Garmin’s smartwatch is again for a second technology and the Venu 2 targets these in search of the sports activities monitoring prowess of a Garmin however the slick really feel of an Apple Watch.
It’s not Garmin’s solely smartwatch – the Vivoactive 4 and Garmin Lily each provide a lot of the similar by way of options – however it’s the solely Garmin with a full AMOLED show.
The Venu 2 brings two sizes, making it extra unisex than its predecessor and an up to date coronary heart fee monitor. That’s at the coronary heart of improved sleep, stress and vitality monitoring, and there’s a brand new concentrate on HIIT.
We’ve dug deep into the Venu 2 and right here’s our verdict.
Such is the depth of the Venu 2 this review completely 3,500 phrases. So earlier than we get began this is the prime down view.
The Garmin Venu 2 (and Venu 2S) is an outstanding well being and health focussed smartwatch, which affords spectacular sports activities monitoring, stress monitoring, sleep monitoring and battery life.
It’s not as smooth or slick as an Apple Watch, and it isn’t an incredible smartwatch. But for many who dabble in all kinds of health, it affords a compelling various with every week of battery and glorious quick charging. And for Android customers, it is a minimize above the likes of Amazfit and Huawei because of Garmin Connect.
Downsides, nevertheless, are an under-par coronary heart fee efficiency and the excessive price ticket. And extra critical athletes could desire extra superior watches in Garmin’s vary.
Price and comparability
At £349.99 the Venu 2 goes head-to-head with the Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm) on worth and options, though there is no ECG on the Venu. That means Apple-curious buyers might go for the distinctly cheaper Apple Watch SE (£269) in case you’re prepared to forgo SpO2.
Unlike the Apple Watch, the 40mm Venu 2S is the similar worth as the 45mm model.
And whereas the characteristic checklist matches (and in some ways surpasses) the Apple Watch, the model, design and supplies on provide does make it a relatively robust suggestion.
If you’re bought on Garmin however not bothered about the AMOLED show, the Vivoactive 4 affords most of the similar options and higher battery life.
And in case you’re in search of one thing rather more centered on operating efficiency and restoration you then’d want to have a look at the Garmin Forerunner 245, which has been up to date with the new sleep, Body Battery and Stress algorithms but additionally reveals metric akin to VO2 Max, Training Effect, Training Load and restoration hours.
The Venu 2 now is available in two sizes: 45mm and 40mm – and it’s the bigger system we’ve examined right here. Unlike the Apple Watch, each sizes retail for the similar £349.99.
The spherical case homes an AMOLED show, with a 416×416 pixel decision (45mm) and the Venu 2S has a 360×360. It’s crisp and simple to learn, albeit there’s nothing in the OS that’s significantly visually arresting. The watch face choice is especially uninteresting, and the choice on Garmin Connect IQ isn’t too a lot better.
The display turns off when not in use, however we discovered the wrist-raise clunky and sluggish, so we shortly hit the settings menu to alter to an all the time on show. That has a major influence on battery life – however offers an enormous enhance in usability.
It’s light-weight and suggestions the scales at simply 49g because of a plastic construct, which does undeniably influence on the total appear and feel, particularly in the black we examined. The rubber strap affords a pleasant match with a conventional buckle, however once more elevates perform over model.
There are two buttons on the proper bezel and touchscreen management. There’s not rather a lot to flick through by way of screens. The prime button summons sports activities monitoring profiles of which there’s over 30, and the backside button takes you again to the earlier display. The relaxation is finished by way of contact.
A swipe up or down reveals the every day abstract, which you’ll scroll by. The touchscreen management is a bit clunky, as swiping down from the prime takes you to the backside of the every day stats menu…and vice versa. It felt like an odd UI alternative and we by no means actually received used to it.
The every day abstract reveals step rely, flooring climbed, depth minutes, energy burned, hydration (in case you trouble to trace it manually), coronary heart fee, physique battery, stress, respiration fee, pulse ox (if turned on), sleep, final 7 days exercises, calendar, notifications, climate and well being snapshot. You can edit this checklist, deleting any metrics you’re not and reordering if wanted.
