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Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: Good GPS tracking on the cheap
7:54 pm | April 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Xiaomi Smart Band 8: One-minute review

It’s not often you get a device like the Xiaomi Smart Band 8. It’s a very affordable fitness tracker at just $90 / £60 / AU$95, but it’s also remarkably competent thanks to great battery life and an array of sensors that some much more expensive alternatives are missing.

Not only is it one of the most complete budget fitness trackers we’ve tested, but it even defeats the Huawei Band 7 (a tracker I loved) by offering built-in GPS location tracking, too. That could make it a big worry for the likes of even the best Fitbit, and competition can only be a good thing.

I wore it on one wrist with my Apple Watch Ultra on the other (a considerably more expensive option) and was very impressed by just how accurate the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro is. Xiaomi says it uses “next-generation data algorithms” for things like heart rate and oxygen saturation accuracy, and from my usage its findings were in lockstep with Apple’s own.

In fact, my only real gripe is that of the setup process. Your mileage may end up varying, but it felt like it got me off on the wrong foot with the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro, although thankfully the excellent features and design fixed that nice and quickly.

There are some other omissions, too, like payments, music downloads, and third-party apps, but given the price, those are all things you’d perhaps expect.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 worn on the wrist

(Image credit: Future)

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Specifications

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Price and release date

  • Available now 
  • Priced at $99.99 in the US
  • £60 in the UK
  • AU$95 in Australia

The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro originally debuted in China last August, but it’s taken some time to go international. 

Thankfully, it’s available from most retailers now, and at a discounted price of $99 in the US, £60 in the UK, and AU$95 via outlets such as Amazon. 

We’ve seen it as low as £50 or $80 in recent weeks, and it’s a steal for that price, which makes it considerably cheaper than its nearest competitors like the Fitbit Inspire 3.

  • Value score: 5/5

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Design

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 strap

(Image credit: Future)
  • Available in black or white with swappable straps 
  • 1.74-inch AMOLED display 
  • Lightweight and slim

I find it difficult to get excited about fitness trackers these days because, for the most part, they all look mostly the same. That’s not to damn the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro with faint praise, but more acknowledge that just by looking at it, there’s no way you’d expect it to cost as little as it does.

It has a slick, rectangular chassis, and our white unit has a shining chrome shell. It does collect some fingerprints but not as many as you may expect, and houses a 1.74-inch AMOLED display that’s small enough to sit comfortably on your wrist while also being large enough to convey plenty of information at a glance.

It’s a good balance, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s packing a 336 x 480 px resolution that’s easy to read, and it weighs just 22.5g without the strap (still heavier than the Huawei Band 7, admittedly).

There are no buttons, physical or otherwise, on the sides, so you’ll be doing everything with the touchscreen, while the straps detach easily through a subtle mechanism and click into place in a satisfying way. Our review unit comes with an off-white option, but there’s no second strap in the box; it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of deal, and as someone who usually uses larger straps, I can say it works nicely.

On the back you’ll find a charging port, and while there’s no power brick included in the box, it’s worth noting that the USB-A cable that is here isn’t the longest. Some users will prefer USB-C, as USB-A is starting to look a little dated. Still, for under $100, it's just a charging cable. You get what you get. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 laying on a flat surface

(Image credit: Future)

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Performance

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 worn on the wrist

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strictly a fitness tracker 
  • Plenty of functions 
  • Smart use of widgets 

The folks at Xiaomi have built much of the user interface here with the larger display in mind, which means you can swipe between screens that pack multiple widgets into each, making use of every available pixel. It took a little bit of habit-busting to get into the swing of swiping ‘backward’ rather than Apple's ‘up’ to return to a prior menu, but once I did, I was enjoying its functionality with ease.

You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access a sort of “All Apps” list, but that’s about the only time the UI feels a little tricky as you try to prod the right option.

As always (because many still conflate the two), it’s worth remembering this is a fitness tracker and not a smartwatch. The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro won’t pay for your shopping, download music for offline playback, or download third-party apps. It's essentially a single-purpose device, and for that purpose – fitness tracking – it’s great.

I used it to head out for a brisk walk, indoors for a treadmill run, and at the gym. As mentioned in the intro, in all these scenarios, all of its metrics tied up nicely with that of my Apple Watch,  which costs around nine times the price of the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro in the US.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 music playback screen

(Image credit: Future)

Step counting is accurate, and heart rate data was consistent while awake and asleep. While some have reported inaccuracies with VO2 data, mine synced up with the Apple Watch Ultra nicely. 

My favorite thing, though, is the GNSS support for GPS. It’s only a single-frequency connection, so it may struggle in big cities or when surrounded by large buildings, but it works really nicely for a casual run. If you’re a hardcore runner you’ll likely want something with more accuracy or a stronger connection, but then again, if you’re a hardcore runner you probably already own a much more expensive running watch.

When it comes to sleep tracking, things are mainly centered around the stages of sleep you’ll get. That’s fine at a basic level, but outside of that, you’re not going to get as much information as you’d perhaps get with a more fully-featured smartwatch such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, or a sleep tracker like the Oura Ring Generation 3.

Battery life is great, though, with Xiaomi suggesting you can hit 14 days on a single charge. That is, admittedly, with some functionality toned down (like always-on display and some health notifications), but it’s still impressive in a device at this price point.

Without those concessions, you can still reasonably expect around four-and-a-half days, which is still pretty great – and can easily go past five with light use, a.k.a. fewer workouts.

  • Performance score: 4/5

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Features

  • iOS and Android compatible 
  • Don’t expect a lot of analysis on companion app

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 companion app devices page

(Image credit: Future)

I’ll be honest, I feel like the Xiaomi Mi Fitness app and I got off on the wrong foot. Pairing the device with my iPhone was pretty painful; it wouldn’t scan the QR code on the screen, so I had to add it manually via the Bluetooth settings, then that didn’t work on two separate attempts, and then just as I prepared to give up, it sprung to life.

Not a great first impression, sure, and to add to that many of the basic functions of the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro were switched off – including things like sleep tracking.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 companion app sleep settings

(Image credit: Future)

Once I switched those on, though, everything was pretty smooth. The Health tab is essentially a dashboard with all of your data for calories, steps, and exercise, as well as sleep and heart rate data, while the Workout tab actually incorporates Apple Maps so you can feasibly use it without needing to switch to Strava to log your routes. 

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 companion app running map

(Image credit: Future)

There’s also a nice marketplace of watch faces you can download with ease and set on your device.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 companion app band displays

(Image credit: Future)

In fact, the only thing missing is anything close to a deeper analysis of the data collected, which you may expect would be missing at this price. 

