Whether you simply need to keep better track of your daily activity or are looking to add something more to your workouts, the Fitbit Charge HR and the Garmin vívosmart HR are two of the best devices for the job. They have similar features and price points, but beyond that, these two devices have a number of notable differences. So which one is worth your hard-earned cash? Allow us to help you decide — read on for our full Fitbit Charge HR vs Garmin vívosmart HR comparison!
The first thing you’ll notice when comparing these two devices are their displays. While Fitbit chose to employ a small OLED display on the Charge HR, the vívosmart HR comes with a much larger 1-inch LCD screen. You can cycle through your daily stats on the Charge HR by pressing the side button or tapping the display. It’s not a touchscreen, though, which means you’ll have to do pretty much everything else in the Fitbit app.
Alternatively, the vívosmart HR has a big touchscreen display that allows you to do much more on the device itself. Not only can you cycle through your daily stats, you can also change settings, manage Bluetooth connections, view past workouts, and much more.
The jury is still out as to whether or not a bigger touchscreen display is necessary on a fitness tracker of this size. While it’s a tad more convenient to be able to manage your Bluetooth connection directly from your vívosmart HR, I kind of prefer the simplicity of the Charge HR’s display. It just gives you what you need, and not a whole lot more. I know some people will have a different opinion, though.
Both of these devices come with standard watch-style clasp mechanisms, which I really like. They’re both incredibly easy to put on and take off, and once they’re on, they’re on.
Both devices’ straps are made of a soft rubber material, and both are incredibly comfortable to wear all day. The vívosmart HR is quite a bit bulkier, though. It sticks out from the wrist much more than the Charge HR does, which could prove to be an annoyance for some users.
On the design front, I don’t think there’s a clear winner here. Both are comfortable to wear all day, and both are pretty inconspicuous on the wrist.
Features and performance
Fitbit’s SmartTrack is one of the best features on the Charge HR
When it comes to activity tracking, the Charge HR and vívosmart HR both provide the essentials. They’ll track your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed, active minutes and even your sleep. The Charge HR offers one notable thing above the Garmin device, though, and that’s automatic activity tracking. Fitbit’s SmartTrack technology has been around for a while now, and it’s certainly one of the best features on the Charge HR. It will automatically track when it thinks you’re starting to exercise, and it’s pretty much spot on every time. Whether you’re going for an intense run, light jog or just a walk, all of your data will be there inside the app when you’re done. It’s a convenient feature that unfortunately isn’t offered on the vívosmart HR.
Both devices do, however, support automatic sleep tracking. There’s no need to tap a sleep now button — just fall asleep with one of the trackers on your wrist, and your sleep data will be there in app when you wake up. Both seem to be very accurate, too. They had no problems recognizing when I went to bed, when I woke up, or how often I was restless. To take sleep tracking one step further, both the Charge HR and vívosmart HR support silent alarms. Once you set your alarm time, these devices will wake you up with a small vibration on your wrist. Well, the Charge HR will anyway. The vívosmart HR’s vibration motor is quite strong, and definitely takes some getting used to.
Auto Goal is a feature every fitness tracker company should adopt
While Fitbit has a leg up in automatic activity tracking, Garmin has a handy little feature called Auto Goal. Just about every fitness tracker out there lets you adjust your daily step goals, but the vívosmart HR will do it for you automatically. So when you meet and exceed your daily step goal for a certain amount of days in a row, your device will start to automatically adjust the number of steps required for that day. This is a really nice feature that more companies should adopt.
Garmin packed a ton of other features in the vívosmart HR that the Fitbit device doesn’t offer. The vívosmart HR has a waterproof rating of 5ATM (up to 50 meters), whereas the Charge HR is only splash and sweat resistant. The vívosmart HR also shows you the weather and lets you control your music right from the device itself. One other big difference in functionality – while the Charge HR will give you call notifications, the vívosmart HR can give you much more than that. Call, text, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and basically any other app that’s installed on your phone can give you notifications through the vívosmart HR. Of course, it’s not a mind-blowing experience since the screen is pretty small, but it sure is much more handy than what the Charge HR offers.
If you need a device that can track your steps accurately, both devices will do the trick. I’ve been using the Charge HR for about a year, and I’ve found step tracking to be one of its strong points. And when comparing the Charge HR’s results with those of the vívosmart HR, I didn’t find many differences at all. I took both devices out for a 5 mile run, and the Garmin was only about 90 steps off from the Charge HR when I arrived back home. That’s pretty good considering I took about 8,600 steps.
