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Compare: Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Garmin Instinct

Garmin is one of the smartwatch manufacturers with more models to offer, surpassing, by far, brands such as Huawei, Samsung, Amazfit, and Fitbit in this regard. And it goes that each smartwatch of this firm manages to host many users due to the benefits they offer, which are usually one of the best for their respective price ranges. We have two examples of this with the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Instinct, Relatively cheap watches that have been on the market for years and have very similar characteristics and a beautiful value for money. For these reasons, we face them face-to-face in this new opportunity to know which is a better purchase option and why.

To begin with this comparison, it is worth noting that we are facing two watches with totally different designs, one being a bit more elegant and polished in the case of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and something more robust than the Garmin Instinct. However, both make use of the typical circular format that Garmin always bets on.

The displays of both watches have several differences from each other. In this sense, we get a Memory-In-Pixel (MIP) Technology touch panel in the Garmin Vivoactive 4, also one that is not touched in the Instinct, but which is also MIP. In addition, the screen of the first is full color, while the second is monochrome, grayscale. We also have different sizes: 1.3 inches for the Vivoactive 4 panel and 0.9 inches for the Instinct.

The resolution presented by the Vivoactive 4 is 260 x 260 pixels, which is much higher than the 128 x 128 pixels of the Garmin Instinct. However, both are protected by the resistant glass so that they can face bumps, scratches.

Pros and Cons

Garmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Instinct
Exercise tracking, with full GPSExcellent battery life
High quality fit and finishIt has a rugged design
Offline music and Garmin PayPrecise GPS mapping
Uses multiple smartphone appsNo music storage
No wireless chargingLacks NFC (Garmin pay)

Key Features

Garmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Instinct
ModelVivoactive 4Instinct
Release dateSeptember 2019October 2018
CompatibilityAndroid + iOSAndroid + iOS
ColorsBlack with grey buckle, Gray with silver buckleGraphite, Red, Black

Technical Specifications

Garmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Instinct
Type Size1.3-inch color MIPMonochrome, sunlight viewable,
transflective with pixel-level
memory (MIP) / 0.9 inch
Screen Resolution260 x 260 pixels128 x 128 pixels
Screen protectionCorning Gorilla Glass 3Glass-reinforced by
chemical processes
Internal memory– 7 timed activities
– 14 days of activity tracking data
– Up to 500 songs
16 MB
Connectivity– Bluetooth LE
– ANT +
– Wi-Fi
– Galileo
– Bluetooth LE
– ANT +
– Galileo
Sensors– Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
– Barometric altimeter
– Compass
– Gyroscope
– Accelerometer
– Thermometer
– Pulse oximetry sensor
– Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
– Barometric altimeter
– Compass
– Accelerometer
– Thermometer
Battery– Smartwatch mode: up to 7 days
– GPS mode with music: up to 5 hours
– Smartwatch mode: up to 14 days
– GPS mode: up to 16 hours
UltraTrac mode: up to 40 hours
MaterialBody: Plastic and Aluminum Alloy
Strap: Silicone
Body: Plastic and Aluminum Alloy
Strap: Silicone
Wireless chargingNoNo
Water resistance5 ATM (50 meters)10 ATM (100 meters)
Weight50.5 g52 g

In terms of the connectivity section, here it must be said that the Vivoactive 4 is more complete. And this smartwatch comes with low consumption Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi, ANT +, integrated GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and NFC to make contactless payments through the Garmin Pay system. The Instinct, meanwhile, dispenses with Wi-Fi and NFC, so in this sense, it has less to offer.

Based on activity and sports tracking, here is a lot to talk about, as we are looking at two fairly complete smartwatches for basic users, athletes, athletes, and adventurers, although each has its strengths.

Both have functions such as a step counter, a calculator of distance traveled, calories consumed, floors climbed, body energy, daily stress, and sleep quality. They can also measure heart rate and obtain basic and advanced metrics for sports and activities such as running, cycling, swimming, outdoor leisure, and more. Another no less important detail is that the Garmin Vivoactive 4 can calculate the oxygen level in the blood (VO2 max), while the Garmin Instinct cannot.

