Garmin vivoactive GPS watch review

GPS smartwatch with built-in sports and activity tracking apps

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 25 Mar 2015
Garmin vivoactive GPS watch review

READ: Best golf GPS 2015 test

Name: Garmin vivoactive watch
Weight: 38 g
Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.8 x 0.8 cm (without wristband)
Touchscreen: Yes
Battery life: Up to three weeks (watch mode), 10 hours (GPS mode)
Course maps: Over 38,000 (must be downloaded from database)
Colours: White, Black (customisable)
RRP: £200

Key features

  • Precise yardages - front, middle and back yardages of the green 
  • Lay-up distances - yardages to doglegs and hazards
  • Ultra-thin GPS smartwatch - with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution colour touchscreen
  • Built-in sports apps - GPS-enabled golfing, running and biking, plus swimming and activity tracking, let you view your stats even when away from your phone

Ease of use

The Garmin vivoactive watch is easy to operate with a smart-looking touchscreen and one button on each side, with a further two touch-sensitive buttons below the screen. Its overall appearance is arguably one of the smartest out there. 

Best features

The vivoactive is Garmin’s first true smartwatch, but unlike other golf GPS devices out there, this one is targeted at golfers who also like to swim, cycle, walk and run - so think of it as part traditional smartwatch, part activity tracker, and part fitness GPS watch.

On the course, the vivoactive watch provides you with traditional front, middle and back yardages of the green in clear, bold numbering, as well as pin-point distances to hazards and layups of the hole in question. 

While it does not have as many key features as the impressive Garmin Approach S6 watch, we do like how it provides layup yardages in an easy-to-view list format. 

Although we did not experiment too much with the other fitness modes on offer, the Garmin vivoactive will track your speed, distance, time and heart rate should you wish it to. 


The vivoactive watch is quick and easy to setup out the box, just as you would expect for a Garmin GPS.

The golfer can connect the device via their phone and download more than 38,000 golf courses worldwide.

The battery life is also superb with 10 hours in GPS mode and up to three weeks in watch mode. 


The vivoactive watch is the perfect GPS option for the modern-day athlete, who not only enjoys a spot of golf at the weekend but also likes to swim, cycle, walk and run. It also does not look out of place as a traditional watch.

It might lack some of the key "golf tech" that other GPS watches in this test feature, but if glancing at a yardage is all you care about while out on the course then this one is well worth a closer look.

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