The Garmin Vivomove Sport is a hybrid smartwatch for people who don’t like the look of a traditional smartwatches or fitness trackers.
Garmin has been flexing its hybrid-making muscles since 2016, and with every new version it’s made the Vivomove series more capable, adding features like heart rate monitoring, Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor and crucially, adding a digital display to show off more data.
The Sport joins the Vivomove Luxe, Style, and Vivomove 3, offering blood oxygen monitoring, built-in sports apps, the ability to track outdoor workouts (using your phone) and up to 5-day battery life.
The price of the Vivomove Sport is attractive too, coming in at $179.99/Â£159.99. That makes it the cheapest option in the Vivomove family, sitting below the Vivomove 3, which comes in at $199.99/Â£199.99.
So does the Vivomove Sport deliver on style and smarts? We’ve been living with it to find out. Here’s our comprehensive verdict.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Design and screen
Garmin’s Vivomove series has always looked to ape the look and feel of traditional watches and for us, the Vivomove Sport definitely conjures up thoughts of Swatch’s Pop watches. It’s bright, colourful, lightweight and fun.
The 40mm case is all polymer with chemically strengthened glass lens up front and a silicone 20mm, quick-release band keeping in place. It weighs just over 30g, so it’s super light watch to wear, and it’s one that’s definitely a good fit for slimmer wrists too or anyone who prefers smaller cases to hulking huge ones.
Garmin offers three looks including the mint case version we had to try, which has attracred a fair few compliments about its look and fun design.
The star of the show is the watch face, which combines analogue hands with an OLED display that sits at the bottom half of the face. You can tap, press and swipe to interact with that baked-in screen and the hands will dynamically move out of the way to let you read the screen.
The screen remains asleep until you wake it up by raising your wrist or tapping on the screen. Screen responsiveness was good on the whole and there’s isn’t a terrible lag when you’re interacting with the display.
It’s a 72 x 54 resolution display, so you’re getting a lower resolution screen compared to the ones used on the more expensive Vivomove Style and Luxe (240 x 240 resolution), which alternatively use more vibrant AMOLED displays.
Visibility is fine generally indoors and outdoors, but it can at times feel a little dim outside in brighter outdoor light. It’s not unreadable, but definitely a bit more challenging to see information on the display.
If you want to take it swimming or jump in the shower with it, Garmin has given it a 5ATM waterproof rating, making it safe to be submerged up to 50 metres depth. It offers more basic swim tracking compared to Garmin’s Venu or Forerunner 55 watches though, which does sit in at around the same price.
It’s a watch overall that we’ve enjoyed having on our wrist. It’s been comfortable to wear 24/7 including for sleep and while its look might be a bit too playful for some, there’s going to be plenty of people that will prefer this design to the undeniably sporty exteriors you’ll get on a Forerunner or your typical sports watch.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Smartwatch features
The first Vivomove had no smartwatch features at all. It didn’t even have a screen. Things have thankfully progressed on that front. You’re still getting something that plays nice with iOS and Android devices for starters, and our testing time was with an Android phone. We didn’t have any issues to report in terms of the setup, pairing or syncing process.
What you’re getting here as far as core smartwatch features is the ability to view notifications, reject phone calls or respond with a text (Android only) and you can view calendar appointments and view weather forecasts.
There’s also smartphone music controls, which you can access during sports tracking, and find my phone and find my watch modes are offered as well.
That slither of a screen does inevitably mean there’s some limitations you have to accept in terms of how those above features mentioned work.
For notifications, there’s a dedicated screen to show you incoming emails or messages. You can actually read some message in their entirety, but if it’s a long one, you’re going to be tapping to get scroll through it.
You can also clear notifications once you’re done with them and while the small amount of screen should make it hard work to read notifications, it actually handles things pretty well on that front.
Features like calendar appointments and music control work well and you never feel like they’re displayed in a cramped way that makes them tough to use and absorb on the move.
Getting around the display mainly revolves around swiping through the different screens (or widgets), and you can choose which widgets are displayed on the watch from the Garmin Connect app.
