For the most part, smartwatches have overtaken band-style wearables that feature screens. Fitbit is the notable holdout, while Garmin today released the Vivosmart 5.

In terms of width, the 19.5 mm Vivosmart 5 slots in between the 22.79 mm Charge 5 and 17.62 mm Luxe (or 16.8 mm Inspire 2). The 10.5 x 18.5 mm (88 x 154 pixel) OLED is in the middle of an oblong acrylic bulge that features a button at the bottom. This black-and-white touchscreen is not an always-on display, thus matching the Inspire 2. The Charge 5 has an AOD, while the Luxe was later updated to offer that convenient feature.

Besides a heart rate sensor on the back, there’s a pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor and plug-in charging port. You also get an accelerometer and ambient light sensor, while connectivity includes Bluetooth and ANT+.

In a first for the Vivosmart lineup, the bands (Black, White, and Cool Mint) are interchangeable by pulling the tracker out. There’s no built-in GPS so a phone is required for location. The battery is rated for up to seven days “excluding pulse ox sleep tracking,” while there’s a standard 5ATM water rating that’s good for swimming. 

Health capabilities include 24/7 heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, though SpO2 can be limited to on-demand checks or just at night. There’s also respiration tracking “throughout the day, during sleep and during breathwork and yoga activities.”

Other features include stress tracking and on-device breathing exercises, water/fluids logging (still frustratingly app-only on Fitbit), women’s health tracking, and fitness age. Garmin touts activity profiles for walking, running, yoga, Pilates, cardio, mindful breathing, strength training, and other sports. 

The Inspire 2 lacks SpO2, but does offer skin temperature (variation) tracking at night, while the Charge 5 has ECG.

In terms of features you’d more associate with a smartwatch, there’s email, text, and other alert notifications, while Android users can reply to SMS. Additionally:

Safety and tracking features provide peace of mind when out and about. Simply press the button for a few seconds to trigger an assistance alert that sends a text message with the user’s location to designated emergency contacts.

L-R: Vivosmart 5, Charge 5, Luxe, Inspire 2

Garmin also offers basic calendar and weather apps, as well as the ability to play/pause audio playing on your phone. Fitbit trackers lack these capabilities, with the lack of music controls remaining particularly annoying, though there is support for contactless payments on the Charge 5.

At $149.99, Garmin’s Vivosmart 5 is priced like the Charge 5, but is more analogous to the $130 Luxe or even $100 Inspire 2 in terms of non-fitness capabilities/conveniences. Those that want a more hard-core fitness tracker would do well with Garmin – which likes to tout “no subscription required” in a Fitbit Premium knock, but the Google-owned lineup feels more compelling and modern on the whole.

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