Garmin is reputable for its innovative and reliable products. In fact, it’s seen as sports and performance king, which is why it may seem like you have a slight case of familiarity each time the company introduces yet another new wearable device. In this post, our focus in on Garmin Vivosmart HR and HR Plus Review.
Since the invention of Apple Watch, it appears like every brand in the wearables industry has been determined to making a device that can take care of it all – from social media notifications to fitness tracking – while equally looking like a high-end fashion product.
Unfortunately, the result has seen a few weird hybrid fitness trackers like the Moto 360 Sport and Fitbit Blaze, which look good enough though but don’t really cut the mustard for staunch fitness enthusiasts.
…The Garmin Vivosmart HR and HR+, two smartwatches that put substance ahead of style. Featuring inbuilt GPS, a week-long battery life, and waterproof design, the Vivosmart HR+ is a fitness-focused tracker built for staunch cyclists, runners, and swimmers.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is basically an updated version of the somewhat dumbed-down Vivosmart HR, which was introduced in late 2015. The Vivosmart HR+ has had a little yet considerable upgrade on the original version because it’s not just loaded with a heart rate sensor, but it’s equally GPS-enabled as I mentioned above, which means it’s indeed a runner’s best friend.
This is indeed a great choice for those that are currently using a simple wearable such as the Misfit Shine or Fitbit Alta but thinks they need to upgrade to a device that’s much clever and designed for fitness instead of activity tracking. No wonder why the Vivosmart HR+ sits on the more costly end of the activity tracker gamut.
However, in some ways, it’s not a device specifically designed for fitness (even as we assume runners will benefit a lot from it). With Garmin Vivosmart HR+, the brand is certainly making a play to rival with all-dancing and all-singing devices such as the Fitbit Blaze and Apple Watch, which can pretty much take care of sleep and fitness, activity tracking, and also notifications to boot.
Continue reading to understand whether we think the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is an overrated activity tracker or can comfortably rival with the smartwatch elite.
- Garmin Vivosmart Hr and HR Plus Review | Comparison Table
- Garmin Vivosmart Hr+ Review | The Watch Design
- Garmin Vivosmart Hr Plus Review | Activity Tracking
- Vivosmart HR+ | Sports Tracking
- Garmin Vivosmart Hr Fitness Tracker Review | Notifications
- Vivosmart HR Plus | App
- Garmin Vivosmart HR+ | Software and Tracking
- Vivosmart HR+ | Battery Life
- Garmin Vivosmart Hr Review
- Vivosmart HR Features and Design
- Garmin Vivosmart HR’s Smart notifications
- Garmin Vivosmart HR’s App
- Garmin Vivosmart HR’s Battery Life
- Similarly, here’s a video review of Garmin Vivosmart HR:
Garmin Vivosmart Hr and HR Plus Review | Comparison Table
Garmin Vivosmart Hr+ Review | The Watch Design
Like most other Garmin devices, the Vivosmart HR+ isn’t claiming to be a modern take on the classic wristwatch – a style we’ve all seen flaunted by various similar brands. Rather, it’s a device designed for thorough fitness.
Built from plastic enclosed in a rubber body and strap, the long-lasting design makes sure that the HR+ resists hard knocks and even sudden drops to the floor. Additionally, its conventional buckle-style strap indicates that it’s super secure, even while running on the roughest topography.
It initially feels slightly heavy duty compared to other similar watches, but the fact that it hardly moves is a big plus over the style implemented by the likes of the Jawbone UP3 that is prone to sliding around during specifically exhausting workouts.
Sure this durable, sensible, and unashamedly fitness-focused style will be a big turn-off for some people. But a watch that’s designed to do the job and values a simple, tested-and-trusted appeal over a wistfully stylish one actually feels revitalizing, (although that’s probably a sign we’re getting older and uninteresting.)
But when you dive deeper, you’ll discover that the Vivosmart HR+ really favored substance over style. For instance, the sunken home button and rubber exterior mean the device has a reasonable amount of waterproofing.
Just like other Garmin’s smartwatches, the HR+ is water-resistant to 5ATM, which should be around 50-meters. What this means is that you don’t have to border about it in the bath and can equally take it swimming – sadly though, there’s no dedicated swimming mode.
