So you’re in the market for a new fitness tracker and you’re trying to decide between the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and the Fitbit Charge 5. Both are affordable trackers that will help you keep an eye on your overall health and progress towards your fitness goals, but which fitness tracker is worth your money? We put the two popular trackers head to head to find out.
Smaller and more affordable than the best GPS sports watches, the best fitness trackers can measure your heart rate, read your blood oxygen levels, track your steps and sleep as well as your workouts, and even alert you of your texts when you’re on the move. Both the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and the Fitbit Charge 5 are popular choices with fitness enthusiasts and novice step-counters alike, but they do have some big differences.
If you’re already familiar with the watches, you can take a look at our Garmin Vivosmart 5 review, and our Fitbit Charge 5 review, but if you’re still deliberating, read on to find out which fitness tracker we deem to be worth your money.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Price and availability
Despite the Fitbit Charge 5 being more expensive at launch, the two fitness trackers are now the same price. The Garmin Vivosmart 5 costs $149.99 / £129.99 and is available in black, white, and cool mint. It’s also the newer tracker, launching in April 2022, so we can expect there to be deals on the tracker at a later date.
The Fitbit Charge 5 costs costs $149.95/£129.99 and is available in Steel Blue/Platinum, Black/Graphite, and Lunar White/Gold. It is worth noting that this price includes a six-month Fitbit Premium membership, which costs $9.99 per month after this. You will need a Fitbit Premium membership to unlock some of the tracker's more premium features.
Winner: Garmin Vivosmart 5. Despite the fact both fitness trackers at the same price, the fact you don’t have to pay any additional subscription costs on the Garmin makes it the more affordable option.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Specs at a glance
|Header Cell - Column 0||Garmin Vivosmart 5||Fitbit Charge 5|
|Battery life||7 days||7 days|
|Screen size||0.41" x 0.73"||0.86" X 0.58"|
|Heart rate monitor||Yes||Yes|
|ECG monitor||No||Yes (Premium feature)|
|EDA scan||No||Yes (Premium feature)|
|Payment options||Yes - Garmin Pay||Yes - Fitbit Pay|
|On-board music storage||No||No|
|Weight||0.86oz (small), 0.93oz (large)||0.98oz|
|Size||0.76 x 0.42 x 8.5 inches (small), 0.76 x 0.42 x 10 inches (large)||1.4 x 0.89 x 0.44 inches|
|Sports modes||14 total, 10 available on watch at a time||20 total, 6 available on watch at a time|
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Design and display
Again, when it comes to design, both trackers are pretty similar — they both have interchangeable bands, and can be easily popped out and swapped. At the time of writing, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a newer tracker, so the options are limited when it comes to the bands, with no third party options available, although this is likely to change.
When it comes to display, however, things start to differ. The Garmin Vivosmart 5 has a Grayscale OLED screen, which is 66% bigger than the screen on the Vivosmart 4. It’s easy to see in all different lights, texts can scroll across the screen, allowing you to read them without reaching for your phone, and you can see at least three stats on the screen at one time.
That said, compared to the bright, color AMOLED screen on the Fitbit Charge 5, the Vivosmart 5, falls a little short. The screen is one of the biggest upgrades from the Fitbit Charge 4 vs. the Fitbit Charge 5 — it’s bright, easy to see in all lights, and gives the product a more premium feel. It’s also bigger than the screen on the Vivosmart 5, making it easier to read messages and alerts on the go. The Vivosmart 5 also doesn't have an always-on display, whereas the Charge 5 does.
Winner: Fitbit Charge 5. When it comes to the display of the two fitness trackers, the AMOLED screen on the Fitbit is brighter and clearer than that of the Garmin Vivosmart 5.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Fitness tracking
Of course, one of the main reasons to invest in a fitness tracker is to keep an eye on your progress towards your fitness goals — be that taking more steps each day, or completing a certain number of workouts per week. Both the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and the Fitbit Charge 5 give you the option to track a number of workouts — you can track 20 different workout types on the Fitbit, and choose six to display on the tracker. On the Vivosmart 5, you can track 14 different workouts, with the option to add 10 more.
