Galaxy Watch 4/4S vs Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S: All Things Explained

Last Updated on September 12, 2021 by Editorial Team

This comparison of Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 is kind of odd. These watches cater to different audiences, have a gap of almost 2 years, and only a few of their features overlap.

Garmin’s Vivoactive Series is a lineup of mid-range watches for fitness and sports enthusiasts with a twist. In the Vivoactive series, Garmin for the very first time tried to introduce smarts like contactless payment, a refined display, and music storage. However, the Venu Series took the lead with its back-to-back watches: Venu, Venu SQ, Venu 2. 

Vivoactive 4 has significantly improved on its predecessor with more bells and whistles for sports and health tracking (on-screen workout animations, Pilates support, enhanced yoga metrics, pulse oximeter readings, respiration tracking, and underwater heart rate monitoring). In addition to the music storage and support for Bluetooth headphones, it now has offline Spotify support. It is in essence a mid-range multisport watch with week-long battery life and an easily readable display. 

On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 grabbed the headlines earlier this year for its brand-new software that combines the looks of Samsung’s in-house built Tizen and the functionality of Wear OS. The watch was also the first to feature Samsung’s new 5nm Exynos W920 chipset.

xy Watch 4

Though the cream of its health and health features are locked to Samsung devices and there is tension between Samsung and Google Services, Galaxy Watch 4 has everything to become the next best android watch. So far, you can only get the best experience by pairing it with the Samsung Phones

Spoiler: Despite GW4 running the Wear OSThe interface, the apps, the NFC payment system, the health tracking, and the assistant all come from Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem, not Google’s. (Source: The Verge)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Garmin Venu 2 compete for the same market, so we have added a separate comparison for them. Whereas, in the case of Vivoactive 4, we are looking at two different watches. 

If you are looking for a quick answer of which watch is better, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a better sports watch than GW4 and has a superior battery life, in almost all other departments Samsung’s Watch has an upper hand.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the general comparison of these watches. 

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General Comparison:

Preview
Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensors and More, Black
Winner
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 4 44mm Smartwatch with ECG Monitor Tracker for Health Fitness Running Sleep Cycles GPS Fall Detection Bluetooth US Version, Black
Product Name
Garmin Vivoactive 4
Galaxy Watch 4
Price
$249.99
$279.99
Predecessor
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
Galaxy Watch 3/ Galaxy Watch Active 2
Models
Garmin Vivoactive 4 (45mm)Garmin Vivoactive 4S (40mm)
Galaxy Watch 4 (40mm)Galaxy Watch 4 (44mm)Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (42mm)Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (46mm)
Release Date
Sept, 2019
August, 2021
Parent Company
Garmin
Samsung
Operating System
Garmin OS
Google’s Wear OS | One UI Watch 3 on Top
Compatibility
Android, IOS
Android Only (Android 6.0 or higher)
Competition
Garmin Venu, Galaxy Watch 3, Fitbit Versa 3
Apple Watch 6/7, Fitbit Sense, Ticwatch Pro 4G
Suitable For
Sports/Fitness Watch
Health/Fitness/ Lifestyle Watch
Sensors
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Thermometer
AccelerometerBarometerGyroscopeGeomagnetic sensorGPSGLONASSBeidouGalileoAmbient light sensorSamsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Preview
Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensors and More, Black
Product Name
Garmin Vivoactive 4
Price
$249.99
Predecessor
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
Models
Garmin Vivoactive 4 (45mm)Garmin Vivoactive 4S (40mm)
Release Date
Sept, 2019
Parent Company
Garmin
Operating System
Garmin OS
Compatibility
Android, IOS
Competition
Garmin Venu, Galaxy Watch 3, Fitbit Versa 3
Suitable For
Sports/Fitness Watch
Sensors
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, Barometric altimeter, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Thermometer
Check Latest Price
Winner
Preview
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 4 44mm Smartwatch with ECG Monitor Tracker for Health Fitness Running Sleep Cycles GPS Fall Detection Bluetooth US Version, Black
Product Name
Galaxy Watch 4
Price
$279.99
Predecessor
Galaxy Watch 3/ Galaxy Watch Active 2
Models
Galaxy Watch 4 (40mm)Galaxy Watch 4 (44mm)Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (42mm)Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (46mm)
Release Date
August, 2021
Parent Company
Samsung
Operating System
Google’s Wear OS | One UI Watch 3 on Top
Compatibility
Android Only (Android 6.0 or higher)
Competition
Apple Watch 6/7, Fitbit Sense, Ticwatch Pro 4G
Suitable For
Health/Fitness/ Lifestyle Watch
Sensors
AccelerometerBarometerGyroscopeGeomagnetic sensorGPSGLONASSBeidouGalileoAmbient light sensorSamsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Check Latest Price