If you’re after a device that resembles a classic timepiece, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is unlikely to be the right fit. Unlike the Fitbit Blaze and Moto 360 Sport, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+is unashamedly a fitness tracker first.
However, the only downside of the watches’ design is that the main unit is a bit lumpy, with a thickness of about 192mm. This is totally not a deal-breaker on my side, but it could be an obstacle for people with thin wrists or fashion-conscious buyers. When we put it on a friend’s slim wrist, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ looked amusingly chunky.
Equally unsatisfactory is the fact that the device is charged using a branded dock. On various trips overseas, I’ve forgotten to go with dedicated charging cables, and because of this, I’m not a fan of any form of branded charger.
But due to the fact that some wearables are charged with regular USB-C cables or Micro USB, the addition of a branded dock is not actually a gigantic surprise. Additionally, considering the HR+’s strong 5-day battery life, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Once the Vivosmart HR+ is charged, setting it up is pretty simple. Just download the Garmin Connect app to your phone (Android and iOS) and create your Garmin account. From that point, you’ll be required to switch on the handset’s Bluetooth and follow a few on-screen instructions to pair the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ to your smartphone and account.
Garmin Vivosmart Hr Plus Review | Activity Tracking
The Vivosmart HR plus has three key features: Daily activity tracking, GPS run tracking, and smart notifications. And daily activity tracking is one of its strongest suits.
Interestingly, step tracking is very accurate and is pitched against a movable goal set for you by Garmin. It takes some weeks for the goal to get settled, but it does a great job of being both attainable in the short term, and also keeps you on your toes in the long term. However, if you’d instead set your own goal then, that can be done within the app.
Furthermore, all-day heart-rate tracking is equally reasonable, and it will help to keep checks on your bpm 24/7. It pulls out your resting heart rate using this data, which is a good pointer that your health is being improved. This can be seen over time in the Garmin Connect app, and also live on your wrist by swiping on the Gamin Vivosmart HR+.
To be precise, the Vivosmart HR+ is an excellent and accurate device as an activity tracker. While it’s bulkier and less sexy than the Fitbit Alta, for instance, it’s loaded with great and rich data which is certain to delight you.
Another good thing is that sleep is automatically tracked and recorded right in the Garmin Connect app, which equally shows your chosen bedtime, so you can figure out how often you’re hitting the hay on time, together with how long you sleep. That’s not all, we discovered that the sleep tracking is generally accurate, with night-time toilet tour recorded properly, but if you’re obsessed with sleep, you might wish to buy a tracker that reports slumber better. For example, the graphs shown in Garmin Connect are nowhere close to that of Withings or Jawbone.
However, if inactivity is your greatest worry, then Garmin Vivosmart HR plus’s Move bar feature performs accurately. It accumulates on the home screen of the device, and you’ll be prompted to move once it fills the screen. This works much better than most of the other fitness trackers out there, as you can clearly see inactivity accumulating, which means you can actually get up and about even before getting the push – because this obviously never buzzes when you’re truly free to move.
Typically, the only grumble we have with the “Move bar” is the types of action that allows you to clear it. You’re basically required to be up and about for about 2-minutes, but we noticed that walking around only would indeed clear it. We engaged in 2-minutes of office football “keepy-uppy” and it didn’t make any impact on the bar, and even about 2-hours of floor sanding at home couldn’t make an impact too. Except you’re walking tenaciously, that Move bar isn’t shifting.
Vivosmart HR+ | Sports Tracking
This is the exciting part. While for the other Gamin models, you’re required to carry a smartphone along on your runs in order to leach the GPS, the Vivosmart HR+ can do virtually everything on its own.
Simply press the button and select the activity icon and tap Run to instantly start tracking. Just like every normal GPS device, it will track time, calories, distance, and pace. It simply shows one metric at a time, which is a bit infuriating, but it’s pretty easy to swipe between them.
Nevertheless, those looking for a horde of multisport choices will be very disappointed.
The only available modes are cardio (which is an open workout with GPS options), running (with no GPS indoor running option), and ‘other’ (which is an open workout with GPS options).
