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Hands-on with Garmin’s new Vivosmart HR+ (now with GPS)

Garmin-Vivosmart GPSRunning

They grow up so fast.  Less than two years ago the original Vivosmart was a slightly awkward and kinda scrawny activity band.  It’s dim display hardly living up to its fitness features.  Then just this past fall came the Vivosmart HR.  It included an optical HR sensor, along with a fairly sharp display and much greater smartphone integration.

But today – boom!  It’s now got GPS!

Yup, the just announced today Vivosmart HR+ takes nearly an identical form factor to the Vivosmart HR and adds in GPS, along with some new modes and run-specific workout options.  Basically, it got smarter (get it, Vivosmart got Smarter?  No? Ok, nevermind…).

Let’s move right along to all the details.

What’s New Overview:

Garmin-VivosmartHR LocationGPS

When I first saw the specs on the Vivosmart HR+, I figured it was just a Vivosmart HR with GPS.  Sure, that’s cool and all.  But turns out, the little + symbol is actually a bit more meaningful than I expected.  Here’s the run-down on how the Vivosmart HR+ is different from the Vivosmart HR.

– Added in GPS capabilities
– Added in running workout modes
– Added basic run/walk mode and Virtual Pacer modes
– Same sized display screen, but slightly changed outer plastic screen buffer piece (small plastic piece)
– Now also in purple (like Barney), and blue (like a blueberry)
– 1g heavier
– Added Move IQ (automatic sport recognition)
– Specifies 5 days w/o GPS, up to 8 hours with GPS-on usage

And of course, it has all these core Vivosmart HR features from before:

– Garmin’s ELEVATE optical HR sensor for workouts & 24×7 monitoring
– Daily Activity Tracker, with inactivity alerts & Intensity Minutes
– Sleep Tracking
– Stair/Floor counting (barometric altimeter!)
– Smartphone notifications (not just text/call/calendar), Weather Display
– Cardio & Other Activity Modes
– Control of music on your phone
– Garmin VIRB Action Cam control
– ANT+ HR rebroadcasting to other Garmin deices
– Touchscreen that’s waterproof to 50m

And, in order to answer the most common question I get on this device:

– No, it still doesn’t support an external HR strap (or any other external sensors)

And no, it’s not logical either.  I never quite understood why cheaper devices (i.e. FR20/25) would work with a HR strap, but a more expensive device wouldn’t allow you to pair to a HR strap for more accurate data if you want it.  Mind you, an accessory strap that allows you to put more money in Garmin’s pocket.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not a marketing person.

From a size standpoint, the unit retains the same size as before.  Here’s my Vivosmart HR on the left (albeit it ran out of battery), and on the right, the Vivosmart HR+.  The only difference is the buffer area of the plastic around the display has been reduced.  Along with the texture of the band.  The actual display is identical.


Thickness is identical as well:

Garmin-VivosmartHR-HR SizeThickness

Finally, before we dive deeper into the new features of the unit, a quick notable…

All of these features are/were on the device as of my last testing on a beta device.  Because it’s beta, there exists the possibility that something may not show up in the final production device.  While probably unlikely in this case given how close my last play date with the unit was to upcoming shipping, it is something to keep in mind.  If/when I complete a full in-depth review, I’d cover the final production device.  Given the current pace of new Garmin products, I’ll gauge reader interest and balance that along with Garmin’s and other competitor’s recent releases.

GPS, Running, and Cardio Modes:

In order to keep this post short and sweet, I’m not going to re-hash all of the existing Vivosmart HR functionality.  After all, my existing in-depth review is only 4 months old and available right now.  So things like the optical HR sensor (it’s the same, albeit with new firmware updates), along with the smartphone functionality, and display – they haven’t changed.

Garmin-VivosmartHR OpticalHRSensorELEVATESAME

In fact, even from a weight standpoint, they were barely different.  A mere 1g separates the Vivosmart HR from the Vivosmart HR+:

VivosmartHR-Weight VivosmartHR Weights

The core of what has changed (new) is centered on the GPS pieces, which extends the unit beyond just basic GPS tracking.  I’ll give Garmin credit here – they could have simply just swapped accelerometer pace/distance for GPS provided pace/distance and called it done.  But in reality, they gave it some basic features found on their FR20/25 running watches.  Essentially, they provided feature parity in most cases.  Which I suppose is logical given those are cheaper watches.

First up you’ll dive into the sports mode like previous by pressing the little exercise person icon:

Garmin-Vivosmart StartRun

Now this is where you’ll see the other two modes, Cardio and Other.  Plus the running mode:

Garmin-VivosmartHR CardioMode

Regarding the newish ‘Cardio’ and ‘Other’ modes, these are basically modes designed for gym usage.  These were added in a firmware update to the existing Vivosmart HR a few months back.  So I suppose it’s kinda new.  The idea being that instead of having to have an indoor run, you can just use this mode to capture HR during normal indoor gym use.

Once I tap run, it’ll start looking for GPS immediately.  This is because the location default is set to ‘Outdoor’.

Garmin-VivosmartHR WaitForGPS

You can see it start to find GPS signal at the top.  I found that like other recent GPS watches, it found GPS within a few seconds:

Garmin-VivosmartHR FoundGPS

In the middle of the screen it says “Basic Run”.  This is the current running mode.  In this case, it just means a simple GPS tracked run for pace/distance.  No additional guidance/training options.

If you look at the bottom you’ll see three dots.  This is where you can go ahead and change some of the running mode options:

GarminVivosmart Options

Once I tap that I’ll see another menu.  First it’ll show me my running mode (Basic), but below that is where I can setup HR alerts.  First though, the running mode options are:

– Basic Run: This just simply records GPS time/distance/pace, simple and straightforward
– Run/Walk Option: This will allow you to follow a common alternating run/walk program, enabling you to configure both the duration for running and duration for walking.
– Virtual Pacer: This allows you to configure a specific pace that the watch will try and keep you informed if you go above/below that pace.  You’ll specify a goal time along with the distance for your run, and it’ll figure out the pace.
– Time, Distance, and Calorie based Alerts: This alerts you when you reach a given threshold for any of these metrics

Garmin-VivosmartHR RunningModes

Next, on HR alerts, I can define a specific HR zone that I want to be kept within, which translates to a HR range:

Garmin-VivosmatHR HR-Zones

Then I’ve got some lap options for auto lap, which can be based on distance and appears to be configured via the app (I didn’t have the app paired in this case).  I also have the ability to enable/disable Auto Pause, which is useful if you’re running in a city with many stop/go lights/signs and are often pausing.

Garmin-VivosmartHR AutoLap

Finally, I can set my location from Outdoor to Indoor, thus disabling the GPS for an indoor run.

Garmin-VivosmartHR IndoorOutdoorSelection

Going back to the main running screens, the GPS is ready to roll.  So we can simply tap the button to begin:

Garmin-VivosmartHR FoundGPS

There are numerous pages you can swipe through, covering distance, time, HR, HR zone, calories, and pace.  Like the Vivosmart HR, these can be configured via the Garmin Connect mobile app.

Garmin-VivosmartHR HeartRateZones

You get multiple pages, and customizable metrics per page.  Here’s a little GIF of me swiping through some pages:

GarminVivosmartHR Animated

Finally on the run, once you’re done with your run you’ll tap the button to save it, and then it’ll show you a simple summary screen of your activity.  Also, they pull out the awesome floppy disk icon.  For those not familiar with said icon – I’m sorry you missed out on the 90’s, AOL, and CompuServe.

Garmin-VivosmartHR FloppyAwesomeness

Like before, you can still enable HR broadcasting over ANT+ to other devices that can view ANT+ HR data (such as a Garmin Edge cycling device):

VivosmartHR BroadcastingMode

Finally, a brief note that it includes Move IQ.  That’s Garmin’s automatic sport recognition algorithm that works behind the scenes on on the device to automatically display certain activity types that you did without pressing the start button. You cannot view these activities on the device itself, but rather only later via Garmin Connect.

This includes walking, running, cycling, and swimming.  Note that these are NOT GPS based activities, and with the exception of walking, you don’t get any distance metrics.  Rather, you just get time and an icon.  Here’s an example of what the cycling one looks like on my Garmin Connect Mobile calendar:


These activities use the accelerometer, and again, do NOT turn on GPS.  So think of them as a catch-all for quick rides around town on a bike or just a medium-long walk.  I wouldn’t use them as a replacement to record a run, since it’s not going to be as precise timing wise, nor as accurate as GPS.

Market Comparison:

It’s kinda tricky using my existing comparison tables for the Vivosmart HR+.  That’s because there’s basically two categories devices can ‘compete’ in (sorta like Age Groupers and Pros): GPS devices, and Activity Trackers.  While there’s a line item for activity trackers to have GPS within them, that’s about it.  On the flip side, if you compare it to a GPS device, it’s not really going to have all the same functionality.  Thus it straddles the line in an awkward way.  One of these days I’ll figure out how to deal with that.

So, here’s some written thoughts on comparisons with small GPS-banded activity trackers.  All of these have optical HR sensors, and all of them have some form of GPS ‘connectivity’. Mostly.

Microsoft Band 2: The most obvious comparison is the Microsoft Band (specifically Band 2).  The price for that unit has slid quite a bit in recent months, and is now sub-$200.  In most ways the Microsoft Band 2 is a more technically capable unit than the Vivosmart HR+.  It’s got a clearer display and more functionality such as deeper workout integration and more sensor data.  However, the single biggest stumbling point for me with the Band 2 compared to the Vivosmart HR+ is really just how big and bulky the Band 2 is.  Which in turn leads to it being fairly uncomfortable (and heavy).

Fitbit Blaze: Coming in at $199USD, the Fitbit Blaze is also a natural competitor.  However, it doesn’t technically have GPS.  Instead, Fitbit skirts around that with what they call ‘Connected GPS’, which basically means if you have your phone with you then it’ll use your phone GPS signal instead.  While that’s clever, it requires you run with your phone if you want GPS accuracy (it’ll otherwise use an accelerometer).  On the flip side, the Fitbit Blaze has a prettier screen than the Vivosmart HR+, and has interchangeable bands (quite a lot of them).  Also, unlike Garmin, Fitbit allows you to mix and match activity trackers during the day and still get one cohesive step-count.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: This is a bit more pricey at $249, the Vivoactive HR is far more capable than the Vivosmart HR+.  But it’s also bulkier.  It’s a full-on watch, but it does have multiple sport modes (i.e. swimming, cycling, running, even skiing/snowboarding and golf), whereas the Vivosmart HR+ is mostly focused on running and gym.  So if you aren’t worried about it being a bit bigger, in many ways the Vivoactive HR is far more capable for only $30 more.  Of course, as everyone says: Size matters.

