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Garmin Venu 2 & Venu 2S GPS Smartwatch In-Depth Review

Garmin-Venu-2-2S-Review

Today Garmin announced the new Venu 2 & Venu 2S watches, the AMOLED display successors to the original Garmin Venu watch. The Venu 2 series sports two sizes now (45mm and 40mm), as well as a slew of updated health and sports features. Under the covers though are arguably some of the biggest changes. A new integrated processor and GPU increase graphic power, making it the first watch to support Garmin’s Connect IQ 4.0 app platform – as well as a significantly revamped user interface that feels a bit more modern and polished. A new generation optical heart rate sensor also brings with it infrared sensors for increased PulseOx accuracy.

I’ve been using the Venu 2 for a number of weeks now 24×7, as well as on all my recent workouts. While my wife uses the Venu 2S on her workouts and 24×7. So I’ve got a pretty good feel on how well the Venu 2 works, and where its quirks are. I’ll also sprinkle some of her thoughts throughout the review from her usage as well.

Note that for this review I’m using a media loaner from Garmin. Once this review is done, I’ll get it boxed back up and sent back to them. After which I’ll likely go out and buy my own for future use. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

With that, let’s get into it.

What’s new:

If you’re looking for the Top 11 new features and a review in one tidy video – click no further than the play button above. Quick and easy.

The Garmin Venu 2 series adds a slate of features, some of which have been seen on other Garmin watches over the last year or two (like widget glances), but some of which are entirely new. For example, this is the first watch with Garmin’s new Elevate V4 optical heart rate sensor package, and it’s the first watch with Connect IQ 4.0. It’s also the first with many of the new health-related functions listed below.

But to consolidate it all, there’s no better way than a simple bulleted list of all the newness I can find:

– Two size versions now: Venu 2 (45mm) & Venu 2S (40mm)
– New Garmin Elevate V4 optical heart rate sensor
– Increased IR sensors from 1 to 2 for increased PulseOx accuracy
– New integrated processor & GPU for significantly increased graphic power (mainly for apps)
– Updated AMOLED display (slight behind the scenes tweak to merge the touchscreen and display together, Corning Gorilla Glass 3)
– Slightly increased display size. Venu 2 is 416x416px, 2S is 360x360px, the original Venu was 390×390
– Slightly increased GPS battery life from 20hrs to 22hrs (GPS-only), and 6hrs to 8hrs (GPS+Music)
– Increased storage space from ~3GB to ~7GB of music storage
– Introduced Connect IQ 4.0 support (first Garmin devices to do so)
– Added widget glances, but with a more modern twist
– Added support for extra data on always-on display mode (e.g. steps/HR/etc)
– Added new rapid charging mode, charges watch 1 day’s worth (or 1hr of GPS time) in 10 mins
– Added new battery saver mode up to 12 days for the Venu 2 or 11 days for Venu 2S
– Added Firstbeat advanced sleep tracking/analytics (like Fenix 6)
– Added new Sleep Score each night
– New body battery algorithm accounts for crappy sleep better (or worse, depending on your point of view)
– Added new Health Snapshot feature (one-off recording of HR-driven metrics)
– Added Fitness Age estimate: Uses various 24×7 metrics + Garmin Index or BMI data to determine
– Added strength training profile with muscle map graphics for each workout
– Added new activity profiles for Hiking, HIIT, Indoor Climbing, and Bouldering
– Added HIIT workouts with animated instructions/steps (including Tabata, AMRAP, EMOM, and custom timers)
– Added ability to see challenges on the watch itself
– Significant revamp of the user interface, primarily making it look more modern/fluid

As far as things that have stayed the same, that’s all the essentials. So in short, it still does all the following (this isn’t an extensive list, just a quick overview):

– Optical HR sensor with PulseOx (SpO2 tracking)
– GPS with GLONASS & Galileo options for workout tracking (no reliance on phone)
– Downloadable structured workout support
– Music storage and streaming with Spotify/Deezer/Amazon Music
– Contactless Payments with Garmin Pay
– PulseOx, Respiration rate, 24×7 HR, stress tracking, body battery
– Sleep tracking, stairs step/activity tracking, Oreo consumption tracking
– Female menstrual cycle tracking
– Connecting to ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors
– Smartphone notifications
– LiveTrack for workouts & safety alerts for day to day usage

When it comes to pricing, both models are $399USD and 399EUR. Both are available to start shipping today.

And officially, here’s all the color and sizing variants they’ve got:

3 Venu 2 & 2S Family (6)

Phew, got all that? Good, let’s get it unboxed.

Unboxing:

Garmin-Venu-2-Box

With the Venu 2 coming in two variants (2 & 2S) there’s obviously slightly different boxes. However, the contents are identical between them. I’ll show a more detailed Venu 2 unboxing, followed by a shortened Venu 2S gallery.

Cracking it open you’ve got the watch looking up at you as you slide the top of the box off:

Garmin-Venu-2-Unbox-Opened

Inside there’s simply a small pile of paper manuals, a standard Garmin USB charger (and sync cable), as well as the watch itself.

Garmin-Venu-2-Unboxed-Parts

Here’s a closer look at that ever-so-exciting USB cable:

Garmin-Venu-2-USB-Charging-Cable

It works fine, but, I still prefer the cheap puck charger instead, which also works quite well on the Venu 2 but with a bit more stability.

Meanwhile, we’ve got the front of the watch here – protective sticker and all:

Garmin-Venu-2-Unboxed-Opening

And then the back of the watch, with the new optical HR sensor that we’ll talk about later. That multi-GNSS text is referring to GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, not dual-frequency GPS (yes, I confirmed).

Garmin-Venu-2-Back-Of-watch

And that’s it. So, here’s a consolidated unboxing of the Venu 2S:

From a weight standpoint, they’ve come in at 49g (Venu 2) and 39g (Venu 2S):

Garmin-Venu-2-weight-49g Garmin-Venu-2S-weight-39g

Here’s the two Venu 2 units side by side tilted up:

Garmin-Venu-2-vs-2S-Sizing

And compared to the original Venu, and Vivoactive 4 & 4S:

Garmin-Venu-Vivoactive-Comparison-TopDown

Left to right: Garmin Vivoactive 4, Garmin Venu (original), Garmin Venu 2 (middle), Garmin Venu 2S, Garmin Vivoactive 4S

Garmin-Venu-Vivoactive-Comparisn-SideProfile

Here’s some photos of the Venu 2 (black) and 2S (white) on my wife’s small wrists. She’s pretty small at 5’2”.

Garmin-Venu2S-Female-Wrist Garmin-Venu-2-Female-Wrist

And the Venu 2 on my wrist:

Garmin-Venu2-WristShot

Note that the Venu 2 uses a 22mm band, while the Venu 2S uses an 18mm band. These are universal bands, so you can jog on over to Amazon and find the most expressive band you can think of. I’ve got my eye on this 22mm one that literally has unicorns, ice cream, and rainbows. I crap you not – don’t tempt me further.

The Basics:

If you’d like a complete user interface tour of all the features – both sport and non-sport, just tap above. It essentially walks through these next two sections, but in live video form with lots of little tips and tricks along the way.

The Venu series watches are full-color touchscreen devices. The display is an AMOLED display, which means that while it looks brilliant, it does burn more battery. You’ll have some options we’ll talk about in a second to balance that out for longer battery life.

Still, despite being a touchscreen, it’s still got two buttons on the right side, which are used for confirmations (like Yes or Escape) as well as within workouts for stopping and lapping. Once in a workout, the only thing you need the touchscreen for is changing data pages, core stop/start can be done via buttons. For the most part, I’ve had moderate success with the touchscreen and gloves. On my outdoor ride yesterday, I was able to swipe a bit, though trying to navigate the menus was occasionally difficult. In terms of sweat and/or rain and the touchscreen, no issues there for the most part. Or at least, no more than any other device – usable, but not always perfect.

Garmin-Venu-2-Buttons

Since the screen is AMOLED (like the original Venu, though slightly different than the Venu SQ which uses LCD), it means they’re trading battery life for powering that brilliant display. By default, the Venu 2 is configured in a ‘raise to wake’ mode, meaning that the display automatically turns off when you’re not looking at it. This is similar to most other AMOLED/LCD watches, though the Apple Watch Series 5 & 6 are always-on all the time. The Apple Watch SE is still raise to wake. The main difference here is that Garmin claims 11-12 days of battery life versus Apple’s 1-day. And largely speaking, Garmin hits that claim. I was getting about 5-6 days per charge, but with 4-6 hours of GPS battery time each week, sometimes more.

However, the Venu 2 also supports always-on mode too. In that configuration the display is always on, but your battery life shrinks substantially. Garmin says 2 days, but I think that’s a bit conservative. I’m cooking through exactly 24hrs since I took it off the charger, and I’m at 62% right now – but that’s *including a 2-hour outdoor GPS bike ride today*. Not shabby at all!

Garmin-Venu-2-Always-On-Option

Note that when you enable the always-on mode, it’ll turn of the ‘Live’ watch faces. Those are the faces that display a small animation each time you raise your wrist to wake the watch. Instead, you’ll need to choose one of their specific always-on watch faces. You can’t put your dog or kids as a watch face in this mode, because Garmin’s watch faces are specifically designed for lower battery mode. More exactly, they have large areas of ‘black’ that the display doesn’t even render, so it saves power by not illuminating that chunk of the display.

Garmin-Venu-2-Watch-Faces-Always-On

However, interestingly, in an upgrade from the original Venu, the new Venu 2 does allow you to have so-called ‘complications’ on these watch faces, things like your live heart rate, steps, or calories. These are customizable. Previously, it was just the time.

Now – if you don’t care about always-on mode, then you can choose from the live watch aces as well as make your own with photos, or download 3rd party ones too via the Connect IQ app.

Garmin-Venu2-ConnectIQ-WatchFaces Garmin-Venu2-ConnectIQ-WatchFaces

Speaking of which, the Venu 2 is now compatible with Connect IQ 4.0 – the first Garmin watch to do so. The main consumer-focused thing that CIQ gives developers is greater graphical power for more creative apps. There’s an entire developer-focused overview of those capabilities here. However, for consumers, the main thing you probably need to know about Connect IQ in general is that on the Venu 2 it still supports watch faces, widget glances, data fields and apps, except now widget glances are the norm within a ‘super-app’, as opposed to full-sized widgets (explainer on that here).

2021-04-22 00.26.49

Sliding back away from the hardware for a second, let’s just talk basics. If you swipe down on your watch face, you’ll see the new Widget Glances. This was introduced on the Fenix 6 series, and has been slowly working its way through other more recent Garmin watches. Essentially each line is a snippet of information for an app or metric that you can then expand further.

Garmin-Venu-2-Widget-Glances

For example, if I tap the steps one I’ll see all my steps data for the day, including a newly designed steps user interface that lets me slide my finger left and right and go forwards and backwards in time. I can also see my daily steps and distances on a chart too.

Garmin-Venu-Widget-Details-Pages Garmin-Venu-2-Widget-Details-Charts

All of this information is then recorded to the watch of course, but also then synced to Garmin Connect via your phone (or USB on computer, or WiFi), where it’s accessible via the Garmin Connect Mobile app, or desktop apps. Here’s the steps charts:

2021-04-22 00.31.29 2021-04-22 00.31.39

Within steps, as well as other areas of the platform, you can create challenges. For example, DesFit challenged me to a step challenge. With him primarily being a cyclist, that was a poor life choice for him. I won last week, and was rewarded as such. Also, I’m on track to win this week too:

Garmin-Venu2-I-Beat-DesFit-Yesterday

These sorts of widgets and data are available for all of the health metrics. Whether it’s stairs/floor climbed, calories, stress, body battery, respiration rate, PulseOx, or others, they’re all here. And all of them have re-designed user interfaces.

A notable new shift in the Venu 2 is the new Health Snapshot. This aims to take five core metrics and distill them down into a single 2-minute ‘test’. By test, I mean, you do nothing. Literally, you sit there:

Garmin-Venu-2-Health-Snapshot

During the 2-minute period it’ll measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, stress, and HRV (heart rate variability). The idea being you can consistently do this, ideally at the same time each day, and start to get a bit of a snapshot of how things are trending. All of these metrics are already tracked by Garmin more deeply in the app/platform, but this aims to put it on a single plate (so to speak). In the near-term, they’ll also enable PDF exporting of this data as well.