Activity Monitoring

Garmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Instinct
Step counterYesYes
Calories burnedYesYes
Distance travelledYesYes
Floors upYesYes
Sleep monitoringYesYes
Measuring stress levelsNoYes
Heart rate measurementYesYes
Calorie intakeNoNo
Hydration levelsNoNo
RunningAvailable running profiles: Running,
indoor track running, treadmill running
– GPS-based distance, time and pace
– Running training sessions
– Supports speed and cadence sensor
Available running profiles: Running, indoor running, indoor track running and trail running
– GPS-based distance, time and pace
– Cadence
– Running training sessions
– Supports speed and cadence sensor
Cycling– Available cycling profiles: Cycling, indoor cycling
– Time/distance alerts (triggers an alarm when you reach the goal)
– Compatible with Varia radar (rearview radar)
– Compatible with Varia lights
– Cadence: offers the number of steps per minute in real-time
– Available cycling profiles: Cycling, indoor cycling, mountain biking and triathlon
– Courses (competition against previous activities)
– Competing in an activity
– Time/distance alerts (triggers an alarm when you reach the goal)
– Cadence: offers the number of steps per minute in real-time (ANT + and Bluetooth Smart sensors)
Swimming– Rest time basic (from 0)
– Time and distance alerts
– Underwater wrist heart rate sensor
– Effective swimming
– exercise Log
– Training swim
– Metrics open water swimming (distance, pace, count/speed strokes, calories)
Outdoor– Profiles for outdoor leisure activities available: Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, paddle boarding, rowing
– Back to top
– Total ascent / descent
– Real-time point trail
– Back to start
– Elevation profile
– Distance to destination
– Barometric trend indicator
– Automatic ascent on the trail
– Vertical speed
– Total ascent / descent
– Predictive elevation graph
– Compatible with BaseCamp
– GPS coordinates
– Astronomical information

Some of the main sensors that both smartwatches include for tracking activity, health, status, and other metrics are an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometric altimeter.

If you like to exercise while listening to music, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the option you should choose, as this smartwatch comes with storage for up to 500 songs, but it does not dispense with the playback control function for mobile phones. In turn, it is compatible with music services such as Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music.

Meanwhile, the Garmin Instinct only has playback control, as it does not come with an internal memory to store songs. The other thing is that this model is not compatible with any streaming music service like those already mentioned.

Smart Features

Garmin Vivoactive 4Garmin Instinct
Smartphone notificationsYes | Text display and response | Phone call rejection with text Yes | Text display and response | Phone call rejection with text
Wireless paymentsYes (Garmin Pay)No
Streaming servicesSpotify, Amazon Music and DeezerNo
Phone music controlYesYes
MeteorologyWeather and climate information and predictionWeather and climate information and prediction
Other smart features– Find my phone
– Find my watch function
– Garmin Connect Mobile compatible
– VIRB remote control 
– Connect IQ: downloadable watch 
faces, data fields, widgets and applications
– Find my phone
– Find my watch function
– Garmin Connect Mobile compatible
– VIRB remote control 
– Connect IQ: downloadable watch 
faces, data fields, widgets and applications

If we talk about resistance, the Instinct is the winner because this smartwatch has a water resistance of 10 ATM (100 meters) and a military certificate of MIL-STD-810G grade, which makes it very durable and resistant to extreme conditions, which makes it an ideal model for extreme adventurers, hikers, and travelers. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 only has a water resistance of 5 ATMs (50 meters) and, although it is also a durable smartwatch, it is not as durable as its rival this time.


We are facing two good smartwatches with similar functions and characteristics in many sections. Therefore, they are offered as perfect models for most users with general requirements.

However, if you are looking for more connectivity options such as Wi-Fi and NFC for contactless payments with Garmin Pay, music storage, and compatibility with streaming services such as Spotify, blood oxygen measurement, and a larger screen, the Vivoactive 4 is the watch you must choose.

On the other hand, if you want a smartwatch with unmatched resistance and durability and a battery of almost double that of the Vivoactive 4, the Garmin Instinct is ideal for you. We also have to thank this for how affordable it is, as it is more supportive of the pocket because it is cheaper than the rival model.


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