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Garmin Vivosmart HR In-Depth Review


Back about two months ago, Garmin announced their first wrist activity tracker (non-watch) with optical HR capabilities, the Vivosmart HR.  The Vivosmart HR was designed to build upon the release of the Vivosmart a year earlier.  Essentially it’s a daily activity tracker that doubles-down as a workout HR monitor, as well as doing all the now expected functions around smartphone notifications and the like.

I’ve been using the device the last 45 days or so, thus I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how it works (and where it doesn’t).  For this review I was sent a Vivosmart HR from Garmin to try out.  After this review, I’ll be sending back the demo unit as usual to Garmin in Kansas and getting my own – just the way I roll.

With that intro out of the way, let’s dive into things.


First up is the unboxing.  There are a few different colors, as well as sizes (bands) of Vivosmart HR models.  However, the unboxing will be the same for all of them.



Inside you’ll find a mere three things.  The Vivosmart HR, the Vivosmart HR USB charger, and the paper stuffs (manual/legal junk).


Starting with the charging, it’s a proprietary charger used only on the Vivosmart HR that’s designed to charge the unit while ensuring the unit remains waterproof (in general we haven’t seen good luck with micro-USB charging ports on deeply waterproofed devices, long-term).


It simply snaps on, and the lock is pretty secure.  From there you can charge it in any USB port on the planet:


Next, the manual.  This is only notable because it talks to how to wear the unit, which should be away from the wrist bone.  As a general rule of thumb for optical HR sensors – the further away from the wrist bone the better.


Lastly, here’s two looks at Vivosmart HR, don’t worry, we’ll get plenty more shots by the end of this thing.



And in case you were wondering, it weights 30g:


And if you compare it to the Polar A360, you’ll find it’s pretty close to identical on size:


With that, let’s get on with the show.

Daily Activity & Sleep:


Now that everything is all unboxed, we’ll start with the basics – which is around the daily activity tracker components.  Then after that we’ll dive into the workout and optical HR sensor pieces.

For daily activity tracking the unit will track steps, sleep, and stairs climbed.  It does this using its internal accelerometer and various Garmin algorithms to decide what’s a step, and what’s a false-positive (i.e. cleaning the dishes).

When it comes to steps, the unit will display these on a page on the device that you can swipe to, or set as your default page:


Above you see my total steps for the day, against my goal steps.  My goal steps is a dynamically changing metric aimed at getting me to step slightly more than the day before.  It changes a little bit each day (either up or down), so a single large day (low or high) won’t cause a massive drop.  You can always override the goal too, should you like.

Once I hit my goal steps for the day I’ll get a small fireworks show.  It’s like 4th of July, only without the hot dogs, cotton candy, and the neighbor’s house burning down:


So what about step-counter accuracy?  In general I find it trends pretty similar to other devices I’ve worn at the same time.  Part of the challenge with step-counter accuracy is that each vendor (i.e. Garmin, Nike, Fitbit, Polar, etc…) all do slightly different things which they believe makes for the best possible accuracy.  However, sometimes that means certain activities end up being more accurate on one device versus another.  Or more specifically, even one person compared to another.

For example, I don’t tend to get any (or more than a handful) of steps while in the shower.  Yet others will get hundreds (what are you doing?!?).  Same goes for driving.  Or washing the dishes.  In theory these devices won’t track that, but sometimes it happens for others.  I guess I’m just less active in those activities than others are.

Ultimately though – these devices should be used for you to look at trends.  For example, if you’re at 9,900 steps out of 10,000 for a day, then just go walk around the block once.  Meanwhile, if you’re at 2,000 steps for the day – then it was a lazy day.  The unit isn’t likely going to be off by 8,000 steps.  Make sense?

Oh, in addition to steps you’ll also get your total walked distance for the day:


And right after distance, you’ll get calories.  This is using the optical HR sensor as well for some of these calorie calculations.  And further, it’s considered a holistic view into your total calories for the day – so it includes your BMR calories for just being alive.


Alongside calories you’ll get intensity minutes.  These are based on the recommended number of ‘moderate exercise’ minutes per week being 5x30minutes, so 150 minutes.  You can change this goal however.


Next up – stairs (or rather, floors).  The unit has a barometric altimeter in it to measure your stair climbs, by floors ascended.  I’ve found this function somewhat mixed, mostly in the extra stair category.  You can see here my flights of stairs combined with stair goals:


What I’ve found is that most of the time (perhaps 80%) this works out well.  But I’ve seen that often times when I’m in cities with high-rise elevators, it can be tricked.  For example one day in NYC it thought I climbed 44 floors (2nd and 3rd photos).

2016-01-14 13.37.53 2016-01-14 13.38.56 2016-01-14 13.38.09

What’s ironic about that is that given I was in NYC I actually climbed even LESS steps than normal (at home in Paris we have multiple flights of stairs to our apartment).  So basically, it appears to be getting triggered occasionally with the elevator, which I’d see.  Sometimes it’d award me steps as I stood there.

Personally, I don’t put a lot of value in the step piece anyway – so this isn’t of huge concern to me.  And, if I’m avoiding high-rise elevators, then it seems to be mostly just fine.

Next, in addition to steps and stairs, you’ll get sleep tracking.  This will automatically track your sleep metrics, including the time you fell asleep and woke up.  There’s no buttons to press.

2016-01-14 13.37.39 2016-01-14 13.37.24

When it comes to hitting the times I woke up and fell asleep, it generally nails it spot-on, so it does a pretty good job there.

Beyond that, it provides metrics about deep sleep and such, like below:



I don’t at this time have a way to validate whether these metrics are accurate or not, but here’s (below) the same exact night as recorded by the Withings Aura device.  As you can see, the deep sleep sections are pretty different.  Though, both devices nailed me falling asleep and waking up within a couple of minutes of each other.  Pretty impressive.



There ya have it on sleep, steps, and stairs.  Note that at this time none of this data is sent to 3rd party platforms (except for MyFitnessPal).

Workout Usage Overview:


Now before I dive into the optical HR sensor and accuracy, let me briefly talk about the methods to use it during a workout.  So this part will be thin on optical HR sensor, and more heavy on the other parts.  But don’t worry, we’re going to get all optical sensor’d up in a moment.

Unlike the original Vivosmart, the Vivosmart HR only has one workout mode: Running.  Or I suppose Running & Walking.  Basically, it just has this single little icon of a guy that appears to be running.  That’s it.  You can see it here:


Once you tap that button (on the touch screen) you’ll be ready to begin your activity:


You’ll then press the physical button to start the activity, which begins recording.  Once you do, you can swipe between the various ‘screens’ that you’ve setup ahead of time using the Garmin Connect Mobile app.  Within that, you can configure four data pages, each with either one or two metrics on them:

2016-01-14 13.40.53 2016-01-14 13.40.56 2016-01-14 13.40.58

The metrics you can select per data page are: Time, Distance, Calories, Heart Rate (bpm), and Heart Rate Zone.  In addition, you can also enable the ‘Time & Date’ data page.

Here’s a few examples of what those look like:




Now, distance is based off of the accelerometer.  In my testing I’ve found it’s varied from within 1% to off by 20-30% (all in running).  Why the difference?  Well it depends a lot on your stride length.  For some of my runs where I was running at my natural paces (the paces I normally run at), I was within 1-2%.  Yet for other runs when I ran with someone else at a different slower pace than I normally run, it was significantly off.  These were all using the automatic stride length, and not overriding it.

However, you can set a custom stride length within the settings, which might help for those outlier cases.

2016-01-14 13.41.41 2016-01-14 13.41.51

Finally, there’s also the option to enable Auto Lap, which is hard-set to laps every 1-mile or 1-kilometer, depending on whether you’re in metric or statute mode.  I often used the Auto Lap and it worked well enough, notifying me each time I completed a mile.  Though of course, whether or not that mile was accurate depended on my stride length.

No matter what option you use for stride length, after you complete a run you can select to save the data:


This data is then sync’d to Garmin Connect via the Garmin Connect Mobile app, which in turn allows you to view your run on Garmin Connect (web or mobile), just like this example run:


You can also check out any splits that were taken, such as these with Auto Lap:


You’ll note that there won’t be a GPS track, since the Vivosmart HR doesn’t include GPS, nor does it use GPS from the phone for a GPS track.

Optical HR Sensor:


Of course, all roads on the Vivosmart HR lead to the optical HR sensor.  After all, it’s likely the main reason someone would purchase the Vivosmart HR over other competing activity trackers.  The optical sensor is the green LED thing plunked on the back of your Vivosmart HR, seen below:


In the case of the Vivosmart HR, Garmin is using their own internally developed sensor, which they’ve branded ‘Elevate’.  This sensor is the same one that’s seen in the Garmin FR235 and Garmin Fenix3 HR (the FR225 uses a sensor from Mio).  As we saw in my FR235 review, the results were generally positive, though, there were some oddities in certain cases.  Now unfortunately you can’t assume the sensor will be the same in a different device.  That’s especially so with the Vivosmart HR because it’s a totally different form factor than the watch-like FR235.

The Vivosmart’s optical HR sensor serves roughly three purposes:

A) Ability to monitor HR 24×7 (including resting HR)
B) Ability to monitor HR during a workout (running primarily)
C) Ability to re-broadcast your HR over ANT+ to other ANT+ devices

It’s the combination of those three things that set the Vivosmart HR apart from other units in the market.  For example, the A360 is currently unable to do A & C above, rather focusing on just B.

But the question isn’t so much whether it does A/B/C, but rather – does it do them well?  And for that, it gets messy.  Really messy.

First up, the 24×7 HR monitoring.  This is where the Vivosmart will periodically take HR measurements throughout the day and record them, attempting to determine your resting HR, but also giving you a picture of your HR throughout the day.  It does this at a variable sampling rate, which is a fancy term for ‘we’re doing it as minimally as possibly because the battery life will be horrible otherwise’.

On your device, you can swipe to this screen at any time, which shows you your current HR, as well as the average resting HR during that day:


Next, on the app itself you can look at your HR over the course of the day:

2016-01-14 13.44.18 2016-01-14 13.44.31

You’ll notice that these are huge blocks of time that the HR values are recorded at.  Like, hours’ worth. Basically, Garmin has made this useless by decreasing the recording rate so much.  Now there is a difference between resting HR and just current all-day HR.  Which is really too bad, because the company put a lot of effort into making these data pages on the app look really clean, and with the FR235, the data looks great.  Here, not so much.

Using resting HR values can be extremely useful in determining fatigue.  For example I can see mine rise and fall going into and out of the fairly sleepless period of CES towards the end:


You can also use RHR values to often predict when you’re getting sick (if you track the values close enough).  For example I know that if my RHR value spikes to about 50-52bpm (lowest value in the course of a day), I’m on the verge of getting sick.  It’s definitely a super-interesting leading indicator.

When it comes to RHR values, the unit seems to report a bit higher than I’d expect.  Meaning my typical RHR value is about 39bpm-42bpm on a ‘normal’ day.  However, the resting value that Garmin Connect determines is about 43-46bpm, a touch bit high.  Only one day over the past month did it find an RHR value of 38bpm.  I can sit here over the next 3-5 minutes and get you a value of 40bpm without trying.

I suspect that’s because Garmin has reduced their sampling rate, especially while there’s a lack of movement – effectively ignoring the most critical times for RHR sampling.  Still, it’s disappointing since the FR235 did a much better job there where I routinely got 39-41bpm, as seen below (as well as higher levels of data capturing):

2016-01-14 13.45.31 2016-01-14 13.45.25

Next, we’ve got the ability to re-broadcast your HR over ANT+ when not in a workout.  Yes, that’s counterintuitive, so just stick with me for a second.  With the Vivosmart HR while in a workout it’ll increase the sampling rate and record your HR at a higher rate (which I’ll cover in-depth in the next section).  However, when you’re in the running workout mode, it won’t re-broadcast your HR to other ANT+ devices.

Re-broadcasting is when your Vivosmart HR acts like a heart rate strap.  That means it allows you to take your Garmin Edge (or other ANT+ device) and pair it to your Vivosmart HR as if it were a HR strap, such as this:


To do this, on the Vivosmart HR you’ll have to dig into a bunch of menus.  It’s as if someone is making this complex on purpose.  You’ll press the button > Settings> Swipe 5 times to Heart Rate > Swipe to Broadcast Mode > Tap to Start Broadcasting.  Then see this:



Once you see this, then be super-careful to not touch the screen, because then it’ll ask you to exit broadcast mode, which then means then it’ll stop sending your HR.  In the winter (like now), this is really easy to do with your jacket, thus ending things prematurely.  That makes for sad pandas.


In reality, Garmin should have a lock screen option there.  Or, just simply use the physical button to end things.

Now the main scenario that you have for broadcast mode is most likely cycling, since that’s the scenario where you’re most likely to be using another ANT+ device to receive that signal.  Meaning that it’s unlikely that most of you are just going to wear two watches (such as another Forerunner watch) merely to avoid a HR strap.  So, let’s slide into the next section and talk about just how accurate that would be.

Oh, and last but not least – in an odd move, Garmin actually does not permit the Vivosmart HR to connect to an external HR strap (such as an ANT+ chest strap).  This is something that every other ‘Vivo’ branded product allows, even ones 1/3rd the price.  I’m at a loss for why they’d make it harder to spend money on other Garmin products; especially given all competitive units (such as the Polar A360 or even the Apple Watch, as well as all of Garmin’s own products) allow this.

HR Accuracy Results:


Ahh yes, all roads lead to accuracy.  After all, you generally don’t buy a device because it’s inaccurate.  The first thing to understand about optical HR sensors though is that they can be both highly accurate, and highly inaccurate.  It really comes down to which model of sensor is being used, placement in the device, as well as how and where the wearer is using it.  It’s inaccurate to say that all optical HR sensors are inaccurate, since that’s proven not true.

However, do not let major brands trick you into thinking they are better.  For example, Apple’s optical HR sensor technology is sub-par to Mio (by Philips) and Valencell, companies many people have never heard of.   Thus, I look at every single device individually, as you’ll see here – even an individual sensor that may be ‘proven reasonably good’ can be implemented poorly in a different device (i.e. a band vs a watch).

Finally, before we dive into the results, note that how and where you wear the device is really important.  If you’re struggling with accuracy, ensure you’ve tried:

A) Moving it away from the wrist bone. It should be at least 1-2cm away (and never on-top).
B) Try putting it on the inside of your wrist (the soft fleshy part, generally sensors do better there)
C) Try the other wrist, you’d be surprised how often that makes a difference

With that, let’s dive into things.  I’ve got tons of sample data, but I’m just going to pick a few examples that I think are fairly representative of the larger set of data I have.

Run #1: Medium intensity steady run

First up we’ve got a nice moderate paced run (the DCR open house morning run, for those interested) with a few brief higher intensity moments (going up a hill, and a short sprint).  In this case I’m comparing it to the Garmin HRM-TRI strap, as well as the Scosche Rhythm+ optical HR sensor.  The HRM-TRI is being recorded on a FR920XT, whereas the Scosche is being recorded on an Ambit3.

First, the high level overview.


At a high level, the unit actually did fairly well while running.  Ironically enough the only places it seems to struggle were waiting at cross-walks.  Theoretically the easiest of things to measure.  Go figure.

If I zoom in on various sections of the run where the pace and intensity is fluctuating, you’ll see all three track very well:


And even the sharp increases in HR tracked well as seen in the earlier parts.  For example, in this section here it does track well until I stopped, gets confused at the stop, and then as soon as I start again it’s all over things:


As you can see, it’s kinda mixed.

Run #2: Central Park Interval Run

Next we’ve got a run I did in NYC’s Central Park.  The first portion is largely just keeping a fairly even intensity, after which you see the first big spike in HR being the big hill, which I maintained pace and increased HR.

Following that, I did a set of 60s intervals (each lasting 60s, with 60s rest).  I’d repeat this a number of times.  The weather this day wasn’t too cold, I wore t-shirt and shorts (though most would have gone long-sleeve).


You can see it starts off ok for the first minute or two, and then the Vivosmart HR struggles for a bit as my HR stabilizes.  It’s around the 10-minute marker that it seems to catch up and is happy.  it remains happy through the hill climb, and then to the start of the intervals.

It’s the intervals though that prove more challenging.  Let me zoom in on them (and I’ve smoothed them to 3s to make it slightly clearer):


What you see here is that the Vivosmart HR kinda gets it for the first one or two, and then seems to just totally lose the plot after that.  The HRM-TRI and Scosche track fairly closely.  Given these were short 60-second intervals, we see a slight lag of optical compared to chest strap.

Either way, I’d hardly say you could use the Vivosmart HR’s HR detail during this interval for any sort of analysis.  But, as seen in some of my other runs, it tends to be better on longer intervals (of increased intensity) rather than these super-short intervals.

Run #3: Cold Weather Run

Last on the run comparisons is a colder weather run.  This was just below freezing level, so in the grand scheme of cold, not horribly so. But kinda your average winter run temp-wise for most folks.

Here, the course was rolling, so my HR was equally rolling.  Here’s the comparison:


I’m not really sure any further analysis is required, it sucked.  Simple as that.  However, by about the 30 minute marker, it did seem to improve a bit as I apparently warmed up.  The device was at the edge of my sleeve, so that I could occasionally glance at it, while still being kinda protected by my long sleeve and gloves.  The Scosche meanwhile mostly nailed it, but did have a few seconds here and there where it seemed to stumble briefly.

I did another run in similar temperatures and found the same with the Vivosmart HR.  Which, to be fair, it’s not that surprising for wrist-based optical HR sensors that are exposed to the cold.  Or more specifically, trying to measure blood-flow in an area of your body that’s cold, which can be very challenging.

Cycling: Outdoor

Next, I wanted to briefly include outdoor cycling.  While the Vivosmart HR doesn’t include a cycling mode at all (unlike the original Vivosmart), it does include the re-broadcasting.  So on one hand it’s odd to remove a feature from a previous generation, I kinda understand it.  I suspect very few people ever used it, since it required additional cycling ANT+ sensors.  And the only people who had those sensors likely already had a Garmin device for cycling.

In any event, here’s a ride I did turning on the ANT+ HR broadcasting option on the Vivosmart HR.  On this ride it’s compared to a Garmin HRM-TRI strap, both of which are recorded on the Edge 520.  As you can see, it’s nowhere near what I did.


Now I know my efforts for this ride, especially the middle part because I was doing steady-state sections on a local loop, you can see the slight ‘bump’ look to it as I descended the hill (decreasing the HR) each time.  Ultimately, these two tracks look nothing like each other.  And I’d like to say this is the only time, but basically each time I’ve ridden with it it’s all over the map.

Finally, just to add insult to injury here, there’s currently a bug where the Vivosmart HR will stop broadcasting your ANT+ HR if you receive a smartphone notification.

Smartphone Connected Features:


Of course, before we wrap things up, I wanted to touch briefly on the smartphone related features that are included in the Vivosmart HR.  The Garmin Connect Mobile app will be used to setup to your phone, which is available now on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

First up is that the unit (obviously) integrates on a near constant basis with your phone, most notably for notifications, which are controlled via your smartphone notification center.  That means that you won’t configure different notifications within the Garmin Connect app, but by whatever your phone does.  You can turn this on and off though, through the options in the Vivosmart settings.

When a notification comes in, it’ll buzz on your wrist and show the first line or so of the text of the notification.  Oddly though, it doesn’t respect the orientation arrangement if vertical, so it ends up being sideways again.


You can tap a notification to read it further, as well as clear it:


Now while you can set Do Not Disturb mode on your phone, and the Vivosmart HR will follow that, you can also set the same thing on the Vivosmart HR itself, which will silence the wearable while leaving your phone free to receive notifications:


Next, you can control music from the Vivosmart HR.  Note however that this is just controlling music on your phone, and is NOT capable of storing music on the Vivosmart HR itself.  Again, the Vivosmart HR does NOT have any music storage capacity.  Just control.


Next, you’ll also have the option to see some of the weather, pulled from the Garmin Connect Mobile app on your phone:


When it comes to data sync (be it for steps or workouts), the unit is syncing behind the scenes throughout the day.  However you can always manually sync it by just pressing the button on the Vivosmart HR and swiping to select the ‘Sync’ option:


That instantly sync’s things and gets everything all settled between the two devices.

Market Comparisons:


If you’re looking at this review, you’re likely looking for an activity tracker with optical HR sensing capabilities.  As such, there are a handful of players in the market to consider.  I’m going to keep things somewhat brief, because I’ve written reviews on all of these already.  Thus I’m going to focus on the key differences to get you started in the decision making process:

Polar A360: While one might think the A360 is the most viable competitor to the Vivosmart HR, that’s just not the case today.  The unit lacks features such as 24×7 HR recording, ability to re-broadcast one’s HR, and stair capability.  Not to mention lack of music control, and HR readings that are far more inaccurate (in my testing) than the Vivosmart HR. In-depth review here.

Basis Peak: The Basis Peak is the best option for those that might not workout a lot, but still want tons of data metrics.  It delivers quite a bit more data about your data (such as skin temperature and perspiration), as well as now having smartphone notifications.  It does lack music control and weather, however. In-depth review here.

Fitbit Charge HR: The Fitbit Charge HR does a far better job than Garmin for 24×7 HR, but when it comes to workouts it is equally mixed.  Further, the Charge HR doesn’t do full smartphone notifications (just phone alerts), let alone music control or weather.  So it’s a more ‘basic’ version of what Garmin is delivering.  Still, the Fitbit platform is widely popular, so if you already have friends there – it might be worthwhile to stay in that camp. In-depth review here.

Apple Watch: While a fair bit more expensive than the Vivosmart HR (by about $100 right now), this unit definitely does a better job at 24×7 HR, but is equally mixed when it comes to sport. Of course, the main appeal of the Apple Watch is the apps, but it does come at the price of being iOS-only.  Further, the battery life is about 24-36hrs, versus 4-5 days for the Vivosmart HR.

Microsoft Band 2: Once you get to this price point (same as Apple Watch in the US anyway), you’re really looking at more competitive options from Garmin and others for a GPS watch.  So it’s not a terribly fair comparison since we’re shifting the price up by double.  But I wanted to mention it since I’m sure someone would ask.  While the GPS accuracy of the Band 2 is pretty good from what I’ve seen, the HR accuracy isn’t all that great for anything more than steady-state.  Further, the thing is terribly uncomfortable for me (no matter how I wear it).

There ya have it – the quick run-down of all the major options out there.



On one hand, the Vivosmart HR is a relatively well executed smart-band, that cleanly displays your notifications and also tracks your HR.  The battery life of about 4-5 days is pretty good, and the activity and sleep tracking aspects work well.

However, the main pitch of the Vivosmart HR is the optical HR sensor.  After all, it’s part of the product name.  And in that area, they’ve made too many sacrifices with the product.  The battery tradeoffs have made the all-day and RHR functionality pretty much useless (which could easily be addressed by Garmin allowing you to increase sampling rates and decrease battery life).  And then the optical HR sensor during workouts is very mixed.  Some days and portions of the workout it’s great, and other days it’s just lost in space.  Meanwhile, use in re-broadcasting during cycling is totally useless (which is pretty much the only time you’d use the broadcasting feature).