Each of those present a glanceable snapshot of your every day progress, however will be tapped to enter a extra detailed display. It’s a tiny bit fiddly, however it does really feel like a wealthy well being overview and that’s certainly one of the finest elements of the Venu 2. It seems like an actual well being system, in addition to a health one. However, screens are somewhat cramped and busy and don’t really feel as effectively offered as on the Fenix, regardless of having full AMOLED to play with.
Fitness and well being
We’ll get onto sports activities monitoring shortly, however a giant a part of the Venu 2 – and it’s most improved characteristic set – is well being and wellbeing.
First off, the Venu 2 is a superb health tracker. Step counting matched up effectively to Fitbit and iPhone step counts, as did calorie burn estimates, flooring climbed and depth minutes. It additionally offers intermittent sedentary reminders to stand up and transfer that truly handle to not be annoying.
But you will get that stuff on a $30 health tracker today, so it’s the extra superior options that make the Venu 2 stand out.
The Venu 2 heralds improved sleep monitoring that makes use of Firstbeat algorithms (now owned by Garmin) to evaluate sleep high quality – which can also be rolling out to different Garmin watches. And the outcome is a large enchancment in sleep monitoring accuracy and insights.
Assessing accuracy is nigh-on inconceivable with no sleep lab, however we in contrast in opposition to the Fitbit Sense, which we’ve discovered to be the most correct (and harshest decide of sleep).
Sleep phases had been largely aligned – though the Garmin was much less delicate to stirring than Fitbit, which registers rather more awake time on most nights, most of which you by no means keep in mind.
We discovered the Garmin was good at selecting up sleep high quality points, and that the sleep rating was both excessive (in the 80s) or very low (50s and 60s) on most nights. Sleep period was often a tad longer than Fitbit, however not only a illustration of time in mattress, as we’ve seen on decrease high quality trackers. One night time of seven hours sleep acquired only a 42/100 sleep rating attributable to poor sleep depth and excessive perceived stress – and that was an evening we’d drunk alcohol earlier than mattress – so it appears to take a look at.
You can see a breakdown of sleep on the watch itself in the morning, and sleep scores tracked effectively to our perceived stage of restedness. You additionally get a abstract on the watch, akin to “long restful sleep” or “restless wakeful sleep” and you’ll faucet the widget to get a breakdown.
In the Garmin app you may review your sleep in the My Day menu and see traits over week, month and 12 months in the menu > Health Stats part. You may also type by sleep breakdowns and simply by sleep scores if you want.
In sleep rating you may see how the rating was comprised, very like Fitbit, with rankings for period, stress, deep, mild and REM phases and awake time, in addition to restlessness. This is comparable with Fitbit’s premium providing, however is accessible freed from cost in Garmin, as there’s no paid-for tier.
In brief, there’s rather a lot to love about sleep monitoring on the Garmin Venu 2. It’s a system effectively suited to selecting up on poor relaxation and alerting you to points, and augments effectively with stress, Body Battery and restoration stats – and comes extremely really helpful.
Body Battery is Garmin’s measure of vitality and scored out of 100. Simply being alive and exercisinbg will deplete it, whereas sleep will prime it again up. The thought is that it offers you an thought of when you must take a break. This can be utilized to find out readiness for a exercise session, or maybe a cue to go more durable or swap to a lighter session.
The Body Battery characteristic has been round on Garmin gadgets for a couple of years now, however it’s a lot improved on the Venu 2. It’s a lot more durable to get 100/100 (in reality, we’ve by no means had that a lot vitality), and the improved sleep monitoring has a extra seen impact on the rating.
But is it helpful? It’s one other fascinating knowledge level – however it’s not as soon as knowledgeable a life-style resolution. In the minimize and thrust of parenting, work and simply current the Body Battery rating has zero sway on my selections. Perhaps if I used to be following a packed coaching schedule it could possibly be higher utilized, however as a life-style rating – it hasn’t minimize by.
Like Body Battery, the stress rating has additionally been overhauled to be extra delicate and insightful. You can simply see spikes in stress all through the day, and this isn’t simply restricted to the physiological calls for of shifting about.
Hectic moments and disturbing emotions will be immediately seen on the wrist, in case you head to the stress widget, and it kicks out a reside rating, in addition to exhibiting peaks over the 24 hours.