While the devices are very similar in some areas, that’s certainly not the case with heart rate tracking, though. Both the Charge HR and vívosmart HR have optical heart rate monitors that can record your resting and active heart rate. Throughout our testing period, both devices have provided similar resting heart rate results, but active heart rate numbers were all over the place. I went on a 5 mile run, and the vívosmart HR consistently recorded my active heart rate to be about 20 bpm higher than the Charge HR’s numbers. When the Garmin device said my HR was at 178 bpm, the Charge HR would tell me I was at 158 bpm. These numbers didn’t even out until after I got down to resting heart rate levels.
This was pretty much the only discrepancy between the two devices on the performance front, though it is one you should definitely keep in mind. It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t be looking for a wrist-mounted activity tracker if you need accurate HR results. Chest straps are the way to go for all of your HR-tracking needs, though they are a bit more cumbersome to wear during a workout.
Both Fitbit and Garmin claim their devices can achieve up to 5 days of battery life on a single charge, and that’s certainly the case here. The Charge HR and vívosmart HR can last up to 5 days on one charge, and you might be able to squeeze a little more life out of them if you keep the HR monitors turned off.
|Fitbit Charge HR||Garmin vívosmart HR|
|Tracking||Steps, calories, distance, active minutes, stairs, sleep||Steps, calories, distance, intensity minutes, stairs, sleep|
|Heart rate monitor||Optical||Optical|
|Waterproof||No, splash and sweat proof||Yes, 5 ATM (up to 50 meters)|
|Battery life||Up to 5 days||Up to 5 days|
|Notifications||Call||Call, text, email and more|
|Compatibility||Android, iOS, Windows, web||Android, iOS, Windows, web|
|Colors||Black, Blue, Plum, Tangerine, Teal||Black, Imperial Purple, Midnight Blue|
|Dimensions||Small: 137mm – 157.5mm (21mm wide) |
Large: 157.5mm – 193mm (21mm wide)
|Regular: 136mm-187mm (21mm wide)|
X-large: 180mm-224mm (21mm wide)
I’ve said time and time again that Fitbit’s smartphone companion app is one of the best out there, and I still believe that to this day. It’s simple, easy to use, and gives you access to your most important stats right on the main screen. It’s a good thing, too — since you can’t do a whole lot on the Charge HR itself, you’ll be spending a good amount of time in the app looking through activity summaries. You can tell Fitbit spent a lot of time making its app clean and easy to use. It doesn’t bombard you with too much information at one time, and it certainly doesn’t seem cluttered at all.
There’s a slide-out menu on the left side where you can view your Challenges, Friends, Account and manage alarms. The Fitbit app is pretty good at giving you daily, weekly, monthly and yearly challenges, and will let you know when each challenge is met. You can also connect with friends who are in the Fitbit community. Finding new friends with which to connect is as easy as tapping the FAB at the bottom of the screen, and selecting which people in your contact list have Fitbit accounts.
Speaking of cluttered fitness applications, Garmin’s Connect app is what you’ll be using to sync all of your vívosmart HR’s data with your phone. It’s not a bad app, not in the slightest. It’s just confusing to navigate at times. Once you learn to use it, though, it will provide you with some incredibly detailed information that not many other apps provide.
The app is divided up into a few main sections: Snapshots, Leaderboard, Calendar, News Feed and Insights. Snapshots features all of your stats for the current day. When viewing your Snapshots, swipe left or right to navigate through your steps, sleep, and other stats. The Leaderboard is where you can connect with friends who also have Garmin devices, and Calendar gives you a detailed view of your stats for each day you’ve worn the device. News Feed is where all of your workouts are listed, and the Insights page houses a list of tips and tricks from Garmin that will help you make the most of your workouts.
Which comes out on top?
Right now the Fitbit Charge HR is sitting at around $130 on Amazon, while the Garmin vívosmart HR can be yours for $150. Are all the extra features on the vívosmart HR worth $20 extra? I’d say yes, most definitely.
I love both of these devices. They’re great workout companions, they look good, and they can both last 5 days on a single charge. The vívosmart HR just offers more for the money, though. It’s waterproof, its screen can feed you more information, and the Auto Goal feature is great for those who are looking to improve on their past workouts. Fitbit’s Charge HR is easier to use than the vívosmart HR, and the fact that it can track your activity automatically is just great. If you’re spending over $100 for a fitness tracker that will help improve your workouts, I’d have to recommend the vívosmart HR.
What are your thoughts? Have you used either of these devices? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Read more reviews: