Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs. Fitbit Charge 5 [Side by Side Comparison]

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This article is long as we tried to go into the details of each device. So if you do not have the patience to read it, let’s give you the answer right now! The Fitbit Charge 5 benefits from a fantastic AMOLED color screen, numerous health tracking sensors, long battery life and is excellent at tracking exercises. It does not excel anywhere but has no weak points either. On the other hand, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is excellent for tracking exercises and benefits from one of the best heart tracking sensors in its category. On the flip side, the monochrome screen and lack of built-in GPS are disappointing. They are far from what we can expect from a company that made its reputation in developing GPS for airplanes.

Fitbit Charge 5
  • Optimize your workout routine with a Daily Readiness Score that reveals if you’re ready to...
  • Get a daily Stress Management Score showing your body’s response to stress and take steps to...
  • With the Health Metrics dashboard, track SpO2, heart rate variability, skin temperature variation...
  • See your real-time pace & distance without your phone using built-in GPS during outdoor activity,...
  • Includes a 6-month Premium membership complete with personalized insights, advanced analytics,...

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

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

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is the latest release of the Swiss company, while the Fitbit Charge 5 is just a couple of months older. However, both devices are in the ever-growing Fitness Tracker categories and have a lot to offer.

We are sorry to start this article by telling you that despite their undeniable qualities, none of them is exempt from flaws. But, like many things in life, choosing one over the other will be a trade-off. 

This article aims to analyze these two devices as deeply as possible. I wore them extensively during the day and night while exercising, checking my vitals, etc. Wearing two devices for weeks may seem weird, but it is the only way to make a fair comparison. I did the hard work for you, so you do not have to do it.

Ready? Let’s dive into the wonders and not-so-great things you will find in two of the best Fitness Trackers money can buy in 2022.

FITBIT CHARGE 5

GARMIN VIVOSMART 5

GENERAL

Product dimensions

1.45 x 0.90 x 0.44 inches

‎0.43 x 0.79 x 8.54 inches

Product weight

0.99 ounces

0.86 ounces (S/M), 0.93 ounces (L)

Display

1.04" AMOLED color touchscreen (326ppi)

0.41" x 0.73" monochrome OLED (88 x 154 pixels)

Battery Life

Up to 7 days, 5 hours continuous GPS use

Up to 7 days

Sensors

Optical heart rate monitor

3-axis accelerometer
Built-in GPS + GLONASS
Red and infrared sensors for SpO2
Device temperature sensor (skin temperature variation available in the Fitbit app)
Vibration motor

Multipurpose electrical sensors for EDA and ECG
Ambient light sensor

Optical heart rate monitor

3-axis accelerometer

Red and infrared sensors for SpO2
Vibration motor

Ambient light sensor

Water Resistance

50 meters (5 ATM)

50 meters (5 ATM)

Compatible Devices

Apple iOS 13.4 or higher.
Android OS 10 or higher.

Apple iOS 13.4 or higher.
Android OS 10 or higher.

Design

Both devices are undoubtedly well built. They both come with a reactive touchscreen. The Vivosmart 5 has a single central button that will reduce the screen size and allow you to navigate the menus quickly. This hybrid way of navigating the tracker is welcome for those suffering from touchscreen boredom.

The BIG difference is a massive drawback for the Garmin Vivosmart related to the screen. When the Fitbit Charge 5 offers a vibrant multicolor AMOLED display, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 only includes a monochrome OLED screen that pushes us back several years behind.

The Vivosmart screen is monochrome, but it is not bright enough to be comfortably looked at in bright daylight. You do not have to trust our word for it. Just look at the pictures below taken in bright daylight and a few moments later when in the shade. The Vivosmart 5 display is impossible to read.

We could have understood that Garmin tried to cut corners and keep the price tag reasonable if they included a fantastic innovation to the table…but they did not! Some companies such as Whoop completely removed the screen. It is a choice. I just regret this half-baked choice made by Garmin which does not make a lot of sense. Let’s not be too harsh though. As long as you are in the shade, the screen becomes perfectly readable.

We understand your disappointment, and we were genuinely shocked by Garmin’s decision not to invest more in offering a decent screen for their brand new flagship fitness tracker, especially when considering that the Garmin Venu 2 smartwatch series come with one of the best screens on the market.

Another drawback for the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is that the tracker is physically part of the wristband, making it virtually impossible for third-party manufacturers to develop new stylish bands that will meet your taste. You will have to stick with a silicone band.

Battery Life

When the Apple Watch Series 7 struggles to deliver not even a full day of battery life, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Fitbit Charge 5 have no problem keeping you connected for a week. It will, of course, depend greatly on how often you look at your screen, use the built-in GPS of the Charge 5 or track specific activities but overall, the battery life of both devices is excellent. There is no need to bring the company’s specific charging cables with you for a weekend getaway.

