Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Apple Watch SE

Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Apple Watch SE sit in the same cost bracket. Both watches are value for money smartwatch propositions. We look at the key differences between the Vivoactive 4 and Apple Watch SE. Vivoactive 4 series has two variants. Vivoactive 4 and Vivoactive 4S are the two offerings in the Garmin Vivoactive 4 series. The underlying functionality of both watches is similar. So, for the purpose of our study, we will consider Vivoactive 4 vs Apple Watch SE as full comparison between Vivoactive 4/4S and Apple Watch SE.

Android Support

One of the key aspects of the Apple Watch SE is the incompatibility with the Android mobile operating system. Apple Watch SE can only work with iOS. It is compatible with iOS 15 and iPhone 6S and later models. A Garmin Vivoactive 4 is compatible with iOS and Android mobile operating systems. There are no issues in the interoperability of Garmin Vivoactive 4 with Android or iOS mobile operating systems.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports iOS 13 and higher devices. So, this means that a Garmin Vivoactive 4 can easily talk to iPhone 6S later models. iPhone SE is also included in the supported devices of Vivoactive 4. On a similar basis, a Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports Android 7 and later versions of the Android mobile operating system. We are, currently, in the Android version 12 and expecting Android 13 to be launched soon. The support for Android 7 and higher versions of the Android mobile operating system means that a Garmin Vivoactive 4 has in-built support for a wide range of Android smartphones.

Bezel and Casing

Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a polymer body. But, the bezel is made of stainless steel. The steel bezel gives a sturdy look to the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The weight of the Vivoactive 4 version is 50.5 gms. The smaller version of Vivoactive 4S weighs 40 gms.

Apple Watch SE has multiple variants. But all these come in aluminum casing and aluminum body. The difference in casing material makes Apple Watch SE lighter than the Garmin Vivoactive 4. Apple Watch SE weighs around 37 gms.

If you are looking for steel bezel, Garmin Vivoactive 4 would be a better option. If you prefer sleeker and wider watches, the Apple Watch SE is a preferred option.

Battery life

Garmin smartwatches offer a much better battery life than other smartwatches. Apple Watches have poor battery life. They require frequent charging. Apple Watch SE comes with a rated battery capacity of 18-24 hours. If you listen to music or use the Apple Watch SE on GPS mode, the battery backup will go down further. Most people using the Apple Watch SE fit into a routine of charing the watch each night.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 can last for as long as 7 to 8 days on the smartwatch mode. On the GPS mode, it can last for 18 hours. Music and GPS together can give you a battery life of 6 hours on Vivoactive 4. The backup times on Vivoactive 4S are marginally lower.

The bottom line is that when it comes to battery life, a Garmin Vivoactive 4 will beat an Apple Watch SE any time of the day. If you detest frequent charging of the smartwatch, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the preferred option between the Apple Watch SE and Vivoactive 4.

Cellular coverage

Apple Watch SE offers a cellular variant as well. This implies that you can use an Apple Watch SE without a phone. Agreeably, the feature is important for people on the run or on hiking tours. The cellular model is significant for the flawless coverage of the fall detection feature on the Apple Watch SE. Upon detecting a fall, Apple Watch SE can make an emergency call in supported countries on supported cellular networks.

The cellular model of the Apple Watch SE is priced at a marginally higher price than the regular Apple Watch SE model. We do suggest using the cellular model for the elders and people who spend considerable time outdoors.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have a cellular model at all. Forerunner 945 is the only Garmin smartwatch that has a cellular model for supporting cellular network services.

Display and Size

In terms of display specifications and size, an Apple Watch SE is generations ahead of the Garmin Vivoactive 4. There are too many differences that establish the Apple Watch SE as the preferred smartwatch variant of the two smartwatches we are comparing. We list some key points of difference in display and size between the Apple Watch SE and Garmin Vivoactive 4.

  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a round display screen. Apple Watch SE is more contemporary. It has a square shaped display screen.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a 45 mm watch body with a 33 mm display screen. Vivoactive 4S has a 40 mm watch body with a 28 mm display screen. Apple Watch SE has a 44 mm and 40 mm watch body. However, it offers a much better display screen coverage. Apple Watch SE display screen is 1.78″ and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 display screen is 1.3″.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 is thicker than the Apple Watch SE. Vivoactive 4 has a thickness of 12.88 mm. Apple Watch SE is slimmer and thinner with a thickness of 10.74 mm.
  • Apple Watch SE has an OLED display, thus making it a contemporary watch technology. Garmin Vivoactive 4 is an MIP screen or the memory in pixel screen. It would have been preferable for the Vivoactive 4 to at least have an AMOLED display screen.
  • Due to the difference in display technologies used, an Apple Watch SE has a much better display resolution. An Apple Watch SE has a display resolution of 368 x 448 pixels. Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a display resolution of 260 x 260 pixels. Vivoactive 4S has a display resolution of 216 x 216 pixels.
  • One key differentiator is the Always-on-Display feature. Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S have Always-on-Display while the Apple Watch SE does not have Always-on-Display. The AOD feature is available on the Apple Watch 7 series smartwatches. For some reason, Apple has removed the AOD support on the Apple Watch SE smartwatch variant.

