Garmin Watches Model Line: Fenix, Forerunner, Vivoactive The Difference Explained

Feb. 4, 2020, 12:38 p.m.

Garmin watches are known for battery performance, fitness tracking activities available, topographic maps, etc. But there are so many different models available which make it hard to comprehend the difference between them and choose the best.

Here are the main series. Each has modifications which we talk about more later.

  • Fenix - Premium outdoors watches - for those who want the best of everything with a premium look and price.
  • Tactix - Mostly for military use.
  • D2 Series - Expensive, more durable, offers lots of fitness data, and these watches have the longest battery life
  • Forerunner - Top-tier sports watches, several versions with a leaning towards running - best for multi-sport athletes and runners.
  • Vivoactive - Fitness watches - best for fitness fans who want a little more information.
  • Vivomove - Hybrid watches with hidden fitness tracking functions.
  • Venu - A new type of device like vivoactive but with a better display.
  • Instinct - Rugged GPS watch.
  • Legacy - Themed smartwatches with fitness features.
  • Swim - fitness-related watch leaning toward swimming activities.
  • Approach - series that is designed for golf with many related activities.

There are also fitness bands: vívosport, vívosmart, and vívofit Jr/Jr2.

A vívosport is a band with some features of the cheapest smartwatches. These are small, not bulky, have some fitness features, and are good for those who occasionally run.

The vívosmart Series is a baseline band ideal for those who just want a fitness tracker and be able to track steps.

The vívofit Jr and Jr 2 are designed for kids.

Forerunner

Garmin Forerunner model line is mostly designed for runners and multi-sport athletes. They have a sport-ish look and many fitness activities. None of these watches has a touchscreen. 

The Garmin Forerunner 45/45S have baseline options like tracking runs, notifications and sleep data and overall is good for those who don't want to pay more for data they don't need. It also has 7 days of battery life.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a simpler version of the 935 and 735XT and can be ideal for those who are into fitness and don't need extra smartwatch features.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a newer model from 2019, it comes either as a straight update to the 235, or as a Music edition, which adds support for Bluetooth headphones and offline music from services like Spotify or Deezer. Elsewhere, the Forerunner 245 comes in at a strong price, ideal for those who want a full range of sports and performance tracking, as well as smartwatch notifications and lifestyle tracking like sleep.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 is close to the Vivoactive 3 being more as a smartwatch. It is an old version offers music storage and phone compatibility, has plenty of sport features. The 645 model does not have storage for music but also has a Music modification that comes with onboard music storage.

The Garmin Forerunner 935 with much the same feature set as the Fenix 5, but in a lighter and slightly more affordable package - with a more sporty design. The 935 is better as a sport watch with activity tracking while the 945 is a better smartwatch.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is the latest top-tier watch from Garmin that takes everything that the Forerunner 935 offers and fills in the gaps. You get music storage, Garmin Pay support, and different sport activities.

The 35 model is the cheapest and has a square shape.

Only the 245/Music, 645/645 Music, 935 and 945 models support Wi-Fi. 

The 245/Music, 645/Music, and 945 models have the most preloaded gym activity profiles while the Forerunner 735XT and 235 have none.

For those who want to listen to music on their watch, have a look at the 245 Music, 645 Music, and the latest top-line 945 model, which has twice as much space as the other two have. These models also support Garmin Pay, give you an ability to respond to notifications.


fenix

It is a premium model line with many sport activities for those who need lots of sport data.

Fenix 5 is an updated version of the fenix 3 that has shorter battery life, cheaper price, and lack of some latest features. Also, no heart rate sensor except for the fenix 3 HR which might be hard to find online.

The fenix 5 misses Garmin Pay, and music via Bluetooth headphones offering great sport performance and tracking.

The fenix 5 Plus supports Garmin Pay, and music tho considering all the features the battery life is not as good as the fenix 5 model.

The Garmin fenix 6 offers the top Garmin experience, but also the most expensive. It has three main modifications: the fenix 6S, fenix 6, and the fenix 6X Pro. Each of these models have additional versions: Standard, Pro, and special editions such as Sapphire, Titanium, and Solar. Standard versions miss music storage, wi-fi and other extra features. The Pro options have it all and special editions normally come with a durable display and different bracelets but not different from the Pro modification in terms of features.

vívo

Vivo Series includes two big model lines: vívoactive and vivomore. The vívoactive is more like a smartwatch with all the smart features while the vivomore is cheaper, has a different design and the most important part that these are hybrid watches. vívomove is geared towards more day-to-day wear, focusing on features like notifications, sleep monitoring, and remote music controls. The vívoactive is much more of a fitness-focused device.

vívoactive 3

The vívoactive Series is more like a smartwatch than the Forerunner devices, offering touchscreen rather than button-only control and having the most fitness features to track your data.

The vívoactive Series has two model lines: vívoactive 3 and vívoactive 4. There are vívoactive 3, vívoactive 3 Music, and the vívoactive 3 Music Verizon. 

The Verizon modification has Verizon 4G LTE capabilities. The vívoactive 3 Music comes with onboard 3.5gb internal storage, which should allow for up to 500 songs on the device and can be connected to Bluetooth headphones.