Pressing down on the screen gets you into the sub-menus where you can see secondary modes like exercise tracking and also get into the settings. Most of the icons that represent settings are reasonably easy to decipher but you might need to do some pressing around or reaching for the manual to learn exactly what everything is.
As we said, you make compromises on the surroundings that you have to use smartwatch features, but Garmin utilises that space pretty well on all fronts. The notification support works fine, you’ve got easy to use music controls and watch software that’s easy to get to grips but can get a bit more challenging to use when you get to the sub-menus.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Fitness and wellness tracking
While we’ll get into the Vivomove Sport’s sports tracking prowess, we’d say its performance as a fitness and wellness tracker is really where it excels.
It will track steps and neatly show you your progress against target daily step counts, which adapt based on progress. It offers Garmin’s Move Bar to keep track of inactivity during the day and will also offer a break down of calories burned and intensity minutes. You do of course get automatic sleep monitoring to keep closer tabs on your bed time.
When you step into the wellness realms, you’ll find you can continuously monitor heart rate by the second and capture daily resting heart rate. It’ll track respiration rate continuously and can offer blood oxygen spot checks and track levels during sleep. There’s all-day stress tracking, guided breathing exercise and you can manually track your water intake from the watch too.
Garmin also includes support for women’s health features, which includes menstrual cycle tracking and pregnancy tracker.
Step tracking compared: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)
In terms of fitness tracking, we’ve been wearing it alongside the Oura Ring 3 and found daily step counts to be within 300-500 steps of the smart ring â so there’s no wild discrepancies. It’s been reliable in our comparison tests with other trackers from the likes of Fitbit and Polar we’ve tested it against.
For sleep, the Vivomove Sport breaks down sleep stages with a timeline of those stages and offers insights on pulse ox data (if enabled) and respiration rates.
Tracking respiration rates is a relatively new metric that’s started to gain more attention on wearables. Apple now offers respiration tracking with its native sleep tracking. The Vivomove Sport tracks average breaths per minute and lowest and highest respiration rates during sleep.
Sleep tracking compared: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)
For core sleep tracking, we found that against the Oura Ring 3, the Sport often recorded hour extra of sleep, which meant some sleep stages tracked tended to be slightly longer in comparison. This was evident for light sleep and REM sleep stages.
While the respiration rate and pulse ox data is cleanly displayed, you’ll need to dig into the health stats to help understand and interpret the data.
This is certainly something Garmin should get better at doing if it feels that wellness data matters. It needs to deliver data and metrics in a way that you’ll actually pay attention to it and what it could mean.
We did find that respiration rates matched up with the respiration tracking on the Oura, but unlike the Oura, the information feels a little isolated in terms of putting the information to good use.
Breathing rate compared: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)
We’ll also dive into heart rate monitoring and stress tracking. We found continuous heart rate monitoring and daily resting heart rate readings were pretty reliable.
Resting heart rate data was generally within 1-2bpm of the Oura Ring 3 and a chest strap monitor. However, again that data isn’t really put into greater context of what it means for your overall health and wellness, as we’ve seen on devices such as Whoop 4.0 and Fitbit Charge 5.
Resting heart rate compared: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)
For stress tracking, Garmin uses heart rate variability (HRV) measurements to indicate on the watch and in the Connect app where stress is considered high, medium or low.
So after a run, we can see that stress levels were high and start to pick up as well before exercise time too.
The daily timeline in the app can give you a better sense of when those stressful moments occur to help you understand where that stress usually hits and whether there’s a pattern based on what else you do during the day.
Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor data in Garmin Connect app
We’ll finish up on Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor, which on the watch will give you a score and tell you whether energy levels are low or high.
These energy levels are based on looking at HRV, stress, sleep quality and activity.
The presentation and explanation of Body Battery as a feature still feels like it could be better, but seeing that your battery has drained and understanding you need to get good sleep to charge it back up are straightforward enough prompts to make sure you’re well equipped to decide whether you’re in good shape to take on a tough day of training.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Sports tracking
With Sport in the name you’d be forgiven for thinking this watch is capable of tracking your exercise time.