Thus, leaving me with a bit of a conflicted product.  I’ve found it easy to wear over the past month in that it’s just sorta there and the notifications and step reminders do well.  But, when push comes to shove, it’s going to be all over the map for the HR pieces.  Some days it wakes up on the right side of the bed, and others it’s all upset about life.  And ultimately, nobody wants someone unpredictable.

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Vivosmart HR (select drop-down for various colors/sizes)

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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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  1. Robin VT

    typo in the html filename: garmin-vivosmarthr-review.html

    • Garmin = Garmin
      vivosmarthr = Vivosmart HR
      Review = Review

      Simple (and correct).

      The way the plug-in is for the autocalculation of names it re-calcs certain things. So I can override it but not with three dashes, otherwise I would have put a dash between Smart and HR.

    • Martin

      Being a bit picky, no? The guy is doing a great job and the first comment is about the URL. I don’t get it.

    • Sven Nielsen

      Beta software with screen lock!!! YES :)

      link to www8.garmin.com

      It works perfect when used as HR with my FR610.

      Easy to install. (Copy one file to /Garmin folder when connected via USB cabel)

    • Lock screen is in this BETA software.
      So no more lost HR..

      link to www8.garmin.com

    • Fabiola

      I read some of your comments and I’m not sure which wristband is better. Should I get the Charge HR or Vivosmart HR?

    • Easy: Vivosmart HR over Charge HR.

    • Pamela

      I currently have both the Charge HR and the Vivosmart HR and I’m trying to decide which to keep. I use another device to track hr during workouts; I’m interested in these for activity/sleep tracking RHR. The Fitbit appears to be checking my heart rate every few seconds where as the Garmin is much less frequent. Wouldn’t this make the Fitbit more accurate for RHR?
      I’ve read your reviews for both the Charge HR and the Vivosmart HR. Initially, you said that the Fitbit was better for 24×7 activity tracking. Do you think differently now that Garmin has done some updates?
      I want to love the Garmin, because its waterproof and receives text notifications, but the Fitbit looks better and is more comfortable…

  2. Luca B.

    I am not convinced on the usefulness of 24/7 HR measurement (and consequently consider the use of a traditional HR strap not a big nuisance during workouts). What’s the point of such a measurment? Is it an indicator of stress, or recovery, or fitness improvement?

    • Bob

      I couldn’t agree more. I know people differ, but the hit to battery life far outweighs the data usefulness from continuous HR monitoring.

      Ray recommended the Rhythm+, which I bought. That paired with my garmin 230 I couldn’t be happier. Well, if the 230 used power meters it would be perfect and had better connected battery life it would be perfect. But its darn close.

      The Rhythm+ works perfect and is comfortable. The one knock I would put on it is that it needs some visual indicator of battery life left. Plus, I would like to see the device get 12+ hours of use. That would get me through a week without charging.

    • The main benefit of 24×7 HR is to determine RHR without the hassle of measuring it. The FR235 was really good at it, whereas the Vivosmart HR has reduced update frequency too much to be able to get accurate RHR.

      The benefit of RHR is predicting when fatigue is too high, or training load is too high. With enough data, it becomes incredibly fascinating to use (I’ve long used it in training).

    • Matthew B.

      Ray, so have they reverted the 235 back to the original polling pattern/frequency?

    • Bob

      I don’t disagree that the data is useful for some, but for the vast majority it’s a novelty. I think you are in the 1% of the 1% of fitness athletes.

      But thanks again for the rhythm recommendation.

      The only thing about the vivosmart that would have been really useful to the average person is the ability to rebroadcast HR. I imagine there are a lot of cyclists that would have like to ditch a chest strap for this.

    • I think that’s somewhat the goal of the Garmin Connect Insights they’re going to roll out, which will start to bubble what should be easy to digest information to the top. It’s also similar to things like the Stress level measurements. Taking what used to be more complex measurements to gather, and making them simple.

    • David

      Ray, I know you have an informal policy of not always doing rereviews or updates to existing devices because you want manufacturers to release fully developed products (I agree!) but perhaps revisiting the issue of Garmin FR 235 24/7 polling is needed. It appears that recent firmware updates have nerfed the more frequent polling of HR and reduced it to the same poor levels of the Vivosmart HR. I think it would be a worthwhile exception to mention that in this review and the 235 review since people might actually get the implication they should get the 235 over the Vivosmart HR for the more frequent polling. In this case it wouldn’t be helping the manufacturers it would be helping your readers since Garmin did something that makes a device inarguably WORSE after your review was written. Did help the battery obviously.

    • Yeah, I’m going to swap back to the FR235 for a few days to double-check that and update that accordingly, while also circling back to Garmin to find out if that’s a permanent thing. I figured I’d let today’s post sink in there a few days first…

    • Ken

      I have a Charge HR and didn’t start out thinking RHR was that valuable but have found it so useful that accurate RHR is a must for potential future purchases. I have found it to be a great predictor for when I need to recover, when I’m stressed out, or when I’m about to get sick. Whenever my heart rate jumps 7-8 beats it has been one of those things. I’m not an elite athlete by any stretch of the Imagination but I find the info valuable regardless. Valuable enough that I would give up battery life for it if Garmin allowed it.

    • John

      I hope Garmin pay close attention to your review Ray. I was so hoping this was going to work but:

      I have absolutely no faith in the heart rate accuracy
      I frequently climb 50 flights of stairs/day without ever actually climbing one.
      The broadcast HR function has a habit of turning itself off.
      The HR function just locks up when you are, heaven forbid, mid-activity.
      If the heart rate is constantly inaccurate, so is every calculation that is based of it.
      I would happily charge it more often for more frequent HR data. They should make this configurable.

      I’ll give it one more month for them to address issues. If not improvement, nor intent to address issues, its being returned as vapourware.

    • bob

      Good data point. I don’t mind being wrong.

      I think I will still take battery life over sickness prediction.

    • Jeff

      I use HRV to measure recovery and prevent over training. For this I use the Polar H7 and the Elite HRV app first thing in the morning. It would be great if the optical HR sensor on the Vivosmart HR was sensitive enough to measure the time between heart beats required by the app and transmit real time to my phone. I just purchased the Vivosmart HR and have used it a number of times on runs. So far the heart rate shown in activity mode is dead on. I couldn’t be happier. I’m MAF training and the Garmin HR chest strap was rubbing me raw with my increasing mileage. I don’t have much need for any of the other functions other than the time and the back lighting when I run at night. So far I love the Vivosmart HR.

    • Matt

      My 235 polls are sometimes 2 hours apart. I think as part of battery improvement, it now samples rarely. A different unrelated issue is that it also goes for a week or more refusing to connect with my 5s. Both are fully up to date. Also doesn’t do intensity minutes. Also won’t receive HR signal from any other source, including garmin chest straps. Could go on and on. Got a garmin case number for issues with incorrect cadence = HR, but I’ve not heard anything back.
      They do however answer the phone, so that’s something.

    • tim

      Are there any other variables that you think are as good as RHR for predicting when fatigue, training load are too high?

    • Grant Harvey

      If the main/sole purpose of buying a fitness band was to track continuous heart rate (24×7) and sleep, should I steer clear of the VivosmartHR and look towards the Charge HR?

      I track my workouts with a Polar strap; I’m more interested in continuous hear rate patterns. If it’s only polling that data point hourly, it’s fairly useless.

  3. Richard Owen

    I wonder if the problem with the optical HR on this is the hardware or software? Many optical HR devices give sub-par results but they tend to do a bit better then this one. If a GPS device gave this level of accuracy it would go straight in the bin so why tolerate it with optical HR?

    • Many are indeed better than this.

      I suspect some can be solved with software, but I think other pieces will require hardware. I suspect that the closeness of the optical sensor to the edge of the unit allows light in (though, it didn’t really make much of a difference on my night runs).

  4. simon

    ” Further, the Charge HR doesn’t do smartphone notifications at all”

    on the iphone you get incoming phone call notification

  5. Earthican

    I’m looking to replace my original Vivofit. Since I don’t really care about tracking RHR, it sounds like I’d be better off with a Vivosmart (not HR) and my existing heartstrap than spending the extra $60 or so on the Vivosmart HR. Is that a fair assessment?

    • RFB

      Don’t get the original Vivosmart. As much as I liked the Vivosmart(I’ve had mine since Nov 2014), they start to lose pixels after some time and you will get very annoyed at this. I had to exchange 3 of them.
      I think one of the reasons Garmin changed the screen on the Vivosmart HR was that pixel issue

    • Joao Paulo Matos

      Don’t buy the original Vivosmart. I had three of them in a year changed under warranty, but now the warranty finished and the last received unit is presenting the same problem. Garmin should have recalled it. Just visit Garmin forums, and you’ll see the complaints.

    • Matt M

      I will support this same comment. I really like my Vivosmart but i have replaced 3 in a year and this 4th one is losing pixels as well, but is now out of warranty. If you are happy to only get a year out of it by replacing them under warranty, go for it, but otherwise look elsewhere.

  6. Frank

    Great review!

    Which firmware version did you use? Because they did release an update to improve how often the HR is recorded during the day.

    • That’s actually kinda interesting. I’ve updated since the last update (on Nov 17th). Yet the device itself says 2.60, yet when I connect with both Garmin Connect Mobile as well as WebUpdater (USB), it shows the device as happily up to date. And in fact, I see some of the updates of more recent versions (such as the fireworks shown on 2x/3x, etc…), and the BT connection alert (3.60). Odd.

      That said, virtually everything I’ve noted here is consistent with what others have been saying as well on my existing Vivosmart HR post. :(

  7. Antonio

    I think Garmin shoudl must to solves some basilar problems instead to put a ton of features on their devices!
    I tested a Fenix3 and Epix in a static gps test on my window and here are the results:

    – Epix showed over 6km
    – fenix3 over 5 km
    – Ambit3 peak only 200m
    – Traverse only 50m

    …after a night of recording!
    Nothing to add…

    • Maddy

      Yep, got similar results with Garmin Fenix vs. Suunto Ambit 2 (window, sitting still for maybe 6 hours) – Fenix was in my static test running around like crazy (kilometers), Ambit measured only few meters. I suppose Garmin should be able to solve it with some software (firmware) update?

    • tfa

      this is not a bug but a feature by Garmin, the watch produce mileage and you don’t even need to get up and running :-)
      … if you interested in real test of accuracy ( and not comparing two Garmin unit to each other and selling it as ‘accuracy’) read somewhere else, good starting point is this below with 20000 data points and 9000km recorded …
      link to fellrnr.com

    • I’ve never understood the concept of putting a watch in a window and measuring what happens for the satellite. What exactly does that prove? It has no bearing on actual usage while in sport. It’s merely showing…umm…nothing.

      As for other comparisons – simply slicing up a route into smaller pieces and calling them more ‘data points’ is silly. Should I slice up a 40 mile ride and call it 2,000 data points? Because that’s basically what that is.

      Finally, you’ll notice all of my GPS comparisons (this isn’t a GPS unit here btw) actually include the tracks, as well as the raw data. Further, they are comparing units worn at the same time on a wide variety of courses. Not just the same 1/4th of a mile stretch over and over again sliced in 100 pieces. Also, virtually all of my GPS comparisons include 2-3 other units, usually an Ambit3 mixed in there too. Though, naysayers always like to ignore that because…well…it doesn’t fit their narrative. Cheers.

    • tfa

      … you are saying here in your multiple reviews that the items are accurate but actually you don’t measure accuracy (that would require a known distance there you benchmark against) instead you are trying to measure here precision but even for this is it would require the same unit tested more as one time on same distance, nethertheless most user I assume don’t care about accuracy as in real life it doesn’t matter if the track is 5km and they watch shows 5,5km as long they use the same watch over period of time it will show them enough evidence how they peform but for bringing this value to a user the watch need to have an level of precision that is worth to call it so ..(ps: off topic here in the review I know , sorry for it)

    • The problem with trying to base an entire unit’s accuracy on a single 1/4th of a mile test is that it’s not real world. Nobody runs the same 1/4th of a mile over and over (well, one person does).

      Instead, I’m comparing numerous units at the same time together, over various/numerous routes. By also looking at the individual comparative tracks for each one, you can further see where things go well/not well. It’s not hard to see if a GPS track is in a building or not. It’s not rocket science.

      If you try to measure anything longer than about 1/4th to 1/3rd of a mile, and re-run that same route each time, it’s surprisingly difficult unless you can physically mark a line on the ground. Simple being ‘close within a few meters to the imaginary line most of the route’, isn’t really good enough if you’re trying measure something at only 400m long.

    • Bill Carpenter

      I think you may have dismissed Jonathan’s data set a bit too quickly. As I understand his methodology, he is not running the same 1/4 mile endlessly; he is running an 8 mile course, marked off into 1/4 mile segments. Regardless of how finely he slices the data, he still has at least 250 miles (1,000 segments) over a carefully measured course for his estimate of trueness, which is a pretty good amount of data.
      The value of estimating accuracy (deviation from truth plus variability from one segment to the next) over a 1/4 mile distance is that this distance is in the ballpark of what runners are looking at if they try to set their pace by what the watch reads.
      It’s a different methodology than yours approach to compare several products worn simultaneously. The advantage of your approach is that you don’t have to worry about running the same line all the time. The advantage of Jonathan’s approach is that he is comparing to some independent measure of the true distance. I think the two complement each other.

    • Maddy

      I understand your point. I was just using this funny example of putting gps on window, because in my (limited) experience it shows pattern behavior I see for example in numerous strolls with kids. They stop often to smell flowers, observe ants etc. and then track from various Garmin devices shows it is running around a lot. In this case track is little bit useless. I have got better experience with track from Ambit(2), in this specific case, that’s all. I was thinking maybe Suunto has better algorithm for this or is using integrated accelerometr more.
      I understand that you write mainly for athletes, moving steadily, and in these cases I usually do not see problem with either Garmin or Suunto. My choice of “sports” with kids is marginal, I know. :-)
      Nevertheless I love your blog and respect your sense of detail!

    • Interesting.

      I suspect the reason we see the Ambit3 and V800 do better in the window tests is actually battery related.

      My guess (and, it’s just a guess) is that Garmin reduces GPS chipset battery power when there’s little to no movement (likely cross-referenced with accelerometer). In turn, getting them more battery life with a smaller footprint (physical) than the other units have. I know they do the inverse of this in cases where GPS signal is poor, they boost battery consumption for example. It’s something we talked about a while back when I was last doing rooftop GPS tests and what the weather conditions were like.

      But anyway…VSHR review, not GPS related…

    • Maddy

      Thanks for interesting insight, even if it is guess!
      Yep, sorry, got carried away from VSHR little bit..or much :-)

  8. Ian S

    It’s disappointing, the only real reason I would want a wearable like this is to give me an accurate resting HR assessment. Shame that Garmin have handicapped the feature, why not just have an option to trade battery life for increased HR sampling….

  9. Alan

    good review. thank you. almost bought one to replace the basis peak.

    too bad the Basis Peak isn’t just a bit more accurate for workouts. other than that, it hits a lot of the high notes for a wearable monitor. looks ok, good watchability, rebroadcasts, great sleep tracking and resting HR, and 24/7 HR if you keep it tight all day.

    • Harvey

      I have found the Peak to be almost eerily consistent with what my 920XT reports my HR to be during workouts (based on an HRM-Run). My biggest complaint about the Peak is that like the B1 before it, it has a habit of counting stroller runs as bike rides because of the relatively static wrist position.

  10. Brian

    I have the FR235 and prior to middle December, it had very good 24/7 HR accuracy as you mention in this review as well as the review of the FR235. In mid December they changed the firmware on the FR235 to behave just like on your review here of the Vivosmart HR, in which non-activity HR is only sampled about once every hour or so unless it senses increased activity. It seams that Garmin made a decision to revise the Firmware to increase battery life at the expense of 24/7 HR accuracy. The Garmin forums are full of people complaining about this and asking for Garmin either roll back this change or at least give us the option to select high HR sampling (at the expense of battery life) or low HR sampling (with greater battery life.)

  11. Harvey

    I really admire the level of detail in the floppy disk icon for saving a workout file.

    • Richard M.

      Bit of an odd choice…any person born after about 1997 is going to have no idea what that icon is!

    • ekutter

      Would a workout even fit on one of these? For a long run you might need a few of the 720k ones.

    • John Doe

      5,25″ HD Discs had 1.2MB capacity, 3,5″ even 1.44MB

    • A one hour run (workout file) is roughly 28k, so, you’re good with a floppy (3.5 or 5.25)!

  12. SS76

    Thanks Ray. Based on your run results, this would be horrible to track HR during a soccer game which very much mimics the runs where the tracking failed miserably.

    Also, just some feedback on the review itself, it would be super helpful in all your reviews to do a quick and dirty direct product comparison (thinking of the Garmin 235). I am now looking at the Garmin 235 which I will read your review again for it, but do you feel that the 24×7 and the way RHR is handled is better in the 235? You mentioned in this review the data has handled better, but can you elaborate?

    Did you notice in the Garmin 235 that the elevation got confused by elevators like the Vivosmart HR?


  13. Neil Jones

    In the photo of the “Market Comparisons”, what’s the device on the bottom without a display? Like a minority of people, I want a discrete tracker that *doesn’t* include a display and isn’t intended to replace a watch (or look stupid when worn with one). Really I’m just after steps, sleep and HR trending – I’m currently using a Jawbone UP3 which ticks those boxes but is let down by a life expectancy measured in months (I’m on my 3rd) and the rather closed nature of the (admittedly attractive) UP platform. I’d very much like to be able to get my daily activity in Garmin Connect where my cycling, running and rowing is logged, but this Vivosmart isn’t what I’m looking for.

  14. Nathan Budd

    Wow that HR broadcasting whilst cycling is horrific!

    Surely Garmin must have tested this before product release?

    How long until Garmin are added to the “Poor HR Reading – Class Action Law Suit” currently going on?!

  15. Gary

    I purchased this hoping to get RHR and sleep. Not sure if I should return it as I’m thinking Garmin will add some HR monitoring preferences following this dismal review. I have the Scosche Rhythm+ and FR220 that I used for running workouts. (I take the Vivosmart HR (VHR) off in the mornings prior to the run). I’ll bet a lot of readers aren’t going to replace their existing Garmin workout gear for any activity tracker soon. That said, I wish the VHR would allow me to tap it or something to indicate that I’m awake as when I take it off it thinks I’ve gone into a deep sleep and messes up the sleep metrics. Fortunately, Garmin provides an edit feature in Connect Mobile to adjust the times — but who wants to do that every day?

    • Frank

      Why do you take it off? I only take mine off to charge and wear it on my right wrist saving the left one for a fenix3 when engaging in intentional exercise. As long as you don’t record the activity on both devices, everything works out.

    • Gary

      I’m a left wrist watch wearer. I don’t like wearing a watch on my right. So I take it off. I also don’t want to get step credit from my run which, I assume — don’t know, will translate into additional calories credit. I guess I could wear two watches on my left arm but I’d rather not.

  16. Corinna Mulligan

    So there is only running and broadcast mode for the HR? Is there any advantage to using the watch during a spin class, crossfit, or even zumba just to get average heart rates over the day? It just won’t transfer the data to Connect with a labeled workout?

    Thank you for your reviews – they’re awesome.

    • John Doe

      I am using the device for boxing, basketball and spinning as well. You can change the type of workout after synchronisation in Garmin connect.

    • Corinna

      Thank you! :)

  17. Rich W

    Hi Ray – you mention the Garmin Connect Mobile app is available for Windows Phone [The Garmin Connect Mobile app will be used to setup to your phone, which is available now on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.] However, when checking the store, I don’t see it – can you confirm?

    Also, any plans for an in-depth on the Microsoft Band 2?

    • Here’s the link: link to garmin.blogs.com

      Working on Microsoft Band 2 Review…

    • Rich O

      +1 for an MS Band 2 review. I’m confused how that can be mentioned as too expensive to compare Ray whilst the Apple Watch is only “fairly”? Last I checked the band is cheaper?

    • Rich O

      Cool :)

    • For some reason I had the Band at $299 in my head. Oh well, updated that section with some thoughts there on what I like and don’t like. Beyond what I wrote there, some of the biggest challenges are actually getting data off the darn thing. If you look at Strava data for example, it’s horribly down-sampled, which can cause missed segments (just one example).

    • SLEE

      The Band 2 was actually on sale for a month or so on several sites during Christmas–including the MS site, which was as low as $199; but I guess to get it at that price requires the patience to wait for a sale…

    • Rich W

      Thanks Ray… looks like the app is for Windows 10 mobile and not Windows 8 mobile that I was using.

      Great to hear the Microsoft Band 2 review is on the horizon. You comment below on the challenge of getting the data from Strata and this seems to be a known issue: link to strava.zendesk.com

      Thanks again for the swift response

    • Rich W

      Great to hear the Microsoft Band 2 review is on the horizon. You comment below on the challenge of getting the data from Strata and this seems to be a known issue: link to strava.zendesk.com

      Thanks again for the swift response

  18. Aasen

    I got the VivosmartHR end November and have mainly used it every day since. Before I have had the Vivofit and regular Vivosmart. My general feedback on the VHR;
    + Good screen and acceptable battery (slightly worse than the Vivosmart)
    + Notification etc works better than on the VS
    – Fit is not as good as the VS
    – Feels like it is a bit thicker and still quite thin. Not comfortable to wear on inside of wrist if typing (resting arm on table)
    – HR during the day is crap, as it never measures the actual HR you have. When I’m working out but if not starting it on the VHR, it has so far never measured correct HR.
    After an excersize with 30 min with hr of 160+ it did show that I have had a spike of 110 HR.
    – It has so far never shown any “intensity minutes” without actually indicating that I am doing a workout. Even then it does not really show “intensity minutes”
    – The stair functions have only worked a few times, and even then it highly inaccurate.
    – The Windows Phone app looks good, but I have still not been able to connect the VHR to the Phone. Have resintalled the app, reinstalled Win10 on the phone and all the tricks but still not able to connect the VHR to the Phone. It has only worked on the Android tablet.
    – Was using the the VHR while going to the gym for fitness session. While doing the sets the HR was at rest level. After finishing a set the HR started to jump up. It also was going down slow after. Did measure the HR towards a Fenix3 with regular HR strap.

    On the positive side having the VHR convinsed me that getting the Fenix3 HR would be complete waste and I got the regular Fenix3.

    • John Doe

      I have made quite similar experiences and the same conclusion. THOUGH, The VHR is good enough for me to track any changes in heartrate in the Gym. I don’t need a chest strap any longer.

      But the result is the same. I was looking forward the Fenix3 HR but will save the 200 Bucks extra and get the ordinary one.

  19. morey

    You could also include the Mio Fuse in your Market Comparisons section. You did do a full review on it, and it did pretty well in the HR accuracy department. I’d see it as a competitive product to this field.