Healthcare Features

FITBIT CHARGE 5

GARMIN VIVOSMART 5


HEALTH FEATURES

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications

Abnormal Heart Rate Alert

Electrodermal Activity (EDA)

Stress Management

Relaxation Reminder

Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2)

While sleeping

spot-check, while sleeping or all day

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

While sleeping

All day. Used for the Stress Score

Breathing Rate

 While sleeping

all day

Relaxation Breathing Reminder

Skin Temperature

Only recorded while sleeping

Sleep Score & Sleep Tracking

Menstrual Cycle Tracking

Hydration

Fitness Age

Fitness trackers’ selling point is not only to track fitness anymore but also to be health tracking devices that will diligently monitor your vitals all day and night long. Fair to say that most trackers or smartwatches are still mainly focusing on heart analysis, but temperature, blood oxygen saturation, stress levels, hydration, and even women’s health are also part of the current equation.

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Fitbit Charge 5 are tiny devices but are packed with sensors that will do their best to keep you healthy or at least warm you, and vitals metrics are off the rail.

The table below summarizes the different health features monitored by our two contenders. As you can see, they are mostly identical, with just a couple of differences between the Vivosmart 5 and the Charge 5, but these differences are critical. As a result, they could dramatically influence the one you choose to wear.

We focus our comparison on seven key components:

  • Heart Rate Accuracy
  • Heart Rate Variability
  • Electrocardiogram and Arrhythmia Detection
  • Stress 
  • Sleep 
  • Blood Oxygen 
  • Temperature

Heart

Heart tracking is a critical component of any fitness device. However, apparent differences in the approach are seen in how the Fitbit Charge 5 and Garmin Vivosmart 5 collect and deal with the data.

If the Vivosmart 5 heart sensor accuracy is better than the Charge 5, the Garmin device goes the extra mile. It brings a clinically validated electrocardiogram, a world-first for a fitness tracker, and the possibility to receive notifications if your heart shows signs of arrhythmia. 

Heart Rate Accuracy

The Fitbit Charge 5 relies on optical sensors and what Fitbit call Pure Pulse technology that monitors the heartbeat continuously, 24/7. According to the excellent analysis performed by the Quantified Scientist YouTube Channel, the Fitbit Charge 5 heart rate monitoring accuracy was good as long as the recordings were performed while not exercising too intensely. During more intense activities such as weight lifting or cycling, heart rate detection tended to be more prone to errors. Do not get me wrong; the Fitbit Charge 5 heart rate detection will not be entirely off but may miss some heartbeats from time to time.

Garmin is famous for using high-quality sensors and algorithms, leveraging its acquisition of the FirstBeat company. The Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate monitor is undoubtedly one of the best in this category of devices. Overall even if it is difficult for companies to match the accuracy of dedicated chest strap sensors, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 heart tracking accuracy is excellent.

Depending on your age, the Charge 5 and all other Fitbit devices will define heart zones that will help define the number of calories burned and count as part of the 150 minutes of heart exercise recommended by the Health authorities.

The Fitbit app will keep track of the heart rate data and present them in friendly and easy-to-understand ways. 

Good to know that Fitbit do not present a VO2 max that is an indicator of your heart and fitness levels. They use what they call the cardio fitness score, which is informative if you want to compare yourself to other users in the same age group.  

Garmin use a more standard VO2 max approach. Although the difference in the metrics name, the results between the two devices are very consistent.

Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the new crave and assesses sleep stages, stress, and overall health. Both devices make the most of the accuracy of the heart rate sensors to analyze the minuscule time differences between two consecutive heartbeats.

Garmin will use this information to compute the stress score. Thanks to its acquisition of FirstBeat, one of the world’s leaders in heart data management. The Garmin Connect App will somehow not let you know the raw values. Fitbit, on the opposite, will let you see your HRV trends which can be interesting to understand better the effects of your lifestyle on your overall health.

HRV will be presented on the Fitbit, but to benefit from the insights of the Daily Readiness score that is the equivalent of the Garmin Battery and combine scores from activity, recent sleep, and Heart Rate Variability, you will need to pay for a Fitbit Premium subscription. 

Overall, both devices make the most of the HRV, but our preference goes clearly to the Vivosmart 5. No need to pay for extra analyses.

Electrocardiogram and Arrhythmia Detection

Combining an electrocardiogram (EKG) with a smartwatch has been the new endeavor of manufacturers and started just a couple of years ago with the Apple Series 4. Nowadays, the Fitbit sense and the Samsung Galaxy Watch offer an FDA-cleared EKG that can detect Atrial Fibrillation. 

