Continuous and spot Heart Rate
  • Respiration rate
  • Blood Oxygen Saturation
  • All-day stress
  • Fitness Age
  • Body Battery
  • Sleep pattern
  • Women health

Besides the possibility of measuring temperature and a built-in electrocardiogram, the Vivosmart 5 is excellent for monitoring health. Heart Rate Variability is now an interesting metric that manufacturers tend to present independently. For example, the new Garmin Forerunner 255 relies heavily on it to assess the overall fitness. So it is weird that the Vivosmart 5 does not present it but uses the HRV to calculate the stress score. 

Another surprise is that even if the heart sensor is excellent, the oxygen sensor tends to underestimate blood oxygen saturation. I often found that my blood oxygen was less than 90% which does not make sense and does not match the reading of my other devices. Interestingly, wearing the band tight showed the results were more in line with reality.

Be aware that Garmin also seems to put a considerable emphasis on stress levels to compute its sleep score, which can sometimes lead to surprising results.

Overall, even if the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is not a health band but focuses more on sports and fitness, it will somehow provide essential information about the wearer’s overall health.

Sport Features

Do you like to train and get a lot of data without having to wear a bulky and expensive smartwatch? Then, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is for you. I was pleasantly surprised by the flawless connection between my iPhone GPS and the Vivosmart. It just works, and that is the only thing I want.

It would have been great to benefit from a built-in GPS, but I always carry my phone, so I did not notice any additional burden.

The signal was consistently picked up even when I visited a shop in the basement of a building. 

The Vivosmart 5 also comes with incident detection and the possibility to call an emergency contact by long-pressing the physical button. 

There is little doubt in my mind that this band is more suited for tracking walking, running, or cycling, but it somehow doesn’t forget the other types of exercises such as:

  • Strength, 
  • HIIT, 
  • Cardio and Elliptical Training, 
  • Stair Stepping, 
  • Indoor Rowing, 
  • Treadmill, 
  • Pilates, 
  • Yoga

The automatic rep tracking will do the counting work for you and let you concentrate on your exercises.

I do not run much, but I do walk a lot! I liked the abundance of data provided by the Visosmart 5. There may even be too much information, but at least Garmin will let you choose what you prefer to concentrate on: Calories burned, distance, pace, steps, Heart Zone detection, alerts,…

In the video below, you can see the parameters recorded by my Vivosmart 5 during my afternoon Sunday walk! Impressive.

Good to know is the Garmin Fitness band will also automatically detect exercises.

Finally, it is even possible to use the “Live Track” feature to allow your loved one or anybody you choose to check your path. This feature is essential when trekking as if an accident happens, the emergency services will have the possibility to localize you quickly.

Lifestyle Features  

The Vivosmart 5 does not forget to bring numerous lifestyle features to make the wearer’s life easier. Find my Phone (iOS or Android), notifications, calendar, weather, alarm….and more. It is even possible to check the incoming emails. Of course, do not expect to be able to reply to emails…but at least you get notified and can get a quick look at the messages.

One missing feature may be the possibility to control music from the streaming apps even though it is possible to change the tracks played on the paired phone. However, it is no big deal, in my opinion.

Why should you consider the Garmin Vivosmart 5?

If you like training and benefit from the best of Garmin Technology while wearing a light and small device, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is for you. This fitness tracker will provide a lot of data at a fraction of the price of the more specialized watches offered by Garmin. In addition, when connected to Strava, the Vivosmart 5 becomes a coach and a social device. All of that for less than $150 is hard to beat.

The Vivosmart 5 is all about quality and efficiency. Style is not its thing. We all have a device that may not be the fanciest but does the job well. The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a capable fitness tracker, not a fashion accessory.

Why should you not consider the Garmin Vivosmart 5?

The Vivosmart 5 is not a lifestyle device and can not be compared to the Apple Watch or Garmin Venu 2. So if you want your fitness band to become an extension of your phone, let you answer calls, emails, messages, and download music, the Vivosmart 5 may not be the device for you.