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FitnessGarminWearables

Garmin Vivoactive 4, 4S & Venu vs Forerunner 245 vs Vivoactive 3

Now that Garmin has updated all its watches for the year,
you may be wondering which is the best buy and how models are different.

In particular, the pricing and features of the Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 245 are quite close and if you are looking for an upgrade, or this is your first Garmin watch, then I hope the below will help you choose.

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Price

£299.99

in stock

1 new
from £299.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

£284.99

in stock

2 new
from £284.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

£149.00

£279.99

in stock

36 new
from £149.00

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

Last updated on 8th September 2019 7:03 am

The current pricing on the Garmin website states:

  • Venu – £299
  • Vivoactive 4 – £279
  • Vivoactive 4S – £259
  • FR245 Music / None music – £299 / £249
  • Vivoactive 3 Music / None Music – £249 / £19

If you are on the lookout for a bargain, buying older
products will yield the best results. The Vivoactive 3 is available on Amazon
for just £149 and £199 for the music version.

The Forerunner 245 Music is £284.99 and none music is £227.99

Design & Build

The overall look is one of the defining features of the
models. The FR245 does look considerably nicer than its previous generation,
but it can’t compete with the sleek appearance of the Vivoactive or Venu.

Then with the Venu, you also have that bright AMOLED display. Again, this shows how the watches are positioned for different people. If you want a smartwatch that looks great but also has some great fitness features, the Venu is a good solution.

Physical Dimensions

  • Venu
    • 432 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm Fits
      wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm
    • 46.3 g
  • Vivoactive 4
    • 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm – Fits
      wrists with a circumference of 135-200 mm
    • 50.5 g
  • Vivoactive 4S – £259
    • 40 x 40 x 12.7 mm – Fits
      wrists with a circumference of 110-175 mm
    • 40.0 g
  • Forerunner 245
    • 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 (mm);
      Fits wrists with a circumference of 127-204 mm
    • 38.5 g
  • Vivoactive 3
    • 43.1 x 43.1 x 13.6 mm,
      fits wrists with a circumference of 127-204 mm
    • 39.0 g

Display

  • Venu – 30.4 mm diameter 390
    x 390 pixels AMOLED
  • Vivoactive 4 – 1.3″
    (33.0 mm) diameter 260 x 260 pixels Sunlight-visible, transflective
    memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Vivoactive 4S – 1.1″
    (27.9 mm) diameter 218 x 218 pixels Sunlight-visible, transflective
    memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Forerunner 245 – 1.2″
    (30.4 mm) 240 x 240 pixels Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel
    (MIP)
  • Vivoactive 3 Music – 1.2″ (30.4 mm) 240 x
    240 pixels Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)

HRM & GPS

All the models launched this year include the new Garmin
Elevate V3 optical HR sensor which allows the PulseOx for 24×7 blood oxygen
tracking.

They have also all been upgraded to the Sony GPS chipset
which is supposed to offer lower battery drain.

Music & Pay

As the pricing above indicates, the FR245 and Vivoactive 3
have models with and without music. The newer devices all have music as standard
(which is odd for the Fenix 6 to now have music and none music models).

FirstBeat Features

The FirstBeat features is where you really see how Garmin
cuts back on the features of the Vivoactive & Venu range.

The new models gets five Firstbeat features including:

  • VO2max Fitness Level
  • All-day Stress & Recovery
  • Body Resources
  • Fitness Age
  • Calories Burned

The older Vivoactive 3 had four features, lacking body
Resources

The Forerunner 245 models have 11 features in total,
including all the above features plus:

  • Training Effect: Aerobic
  • Training Effect: Anaerobic
  • Real-Time Performance Condition
  • Training Load
  • Training Status
  • Recovery Time Advisor
  • Race Time Predictor

This shows you how Garmin position the different models, Vivoactive
is a casual fitness tracking watch, competing more with the smartwatch segment
than the multisport watch niche.

The Forerunner 245 is a fantastic entry point for serious
runners and athletes, giving you much more data about your sports performance.

Battery

For many, the battery performance can make it or break it
with a fitness watch. All of the watches have a good battery life. Some of the
stats look a little odd, the Vivoactive 4 has 8-day battery life, and 18 hour
GPS life, then the FR245 has 7 days battery life but can do 24 hours GPS.