Garmin-Health-Snapshot

Once the two-minute period is over, it’ll give you a summary of that info:

Garmin-Health-SnapShot-Summary

This is also then tracked in Garmin Connect Mobile too:

Garmin-Venu2-Health-Snapshot Garmin-Venu2-Health-SnapshotDetails

Somewhat adjacent to that feature is Body Battery. This tracks your energy levels throughout the day, accounting for stress, sleep, workouts, and just general life. Overall, having used it for the past few years, I find it a pretty good proxy for how my day went. It’s not perfect, but it’s generally pretty close. In theory you start off your day close to 100% energy level, and then depending on your day you might end in the 20-30% range.

However, the Venu 2 has new changes in the algorithm around sleep specifically. Essentially, if you have a craptastically bad night of sleep, it’s going to be more difficult to get to 100% ‘re-charge’ (which, is logical). And indeed, if I compared my Venu 2 nightly recharge attempts to my stuff from a month ago on the FR745, and indeed, on average, it’s near impossible for me to get to 100% (with three toddlers/babies) compared to the FR745 I was able to more frequently (though, not always).

Garmin-Venu-2-Body-Battery

And again, all of this is shown in the app too. Here’s a nifty ‘before’ Venu 2 updated algorithms on the FR745 and ‘after’ with the Venu 2 on two different weeks with relatively similar sleep (not exact of course, but you can very clearly see the trend differences – notably how much higher the peaks are, hitting 100% more times before):

Body-battery-Before-Venu2 Body-Battery-After-Venu-2

Now, most of these metrics are powered by the optical heart rate sensor on the watch. That technically has two pieces to it, the portion that measures your heart rate (using green LED’s), and the portion that measures PulseOx (red lights). And with the Venu 2 using the new Elevate V4 sensor package (the first watch to do so), that includes an expanded infrared (IR) sensor (now with two red/IR LED’s sets as opposed to one previously, as well as four signal paths). That sensor piece is the four little black rectangles on the back around the middle sensor. Those are exclusively used for PulseOx assistance.

Garmin-Venu-2-Optical-Heart-Rate-Sensor

The optical sensor is on 24×7 to measure and record your resting heart rate. Then in workout mode more power is supplied to it, to handle the challenges of tracking your body bouncing around. We’ll get into that later in the review.

On the PulseOx side of life, I’ve historically found mixed accuracy on Garmin’s sleep readings (it can also be turned on 24×7 too). Whereas if I’m sitting still (as a proper test at a medical facility would be), then I get good accuracy. However, it’s clear that there are improvements on the PulseOx IR sensor. Again, if I compare my Gen 4 sensor recent nightly data to that of a Gen 3 sensor, overwhelmingly I see higher values like I’d expect for a healthy person at sea level.

Yes, they’re different nights, but in general you can see far more data on Venu 2, and the averages are higher (still not perfect, but higher). Here’s the two side by side:

2021-04-22 00.40.10 2021-04-22 00.39.31

And when I do a few one-off tests using an medical certified (EU) pulse oximetry device, I also get near-identical results consistently (within 1% as shown below – 97% vs 98%:

clip_image001

Now, whether or not all that data is actionable is totally different. There were lots of people that felt that pulse oximetry data could be used in relation to COVID-19 tracking, though, more data seemed to find respiration rate as a better predictor for onset of COVID-19. Again, everything is a bit fuzzy. But, the data is there for you to use how you’d like. Respiration rate data is also tracked on the watch as well as on the app:

Garmin-Venu2-RespirationRate

Rounding home here there’s the updated sleep tracking. Previously Garmin only showed sleep tracking on their app, and not on the watch itself. Last fall Garmin introduced on-device sleep tracking to the Fenix 6, but then paused roll-out after running into some issues. Things resumed again with the Garmin Enduro about two months ago, and the train appears fully back on the tracks now with the Venu 2/2S. It sounds like Garmin is pretty confident in where they’ve got the algorithms to at this point to get the broader roll-out plans back on track (namely for the FR745/945).

Garmin-Venu2-Sleep-Overview

In any event, you’ll see your sleep status each day on the watch, first in the widget glances, and then by tapping on that widget glance for full information:

This can also be viewed on Garmin Connect Mobile/web for more detailed longer-term tracking/analysis, along with the sleep score you’re given every night:

2021-04-22 00.41.39 2021-04-22 00.41.54

Last but not least there’s smartphone notifications. On iOS these are one-way notifications (due to limitations by Apple), so you’ll see the contents of the message and then you can clear them once completed. The number of emojis supported here has slowly increased as well. So while you can see the emojis on the watch at left, the masterpiece of artwork itself doesn’t come through (only on the phone).

Garmin-Venu2-Notifications

In wearing an Apple Watch often, notifications is one of the biggest areas you see differences between smartwatch vendors. Some of that is due to Apple limitations (for example, not allowing 3rd parties to reply to texts), but some of it not. For example, I was curious whether or not it was even possible for Garmin to display things like photos sent in a text message (as an Apple Watch does). They said that “images from notifications is absolutely something we are investigating”, and went on to say they’re trying to figure out what’s viable, but also viable in a consistent manner across multiple phone models/vendors.

Finally, the Venu 2 has an increased battery, and in my testing, it’s definitely hitting the timeframes and battery estimates that Garmin has stated (and even going beyond them). Here’s the official chart:

image

For example, Monday night at 11PM I took the Venu 2 off the charger, and had it in ‘Always-on’ mode. Tuesday I did a 2hr ride, plus a bunch of dorking with the watch checking settings and such for this review for a few hours. Wednesday I then listened to music for 2.5 hours at my desk, and then did a 1 hour run. I then shot 2 hours of video and photo of the watch. By time all that was done, I was at 18% battery remaining (some 44 hours since charging). Oh, and with PulseOx enabled for sleep too!

In other words, I could have easily gone well beyond the 2 days had I not done 3 hours of GPS activities and video/photo work on it.

However, the new thing in the Venu 2 is the new Battery Manager and Battery Saver. Battery manager is essentially where you can toggle battery life estimates on/off (showing you how many days are remaining), and then it’s also where you toggle on Battery Saver:

Garmin-Venu2-Battery-manager

When you turn on Battery Saver, it gives you an incredibly long list of things it’s about to shut off, in order to geek out more battery life. That 18% battery life turns into basically 3 days of standby watch time, with the following settings toggled in battery saver mode:

Garmin-Venu2-Battery-Saver-Settings

In addition, tied in with that there’s the new rapid charging mode, which essentially guarantees that if you have a watch with no charge, that in 10 minutes you’ll have enough battery for a 1-hour GPS run, or 1 day in smartwatch mode. I don’t have exact stats of how that differs from other watches though, but Garmin says it’s a little bit faster.

With that, let’s dive into the sports usage.

Sports Usage:

Garmin-Venu-2-Sports-Usage

Of course, the main reason you pick a Garmin watch over most other smartwatches is for its sports features (or perhaps, the longer battery life). It’s ultimately its main jam, and the Venu 2 expands that with more workout types and more detailed instruction.

For perspective however, the Venu 2 is part of the larger Vivo family of devices, which means it tries to be a more mainstream version of their Forerunner series devices that target runners and endurance athletes. Thus, Garmin will often introduce features with wider appeal in these devices (like the Health Snapshot feature on the Venu 2) before pushing it to higher-end Forerunner or Fenix devices. Inversely, some features that are more sport-specific aren’t here, despite being on lower-priced Forerunner watches from Garmin. For example, you won’t find an outdoor track running mode or basic training load, like you would on a Forerunner 245 that costs $100 less. Don’t worry, it’ll be slightly more clear by the end of this section.

To start any workout on the Venu 2, you’ll tap the upper right button, which opens the sport selection menu. This is where you’ll pick which type of workout to suffer on:

Garmin-Venu-2-Sport-Mode-Selection

You can select/append favorites, but there’s a huge list of sports in there.

In total there’s: Run, Treadmill, Bike, Bike Indoor, Strength, Cardio, Navigate, Breathwork, Health Snapshot, Walk, Walk Indoor, Indoor Track, Floor Climb, Pool Swim, HIIT, Hike, Yoga, Pilates, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Climb Indoor, Bouldering, Row Indoor, Row, SUP, Golf, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski, Hydration, Challenges, Other.

(Yes, technically Hydration, Challenges, and Health Snapshot fall under the sports menu. Kinda weird, but whatever.)

If you’ve got any sensors you want to pair, like a heart rate sensor, you can do that in the sensors menu. This includes both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors. The Venu 2 supports Headphones, Heart Rate Sensors, Speed/Cadence, Foot Pod, Tempe (Temperature), ANT+ Cycling Lights, ANT+ Radar, and golf club sensors. As with other Venu/Vivoactive devices, Running Dynamics sensors are not supported here either.

Garmin-Venu-2-Sensors-Menu

While the Venu 2 supports re-broadcasting your heart rate as an ANT+ signal, it doesn’t yet support Bluetooth Smart broadcasting, which is kinda bizarre in 2021. After all, many of Garmin’s other newer watches support this. Garmin says it’s working on adding it for the Venu 2 series, but doesn’t have a timeframe for when exactly that’ll happen. For something like a Peloton Bike/Bike+, it actually supports ANT+ heart rate straps, so you’re fine there as it’ll show up by the ANT+ ID listed (10435):

2021-04-22 01.26.01

However, the Peloton App (such as on an iPad) doesn’t support ANT+ sensors, so you’re outta luck there using the Venu 2.

Heading back to our workout though, I’ll choose a run. You’ll see the GPS wait screen, which normally only takes a few seconds to find GPS, as well as the heart rate lock icon (indicating it’s got your heart rate locked). If you had any sensors paired, it’ll try and connect to those automatically too.

Garmin-Venu2-Sport-Mode-Ready

You could press start to begin recording your workout, or you can swipe up to access structured workouts. Garmin pre-loads a couple run iterval workouts, or you can easily create your own on Garmin Connect, or download various training plans too.

Though, Garmin lacks one-off workouts on the Venu series like we’ve seen in their higher-end watches with the ‘Workout Suggestion’ feature, or, like Polar has in their lower end Ignite/Ignite 2 series. I found it odd that I can easily grab a strength workout pre-loaded on the Venu 2, but couldn’t grab a simple running interval workout to do (without making your own, or loading a full calendar plan).

2021-04-21 11.57.48 2021-04-21 11.58.01

In any case, if you do a training plan, those workouts will automatically appear here based on their correct calendar day. As well as any 3rd party platforms (like TrainingPeaks or TrainerRoad) that push workouts to your Garmin account.

When it comes to customization of data screens mid-workout, there are three customizable data screens, each with up to four data fields. In addition there’s an HR zone gauge. This is on a per-sport profile basis. Meaning your running data page would look different than your strength or yoga data pages.

Garmin-Venu-2-ScreenOptions Garmin-Venu2-DataFieldOptions

You can also configure alerts for heart rate, run/walk, pace, time, distance, cadence, and calories. Which is different than auto-lap, which can be configured for a distance of your choosing, all the way down to 0.10 miles to 99.99 miles. Most of us probably just leave it on 1mi/1km. Or, simply turn it off altogether and manual lap instead (or, do both). There’s also auto-pause and auto-scroll (which automatically iterates through your data pages).

Also, you can enable LiveTrack to automatically notify a predefined list of recipients every time you start a workout, which sends them an e-mailed link with your exact position and historical data for that workout (including heart rate/pace/speed/etc…). Note that the Venu doesn’t support courses, so it doesn’t send them that.

With all that set, we’ll tap start to begin, and then we’ll get data displayed on our wrist updated every second. This is also recorded of course for later access. You can swipe up/down to iterate through the data pages:

vlcsnap-2021-04-22-10h53m17s383

For pace stability, things seemed pretty reasonable on my track interval workout, despite not having an official track workout mode. If you had loaded a structured workout into the watch, it’ll iterate through each of those steps for you, telling you what to do step by step.

In terms of display viewability, it was pretty good. The one item that both myself and my wife agreed upon was the slight delay, even in always-on mode, for the display to get to full brightness when you raised your wrist could be annoying in interval situations outside on a bright day. For example, yesterday we were in the trees running together a bit, and it was super sunny out. But the trees ended up filtering that sun, so when it hit the display as you raised your wrist, the backlight hadn’t kicked in, and it was hard to see. It takes about 1 second for it to kick in, once the wrist is raised. It’s viewable prior to that, just a bit dim (see below). In overcast scenarios you’d never notice it, but with the full sun, it’s more noticeable.

