Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs. 4 vs. 4s: What's the Difference and Which is Right for You?

The Garmin Vivoactive 3, Vivoactive 4, and Vivoactive 4S are three excellent smartwatches, and if you're looking for a new fitness tracker you might find it hard to choose between them. The Vivoactive 4 consists of the bigger Vivoactive 4 and smaller Vivoactive 4S. These two will succeed in the Vivoactive 3 models. The Vivoactive 4 comes with newly added fitness tracking features, pulse ox sensor and a longer battery life that would last a bit longer than the older Vivoactive 3. One of the new features is the animated workout modes that can coach you through your favorite moves. Here we compare the Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs 4 vs 4S specs and features, so you know the differences and make the right choice.

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Garmin Vivioactive 3 Music vs 4S vs 4

ModelGarmin Vivioactive 3 MusicGarmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Vivoactive 4S
Price$249.99$299.99$299.99
Display  1.2-inch 240 x 240 memory-in-pixel, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 1.3-inch 260 x 260 memory in pixel, Corning Gorilla Glass 31.1" (27.9 mm) diameter, 218 x 218 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Heart Rate Monitor Yes Yes Yes 
Abnormal Heart Rate Alerts Yes, high Yes, high and low Yes, high and low 
Underwater Heart Rate Tracking No YesYes
Stress Tracking Yes, with guided breathing Yes, with guided breathingYes, with guided breathing
Sleep Tracking Yes Yes Yes
Female Health TrackingYes (Garmin Connect or Connect IQ) Yes Yes 
SpO2 Tracking  No YesYes
Body Battery Energy Monitor  No YesYes
Workout Modes  15 2020
Built-In GPS  Yes YesYes
Offline Music No (available on the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music) YesYes
On-Screen Workouts No  YesYes
Garmin Pay Yes Yes Yes 
Battery Life Up to 7 days or up to 13 hours with GPS Up to 8 days or up to 18 hours with GPS 

Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days

GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours

GPS mode without music: Up to 15 hours

Water Resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM
Dimensions 43.4 x 43.4 x 11.7 mm 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm 

40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm

Fits wrists with a circumference of 110-175 mm

Weight 43g 50.5g 40.0 g

From the chart, we know that the only real difference between the Vivoactive 4 and Vivoactive 4S  is their form. The Vivoactive 4 is slightly larger and the Vivoactive 4s is slightly smaller.

  • Comparing the watch faces, the Vivoactive 4 is 45mm in diameter, and the 4s is 40mm in diameter. The Vivoactive 4 sports a slightly larger watch face (1.3″ to 1.1″) and display resolution (260x260px to 218x218px).

  • The watchbands are also slightly different sizes. On the Vivoactive 4s, the watch bands are 18mm wide and they fit a wist that is 110-175mm in circumference. Compare that to the 22mm wide watchband and the 135-200mm circumference on the Vivoactive 4.

  • The color options are different on the two watches, as well. The smaller Vivoactive 4s comes in rose gold, silver, and slate, while the larger 4 only comes in slate and silver.

  • The size also causes one functional difference in the two watches – battery life. There’s a slightly smaller battery in the Vivoactive 4s. It’s rated for 7 days of general use, compared to 8 days for the Vivoactive 4.

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Difference between Garmin Vivoactive 3, 4, and 4S

The difference between the Vivoactive 4 and 3 is that the former comes with pulse ox sensor that result in more insightful sleep tracking, as well has more fitness tracking features, and a longer battery life than the 3. In addition, the Garmin vivoactive 4 has a larger display than the Garmin vivoactive 3, but they’re both as sharp as the other. Vivoactive 4S is the smallest.

Display and Build

First off, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 has a 1.2-inch 240 x 240 sunlight-visible, color memory-in-pixel display. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 also uses the same screen, but it measures 1.3 inches and has a 260 x 260 resolution instead. The Garmin Vivoactive 4S has a 1.1-inch 218 x 218 sunlight-visible.

Three smartwatches have a water resistance of 5 ATM, meaning they can survive 50 meters of depth for up to 10 minutes. They have a similar form factor too, but the Vivoactive 3 is slightly slimmer across the board. To no one’s surprise, it’s also lighter at 43g as compared to 50.5g. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a smaller version of the Vivoactive 4 called the Vivoactive 4S, which has a 40mm case instead of the standard’s 45mm one.

While they all have touchscreens, the Vivoactive 3 only has one physical button. The Vivoactive 4 does it one better by sporting an action button and a back button.

Design

Nothing much has changed in the design with the release of the Vivoactive 4, transflective memory-in-display (MIP) still powers the display on each of these three which is very bright and easy to read outdoors.

However, the Vivoactive 4 is a more durable smartwatch than the Vivoactive 3. Fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover material has been used for the case which is stronger than the polymer case of the Vivoactive 3. Moreover, the Vivoactive 4 with stainless steel bezel is more durable and attractive than the ceramics bezel of the 3 and leaves it with a classier appearance.

In addition, the Vivoactive 4 is slimmer than the 3, and as a result, it is a sleeker and more attractive watch.

Although, each of these three is very lightweight and comfortable to wear all day long. Moreover, the Vivoactive 4S with the smallest case size is compact and the best choice for women and those with a smaller wrist. 

Color Options

The color options are different on the three watches, as well. 