Finally, for lack of anywhere else to put it, here’s how it compares to the existing Vivosmart HR, as well as the Fitbit Blaze using the product comparison tool:

Function/FeatureGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated February 4th, 2018 @ 10:16 pm New Window
Body PlacementWristWristWrist
Data Transfer TypeBluetooth Smart, USBBluetooth Smart, USBBluetooth Smart
Bluetooth to PhoneYesYesYes
Has GPS built-inYesNoNo (can use phone's GPS though)
Waterproofing50m50mSplash/Rain only
Battery LifeUp to 5 daysUp to 5 days5 Days
Battery TypeUSB RechargeableUSB RechargeableUSB Rechargeable
Changeable Bands/StrapsNoNoYes
Phone Music ControlYesYesyes
WatchGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Displays timeYesYesYes
Has time alarmsYesYesYes
Has smart sleep alarmsNoNoNo
NotificationsGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Smartphone NotificationsYesYesText/Phone only
WorkoutsGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Workout guidance/coachingYesNoYes
DataGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Step CounterYesYesYes
Stairs ClimbedYEsYesYEs
Distance WalkedYEsYEsYEs
Calories BurnedYEsYesYes
Sleep MetricsYesYEsYes
24x7 HR MetricsYesYesYEs
SensorsGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Skin TemperatureNoNoNo
Heart RateYes (Internal)Yes (Internal)Yes (Internal)
Optical Heart RateYEsYesYes
Can re-broadcast Heart Rate dataYesYesNo
Skin PerspirationNoNoNo
Cycling SensorsNoNoNo
Action Camera ControlYesYesNo
SoftwareGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Web ApplicationYesYesYes
PC ApplicationYesYesYes
Mac ApplicationYesYEsYes
Phone AppsiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to export/sync settings from computer/phoneYesYesYes
PlatformGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
3rd parties can access data via APIYesYesYes
Ability to export your data out of platformYesYesYes
PurchaseGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
DCRainmakerGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivosmart HRFitbit Blaze
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Remember that you can mix and match your own product comparison tables within the product comparison tool!  I’ve added the Vivosmart HR+ to both the watches section and the activity trackers section.  Making it slightly easier to compare against units on both sides of the fence.

Wrap Up:

Garmin-Vivosmart-HR WaitGPS

It’d be easy to say that the Vivosmart HR+ is a Fitbit Blaze killer. From a pure technical/feature standpoint, that’s undoubtedly true.  It kinda slaughters it.  But the wearables market is quirky.  What the Fitbit Blaze lacks in functionality, it makes up for in style and prettiness. Specifically its pretty screen.  A screen that while less functional than the Vivosmart HR+, certainly looks cooler, crisper, and more vibrant.  Basically, sex sells.  Or sexy at least in this case.

Now the existing Vivosmart HR has gained numerous firmware updates to the Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor since release.  That’s extended the battery life, while also increased the resolution of the device.  Further, there’s been some accuracy enhancements too.  That’s something we’ve seen across the board on the ELEVATE HR sensor as it multiplies into more and more and more and more and more Garmin devices.  However, what remains to be seen is if any tradeoffs had to occur to squish that GPS chipset in the Vivosmart HR from a battery standpoint.  Meaning: Will the optical HR function exactly the same as the original Vivosmart HR as claimed?  Or, have they trimmed sampling frequency to provide juice for the GPS side of the house.

Then of course, this being quite possibly the smallest consumer GPS wearable ever (from a major retailer anyway), are there any tradeoffs in accuracy that we need to find out about? Having seen it on a run a bit ago, the GPS accuracy did line up with other GPS devices – but the course was relatively straightforward and without much challenging terrain/obstacles.  So that’s an area I’m very keen to test more.

With that – thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!

FYI: You can now pre-order the Vivosmart HR+ from Clever Training or Amazon.  In doing so you help support the site here.  It’s expected that the Vivosmart HR+ will start shipping in 2-4 weeks.  Also note that Clever Training now only charges your card upon shipping, not pre-order.  Thanks for the support!

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  1. Magic M

    I think they should hire you as a brand consultant- I think “Vivosmarter HR” would have been a great name and sales numbers would’ve been rocketing to the far end of the universe (which is still expanding).


  2. Stuart Brown

    Hi Ray,

    As an occasional golfer (I’m a decent player, but vary rarely have a chance to play), I find the golf function of the Vivoactive to be annoyingly limited (it’ll tell you how far the green is away and track your score, but that’s it). I guess it must make financial sense enough to Garmin to limit the crossover between the Fitness and Golf segments, but seeing the Approach X40 (which is Vivosmart HR+?) has fitness tracking, notifications, 24/7 HR, etc, does it feature re-broadcasting? I can’t find it mentioned if it does.

    Basically, I cycle (Edge 1000) and have a vivoactive for my day to day fitness/sleep tracking. The Approach X40 golf functions look great for me, and if it had enough fitness/sleep stuff (rebroadcasting is the killer bit for me) then I’d replace my vivoactive with it. I do some walking/hiking, but that’s it other than cycling.

    I appreciate you don’t test golf devices, but with the X40 being a sort of crossover I’m more confused than ever. I like the size of the Vivoactive but hear the Vivoactive HR is much bigger and I don’t really fancy buying that and an X40 when it seems like a huge amount of overlap….

    • Stuart Brown

      Sorry, to sum up, I have a feeling the Vivosmart HR+ is the ideal device for me, but if I get that and an X40 I’ve essentially bought two identical devices?!

    • How about I propose the following: You take me on a golf trip to somewhere…perhaps Hawaii. From there I’ll do a review of the X40. Deal? ;)

      I may take a look at the X40 and perhaps summarize how it might appear to fitness folks and go from there. I’ve heard interest from other people recently as well on confusion as to how well it would really work from a fitness standpoint (if at all).

    • Stuart Brown

      Hi Ray,

      Much as I’d love to go golfing in Hawaii (with or without you ;)) sadly my budget and time constraints only currently allow me about 50 balls at the driving range!

      If the X40 is exactly the same as an Vivosmart HR+ but with the additional golf capabilities then it is really appealing. If not, I wonder if Garmin would ever consider making a chargeable upgrade/addition to extend the golf abilities of the Vivoactive HR or Vivosmart HR+ to those approaching the X40 (unintentional pun) – I’d pay £40/50 or so for that.

      An X40 summary would be really great – really the only additional function I’m looking for is HR broadcasting

    • chad williamson


    • jesper n

      Can’t give you Hawaii, but what about Copenhagen???
      If you bring the devices, I’ll pick you up in the airport and take you golfing, lunch and/or after round burger included.
      For one, I’m really curious to know, if the golf app in VA HR is so half ass, that even the X40 is better…. Almost looks like it, from the few youtube I can find on it.
      Makes me wonder if there is an “X60” or Approach S8 in the pipe, a golf specific watch based on the Vivoactive HR….

    • Stuart B.

      And if there is, the unit probably won’t have the same basic features as the VA HR.

      The VA golf app is functional, but so basic it’s frustrating when you know that it could do so much more.

      All the Garmin Approach devices are Forerunners, Edge (and now Vivo-) devices underneath (they certainly look like it). Maybe they have more memory for courses?

      It can’t be beyond possibility to make either a Vivo have an upgrade to premium golf features

    • Gtowers27

      I have the same exact dilema about both the vivosmart HR+ and the approach X40, do you know if the Approach x40 has the same feature of Move IQ? thats the only difference it could have in disadvantage of the vivosmart HR+

  3. Jesper N

    Hi Ray,

    I have the original Vivosmart HR, and one thing that annoys the heck out me, is the the “horisontal” display mode is not fully implemented. Things like the HR graph, 4 day weather and (most annoying) the notifications is still vertical. Looks like they addressed this here. Any intel on weather this will find it’s way to the non+ VS??? I assume they share most of the software, so I hope it will.

    Also, would you care to do a size compare between the this and the VivoActive HR?? Have no been able to find this anywhere.
    Oh, and talking about VA HR. You have a typo in the chart. It’s listed as 149 instead of 249.

    • I’ll ask on whether or not they’ll port.

      Also – in the chart, I had the Vivosmart HR, not the Vivoactive, so that one is $149, versus $249 for the Vivoactive HR. Yes, it’s confusing. I think Garmin is getting to the point where consumer confusion is going to be a challenge (as with retailer/retail sales confusion). I’ve something I recently heard echoed during discussions with a big box exec, talking about the significant challenges of getting retail sales folks up to speed on the nuances devices.

    • Julien

      I was nearly disapointed to have gotten the Vivoactive HR – as this has smaller size.
      But then I saw not external HR. Segmentation does work, but you need to watch out for all those details.
      I agree this is getting too complicated !

    • jesper n

      Ah sorry. Not fully awake. Or I got tricket by you comparing it to the VA HR in the text. It’s it almost so “grown up”, that it deserves to be compared to the VA HR, more than the VS HR. Or at least also?

    • Yeah, within the full comparison tool you can compare it in the watches section to the VAHR. I didn’t include it both ways in the post merely because the big comparison tables are so long that it would have probably doubled the length of the post. ;)

  4. Aleksandr

    What about cadence?

  5. Mike

    Is it not better to buy a vivoactive HR for the same price?
    And DCR what do you think of the sensor for crossfit? Whats better a Polar a360, a vivoactive hr or maybe a fitbit charge hr?

    I even made a comparison table on reddit :)

    link to reddit.com

    • The Vivoactive HR is $30 more expensive. I talk about it a little bit in the market comparison section:

      “Garmin Vivoactive HR: This is a bit more pricey at $249, the Vivoactive HR is far more capable than the Vivosmart HR+. But it’s also bulkier. It’s a full-on watch, but it does have multiple sport modes (i.e. swimming, cycling, running, even skiing/snowboarding and golf), whereas the Vivosmart HR+ is mostly focused on running and gym. So if you aren’t worried about being a bit bigger, in many ways the Vivoactive HR is far more capable for only $30 more. Of course, as everyone size: Size maters.”


    • Mike Richie

      Actually, from CT it is about the same price as the Vivoactive HR, as the Vivoactive HR is elegible for the VIP discount and the Vivosmart HR+ is not (although the price of the VIP is now $20, so there is that). Also the Vivoactive HR, besides having all the other activity modes, supports Ant+ sensors and Connect IQ. I suppose this makes sense if you just want a slightly smaller watch, but the pricing seems too high to me, given the Vivoavtive HR.

  6. Dan T

    “No, it still doesn’t support an external HR strap”

    Gosh… WHY????? I was so excited until I saw this… GPS is nice but HR accuracy is more important to me(why can’t you just let us connect to external HR!!!!)

  7. David (frostbyteva)

    My question is really about the VIOVactive HR but I’m assuming that it’s the same here. Went out on a 3 hour bike ride record with my Edge 520 but wore the VIVOactive because they say to wear it all the time and the day that I got it, it didn’t grab my HR data from Garmin’s app. BUT, now I am getting double credit for Intensity Minutes. Any suggestions? I could just take the watch off on rides but part of the reason why I waited for a watch is that I wanted ANT broadcasting for my commutes, so on little rides, I wouldn’t need a heart rate strap.

    • Unfortunately there’s little you can do there if you wear both, since Garmin doesn’t deconflict data yet.

      And in this case, I assume you were using the VAHR to get HR data to the Edge 520. If not, you could just avoid wearing it, but then you wouldn’t get exercise credit on it.

  8. Andy

    This is actually just the sort of thing I’ve been waiting for. I’m not interested in more advanced or esoteric features. I rolled my eyes the other week when I read that the 735XT touted Suffer Score integration as one of its new additions. But I appreciate form factor immensely, so my ideal is a watch that has basic GPS functionality (and perhaps certain convenience features like syncing by wifi) and is as small as possible.

  9. Kevin D.

    Picked up a couple of typos Ray:
    Of course, as everyone size: Size maters.

