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review

Garmin vivomove Sport

7
£159.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Good-looking hybrid smartwatch with great health tracking, but better for general wear than serious cycling use
Good looking
Market-leading health tracking analytics
Stealthy classic looks
No GPS
Small display
Poor activity tracking
Weight: 
34g
Contact: 

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The Garmin vivomove Sport is a stylish hybrid smartwatch that's a pleasure to wear and use in general... if not so much use for our particular sport. The minimalist design of the screen and lack of GPS functionality will leave you wanting more for all but the most casual riding.

Garmin offers a very wide range of smart watches, varying from full-scale GPS adventure watches to understated hybrids. This is the latter and looks like a classic analogue watch, whilst boasting the ability to measure key fitness metrics.

The Sport initially appears as if its not a smartwatch at all, with a clever hidden screen on the lower half of the face. A double-tap or wrist raise awakens the screen and the smart features. It has no buttons and a responsive touch screen.

It's currently available in four standard colours (black, cocoa, ivory or cool mint) with matching straps, or you can choose from a variety of straps (silicone, suede, leather, nylon or metal) in a ton of colours. Personally I really liked how this black one looks, and it fitted my small wrist really well.

2022 Garmin vivomove Sport - strap.jpg

The quoted battery life is five days, plus a further day running purely as a normal analogue watch, but I only managed to get four days before recharging at 12%.

Functionality

The vivomove Sport has the ability to track 'wellness data' including steps, sleep, stress and energy levels. It contains a wrist-based heart rate monitor (HRM) and a pulse oximeter, which gives data on blood oxygen levels.

2022 Garmin vivomove Sport - back detail.jpg

It connects to your phone via Bluetooth, unlocking a wide range of metrics from within the Garmin Connect app, which for me is the standout benefit – the Connect app delivers brilliant insight into the data.

Sleep tracking proves accurate in particular, and is as insightful and clear as anything else I've seen. In my opinion, Garmin's Body Battery metric is market leading, and as good as paid subscription services such as Whoop. It proved well aligned with my own perception of fatigue and stress.

2022 Garmin vivomove Sport - front detail.jpg

As you might expect, the Sport is also able to track exercise, but unfortunately it's not so good at this part. It lacks GPS for a start, so to record a ride you need to connect it to a phone. It also can track activities which don't require GPS, such as pool swimming, yoga or general workouts.

On the bike, the small screen makes navigating to start an activity a little tricky, and in-activity data is very limited. For example, you can choose to view heart rate, distance or speed on their own, but not in combination. There is also no ability to perform mid-activity splits, and you're not able to connect to external sensors such as a power meter.

Accuracy

Against my Garmin Edge 530 and a chest-strap HRM, the data collected in-ride compared well. The heart rate tracked consistently, and with no noticeable GPS differences between the Edge and my phone, Strava played back segment times within one second of each other. That is more a reflection of the phone's GPS rather than the watch itself, though.

Other tests of the activity tracking functionality were not so successful. Two separate indoor swimming sessions yielded wildly wrong results, and the calories burned from a few core stability sessions seemed significantly underestimated.

> 29 of the best cycling apps for iPhone and Android

When connected to a phone the watch can display notifications for emails, texts and app messages. Notifications arrive with a haptic wrist tap – a buzz to you and me – but it's only small, and the tiny screen only really then prompts you to look at your phone. Maybe the comparison to non-hybrid smartwatches is unfair, but the connected notifications offered very little benefit here.

Value

The Garmin vivosport Move retails at £159.99, which includes access to the Garmin Connect platform at no cost. This is significantly cheaper than the Whoop Superknit 4.0 band at £180 before you even add on the £30 monthly subscription. The Withings Steel HR hybrid watch is the most comparable option on the market and that's also a little more at £169.95 while offering similar features.

And while the vivomove Sport is significantly cheaper than something like the Wahoo Elemnt at £349.99, it just doesn't come close for activity tracking capabilities.

It would be impossible to review this without mentioning the Apple Watch. The basic Series 7 version retails at £369 and offers many of the same features, a multitude of other functions, and most importantly works as well for tracking cycling as wearing day to day. But then it costs more than twice the Garmin's price.

Overall

The Sport is very clearly aimed those who want to benefit from health tracking data, but maintain the classic look of an analogue watch. At £160, I think it's really good value for this purpose.

However, for activities such as cycling – sports, you might say – it just doesn't offer enough. The small screen means very limited data, and the lack of GPS means it relies on a phone. Really you'll want more if you're looking for a watch to track your riding.

Verdict

Good-looking hybrid smartwatch with great health tracking, but it's less successful tracking activities

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Garmin vivomove Sport

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Garmin says: "This hybrid smartwatch combines the traditional look of an analogue watch with the essential smart features you need to keep up with your busy life."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Sensors

GARMIN ELEVATE WRIST HEART RATE MONITOR

ACCELEROMETER

AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR

PULSE OX BLOOD OXYGEN SATURATION MONITOR

Size 40 x 40 x 11.0 mm

Fits wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm

Weight: 34g

Battery life: 5 days

Compatibility: iPhone & Android

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very robust.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

Performed very well for health tracking, but poorly for activities.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Good value against other health tracking devices.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

This is clearly designed primarily as a watch, with the ability to track health data. For this it's good. The smart notifications and activity tracking are very basic though.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The classic aesthetic, exceptional 'body battery' and sleep tracking, good analytics.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Very small display, no GPS.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At £159.99, including access to the Garmin Connect platform at no cost, it's significantly cheaper than the Whoop Superknit 4.0 band at £180 – even before you add on the £30 monthly subscription. The Withings Hybrid watch is the most comparable option on the market and that's also more at £169.95 while offering similar features.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

I think the vast majority of people would like wearing this watch, as it's smart and gives good data. However, most smartwatch users, and especially cyclists, would be looking for a watch which does better at tracking activities.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 182cm  Weight: 69kg

I usually ride: S-Works Tarmac  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, club rides, Gravel on a CX bike

Nick hails from the west country and combines riding bikes with hitting balls with cricket bats and golf clubs. You'll find him riding a mix of road, cyclocross and XC MTB.

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