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 companion app vitality score settings

(Image credit: Future)

The closest thing is the Vitality Score, which is a little like Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score. This takes into account the activity you’ve done in the last seven days and calculates a score for how ready you are for exercise. It’s a nice idea, but as far as I can tell it’s not pulling extra data like sleep history. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Scorecard

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Honor Band 7 review: Budget-friendly fitness tracker with great features
5:20 pm | April 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Honor Band 7: One minute review

If you're after a budget-friendly fitness tracker then look no further than the Honor Band 7. It's remarkably similar to the Huawei Band 8 and the Xiaomi Smart Band 7 and, with similar prices, it's difficult to set them apart.

The Honor Band 7 boasts an incredible 1.47-inch AMOLED display which is lovely to look at and engage with. Color graphics are displayed with clarity and brightness, even when outside in the bright sun. The display itself is large enough to present enough health and fitness data so you can avoid needing to launch the app too often.

Tracking data seems pretty reliable across the board, although if you want the most accurate results then you'll need to invest in one of the more expensive trackers that you can find in our best fitness trackers guide. If you'd just like to keep track of steps, heart rate and Sp02 levels, then the Honor Band 7 has everything you need.

I knew there wasn't going to be the luxury of onboard GPS, but I was disappointed to find that tethered GPS could only be activated from a connected phone rather than from the tracker itself. This unnecessary additional step proved to be rather annoying especially when I wanted to just get up and go without getting my phone out of my bag or pocket. 

Despite this, I actually really enjoyed using the tracker. It was a pleasure to interact with and I'm not sure you'll find anything better for the price.

Honor Band 7: Price and availability

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • $59.99 US
  • £49.99 UK
  • Around AU$96.50 

The Honor Band 7 is available for $59.99 in the US and £49.99 in the UK, which equates to around AU$96.50 in Australia. This is priced very similarly to other budget fitness trackers, such as the Huawei Band 8 and the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro.

The only customization in terms of colorways on offer is the color of the bands, with the three options being: Meteorite Black, Pink, and Emerald Green. Make sure you choose wisely, because the band is not removable.

For the price, you'll get a large AMOLED screen, 96 workout modes, and 14 days of battery life. 

  • Value score: 4.5 / 5

Honor Band 7: Design

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.47-inch AMOLED screen
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) not metal
  • Three band colours

The design of the Honor Band 7 is almost identical to that of the Band 6. Considering Honor is releasing a new version every two years, it's disappointing not to see some level of upgrade in the size and design of the screen.

The standout feature of the Band 7 is its 1.47-inch AMOLED screen. It's big, bright, and beautifully responsive. The fact that the screen is full-color rather than mono means all the extra details and interface graphics Honor has taken the time to include really pop. I had no issues with fingerprint marks, and the interface transitions were smooth and reliable.

The tracker itself is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with a spray coating applied to make it look metallic. Despite it looking great, there's no getting away from the fact that it is still of plastic construction, especially when you touch it or get up close to it. 

The band comes in three different colors including Meteorite Black, Pink, and Emerald Green. The version I was testing is the pink one, although it's more of a rose gold color in reality. The silicone band is unfortunately non-removable, which is admittedly common for budget fitness trackers like this. It's usually used as a feature to set more premium alternatives apart, although some cheaper trackers like Fitbit Inspire 3 can also detach from their bands.

At 29 grams, it is double the weight of the Huawei Band 8, but it is still comfy and light to wear. I had it on all day and all night for a couple of weeks and had no problems whatsoever with it feeling uncomfortable.

The software interface is where the tracker excels. The graphics are beautifully designed, with just the right amount of data included on each screen. The homescreen can be customized using a range of watch faces, with each one displaying different stats.

The design ethos is replicated in the Honor app, which enables users to see a significant extra level of detail and reports on heart rate, oxygen levels, and activities tracked.

  • Design Score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Features

  • Detailed heart rate and step count info
  • Optical heart rate and SpO2 sensor
  • GPS tethered from phone only

One of the most used features of any fitness tracker is the step count. The Band 7 tracks these while displaying the results in a graphic that shows how much progress has been made. The number of steps is tracked with accuracy and presented alongside the number of exercise minutes and active calories burned. Considering most users only want tracked steps as a guide, the accuracy level is more than sufficient.

The optical sensor tracks both heart rate and Sp02 levels. These are available on most fitness trackers, and, even though the results were far from inaccurate on the Band 7, you'll definitely find more reliable results on more expensive trackers such as the Garmin Vívoactive 5.

The stress tracking feature is calculated using heart rate variability collected during manually-activated stress tests, while automatic sleep tracking also uses heart health data to collect information. 

Aside from health tracking, the Honor Band 7 can also record data when exercising. By picking from a range of different workout modes, including running, cycling, and rowing, users are presented with a set of analytics, including the time, heart rate, and steps. 

GPS tracking can be activated by tethering it to your smart phone. My biggest issue with this fitness tracker is that this GPS functionality can't be activated from the tracker, even if it is close to the connected phone. Workouts that require GPS tracking must be launched from a phone instead. This is an annoying and unnecessary step that makes the process of launching workouts more involved than it needs to be. Nevertheless, a good chunk of features for a band at this price. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Performance

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • Quick and responsive
  • Generally accurate tracking data 
  • 14 days of battery life, 10-12 days for heavy usage

The 180mAh battery on the Honor Band 7 is really good, and I was surprised given how much the device costs. The advertised length of battery life is 14 days, an amount of time that very much matched my experience, especially during weeks in which I wasn't doing much exercise.

As soon as I started using it for my daily commute alongside other exercise activities, I found the battery draining more quickly. No surprises there. Even though Honor promises 10 days for heavy usage, I actually found it to be nearer to 12. It's always nice when the reality is better than expected.

Charging a watch like this every couple of weeks is no trouble at all, especially considering it takes less than an hour to go from empty to full charge. You'll want to keep it within the magic 20-80% to maximize the life of the battery but that's easily done by keeping an eye on the battery life through the watch interface.

When it comes to metrics, I ran stress tests at different times of the day and during different events in my everyday life. I generally found the Band 7 would report my stress levels as normal even at times when I felt noticeably stressed and could tell that my heart rate was raised. I certainly didn't feel like I could trust it.

Automatic sleep tracking provides data that is broken down into sleep stages and the duration of each stage. It's almost impossible to verify the reliability of this data, and fitness trackers are not renowned for being the most reliable anyway. That being said, during my testing period, I was up numerous times during the night and I did find that the tracker was able to identify every one of them.

