Fitbit Charge 5 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5: A Ridiculously Detailed Comparison

I’ve just published the full Fitbit Charge 5 vs Garmin Vivosmart 5 comparison video up on YouTube. I plan to finish converting that into a written post, but in the meantime, this covers all those nuances in way more depth than I set out to. Turns out, it’s not as easy and straightforward as you might think.

At first glance, the common theme in comments I heard was “But Fitbit Charges You For Your Data…” and “Garmin is Missing Baseline 2022 Features”. And yes, both of those are true, but not quite to the extent that one might think at first glance. For example, yes, Fitbit charges you for some of your data. But in general, a lot of the data they charge you for is things Garmin doesn’t do anyways at this price point (e.g. HRV or Skin Temperature). And even then, you still get 7 days’ worth for free. Same goes for aspects like their Stress score. The baseline is free, however, breakouts of what contributes to stress requires a subscription. However, Garmin doesn’t show stress breakouts anyways, so…it’s a wash?

Inversely, yes, Garmin is missing a lot of seemingly core things (like a usable sunny-day display while working out). But, they try and make up for it with better heart rate accuracy and deeper workout insights. Same goes for more longer-term data, or even broadcasting out your heart rate to apps like Peloton or Zwift.

There’s definitely pros and cons to both (lots of pros…and lots of cons), but the devil’s in the detail on what you want.

Anyways, here’s all the chapters in the video with timestamps (or, you can just use the YouTube Chapters option in the video above as you slide along the bottom of the timeline).

0:00 Quick Overview
0:30 General – Pricing
0:54 General – Display Differences
1:57 General – Battery Life
2:25 General – Bands/Straps
2:39 General – Phone, Alarms, Contactless Payments
3:33 Health – Daily Activity Tracking
4:38 Health – Sleep Tracking
5:27 Health – Respiration/Breathing/SpO2
7:17 Health – ECG (Electrocardiogram)
8:00 Health – Stress Measurement
8:48 Health – Skin Temperature & HRV Measurements
9:20 Health – Optical Heart Rate Sensor & Resting HR
10:34 Health – Daily Readiness vs Body Battery
11:30 Health – Apple Health Sync
11:51 Sports – GPS Feature & Differences
13:32 Sports – Workout Heart Rate Accuracy
14:06 Sports – Broadcasting HR to Apps (e.g. Peloton)
14:30 Sports – Sport Profile Options
15:18 Sports – HIIT and Intervals
15:38 Sports – Live Tracking
16:00 Sports – Post-Workout Details
16:29 Sports – VO2Max & Fitness Age
16:46 Final Recommendations

Phew! And, there’s even some sections within that with more details that I couldn’t quite fit without kinda-sorta breaking the YouTube chapters feature due to so many chapters.

With that, thanks for watching!

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

If you're shopping for the Fitbit Charge 5 or Garmin Vivosmart 5 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Since the Fitbit Charge 5 is no longer sold, I recommend looking at Fitbit Charge 6:

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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. okrunner

    Seems like the Charge vs the old Vivosport would be more apples to apples.

  2. Carvalhido

    The vivosmart has some advantages when you have another garmin like a fenix due to the trueup:
    The exercises done in vivosmart appears in the fenix and GC with the correct load
    The sleep also appears in the fenix with the details

    Now, Garmin, how hard it is to sync stress, body battery and respiration rate?

  3. inSyt

    A third party whoop style watch band for the vivosmart would be nice.

    Also, some software updates that makes trueup more comprehensive would be nice. Oh, and how hard can it be to add smart alarms that works with other stuff like body battery?

  4. I’ve had my Vivosmart 5 for a week now. My Vivosmart 4 was absolutely falling apart and I decided that since I already use an Edge 530 and a Forerunner 945, it just didn’t make sense to consider other options. I agree with some of the drawbacks of the Vivosmart 5 as a direct head to head with Fitbit, but as a device that is complementary to the rest of ecosystem, I think it stands up.

    Things I like:
    * Replaceable band (finally)
    * Unobtrusive
    * Accurate HR in most situations
    * Significantly improved sleep metrics (not stages necessarily but it has been far more accurate in knowing when I’m awake in the middle of the night)
    * Body Battery is the reason I buy this thing 8)
    * Battery life vs the VS4 does seem slightly better.
    * Button – I’m probably the only person who liked the touch button but this works nicely and its pretty hard to notice.

    Things that I don’t love :
    * Size – I’ve gotten more used to it but I did prefer the size of the VS4. That said, I suspect it helps the HR accuracy by being larger.
    * Removal of barometric pressure. It was basically an RNG the VS4 so I just wonder if they couldn’t get it to work well. I don’t care that much about stairs but it seems silly to lose that feature
    * Price. I think this should have been $129 or less.

    The only real issue that I’m having right now and I think its a bug is that I can’t remove or even move the watch face. I’d be happy to completely remove it but even moving it down the list would be fine. Right now that’s not possible. It always just reappears at the top. Ray – Any chance you can ask Garmin if that’s expected behavior?

