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Garmin Venu vs vivoactive 4 (2020): It All Boils Down To Design And Battery Life

The Garmin vivoactive 4 sure knows how to please from all angles, able to play the roles of both multisport watch and smartwatch. Not only will it track your running, cycling, and HIIT workouts, but it will tell you what the weather will be like tomorrow, play your music while you’re on the go, and pay for your shopping sprees too. It’s an all-around wearable device that makes life that much more convenient. But just when you thought it couldn’t get better, in comes the Garmin Venu.

On paper, the Venu and the vivoactive 4 may seem like copycats of each other. They do, however, come with some differences that might convince you to buy one over the other. The Venu, for example, is designed with an AMOLED touch screen display, doing away with the usual LCD screen. To help you decide which one should really take the spot on your wrist, here’s an in-depth look at the two watches.

Garmin Venu vs vivoactive 4 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin VenuGarmin vivoactive 4
Garmin Venu, GPS Smartwatch with Bright Touchscreen Display, features Music, Body Energy Monitoring,...Garmin Vívoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated workouts,...
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Dimensions43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm
Display1.2″ AMOLED, 390 x 390 pixels1.3″ transflective, 260 x 260 pixels
Sensors GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate, heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometerGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate, heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer
Battery Up to 5 days (smartwatch mode)
Up to 6 hours (GPS and music)
Up to 8 days (smartwatch mode)
Up to 6 hours (GPS and music)
Waterproof Rating5 ATM5 ATM
ConnectivityBluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+
Garmin PayYesYes
Music Storage YesYes
On-screen WorkoutsYesYes
NotificationsYesYes

Design

The Venu, with its sleeker and more refined design, is the premium sister of the vivoactive 4.

The Venu (left) has a thinner bezel than the vivoactive 4 (right).

While the vivoactive 4 knows how to play smartwatch quite well, it’s still first and foremost a sports watch. This means that when it comes to design, durability is the main priority. It has a stainless steel bezel, a plastic case, and a 20mm swappable silicone strap. The Venu, on the other hand, was created to go against the Apple Watch, explaining its sleeker design. You could say it’s the more premium, refined sister of the vivoactive 4. The bezel is thinner and it’s lighter in general, making it easy to forget that you’re wearing it.

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Another difference in design is the fact that the vivoactive 4, measuring in at 45mm, has a smaller version of itself called the vivoactive 4s. If you have narrower wrists, at least you have the option of buying the more petite 40mm model. As for the 43mm Venu, it only comes in one size so you’ll have to make do with it regardless of your wrist’s width. When it comes to colors, the vivoactive 4 again offers more variety with 6 different options while the Venu only has 4.

Differences aside, both the vivoactive 4 and the Venu are waterproof with a 5ATM certification. This means you can keep on wearing them even as you go for a swim (they’re water-resistant for up to 50 meters) or hop in the shower.

Display

The Venu beats the vivoactive 4 in terms of display, sporting a 1.2-inch AMOLED screen.

The Venu (left) sports an AMOLED screen while the vivoactive 4 (right) has a transflective one.

The biggest difference between the vivoactive 4 and the Venu lies in their screen displays and it’s the reason why you pay more for the latter. The vivoactive 4 sports a transflective memory-in-pixel screen, something that’s seen on most of Garmin’s watches. It does well in bright sunlight but needs the help of backlighting to be seen in the dark. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with the vivoactive 4’s display, the Venu’s 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 pixel AMOLED screen is just so much more impressive to look at.

Because of its AMOLED technology, the Venu is able to display more vibrant colors and deeper blacks. This makes everything, from notifications to on-screen workouts, extremely clear and easy to read. This holds true even when you’re in the water, that extra pop of color really shining through. While other smartwatches out there already make use of AMOLED screens, it’s a first for Garmin and so there’s a premium on Venu versus their other models including the vivoactive 4. If you’re willing to pay extra, your eyes will definitely thank you for it.

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Sports and Activity Tracking

The Venu and the vivoactive 4 are on par with each other when it comes to sports tracking.

Both the Venu and the vivoactive 4 have the new animated workouts feature.

If there’s one thing Garmin is good at, it’s sports tracking. And in this department, there’s nothing that really separates the Venu from the vivoactive 4. Equipped with the same sensor, you can expect both of them to deliver identical results. They also have the same selection of sports tracking modes, including common activities like running, cycling, and swimming and not-so-usual ones like stand-up paddleboarding and skiing. They both allow you to create your own custom indoor and outdoor workouts as well.

Another thing they have in common is this new feature called animated workouts. Instead of step-by-step instructions, you’re going to be guided by a human figure who will be demonstrating the moves to you as you go along. Whether it be yoga or weight lifting, you can count on this little person inside your screen to show you the proper form. This feature could prove to be the most helpful to beginners who are trying to learn the basics of a sport or exercise. As for the quality of the animation, it’s pretty defined despite being quite small.

Aside from workouts, both watches are also able to track steps, calories, stress levels, respiration, sleep, body battery, V02 max, and pulse oximetry. What’s great is that you can get a summary of your activities on the daily and compare them to previous data.

Smartwatch Features

The Venu and the vivoactive 4 are again very similar when it comes to smartwatch features.

Both the Venu and the vivoactive 4 allow you to sync your playlists on supported streaming services.

In the area of smartwatch features, the differences are yet again non-existent. Bottom line is, the Venu and the vivoactive 4 are equally great at making life easier. When it comes to notifications, they both have a dedicated section on their UI for them, allowing you easy access to all the latest updates on your socials. Android users are allowed to reply to these notifications but unfortunately for iOS users, they still have to dig their phones out of their bags to do so. It’s a small sacrifice though.

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As for music, they have built-in music players as well as enough storage to fit in 500 songs. It’s easy to sync your playlists on supported streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer as well, allowing you offline playback with the use of wireless headphones. Another amazing feature you can enjoy on either watch is Garmin Pay which gives you the ability to pay for things using your smartwatch. This one’s a lifesaver if you ever leave the house and forget to bring your wallet.

Battery

The vivoactive 4 is able to perform better in terms of battery life, thanks to its transflective screen.

On smartwatch mode, the Venu can last up to 5 days while the vivoactive 4 can last up to 8.

If you’re worried about the AMOLED screen zapping all of the energy on the Venu, you can thank Garmin because they somehow found a way around that. Despite the crystal clear screen display and vibrant colors, you can still enjoy up to 5 days of battery life on the Venu if you’re on smartwatch mode. If you’re using GPS or playing music, however, the battery life goes down to 6 hours. To fully maximize your battery life, make sure the always-on feature is turned off because this wipes out battery juices in a jiffy.

As you have probably already guessed, the vivoactive 4 performs a little bit better in terms of battery life, thanks to its energy-saving transflective screen display. On smartwatch mode, it’s able to go 8 full days without a charge, beating out the Venu by a couple of days. Similarly, however, its battery life gets cut down to 6 hours when there’s GPS or music involved.

Verdict

The Venu has better design and display while the vivoactive 4 impresses with battery life.

It’s clear that the Garmin Venu and the Garmin vivoactive 4 are similar in a lot of ways, making it that much more difficult to choose between the two. So how do you make a decision?

If you’re into the AMOLED screen display and you don’t mind shelling out extra dough, by all means, go for the Venu. But if you couldn’t care less about having brighter colors on your screen and would rather save money, then the vivoactive 4 is the better choice for you. You won’t be missing out on any features, plus you get better battery life too.

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Denise Jose
Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.