The tracker itself has a waterproof rating of 5ATM, which means the Honor Band 7 is theoretically able to withstand pressures up to 50m depth, an industry standard among smart wearables these days. I never made it this deep, but had absolutely no problems wearing it in the shower or submerging it in water.

  • Performance score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Scorecard

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the Honor Band 7

I wore the Honor Band 7 non-stop for two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. During this time, I used every single feature and carried out a range of different exercise workouts, including running, swimming, and cycling. Throughout all of this I kept track of my heart rate, my stress levels, and my oxygen levels, amongst other similar health measureables.

I used the app to control the device as well as run a number of more advanced tests that were not possible with the watch on its own. 

First reviewed: April 2024

G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000 review: the smart Casio G-Shock to do it all
12:00 pm | April 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Two minute review

The Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000 will stand out on any wrist thanks to its bold, angular design – and, in this model's case, punchy yellow finish. This watch screams tough at first glance and Casio is selling on that basis. It might be big enough to get knocked as you wear it, but it's built to take every hit, making it a contender for the best running watches.

It comes with an optical heart rate sensor and full GPS to place it in the running against even the best Garmin watches out there. In fact, this has the Garmin Enduro 2 squarely fixed in its sights, competing on the more extreme tracking with a thermometer, barometer, pressure sensor, altimeter and more onboard. While the Casio tracks well, it doesn't offer maps. This makes it a little limited as a true adventure companion.

However, the Rangeman does pack in solar charging, which will enable you to continue using basic functionality even once the bulk of battery life has been consumed. Although note that with a battery life that lasts up to two months and up to 19 hours in GPS tracking mode, the watch has you covered.

Despite looking chunky, a soft urethane band and double-pin buckle actually mean the Rangeman is comfortable to wear and effortless to find the right fit – presuming your wrist is large enough to pull off this over-sized statement watch.

G-Shock Rangeman: Price and availability

The G-Shock Rangeman is available now worldwide, priced at $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$999.99.

There are two versions available, the yellow GPR-H1000-9 model reviewed here, and a black variant named the GPR-H1000-1. Other than color differences, they're essentially the same model and share an identical price.

Since launch, both models have been available on various third-party websites at a reduced price. At time of publishing, the Rangeman can be bought for as low as £375 / $480 / AU$725.

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)
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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Design

  • Comfortable strap and accurate clasp
  • Rugged exterior
  • Too chunky for some

The G-Shock Rangeman is all about that chunky, rugged design and bold looks, which makes it both unique and attractive. But it's worth saying right from the outset that if you have a smaller wrist then this watch might feel a little bulky and heavy. That said, its super comfy strap and very accurate clasp system – plus relatively low weight at 92g – ensure it's as comfortable as a statement watch of this kind can be.

Primarily, this is a button-based beast, so you won't have to suffer touchscreen fingerprints or difficulty controlling screens while taking part in sport or activity. But the flip-side is that you have to scroll through the menus to get to what you want. That said, G-Shock menus are very intuitive, having been developed over many generations of watch, and since the buttons are all mud- and water-protected, they work well. If I have one gripe here it's that the up and down options are on the left, which means you need to use your thumb, rather than fingers, which I found a little awkward or at least took some getting used to.

The display is a negative MIPS, which is a far cry from the color displays on other watches of this kind – and a shock, if you're moving from an AMOLED. That said, it's super clear in daylight, gets you a long battery life, and also offers high contrast so that even underwater it's very clear to read – which was actually helpful when swimming.

The Rangeman has a waterproof rating of 200 metres, yet after a half-hour pool swim the watch's screen appeared to fill with a bubble of some sort that was visible across the screen, and remains still now. The watch works fine, but is now showing this odd line that's definitely worrying. In reality, we'd hope that you could send this back to Casio for a replacement if you suffered the same.

The companion app from Casio is decent and allows you a way to control the watch without all those menus. So if you want to re-order the sports available or setup the data screens, for example, you can do that far more easily through the app, which makes it genuinely helpful. The app is also a better, clearer way to view any data –sleep scores and daily steps metrics, for example.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Features

  • Tracks many sports
  • Offers so many sensors
  • Lacks music

The G-Shock Rangeman is absolutely crammed full of features and sensors, delivering the ability to track nine activity types: trekking, running, biking, gym workout, interval timer, pool swimming, open-water swimming, trail running, and walking. And while taking part in an activity, you have access to data such as distance, direction, altitude, climbing speed, time, pace, heart rate, and burned calories.

Swimming offers stroke count, distance and heart rate, as well as a timer with the option to record splits – so all you could want from a swimming watch then. This works both indoors in a pool as well as outdoors for open water swimming, where the GPS can also help with your data readouts. The screen is fantastically clear above and underwater, and I found the stroke count accurate when compared with the Garmin Forerunner 965.

The lack of onboard music, available with most Garmin watches now, was certainly missed here; there's no option to connect headphones and enjoy music during activities. While it isn't a deal breaker, it certainly would have been a welcome feature at this price point.

Solar charging is a great addition here, since it helps to keep the watch function going for pretty much forever. While the GPS and heart rate tracking might leave you out of battery for the sports modes, you'll still have access to the G-Shock time and date basics. The features the watch part offers include a stopwatch, a 60-minute countdown timer, world times, four different alarms, power saving, and a full auto backlight that illuminates for either 1.5 or five seconds, depending on your preference.

While this doesn't pack all the dedicated surf smarts of the G-Shock G-Lide surf watch, you do still get helpful tide data such as 3,300 points for the tide graph. You also have phone notifications – although, on this screen they're a faff to read. I found myself simply using them as an alert before reaching for my phone – helpful, if you want the phone on silent.

  • Features score: 4/5 

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

Left: Garmin Forerunner 955. Right: Garmin Instinct Crossover. (Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Performance

  • Accurate GPS and health tracking
  • Excellent battery performance
  • Quite bulky for daily wear

It soon became clear while testing the G-Shock Rangman that wearing it to bed for sleep tracking was not the most comfortable. I did get used to it, but it was never what I'd call a comfortable experience – but this would apply to all brands of "oversize" watch. During the day, there was no slipping this under a sleeve either. As such, the watch was on show constantly, clearly getting attention with that bright yellow finish.

To be clear, this is a comfy watch, and that strap fits perfectly. It's just chunky, and if you find yourself knocking it on things at first, don't be surprised. This shouldn't worry you, however; that tough exterior appears to be able to handle more than a knock or six. That said, there was an issue with the display on this test unit. 