One big difference between the two trackers is the built-in GPS available on the watches. Whereas the Fitbit Charge 5 has GPS, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 uses the GPS on your phone when tracking workouts, which isn’t often as accurate. During testing with the Vivosmart, we found the connected GPS was ever-so-slightly off on shorter runs around the city — while this isn’t a huge issue, the inaccuracy does add up on longer training runs.
That said, when it comes to the data available post-workout, the Garmin watch comes out on top. Like all of the best Garmin watches, the Vivosmart 5 syncs to the Garmin Connect app, which gives you a huge amount of really insightful information for free. This includes things like your moving paces versus your average pace, or how much sweat you’ve lost. While Fitbit does have a lot of insightful fitness data, a lot of this is put behind a paywall, meaning you’ll need to pay for a Fitbit Premium membership to access the data. Is Fitbit Premium worth it? Here’s the pros and cons.
Winner: Fitbit Charge 5. This was a tough one to call, but the built-in GPS on the Fitbit Charge 5 really does make tracking runs, walks, and bike rides a little bit more accurate.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Health tracking
Both fitness trackers are similar in their ability to track your health. The Fitbit Charge 5 has the same SpO2 pulse oximeter sensor (also found in the Charge 4, Charge 3, Versa, and Ionic) to better help you understand your sleeping patterns.
Like previous models, the Charge 5 has all of Fitbit’s standard sleep tracking metrics, although, on the tracker itself, you’ll only be able to see your total sleep time and your sleep score from the previous night. On the Fitbit app, you’ll be able to see your sleep score, sleep stages and set a smart wake alarm, however you have to be a Premium user to get extra sleep data, such as a breakdown of your deep, light, and REM sleep cycles.
The Garmin Vivosmart 5 also has an SpO2 sensor, which gives you a great amount of sleep data, but unlike with the Fitbit, you don’t need to pay a subscription fee to see this.
Both watches have features that help you train smarter by looking at your overall recovery — on the Garmin Vivosmart 5, this is called "body battery." This score takes into account your previous day’s activity levels, and your sleep quality. On Fitbit, this is called the "Daily Readiness Score," although this is a paid-for feature, so only Premium members will be able to use it. Unlike Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score, Garmin’s Body Battery changes in real time. If you were, for example, planning a tough run or a hard gym session after a day of work, but that day has been particularly grueling, your body battery will reflect that.
One sensor that the Fitbit Charge 5 has and the Garmin Vivosmart 5 is missing is an ECG monitor. ECG readings can alert you to possible heart problems, such as atrial fibrillation — a type of arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat. That said, while important, AFib can only be diagnosed by a doctor, so it’s not the be all and end all to track it on your wrist. It’s also worth noting that the EDA and ECG scans on the Fitbit are both Premium, paid-for features.
Winner: Garmin Vivosmart 5. While the two have very similar health tracking sensors, the fact that Fitbit puts some of the most beneficial stats behind a paywall is a touch irritating.
Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Charge 5: Verdict
Ultimately, the right fitness tracker for you is the one that you want to wear the most. Both trackers are similar in design, and they are both small enough to be inconspicuous on your wrist for daily wear. That said, the color screen on the Fitbit Charge 5 makes the product feel more premium, and after wearing both trackers for a couple of months, we’d say the Charge 5 is more beginner-friendly.
If you’re a runner or a cyclist and you’re looking for a fitness tracker to give you the most accurate data as possible, the built-in GPS on the Fitbit Charge 5 makes it the better option. That said, it’s still a fitness tracker, and if you are serious about training, it’s probably worth spending a little more and buying one of the best sports watches, such as the Garmin Forerunner 55.
Finally, if you’re buying a fitness tracker to take a closer look at your overall health, the Garmin Vivosmart 5 gives you a huge amount of data without hiding anything behind a paywall — which we always appreciate.