​Garmin Venu 2: our first impressions of Garmin's new smartwatch

Two sizes and even more health features
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Garmin has unveiled the Venu 2 and its true smartwatch is back for a second outing.

The Venu 2 takes the fight to the Apple Watch, with an AMOLED display, built-in GPS, but with a Garmin take on sports tracking.

And it goes head-to-head on price too, with a $399 price tag that matches the 40mm Apple Watch Series 6.

As you’d imagine there’s a heap of built-in GPS sports tracking modes, including running, cycling, golf, yoga, HIIT, pilates, climbing, bouldering – you name it. But there are now 75 guided workout sessions, 1400 animated exercises, and modes for AMRAP and EMOM HIIT sessions.

Garmin Venu 2 key features

  • Venu 2S 40mm
  • Venu 2 44mm
  • 11 day battery life
  • SpO2
  • Stress tracking
  • Body Battery
  • New Firstbeat sleep algo
  • Elevate 4.0 heart rate sensor
  • 75 guided workouts
  • 1,400 animated exercices
  • New HIIT modes inc. EMOM and AMRAP

Design and new features

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Garmin Venu 2: AMOLED display and sports modes

On the hardware side, the Venu 2 now comes in two sizes: The 45mm Venu 2 (22mm strap) and 40mm Venu 2S (18mm strap), making it a truly unisex offering.

Each features an AMOLED display, with the option for always-on (which will diminish battery life).

There’s 11 days quoted battery life for the Venu 2 and 10 days for the Venu 2S.

And you get 22 hours GPS battery life (8 hours music + GPS tracking), with rapid recharge offering 1 day of extra use in 10 minutes.

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Venu 2 health widgets

There’s Garmin’s built-in music player, with offline syncing support for Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer. There’s also Garmin Pay and access to the Garmin Connect IQ app store.

But it’s not just rehashed hardware, and there are significant changes to the health and fitness offerings.

Sleep score now uses Garmin-owned Firstbeat algorithms for better accuracy. And Body Battery, which measures energy levels, has been tweaked to be more sensitive.

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Garmin Body Battery has been improved

And a Fitness Age score determines your fitness by chronological age, activity, resting heart rate and body fat percentage. This can act as a motivator to reduce your fitness age by making lifestyle changes, and certainly an attempt by Garmin to reach out to less active audiences.

You can also take a Health Snapshot, which at the press of a button will record all your health vitals for comparison later, or by a health professional.

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Sleep tracking has been overhauled with Firstbeat algorithms

All of this is underpinned by 4th generation Elevate heart rate monitor, which the company hopes will produce better accuracy at higher loads. That sensor also includes SpO2, which will track respiration rate and also blood oxygen levels, although this is turned off by default to save battery.

We’ve already spent a week with the Garmin Venu 2 – and there’s certainly a lot to like. The form factor is excellent, and the watch is loaded with excellent data touchpoints, that makes it feel like a rich barometer of your health, as well as a powerful tool for runners and HIITers.

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Garmin Venu 2 and stress score

And Garmin’s promises around sleep tracking have already rung true. The feedback is much more geared towards sleep quality over duration, and the sleep scores produced have been more insightful than rivals.

The Garmin Venu 2 is set to cost $399 and it goes on sale now.


Our first impressions

The Garmin Venu 2 is certainly more than just a new piece of hardware and a more unisex option. In just a few days we can see that data from Body Battery and sleep tracking is far more insightful and useful.

However, at the same price as an Apple Watch Series 6 with ECG, and more expensive than a Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 245, there will be questions about who this device is for.

The build and screen are both appealing, and while there isn't a premium finish, it's light and comfortable for exercising.

And that's still what brings us back to Garmin. For active people, the Garmin Connect ecosystem and its smartwatches are a natural fit. For those people who spend time considering recovery from training sessions and find themselves working out in different disciplines four or five times a week, the Venu 2 is a top choice.

However, without the Firstbeat VO2 Max analytics you find on its dedicated sports devices, we feel the Venu 2 is still a jack-of-all-trades.




James Stables

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James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.


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