    :says and “matters”

  10. Fredric Luthman

    DC: I gather from your hands-on preview that there is no way to get GPS-tracked “walk” activity with the Vivosmart HR+? You would have to change the activity in Garmin Connect afterwards?

    • Correct, changing afterwards.

    • Kari

      I’d love to know this too. But I also want to know if you CAN change an activity in Connect after the fact. The Move IQ thought a post-run walk I did was actually a run (due to heart rate, I assume), it thought a walk with a stroller was cycling, and it considered a walk where I wore a baby carrier to be “elliptical.” If there’s a straightforward way to record a walk in GPS mode or a way to change an activity category when Move IQ gets it wrong, I’d love to hear it!

    • Kari

      How do you change it afterwards?

  11. Leon

    I noticed on the preorder on Clever Training its expect in the states in June but do you know ETA for UK/Europe? I’ve had a Google but can’t seem to see anything.


    • jesper n

      Garmins www (for Denmark) says Q2. Same for UK. Probably as close as we will get it for now. Assume they need to see demand in the US first.

  12. Sebastiaan

    The only thing that kept me from buying a Vivosmart HR was the “weird” HR measurement rate, as you mentioned many times in your previous posts. Do you know if this has improved since the device was first released?

    • Fran

      +1. This is my main concern, and the main reason the Vivosmart HR I bought for my wife gathers dust in the shelf right now :(

  13. Aaron

    Unrelated question, sorry. Is Garmin upgrading the Forerunner 25 soon? All these new product announcements are making me hope. Anyone know?

  14. conger

    As a frustrated VivosmartHR owner, this is the version I would have chosen if it was available earlier. However, Garmin have so much work to do to complete the VSHR IMHO that I wouldn’t contemplate another similar device from Garmin unit many significant improvements are made – stairs climbing accuracy, average HR, HR logging that can be accessed in a meaningful way, no timers, no chest strap support, unable to use multiple Garmin devices on Garmin Connect, constant No Internet messages and the VHSR fails to Sync, etc. Since owning the VSHR for 3 months there has only been 1 firmware update and that just made things worse. As good as the VSHR is, it fails overall by being so frustrating every single day of ownership. Garmin seem to be too busy on new products to remember to complete the existing ones.

    Really looking forward to this market maturing to the point where product will be released when fully debugged, thought out as a coherent system within the family devices and functions as advertised day after day.

    Still a long way off still I believe.

    • Dan T

      Felt the same frustration.
      The compact design and well-rounded functions are really appealing. But feel like it’s an unfinished product with too many issues when wearing it. Now it’s laying on my desk collecting dust for 2 months.

  15. Dan T

    Vivosmart HR has a very “not smart” sleep tracking algorithm. A lot of time when I put it on charge at night, it thought I’m sleeping! That’s quite stupid. Just wondering if this happens to HR+ as well.

  16. Gama Flores

    Does the HR+ track distance AND ELEVATION via GPS?
    Would be nice to display elevation in feet throughtout a run

  17. Miquel

    Hi Ray!

    Do you know if Garmin plans to bring MoveIQ to the original Vivosmart HR? It’s only a few months old. I hope it comes in the next firmware update.
    Nice work as always ;)

  18. Jose I.

    The Motorola Moto Sport is $210 on Amazon, and appears to be as capable and more versatile than either the Vivosmart or the Vivoactive. These Garmins seem over priced.

  19. Lauren Dingman

    Saw that Garmin introduced a new product, dashed right over here to check it out! Going to have to read the review again when I have more time but this is looking like a good option for me to upgrad my original vivofit/Forerunner 10 combo. Im not that into running to need much more than this offers. Thanks for such awesome reviews, I love to read them because I enjoy the unbiased in depth information

  20. Jay B

    I used to have a Garmin 410XT. I hated wearing it. So I looped it on my fuel belt during my runs and could still easily check my distance. I don’t need to constantly “check” my status. The main reason I get outside is to enjoy the outdoors and sweat and listen to my body during the workout. Cycling, I definitely did more interval/heartrate monitoring but these days I rarely do any of that. Swimming is another one I don’t do but enjoy and currently not signing up for any more Triathlons.

    Even though it’s “mode” limited, cannot I simply change my workout type – say in Strava – to accommodate the workout type?

    Daily steps is so silly. Sleep monitoring is a bit dumb! :P The harder I work out the more and deeper I sleep.

    What I want is a small thin device that tracks my workout via GPS and includes a HRM. My sweaty chest strap looks so lame when I am shirtless.

    I was thinking of getting the Vivoactive HR but this looks fantastic. What is it – 1/2 the width of the Vivoactive? or 3/4? Plus want something that I can wear everyday as a watch.

    Oh and for the future, I plan to get a Fenix for LONG 50k-50miler some day and hiking / route tracking features. quiet the opposite of this device.

    Thanks for the preview DCR!

  21. Ben

    Now if only they’d put some time and effort into making Garmin Connect not suck so much! Fitbit and Garmin need to merge. Garmin is better at making devices. Fitbit has a better app and more involved/active user group.

  22. James

    Does the vivosmart hr+ have vibration alerts as an option for inactivity alerts. I know some only have the audible alerts and I would really prefer the silent vibration alerts.

  23. Jonathan Greene

    I’m eying this as a potential upgrade / consolidation plan for my Jawbone UP3 as I’m already tracking cycling and running with Garmin …

    Does sleep tracking work automatically or do you have to turn it on? That’s one of the nicer things about the jawbone … also curious how the wake alarm works. The chart says it’s a smart alarm, but I wasn’t sure if that was looking at sleep cycle or what.

    It would be nice to have my activity and workout data in one place and actually connected. Jawbone maintains all your data, but the other sources are all adjacent rather than calculated in the mix. I’ve had enough with steps as the sole measure …

    • All Garmin activity trackers wearables have automatic sleep tracking these days (in fact, even older ones that used to require pressing a button, no longer do).

      The smart alarm is the whole concept of waking you up at the right point in your sleep cycle to make it suck less.

    • Jonathan Greene

      awesome – thanks! sold.

  24. Eli Dylan Lorimer


  25. Bill Calrin

    Would the vivosmart HR+ qualify as a Fitbit Surge killer? The battery life of the Surge makes it useless for long hikes while in GPS mode. It becomes a charging burden along with the iPhone, PLB, and GoalZero battery when backpacking. Any stats on the Vivosmart HR+ battery life with HR & GPS active?

  26. Gavin

    Hi Ray,

    Given the number of different devices with similar / overlapping feature sets have you thought about changing the way your comparison tool works. I know you are already have the drop downs but perhaps the way to go is to add more of a filter based approach.

    Build in HR
    Release year
    Last software update


    • Indeed. I’ve looked at allowing folks to filter instead by core features. Probably not filter by every feature, since I think that gets unwieldy, but the core ones like you describe. Definitely on my short list.

  27. Ryan R


    The comparison table has it listed as smart recording intervals. The current Vivosmart HR does one second intervals for HR. So would the HR+ drop to smart intervals for both HR and GPS or just GPS?

    • It’s been a while since I’ve used the Vivosmart HR in a workout, but looking at my past recordings,none of them had 1-second data – only Smart Recording data. Do you have an example activity with 1-second data?

    • Ryan R

      I guess I was wrong, it appears to be only every second for the first minute(ish). However the sample rate is about 3 to 5 times what my Forerunner 220 provides, when I compare them. Guess I should pay more attention to the data. (Cause you are not truly an DC Rainmaker reader if you have never ran with multiple devices and compared them on your own). By the way how many times do you compare devices before you are confident two devices provide the same data? I’m at about twenty between my Forerunner 220/Scosche vs Vivosmart HR. Only once have I seen anything significant, the Vivosmart picked up cadence for about 3 minutes.


    • The exact number of passes depends a little bit on the scenario. I try and vary routes and workout types more than anything. So if testing optical sensors, I’ll try to have tempo runs, interval runs, steady state runs, etc… If testing GPS I’ll try and have more open runs, some treed runs, some deeper city runs, etc…

      Sometimes I’m limited a bit by what’s around me. Obviously if I lived in the mountains I’d have more options, but I find the city is usually more demanding than most forests are.

  28. Eli

    Why is the floppy disk copy protected? Hard to save on that ;)

    Are all these releases from Garmin because of CES Aisia?

    • No, the timing was more just a case of spreading out three product releases so that they weren’t all on one day. It’s never good to announce multiple products on one day, because you minimize the amount of media coverage you’ll get.

      Apple products are about the only exception to that, but even then you’ll see certain portions of the announcements get lesser treatment than others. Portions that would have gotten more coverage on any other random day.

  29. Andy

    I wish there was a way to log a cycling activity using GPS tracking (unless I’m missing something, that isn’t possible here). That would only involve a superficial distinction, i.e. categorizing an activity differently but otherwise recording just the same data, so I can understand why it might not seem worthwhile. But I’d love to be able to use my Garmin rather than my phone to log my bike rides (and without the tedium of recording them as runs, then manually re-categorizing them on Garmin Connect afterwards).

  30. JR

    You say there’s autolap, but is there manual lap?

  31. Mel

    vivoactive/scosche vs VSHR+: what’s your rec for a runner/cross-fitter? Thx.

  32. Rob

    Any chance Garmin added multiple silent alarms yet (like Fitbit or Jawbone)

  33. Stephen

    Fantastic review again!

    Question the VivoSmart HR+ has “Added basic run/walk mode and Virtual Pacer modes” does The larger Vivoactive HR have basic run/walk mode and Virtual Pacer modes ?

  34. Marius Loots

    Would like your views on the issues with the vivosmart HR heart rate monitoring? There are numerous complaints on Amazon and the Garmin forums in this regard.

    How does this unit stack up, and will its release mean the end of the line for the vivosmart HR with no hope of a fix?

    My feeling is that Garmin spend more time on developing new products, with little to no regard for existing users who made an investment in existing products.

  35. Laurens

    Sorry if I missed it but would this work with the speed and cadence sensor from Garmin?

  36. Tim

    Ray – have we seen or heard of any improvements to sleep tracking? On one hand I find the VivosmartHR does a nice job tracking IF I go to bed and sleep during my programmed normal window. However, with lots of international travel and some off-hour working, I do not see any tracking of naps nor an ability to manually tell it, I am going to sleep.

    I did notice today in Garmin Connect there is a “Nap” tracking piece to sleep, but am still exploring how to populate it. It’d sure be nice to be abel to track ALL your sleep in a 24-hour period.

    Thanks for your great reviews. My fingers are crossed that with this release, that some more refined firmware might be pushed back to the older version or at least be captured in the new version.

  37. Wordy

    Hello Ray,

    Thanks for the great reviews.

    A quick question if you have the time: I bought and ended up returning the older Vivosmart HR as I couldn’t set the alarm on the device itself. I spend a decent amount of time away from cell service, and the app wouldn’t perform a bluetooth sync without internet. Do you know if it’s possible on this version to set the alarm without the app? I loved the Vivosmart and don’t mind syncing at random intervals, but the alarm programming was a deal-breaker.


  38. Colin

    It’s a shame, as this looks perfect to me. I was a hair away from pulling the trigger on the Vivosmart HR, but the crappy HR sampling rate kills it for me. I’ve always preferred Garmin’s kit, but until their continuous 24/7 sampling is on a par with Fitbit’s charge HR, it’s a no go for me. Thanks as always for all the time and effort!