Even though this feature will only be appealing to a small percentage of the users, we welcome it. 

Combining such technology with the small format of a fitness tracker is a first, and the Fitbit Charge 5 shines in this matter. An electrical sensor is included on both sides of the screen. Hold both sides of the screen with your opposite hand, thumb, and index. It only takes 30 seconds to collect enough heart data for a heart rhythm diagnostic. Impressive. Using the App, it is even possible to share the electrocardiogram data as a pdf file with your doctor.

Finally, Fitbit recently released a new algorithm that allows receiving notifications in case an irregular heart rhythm episode is detected. Atrial Fibrillation is responsible for half a million hospitalization every year. The Charge 5 is not a medical device and will probably never be but we are getting close.

As for the Vivosmart 5, no such feature exists, so don’t even look for it.

Sleep

Sleep tracking has been part of Fitness trackers and smartwatches for years now. The devices make the most of their heartbeat detection and accelerometers to analyze sleep quality. Both devices go far deeper than just giving you sleep time. As expected, they will both split the sleep pattern into awake, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep.

Fitbit is famous for the quality of its sleep tracking algorithms. Here again, we conducted a test and were surprised by the differences between the two devices. When Fitbit concentrates on sleep duration, Garmin is more into defining how stress will impact your sleep quality.

I am not a great sleeper. But, interestingly, when the two devices disagreed on the quality of my sleep, I found that my tiredness during the day was much more in line with the Garmin Vivosmart 5 predictions.

Stress

Measuring stress and offering ways to reduce it seem to be the big selling points of modern smartwatches and fitness trackers. However, the Vivosmart 5 and Charge 5 are equally good at detecting stress and letting you relax and breathe deeply when your body and mind need it.

Garmin body battery metrics come free and rely heavily on the analysis of the heart rate variability. We have no problem with that, even though we did not realize that we were so stressed.

The Fitbit Charge 5 bragged a unique Electrodermal Activity sensor that detects the variation in skin conductivity. However, the measurement is not continuous as you will need to hold the electrical side sensors of the Charge 5 to analyze the amount of sweat covering the tips of your fingers.

Both the Heart Rate Variability and the skin’s electrical conductivity are controlled by the autonomous nervous system that governs stress. If we had to choose a device, we would say that we prefer the continuous stress measurement capabilities of the Vivosmart 5. No need to check if you are stressed, Garmin’s device will monitor your stress level at all times, and we like that. 

The EDA sensor of the Charge 5 is excellent, but it requires a spot-check which obviously can be a bit boring and stressful. 

If I am stressed, I want my tracker to tell me to relax and not to feel stressed to check for it. So we hope you understand our point. This is the chicken and egg principle.

Finally, getting detailed stress analysis data from the Charge 5 will require paying for Fitbit Premium. Paying for Netflix, Spotify, Photoshop, and many more subscriptions will ultimately add up. I pay close to 200 dollars a month in subscription without realizing it. The last thing I want is certainly to pay extra to get data from a Fitness tracker I already bought. 

Blood Oxygen Saturation

Both Devices will let you check blood oxygen saturation. First, let’s be clear, smartwatches and fitness trackers have a problematic relationship with measuring blood oxygen saturation. They still can not replace even the most basic finger oximeters and are always on the lower side. My average oxygen saturation level is around 99% when measured with a finger pulse oximeter. 

We did a test while sleeping with both devices. While the Vivosmart 5 checks blood oxygen levels continuously or can even provide a quick spot-check, the Charge 5 only measures oxygen saturation while sleeping. The Vivosmart gave us an 89% result during the same night, while the Charge 5 went up to 94%. 

Which one should you believe? In our opinion, none! These fitness trackers are not designed to report accurate blood oxygen saturation readings. If you are interested in these metrics, we suggest that you invest in a dedicated finger pulse oximeter. It will cost you around $50, and the results will undoubtedly be much more accurate.

Temperature

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 does not have a temperature sensor, so the comparison will not be fair. Measuring skin temperature is tricky but valuable, especially for detecting menstrual cycles or knowing if you are sick. Even if the Fitbit Charge 5 does include a temperature sensor, do not expect it to let you know if you should find some shape while exercising on a sunny day.

The Charge 5 only measures the wrist skin temperature at night. After calibrating for a couple of days, the device will let you know the evolution of your skin temperature compared to your baseline. The differences in degrees are shown, which is good enough for a quick check but will be frustrating for some users.

Fitness and Exercise Tracking

Buying a fitness tracker rarely involves just using it to look at the time or weather forecasts.

