Garmin has just resurrected a four-year-old watch, and it could be an Apple-beater

Four Garmin Vivoactive 5 watches on a blue background
(Image credit: Garmin)

Note: following the publication of our rumors article, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 was officially announced. This article has been updated with new information.

Garmin has released the Garmin Vivoactive 5, the first entry in its Vivoactive line of affordable sports watches for four years. 

The Vivoactive 5 comes in a single 42mm size, its screen has been upgraded from the Vivoactive 4's old LCD screen to a 1.2-inch 390 x 390 px AMOLED, and it’ll pack several previously Venu-exclusive features such as wheelchair modes, nap detection and sleep coaching, alongside last year’s excellent Morning Report functionality. The Vivoactive 5 will reportedly get up to 11 days of battery in smartwatch mode and 21 hours in GPS mode. 

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 fills a niche that hasn't really been covered among the best Garmin watches released in the last few years: a cheapish do-it-all sports watch, pricier and more feature-rich than a specialist tool like the best cheap running watch, the stripped-back Garmin Forerunner 55, but cheaper than the Garmin Forerunner 265 and Venu range. 

It's something that can potentially undercut the price of the best Apple Watches, such as the new Apple Watch 9

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Garmin Vivoactive 5: Specifications
ComponentGarmin Vivoactive 5
Dimensions42.2 x 42.2 x 11.1 mm
Display1.2-inch, 390 x 390 px AMOLED always-on
Case/BezelAnodized aluminum, fibre-reinforced polymer
Battery11 days smartwatch mode, 21 hours GPS
ConnectivityBluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+

The Garmin Vivoactive 5 is priced at $299.99 / £259.99 / AU$TBC. The old Garmin Vivoactive 4 was priced at $300 / £249 / AU$497, and it's good to see the 5 to follow suit with a similar price point despite the fact that inflation and the cost of parts have increased in the last four years. After all, if that price had crept up any further, it’s entering Garmin Venu territory. 

Given the new AMOLED Vivoactive sounds so similar to the Venu 3, we’d expect a significant difference in price and a lack of some of the Venu's more advanced fitness features to make the Vivoactive a more affordable alternative. We can't wait to test it.

Analysis: Garmin has been very Vivo-active this year 

Two people meditating and practicing Yoga, in front of two Garmin Vivoactive 5 watches

(Image credit: Garmin)

Following the surprise debut of the Garmin Venu 3 last month, and the Garmin Forerunners, Fenix and Epix releases in the summer, the Garmin Vivoactive 5 coming so soon is another curveball. It’s a great idea from Garmin to have a watch around the same price point as mid-range running watches such as the Polar Pacer Pro, and a lifestyle-orientated watch with an AMOLED screen might even undercut the new Apple Watches. 

However, Garmin’s biggest strength is also one of its weaknesses: its range of watches is so vast, and so impenetrable, that you need to study it closely to find the watch to suit you. Any casual observer who also happens to own an iPhone might throw their hands up in confusion and opt for an Apple Watch instead, where the choices are much simpler. 

Nevertheless, in an ongoing cost of living crisis, more affordable high-quality gadgets are never a bad thing. If you’re struggling to justify the cost of a Garmin Forerunner 265, a Vivoactive 5 at a much lower price might be just the watch for you. 

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Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.