Garmin Vivomove Long Term Review

Tested: Vivomove Rose Gold-Tone with Leather Band

The Garmin Vivomove is one of the best looking activity trackers on the market.  This review covers 8 months of continuous use.  You won’t find this sort of review anywhere else out there on the internet.  These other reviews will just slap some data together, but Athletic Tech Review does long term reviews by real people.  This watch was worn by a School Psychologist for an 8 month time period.  The user needed a watch that had a second hand displayed for work and wanted something that still looked professional.

All of the products we review are purchased by Athletic Tech Review.  This product was not given to use by Garmin and this is a completely independent purchase.  If you think the Garmin Vivomove is the right watch for you, then consider purchasing it from our Amazon affiliate link.  We earn a small commission on the sale that helps keep the site running.  Purchase Garmin Vivomove and support the site.  We are 100% reader funded which allows us to be brutally honest at times.

Overview

Side by side picture of Garmin Vivomove versus the Vivosmart 3 on a woman's wrist.
The VivoMove is the stealth activity tracker compared to the Vivosmart 3

I have to admit, some of these activity trackers just look plain old ugly.  There is no mistaking if you have a Vivomove or a Vivosmart on your wrist.  Most watches look like some tech geek activity tracker and that bothers some people.  The Garmin Vivomove is not in the same category as these other activity trackers.  This watch is the stealth activity tracker that looks like a normal watch.  It is perfect for those that want to keep track of their activities while not broadcasting to the world that they have one on their wrist.

This is a long term review.  I had my tester wear this watch continually for 8 months.  Athletic Tech Review is going to talk about the good along with the bad.  We will look at how well it holds up over time, and who this watch is best suited for.  Okay, so let’s dive into all the specifications and performance, along with the current competition.

Specifications

The full dimensions are 42 x 42 x 12mm.  42mm in diameter is the maximum I would recommend a woman to wear.  Guys will have no problems with this size, but my tester was a woman and she commented that she wouldn’t want anything larger than a 42mm face on a watch.  The watch does basic activity tracking through a step bar that tracks progress.  It also has a move bar indicator that lights up red when you haven’t moved.  Furthermore, it has a whopping 1 year battery life that is unmatched by the competition.  Below is a picture of the different types of Garmin Vivomove watches you could purchase.  The price runs anywhere from $149.99 for the sports watch (first two on the left) and $199.99 for the leather banded and bezeled watch (we tested the $199.99 Vivomove).

These are your options when purchasing the Garmin Vivomove Watch.

The main function of this watch is to track your activity throughout the day like a step counter and monitor your sleep.  We found sleep monitoring to be very erratic.  The Garmin Vivomove doesn’t do a good job with sleep tracking.  However, the move bar along with the step tracking was just as accurate as the other Garmin Fitness watches we have tried out.  Yes, this watch will look good and do a good job of tracking your steps and uploading them to Garmin Connect.

Comparisons

There are a few other watches on the market we can look at that compete with the Garmin Vivomove.  The only one we look at specifically is the Withings line up.  I mean NOKIA!  Yes, Nokia just purchased the French company Withings and they are in the process of replacing the word Withings with Nokia on all the watches.  You can find some great deals on Withings watches at the moment using my Amazon links.  Those two watches are the Withings Activite and the Withings Steel HR.

Target Market

The target audience for this market is a person who doesn’t want to look like a techno geek.  They want stealth mode when it comes to activity tracking and they still want a great looking watch.  I completely understand where this person is coming from.  Wearing a Fitbit in a business suite is a bit hokey.  Wearing a Garmin Vivomove looks much more professional.  Below are the other two choices for looking good while tracking your daily activities.  These watches directly compete with the Garmin Vivomove.

Nokia Steel (Withings Steel)

The Nokia/Withings Steel does pretty much the same thing as the Garmin Vivomove.  The only difference being size and battery life.  The size of the Nokia/Withings watch is 36.3mm in diameter and 11.5mm thick.  That comes in smaller than the Vivomove who is 42mm in diameter.  So, women might look closer at this watch because of the size difference.  The battery life of this watch is 8 months compared to the 1 year of the Garmin Vivomove.  Lastly, you are missing the second’s hand on this watch that the Garmin Vivomove had.  The second’s hand was necessary for my School Psychologist that needed to conduct timed testing at work.  Current pricing for the Withings Steel on Amazon is $96 and the Nokia Steel on Amazon is $129.99.

