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Venu 2 review: can Garmin be a good smartwatch? | Smart Watches

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Garmin’s latest device aims to beat the Apple Watch and its rivals at their own game, offering longer battery life and better fitness tracking on a more traditional touchscreen smartwatch body.

The Venu 2 comes in 40mm or 45mm models, costs from £ 349.99 ($ ​​399.99 / A $ 629), and is compatible with Android and iPhones that connect via Bluetooth.

Unlike most other Garmin watches, which are LCD-based and non-touch, the Venu 2 has a sleek OLED touchscreen that compares well to the smartwatch competition.

The screen has three brightness settings, as well as an automatic adjustment. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The 45mm size with a 1.3-inch screen we tested is bright and sharp and can be easily read in most lights, although in direct sunlight it’s a bit harder to read than Forerunner or Fenix ​​watches. from Garmin.

There’s a fairly large bezel around the display, but the rest of the watch’s polymer-stainless steel body is thin, light, and comfortable to wear. Obviously, it is a sports watch, but attractive and not garish.

garmin venu 2 review
The watch has a stainless steel bezel; Fits under shirt cuffs with its high quality standard silicone watch strap. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian


  • Screen: 1.1 or 1.3 in AMOLED

  • Box size: 40 or 45 mm

  • Case thickness: 12.1 or 12.2 mm

  • Band size: 18 or 22mm standard

  • Weight: 38.2 or 49 g

  • Storage: 2,000 songs or about 7GB

  • Waterproof: 50 meters (5ATM)

  • Sensors: GPS / Glonass / Galileo, Compass, Gyroscope, Thermometer, Altimeter, Heart Rate, Pulse Ox

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT +, wifi


garmin venu 2 review
Swipe up or down to see widgets showing steps, heart rate, stress, sleep, calendar, smartphone notifications, music controls, and many more. Touch to see more or access controls. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Venu 2 has a touch screen and two buttons. The top button opens sports tracking from the watch face and then acts as a stop / start button for activities and apps. Holding down the top button opens the quick settings. At the bottom is the back button, which you can also press and hold to access a full settings menu.

Swiping right on the watch face brings up a quick access to an app of your choice, which I set as timers, but it could be alarms, music controls, Garmin Pay, or others. Swiping from the left edge of the screen takes you back to the previous page.

garmin venu 2 review
Notifications from your smartphone show up as simple text alerts with some emojis, but no images. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Everything is very logical and fast to navigate. The interface is much smoother and more fluid than that of other Garmin watches, although it does not have the same level of polish as an Apple Watch.

The Venu 2 is the first Garmin watch with a new and more powerful chip that is compatible with the Connect IQ 4.0 platform. In theory, the platform will allow more complex and powerful applications, but at the moment third-party applications are mainly watch faces and music services, including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer, which are downloaded through Connect IQ app. The watch has Garmin Pay for contactless payments, but few UK banks support it.

The watch lacks a microphone, so you can’t make calls on your wrist or access a voice assistant, but at least there are timers, alarms, the weather forecast, your calendar, and other simple things.

Sports monitoring

garmin venu 2 review
After the race, you get the same navigation roadmap and stats that are offered on the Forerunner 745 and others. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Venu 2 has most of the great activity, sport and health tracking features of Garmin’s high-end Forerunner running watches.

These include a host of activities such as indoor and outdoor walking, running and biking, swimming, climbing, various strength and fitness workouts with on-screen guides, golf, skiing, and many others, plus access to training plans. training with Garmin Trainer. Running has the same great precision and monitoring options as the Forerunner 745, making it far more comprehensive than most smartwatch competitors.

Garmin will calculate your VO2 max, which is a cardiovascular fitness measureand your “fitness age” with recommendations on how to lower it. If you want a smartwatch that is also a serious sports tracking watch, this is the place.

The Venu 2 supports offline music playback with Bluetooth headphones, but lacks the outdoor racetrack and triathlon modes, as well as the map data that are a feature of the higher-end Forerunner 945 or Fenix ​​6 Pro. .