However, there are no dedicated modes for cycling or swimming, which is a bit astounding. Of course, these can be tracked via the open workout option – just the way you could hit a Zumba class or the gym – but the returned data is a bit generic. You get bpm, time, calories burned, and distance (in GPS mode), but no single specialist metrics.
In regards to the heart rate monitor, the Vivosmart HR+ went a similar pattern to the rest of Garmin’s newest watches that makes use of the Elevate sensor. It’s mostly found at a steady run pace, but things start to break down at a higher intensity.
Again, the accuracy stumbles to a shocking degree at high intensity and factoring in wrist flexing. That’s not all, there’s equally a worse lag than we’ve noticed on TomTom optical HR sensors.
Furthermore, unlike other Garmin watches, for those that want more accurate data, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ does not support external HR chest straps. This is indeed a big shame given that almost every Garmin going will actually sync up with a strap. This indicates that Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a fitness tracker with some additional smarts for runners, but definitely not the best training tool. However, if you’re bordered about accuracy, you’ll have to check out the Forerunner series.
Finally, the Vivosmart HR+ can equally broadcast heart rate to other Garmin watches. This is very useful for those with Edge cycling trackers or VIRB cameras to include biometric data into rides or videos, but somewhat of a niche attribute.
Garmin Vivosmart Hr Fitness Tracker Review | Notifications
Vivosmart HR Plus | App
Like all other Garmin devices, the Vivosmart HR+ syncs with the Garmin Connect app. It works with both iOS and Android and there’s also a web portal which works with devices connected to a Mac/PC, this means that there’s no need to have a specific phone operating system (OS) to effectively use devices.
Basically, Garmin Connect is where you’ll review charts and graphs that track your activity, and features a bunch of Snapshots, which are the very first thing you will see once you open the app. The snapshots include a calendar of your workouts, workout leaderboard, steps for the week, and your daily stats.
Although it has some learning curve, it’s a wonderful app that’s perfect at keeping tab of all your various Garmin activities. Additionally, the web portal is much better, providing an ample of powerful tools to build training schedules, workout plans, make and plan tracks and also examine your progress against goals.
Once you master it, the app works perfectly – but it typically took us a lot of time to figure out where to find all the numerous options within Garmin Connect. However, the moment you find what you’re looking for, the graphs are as accessible and detailed as any other fitness tracker you could think of.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ | Software and Tracking
Once paired, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ provides some useful smartwatch services like a music player controller, weather alerts, and basic notifications. But its primary focus is health tracking.
Like we mentioned earlier, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ tracks your step count, calories burned, heart rate, as well as distance and time, walked – and it does all these automatically. But you need to notify the device manually the moment you’re about to start a specific exercise. This can be done by accessing a second menu which activates by pressing the Vivosmart HR+’s front physical button – after which you’ll have to press the exercise icon and choose the workout you want it to track.
I’ve always loved trackers which can detect what exercise you’re doing automatically – like the way Basis Peak and Microsoft Band 2 does, but because of the total volume of exercises the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ can track and how much data it provides thereafter, I can actually overlook the manual controls.
Interestingly, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ performed very well when tested against Microsoft Band 2 and a Basis Peak and on a run I’m sure is 5km long. Microsoft Band 2 and the Basis Peak are two of the most accurate trackers I’ve ever checked and the distance measurements of Garmin were consistent with them.
Moreover, the heart-rate reading equally remained constantly accurate and, contrary to the Blaze, it never told me my heart was beating at a faster pace. The Vivosmart HR+ is equally able to spot when its user is running up elevations, this will be very useful for people like myself that do stair sprints occasionally.
Immediately you’ve completed your workout, all the necessary information can easily be viewed on the HR+’s screen. However, to access all of it, you’re required to enable the Garmin Go app. On the app, you will be presented with a charts that showcases everything from your general activity for the day to performance analysis of specific workouts, as well as how you slept the night before.
Although, the app is not the most user-friendly I’ve used, especially compared to the Withings app and Microsoft Health. However, this is primarily because of the number of submenus and steep volume of data it offers you. This will potentially scare away people that are looking for a more casual experience, just desiring to find out how far they ran and for how long.
