Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Vivoactive 4: 19 Similarities and Differences

What are the main differences between Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Vivoactive 4? Both watches made it on our top 5 best Garmin sports watches, so both watches are excellent. But it’s fair to say they’re not equal in terms of audience and fitness features.

This post presents the similarities and differences of the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Garmin Vivoactive 4. There’s also a good in-between watch – the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music – worth considering, so we’ve included a subsection about that watch.

Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Vivoactive 4

Similarities Between Garmin Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4

  • Both are fitness smartwatches
  • Both have offline music storage and Spotify access
  • Both Garmin watches have Pulse Ox monitoring
  • Both Garmin watches have Body Battery
  • Both can be connected to Bluetooth headphones
  • Garmin Pay is on both Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4
  • Forerunner 945 tracks your respiration rate and so does Vivoactive 4
  • Both watches have Garmin sleep monitoring
  • Garmin watches are compatible with both iOS and Android

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Fitness and Smart Features

Both the Forerunner 945 and the Vivoactive 4 combine everyday smart features and sports features.  In terms of smartwatch features, you can count on both watches for smart notifications, calendar, weather and connection with Garmin IQ (from which you can download a lot more apps). Both have a “Find my Phone” and a “Find my Watch” feature. Both watches are excellent sports watches too and the average person will not be bothered by the differences. However, given Forerunner has more sports features, I expect elite athletes and those that take their workouts very seriously will have a strong preference for the Forerunner 945. See our section on Differences to learn about the additional features the Forerunner 945 offers.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Offline Music Storage and Spotify

The Forerunner 945 can store up to 1,000 songs – more than enough to keep you distracted for the full duration of a marathon. The Vivoactive 4 can store up to about half that, or 500 songs. You can transfer your iTunes music onto the watch, by connecting your watch to your laptop. Alternatively, you can download the Spotify or Deezer app on the watch and download songs, playlists or podcasts onto the watch itself. It’s relatively easy to do. Just make sure you do it well in advance of your workout, as it can take a few minutes to set up and download. You’ll need access to wifi to do this.

You can install Spotify on Forerunner 945

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Pulso Ox Monitoring

Both watches are equipped with pulse oximetry sensors and calculators. Pulse Ox uses sensors at the back of the watch to scan your wrist and determine your SpO2%, which is a measure of oxygen levels and saturation in your blood. This is useful for altitude hikers and athletes, but also for the general population as it can help detect sleep apnea, a dangerous condition when undiagnosed and/or untreated.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Body Battery

Body battery gives an indication of your energy reserves, and is therefore a proxy for recovery. Both the Forerunner 945 and the Vivoactive 4 have it. Your body battery score is measured using several metrics collected by the watch around the clock:  heart rate variability, sleep data, stress, activity data, etc.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Bluetooth Headphones

Both watches are compatible. This is not a surprising similarity between the Forerunner 945 and the Vivoactive 4, as it’s become a basic feature of contemporary fitness trackers.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Garmin Pay

Both Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4 have Garmin Pay. The purpose of Garmin Pay is the same as Apple’s ‘Apple Pay’ feature. It’s a contactless payment option. Very useful in this case, given that both watches have an in-built GPS and music storage, which means users won’t necessarily feel the need to bring their phone with them on a run. With Garmin Pay you can also leave your wallet, cash or credit card home.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Respiration Rate

This is an interesting feature for those that enjoy having more stats about their health and fitness level. Both Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 945 will track and inform you of your respiration rate, so you can compare your own trend over time, while exercising and relative to an average.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Sleep Monitoring

Some say Garmin is behind other brands in terms of sleep tracking, but nevertheless, both the Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4 have advanced sleep-tracking features. Both watches will track your total hours of sleep, how much you move while sleeping and sleep levels. You’ll get an estimate of how much time you’ve spent in different sleep cycles like REM, light and deep sleep.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: OS Compatibility

Both the Forerunner 945 watch and the Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch are compatible with iOS and Android phones. This means you can pair them with an iPhone or Galaxy phone.

