If there is one brand out there that specializes in making excellent digital trackers it is Garmin. The brand is also one of the oldest companies that has lead the wave of the digital revolution in the wearable tech market. Their GPS tracking capabilities are well known and are one of the key reasons people use their fitness trackers. The GPS accuracy is also the main feature of the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Activity Tracker which is the focus of the show here. It is one of their best fitness trackers (along with the Vivoactive line) and is everything you need during your workouts.
My Verdict: Despite the steep price, this fitness tracker really proves to be everything you might need during your workout. In terms of distance and speed tracking, there are few better models out there. The Heart Rate sensor might need some improvement but we find it that it reads your pulse accurately enough once at the right spot. Everything else from the display to the battery life brings a familiar Garmin quality that makes their products a worthy investment.
Overview & Features
From running to cycling, the Vivosmart series of fitness trackers is always going to provide a reliable signal tracking through Garmin’s GPS system. It can also measure your intensity minutes, floors climbed, step count, and most importantly calories burned.
The Elevate wrist heart rate function on the HR+ model works well enough to track your pulse even when you are in the middle of an intensive workout. It requires some getting used to (position-wise) but after you find the spot where it measures perfectly there aren’t any further obstacles.
To top things off, this Garmin tracker comes with their patented “move bar” feature which tracks your activity and vibrates when it’s time to move around. That is especially good for people that tend to overwork or stay seated for far too long at a time.
The tracking software in the Vivosmart series is the same across the line and it is the best feature of this activity band. The GPS is really accurate and delivers precise data no matter where you are (even under a tree, where most trackers struggle). It does a fine job measuring steps, distance travelled, average speed, speed bursts, and so on.
It estimates your calories burned but we found out that it just uses a generic formula which doesn’t always show you the most accurate results. Still, if you aren’t doing anything highly intensive, it will be on point.
The HR+ can also measure floors climbed fairly well if you are doing altitude changes.
The display is an always-on sunlight readable touchscreen. It performs well under direct sunlight even though the contrast and brightness seem a bit off. Still, it does a good job at preserving the battery life. People usually prefer these types of displays as opposed to the ones that you have to make a wrist motion to activate or drain your battery if they’re always on.
One major downside is that it scratches easily so make sure you get a protector from the start.
Battery life here is decent and depending on your usage you can get anywhere between 4 and 6 days. On average, with the tracker always on your hand, you will typically get 5 days on a single charge.
The build quality is typical to Garmin’s products with the plastic frame and rubber band. The main part is also rubberized to provide a better fit, although the HR monitor has a slight bulge on the back of the tracker which can be irritating if you wear it too tightly.
One of the features that works quite well here is the Garmin Connect app. It allows your Vivosmart HR+ to sync up automatically with your mobile device. It can also be accessed through your desktop and even link to MyFitnessPal and track your metrics throughout the day. Those can be then shared with the online community or be used to plan out your next days worth of activity.
This fitness tracker also shows notifications on its display including emails, texts, calls, social media notifications, and even calendar events.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the VivoSmart HR+ now…
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Excellent GPS tracking
- Rigid construction
- Waterproof up to 50 meters
- Easy to use software
- Syncs flawlessly
- Shows all kinds of notifications on the display
- Fairly good price-to-value ratio
- Heart rate monitor isn’t perfect
- The screen’s brightness and contrast are a bit off
- The screen tends to scratch easily so it is a good idea to get a protector
If you want to see how this tracker measures up to its competition, head over to our full Buyer’s Guide on some of the best waterproof fitness trackers on the market.
Conclusion and Rating
The Garmin Vívosmart HR+ Regular Fit Activity Tracker is currently occupying a really competitive price category so it faces a lot of competition from models like the Fitbit Charge HR. Still, thanks to its unique functionality it offers a slightly different type of experience to its users.
The key feature here has to be the precise GPS tracking capabilities which is why most people opt for a Garmin product in the first place. If you exclude some of the issues the display is having, this still remains a more-than-decent and reliable fitness tracker which has battery for days and can accurately present you all the data from your workout. There might be a period of getting used to it in the beginning, since the heart rate monitor sticks out from the body a bit, but once your wrist gets familiar with the design, it will provide a snug fit during your training.
Thanks to its features and well thought out price, we gave the Garmin a solid score of four and a half out of five stars.