Price and Value Difference: 

Announced on August 11 and released August 27, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is available in two sizes: 40mm & 44mm. Whereas the classic units are available in 42mm and 44mm size options. There are also different price tags for Bluetooth and LTE variants. There is a price difference of $50 for two sizes and another $50 for bt and LTE units.

From the price perspective, Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (40mm) costs about $50 more than the Garmin Vivoactive 4 at around $350. Unfortunately, Garmin doesn’t offer discounts for its smaller units. So both these watches might blow a huge hole into your finances. 

If you can live without the physical rotating bezel and stainless steel body, the Galaxy Watch 4 makes an excellent choice. It is quite affordable at around $250 (40mm | Bluetooth Variant)

Vivoactive 4 value can be truly realized if you use it as a GPS sport-watch. Other than that, it is just an overpriced gadget. Galaxy Watch 4, however, doubles as a full-fledged smartwatch and therefore adds more value to your life. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4/4 Classic: Design & Display

Design Comparison: 

Garmin Vivoactive 4Samsung Galaxy Watch4
Dimensions, Weight
Vivoactive 4:45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm, 50.5g
Vivoactive 4S:
40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm, 40g
Galaxy Watch 4: 
44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm, 30.3g40mm: 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm, 25.9g Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: 46mm: 45.5 x 45.5 x 11.0mm, 52g42mm: 41.5 x 41.5 x 11.2mm, 46.5g
Band Size18mm, 22mm20mm strap
Build materialsStainless Steel Bezel, Fiber-reinforced polymer body with plastic rear cover, silicone strapStainless Steel (Galaxy Watch 4 Classic) & Aluminum casing with silicone strap
Colors

Vivoactive 4:Slate Stainless Steel Bezel with Black Case | Silver Stainless Steel Bezel with Shadow Gray Case


Vivoactive 4S: Light Gold Stainless Steel Bezel with Dust Rose Case | Rose Gold Stainless Steel Bezel with White Case | Silver Stainless Steel Bezel with Powder Gray Case |  Slate Stainless Steel Bezel with Black Case
Galaxy Watch 4 (44mm: Black, Green, Silver | 40mm: Black, Pink Gold, Silver) Galaxy Watch4 Classic (46mm: Black, Silver | 42mm: Black, Silver)
Waterproofing5 ATM (up to 50m)IP68

Both Samsung and Garmin have tried to woo a wider variety of people by offering different size options. Garmin’s Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes, a 40-mm option, and a much larger 45-mm model. Similarly, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic have two size options each. 40 and 44mm for GW4. 42 and 46mm for Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

Also, there are two side buttons on all watches. They perform a variety of functions. The casing of Samsung watches is made of aluminum and stainless steel, whereas Garmin has sandwiched the polymer casing between stainless steel bezel and plastic bag.

Overall the Samsung Watches have a slimmer profile and are lightweight and therefore won’t add heft to your wrist. The lack of raised bezel in the GW4 might put it at disadvantage as it makes it more susceptible to scratches. The classic unit and Garmin Vivoactive 4 are more secure in this regard. 

All these watches come with silicone straps that can be easily replaced. Their feel and locking mechanism differs. Vivoactive 4’s straps are on the softer and comfortable side. 

