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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: An affordable hybrid watch with extensive health support

Some people enjoy wearing standard watches and can even be found with a regular watch on one wrist and a fitness tracker on the other. The Garmin Vivomove Sport hybrid watch offers the best of both and provides more health functions than you might think at first glance.

Vivomove Sport: Affordable hybrid watch backed by vast Garmin ecosystem

I tried out my first hybrid watch, the Withings ScanWatch, a couple of months ago and loved the experience due to the high quality, classic watch face, and month-long battery life. For the past couple of weeks, I have been testing the Garmin Vivomove Sport and am very pleased to see a hybrid watch with the ecosystem support of Garmin.

The Garmin Vivomove Sport doesn't have a 30-day battery life, but charging it once a week is fine with me. It's a rather small watch with a diameter of 40 mm, and there are no buttons to press. People with smaller wrists and those who like light watches will love the Vivomove Sport. It's also quite affordable at just $179.99.

Like

  • Lightweight
  • No buttons
  • Classic analog style
  • Functional small OLED touchscreen display
  • Powerful Garmin ecosystem and capability
  • Affordable

Don't Like

  • Limited display size
  • No GPS receiver

Surprisingly, the small touchscreen OLED display is more useful and capable than I anticipated, and it is essential to supporting the Garmin ecosystem. It features many health and fitness functions, including Body Battery, stress monitoring, sleep tracking, hydration logging, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, women's health features, and more.

Hardware

I was struck at first by the light weight of the watch and the standard two hands rotating around the watch face. It's hard to tell it is a Garmin watch at first because it looks like many standard analog watches you might find in a department or jewelry store. But rotate the watch or tap on the lower half to see the OLED display, and that is where all of the Garmin goodies appear.

A "watch face" appears when you make the "checking-my-watch" gesture with your wrist. When you swipe left or right across the display, however you will see the two analog hands shift to 3 and 9 so that they appear as a flat line above the OLED screen. With this movement you can then interact with the display without interference from the two watch hands. It's a brilliant feature that works seamlessly. As soon as you are done interacting with the display, the watch hands go back to their correct location for the indicated time.

The smooth glass display transitions into the durable polymer bezel and watch casing. The numbers, minute indicators, and watch hands are glossy silver on a black watch face (for the color watch I was sent to test) and look classy. There are no buttons, speakers, or microphones on the sides.

Standard quick-release 20mm bands are supported with a default silicone band and lever included with the watch. The heart rate sensor is centered on the back, and the standard Garmin four-pin charging connector is also used to charge the watch.

Unlike most Garmin sports watches, there is no GPS receiver in the Vivomove Sport. It supports connected GPS with your smartphone, and, even without GPS tracking the details of your outdoor activity, I found the key stats to be quite accurate when running with the watch and no connected phone.


Also: Best sports watch 2022: Garmin, Coros, Polar, and more


Watch software

The two analog hands obviously indicate the hour and minute for the time. 

The small OLED touchscreen that is positioned below the center and extends out in the space between the minute indicators is very capable. There are 12 available watch faces that you can choose to have shown when you tap on the watch or perform a gesture. These can be very basic, or show you the time, date, battery life, steps taken, and heart rate. I chose the most packed watch face and still find it readable and useful for my needs.

You can customize what widgets appear when you swipe left or right on the display. Tapping on a widget takes you a bit further into the details of that widget with some right or left side tap options also available. Options include steps, intensity minutes, Body Battery, stress, hydration, heart rate, weather, notifications, status and time, calendar, music controls, respiration, distance, calories, and blood oxygen levels. Music controls are supported, but they are very basic controls for your smartphone. Music downloads to the watch are not supported. 

Up to 10 activities can be displayed on the device; walk and run are loaded by default without the ability to remove them. Press and hold on the OLED touchscreen to switch into the activity/controls mode. If you tap on the activity widget, you can swipe through the activities you set to appear, up to 10. Note that they are shown as animated icons and not as words, so you need to familiarize yourself with the icon to initiate the proper activity. Settings and other basic controls are also accessible with a press and hold on the watch face. You can also choose to have walk and run tracking start automatically after a selected period of time.

Smartphone software and website

Collecting the data is important, but using that data for tracking trends, improving performance, challenging friends, and identifying problem areas is also very important. Garmin offers the Garmin Connect app for iOS and Android -- a powerful and capable application that closely matches the Connect website experience.

When you first launch the smartphone app, you will see a screen called My Day. This is a dashboard completely customizable to your preferences. Simply scroll to the bottom and choose to Edit My Day. Here you can choose from the following cards: heart rate, steps, Body Battery, intensity minutes, floors, sleep, stress score, weight, calories, Pulse OX, and several more. There are also toggles to see yesterday's stats and the last seven days of stats. In addition, when you record an activity (run, bike ride, etc.) on that day, a box appears up top with that card. Tapping any card takes you into much more detail for that measurement.

Other tabs in the smartphone software include challenges, calendar, news feed, and notifications. Tap on the tab icon to see more details for each of these. In challenges, you can earn badges for various challenges, setup a challenge with your connection, and more. It's a great way to get motivated to exercise. The calendar views shows you bars for your various status levels and is interesting to view over a long period of time. The news feed presents summary information from your connections, while the notifications page shows notifications, such as likes, from your Garmin connections.

Tapping the upper left three bar icon presents a list of other areas to visit in the app, including insights, activity stats, performance stats, health stats, training, gear, connections, groups, safety & tracking, Connect IQ store, Garmin devices, settings, and help. This menu and user interface matches what you see on the website as well. You can view data over different time frames, see your records, view the badges you earned, see totals and averages, and more.


Also: Withings ScanWatch review: Medical-grade health tracking hidden in a lovely hybrid watch


There are options to control phone notifications during your activity and at all other times when you are not recording data as part of an activity. If you are connected to an Android smartphone, you can go to Settings>Notifications in the Garmin phone app to customize exactly which apps provide notifications to the watch. (You do not have this per app control when connected to an iPhone.)

Once you select the Garmin Vivomove Sport in the devices list, you can then access all of the specific settings that will appear on the watch. Through this utility you can organize which watch faces, widgets, and activities appear and in what order. Alerts, alarms, and other user settings are selected in this area of the app.

The Garmin Connect website experience is very similar to what you see in the smartphone application, with even more capability to generate reports, import or export data, setup connections to other applications (such as Strava, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal), and more. Similar to the snapshots interface on the phone, you have a dashboard on Garmin Connect that you can customize.

Daily usage experiences and conclusions

I was excited to try out a Garmin hybrid watch, since I am very familiar with the capability and extensive options in the Garmin ecosystem. I especially wanted to see how a hybrid watch could still take advantage of what Garmin provides. The Vivomove Sport is a subtle sports watch with the looks of an analog watch and the power to collect a vast amount of data for further use with Garmin Connect.

The Vivomove Sport is a lightweight and small watch, so it should appeal to a lot of people. While it doesn't have a GPS receiver, the $179.99 price point is very attractive for a Garmin watch that offers an extensive amount of data collection in such a small form factor. Important health features such as Body Battery, stress tracking, menstrual cycle tracking, breathwork, and extensive sleep tracking are all provided by the Vivomove Sport. It's a very comfortable watch to wear 24/7 for sleep and daily activity tracking.

Limited notifications from your smartphone (incoming calls, text messages, and more) are provided on the Vivomove Sport so you can at least triage them before picking up your phone to take further action. Safety and tracking features are supported through a connected smartphone, too.

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