However, if you’re basically looking for a tracker which will help you monitor your ongoing progress, it’s the best option. Using the heart-rate monitor and pace tracker, I soon saw myself racing to defeat the last mile timings of my previous run.
Immediately I got used to the app’s interface I equally discovered that the Vivosmart HR+’s “intensity minutes” measurement is very useful.
For clarity sake, intensity minutes are the points while working out when your body is at its highest performance. Essentially, the intensity data is a tremendous addition that made it quick and simple for me to track my workout to workout progress.
That’s not all, the Vivosmart equally uses your “intensity minutes” to measure the activity goals it sets you to achieve the recommended stress standards the popular health bodies like the World Health Organization sets. It’s a very helpful feature that minimizes the possibility of you straining and overreaching your body.
Vivosmart HR+ | Battery Life
The battery on the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ typically lasts between 5 and 6 days. And that’s when you’re using all the features, getting a ton of notifications and taking it out for some indoor runs as well as a handful of outdoor runs making use of GPS.
This basically seems short compared to some of the more basic trackers on the market, but considering how many sensors are simultaneously doing their thing, it’s actually very impressive.
The device would only last about eight hours if you were to constantly have the GPS turned on, according to Garmin. Although we didn’t have enough time to go on an eight hour+ hike or run in order to put that to the test.
Now, for you to charge the Garmin Vivosmart HR+, you simply connect it to a support that plugs into your PC through USB. It sort of falls into place and felt a little tricky at first.
However, a few weeks down the line, it does not worry us a lot, but it does indicate you have an extra thing to pack if you’re going on a travel. Although it’s barely a deal-breaker, but slightly annoying.
Finally, Garmin obviously had some smart people in its development teams, and that ability is no more evident than when it comes to its battery life, it’s simply amazing.
Here’s a short video review of the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Watch:
Garmin Vivosmart Hr Review
This post will not be complete without also talking about Garmin Vivosmart HR review. The Vivosmart HR is indeed a nice fitness tracker that also imitates key smartwatch features, even though it does not have GPS tracking function.
Interestingly, the Vivosmart HR was one of the few good fitness trackers available back in 2015. But the tech world is constantly evolving at a very fast pace, and a lot of rivals have bridged the gap – not least of all Garmin’s latest addition: the Vivosmart HR+.
However, fitness trackers are generally getting more advanced and giving far more bang for their money. Before, GPS would have doubled the cost of a smartwatch, but the technology has come down to the cost today, where it sort of makes sense to purchase it on the off chance you’ll go running someday.
Look at the Garmin Forerunner 30 or the TomTom Spark 3 for instance. Both of these wareables has everything the Vivosmart HR does, and even more – a lot more regarding the more advanced TomTom series.
But if you’ve got the budget, our favorite fitness devices around is the Garmin brand. The Vivoactive 3, for example, is not just an accurate bit of fitness watch – it’s a good looking wristwatch in its own right. Admittedly, it will cost you a lot more, but it’s absolutely worth shopping around for.
Vivosmart HR Features and Design
We’ll first start with a dissection of the feel and look of this device. For many people, it’s the quality of the technology that’s important, but if we’ll be wearing something 24/7, it really has to look nice and be comfortable on our dear wrist.
Surely, the Vivosmart HR is hefty. It can be compared to the Microsoft Band 2 (without the annoying knob on the strap) and not just couture.
It has a black and bland design and is undoubtedly a great piece of technology. Good enough, it comes in 2 sizes for smaller wrists, does not appear feminine. The thing about the design is that it’s not offensive and never stands out. It looks moderately glossy and rarely catches on jacket/clothing sleeves. It’s equally lightweight and you’ll forget about it easily.
The 5 ATM “water resistance” rating is yet another upside of this innovative device, this means that it’s ideal for both the pool and shower.
Finally, it features a 160 x 68 pixel LCD touchscreen with a strong backlight for night reading, you’ll initiate that by using your hand to cover the screen. It’s basic but does a good job of showing your stats with a simple swipe across the display. Another good thing is that the time is permanently shown on the screen, so it does a great job of doubling as a watch.
Garmin Vivosmart HR’s Smart notifications
Including smartwatch, notifications are the major way the Vivosmart HR can distinguish itself from the likes of Fitbit, and it does this pretty well.
