Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs 4s: Choosing the Best Fitness Watch

If you’re shopping for a fitness tracker, you might be wondering about the differences with the Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs 4s.

Garmin offers several lines in their smartwatch collection, and the Vivoactive line is designed for general fitness tracking. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Garmin Vivoactive 4s are the latest models in this line, released in late 2019.

To help you make a choice, you should first think about what you need from your fitness tracker.

What Are You Looking For in a Fitness Tracker?

There are a couple of categories of things that might help you choose the right fitness tracker.

The first, and most obvious, is its fitness tracking capabilities. Does it track steps, measure heart rate, and map your GPS location?

Another feature that you’ll be looking for is different kinds of activity tracking. Can it differentiate between walking, running, and hiking? What about other activities, like yoga or weight lifting?

For the data nerds out there (like me), you might be looking for advanced analytics. Some smartwatches will track your sleep, measure your pulse ox, and estimate your recovery time. You might find these things useful, or you might never look at them.

The cost is of course something to consider. Garmins run the gamut from $100 to almost $1,000. So you should consider your budget and let that inform your choice.

Finally, does fashion matter to you? Some Garmin watches are designed with form and elegance in mind. Others are designed purely for functionality.

The Vivoactive 4 and 4s are the latest Garmin watches in the Vivoactive line.

So What’s the Difference Between the Vivoactive 4 and 4s?

Here’s the good news. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Garmin Vivoactive 4s are the same in most of those categories.

They have the same functionality in terms of fitness tracking and analytics. Each will track your runs, measure your heartbeat, and give you access to the Body Battery feature.

They’re also the same price – $350 MSRP. You can find them on Amazon for about $250.

The only real difference between the two watches is their form. The Vivoactive 4 is slightly larger and the Vivoactive 4s is slightly smaller.

Comparing the watch faces, the Vivoactive 4 is 45mm in diameter, and the 4s is 40mm in diameter. The Vivoactive 4 sports a slightly larger watch face (1.3″ to 1.1″) and display resolution (260x260px to 218x218px).

The watchbands are also slightly different sizes. On the Vivoactive 4s, the watch bands are 18mm wide and they fit a wist that is 110-175mm in circumference. Compare that to the 22mm wide watchband and the 135-200mm circumference on the Vivoactive 4.

The color options are different on the two watches, as well. The smaller Vivoactive 4s comes in rose gold, silver, and slate, while the larger 4 only comes in slate and silver.

The size also causes one functional difference in the two watches – battery life. There’s a slightly smaller battery in the Vivoactive 4s. It’s rated for 7 days of general use, compared to 8 days for the Vivoactive 4.

A stylish female runner, the target audience for the Garmin Vivoactive 4s
Garmin’s Vivoactive 4s is the right choice, if you don’t want a bulky watch.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs 4s: Making the Choice

The only significant functional difference between the two watches is the battery life, and that difference is marginal at best. Unless you’re using it in GPS and music mode on a long hike, you’ll probably never notice.

That essentially leaves fashion and form as the deciding factor. Do you want a larger watch with a larger wristband? Get the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

Do you want a smaller watch with a smaller wristband? Or do you like the rose gold? Go with the Garmin Vivoactive 4s.

If you’re looking for something similar, but slightly cheaper, you may want to consider the Garmin Vivoactive 3. It’s very similar to the 4/4s, except without the ability to store and play music.

And if you’re looking for something that’s made just for runners – as opposed to general fitness – check out the Garmin Forerunner series.

Do you have a Garmin Vivoactive 4 or 4s? I’m curious which one you chose, and why. Leave a comment below.

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