    • Oh, and I wanted to add something about the TrueUp. Man, if Garmin had complete TrueUp (Body Battery/stress/etc) then it would change the way I wear their watches. Right now, I would never think about buying their Epix 2 because I wouldn’t wear it other than to work out. While I mostly am always going to wear my nice watches, even sitting around the house, there are actually scenarios that I would consider wearing a Garmin for certain reasons during the day. And I was going to do that, I’d want a nice one on my wrist. But without having the TrueUp of all the different information I find valuable, I have no reason to ever buy the really high end stuff.

      My 945 is 3 years old and while its a great watch, the battery nearly died during IMTX last week. I mean, one argument is be faster! But I finished in 13:45 which is well within the battery life range of that watch (I had the HR sensor off too!). So I expect I’ll upgrade soonish. I’m not doing another full for at least another year though so the 945 is enough to last me through any other activities I’d do until then. But if there was a full TrueUp available, it would definitely change my buying decision from a future 955 to a Fenix or even Epix.

    • fl33tStA

      Thats the thing, till today Garmin is not able to support Physio True Up correctly, for example the recovery time advisor works wrong between FR945 and Edge 830, that a no go for me, so i never will buy a Garmin device!

      Years after implementation of Physio True up, they release something in a beta to solve this issue, thats a joke, or?

    • I mean there are definitely issues with the TrueUp but is there an alternative? I don’t find the stats that do sync to be bad but there needs to be more. But if went with any other computer and watch combo, would I even get what Garmin provides?

    • fl33tStA

      yes, i moved to Apple Watch 7 (fast charging with Magsafe is good and not that shit Garmin cables) and you need some third Party Apps where you have to pay, but the Apple Eco System with Apple Health is more open as the Garmin System where you can share mostly everything to Apple Health.
      For example Blood Pressure, Temeperatur, Weight of Withing scale and so on.
      In the Garmin World you have only Fitness Pal, on Apple Health you can use every App that do the same like YAZIO.
      For cycling i moved to Hammerhead Karoo 2, it is amazing compared to Edge 830.

      Sure, you have to play a little bit arround to find a good setup, but i found it now and i never will buy a Garmin Device anymore

    • jww

      An Apple Watch and a Karoo will somehow sync/interact in a Garmin “Trueup” fashion?

    • fl33tSTA

      a kind of shade trueup, sure not on Garmin, but it works because Apple Health is managing the data and a simple App like TrainingToday on Apple Watch and iphone shows you if you are ready to train with measuring your HRV in the background.

      This works much better then the high sophisticated Firstbeat scrap on Garmin!

  5. Kien Co

    Stress score on Garmin devices is indeed interpreted from HRV data.

  6. Vince

    For those interested in spo2 metrics (like sleep apnea sufferers), fitbit will only provide the avg spo2 value from your sleep session. There’s another metric under “sleep restoration” that will show relative variations in spo2, but no absolute figures. Ultimately not that useful to check how many apnea events I’ve had in a session.

    Garmin will show the actual spo2 values over a 4 hour period of sleep in minute increments. This info is more valuable to me.

    • Totally agree with you. However, the one exception is that while I normally find the Garmin Elevate SpO2 metrics pretty accurate, I’ve seen nothing but inaccuracy on the Vivosmart 5’s data – way below reality, for many weeks now.

  7. Ralph

    Meh, Garmin either needs to up their game or lower their prices significantly.
    I also feel that they do not have a cheap “gateway drug” to their ecosystem anymore. I really can recommend anybody the vivosmart 5 at this price level. Too many basic core features are missing or incomplete. At the upper end (fenix, epix) the prices reached batshit insane levels.
    And the still missing “complete” physioTrueUp is just shameful and sad.

    I feel that Garmin has lost direction. Do they want to be a health data company? A hardware company? Luxury brand? For each of these there a good reasons why they are not, Garmin Connect has issues, hardware is overpriced compared to competitors(and ConnectIQ fields could be done better), and Luxury brand would implicate long lifespans, but you cant even swap a battery. Sapphire isnt standard either. So what do they want to be?

    The VS5 doesnt give a clear signal either, except “overpriced”.

    • Carvalhido

      Not here. The metrics are on pair with vs4 and fenix however noticed that got an update two days ago.

    • Thilo

      I get the sentiment. Especially in the Bike Computer Market, karoo 2 steals the Show. And it is similar in the Watches Segment. Too little New Features, too high Prices. Wierd product segmentation. Disposable Fitness Bands With “issues” must bee cheaper.

  8. Brian Gray

    It seems like the Vivosmart 5 is much more a direct comparison with the Fitbit Inspire 2. They have most of the same features with the Vivosmart 5 being in an intermediate size. The Charge 5 is a radically different device in a different class. (I am a longtime Fitbit Inspire 2 wearer, so that was my immediate reaction when Garmin downgraded the Vivosmart 5 from the 4.)

  9. I just got an update on my 945 today that added RHR true-up. I think that’s a good sign that the True Up functionality is still being improved. If they can just add Stress & Body Battery, that will be pretty great

  10. We bought our first Garmin Lily for my wife in 2015. It has been a dream come true for us ever since. She loves it so much more now than when we first got it! She uses it daily and it has quickly become her favorite piece of equipment! I’m still undecided on what to buy for myself, so I’m reading your comments.