    • (Sorry Morey, somehow you got caught up in the spam filters)

      The main reason I didn’t include Fuse was that it didn’t/doesn’t do 24×7 HR. Thought, otherwise valid to include.

    • RFinco

      The Mio Fuse and Mio Alpha 2 are very accurate, as accurate as the Soche. Garmin and Tom Tom went backwards with their functionality by dropping the Mio sensor. Both these Mio devices can do heavy rapid intervals without issue. It seems the best sensors are the ones companies are no longer using.

      I wanted to upgrade from my Mio Alpha 2 and was looking forward to the Tom Tom Spark or Garmin 235, but both of them for the one thing I want (HR interval training) seem to be lacking to the older Mio.

      I’m really disappointed that new products are actually not as good as old ones.

    • pmodern

      But the fuse does (post firmware 01.20 update) now sleep track and give RHR for sleep periods. I asked Mio support to let me know how if measures RHR. Their reply below for ref:

      “Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your email.
      The FUSE samples the HR every 10 minutes or so, although this is dependent on other factors such as movement.
      Resting Heart Rate is determined as the lowest Heart Rate recorded during the night over a relatively significant period of time – so not exactly an average but an approximation of your true resting rate. This usually occurs during deeps sleep.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.”

      Seems to be fairly consistent at least in use.

  20. Scott Buchanan

    Was wondering…. how long does it take to fully charge the unit?

  21. Christian


    I think you missed some things that people has adressed on the Garmin forums.

    * Nobody really knows what the weather app is telling you
    * The music control does only work with Apple Music on ios devices
    * Many people only get 71/72 in HR when looking at the Watch in resting mode (not during activity)
    * Why does not your other activities like 15 hour of cycling/week show under “Active” minutes.

    • Thanks Christian.

      My goal isn’t to capture every issue everyone is having, but rather really the ones I’m having. So in the case of music control, I use iOS, so it works fine for me. For the 71/72, I don’t get that after the first few seconds of HR recognition. For example, you’ll see it in some of my photos as I’m just holding my finger against the sensor. But once I leave it a few seconds it finds my HR like normal and is good.

      For other activities not showing under ‘Active’ minutes, that’s still a bit of a challenge with Garmin devices not syncing data from Garmin Connect back down again. :( On the flip side, every other company is doing the same – Polar, Suunto, Fitbit, etc…

      The weather for me seems to match:
      Top number: current temp
      Middle number: High for today remaining
      Bottom number: Low for today remaining
      Icon: Type of weather for today.

    • Stefan Gründel

      Music control works just fine for me on Android, you can select the music player app to use in Garmin Connect Mobile. Successfully used Google Play Music and Sonos here.

    • CMV

      Hi Ray,
      I’m a bit surprised by your answer here… I know that the majority of your readers uses iOS devices, but still there’s about one out of three who uses Android… and since I’ve seen Android phones in some of your posts, I was assuming that you tested connected devices with both iOS and Android. Of course you’re free to do whatever you want, but I feel that if you only test on iOS you should write that somewhere in your reviews.

      Cheers and thanks for your reviews

    • I do test various things with Android/iOS/Windows Phone, but it’s honestly not practical for me to test every feature of every device with every platform (Android/iOS/Windows Phone/Windows Desktop/Mac).

      I keep an eye out for any oddities on other platforms that multiple folks report, but otherwise I’d spend all my time trying to be a mobile app QA tester, rather than focusing on the device itself.

  22. Emiliano Mañøn

    Hey Ray!
    I left a voicemail for the the podcast but I figured I would ask here just in case. I currently have a Garmin FR 620 and would like to start to track my daily activities s will as heart rate and resting hr. Should I supplement my FR 620 with the Garmin Vivosmart HR or sell the FR620 and go for the FR 235. I mainly run and strength training.

    • David

      Emiliano: if you aren’t interested in wearing a band like device all day and night I highly recommend the FR 235. Reasons:

      1. Selling the 620 plus the $150 cost of a Vivosmart HR will be close to the price of a FR 235.
      2. The FR 235 has significant new features and only loses the meaningless running dynamics features of the 620.
      3. The FR 235 has superior HR monitoring to the Vivosmart, perhaps due to the wider base of the watch.
      4. The FR 235 can use a HR strap if you want, and you may want to for accurate HR monitoring during strength training, a weakness of the optical system. The Vivosmart HR will not accept a HR strap.
      5. The FR 235 will duplicate all functions of the Vivosmart HR in terms of activity and sleep tracking and will provide superior battery life.

  23. Kirk R

    I’m using the vivosmart hr, which my wife gave me for Christmas, to broadcast ant+ to my old faithful FR310xt. I’m not too happy that there are about 9 actions required to turn broadcast mode on (button push, swipe, tap, swipe, etc). I don’t have 2 devices to compare heart rate accuracy against a chest strap but now wish that I did. Maybe I can get a charge into my old FR305…

    I too have been disappointed with the RHR issue. It’s a little disconcerting to swipe to the HR page only to see 72 almost all the time.

    I’ve got to see how long I can keep this thing before I can return it.

    Side note – It’s been so long since I’ve worn a watch that I don’t even think to look at the display for that purpose… I still pull my phone out of my pocket to check the time/date. 😉

  24. Plachno

    I have been wanting a water proof, (accurate) HR, activity tracker for years. When the Vivosmart HR came out I was excited because it met my three wants. (accurate HR TBD at the time) My enthusiasm increased that it was a Garmin product since I own several (boating/hiking GPS, 910XT w/several ANT+ accessories, etc.) and believe they make a quality supported product.

    I bought the Vivosmart HR and returned it a few weeks later feeling it was too new. The Garmin Connect site was down, aggressive firmware roll outs fixing some things and impacting others, I kept having to uninstall/reinstall Garmin Connect app on iPhone to get synch working w/Vivosmart HR. Garmin support was lacking knowledge to answer my questions. Although, I did find the HR fairly accurate (slower response times, seriously impacting interval training and sprints) when compared to my 910XT w/HR strap. Until a firmware update and then that stopped working as accurately as well.

    I have two questions …

    1. Did you swim with the Vivosmart HR? And how accurate was the HR during swims?

    I swam with mine turning Vivosmart HR against wrist and tightening down tighter than normal. I have the 910XT (got new battery just before 920 release) so I have not upgraded yet to get Garmin swim HR strap. I would think the new growth pains I experienced are behind them and would consider purchasing again for swim HR until I upgrade my 910XT.

    2. If you set the Vivosmart HR to default to the HR display will that increase the period of HR measurements resulting in a more accurate resting HR knowing you are impacting battery life?

    Great site! I always check your site before I buy any activity electronics and have bought things I did not know I needed or wanted until I read your reviews e.g. now looking/wanting Bragi Dash unit.

    • 1) No, I didn’t swim laps with it. I did use it in the shower/etc quite a bit, but no swimming.

      2) I’m not sure there.

  25. Dave Walker

    I used it for a week and was having HR drops everytime the band would vibrate with an alert (see graph), in addition to the other HR inaccurracies. I increased the goals to max numbers on Gamin Connect to try to minimize the vibrate alerts, but I still wanted to get txt alerts during a run. I also got a rash on the inside of my wrist that I think was from the metal closure on the band (when I tightened it up to try to get better HR accuracy). I did flip the display around so it’s possible the HR bump was irritating, but my bet is on the metal. I really wanted to like this one because of the wrist monitor and HR broadcasting, but had to return it. I think if Garmin can fix the HR issues, this will be the best of the bunch. What other activity tracker has a barometric altimeter?! Heck, just throw a GPS sensor in there and, aside from battery life, it might give the fenix 3 some competition, haha!
    Thanks for the super-thorough review, as always!

    • Jim A

      The FitBit Surge has a barometric sensor, as well as GPS and optical HR. Sadly, per Ray’s review, that device also suffers from optical HR tracking issues, and it’s GPS is mediocre.

      However, otherwise it’s a nice tracker. It handles steps and flights of stairs very well.

  26. Jon Winter

    Great review once again Ray, top stuff!

    I was really looking forward to the Fenix 3 HR release in the coming months until I read this review regarding the HR inaccuracy. As it has the same sensor is it fair to say the Fenix 3 HR will suffer from the same inaccuracies?

    I was planning on getting the Fenix 3 HR to track run’s and bike ride HR (Also have an Edge 1000) but I am also interested in all day HR readings. Should I wait to get the Fenix 3 HR or forget all day HR data and get the standard Fenix 3 and save £100. At the end of the day I have been wearing a heart rate strap for years to record HR and a few more till Garmin sort the accuracy isn’t a real problem.

    Any thought would be much appreciated.

    Keep up the good work on here plus the podcast.



    • Based on my limited testing of the Fenix3 HR, I expect it to act more like the FR235, than the Vivosmart HR (which, is a good thing).

  27. funkright

    Bought one, it went back. The display is not good. It sits a bit high on the wrist as well. Definitely not best of breed. Hoping the next Apple product fills a bigger void.

  28. Another great review ray wished I hung on before buying the VHR oh well that will teach me, always listen to Ray.
    I am hoping with software updates the HR sensor gets better.
    Oh well will continue on an hope it improves.

    • Sorry, wish I could have had it out sooner – always a balancing act between getting enough time on the device vs taking too long.

      (And thanks for the support!)

    • Maddy

      I was waiting for this review for sooo long. I needed activity tracker (optical HR would be a nice bonus) and something small enough to wear all day and Vivosmart HR looked very good (on the paper). Can´t wear my beloved Fenix to work, being woman and all. Now I´m double happy I did buy Vivoactive this week, almost new for the price better than Vivosmart HR. It seems to me if some device is acting weird or not performing quite like expected you postpone your review…glad I was deducing right. Thanks for your review! Hopefully Garmin is listening to you more.

  29. Ted Hou

    Never seen a sad panda… but sadly for Garmin, doesn’t look like I’ll be shifting my money at Garmin for this device…

  30. Robert

    Is it safe to assume that the values one would see when rebroadcasting would match those that are being displayed on/recorded by the device itself? I’m considering the VHR for my fitness device and pairing with my 230 when running.

    • Correct, same values.

      Honestly, I’d just use your FR230 as your activity tracker, and then pickup a separate HR sensor for it.

    • John

      There is a VERY minor delay in what is being detected by and displayed on the VHR vs. what is being displayed on my 220 that is displaying the broadcast signal.

  31. Gonzalo Adolfo Jimenez Murcia Leviatanh

    I wonder about the next vívoactive.

    Vívoactive HR?

  32. kpcski


    Well … you have a sense of humor!!

    Showing the VSHR with a Heartrate display of 72 in the main picture is funny!

    It is a real shame that the VSHR:

    1. Does not have LOCKSCREEN
    – esp as a A DROP OF WATER or a SLEEVE SWIPE triggers a BROADCAST STOP
    3. DEFAULTS TO 72BPM when it loses the signal
    4. Seems to RANDOMLY STOP SAMPLING during a BROADCAST (is it f/ lack of movement?)

    Why is it a shame? It is a shame because the VSHR is the KILLER FITNESS TRACKER as it:

    1. Measures daily activity in steps, floors, and distance
    2. Measures sleep automatically
    3. Gives notifications of incoming IOS messages, if you choose
    4. Gives move notifications if you have been stable too long
    5. Rebroadcasts Heartrate data via ANT+ eliminating need for a chest strap
    6. Has half decent battery life (I charge every time I shower)
    7. Is water resistant or even waterproof to 30m
    9. Is actually half decent looking for an activity tracker
    10. Is a watch and a weather source

    The VSHR would be the category killer if it just measurd and broadcast heartrate a bit better!


    How many of this issue can be fixed by firmware, in your opinion please?

    THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR GREAT WORK and attracting/supporting a great community.

    To where in Europe does your wife delivery cupcakes???

    All the best! Kevin

    • kpcski

      I forgot to ask to follow the responses. KC

    • RE: 72bpm…

      Well, it was against a piece of iron. 😉

      To be fair, I actually don’t have much of a problem with 72bpm. You’ll see it a lot in my photos here, merely because I use my finger behind the sensor to get the BPM to display. I find that within a few seconds of acquiring HR, I’m good to go. This is pretty common for optical HR sensors. Why Garmin decided to show 72bpm as opposed to show — (or null of some sort), I’m not sure. Though, it hasn’t really been an issue for me. More of a quirk.

      As for the rest of the items, yes, the broadcasting stuff is definitely silly. Thanks for the support!

  33. Mike S.

    My dad got my mother one of these for Christmas. She’s in her 70s so won’t be going out on runs. She does golf a lot though. I think this will be a good device for her even if the HR readings are off. Hopefully this will be addressed through updates.

    ** General question about HR **
    Assuming that the information is accurate, is having a record of HR from this (or other devices) useful medical information for doctor visits? Especially elder people?

    • Bruiser

      When I started to experience symptoms of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (occasional and unexpected extreme spikes in heart rate), I began wearing Mio consistently to record my hear rate, particularly while I’m doing cardio intensive workouts. Because my AF conditions were unpredictable and far in between, it definitely helped to have some records of those episodes to show my cardiologist and explain what was happening. So, it is useful for something of that nature. However, consumer grade HR monitor cannot simulate what true medical devices do in measuring your heart rate, so regardless of the data points collected, cardiologist will still have to perform all the normal monitoring to diagnose anything. I use it more or less as a tool to monitor my own heart condition on an ongoing basis so I can try to identify patterns, if there is any.

  34. Lauren Chase

    I got one over the holidays te heartrate is inaccurate. Even in the charts you show it is inaccurate. the clue is in the name vivosmart >HR<. is the inaccuracy better or worse than the polar link to dcrainmaker.com

    • I found the A360 accuracy worse, by a fair bit. You’ll notice on the A360 not only is it poor on *all* intervals, but also super-slow to respond on even non-intervals. Whereas the Vivosmart HR struggled on some intervals, but otherwise was OK (running).

      Further the A360 lacked any 24×7 HR mode (coming at some point this year), which even in it’s hobbled state on the Vivosmart HR is mostly better than nothing at all.

  35. Torbjørn Høstmark Borge

    I have been using the Downer the Forerunner 235 for some days now. I have a Fenix 3 and a Polar V800 I use to compare the results from the HR-measuring. The results feel FREE 235 are just crazy. I am sending it back to Garmin tomorrow. I have thought that the cold weather might have reduced the blood flow through the veins and that it might cause some of the bad results. Is that something you experienced with the 235? I can see that you are mentioning it in this review.

  36. Myria

    I wish companies would be a little less enamored of optical HR, especially given the inherent limitations — let alone the often (invariably?) lousy implementations. I’d get an MS Band 2 in a second if it would connect with my BLE HRM, but as it is… Optical HR, even ignoring the lack of real HRV and other limitations, is utterly worthless for my kinds of workouts :(.

    Eh, at least my M400 has never had the waterproofing issues others have reported.

  37. Sean

    I’ve been waiting for further reviews before committing to the Vivosmart HR (VSHR), thanks for doing this.

    I just got a great deal on the Fenix 3 (non HR version), with the CES announcement of the Fenix 3 HR (F3HR) I now know why that deal came around.

    Biggest motivation for the VSHR was to use it for resting HR and also a smaller device to track activity when not working out/running/hiking with Fenix 3 plus HR Strap, I thought switching between F3 + Strap and VSHR would be a great idea, especially given that each device would hand off data to Garmin Connect to have a complete picture through out the course of a day (and also an opportunity to charge one device while wearing the other).

    Thinking now I’ll just hold off on getting an activity tracker with optical HR for time being, see what comes next as it appears getting accurate resting HR via optical would require another watch, such as the 235, which would be expensive and counter-productive, unless someone has any other ideas?

    I was also somewhat tempted to return the F3 and wait for the F3HR, but now have decided to keep it as it will be nice to be able to wear the F3, with it not cinched down to skin-can’t-breath levels, a third of the way up my forearm, to get accurate optical HR readings & just use the F3 + strap for workout/running/biking, just need to now get a HR strap for the F3.

    I had convinced myself I was ready to wear the VSHR with the optical reader on the inside of my arm, and on my non-dominant arm as well on days I wanted to wear a dress watch on my left arm, to get activity and resting HR, but with this review, I’ll definitely wait for better hardware (or perhaps better firmware) or something from another company.

    Thanks again for your great review, very much appreciated!

  38. Andrew M

    Like kpcski I thought this has the potential to be a category killer. I have the original garmin vivofit which has had a good run but the hr approach was really interesting.

    I’d like resting heart rate throughout the day, and would appreciate an easy easy way to keep an eye on this for the reasons Ray discusses and the idea of a semi-decent optical hr to broadcast, particularly for biking where the hr strap and run dynamics aren’t necessary and less sensitive sessions.

    It’s a shame this isn’t quite there, hopefully they can revamp and release a new version late 2016 which solves these problems…

  39. As always, spot on.

    RHR is a little fiddly. A lot of times it is up to 5 beats on the high side bc it isn’t kicking on at the lowest hr part of the day – the hour before wakeup for me. I would hope Garmin will be fiddling with the algorithm to fix this.

    Intensity Minutes are useless. A crapshoot as to whether you will be counted or not. Arm movement seems to help, but doesn’t guarantee a brisk walk will be counted. Bike riding was more missing than hit.

    Tightening one notch past “normal” comfortable tension definitely improves activity HR monitoring.

    I’ve written more about it here: link to midpackgear.com

  40. Tatsuya Tanaka

    Thank you for good report.
    I have one question.
    Can this heart rate data share not only with Garmin connect but also with other app like STRAVA, iSmartRun etc via bluetooth connection with iPhone?
    If it can be used with other app, I will replace my watch to this Vivosmart HR from current my Basis Peak or MIO alpha.

  41. Mick

    Great review, lots of depth.
    I was torn between buying one of these vs. the fitbit charge HR for my parents for christmas after having good success with the Mio link for cycling. The more I read, the more I’m starting to think that nobody outside Mio or Scosche can really get it right. I noticed the Fuse was absent from your end comparison. Although it’s quite a bit older than the others, I have to think that it probably has the most accurate HR sensor of the bunch. Any thoughts on this?

    • Right now the major companies are trying to make compromises to save on cost, and to some degree battery life (while adding in the 24×7 features).

      See, neither Scosche nor Mio do 24×7 in any wearables today. So their battery burn rates are far higher. They’re aiming at the workout crowd, and they do that exceedingly well. The problem is that other companies (Garmin/Basis/Fitbit/Microsoft/Apple/TomTom/etc…) want to do 24×7 HR as well as workout.

      As of today, nobody has found the perfect balance yet. I’d say Garmin/LifeQ are closest in wearables where they have more battery flexibility (i.e. FR235/Fenix3/TomTomSpark), but not perfect.

  42. kpcski

    Remember all in ACTIVITY MODE OR BROADCAST MODE … If you TURN OFF notifications on your VSHR, then that will stop the notifications from dropping the HRM reading to 72. This is a great fix until the bug is fixed with Firmware 2.70.

    I do a good bit of indoor cycling and I find that LACK OF ARM movement also makes the VSHR to either drop to 72bpm (falsely) or to stop sampling frequently. Sometimes I can wake up the device by shaking my arm around. This morning when I rode with NOTIFICATIONS OFF and WHILE READING MY BACKBERRY DURING THE RIDE AND THEREFORE MOVING MY ARM AT ALL TIMES … the VSHR worked very well in bradcasting my heart rate, so THIS DEVICE CAN BE GREAT, but it needs some firmware fixes please Team Garmin … In the interim, I will try to move around my arm while Indoor Cycling, but I hope that this is fixed too.

    I we can also get a LOCKSCREEN function, then everything is almost sorted for us BROADCASTERS, tho admittedly, we will need to charge our VSHR’s much more often than once a week with regular broadcast use with a quick sample frequency.


  43. stephane

    Good day and thanks for this review
    I wished you an happy new year and all the best for 2016!
    I have a question regarding the sleep-wake-up, is there a silent alarm that wake-up you like the jawbone does? I mean in the “proper” sleep pattern, or is it just a regular alarm?

  44. Simon

    I’m really disappointed with my vivosmart HR. Go tit mainly for rebroadcasting while swimming, but the water on the screen is enough to switch that off, making it bit useless without a screen lock. (I know Garmin didn’t make it with swimming in mind)

    Thought I would try it as an activity tracker, but it assumed that I had taken a nap whilst driving for long periods, failed to recognise and stairs, and didn’t see any intensity minutes during a couple of threshold sessions on the kickr (I wasn’t using the VHR to record or rebroadcast during these)

    All round a poor device in my experience.

  45. David B

    Have I miss understood the advantage of 24/7 HR monitoring. I thought the advantage of continuous monitoring would help determine a more accurate calorie burn.

    I have a fenix 2. But at present I have no activity tracker. A small activity tracker that also broadcasts HR to my GPS watch makes so much sense.

    Some watches come as a bundle with a HR strap. A smart move the likes of Garmin could make is bundle the GPS workout watch with an all day activity tracker that transmits HR to said GPS watch.

    Thank you so much for the review. As always, so incredibly useful and will help me determine where my hard earned cash is going to go.

    • Jim A

      There is research indicating that, while not under exertion, HR does not correlate to energy expenditure (calorie burn). I also read somewhere (although only the people who wrote the firmware could really know) that FitBit, for example, does not use HR for normal activity calorie burn, just the accelerometer.

      It seems the biggest advantage to 24/7 HR monitoring is to measure the resting heart rate.

  46. Kris

    I’ve had the vivosmart hr since Christmas and I find it fairly useful for the purposes I use it – steps and average daily hr. I also like the move alarm to remind me to get out of the office chair.

    I also use it to loosely track use of exercise equipment and 5 a side football although its value is limited/loose and I have to manually amend details on connect.

    The other features have their uses but im sticking with my forerunner hr alone for running. Ive also got an edge for cycling.

    This is the only fitness band I’ve ever owned and I think it is useful if you are willing to accept some flaws. Dont expect it to be meticulously accurate and look elsewhere if you are really seeking an accurate tracker for particular activities such as running / cycling.

    All of this is irrelevant to why im commenting, which is to see if anyone has discovered how to get the weather to display in celcius?

    • If you change your Vivosmart HR to be Metric vs Statute, it’ll swap the weather.

    • Tommy Haywood

      Garmin usually have a “Statute UK” mode to get things how God intended. That being, miles, st/lb and celcius

  47. Herne

    The intensity minutes are only registered when you’re exercising for 30 minutes or longer. Maybe this might explain why some people are not getting any intensity minutes? For example I commute by cycling for over four hours each week but I don’t get any intensity minutes from that because I only cycle for 25 minutes at a time. When I’m doing indoor cycling I get the minutes automatically without tracking the activity or broadcasting my HR.

    My experiences of the accuracy of HR when tracking indoor cycling is bit hit or miss when compared to hrm-belt. Usually it’s good, maybe bit laggy. Sometimes it’s even better than the belt which also has it’s problems but occasionally Vivosmart HR gets completely lost, especially during short intervals.

  48. Chris

    Vivosmart HR at $150 or regular Vivosmart at $60?