After swimming, it looked like half the screen was filled with water; I pressed down and this moved about under the surface of the screen's top-cover. The watch continues to work just fine, only the screen has this half-filled finish. You can see it in the picture below, where it looks like a trick of the light showing the top third as lighter; but this is  water or, perhaps, air inside? Either way, it's disappointing when Casio claims that the G-Shock Rangeman is good for a 200m of diving depth – double that of most Garmins.

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

In use, the watch performed well. Heart rate was a little on the high side, and quick to jump when compared to a Garmin and chest strap, but this generally levelled out after a while. For cycling, the Rangeman was helpful, where adjustments appeared quickly; but for running , where pure accuracy is ideal, this could have been a little smoother. GPS worked well, with the watch adapting quickly and recording metrics such as speed, pace and distance accurately.

While the menus are dense, the watch is intuitive to navigate, meaning you can access lots of data relatively easily while exercising. It's only really the smaller screen that limits you here, with it often far easier to wait and view the dive data once it had synched.

  • Performance score: 3.5/5

G-Shock Rangeman: Battery Life

  • Two months standby
  • 19 hours with GPS
  • Solar powered extras

Casio has certainly used all that chunky G-Shock frame space well when it comes to batteries, since the Rangeman offers up to two months off a single charge. For use just as a watch, that time is extended further thanks to the solar charging smarts, which sees the watch keep going for basics such as time telling.

As you'd expect, it's with GPS use that a smartwatch battery is really tested, and in this regard the Rangeman achieved 19 hours in GPS mode – although that's with intermittent location acquisition. In reality, with it left turned on, battery is nearer to 14 hours. Still, that's plenty for most exercise sessions, while an easy to attach bespoke clip-on charger that uses USB, will bring the Rangeman back to full charge in just a few hours.

One of the great things about this watch is that you can keep using the Rangeman as a watch alone for months, without charging – say , if you're injured and don't need GPS tracking – topping it back up once you're back to activities.

  • Battery life score: 4.5/5

G-Shock Rangeman: Buy it if…

G-Shock Rangeman: Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed: March 2024

Suunto Race review: An affordable fitness watch with some compromises
8:20 pm | March 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Suunto Race review: One minute review

Finnish outdoors brand Suunto is arguably best known for its hardy navigational devices and diving watches, often lagging behind the competition when it comes to genuinely excellent fitness smartwatches.

The fact of the matter is, the market is almost at saturation point. Garmin seemingly brings out a new watch every few months, covering every conceivable exercise niche you can think of, while rivals such as Polar and Coros with its Pace 3 and Apex Pro models, have brought some serious touchscreen-enabled contenders in recent months.

Traditional smartwatch makers like Apple and Samsung, now have models that also crossover into the outdoors/fitness space with the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, offering excellent workout tracking, navigation and all of the handy smartphone control, notifications and features you will actually use every day. In fact, the Apple Watch just keeps improving as a fitness partner with every watchOS update.

Suunto Race watch running mode

(Image credit: Future)

In the interest of brevity, the Suunto Race Titanium (the premium version I tested) is the best watch it has made to date, with a crystal clear AMOLED screen, premium styling, and a whole host of fitness-tracking features that can genuinely rival those offered by Garmin et al.

However, it’s far from perfect. There are a number of areas that could easily be improved, including the achingly slow raise-to-wake, the sometimes glitchy OS, and the fact that offline mapping takes a painfully long time to download and upload to the map.

In essence, Garmin still rules the roost if you want the absolute cutting-edge of workout, recovery and training analytics, but Suunto is definitely getting close. Pair that with solid GPS tracking, an impressive battery life and an easy-to-navigate accompanying smartphone app, and you have an enticing offering at this price.

Suunto Race worn on wrist with clock face

(Image credit: Future)

Suunto Race: specifications

Suunto Race: Price and availability

Suunto Race watch face close up

(Image credit: Future)
  • $449 in the US
  • £398 in the UK
  • AUS$720 in Australia

The Suunto Race is offered at two price points. The most affordable stainless steel version costs $449 / £398 / AUS$720, while the more expensive titanium-clad model comes in at $549 / £479 / AUS$879. 

There is no difference between the hardware that powers these watches: it’s all about the finish and how opulent you want your watch to feel. In my opinion, the titanium model elevates the overall build quality, thanks to its contrasting Charcoal finish. The bezel on the stainless steel model is all black, which instantly makes it feel a bit cheaper. 

Both models can be purchased directly from the Suunto website. At this price point, it's a pretty favorable comparison with its closest competitors, such as the much more expensive Garmin Forerunner 965. Great value.

Value score: 5/5

Suunto Race watch close up

(Image credit: Future)

Suunto Race: Design and screen

Suunto Race watch screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • Excellent build quality, especially on the titanium model
  • Only one size
  • Apple-style digital crown

Some horologists often scoff at the basic design of today’s fitness smartwatches, as they tend to involve a large circular display that’s clad in some kind of metal or plastic to keep everything safe. But it's a winning, practical design, and the Suunto Race isn't reinventing the wheel. 

The Suunto Race Titanium comprises a considerable 49mm bezel that houses 1.43-inches of AMOLED touchscreen, running a 466 x 466 resolution. It’s not one for skinny wrists and sits rather proudly even on thicker arms. The fact Suunto doesn’t offer any other sizes is a bit of an oversight: not everyone's going to want a beast of a watch like this.

The build quality is good and the watch feels solid, with the titanium finish adding a nice pop of contrast colour that makes it stand out. There are a limited number of pre-loaded digital watch faces available that range from replicas of analogue timepieces to fully digital displays with adjustable splashes of colour.

Suunto race watch silicone strap

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, they look good, but there’s not the breadth you’ll find via Garmin’s ConnectIQ app (although a lot of those are rubbish), nor are they as exciting or as interactive as what you find on an Apple Watch Series 9 or the latest Google Pixel Watch. However, that's expected of training tools rather than smartwatches.

There are some neat etched-in vents on the titanium bezel that add a bit of texture, while the included silicone strap is ventilated for added breathability and features a small popper mechanism that makes it easy to fit. It’s a great do-it-all choice that works for most activities.

Finally, robustness is built-in via a glass fiber-reinforced polyamide casing and sapphire crystal glass protecting the delicate display beneath. During testing, it held up well, shrugging off scratches and dings with ease. The whole thing is ergonomic and easy to use during training sessions too. Interaction with the Suunto Race is either via prodding and swiping the screen, or through the chronograph style, three-pusher layout of buttons on the right-hand side. 

