Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Google Pixel Watch

Garmin Vivoactive 4 continues to enjoy rock-solid sales as a sturdy and reliable smartwatch. It was released in 2019 and seems to have continued to get steady sales. Meanwhile, Google Pixel Watch was released in October 2022.

We look at Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Google Pixel Watch as two credible smartwatch options at similar pricing levels.

Main differences

The main differences between the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Google Pixel Watch are shared below:

  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 is compatible with iOS and Android devices. Vivoactive 4 can work with Android 7 or higher devices. It can work with iOS 15 or higher devices in the Apple ecosystem. Google Pixel watch can only work with Android 8 or higher devices. Pixel watch is not compatible with iOS or Apple devices.
  • Google Pixel Watch uses an AMOLED display while the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has an MIP or memory-in-pixel screen. You will find the display of the Pixel watch much better than the display of the Garmin Vivoactive 4.
  • Google Pixel Watch offers an ECG app to take electrocardiogram readings. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have an ECG app.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 can work on GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. Google Pixel Watch can do GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou satellite networks for GPS connectivity. You can expect better GPS performance of Pixel Watch in the Chinese region.
  • Pixel watch comes in two variants. Pixel Watch LTE variant allows you to get LTE connectivity directly from the watch. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have any LTE connectivity option.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports wireless connectivity of ANT+, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Google Pixel Watch supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity only. It lacks ANT+ wireless connectivity.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a full-fledged music feature. Google Pixel Watch offers music connectivity through premium subscriptions to streaming apps like YouTube Music and Spotify Music.

We look at these differences in detail below.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 back side

Display specifications

Garmin Vivoactive 4 uses a 3rd generation Corning Gorilla Glass in the display lens.

Google Pixel Watch uses the 5th generation Corning Gorilla Glass in the display lens. Pixel watch, therefore, uses a better display lens than Vivoactive 4.

However, the biggest positive of Pixel Watch’s display is the AMOLED technology. Pixel Watch uses an AMOLED display.

The screen of the Pixel Watch is brighter and offers better display resolution on account of the AMOLED display. Also, the Always-on-display mode is supported on Google Pixel Watch.

We look at other details of the display specifications of both watches below.

Display specificationsGarmin Vivoactive 4Google Pixel Watch
Display lensCorning Gorilla Glass 3Custom Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Display size1.3″ or 33 mm1.2″ or 30 mm
Display typeMIP (Memory in pixel)AMOLED
Display resolution260 x 260 pixels450 x 450 pixels
Color displayYesYes
TouchscreenYesYes
Ambient light sensorNoYes
LED FlashlightNoYes

Pixel watch has much better display performance in terms of display resolution, screen brightness and clarity. The AMOLED display makes a big difference for the Pixel watch.
Garmin Vivoactive 4 also misses an ambient light sensor
and flashlight.

Physical specifications

If you keep the Pixel watch and Garmin Vivoactive 4 next to each other, you will find that the Vivoactive 4 looks more sturdy and robust than the Pixel watch. The steel bezel seems to add a touch of premium appearance to the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch.

Google Pixel watch looks decent in appearance and reflects a contemporary design language with a thin or almost bezel-less design.

Garmin Vivoactive 4, however, does not match the device storage offered by a Pixel Watch. A Pixel Watch has a device or internal storage of 32 GB. Vivoactive 4 has limited storage that can store up to 200 hours of activity data.

We look at the main hardware specifications of both watches below.

Physical specificationsGarmin Vivoactive 4Google Pixel watch
Watch size45 mm41 mm
Watch dimensions45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm41 x 41 x 12.3 mm
Thickness12.8 mm12.3 mm
Watch weight50.5 g36 g
BezelStainless steelRingke bezel in steel
Watch bodyFiber-enforced polymer80% recycled stainless steel
Band size22 mmSmall and Large bands
Band materialSiliconeFlouroelastomer, Polyester, Spandex yarn, Leather band
Water rating5 ATM or 50 Meters5 ATM or 50 Meters
Device storageUp to 200 hours of activity data32 GB
NFC PaymentsGarmin PayGoogle Wallet and GPay
GPSGPS, GLONASS, GALILEOGPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou
iOS compatibleYes, iOS 15 or higherNo
Android compatibleYes, Android 7 or higherYes, Android 8 or higher
In-built SpeakerNoYes
In-built microphoneNoYes
Operating systemGarmin OSWear OS 3.5

Google Pixel Watch has higher device storage, an in-built speaker and microphone and native support for BeiDou GPS network. These features are missing in the Garmin Vivoactive 4.