As far as waterproofing is concerned, Vivoactive takes the lead with its 5 ATM resistance. Samsung’s IP68 rating is the bare minimum and you can’t take this watch to open water swimming. 

As for the color options, the galaxy watch comes in black, gold, green, and silver (depends on the size). Whereas Garmin also offers a host a different option to match this. The smaller Vivoactive 4S is available in more colors. We have mentioned all in the table above. 

Display Features:

Garmin Vivoactive 4Samsung Galaxy Watch4
Display SizeVivoactive 4:1.3-inchVivoactive 4S:1.1-inch44/46mm: 1.36-inch40/42mm: 1.19-inch 
Screen Type & ResolutionVivoactive 4:
transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP), 260 x 260 pixelsVivoactive 4S:transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) 218 x 218 pixels
44/46mm: Super AMOLED450 x 450 resolution40/42mm: Super AMOLED396 x 396 resolution
Pixel Per InchN/A330 PPI
Screen Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Galaxy Watch 4: Corning Gorilla Glass with DX+
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Corning Gorilla Glass with DX
Always-on DisplayYesYes
Rotating BezelNoGalaxy Watch 4: Touch Bezel
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Physical Bezel

In the display department, Garmin Vivoactive 4 lags far behind the GW4. The latter has an impressive AMOLED screen that offers a crisp display and better viewing angles. It is easy to read in sunlight. There is a touch rotating bezel on GW4 and a physical rotating bezel on the classic unit. Garmin watches lack these smarts. 

Garmin’s answer to Samsung’s lush display is the outdated transflective memory-in-pixel screen. Like the Samsung watch, Vivoactive 4 has an always-on display but the similarities just end there. It might offer better resolution than other Garmin Devices, except for Venu Series, but standing next to Galaxy Watch, it is downright lackluster.

Smartwatch Features: 

Garmin Vivoactive 4Samsung Galaxy Watch4
ConnectivityBluetooth , ANT+,Wi-Fi,NFCBluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz, Cellular (Only in LTE models)NFC
Companion AppGarmin ConnectIQGoogle Fit
StorageUp to 500 songs16 GB
ProcessorN/A5nm Samsung Exynos W920Dual-core 1.18GHz
RAMN/A1.5 GB
Notification AlertYesYes
Calendar, WeatherYesYes
Offline Spotify YesYes
Timer & AlarmYesYes
Customizable Watch FacesYesYes
Voice AssistantNoYes (Bixby)
Music Storage, ControlYesYes
Third-Party AppsYesYes (Wear OS play store)
Make calls, send texts & EmailsNoYes
Browse WebNoYes
Contactless PaymentYes (Garmin Pay)Yes (Google Pay, Samsung Pay)

In the smartwatch department, Garmin Vivoactive 4S is simply unable to match the prowess of the Samsung watch. The latter features a new fast chip, the latest Wear OS, 16 GB storage, 1.5 GB RAM, and above all, cellular connectivity for a standalone experience. The Galaxy Watch’s cellular model can make calls and send texts without your phone around, just like the Apple Watch. 

So far, Samsung hasn’t introduced the access to complete Google Wearable Suite that would include Google Pay, Google Assistant, but you can have access to third-party apps on the Wear OS store. The Watch’s UI is clean and responsive. 

Garmin’s Watch in contrast added only the practical features. It has access to third-party apps via Garmin Connect IQ, but most of them are related to fitness and sports. Plus, the sheer number of Apps on the Garmin store is critically low. 

The company added the support for contactless payment via Garmin Pay, but only a few can take full benefit of this feature (Supported banks are limited and centralized in North America). Thankfully, you can store music on the watch and can even download playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer for offline playback.  

In this arena, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 beats the Vivoactive 4 decisively. Even the latest Garmin Venu 2 can’t offer the competition as Samsung has years of experience in this domain, and Apple is the only competitor that matches or even surpasses it. 