    Also, can I use either for my general activity tracking AND use the vivoactive I already have for runs and cycling? Or can only one connect to, ahem, Connect and sync?

    • RFB

      Where can you get a Vivosmart for $60? That’s a pretty good deal but bear in mind they tend to lose pixes.I went through 3 of them. YMMV

    • Chris

      Refurbs on eBay.

    • Finn Sievwright

      Can I suggest that you don’t. I went through 5 of those units. I loved using it, but they would continually fail.

  49. Frank

    I have found the HR function during any kind of activity (especially walking) to be WAY worse than Ray describes here,

    Having said that, I am perfectly happy with the RHR accuracy. It faithfully reports mine at about 50 which I believe to be correct. Last night, I came down with the flu and it bounced up to 70 overnight.

    If this were my only fitness device, I would be more than a little unhappy. Since I have a drawer full of better Garmin fitness devices and heart rate straps, I am quite happy with my VHR in it;s limited role as an activity tracker/RHR monitor.

  50. Alan

    I hope the Mio Slice does a better job. In the past the Mio has allowed rebroadcasting. I hope it tracks resting HR, I don’t think we really need 24/7 heart rate. Would be nice to use it instead of strap, if it’s accurate.

  51. Nico

    The 910xt and 920xt have trouble with barometric altimeter not water friendly. I personally had one of these 910xt that ended stock at 20 000m.
    Any reason the vivosmart hr would avoid that failure mode ?

    For me the best device would be a vivoactive with hr with HR measurement working during swim sessions. If I understand correctly, the larger screen should help for better HR accuracy.
    Wait and see…

    • I haven’t seen that many complaints about barometric issues on the 920XT (well, I can’t remember the last time I heard of one). The issue with the 910XT was mostly that salt (body or sea) would get in the ports and block the altimeter. Though there were a handful of just band units too.

    • kel

      Ray! What do you think about Vivoactive HR? Is it material or only dream? 😉

  52. iain McLaughlin

    My favourite feature of the Vivismart HR is that unlike other Garmin devices I can unmount it from my Mac by clicking the “eject” icon on its touchscreen rather than needing to eject it first using the computer.

    It’s a small thing, but I really appreciate it.

  53. universemaster

    Forgetting to stop an Activity – Vastly Overestimates “Total Calories” for the day.

    A normal day when I do a 55 minute brisk walk to work and remember to turn the “activity” off at the end of the day = Approx. 2,800 total calories for the day.

    If I forget to turn the “Activity” off and leave it running for a further 8 hour after my brisk walk = Approx. 3,500 total calories for the day.

    Each day was more or less otherwise identical.

    Which do I trust? How can I have any degree of confidence in any level of accuracy if it varies so much?

    • Frank

      I suspect that neither is valid. However, the one where you stopped the activity is most likely closest to the truth. With an activity running, your calorie expenditure is based primarily or entirely on heart rate. In my experience, this is way over estimated unless you are sitting, sleeping, or running. As for the walking bit, I have many examples but will just offer you yesterday’s. I walked the dog (no running) 4½ miles at an average speed of 3 mph. My fenix3 paired with an HRM-TRI reported 301 calories, AHR of 94 and MHR of 112. My VHR reported 431 calories AHR of 106 and MHR of 150.

  54. Jean-Christophe

    I have mine since the 18th December. I’m disappointed with the step tracker. The new device counts steps while washing the dishes, cooking, moving arms. I didn’t have such behavior with the Vivofit 1. I hope Garmin will improve the device in future firmware updates.

  55. Mike

    So are most of these devices crap or is the wrist just not a great place to measure heart rate? The only optical heart rate monitor I can use with any consistency at high intensity is the Rhythm+, which sits on my forearm. I’m starting to lose faith in wrist based measurements for hr.

  56. Jeremy

    Spot on review Ray. I had returned a model for all the reasons you listed. I was wondering if you would find similar things when using the unit. This is a testament to the independent reviews you conduct. Good job, I will continue to trust your reviews as I always have: data driven and unbiased.

    Thanks Ray.

  57. Kiwi Paul

    I took the plunge and bought this in December having weighed up Forerunner 235. However, because I do indoor cardio and squash I didn’t want GPS so had no need for a large watch. Having now used it and read all the reviews and blog comments I must say that this is a great device especially if you consider that we’re not quite there on the road to the perfect wrist based HR device.

    As Ray notes, it is great for mapping trends. For example, when playing competition squash it is interesting to see my HR go up 10% and I can also see in various intensity circuits how hard I am actually working. All of this is using activity mode which is dead easy and always syncs. Sometimes but very rarely I will get a false reading such as if it is really cold but I just adjust it or flip it over to under wrist and it goes fine again. Sleep tracking, resting HR, move alerts and notifications are great. Stairs are a nonsense but who cares. Battery life good and only 20 mins charge every 3-4 days while I shower.

    So for a device a little over 100 quid I’m wholly satisfied and would recommend it until such time as we reach that perfect HR band in a year or so (as it doesn’t seem like I’ve broken the bank to buy this as opposed to a forerunner)

  58. Sam

    I agree with you, the VSHR is almost useless as HR 24/24 monitoring. There are too few records ! A shame.

    Also, the software is buggy, and garmin support sucks. When you report bug with useful informations you receive replies like “upgrade firmware” or “tight the wristband”. There are really a lack in software quality, because some things are really obvious.

    I made two tests comparing HR during workout with my Forerunner 610. It was +/- 50 minutes of low intensity training (70-75% of FC Max). The first time I got almost the same average with a difference of only 1 BPM, the second time it was exactly the same. Locally there are some differences on the graphs, but it was rather good.

    With a better firmware and an option do records more HR (not a just a few more, really MORE), the VSHR could be a really good product. But now it’s like we bought a beta version :(

  59. Steve B

    First, I just want to say thanks to Ray for this terrific website and his exhaustive approach to reviews. Based on Ray’s advice, I now own an Edge 500, Edge 520, Tacx Vortex Smart, and now a VSHR, all purchased from Clever Training with the dcrainmaker discount code. Haven’t been steered wrong yet!

    My wife got a Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas so I’ve been able to watch her experiences with it, which have been pretty good. But as a cyclist, I’m already hooked into the Garmin ecosphere, so I purchased a Vivosmart HR from Clever Training a few days ago.

    My device is still in transit and I wish I had seen this review first, but despite all the disappointing comments, it sounds like the VSHR could be a good device if Garmin actually listens to customer feedback and makes some adjustments. Since Clever Training has a 60-day return policy, I’m inclined to keep it for a while and see what adjustments Garmin might make. Does that seem like a reasonable approach?

    Thanks, Ray, and thanks everyone for your insightful comments.

  60. Mark I.

    I purchased the VSHR the day (Nov. 1) it became available at Best Buy. 10 poor-performance days with the unit and it went straight back to Best Buy. Also had the FR 235 on order which I received early December. Initial frustrations with 235 HRM subsided when I stopped getting frustrated with its recording performance on x-training activities that Garmin never claims to be among its core offerings. The series of updates to the software and sensor hub firmware may have improved some accuracy on 235 x-training. Last two workouts had very little dropout. Was curious if I had not given VSHR a fair shakeout. This review, and particularly Ray’s note in comments that no changes in performance were seen with its software/firmware updates validates my decision to return the unit. It was simply terrible: terrible screen, (poor low-light backlight), useless HRM in workout mode, terrible on intervals, false inputs with accidental screen contact, etc. I cannot stress enough how much more function the 235 gives over the VSHR. Yes, the 235 costs more, but it generally does what it claims to do, unlike the VSHR.

  61. MJSOL (@mjsol)

    I had a Misfit Shine, then a Vivosmart. I wore the Vivosmart for about 6 months, but it had a lot of Bluetooth problems in its first months, and I didn’t like tapping to see the time. I have had the vivofit2 for a good while now, and I like it, but would like to get notifications and have the choice of wristbased hrm sometimes. I’d love an upgrade, but not sure what direction to go. the Vivosmart HR doesn’t seem to be the direction I want, based on this review. I do walk, but mostly I do fitness classes and weight lifting. I like the HRM to measure how hard I’m working.

    I guess the best fitness tracker for me doesn’t exist yet? Perhaps the Vivoactive is the best choice for me? Any recommendations? I love the garmin eco system, but I also link to Nike + so if a different brand could do that, I’d probably survive the change.

    I fear the best choice for me right now is to stick with the VIvofit2. Nothing seems better right now.

  62. John

    Really bummed the initial reviews for the vivosmart HR are so poor, especially the HR inaccuracies.

    Where I work, we have a series of “wellness” activities over the course of 2016, tied to health savings account (HSA) contributions. I had hoped a Garmin activity tracker would track those wellness/fitness requirements, as well as RHR, and integrate with my existing Garmin Connect — which I’m already using with my 520 and Rhythm+ for the bike. (For workout HR, I couldn’t be happier with the Rhythm+, it’s just that good.)

    It’s bad enough that the vivosmart HR has sample rate “issues” out of the box, but it seems like Garmin has now made those same adjustments to the FR235, which was going to be my second choice (albeit more expensive and far uglier).

    This seems like a missed opportunity to let the wearer decide whether to prioritize battery life or HR sample rates, much like their 1 second vs. “smart” options for GPS tracking.

    • Steve B

      I agree with you completely. I’d like to choose for myself how often to sample heart rate.

      While were on the subject of personal choice, I think it would be great if the user could decide how bright to keep the screen, understanding full well that brighter comes at the expense of battery life.

      Garmin, give us some choices!

  63. JWM

    I got this a few weeks ago, and I like it for a couple reasons. I’m one of those multiple Garmin device owners. One thing I’d love to see is just a bit more integration on the “Connect” side. They appear to be getting.there, but would love to see workout deduplication etc. Also, why not figure this would benefit them (could record both HR datas and give them feedback)..

    What I think I’m using it for is sleep tracking and RHR.. That’s interesting, but find some of the workout goals and feedback funny because it’s not accounting for bike workouts (I don’t hit the workout button because I don’t want conflicting garmin/strava entries).. Nothing wrong with the device, just a bit more in the software/ecosystem would make this light years better.

    Thanks for the fab review.

  64. Steve B

    My VSHR arrived yesterday and I’ve now worn for 24 hours. My observations so far:

    Seems to track resting heart rate fairly accurately. Pleased with that.

    Also seemed to track my sleep fairly accurately. Stayed up late watching my beloved Green Bay Packers lose, so had a fitful night. The tracker seemed to be pretty spot on in that regard.

    Did a cycling workout this morning on my indoor trainer to test the unit. Rode on Zwift and then uploaded the GPX file to Garmin Connect. During this ride I wore the VSHR but did NOT start a workout.

    Workout observations:

    Heart rate on VSHR varied wildly from my chest strap and matched up only rarely during the ride. Is it possible that this data would have tracked somewhat more closely if I had started the workout function on the VSHR?

    Synced the VSHR after the workout. My Garmin Connect app shows NO intensity minutes, which annoys me. Would it have shown intensity minutes if I had started a workout on the VSHR?

    Moreover, the Garmin Connect app is showing 551 “active calories.” I burned 278 calories during my 9-mile trainer ride. Something is amiss there as well.

    At any rate, if anybody can answer my questions, that’d be great. I’ll continue to test and post my observations as I move forward with the unit, but I did take the time to make a notation in my calendar for the 60-day return deadline at Clever Training. I’ll test a while longer and see what adjustments Garmin makes.

  65. Paul Allen

    I found the snug fit a bit of an annoyance after a couple days. Trying out a VivoActive instead the last day or two.

  66. David

    Hi, I have a query regarding your comment (“The metrics you can select per data page are: Time, Distance, Calories, Heart Rate (bpm), and Heart Rate Zone.”) about displaying heart rate zones. I can’t get mine to display heart rate zones or the split screen like yours. Can you tell me how to do it? Thanks, David

  67. Pat

    Bought this wee beastie for my wife for Christmas; but I am using it now (her iPhone 4 and our iPad Mini can’t pair, and so my iPhone 5 does so I use it).
    Generally it has become my everyday watch.
    Soon got bored with the novelty of looking at my sleep patterns
    Notifications are weird – one time I got Google maps displaying the written version of what the Google lady was saying for two turns then nothing else.
    Missed 2 BBC sports score alerts on the footie – that is serious guys!
    But quite neat in that I suppose.
    Love the find the phone thingy, except that it seems to lose the phone connection occasionally.

    For tracking fitness – can’t mate with my Edge 705 on the bike so boo to that. It marries to my Forerunner 610 OK; but that’s another watch, so arm real estate will be busy.
    Actual HR I think is OK, generally fine comparing the standard strap, with some funny moments; but taking at an average seems OK, wouldn’t do threshold training with it though.
    Distance seems “generous” will have to measure strides etc to get it correct; but can’t be bothered at moment.
    Steps and stairs – well at first I thought “who cares?”; but in practice it does make you look and take action, like sweeping the crisps off the lap and pausing Netflix and going for a little walk.
    Generally happy with it.

  68. Rob

    I’ve had a VSHR for about a week now and have been surprised at the accuracy of the resting HR given how randomly and infrequently it seems to sample.

    It’s been pretty slack on runs, although it did give a nearly identical HR chart to my Ambit 2 on a mountain bike ride (going up into the 170s, too). The VSHR was under a jacket, so maybe that was why it worked.

    Apart from that, it does seem very good at not falsely counting steps when you’re doing other things.

    In any case, I’m sending it back. I’ll think I’ll try a Fitbit Charge HR. I’m just after all day HR and RHR monitoring, and the Charge seems to be the best at that.

  69. richard

    Another great review, I am considering this as a replacement for my 2nd MS band(1) but wondering if you have tried vivosmart hr with garmin virb elite and virb edit? as a controller and also inputting Hr data into video?

  70. Heinz

    Great in-depth reviews and a great site in general. Congrats on that!

    I have a Garmin Vivosmart HR and was wondering if anyone tried to couple a ANT+ chest strap with it yet?

    I read somewhere that it actually works and overrides the data the tracker gets from the optical heart rate sensor?

    That would be a game changer for me personally and I would get a chest strap immediately.
    Actually, which is the best ANT+ strap on the market? :)

    Thanks a lot,

    • No, it doesn’t pair to a ANT+ HR strap.

    • Heinz

      Thank you for your fast reply!

      Any advice on the best heart rate chest strap on the market?


  71. Faran

    I’m finding that I’m not getting accurate HR readings when exercising, but that it only increases at the end of the exercise for a short time.

    So far after two weeks of use with daily treadmill use I have zero intensity minutes!

    Is there a non-strap device out there that can give me accurate heart readings both resting and during exercise? I just want something that is accurate please.

  72. Brandon

    Man I would kill for any recorded activity heart rate to come close to the accuracy you showed here. I’ve been using it for a month now and had zero activities that came close to what you got running. First Garmin told me I needed an update when I was already up to date, then they told me there was no problem until I sent the comparisons with my strap, then they told me they would replace it, then they told me they were aware of the issue and it would be fixed in an upcoming update…. still waiting on that version 2.7 update :-/

    • Marianne

      Brandon, what software are you using to graph your data? I’d like to compare my Vivosmart HR data to my Forerunner data, together on the same graph, like you have there.

  73. Tony

    First of all, thank you so much for the in-depth reviews. I really want the FR235, but am balking at the price tag as a relative beginner to HR based training (and fitness in general). Can the Vivosmart HR be set to alert/vibrate for intervals and when outside of a target HR zone? Say I want to run for 30 minutes in a specific zone, can it be set to vibrate at the end of the run and also while running if I go outside of my target HR zone?

  74. Ian johnson

    Hi there. Great review. I’ve had a vivosmart HR for a week. It is a cool piece of kit. I have used it for seawater kayaking and was very impressed it kept my heart rate monitored throughout (although once you start it seems important to not move it and get water between the monitor and your skin).

    Anyway … I was thinking that even though you can’t sync gps data from your phone to it, there must be some way to mash together gps data from a fitness tracker app on my phone, with the heart rate data from the vivosmart HR. Have you any idea how to do this? It seems ludicrous to me that even though I am carrying two devices that capture the required data between them, I can’t share the data betwee their respective applications. It’s just an API call (to use the tech speak!)

    Thanks in advance for your help.


  75. Kevin

    This just came from Garmin Support in response to my requests for:

    1. Lockscreen
    2. For Notifications to not block Broadcast HR
    3. For lack of arm movement to signal the VSHR to decrease sample speed and often broadcast 72bpm

    They seem to be on it …

    Thank you for contacting Garmin Europe.

    The issue you are referring to is something that we are aware of and are working hard towards a resolution, however, we do not have a timeframe for this to be completed as yet.

    When the issue has been corrected, the fix will be released in a software update. This will be announced on your Garmin Connect account or on Garmin Express. If, at that point you require further assistance please contact us via our Contact Centre whereby we will be happy to talk you through it.

  76. Frank

    After I upgraded my iPhone 5S to iOS 9.2.1 this morning, my Vivosmart HR decided that it was no longer connected to Garmin Connect Mobile ( Interestingly, my fenix 3 never missed a beat.

    Attempts to manually sync were greeted with the message “ No App Connection Available” on the band. A trip to Bluetooth settings on the phone, showed the VHR in the list but attempts to connect it were “Unsuccessful”.

    My attempt to re-pair the band with the Connect App resulted in “Device not Found” on my phone and “Follow steps on Garmin Connect Mobile to pair.” On the band. Simply turning the phone off and back on again did not work.

    Turning the band off and back on again DID work. I’m wondering if the upgrade to iOS 9.2.1 was really the culprit or if my VHR just decided to take a random dump.

    Anybody else have an experience like this?

    • Bill

      Updated my ipad mini 3 to 9.2.1 this morning also and my VSHR gave me no noticeable hassle. My mini has been acting a little funny recently though. Not sure why, but I think it might have had something to do with them prepping it for the 9.2.1 install.

    • Pat

      Similar issue to Frank, the old VSHR (that seems to be the trendy way of saying it here) decided to forget about my iPhone 5 and refuse to cooperate.
      It didn’t appear on an available Bluetooth device list in the iPhone.
      Lots of restarts of both devices did nothing.
      So what cured it was I borrowed one of the kids Android phones, downloaded the Connect app on Google Play
      Anyway, I managed to pair it OK with that phone.
      Whether this woke up the VSHR, I don’t know, it immediately wanted to pair with the iPhone straight after.and everything is golden again.

  77. Bill

    Thanks DC again for a great review! Your site and the insights you provide are incredibly informative! I refer people to your site every chance I get!

    The thing I’d say about the VSHR is that until they work out the kinks in its HR measuring during activities, it’s more of a device for the other 23 hrs of the day than it is a serious WKO device. From that perspective, my VSHR has been just about as smooth as silk since I got it in mid-December. I’ve been using the Basis Peak and B1 for the last couple of years and while I do like the improvements Basis has made and the functionality they offer, there are some negatives that the VSHR addresses, that I just didn’t feel like overlooking any longer.

    I have to say that the Peak tracks sleep amazingly well! I track my sleep using a Zeo Bedside (bought a BUNCH of headbands before Zeo went under) and tracked my resting HR and skin temp using the Peak. I had doubts about the Peak’s ability to track anything about sleep other than movement despite them claiming to be able to accurately track REM-Light-Deep stages. However, looking at the sleep graphs and durations between the Peak and Zeo over the last couple of years, the Peak graph is almost an exact match to my ZEO every time! Not sure how they do it but it works. The down side to Basis’s sleep capability is that sometimes it thinks I’m sleeping while I’m just watching a movie. That could be solved easily if they offered edit capability and while it’s been frequently asked for, it has yet to be included.

    My two biggest knocks on them and the ultimate reasons why I switched to the VSHR are that they are still not integrated with anything but Apple Health and I feel like I have very limited control of my data. I don’t have access to Apple Health so that means my data is basically held hostage. They do offer the capability to export data to csv but they give you a mountain of numbers that can’t easily be uploaded to any service without more effort than I have time to invest. People have been asking for 3rd party integration but it’s been years and not enough has happened. Without integration, control of my data becomes even more important to me, but I can’t edit/delete/modify any of the things it records. For example, the odd incorrectly recorded period of sleep while I was watching a movie could be easily fixed if they allowed users to edit their data within their app. The Peak automatically recognizes activities but sometimes thinks you’re riding your bike if you’ve got the A/C on high while you’re driving your car. This is easily correctable with edit capability. Again, people have been asking for edit capability for years but nothing has happened. As a side note, the Basis OEM rubber/silicon strap irritates the heck out of my skin.

    I’m glad I switched. The VSHR doesn’t track sleep even remotely nearly as well, it doesn’t seem to automatically recognize activities, and it doesn’t have a basic stopwatch, but I now have all of my devices in a single ecosystem and I have much more control/edit capability. The VSHR resting HR function seems to be working well, I love the notifications (even though the print is tiny), and the steps/stairs features are good enough. At this point I don’t really care about broadcasting my HR because I use my 920 and 810 with the HRV strap for all of my real wko’s. The icing on the cake is that I regularly use a dress watch on my primary wrist and the VSHR’s small size and profile works perfectly on my opposite wrist. It’s almost like wearing a bracelet and doesn’t look like I’m wearing two watches. My only regret on the VSHR so far is that its sleep data is no where close to the Peak’s.

    Ultimately, I see my VSHR being my primary tracker for a few years and have faith that Garmin will keep improving their wrist-based HR tracking, activity and sleep algorithms along the way.

  78. CB

    Only flaw seems to be the HR accuracy.

    What are the chances that this will be fixed with firmware/software updates?

    Would it be a decent bet to buy it and expect those issues to be sorted out?

  79. Frank

    From the above Garmin Vivosmart HR In-Depth Review “C) Try the other wrist, you’d be surprised how often that makes a difference”

    Sure. I thought. I WOULD be surprised. Then again, I’ve never caught this guy being full of stool before.

    . .

    Guess where I switched from my right (preferred but problematic) to my left wrist? This was a low-speed dog walk which is the type of activity which has historically provider the LEAST reliable HR readings.. I guess I am going to have to make some personal adjustments or have that alien homing device removed from my right wrist :).

  80. Ramexises

    Cheers for the review DC. I had high expectations from this device and requested one for Christmas.

    The HR function is terrible.

    ​I bought the Vivosmart HR purely for the HR component having moved on from a Fitbit HR (more reliable but could not consistently display elevated hr during exercise) .
    I fit into a rare category where my HR rarely drops below 90 at rest. 100 is normal.
    My HR responds differently during exercise.

    I have had a heart transplant so the nerves are cut and the heart is no longer regulated normally.

    The Vivosmart HR rarely picks up my HR (I found the best place was inside my wrist) and shows my average HR as around 55.
    Whats most annoying is that it is programmed to actively deceive when it cannot detect hr.
    I. E. Instead of indicating no reading it fluctuates around 71 – 73 (72 mostly as shown above) , pretending it is reading.
    If you don’t know what your hr is then you would be fooled into thinking it is reading this rate.
    I have a finger pulse oximeter to accurately (within normal tolerance) measure my HR and compare.

