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To put it simply, the biggest difference between the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Garmin Venu is the displays. Both are a great choice if you’re looking for the best fitness smartwatch. The big beautiful AMOLED screen on the Venu is Garmin’s answer to the Galaxy Watch 3, Apple Watch, and other traditional smartwatches. While the Vivoactive 4 is Garmin’s way of giving you premium smartwatch features like music storage and Garmin Pay, without having to sacrifice the sunlight-friendly and battery-friendly transflective display.
Regardless of whether you choose from the Vivoactive 4 or the Venu series, these are for the people who want the best mix of fitness tracking and smartwatch features. There are some other minor differences that may make one better than the other for you, so here’s a comparison chart to start with:
Fitness Smartwatch Specs Chart
|Vivoactive 4||Vivoactive 4s||Venu||Venu SQ (SQ Music)|
|See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price|
|Battery Life (Days)||8||7||5||6|
|GPS Mode (Hours) (W/Music)||18 (6)||15 (5)||20 (6)||14 (6)|
|Display||1.3" Transflective||1.1" Transflective||1.2" AMOLED||1.3" LCD|
|Case Size||44mm||40mm||43mm||40.6mm x 37mm|
|Water Resistance||5 ATM|
|Music Storage||500 songs|
|Smart features||Find my phone, weather, calendar, text messages, notifications, and more|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, Wifi, and ANT+|
|Sensors||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, Pulse Ox altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer|
Garmin Vivoactive 4 Conclusion
Pick the Vivoactive 4 or 4s if most of your workouts and activities are outdoors. The big, colorful transflective display is one of Garmin’s signature wearable features. The main benefits are extended battery life and better visibility in direct sunlight.
The benefit that really got me hooked on the transflective display is the ability to sport 100’s of colorful watch faces that are completely viewable, even in always-on mode! Additionally, most of the downloadable watch faces are able to be further customized, so you can change colors, metrics, backgrounds, and more. You get complete control to match any style or activity.
Unless you truly need the advanced training metrics (Recover Advisor, Training Status, Training Load, etc. from Fenix and Forerunner series), the Vivoactive 4 can support the tracking needs of almost any level of athlete. It has all of the essential sensors for multi-sport tracking and it comes with an industry-standard 22mm (18mm, 4s) watchband, so it’s one of Garmin’s most versatile fitness smartwatches to-date.
Garmin Venu Conclusion
Pick the Venu if you’re new to GPS watches. Like traditional smartwatches, the Venu has a clear, colorful AMOLED display that’ll make any Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch user feel at home. (The Venu SQ and SQ Music have an LCD screen, but it’s not a huge difference compared to transflective displays.)
Obviously, the biggest drawback with AMOLED and LCD displays is that, just like your phone, it can be harder to see in direct sunlight. On the other hand, if you’re a traditional fitness smartwatch user, it might not bother you. Especially when the quality and clarity of the display gives you a cell-phone-like experience right on your wrist.
If you want a premium smartwatch look, with a stronger multi-sport platform than Apple, Google, and Samsung can provide, the Venu series is your best choice. Just like the Vivoactive 4, the biggest upgrade/change from other fitness smartwatches is the access to Garmin’s best-in-class multi-sport tracking platform. In combination with the 5-6 day battery life, this is the best upgrade for current smartwatch users. This made it an easy pick for the Best Entry-Level GPS Watch.
With LTE connectivity the obvious next step with Venu models to come, this debut version is pretty complete. You get premium Garmin multi-sport tracking, with almost every essential smartwatch feature like music storage, Garmin Pay, and more that come standard. The Venu series is a departure from typical Garmin wearables, but that’s precisely why this series should have all the other wearable-makers nervous.
Vivoactive 4 – If the biggest difference between my choices is the transflective display versus the AMOLED/LCD display, I’m choosing the transflective display ALL DAY.