(Ignore the lack of focus here, these were taken on a GoPro while running, focus on the visibility of the numbers)

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Once that 1-second kicks in, it’s far more easily read:

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In fact, now’s a good time to switch modes a bit, over to the Strength and HIIT workouts. For that, I’ll scroll into the menus and choose Strength (like before), however, when I swipe up I’ve got pre-loaded strength workouts with specific muscle focus areas. As with above, there’s tons more I can load from the Garmin Connect app. But these three are pre-loaded:

Garmin-Venu2-Strength-Workouts Garmin-Venu2-Strength-Preloaded

When I choose that workout it shows me which muscles will be sore later, which they call a muscle map. I call it a pain map:

Garmin-Venu2-Muscle-Map

I’ll then see a complete listing of all the steps of the workout:

Garmin-Venu2-Step-Listing

As I begin the workout it’ll list off each step. You can swipe up a few pages to see the exact animation for what you’re supposed to be doing. And the green circle around the outside is counting each rep for you:

Garmin-Venu2-Rep-Counting

You can see the next step in the workout, as well as the full workout and groupings, and you can skip entire steps or groups if you want to, by pressing the lower right button.

Garmin-Venu2-Skip-Steps

If you tap on any given step, it’ll show you the exact muscle area it’s focusing on, and then you can hit the camera icon to see an animation of it (before you get to the step, you can also see it during the step).

Garmin-Venu-2-Muscle-Map-Detail

Once done with the entire workout, it’ll save the full rep details and you can specify exactly how much weight you used.

This same animation concept was used previously on the original Venu watch for Yoga, Strength, and Pilates. And now with the Venu 2 it’s got it for HIIT workouts too. For example, in HIIT workouts you first choose if you want a free workout, a HIIT timer, or a structured workout:

Garmin-Venu2-HIIT-Timers

The HIIT Timer option then lets me pick from AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible), EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute), Tabata (20s on, 20s off), or Custom. Once you select one of those, it’ll ask for how many rounds you want, or the total time.

If I choose the structured workout, I’m given a few choices to pick from:

Garmin-Venu-2-HIIT-Workouts

There’s also plenty on Garmin Connect Mobile to choose as well:

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Like with before there’s groupings of steps, and I can then iterate through each step to understand the exact move I’m supposed to do, and in some cases, there’s notes available too (the little notepad at the bottom):

Garmin-Venu2-HIIT-Workout-Steps Garmin-Venu2-HIIT-Workout-Details

Beyond that, it executes in exactly the same manner as the structured workouts for strength.

Finally, no matter which workout type you complete, you’ll get a summary screen at the end. For outdoor workouts you’ll get a bit more details on where you went, including a tiny breadcrumb style map profile:

Garmin-Venu2-Final-Workout-Summary

You can see the overall workout summary (very basic stats), lap summary, and heart rate zone information too:

Garmin-Venu2-Workout-Summary-Page Garmin-Venu2-Workout-Summary-HR-Chart

The real detail is available on the Garmin Connect App, or desktop website. Here’s a look at one of my track workouts from a few days ago, with all the detail pages:

And of course, all this will sync off to 3rd parties like Strava, TrainingPeaks, and plenty more, automatically. That usually happens a few seconds after the workout uploads, which usually happens a few seconds after I press save.

Music & Contactless Payments:

Garmin-Venu2-Music-Payments

With onboard storage and NFC, the Venu 2/2S supports offline music (including Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music), as well as paying for things using contactless payments. For music, it’ll connect to Bluetooth audio devices (like headphones, or even portable speakers). And for contactless payments, it’ll use Garmin Pay, where you can connect your bank cards to tap and pay for things (well, if it’s supported).

Starting with music, the process here is virtually identical to existing Garmin devices with music support, however the Venu 2 series has cleaned up the user interface, like all other areas of the watch. To begin you’ll open up the music widget, and then it’ll ask you which streaming service you want to use. That can be Amazon Music, Spotify, or Deezer. You can also simply load your own music (e.g. MP3’s) onto the device too, but I’m all-in on Spotify and Amazon Music, so that’s what I’ll show. Once you select a music service it’ll prompt you to login on your phone and authorize that platform. A few seconds later the watch is logged in, allowing you to pick playlists to sync:

Garmin-Venu2-Spotify-Playlists

These are organized in a similar manner to those on Spotify and Amazon Music itself, so I see my playlists, but also a pile of Workouts and Podcasts too. While the Venu 2 can directly load podcasts without Spotify/etc, that requires using the Garmin desktop app to sync manually, which is clunky AF. It’s far better to use one of these streaming platforms to handle the podcast sync.

Once you’ve picked a playlist, it’ll go off and sync it via WiFi (WiFi is required here for music sync). It also recommends plugging in your watch. If you ever had reason to want to burn the Venu 2 battery quickly, syncing music is by far the best way to do it. The music sync isn’t crazy fast, but it’s fine. The simple math is 5-10 seconds per song to download, or about 10 or so songs per minute (speed varies based on length and a slew of other factors).

Garmin-Venu2-Spotify-Sync

Anytime you attach your Venu to a charge, it’ll start sync almost immediately. This is notable because most online streaming platforms have dynamic playlists, so it’ll simply update with any song changes. Thus, your playlists are always up to date. You can download multiple playlists, the Venu 2 has 7GB of storage space, with slightly less than that usable once you consider operating system bits.

Once your music is on the Venu 2, you’ll want to pair your headphones (or other audio device). You can pair/save multiple headphones if you want, such as a pair of sporty headphones and then non-sporty ones. The music menu will automatically prompt you to do this, or you can always manage headphones in the sensors menu (the same place you’d manage heart rate straps).

To play music simply tap the music controls widget, and then choose the playlist that you want to start playing. You’ll have some basic controls like skipping a song, play/pause, and changing volume. You can access this both within a workout, as well as outside it.

Garmin-Venu2-Spotify-Music-Playing

Note that the music streaming platforms do require you to ‘check-in’ at least once per month to validate your subscription. Meaning, you just need to sync once per month. Given anytime you put it on a regular charger (not connected to a computer), it’ll automatically do a sync, this isn’t much an issue as long as you’ve got WiFi set up.

Switching gears, there’s the contactless payments bits. This uses NFC, and more specifically, Garmin Pay, which is Garmin’s payment platform. It’s like Apple Pay, minus the fruit. For this, you’ll need your bank to be supported by Garmin. That’s many of the big banks in the US, but beyond that it varies quite a bit. It’s hit or miss. A full list is here.

In my case, my Netherlands bank (ING) isn’t supported (still). However, my US Visa credit cards (Chase) are supported. My French Bank account (HSBC) isn’t supported, nor are some of my US local banks. Ultimately, this requires Garmin go to every single bank worldwide and get them onboarded. It’s not just a blank Visa/AMEX/Mastercard type thing. Hence why it’s hit or miss.

In any case, adding a bank takes about 2-3 minutes. Here I’ve added my Chase card to it:

2021-04-21 11.02.06 2021-04-21 11.02.16 2021-04-21 11.04.58

As part of the setup it’ll ask you to create a pin code to use when making payments. This is only used when making a payment, and as long as you haven’t removed the watch from your wrist in the last 24 hours, it’ll only ask you the pin code once per 24 hours. Also, you can save multiple cards to the watch too. To access your wallet, long-hold the upper right button, and tap the wallet cards icon, then enter your pin code in:

DSC_4297 DSC_4298

At this point you’ve got about 60 seconds to complete the transaction, by taping it on a NFC card reader. For example, say you wanted to buy this awesome Trainer & Chill mug, just simply tap the card reader (in my case, with a Friends & Family discount):

DSC_4304

And then when it’s successful it’ll show a green ring briefly:

DSC_4306

You won’t get any payment receipt on the watch unfortunately, though, you can see it later in the Garmin Connect app under ‘Recent transactions’ within the Garmin Pay details.

As always with contactless payments, you’ll want to know for sure the store/merchant you’re going to supports contactless payments and the card you plan to use, before relying on it 100%. So for example, for me since I can’t load ING debit cards on it, I can’t go to one chain of grocery stores here in the Netherlands that don’t accept my US Visa cards, if I’m out for a run. Thus, I know I have to go to a different chain that does accept them. So, it’s useful if you know your favorite places and what they do or don’t accept, but less useful for wild tapping with abandon.

Which, is ultimately no different than your phone tap payments – you simply have to know what does and doesn’t work, and have a backup plan accordingly.

GPS & Heart Rate Accuracy:

Garmin-Venu-2-GPS-HR-Accuracy

In this section I’m going to look at the accuracy of the optical sensor, as well as the accuracy of the GPS. The optical sensor here is of course new, as outlined earlier – Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor. The GPS chipset is still Sony, though Garmin has implied in conversations it’s a very slightly updated version over what was in the original Venu.

For all these tests I’ve got multiple other recording devices and sensors. As always, no two watches are on the same wrist as to not interfere with each other. Extra watches are either worn elsewhere on the body (like a running pack) or bike (handlebars), or sometimes hand-carried. Those watches not on the wrist are collecting heart rate data from connected HR sensors/straps.

With that, let’s dive straight into a track workout. No better way to throw a watch under a bus than throw it on the track for a slate of intervals. In this case, I actually started away from the track about 1.5mi/2.2km, and then ran to the track. This is compared to a Wahoo RIVAL & Garmin FR745 from a GPS standpoint, and then I also had a Garmin HRM-PRO chest strap, Polar Verity Sense optical sensor, and Whoop band for HR comparisons. First up, the heart rate chart. Here’s that data set (you can open these links and dig-in, in more detail or do your own analysis if you want):

image

As you can see, the Wahoo RIVAL in purple apparently decided that Sunday evening was a poor time for any sort of exercise, and totally gave up on trying to track my heart rate. The Garmin Venu 2 is near perfectly aligned with the Polar Verity Sense and HRM-PRO for the warm-up phases, and frankly, even much of the intervals themselves. For that, let’s zoom into those intervals, and also get rid of the Wahoo RIVAL – it’s too distracting here.

image

As you can see, compared to both the HRM-PRO chest strap and Polar Verity Sense band, the Venu 2 only made two mistakes on the intervals, for about 30 or so seconds each. Not major mistakes in this context, but a hair bit longer/over/under than I’d wanted. Though, you can see the Whoop strap devaluing the workout intervals by some 10bpm on every interval – thus throwing off all its training load metrics. The Polar Verity Sense band did have one brief weird drop-out of sorts (and another a bit later under the yellow text) that I’ve highlighted there, but otherwise it was pretty good.

Next, let’s look at a theoretically easy run from yesterday with my wife. Warm-day, steady-state run, relatively soft terrain. Should have been a shoe-in. Yet oddly, the Venu 2 actually struggled at the beginning of the workout for 5-7 mins. My guess is the far lower cadence than normal for me due to the differing paces probably caused this, but still, it shouldn’t happen. Interestingly, this is the only case of this happening I have – and ironically, for it to happen on an easy run is sorta quirky. My track workouts and interval workouts were all fine. Of course, as you can see, after that point it snapped to the rest just fine.

image

Next, let’s look at a Peloton Bike indoor workout. This as 9-minute long joyous intervals, and is compared to a Polar H10 chest strap, Apple Watch SE and Whoop strap:

image

Aside from the first 60-seconds at low-intensity while getting stuff settled on the bike, the units were virtually identical across the board. Whoop was lower of course, but otherwise, there’s really nothing to analyze here. It’s near perfect.

Let’s take things outdoors then on a ride and see how they handle. The middle of this two hour ride was me filming some stuff on the side of the road, so ignore that chunk of time. Instead, focus on the before & after, which is pretty darn steady-state riding.

image

Ok, I changed the colors on the below zoomed in graph, because there were duplicate colors in the chart with all the sensors. But, what you can see here is that Venu 2 gets off to a rough start for some reason. However, after that, it pretty much locks in place.

image

And it’s actually interesting, because after that point, the HR accuracy is surprisingly good for it in outdoor cycling. I rarely see this kind of accuracy there. I don’t know if perhaps it was me warming up, or what-not (I didn’t bother to take a coat this day…probably should have). You see one more brief dip after a stop-light where it takes a second to get locked back-on, but not horrible.

