Garmin Vivoactive 5 Review

Garmin Vivoactive 5 Review: A Feature-Packed Fitness Smartwatch

Over the years, Garmin’s Vivoactive lineup has gained immense popularity for its fitness-focused wearables, offering a perfect blend of smartwatch features, extensive health-tracking capabilities, and a wide range of activity-tracking options, including various sports modes.

However, the series took a backseat when Garmin introduced the Venu series, featuring AMOLED displays. But now, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 steps up with that same AMOLED display treatment, essentially positioning itself as part of Garmin’s Venu lineup.

In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the key features of the  Garmin Vivoactive 5, its design, health and fitness tracking capabilities, smartwatch features, and overall performance. We’ll also compare it to the Venu 3 to highlight the differences between these two impressive Garmin offerings. So, let’s strap on this fitness smartwatch and explore its capabilities.

Design and Display:

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 comes in one size option, featuring a 42-millimeter case with an 11-millimeter thickness. This size is well-suited for various wrist sizes, as demonstrated by its comfortable fit on a 185-millimeter wrist. For comparison, it’s similar in size to the Venu SQ2 and fits between the Venu SQ2 and Venu 3.

One of the standout features of the Vivoactive 5 is its 1.2-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels. This display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and is identical to the one found on the Venu 3. Unlike previous Vivoactive models, which used transflective displays, the AMOLED screen offers vibrant colors and excellent contrast. Garmin has optimized the display to maintain decent battery life, ensuring that it can last anywhere from four days up to over a week, depending on usage.

Navigation on the Vivoactive 5 is a breeze, thanks to its touchscreen functionality and two-button layout. The touch screen is highly responsive, making interactions intuitive. The upper right-hand button is used to access workout profiles, and the lower right-hand button serves as a back key throughout the interface. During workouts, these buttons are used to start, pause, resume, save, or discard your activity, providing convenient control.

A notable addition to the Vivoactive 5 is the ability to adjust font size, a feature introduced with the Venu 3. This customization option enhances readability and user experience, catering to individual preferences.

Health and Activity Tracking:

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 excels in health and activity tracking, offering a wide range of metrics to help users monitor their well-being. It tracks essential health data, including steps, calories burned, heart rate, respiration rate, and blood oxygen saturation levels. Additionally, it assesses stress levels and measures intensity minutes, indicating the time spent in vigorous activity.

One of the standout features introduced with the Venu 3 is Garmin’s “Body Battery,” and it’s also present on the Vivoactive 5. This feature provides users with an estimate of their energy levels throughout the day, on a scale of 1 to 100, considering factors such as sleep and activity. A recent enhancement allows users to see specific activities’ impact on their energy levels, offering valuable insights.

The Vivoactive 5 offers comprehensive sleep tracking capabilities, including the ability to monitor sleep stages and track naps. The latter can be tracked automatically or manually, and the watch even doubles as an alarm to prevent oversleeping. Additionally, Garmin has introduced a “Sleep Coach” feature, which suggests optimal sleep durations based on various factors, enhancing sleep management.

Another noteworthy addition is the inclusion of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) status and a recovery time advisor. HRV, previously reserved for higher-end Garmin wearables, helps users assess their readiness for training and overall health. The recovery time advisor estimates the time required for full recovery based on sleep and activity data.

The Vivoactive 5 also features Garmin’s “Morning Report,” providing a summary of vital information when you wake up, including body battery, sleep quality, recovery time, HRV status, and calendar events for the day. This customizable feature ensures you start your day informed and ready.

For wheelchair users, Garmin has introduced a dedicated mode in the Vivoactive 5, catering to their specific metrics and needs. This demonstrates Garmin’s commitment to inclusivity and accommodating various user profiles.

Smartwatch Features:

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 isn’t just a fitness tracker; it’s a full-fledged smartwatch compatible with both iPhones and Android phones. It offers seamless notification handling for texts, calls, and app alerts. Weather information synced from your phone, along with calendar events, keeps you informed throughout the day.

While text and call notifications are available on both iPhone and Android devices, there are subtle differences in the experience. On an iPhone, you can view notifications but cannot reply due to Apple’s limitations. However, Android users can respond with quick pre-set messages that are customizable via the Garmin Connect app.

The Vivoactive 5 also introduces an on-screen keyboard, a feature that was previously exclusive to the Venu 3. This keyboard enables users to compose custom messages directly on the watch, expanding communication options.

Android users further benefit from the ability to view photos sent to the watch, enhancing the overall smartwatch experience.

Music enthusiasts will appreciate the Vivoactive 5’s capability to store music on the watch and stream it to Bluetooth headphones during workouts. Popular music streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music are supported, allowing users to enjoy their favorite tunes without carrying their phones. The watch also provides music control functions for your paired smartphone.

For convenience, Garmin Pay is included, facilitating contactless payments directly from the watch. Check out the latest price of Garmin Vivoactive 5 here.

Battery Life:

Battery life is a crucial factor for any wearable device, and the Garmin Vivoactive 5 offers impressive longevity. When used solely as a smartwatch, it can last up to 11 days on a single charge, provided the always-on display is disabled. Enabling the always-on display reduces this duration to around four to five days.

However, real-world battery life can vary based on factors such as the frequency of outdoor activities, GPS usage, and the status of the SP2 sensor.

During testing, using the always-on display mode, tracking blood oxygen saturation levels during sleep, and recording approximately an hour of outdoor activity each day, the Vivoactive 5 delivered nearly four days of battery life. It’s important to note that individual usage patterns will influence battery performance.

