For the past few days I have been playing with the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and have come to some early conclusions that I realised were based on the brand rather than the product itself. I wrote recently about how the Apple Watch is way ahead of the competition, and I stand by that, but I suspect that there are subconscious emotions swirling around that I don’t always notice.
The plain fact is that the Garmin is £200 cheaper than the Apple Watch series 5, it offers 4-5 days of battery per charge, the fitness tracking is arguably more accurate and complete, and the fitness side of the app is much more detailed and more precise than using three rings to offer a general guide to how active you are.
The bells and whistles that Apple offers do work for the majority of people and everything from the easily readable screen to the selection of third party apps make for excellent marketing material that draws the user in. On top of this there are many options to make it feel individual and of course the huge number of straps available takes this individuality even further. I should also mention that it is in fact a very good watch which devices like the Garmin feel just a step away from.
It feels more like a fitness tracker that just happens to tell the time whereas the Apple Watch is a watch that just happens to do many other things. It is easy not to notice this, but it is absolutely crucial in understanding why the Apple Watch is dominating this area. People still want watches.
So, the battery life of the Vivoactive is much much better than the series 5 Apple Watch which is easy to rave about, but interestingly Garmin is releasing the Venu with a full colour screen and a quick look at the specifications shows the following- Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days. GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours. This is big compared to the Apple Watch and shows that it can be done which alone would make me consider it over an Apple Watch. With sleep tracking and the ability to wear it 24 hours a day, this are practical points that cannot be ignored.
The problem with reviewing the Garmin like an Apple device is that it is not an Apple device in any way. It is more of a practical proposition that does what you need it to very well indeed, but it does not offer emotional feedback or a sense that it is special in any way. The likes of Garmin and Fitbit need to work on that to compete with Apple.