    Add to the fact that it is difficult to read in unlit places so fails to function as a watch then , I cannot recommend this if HR is important to you.

    I will have to keep watching to see if the technology improves enough to purchase another device.

    • Ramexises

      I had an exercise Stress test at the hospital today.
      Hooked up to ecg, constant monitoring.
      I wore my vivosmart hr and turned it onto activity mode, other, during the test.
      The test was basically, every 3 mins of walking, the incline is increased, until my heart was stressed enough and then monitor recovery. . As, hopefully explained previously, my reason for hr monitoring are mainly or health not fitness reasons. (heart and lung transplant). But I do want to know what my peak hr is during exercise. No wrist based device I’ve tested has been able to display this.
      My heart rate at rest was around 106, once walking rose steadily from 120+. The garmin reading displayed 62, never really rising below a discrepancy of 50 bpm.
      My heart rate rose to over 150 before stopping the treadmill and having an ultrasound of my heart.

      Interesting observation and probable reason for failed readings. The lights were dimmed for the ultrasound, only then did the device start registering elevated hr of 123 .

      Stats on saved log were avg 82,max 123.
      The jump to 123 from “idle” correlates with the lights dimming.

      I’m going to try and wear something either side to block light ingress to see if that helps.

      For anyone who is interested…

    • LeglessPoocj

      Heart and lung transplant patient who says you haven’t found a brand of wrist activity trackers that get HR right. I believe you might be an outlier in this case, sir. You can’t bash one product when you’ve tried multiple with the same outcome. Tell me about the rest of it. Tell me if the other functions are better/worse than other brands. You’re harping about the HR function but it sounds like none of them work for you as you need them to which says to me you need to look into something else entirely to fit your needs

  81. Isa

    I just bought my Vivosmart HR and put it on the other night, I’ll call it Night 1. I wore it that night, and kept it on except for when showering all through the next day (Day 2), and the day after that (today, Day 3). It seemed to work just fine, until tonight, Night 3 – when I synced it to my computer (as I don’t actually have a smartphone) – and realized ONLY Day 3 was registered.. =(
    My first thought was that maybe the memory only lasted for 24 hours, so that I’d have to sync it every night to save the data for it not to be overwritten by the data from the next day, but after doing some online searches it seems like the memory in the device is supposed to be able to record and keep 14 days of data, so I guess that’s not it..
    Anyone have any ideas wtf is going on???
    I’ll be sooo disappointed if this continues..=(

    • Maartenv1

      Sync serval times, that always works for me when not all days are synced

  82. Steve B


    My Vivosmart HR doesn’t seem to recognize intensity minutes unless I start the workout mode on the device. Here are some examples from this week:

    *Tuesday: Rode on Zwift (indoor trainer) 45 minutes. Did not start workout mode on the VSHR. Afterwards, uploaded my Zwift GPX file to Garmin Connect. Connect recognizes the exercise but no credit given for intensity minutes.

    *Wednesday: Did elliptical workout on Wednesday. Started workout mode on the VSHR and used it to track the activity. DID receive intensity minutes for this workout.

    *Saturday: Used my Garmin Edge 520 to track a 40-minute ride on my indoor trainer. Automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect after the ride. Again, Garmin Connect shows the exercise activity but NO intensity minutes given.

    I thought I was supposed to receive credit for intensity minutes automatically. What’s the issue? Thanks very much to anyone who can reply.

  83. Flynne Patlach

    Hi Ray, thanks so much for your amazing reviews. As a woman, I will add my two cents. I cannot find a wrist-based optical HR unit that is comfortable to wear regularly. Over a few weeks at Christmas I purchased and tried out three optical HR bands: the Fitbit Charge HR, the Polar A360 and the Vivosmart HR. These units are all too stiff across too big an area to be comfortable, especially with long sleeves on, which is a show-stopper in Ottawa where I live and we need long sleeves and often 2nd layers on when outside 8+ months of the year:)

    The Fitbit was defective right out of the box (wish I had researched more about HR accuracy before buying one anyway as I would not have bothered, but some friends use Fitbits for activity tracking so I jumped in) with the screen never even coming on. Others were having similar and othe technical problems so I brought it right back. But wanted to add that for a smallish woman, the Fitbit Charge is not comfortable.

    The Polar A360 also was not comfortable for me and while the colour display is nicer than the Garmin, the comfort was not there and it lacks some features that the Vivosmart has (music control for one) but costs more.

    The Vivosmart HR design was the most comfortable wristband for me (and likely others with a small wrist) and I wore it for a week or more. But the protrusion for the optical HR sensor makes the unit uncomfortable to wear all the time. Now that you have published more detailed review of the HR performance, I am happy I did not keep it just for that.

    After reading your reviews on its performance, and following the advice of the guy at Mountain Equipment Co-op, I have purchased the Scosche Rhythm+ unit to track HR only when I am being active. I have worn it for cross-country skiing a couple of times so far and it is much more comfortable to wear due to the design. I will wear it mostly for cycling though so now will start checking out your reviews for a cycling GPS watch.

    For women looking for an optical HR in a GPS watch, I have tried on a Garmin 225 that uses the Mio HR sensor so does not have the Garmin protrusion, and it was very comfortable to wear (but so huge on my small wrist that I would not wear it as an everyday watch.)

    Thanks again for the enthusiasm for getting it right and your attention to detail. If you could convince your wife (who I see from photos is even smaller than me) to add a woman’s perspective on wearability to your reviews on technical and functional stuff, your web-site would be even better :)

  84. Mags

    Must be different from everyone else as I’ve just upgraded from vivosmart to HR and very happy. HR is accurate according to my chest strap, intensive minutes appear as they should without having to turn on activity and notifications all appear. Only issue I’ve had was with broadcasting turning off but have been assured that the most recent upgrade has fixed this. Off for a run tomorrow to check. A great improvement to the original vivosmart. No I don’t work for Garmin ?

  85. Wynand

    New software is out. Version 2.9 – seems to address the issue of displaying 72 as a HR reading until an actual reading can be made.

    From Garmin

    “Change History

    Changes made from version 2.60 to 2.90:
    ◦Added a Heart Rate graph that can be viewed with a press on the Heart Rate Widget.
    ◦Fixed an issue that always started the Heart Rate Widget with some default HR values. The Widget will now show the most recently recorded HR reading until it obtains a new valid reading.
    ◦Added music controls widget to the activity training widget loop if the device is paired with a mobile device.
    ◦Gesture based Backlight trigger is now enabled.
    ◦Added support for ‘Cardio’ and ‘Other’ activity types.
    ◦Added a new setting to control the display brightness on the device.
    ◦Fixed a bug that reset HR values while the user is in a HR-broadcast session.
    ◦Fixed a bug that enabled sleep tracking while the device is connected to a charger.
    ◦Other bug fixes and improvements.”

    • Paul Allen

      Some of these are substantial changes – why on earth do they release devices with such huge absences in functionality?

    • Mainly to hit the holidays.

    • Denton

      Would you say this is a good first activity tracker?
      I’m getting one tomorrow.


  86. kpcski


    That is a load of key issues apparently fixed!

    If only a LOCKSCREEN were released too! Or alternatively, when in BROADCAST or ACtIVITY that it was changed to take 2-3 (not one) screen bump to interrupt.

    We need to be happy about what we got though!!

  87. Very pleased with the 2.9 update, HR appears to be fixed and I love the graph… Thank you Garmin!!!!! and of course thank you DCR for all the great work you do, best blog ever…

    • kpcski

      ** w/ Firmware 2.90 … BROADCAST MODE now automatically ENDS more than ever for me !!! **

      I may have been too excited about the promised enhancements with the Firmware 2.60 to 2,90 upgrade, so I turned back on my MOVE NOTIFICATIONS. It was these same and other NOTIFICATIONS that would disrupt the BROADCAST HRM session and drive the bpm reading to 72. I had hoped that this issue was fixed, but with firmware 2.90 it seems to me yesterday while indoor cycling that when a NOTIFICATION came through that the BROADCAST simply ended. That is even worse that the bpm dropping to a false 72bpm. I am not sure if it was the NOTIFICATIONS that were turning off the BROADCAST or if it was the dreaded lack of a LOACKSCREEN turning off the BROADCAST, but the falsely ended broadcasts are a BIGGER PROBLEM, esp as BROADCAST HEARTRATE is even deeper in the VSHR menu now with the firmware upgrade that added new choices to the menu. Are others having this same problem? I have disabled NOTIFICATIONS again, which hopefully stops some of this problem, but I should be ale to keep NOTIFICATIONS ON while BROADCASTING.

    • Andy Kemp

      I have been using one of these since the new year. The heart rate data has been mostly useless with acivity mode assuming I was asleep / dead on the rowing machine and generally loggin at 72BPM.

      Still, I have been sending screen grabs to Garmin as they obviously have some firmware issues and need data to fix them.

      The 2.90 firmware has improved things. The new “Cardio” mode in the activity gave results that agreed excellently with the Matrix Climbmill I was on. For this first time it managed to log some active minutes.
      However it still made a complete mess of tracking my heart rate on the Concept II rower with a measured heart rate of 45bpm and some strange ramps up and down to 99bpm. They still have some work to do here. So I will keep sending them screen grabs and hope for an improvement in the next firmware update.

      I don’t take my phone to the gym, so no notifications driving the heart rate down, but the magic 72bpm reading does seem familiar.

  88. stuart

    Why not turn on ‘Do not disturb’ when turning on boradcasting?

    • stuart

      ‘broadcasting’, that is

    • JB

      Turning on “do not disturb” is what I do to keep the HR from dropping into a lower default 72 or false number. It has worked great. I also use a hair scrunchy, that I stole from my wife (shhh), to hold my sleeve down on my arm just behind the VSHR so it doesn’t cover the unit to stop it from turning off the broadcasting mid run. My gloves work well for keeping the exposed area in front of the unit warm along with my hands and don’t hit the VSHR face to turn off broadcasting.

  89. Elizabeth

    I bought a vivosmart HR as I wanted to upgrade from my original vivofit as I was getting bored with it. I am reasonably happy with it until the past two days where it no longer will charge. I’ll be reaching out to Garmin later today to see what my options are….not cool considering I’ve had it for less than a month.

    Has anyone else had this issue?

  90. kpcski

    I am trying DO NOT DISTURB now as an alternative to turning off all NOTIFICATIONS. Thanks for the idea Stuart. It has worked so far and it is far easier to disable on the VSHR (your way) than thru Mobile Garmin connext (my old way). Thanks.

  91. kpcski

    JB and Stuart … Thanks for the tips … I love that JB is comfortable enough in his own skin to wear a “scrunchy”!! I used DO NOT DISTURB due to the good advice from JB and Stuart … Oddly I still lost connection when I wore the VSHR facing outward (as I always did before the new firm ware), but when I rotated it on my wrist inward … BOOM, issue solved and all was good for a 100km indoor ride!!! #teamwork

    • Stuart

      Just wondering, but plan on checking tomorrow, if the VSHR goes to ”exit broadcasting mode’ does it stop reading and broadcast?

      I plan on testing with edge 810 tomorrow as it was for me at first but if upgrade fixed this it may be the stop gap to a proper lock screen mode

    • Stuart

      But truew lock screen while broadcasting HR is the right answer that garmin needs to sort

  92. Steve B

    My two week update–

    I’ve been wearing the VSHR for just about two weeks now. I took it off today and will be testing a Fitbit Charge HR for the next week or two.

    Here are my impressions thus far:

    While I realize that this is purely subjective, I think the Fitbit is a better looking device. It is slightly less thick and I think that the textured band is a bit more stylish than the Garmin. Moreover, for me, at least, Fitbit’s slightly wider band seems more comfortable to wear.

    I have not been pleased with the fact that Garmin Connect doesn’t seem smart enough to properly sort out my activities when I use my cycling computer (Garmin Edge 520). To wit:

    *If I record cycling on the Edge 520 while wearing the VSHR, but without starting workout mode on the VSHR, I get no credit for activity minutes for cycling irregardless of intensity or duration.

    *If I record cycling on the Edge 520 and also start a workout on the VSHR, then Garmin Connect double counts the activity and I end up with two separate activities. I sent a support request to Garmin to ask about this and they told me that this behavior is by design. Really? In my view, Garmin Connect should be smart enough to recognize the use of two devices and marry the information together, or at the very least should be smart enough to include the Edge 520 data in my intensity stats.

    Incidently, the Fitbit handles this scenario perfectly. I record the activity on the Edge 520, which sends it to Strava (through Garmin Connect). The Fitbit app then shows the proper activity and data and everything is cool.

    Perhaps I’m not doing things correctly and maybe Ray or somebody else could coach me to resolve this, but until Garmin figures out a better way for VSHR to coexist with my Edge 520, I’m done with the VSHR.

  93. Pat

    Maybe it was there before; but since the 2.9 upgrade , I have noticed that if you tap the resting heart rate screen, it gives you a graph for the past 4 hours of your HR, with the low and the high HRs.
    Probably been there all along and I never saw it.
    Hours of endless fun at work looking at that.

    some smart alec is going to say it is mentioned before – but it’s new to me.

  94. Michael Neal

    The manual says the display for RHR is a rolling 7 day average. Has anyone found a way to reset this (short of a full unit reset) so you can see what your day is as opposed to night?

  95. Michael

    Hi, thanks for the very extensive review!

    I know that most here are into running/cycling, but I wonder whether anyone uses it successfully for Olympic/powerlifting and some Cardio on the side (mostly at the gym with an occasional outdoor run)? I don’t require GPS, but accurate workout hr tracking would be important. A chest strap isn’t really an option for lifting, so I can only rely on optical wrist bands for now… Thanks!

    • Stuart

      I use it a lot for crossfit workouts, so something similar

      I had a workout this morning with rounds of row 750m, 21 throws, deadlift and burpees and it didn’t drop HR in a 27 min workout

      It can drop HR from time to time but I make sure it is facing inwards and pulled up my arm a bit, which helps a lot

    • Alaina

      I’ve been reading up on many different bands and the one we considered for my husband as he enjoys lifting and the like the most was the Atlas. You should check it out. It offers workout rep counting and stuff so that’s nice.

  96. kpcski

    Even with firmware v2.90, the automatic sleep tracker on the VSHR is pretty poor, right? It does not really know when I have been awake at night. It is not great at recognizing when I woke up either. I would guess this is also due to the VSHR taking too few samples of my heartrate and the movements of the built in gyroscope? What I know for sure is that my FitBit Surge was far better at tracking sleep. Does anyone have any #protips for making the sleep tracker peform better? Thanks.

    • Bill

      I’ve compared the sleep graphs from my VSHR to my Zeo Bedside the last couple of nights and from a light vs deep sleep perspective, the VSHR is not even close. I believe it is going only based on movement because if I sit in bed reading for a bit before I go to sleep it counts that as sleep. At least we have the edit capability to go back and change the start and end times. Hopefully, the next firmware upgrade will improve on their sleep algorithm.

  97. Mike

    I wonder – do they even make HR wristband HR monitors WITH HR strap support?

    I’d love to have a 24×7 hr monitor with sleep / day-to-day activity monitor and be able to use my garmin strap when going cycling/gym.

    I could switch from wristband monitor to forerunner while gym, but that’s a bother – syncing the data etc. (seems unneccesary also).

    Ray – any thoughts what might be a fit my needs? Vivosmart seems ok, so does fitbit charge HR…

  98. Paul

    Hi Ray, would it be possible to list the software/firmware revision with each of your product reviews, as a lot of issues you find may ultimately get addressed with further software updates.

  99. Re: vívosmart HR data and Apple Health. How is the data written into Apple Health during an activity? Is it multiple items a minute (Runmeter when paired with a HRM strap) or just Min/Max/Avg (Polar Fitness app) or something else? I’d like to use the heart rate data for more than just a single application. I assume the data is written after the activity (or how ever often a sync happens)

    Basically my question boils down to, how is the HR data written in the Apple Health app?

    Attached photo shows Polar and Runmeter..

    • Adam

      In my experience with Garmin Connect and enabling HealthKit…DON’T! It has never worked properly since they first turned on the integration. There are multiple threads in the Garmin forums where Connect will add duplicate, triplicate, and quadruple entries into HealthKit which throws off all data. I have had this issue myself and it’s extremely frustrating. Heart rate is not transferred to HealthKit anyways.

    • Well that’s terrible. So it appears that there is no reason to get an activity tracker since I will have to manually copy data over into heathkit or double count every thing on the device with an additional HRM. Very disappointing.

  100. Zach

    Excellent review! I’ve almost made my decision. I don’t care about friends to compete with (Fitbit), what I want is a good hr monitor that does all the other crap like sleep monitoring etc. I don’t really run anymore from a knee injury, but the ability to send ANT+ to my concept2 about seals the deal.. And playing nice with HealthKit.

  101. Andrew Crockett

    Hi, How well does this work if you have two Garmin devices? I have the fenix 3, which I have activated the step tracker for runs. Now if I took off the Vivosmart for a run then put it back on (obs taking off the fenix) when I finish will garmin connect recognize the sum of both devices or only one?

  102. kpcski

    Does anyone know where I can buy an additional VSHR charging cable? I see one for sale on amazon.co.uk for a cool £91.00 … to say that price is a little steep would be an understatement … THANKS

  103. Adrian

    Great article. Just bought one of these. Mixed feelings. Seems dumb that you can’t control music once in an Activity. Also, how on earth do you get the heart rate graph up on the Connect App? I’ve looked for the screen(s) everywhere using an iPhone 6. Can’t see how or where to access that screen from at all????

    • Adrian

      Finally got the HRM display to work after several hard resets of the phone.

      It’s a pity it doesn’t seem to differentiate steps as part of a run from other steps, just lumps them altogether. Also a pity you can’t configure your own activity types on the device instead of having to edit the synced data. Once you start doing so you get the option to name every activity with no drop downs or favourites. So doing 4 sets of cardio at a gym requires four edits to the activities and naming them all ‘Gym Cardio’ EVERY time.

      After the novelty of pausing music, seeing the weather and getting notifications wears off I’m not sure I’ll have the motivation to constantly edit imported activities for long.

  104. Mark Duncombe

    2.9 has improved things significantly for me on the indoor turbo trainer but am still seeing a couple of anomaly’s that I just dont see with my chest strap.

    BTW, does anyone have an easy way to show HR from 2 fit files on a single graph they can share with me?

    picture shows a somewhat believable HR apart from a couple of spikes in between intervals that seem to be triggered by me reaching for and drinking from a water bottle.I do see a similar spike with my chest strap but nowhere near the same magnitude. Note this graph is HR v power rather than a comparison with a strap.

  105. Ronny

    Did the HR recording intervals improve with newer software versions? Or is the all-day HR still “useless”?

  106. Eliot

    Hey Ray,

    Thanks for the review.

    Can you make any predictions about further updates? Namely, how long Garmin will continue support for the Vivosmart HR? And can the all-day HR accuracy be improved solely with software modifications? Is that likely in the device’s future?


    • Since the Vivosmart is barely 3 months old – it’s a safe bet is has a fairly long life ahead of it.

    • Apparently not only is the answer yes, but it has already been done. Among the changes listed in the 2.50 -> 2.60 firmware update is this:

      • Improvements to the Heart Rate Graph by taking more readings throughout the day.

      You can see all the updates at link to www8.garmin.com

  107. CARL

    I got my Garmin Vivosmart last year iv had 4 replacements due to the pixel,
    I am a fitness instructor and i like to keep an eye on my fitness levels also my HR .
    My calorie burn is alo a major factor so i eat what i burn so not to start to burn into muscle.
    Iv found the reliabitity of the Hr strap on the Vivosmart 100% and there is a video on youtube were a doctor does a test with different devises while using an ECJ OR EKJ machine the Garmin vivofit strap came top.
    My vivosmart had just gone down again garmin are reaplaceing it with the New Vivosmart HR,
    not to happy now iv read the reviews regarding the HR .
    heres the small video
    link to youtube.com

  108. Mymy

    Thank you so much for this post! I have the Fitbit HR. I do like it, but hate the fact that it doesnt have an idle alert and the way they treat their customers. See link to community.fitbit.com

    ove 1500 requests to implement an idle alert, and never did they respond. Now they claim it is ‘implemented’ because the brought out a new device that has it. Shameful.

    For this reason alone I am thinking about Garmin, love the way they treat their (already) customers and the fact they are not only gatherin data but also do something with it that is usable for the owners (like adjusting goals).

    Again thank you so much, and I am going to consider :)

  109. Alicia Waters

    I found your review very helpful. Thank you! I am not an elite athlete and my questions will be odd to some, but I have 2.
    1) is the vibration of the device as “teeth jarring/grating” as other reviews mention?
    2) I run/walk (Interval training), does the device or app allow for this? I run for 5 mins., walk for 1 min., repeat. Will the device vibrate at each interval change?

    Thank you.

    • 1) It can be, but I found that it seems to be some sort of positioning thing. In certain positions/etc, it buzzes more jarringly than other times.
      2) It doesn’t have any structured workout options like that.

    • Alicia Waters

      Follow up question: can you recommend a device that does the interval training/notifications? I’d like to replace my Ironman watch capabilities so I don’t need to wear a watch and a fitness tracker during my runs. I’m wondering if that capability is thru an app or right on the device? Thanks again.

    • Alicia,

      I don’t find the vibration excessive at all. And apart from the alarm clock function, each activation is brief and you can control what events trigger a vibration alert. By comparison to my LG over-the-neck earbuds, whose vibrator rests on my collarbone and always startles me when its vibrator activates, the Vivosmart HR vibration seems just right. (I use the alarm clock function and it usually does wake me. I think one time I slept through it.)

    • If you’re looking for interval support and such on the Garmin platform, check out the Garmin FR230. It doesn’t have optical HR (the FR235 does however), but it’s a very well roudned GPS running watch.

    • Alicia Waters

      Just posting a follow up: I purchased this device even though it doesn’t support interval training. I like the look and feel of this device. Several factors went into the purchase: I can control my music, I can shower with it on, and of course all the other activity tracking it does. Very comfortable to wear and the vibration is not an issue (I wouldn’t describe it is “teeth jarring/grating” as mentioned in other reviews). The sleep tracking?? Well, the first 2 nights seemed somewhat accurate. The 3rd night however showed me sleeping before I even hit the bed?!?! I was not sleep walking! LOL! Thanks to everyone who commented. I appreciate it very much. Cheers!

  110. Kevin F

    Contrary to the review above the Garmin Vivosmart HR will not charge in any old USB charger. I tried using my USB wall charger .. and it would not work. Yet my Forerunner 610, my iPhone and Digital Audio Player work just fine. I even tried another wall charger .. same issue. Yet on my computer .. it works fine. Though in Garmins defense it does state in the owners manual to plug it into your computer. I am thinking it just cannot handle the current being supplied. Anyone have any thoughts ?

    • JB

      It works in my USB charger just fine. I have an iPhone/iPod cube thing that I use for my fenix 2, VSHR, and Fitbit. Haven’t had any issues.