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Fitness Tracking

The pulse oximeter sensor seen on the latest Forerunner series, Fenix 6 and 5x plus is also available on the Vivoactive 4. Plus additional activity tracking features that comes with the Vivoactive 4 that the 3 lacks.

No doubt, just like all Garmin smartwatches, each of these three is fitness-focused and well equipped to comprehensively track your active life. 

Each of these three will track the following activities:

1. Steps, calories, fitness age, sleep monitoring, and all-day stress tracking.

2. Available indoor gym activities include; indoor rowing, strength training and cardio training.

3. Training and planning features include training load, training effect, and activity history on the watch.

4. Running features include running, treadmill running, and trail running.

5. Heart rate sensor tracks your heart rate variability to give you insight on your heart rate zones, max heart rate and recovery time to help you manage the intensity of your training so that you can achieve more fitness goals without breaking down.

6. Outdoor recreational features include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, xc skiing, stand up paddleboarding, rowing, and jumpmaster. And cycling features such as biking, indoor biking, mountain biking, triathlon.

7. Loads of golfing features are also available.

8. In-depth swim tracking features including stroke detection and SWOLF.

9. Just like the Vivoactive 3, you can log your period with the Vivoactive 4 enabling you to monitor and track changes in menstrual cycle which can help you understand yourself better.

10. The incident detection feature introduced to the new Forerunner series is also available on both the Vivoactive 3 and 4 which can help you get the needed assistance when there’s an accidental fall. It sends your location to preset emergency contacts.

New activity-tracking features are present on the Vivoactive 4/4S, but not on the Vivoactive 3:

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S 
Lacks pulse ox sensor and features that comes with it. The Vivoactive 4/4S come with pulse ox which serves two functions; A. for altitude acclimation, where it can help you know when it’s not safe to continue climbing and B. sleep monitoring to help you see the quality of your sleep. The Pulse ox sensor achieves these functions by monitoring how well your body absorbs oxygen. 
Lacks battery energy monitor. The Vivoactive 4/4S feature the body battery energy monitor that uses data from heart rate variability, stress, sleep and other data to gauge when you’re ready to be active or when you may need to rest, ensuring you get to train at the appropriate time, so that you train and achieve more without breaking down. 
Lacks hydration tracking. The Vivoactive 4/4S features hydration tracking which is important for your well-being. It lets you log your daily water intake to help you stay hydrated and see how consistent you are from day to day. 
Lacks respiration tracking. The Vivoactive 4 features respiration tracking which lets you see how you’re breathing throughout the day, during sleep and breath-work, and yoga activities. 
Lacks wrist based swimming heart rate tracking.The Vivoactive 4/4S has the ability to track your heart rate while you swim which lets you see a better overview of your swimming activities. 
Lacks animated workout modes. Garmin added animated workout modes to the Vivoactive 4 that coach you through some of your favorite workout modes. The Vivoactive 4/4S features easy-to-follow, animated cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts you can view on the watch screen. Choose from preloaded animated workouts, or download more from Garmin Connect online community. So, you don’t really need to watch videos, it saves you money, yet very effective. 
Features 15 preloaded workout modes. Features 20 preloaded workout modes. 

Battery Life

Garmin boosted the battery life of the Vivoactive 4 which will see it last a little longer than the Vivoactive 3. Although, each of these three has an impressively long battery life that lets you go days on a single charge which is akin to Garmin smartwatches and a great deal for fitness enthusiasts especially those that are involved in extreme workout activities.

The Vivoactive 4 has the longest battery life that’ll keep you going for over a week compared to the Vivoactive 4S with a slight lesser battery life of about a week and even longer than the Vivoactive 3 with about 5 days long battery life.

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days

  • GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours

  • GPS mode without music: Up to 13 hours

Garmin Vivoactive 4

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days

  • GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours

  • GPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours

Garmin Vivoactive 4S 

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days

  • GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours

  • GPS mode without music: Up to 15 hours

Price

  • Vivoactive 3 Music is cheaper than Vivoactive 4

  • Vivoactive 4 is the same price as Vivoactive 4S

Vivoactive 3 Music for $249.99, while Vivoactive 4 & 4S for $299.99 at Garmin.com.

Verdict: Which is Right for You?

No doubt, each of these three will make a fantastic choice as a fitness tracker and comfortable and decent wear all day long. Each of these has got onboard music, in-depth activity tracking features and a long battery life to back it up.

However, the Vivoactive 4 is clearly a better choice than the Vivoactive 3 Music. It’s sleeker and more attractive. Also more durable, has a longer battery life, plus more activity tracking features, including more sports modes that make the Vivoactive 4 a more comprehensive activity tracker than the 3.

Moreover, the Vivoactive 4S with the smallest case size is compact and the best choice for women and those with a smaller wrist.

While the Vivoactive 4 with the longest battery life is the best choice, and a great choice for those with fatter wrist.

On the other hand, The Vivoactive 3 Music is a cheaper alternative. It’s a comprehensive fitness tracker with long battery life.

So, if you're craving more details and you don't mind spending a bit more, the Vivoactive 4 is an excellent pick with a lot to offer. It boasts many well-deserved improvements, like two size options, standard music storage, and a long list of tracking features that help you get a deeper look at your overall health and fitness. If the price tag doesn't spook you, you'll be more than happy with the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

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