The middle of those is a ‘digital crown’ that can be used to quickly cycle through menus or zoom in and out of maps. Think of it as a kind of Apple Watch Ultra lite set-up, while long-pressing either the top or bottom buttons accesses various shortcuts to menus.

Design score: 4/5

Suunto Race: Features

Suunto Race watch three side buttons

(Image credit: Future)
  • Accurate GPS
  • HRV and recovery info
  • No NFC payments

In general, there’s a lot to like about the feature set on offer here. You can control the music playing on your phone with the watch, and receive notifications when you are getting a call. You can do more with Android devices than you can with Apple, such as send predefined replies to incoming messages from the watch.

It has a full suite of sensors, now ubiquitous on fitness devices, which ranges from wrist-based heart rate sensing to an altimeter and gyroscope so it knows exactly when you are moving.

Suunto Race watch sports mode

(Image credit: Future)

There’s sleep tracking, accurate GPS thanks to compatibility with five satellite systems, and the obvious stuff, such as step tracking, all carefully built-into the relatively diminutive device on your wrist.

As soon as you throw software into the mix, you start to delve into things like Heart Rate Variability, sleep cycle detection and stress and recovery status delivered directly to the AMOLED watch face. Arguably where the cheaper Garmin Forerunner 265 and Garmin Venu 3 stand tall is with lifestyle offerings like Garmin Pay, which allows you to sync bank cards with the watch and pay from the wrist. Garmin also offers guided workouts, complete with animated exercise guides on some models.

Also where features are concerned, other watches like the Polar Vantage V3 come packing a seriously advanced set of biosensing equipment that offer an exceptionally accurate heart rate from the wrist. Right now, Suunto isn’t quite there. 

Features score: 3.5/5

Suunto Race: Performance

Suunto Race watch and mobile app

(Image credit: Future)

Initial set-up of the watch is breezy. It’s just a case of downloading the accompanying smartphone app, punching in a few personal details and then getting on with it.

However, if you want to navigate from the wrist, you first have to download offline maps onto your phone, and then onto the watch. This process is extremely slow and boring in comparison to something like the Garmin Epix Pro, yet vital if you want to see any kind of map show up when out running, cycling, or walking. Thankfully, they look great once installed and they’re super easy to scroll around.

On the subject of exercise, there are over 95 profiles covering the full gamut of sports and workouts, with each setting up the AMOLED screen to show the most important stats for each. Of course, you can dive into settings and swap this all around so you can see what’s most important to you.

As for the specific profiles, this definitely feels like a watch predominantly geared towards running, cycling and swimming, but don't they all? The depth of data for each of these activities is impressive, with it able to automatically detect segments in a triathlon and even detect different swim strokes and log stats for each.

Similarly, where running is concerned, you get wrist-based running power, while cyclists can add Bluetooth power meters (and HRM chest straps) quickly and easily. However, you can only add one of each type of sensor, which will be annoying for ardent indoor cyclists or triathletes, who might want both HRM and power meter options.

Within the app, you can create structured workouts or link in existing services, such as Strava, Adidas Running or Training Peaks if these are your preferred methods to train.

Suunto Race watch running mode

(Image credit: Future)

Again, it feels like Garmin offers more in its ecosystem, with a number of training plans available to get you running a 5K or even a marathon, complete with guidance on training laid, rest and recovery.

Granted, Race does feature Suunto Coach, which goes into detail on things like Chronic Training Load (its metric for your overall fitness), as well as a look at the training stress balance. This uses heart rate variability (HRV) and sleep quality as factors on your overall readiness to train.

As with so many smart fitness watches, it takes time for this information to build and the Suunto Race only gets better the more you wear it. But also like a lot of its rivals, they tend to bias cardio and endurance activities, rather than strength training.

During testing, I found that strength work in the gym played havoc with the wrist-based heart rate monitoring, which was already proving not particularly accurate on a couple of test runs and cycles. With an Apple Watch Ultra 2 strapped to the other wrist and linked to a chest HRM, I found the Suunto slow to react and often a few bpm out at most points.

Similarly, the entire operating system feels slow and clunky, regularly baffled by too many quick inputs. There’s a definite lag when flicking between menu screens and dithering when raising the watch to wake. You can turn this off, but then battery life is impacted.

Thankfully, battery life is absolutely massive, with an enormous 26 days in time mode, a whopping 12 days with 24/7 tracking and smart notifications. Absolute minimum you will get is 40 hours with GPS running full tilt, but that’s a massive single workout.

In reality, we managed to eke around a week from the battery when wearing it constantly (including to bed), training three or four times per week for around an hour and occasionally using it to navigate on a weekend walk.

Performance score: 3/5

Suunto Race: Scorecard

Suunto Race watch triathlon mode

(Image credit: Future)

Suunto Race: Should I buy?

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Suunto Race: Also consider

Coros Pace 3 review: This light running watch is better value than many Garmins
5:39 pm | October 2, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Coros Pace 3: One minute review

The Coros Pace 3 is a strong entry in the best cheap running watch stakes, and perhaps has even earned a place as one of the best running watches released this year. It’s a slender and lightweight device at 32g with a nylon strap (39g, if you opt for silicon), but it’s a powerhouse for evaluating your running performance, collecting plenty of information on stride length, cadence, heart rate zones, elevation and more, presenting it all in an accessible, legible format.

Music storage, a redesigned rear sensor array, a toggle on-off touchscreen functionality and improved satellite navigation tech have meant a small price increase, but it’s still an excellent buy unless you own its admittedly similar predecessor. It’s a superb stripped-back running companion and should serve most recreational road-runners very well indeed.

It isn’t perfect by any means: its light, plastic construction and lack of a properly raised bezel mean it isn’t particularly rugged and is unlikely to stand up to a great deal of punishment on your adventures. I wouldn’t wear it on the trails, or while scrambling up mountainsides, for instance. It falls flat next to the best Garmin watches and best Apple Watches, too, purely from a “smart” perspective, with both offering far superior notification and third-party app interfaces, on-wrist payment options, and more ways to interact with your watch in general. 

However, this is what I mean when I say “stripped-back”. It will be great in the middle of a race, and a terrific budget buy for fun-runners and annual marathon participants – but it has a long way to go as a lifestyle watch. Still, for under $250 / £219 / AU$399, it’s a wonderful running watch and I wouldn’t think twice about hitting the roads with the Coros Pace 3 on my arm. 