The first thing to mention here is that you’re not getting Forerunner levels of sports tracking features, but it’s not as restrictive as you might imagine.
There’s support to track runs, swims and cycling along with strength training and Pilates, so there’s a fair amount available here.
Looking at the sensors you have at your disposal, there’s Garmin’s Elevate heart rate monitor to continuously monitor heart rate and track heart rate during exercise. ANT+ support means you can broadcast heart rate data as well.
There’s a Pulse Ox sensor to track blood oxygen during sleep and continuously, though that doing that does come at the expense of overall battery life.
There’s no altimeter or onboard GPS, but you do have connected GPS, which means using the Garmin Connect app on your phone to track outdoor routes.
It’s light on training and analysis features, but you do have Garmin’s improved Fitness Age insight, which debuted on the Venu 2, and for those who care about safety features, you’re getting Live Track and incident detection modes included too. Again, those are reliant on having your phone nearby and your watch connected to it.
There’s a series of preloaded sports profiles with core running, treadmill running, cycling and basic swim tracking covered off. To get going, you need to hold down on the screen to access those profiles and then swipe to select your sport. For runs, it’ll prompt whether you want to use your phone’s GPS, for which you’ll need to grant access on your smartphone.
A double tap on the screen starts the tracking and you can swipe through a few data screens showing off heart rate, pace and distance covered.
As we mentioned, it can be tricky to see that data clearly in brighter outdoor conditions, but the experience of using the connected GPS support was nice and straightforward, which isn’t necessarily the case for connected GPS support offered on other sports watches and trackers.
GPS test: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Garmin Epix 2 (right)
In our run tests, we put it up against the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) in its highest GPS accuracy mode and we found distance tracking, and metrics like average pace and average heart rate data pretty similar.
There was a few seconds difference with average pace, but there was very little in it.
We also put the heart rate through a bit of high intensity testing, and did find there was a bit more disparity in the numbers for average and maximum heart rate readings.
You don’t have the ability to pair up external heart rate sensors with the Vivomove Sport, so you’re really trusting the heart rate from the optical sensor to be reliable here.
Interval HR test: Garmin Vivomove Sport (left) and Garmin Epix 2 with heart rate chest strap (right)
In terms of other modes you can track here, cycling follows the same style of tracking as running, using the connected GPS to track runs.
For swims, you can edit pool size and view swim intervals and pool lengths.
When you use the yoga mode, it simply works to display duration of workouts and then prompt you to move to the next pose. Unlike the Vivoactive 4 or Venu, it can’t display animation or suggest poses, so it’s far more basic support.
As we said, the Vivomove Sport is a competent sports watch that does let you lean on your phone to better track outdoor workout time. If you’re looking for an even basic Forerunner-like experience though, then it might leave you a little disappointed.
Garmin Vivomove Sport: Battery life
If you want battery life that goes for weeks, the Vivomove Sport won’t give you that â perhaps a surprise given the minimal screen tech on board. We got around a week.
Garmin says you can expect up to 5 days in smartwatch mode with an additional day offered in basic watch mode, which
There’s a widget to indicate battery level, but unlike other Vivomove models which hid away battery percentage readings in the About section of the settings, there’s no sign of the same information on the Sport.
That means it’s hard to get a gauge over how much the battery drops off from using continuous heart rate monitoring to using the connected GPS support. We’d say based on our testing, the Vivomove Sport is fit for 5 days off a single charge, which isn’t an improvement on other Vivomove models.
You can definitely find hybrids from other brands that can go longer, though you’ll likely sacrifice the level of smarts you get in return compared to what Garmin offers here.
Garmin Vivomove Sport
The Garmin Vivomove Sport is a hybrid smartwatch at a good price that offers a surprisingly good amount of features all wrapped up in a great look. The digital display does has some limitations as far as how much data it can really show off, but it does solid job overall bringing smartwatch-like smarts to an affordable and attractive watch.
- Light, attractive design
- Well integrated digital display
- Lots of data to view
- Just the 5 days of battery
- Screen a bit dim in bright outdoor light
- Lack of battery percentage status