Note: Unlike previous Samsung Watches, Galaxy Watch 4 is only compatible with Android devices and is best for Samsung Galaxy Smartphones

Fitness & Health Features: 

Garmin Vivoactive 4Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Built-in GPSYes (GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo)Yes (GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo)
Heart Rate TrackingYesYes
SleepYesYes
StressYesYes
Blood OxygenYesYes
ECGNoYes
Bioelectrical Impedance AnalysisNoYes
Steps, CaloriesYesYes
Menstrual cycleYesYes
Sport Mode20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps — including walking, running, cycling, pool swimming, golf, and more90+
Sync Data With Strava/Apple HealthYesYes (with Starva and Nike Run Club)

In terms of health features, Samsung beats Garmin with the sheer number of metrics it offers. It can track heart rate and blood oxygen both continuously and on-demand. 

In fact this time, the company has introduced a 3-in-1 sensor that in combination with the aforementioned metrics also offers Body composition details. This new metric will give you a comprehensive report on body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, bone mass, body water percentage, and more.

Apart from these health metrics, Galaxy Watch 4 also tracks sleep, stress, and blood pressure. Also, it is one of the few FDA-approved ECG smartwatches

Garmin Vivoactive 4, in comparison, apes the other health metrics except for ECG and Body Composition. In terms of accuracy, it is considerably better than the GW4. 

The sports tracking is the stronghold of Garmin, and Vivoactive 4 doesn’t disappoint. It has multiple sports and workout profiles and offers comprehensive data for popular ones like running, swimming, and weightlifting. However, the Galaxy Watch4 doesn’t lag too far behind.  

No doubt, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a better sports watch as we can expect from a company founded on the back of its strong navigational capability. Other than GPS accuracy, you wouldn’t find the animated guides for workouts on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. A slight edge Garmin Watch has is the ANT+ technology that allows it to seamlessly connect with third-party chest straps. 

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4/4 Classic: Battery Life & Charging 

Garmin Vivoactive 4Samsung Galaxy Watch4
Battery PerformanceThe Vivoactive 4 8 days in smartwatch mode 6 hours with GPS+music
Vivoactive 4S 7 days in smartwatch mode5 hours with GPS+music
1-2 days (mixed usage), It varies with the smartwatch size, and usage of features like GPS and Music, and Always-on 
Battery SizeN/A44/46mm: 361mAh40/42mm: 247mAh
Charger TypeProprietary 4 pin connectorWPC-based wireless charging
Fast ChargingNo (takes almost 2 hours to top-up)No (Takes almost 2 hours to fully charge)

Garmin Vivoactive 4 has an upper hand in terms of battery performance. The watch offers week-long battery performance if you turn on the essential mode. A more aggressive usage will put a huge dent in battery life and would reduce it to 3-4 days. 

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 doesn’t claim to have extraordinary battery life. It is a one-day watch that can make it to three days if you strip it down to bare-bone features. That means turning off the GPS, Always-on mode, and even notification alerts. 

None of the watches support fast charging, but the magnetic charging mechanism of the Galaxy Watch makes it convenient to top it up. Vivoactive 4 pin connector is quite outmoded, but as you have to charge your watch once a week, you can live with it. 

Here, Vivoactive takes the lead with its extra-long battery life which should be duly appreciated. 

Note: Keep in mind that the smaller variants of both watches would have slightly less battery power, and the difference is more pronounced in the case of Galaxy Watch 4.

What should you buy? Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4/4 Classic?

For sports and fitness buffs, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a compelling GPS watch. But why waste the money on an old watch when you can get the latest Garmin Venu 2 by offering about $50 more. 

Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic, on the other hand, offer more value as they strike the right balance between health and smartwatch features. Plus, you have a lot of options to choose from. Samsung does offer you a discount when you pick a small watch, whereas, with Garmin, you don’t get these perks. 

Keep in mind that Galaxy Watch 4’s advanced health features like ECG and BIA are locked to Samsung devices and you would have to wait for a while to get the same on other Android devices. Also, there is tension between Google and Samsung Services as you won’t find Google Assistant or Google Pay despite the fact that watches run Wear OS.