Garmin Forerunner 45 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Forerunner 45 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is a simple and affordable GPS running watch that still offers plenty of features given the price tag.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a very well-rounded GPS Sports Watch packed with features, sports modes and fitness functions. 

In this post, we will be highlighting the key similarities and the key differences between these two wearables. Let’s get stuck in. 

What are the main differences between the Forerunner 45 and the Vivoactive 4?

  1. Sports Modes – The Forerunner 45 has 10 sports modes in total. The Vivactive has double that amount with 20 sports modes in total. 
  2. Pool Swimming – Sadly the FR45 can’t measure pool swims. However, the Vivoactive 4 can. 
  3. Golf Mode – Only the Vivoactive 4 has a dedicated golf mode built into the watch. 
  4. Barometric Altimeter – The Vivoactive 4 has a barometric altimeter. This means  it can measure vertical movements more accurately when running, cycling or hiking. 
  5. Touchscreen – The Vivoactive 4 has a touchscreen, whereas the Forerunner 45 relies on buttons to operate the watch. A lot of runners and cyclists tend to prefer a button only setup when exercising. 
  6. Music Storage & Apps – The Vivoactive 4 can store up to 500 songs directly on the watch, and you can use apps like Spotify and Deezer to play your music. 
  7. Payments directly from the Watch – With Garmin pay, the Vivoactive 4 allows you to make payments from the watch. This can be convenient if you just want to leave the wallet at home during a run or cycle. 

Forerunner 45 vs Vivoactive 4 - Key Similarities

Forerunner 45

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Vivoactive 4

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Wrist HRM

24/7 Activity Tracking

Color Screen

Sleep Monitoring

Stress Tracking

Menstrual Tracking

Indoor + Outdoor Running

Indoor + Outdoor Cycling

Garmin Coach Training Plans

Control Smartphone Music

V02 Max Estimates

Smartphone Notifications

Safety Alerts

Smartwatch Battery

7 Days

7 Days

3rd Party Running Power

Stryd + RunScribe

Stryd + RunScribe

Advanced Running Dynamics

Garmin Running Power

Triathlon Mode

Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Vivoactive 4

FR45 vs Vivoactive 4 - Key Differences

Forerunner 45

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Vivoactive 4

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Screen Size

1.04" (26.3 mm) diameter

1.3" (33.0 mm) diameter

Screen Resolution

208 x 208 pixels

260 x 260 pixels

Physical Size

42 x 42 x 11.4 mm

45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm


36 g

50.5 g


Music Storage & Apps

Payments from Watch

Golf Tracking

Guided On Screen Workouts

Barometric Altimeter

Pool Swimming

GPS Battery Life

13 Hours

18 Hours

GPS + Music Battery


6 Hours

Total Sports Modes



Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Comparison of Sports Modes

Forerunner 45 - Sports Modes Vivoactive 4 - Sports Modes
01) Running 01) Running
02) Cardio Training 02) Cardio Training
03) Elliptical Training 03) Elliptical Training
04) Stair Stepping 04) Stair Stepping
05) Cycling 05) Indoor Rowing
06) Yoga (added in app) 06) Yoga
07) Indoor Cycling (added in app) 07) Strength Training
08) Treadmill Running 08) Treadmill Running
09) Indoor Track Running (added in app) 09) Indoor Track Running
10) Walking 10) Trail Running
11) Cycling
12) Indoor Cycling
13) Pool Swimming
14) Skiiing
15) Snowboarding
16) XC Skiing
17) Stand Up Paddleboarding
18) Rowing
19) Walking
20) Golf

Main Reason To Choose The Forerunner 45


1. The FR45 is considerably cheaper

The recommended retail selling price (RSP) of the Forerunner 45 is about 40% less than the RSP of the Garmin Vivoactive 4. For many people, this could easily be a dealbreaker. 

Even though the Vivoactive 4 is definitely the better watch overall, you might not need all the extra features and functions that come with it. 

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a budget friendly running watch, the Forerunner 45 is a very attractive choice. 

2. You just want a simple watch to help you track runs and cycles

First and foremost, the Forerunner 45 is an entry level GPS running watch. If you’re a 5km, 10km, half marathon or marathon specialist, the Forerunner 45 could serve you very well.