However, the 2nd half isn’t as good as the first half. In fact, the general pattern here seems to be that when I stop, things go a bit skew for a short duration before resuming back to happy-land.

image

Ultimately I’d say that for outdoor cycling specifically, I’d still probably go with another HR sensor paired up of some sort as opposed to the onboard optical sensor within the Venu 2. At least if you need more precise data than the above illustrates. Indoor cycling and running seem perfectly fine though.

Now, switching gears to look at GPS tracks, well start with that track workout I did, where I started away from the track and then ran to it. At a high level, things look pretty aligned to the FR745 and Wahoo RIVAL:

image

If we look at the paths to/from, it’s pretty close. I’d say the FR745 has the slight edge on exactly where I went each time, though the Venu 2 was close. The RIVAL seems a bit offset on many of the turns, having me off in the woods (sans-path):

image

Going under the gigantic set of highway/train-track overpasses, none was perfect (meaning, no weird jagged lines or such), but none was crazy wrong either:

image

Now the running track bit is interesting. I was using the FR745 & Wahoo RIVAL track mode here, which means they lock onto the track as they get on it, allowing for perfect loops each time (distance and pacing). The Venu 2 doesn’t have that mode. However, my arrival to the track has me coming up that path on the right side near the hotel, and you can see that both the Wahoo RIVAL & Garmin FR745 that I was already at the track and snapped me to it early, resulting in those weird lines. Whereas the Venu 2, being oblivious to this nifty technology, actually tracked my route correctly up to the top, and then back down into the track.

image

Once on the track itself, you’d be hard pressed from this view to not think this was actually in track mode. It’s really really sharp, one of the best non-track-mode GPS tracks I’ve seen on a running track. Props!

Next we’ve got a run almost entirely in the woods, mostly big trees too. This is compared to an Apple Watch Series 6, and a Garmin FR745 for GPS. Here’s the data at a high level, which looks mostly similar:

image

For the most part, the track throughout the forest is best exemplified in this one screenshot.  In this case, the Apple Watch Series 6 in blue basically cut or ignored all the corners (something I haven’t seen at faster paces). The Venu 2 was slightly offset on some, but spot-on on others. In general, the differences weren’t major, but they were visible nonetheless:

image

Still, on many of them, the FR745 & Venu 2 were lockstep around the turns properly. Whereas the Apple Watch was being…well…old school Apple Watch again. Mario-karting corners here I come!

image

The Venu perhaps seemed a touch bit wobbly in places, but again, it generally wasn’t cutting every corner like someone else:

image

Ok, let’s switch over to an outdoor ride for our last set. I’ve got lots of these, but frankly they’re all the same looking accuracy-wise, and all pretty darn boring Here it is compared to an Apple Watch Series 6 and Edge 1030 Plus:

image

If I zoom in on some random spots here, you’ll see these are all spot-on perfect:

image

They’re all within about a meter of each other and looking pretty crispy:

image

This is pretty common/normal for road cycling, where the higher speeds means it’s a bit easier for GPS to produce prettier tracks.

Ok, so overall I’d say that optical HR accuracy is pretty good for almost everything I tested except for outdoor cycling, where it seems a bit more variable. Also, as noted I saw a few cases where in the first few mins of a workout it was a bit wobbly, but then usually sorted itself out pretty quickly.

From a GPS standpoint, no issues at all of any real concern – and on-par with other units at or higher to it in price point (such as the Garmin FR745). As always, I’m sure given enough runs/rides/etc in differing locations around the world people will see quirks with GPS (like any device), but overall for me over the last while, it’s been pretty stable and dependable there.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Product Comparison:

I’ve added the Garmin Venu 2/2S into the product comparison database, allowing you to compare it against other products that I’ve reviewed in the past.

For the purposes of below I’ve compared it against the Fitbit Sense, Apple Watch Series 6, and Polar Ignite 2 –  which are probably the ones most people will be comparing it against from a sports/fitness standpoint.

Note that many smartwatches – but especially the Apple and Samsung watches have cases where 3rd party can be used to fill gaps. But figuring out which apps are here today and gone tomorrow is tricky, and ultimately, companies are selling their offering with the features they have at certain price points, so anything beyond that requires either time or money (or both) to bridge those gaps. That probably favors Garmin in fitness features, but inversely disadvantages them in non-fitness features. In any event, use this as a starting point on the devices themselves:

Function/FeatureGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 8th, 2021 @ 8:42 am New Window
Price$399$399/$499 (cellular)$329$229
Product Announcement DateApr 22nd, 2021Sept 15th, 2020Sept 2020Mar 24th, 2021
Actual Availability/Shipping DateApr 22nd, 2021Sept 18th, 2020Sept 23rd, 2020Mar 2021
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART, WiFiBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart/WiFi for musicUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART
Waterproofing50 meters50m50mYes - 30m
Battery Life (GPS)22 hrs (just GPS), up to 8hrs GPS+Music (2S: 19hrs GPS/7hrs with music)7hrs GPS on time (18hrs standby)12 hoursUp to 20 hours
Recording Interval1s or Smart RecordingVaries1-second1s
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatMost timesYesGreat
AlertsVibrate/VisualVibration/Audio/VisualVisual/VibrateVibrate/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYesNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Can control phone musicYesYesYesYes
Has music storage and playbackYesYesYesNo
Streaming ServicesSpotify, Amazon Music, DeezerApple MusicPandora, DeezerNo
PaymentsGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesYesYesNo
ConnectivityGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)YesYesNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoYes (with cellular version)NoNo
CyclingGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesNoNoNo
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoNo
Crash detectionYesYes via 'Fall Detection'NoNo
RunningGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesWith 3rd party appsNo (but has treadmill functionality)No
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNo
Running PowerWITH 3RD PARTY APPSWith 3rd party appsNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYes, via appYes
Race PredictorNoNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Track Recognition ModeNoNoNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Designed for swimmingYesYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeNoYEsNoYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterYesYesNoYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)NoBasic stroke type onlyNoYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesBasic stroke type onlyYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeNoNoNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoYesNoYes
Change pool sizeYesYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths13M/15Y TO 150Y/M1y/m to 1,500y/m+10m/y-100m/y20M/Y to 250 m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesVery limitedYesYes
Can change yards to metersYesYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYes (goals)Yes (distance)N/A
TriathlonGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Designed for triathlonNoNot reallyNoNo
Multisport modeNoYesNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesWith 3rd party appsNo (Premium Coached only)Yes
On-unit interval FeatureNoWith 3rd party appsNoSorta (offers structured workouts)
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesWith 3rd party appsNoHas daily suggested workouts
FunctionsGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoSorta (Pacing feature)NoNo (but can give out of zone information)
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNonoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYesYes
NavigateGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)No (but some 3rd party apps can)With 3rd party appsNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Back to startYesWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoWith 3rd party appsNoNo
SensorsGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometric with real-time watch faceBarometricGPS
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticN/AN/A
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYes
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)YesYesYesNo
ECG FunctionalityNoYesNO
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYEsNoNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesnoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNonONo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNonONo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNonONo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesNonONo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)noNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYEsYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesNonoNo
SoftwareGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressNonePolar Flowsync - Windows/Mac
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectNoneYesPolar Flow
Phone AppiOS/Android/WindowsiOS onlyiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
AmazonLinkLinkLinkLink
REILinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Venu 2Apple Watch Series 6Fitbit SensePolar Ignite 2
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

And again – don’t forget you can make your own product comparison charts comparing any products using the product comparison database.

Summary:

Garmin-Venu-2-Review-Summary

The Venu 2 is a modest upgrade in features, but a far more refined upgrade in the user interface and how clean the Venu series experience is. If you went back to my original Venu review, I noted that it felt like Garmin hadn’t really spent much time on the polish elements of the new AMOLED display. Certainly, given it was their first go at things, that’s somewhat understandable. But back then it was as if they just took a Vivoactive watch and stuffed it into the new display without actually takin advantage of it.

Now though with Venu, there’s boatloads of display-focused touches – such as backgrounds behind the sport start screens, the improved animations for structured workouts, the touch-scrollable graphs and charts, and even the always-on watch faces now showing detailed metrics too. Is there still room for improvement? Of course – I’d love to see them do something with the post-workout page especially.

As far as actual features and tech, those are stronger too. The optical sensor seems slightly better to me, but the PulseOx is clearly far better. The Body Battery algorithms are improved, and the sleep tracking finally being the more advanced variant is great. Battery life is solid also. About my only real complaints are that in non-always-on mode (gesture mode), the gesture recognition is still not in the same league as an Apple Watch. It’s better than the Polar Ignite 2 in that area (both faster and more responsive), but not perfect. Both my wife and I found that even with always-on mode, in running on a bright sunny day, that the 1-second delay when you raised your writs till it went full brightness was at times annoying. And for her, for non-workout life, the gesture wake was almost unusable (though, she comes from a heavy always-on display watch preference).

Still, the Venu 2 is a nice overall upgrade from the original Venu. As I said back at the original Venu launch, I’m skeptical on the $399 pricing. We’ve seen that over these 18 months since then, the bulk of the time the Venu was at $349, or even $299 more recently. Heck, even some $249-$269’s here and there. I’m just not convinced that it’s an everyday competitor at $399 to an Apple Watch Series 6 for the same price. Which…I suppose it’s probably why it’s often on sale. In any case, that’s Garmin’s battle to fight, and your choice to decide.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Venu 2 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

While optical HR works on some newer Garmin watches, if you're looking for higher levels of accuracy, the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM are less expensive than the HRM-PRO, but lack the Bluetooth connectivity and a few other features.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Venu 2 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

While optical HR works on some newer Garmin watches, if you're looking for higher levels of accuracy, the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM are less expensive than the HRM-PRO, but lack the Bluetooth connectivity and a few other features.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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279 Comments

  1. Steve Martin

    Interesting new watch.

  2. Ronny

    The function does not exist later as with forerunner or Fenix, right?

    • Sorry, which function?

    • Ronny

      Press Stop and continue later

    • No resume later option. Just save, resume, or discard.

    • Tina

      Oh, that’s a shame. I sometimes pause my activity on long hikes for lunch breaks and the likes to prevent recording GPS drift. Which sometimes can be MASSIVE!

    • Nathan B

      ‘Resume Later’ is definitely an option on the Fenix 6. I use it all the time.

    • Yeah, it’s on all the Fenix watches, I think most mid to higher end Forerunner watches, and some others I’m forgetting. Not on the Vene/Vivo series devices.

    • Robert

      I’m sure i do not understand. Ray seems to say you can Save and then Resume. Wouldn’t that cover it, or do you get a second training?

    • Robert Davidson

      That’s ridiculous that this watch still doesn’t have the ability to stop an activity and restart it later. I sold my Venu because if you paused/stopped an activity it would automatically finish and save it after 15 minutes. It also annoyed me that there wasn’t a quick/easy way to broadcast HR to my Garmin Edge – had to fudge it by selecting and starting an indoor activity. Frustratingly this would sometimes force my Edge into ‘indoor’ mode and disable the GPS !

    • Just to be clear there, there’s no Resume later. The three options when you pause an activity are:

      1) Save
      2) Resume (as in, you went to the bathroom and want to resume now)
      3) Discard

      I agree, a Resume later would be handy, and in fact, would probably use it later today for a 2-3hr round-trip ride to the beach, with a few hour gap at the beach.

  3. Henrik

    I’m a bit confused about ConnectIQ 4 situation. The Venu 2 is supposed to be the first watch with CIQ4 support and then we have this tweet link to twitter.com from Garmin stating that Fenix 6X and Enduro is CIQ4 compatible. Is Fenix 6 and Enduro just waiting for a software update or did Garmin happen to have a bit of bad luck in tweeting department?

    • tfk, the5krunner

      The latest CIQ 4 API Level 3.2.0 is supported by most recent devices eg Edge 530/830/1030, FR245/745/945 (not 935), Fenix 6 (not 5 not 5+), Venu, VA4 and others.

      The situation regarding specific compatibilities might be more nuanced than that.

    • Yeah, that original tweet was a bit of a mistake at the time.

      My understanding is this is effectively the first CIQ4 device that has all features and display capabilities. I’ll try and get some clarity on how this might differ CIQ4 feature-wise between a Venu and Venu 2.

    • Dom

      ETA: remember to type quickly in case Ray ninjas you in future.

      TLDR; think we’ll have to wait and see.