Coros Pace 3: Specifications

Coros Pace 3: Price and availability

  • Costs $229 in the US
  • £219 in the UK
  • AU$399 in Australia

The Coros Pace 3 is available worldwide, costing $229 in the US, £219 in the UK, and AU$399 in Australia. That’s pretty cheap compared to most of the best running watches, such as the Polar Pacer Pro – and I’d place the Coros Pace 3 in a similar bracket to the Polar. 

Some of the best fitness trackers such as the Amazfit Bip 3 Pro, higher-end bands such as the Fitbit Charge 5, and specialist running watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 55 all run cheaper. But these are a little more outdated, and not as feature-packed as the Pace 3.

More expensive running watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 265, Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, or even higher-end watches such as the Apple Watch Ultra, all feel less cheap, are far more durable, and offer better smart capabilities. However, you might be hard-pressed to get more running metrics from most watches that cost even twice as much as the Pace 3’s asking price. 

  • Value score: 5/5

Coros Pace 3: Design

Coros Pace 3 on wrist

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Lightweight plastic chassis
  • Simple to navigate watch
  • Intuitive app layout

The design of the Coros Pace 3 is fairly bare-bones, with a white polymer case and bezel that meets a mineral glass LCD screen. The screen is bright enough to see in most settings, although a little faint in bright, direct sunlight. Plus, it doesn’t have the charm of Garmin’s MIP display, nor the full-bodied brightness of a responsive OLED screen such as the Garmin Venu 2. The screen is touch-sensitive, which can be toggled from navigation-only to always-on, but more on that later. 

Bands are available in both silicon and nylon options – we were given the nylon strap to test. The rip-away nylon and velcro feels comfortable; it isn’t irritating and won’t budge on runs (at least, it didn’t during my tests). However, it isn’t the best-looking option for everyday wear. It can feel like a wide festival wristband at times, and really emphasizes its place as a running tool rather than an everyday watch. Which sounds fine in essence; but when it arrives with a long battery life that is in place to ensure the device can be exercised, slept and lived in to monitor recovery, you at least want something that looks nice. 

It’s lucky, then, that the design on the software side is nice and economical. Pressing the lower button on the watch’s right-hand side takes you out of your watch face and into a menu of workouts and other system settings, such as Music and Navigation. You can then scroll up, down and select these options with the Apple-style digital crown. Pressing the digital crown first, instead of the lower button, takes you to a widget stack. This displays your vital stats such as steps, floors, running fitness and so on.

It’s an elegant design and works well, and this ethos is shared in the companion Coros app. The “Progress” tab is your main port of call, showing you your vital stats, training calendar, running fitness and recovery metrics, including your sleep, HRV index and even body mass (if you’re diligent enough to continue recording it) at a glance. The “Activities” tab allows you to review your most recent workouts in more detail, while the “Explore” tab takes you to a GPS map feature that allows you to generate routes, which you can import into your watch as courses to be followed via breadcrumbs. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Coros Pace 3: Features

Coros Pace 3 on wrist

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Tons of excellent metrics
  • Not many smart features
  • No app-based music control

Features-wise, there’s a lot for runners to love here. The newly redesigned rear sensor array offers advanced heart rate metrics, including heart rate variability while you sleep, and BPM measurements taken at 10-minute intervals throughout the day. You can scroll back through the day on-watch using the rotating crown, or even further in the app. During a workout, those new optical heart rate sensors help to calculate aerobic and anaerobic power, your heart rate zones (explained in full, as opposed to simply numbered as they are in most watches), while the gyroscope looks at cadence and stride, and the GPS calculates elevation and distance. 

It’s all presented in granular detail, but never feels impenetrable. It isn’t quite as clean and slick as Apple or Samsung’s presentation, but it’s decent. Sleep tracking is present and feeds into recovery metrics, but no advice is given about how you can improve your sleep. As such, those looking for serious guidance or information about their chronotypes might be better off with one of the best Fitbit watches or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. 

Fitness tests can be taken and the results logged, and perhaps my favorite feature is “running fitness” – a catch-all widget that offers a granular score based on the performance of your most recent runs. It’s a bit like Garmin’s Endurance and Readiness scores all rolled into one, and the drive to push it up (it started me at 0! The cheek!) has kept me on the roads this week. 

However, as someone who doesn’t own a lot of music and mostly relies on Spotify these days, I was disappointed about the lack of music control features. Music storage is available, but if you want to toggle stuff on your phone from your watch, you’re out of luck. No loading your card onto your watch to make payments, either. If you want to do anything other than simply run, you’ll need your phone with you. Call and text notifications are available, but no third-party app widgets or interfaces (other than Strava, and so on) also means no Whatsapp. Like the Polar Pacer Pro, it feels very much like a training tool. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Coros Pace 3: Performance

Coros Pace 3 on wrist

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)
  • Super impressive battery life
  • Great performance on the road
  • Touchscreen a little laggy

I tested the Coros Pace 3 on several runs on holiday and at home, and was impressed with the quality, accuracy and breadth of the metrics collected. I was able to create a course in-app and follow it on the watch with little difficulty, although it’s in breadcrumb format rather than full-color maps such as those offered by the top Garmin devices. I was very pleased with the graphs of cadence and stride length, and the Pace 3 even produces on-wrist running power – a feature even the best Garmin watches have struggled with until relatively recently. 

Each metric provides not only a graph, but a breakdown of the reasons it matters to your running performance and how it’s measured. This might not sound like a big addition, but it’s massively important: it makes the watch and the information it collects so much less impenetrable and far more accessible. GPS maps of your routes are present, although I’d like a Garmin-style heat signature map of your effort at certain points along the way. I also tried some of the other workout profiles, such as pool swims, and was impressed: I attained information about water temperature and stroke counts, which are essential metrics for triathletes. 

I was also blown away by the battery life. After casual use of GPS mode over 10 days or so after its initial full charge, my watch is sitting pretty at 40%. It looks like those claims of a full 24 days in Smartwatch mode, and up to 38 hours in GPS mode, are pretty accurate after all. Expect the watch to last around 18-20 days or so with moderate use, and probably two weeks for power users. This isn’t to be sneezed at for any watch, but at this price point it’s a revelation. Coros has been hard at work to extend the Pace 3’s battery life, and it shows, even with an always-on display. 

However, one thing that did prove a little frustrating is the touchscreen. An LCD touchscreen was never going to match the silky refresh rate of an OLED Apple Watch, but I still ended up turning it off, using the buttons and rotating crown to move through the watch’s internal architecture with little difficulty.

I ended my test a little irritated at the lack of the watch’s smart features, but pleased overall with its performance on the road. 

