Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Fitbit Sense 2: A Detailed Comparison of Features

As a person who has thoroughly tested both the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, I understand that choosing between two highly capable fitness smartwatches can be challenging.

Both models come from brands with strong reputations in the health and fitness tech industry.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4, known for its robust build and extensive fitness tracking capabilities, caters particularly to sports enthusiasts. On the other hand, the Fitbit Sense 2 adds advanced health features like stress management and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to its repertoire, promising a comprehensive wellness tool.

My hands-on experience with these devices revealed that the decision often boils down to what aspects the user values more: is it the breadth of sports activities and GPS accuracy vital for outdoor adventurers that the Vivoactive 4 offers, or the health-centric features and smart experience that the Sense 2 brings to the table?

Additionally, both devices offer connectivity features and smart notifications, along with compatibility with their respective ecosystems, which are critical considerations for a seamless user experience. As for battery life, both watches can last several days on a single charge, but actual performance can vary depending on usage patterns.

Key Takeaways

  • The Garmin Vivoactive 4 shines in sports tracking and GPS features.
  • Fitbit Sense 2 emphasizes advanced health monitoring and stress management.
  • Both watches offer good battery life and seamless integration with their ecosystems.

Design and Build Quality

When comparing the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Fitbit Sense 2, their design and build quality are key factors in their functionality and appeal. Both offer distinct advantages in terms of materials, comfort, and customization, suiting various user preferences.

Materials and Durability

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 uses 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass which is known for its damage resistance and durability. During my experience with the device, I have found it robust, retaining a pristine look even after exposure to daily rigors. The Fitbit Sense 2 also has a high-standard build, though the specific type of glass protection is not as well-advertised, my usage didn’t bring up any durability concerns.

Aesthetics and Comfort

I find the Vivoactive 4‘s design to be classic with a circular watch face, which may appeal to those who favor a traditional watch appearance. In contrast, the Sense 2 has a more modern flair, with a squarish face with rounded corners. Both watches come in different finishes, such as slate for the Vivoactive and silver for the Sense 2. Comfort-wise, they are relatively comparable, with neither watch feeling too heavy or uncomfortable during extended wear.

Display Characteristics

The display is where these two smartwatches differ notably. The Sense 2 features an AMOLED display, which offers vibrant colors and deeper blacks. Its resolution is higher at 336 x 336px, which contributes to a sharper image. On the other hand, the Vivoactive 4 has a transflective memory-in-pixel display, which I have found to be very readable even in direct sunlight. Its resolution is 260 x 260px. Both offer a good user experience, but the Sense 2’s screen is a bit larger, measuring 1.58 inches compared to Vivoactive 4’s 1.3 inches, which provides more space for interaction and display of information.

Watch Bands and Customization

As for the bands and customization, both smartwatches provide a range of options. The Vivoactive 4 and the Sense 2 have interchangeable bands, allowing me to personalize their look to match my style or for different occasions. The availability of various materials and colors makes these smartwatches adaptable to different users’ tastes and needs.

Health and Fitness Features

In my experience with both the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, I’ve examined their extensive suite of health and fitness features. Each device offers unique capabilities to cater to various health monitoring and fitness tracking needs.

Heart Monitoring Capabilities

The Fitbit Sense 2 provides an onboard electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor to detect signs of atrial fibrillation, which I find particularly advanced. Both smartwatches include standard heart rate monitors, but the Sense 2’s ability to take on-the-spot ECG readings sets it apart. The Garmin Vivoactive 4, meanwhile, keeps continuous track of your heart rate and can monitor heart rate variability (HRV), offering insights into stress and recovery times after workouts.

Activity Tracking Options

When it comes to activity tracking, both devices are impressive. I’ve tracked my runs, bike rides, and swims with ease. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is especially geared towards outdoor activities, supporting GPS features across multiple sports profiles, including yoga and even skiing. The Fitbit Sense 2 is no slouch either, with automatic exercise recognition for everyday fitness activities like walking and cycling, and its EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor measures your body’s response to stress.

Wellness and Stress Management

Stress tracking is a core function where the Fitbit Sense 2 shines, using the EDA scans to quantify stress levels. Garmin counters with their Body Battery energy monitoring, gauging how well-rested you are and your preparedness for the next activity. Both watches have relaxation reminders and guided breathing sessions which I found useful during busy days.

Sleep Tracking and Analysis

For sleep tracking, both wearables offer detailed insights. The Fitbit Sense 2’s sleep analysis is comprehensive, breaking down sleep stages and providing a sleep score. The Vivoactive 4’s sleep tracking is robust as well, tracking your movements throughout the night and gauging blood oxygen levels with its SpO2 sensor which I personally find crucial for overall health insights.