    • Kevin F

      I have tried 3 different ones and the Vivosmart HR will not work on any of them. (one is a Garmin one from the FR610) My other devices are just fine. I am stumped.

    • Kevin F

      There is a thread in the Garmin forum about this item. Guess I am not the only one having issues.

      link to forums.garmin.com

    • Kevin F

      Guess the issue is that there is a different response on the VivosmartHR depending if you plug it into a computer or a wall charger. On a computer you get a bigger battery display on its own screen and on a wall charger you get a tiny animated battery on the time screen. But .. it does charge with either one. It is just a bit confusing til you understand that there will be a difference depending on your charging source.

  111. Viktor

    Thank you very much for the best Review i have read for the Vivosmart HR, although i am a bit disappointed after reading about the RHR.

    • Viktor

      Please, tell me which Tracker you’ll prefer for determing RHR 24/7 as i could not find any “top” list on your Blog.

    • It depends on what other devices you use. If nothing else, then the Basis Peak is good for it (probably the best). But, I’ve been having good luck with the Fenix3HR and RHR (much better than the VSHR).

    • Viktor

      Oh Ray thank you so very much! I did not know anything about the basis peak before! It is much prettier and it does, as you say, much better work. Thank you again! Thx!

  112. Michael

    I’ve bought the vivosmart hr about two weeks ago. I haven’t had another fitness tracker or watch before, but have been following developments closely for the last couple of years.

    In my opinion, it’s certainly a useful device, although there are a few drawbacks:
    – the issue of too infrequent heart rate measuring during the day (of course)
    – the step tracker doesn’t work that well for me. Eg it counts while brushing my teeth or doing the dishes. Depending on my activities, I discount about 20pct to a third each day
    – the sleep tracking algorithm is a big mystery to me. While it generally seems to work well, it occasionally puts me in a deep sleeping phase despite of having gone to the bathroom at that time

    Admittedly, the above sounds bad. Three core features, three not that great comments on them.

    However, here’s the thing: I’m happy with the overall package. Despite me wishing for more regular heart rate measurement during the day, the data is generally accurate (I always wear it about three fingers apart from my wrist bone). Rarely, there’s an odd reading, like once every other day, that is unlikely, but overall, it appears to track my heart rate well. During Cardio it simply works for me, and is also as accurate as I could hope for in a wristband tracker (for now). During strength training (powerlifting), the measured “intervals” are not as clear as a strap would likely measure them, but it’s still useful. The trend is there, I know in which ‘zone’ I end up and that’s pretty much all I can hope for when using a tracker on the wrist. By wearing it a little higher, I haven’t had problems with wrist/arm movement during bench press and similar movements by the way.

    I’m happy with battery life (5 days is realistic, perhaps even more if you don’t exercise for hours every other day) and charging from almost empty to full takes perhaps half an hour (2A wall charger – works without an issue here).

    Except for one night last week, syncing has worked without a problem and I like the slightly more quantitative approach of garmin connect. Still, I hope I will be able to add naps manually there at some point. Else, the sleep tracking option is only worth half as much.

    Also, as mentioned here, I’d be happy to sacrifice battery life for a more regular heart rate measurement, but as general guidance the current form is (not perfectly, but reasonably) fine for me.

    Considering the price point (if you can spend 50 dollars on running thighs or 150 on shoes, this is a steal for the information you will accumulate about your life), I’m happy about my purchase with no regrets at all.

    Still, I look forward to the next software update(s) to see what might be improved and/or added.

    PS: one day I have to test whether it works on my ankle as well. I still hope there will be a tracker for the leg one day. One of the reasons I wear it that high on my arm is to hide it from sight…

  113. kpcski

    I agree completely. Please Garmin allow owners to choose the frequency of heart rate sampling for each of “All Day Tracking” and also while active (that is while Broadcasting or recording an Activity). Much like choosing Back Light Brightness, all the user to choose how long his/her battery lasts please!

  114. Michael

    I’ve bought the vivosmart hr about two weeks ago. I haven’t had another fitness tracker or watch before, but have been following developments closely for the last couple of years.

    In my opinion, it’s certainly a useful device, although there are a few drawbacks:
    – the issue of too infrequent heart rate measuring during the day (of course)
    – the step tracker doesn’t work that well for me. Eg it counts while brushing my teeth or doing the dishes. Depending on my activities, I discount about 20pct to a third each day
    – the sleep tracking algorithm is a big mystery to me. While it generally seems to work well, it occasionally puts me in a deep sleeping phase despite of having gone to the bathroom at that time

    Admittedly, the above sounds bad. Three core features, three not that great comments on them.

    However, here’s the thing: I’m happy with the overall package. Despite me wishing for more regular heart rate measurement during the day, the data is generally accurate (I always wear it about three fingers apart from my wrist bone). Rarely, there’s an odd reading, like once every other day, that is unlikely, but overall, it appears to track my heart rate well. During Cardio it simply works for me, and is also as accurate as I could hope for in a wristband tracker (for now). During strength training (powerlifting), the measured “intervals” are not as clear as a strap would likely measure them, but it’s still useful. The trend is there, I know in which ‘zone’ I end up and that’s pretty much all I can hope for when using a tracker on the wrist. By wearing it a little higher, I haven’t had problems with wrist/arm movement during bench press and similar movements by the way.

    I’m happy with battery life (5 days is realistic, perhaps even more if you don’t exercise for hours every other day) and charging from almost empty to full takes perhaps half an hour (2A wall charger – works without an issue here).

    Except for one night last week, syncing has worked without a problem and I like the slightly more quantitative approach of garmin connect. Still, I hope I will be able to add naps manually there at some point. Else, the sleep tracking option is only worth half as much.

    Also, as mentioned here, I’d be happy to sacrifice battery life for a more regular heart rate measurement, but as general guidance the current form is (not perfectly, but reasonably) fine for me.

    Considering the price point (if you can spend 50 dollars on running thighs or 150 on shoes, this is a steal for the information you will accumulate about your life), I’m happy about my purchase with no regrets at all.

    Still, I look forward to the next software update(s) to see what might be improved and/or added.

    PS: one day I have to test whether it works on my ankle as well. I still hope there will be a tracker for the leg one day. One of the reasons I wear it that high on my arm is to hide it from sight.

  115. Kevin F

    Too bad that ‘Intensity Minutes’ are not working properly right now. If you are thinking about a Vivosmart HR you may be disappointed with it until Garmin fixes this. They are apparently working on it .. although very slowly it seems.

  116. Sheena R

    Thank you for taking the time to do such detailed reviews. I have been researching for weeks on a fitness tracker but can’t seem to make up my mind. Could you suggest something that would accurately monitor steps and activity while including the time and efforts I spend on an indoor cycling bike? I’m pretty much looking for the tracker to include my cycling with the step count and calories burned. I know pretty much any can track the steps but it’s the cycling part I can’t seem to satisfy. Thank you.

  117. Manuel

    Iam at the point of buying an Basis Peak or the VSHR.
    But iam still doubting since all my other gear is garmin, Egde/Scale
    What is wise to do ?

    • Bill

      I have a PEAK but bought a VSHR because the PEAK integrates with nothing but the Apple Health Kit app and I don’t have access to that on my iPad mini. Basis does allow for export to csv, but I wanted something that I could get into GC without any extra work on my part.

  118. Aaron D.

    I have had the VSHR for 2 weeks now and use it daily as a step, HR and sleep tracker, no training. For anything having to do with training, (running, walking, jogging, biking), I use my 920XT. I have been very impressed with the tracking abilities and accuracy of this little guy. Have to admit I wasn’t going to buy this as I was happy with my standard vivosmart, other than a replacement that Garmin was great about because of pixels, but I got a good price at a running expo and could not pass it up. The first thing I did after unboxing it was register it to Garmin Connect and update the firmware to the 2.90. My sleep tracking has been great, resting heart rate average has been inline with other ways I have kept track of it in the past and the step counter has not needed to be customized as it has been within 10-15 steps with me counting it out. Every once in a while it wont count a floor that I have done, 3 times in 2 weeks. Maybe Garmin over promised in other area’s but I have been very happy so far with my decision and will update if thing head in another direction.

    • Pippa

      Hi I have just bought the VSHR and love it but do you know how to change the weather from Fahrenheit to Celcius please?
      Many thx

    • Randy Schulz

      There is no setting either on the device or in Garmin Connect Mobile (at least on iOS), so I suspect it’s using the mobile device’s weather app / services to get that information. Is your phone set to metric units generally or specifically for weather information?

  119. Rob

    Any chance Garmin will update the software so you can have multiple alarms like Jawbone and Fitbit. The one thing that is keeping me away from a garmin device.

  120. Neill

    I have been considering the Garmin Vivosmart HR, mostly for gym workouts…though I would also like to track general activity (steps, stairs, etc.), and possibly activities like tennis. I realize it is not a piece of medical equipment, but would like something that will let me know how with decent accuracy many calories I’m burning when I workout. It doesn’t have to be exact, but my goal is 1,000 calorie/workout. I have used a Polar FT7 in the past, but like the idea of a wrist band as opposed to the strap. So the HR function needs to be good, but again I don’t care if it is not 100% accurate, but close enough that if it says 1000 calories burned, it’s close…not really 700.

    I’m 45, and have no aspirations of greatness, well maybe a few…. But just want an activity tracker that is good enough to let me know if I’m meeting my goals, and push me a bit harder if I haven’t.

    Garmin Vivosmart HR vs Fitbit Charge HR?
    Appreciate any advice.

    • Adam Smith

      Some thoughts:
      – none of these wrist-based trackers are that good at HR, especially when exercising, especially for exercises where your arm moves a lot like tennis or gym. I had the Charge HR and it was fine for HR while running but fairly useless in the gym for e.g. rowing machine
      – the calorie counting isn’t likely to be accurate; you might as well just do it by time e.g. 45 minutes of tennis = 500 calories (ymmv)
      – at the minute, activity trackers generally aren’t that good at tracking exercise, they are more for daily life and they do a decent job of highlighting trends over time, don’t expect perfect accuracy
      – they are cheap enough that you should get one anyway, it probably doesn’t matter whether this or the Fitbit (although I tend to think Garmin a more serious sport-centric company than Fitbit, which is slightly more image-oriented)

    • I wouldn’t use the Charge HR as a baseline for optical HR sensors everywhere. It’s one of the worst ones out there. There are plenty of great optical HR sensor companies and products to choose from that are just as accurate as traditional chest straps for sport/exercise. It’s simply that the Fitbit Charge HR isn’t among them.

    • Neill

      Thanks Adam/Ray for the advice.
      One thing I am not totally grasping is why they aren’t good for gym workouts or other activities like tennis, but are good for running. Your arms are moving when running as well. Is it just that running is a more consistent motion, while gym, tennis, etc., are varied motions which could move the band around a little more?

      I am now torn between the Garmin and the Mio Alpha 2. The Mio reads like it has much better accuracy than many others, so leaning towards it.

      I have ruled out the Fibit.

  121. Niels

    Can you use this one with Endomondo? Show your heart rate live in the app while running?

    • Stuart Dunne

      If you are running edmondo on a androind phone with ant+ it should be able to pick up the broadcasted signal

  122. Max

    Hey Ray,
    Does the VSHR support HRV in Broadcast mode like the HRM Run of my Fenix 2 does so my Fenix 2 can figure out my VO2 Max?
    Greetings from Germany,

    P.S. Your Blog is awesome, keep it up, I enjoy every single article!!!

  123. Bec

    Hi. Have you used this product while swimming? If so, was the hem reliable? Thanks

  124. Bob Lara

    I just got this watch. How do I get to the screen to modify the run/data fields? I haven’t seen that.

    Also any thoughts on the following – I wore this for a run and my Polar heartstrap. The vivosmart hr measured a mile more than the Polar. Polar had 300 more calories. HR was within 3 heartbeats of each other on avg and 3 below high versus the Polar.

    • Stuart Dunne

      Adjust data fields through Garmin connect mobile app. Go into devices, vshr and then run options

  125. Truman

    Great review! I’m curious, how does the vivosmart HR handle group texts? I currently have the vivoactive but am interested in the vivosmart HR because of its size and heart rate monitoring for the price, and because the vivoactive for whatever reason can’t show group texts very well, only shows that I received a group text but no actual text information on the screen. Does the vivosmart HR do this also or does it properly show the text body?

    • Truman

      I should have put the caviat, this is for an Iphone, if you weren’t using it with an iphone, you might not have the same issue..

  126. CJ

    Hi, Thank you for your review. I actually have some weird questions to ask.

    I have just got my Suunto Ambit 3 Run Lime (for the super great deal in Thailand). It’s really work fine for me. However, I do really need a smartwatch that can be used 24/7 (Sleep tracking, Step counting, Running, Notification functions). My questions are

    1. Can this Garmin Vivosmart HR replace a GPS watch? (I know it uses accelerometer, not a normal GPS receiver). If I set it up the stride right, can it really measure nearly to GPS?

    2. Once you use Vivosmart HR for the run and you sync it to Garmin Connect. Will the stats store in the same place as Garmin Forerunner 220 store? The thing is I am in the middle of challenging with my friend on Endomondo. I just want the Vivosmart to be able to sync my run with Endomondo as well.

    Thank you in advance for your answer.

  127. Blake Taverna

    Hi Ray

    Not that you don’t have enough on your plate anyway, but have you thought about doing a post on tips for positioning optical heart rate monitors to get the best reading.
    Love your blog. Thanks

  128. Julius

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for a great review. Could you also add a picture of how it looks on Girl’s wrist for size comparison?


  129. 8

    40% off untill 6th of March

    link to www8.garmin.com

  130. Kari patkes

    My sleep monitor is not working, not sure if I did something, the last four days not registered

  131. Just as a heads up in case folks didn’t see the Vivosmart HR beta firmware become available over the past few days:

    link to garmin.com

    Changes made from version 2.90 to 3.06:
    Added support for Screen lock to prevent unintentional swipes/clicks. Screen lock can be set to auto-lock from settings or locked manually from the power menu (press and hold on the button).
    Added 4 day weather forecast that can be viewed with a press on the current weather widget.
    Improvements to Resting HR. It may take some time before you see your new Resting HR.
    Improvements to Intensity Minutes.
    Improvements to Floors climbed algorithm to filter false positives.
    Vibration intensity of Incoming call and Smart Notifications are now more distinct.
    Minor improvements to battery life.
    Other minor bug fixes and improvements.

    • Jean-Christophe

      Thank you Ray for sharing.

      The Screen Lock is very useful for the HR Broadcast mode.

      They still have to make it available directly from the HR screen, and that would be perfect.

    • Since it’s in the changelog, did it actually improve the Resting HR tracking? I mainly want a device for RHR, but having notifications and possibility of ant+ tracking vs. the fitbit charge HR would make the vivosmart HR win.. but if the resting heart rate data is useless, I don’t care about the other stuff..

      Any idea if the RHR data from the vivosmart HR is now “usable” or is the data from fitbit still way better?

    • TimmyR

      Post #241 and one prior indicates the resting heart rate tracking may be improved. I wonder if there has been any update in the software to improve it.

  132. Krishna

    Hey, thanks for the great review! I am interested to know about the band integration with the module – I own a Charge HR and the band fails in 3 months, I am on 3rd replacement at the moment. In the Charge HR, the module is glued to the band, how is it in the Vivosmart HR? Is it also glued to the band or is the band user replaceable?

  133. Mina

    I got my vivosmart at Chrisrmas and It has happened on several occasions since I got my vivosmart that my days info. is not existant at the end of the day. I synchronize my days information at the end of the day and expect to see my runs as well as all info that I had on the device all day. It has happened that the activity bar clears just as I am about to sync the device to my iPad. It is disappointing. On certain occasions I have to sync it two or more times before the info is transferred.

  134. Filippo

    Do you know if Ant+ module can be switched off like bluetooth? Boardcasting function sends data or not, but it uses a module already opened, i guess.

  135. Kevin F

    Just in case anyone is interested .. there have been 2 beta firmware updates in the last 9 days and Garmin is making great progress. You can get the latest version here link to www8.garmin.com .. there have been a number of improvements and this thing is really turning into a Fitbit killer.

  136. Arran Noble


    I was just wondering, now that the recent updates have been released, are you guys and gals that have a Vivosmart HR happier with the device? Have the updates made a big difference?

    • Ramexises

      v3.00 and v3.07 beta
      Much Better.
      I did type a long post, but stupidly hit submit without my name and email, i had scrolled up so that I couldnt see those.
      (Unfortunately that loses the comment (any way to maintain that in order to repost correctly Ray?)

    • Unfortunately no way for me to change ordering… But, if you click the date/timestamp and let me know what it is, I can put that content into your comment here and clean-up things after that.

  137. Stuart Dunne

    At the risk of sounding like a dunce I cannot find the lock screen settings, any help?

    I’ve gone through the garmin forums and manual but cannot find exactly or step guide and I am lost

    • Jean-Christophe

      @Stuart: did you install the beta first? If yes, Settings, Screen Preferences, Auto-Lock. Otherwise, long press on the button to choose between lock or power off.

    • Stuart Dunne


      Now I really feel like a dunce

      Since software updated about an hour ago i assumed that it was latest

      Will put on beat when I get home tonite


    • Kevin F

      Yes .. the last 2 beta versions have made the device much better and I look forward to Garmin improving things over time. But right now .. it is working quite well. Certain things like the screen lock makes it much nicer as you can stay on a desired screen. I use the Last Displayed option for that .. to lock it on whatever screen you like.

  138. 10-Dee_Q

    hi, i’m in need of activity tracker to be used as daily fitness tracker and check my HR and workout,
    i played basketball pick up games twice a week about 2 hours each time., that’s my only workout.
    i want it to track my active HR during my basketball games.
    , so i’ve read the reviews here and found 3 candidates
    garmin vivosmart HR
    fitbit charge HR
    jawbone Up 3
    which one will you recommend ?
    thank you.

    • Rob

      I have the UP 3 and love it. Smallest and lightest of the 3 and IMO the best app. I use the Garmin app for running, but it’s not great for activity tracking and doesn’t have multiple silent alarms. Haven’t been a fitbit fan since the force and I think it’s the least water proof of the bunch.

      I don’t think any wrist based HR monitor gives accurate readings during exercise.

      I miss having a screen at times, but love the UP3

    • Dominik

      None will work properly, for a good hr tracking during workout you need a hr strap. There is no other way around it now.
      Jawbone UP3 will be a total disaster as it measures, very rarely, skin conductivity which will be useless when you sweat a lot.
      Fitbit charge hr and vivosmart hr should be similar. Although vivosmart hr now has new workout modes which should increase it’s hr measurement capabilities in comparison to a single mode for fitbit. But again, you need to remember that both of them can give you only a vague idea of your hr activity during the workout. If you are fine with that choose one of them.
      If you look for something more accurate go for a hr strap with a watch.

  139. Swetha

    Hi Ray,,

    Im so glad that I found this page..
    My husband gifted me one of these and I was not aware as to what this small band is worth !!
    Now that I know, Im sure I will make the good use of it…

    But I have the following questions though:
    What are “Connections” for ? Is it that you can connect with any one who has the same device
    My husband has one too, does it mean tht when I connect with him, I can see his steps/stairs etc..

    Kindly let me know ur inputs,,,

    Regards from India…

  140. Jen McCarthy

    Hi, thanks so much for the great review. Is anyone having a problem with’memory’? I’ve only had my vivosmart hr for a week and the first time I tried to track an activity the screen read ‘memory low’ then 20 minutes in it read memory full. So annoying! I can’t track a workout and I have no idea what is taking up storage, I haven’t saved anything. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks, Jen

  141. Kevin Connors

    This thread continues to be a source of great help. I followed the Garmin instructions to update my firmware to v3.07 for the Garmin VSHR, but I did not have success. When I disconnected my VSHR from my computer, there was no new software to “approve” as the instructions said. I then linked my VSHR to Garmin Express via the USB and tried to update software and Garmin Express (which I guess was trying to update me to v3.06?) said that my device did not have enough memory to apply the update. Can anyone help me with this? I have zero activities saved, so it must be that my device now has two versions of the firmware on it and that is causing me memory issues? Thx. Kevin

    • Kevin Connors

      What exactly needs to be done to “approve” this update to v3.07 pls?

      I had thought that it might be automatic, but I see no way to approve.

      What do I need to do please? I am stuck on v2.90 …


      From Garmin …

      “Once its copied fully, Disconnect your device from the computer, approve the update on the watch, and wait for the update to finish.”

      from: link to www8.garmin.com

    • kpcski

      Team DC Rainmaker – VSHR …

      I am trying to install this v3.07 Firmware using an APPLE LAPTOP.

      I think that I am putting the firmware file in the WRONG FOLDER.

      Can anyone who has successfully updated their VSHR via an Apple pls tell me how they did it and specifically which of the Garmin folders into which I should drag the file please? The Garmin website directions seem to be for PC/Windows users … THANKS VERY MUCH.

    • kpcski

      I figured it out.

      You must update to v3.00 FIRST before v3.07 !!
      Do not skip a firmware upgrade!!

      If you try to update to v3.07 before installing v3.00, then:

      1. It will not auto-install, no matter what folder you put the gupdate.rmg file in
      2. Wherever you store that non-working file, it fills the VSHR memory
      3. Because of #2, you cannot update to v3.00 which I only afterward realized was available via Garmin Express as you will get the “not enough memory” available

      To solve this, you must:

      1. Plug your VSHR via USB to your computer
      2. Open the Garmin Folder
      3. Find the gupdate.rmg file (On Apple it will be in DEBUG folder)
      4. Move that gupdate.rmg file to trash
      5. Empty trash
      6. Open Garmin Express
      7. Download the v3.00 Firmware
      8. Disconnect your VSHR from your PC
      9. Look at your VSHR and accept the firmware upgrade to v3.00
      10. After the install is done, plug your VSHR back into your PC via USB
      11. Find that gupdate.rmg file that is still on your PC
      12. Drag that file into the /GARMIN Folder
      13. Allow the file to properly copy to your VSHR
      14. Once done, disconnect your VSHR from your PC
      15. Accept the firmware upgrade on your watch !!!

      What a struggle, so I wanted all to understand the solution too !!!

  142. Ryan R

    So I got a VSHR this week. I have been wearing it on my runs, but also wearing my Forerunner 220, footpod and a Scosche to compare. When I have finished everything matches better than I expected. However the number of steps seems low from what I was getting just wearing the Forerunner 220. Yes you can gets steps from a 220, if you link Garmin to MapMyFitness you get steps in the Under Armour Record App. So I was looking at this morning’s run and both the Forerunner and VSHR logged 23,500 steps (both were within 100). However, after that Garmin Connect only shows 17,000 steps for the entire day. Does anyone have an explanation?

    • Ryan R

      So I looked into this more. It is defiantly an issue with MapMyFitness. For example looking at yesterday’s run.

