Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Fitbit Sense are smartwatches with similar cost brackets. There is a diverse difference in the features between Vivoactive 4 and Fitbit Sense. Fitbit Sense is very competitively priced and has a rich set of health tracking features. Vivoactive 4 covers all basics of smartwatches. And, it has multi-sport functionality for athletes, triathletes, swimmers, golfers, and hikers.
We discuss the key aspects of the Vivoactive 4 and Fitbit Sense and cover some of the main differences between the two smartwatch models. Fitbit’s premium subscription enhances the core features of Fitbit Sense. If you were to choose Fitbit Sense with a premium subscription, you will get full-fledged health and heart tracking.
Health tracking – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Sense comes with 6 months of Fitbit Premium subscription for you to try the various features. Fitbit Premium adds incremental health tracking features. The standard health tracking features of Fitbit Sense are mentioned below:
- ECG app on Fitbit Sense helps you to take on the spot ECG readings of your heart. Vivoactive 4 does not have an ECG feature to take spot readings of your heart.
- On a Fitbit Sense, sleep tracking data captures all the sleep data including the stages of sleep. The ‘sleep score’ helps you to have a macro-level view of your sleep quality. Garmin Vivoactive 4 also collects sleep tracking data. Vivoactive 4 relays the data to the Garmin Connect app. The Garmin Connect app offers you sleep tracking data over a period of time.
- Fitbit Sense can also report data about heart rate variability. This could be especially useful for tracking and uncovering heart health issues during your sleep. Heart variability data could also alert you to situations wherein the heart rate is going beyond or under the normal heart rate range. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not report the heart rate variability data.
- Fitbit Sense can send in alerts when it detects an irregular heartbeat. On a similar note, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 also sends in alerts if it detects a heart rate that is outside the average range of heart rate collected over a period of time.
- Both, Fitbit Sense and Garmin Vivoactive 4 have a skin-based temperature sensor. Fitbit Sense will need a Fitbit Premium subscription to track and report the temperate readings through the skin-based sensor.
- ‘Daily Readiness Score’ on Fitbit Sense allows you to measure stress levels throughout the day. Daily Readiness Score is a Fitbit Premium feature. Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a comparable feature that tracks stress levels and reports as ‘Body Battery’ levels.
- Fitbit Premium adds over 200 workouts and over 200 mindful meditation sessions on the Fitbit Sense. Garmin Vivoactive 4 specializes in tracking fitness activities.
- Fitbit Premium on Fitbit Sense also shows a Wellness report and Sleep score breakdown. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have any such consolidated wellness report.
- Sleep tracking is definitely better on the Fitbit Sense as Garmin Vivoactive 4 struggles to provide qualitative data on sleep to match Sense’s offering.
Essentially, Fitbit Sense with Fitbit Premium makes for a better health tracking watch. ECG is one of the best aspects of Fitbit Sense. You do, however, need to check if the ECG feature is available in your country. Not all countries support the ECG feature of Fitbit Sense. Stress monitoring, sleep monitoring, and blood oxygen saturation monitoring are standard on the Fitbit Sense and Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatches.
Display – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Sense looks more contemporary than the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch. There are essential differences between the Fitbit Sense and Garmin Vivoactive 4 in terms of display. We list these below for your ready references:
- Fitbit Sense has a square-shaped screen and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a round screen.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a thick stainless steel bezel. It comes in a 45 mm size. The Vivoactive 4S comes in a 40 mm size. Fitbit Sense is a 40 mm watch.
- In spite of a bigger watch size, the display screen size of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is actually smaller than Fitbit Sense. The display screen is 33 mm on a Garmin Vivoactive 4. This is on account of a thick bezel on the watch body. In comparison, the display screen size of 40 mm makes for a bezel-free design on the Fitbit Sense.
- Fitbit Sense has an AMOLED display screen; Garmin Vivoactive 4 continues with the MIP or memory-in-pixel screen. This has got to be one of the key differences between a Fitbit Sense and Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch. The Vivoactive 4 does make use of the Corning Glass for the watch screen.
- Due to the AMOLED screen, the display resolution of Fitbit Sense is appreciably better than the display resolution of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch. The display resolution of a Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch is 260 x 260 pixels. Garmin Vivoactive 4S has a display resolution of 216 x216 pixels. In comparison, the display resolution of Fitbit Sense is 336 x 336 pixels. This makes for a much better display experience on the Fitbit Sense. Also, the PPI or Pixel Per Inch density on Fitbit Sense is marginally higher. Fitbit Sense has a PPI of 301 while the Vivoactive 4 has a PPI score of 283.
- Fitbit Sense supports the ‘Always on Display’ feature. The watch face continues to show time and other data even when the background is turned off. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not support ‘Always on Display’. Always on Display is a standard feature across smartwatches that are contemporary. This includes the Apple Watch 7. So, in a way, missing AOD on Vivoactive 4 is a gap in the feature set of the watch.
- In terms of weight, a Fitbit Sense is marginally lighter than a Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch. The Vivoactive 4 weighs 50.5 grams. Fitbit Sense weighs 48.2 grams.
Music – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a much better music experience than Fitbit Sense. For a start, music functionality on Fitbit Sense depends upon using third-party apps like Pandora and Deezer. Both apps allow you to download music onto the Fitbit Sense smartwatch. You can use the paid subscription of Deezer and Pandora to download and listen to music on Fitbit Sense. There is an incremental expense for availing of music services from the Deezer or Pandora apps. A Fitbit Sense can be used to control music on the paired smartphone.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 has an exhaustive offering of music.