      There’s a distinction in the latest news post on the Connect IQ forum link to forums.garmin.com between System 4 and devices with API 4.0.0 and up. The System number is a new (and for my money gratuitously confusing) way to divide devices by capability coarsely. The 6X is definitely System 4, but the news post lists 6 System 4 features, some of which (including Super Apps) are API 4.0.0 only, some for anything above API 3.2.0. The features for greater than 3.2.0 but less than 4.0.0 are both compile-time features, though, don’t even necessarily mean changes in the watch engine.

      It’s possible whoever tweeted that doesn’t know the nuances between System 4 and API 4.0.0. Or maybe there are goodies coming – but the original presentations at the online developer conference last year left me with the strong impression that nothing current would be able to support the whole Super Apps side of things.

      Been a long wait for the F6 release candidate firmware to come out, maybe they’re working on this, maybe it’s some showstopper elsewhere in the firmware.

    • tfk, the5krunner

      yes, there are new ciq4 graphics capabilities for OLED and the venu 2 is the first to support them just because it has that hardware.

      a more interesting question to Garmin might centre on super apps.

    • Yeah, I’ll consolidate all the questions towards the end of the day my time and shoot them over. They’re usually pretty quick about getting them back.

    • Dom

      a more interesting question to Garmin might centre on super apps.
      Agreed. Again, the dev conference hinted that some aspects of that might require hardware with better multitasking capabilities, and the documentation talks about the new apps needing to handle kill messages when idle to free resources for running apps – this is much more flexible than the existing one app one foreground widget two CIQ fields limits. So it might just not be possible.

    • Reggie

      Agreed, I was excited to hear this was CIQ 4.0 because I have been very curious what a Garmin device without widgets would look like. And this just has the same widgets.

    • Dom

      Super apps can have one executable that acts as either a widget or an app, rather than there being no such thing as a widget any more.
      I’m also curious to see a good example of this; haven’t worked out what would suit both styles. Or whether you can run two apps at the same time.

    • Michael Irmer

      Hi Ray,

      are there any answers regarding CIQ4?

    • Piotr

      Hello Ray, did you get any answer from Garmin?

    • tfk, the5krunner

      sorry, yes, to clarify
      CIQ Level 3.2 System 4 and CIQ 4 are different.

    • Yeah, as TFK noted, the main difference there is the nuance of CIQ Level 3.2 (everything else), and CIQ API Level 4.0.0. It’s obviously less than ideal that these are named in the way they are, since it’s officially Confusing AF.

      However, the key thing noted in this post*, is this tibdit section of the items that are API Level 4.0.0 – of which only the Venu 2/2S is at this point:

      Super Apps (API level 4.0.0)
      Alpha Channels, Fill, Stroke and Blend Modes (API level 4.0.0)
      Graphics Pool (API level 4.0.0)
      Bitmap Packing Formats (API level 4.0.0)

      *https://forums.garmin.com/developer/connect-iq/b/news-announcements

  4. Joseph Madden

    Assuming that work outs (run/cycle) on this new watch still don’t count towards your training load/effect like say a fenix/edge

  5. Volker

    Nice review.

    Have you tried the amoled display on your bike mouted at the handlebars? So you can´t raies your wrist for getting it to full brightness. Do you have to shake the handlebars? 🙂 So that`s a very intersting point (for me), how the readability on the bicycle handlebars is?

    • I haven’t tried it on the handlebars, but I’ll give it a whirl tonight on the commute home.

    • Volker

      I think, in bright sunlight, if you can not take your hands off the handlebars (due to traffic conditions, etc.), then you have probably a problem with the readability untill you can tap on the screen for enabling the full brightness?

    • Update on the commute home test: No, putting it on the handlebars is totally useless. Despite being in always-on mode, as soon as it’s on the handelbars it’ll revert to not-always-on-mode. So about 3-4 seconds later, the screen powered off. Cobbles and such didn’t wake it.

      Perhaps if I had connected a HR strap maybe it’d have stayed on in workout mode, but didn’t think to do that.

    • Volker

      Thanks, Ray.

    • okrunner

      So, to clarify, if you want to use the Venu 2 in the “bike” or “bike indoor” profile it’s nearly useless unless on your wrist despite the fact that it has various sensor support. Is that correct? Seems like a huge oversight on Garmin’s part. That would indicate the radar integration might be useless as well, would it not? The last thing you want to do when car is nearing you from the rear is take one hand off the handlebars in order to see your radar. Still half-baked. Wait for the Venu 3, maybe?

    • Scott Lewis

      Actually, ironically, the radar integration is great for me. I have a Venu (original – it’s brand new and getting returned for the 2 now that it’s out) and use it as a backup to my Edge. For me, the vibration alert on the radar is a great reminder to glance at the Edge to see what’s doing. But I obviously do wear it on my wrist.

    • As Scott noted, you’ll get vibration alerts on your wrist, and can twist your wrist if-so to see the alerts (like any other Garmin watch).

      I suspect, approximately 98% of people will use this watch on their wrist, rather than mounted on a bike. I honestly haven’t seen much interest in wrist-mounting watches in the last few years, as optical HR sensors become commonplace. So much so that virtually nobody has asked about it in a few years on any reviews, so I stopped including it (if you go back, you’ll see I often used to include it in virtually every review).

    • okrunner

      I think you mean bike-mounting watches instead of “wrist-mounting watches”. Correct? However, I do see what you mean. I can only recall a couple times in the last few years that I’ve biked with a watch mounted on the handle bars. I did a couple years back on a century as my older Edge at the time was not fully charged when I woke up to go. Interestingly, a buddy had his 820 die during the century for the same reason. My 520 did not but nonetheless I had a backup in my Fenix 3hr which goes hours longer than the 520 ever did.

    • Volker

      I think, if the connected radar sensor is detecting a car, it will set the brightness to high level automatically for that alarm.

    • Ginger Lange

      Being a true child of the 60s, I listened to music so loud I lost the range of hearing needed for the Varia radar tone in my Garmin Edge, so a watch with vibration would be hugely helpful — to alert me to look down at my Garmin Edge as cars approach.

  6. madmalkav

    Sorry to always ask the same for each new watch released, but, does this one display phone notifications containing asian languages OK, or does Garmin still expects me to fly to Japan to buy the APAC version if I want to read my japanese WhatsApp messages on the device?

    • pfmiller

      I can’t say for sure, but FYI a recent beta version of the software for the original Venu *finally* claims to support several Asian languages. There is at least reason to hope that the Venu 2 will also support this.

      https://forums.garmin.com/sports-fitness/healthandwellness/f/venu/258565/beta—venu-sw-5-73-is-available

    • At present, on the unit I have, the only language choices are non-Asian character ones. I’ll add it to my pile of questions to send over.

    • Thanks for the review. I’d like to know too if the Venu 2 can display multiple languages regardless of the language choices for menus. Just flying to Japan or China to buy a single APAC version won’t work for me since I’m multi-lingual and need more than just two languages.

    • madmalkav

      @DC

      Thanks a lot for your reply.

      To clarify on my question, I’m not asking to set my complete device to an asian language, I just want to be able to read the messages I receive in those languages, japanese in my case.

      @pfmiller , good catch! Hope this is the beginning of a trend.

    • Dan_EE

      Version 5.8 for the original Venu just came out (4/28/2021) to quote
      “Added support for Thai, Armenian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese characters on smart notifications and music titles”

    • Dan_EE

      I tested it with an email to myself. Worked fine!

    • pfmiller

      Strange. I got the update and tested it using Chinese and it isn’t working. Frustrating since, other than working sleep tracking, no Chinese character support was my biggest complaint with the device.

  7. Ray, do you know if the new sleep tracking is coming to some older devices (Venu, VA4 etc…)? Doesn’t seem to be dependant on the new Elevate sensor.

    • Rob

      My question as well. Just switched from VA3 to VA4. Like the bigger display, but I honestly don’t use the music as I have my phone with me all the time. Not a huge difference from 3 to 4, but not sure I want the size of the F6. I’m not a runner, just walk, golf, bike, gym.

  8. Randal Lavery

    Looks really good.

    Its a shame it doesn’t have all the Fenix 6 capabilities ( Multisport / Openwater etc, more stats etc) as its seems like that its hardware more than capable doing so

    Are there any plans to create another.model with the Fenix / FR 945 functionality?

    • Peter Z.

      I’ve been curious about that too. Device would of course be much more expensive. It seems balancing battery life for the more advanced users is a key challenge. What are they willing to sacrifice for pretty screen or how much more will they pay?

  9. Rob

    That ‘Sleep Score’ screen. Is it dependant on device?

    I have a fēnix 6 Pro and whilst I can see a score on the watch I can’t get the Connect app to show it.

    Not ultimately bothered. Curiosity more than anything!

  10. Pavel Vishnyakov

    Hi Ray,
    do you know if those updated FirstBeat algorithms will be offered for other watches (namely Fenix 6) via a software update? For example, you mentioned that 745 has them, but it still uses the Elevate 3 HR sensor, so the algorithms are not limited by hardware.

    • I’ll round-up the questions and ask on the algorithms.

      For the FR745, I was referring there to the differences between the Body Battery algorithm in the Venu 2 versus the FR745, and how the sleep upates impact that. I don’t suspect there’s any dependency on the Elevate sensor version for that algorithm.

    • Eli

      They can be limited by the quality of daa from the sensor. Like the Alpha 1 measurement based on HRV isn’t useful at all with some HR straps because the data quality is too poor

  11. JoeE

    Still no cycling power meters…..

    Just so you know – All Garmin watches with ConnectIQ support Running Power with 3rd party Apps (Stryd) – I use it every day I run on a Venu.

    • Good catch, I normally have ‘No’ in the Running power, but then the Apple Watch had the entry for ‘With 3rd Party Apps’…and thus…yeah. Added it into the Garmin Venu 2 database entry, and thus, I now need to tweak others.

      One of the reasons why I’m considering ditching the whole ‘With 3rd party apps’ entry option. It’s sorta helpful, but also sorta a mess to maintain.

    • Eli

      As I said below in more detail, needing a third party app to do so brings with it major limitations so is very different from native support

    • Mike

      Does running power work natively with the venu 2 + the garmin running pod? or the tri hrm strap? I really like running power on my coros pace 2 and dont want to lose that feature, but would be fine with using an additional sensor. i prefer to not use a 3rd party app though.

    • No, it doesn’t support it. If you want to run with power on the Venu 2, you need to use a 3rd party app like Stryd.

  12. dibblah

    Hmmm so a Venu 2 but no Vivoactive 5?

    I understand you can’t comment on NDA locked information, but have you heard Garmin saying if the VA series is discontinued?

    • usr

      Garmin has lots of “almost identical” watch models that aren’t released concurrently. I see absolutely no reason to read something like them discontinuing Vivoactive into this.

      it’s kind of surprising that they are spearheading the new Elevate sensor on a “casual” model and not on one of the sports mainstays, but it makes sense considering how most of the other changes are all about the Amoled and how it’s used. What I could imagine is that the Vivoactive simply skips a cycle because so little has changed between Vn1 and Vn2 outside of Amoled-specific features and that the VA5 will be a contemporary of Vivo 3 (but then also released with a few weeks or months between them, and likely also Vn before VA because Vn is more of a showpiece compared to the rather understated VA)

  13. Juri

    no rumored Dual Frequency GPS support is sad and takes my hopes for the Fenix 7 having it (I am assuming they probably both use the updated Sony Chip)

    Is there still a 2 ConnectIQ data field limit? By now, the watches have gained so much more processing power, but still only 2?

    Interesting to hear your thoughts on CIQ4 capability of the F6x as per the tweet that Henrik linked above. Just a Garmin error?

  14. Steven Beeler

    It comes with Pool Swim but no Open Water mode, correct? For that price point I would expect to see Open Water Swim too.

  15. “The GPS chipset is still Sony, though Garmin has implied in conversations it’s a very slightly updated version over what was in the Venu 2.”

    there might be a slight type in there or I’m reading it wrongly.

    Anyway, the related question
    The original Sony chip used by Garmin was CXD5603GF. However, I think we discussed a while back that there were several iterations to that by Sony and that Garmin maybe used them. Perhaps they are not too worthy of note as they are only slightly modified versions (to version CXD5608GF).

    Sony’s latest chipsets from late 2020 are CXD5610GF & CXD5610GG and these are materially different. I believe the smaller & CXD5610GF is used by the Garmin GPSMAP 66sr.
    Can you ask if the Venu 2 uses one of these new chips?

    • Yeah, a single digit typo. FIxed.