Advanced Health Metrics

The advanced health metrics offered by both watches are notable. Both devices can continuously track skin temperature, which is a subtle but telling indicator of overall health. Blood oxygen levels are also monitored on both devices, with the Fitbit Sense 2 offering on-demand SpO2 measurements, whereas Vivoactive 4 does it during sleep. The Fitbits’ stress tracking and the Garmin’s Body Battery feature had me well-equipped for holistic health management.

Smart Features and Connectivity

When comparing the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, the smart features and connectivity options are significant deciding factors. I’ve found each watch to offer a unique set of capabilities that cater to different user preferences, particularly in smartphone integration, payment options, navigation, music, and wireless technologies.

Smartphone Integration

Both smartwatches allow for comprehensive smartphone integration. I can receive notifications for calls, texts, and app alerts directly on the Garmin Vivoactive 4 as well as the Fitbit Sense 2. What sets the Fitbit Sense 2 apart is its ability to take Bluetooth calls directly from the wrist, which the Vivoactive 4 cannot do without a connected smartphone.

Contactless Payments

For on-the-go payments, both watches support NFC for contactless payments — Fitbit Sense 2 with Fitbit Pay and Garmin Vivoactive 4 with Garmin Pay. This feature has proven to be quite reliable and convenient during my usage, effectively reducing the need to carry a wallet during outdoor activities.

GPS and Navigation

Navigation is strong on both devices. They include GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites for tracking. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 also offers breadcrumb trail mapping, which I find very useful for backtracking my route outdoors. Live route tracking isn’t available on the Fitbit Sense 2, but it does provide accurate GPS data for workouts.

Music and Storage

Regarding music, both smartwatches allow for music control and storage. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has storage for music and supports Spotify, which means I can listen to music offline with Bluetooth headphones. The Fitbit Sense 2 also provides music storage and control, but the actual storage capacity is somewhat more limited than Garmin’s offering.

Wireless and Cellular Technology

In terms of connectivity, both feature Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, ensuring syncing is effortless and updates are easy to manage. Neither of these smartwatches has cellular connectivity, meaning they rely on a smartphone connection for full functionality. However, the ANT+ support on the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is excellent for connecting to a wide range of fitness sensors. The Fitbit Sense 2 lacks ANT+ but compensates with strong Bluetooth sensor support.

Software and Ecosystem

In my extensive hands-on experience with both the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, it’s evident that their respective ecosystems have unique strengths. The Fitbit Sense 2 revolves around the comprehensive Fitbit app and Fitbit Premium service, while the Garmin Vivoactive 4 caters to a more diverse array of outdoor and sports activities with its Connect IQ platform.

Compatibility and App Support

From my own use, the Fitbit app serves as the central hub for all Fitbit devices, including the Sense 2. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android, allowing seamless synchronization and offering a robust set of features to track health metrics. Fitbit Premium further enhances the experience with personalized insights and guided programs.

On the other hand, the Garmin Connect app also supports both major mobile operating systems and works in tandem with the Vivoactive 4. Garmin provides a deep dive into fitness data, which is particularly valuable for those invested in outdoor sports and detailed activity tracking.

Third-Party App Integration

The Fitbit Sense 2 integrates with a variety of third-party applications. However, my experience indicates that while the selection is decent, it’s somewhat limited when compared to Garmin. The Vivoactive 4, through Connect IQ, offers a wider range of third-party widgets, apps, and watch faces, which I’ve found adds significant versatility to the watch.

Firmware and Updates

Gaining updates on both platforms has been consistent. Fitbit frequently releases updates to enhance features and introduce new tracking metrics. Through firmware upgrades, the Sense 2 often gains improvements, with Fitbit ensuring the technology stays relevant.

Garmin, too, delivers regular firmware updates that sometimes introduce entirely new features. With my Vivoactive 4, I’ve noticed a focus on refining the GPS functionality and optimizing battery life among other aspects, ensuring the watch functions at its best for all types of activities.

Battery Life and Power Management

In my experience with both the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Fitbit Sense 2, one of the most critical aspects I’ve evaluated is how they manage power and their respective battery performances.

Battery Performance

Fitbit Sense 2:

  • Battery Life: Approximately 6+ days of use on a single charge
  • Battery Life with GPS: Up to 12 hours

Garmin Vivoactive 4:

  • Battery Life: Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode
  • Battery Life with GPS: 18 hours when using GPS intensely

These numbers are in optimal conditions, and actual battery life can be affected by various factors like the brightness settings and the frequency of GPS use.

Charging Options and Speed

For the Fitbit Sense 2:

  • Charge Time: Reaches full charge in about 2 hours
  • Charging Method: Uses a magnetic charging cable

For the Garmin Vivoactive 4:

  • Charge Time: Takes nearly 2 hours to charge fully
  • Charging Method: Proprietary charging cable; does not support wireless charging

Neither of these two devices offers wireless charging, but their charging times are convenient for overnight charging or quickly topping up before a workout.