  39. John

    Assuming this will have same issues with resting heartrate (RHR) that similar Garmin watches have, due to the lack of 1-second recording?

    • RHR and 1-second recording tend to be a bit different. RHR really comes down to recording resting HR data more than once every few hours (cough, someone…). If you check RHR even just once every 15 minutes at rest, and more frequently at movement, then it works out much better.

  40. Mike

    why give a barometric altimeter to this thing but not the 735?? argh, garmin…

  41. mel

    Maybe I’ve missed it in the reviews, but for all the Garmin activity counters, is there a way to “turn off” the activity tracker when exercising? I want to count my NON-ACTIVITY steps and do not want the activity-related ones contributing to the counter as that way I cannot just look at the watch to see my steps..

  42. Chris

    Hi Ray,

    when will we see in depth review? i am so surprised how fast your reviewed the vivoactive hr+ :p


    • Typically 2-4 weeks after I get a final production unit, depending on what else is going on. I’m still a bit on the fence here, in terms of whether there’s enough interest compared to other products.

    • Stuart

      Would it be possible to just review the GPS functionality and tag onto the existing VSHR non-GPS?

      Or are there other differences?

    • Chris

      Hi Ray,

      i have interest – i received my last week from amazon.de. But i like your in depth review very much – they give me and i think a lot of others reader the view of a professional on it :)

      And i hope garmin is also reading you reviews + comments so that garmin knows what they have to put in their next firmware :D


    • They do read the reviews, as well as the vast majority of the comments (especially in the days after a launch).

      They tend to be a bit quieter than other companies in the comment section, but, the feedback is getting through.

    • Jenn

      Add my vote for interest in a full review. I would really like a running watch combined with an activity tracker but with a 5.5″ wrist, I can’t see wearing any of the current devices beyond a run. This one looks really promising. I wear a Charge HR right now and really like the features but I would like basic run stats (pace especially) and a waterproof device.
      Your reviews are so helpful, thanks for all the detail and hard work!

  43. David

    I feel like this is getting closer to competing with the traditional GPS watches and the traditional GPS watches are getting closer to these activity trackers. GPS, Activity Tracking, HR, Smart Notifications, check, check, check, check.

    If I am looking for one device to do both running and activity tracking, the FR235 or this Vivosmart HR+? The weight is 10g different, not a deal breaker really. I am fairly stuck in the Garmin universe.

  44. Jim Allie

    You mention that Move IQ has been added. Garmin’s comparison tool on link to explore.garmin.com does not list this feature. Just wondering which is correct. Thanks

    • See Rule #1.

      Also, it’s in the very first line of the VSHR+ press release:

      “OLATHE, Kan. /May 16, 2016/Business Wire —Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), today announcedvívosmart HR+, an activity tracker1with wrist-based heart rate plusGPS. The vívosmart HR+ adds new features to the company’s popular vívosmartactivity trackerproduct lineincluding GPS, additional running dataand Garmin Move IQ™auto activity detection.”

  45. Noah

    Wait so the Vivosmart HR+ has the virtual pacer but the more expensive VivoactiveHR doesn’t? Makes complete sense Garmin…carry on.

    Ray, do you think Garmin is close to a point where the hardware of the watch will sell for a base rate of say $200 but they sell you additional features for a one time or yearly or monthly fee via the app store?

    • Well, to be fair, the cheaper FR10/15/20/25 have always had it too. Not saying it’s logical, but…such is life.

      Actually, to be more fair – the VAHR has Pace Alerts, which basically allow you to accomplish the same thing.

      As for hardware standardization and then upsells for App Stores, I keep pushing for exactly that model. It just makes a ton more sense for them and us as consumers. I suppose retailers won’t like it, but…shrug.

      That said, I don’t think they’re anywhere near that point, based on my chats with them.

    • Gabe

      You suggestion just makes too much sense.

      Way too many unnecessary watch options from Garmin; too confusing for the customer.

  46. Erik M

    Hi Ray,

    This device is exactly what I have been waiting for, except this show-stopper from the owner’s manual:
    “Note: You can view only the heart rate monitoring screen while broadcasting heart rate data.”

    It doesn’t make much sense that I can’t look to see what time it is or view messages when I’m riding my bike and broadcasting my heart rate to my Edge 810. Is this possibly a typo? Or, maybe this is only the case while pairing?

    Thanks for the review!

  47. Bay

    Hi Ray! Love all your reviews. Just a quick question, Garmin seem to be rolling out a new device every week. I desperately want an M400+OpticalHR, but I feel like they are falling way behind in the market. Upgrading the firmware just doesn’t cut it for me. Do you have any feeling on whether Polar will release a new device any time soon, given the M400 hasn’t been replaced since October 2014 and the Polar A360 has been out now for 6 months?
    Thanks so much!

  48. James

    Hi Ray,

    Can you pair a foot pod with this to use inside on treadmill? I read your review and note you say you can switch off gps and use inside, but curious re foot pod? James

  49. Peter


    Thank you so much for the overview.

    Does it have a cadence metric? I’m genuinely considering this now, instead of an actual running watch, if it can track cadence.

  50. Yannick

    I am a bit confused , the german website says it has ant+ and bluetooth smart link to buy.garmin.com doesn’t that mean its compatible with external heart rate monitors?

  51. Brent

    As always, great review. Quick question I haven’t really see addressed anywhere: Am I correct that the only way to record a bike ride with this using the GPS would be to let it record as a run and then re-categorize it on connect as a ride? Would that even work? I’ve got an edge 500 but have never done any other activity recording with Garmin devices, so I’m wondering if I could use this as an activity tracker that would double as a basic cycling computer for casual rides. Thanks for any info on this!

  52. clare bryan

    Any idea when this will be available in the UK?

    • Tim

      Also interested. This looks like the perfect device for me. I have a 920xt for my triathlons and training (fugly). I commute by bike everyday but don’t care for GPS on the commute – those miles don’t count and are boring. I want to monitor my general fitness and the passive move IQ could work. When I travel, I take my trainers for runs (best tourism), so the gps here is what sells it.

      Garment UK says 2016 Q2 – so maybe late June?

  53. dale jayne


    Just one question. Does it use firstbeat to calculate calories burned?? I had the vivosmart HR and when I wore it and my vivoactive (with chest strap) the calories were always way higher as it just used a generic algorithm for calories burned. I called garmin about it and they made sure all my data was correct but it always read 50-100% more calories burned than my upper end watches so I quit using it (gave it to a friend).

  54. So what happens if you use the Vivosmart HR + on a cycle ride or open water swim. I am thinking you could change the activity status in Garmin Connect using the App or website maybe? Assuming this works its arguably simpler, pre-exercise, to use than most garmin devices as there’s no setup required before you exercise.

    • James Lawie

      I’d like to know the answer to this also. Like the idea of a smaller device for cycling. Hoping you can just switch the activity in Garmin Connect and/or strava

    • You could change the activity type. Though for an openwater swim the data will be crap (unless in a swim cap), since it doesn’t have any sort of openwater swim algorithms like the triathlon watches do.

    • Eishman

      This may be the device I am looking for.
      How does the HR work in the water when swimming?
      Anyone tried this in the open water to see how accurate the GPS is?

  55. Nancy Kessler

    Great write-up! I have the Fitbit Blaze and after reading this, I think there’s one thing that the Blaze has that Garmin still hasn’t figured out yet: it’s how to make a nice-looking, well-operating, intuitive app. That really hinders the Vivosmart HR+ as an activity tracker. The Garmin Connect app just isn’t intuitive and easy to operate as Fitbit’s. That is a serious hinderance which makes the Blaze come ahead as an activity tracker.

    Does the Vivosmart HR+ still reign as a fitness watch? Yes. It wins in that because it has GPS while the Blaze does not. But you have to look at this market in a way of, which are you focusing on? Do you want a wearable for everyday use and some occasional workouts? Or are you more workout focused and the activity tracker is just a bonus?

    For me, I wanted an every-day tracker with some fitness capability, but not much. When I want full run tracking, I reach for a Garmin device. But day-to-day, for ease of use, intuitiveness, and good app-support, the Blaze wins. But the minute you head out on a run, the Garmin wins. And when you return, the Blaze reclaims its top spot.

    • I am thinking of moving from fitbit activity tracker to Garmin, as I like their watches for running races. I agree with Nancy the Garmin app is bad for activity tracking. The web site is even worse. Fitbit web looks great for heart rate over a day and sleep too. Garmin needs to catch up.

  56. Mike S

    Hi Ray,

    Clever Training is not presently honoring the VIP membership discount on any Garman Products – or at least this was what I was told by a Customer Service Rep. I first tried to purchase the Vivosmart HR unit using my VIP membership (which was unsuccessful) and I then followed up w/ a call. The rep indicated that Garman is not currently permitting the discounting of their products. This is a change from past practice. Are you knowledgeable of what’s going on ? Thanks

    • Hi Mike-

      It is indeed true, at least for the moment. A bit more details here in the section titled “May 13th…): link to dcrainmaker.com

      Right now the new program should be in place by June 1st, though it sounds like it may be good to go next week. Unfortunately, it is indeed a Garmin driven change.

      Thanks for the support!

  57. Nick

    For those of us without a smart phone, does the vivosmart HR+ support wired data transfer through garmin express?

  58. HJK

    If a Vivoactive (original) owner is looking for HR features, will the upgrade path be as simple as ponying up for the Vivoactive HR, or will this be a close consideration as well?

    I really like the slimness of the original Vivoactive, so size will be an important factor. I don’t use much of the multi-sports mode on the Vivoactive, so the run-centric features of the Vivosmart HR+ should be enough.However, will the vertical greyscale/monochrome screen be too much of a downgrade coming from the Vivoactive?

  59. EveryDamnDay

    Do you know if the activity data for gym workouts will upload into 3rd party apps like iPhone Health or Nike+ Fuelpoints? I’m trying to find an all in one GPS running device that tracks day to day activity and uploads to something other than Garmin Connect. Thanks.

  60. LH Thum

    I have no comment as yet to purchase the tracker. Wish to have more reliable one

  61. Joseph

    Are there hardware differences or is just software differences between the vivosmart and the approach x40? I’d buy an x40 if it had gps tracking for runs/bike rides. The Vivoactive HR has golf but it leaves out a lot of the analytics available in Garmin’s newer golf watches(auto shot detection, club tracking, post round analysis on connect).

    • Ryan M.

      Hardware is most likely the same, but I don’t think they will add the ability to do Runs/Bikes with it.

    • Joseph

      Looking through the manual for the X40 online you can pair the gps for an activity and it includes an auto lap feature. Awesome.

  62. Rick

    DC what is the best combi
    Vivosmart HR+ with Edge 1000
    Viviactive HR with Edge 1000

    I have difficulty choosing the correct activity tracker, my sports are cycling and (trail) running.
    The vivoactive looks a bit chunky


    • Rick

      Cycling: Road cycling and mountain biking

    • I’d go with the Vivoactive HR combo.