      I’ve asked in the past, and historically Garmin won’t provide the precise GPS chipset versions. 🙁

    • Mario

      It is very likely that the Venu 2 does not have a multi-band chip like the GPSMAP 66sr. Garmin would definitely provide these details in technical data, see GPSMAP 66sr. On the other hand, the GPS antenna on the watch is not that good, so it does not offer enough advantages.

  16. Luc Collaer

    Thanks (again) for another great review!
    I am in to upgrade my FR645 and was just to order an apple watch 6. I don’t run anymore and mainly cycle with my edge device.
    But now, I don’t know it anymore. This watch looks really cool.

    • Scott Lewis

      Here’s my feedback, if it helps. I abandoned the latest Apple Watch as a cycling watch in exchange for a brand new Venu (just returned it to Amazon, Venu 2 comes Saturday, thank goodness). I use a watch as a backup to my Garmin (the older Edge 1030). For two reasons. 1) In case the Edge crashes (happened once), or 2) in case I neglected to charge it (my fault, happens regularly).

      With the Apple Watch, if I use the watch for GPS (I had the cellular version, and would leave my phone at home), I couldn’t get through an entire ride, since it was only good for 4-5 hours. With my phone, it uses the phone’s GPS, and I watched my iPhone go from 100% battery health to 91% battery health in a really short span of time, I think it’s just too hard on the phone.

      So I got the Venu, which has enough of the “Apple-watch like” features. Has stronger cycling support. Has sleep tracking. Shows me notifications. Let’s me control music.

      I’ve left off the “always on screen” but otherwise liberally use lots of features. My ONLY complaint about the Venu (and perhaps it is fixed in the 2) is with bluetooth headphones on, the signal was so weak that on a run, every time my arm was in the “down” position, the audio would cut out. Basically useless. But with my back, I honestly almost never run, so who cares. 😉

      My #1 wish list would be power meter support (again, this is my backup, so it’s minor), but I do have a third party data field app that was like $8 and works with power meters, there are some quirks all related to how Strava interprets the data, but it’s capturing the data at least.

      My #2 would be a slightly superior range for Bluetooth.

  17. DrDennyM

    One of the features I like in the original Venu is the 4 hour history showing highest and lowest HR. It would be more helpful if that showed the last 8 hours instead. Did this change on the Venu2?

  18. Hidde

    hmm, I’m mostly a runner, my FR220 gave up on me a few months ago, and I’ve been holding off on a new watch since then. I used my FR220 only for running, not using a watch the rest of the time. I’d really like a FR245 or even a FR45, but then with Garmin Pay integration and daily activity monitor, so that I can use it as a daily watch too.

    The lack of Garmin Pay and the fact that the FR45/245 are 2 years old by now make me to hold off until a good alternative comes along. The Venu 2 is a bit too expensive, and lacks the specific running features (on device intervals and sound alerts) which I used on my 9 year old device, how hard could it be to support these? it’s for sure not a technical reason….

    Do you think these capabiltities will make it to the Venu 2? I may get over the price, the lack of features not so much (especially at this price).

    • Eni

      If you don’t mind not having the newest tech, try the FR645 on sale. Has all the features of the FR220 and many more (including those you’re interested in). If you don’t mind paying a bit more, go for the FR745 or the FR945 on sale). Wouldn’t it be for Garmin Pay, I’d really recommend the FR245 for you. The Vivo/Venu series are not runners watches (and never will), and not many running specific metrics have trickled down to them (only time in zone and VO2max, afaik).

  19. acousticbiker

    Thanks, Ray!

    – Good to see improvement on pulse ox. Do you see any significant improvement in GPS and/or HR accuracy compared to Fenix 6?
    – Interesting to see raw HRV values reported as part of Health Snapshot. Is there a historical trend view for HRV?
    – On Advanced Sleep Monitoring, are the final tweaks to get it to other devices changes/improvements we’ll also see on Fenix 6?
    – Is that Sleep Score trending I see in GCM? I still don’t see it on iOS GCM using an F6. Is that coming?
    – What is a ‘Castor’?

    • 1) I don’t see much difference between GPS & HR accuracy compared to the Fenix 6, with the exception of PulseOx accuracy, which definitely seems improved here.

      2) There isn’t yet a trended HRV view. I’ve gotta imagine at some point they’ll do that, but they confirmed it’s not yet there.

      3) My understanding is those are coming to the Fenix 6, they’re finalizing the specifics/dates of that to me.

      4) Sleep score trending in GCM requires a flag on the Fenix 6 to tell GCM to illuminate it. It’s coming, but per the above one, they’re getting me the exact date. It lit up yesterday for the FR245/745/945.

      5) Castor was simply the code-name Garmin gave the Venu 2. Up until the moment a device goes public, GCM will only show the code-name, and typically just a genric watch icon that you see there. Since I take my screenshots usually the day before a product goes live, sometimes the code-name is in there.

  20. Mr T

    I got the original Venu for a cheap price I do like the better screen for my eyes. However I noticed a quirk and was wondering if you noticed it. When I have pacing as a data field it rounds the pace to the nearest 5 secs. Ex. If Im running 7;52 it will be 7:50 it seemed to do this on avg pace too.

    Also if you make a yoga workout on Connect it won’t load the animations. Did that change?

    • Robert

      It’s the same on the two Forerunners I have – FR230 and 235. Instant pace is rounded to nearest 5 sec, any other pace fields (lap average, etc) are to the second. I don’t find that problematic at all, since instant pace varies quite a lot. The typical setup used in races or long intervals is instant pace and current interval pace, those two together provide an easy way of tracking.

    • Mr. T

      Actually, I misspoke. It’s the lap pace that rounds up or rounds down in 5 second increments. That almost makes the lap pace totally usable and it something that I have never experience in other Garmin watched.

      For training etc, it’s probably okay, but if you are doing a paced workout or in a race, it’s just dumb that it can’t do the exact pace. Lap pace should just be an avg pace for a set time.

  21. inSyt

    Thanks to this post, the “awesome” band is now sold out? Very naughty.

  22. Mike

    Seems to be a decent upgrade in battery life and destroys Apple on that front.

  23. For folks that are interested, my full user interface tour video is now available here: link to youtube.com

    I basically walk through all the new features slowly one and a time, with lots of explainer behind it. The video isn’t yet set to ‘public/live’ over on YouTube, but using the link above, you can access it now ahead of time. Enjoy!

  24. JJG

    Will be the new HIIT app and workouts avaliable for the existing devices? Like F945 and F6?

  25. Michel

    Of course I bought the Venu 1 just last month, specifically for sleep tracking and checking oxygen levels… goes with the rest of my year I guess…

    Ray – is it worth upgrading (wish Garmin offered a trading up program) ?

  26. karl

    “Oreo consumption tracking” but no details on how it tracks Oreos.
    No Oreo comparison pictures.

    I suspect Ray is presently out of Oreos.

  27. Marcel

    i just recovered from covid, i used the FR 245 oxymeter to monitor the situation. (indeed body battery, vo2max,sleep,oxy all was in red). But are the algoritms only improved on this new Venu?, were the old ones wrong?

  28. Brooks

    I didn’t see this question addressed anywhere else. Is the scratch resistance improved at all on the v2 of the venu? I have the first one and its been great for what I need but something they did with this amoled screen has it crazy susceptible to scratches. I’m not that hard on watches and I’ve never had one scratch like the first venu. My wife has a vivoactive 3 and hers doesn’t scratch nearly as easily as mine.

  29. Bogdan

    Nice review, thank you. One question: is it possible to pause your runs in this version? I mean manual pause, not the auto-pause feature which I found mostly useless. The lack of the manual pause function while running was the main reason why I sold my first generation Venu. Thank you.

  30. Chris H

    For Garmin Pay – in the UK at least, you can just pick up a free “Curve” card and link your existing cards to it – then it works on Garmin Pay, Fitbit Pay, etc regardless of if your underlying bank!

  31. okrunner

    I tried the original Venu and had several issues including the very annoying raise to wake issue, delay in data on raise to wake, high heart rate reading on exercise by several bpm, battery drain issues, non-acceptable auto pause function on workouts, useless/incorrect pulse ox readings, poor GPS tracking, and maybe others. It appears the pulse ox readings, gps tracking, and heart rate readings are improved. But, correct me if I’m wrong, the raise to wake issues and delay in data (that frankly were unacceptable to me) are still about the same, is that correct? Also, did you use auto-pause on a run or ride and did it function correctly? Any other bugs not mentioned?

    • I don’t use auto-pause, so haven’t tried that.

      Raise to wake is better than before, but still not as good as Apple. It’s better in edge cases than Polar.

      Otherwise, all the issues I encountered are outlined above in the review in the various sections (from HR quirks to gesture issues, etc…).

  32. okrunner

    No power meter support! Come on Garmin this is just playing unethical marketing games. If a person just wanted to have one Edge device and one gps watch, it would be nice if the watch could handle power meter support in case you needed to use the watch on occasion if the Edge were dead, etc. Clearly the watch can support it. I wouldn’t want to use a Venu 2 as a bike computer, and probably couldn’t read the display with my eyes (why I have an Edge 1030) but still this is just unacceptable gamesmanship from Garmin that their only current amoled display won’t provide power meter support.

  33. ryanovelo

    Annnnd still NO LTE. Mind blowing.

    • Robert

      What use case(s) do you have in mind for LTE on such a product?

    • okrunner

      Ryan,
      I’m not totally sold on LTE. I really don’t know that many folks using a cellular Apple watch. However, your point is not lost. Garmin knows they can’t compete with Apple on polish and delivery. Therefore, they must compete in other areas. Yes, they are somewhat better in the sports area but not enough, in my opinion, to sway many runners away from the Apple watch. They need to go all in and add power meter support, etc. to place the Venu 2 far and above the Apple watch in sports features. I don’t think they’ll develop a Fenix 7 amoled and sell it for less than $1,000 and at that price point Apple still wins. Plus, why have two tiers of amoled devices. Garmin has too many tiers in their fitness devices anyway. There’s an opportunity for Garmin to shine with a Venu type amoled watch but I think they are still missing the mark.

    • gideon

      also, garmin doesn’t support their watch the way apple does. I don’t mind paying premium prices but I’m not a repeat customer if I don’t get premium service. the venu seems to be a one and done purchase. garmin will go bankrupt with that kind of mentality.

    • What is “premium service”?

    • Matt

      No OP, but I want LTE too. In this day and age of giant phones and only being a small guy, I’d love not to have to carry it. I want it for live tracking and incident detection with notification. Maybe some caked text messages I can set beforehand along with a preset amount. Maybe streaming music/podcasts instead of downloading.

    • pfmiller

      One example I would give is that the sleep tracking of the original Venu is widely criticized by users on their forums, but instead of fixing it they released a new version of the watch you need to buy in order to get the fix.

    • pfmiller

      LiveTrack and activity safety alerts are both features that would benefit from cellular data.

    • Sure, that’s potentially a bug-type thing (though, I think you’ll find that any wearable out there has a portion of the population where sleep or steps isn’t perfect – the goal being to keep closing the gap). Apple’s no different there, the GPS still isn’t super accurate at low speeds, dramatically cutting corners, as I showed in some of the samples here. That’s been like that for nearly half a decade now.

      I’m specifically referring to what is a “premium service” exactly?

    • pfmiller

      According to Garmin support the poor sleep tracking isn’t a bug, it’s working as designed. The “premium service” would be providing the better FirstBeat sleep tracking to Venu 1 users.

    • Sean

      I think lte makes perfect sense with incident detection. I dont carry my phone when i am out jogging, but i might be gone for 1-1.5 hours. If something happens it would be nice for my watch to have lte so my spouse could know and come help.

  34. Is there a plan for any of the new UI changes or features to come to the original Venu like other firmware upgrades with other watches like the Fenix?

  35. gideon

    great review….you deserve a nobel/oscar for your content

  36. Emilio Ferro

    Hope we are receiving the Forerunner 955 as next release, or either the back rumored Descent MK2S (Smaller version)
    Broke my 935 a month ago and keeping for the new release to come. MK2S would be great as can have one devise for my trainings and diving activities

  37. Sebastien

    Sounds like a great replacement from my Vivoactive 3, but I’ll wait few months for a more affordable price.

  38. Remco

    Hi Ray, could you shoot and show a picture next to a Garmin Lily? I know 2 completely different devices but I am curious on the size difference.
    Thank you in advance

  39. gtom

    Thank you for the review. Do you guys know if Garmin finally upgraded their WiFi chip in Venu2? WiFi chips in F6, FR945 only connects to 802.11b/g. They don’t support 802.11n, ac, ax.

