Garmin Vívosmart 5 bracelet activity test: smart, accurate, anachronistic

Ergonomics and design

For its Vívosmart 5, Garmin strives to maintain the meticulous style that made the previous version a success. Even if it means ignoring the qualities that have now become standard down to the entry level. As you can understand, we are talking about the screen here. Even if the Vívosmart 5 is larger (10.5 x 18.5 mm versus 6.6 x 17.7 mm) than the Vívosmart 4 and uses OLED technology like most activity bracelets today, it remains monochromatic indeed! It’s a surprise when we see the same competitors destroying themselves to get the crown of the one with the most beautiful screen. Fitbit, for example, hasn’t failed to equip its Charge 5 with a good-sized color Amoled screen, which has replaced the monochrome screen on its Charge 4 and is a truly attractive asset.

The Vívosmart 5 and its monochrome Oled screen.

The Vívosmart 5 and its monochrome Oled screen.

Point of fantasy in Vívosmart 5, we get above all the readability due to the increased display definition (88 x 154 px versus 48 x 128 px). The black and white display doesn’t particularly make the information more readable even in good maximum light, especially since the acrylic glass that protects the screen is very bright and relatively far from the panel, which can create a lot of reflections. Some of the information displayed in small print is so difficult to read in direct sunlight.

If sunlight hits the screen directly, the small lines of gray characters can be difficult to read.

If sunlight hits the screen directly, the small lines of gray characters can be difficult to read.

However, we appreciate the ambient light sensor that allows automatic adjustment of the screen brightness, so as not to glare at night while maintaining a readable display during the day. Last complaint about the screen, its refresh rate is as low and the most sensitive eyes can be bothered by a slight flash. There’s nothing prohibitively good, but that adds to the list of flaws about the show.

A relatively compact activity bracelet.

A relatively compact activity bracelet.

Fantasy is also missing from the design of the bracelet itself. The thin metal border that surrounds the screen on the Vívosmart 4 already gives a curved glass flush to the bracelet, more discreet and smarter, but less elegant. This new design doesn’t even benefit from the screen occupation ratio on the front, as there is almost a 3 mm border around the screen, where a 2 mm width strap is added on either side of the case. Even if we do know Garmin’s desire to offer an intricate design, the appearance of the Vívosmart 5 seems very dated.

The sensors under the case of the Vívosmart 5.

The sensors under the case of the Vívosmart 5.

Not everything should be thrown away, however, in terms of design and ergonomics, as the Vívosmart 5 is much more comfortable to wear thanks to its featherweight (weighed at 25 g in the S / M version) and the bracelet it’s made of. of soft silicone that stays comfortable even when wet (5 ATM water resistance, swimming compatible). Its thickness of 10.7 mm and its width of almost 2 cm are also properties when it comes to slipping it under a sleeve.

A classic buckle fastening system.

A classic buckle fastening system.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Interface

As it follows, the Vívosmart 5 uses a touchscreen interface. Its button mixed at the bottom of the screen is no longer sensitive, but clickable. Not very elegant, but easier to manage the heat once you go back to the previous screen, access the main menu or even turn on the screen.

A button under the touchscreen of the Vívosmart 5.

A button under the touchscreen of the Vívosmart 5.

Starting an activity also involves pressing this one physical button, selecting the mode and the associated settings are then made via the touch screen.

In the same way as manufacturer watches, you can access different widgets – grouped by 3 – using a simple vertical slide of the finger on the screen. A swipe to the right brings up 3 configurable shortcuts (by default: ring your smartphone to find it, battery percentage, “do not disturb” mode). Alas, a swipe to the left does not cause anything; we would be grateful to be able to associate a function we have chosen with this action, for example consulting the latest announcements.

The widgets are grouped by 3 and display their data after displaying their name (after about 4 s).

The widgets are grouped by 3 and display their data after displaying their name (after about 4 s).

Despite an added display definition compared to the Vívosmart 4, the menu names are still too long to cross the screen and therefore continue to scroll automatically. The overall experience will suffer less from the use of names that are meaningful and clearly identifiable icons.