There’s not a lot of technology or science in the way it tackles notifications. Any push notification from your phone is simulated on the Garmin. It buzzes and displays the type of notification and a little extract of the message. That’s the start of a Skybet push or a single line of a Whatsapp message.
It’s enough to let you know of a notification if you’re not close to your smartphone and even notify you of when it’s safe to ignore your phone. Unfortunately, though, you cannot trim the type of notifications you get – but turning off push notifications on your smartphone will do the same job.
Garmin Vivosmart HR’s App
Garmin Vivosmart HR also syncs with the Garmin Connect application as expected. The app is available for both iOS and Android. It’s one of the most comprehensive ecosystems on the web, even though the redesign is now a bit complex.
You can easily review a bunch of graphs and charts tracking your activity on the app, but even though we’ve always loved the app for tracking runs, the daily stuff is a bit unclear.
The app comprises of News Feed, Snapshots, Calendar, Leaderboard, etc. News Feed displays tracked workouts – while snapshots are your current day, just swipe the screen to see all the various daily metrics. Additionally, to view your steps or sleep history, head over to the relevant snapshot and click on the graph for a weekly summary. The result can then be compared over 7-days, 4-weeks or even 12-months.
The calendar allows you to see a list of your days as well as how active you were. Also, you can clearly see workouts in green, steps in blue, and earned badges in orange. However, you cannot see sleep here. Similarly, leaderboard displays your progress against connections.
The app works perfectly well once you master it – but it took us over 2 weeks of trying to get used to it. The graphs are detailed when you learn to discover the information you want though.
However, there were some problems. Garmin Vivosmart HR wouldn’t synchronize with Garmin Connect app for about one week until we completely unpaired it and reconnected. The worst of it all was that during this period, it forgot a bunch of activities and battery life also went down, which was very abnormal. But it worked perfectly after we’d fixed the problem, but it’s apparently not an isolated occurrence – little wonder why the app is rated one star on the App Store, primarily because of syncing problems.
Garmin Vivosmart HR’s Battery Life
Garmin states a 5-day battery life, which is overall on the money and includes a few tracked runs and full HR monitoring. It edges the Fitbit Charge HR a bit, although they’re both on average.
However, we did encounter a little problem with battery life during the issues with syncing. Although the devices were paired technically. During this period, the battery died in 2.5-days, in the middle of a hike. It was really aggravating but appeared to be an isolated occurrence, and we weren’t able to replicate the problem.
Similarly, here’s a video review of Garmin Vivosmart HR:
Garmin Vivosmart Hr Vs Hr+ Review | What’s The Difference?
Garmin Vivosmart HR and HR+ Review | Conclusion
So, is the Vivosmart HR worth getting in 2018? Perhaps, but at the least, you should check if the Vivosmart HR+ can be found for a similar price. Trust me, your running shoes will thank you later.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is not likely to capture the interest of those after a very stylish device, or one that looks like a traditional wristwatch. But that being said, it’s not as if it particularly looks bad. The device is basically for those that cherish substance, subtle device, and good data over beautiful.
In other words, it’s perfect for someone that needs something more than a Fitbit Flex or Misfit Shine but do not work out enough to validate a heavy-duty running watch which looks like a computer strapped to his wrist – not to mention the matching price tag, similar to Garmin’s much more serious Forerunner series.
On the contrary, you don’t have to be breaking down the 5km runs to be pleased with it. If you only desire an activity tracker for the moment, but you’re sure you want to take fitness slightly more serious, getting this device would offer you a good excuse and also means you won’t be demanding for better sensors and more functionality a few months in when hitting ten thousand steps just no longer do it for you.
Finally, the Vivosmart HR+ may not be the sexiest wearable on the market, but it passes all the right tests as far as functionality is concerned. Therefore, if you’re after a well-built, and accurate fitness tracker to help you push your workout a bit forward, this is absolutely one of the best available out there.
But if you’re a novice, or casual jogger just desiring for a quick and simple way of tracking your sleep, distance traveled and step count, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is overkill.
There you have it all, we’re finally at the end of this Garmin Vivosmart HR and HR plus review, and we’ll love to know your take on this on the comment section.