Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Lifestyle
Garmin Vivoactive 4 Lifestyle (Image credit: Garmin)

The Fitbit Charge 4 is jam-packed with many of Fitbit's best features like built-in GPS, auto-workout recognition, Active Zone Minutes, health and fitness monitoring, and advanced sleep tracking. It's sleek and lightweight and has an easy-to-read display and easy-to-use touchscreen. It definitely comes out on top when considering design and usage.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 wins when it comes to connectivity and features. It enables you to connect to one of the best true wireless earbuds and store, stream, and play music phone-free. It gives several safety tracking options and allows you to really make it your own with apps and widgets on top of advanced health, fitness, and sleep tracking.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Breaking down the specs

So, which is for you? Let's break down the specs to determine exactly how these two are alike and where they differ.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Charge 4Garmin Vivoactive 4
Display sizeSmallLarge
Built-in GPSYesYes
Affiliated appsFitbitGarmin Connect
Swim-proof (up to 50 meters)YesYes
All-day activity trackingYesYes
Sleep trackingYesYes
Stress trackingYesYes
Menstrual cycle trackingYesYes
Abnormal heart rate alertsNoYes
Pulse OxYesYes
Auto-workout recognitionYesNo
Connect with wireless headphonesNoYes
Customizable clock facesYesYes
Music storageNoYes
Music streamingNoYes
Safety trackingNoYes

After breaking down the specs, you can see that these two are actually quite similar despite one being a tracker and one being a smartwatch. There are important features to highlight and some key differences that should be considered when deciding which to buy.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Key differences

Both the Fitbit Charge 4 and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, and both are very similar in what they offer when it comes to all-day health, fitness, and sleep tracking. Fitbit Charge 4 syncs and stores all of your data in the Fitbit app, and Garmin Vivoactive 4 does the same in the Garmin Connect app.

One key difference is that you can't connect your Fitbit Charge 4 to your wireless earbuds, and you don't have the ability to store, stream, or play music. You can connect and control your Spotify account with the Charge 4, but only if your phone is close by.

The Vivoactive 4 enables you to listen to your favorite tunes phone-free, which is a big plus in our book. Who likes to bring their phone along on workouts when they don't have to? You can store up to 500 songs, plus,playlists from your Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music accounts (subscriptions sold separately). If you want to store, stream, and play music with only your watch, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the product you want to buy.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers several safety tracking features.

Other key differences include the various safety tracking features the Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers. When your Vivoactive 4 and phone are paired, your live location can be sent to your contacts manually or during outdoor activities automatically with built-in incident detection. This is a valuable feature to have if you're an adventurer or find yourself in a sticky situation. Additionally, while both the Fitbit Charge 4 and Garmin Vivoactive 4 offer 24/7 heart rate monitoring, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the only watch that will alert you if your heart rate is too high or too low.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Lifetyle

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Lifetyle (Image credit: Garmin)

A difference that puts the Fitbit Charge 4 ahead of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is its SmartTrack Automatic Exercise Recognition feature. The Fitbit Charge 4 will automatically detect and record select exercises like running, biking, and more without you manually needing to do anything. And it features Active Zone Minutes, which gives you a buzz on the wrist when you reach your target heart rate zones during exercises.

With the Garmin Vivoactive 4, you must manually start and stop your workouts with a tap on the touchscreen. However, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the only product of the two that offers on-screen workouts. If you forget how to do certain exercises or movements, you can view workouts with animations right on your wrist.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Battery life and connectivity

Both the Fitbit Charge 4 are Garmin Vivoactive 4 are similar when it comes to battery life. The Vivoactive 4 gives you up to eight days of battery life in multi-mode and six hours of battery life in GPS and music mode. The Charge 4 gives you up to seven days of battery life in multi-mode and five hours of battery life in GPS mode. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 comes out on top here, but just barely.

Because the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a smartwatch, and the Fitbit Charge 4 is a tracker, the Vivoactive 4 will be able to do a lot more when it comes to apps. Some cool built-in apps it comes with are the Find My Phone and Find My Watch apps. If you're missing either, as long as they're paired, you can select one of these apps, and it will send an audible alert sound to your watch or smartphone. The bars increase as you move closer to whichever you're missing at the time.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Customization and design

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4 (Image credit: Joe Maring / iMore)

Let's talk design. The Fitbit Charge 4 features a much lighter, sleeker design than the Vivoactive 4. The Charge 4 comes in four customizable color options: black, rosewood, blue, and granite (Special Edition), and you can make it your own even more with customizable watch faces. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 only comes in two basic colors: black and gray. However, you can customize the Vivoactive 4 further with different watch faces, apps, and widgets.

You can also opt for the Garmin Vivoactive 4S, which is the same as the Garmin Vivoactive 4 but features a slightly smaller watch face. Note that the Fitbit Charge 4 is still lighter and sleeker than the Vivoactive 4S. The 4S comes in four different colors: pink, white, gray, and black.

The Fitbit Charge 4 features a sleeker, lighter design than the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

When considering display, the Fitbit Charge 4 delivers a reputably clearer image. It features a backlit OLED display that responds well to natural swiping and scrolling. Organic light-emitting diode technology or OLED is considered the pinnacle of picture quality. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 features a transflective memory-in-pixel or MIP display.

It's important to note that many reviewers wish the Vivoactive 4 MIP display delivered a sharper image. They find it somewhat blurry and, therefore, difficult to read. When it comes to display definition, the Fitbit Charge 4 comes out on top. Both the Charge 4 and Vivoactive 4 feature easy-to-use touchscreens.

Fitbit Charge 4 vs. Garmin Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4 (Image credit: Fitbit)

When deciding whether to purchase the Fitbit Charge 4 or the Garmin Vivoactive 4, you'll want to consider budget, design, usage, and which features matter most. When it comes to budget, design, and activity tracking, the Fitbit Charge 4 is hard to beat. When it comes to music, apps, and features, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the way to go.

Both the Fitbit Charge 4 and Garmin Vivoactive 4 are fourth-generation products from their respective companies, and both host a variety of noteworthy characteristics and features. Choosing one over the other depends on your lifestyle and the features that matter most.

Nicolette Roux

Nicolette is a freelance writer for iMore. She's been hooked on Apple products since she got the very first iPhone in 2007 and made the switch from PC to Mac in 2008 after inadvertently dousing her laptop with a hefty dose of water. A dedicated creative, Nicolette has had the pleasure of working with some of the top websites, studios, and brands in the industry throughout her career, and enjoys writing about all things: Apple, health, fitness, audio, and home. With over a decade of high-level experience as a health and fitness professional, Nicolette specializes in tech pertaining to the field. If she’s not working, you can find her sipping a glass of wine, enjoying a concert, or hanging with her family.