Call Handling

An Apple Watch SE can be used to answer calls. It has an inbuilt speaker and microphone. So, you can answer the calls directly through the Apple Watch SE. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have an inbuilt speaker and microphone.

  • You cannot answer calls on Garmin Vivoactive 4 or 4S when the paired smartphone is an iPhone.
  • You can accept or reject a call on Garmin Vivoactive 4 if the paired smartphone is Android. You will still need to make use of the phone’s speaker and microphone to answer the call though. The call handling capacity is limited on the Vivoactive 4 and 4S.


Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a published price of $299. But, it is generally available at a discounted price. As of now, it is available at $249. An Apple Watch SE is $279 and the cellular model of the Apple Watch SE is available at $329.

For the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Apple Watch SE basic model, the cost difference is hardly material. The cellular model of the Apple Watch SE commands a justified premium in terms of support for the cellular networks.

Fall Detection

Apple Watch SE and all Apple Watches have an excellent fall detection feature. The fall detection feature of Apple Watches has been put to use by many users. Fall detection accuracy and the subsequent action taken by Apple Watch SE is well established. Upon detecting a fall, Apple Watch SE can notify the emergency contacts. In supported countries and on supported networks, it can even make calls to the emergency helpline to seek help for the person in distress.

If fall detection is one of the essential features on your bucket list, you should not consider anything apart from an Apple Watch. In our case, Apple Watch SE must be preferred over a Garmin Vivoactive 4. Especially, if you need a smartwatch for the elders.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 does have an incident detection feature. It will detect a hard fall and notify up to 3 emergency contacts. But, it all comes down to a proven history of Apple Watch SE in detecting a fall and taking the necessary action.

Health Monitoring

It is a mixed bag when it comes to health monitoring on Apple Watch SE and Garmin Vivoactive 4.

  • Vivoactive 4 has a pulse oximeter feature that allows you to make spot checks of blood oxygenation levels. You can even do continuous monitoring of oxygen saturation levels in the blood. Apple Watch SE, sadly, does not have any blood oxygenation tracking.
  • Apple Watch SE can detect irregular heart rhythms and send you alerts on the same. Vivoactive 4 can send high or low heart rate alerts using the wrist-based Elevate heart rate sensor. But, for more efficient heart tracking, we will have to make Apple Watch SE a preferred option. You may, however, want to know that both watches do not have an ECG feature to take ECG on demand.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4S also have a skin-based temperature sensor. Apple Watch SE does not have any temperature sensor capability.

Activity Monitoring and Multi-sports

You will have to give it to the Garmin Vivoactive 4 when it comes to activity tracking and multi-sport modes.

  • Vivoactive 4 has an in-built golf mode.
  • Vivoactive 4 also has an in-built swimming activity.
  • Outdoor recreation mode on Vivoactive 4 will track and monitor outdoor activities.
  • Cycling activity offers you a rich set of features to monitor performance in cycling activity.
  • There is a separate Gym and Fitness activity tracking module on Garmin Vivoactive 4.
  • Vivoactive 4 also has activity tracking for Running.

All these modes and activities are also available on the Garmin Vivoactive 4S. However, an Apple Watch SE does not have any such fitness tracking modules. It can monitor your activities, including swimming. But, there are no in-built specific modules to track performance and activities.

For people looking at a smartwatch that doubles up as an efficient activity and fitness tracker, there can be nothing better than a Garmin smartwatch. A Vivoactive 4 will be definitely preferred over the Apple Watch SE for the activity tracking and fitness tracking.


Apple Watch SE and Garmin Vivoactive 4 are pretty good smartwatches that are priced on or around $300 mark. Apple Watch SE has better appearance and offers all round features. Garmin Vivoactive 4 is more suitable for fitness and activity tracking features. The multi-sports modes of Vivoactive 4 and 4S are another set of features that make the watch suitable for runners and fitness enthusiasts.

For the normal folks like you and me, an Apple Watch SE has a good appeal for the vast range of features offered by the Apple Watch SE.

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Helen Kurt - Contributor on TECHEPAGES.COM. Reach me on email.

Helen Kurt is a geeky nerd who loves to cover the wearables space. She has over 5 years of experience in the smartwatch domain. You can reach her on email at [email protected].