    • Rick

      So i did

    • Rick

      Hi DC,

      I have brought back the vivoactive today and brought back home the new Fenix 3 HR.
      I have a minor problem I was hoping someone could help with.
      The Fenix does not sync the steps, floors and sleep, this morning the results of the vivoactive are still in connect.
      I start the sync with the new fenix, it completes, but the step counts and sleep don’t get updated on the Garmin Connect on iOS app.

      Notifications are working. Just the data not getting transferred to connect, had 5k of steps this morning and 12K steps this afternoon, total of 17k steps and the fenix it didn’t transfer at all.
      Have reset the device deleted the app on the phone and installed it again, did everything.
      How easy the vivoactive was the fenix is failing.

  63. Chris

    So with the GPS, does it mean it can record your route when running?

    • Luca

      do you think it may fit my need to also track some “occasional” hiking route and to export data in GPX format?
      Info I’d also like to see while hiking are: current distance&elevation, total climb up&down

      Last but not least…does it support GLONASS?


    • It would be able to show elevation gains afterwards on Garmin Connect (likely), but not on the device itself as far as I know.

      I don’t know about GLONASS, but I’ll try and find out.

    • Luca

      just got my device 48h ago!
      it’s a little bit bulky…. not so stylish :)

      BTW I have a simple question: I checked which data can be displayed on the device and it seems that current elevation is not available.
      This may be a simple software addition (barometric altimeter is there). How/Where can I suggest to Garmin Team to implement it? Which is the chance to get it done? :)
      It may be great to see this info while trekking


  64. Senthil

    Very good review of vivosmart hr & +. One of the detailed review and facilitates decision making. Enjoyed it

  65. James Lawie

    Are you able to turn off Move IQ and therefor enable the running mode to cover me Cycling?

    Already have an Edge 25, but looking for a watch based device to cover cycling and running without the bulk of the Vivoactive

    • You can certainly enable running mode and then just change the activity type later. Though to be honest, if you’ve got an Edge 25 already, I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.

  66. Linus

    Ray I’m living a big dilema. I want a new running GPS watch to replace my FR220+Mio LInk combo. It must have built in optical heart rate monitoring and as upgrades 24-7 HR monitoring, activity monitoring (stairs climbing included), sleep tracking is a plus. I was looking into FR235 but now with the price cut on it, Vivosmart HR+ and Vivoactive HR all very close in price I’m lost. I mostly run, and bike very rarely, no other sports. Some walk-run capability would be nice as well as pace (shadow runner) target running. Any ideas what should I do?

  67. Mike

    Hi Ray,
    How large is the vivoactiveHR+ on small wrists? My wife wanted to get the new VivoActive HR, but it dwarfed her wrist. The FR235 (mine) works, but again is huge on her wrist (not something she could wear outside of running). We tried the vivsmart hr on her, too but it was a bit long (the length stuck out over the edge of her wrist, not ideal).

    The only garmin GPS watch we’ve tried that fits her small wrists reasonably is the FR10/15.

    I’m thinking now that the FR25 might be the best option for her, with the Scosche for HR as it is small and has BT sync (a must have). It would be ideal, however, to simplify this with an onboard optical HR.

    So, I’m wondering how the VivosmartHR+ would compare to the FR10/15/25 in terms of wrist width? Also, are there other options for her outside of Garmin that are as good? (the tomtom runner was too big as well).

    Thanks for all your reviews and efforts on the site.

    • Peggy

      I managed to get one during a Garmin sale in Australia. It says delivery was between 2-4 weeks but it got delivered a week after I ordered it!

      I’ve got a small wrist and it feels and looks a little bulky. The size bothers me a little especially when I am wearing long sleeves but I can manage.

      Here is a photo for reference

    • Mike

      Thanks for sharing Peggy, really helpful — We’re really having a hard time finding something that will work! THe struggle is real for folks with small wrists. I think we’re going to get the FR25 and use the sosche rhythm+ for now, and if the small watches get optical down the road, maybe upgrade at that point.

      cheers, I’ll be sharing the photo with my wife!

  68. Bora

    Now we are officially in June :) I was wondering, if anyone was lucky enough to come across to one of these devices at retail stores.

    • Jonathan Greene

      Decided on a whim today to simply get the Vivosmart HR while walking past B&H. Seems like aside from the obvious GPS addition, the other key difference is Move IQ. Any thoughts on this as a specific benefit? Can always return this ahead of shipping time on the newer device … B&H were showing June 24 as the release date in their systems.

      I know the + also does running pace etc, but I’m mainly a cyclist and use an Edge there and the Fenix 2 for runs.

    • Bora

      Thanks for your comments Jonathan. I keep getting close to what you have done as well. I have a Fenix 3 so normally the Vivosmart HR should be enough of a day-to-day replacement for it and Fenix 3 for serious sport activities.
      It is just I still want to believe that Vivosmart HR+ can be a viable alternative and let me leave Fenix 3 at home for say light runs. At the end of one year, Fenix 3 started to feel way too bulky for day-2-day and I like the idea of wrist based HR (probably my motivation also got bigger with all these new gadgets out there in the market :) )

    • Adam

      If you are in the US, check your local Target, they are in stock there. And weirdly enough, the Vivomove is in stock at Meijer.

  69. Amanda

    I am so excited to try this out. I know the release says June, do we know when?

  70. Saul

    Great review Ray. Sorry for questions but so confused after thinking I’d finally found a decent device

    1. cycling in a gym, how does this record any metrics like distance or speed as no GPS.

    2. If on treadmill does it record distance/speed based on steps?

    3. Can it operate outdoor with brisk walks or jogs and no gps so as to conserve battery but still show distance. If no, is that what you mean by no distance tracking?

    4. Given no external hr strap allowed (you are the only reviewer to point that out) I’m wondering if I best bet for me is VivoFIT 3 as better battery life. The only thing stopping me was I really wanted 24/7 resting heart rate monitoring to see my fitness return. But someone above mentioned the sampling rate is poor. Pls could you clarify.

    Sorry for all the questions.

  71. Saul

    Great review Ray. Sorry for questions but so confused after thinking I’d finally found a decent device
    1. cycling in a gym, how does this record any metrics like distance or speed as no GPS.

    2. If on treadmill does it record distance/speed based on steps?

    3. Can it operate outdoor with brisk walks or jogs and no gps so as to conserve battery but still show distance. If no, is that what you mean by no distance tracking?

    4. Given no external hr strap allowed (you are the only reviewer to point that out) I’m wondering if I best bet for me is VivoFIT 3 as better battery life. The only thing stopping me was I really wanted 24/7 resting heart rate monitoring to see my fitness return. But someone above mentioned the sampling rate is poor. Pls could you clarify.

    Sorry for all the questions.

  72. Jonathan Greene

    I got mine today. I was available at Target and I was able to pick it up this evening.

    So far my impressions compared to the prior model are that the band is more comfortable (thinner) and the display is a touch sharper. Very similar, but nicer.

    Looking forward to the MoveIQ stuff kicking in on my bike commute and general fitness rides …

    The one thing the Garmin devices do not have compared to the Jawbone UP I’m coming from is the smart alarm. The time you set (and there’s only one alarm) is the time it goes off … the buzzer is also a bit more aggressive. I can’t see this not waking you up. It would be nice though if it connected to sleep cycle …

  73. Wendy

    Did I read correctly that no GPS when specifically walking for exercise? Can you get around that by using the run option or do you think that will mess up the accuracy of how you are doing and if you are improving or not?
    I walk for exercise as well as I am going to move up to running when I can get some of my weight off. Is the FR235 going to be a better option than the vivosmart hr+ ? I am also going to add in swimming and biking but the biking will be more causual.

    • Wendy

      I have also tried the vivoactive hr. Hated it. So uncomfortable!

    • By default walking would just be accellerometer. You could use other or run, and just change the activity type online. There’s no impact on accuracy, since once GPS is on, it’s on.

      if you’re going to add in other activity types like swimming though, I’d look at a multisport watch – or at least something like a multisport watch (i.e. the Vivoactive or Vivoactive HR, though you noted you didn’t like the VAHR’s band).

  74. Ash

    Hi Ray,
    I’ve been following your reviews for the Vivosmart HR and the Vivosmart HR . The ‘Run’, ‘Cardio’, and ‘Other’ options seem identical between the two, but do the options for Run such as Basic Run, Run/Walk Option, Virtual Pacer and Time, Distance, and Calorie based Alerts extend to the VSHR, or are they exclusive only to the HR+? I’m specifically interested in the Run/Walk option as I’m looking for a fitness tracker for interval training.
    Thanks in advance!

  75. Julie M

    What a game changer! I think this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I was about to buy the Vivoactive HR when I saw this post. What does the Vivosmart + GPS lack that the Vivoactive HR has?

  76. Jo

    So I’m trying to decide whether to replace my Fitbit Surge with a Garmin Vivoactive hr or a Vivosmart hr+ and looking for some advice.

    My priorities are day/sleep tracker, 24/7 hr, GPS. I run (outdoor/treadmill), do strength workouts, yoga and cycle (mainly just commuting).

    I’ve just started doing more cycling in the weekends and have been using my Surge for GPS but was thinking I should get a Garmin Edge 520 later in the year if I decide to get more serious.

    If I got the Vivoactive hr would that be enough, so I wouldn’t need to get an Edge 520 later?

    Or should I get the Vivosmart hr+ because its smaller and does everything I want daily, then get an Edge 520 as well?

  77. Markus

    Did the first run today with the HR+. Overall quite okay for this kind of device.
    HR accuracy was okay for me. HR is comparable to similar runs done with Scosche+. GPS accuracy is also okay. I own a Fenix3 as well. Fenix3 GPS Accuracy is slightly better (with Glonass and 1s recording), but Fenix3 works normally quite good for me (had a 620 before as well). Main purpose why I bought it was actually for using it on race day in 5k or 10k`s (it´s so lightweight). Below is a link to Garmin Connect Activity for people that are curious:

    link to connect.garmin.com

  78. Just done my first run with the HR+, and to my surprise it does not track elevation. With GPS and a barometer this should be easy, surely. Also files exported from Connect don’t have elevation. This is a bit of a killer for me, but hopefully it can be fixed with a firmware update.

    • Markus

      Strange…if you look into my Garmin Activity you can see that it includes elevation profile…

    • John Dalton

      I *think* that in my Activity the elevation is from their mapping database. At the moment my activity says Summary Data:Original under the device and is not showing an elevation plot. Don’t know how that happened. It’s certainly the case that exports do not include elevation for me (tried fit & gpx).

      link to connect.garmin.com

    • John Dalton

      I have deleted and reloaded the fit file, and it has enabled Elevation Corrections so it shows the elevation plot again, and now it’s exporting the height data. Hey ho.

    • Derek

      So I guess I’m still confused as to whether or not an elevation plot is generated. In the link Markus provided, there are only some elevation statistics, not an actual elevation plot over time. I couldn’t access the link John provided for some reason. Anyway, will the VivosmartHR+ generate an elevation plot in Garmin Connect automatically, without having to jump through any hoops?

      Thanks for any guidance on this!

  79. Bora

    So, got it today from a Saturn in Germany. Wearing it on my wrist now. Purpose is to replace Fenix 3 like many others for softer runs of 5, 10K. will keep you posted if I encounter anything surprising. Loving the low profile and lightness so far.

