Garmin’s Vivosmart 5 may finally get the touchscreen right

If there’s one thing Garmin seems to understand better than other wearables companies, it’s that athletes love buttons. And it looks like the company has finally added a practical button to its latest fitness tracker, the $149.99 Vivosmart 5.

The Vivosmart 5 is an updated version of the Vivosmart 4 that was first launched in 2018. It largely retains the same design as the Vivosmart 4, but instead of an elegant look, it opts for a more practical, sporty look. The band itself has a rounded edge and there is no longer a metal bezel around the screen. In the press release, Garmin also emphasized that the screen is 66 percent larger and has larger text so that it is more readable. But the main difference is that the Vivosmart 5 has a good button and the swipe-based touchscreen is much easier to use.

I tested the Vivosmart 3 and 4 and both trackers had the same problem – the display. The Vivosmart 3’s screen appeared blurry, was not easy to read in sunlight, and swipes were not easily recorded. The Vivosmart 4 solved the blur, but the menu button didn’t always work and the touchscreen wasn’t as responsive as it should have been. That made starting and ending activities tedious — especially with sweaty fingers.

The white, mint and black versions Garmin Vivosmart 5 on a black yoga mat

The $149.99 Vivosmart 5 comes in white, mint, and black.
Image: Garmin

I’ve played with the Vivosmart 5 and it seems Garmin has addressed both issues. The button to work and is slightly raised from the display, making it easy to find by feel. Likewise, I have found the touchscreen to be much more sensitive and easy to use. I’ve yet to put the Vivosmart 5 to the test, but so far it’s a definite improvement on the Vivosmart line’s biggest problem.

Garmin has also addressed another issue with the Vivosmart line. Previous Vivosmart trackers had a unibody design, meaning you couldn’t swap the bands. However, the Vivosmart 5 introduced interchangeable bands. All you need to do is pull out the tracker.

While most of the changes to the Vivosmart 5 come from the design, Garmin has also added more software features. The Vivosmart 5 introduces abnormal heart rate alerts in the tracker line. It also includes Garmin’s personal safety features. Holding the button for a few seconds will trigger an assistance alert for assigned emergency contacts. Otherwise, the Vivosmart 5 retains the continuous heart rate, SpO2 sensors, tethered GPS, stress tracking and 7-day battery life of its predecessor.

The $149.99 Garmin Vivosmart 5 is available today and comes in black, white and cool mint.

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