Nokia Steel HR (Withings Steel HR)

You cannot buy the Nokia Steel HR until the Fall of 2017.  For now, you can still purchase the Withings Steel HR on Amazon for $196. I would wait until the fall of 2017 when the Nokia Steel HR is released though.  The prices are bound to drop significantly.  I don’t see the Vivomove competing with the Steel HR.  The Steel HR does much more with Heart Rate tracking and smart notifications.  Battery life is also pretty good at about 25 days.  So, if that battery life doesn’t bother you and you want heart rate tracking, then I’d wait to snatch this one up in the fall when the Nokia Steel HR is released.

Other Competitors

There are other watches out on the market that are moving into the high end look for activity tracking.  I would only warn you that these watches are only as good as their apps.  Garmin and Nokia/Withings have decent apps.  I don’t consider the Fitbit watches to be very sturdy, but they sell a lot of watches because of the strength of their app.  When purchasing activity trackers, you must consider how good the app is.  You have been warned!

What It Does Well

The watch looks good, and I mean really good.  It held up very well in testing over an 8 month period.  There were some scratches on the face of the watch but they were not noticeable unless you put it in the light a certain way.  The leather band was also very sturdy.  You can see in the pictures below, it looks wore out, but it is still functioning very well as a leather band.

Step Tracking

Step tracking worked as expected for a Garmin watch.  All manufacturers have different sensitivity levels when it comes to activity tracking.  The Fitbit watches are super sensitive and give you “Bonus Steps”.  However, the Garmin watches don’t give out bonus steps.  You actually need to be walking to get credit for steps.  The Garmin Vivomove tracked steps no different than the Vivosmart 3, Forerunner Series, or Fenix 5s (Full Fenix 5s Review).

The pictures below are some quick comparisons on watch dimensions.  I put the Garmin Vivosmart next to the Forerunner 630 and Fenix 5s just for a quick comparison.

Looking Good

I can’t say enough how professional this watch looks.  If you want to wear it to a business meeting, no problem.  It looks like a normal watch.  Beside the right and left side bars next to the watch face, you would never know this was an activity tracker.  This watch is perfect for the business professional or anyone who doesn’t want to wear an “obvious” activity tracking (techno geek)  watch.

No Charging Batteries

In all my testing, I get a bit tired charging all of this gear.  It was refreshing to have a watch with a one year battery life.  The person who doesn’t have the time or inclination to charge watches would love the Garmin Vivomove.  A person who finds the 24 hour charge of an Apple watch annoying, may want to look into something more simple like the Vivomove.

Shortfalls

We found some shortfalls.  Every product has a shortfall or two.  I have not testing a single product that didn’t have something wrong with it.  As a consumer, you need to decide if the shortfall is a deal break or if there is another product on the market that covers this shortfall better.

Sleep Tracking

Sleep tracking was very inaccurate.  My tester noticed that the watch would start counting her as being asleep when she sat on the couch at night.  Most Garmin watches have the ability to load in sleep times within the App.  For instance, my tester put down sleep time as 10pm to 6am in the Garmin Connect app.  I am assuming this metric doesn’t get loaded onto the Garmin Vivomove since it starts counting sleep when you are just sitting on the couch in the evening.  Take a look at the three instances below.

The  images above were quite common with sleep tracking on the Garmin Vivomove.  For some reason, it didn’t take into account the preset sleep times very well.  The tester went to bed at 10pm every night and woke up around 7am every morning.  The first image shows the tester awake for 1.5 hours in the middle of the night but that data still gets counted for total sleep.  The other two images are examples of the watch giving the tester extra sleep credit while sitting on the coach.  The Garmin Vivosmart doesn’t do a good job in the sleep tracking department.

Move Bar

The move bar was sporadic.  My tester stated that the move bar would not clear after certain periods of time.  Normally the move bar fills up red, which means you need to start moving.  To clear that bar out, just get up and put down about 500 steps and the move bar is cleared.  This Garmin Vivomove didn’t execute the move bar function very well.  It had a 75% success rate and the other 25% of the time it just didn’t change after an activity or a certain amount of steps.