For outdoor activity tracking, the watch offers up to 17 hours with the highest accuracy all systems mode and up to 20 hours in GPS-only mode. Enabling music during activities will consume more power, so it’s advisable to stream music from your phone if available.

The Vivoactive 5’s battery life is commendable, especially when compared to other smartwatches like the Apple Watch, which typically requires daily charging. Garmin’s optimization of the AMOLED display ensures that users can enjoy extended usage without frequent recharging, making it an excellent choice for those who value longer battery life.

Outdoor Activity Tracking:

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a versatile companion for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of sports profiles to choose from, including running (both indoors and outdoors), cycling, gym workouts (including strength training and high-intensity interval training), yoga, Pilates, meditation, rowing, stand-up paddleboarding, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, and pickleball.

One of the most significant additions to the Vivoactive series is Open Water swimming, expanding its capabilities for aquatic sports. The watch provides comprehensive metrics for a variety of activities, ensuring users can monitor their performance effectively.

One notable feature is the new “Workout Benefits Summary,” introduced with the Vivoactive 5. This feature offers insights into how each specific workout impacts your fitness, providing valuable feedback on the benefits derived from your training sessions. Whether it’s improving your VO2 max, enhancing your endurance, or burning calories, the Vivoactive 5 keeps you informed about your progress.

Additionally, each workout is associated with a specific value indicating its effect on your body battery, giving you a holistic view of how exercise affects your energy levels throughout the day.

The watch also calculates your VO2 max for running and determines your “Fitness Age,” providing relatable figures to assess your overall fitness level.

Accuracy in Tracking:

When it comes to tracking outdoor activities, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 excels, thanks to its onboard GPS capability. The watch boasts a built-in satellite chipset, allowing you to record outdoor activities without needing to carry your smartphone.

In terms of GPS accuracy, the Vivoactive 5 performs exceptionally well. During various outdoor activities, such as running, cycling, and even mountain biking, the watch’s GPS consistently provided precise speed, distance, and pace data. Its ability to maintain a strong GPS signal, even in challenging conditions like heavy tree cover during mountain biking, demonstrates its reliability.

While the Vivoactive 5 excels in outdoor activities, it’s important to note that it lacks a built-in altimeter, unlike the Venu 3. This means you won’t receive real-time elevation gain data during your activities. However, the watch can still calculate total elevation gain post-activity using Garmin’s map data.

In terms of heart rate accuracy, the Vivoactive 5 utilizes Garmin’s fourth-generation elevated heart rate sensor. It performs admirably in cardio-based activities like running and cycling. During indoor and outdoor cycling sessions, the watch consistently delivered accurate heart rate data.

However, for activities like weight training and high-intensity interval training, wrist-based optical heart rate sensors, including the one on the Vivoactive 5, can struggle to maintain accuracy. In such cases, using an external heart rate monitor is advisable for more reliable data.

For mountain biking, a sport known to challenge wrist-based heart rate sensors due to vibrations and terrain, the Vivoactive 5 performed exceptionally well. Minor deviations in heart rate readings were quickly corrected, demonstrating its robust tracking capabilities. Check out the latest price of Garmin Vivoactive 5 here.

Comparison to Venu 3:

While the Garmin Vivoactive 5 shares many features with the Venu 3, there are some notable differences between these two Garmin smartwatches.

The Venu 3 boasts a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing users to access voice assistants on their phones and make calls directly from the watch. The Vivoactive 5 lacks these features, focusing more on fitness and health tracking.

Another distinction is the heart rate sensor. The Venu 3 uses Garmin’s fifth-generation heart rate sensor, which is optimized for activities like weight training and high-intensity interval training. In contrast, the Vivoactive 5 utilizes the fourth-generation sensor, which excels in cardio-based activities but may be less accurate for high-intensity workouts.

Additionally, the Venu 3 appears to have the hardware necessary for recording an ECG, although this feature is subject to regulatory approval. The Vivoactive 5 lacks this capability.

Both watches offer a wide range of health and activity tracking features, including Body Battery, sleep tracking, and recovery time advisor. They also provide morning and daily summaries to keep users informed about their well-being.

In terms of external sensor compatibility, the Venu 3 supports a few more options, including cycling power meters, compared to the Vivoactive 5.

Finally, the Venu 3 includes an altimeter, allowing users to track elevation gain in real-time during activities, while the Vivoactive 5 relies on post-activity calculations for this metric.


The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is a versatile and feature-packed fitness smartwatch that caters to a wide range of users. Its AMOLED display, extensive health tracking capabilities, and compatibility with both iPhones and Android phones make it a strong contender in the smartwatch market.

The watch’s GPS accuracy, especially during outdoor activities, is commendable, and its battery life sets it apart from many competitors. With features like Body Battery, sleep tracking, and VO2 max calculations, it offers comprehensive insights into your health and fitness.

While it lacks some of the advanced features found in the Venu 3, such as a built-in microphone and speaker and a fifth-generation heart rate sensor, the Vivoactive 5 strikes a balance between smartwatch functionality and fitness tracking prowess.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch that can seamlessly transition from daily wear to intense workouts while providing in-depth health insights, the  Garmin Vivoactive 5 is an excellent choice at its competitive price point. Check out the latest price of Garmin Vivoactive 5 here.


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About the author: Edouard Balik is a Tech writer at website. He creates Tech related articles using natural creativity and language tools, Market realities. Edouard loves discussing smartphones and smartwatches Tech and specs using his expertise in the field and reading their news.