The Fitbit Charge 5 comes with the possibility to track 20 exercises (walk, elliptical, bike, weights, treadmill, hike, martial arts, boot camp, kickboxing, stairclimber, tennis, spinning, circuit training, swim, yoga, workout, interval workout, run, outdoor workout, golf, pilates). In addition, six shortcuts can be added to the device, and seven (walk, run, outdoor bike, elliptical, sports, aerobic workout, swimming) can be automatically recognized as long as you train for more than 15 minutes.

I am more of a treadmill and cycling type of guy, and I liked the fact that the Fitbit App allows syncing my activities with the Life Fitness equipment I can find at my local gym.

Within the Garmin Connect app, you have access to 14 different sports modes, from which you can select up to ten to display on the Vivosmart 5. In addition, you can choose from the majority of standard forms of physical activity, such as strength training with rep counting. In addition, there are catch-all modes called “other” and “cardio” that you can utilize if your chosen form of exercise is missing.

Garmin has historically developed devices aimed at serious athletes. So you will not be disappointed by the tracking quality and all the data analyzed while working out. I am a Sunday exercise guy, but getting so much information will be helpful if you are serious about your training. 

The possibility of organizing social challenges with other Garmin friends is also very motivating. However, Fitbit’s approach is different, and we found that Garmin was much more into creating connexion between Garmin users interested in challenging themselves.

GPS

How both Fitness Trackers will track your exercises is one of the main differences to consider when choosing the Charge 5 or the Vivosmart 5.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is undoubtedly giving more options than the Vivosmart 5. It allows using either the Phone GPS, the Built-in one, or the hybrid mode that will switch automatically between the device’s built-in GPS or the phone’s one, depending on the quality of the signal. 

On the opposite, the Vivosmart 5 options are limited or, should we say, non-existent. The Garmin device will only connect to your phone’s GPS, so you will always need to carry your phone. 

If the freedom of choice is a value, the Fitbit Charge 5 is the clear winner when it comes to GPS.

We went for a walk to test performance, wearing one device on our left wrist and the other one on our right one. We used our iPhone GPS to feed both devices. We expected the results to be precisely the same. They were not! The Vivosmart 5 seemed to add 300 meters to our promenade, and when checking the details of the path, the Charge 5 appeared to lose signals and cut corners from time to time. You can check the videos below to see the results. 

Overall, even if the Charge 5 GPS tracking was incorrect from time to time, the Fitbit Device is the clear winner. Being able to rely on its built-in GPS and hybrid mode makes it a much more versatile device.

Verdict

It is, of course, what you are waiting for. So which of the Fitbit Charge 5 or Garmin Vivosmart 5 is the best?

In a nutshell, if the Garmin Vivosmart 5 had a better screen and a built-in GPS, there would be no debate. In addition, the Vivosmart heart tracking sensor is better than the Charge 5. Even if the Fitbit Charge 5 is more oriented toward health tracking, it excels at detecting sleep patterns. Still, the overall results do not always reflect the next day’s tiredness reality check. 

We like that the Garmin Vivosmart 5 offers a lot to fitness addicts, but the lack of a built-in GPS is a deal-breaker. 

No device is perfect, and your choice will have to be motivated by what you want to do with it. Both trackers make the most of their excellent Apps available for iOS and Android. Unfortunately, this is rare enough to be noticed-shame on you, Samsung Galaxy Watch, and Apple Watch.

Are you serious about your training but do not want to run with a bulky smartwatch? Then, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is for you. On the other hand, are you looking for a more stylish and overall more well-rounded device that comes with plenty of health metrics, the Fitbit Charge 5 is your best choice.

We could not finish this comparison article without the pros/cons of each device. We hope that you now have a better idea of what you can expect from these two excellent fitness trackers that, in any case, will not disappoint.

Fitbit Charge 5
  • Optimize your workout routine with a Daily Readiness Score that reveals if you’re ready to...
  • Get a daily Stress Management Score showing your body’s response to stress and take steps to...
  • With the Health Metrics dashboard, track SpO2, heart rate variability, skin temperature variation...
  • See your real-time pace & distance without your phone using built-in GPS during outdoor activity,...
  • Includes a 6-month Premium membership complete with personalized insights, advanced analytics,...

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

Fitbit Charge 5 Pros

  • Plenty of Health sensors and health data
  • The bright multicolor AMOLED screen
  • Built-in GPS
  • Excellent battery

Fitbit Charge 5 Cons

  • Sensors could be better
  • Need to pay for Fitbit Premium for in-depth data analysis
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

Garmin Vivosmart 5 Pros

  • Excellent Sensors especially for heart rate
  • Good for training
  • Plenty of data available for serious training

Garmin Vivosmart 5 Cons

  • The screen is one generation behind
  • Built-in GPS is lacking
  • No temperature sensor
  • No EKG sensor
  • More expensive than the Charge 5