The vívoactive 4 also has a smaller version, the vívoactive 4S. It has a smaller size and slightly worse battery performance.

vívoactive 3 vs. vívoactive 4: Why the vívoactive 4 is better?

  • Supports Wi-Fi
  • Has a better resolution (vívoactive 4)
  • Has a cadence sensor
  • Automatically detects activities

Vivo 4 It's similar to both the Garmin Venu (which has an AMOLED display) and the Forerunner 645 Music in terms of functionality, but it's a little more smartwatch when it comes to the design. Supports Garmin Pay and has a touchscreen.

vívomove

vívomove watches have all the basic sport data you need as counting calories burnt and stuff like that but more classy-looking and is actually a hybrid. These watches have an OLED display and average battery life.

There are vívomove HR Sport with a silicone band which has a sporty design, and a Premium modification with a leather/suede band that has a classy body.

Other modifications would be vívomove 3S, vívomove Luxe, vívomove Style, and vívomove 3. The difference would be a design, colorful display, screen size with the 3S being the smallest, Style and Luxe average and the vívomove 3 is the biggest, they also have different straps. The vívomove Luxe is the most expensive coming with a leather strap and having a domed sapphire crystal screen which makes the watch more durable.

This is more like a style looking watch without many sport activities. It is capable of tracking your daily activities but nothing more, besides, costs cheaper than most models.

Venu

The Venu series is the newer fitness-related watch similar to the vívoactive Series but has a better display and a touchscreen.

The Venu is equipped with an AMOLED display, slightly smaller than its brother vívoactive, but with a higher resolution. It has four color options to choose from.

Because of the better display, the Venu has shorter battery life but includes music, Garmin Pay, and other sport activities.

Garmin Legacy Hero and Saga

The Hero watches are fashioned after Captain Marvel and Captain America, while the Saga offer Rey or Darth Vadar themed devices. Also, have themed app. Similar to Vivo and Venu in terms of features.

Instinct

There is the Standard & Tactical Edition

These watches are more rugged. Mil-Std 810G protection, proofed to 100m and also being shock-resistant - but this watch also offers 14 days of use. It offers many features but loses some smart options like music, or Garmin Pay support.

Tactical Functionality

Enable stealth mode to stop storing and sharing your GPS position and disable wireless connectivity and communication. Access projected waypoints and a dual-format GPS coordinate data page that supports display of MGRS, degrees/minutes/seconds and more

The Tactical Edition also includes night vision mode which means you can read the screen while you have night vision goggles on.


Tactix 

The tactix series has three modifications: Bravo, Charlie, and Delta.

The tactix series brings with it a suite of tactical and military-focused apps. You also have a night vision mode which allows the watch to remain readable while wearing night-vision goggles.

The Bravo is the oldest version and the Delta is the newest. The tactix Charlie has 16 GB of storage and better resolution (240x240 vs. 218x218). With the Diamond-like Carbon coated titanium bezel, the tactix Charlie is built to be the toughest watch available in Garmin’s smartwatch arsenal. Although the Charlie has more outdoor activities and cycling features, also topo maps, due to optical heart rate sensor and added functionality, it has a shorter battery life than the tactix Bravo. 


D2 Delta vs D2

The D2 and D2 Delta are watches with different sport functionality, more durable and have better battery performance.

There are two main models: D2 and D2 Delta. The D2 also offers three modifications: D2, D2 Bravo, and D2 Charlie. The D2 Delta includes three modifications as well: D2 Delta S, D2 Delta, and D2 Delta PX. The D2 Delta Series is more advanced and has more features. To mention, the D2 Delta smartwatches also cost more.

The D2 Delta and Delta Bravo/Charlie all have different Lens and Bezel materials. The D2 Delta and D2 Delta PX are the most durable with titanium body material and domed sapphire crystal.

All these watches support WiFi and have extended heart rate features than most other Garmin models. Also, all models have the same sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) except for the D2 which has a transflective, monochrome, negative mode LCD screen. This is also one watch that is 5 ATM while others are 10 ATM.

D2 Delta Series have more fitness features including longer battery life, also more durable. They overall have a better screen resolution and music storage. The D2 Delta PX has the longest battery life up to 20 days in smartwatch mode.

With the D2 Delta Series, you get the ability to pay without your smartphone as these watches support Garmin Pay, have the most workout activities and also you can respond to notifications. If you get one of those (including a D2 Charlie), you will be able to store music and connect them to Bluetooth headphones. The S2 and D2 Bravo lack this ability.

D2 Bravo and Delta have three modifications each: with silicone, leather, and titanium/metal band. Titanium and metal bands make the watch heavier.

If you don't need extra features such as music storage and lack of fitness options, go with the D2 or D2 Bravo. The D2 Charlie is a good choice too but does not have that much of a price difference with the D2 Delta though lacks Wi-Fi unless you want to get a Sapphire Edition, which means no response to notifications and also no music storage.

If you want Garmin Pay support, music storage, Wi-Fi connectivity and other smart and fitness bells, go with the D2 Delta Series. 


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