Forerunner and Vivoactive Series by Garmin are targeted at different markets though, over the years, they have come to offer similar features.
The Forerunner series is designed for runners while the Vivoactive series is meant for health and fitness tracking with a touchscreen color display and plenty of smart features.
Vivoactive 4/4S was released in Sept 2019 but it’s still available on the Garmin website. Whereas, Garmin Forerunner 255/255S is recently released in June 2022. Interestingly, both watch falls in the same price bracket, which makes many buyers confused about which one to invest their money in.
So if you are in the market for a new Garmin watch, which one should you buy? This is a detailed Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Vivoactive 4 comparison to help you make that decision.
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Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: General Comparison Table
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Price
We have made a list to help you better understand the pricing of both watches.
- Garmin Forerunner 255/255S (around $350)
- Garmin Forerunner 255/255S Music (around $400)
- Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S (around $350)
As Vivoactive 4 is now an old watch, Its price usually comes down to $300-320. Whereas, Forerunner 255 is a brand new watch which makes it almost impossible to get a better deal on it.
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Design
So the very first difference (though it is a minor one) we picked is the sizing and weight of these watches.
- Vivoactive 4: 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm, 50.5g
- Vivoactive 4S: 40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm, 40.5g
- Forerunner 255: 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 (mm), 49g
- Forerunner 255S: 41 x 41 x 12.4 (mm), 39g
As you can see, Forerunner 255 is a tad bigger and yet it managed to not overweigh the Vivoactive watch. That is mainly due to the plastic build of the Forerunner compared to the metallic bezel (stainless steel) and plastic combo on Vivoactive. You can guess which watch looks and feel more premium (Obviously the Vivoactive).
Both watches come with a silicone strap that you can swap out for different ones. Strap sizing differs from the sizing of the watch.
Next, Vivoactive 4 features 2 buttons instead of 5 in Forerunner 255. That is because most of the navigation on Vivoactive is done with the touchscreen display. Forerunner 255 follows the old-school 5-button navigation as found in its predecessor FR 245, and its rugged siblings: Garmin Fenix 6 and Garmin Instinct 2.
Both watches are 5ATM certified which means that you can take Vivoactive 4 as well as Forerunner 255 for a swim in the pool and open water up to 50 meters. Also, you can shower with both Garmin watches without any worries.
Another similarity we found on the design front is the displays on these watches. Both are featuring transflective color displays offering almost identical resolutions.
While the transflective display has its own benefits (they are easier to view in bright sunlight and have less impact on battery performance), it can’t match the color accuracy, resolutions, and vibrancy of AMOLED display the kind we have only seen in Garmin Venu Series.
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Features
In terms of smart features, both watches can store music, show notifications from your phone, and make contactless payments via Garmin Pay. However, you will have to pay $50 extra to buy the FR 255 Music which tilts the scales in favor of Vivoactive 4 a bit.
With the introduction of an Altimeter and Compass on Forerunner 255, it has now become the same as Vivoactive 4 in terms of the navigation features. However, the Dual-Frequency support on FR 255 that allows it to connect to two different frequencies to the satellites thus making it a more accurate tracker of position.
In the health tracking department, the core features these watches can track are similar on both devices. They can track your heart rate, stress, sleep, and blood oxygen saturation. However, the fact that FR 255 comes packed with a new Elevate V4 sensor makes it a better choice when it comes to accuracy.
The difference between these watches is more pronounced in the sports tracking department, especially for running, cycling, and swimming. Garmin Vivoactive 4S was at par with Forerunner 245, both watches purposefully underpowered to give their bigger siblings in Fenix and Forerunner Series some space. However, that changed with FR 255.
Garmin equipped Forerunner 255 with plenty of new training and performance metrics. The company has added new sports profiles to the watch, and the most notable feature is the triathlon mode, which makes it the first Garmin mid-range watch for triathletes.
The most notable additions on Garmin Forerunner 255 as per DC Rainmaker are as follows:
- Added full triathlon/multisport support
- Cycling Power Meter Support + Cycling VO2 max
- Native Running Power
- Race Predictor + Race Calender+ Race Widget
- HRV Status Tracking + Morning Report + Acute Load Metric
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 255
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Battery Performance
In the smartwatch mode, Vivoactive 4 can last up to 8 days. That means if you prefer to not use it for sports tracking, the watch can muster up to a week-long performance. The battery drops significantly if you take the watch out for a run, and listen to music as you hit the gym. You should be able to get up to 10 hours with GPS alone and 4-5 hours with GPS+ Music.
Now, The Forerunner 255 is a beast when it compares to Vivoactive 4. It offers more than double the battery performance in each mode despite featuring the same type, size, and resolution display.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 255
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Specs and Features
|Product Name||Garmin Forerunner 255||Garmin Vivoactive 4|
|Dimensions, Weight||46mm: 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm, 49g | 41mm: 41 x 41 x 12.4 mm, 39g||The 4 has a 1.3-inch screen and weighs 1.7 ounces, while the 4S has a 1.1-inch display and weighs 1.4 ounces.|
|Band Size||45mm: 22mm | 41mm: 18mm||4 works with 22mm quick-release bands, while the smaller 4S model uses 18mm|
|Build materials||silicone||stainless steel|
|Colors||Tidal Blue, Slate Gray, Light Pink, Powder Gray, Whitestone, Black||gold/pink, rose gold/white, silver/gray, or slate/black|
|Waterproofing||5 ATM||5ATM (up to 50m)|
|Display Size||46mm:1.3 inches | 41mm: 1.1 inches||1.3 inch|
|Screen Type & Resolution||sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) | 46mm: 260 x 260 pixels, 41mm:218 x 218 pixels (active area)||Transflective memory-in-display (MIP)|
|Screen Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 3||Corning Gorilla glass 3|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, ANT+||Bluetooth Smart, ANT+|
|Companion App||CONNECT IQ||Garmin Connect IQ store|
|Storage||4G & up to 500 songs||4 GB|
|Timer & Alarm||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable Watch Faces||Yes||Yes|
|Music Storage, Control||Yes||Yes|
|Make calls, send texts & Emails||Yes(Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only))||Yes|
|Contactless Payment||Yes (Garmin Pay)||Yes (Garmin Pay)|
|Built-in GPS||Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)||Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)|
|Heart Rate Tracking,||Yes||Yes|
|Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis||No||No|
|Sync Data With Strava, Apple Health||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Performance||Up to 6.5 hours to 14 days (mixed usage)||Up to 5 hours to 7 days (mixed usage)|
|Charger Type||USB charging cable.||USB charging cable|
|Fast Charging||No||No(Takes 2 hours)|
Garmin Forerunner 255 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4: Final Verdict
Apart from a bit cheaper price tag, the touchscreen, and metallic bezel, Vivoactive has nothing to offer more than Forerunner 255. Even in terms of design, we like the more rugged and sporty look of the FR 255.
The Forerunner 255 delivers a crushing blow to Vivoactive 4 in the battery performance and the sports tracking department.
It is easier for us to pick a winner, and that is Garmin Forerunner 255.