Calorie Tracking and My FitnessPal

There is something different going on between the Garmin Vivomove and the other Garmin activity trackers.  We will take a quick look at the difference with the Garmin Vivosmart 3 and it’s calorie prediction as it interfaces with MyFitnessPal.  The images below are the Vivomove and Vivosmart 3 both connected to Garmin Connect.  My Garmin Vivomove tester is currently my Garmin Vivosmart 3 tester.  As you can see, we have two 10K step days.  When wearing the Garmin Vivomove, you get no extra calories for being more active than normal.  However, looking at the image on the right, the Vivosmart 3 does give you extra calories when looking at Garmin Connect.  These calories are also reflected on MyFitnessPal, so we are curious to see how this works out.

I think we have a big difference here because of stride length prediction.  I believe the tester had the default setting in the Garmin Connect app.  You can see they are given credit for 4.26 miles for 10,090 steps with the Garmin Vivomove.  The picture on the right is the Vivosmart 3 with a total distance of 5.02 miles and 10,802 steps.  The difference in calorie estimates are big.  This also reflects onto MyFitnessPal if you have that linked up. Overall, I question the calorie prediction with the Vivomove.  Or, maybe it is the Vivosmart 3 that will have the issue?  We will know more in a few months.

Rating This Fitness Tracker

I’m still working on rating more fitness trackers every month.  For now, to see how they stack up against each other, head on over to the Compare Equipment page.  Below is a general outline I use to rate fitness trackers.  If a watch doesn’t do something, then it gets a zero out of five.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t any good, it just means it doesn’t have the same capabilities as other fitness trackers on the market.

Style

We rate this a 5.0 out of 5.  Flawless execution in style.  You are not going to find a better looking a activity tracker on the market than the Garmin Vivomove.

Build

We rate this a 5.0 out of 5.  Again, near flawless execution of build quality.  This is one of the longest tested products we have done.  Beside some normal wear and tear, it held up extremely well.

Battery Life

We rate this a 5.0 out of 5.  You can’t get any better than a one year battery life.  Sure, the watch doesn’t do as much as other activity trackers, but it tracks steps for a year no problem.  We made it 8 months so far and the battery shows no sign of running down.

Step Accuracy

We rate this a 5.0 out of 5.  The Garmin Vivomove tracks steps no different than any of their other watches.

HR Accuracy

This is not a capability that is part of this watch.  0 out of 5 rating.

Touch Screen Controls

This is not a capability that is part of this watch.  0 out of 5 rating.

Sleep Tracking

We rate this 2.0 out of 5.  You can see the results up above.  The sleep tracking function performed very poorly.

App Integration

We rate this 3.0 out of 5.  I don’t understand the difference in calorie predictions between the Vivomove and Vivosmart HR.  I know that my tester lost 6 lbs using the Vivomove in conjunction with MyFitnessPal.  We are testing the Vivosmart 3 to see how those extra calories affect weight loss.

Customization

This is not a capability that is part of this watch.  0 out of 5 rating.

Longevity Prediction

We rate this 5.0 out of 5.  I believe this watch will last 2 years at the minimum.  We had no concerns that it would break or wear out over time.

Overall Score

The overall score for the Garmin Vivomove is 3 out of 5 against all fitness trackers.  I would rate the Garmin Vivomove at 4.3 out of 5 when only looking at the things it can do. If you don’t care about heart rate, notifications, and the extras that you get with other fitness trackers, then this is your watch.  The kind of person who would buy this watch is someone who just needs to lose some weight be keeping up with their activity levels.  This consumer is also very conscious of how a watch should look.  This is an attractive watch that looks very professional.

Summary

My tester was a professional School Psychologist and like this watch very much.  It looked professional and wasn’t distracting in her work environment.  She was able to lose 6lbs in a 8 week period just using this watch while connected to MyFitnessPal which is a huge win in my book.  If I helped you make a purchasing decision, then please think about following my links below to buy this watch from Amazon.  I earn a small commission on any purchase you make and that helps me fully review these products.  You won’t find anyone else testing Athletic Technology as detailed as we are here at Athletic Tech Review.

Purchase Garmin Vivomove

Purchase Garmin Vivosmart 3

Purchase Withings Activite Steel

Purchase Within Steel HR

Purchase Nokia Steel

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson

Aaron served in the military for 20 years. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the military after 20 years of service to take care of our three small children in 2013 as a Stay At Home Dad.

athletictechreview has 60 posts and counting.See all posts by athletictechreview

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