ECG app

One of the most significant advantages of the Google Pixel Watch is the availability of the ECG app on the watch. ECG feature is provided through the Fitbit ECG app.

You will need to download the Fitbit ECG app from the Google Play Store. The Fitbit ECG app can take on the spot electrocardiogram readings or ECG readings.

ECG or electrocardiograms measure heart rhythm and can help detect conditions of Afib or Atrial Fibrillation. A medical practitioner can see the ECG readings and analyze them to find out any irregular heart rhythm conditions.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not support the Garmin ECG app or any kind of ECG functionality.

Google Pixel Watch in white band

GPS

Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers very reliable and accurate GPS connectivity. Like other Garmin smartwatches, Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports GPS networks comprising GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS.

Google Pixel Watch supports GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, and BeiDou satellite networks.

BeiDou is the GPS satellite network controlled by China. It brings in added and improved GPS connectivity and accuracy for people in China.

If you are in the Chinese region, you may experience better GPS performance with a Google Pixel watch.

For the rest of the world, there should be no performance issues on Garmin Vivoactive 4. The 3 satellite networks of GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo are sufficient to offer reliable GPS connectivity.

Music

Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers full music coverage. It offers the following music features:

  • You can store audio content on the smartwatch
  • You can use the Vivoactive 4 to directly manage the audio content stored on the watch.
  • You can control music on the paired smartphone directly from the Vivoactive 4 interface.
  • Additionally, you can use Connect IQ to download music streaming apps like Spotify. You can then stream music through the premium subscription of the music stream app. Wi-FI connectivity of the watch is used to play music from the streaming apps.

Vivoactive 4 supports streaming apps and direct offline storage of music on the watch for offline listening.

Google Pixel watch also offers a music feature. However, the feature on Google Pixel Watch uses music streaming apps like YouTube Premium or Spotify Premium to offer music stream and offline music listening on the watch.

Wireless connectivity

Garmin Vivoactive 4 supports ANT+, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. ANT+ wireless connectivity helps in relaying data from the smartwatch to an ANT+ receiving device.

For example, you may be able to stream or share real-time Heart Rate data from your Vivoactive 4 smartwatch to an ANT+ receiver.

ANT+ is very useful for advanced tracking and performance benchmarking for fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

Google Pixel Watch only supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It misses the ANT+ feature.

Battery

Google Pixel Watch has a battery backup of 24 hours. When you use GPS connectivity, the battery will drain faster and run out in less than 24 hours. Every day, you will need to charge the Pixel Watch.

However, the Pixel watch does support fast charging. You can top up 50 percent battery in about 30 minutes. And, you can go from an empty battery to 80 percent charge on the battery in around 1 hour.

Vivoactive 4 offers a battery life of up to 8 days in the smartwatch mode. We look at the battery backup offered by Garmin Vivoactive 4 in different watch modes below.

Watch modeGarmin Vivoactive 4 backup
Smartwatch modeUp to 8 days
GPS mode without musicUp to 18 hours
GPS mode with musicUp to 6 hours

With a Google Pixel Watch, battery charging has to be a daily ritual. You will need to set aside an hour to charge the Pixel Watch daily. Garmin Vivoactive 4 does not have any such qualms. It can easily last for 4-5 days with smartwatch usage.

Costs

Garmin Vivoactive 4 comes in two sizes. It has a 41 mm and a 45 mm variant. Both watches are priced at $349.99.

Google Pixel Watch has two variants. Google Pixel Watch Bluetooth + GPS costs $349.99. Google Pixel Watch LTE variant costs $399.99.

Final verdict

There are things that work in favor of Garmin Vivoactive 4. Some factors that may help you decide in favor of Vivoactive 4 over the Google Pixel Watch are:

  • Support for iOS and Android smartphones.
  • Reliable GPS connectivity
  • Longer battery life

However, Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a dated model that was released in 2019. So, in a way, you will be buying a pretty old smartwatch variant from Garmin if you were to choose the Vivoactive 4.

The things that go in favor of the Google Pixel Watch are:

  • AMOLED display
  • Much better display resolution
  • ECG app on the watch to take electrocardiogram readings
  • Ambient light sensor and Flashlight
  • BeiDou GPS connectivity

Suggested smartwatch comparisons:

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