  • Performance score: 4/5

Coros Pace 3: Scorecard

Coros Pace 3: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Garmin Vivosmart 5 review
2:39 pm | April 27, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

January 2024

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 was reviewed in October 2022, and the Vivosmart range hasn't been updated since then. However, it's still the cheapest tracker in Garmin's stable, and band-based fitness trackers haven't moved forward all that much as a category since its release. For our money, it's still a good buy for budding runners, cyclists, and generally active people especially as it can be found quite cheaply now. It provides access to the very sophisticated Garmin Connect app, which can help you comprehensively plan your training and recovery for specific events. 

The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Two-minute review

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a lightweight fitness tracker that takes the fight directly to Fitbit – and fares well. It's certainly not as attractive as devices like the Fitbit Charge 5 and Fitbit Luxe thanks to its rather utilitarian design and monochrome screen, but it's practical and puts a huge amount of data right at your fingertips.

Key specs

Size: 19.5 x 10.7 x 217mm (small), 19.5 x 10.7 x 255mm (large)
Weight with strap: 24.5g (small), 26.5g (large)
Display type: grayscale OLED
Sports modes: 14 total, 10 available on watch at a time
Operating system: Garmin Watch OS

The most obvious upgrade from the Vivosmart 4 is the larger, higher resolution screen. Garmin makes good use of all that extra space to cram in an impressive array of data – including graphs and charts to show trends, which is something you don't get on many fitness trackers this size. Despite the lack of color to differentiate different pieces of data, it's all clear and easy to interpret at a glance.

Unlike the Fitbit Charge 5, the Vivosmart 5 lacks on-board GPS, meaning it's dependent on a Bluetooth connection to your phone for monitoring your route and pace during outdoor activities. It can also use its on-board accelerometer to estimate distance and pace, but it's only a rough guide and shouldn't be relied upon if you're training for an event.

While some of Fitbit's best features (including advanced sleep and stress insights) are only available if you have a Fitbit Premium subscription, all of Garmin's data and stats are yours to browse free of charge in the excellent Garmin Connect app. You'll also find a selection of guided workouts to follow, plus adaptive training plans for cycling and running. You won't get the vast library of videos that you do with Fitbit's premium service, but Garmin doesn't lock anything behind a paywall.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 watch with black band

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 looks very similar to the Vivosmart 4 at first glance, but there are several notable differences, including a new interchangeable band (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 isn't quite as beginner-friendly as an entry-level Fitbit, putting statistics front and center, but if you're a bit of a data nerd then that approach will definitely appeal.

The Vivosmart 5 could also be a smart choice if you already own a full-fat Garmin sports watch but find it cumbersome for everyday wear in between training sessions. The Garmin Connect app supports multiple devices, and all your data is pooled together, regardless of which watch you were wearing.

Price and release date

  • Released April 2022
  • Cost $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$229 at launch

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 was released on 20 April, 2022 – four years after the Vivosmart 4 – with a recommended retail price of $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$229.

That's a standard price for a higher-end fitness tracker, but if you're starting to get serious about running and are looking for a watch with GPS that'll give you guidance on your training, you can currently pick up the excellent Garmin Forerunner 55 for only a little more. 

Woman's wrist wearing Garmin Vivosmart 5

The Vivosmart 5 is controlled using a physical button and a touchscreen (Image credit: Future)

Battery life

  • Seven days in smartwatch mode
  • Four days with all sensors and sleep tracking enabled

The Vivosmart 5 offers the same battery life as the Vivosmart 4. Garmin quotes a maximum runtime of seven days in smartwatch mode, but enabling SpO2 monitoring will cut that significantly. In our tests, the watch lasted four days and nights with 24-hour SpO2 monitoring enabled, and tracking one workout per day. We were able to recharge the battery from flat in a little over two hours. 

Garmin Vivosmart 5 connected to charging cable

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 uses the same proprietary charging cable as all the company's recent watches (Image credit: Future)

Design and display

  • Larger display than Vivosmart 4
  • Available in two sizes
  • New physical button on face

First of all, it's worth noting that the Garmin Vivosmart 5 comes in two sizes: small/medium (for wrists with a circumference between 122mm and 188mm), and large (for wrists with a circumference between 148mm and 228mm).

At first glance, both versions look very similar to the Vivosmart 4. The tracker itself has a slim build, and sits in a soft silicone band/case. This time around though, the band is replaceable; just bend the band back a little to pop the tracking unit out, then push it into the new strap – no tools necessary.

The Vivomove 5 lacks the aluminum bezel of its predecessor – a decision that makes it look a little less stylish, but almost certainly helped Garmin's designers save a few precious grams. The small/medium version we tested is just 24.5g including its band, while the large model is 26.5g, making it seriously lightweight.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 side profile

Garmin has replaced the capacitive button of the Vivosmart 4 with a physical button that's easier to operate while wearing gloves (Image credit: Future)

Garmin has also swapped the capacitive button at the bottom of the watch's face for a physical one. This might seem like a strange choice as it interrupts the device's sleek lines, but it's a decision we welcome because it makes the Vivosmart 5 much easier to operate when you're wearing gloves, or have wet hands (the device is water resistant for swimming, though not for diving or fast watersports).

On the reverse, you'll find the optical heart rate and SpO2 sensors, plus the charging socket. The Vivosmart 5 uses the same proprietary charging cable as all other Garmin devices used in recent years, and it plugs in securely.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the Vivosmart 5 and its predecessor is its new, larger OLED screen. The Vivosmart 5 has a higher resolution display than its predecessor, but it's still monochrome rather than color. This makes it less striking than the Fitbit Luxe, but Garmin's designers have used the limited space and palette in a smart way, conveying an impressive amount of of data on each screen. Rather than being cut off (as was sometimes the case with the Vivosmart 4), longer snippets of text scroll, and you can see at least three stats on screen at any one time.

Closeup of Garmin Vivosmart 5 display

The Vivosmart 5 has a significantly larger display than its predecessor, though it's still monochrome rather than color (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 also has an ambient light sensor, which adjusts the brightness of the screen dynamically to suit the current conditions. We found it worked well, but it's also possible to pick a brightness level manually, adjust the timeout period before the screen goes to sleep, or even choose always-on mode (though all of these will have an impact on battery life).

Everyday health tracking

  • Excellent sleep tracking
  • SpO2 monitoring drains battery rapidly
  • All-day stress monitoring works well

The Vivosmart 5 monitors sleep automatically, and in our tests it accurately detected when we fell asleep and woke – and its sleep stage tracking largely aligned with that recorded by our Withings Sleep Analyzer. Each morning you'll be presented with a mini report, including a sleep score (based on your sleep duration and time spent in each stage), a tiny weather forecast for the day ahead, and a quick overview of your upcoming calendar eventes. You can explore your sleep data in more detail using the Garmin Connect app. 