Start and activity at Vívosmart 5.

Start and activity at Vívosmart 5.

Overall, using the Vívosmart 5 is simple, the interface doesn’t abuse the endless drawer menus. The organization of widgets customized through the Garmin Connect application, we can adjust their appearance according to our preferences.

Editor's Rating: 5 out of 5

Applications

The Vívosmart 5 uses the same Garmin Connect app as all the manufacturer’s other products. Very complete, it displays a lot of information from its home screen, in the form of widgets that can be organized as desired.

A summary of the previous day as well as the last 7 days is also provided, to let you know at a glance if we have already achieved our objectives. These results as well as various past events are grouped on the “Calendar” tab.

The main tab

The main tab is “My Day” in the Garmin Connect app.

The most competitive will find a source of enthusiasm in the “Challenges” tab where they will be invited to compete with their friends and win various badges. The “Feed” tab is used to in more detail observe the activities shared by our friends on the Garmin Connect network. Too bad Garmin limited the social aspect of our circles of friends and did not show up at official sports competitions and other gaming activities.

The Vívosmart 5 rewards, calendar, and settings in the Garmin Connect app.

The Vívosmart 5 rewards, calendar, and settings in the Garmin Connect app.

Since the Vívosmart 5 isn’t a sports watch, it’s no surprise that sports functions are shortened to track activity and summarize. However, you can take advantage of running and cycling training programs on the application.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Uses and Accuracy

If it’s not the most stylish bracelet in the event, the Vívosmart 5 makes it exactly to the dimensions of its heart. Equipped with the same sensor as its predecessor, which is also found in some manufacturer’s watches (Vivoactive …), it is not surprising that it gives the same and therefore dignified results, if not even better.

The sensors on the Vívosmart 5 are similar to those found on many Garmin watches (Vivoactive 4, Vivomove Style, etc.).

The sensors on the Vívosmart 5 are similar to those found on many Garmin watches (Vivoactive 4, Vivomove Style, etc.).

Vívosmart 5 is able to maintain heart rate fluctuations, even during irregular activities. If it doesn’t offer the response of a chest strap like our reference Polar H10, thus causing some misfires during the fastest heart rate changes, it still offers good tracking. in general.

Heart rate curves obtained with Vívosmart 5 (in light red) and with Polar H10 (in purple), during the interval run, are here compared to the online tool Quantified-self.io.

Heart rate curves obtained with Vívosmart 5 (in light red) and with Polar H10 (in purple), during the interval run, are here compared to the online tool Quantified-self.io.

Not everything is perfect, especially when activities start (curve above), but the Vívosmart 5 will work in any case better than the Xiaomi Smart Band 6 and Smart Band 7 activity sensors, for example, the latter though yet, you are cheaper. Thus it is more comparable to a Fitbit Charge 5 which is right in its tariff zone.

Heart rate curves obtained using Vívosmart 5 (in purple) and Polar H10 (in bright red), during an interval rowing exercise, are here compared to the online tool Quantified-self.io.

Heart rate curves obtained using Vívosmart 5 (in purple) and Polar H10 (in bright red), during an interval rowing exercise, are here compared to the online tool Quantified-self.io.

Its SpO2 sensor that measures blood oxygen saturation is used during sleep monitoring, which can be used to detect possible sleep apnea. Even if we haven’t measured its accuracy yet, sleep tracking itself seems to be relevant to us, with Vívosmart 5 detecting waking phases and the resulting graph helping to identify cycles.

Strong points

  • Compact and light weight.

  • Overall satisfactory measurement of heart rate.

Weak points

  • Only screen monochrome and not always readable.

  • No GPS.

Conclusion

Global brand

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

How does grading work?

Smart and comfortable to wear, the Vívosmart 5 accomplishes most of the missions relied upon by an activity sensor. Its heart rate sensor offers generally satisfactory results if you don’t expect extreme accuracy, and complete activity monitoring. On the other hand, its monochrome screen and the absence of an integrated GPS chip seem like we don’t agree with the relatively high price position for an activity bracelet.

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