  80. Martijn

    Ray (or anybody else):
    how does the hr accuracy of the vivosmart hr+ compare to the forerunner 235 (for running and for RHR/’normal’ heart rate)? Is there an advantage (eg. due to less light coming through) for the forerunner? I’m not a very frequent runner and do like the smaller size of a band (then I can simultaneously wear my normal watch).

    Also interested in the samsung fit2; although not sure what to expect from hr accuracy and functionality/apps for that.


  81. Leica

    Trying to understand the ANT+ capabilities – I just lost my beloved Vivosmart, which I have paired to a cadence sensor on my bike.

    If I get the HR+ instead of the vanilla Vivosmart, will I be able to pair it to the cadence sensor?

    • Valentijn

      Yep also interested in the ANT+ HR rebroadcasting element. Garmin is most likely to control this to Garmin only. As of 2016 this witheld me from buying Garmin stuff. Still stick with my phone with starve and a wahoo cadence (BT+ant+) and my Mio Fuse (BT+Ant+). Best of both worlds, open and cheap ;-)

    • No pairing to cadence sensor. Or any ANT+ sensors at this time unfortunately.

      Note that it doesn’t really have anything to do with HR ANT+ broadcasting, which works with just about anything.

  82. Rip

    Hi, I have an Edge 25 and often use Livetrack so my wife knows where I have got to. I was interested in using a fitness tracker and the AMT+ broadcast capability of the Vivosmart HR/HR+ seemed a good idea (I don’t need super accuracy just some idea of how I’m doing). Since I’m pairing my phone with the edge 25 does this cause any problems for the Vivosmart? Would this also get round the annoying glitch you detail about phone notifications knocking the AMT out?

  83. Garmont

    Thanks for your work Ray. Do you plan to do a battery test for this device? It is the only thing that makes me doubt a little.

  84. Robbie L

    Has anyone in the UK managed to get hold of one of these yet. Argos show out of stock and Garmin show not available yet. However Amazon UK show stock for 2 day delivery. Ordered mine last week fron Amazon but nothing arrived yet.

    • Peter

      Mine arrived from Amazon yesterday (13 June), ordered on 12th. I think Wiggle have them too.

    • Robbie L

      Ahh there is hope then. I ordered mine on 9th (Thursday) with a promise of Saturday. I have ordered the XL size though which might not be as common. I think I am more or less on the crossover between XL and Regular.

  85. Garmont

    Mine arrived today. Nice first impression

  86. Peter

    Battery update: initial charge then wore from 10pm on Monday (13 June) until 6pm today (17 June). It didn’t die but it’d been on 1 bar since this morning. So just under 4 days/92 hours, which includes just over 2 hours of GPS usage.

  87. Ninja MacNinja

    Bought one of these and have been very impressed. I wanted to use it for tracking my runs and cycles and the GPS is very accurate. That includes runs through hills and woods, with no loss of tracking. OK for swimming as well, done 1000m and is calculated 985, which is accurate enough for me. Heart rate monitor is accurate to around 2-3 bpm. Cheapest waterproof GPS with HRM that I could find. Would recommend.

  88. Nico

    At last a small GPS and OHR watch.
    The Vivoactive HR is huge and it won’t fit under a business shirt (I have a rather small wrist).
    Is there a “find my car” function on the Vivosmart HR+ ?
    That would wrap up my mind for that model if there is…

  89. Sam

    Hi Ray (and other readers :) )

    I am looking into buying an activity tracker to track (and improve) not only my daily activity on a general level but also running/cycling/bootcamp trainings to see if I make improvements over time and to push myself a bit further (also with regards to daily steps etc.). I am pretty sure I want to go for an activity tracker with GPS, and I am also keen on the idea of the integrated heart rate monitor. At this point, I am doubting between the garmin vivosmart hr+ and the fitbit surge, both seem to have some pros and cons and I cannot seem to decide which one – according to reviews – would be best. I would love to hear your suggestion!

    Kind regards,


    • Giggs

      Which one did you choose? I have the surge but have been looking at my “next” device given the band problems plaguing the surge. From my reading I would have thought the vivoactive was a more direct comparison to the surge and my most likely next device. VAHR has issues, according to Garmin forums posters, however, I don’t think any device is “perfect” yet.

  90. Alanda Tar

    May be a silly question but has anyone tried to see if the Fitbit Blaze bands fit on the Garmin Vivoactive HR? They look to be similar widths and it would be nice to have some nicer band options.

  91. schroeder chan

    hello Ray!

    thanks for the reviews. they are very useful.

    i am still thinking to have hr or hr+

    i starts to have some exercise this year as concerning my health.
    i usually do some gym exercises, but the most sport i am doing is biking.
    as a amateur, i am using strava (on my phone, sony z2) to track my exercise, i am thinking if i can add the vivosmart hr or + to send the hr information to have a better understanding of my exerise.

    should i just get a hr?

  92. EveryDamnDay

    Just got this yesterday. Overall, I’m glad I got it. Will continue to evaluate….

    -Lots of different features and works for my basic activities (run, walk, gym)
    -Pretty easy to use, from the device, app, or web (can be a little overwhelming if you don’t want a lot of features)

    -The band is a little big for my wrist, and it’s a little bulkier than I expected…but glad it’s not a full size watch like other Garmins
    -Battery charged fully, then used 4 hours of GPS and now it’s down to 1 bar…?!?!

  93. Steven

    Great article! For me a basic running device is sufficient.
    What I would like to see on the screen while I’m running is:
    – kilometers already done
    – current heart rate
    – current speed
    – average speed

    Is this possible?

  94. Fool Hills

    I just got the Vivosmart HR+ for two weeks.
    As a runner, I feel frustrating as Garmin blocked many useful run functions and make it quite stupid to use:

    1. in HR+ , custom stride length can be set only in Walking, there is no custom stride length for Running. Meaning, the distance for indoor run is very inaccurate, and there is no way to adjust.

    2. Virtual pacer can only be set for time in 1 mile and in 5 sec apart. I used to set time up to second per Km. This virtual pacer setting is far not enough.

    3. Auto lap function is not flexible. It can only set for 1mile, 1Km or off. I used to set auto lap for 500m.

    4. In running mode, there is no manual lap, i.e. it records the training process as a whole and cannot give you details of each interval.

  95. Trevo

    How do I turn the heart rate broadcaster on the hr + please,

  96. Jonathan Walker

    I think the feature that really stands out to me is the walk/run interval timing function. I have a fitbit charge hr, and while I like the fitbit ecosphere, I can’t stand that they still don’t have the function to track intervals in any of their trackers! I feel like since Garmin has been doing GPS watches with that feature, their activity trackers include as a “no-brainer” feature. If I have my phone running GPS, music, and tracking my intervals, it starts to bog down, and there is lag when I try to unlock it. I’d just be happy if fitbit would just notify me of intervals, and I’d still rely on my phone for everything else, but it can’t do that. So if I can find a device that can relieve my phone of the big processings of GPS tracking while also tracking my HR AND intervals, then it sounds like a no brainer. Thanks for the review, I might be swapping my fitbit in for the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ pretty soon.

  97. MDee

    I’m really torn between this and the Vivoactive HR, despite the Vivoactive HR only costing an extra $50 AUD for what seems to be quite a few more features (larger color screen, multisport, etc).

    I love the smaller style of the Vivosmart HR+ which resembles more of a bracelet, and the added GPS. The only reason I haven’t purchased it yet is no pairing with an external chest strap. For this feature, I’d rather get the Vivoactive HR, but suspect it will look bulky and feel cumbersome on my smaller wrists (16cm circumference).

    I’m trying to get back into exercise, and want something to motivate me. I’ve been using a Charge HR up until now, and it works okay on the elliptical (as long as I move it half way up my arm — otherwise it stops reading heart rate), but I want GPS and external chest strap so I can do some outside running, strength training and general workouts. I’m not very focused on one particular activity type or competing. I just want to get active and fit and challenge myself.

    I’d happily compromise if possible and get the Vivosmart HR+, and a Tickr X or something similar if it were possible to easily sync the external chest strap back to Garmin Connect and merge results with the HR+.. Otherwise, I may have to bite the bullet and go for the larger Vivoactive HR. I want to avoid carrying a phone if I go running if possible.

    It seems impossible to find one great product. I just want a basic activity and workout tracker with optical heart rate for 24/7 monitoring and workout monitoring, with GPS. Plus, where I need extra accuracy the ability to pair with an external chest strap. Preferrably something a little discreet and stylish. The Vivosmart HR+ seems to tick all of the boxes for me, apart from the external chest strap support.

    Any thoughts?


    • MDee

      Just an update: I decided on the Vivoactive HR. It looks fine on my smaller 16cm wrist. I prefer having greater control over settings, viewing my data etc even if it means a slightly bulkier device. I may go for a Vivosmart HR+ in the future if I feel the need for something dressier depending on the occasion.

  98. Friday Ululani

    You fail to mention that all the current Garmin wearables (including this vivo model) now require an online Garmin account to look at your data (that is, to look at more than just “today’s” data). The online account is also required to adjust the settings of your watch.
    Deal-breaker for me – I spend a lot of time, at work and play, where there is no internet or cell signal. Also, I won’t use a device that requires “cloud” storage of my data, and yet another account.
    So, while I did order and acquire this device via your “Amazon” link, I have returned it the same day it arrived.

    • Jonathan Walker

      Then don’t bother with many other fitness trackers either. Most, if not all, require you to log into their own website/service.

    • Indeed, I’m not aware of really any standalone wearable activity tracker from a major brand these days that doesn’t require an online account.

      Apple, Basis, Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, Microsoft, Polar, Suunto, Samsung, UnderArmour…and many more – all require it.

      Mio is about the closest you could get, but even that requires downloading the app, some models require accounts, etc…

  99. Antonio

    First of all many thanks for the review.

    I am trying to find if this can be used as a regular watch, that is, if you can deactivate all other features when you just want to use it as a watch, to save battery.

    Can’t find that in any review nor in the device manual.

    Thanks in advance

    • Antonio

      I reply to myself… seems we can deactivate those features according to web manual:

      Activity Tracking

      Turns activity tracking and the move alert on and off.
      Heart Rate

      Turns wrist-based heart rate monitoring and heart rate broadcasting on and off.


  100. Cyberkinetic

    Hi Ray,

    I’m on my 2nd brand new HR+ which was provided to me by Garmin service centre.

    There is an issue with backlight which doesn’t work most of the time and when setting it to maximum brightness, will keeps blinking. Initially I thought I got a lemon, but when i had it exchanged for another brand new one, it is still the same.

    Reply from Garmin support is that it is a software issue and I have also found that others on Garmin forum facing the same issue as well. The workaround is to keep rebooting it whenever the issue pops up ..which is practically every day. It works for a while before it’s dead again.

    To add on to that, the GPS is not working properly as well. I had FR235 and my mobile phone with me at the same locations(2) that I tested.. both times, the HR+ takes minutes(close to 10) to get a lock-on while the other devices get the signal within seconds, at most a min max.

    The FR235 and HR+ are my first Garmin products jumping over from the Polar ones which I had been using for years. Can’t say I’m really impressed. Although the FR235 works pretty much as expected(although the heart rate gets quirky at times which i can live with).

    To make it worse.. it was a gift for the Missus… who now refuses to wear it… major bummer…

    • gnsks

      Yeah, I’m in the same boat. This was also a gift for my partner who is getting so frustrated with the time it takes it to lock on to GPS that it’s pretty much a paper weight at this point.

