Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

What's the difference between the Venu 2 Plus and the Venu 2? Here's the lowdown
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Garmin has added to its Venu smartwatch family, with the launch of the Venu 2 Plus.

The Venu 2 Plus joins the Venu 2 (main picture left) and the Venu Sq, but adds voice calling from the wrist and virtual assistant support for a more complete smartwatch experience.

We've put the Venu 2 Plus through its paces already, and having spent plenty of testing time with the Venu 2, we've got a good sense of how different these two Garmin watches really are.

If you're weighing up whether you should go Venu 2 or Venu 2 Plus, here's a closer look at how the latest members of the Venu family match up.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Pricing

So, how much does the Venu 2 Plus cost and how does it compare to the what you'll need to part with to pick up the Venu 2?

The Venu 2 Plus comes in at £399/$449 and if you opt for a leather band, that pushes the price up further.

The Venu 2 in comparison comes in at £399/$399, with the smaller Venu 2S priced in at £349/$399.

Garmin has recently discounted the Venu 2 and Venu 2S by around $50/£50, which would make it a cheaper option by a sizeable chunk.

The question then is, if paying more for the Venu 2 Plus gets you that much more than what you get on the Venu 2.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Design

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Venu 2 (right)

If you like your smartwatches sporty looking with shiny bezels, then that's pretty much what the Venu 2 and Venu 2 Plus offer in terms of design.

They both use polymer in their round case designs, with 20mm quick-release bands with silicone, leather band options up for grabs on the Venu 2 Plus. The Venu 2 is larger, with a 22mm strap.

The Venu 2 Plus is the smaller of the two watches, measuring in at 43mm, compared to the 45mm size case on the Venu 2. The Venu 2 does also come in a smaller Venu 2s version, which offers a smaller 40mm case.

Despite the difference in case sizes, Garmin has managed to plant on the same 1.3-inch, 416 x 416 AMOLED touchscreen display, which in our testing time offers much the same in terms of responsiveness, brightness and overall quality. Both can be used in always-on modes too, which will see a drop in battery performance.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Venu 2 (right)

You're getting three physical buttons on the Venu 2 Plus compared to the two on the Venu 2, which is mainly to accommodate new voice features.

It also means that Garmin has been able to move its Shortcut feature, so getting to your fave mode or feature is now a button press away instead of a screen swipe.

Garmin has packed on the same software offering the same UI with its glances (widgets) and dedicated data screens dominating navigation proceedings.

The Venu 2 Plus measures in at 12.6mm thick and weighs 51g compared to the 12.2mm thick Venu 2, which weighs in slightly lighter at 49g. Both offer the same 5ATM water resistance rating making them safe for swimming and have room for the same 200 hours of activity data.

Side-by-side, it's the case size and the extra button on the Venu 2 Plus that separates them. While 2mm may not sound much, but it's a big difference in smartwatch terms. If you have small wrists, and you're worried about comfort and bulk, you should probably pay more for the Venu 2 Plus.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Smartwatch features

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Venu 2 (right)

This is where the key big difference lies between the two Venu 2 watches. If you want the richest smartwatch experience that Garmin currently has to offer, then it's the Venu 2 Plus.

While the sports tracking and core features are the same across the two watches, The Venu 2 Plus adds a microphone and speaker (not included on the standard Venu 2), which unlocks the ability to make and receive calls from the wrist, and access your smartphone's voice assistant via your watch.

It's currently compatible with Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby and Apple's Siri. So this is functionality that works across Android and iOS devices.

Outside of that voice support though, and the Venu 2 and the Venu 2 Plus are level pegged. You're getting Garmin Pay, a music player with room for up to 650 songs and support for streaming services like Spotify, the ability to view notifications and respond to them when paired to Android phones and finally, get access to Garmin's Connect IQ store.

These perform the same from a smartwatch perspective, outside of those voice features you'll get on the Venu 2 Plus.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Sports, fitness and wellness features

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Venu 2 (right)

From a sports, fitness and wellness point of view, everything you get on the Venu 2 Plus is on the Venu 2.

That includes the same satellite support for outdoor GPS tracking, heart rate monitor technology and the ability to monitor blood oxygen levels continuously or during the night.

The performance of those features we'd say are similar too. They're solid sports tracking companions, you're getting good (but not perfect) heart rate monitoring for exercise, and wellness features like stress and respiration tracking are useful to have but lack some handy actionable insights.

In the sports and fitness tracking department both offer 25+ sports tracking modes including a dedicated HIIT mode that offers structured and freestyle options.

There's on-screen animated workouts for the likes of Pilates and Yoga and runners have access to Garmin Coach, letting you access personalised run training plans.

For insights into your level of fitness, you can grab VO2 Max scores, see your fitness age along with tips to improve it, although both miss out on the more advanced training analysis you'll get from pricier Forerunner watches like the 745 and 945. These are jack-of-all-trades smartwatches, designed to offer an entry level Garmin experience.

Both Venu 2 watches are well-equipped for accurately tracking things like runs and swims, with a heart rate monitor that works well for moderately intensive workouts, but struggles for accuracy at high intensity.

You do have a the ability to pair to a chest strap to improve that accuracy though.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Garmin smartwatch face-off

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Venu 2 (right)

If you care more about your general health and wellness, the watches match up again, with Garmin's Body Battery energy monitor, blood oxygen monitoring, respiration tracking, women's health tracking, all-day stress tracking and step and sleep monitoring all covered here. Both offer Garmin's Health Snapshot feature, which captures heart rate, stress, respiration rate, blood oxygen from one reading.

Some of those features still lack the advice we'd like to see to help make sense of that data, while sleep monitoring still feels a little generous at times with capturing duration.

While both offer similar safety features with Garmin's Assistance and incident detection on board to raise the alarm when your watch is connected to your phone, the Venu 2 Plus will let you make contact from your watch if you can't get your hands on your phone.

Bottom line, if you want something that works as a fitness and sleep tracker and can offer some insights into your general health without offering clinical grade data, then the both of these watches are equipped to do that.

They're both in this particular department and it's hard to really separate them at all.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Battery life

When it comes to battery life, the pure numbers tell you that the Venu 2 offers you more. In reality, these watches offer largely similar results in terms of performance.

The Venu 2 Plus gives you up to 9 days in battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 8 hours of battery life when using the GPS. Garmin doesn't usually quote battery performance when you switch to the power-sapping always-on display mode, which does see that battery drop. In our experience, it worked out to about 3 maybe 4 days based on the use of other tracking features on top.

With the Venu 2, you're looking at up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, but the same 8 hours of GPS battery life. The Venu 2S is 10 days in smartwatch mode and 7 hours of GPS battery life. When that always-on mode is enabled, we say you can expect 3-4 days again.

Both of these watches offer a quick charge feature getting you a day's play off a 15-minute charge.

These are two smartwatches that are more than capable of lasting you for a week's worth of training and more. The Venu 2 will technically give you longer, but we'd say the experience is not hugely different between the two in our testing.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus v Venu 2: Which should you buy?

In terms of that overall experience you're getting from these two watches, whether it's design or tracking, they are very similar on most fronts. They're two solid options in Garmin's collection that definitely veer more towards behaving more like smartwatches than other options. If you've got to pick between though, here's how we see it:

Buy the Garmin Venu 2 Plus if...

For our money the smaller case size is the key reason to buy the Venu 2. If you really want those added voice features, this is obviously the watch to go for – however, it's not a feature we'd shell out an extra $100/£100 for.

Buy the Garmin Venu 2 if...

If you're not fussed about those voice extras, like a larger case design and you want more day-to-day battery life, just stick with the standard Venu 2.


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