  40. Trax101

    Great review as always Ray, but an image of yours caught my eye in the sleep tracking selection. You have posted an image of a graph showing your sleep score, how have you done that? Is that only available in IOS? I can’t find it anywhere in the Android or web versions of Garmin Connect.

    I emailed Garmin months ago asking when we would be able to view that data in connect and never got an answer.

    Many thanks Paul,

  41. rite2hhh

    Really nice in-depth review. Thanks!
    First some context, then a couple of questions.

    I’ve been an Android user for the most part. I’ve been waiting for a good smart watch but there are none (in my view), and frankly it’s annoying AF. That’s mainly because when I think smartwatch, my mind goes straight to Apple Watch 6 offerings, which will cause me to make a shift in ecosystems in the near future, I’ve lost my patience.

    If I’m thinking of a tradeoff between a pure fitness watch and a smartwatch – in terms of battery and features – the closest I’ve found is Venu series.

    Please note I’m not a serious athlete by any means, I’m a person who likes to stay fit and active at best and… I like watches – I don’t mind shelling extra money in the future towards multiple watches for specific needs. I run/bike/hike and go to the gym. I’m training for smaller tri’s but nothing serious. I’m at least a couple years away from a half-Ironman or something.

    I’m essentially torn between a smartwatch and a fitness watch today. It won’t be until a few months before I switch to iOS, but I need a watch NOW.

    Now, please mind that there probably are watches better than it, but I’m basing it on the following MUST HAVEs:
    1. HR
    2. spO2
    3. Spotify support
    4. NFC payment
    5. Nice display
    6. One week battery (I understand 3&4 are mutually exclusive, but sub 1 or 2 day battery is a no-go)
    7. Under $500

    A couple of questions:
    1. How would you distinguish a fitness watch vs a smart watch?
    2. How well do you think Garmin’s support will be for this watch? Both in terms of years of support and new software features?
    3. Would this watch be a good “fitness” pairing with iPhone or should I opt for FRxxx series? If yes, then I’d go for Apple watch as my “daily driver” and use this for “fitness”

    • Andrew Ziminski

      Good breakdown of what matters, help to narrow down recommendations. A few things:
      1. Always buy based on what’s available right now, not what’s promised in software. That being said, expect 1.5 years of software updates
      2. spO2 is fairly irrelevant, but if you’re worried b/c of covid, or if you live at altitude that makes sense
      3. With spotify, you can listen to music OFFLINE with a garmin, apple watch must be online (either phone, or LTE version). Which is a huge difference in cost + recurring monthly cost to add LTE to the watch
      4. The Venu definitely has a better display than the VA4, go to an REI, or local shop and test them out. If you are set on the display then go with the Venu. If you can find a good deal, look at the the 745, Fenix 6, or 945 (based on your requirements, I think the VA4 or Venu is the cheapest way to get what you want). What you are really paying for is the better battery life

      If you are moving to Apple, get an apple watch. If you want an android, get a garmin. Apple watch has iMessage, and is definitely the smartest watch. But, the garmin just works as Ray would say with Android. Can quick reply to texts, and customize notifications, you lose all of that when you switch to iPhone unless you have an apple watch.

      Said another way, if you want a smart watch, you will be disappointed with a garmin. If you want a fitness watch you will be disappointed with an apple watch. But, based on your criteria (mainly battery), I’d go with the garmin. My friend with an apple watch usually forgets it b/c he has to charge it. If you don’t care about sleep tracking, then its less of an issue. But having to remove your watch once a week beats every day.

    • rite2hhh

      Hello Andrew,

      Thanks for the feedback, you are actually right, spO2 is not relevant so much, not sure why I wrote that…

      Sleep tracking is important, so I’ll probably go with Garmin then. In terms of priorities, I want a fitness watch more than I want a smart watch right now. I suppose a little friction to the social media accessibility would allow me to use the fitness features more? 😉

      I suppose I’ll start with Venu 2 (for now). When I transition to the Apple Watch in the future (because I do want a smart watch), I’ll use it for daily stuff. Figure out if I want to buy a Fenix or eq. in the future if I ever get to an ultra or a half-Ironman.

      REI is a good idea, I’ll do that.

      Thanks!

    • Scott Lewis

      To piggy back on what Andrew said, and to address your question of what distinguishes a fitness watch vs a smart watch, with the caveat that this is merely my opinion:

      Fitness watch – strong emphasis on exercise, workouts, etc. Apple Watch won’t pair to speed/cadence sensors on a bike. With the new Fitness service they are getting closer, but Garmin focuses on exercise, sleep, and the metrics around that. Smart watch – emphasis on doing things that could otherwise be done on your phone, without taking it out of your pocket. SENDING messages (not just seeing notifications), MAKING calls (not just seeing a notification that your phone is ringing), etc.

      One day, a watch will nail both those aspects, and I’ll spend a disgusting amount of money to acquire one. Until then, I used Apple Watch for quite some time (had a series 1, 3 and 6) but switched to the Venu, because at this point in time, I care more about fitness than smartness. But Venu, not Fenix, because some smartness was desirable. The Venu 2 seems like the perfect tradeoff from Garmin for a cyclist, except for the lack of power meter pairing. But I both have a regular Edge, and there’s a third party field that can log / display power meter settings. Close enough.

      I’m sure a pro cyclist would not use the Venu, but for my 30-100 mile riding behind, it’s perfect.

    • rite2hhh

      Hello Scott,

      Thanks, that insight! Reading that an Apple Watch user switched to Venu was refreshing… most Apple Watch users swear by it, I’m an Apple fan, but frankly their denial is annoying beyond measure.

      30-100 mi at a stretch would make you a serious athlete in my view, add to that the switch from Apple Watch to the Garmin.

      That “some smartness is desirable” perfectly describes my position as well. I’m not a serious athlete, but I’d like to be…

      Going back to Andrew’s comment, I understand not to have high hopes/expectations from companies to provide new software features, but a decent timeline ought to be promised I’m not expecting 10 years of support but 2-3 years isn’t that much commitment for a $400 watch. It isn’t that cheap to be irrelevant in a year.

    • GarminVenuOwner

      Your comments echo my thoughts exactly.

      Apple frankly defines the category, resets the expectations, and sets the bar incredibly high for any competitor in their space.

      The app ecosystem is a great example. No developer is going to approach a Garmin or Wear OS platform, when its user base is infinitesimally small compared to the user/market size of the Apple Watch.

      Google’s lack of a solid Apple competitor (is Wear OS / Snapdragon 4100 going to turn things around in 2021?) is a weakness on their platform.

      The only two other large companies left are Garmin and Fitbit. And Fitbit + Google merger only provides for a more confusing future for those FitBit + WearOS devices, as Wear OS + FitOS exist in parallel.

      IF the watch becomes a growing factor, which it obviously is for many consumers, it does encourage users to drop their Android devices + Garmin/FitBit watches in favor of the iPhone + Watch.

      The battle isn’t even fair – its a 1.5-2 trillion dollar company that generates the GDP of Italy in revenue every 24 hours (sarcasm) vs a 1-2 billion dollar company – with product lineups spanning from avionics to car GPS navigation to fitness gear.

      I am afraid Garmin isn’t able to generate enough revenue, with enough margin, to really make the kind of investments necessary to compete with Apple. Those Garmin product managers, developers and engineers need to have laser focus – and really execute. And then to think – if someone at Garmin is a watch guru, can Garmin afford to pay them 7 figures to not be poached by Apple? 7 figure base salary might be a stretch, but it would be impossible to imagine a Garmin engineer or product owner getting anywhere close to a 7 figure salary, whereas it would be realistic for a Apple engineer / product manager to grow to make 7 figure salaries.

      I am not calling for Apple to be broken up, but man – how is it even fair for a Garmin? I can’t say that it is. Just think – when Apple announced the Apple Watch – how many hours….or even minutes….did it take for Apple’s share of the fitness/wearables market to surpass all its competitors? How many hours did it take for Apple’s share of the fitness/wearables market to surpass all of its competitors – combined?

      Apple’s product and engineering staff is just second to none. And the brand / user experience they have created across all of their product lineups just leaves everyone in the dust. It becomes harder to deny, than it is to just accept the Apple ecosystem – and ditch the Android device. Like I keep saying this Garmin Venu is cool, but really my spouses like 3 year old Apple Watch is still way snazzier…..who am I kidding, but myself?

    • TomG

      Surely if you want a fitness watch and battery life is important you would want to avoid AMOLED?

    • Paul S.

      Apple doesn’t compete with Garmin. I say this as someone typing on a MacBook Pro, with an iPhone in my pocket and an Apple Watch 5 on my wrist. Later this morning I will put my Edge 830 on a mount, start up various Garmin sensors, turn on my Varia radar. None of them can connect to either my Apple Watch or my iPhone because they’re ANT+. The Edge will form a light network and control the light on the Varia (I also have a Garmin headlight, but it’s sunny today so it stays on the shelf). No Apple device can do that. My Apple Watch has to be charged every night. My Fenix 5+ doesn’t. As far as I know, the only device that can routinely do all that my Edge does is another Edge. (Hammerhead and Wahoo don’t have the equivalent of ConnectIQ, and I use three ConnectIQ data fields.)

      Now I don’t care about crap like “steps” or “measuring my sleep”, so I’m not typical. But Apple doesn’t compete with Garmin. If they wanted to they could buy Garmin, but I’ve never seen any indication in the many years since the AW came out (and I had series 0) that they’re interested in the fitness market that Garmin rules.

    • rite2hhh

      TomG,

      I’m a beginner in this space and spending ludicrous money for the fenixes and higher end FRs is not for me (yet). The balance of sensors and features seemed right to me in Venu series, and I do care about some elegance, when I get serious I’ll go and buy whatever I need – money spent for a purpose to maximize ROI is what I go for. AMOLED in smartwatch mode without AOD is claimed life of 10 days, normal usage by DC showed he got 6, I don’t workout nearly as much, so I should get a full work week (I think). I’m good with that.

    • rite2hhh

      Paul,

      I understand Apple isn’t competing with Garmin, neither do I think Garmin with Apple, but a blind eye from consumers will choose Apple. When you are spending $400 for a watch and you already own an iPhone why wouldn’t you want all the features that AW provides? especially for a recreational user, that tradeoff is justified for them, they don’t have to deal will another space and the integration throughout the ecosystem is just too good to deny.

      Any serious athlete like yourself wouldn’t even bat an eye towards AW because it doesn’t suffice your needs. Today my needs are a little of both, I’d say 60% fitness and 40% smarts from a watch which is Venu.

      As far as acquisition goes, Apple is too arrogant to acknowledge others (not sure if it’s good or bad). Their brand value itself drives movement. See what happens with AirTags now, Tile existed for over 8 years now, no-one gave a shit, you’ll see an AirTag on every big item people own including pets by 2H2021, I’ll bet. Did they buy Tile, no? They didn’t have to, they swooped it’s target audience, Tile will die itself. In some ways I’d say it’s better than MSFT to buy a company and kill a product intentionally (not always though)

    • Paul S.

      I just ordered 4 AirTags today. My wife has used Tiles for years, but I never did, because I’m not in the habit of losing or misplacing stuff. (Aside from losing my keys on a mountain top a couple of years ago.) But the integration with FindMy (which I use mostly to spy on my soon-to-be-married-teenager-for-only-a-couple-of-weeks-more daughter) has me wanting to experiment with the Tags. I’ll probably use two and give two to my wife.

      Apple has acquired lots of stuff over the years, including Beats (how much of that is in my AirPod Pros I don’t know) and the super-license they have for ARM. They’re simply not interested in the market Garmin serves. If they were, they’d at a minimum support ANT+. But the tension between a smartwatch and a fitness watch is why I have one of each (AW5LTE and Fenix 5+), because I need each for the things they do well. My AW came along on my ride this morning, but I didn’t use it, and such things as the Activity rings are kept off my watch face, because I’m not interested. Primarily I use my AW for quick glance weather conditions/forecasts, but I also use Apple Pay a lot, use the AW to reply to texts and even occasionally take calls (if the iPhone is not in reach).

    • rite2hhh

      Paul,

      That’s what I am going for too, buy watches for specific purposes, until then Venu 2 will serve me just fine 🙂

      This review and thread has sufficiently convinced me to get a Venu 2, just placed an order for one coming on Apr 28 *.*

      Thanks DC Rainmaker!