      It was 7.11 miles in 54:39. Both my Garmins had around 10,000 steps or a stride length of 1.14 m (3.74 feet) this is pretty common for a steady pace run. This also correlates to a cadence of 182. However MapMyFitness had me down for 16,205 steps. So my stide would have to have been 0.71 m (2.32 feet) and my cadence would have had to be 296 to get that many steps in in 54 minutes. My dog might be able to do that but she has four paws.

      All of the runs that I checked showed similar results. This is really unfortunate since I was using MapMyFitness to log my steps for my runs before getting my VSHR. I guess I will have to readjust my thinking to how many steps I actually take on days that I run.

  143. Bobby K.

    Thank you for the excellent run down! I’ve had the VSHR for almost three weeks. I bought it mainly to keep track of my HR during cardio workouts. Extremely disappointed! Fairly accurate when I’m not sweating, but WAY OFF (under reports) when my wrists gets SWEATY. Doesn’t matter where I wear it – left hand, right hand, top side, underside, above the wrist bone, or below. INCONSISTENT! In response to the other comments, yes, I’ll gladly sacrifice battery life or any of the other features…for HR accuracy!

    • John B

      If it just had support for a Bluetooth or ant+ strap that would make this a perfect device for me!

    • Kevin F

      I agree .. it would be nice as I have 4 chest straps I could use (not quite as many as DCRainmaker though) .. but I have found too that the first few min may be a bit low. It does state in the Garmin documentation to do a 5-10 min warmup if I recall. This allows the ability to get over this low part and is just part of the technology and how it reads your HR in OHR. After that it works very very well from my testing. I have compared the Vivosmart HR to my chest strap and it is pretty bang on during both indoor cycling, walking and running sessions. Once I push the Vivosmart a bit more up my arm and away from the wrist bone it seems to work better, though you seem to have tried that already.

  144. Dominik

    Hi. Garmin just updated the vivosmart hr software adding the “cardio” and “other” to the workout features.
    I looked for a device to track my hr during squash and swimming sessions. Since I already use the vivosmart hr for everyday activity tracking the cardio feature might take care of squash.
    I searched the web a bit and couldn’t find any info about those new features. Can you please update the review and check how those new features impove the hr readings?

  145. Kevin F

    Just a note .. Garmin released a new firmware version 3.10 today. I have installed it and so far it is working well.

    • Stuart Dunne

      Screen lock now standard, fantastic

    • So, how’s the VivoSmart HR working, in comparison to the release firmware?
      I’m trying to be enthousiastic about the wristband, but al comments from january make me a little bit careful.
      Is it worthful to buy?

    • Kevin F

      This is a great product. Sure there are people that will always have problems, but I think that most of that is ‘either not following instructions’ .. or ‘not understanding how to use the product’. It is working very very well for me and I am very happy with my purchase. I love some of the improvements .. especially the screen lock.

    • Hi Kevin, thanks for your answer.
      One last question, maybe you know: does the activity tracker also work without smart Phone nearby?
      I do have an Android and Windows Phone, but when I’m outside or walking inside the office, I often do not have my Phone with me.

    • Kevin F

      Yes, it will work fine without your smartphone. But you may need it to sync your data afterwards.

    • Harry

      I’m at version 3.00 at the moment, and the garmin express can’t seems to find the version 3.10 firmware (it says that my VHR is up to date, but it’s still at firmware 3.00). is there a way to fix this?

    • Chris

      Thnx. Decided to buy one, and after 4 days I’m still satisfied :)

  146. Jon

    Could garmin possibly provide an update that will allow an external hr strap to be used?

  147. Alaina

    I’m a decently active becoming more active individual. I’m not doing any hardcore training, just swims, gym time, and jogging. But I’m really stuck in choosing between the basis peak and the vivosmart hr. I wanted heart rate not for complete accuracy but to get a better idea of calories burned per day. I’m told the basis has had problems with this feature on some bands but not all. I wanted one that could actually go into water because I plan on swimming daily. It doesn’t have to calculate laps or anything just general activity. And I wanted something to tell me when I’ve got a notification on my phone(for swimming) so I know when it is absolutely necessary to get to my phone. I like working out to music but I also have terrible sleeping habits so both feature something the other doesn’t for me, what I’m most interested in is how functional each is and which would be more accurate based on these subjects. I’ve read through basically all of your reviews and I still cant decide so I’m imploring your suggestion. I have also considered the tomtom spark but it lacks notifications. the Vivoactive hr would be nice but I’ve already been waiting so long to pick and get one I’d rather not wait longer. I figure if the reviews on it once it comes out are great I’ll change over. What do you think would be the best for me.

  148. Lee

    Hi Ray

    I swapped my vivosmart with a hrm strap for the vivosmart hr as the display was fading. I have found the vivosmart hr inaccurate with my heart rate especially during excercise, I have followed all the instructions about proper placement and fitting but the inaccuracies still persist. Would it help if I use my garmin heart rate monitor strap from my old vivosmart.

    • Michael Neal

      Vivosmart HR can’t use a HR strap. Are you putting it into exercise mode? The default mode is not made for exercising.

    • SB

      Could you elaborate on the the default mode is not made for exercising? I guess I didn’t read that or missed it. So if I want to accurately pick up a high heart rate when hiking, running, or cycling, it needs to be in workout mode (either run, cardio, or other)?

    • Alaina

      Any optical sensor will not be as accurate as a hr strap. This is simply a matter of physics and light fractions. It’s harder to get a completely accurate reading via light bouncing than it is actually measuring your heartbeat. They mention this many times in all their optical heart rate band reviews. Most likely the inaccuracy you’re seeing is due to the inaccuracy of the measuring hr method. No wrist band will provide you completely accurate heart rate info at this time.

    • Michael Neal

      Look at the graph that DCR posted, it is decently accurate but you have to put it in exercise mode, not all day HR mode…

    • Michael Neal

      Yes, the default is the all day HR mode where it doesn’t sample continuously. I use Run when hiking or walking and get a pretty accurate reading.

    • It’d be wrong to say that optical is across the board inferior to chest straps. It’s simply not true. There are many cases where optical can be better than chest straps – such as in colder/dryer weather, and for some people that just have issues getting good readings on chest straps. Physics has nothing to do with it, it’s just software algorithms and good sensors.

      The challenge is not all sensors nor algorithms are created equal. And unfortunately, the Garmin Elevate based units are generally not as reliable as a HR strap (but other optical brands are better).

    • Bobby

      That’s great, can I configure it to display the HR instead of the stopwatch counter when in one of the intensity modes eg. Cardio??

    • Bobby

      Scratch that question. The answer is yes. I just reread DC’s blog ?

    • Donovan Hamrick

      I just got my VSHR and I like it but am a little vexed by the lack of a walking/hiking activity as neither Cardio nor Other track distance. If I use running, will it be able to tell between running and walking, or will it just assume I am running the whole time? If so, do you know if there is a way to change it to walking in Garmin Connect to accurately track distance?

    • For the most part, there’s no issue in using those interchangeably. It’s really just a categorization thing on the backend for sorting completed activities.

    • Stuart Dunne

      Select running

      And then you can change the activity type easily enough either on phone app when syncing or ‘garmin connect’ website

  149. KG

    That’s correct SB.

  150. richard

    Has anyone noticed that on the windows 10mobile version of the connect app that the calendar is 2years ahead? I am on the latest update and went to the calendar and it took me to Feb 2018??? I swiped back to April 16 clicked on 11th and I was then transported forward in time to May 16. Now if the calendar gave the lottery numbers I would not mind but so far no joy ?.

  151. hc

    With the Vivoactive HR coming pretty soon I am wondering which one I should get, Vivoactive HR or Vivosmart HR. I already have a GPS watch for running so the GPS feature is not mandatory for me.

    But I would love to have a good RHR…

    With the 3.10 update, what do you think of the Vivosmart HR? That’s a shame if both device use the same Elevate sensor but don’t perform as well…

  152. Stuart McLaughlin

    “Personally, I don’t put a lot of value in the step piece anyway – so this isn’t of huge concern to me.”

    You said the above. To clarify, are you speaking about the floor counting or the step tracking in general?


  153. Chris

    You mentioned barometer for steps
    Does it track elevation for runs?

    Would it be useful. tracking elevation and distance over long durations (8-12 hours) run/walking

    I just ask because my garmin 620 doesn’t last long enough and can’t charge on the go (and I don’t have $$ for Fennix 3 right now)

    I would like to have a HR monitor told hold me back in these races but again battery life (as well as strap irritation) has been an issue

  154. Bogdan

    Did anyone managed to pair this with Runtastic for example? it’s a bit awkward to use only it’s data because at least in my case i am getting around 10% difference in the distance covered between the Vivosmart HR and Runtastic – i tried to adjust the measure of the step but still keeps this 10-12% difference although I have the same pace.

    Thanks in advance

  155. Nancy

    What would you recommend for an older person who wants a wrist band to count steps, vibrate (not audible) notification of being idle for too long and ‘talks’ to My Fitness Pal. The 1st 2 are musts, the last is a ‘would be nice’. I don’t need the HR monitor as my knees would not like my running. I need the vibrating idle alert as I work in an office and the audible alert, even softly, would be a no-no. There are so many different brands and models out there it gets very confusing. Especially trying to find the ones that do vibrating idle alert seems to be tough.

    I appreciate the thorough job you did describing this one; I’m going to read more of your reviews.

  156. Justin A

    Anyone who wishes, feel free to add your opions to my question/decision too—

    DC: Thanks so much. Not just for this review, but for the wealth of information I have gained from reading these various blogs.

    I have a couple of detailed questions. Hopefully you aren’t like my doctor (haha) and don’t mind answering specifics, very specific. So thank you in advance for taking your time to read my thoughts and questions.

    So I am a heavy guy. Like 250lb and 5’6″. But I spent 5 years in the Marine Corps and have played copetitive sports most of my life. Now at 39 y/o I find my self on the couch these past 3 years due to injury. Some of it feeling sorry for myself and the rest was actual physical restriction from a couple of knee surgeries.

    Ok, so now that’s out of the way, I started on your site thinking I was going to purchase a Fenix3 HR. The review was full of excellent info, as they all are, and the device seemed to fit right in the spectrum of devices I needed/wanted. However after continuing to browse the plethora of reviews I realized my attempts were to get an all-in-one device, which may have been foolish and now realize I may be able to do something better. So here is what I need/want- in order of importance:

    1. Heart rate monitoring (especially during high cardio/weightlifting activity) that is very accurate- to help establish 24/7 + workout trends to increase my overall heart health.
    2. Fitness tracking (workout times, steps, distance, est. caloric burn, sleep, weight, BMI) so I can understand my trends and ensure I improve my overall health.
    3. One app platform to track everything I do (if possible)
    4. GPS monitoring for when I hike in the local mountains and in the (remote) desert.
    5. Lightweight options/Options which I can leave my iPhone 6 behind

    I have been using a Charge HR for about a month now: I like the graphing/tracking of 24/7 activity and HR (minus high activity), ease and convienence (synchronicity) between app/phone/device, and tracking all of my activity in 1 app. I don’t like the band is starting to tear, and no syncing w/ ext chest/wrist HR strap.

    So the choice I made after reading through many of your AT/FW reviews…I purchased (in the mail on the way as I type):

    – Scosche Rhytym+ and VSMRT- for use during workouts w > HR activity. Gym (cardio/weights), Cycling, running and interval training.
    – VSMRT HR- for 24/7 HR values, sleep, steps, stairs, distance and active hours, calories out.
    – Garmin 62sct (Owened for 2 years) which accompanies us on all of our trail/desert hikes.

    This combo seems to provide the best accuracy for HR monitoring during all activities while using just one APP to track and allows for GPS tracking when we aren’t working out. But I have some 2nd guessing in my decision process and reservations about the choices I have made….

    …so here are my questions:

    Question #1: I worry about your reporting on the HR activity graphing for the Vivosmart series through Garmin Connect. I know you mentioned the app looks a lot better on the 235 b/c of high rate of monitoring for the device, and wondered:

    Have the updates to the VSMRT HR changed the GC graphing for HR? Also, would the graphing be more similar to my attachment below over the hourly tracking your images above show?

    Question #2: Do you think the this blend is a good match for what I need, or should I reconsider one of the more serious FW options? Do you have alternate suggestions other than what’s listed above?

    –The reason I ruled in the Fenix3HR: It’s damn cool, ability to have data collected in one place, GPS tracking+ so I can leave hand held GPS home for shorter hikes.

    –The reasons I ruled out the Fenix3HR: Size, battery life with GPS on, need for HRSWM chest strap, have a nice GPS 62stc, I don’t run/cycle competitively.

    I also sent this to the inbox, b/c I realize you may not want to put so much out there in the comments. If I went overboard I am sorry lol, but it’s a big deal for me. I want to lose 70lbs in the next 12 months and get back to my weight of 4 years ago (160lbs) within 2 years. So I need all the help I can get. Being a geek, I love data and these devices actually motivate me with their abilities.

    Thank you again for reading through!


  157. jennifer hall

    Hi everyone
    I have had the Garmin Vivosmart HR for 4 months it was a christmas gift from my daughter and the other day the heart rate stopped working everything else is working but it is always trying to connect to the phone and the heart rate is continuously trying to sync. There is no green light when it is not on your wrist.
    What should I do?
    I have been really happy with it and it showed me things I did not know were happening during the day when I downloaded the information to my phone
    I am going to try and get it replaced under warranty as it is only 4 months old.

    • Paul Smith

      Double check your device type. The Vivosmart HR just came out a few days ago, not four months ago. Chances are you have a different model.

    • James Houghton

      Paul, the Vivosmart HR has been out for a while now. You may be confusing it with the Vivoactive HR.

  158. Joe C

    So I was having some random thoughts and didn’t know if there had been a constructive conclusion about the error in floors climbed when riding elevators or other artificial readings. I’m aware that most have altimeters or barometers built in, or at least some type of way of recording changes in elevation. I believe the error happens when there are steps being taken in sequence with the elevation change. Makes sense, right? If you walk around in the elevator it triggers both steps and elevation in the program and therefore floors climbed. If you don’t walk around, you don’t trigger the recording of elevation and therefore no credit for floors since you didn’t actually walk anywhere. Just like you can’t register floors climbed on a stair climber at the gym. Steps are being taken but no elevation is gained. You could however get credit on an escalator if you are walking up and therefore also gain the assistance of the escalator in your credit for floors climbed. Then again, simply standing on an escalator will not register any credit for floors climbed.

  159. Rob

    Any chance Garmin will be adding multiple alarms (like jawbone or Fitbit) anytime soon?

  160. Kalani Scott

    SW Ver: 3.10 was official about a month ago, but I have not found any resources that give any information as to what the Hr sampling rate is now. I have read it went from 10 min to 4 min. But anyone know for sure what the actual sampling rate is now? I have a Garmin 910xt and really just use the viviosmart hr as an activity tracker and for runs or swims if I forget my 910xt or forgot to charge it.

  161. Stuart


    Following up from your link on the weekly roundup

    link to garmin.com

    Is a major upgrade imminently due for the VSHR?

    GPS coming soon, surely it’s just a case changing the name and some software tweaks if the gps chip is good enough

    • Mark

      Looks like it’s here: link to argos.co.uk

    • Stuart

      Good spot

      I guess Argos will be in some hot water for announcing it before garmin

      This just come close to the smallest gps watch now

    • Paul Smith

      Their website is incorrect. It’s just the Vivofit HR.

    • Stuart

      I think you’re wrong Paul

      Same form factor as new approach x40 and essentially the same internals too

      link to buy.garmin.com

    • stuart

      ON a pc now and can clearly see that the product desc when shown from the rear of the rear of the device is

      ‘vivosmart hr+’

      My VSHR does not have a ‘+’ on it

  162. Pamela

    Do you know how often the Vivosmart HR checks your heart rate when it’s not in activity mode? I’m trying to decide between the charge hr and this; I have both right now. It seems like the Fitbit checks heart rate more often. I’ve read every 5 seconds 24×7 and every second during exercise for not the Fitbit and the Garmin. Is that right?

  163. So, I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 (~$330), while the Garmin Vivoactive HR only costs $250. The only difference I can tell between the two is that the Vivo has all the swim features of the Garmin Swim watch. So why would I buy the Forerunner 235 over the Vivoactive.


    • The Vivoactive HR has a wider breadth of features, but is less deep in each sport. So for example the Vivoactive HR lacks the advanced running features of the FR235. While the FR235 lacks the swimming, golf, etc…

      There’s also more data field customization available on the FR235.

      Said differently – for someone who doesn’t care as much being more of the running geekiness, the Vivoactive HR is a solid unit. Whereas if you’re a pure runner and want the added features, I’d go FR235.

  164. Andreas

    Hi! I was wondering, since this device got no GPS: is it possible to use the phone GPS (which I carry with me) and combine both data from wrist armband and phone GPS into the Garmin software?

  165. Donald Meckley

    I currently have a Vivosmart HR that is a few years old. My problem is that the band has literally started to fall apart and apparently cannot be replaced. Rather frustrating considering the priced paid for the device at the time. Can the band on this newer Vivosmart be replaced, if necessary? Frankly, that has been my only complaint, but it is a critical one. The device is useless, if you cannot wear it.

  166. Skyryen

    HI Ray and everyone

    I was going through all the reviews and I have a similar query as the guy with a Fenix2 who is using the Vivosmart HR as a HRM. In your post, you mentioned that broadcast mode allows Ability to re-broadcast HR over ANT+ to other ANT+ devices.

    However, the Vivosmart HR will not do so in running activity mode. So this could mean low sampling rate which translates to even more inaccurate HR stats as it does not know that I am actually running.

    And to make matters worse, if I Bluetooth pair it with my smartphone at the same time, incoming notifications will stop broadcasting ANT+ HR. Correct?

    So how can I achieve a Running workout with my Fenix2 together with the Vivosmart HR? I am hoping to replace my Scorsche HRM strap. And yes, this means going out with 2 devices on my wrists.

    Do I set both Fenix2 and the Vivosmart HR to start a Running activity at the same time and GARMIN Connect app will somehow combine the readings together? Or there is no way that the Vivosmart HR can replace my current Scorsche HRM pair with Fenix2 setup?

    Thanks for the thoughts. Your reviews on these products are always the first place I go to before buying. Rock on and keep up the good work!

    • Kirk R

      The current version of the software (3.10) allows the vshr to work great transmitting ANT+ HR to my 310xt. When in broadcast mode notifications are no longer an issue and it does constant HR reading just like in exercise mode. The difference is that it leaves measuring distance, time, and the like to whatever device you’re broadcasting to.

  167. John

    Two days in it is doing what I wanted. Didn’t want another watch type device like the Surge, Vivoactive or Blaze because I have a nice one for work and a forerunner for exercise. But wanted to track activity, sleep and resting heart rate.
    Activity tracking: so far steps, stairs, intensity minutes seem good enough. I have read enough reviews to know none are perfect so just looking for in the ball park. Three days in I am happy with these features on this device. Battery life looks like a few days depending on checking it an using it, I have charged it once, it took an hour and a half and it is still at 50%. Probably pretty good because I am checking it all the time since it is new to me.
    Sleep: going to sleep and waking up is accurate so far. I really like deep vs light sleep with movement measures. I thought I was tossing and turning more than I do but happy to see the actual stats. I can’t say if it is accurate because I have nothing to compare it to. But other reviews (I have read many, many on other sites on many devices) indicate I can be confident in the data. So far this is my favorite feature, that I acknowledge I could have gotten on a cheaper device.
    Heart rate: so far seems good enough. I see some spikes, also as reported by others sampling isn’t as often as other devices probably to preserve battery. But it is enough for me to get trends and averages and seems accurate enough given my experience with a chest strap. No device gets great ratings here so I am happy so far and expect either firmware updates or new versions in out years to make it better. I know it won’t work well for interval training or activities with sudden acceleration or deceleration, but I have a heart strap and forerunner for that. None of the wrist based devices are good at this yet either.
    Things I would like to see them improve:
    Screen is a little dim for me in low light, on the other hand it is discrete at work so I can live with it.
    Comfort and fit is ok, will see how this is after a few weeks or months.
    Screen is plastic and likely will scuff over time, should be something harder.

  168. Vibhor JAIN

    Thank you very much for such detailed review! very insightful in making product decision ?

    One question – Does it matter Vivosmart HR worn on wrist’s top side (as shown in pictures) or bottom side (soft fleshy part) so that it doesn’t obstruct with optical Hear Rate monitoring sensor?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!


  169. Roger Smith

    Buyer Beware! I recently snagged my HR a sharp edge and it tore half way through. I spent the past several hours trying without success to find a replacement online. So I sent Garmin an email ask where I could buy a replacement band. They replied back that it was not available and there were no plans to make any. The reply also said that IF THE BAND BREAKS I WOULD HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER COMPLETE UNIT! Gee thanks Garmin. I am probably done with your products forever.

    • Hmm, that’s odd. Given that Garmin has a pretty clear warranty policy within the first year (US), or 2nd year (Europe). Also, even if out of warranty they have a pretty straight forward repair cost (usually about $80 or so).

      Finally, I’ve never heard of them not replacing a band on a broken unit for any past Garmin devices. And I’ve heard of some pretty wonky things people have done to break bands.

      I’d ring them up via phone call instead.

    • Diane Peterson

      My band totally separated from where it attaches to the watch unit – on the charger side. Looks like there are 2 screws that may be there to attach the band, but apparently not, because they holes on the band are intact (no tearing). I have sent an email to request a replacement band/watch, but that was 2 days ago and I still have not received a reply.

    • I’d really just ring them up instead. You’ll get through to a human in a minute or two (since you’re in the US), and they’ll probably even have the band on the way to you by the morning.

  170. John

    Got a chance to take the VAHR outside for a run with a FR220 and HR strap for comparison. 7 miles, moderate pace. Results/learnings:
    * The VAHR was way off in distance, almost 1/2 a mile so pace was way off too. I set a custom stride length on the device so I’ll report if this doesn’t help when I try it again. Just fixed the distance in Garmin Connect, but there’s no way to edit splits so only good at the summary level after my adjustment.
    * The VAHR heart rate measurements were a joke, all over the place and no comparison to the HR strap. I think it’s because it’s just tight enough to work when I’m walking around, but too loose when swinging my arm while running. So maybe I have to make it one loop tighter when running.
    * Garmin Connect will not not measure intensity minutes or any other activity measures from my FR 220. I think newer devices will capture these measures like intensity minutes, steps, etc (maybe don’t know, don’t have one). So if you use a FR 220 or older FR, and don’t wear your VAHR, you will have a gap in your activity measures and you don’t get credit for the work you did – unless you wear both devices. Which I probably will do until at some point I upgrade the FR 220.
    * I am going to go forward, using VAHR for activity tracking and “other” activities. And I guess I’ll just wear both devices but only track Runs on my FR 220. I’ll just leave the VAHR in it’s regular activity mode to capture HR, steps, intensity minutes the best it can.

    • Yeah, the lack of being able to use multiple Garmin devices is currently a pretty big gap in the Garmin product lineup.