The same can be said for cyclists that just want a good quality GPS watch with a reasonable price tag. 

3. You prefer sports watches that don't have touchscreens

There are plenty of runners out there who aren’t particularly big fans of touchscreens. This is mainly because touchscreens can be a bit clumsy if you are sweating profusely and need your fingertips are a wet.

To be fair, most people are unlikely to encounter issues with the touchscreen of the Vivoactive 4, but if you do fall into the ‘button only’ camp, the Forerunner 45 should be right up your alley. 

Main Reason To Choose The Vivoactive 4


It has double the amount of sports modes

We’ve already clarified this with the sports mode comparison table a bit further up the article. Nevertheless, it’s worth re-emphasizing that the Vivoactive 4 gives you access to the following extra sports modes, that aren’t available on the Forerunner 45: 

  1. Pool Swimming
  2. Golf 
  3. Indoor Rowing
  4. Skiing
  5. Snowboarding
  6. Cross Country Skiing
  7. Stand Up Paddleboarding
  8. Trail Running
  9. Strength Training
  10. Outdoor Rowing

You could justify the extra cost of the Vivoactive 4 purely on the strength of these additional activity modes. 

Music Storage & Music Apps

This one is pretty simple. The Vivoactive 4 can store up to 500 songs directly on the watch. In addition, you can also use the following popular streaming apps to play music on the Vivoactive:

  • Spotify
  • Deezer
  • Amazon Music
  • iHeart Radio

It's like having a dedicated golf watch, that doubles as an activity tracker

The golfing features in the Vivoactive 4 are legitimately impressive. You basically get all the main technology from Garmin’s more expensive golf watches, namely: 

  • Yardage to the front, middle and back of the green
  • Yardage to hazards, bunkers and layup areas
  • Automatic shot distance tracking
  • Detailed greenview, with the ability to manually place the pin position
  • Digital scorecard

If you workout in the pool, the Vivoactive 4 is definitely the better choice

This one is a no brainer. The Vivovacitve 4 supports pool swimming. The Forerunner 45 does not. If you enjoy doing laps in the pool, it’s pretty clear that the Vivoactive 4 is the better choice. 

The Guided Workouts feature is a big drawcard for fitness enthusiasts

Garmin’s guided workouts are a bit like having a personal trainer that can demonstrate all the key moves and guide you through a workout, except you don’t have to make idle chat or pay them for the session. 

Long story short, the Vivoactive 4 can literally guide you through the built-in workouts, with visual displays of each key move. Better yet, if you do grow tired with the workouts, you have the ability to download new routines through Garmin connect. 

It feels and operates more like a smartwatch with the touchscreen

If you’re comfortable operating touchscreen devices, it should be pretty seamless for you to transition to the Vivoactive 4. It’s basically the same as operating a modern day mobile phone. 

Payments from the watch

As mentioned earlier in the article, the Vivoactive 4 supports Garmin Pay. This means you can leave your wallet at home when running, cycling or visiting the gym. If you do need to buy something during your session, the Vivoactive 4 will have you covered. 

Just keep in mind that the spend limit on Garmin pay is currently set at $30 in the US. So don’t go ordering sushi thinking that you’ll be able to cover the bill with Garmin pay. You won’t, and that could be awkward. 

The Vivoactive 4 Has Better Garmin Connect Support

With the Forerunner 45, you only have the option to download custom watch faces. With the Vivoactive 4 you get full support for Garmin connect, meaning you can: 

  • Download custom apps
  • Download custom widgets
  • Download custom watch faces

Garmin Forerunner 45

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Final Thoughts

We’ve listed pretty much all the main features of each watch. If you’re still on the fence at this point, these buying tips might help. 

Go for the Forerunner 45 if: 

  • You’re on a tight budget
  • You focus primarily on running
  • You don’t play golf
  • You don’t do any pool training
  • Your prefer watches that rely on buttons rather than a touchscreen

Go for the Vivoactive 4 if: 

  • You want the more well rounded sports watch and activity tracker
  • You’re more than happy to use a touchscreen
  • You play golf
  • You enjoy training in the pool
  • You want access to more smart features through Garmin connect
  • You want the better watch overall

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