Differences between Garmin Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4

  • Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 945 are not equally scratch-resistant
  • Forerunner 945 has better battery life than Vivoactive 4
  • Vivoactive 4 doesn’t have topographic maps
  • Forerunner 945 doesn’t have a touchscreen
  • Garmin Forerunner is better for Triathlons, Pool and Open Water Swims
  • Runner Dynamics is available on Forerunner 945
  • They have very different styles
  • Forerunner 945 is more expensive than Vivoactive 4
  • Vivoactive has animated workouts
  • Forerunner has more sports modes

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Robustness

The Forerunner 945 is made of Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX, which is expected to be more scratch-resistant and less reflective than the Vivoactive 4’s Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3. The bezel of the Forerunner 945 is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, while the bezel of the Vivoactive 4 is made of stainless steel.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Battery Life

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has a noticeably better battery life than the Vivoactive 4:

  • Smartwatch mode: Forerunner lasts up to 2 weeks vs. Vivoactive lasts up to 8 days
  • With GPS: Forerunner lasts 36 hours vs. Vivoactive lasts 18 hours
  • With GPS and music: Forerunner 945 lasts 10 hours and Vivoactive 4 lasts 6 hours
Vivoactive 4SVivoactive 4Forerunner 945
Smartwatch mode with activity trackingup to 7 daysup to 8 daysup to 14 days
With GPS onup to 15 hoursup to 18 hoursup to 36 hours
With GPS and musicup to 5 hoursup to 6 hoursup to 10 hours

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Topographic Maps

Both watches have an in-built GPS, and in both cases you can save locations and navigate to locations on the watch. The notable difference between the two is that the Forerunner 945 has better map navigation using TOPO (topographic map). That technology is lacking in the Vivoactive 4, which will show simpler maps and fewer details. If you’re a hiker or trail runner, and you like the idea of being helped back to the start of your trail, you’ll likely prefer the Forerunner.

Forerunner 945 maps
Forerunner 945 has topographic maps; Vivoactive 4 doesn’t.
Forerunner 945 Deals on Amazon

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Touchscreen

The Forerunner 945 is controlled with the use of buttons only, whereas the Vivoactive 4 has a touchscreen and two buttons. The Vivoactive 4 buttons are convenient and give more flexibility in terms of giving a command to your watch (eg. pause my workout).

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Triathlon and Swimming

Both the Forerunner 945 and Vivoactive 4 have a 5ATM water rating, which is equivalent to a 50 meters depth water resistance. This means both watches are sweat and water-resistant, so the shower, the pool and the open water are not an issue for either watch. BUT it’s important to note that the Vivoactive 4 pool swim mode doesn’t have as many features as that of the Forerunner 945 and that Vivoactive 4 doesn’t have an open water mode. In comparison, the Forerunner 945 has an open-water mode with distance, stroke count/rate/distance, calories and SWOLF metrics. Similarly, Forerunner 945 is the preferred option for triathletes.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Running Dynamics

Forerunner 945 offers more features and metrics for the runners out there, through Running Dynamics: vertical oscillation and ratio, ground contact time, balance, stride length, etc. It also offers pacing strategies and can predict your race time based on recent run times. The use of Running Dynamics requires the purchase of compatible accessory, such as:

  • HRM-Pro; or
  • HRM-Run; or
  • HRM-Tri; or
  • Running Dynamics Pod

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Style

Many find the style of the Vivoactive 4 more suitable for everyday wear compared to the Forerunner 945. The Forerunner 945 has the bulk of a sports watch, whereas the Vivoactive 4’s shape and looks are more polished. In terms of physical size, the Forerunner 945 measures 47 X 47 X 13.7mm whereas the Vivoactive 4 measures 45.1 X 45.1 X 12.8mm. The Forerunner will also fit a wider wrists circumference compared to the Vivoactive 4.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Cost

The price gap is so significant that it can’t be ignored, with the Vivoactive 4 retail price being more than half that of the Forerunner 945. There’s no doubt the Forerunner 945 is superior in terms of sports features and battery life, but these extra features come at a premium. If you don’t want a bulky watch and you’re on a budget, you won’t go wrong with the Vivoactive 4. At that price point, it’s a good idea to also consider the Forerunner 245 Music.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Animated Workouts

This is one cool thing the Vivoactive 4 has. You can select a workout or exercises, and your watch will guide you through the movements. For instance you can tell your watch you want to do deadlifts and you’ll see a demo of deadlifts on your screen. The Forerunner 945 doesn’t have this feature.