      Not to mention the myriad of small software bugs that add up to the perception of a product that’s not really fit for purpose (pun not intended).

      I’m contacting Amazon and praying they will allow me to return it. Sigh.

  101. Oenputera

    Does it have altitute display?

  102. Branton Davis

    “Garmin Vivoactive HR: This is a bit more pricey at $249, the Vivoactive HR is far more capable than the Vivosmart HR+.”

    I believe this is reversed, right? It’s the HR+ that’s more capable (and expensive) than the HR, not the other way around.

    • Nope, it’s correct. There’s three products that are named nearly the same:

      Vivoactive HR (has big display and GPS)
      Vivosmart HR (no GPS)
      Vivosmart HR+ (has GPS)

      So in this case, I was referring to the VivoACTIVE HR compared to the VivoSMART HR+.

    • Jonathan

      No, he is talking about three garmin products.

      Vivosmart HR, $149.99
      Vivosmart HR+, $219.99

      Vivoactive HR, $249.99

      The Vivoactive HR is more like the Fitbit Surge, but better. The Vivosmarts are more like the Fitbit Charge HR, but again, better.

    • Branton Davis

      Gah, reading comprehension fail! Thanks!

  103. Marc Bogerd

    I am a fan of the original Vivosmart because my priorities are: 1. Waterproof, 2. It is small and discreet. 3. I can read the time day or night without having to use both hands (just flick). 4. It fits my needs, I do not need accurate fitness stats, 5. I need an alarm clock and it gives the notifications I need. Vivosmart gives me all these requirements unfortunately the bracelet rots and is not replaceable, and the display shrinks. It seems those problems could easily be overcome, so why not improve the existing model. I do not like the Vivosmart HD or HD+, the heart monitor is not accurate, it is bulky and not aesthetic, and I have no use for GPS.

  104. Haris

    Hi there, something I havent found yet. Im about to buy band with HRM but Im not sure if VHR or VHR+ is better option. Im looking for HR range alert feature, vibration alert to indicate that I overpassed HRM range. Thanks for advice :)

  105. Amy Eigenberg

    Help! I have been looking at both the vivoactive HR and the vivosmart HR+. I am wanting an all day fitness tracker and also use it while working out. I am overweight and working on losing weight. I love to swim, walk, take cardio and swim classes, and lift weights. The fitness tracker I have now doesn’t allow to be used in the water and I have a polar watch that isn’t a fitness tracker but you can swim with…but I always have a problem with the chest strap hr monitor going on and off while in the water. I have read that the HR monitor turns off in swimming mode. If I don’t put it in swimming mode, will the HR work in the water? Size of the watch does matter and I’m taking that into account, but if the benefits of the vivoactive are worth it then I would go to the bigger size. With swimming laps and being in the water, I’m not looking to win races, just more want to know that I am working out effectively but knowing my stroke numbers would be nice. How does the watch work in an endless pool? Thanks for any answers and help you can provide!

    • Wendy Ditterline

      I use mine in water areobics and it hasn’t had any trouble working and keeping my heart rate recorded. I may get some extra steps though because some moves require alot of arm movement but I feel that it evens out over all.

  106. Alex

    It seems that the latest firmware for the Vivosmart HR has MoveIQ enabled, and the only thing I want to do is disable it, but can’t find anywhere to do it. According to Garmin, I’ve been out for a ride four times this week, while sitting at my desk at work. That basically throws the calorie information out so far that the entire purpose of having an activity tracker, which was to remind me to get up and do something, and at the same time rethink that snack while stuck at the desk.

    Has anyone found a way of turning it off, or even just nuking false positives from the timeline?

    • Peggy

      You can disable the move notifications by removing the activity tracking widget from the watch. The watch will still track activities (steps, sleep) and they should be displayed correctly in Garmin Connect when you sync the watch. I personally have not tested this theory. I found this info on another blog.

    • Peggy

      remove it by connecting the VA to your phone via bluetooth or going to the Connect Website. In the Garmin Connect app: devices, vivo active, Connect IQ applications, widgets. There, you can select the Activity Tracking widget and select uninstall.

  107. Chris

    My wife has the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ mainly to record steps. Most of her walking is pushing a buggy with one of the grandchildren on board. When compared with free walking the buggy steps are massively under recorded. She walks the same routes with or without a buggy. is this a common problem for these devices or is there a cure/fix. Any help would be great ahead of a decision to send the unit back.
    Thanks Ray – keep up the great work.

  108. Chris

    My wife has the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ mainly to record steps. Most of her walking is pushing a buggy with one of the grandchildren on board. When compared with free walking the buggy steps are massively under recorded. She walks the same routes with or without a buggy. is this a common problem for these devices or is there a cure/fix. Any help would be great ahead of a decision to send the unit back.

    • Ted Hou

      If the arm with the fitness tracker is holding onto the buggy handle, shopping cart, lawn mower, etc. I’ve found the devices will under report steps. I just put my device into my pocket in these circumstances.

    • Wendy Ditterline

      I attach mine to my shoe laces when i shop with a cart. I get close to normal amount of steps that way as I would other wise.

  109. janelly

    Silly question I know but is the vivosmart hr plus in your pics the blue or the purple?? That’s the only thing I’m deciding on now. Pretty sure this has everything I need and want , but am a little concerned about the size on my small wrists. So back to the original silly question was yours in the article purple or blue?

  110. Peggy

    Does the Vivosmart HR+ interface with Under Armour connected Fitness apps: Map My Fitness, Run, Ride, etc.? I cannot find any Vivosmart HR+ device information on the MapMyFitness or MyFitnessPal websites. I presently have a Forerunner 220 but would like to upgrade to the Vivosmart HR+ for my GYM/Class workouts and also as a sleep and heart rate monitor aid. Thank you for your review.

  111. Anytime you mention the Fitbit Blaze, please tell folks the screen does not stay on. I had no idea of that when I bought it and I ended up returning it. For some people it may be worth it or okay but for me a fitness tracker/heart rate monitor that I couldn’t see while exercising was a complete deal breaker.

  112. Belgin

    Does anyone know how often it measures the heart rate? Is it like every second or less often?

  113. Lukasz

    Is is possible to upload planned running workouts from garmin connect?

  114. Dave C

    How does the Samsung Gearfit 2 compare here? It is similar size and has GPS. It is priced less as well. $149-$179 depending when and where.

  115. Nick

    You mention “unlike Garmin, Fitbit allows you to mix and match activity trackers during the day and still get one cohesive step-count” – is this still the case? I was thinking of a Vivosmart for daytime/sleep, and a Fenix for training, etc. But I’d want a single data instance/reading of the day. Not possible? Cheers.

    • It is indeed currently the case. However, that’s soon about to change…

    • RobbieL

      That sounds very interesting. I was thinking of going back to Fitbit, but if Garmin are going to multiple trackers like Fitbit I might hang on. Have you anymore details?

    • Not much I can share, other than ‘soon’. They had previously promised by end of year, and I confirmed last week they’re on target for that with a bit of a buffer. Thus..soon.

      I think folks will like what they’ve come up with, it seems to edge out what Fitbit does as well.

    • Dave in Atlanta

      I hope that they continue their efforts to permit the use/integration of multiple trackers for daily use. For the most part, folks don’t want to wear the same watch to the gym and to the office.

      I have the Vivosmart HR+ and the TomTom Runner 2 (sometimes paired with a R+). I’m conflicted as I like the larger display in the TT, but the HR+ has a much better app. I mostly do spin class, cross fit and yoga. Any advice? (I’m also leaning on getting a 735xt to replace the TT, but am not feeling the $ spend until Xmas. My goal would be to wear that working out and to switch to the VS HR+ for the office).

  116. Keith

    Maybe this is covered elsewhere, but with the latest software as of 9/30/16, I’m unable to set “heart rate” as my home screen. Well, I’m able to set it through the app and garmin connect website, but the device switches back to the clock every time. I look in settings and “heart rate” is still set as the home screen, but it won’t stay displayed. “Last displayed” doesn’t work either. Is this a bug, or an intended function? I already have too many watches. Any tips to keep my hr displayed all day?

  117. Jaegergirl

    How well does this work indoors on equipment like a treadmill and ellipitcal? I currently use a Garmin FR220 (GPS turned off) with foot pod so I don’t have to rely on the display plus the equipment at the gym probably hasn’t been calibrated in forever. The 220 and foot pod work perfect on the treadmill but not the elliptical (which I have found is not uncommon). I love my FR220 but would like an activity tracker and thought of upgrading to the vivosmart HR+ but since it won’t pair with the foot pod, I am not sure I’m ready to give up my 220. Thank you!

    • Stef

      Did you find a good so,union for a single device to track elliptical Jaegergirl? Does the Vivosmart HR+ record elliptical workouts?

    • Joy

      Unfortunately, no one has chimed in about how accurate this is on the elliptical or treadmill so I’m still using my FR220 and foot pod on the treadmill and the display read outs on the elliptical. =-/

  118. Scott

    How do you get the auto sport recognition to work

  119. Beth

    I’m looking for a device for my husband that would work for ice hockey. Would this track skating? Is there a device that would be a good fit for ice hockey?

    • Scott

      Hi Beth, Whilst I do not play ice hockey, I am finding the Garmin very useful for my sport of outrigger paddling. It would in the Öther “mode measure a range of applicable features for him. It also has a cardio option, as well as walking and running. I am finding it a great device.

    • Beth Miller

      Thank you so much for your reply! Very helpful!

  120. Hi,
    Would you recommend the garmin vivosmart hr + or the tomtom runner? They are both around the same price due to black friday sales.

  121. Tim

    How many data fields can you have per page when running? It looks like in the review for the original Vivosmart HR that it’s only two. I like to have time, distance, and pace at the same time.

  122. Alex Lara

    I just got this watch (I had the previous Vivosmart).

    Couple of questions –

    1) I was wondering how accurate the gps and Hr are? I didn’t like the previous version and never was able to configure my strides

    2) I took it on a run and tried to work my polar H7 strap & app as well to test the distance and my polar froze on gps and heart rate and only recorded time. Is that a me thing or do they all not play well together?

  123. Eric

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for the awesome reviews.
    I am using a garmin swim to track my swimming sessions (2 to 3 times a week) and am looking for a more general activity tracker to monitor heart rate, steps, sleep, etc as a complement to the swim.
    I understand from your comments that currently it’s not possible to consolidate the data from the swim sessions with the data from the vivosmart hr plus to get a complete picture of one’s activity but that garmin is Pekin on a consolidation feature for multiple devices by the end of this year (that should be soon!). Do you know if the garmin swim will be included in that consolidation planous ? Thanks in advance for your response.

  124. ChrisO

    Ray, you said in September that Garmin should have support for combining activities from multiple devices by the end of the year – any update on this that you’re aware of please, because it hasn’t happened.

    Having been given a Vivoactive HR+ for Christmas I am finding it little more than a neat toy – the Garmin Connect software is virtually useless if you are using multiple devices and doing multiple activities.

    You can’t set an overarching goal e.g. Total Active Calories or Total Activity Minutes which will cross all activities (even on a single device). You can only set goals for each separate activity.

