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Apple Watch Series 6 vs Garmin vívoactive 4 (2021): Which Smartwatch Is Better?

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Garmin vívoactive 4 are arguably two of the most complete smartwatches you can wear today. Both devices monitor key health metrics, track a range of fitness activities, and offer compelling smart features. Of course, Apple’s flagship wearable fits right in to the encompassing Apple ecosystem. Garmin’s fitness-focused smartwatch, on the other hand, boasts an impressive battery life and a robust design. So which one do you buy? Below, we give you a rundown of key features to see how the Apple Watch Series 6 stacks up against the Garmin vívoactive 4.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Garmin vívoactive 4 Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6Garmin vívoactive 4
 Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport BandGarmin 010-02174-01 Vivoactive 4 Smartwatch, Shadow Gray/Stainless Bundle with Deco Gear Magnetic...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Sizes40mm
44mm
40mm
45mm
Display Size1.57″ (40mm)
1.78″ (44mm)
1.1″ (40mm)
1.3″ (45mm)
Display Resolution324 x 394 (40mm)
368 x 448 (44mm)
218 x 218 (40mm)
260 x 260 (45mm)
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 8 Days
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Smartphone NotificationsYesYes
Customizable Watch FacesYesYes
Blood Oxygen Saturation MonitoringYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Stress TrackingNoYes
Safety FeaturesFall detection, noise monitoring, emergency SOS, international emergency callingIncident detection, LiveTrack, assistance
Contactless PaymentApple PayGarmin Pay
GPSYesYes
AltimeterYesYes
CompassYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
Release Date20202019

Design and Hardware

The Apple Watch Series and Garmin vívoactive 4 are both sleekly designed wearables.

Apple and Garmin’s wearables come in stylish colors and bands.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Garmin vívoactive 4 take different approaches when it comes to design. The latest iteration of the Apple Watch sports a squarish form that’s already synonymous with the brand. Garmin’s wearable, on the other hand, features a round LCD screen, which lends it the appearance of a more traditional watch.

Both devices, however, still come with physical implements for navigation. On the Apple Watch Series 6, the digital crown with haptic feedback is still present. Meanwhile, the Garmin vívoactive 4 adds a second button to its side as a shortcut to access favorite apps.

When it comes to the display, the LCD screen on the vívoactive 4 is actually bright enough for outdoor activities. But it pales in comparison with the OLED Retina display of the Apple Watch. Apple claims that the Series 6’s screen is even 2.5x brighter than the Series 5’s.

Now you can get the Apple Watch Series 6 and Garmin vívoactive 4 in different colors. Apple’s latest release includes exclusive blue and red casings. Meanwhile, Garmin offers more muted choices. So if you’re planning to wear one of these watches to a formal event, you’ll find the vívoactive 4 has a dressier overall appearance.

The Series 6 is available in 40mm and 44mm models while the vívoactive 4 comes in a similar 40mm option as well as a slightly larger 45mm variant. Both also come with swappable bands, and are water proof up to 50 meters.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

Apple’s latest wearable introduces new profiles and features but Garmin still offers more detailed metrics.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Garmin vívoactive 4 come with standard fitness metrics.

When it comes to fitness tracking, both smartwatches build on the solid foundation of their predecessors. The Apple Watch Series 6, for instance, can still automatically detect activities. Long term trends for daily workouts are also available. Plus, you have a bit of an upgrade in the always-on altimeter. With this, you’ll finally get real-time elevation updates on the watch — great for hiking and climbing activities.

Most of the new and enhanced fitness features on the Series 6, however, will come through the watchOS 7. For example, you can now get metrics for four new workouts: Core Training, Functional Strength Training, CoolDown, and the much awaited, Dance. The Cycling app has also been updated to include more bike-friendly routes and to actually provide directions.

Still, the Garmin vívoactive 4 feels more focused on fitness compared to the Apple Watch Series 6. Garmin’s wearable offers detailed metrics for a number of activities like running, cycling, swimming, and golf. In addition, the vívoactive 4’s outdoor recreation profiles include cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and paddle boarding — sports that aren’t typically tracked by most smartwatches.

Plus, you still get your standard fitness and training metrics with the vívoactive 4 much like the series 6. Steps, intensity minutes, and calories burned are all tracked by the device. You can even monitor your energy level with its Body Battery metric. Whereas the Apple Watch Series 6 has to balance a lot of features, the vívoactive 4’s intent is clearly fitness and sports tracking.

Health and Safety Features

Health and wellness is Apple’s forte although Garmin isn’t too far behind.