The only downside is that Garmin's sleep tracking doesn't account for naps, and if you grab 40 winks in the evening, it can throw out your nightly data. Naps are something Amazfit devices track well, and we've got our fingers crossed that Garmin will update its sleep and recovery algorithms to accommodate them soon.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 tracks sleep automatically, measuring heart rate, movement, respiration, and stress (Image credit: Future)

You can also choose to enable SpO2 monitoring overnight, or 24 hours a day, but as mentioned earlier, this has a huge impact on battery life. Unless you're particularly concerned about oxygen saturation (if you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea, or are training at altitude for example), leaving it off may be a sensible compromise.

Garmin combines data from your sleep and daily activities to generate a Body Battery score. Much like Fitbit's readiness score, this is an estimate of how much energy you have to tackle tasks throughout the day, but unlike Fitbit's metric, Garmin devices like the Vivosmart 5 allow you to see changes in real time and adapt your plans on the fly. If you were planning a tough training session but your body battery is running low, it might be wise to take it easier with a more gentle recovery session.

It's a useful tool, and your current Body Battery score is only a tap away on the Vivosmart 5. There's also a handy line graph showing how your score has changed over the last four hours, and a note to inform you whether your Body Battery is 'charging' or 'draining'. It's a lot of data to cram into such a small space, and reduces the need to open the app on your phone for more data.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 menu

The Vivosmart 5 displays your current Body Battery score, and tapping this will allow you to see a chart of your energy level over the last four hours (Image credit: Future)

All-day stress monitoring is another helpful feature. Unlike the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5, which measure stress by checking for changes in the electrical conductivity of your stress, the Vivosmart 5 uses an algorithm called Firstbeat Analytics that's based on heart rate variability.

It can't always determine the difference between physical and emotional stress, but is suspended during tracked workouts, so should give you a good general idea of your mental state. If you are starting to feel the tension, the Vivosmart 5 (like all recent Garmin watches) can lead you through a very basic but effective square breathing exercise to lower your heart rate.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Vivosmart 5 will track your energy level throughout the day, with live updates on the watch itself, and measure stress via heartrate variability (Image credit: Future)

Workout tracking

  • Can store 10 workout tracking modes
  • No on-board GPS
  • Responsive heart rate monitor

First, it's important to note that (like last year's Garmin Lily) the Garmin Vivosmart 5 doesn't have an on-board GPS module. Instead, it uses your phone's GPS chip to track your pace and route during outdoor activities, so if you choose to run or cycle without your handset, you'll only see basic workout stats at the end.

There's a huge range of different sports profiles to choose from, but the little Vivosmart 5 can only store 10 at a time, so you'll need to take a moment to set up your preferred activities in the Garmin Connect app before hitting the pavement, the pool, or the gym. Once that's done, just press the button on the tracker's face, select Activities, and you're ready to get started.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Vivosmart 5 doesn't have the same heart rate monitor as Garmin's recent sports watches, but it's responsive nonetheless, and its readings largely align with those recorded by the company's pricier wearables (Image credit: Future)

Automatic activity tracking also works well, and you can choose how long the Vivosmart 5 should wait before beginning to record.

However, bear in mind that the device won't connect to your phone's GPS unless you begin monitoring your workout manually. You'll still get distance measured using the device's accelerometer, but it won't be as accurate. In a measured 5km run, it was 150m short, and pace was quite dramatically off during an interval training session.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 doesn't have on-board GPS, so if your phone isn't within Bluetooth range it can only estimate your pace and distance using its accelerometer (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 doesn't use the same heart rate monitor as recent watches like the Fenix 7 and Forerunner 55, but nevertheless it proved accurate and responsive in our interval training tests. You can also choose to broadcast your heart rate to a paired device via ANT+ compatible devices like treadmills (look for the ANT+ logo on your machine or check its manual to find out if yours will play along).

Once your workout is over, data is shared with the Garmin Connect app almost immediately provided your phone is within Bluetooth range. The watch can store data from seven timed activities, so don't worry if you can't sync it straight away.

Other tools

  • No on-board music storage
  • App and call notifications

The Vivosmart 5 has no on-board music storage, but that's to be expected for a device this small. You can, however, use it as a remote control for your phone's media player, meaning you don't have to dig your handset out of a pocket or armband mid-run when you want to switch tracks.

You can't use it to take calls either (you'll need the Garmin Venu 2 Plus for that). You will, however, be alerted to incoming calls and texts via customizable vibration on your wrist, and you can see small snippets of SMS, email, and app notifications by tapping them when they appear on the Vivosmart 5's display.

Another handy feature is the ability to find your phone using the Vivosmart 5 or vice versa – even if your phone is on silent. It's very loud, and very effective if you're disorganized.

Companion app

  • Data syncs almost instantly
  • Well organized and easy to understand
  • Nothing behind a paywall

Like all Garmin fitness trackers and sports watches, the Vivosmart 5 syncs data with Garmin Connect. The app supports multiple devices, so if you own a chunky GPS watch and are thinking of picking up a Vivosmart to wear in between workouts, you'll have no trouble doing so – all your health and workout data will be collected together, regardless of which device was used to record it.

Garmin Connect is one of the best apps of its type, presenting a huge amount of data in a way that's clear and easy to understand. The app's homescreen is a dashboard containing stats for the current day such as heart rate, stress level, Body Battery (Garmin's name for your energy level), menstrual cycle, and recent workouts. You can add, remove, and rearrange these at will.

Tap any stat or dive into the app's menu, and you can drill down through increasingly detailed data on your health, fitness, and training.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

There's no need to pay a subscription fee to see historic data in the Garmin Connect app (Image credit: Future)

Everything in Garmin Connect is free, but if you're thinking of trading in your Fitbit, you should be aware that there are far fewer instructor-led workouts on offer here. If you're a runner or a cyclist then you'll appreciate the adaptive training plans that are designed to help you hit a particular goal (like completing a sportive or setting a new half marathon personal best), but you don't get the huge catalog of video tutorials you do with Fitbit Premium membership.

Which fitness tracker suits you best will depend on the type of experience you're looking for. If you're already happily settled into a workout routine, then the data-rich Vivosmart 5 may be the device for you, but if you want inspiration and more of a community experience then it's worth considering whether Fitbit membership will fit into your monthly budget.

Also consider

Buy it if

Don't buy it if