Health surveillance

garmin venu 2 review
During the night, the watch automatically tracks sleep, producing a score of 100 plus a full breakdown of duration, stages, restlessness, blood oxygen, resting heart rate, and respiration. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

On the health front, the watch tracks just about everything you could want day and night, including calories burned, steps and stairs, with movement reminders when you’ve been sedentary and sleep tracking at night. Provides constant heart rate monitoring including alerts for abnormal rate, blood oxygen, stress, and respiratory rate tracking, among other things.

The watch can also take a “health snapshot,” which is a two-minute test of your heart, breathing, and stress, and tracks your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. The only thing missing compared to its high-end competitors is an ECG sensor for measuring heart rate.

As with other Garmin devices, the watch collects a mountain of data. Some can be viewed on the watch, the rest are displayed in the Connect app on your phone with easy-to-digest overviews and granular details for those who really want to dig into it. One of the best features is Garmin’s “body battery”, Which calculates how much energy you are likely to have at any given time with a score of 100. It’s a really simple and effective way to look at your day: sleep and rest recharge you, activity and stress deplete you.

Real battery

garmin venu 2 review
Charging the watch with the USB cable that is inserted into the port on the back took just over an hour and 20 minutes. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Venu 2 will last up to 11 days used as a smartwatch with notifications from your phone but with the screen not on all the time. Activating all features, including all-day blood oxygen monitoring and always-on display, sleep tracking, and a 30-minute run with music, reduces battery life to over 58 hours, which means charge it every third day. Disable some less useful features and it should last longer than three days.

A 28-minute run with GPS, music, and the screen on all the time consumed 5% of the battery, which means it should easily last a marathon. Note that the 40mm Venu 2S has a slightly smaller battery.


The Venu 2 is generally repairable. The battery will maintain at least 90% of its original capacity after two years of use, charging approximately once a week and can be replaced by technical service. The screen is covered with Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3, similar to a smartphone and the strap is replaceable. The watch does not contain any recycled materials. Garmin guarantees at least two years of security updates from launch, but generally supports your devices for much longer.

Garmin offers exchange schemes for some lines and complies with WEEE and other local electronics recycling laws.


garmin venu 2 review
The Connect app for Android and iOS handles setup and syncs data, but you can also sync with Garmin over Wi-Fi or a computer with the Express app. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
  • Music will automatically sync via wifi when watch is plugged in.

  • You can connect Bluetooth sensors, such as chest straps, to the watch.

  • You can send quick replies to message notifications when the watch is connected to an Android phone, but not an iPhone.


The Garmin Venu 2 costs from £ 349.99/$ 399.99/629 AUD and is available in 40mm or 45mm case sizes.

For comparison, the Garmin Forerunner 245 costs from € 199 each, the Forerunner 745 costs £ 400, the Fenix ​​6 costs from £ 429, the Apple Watch Series 6 costs from £ 379, the Fitbit Sense costs £ 280 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 costs from £ 349.


Garmin is well known for producing class-leading sports watches that track all the stats under the sun, but even the high-end versions seem utilitarian next to the sleek smartwatches.

With the Venu 2 the firm has broken that mold. It’s a sleek and attractive smartwatch that offers world-class fitness features and still lasts longer than big-name competitors like the Apple Watch. The only thing missing is an ECG.

But the Venu 2 is not as “smart” as the best smartwatches. It will connect to your phone, but only for simple text alerts. There is no voice assistant, and in addition to music services, third-party apps are missing.

The Venu 2 offers a solid alternative to the Apple Watch, Fitbit Versa, or Samsung Galaxy Watch. It’s a sleeker Garmin that’s smart enough.

Pros: good OLED touch screen and buttons, battery at least 2.5 days, accurate GPS, good heart rate, extensive statistics for sports plus comprehensive health tracking, Spotify offline, support for Android, iPhone and PC, basic smart watch functions, Garmin Pay, wifi.

Cons: Limited and expensive smart features, no voice assistant, no wrist calls, no real third-party apps, no maps, limited Garmin Pay support from banks, no ECG.

garmin venu 2 review
Many of the watch faces have animated backgrounds, and you can customize the data that is displayed along with the time. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

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