Energy Saving Features

Fitbit Sense 2:

  • Power Save Mode: Can extend the battery life by adjusting screen brightness and disabling certain features

Garmin Vivoactive 4:

  • Battery Saver Mode: Disables certain functions and can extend the battery lifespan substantially
  • Solar Battery: Not available

Power save modes on both devices significantly prolong battery life, albeit at the cost of temporarily reducing functionality like continuous heart rate monitoring or the always-on display. Neither device has a solar battery option. These modes are particularly beneficial during long stretches away from a power source.

Pricing and Value

When I examined the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, I paid particular attention to their pricing and how it reflected their value. The findings were quite informative for those considering a purchase.

Cost Comparison

From my assessment, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 generally retails at a higher price point than the Fitbit Sense 2. At the time of my review, the Vivoactive 4 was priced around $230, while the Fitbit Sense 2 could be found for approximately $200. This price difference may be a significant factor for budget-conscious consumers who are weighing the cost against the features offered.

  • Garmin Vivoactive 4: $230
  • Fitbit Sense 2: $200

Availability and Retail Options

Both watches are widely available across various retail platforms, which makes them accessible to a broad audience. I’ve noticed that the Fitbit Sense 2 and Garmin Vivoactive 4 can be found in major electronics stores, as well as through online marketplaces like Amazon. During certain seasonal sales or promotions, potential buyers might find discounts that could affect the overall pricing and value proposition of each device.

User Experience and Reviews

In assessing the Fitbit Sense 2 and Garmin Vivoactive 4, I’ve found notable contrasts in user experience and consumer feedback grounded in several areas of performance and design.

Customer Satisfaction

Fitbit Sense 2:

  • User Feedback: Most users appreciate the Sense 2’s ECG feature and the stress management options. They often cite the wearable’s comprehensive health tracking capabilities as a significant advantage.
  • Satisfaction Rate: High, especially among users invested in tracking their holistic health indicators.

Garmin Vivoactive 4:

  • User Feedback: Customers often praise the Vivoactive 4 for its accurate GPS tracking and longer battery life, which is crucial for outdoor fitness enthusiasts.
  • Satisfaction Rate: High among users with a strong focus on outdoor activities and fitness tracking.

Comparative Analysis

When I compared these two devices, several differences affecting user experience stood out:

  • Display and Resolution: The Fitbit Sense 2’s larger screen and higher resolution provide a clearer and more vibrant display, which enhances usability, especially when reviewing detailed health metrics.
  • Health Features: The Sense 2 includes an ECG sensor for on-the-spot heart health readings, a feature not present in the Vivoactive 4. However, Garmin’s device offers more expansive fitness and outdoor activity tracking, appealing to a different segment of active users.
  • Price Point: The pricing between these models can influence user preference. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 typically has a higher cost, which reflects its robust set of features tailored to outdoor and fitness enthusiasts, while the Fitbit Sense 2 is priced lower and aimed more at users who prioritize health insights and smartwatch functionalities.
  • Brand Ecosystem: The Fitbit ecosystem is often preferred by users who appreciate a seamless integration with other Fitbit products and a straightforward approach to health tracking. In contrast, Garmin’s platform caters to those seeking in-depth data analytics and customization, aligning with the preferences of serious athletes and adventurers.

Echoed across multiple user reviews is the sentiment that the choice between the Fitbit Sense 2 and Garmin Vivoactive 4 comes down to individual preference determined by distinct needs—be it comprehensive health monitoring or robust fitness and outdoor activity tracking.


In my thorough testing of both the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Fitbit Sense 2, I’ve noted several key differences worth considering.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

  • Display: 1.3″
  • Glass: 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Price: Generally higher

Fitbit Sense 2

  • Display: 1.58″; higher resolution
  • Health Features: Includes ECG, can answer calls
  • Price: Generally lower

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 stands out with its robust build quality, thanks to the durable Corning Gorilla Glass, and a reputation for reliable sports metrics that cater to fitness enthusiasts.

The Fitbit Sense 2, on the other hand, excels in the health tracking department. The ECG technology and the ability to handle calls directly from the wrist are features that many users will find indispensable. Moreover, the larger screen and higher resolution of the Fitbit Sense 2 enhance the user interface experience.

The choice between the two devices really comes down to what you prioritize. If you lean more towards a diverse range of sports tracking and durability, the Vivoactive 4 may be your best bet. Conversely, if health monitoring and smart features take precedence, the Fitbit Sense 2 will serve you exceptionally well.

I found that both wearables hold their ground in terms of functionality and design. Your final decision should align with your particular needs and the aspects of wearable tech that you value the most.


  • Matthew

    Meet Matthew, a wearable tech & fitness enthusiast passionate about transforming health through innovative devices. With an engineering background and a love for fitness, Matthew shares in-depth reviews, tips, and news on the latest wearable tech to help you achieve your fitness goals.

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