When it comes to health features, the Apple Watch Series 6 and Garmin vívoactive 4 do not disappoint.

Loyal fans of the Apple Watch will find plenty of good reasons to upgrade to series 6, among them blood oxygen saturation monitoring and a native sleep tracking app called Sleep. Although both features have long been available in other wearables, including the vívoactive 4, there’s always anticipation with how it’s applied by Apple.

Its Sleep App, for instance, includes a sleep analysis chart, sleep mode, and a range of alerts. Meanwhile, its blood oxygen sensor should be one of the best in a consumer product. Apple shares its technology uses a cluster of infrared LED sensors to measure light reflected by blood. And as if made for the times, the Series 6 can also automatically detect and monitor hand-washing.

Now just like the Apple Watch Series 6, Garmin also introduced blood oxygen saturation monitoring to the capabilities of its vívoactive line. But on the vívoactive 4, this went along with other impressive new features like respiration and hydration tracking. There’s even a stress tracking app to boot, something Apple has not yet included in its wearable. Of course, all of these features work in tandem with heart rate monitoring.

Still, the Series 6 feels more “complete” as a health device compared to the vívoactive 4. For one, Apple’s wearable includes an ECG app, a feature it pioneered back with the Apple Watch Series 4. Together with noise monitoring and fall detection, it makes the Apple Watch Series 6 a more compelling health and wellness device.

Smart Features and Battery Life

Apple’s Series 6 watch has better smart features, although Garmin’s vívoactive 4 does come with a longer battery life.

Apple and Garmin’s wearables should last you more than a day with moderate usage.

Thanks to the seamless integration with Apple’s ecosystem, the Series 6 enjoys an advantage over the Garmin vívoactive 4. You can stream music, access a wealth of apps, and ask Siri. Plus, on the GPS + Cellular model, you can take calls using the watch itself. With the vívoactive 4, you can only create a text response or send a text to reject a call. You’ll still need your phone nearby to actually answer calls, and it has to be an Android device. There’s no built-in voice assistant too, a practical feature considering how the small display on wearables can make typing difficult.

Still, the vívoactive 4 doesn’t leave you wanting smart features. The device supports contactless payment through Garmin Pay. You can also store up to 500 songs on the watch itself. And just like the Series 6, you do have plenty of customizable watch faces and widgets to choose from.

Garmin’s vívoactive 4 also boasts a longer battery life than the Series 6 — eight days as opposed to just 18 hours. But this comes with the caveat you’re only using it as a smartwatch. Turn on GPS mode, and you’ll get a similar 18-hour performance from Garmin’s wearable. Use it to play music and you’ll find yourself charging your device before the day ends, just like with the Apple Watch.

Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 6 is great for casual users while the Garmin vívoactive 4 is better suited for individuals who enjoy sports and outdoor activities .

There’s a reason why the Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch in the market. It’s an excellent balance of smart, health, and fitness features slapped on your wrist. Plus, it comes in a sleek design with a premium casing. But as great as it is, it’s a device that’s exclusive to iOS users. Ifyou’re on iPhone, then the Apple Watch Series 6 is the most advanced wearable you can get even if battery life is mediocre. Otherwise, you’ll have to look somewhere else.

And that somewhere else is probably the Garmin vívoactive 4. Now, the vívoactive 4 is one of many wearables you can consider if you’re on Android. Fitbit’s line of watches and fitness trackers are a great option, too. However, Garmin does offer more in terms of sports and fitness tracking with its robust and durable device. The outdoor activity profiles, in particular, is arguably the most comprehensive in any wearable today. So if this is something you value, then the vívoactive 4 should be an easy choice.

FAQs

📌 Is the Garmin vívoactive 4 better than the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Garmin vívoactive 4 is better when it comes to sports and fitness tracking. However, the Apple Watch Series 6 does offer more smart and health features. If you’re an outdoor person who values activity metrics, go for the vívoactive 4. But if you want a nice smartwatch for work and working out, the Apple Watch Series 6 is a good choice.

📌 What kind of glass is used for the Apple Watch display?

Based on material, the Apple Watch comes in three models: aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel. The latter two uses a sapphire crystal for its display. Meanwhile, the aluminum model brandishes an Ion-X display.

📌 Does the Garmin vívoactive 4 track Yoga and Pilates?

Yes, the Garmin vívoactive 4 includes yoga and pilates among its available gym activity profiles.

📌 What’s the key difference between the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE?

Unlike the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE does not have a blood oxygen sensor and ECG app. It’s also only available in aluminum and the regular silver, space gray, and gold color finishes.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.