To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Garmin Vivosmart HR review: A great tracker in its day, but you can do better in 2018

garmin vivosmart HR
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £108
inc VAT

The Garmin Vivosmart HR is still a great fitness tracker that replicates key smartwatch functions too, even if it doesn't have GPS tracking


Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: OLED, Battery life: 7 days


Alarms and alerts

The Vivosmart HR has vibration alerts, so you can set it to silently wake you up in the morning – there’s even a clock icon in the display when you have an alarm set. You’ll also get a vibrating alert when you’ve been inactive for too long, while any notifications will also get your wrist buzzing.

Those notifications are another point in the plus column for the Vivosmart HR. The device will display caller ID information, as well as text messages that arrive on your phone, just like the Fitbit Surge. However, the Vivosmart HR will also alert you to notifications on any and all third party apps on your phone – during testing I was alerted to Amazon deliveries, PlayStation friend requests, Twitter mentions, credit card purchases and even notifications from the Fitbit app.

Okay, so the small screen doesn’t lend itself to reading long text messages, but it is quite handy being able to glance at notifications as they come in, without digging your phone out of your pocket. If you’re not keen on smartwatches, having your phone notifications on a fitness tracker could be a solid compromise.

The Vivosmart HR will pull weather data from your phone, too, displaying it with the swiping rota on the display. And if you’re listening to music on your phone, you can control that from the Vivosmart HR as well.

Another absolutely great feature built into the Vivosmart HR is the “find my phone” functionality. If you regularly misplace your phone at home or in the office, you can find it with the Vivosmart HR. The screen will display a series of bars – the more bars that are displayed the closer you are to your phone. It works brilliantly, and makes you feel like a spy in a 1960s movie.

Apps and website

The Garmin Connect app used to be a weak point within the ecosystem, but it’s had a major overhaul. The latest version of the app looks great, is stuffed full of all the data and insight you could want, and syncs with your devices far, far quicker than the old one.

garmin connect app

The Garmin Connect web portal is also a breeze to use, employing a similar dynamic tile layout to the Fitbit portal. Garmin connect brings further advantages if you use multiple Garmin devices. If you use a Garmin Edge when cycling and a Garmin Forerunner when running, then all your data from all your devices will sync in the same place, making it easy to analyse results over time.

garmin connect web home

Garmin quotes a battery life of around seven days, and that seemed about right judging from our time with the Vivosmart HR. It’s also waterproof to 50m, so you don’t have to worry about taking it off in the shower, or even when you go swimming.

As if the incredible feature set wasn’t enough to convince you to buy a Garmin Vivosmart HR, it also has price on its side. If you shop about you can find it online for as little as £107 inc VAT. That’s about £15 more than you can find the Fitbit Charge HR, but you’re getting so much more here for your money.


The Garmin Vivosmart HR is a simply superb fitness tracker. It has more features than you could shake a stick at, an easy to read built-in display, touchscreen control, integrated heart rate monitor and excellent supporting app and web portal. Throw in the extras like find my phone and relaying of all your phone’s notifications, and you’ll be hard pushed to think of a feature that this device doesn’t have.

The only minor criticism that could be levelled at the Vivosmart HR is that it’s not the best-looking fitness tracker you can buy – it’s relatively large, and quite utilitarian. But that really is a minor criticism when you consider the feature set, usability and very attractive price.

Put simply, if you’re in the market for a fully featured fitness tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart HR should be top of your list.


Pages: 1 2

Read more