- You can download music onto the Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch storage. You can listen to the downloaded music from the Vivoactive 4 watch.
- You can also stream music using one of the pre-installed music apps on Garmin Vivoactive 4. Or, you could add a third-party music app on the Vivoactive 4.
- Finally, you can control music on the paired smartphone through Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch.
If music is your primary goal, you should prefer a Garmin Vivoactive 4 over Fitbit Sense. The only gripe with Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the lack of a speaker on the watch to listen to music tracks directly from the watch. You will still need to use a Bluetooth speaker and pair it with your Garmin Vivoactive 4 to listen to music.
Call Handling – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have a speaker or microphone. So, you can accept or reject incoming calls on the Vivoactive 4 and 4S. But, you cannot answer calls through a Garmin Vivoactive 4.
Fitbit Sense is more accomplished on this front. It has an in-built speaker and microphone. So, you can use a Fitbit Sense to answer calls directly from the Fitbit Sense watch.
GPS – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Garmin Vivoactive 4 is definitely more accomplished and capable when it comes to GPS locational tracking and targeting.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS satellite systems. Using a combination of GPS + GLONASS or GPS + Galileo improves the GPS accuracy of a Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch.
- Fitbit Sense supports GPS and GLONASS satellite systems. Galileo support is missing on Fitbit Sense. It is suggested to make use of GPS + GLONASS satellite combination to improve GPS accuracy on a Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch.
GPS accuracy is sacrosanct for athletes and fitness professionals. Therefore, a Garmin Vivoactive 4 must be clearly preferred over a Fitbit Sense if accurate GPS tracking is one of the primary goals of the smartwatch user.
Incident Detection – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Incident detection is a feature that is available on the Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch. The feature is similar to Apple’s fall detection feature for smartwatches. Incident detection helps in detecting falls and taking follow-up action to inform the emergency contacts. Once a fall is detected, Garmin Vivoactive 4 will send in text notifications to up to 3 emergency contacts. The message will share GPS attributes or locational data of the wearer upon fall.
If the text message recipient is able to receive and read the message, help could be arranged for the person who has had a fall.
Fitbit Sense does not have any fall detection feature as yet.
NFC Payments – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
NFC payments allow you to complete purchases and payments by using wireless payments gateway. You could pay for your purchases through your smartwatch. The smartwatch needs to be compatible with the NFC payments standard. And, the smartwatch needs to have access to the wallet that is used for dispensing payments for the purchases.
Garmin uses Garmin Pay for completing NFC payments. Garmin Pay is a standard feature on Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch. On a similar basis, Fitbit uses the ‘Fitbit Pay’ app for completing NFC payments. Both smartwatches have integrated NFC payments on the smartwatch for hassle-free contactless payments.
Miscellaneous feature differences – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
- One of the key issues with Fitbit Sense is the poor operating temperature range. A Garmin Vivoactive 4 can work well within a temperature range of -20 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius. A Fitbit Sense has a much narrow temperature range between -10 degrees Celsius to 45 degrees Celsius. Fitbit Sense, therefore, should not be used in extreme temperature areas. 45 degrees is a pretty normal temperature in many parts of the world.
- Vivoactive 4 has special modes to track multiple sports and activities. It has in-built programs to monitor running, hiking, golfing, swimming, and Gym fitness activities. Fitbit Sense does not have any such activity tracking programs. If you are into fitness sports or fitness activities, a Vivoactive 4 smartwatch will tick most boxes in terms of your requirements.
- Vivoactive 4 has a marginally better battery backup as it can offer up to 8 days of battery backup on the smartwatch mode. Fitbit Sense has a rated battery backup of 6 days. In terms of battery, Garmin Vivoactive 4 makes for a better choice.
Costs – Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense
Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a list price of $349. It is, generally, available at a discounted price. As of writing this, Garmin has a discount of $100 on the Vivoactive 4 and 4S models. Fitbit Sense, however, is $179. If you were to add the Fitbit Premium (paid annually), the cost of Fitbit Sense for the first year would be close to $249. Fitbit Premium costs $79.99 on annual terms or $9.99 on monthly terms. However, you will need to buy Pandora or Deezer to play music through your Fitbit Sense watch.
Over a 3 year period of ownership, a Fitbit Sense would cost you close to $400 without the ability to play music through the smartwatch. You can still control the music on your smartphone. Garmin Vivoactive 4 will not cost incremental money after an initial purchase. So, speaking from the cost point, Vivoactive 4 makes all the more sense. And, Garmin watches can easily last 2 to 3 years without any hassles.
Fitbit Sense and Garmin Vivoactive 4 are good smartwatches. Both have different things going on for each. For health tracking and heart monitoring, Fitbit Sense is better than a Garmin Vivoactive 4. Sense also has an ECG feature that is available in supported countries. Garmin Vivoactive 4 has multiple sports modes and offers better battery life. Vivoactive 4 also has a decent music ability.
But, Fitbit Sense has a more contemporary feel with AMOLED display and Always on Display capability. If you wish to get a Fitbit Sense, make the most of new features by availing the Premium subscription of Fitbit Sense. For athletes, triathletes, swimmers and golfers, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is more refined and complete from a features perspective for different types of activity tracking through the watch.
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Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.