  • Venu
    • Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days
    • GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
    • GPS mode: I can’t find any reference for this
    • AMOLED always on – (I was told about 2 days)
  • Vivoactive 4
    • Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days
    • GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
  • Vivoactive 4S
    • Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
    • GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
  • FR245
    • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
    • GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
  • Vivoactive 3
    • Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
    • GPS with Music – 5 Hours

Compatible accessories

The official Garmin list states the Vivoactive and Venu are
compatible with HRM Dual, then speed and cadence sensor for the bike.

The FR245 is compatible with HRM-Run, and the various footpods.

None of the models are compatible with cycling power meters.

£299.99

in stock

1 new
from £299.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

£284.99

in stock

2 new
from £284.99

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

£149.00

£279.99

in stock

36 new
from £149.00

Amazon.co.uk

Free shipping

Last updated on 8th September 2019 7:03 am

Which is the best buy?

Overall, there is no stand out watch, each one caters for a different user.

If you are looking for a smartwatch that looks great and offers superior battery life plus fitness tracking features than WearOS or other brands, then the Venu or Vivoactive are a good choice. The Venu appealing to people that want that bright AMOLED display found on most smartwatches.

For people more into fitness, and wanting better insight on their performance, then the FR245 will be better suited to you.

Comparison Chart

FUNCTION/FEATURE GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 4, 4s, Venu GARMIN FORERUNNER 245/245 MUSIC GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 3
PRICE £259,£279,£299 £249/£299 £199/£249
Launch 2019 2019 2017
GPS RECORDING FUNCTIONALITY YES YES YES
DATA TRANSFER USB, BLUETOOTH SMART USB, BLUETOOTH SMART, WIFI (ONLY MUSIC HAS WIFI) USB, BLUETOOTH SMART
WATERPROOFING 50 METERS 50 METERS 50 METERS
BATTERY LIFE (GPS) 15/18h UP TO 24HRS REGULAR GPS, 24HRS+ FOR ULTRATRAC UP TO 13 HOURS GPS
RECORDING INTERVAL 1S OR SMART RECORDING 1-SECOND, SMART, ULTRATRAC 1S OR SMART RECORDING
SATELLITE PRE-LOADING VIA COMPUTER YES YES YES
QUICK SATELLITE RECEPTION GREAT GREAT GREAT
ALERTS VIBRATE/VISUAL VIBRATE/SOUND/VISUAL VIBRATE/VISUAL
BACKLIGHT GREATNESS GREAT GOOD GREAT
ABILITY TO DOWNLOAD CUSTOM APPS TO UNIT/DEVICE YES YES YES
ACTS AS DAILY ACTIVITY MONITOR (STEPS, ETC…) YES YES YES
CAN CONTROL PHONE MUSIC YES YES YES
HAS MUSIC STORAGE AND PLAYBACK Yes YES (MUSIC VERSION) NO
STREAMING SERVICES SPOTIFY, AMAZON MUSIC, DEEZER, IHEARTRADIO SPOTIFY, AMAZON MUSIC, DEEZER, IHEARTRADIO
CONTACTLESS-NFC PAYMENTS Yes NO
BLUETOOTH LEGACY (PRE-4.0) TO PHONE NO NO NO
BLUETOOTH SMART (4.0+) TO PHONE UPLOADING YES YES YES
PHONE NOTIFICATIONS TO UNIT (I.E. TEXTS/CALLS/ETC…) YES YES YES
LIVE TRACKING (STREAMING LOCATION TO WEBSITE) YES YES YES
GROUP TRACKING NO NO NO
EMERGENCY/SOS MESSAGE NOTIFICATION (FROM WATCH TO CONTACTS) Yes YES (VIA PHONE) NO
BUILT-IN CELLULAR CHIP (NO PHONE REQUIRED) NO NO NO