      As for the tightness, it does indeed sound like it was too lose. It shouldn’t move at all. It should be rather snug. Not pulling your skin tight, but certainly shouldn’t wiggle.

    • John

      Thanks for note back. I will be channeling my inner Ray with multiple devices for every run! ?

      It is a shame that Connect can’t see or doesn’t use the run synced from the FR220.

      But I still do like the VSHR for sleep, general activity and resting heart rate. I suspect it’s not perfectly measuring those activities but it’s better than nothing and as your review says it is the trends and macro views/data that matters.

  171. Andrew

    Hello Ray,

    Do any of the beta/firmware updates change your opinion on the HR aspects of this unit?

    as in:
    -Does it now function better from the daily HR tracking perspective?
    -Does it function better while tracking HR during activity (running)?

    Thank you for your time and Happy Hump Day!

  172. Tim

    So I’ve had the device for a couple of weeks. I am relatively satisfied but am REALLY curious how it decides sleep. I travel multiple time zones regularly and sleep outside my normal sleep time in doing so as I adjust. I am finding the fact that it only records sleep in the zone that I set in the software to really make it less useful. I am back to using Sleep Cycle on my iPhone to track sleep and push it to the Health App so it shares with a couple of other apps I like for tracking and utilizing the data.

    It’d be really nice if you could override and manually start a sleep period so as to account for naps.

    It also needs a way to handle time zone changes. I travelled from UTC-4 to UTC+9 a few days ago. It needs to recognize not only time but time zone on you phone when it syncs so it can keep a proper record of your data.

    • Tim

      Does anyone here travel frequently and use the vivosmartHR? As a follow-up I am curious if they’ve had success with it for daytime sleeping and time zones. It’d be nice if it worked at least as good as the iOS SleepCycle app which does an OK job tracking sleep and exporting it to Health so other apps (like CrewAlert) can automatically utilize it.

  173. mikel

    just a quick question: in order to buy a heart rate monitor to train spinning and body pump, and to avoid chest strap, and taking into account the issues related to innacuracy in heart rate, please would you recommend me which is the best from this list?
    polar a 360
    fitbit charge
    garmin vivosmart hr
    i would need a basic monitor that I could simply wear in my wrist, to train spinning and body pump
    thanks very much

    • Randy Schulz

      Hi, Mike,

      I think if accuracy is at all important to you, the chest strap is the only way to go. I’m not sure what your objection is, but the new “soft straps” are perfectly comfortable and for me, as a cyclist anyway, I really am not aware that I’m wearing one, at least when I’m putting out any non-trivial amount of effort.

      But then again, if accuracy is not a big deal–say, you’re not trying to train for specific heart-rate zones–then a wrist strap might be OK.

    • mike

      Hi again and thanks for the quick response

      I have the possibility to wear a chest strap, but I would like to train without chest strap. I want it just for basic training sessions. I am a novice (spinning, body pump)

      My question is just which of these smart activity and fitness trackers is the most accurate?

      Iam also not training for specific heart-rate zones, so innacuracy is not a problem issue for me but, the more I read the more a I get scared. I have read a lot of complaints about inaccuracy of these gadgets, so I do not what to choose.

      So in terms of general accuracy. Whis is the best? Thanks

      polar a 360
      fitbit charge
      garmin vivosmart hr

      I am very grateful.

    • mikel

      hi again
      I left a response about choosing among
      polar a 360
      fitbit charge
      garmin vivosmart hr
      please could you help me?

  174. Sheryl

    I had the Garmin vivosmart HR for 5 days and it quit on me . I guess my phone was to old. But the one complaint I have is that the Garmin made my wrist hurt. It kinda felt like it was hot on my wrist. Anyone else have this problem?

    • John

      I returned mine after a week. Part of the reason was because it was uncomfortable to wear, bump of the HR monitor never felt comfortable (long term I worried about damage to my arm) and because it was a little bulky it would catch on things from time to time and press the bump even more. It wasn’t my main reason for returning it, but it was one of them. The new VSHR+ seems to have a little more “round” flatter bump from DCR’s pics in his review, so they might be trying to address this. I just don’t have that much flesh on my arm to have something with even that minimal “edge” against my skin?

      I really wanted it to work though and look forward to versions in future years that are: 1) more accurate 2) have longer battery life and 3) are smaller and more comfortable to wear every day.

  175. yoyoyo

    Would it be a reasonable work-around to keep the device recording in activity mode all the time, until better sampling options come with a software upgrade? How long could the battery support that? Thanks!

  176. Paul

    Thanks for the great review. Are you aware of any fitness trackers with a good wrist based HR monitor that ALSO are able to receive ant+ info from a chest strap? I’m looking for this and haven’t been able to find ANYTHING.

    • It’s a tough spot right now if you specifically want a band-design. Else, I’d look at the Vivoactive HR or one of the other watch based wearables. There’s also my buyers guide from earlier this winter: link to dcrainmaker.com

      But it doesn’t account for the Vivoactive HR or the new Vivosmart HR+.

  177. Lou

    I am looking to buy an activity tracker for my husband. We do water exercise class 3x a week for an hour. He bikes and does a lot of activity in maintaining our property. He is usually pretty active during the day and only slow downs at night. What activity tracker would you recommend? He refuses to use a smartphone so any capability in connecting with that is not important. Being able to sync to a computer is fine. I would like it to be versatile and as accurate as possible. Thanks so much.

  178. Joe

    I just purchased the Vivosmart HR. The screen is very dull. I even put the setting as high as it would go and still seems very dim. Am I missing something and has anyone else had this problem.
    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  179. Hi there! I got a first generation vivosmart last summer (upon reading every one of your activity tracker reviews) and have been very happy with it. I have a FitBit flex before and was sorely disappointed with it. As my VivoSmart approaches it’s 1st birthday, it is beginning to die (it served me well, so I am not mad at that). The screen is fading and it no longer can vibrate for notifications and alarms.

    So I am between getting a new VivoSmart or getting the VivoSmart HR (I am a sucker for Garmins). I do like the HR capabilities, but I do want to clarify- is it possible to override the band’s HR reading with an AMT+ chest strap? I think I trust the chest strap better for HR readings during a workout.

    And overall, do you think the added capabilities of the VivoSmart HR make it worth the additional cost and reduced battery life in comparison to the original VivoSmart.

    Thank you!

    • A


      I have requested a RMA from Garmin because my vivosmart have pixel-errors.
      It was offered the free exchange on vivo smart HR from Garmin on the RMA sheet.

  180. Kai Johnson

    How is the step tracking when cycling or swimming? I bike, swim, and ski in addition to running and this looks like a good option for just tracking workouts across all areas, but are my step counts going go out the window when i’m using for something other than running? Is there a better multisport option under $200? Thanks!

  181. kpcski

    My note on Garmin Forums::

    Hey Garmin. It must be obvious to you now that you speep tracker on the VSHR pales in comparison to FitBit ???

    However this is easily solved with ALLOWING YOUR USERS to CHOOSE more frequent heart rate monitoring while sleeping.

    Of course this will decrease battery time, but please create a FIRMWARE update that allows us to choose frequncy of heart rate check in SLEEP AND BROADCAST modes.

    I do not find it hard to recharge my VSHR each day while showering, so I want more frequqent sampling !!


  182. El Paso Mark

    Hi Ray. Have you (Or anyone) tried using this for stationary training (Calisthenics, weight lifting, etc.) to count/measure calorie burn, HR, and total workout time? I’ve been using my FR70 w/HR strap for my calisthenics & weight lifting workouts but I’m always in the market for a new gadget so am considering the Vivosmart HR as a replacement. And too, I’m interested in the sleep function and tracking all day activity/calorie burn and the optical sensor seems like it would be much more comfortable than wearing a HR strap all day (As with the FR70).


  183. M M

    Despite all the great features of this device, to determine how many steps you have for a running/walking activity, you have to manually take note of the steps reading before you start your running/walking activity, then run or walk and at the end, go and manually record the current steps reading. Then subtract the beginning step reading from the final step reading to know the total steps you have taken for your running/walking activity. By design by Garmin or just wanted you to carry an additional $5.00 pedometer.

  184. Jesse P

    Can anyone speak to the various firmware and software updates and how they affect the optical HR performance? I am looking to purchase this device to replace my Vivoactive (first gen), and having some improvement with the daily tracking and RHR is most important for me. I am a runner and I have a dedicated running watch so I am not concerned with accuracy during strenuous activities. Thanks in advance for the help!

  185. Peg Miller

    I just cycle (a lot) I am only interested in a wrist ant+ heart rate monitor so I can stop wearing the chest hr monitor. I use a Garmin 520, what do you recommend?

    Thanks so much Peg Miller

    • If you use a Garmin Edge 520, you could use this for HR. However, I haven’t found HR while cycling outdoors terribly accurate with Garmin’s ELEVATE optical HR sensor at this time.

  186. Peg Miller

    I just cycle (a lot) I am only interested in a wrist ant+ heart rate monitor so I can stop wearing the chest hr monitor. I use a Garmin 520, what do you recommend?

  187. Ignacio

    Please, I would need to know if it is possible to export 24/7 data of heart rate and exercise to a CSV file or to an excel file. It is very important for me! thanks a lot.

    • Not really on the 24/7 front. Technically you can download each day, which is a series of small .FIT files that include all the HR data. But then you’d have to find a way to get that converted (in a group) to .CSV. Messy.

      For exercise though, it’s no problem at all.

  188. Michael312

    ​I like the Vivosmart HR, it was a very nice product but unfortunately after owning the strap for 6 months the strap broke while exercising. I looked everywhere for a replaceable strap and eventually called Garmin to find out that they do not sell replacement straps. Garmin then gave me the option to have the entire device replaced for more than half retail price.

    I would not recommend purchasing this product, Garmin does not cover any damages to device and does not provide any options for simple fixes. I would recommend other active watches, such as Fitbit or Apple

    • Call back. Remind the customer service person that their warranty (in the US) is 1-year for defects, which this would cover based on their normal definitions of it. If in Europe, it’s 1-years.

    • Tim

      I broke the buckle 4-days ago biking…well falling (but that’s another story). I submitted a customer service request and was emailed back in a day or two with an RMA and told to send it in for replacement.

      My experience thus far has been excellent.


  189. Is there a seconds hand or a stopwatch on the Garmin vivosmart hr? I want to be able to use this for work, and use it for taking vitals when assessing a patient. I am looking for a smartwatch that will not only track my steps and calories, but will give me text notifications on my wrist and will show a second hand. Is this a good smartwatch for the job?

    • VeloManR

      For your purposes it’s great for everything except the stopwatch / timer function. Nothing displays seconds. It’s very good for getting notifications, tracking activity and heart rate but has only minute-level time displays.

      (I’ve also noticed that it’s a bit “stingy” about stairs climbed. E.g., when I carry my bike up two flights I usually get no credit for it. Probably something about how I have the hand where I wear the tracker holding the bike’s handlebar…)

    • Pieter Willems

      Effectively there is a stopwatch function. Simply select an activity (e.g. running, cardio etc) and press start. Then you can swipe to the time view, which shows seconds. You can perfectly start/stop/continue the stopwatch by pressing the button. During this stopwatch view, messages still come through.

  190. Ben

    amazing review, thanks!!

  191. Ben

    I bought the vivosmart hr, believing it would do: live data on running pace and hr. I found out, just as you wrote, it doesn’t; not even if I carry my iphone while running :( any suggestion on a good value solution? I don’t need anything fancy, but feel kinda lost in product variety.. thanx! really great review btw! Ben

  192. Gary

    I started out four weeks ago with a Fitbit Alta. No thank you. Tap, tap, thump, thump, to hit it hard to come on was not for me, or my wife. The size was wonderful. Like a bracelet. But things were not accurate. So this gift was sent back and I started my trek. Next I purchase a Garmin vivosmart hr. Loved it. Can’t say much wrong. Then I purchased a Samsung Gear Fit2. Still have it. Love it as well. Has colored displays and just is so neat but It is 35 bucks more and is not as accurate as the Garmin. My phone has GPS, fitness app and is accurate. I can play music via Bluetooth and all functions that any tracker can do. I’m good with what I have. Samsung Galaxy 5. Many upgrades and changes will come as this HUGE market grows. Infancy stages now. If you have a pocket model, keep it. Wait another year or less and hang on. Prices will drop and good things will happen.

  193. Susan Peterson

    My daughter bought me the VSHR for my birthday. She thought I should have the alert when I sit too long. I have had it a few days. It has never alerted. ThenI ran the battery all the way down. It has been charging an hour. It does not have anything to indicate it is charging or tell you how charged it is. When I press the button it briefly says,”Garmin,” and then goes to a blank silver screen. How do I tell when I can take it off the charger and wear it again? How do I get the imobile too long alert to work?

    • VeloManR

      For me (with a non-discharged battery) if you power the unit off then connect it to the charger, it powers back on. That may not happen if the battery is too depleted, I don’t know. But while charging and powered on, there are two places you can see the progress of the recharge: 1) The clock display will show a four-bar battery symbol in the upper left (I use horizontal mode, it might be different in vertical mode). If you press the button and swipe left twice and press the info icon (letter ‘i’ inside a circle) there is another charge monitor.

  194. kelly

    Hey Ray Maker, thank you for the description and explanation of how the vivosmart hr works. Could you tell me how to see your current min/mile pace on the device as you are running? I am training for a marathon and cannot quite figure out that bit yet. Thank you!

  195. Dan

    Question: after downloading run data and viewing the run in the vivo active phone app, what is the number mean next to the temp that’s on the map?

  196. Barbara Goodman

    I bought the vivosmart HR specifically so I could track my heart rate and exercise minutes when I swim laps, but my last swim was totally lost — not on my HR record and not part of my exercise record. I also had only 20 minutes of a 40-minute walk recorded. Is this standard? Is there something I can do? THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    • Unfortunately optical HR isn’t really designed well/yet for swimming – so most devices tend to turn it off during swimming. Sorry!

  197. James

    HI, I actually bought the Vivosmart HR only to stop using hart rate strap to transmit HR to my Edge 510 when cycling. One problem that i have found is that using the “broadcasting option” it suddenly shuts off without any notice, i do not have bluetooth on neither on my smartphone nor on the Vivosmart HR. It just stops sending hart rate to ma Edge 510 usually when completing one hour of exercise so if i am doing 3 hours i do not have data for 2 of them… Can someone please help me on this?

  198. Candace

    I recently purchased the Vivosmart HR (before finding your review) and am extremely disappointed after 3 weeks. This after my FitBit HR bit the dust with the little button on the side falling off after 13 months and FitBit not doing anything about it. My Vivosmart HR just touchscreen is very unresponsive. When it does respond (like when I’m in the heart rate page) it just goes tot he 4 hour screen and not back to the other screens. Sometimes it will flip for no reason and I’ll find music playing on my telephone in another room. This morning went for a treadmill run and could not get it into Run mode at all. I have a ticket into Garmin for support but am really thinking about upgrading to Apple Watch since they are on sale this week.

  199. SL

    Has Garmin made any improvements to the resting HR sampling and/or accuracy with software updates since this device launched?

  200. Stuart B.

    The one major annoyance with all these style Garmin trackers is you can’t set the weather to Celsius independent of any other settings. Which you can do on other devices. I have a Vivoactive HR and my wife has the Vivosmart HR. I can set it to Celsius, yet she can’t. I also have the approach x40 golf watch which you can’t set that separately either. If you set the units to metric, then you can…but who measure golf in metres and not yards?!

    Come on Garmin, sort this out

  201. Jonathan

    I have a vivosmart ( not the HR) and this is now the second one I about to have to return because the battery stops working after charging it using an iPhone block . Is this because there is too much charge coming through compared to charging it on a computer? Very frustrating. Any fix you think?

  202. John Kenny

    Can we answer or reject incoming calls using this device?

  203. Chris

    My wife uses her vivosmart HR mainly for recording steps. She walks quite a lot pushing a baby stroller but finds the device seriously under records her steps compared to when she walks the same distance but with her arms by her side and swinging her arms in a relaxed way.

    Is this a known problem? Is there any fix available?

    Thanks Ray for the sterling work you are doing.

  204. Rebecca

    Hello, I’ve been reading a few of your reviews, and I have found them very helpful– so thank you. My question is about the heart rate zones with the Vivosmart HR. I just got this device a couple of days ago, and I’m still trying to figure things out. I was able to edit the HR zones based on the HRR. However, after a workout, I have not been able to see a chart/graph/table that shows how much time or percentage I was each of the zones during my workout. Do you know if this is possible with this device? It doesn’t make sense to me that you can set the zones but then there is no report on this following a workout. Perhaps I’m missing something? Thank you!

  205. Janic

    I really enjoyed the Garmin Vivofit HR but i had a problem with my skin.
    It burns where the green light touches my skin.
    I have asked a refund and now im searching for another watch.

  206. Steph

    I’m trying to set up the run screens, but my device won’t show me more than one stat per screen. I tried to set distance and time on the smart screen, but I have to flip between them. Any ideas? Thanks!

  207. Pete

    I love the unit I have one , but the strap is my only complaint , i will wear this for days , then all after a few days the unit hurts my wrist , i take it of and i find the strap had given me a rash of epic proportions that is similar to a burn , and i cant wear it for days after till my wrist heals

    • Michael Neal

      The band irritates me at times so I have taken to loosening it up 2 or 3 notches and sliding it farther up my arm. I usually move it twice a day and now have no issues.

  208. Davis M.

    What material is the screen? I broke on screen and Garmin replaced it for free, but now I’ve broken my second screen in 5 months of ownership. The product is cool, but it seems a little to weak.

    Both times the screen has broken, I was outside during very hot days (first time it was 120 in the Mohave Desert, and the second it was 108 outside), and both times i noticed the screen had cracks was after apply spray on sun screen. It’s interested because in both instances the screen didn’t have one crack, but a few small cracks on the entire face of the watch.

  209. DWPeterson

    I received the Vivosmart HR for Christmas and really had no problems whatsoever until June. One day, after sitting int he sun (reading a book) for 2 – 3 hours, I noticed the screen seemed to have several small cracks or chips in it. Of course, Garmin assumes I smashed the screen somehow, so it cannot be replaced under warranty. Over the summer, I have been in the sun many more times and the screen is much worse. I know I have NEVER smashed the screen or dropped the watch or abused it in any way. I can only assume that it cannot withstand high temperatures that are generated by the sun shining on the dark watch face.

  210. Jay

    Curious, is it possible with the HR to connect to gps through your phone, like the Fitbit Blaze, no onboard gps but it uses your phone to track distance and route etc?

  211. Matt Haigh

    Vivosmart newbie here, first day!

    Do other users keep the Garmin Connect App running 24×7 on their phones or just open it to sync with the Vivosmart periodically?

    • DWPeterson

      I just open the app to synch. And I do not use the phone notifications at all.

  212. I like the fact that it is water resistant for around 50 meters (5 atm) which is perfect for swimmers. With automatic sleep tracking and smart notifications for calls, emails, sms, social apps, etc. I can say it’s a good deal. Plus it has do not disturb mode, silent vibrating alarm, find your phone function to track your phone. The only negative aspect is that it does not have a GPS sensor. However I track my cycling using ‘Strava’ app on my phone.

  213. exxxviii

    This review dings the vivosmart HR for its long, variable HR sampling rate that limits usefulness of the HR data, particular RHR. However, in your hands-on review of the vivosmart HR+, you mention firmware improvements that helped resolution and RHR for this and the HR+. I am curious if you have seen sufficient improvement in vivosmart HR’s sampling rate since your original review in January. (I read through Garmin’s release notes, and they are sufficiently high enough level that they do not say anything.)

  214. Alison

    Hello everyone,

    I use the VSHR to monitor calories, activities & HR whilst indoor rowing mainly. Realising that data is not 100% accurate but more for guidance. Data is also linked to MFP.
    My concern is whether my arm movements when rowing are understood by the VSHR as constituting “steps” because if that is the case, as MFP credits number of steps with extra calories burned I suddenly wondered whether my “active” calories in fact included calories burned during say 30mn of indoor rowing AND the calories earned by apparent steps and credited by MFP. If so, I am misled by the number of cslories actually burned.
    I wear the VSHR when rowing because I cannot connect my rower’s data directly to the VSHR and thus to my Garmin connect account.
    Any thoughts gratefully received.

    • Alison, I wonder if this explanation helps you: the Vivosmart hr uses a generic heart rate calculation method to determine the calories you burn.
      For the software to compute your calories it needs your weight, gender and activity class and of course your heart rate.

      With regards to the arm movement during rowing being counted as steps, I am not sure, but I would doubt that. I would guess a way to find out is to compare step count before and after rowing. Or to track the activity for 30 mins and see what data come up.

      When you say MFP, I guess you mean MyFitnessPal? If that is the case, then food/calories you input there will be computed in your Garmin Connect app while syncing is going on. You find the result of the computed calories in your Connect app as a calorie balance (active vs rest calories).

      Hope that helps you.

    • Alison

      Thanks Katherine, I must confess not being entirely “au fait” with My FP. Calories burnt never completely add up on both MFP and the Garmin connect App. Most recent discrepancy is between the Garmin app and the Vivosmart HR – up to 200 calorie difference (!). Also I did a test on a bike ride – vivosmart HR showed 533 cals. burnt and Edge 25 showed 427 cal. burnt, both devices recorded quasi-identical heart rates. Algorithm must be different. Good thing I use them for guidance generally rather than for hard-core fitness training.

  215. Andy P

    One of the things I don’t like about my vivosmart is that it notifies you if you go too far from your phone. It’s made me turn notifications off entirely, since they are all-or-none.

    Is the VSHR.. smarter? Either no bluetooth range notification, or one that can be defeated?

    • Randy Schulz

      I have not seen it do that. I have seen the display pages that are tied to a phone connection sometimes show “No App Connection Available” (or words to that effect). So as far as I can tell, it does not produce any kind of notification in that event.

  216. Mackenzie

    Does it show time and date?

    • Randy Schulz

      It shows the time (24-hour format available, yay!), the day of the week and the day of the month. It doesn’t show the year, which seems like no loss at all.

  217. Paul Butler

    My watch band has broken, does anyone know where I can get a replacement? The guys at Garmin don’t sell them.

    • Tim

      Paul – I broke my band buckle and emailed Customer Support. They had me send pictures to determine if it was something they could send me. It was not so they had me send it in for repair. It was sent back promptly and has held up since. I had a good experience with Customer Support.

  218. Michael Neal

    So my band broke and a couple days later the rectangular end of strap retainer broke also, they seem almost to have rotted, odd. Support said I would have to send the entire unit in and then a couple days later they said they would send a replacement band. I got an order notification for a black band (mine is blue and that was included in the support claim). The black band is on backorder until early November, not really impressed so far with Garmin support…

    • Note that you can ask Garmin to do what’s called a “cross-ship”, which means you give them a credit card, and they’ll send you a unit that day. You then send back your unit, and as long as they receive your unit in a preset time (it was roughly 30-45 days), then you don’t get charged for the new unit.