The sensitivity means the every day stress rating is now of extra curiosity, and it’s price preserving a watch out for prime numbers. It’s additionally linked on to the Garmin breathwork characteristic, so you may undertake some guided respiration if you must.
We’d prefer to see stress monitoring take a extra outstanding place on the Garmin Venu 2 – maybe utilizing one thing like the Fitbit SpO2 watch face, the place spikes in stress could possibly be flagged, or observed front-and-center. It’s the finest real-time stress characteristic we’ve seen, and definitely feels under-utilized.
The Garmin Venu 2 makes use of an SpO2 sensor, that may measure each blood oxygen saturation and respiration fee. Unlike Fitbit, which solely measures respiration fee throughout sleep, the Venu 2 will measure it throughout the day and night time.
Respiration charges tallied with outcomes from Fitbit respiration fee metrics, and we averaged the similar 13 breaths per minute we’re used to seeing in the Fitbit app. Again, it needs to be famous that you would be able to solely see 7 days of knowledge with out Fitbit Premium, when you get full monitoring in Garmin Connect.
Breathing knowledge is beneficial as spikes is usually a signal of pre-symptomatic sickness. However, not like Fitbit, Garmin Connect doesn’t provide help to out with regular private ranges, so it’s important to do all the interpretation your self.
Another new characteristic on Venu 2 – that is one thing maybe geared toward extra basic customers, relatively than “prosumer” athletes. The Fitness Age takes your private stats and health knowledge from exercises and predicts a health age. However, it does take time to work out, and that is one thing that advantages from practically a month of stable use.
Our Fitness Age began at 38 (+2 years) however shortly dropped to 32 (-4) – and the part of Garmin Connect additionally reveals enhancements we might make to cut back the age (dropping pounds and upping coaching days). In our interval with the Venu 2 we haven’t been coaching onerous nor pushing ourselves at prime velocity runs.
So we really feel that maybe it’s taking longer to know our true ranges of health and it’s one thing that shall be refined over weeks and months. It additionally appears closely tied to VO2 Max knowledge, and attributable to the aforementioned lack of velocity classes, VO2 Max hasn’t fairly hit our true stage, and thus, Fitness Age can also be lagging.
However, we like the characteristic and the recommendation for decreasing Fitness Age and we really feel many individuals will discover it motivating.
However, like the Stress Score, we’d prefer to see it develop into extra of a focus of the Garmin expertise, relatively than buried in the Garmin Connect app.
In phrases of sports activities monitoring, issues haven’t modified an excessive amount of from the Vivoactive 4 and authentic Venu.
The Venu 2 remains to be a jack-of-all-trades, with too many tracked sports activities to checklist in full however it consists of built-in GPS sports activities monitoring modes, together with operating, biking, golf, yoga, HIIT, pilates, climbing, bouldering to call however a couple of.
Like all good jack-of-all-trades it’s additionally grasp of none, so that you received’t discover the stage of element you is perhaps accustomed to from different Garmin gadgets. It’s important solely knowledge, however excellent for anybody wanting correct monitoring with out in-depth bells and whistles.
We extensively examined the operating capabilities of the Garmin Venu on each highway and path.
You don’t get an overload of knowledge, the screens will present distance/tempo/time (total and lap) and coronary heart fee (as proven above). You will even see elevation on path profiles, and that goes for strolling/mountain climbing too.
Data is evident and simple to learn, and there are a couple of screens you may swipe by.
However, operating VO2 Max can also be a part of the combine – though it’s not displayed on the watch and even in the My Day stats. It’s hidden away and also you’ll want to enter the Peformance Stats part of Garmin Connect to seek out it.
Running GPS accuracy was spot on in all of our take a look at runs, as you’d count on. GPS lock on was additionally mercifully fast.
You can see knowledge from our runs above – and it’ll kick knowledge out to Strava in case you hyperlink your accounts.
We additionally received likelihood to strive the Garmin Venu 2 out on the golf course. Again, that is fundamental distances and hazards solely, and there’s a good shot measurement characteristic, too. You can rating on the system too, which shall be despatched to Garmin Golf on pairing.