Forerunner 945 Vs. Vivoactive 4: Sports Modes

In addition to the differences in running, pool swim, ocean swim and triathlon features explained above, the Forerunner 945 has more sports modes. Here’s what you’ll have to compromise on if you get a Vivoactive 4:

  • fewer sports modes:
    • no open water swimming mode
    • no triathlon mode
    • no swim/run mode
    • no kayaking mode
    • no mountain biking mode
    • no hiking mode
    • no climbing mode
  • running and cycling dynamics not as advanced
  • doesn’t pair with Garmin golf and doesn’t come pre-loaded with 42,000 golf courses
  • no ski resorts maps

Summary of Similarities and Differences Forerunner 945 vs. Vivoactive 4

Forerunner 945Vivoactive 4
Smart FeaturesYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Music Storage and SpotifyYesYes
Body BatteryYesYes
Garmin PayYesYes
Respiration RateYesYes
Pairs with AndroidYesYes
Pairs with iPhonesYesYes
ControlButtons OnlyTouchscreen and 2 buttons
Battery LifeWinnerInferior
Build MaterialsWinnerInferior
Open Water SwimYes

Garmin Forerunner 945 Review

Garmin Forerunner 945 Photos

Forerunner 945 Features

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has several amazing features that set it apart from the competition and even from other Garmin watches. It is durable, has a reliable GPS, music storage and is packed with a wide range of sports and health features. It’s long battery life and 5ATM water resistance makes it a great watch for runners, swimmers and triathletes.

Forerunner 945 Specifications

  • 50 meters depth water resistance
  • Buttons command
  • Ultra-durable Corning Gorilla Glass DX lens
  • 14 days of battery life in smartwatch Mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music playing, 36 hours in GPS mode without music playing.
  • 200 hours of activity data memory capacity
  • Advanced sleep monitoring
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Oximeter
  • iPhone and Android operations systems
  • Bluetooth, ANT+, Wifi connectivity
  • Garmin Pay
Forerunner 945: See Today’s Price on Amazon

Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review

Garmin Vivoactive 4 photos

Vivoactive 4 Features

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is an affordable Garmin watch, that comes pre-loaded with lots of sports features. Whilst it lacks some functions of the Forerunner 945, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 has more than enough health and fitness functions and sensors for the average runner and sports-adept.

Vivoactive 4 Specifications

  • 50 meters depth water resistance
  • Touchscreen
  • Gorilla Glass 3 screen protection
  • Battery life of up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and up to 18 and 6 hours when GPS is on and music off vs. on respectively
  • Advanced sleep monitoring
  • GPS with GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Oximeter
  • iPhone and Android operations systems
  • iPhone and Android operations systems
  • Bluetooth, ANT+, Wifi connectivity
  • Garmin Pay

Garmin Watch Cheaper Option: Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Forerunner 245 Music is a good budget GPS running watch.

The Forerunner 245 Music doesn’t look as sophisticated as the Vivoactive 4, and looks cheaper than the Forerunner 945 (after all… it is much cheaper), but it’s a goof light and functional sports watch. It’s a great GPS multisport watch with a lot of sports modes, albeit not as many as Forerunner 945 or Vivoactive 4. It has a 5 ATM water rating, so can be safely used as a swimming watch, an open water swimming watch and a triathlon watch. It’s not as good as Forerunner 945 in the water and for triathlons but it better than the Vivoactive 4. Compared to the Garmin Forerunner 945, the 245 Music is missing features such as respiration rate monitoring, some sleep tracking features and the ability to pair with the Garmin Golf and Garmin Pay apps. This watch version allows for music download and storage over wifi without the need for a phone, and you can store up to 500 songs. The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music battery life is similar to that of the Vivoactive 4 (and therefore inferior to that of the Forerunner 945): up to 7 days on smartwatch mode and up to 24 and 6 hours when the GPS is on and music off and on respectively. It’s a slower watch with less processing power than some counterparts, but for the price point, it gets the job done. Forerunner 245 Music Deals on Amazon

Which is Better, Garmin Forerunner 945 vs Vivoactive 4?

Both are good fitness companions. The Forerunner 945 has more monitoring and tracking features than the Vivoactive 4, but these all come at a premium. The Vivoactive 4 is an excellent sports watch and fitness watch, so the best watch for you will depend on how important the ‘missing features’ are for you and your lifestyle.

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