DESIGNED FOR CYCLING YES YES YES
POWER METER CAPABLE WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA) WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS
SPEED/CADENCE SENSOR CAPABLE YES YES YES
STRAVA SEGMENTS LIVE ON DEVICE NO NO NO
CRASH DETECTION Yes YES NO
DESIGNED FOR RUNNING YES YES YES
FOOTPOD CAPABLE (FOR TREADMILLS) YES YES (ALSO HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER) YES
RUNNING DYNAMICS (VERTICAL OSCILLATION, GROUND CONTACT TIME, ETC…) NO YES (WITH ACCESSORY) NO
RUNNING POWER NO NO NO
VO2MAX ESTIMATION YES YES YES
RACE PREDICTOR NO YES NO
RECOVERY ADVISOR NO YES NO
RUN/WALK MODE YES YES YES
DESIGNED FOR SWIMMING YES YES YES
OPENWATER SWIMMING MODE NO NO NO
LAP/INDOOR DISTANCE TRACKING YES YES YES
RECORD HR UNDERWATER NO NO NO
OPENWATER METRICS (STROKE/ETC.) NO N/A NO
INDOOR METRICS (STROKE/ETC.) YES YES YES
INDOOR DRILL MODE NO YES NO
INDOOR AUTO-PAUSE FEATURE NO NO NO
CHANGE POOL SIZE YES YES YES
INDOOR MIN/MAX POOL LENGTHS 17M/18Y TO 150Y/M 14M/15Y TO 150Y/M 17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
ABILITY TO CUSTOMIZE DATA FIELDS YES YES YES
CAN CHANGE YARDS TO METERS YES YES YES
CAPTURES PER LENGTH DATA – INDOORS YES YES YES
INDOOR ALERTS YES YES
DESIGNED FOR TRIATHLON NO NO NO
MULTISPORT MODE NO NO NO
CREATE/FOLLOW CUSTOM WORKOUTS YES YES YES
ON-UNIT INTERVAL FEATURE SORTA (2 PRELOADED ONES, BUT NO CUSTOMIZATION) YES SORTA (2 PRELOADED ONES, BUT NO CUSTOMIZATION)
TRAINING CALENDAR FUNCTIONALITY YES YES YES
AUTO START/STOP YES YES YES
VIRTUAL PARTNER FEATURE NO YES NO
VIRTUAL RACER FEATURE NO YES NO
RECORDS PR’S – PERSONAL RECORDS (DIFF THAN HISTORY) YES YES YES
DAY TO DAY WATCH ABILITY YES YES YES
HUNTING/FISHING/OCEAN DATA NO NO NO
TIDAL TABLES (TIDE INFORMATION) NO NO NO
JUMPMASTER MODE (PARACHUTING) NO NO NO
GEOCACHING NO NO NO
WEATHER DISPLAY (LIVE DATA) YES YES YES
FOLLOW GPS TRACK (COURSES/WAYPOINTS) NO (BUT SOME 3RD PARTY APPS CAN) YES NO (BUT SOME 3RD PARTY APPS CAN)
MARKERS/WAYPOINT DIRECTION YES (TO PRE-SAVED SPOTS) NO YES (TO PRE-SAVED SPOTS)
ROUTABLE/VISUAL MAPS (LIKE CAR GPS) NO NO NO
BACK TO START YES YES YES
IMPROMPTU ROUND TRIP ROUTE CREATION NO NO NO
DOWNLOAD COURSES/ROUTES FROM PHONE TO UNIT NO YES NO
ALTIMETER TYPE BAROMETRIC GPS BAROMETRIC
COMPASS TYPE MAGNETIC N/A MAGNETIC
OPTICAL HEART RATE SENSOR INTERNALLY YES YES YES
PULSE OXIMETRY (AKA PULSE OX) YES YES No
HEART RATE STRAP COMPATIBLE YES YES YES
ANT+ HEART RATE STRAP CAPABLE YES YES YES
ANT+ SPEED/CADENCE CAPABLE YES YES YES
ANT+ FOOTPOD CAPABLE YES YES YES
ANT+ POWER METER CAPABLE NO NO NO
ANT+ WEIGHT SCALE CAPABLE NO NO NO
ANT+ FITNESS EQUIPMENT (GYM) NO NO NO
ANT+ LIGHTING CONTROL YES YES YES
ANT+ BIKE RADAR INTEGRATION NO YES NO
ANT+ TRAINER CONTROL (FE-C) NO NO NO
ANT+ REMOTE CONTROL NO (YES FOR VIRB CAMERA CONTROL) YES FOR GARMIN VIRB NO (YES FOR VIRB CAMERA CONTROL)
ANT+ EBIKE COMPATIBILITY NO NO NO
ANT+ MUSCLE OXYGEN (I.E. MOXY/BSX) NO YES NO
ANT+ GEAR SHIFTING (I.E. SRAM ETAP) NO NO NO
SHIMANO DI2 SHIFTING NO NO NO
BLUETOOTH SMART HR STRAP CAPABLE YES YES YES
BLUETOOTH SMART SPEED/CADENCE CAPABLE YES YES YES
BLUETOOTH SMART FOOTPOD CAPABLE YES YES YES
BLUETOOTH SMART POWER METER CAPABLE NO NO NO
TEMP RECORDING (INTERNAL SENSOR) NO NO NO
TEMP RECORDING (EXTERNAL SENSOR) YES YES (TEMPE) YES

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