It helps 42,000 programs worldwide, however these have to be manually searches and despatched to the watch from inside Garmin Connect, which provides somewhat faff earlier than you play.
Like every part on the Garmin Venu 2 the on display knowledge was clear and concise, and simple to learn. The GPS switched between holes simply and for many who prefer to play an occasional spherical however discover it onerous to justify a fully-fledged golf watch, it’s a no brainer.
However, for these tossing up between a Garmin and Apple Watch, it does provide greater than free apps like Hole 19. Aside from scoring and shot monitoring you additionally get inexperienced view knowledge, so you may shortly see the form of the floor.
It’s a fundamental however glorious golf expertise, and a giant plus level for the Venu 2.
An enormous a part of the Venu 2 is a renewed concentrate on HIIT and power exercises.
Select HIIT from the checklist of sports activities and you’ll dive into an open exercise, or select a guided session. There are a handful on the watch, and hundreds to obtain from Garmin Connect, which in flip will be despatched to the watch. Like most issues with Garmin Connect it isn’t the most slick expertise, however the 75 exercises are freed from cost.
A brand new facet in HIIT is the capacity to set Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM) timer and As Many Round as Possible (AMRAP) classes from the watch, which makes the expertise rather more intuitive.
For power exercises and guided HIIT classes it additionally options rep monitoring. So as you’re guided by squats, press ups or different strikes, the watch will rely by your set. You nonetheless must work together with the watch to progress to the subsequent set which we did discover it somewhat fiddly, however it works.
Yoga and pilates classes will also be downloaded from Garmin Connect and guided as effectively.
Swimming with the Venu 2 is rather a lot like swimming with the Venu. The transfer to a much bigger, sharper AMOLED display makes it nicer and extra seen to see underwater, although we nonetheless suppose the transflective shows on the majority of Garmin’s watches are finest optimised for time spent in the water.
There’s nothing radically totally different in the swim monitoring division masking the core metrics like distance lined, strokes, common tempo and SWOLF scores. You do now get a further breakdown of depth minutes in the Connect app that may let you understand in case your exercise consists of reasonable of vigorous depth minutes.
Up in opposition to the very dependable Form Swim Goggles, it usually delivered equivalent distance, common tempo and calorie burned numbers in our swims. Average stroke fee appeared somewhat low, however normally, the Venu 2 holds up effectively for monitoring pool swims.
Heart fee accuracy
The Garmin Venu 2 makes use of a newly improved fourth technology Elevate optical coronary heart fee sensor. Every time an organization provides a brand new optical sensor to the watch we’ve got excessive hopes of near-perfect accuracy – however sadly, we could not detect many real-world enhancements on the Venu 2.
Let’s begin with the good. Resting coronary heart fee knowledge was equivalent to different gadgets we routinely take a look at and we checked the knowledge in opposition to a coronary heart fee strap whereas sat, and located just about equivalent readings and effectively inside an affordable margin of error. Remember, not even chest straps are totally correct, and this can be a non-lab take a look at.
We additionally took the Venu 2 out on a variety of runs in opposition to a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap and located that on lengthy, regular runs there have been no main accuracy points and the knowledge was dependable.
Garmin Venu 2 (prime) vs. chest strap
As you may see, the Venu 2 (above) struggled in the early phases of the run with HR bouncing about. It then was locked onto the value strap for the second half – however completely failed on the brief hill repeats at the finish.
As with earlier Garmin Elevate powered gadgets, the run knowledge was somewhat off in the early phases of the run, however after 10 minutes or so the optical sensor and chest strap had been locked on.
On an extended run the place we upped depth onerous at the finish, we had been happy to see it attain a max HR of 190 alongside the chest strap, and produced related common HR for the session.
Finally, we took depth up a stage with a sequence of hill repeats. This is a brief blast of very fast bursts of exercise which ship HR from a standing begin of ~100pm as much as round 180bp. This will break just about each optical sensor, however we had been shocked to see the Venu 2 carry out significantly badly, and even after three repeats the sensor was caught at 120bpm, not registering any of the bursts of effort.
So coronary heart fee accuracy is definitely a blended bag, and we would say adequate for getting good suggestions from runs and exercises, however problematic for HIIT and explosive classes.
