Garmin Vivosmart 5 vs Fitbit Inspire 2: choose your next fitness tracker

Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Fitbit Inspire 2 on yellow and pink background
(Image credit: Garmin / Fitbit)

If you're looking for a new fitness tracker, the Fitbit Inspire 2 and the new Garmin Vivosmart 5 are two devices that deserve a place on your shortlist – but which is right for you?

If cash is your main concern, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is a no-brainer. Even when it was brand new it cost substantially less than the Garmin Vivosmart 5, and now that it's a couple of years old you can often find it at a fraction of its launch price. If money is particularly tight, keep an eye out for some huge discounts on Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, when we've seen it particularly steeply discounted.

Both the Vivosmart 5 and Inspire 2 are capable fitness trackers that will serve you well if you simply want a gentle nudge towards healthier habits, but if you're starting to get interested in working out (at the gym, at home, or outdoors) then you might benefit from Garmin's more advanced workout monitoring tools. For example, The Vivosmart 5 can estimate your VO2 Max (a measurement of how much oxygen you use during exercise), track more activities, and alert emergency contacts if you take a fall while working out.

The Vivosmart 5 also offers more advanced sleep tracking than the Inspire 2, and the Garmin Connect app provides you with full analysis of historical data and training tools free of charge, whereas Fitbit requires a monthly subscription payment to unlock everything that your watch has revealed.

If you've made up your mind, we've rounded up the best prices for the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Fitbit Inspire 2 right here. If not, read on to learn more about both devices.

Price and availability

  • Garmin Vivosmart 5 is newer
  • Garmin Vivosmart 5 is more expensive
  • Fitbit Inspire 2 often discounted on Amazon

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 went on sale on 20 April, 2022 for $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$229. You won't yet find it cheaper at any third-party retailers, but you may be able to find it a little cheaper at stores like Amazon in a few months' time.

The Fitbit Inspire 2 launched on September 25, 2020 for $99.95 / £89.99 / AU$149.99, and can be found much more cheaply at various retailers if you shop around. However, if you want to get the most out of the Inspire 2, it's also worth considering the cost of a Fitbit Premium subscription. You'll get a six-month free trial with any new Fitbit device, after which it'll cost $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$15.49 per month.

Woman wearing Fitbit Inspire 2 walking beside man

The Fitbit Inspire 2 can be found much more cheaply than the Garmin Vivosmart 5 (Image credit: Fitbit)

Design and display

  • Both are slim, lightweight fitness trackers
  • Same screen tech, but Vivosmart 5 is higher resolution
  • Vivosmart 5 comes in two sizes; Inspire 2 comes with two bands

Both the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and Fitbit Inspire 2 are slim fitness trackers, and they share a lot of similarities. Both have a plastic case and silicone band that fastens with a plastic buckle and tang, and are light enough to be unnoticeable in daily use.

Both have backlit monochrome OLED displays, but the Vivosmart 5's screen is sharper and can display more text at once thanks to its higher resolution (88 x 154 pixels compared to 36 x 126 pixels for the Inspire 2). The Vivosmart 5 also has an ambient light sensor, allowing the screen's brightness to adjust automatically to suit the general lighting conditions,

Both watches also have touchscreen interfaces that are supplemented by small buttons that are used to select options or move back through menus; the Vivosmart 5 has a button on the face, while the Fitbit Inspire 2 has a button on either side of the case.

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 comes in two sizes: the small/medium (which should be suitable for most wrists) and large. The smaller model comes in three colors (black, white, and mint), while the large version is only available in black. The Fitbit Inspire 2 can only be bought in one size, but comes with two straps to suit different sized wrists. It comes in black, pink, and off-white.

Stack of Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness trackers in mint green, black, and white

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 comes in three colors: black, white, and mint (Image credit: Garmin)

Battery life

  • Fitbit claims longer battery life
  • Both last around a week on one charge

At the time of writing we've just started testing the Garmin Vivosmart 5, so we can't give our own assessment of its battery life, but Garmin claims that it can keep running for up to seven days on a single charge without SpO2 or sleep tracking enabled.

Fitbit, meanwhile, claims maximum battery life of up to 10 days, depending on how you use the Instinct 2, which was what we found in our testing.

Fitness tracking tools

  • Both have all the fundamentals covered
  • Vivosmart 5 offers more advanced training tools
  • Vivosmart 5 has safety features to alert emergency contacts

Both fitness trackers have all the basics covered, including 24/7 heart rate tracking, step counting, and a good range of workout tracking modes for both indoor and outdoor activities.

The Vivosmart 5 also has some more advanced tools to offer. It's certainly not a fully fledged running watch like the Garmin Forerunner 55, but it can calculate a VO2 Max estimate based on your running performance and track heart rate zones during training sessions.

However, it's important to note that neither device has its own GPS module. Instead, they piggyback on your phone's GPS to track your route and pace on runs, walks and bike rides, which is less convenient and usually a little less accurate than on-board GPS. If you want a slim fitness tracker with GPS built-in, take a look at the Fitbit Charge 5.

Both watches can track sleep stages and duration, but the Vivosmart 5 has an SpO2 sensor for measuring blood oxygen saturation, and gives more advanced sleep metrics, including respiration and movement throughout the night.

When it comes to safety, the Vivosmart 5 has the edge again. Its incident detection can alert an emergency contact if it detects a fall while you're in the middle of a tracked workout, informing them of your current location. There's also Garmin Livetrack, which allows contacts to monitor your location while you're running, walking, or cycling.

Woman jogging wearing Fitbit Inspire 2

Neither than Fitbit Inspire 2 nor the Garmin Vivosmart 5 have on-board GPS for tracking your pace and route during workouts (Image credit: Fitbit)

Other features

  • Both can receive smartwatch notifications
  • Garmin Vivosmart 4 can send text responses
  • Both can find your phone (and vice versa)

Neither the Vivosmart 5 nor the Inspire 2 is a fully-fledged smartwatch, but both devices have some handy features beyond exercise tracking. For example, both devices allow you to receive smartwatch notifications on your wrist, and if you have an Android phone, the Vivosmart 5 lets you send automatic text responses or reject calls with a text while you're working out

You can use the Vivosmart 5 to find your phone, or vice versa, and the Fitbit Inspire 2 can do the same thing provided you have the Tile app installed.

Both devices offer stress tracking throughout the day (based on changes in heart rate variability), and can lead you through breathing exercises if you're starting to feel the strain.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)