    And when I do a ride using my Edge device and an HR monitor Garmin Connect does things like pick up the activity but not include the HR in my daily timeline.

    As for the GPS mapping you’d think they would have used Google Maps or something but in the UK they’ve got some utterly bewildering system based on local council electoral areas, so I go for a dog walk on Wimbledon Common and am told I was in Village Ward.

    My wife got me the Garmin as she knows I have other Garmin devices for cycling and she assumed it would be more seamless. Sadly it’s anything but.

    I’m really disappointed with the poor features of Garmin Connect, which undermine the hardware.

  125. Robert Comegys

    Does anyone know a way to convert the FIT files directly to Excel-compatible, column-delimited CSV files that would not require me to squeeze in and out of the Garmin Connect utility, converting activity data into the desired CSV’s on activity at a time (I’ve been quite “active” since Christmas)? Wondering if their is a tried-and-true conversion utility out there that will combine my activity data into a spreadsheet more efficiently. Thanks!

    • Adriaan

      FIT files can be converted to CSV, but this option is used when you want to repair that file…
      Please see: link to garmin.kiesewetter.nl
      Other then that, splits can be exported to CSV for each individual activity. This option is not working since September 2016 and despite of several tickets against development and support, it seems they do not want to fix it.
      And finally, modern devices (Connect IQ and API compatible) are not using the FIT file…

    • Bryan Jackson


      I’m very new to the fitness tracking scene and had just gotten a Fitbit Flex to give me some added motivation to get up and move. I was generally happy with it but I did some research online and found that the Bluetooth was always activated on the device and there was no way to turn it off.

      I was/am very concerned with having a device on my body 24/7 that is constantly emitting a wireless signal. We all know how bad pressing a cell phone to your ear and making a call is in terms of the radiation but you may only do that a few times a day and hopefully for not too long. Bluetooth/WiFi also produce radiation at lower rate but considering you are wearing the device all of the time, small amounts can eventually build up.

      Also, some people may work in an environment where there are strict rules about not having wireless technology active. Perhaps dealing with sensitive materials and such.

      Anyway, I was recommended to the Vivosmart HR as several users on different forums had mentioned it as having a Bluetooth sync on/off feature on the device itselt (not on the phone/computer which obviously is possible).

      My question is simply does the HR+ offer this as well? I would feel much more comfortable wearing a tracker if I simply could take it off once or twice per day to sync and then continue wearing it.

      Thank you for any insight.

  126. Craig

    I have a Edge 510. I’m debating between the Vivosmart HR+ and the Fore Runner 235. I mostly run, bike, yoga, and hike. Will either one of these devices allow me to skip wearing the HR chest strap while biking? Would the Edge 510 pair with either one of these watches for HR?

  127. Pablo

    I ordered this watch for my wife and it took over 30 minutes to get a GPS lock the first time, should I return it? all this while outside running with my Fenix 3 that got a lock (with preloaded GPS data) within seconds

    • I presume you paired it to your phone first? It should then download the GPS cache data and be good to go within seconds.

      Possibly consider doing a rest of the unit and see if that solves it.

    • Pablo

      I did. Battery was depleted when i got it so I plug into the charger when I got back to it it had the time set up already but with the year 2016 (someone hardcoded 2016 maybe?) synched with the phone and went for a run to get a GPS lock.

      Mid run about 20 minutes into the run I got tired and reset to defaults and started the GPS lock again, 40 minutes later I still didn’t have a lock so I went inside the house and thats when I got a lock. After that it’s getting a lock quick enough.

      I don’t want you to be Garmin support :) but wanted a 3rd party opinion, Thanks

    • Hmm. Just a quick question – did you start running before it had GPS lock?

    • Pablo

      I failed to complete the GPS dance. I waited for about 5 minutes, I didn’t have a lock and started running. I was expecting it to be better than my Forerunner 405. After 2 days now it’s working fine and locking in seconds


    • Gotchya, that’d probably be it.

      Generally speaking GPS units have an incredibly tough time finding GPS lock once you’ve started running. It’s like their kryptonite.

  128. Lori

    Can the Vivosmart HR+ be charged on the go? I know you can’t wear it because of the way the charger hooks on the back, but if I put it in my pocket while charging will it still capture steps and GPS distance?

    • Jenn

      I always thought this was a strange request until one day when I realized I hadn’t charged my watch and was due for a training run. I attached the charger to a USB battery pack, put the battery in my pocket and the watch on my wrist and went for a run. Worked just fine. The cable was long enough that it didn’t interfere at all with my arm swing and I didn’t notice any funny looks from passersby, it was quite indiscreet!

    • I was asking because I have a 24 hour race coming up, and I know the battery won’t last that long with the GPS running the whole time :)

  129. Ally C

    I have had a Garmin Vivosmart HR+ for just over a month now, I love it and use it walking and cycling. My question relates to the calories burnt when riding my electric bike. Do you know how garmin calculate the calories? I am concerned I may be getting credit for calories I didn’t really burn. Does it use heart rate and distance? if so the distance I am covering is not all under my own steam. I have attached a pic of my latest ride.

  130. Ally C

    I have had a Garmin Vivosmart HR+ for just over a month now, Inlove it and use it walking and cycling. My question relates to the calories burnt when riding my electric bike. Do you know how garmin calculate the calories? I am concerned I may be getting credit for calories I didn’t really burn. Does it use heart rate and distance? if so the distance I am covering is not all under my own steam. I have attached a pic of my latest ride.

  131. Roz

    Hi I was just wondering about the accuracy of the step count and whether it adds steps when you are driving ect. Also does it have a vibrating alarm option?

  132. Tim

    Hi Ray,
    There are rumours on the internets of a Vivosmart 3 (link to wareable.com). You may be under a NDA, but can I ask whether it’s worth buying a Vivosmart HR now, or waiting a few weeks… ;)

    Thanks for the great site.
    Chrs, Tim

  133. Ann Thomas

    I have just bought a Vivosmart HR+. I’m OK with basics. Steps, sleep, HR all working (with quirks) and I have Garmin Connect on my phone which seems to be syncing ok. The only activity I want to do is to go for a walk and be able to see how many miles I’ve done and map the route I took. Can you tell me how to go about that using the GPS on the vivosmart? I have been told I can use ‘map my walk’ on my phone but I want to keep the phone dry in my rucsac and save the battery for phone calls. Could do with easy instructions as I can’t find anything about mapping walks in the handbook. Thanks in advance. I have also just downloaded ‘garmin express’ to my Mac but not explored it yet.

    • AllyC

      To map my walks I hit the home button, select the little man, select walk, then outdoor GPS (you need to be outside then wait a few seconds for the GPS to pinpoint your location) once it says ready, hit the home button again to start recording. When you have finished your walk hit the home bottom to save the activity. When you then sync your watch with garmin connect on your phone your map will be displayed.

    • Ann Thomas

      Thanks very much for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated and I can’t wait to try. Serious walking starts Tuesday but I will try tonight to be confident!
      All the best


    Hi Ray,

    Im thinking of buying either this or the all new Vivosmart 3 which was recently launched. Quick question – do both of these have the same 24/7 HR sampling rate? Your Vivosmart 3 review mentions a “More constant 24×7 HR mode: This is akin to Fenix5/FR935 with far more frequent HR updates” – Do we also get this mode on the Vivosmart HR+?

  135. Lily

    Hi! I have a question regarding accuracy (calories/steps).

    So, I’ve done a “brisk walk/run” 3x already and my garmin vivosmart HR+ still says that “it’s not enough data”. I read part of the manual and it says you only need to do it once. The first two times I tried it, I only went for a 20 minute run. The third time, I decided to go longer and it’s still “not enough”. Do you know why this may be??

    Also, I chose the garmin over the fitbit blaze because of the GPS, however, I can ttteeechnically run with my phone…so as far as overall accuracy, would you say the vivosmart hr+ is better than the fitbit blaze? (When you spend this kind of money, i like to be super sure haha)

    Thank you in advance!

    • Lily

      Ooops let me be more specific. I did the 20min brisk walk/run because the device suggests to do it to improve calorie & floors accuracy. :) So that’s what I’m asking about. The exclamation symbol is still there.

  136. Dawn-Elise Snipes

    Do you have any idea on the Vivosmart HR+ to address issues with wrist based heart rate? Heart rate is frequently inaccurate during cross training activities. (3 of my 6 days a week) I do not have my hand or arm flexed. I am wearing it in the same place I do when i do cardio– and it is *usually* accurate during cardio as long as I am not doing HIIT. My hr is NOT 54-76 when I am lifting. Then I don’t get credit for busting my butt at the gym and the monitor tells me I failed to reach fitness goals. Unacceptable! I cannot find any info on how to correct the gross inaccuracies.

  137. Ralph Anthony

    As an older runner, mid 70’s I appreciate your reviews and POV. I do notstru understand why the manufacturer doesn’t provide better instructions on how to use their product. For an old guy I’m pretty savvy about how things work but when they don’t explain the basics it’s very frustrating. Hence reading your reviews. I live i, sn Arlington VA in the summer and Puerto Rico in the winter, so I always have great weather to run! Again thanks for your help and keep up the great work.

  138. Geoff Armstrong

    Attached is a trace of the Vivosmart HR+ (purchased yesterday) GPS track whilst swimming – together with the actual track swum.

    As you will see the accuracy of the GPS track is not good in fact worse than with my 910XT.

    Next time I swim I will wear both devices to compare.

    Swimming stroke was breast stroke to give the GPS the best chance, sea conditions were good.

  139. John

    I’m curious, did you take the unit in the water for any length of time? I had a vivosmart. Garmin customer service swore to me that it was water resistant. I returned three of them because after going in the water, the display became extremely pixelated to the point of being unreadable. Try synching your data when you can’t read the menu screen.

    I love Garmin. I’ll never trust them enough to buy another Garmin activity tracker. I think the 5 ATM reading on this HR + tracker is BS. I’d bet a day at any water park or your pool will wreck the display.


  140. Oskar

    Will Garmin bring a new activity tracker with GPS that is smaller to fit Day to Day use?
    Both my sister and my wife thinks the forerunner watches is too big and wants activity trackers instead. But they must have GPS…

  141. Frederick

    Looks like a pretty good optical HR monitor. Would I need to run/walk with a phone or anything else to get a constant readout of my current HR? That’s all I want. Thank you very much.

  142. Irina

    Everything I read indicates the Vivosmart HR+ should be able to do live tracking, but cannot find the settings anywhere. Is Livetracking an available feature for this device?

  143. jlaw

    Hi, does the vivosmart hr plus record running split times…mins per mile?

  144. FItri

    Thanks for this depth review – Manage to get one (using Amazon link provided)
    but maybe device received update, no more floppy disk save icon

    and the GPS signal quite poor – even in open area. overall worth for money

  145. Radu Diaconu

    Quick question: is this a better alternative for a mountain runner then Forerunner 25 or 30?
    Thank you very much!

  146. Anthony

    My girlfriend has the vivosmart HR+, and it seems like the auto sport recognition is tracking our sex life. It keeps posting “night ride” to Strava under the guise of the very slow bike ride. Based on what you know, is that a possibility? Or are we reading the Strava incorrectly?

  147. Jennifer

    Great info, thank you! Please consider adding dimensions (including thickness) to your comparison tables. As a smaller person, size has to be my first criteria.