As each, in case you’re actually eager on coaching by coronary heart fee or HIIT classes we nonetheless suggest a chest strap, and the Venu 2 does help ANT+ and Bluetooth exterior sensors.
All of the stats and knowledge reside in Garmin Connect, which has develop into and a very good health/well being platform – particularly for these which might be lovers of deep knowledge.
The residence display is dominated by the My Day web page, which reveals your whole present stats in a glanceable format.
It’s a glorified model of what you see on the Venu 2, and far simpler to digest.
Of course, the app remains to be busy and it’s usually onerous to seek out what you’re in search of. The Challenges part isn’t significantly arresting, and you’ll compete for badges with any mates on Garmin Connect. And then the Calendar and News Feed appear to be locations to seek out explicit exercises from the previous – once more, they’re barely utilized by us.
The closing menu is the place all the magic occurs, and on iOS at the least, isn’t even labelled. Here you’ll discover your deep knowledge in Health Stats or Performnace Stats all of which will be in contrast over months and years. Many metrics, akin to the all-important VO2 Max, aren’t even listed on the Venu 2 itself, so until you go poking about in Garmin Connect, you’d be forgiven for lacking it solely.
You can obtain guided exercises from the Training tab or obtain golf programs and entry Garmin Connect IQ.
It’s honest to say Garmin Connect might use a serious overhaul, however there’s rather a lot to love when you scratch the floor.
Much like the Fitbit Sense, the Venu 2 performs its hand extraordinarily effectively as a health watch. However, as a every day smartwatch it doesn’t excel, and that is the place the Apple Watch remains to be lightyears forward.
As talked about the wrist-raise is poor, and whenever you use always-on, the ambient mild sensor will dim the watch to a minimal when inside your coat sleeve, so it’s important to look ahead to it to mild again up whenever you go to have a look at the watch. It’s a small gripe, however so fundamental and sort of annoying.
Notifications are effectively dealt with, nevertheless, it’s not potential to trim notifications. It’s all or nothing, and even notifications you’ve muted on iOS are nonetheless delivered – so we received hundreds of alerts from our Arlo cameras. You can reply to notifications on Android, however not iOS.
You can play music natively from the wrist utilizing streaming companies, and there’s offline syncing for playlists from Amazon, Deezer and Spotify.
There’s additionally Garmin Pay in case your financial institution helps it.
Overall, as a smartwatch the Garmin affords a stable if clunky expertise. As a smartwatch alone it’s not likely similar to the Apple Watch by way of usability (though in excels on battery life), however it’s nearly as good as any Wear OS smartwatch, or the likes of the Amazfit GTS 2 and Huawei Watch GT2 – albeit twice the worth.
Battery life did barely disappoint, and we didn’t actually obtain the quoted 12 days from the 45mm Venu 2.
In our first cycle we achieved 8 days with 2 hours of GPS run monitoring and a spherical of golf. Pulse ox was turned off and the display was not all the time on.
We turned nightly pulse ox on with the all the time on show and had been capable of make 5 days battery life on two additional cycles.
However, we had been impressed by the fast cost. A15 minute cost took battery life from 7% to 30%. We additionally charged the Venu 2 from the 12v outlet in our automobile for a 20 minute drive and had been in a position to make use of it for a spherical of golf.
The Venu 2 is a giant enchancment on the authentic, and is an effective all-round well being and sports activities watch. For these in search of an on a regular basis watch that’s at residence in the health club, the nice open air and in the workplace, it comes really helpful.
It’s expensive at $399, however you positive get rather a lot in your cash. However, the clunky expertise as a smartwatch and the lack of wow-factor on the design will put some off.
The query right here is who we suggest it for. Athletes could need to have a look at extra superior watches in Garmin’s vary and iOS newbies could desire a nearer have a look at the Apple Watch. But for many who can’t abdomen single day battery life, use Android smartphones or need an all-action mixture of operating, HIIT, golf and well being options– the Venu 2 affords a lot to love.
- Stress and well being options a lot improved
- Top sleep monitoring
- Great sports activities monitoring
- Wrist elevate not nice
- Clunky in locations
- HR accuracy not improved