  42. simaskkk

    A very weak upgrade I would say. No L5 GPS, that’s disappointing. After Garmin bought Firtbeat and Polar started to lag behind no competition left in the market, which means no new features and no innovation.

  43. Francoise

    The article is very good but it does not mention for how many hours the pulse Ox is mesured during the night. Currently Garmin measures it for only 4 hours. Is it longer on the Venu2? I use Vivosmart 4.

    • It measures the full night, at 1-minute intervals. There’s a screenshot up above showing it, though it looks like the scale on the screenshot was slightly cut-off, but it’s showing the entirety of my sleep session.

      I can actually drag across that line on the app an see every single 1-minute reading.

  44. Tyler

    Hey Ray (or others) –

    Do you think the release of the Venu 2 affects the timing of any other of Garmin’s impending releases, like sequels to the 245, 745, 945, etc.?

    I’ve not paid attention to whether or not Garmin tries to space out these releases by a certain amount, to avoid cannibalizing their own sales?

    I have a 245 that I love, and just cracked the screen on.
    Debating if I pay Garmin to repair, or wait for a sequel device, if impending release.

    • Not directly, no.

      Indirectly, usually. They are separate teams, but work together towards common ground. So things like features, algorithms, and hardware underpinnings are often released in waves. As noted, this is the first device with the Garmin Elevate V4 sensor. And we saw the Enduro come with significantly changed battery power tech. It doesn’t mean Garmin’s going to replace everything next month, or even this year.

      So things like seeing the new sleep algorithms here, is more or less part of a bundled green light on them rolling out more widely, and indeed, we’ll see that soon for other existing Forerunner watches that had been previously promised it. But since those are separate teams with separate development resources and separate product release cycles, they aren’t all releasing on the same day. Sometimes that happens, but Garmin generally has their product release dates decided many many months in advance, and generally speaking for big ticket legacy product lines – they rarely miss them.

      By itself, Garmin’s Forerunner lines are arguably the most predictable thing the company has. But, predictability is out the window with COVID19.

    • Tyler

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply, as always.

    • GarminVenuOwner

      DC Rainmaker is a great reviewer and content creator, isn’t he? I couldn’t help but think the same thing, after his reply to me. He actually replies, and provides really helpful follow-up responses & questions.

      Such a refreshing thing to see on the internet. Someone helpful, not overly pushy, doesn’t troll comments.

    • Will

      repair vs replace.

      Worth noting that the 245 is now nearly £200 in the UK. I don’t know what a screen costs to replace, but new 245 are getting cheaper and cheaper

  45. papayou

    is the always on mode configurable like:

    always on mode from 8am to 10 pm and then
    auto disable for the night?

    • Yup, basically exactly how it works actually.

      It’ll mirror your sleep do-not-disturb hours you’ve set. In that timeframe, gesture won’t wake it up, only button presses.

  46. Rui Pereira

    My Fenix 6 got the “pain map” in the strength training activity, but I can’t choose the type of training when I start. Apparently it tried to auto detect, but I had to manually change to dumbbell something. Had no idea other watches besides Venu would get this…

    • John

      My F6 is on firmware 15.20 but I don’t have the “pain map” in the strength activity. How do you display it and what firmware are you on? I know there’s a newer beta but the change log doesn’t show anything strength-activity related.

    • Rui Pereira

      I’m on 15.20 too…

    • Trax101

      I noticed that as well this morning after my FiiT class. But same as you in the Connect App none of the muscle groups have been highlighted and mapped to the exercises however, if you open Connect Web it has (see image).

      I also use a Fenix 6 Pro (v15.20), but my strength training was also recorded with a HRM Pro (not sure if that makes a difference).

    • John

      Right, thank you very much!

  47. John

    Just to confirm: no open water sport and no multi-sport option available, correct?

  48. GarminVenuOwner

    Does this watch connect to a Wahoo trainer, so that I can broadcast my heart rate to training apps like Zwift? And does this watch connect to my Wahoo trainer and ingest/use the cadence/watt data from my trainer?

    I have the original Venu, and wish I didn’t have to wear a chest strap to get heart rate data in Zwift/FulGaz/Etc. I also wish that the Venu could just connect to the Wahoo trainer over ANT (while broadcasting heart rate data), so that the Garmin watch could consume the cadence/watt data.

    Between the Wahoo and Tacx trainers and Garmin watches (who now owns Tacx) – all of the underlying hardware/tech is there, but none of it works together. I have to simply buy more stuff – chest straps, cadence/watt sensors/cranks/pedals.

    Venu 2 looks nice, but I don’t think it offers enough for me to pay MSRP, or close to MSRP. I question if the CIQ 4.0 platform really does a lot for the watch & the apps available. The lack of support for things like Uber, Strava or the ability to use GarminPay with JPMC or AmEx credit cards has also made that aspect of the watch useless (tons of random, small card issuers – but none of the major card issuers (in the US)).

    Garmin is in a tough category, with Apple setting the standards for the customer Garmin wishes to acquire.

    • “Does this watch connect to a Wahoo trainer, so that I can broadcast my heart rate to training apps like Zwift? And does this watch connect to my Wahoo trainer and ingest/use the cadence/watt data from my trainer?”

      Wahoo’s trainers don’t broadcast standard ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart cadence signals (Tacx & Elite do, however). So that bit on Wahoo to support things more widely. But, for those brands that do, then yes, your Garmin can pull in your cadence/speed data – but not power. Because the Venu/Vivoactive series doesn’t support power meters directly (there are some 3rd party apps that sorta do).

      That said, none of that would be used if you’re using Zwift. Zwift connects directly to these devices. In the case of your Venu (or Venu 2), that’s via ANT+. That’s something I noted is silly in 2021, it should also broadcast BLE too. It sounds like that’s in the hopper for Venu 2 plans, but there’s no specific timeframes on that.

      Ultimately though, since you mentioned Apple – it’s worthy noting Apple doesn’t broadcast their signal at all here. Apps like Zwift can pull it in via an Apple Watch app connection, though that can sometimes be flakey, and requires apps code that separately from existing industry standards.

      On the Strava app mention – can you explain a bit more what you mean there? Strava Live Segments isn’t on the Venu/Vivoactive series, though, but it’s not on Apple Watch there either: link to support.strava.com

      Finally, as for card issuers in the US, Chase (JPMC) and Capital One are by far the two largest (90m users each), and Garmin Pay is supported already there on both for Visa & Mastercard.

    • GarminVenuOwner

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

      Re: Strava.

      I began cycling with just Strava on Android, no watch or trainer. Then I got a Wahoo trainer, and a Venu watch. Strava was my source of truth for cadence/watts prior to the trainer, so I wish I had the ability to simply add HR data from my Venu into Strava – on the trainer (and off trainer).

      It goes back to a more mature app eco-system, taking advantage of the tech/chips they seemingly have already included (but as you point out, Wahoo has a gap), and having an easier way to manage my fitness data. If only….I could merge workouts from my Venu HR data + Zwift data, I wouldn’t have to buy the HRM-Dual.

      Or to look at it differently; my spouses old Apple Watch seems to do everything I want, without having to buy the HRM-Dual. Having spent $299-350, discounted MSRP, for the original Venu in 2020, only to spend more money on the HRM-Dual, was a bummer.

      I see JPMC/Chase is now on GarminPay, which is awesome. I think with GarminPay – it seemed they sought partnerships with 1000+ tiny banks across the world (which is great for global reach and supporting small/mid size banks), and didn’t go after the biggest 5-6 card issuers in USA. I was only able to find a PNC debit card that worked with it (Chase, Citi, AmEx, Fidelity customer otherwise).

      Based on your review, it looks like the Venu 2 builds on the original concept of the Venu, which is “a more accurate Fitbit, without the subscription fee, and better battery life than a Snapdragon 4100 WearOS (Oppo,TicWatch) / Apple Watch”. I just waffle on paying full MSRP at what amounted to a slightly unpolished experience for me.

      I was naive to the fitness-tech ecosystem and subsequent feature gaps (and still am), and didn’t anticipate having to approach the purchase with such exact and specific questions. I thought; ‘oh, Bluetooth AND ANT+? It’s all gotta work together’. Than as I educated myself further – and seen the thousands that can be spent on top-tier Garmin watches, power meters, and computer systems – it was too much to bite off (financially) after splurging on one of the few available bikes I could get my hands on in 2020. So – this is an expensive hobby, needless to say.

      Or to look at it differently – if I want that Apple experience with an Uber app or Siri support or more animations or graphics capabilities – I am going to pay for it, dearly, with battery life. I will give Garmin credit for improving what has become one of consumer tech’s most annoying pain points – battery life & charging.

      TL:DR – I will probably still be a Garmin customer, unless Wear OS + Snapdragon 4100 really start to bring strong offerings. I am not an Apple phone user, so therein lies the much of the challenges 🙂

    • Hoot

      As a Bank of America customer, I can confirm that their VISA card is supported too!

  49. Mike Saft

    Very comprehensive review. I have a few questions, first can it connect to Garmin Explore to show a route? Second can it show a breadcrumb trail? And lastly can it broadcast your HR for display on a Garmin Cycle-computer? Thanks

  50. John Veeneman

    I was thinking about getting a Whoop to manage recovery. How do you think the Venu 2 stacks against it?

  51. Sean Walsh

    This is a pretty disappointing release in my opinion. There doesnt seem to be a big new feature over the first generation venu, which i own and love. The venu 2 is more polished and adds some more training support, but isnt that different from the venu. Garmin’s competitors are turning out or working on ecg, lte, blood pressure monitoring and have a far better app selection. Garmin’s real advantage is in the fitness area, but the venu 2 doesnt have the breadth and depth of features like the 945 or fenix series – and rightfully so given Garmin’s watch scheme. But that makes it more important to keep the venu series features on par with what others are doing at the same price point. The venu 2 is a tough sell at 399 compared to the venu, and Garmin may find would be buyers flocking to samsung galaxy watch active 3/4 (when released), apple watch 6, or fitbit sense, since those watches offer features the venu 2 does not. In my opinion, the venu needed lte support and maybe ecg. I think you would have had a lot of vivoactive and venu 1 folks upgrade with those features. But for now, i think most will pass on upgrading, and would be Garmin buyers will likely look to samsung or apple.

    • Bob

      Polar Ignite 2 over this any day of the week. Yes, apparently raise to light up is slow, but the insights provided by the Polar Flow are worth every penny.

    • Tina

      For me, the big update is the small watch size as us with tiny wrists tend to be forgotten by the sports industry. Or end up with pink and leopard print devices that lack features.

    • Hoot

      But to be honest, how many people will abandon the Garmin environment altogether and switch to Polar or Samsung for that matter? I own an Edge1030 and a F6xP and I will try a V2 for the days when the Fenix is just too big. It would be nice if the V2 would connect to bike PowerMeters but I usually wear my Fenix as a backup to my Edge. REI has a 90 days return policy so I have enough time to figure out if I want to keep it or not.

    • okrunner

      My sentiments exactly. Garmin has an opportunity to nail this one. Simply put the 745 guts and sports features in the Venu 2 and sell it for $450. Everybody would have bought it.

  52. Jim

    Will any of these new software features (advanced analytics) be made available in an upgrade to the original Venu?

    • Markos

      Highly doubtful judging from the past. Especially as many stuff depend n the new screen resolution. And Garmin needs the extra revenue 😀

  53. Richard Low

    Does the Venu 2 have vibration alarm to wake me up in the morning with disturbing my wife?

  54. Bob

    Garmin 955 can not be too far behind now.

    What is up with that Rolex look alike fluted bezel.

  55. Franco

    Hello, very good review as always, I have two questions:
    1. How strong is the vibration in alarms?
    2. Is this new Health Snapshot function like Polar’s Orthostastic Test? Since it is combined with Body Battery as Polar did with Recovery Pro.

    • Rui Pereira

      If it’s anything like the Fenix alarm vibration then it’s enough to wake you up. In fact my wife always wakes up too with just the watch vibrating.

  56. dibblah

    Does the Hiking activity profile have an option to set backpack weight?

  57. Dmateo

    Tried to ask under 745 review but haven’t got an answer. Did they finally added option to get rid of “in zone/out off zone” alert? This is so annoying in 935, when having a training with heart rate/tempo/power target, it shows an alert which covers whole screen.

  58. Maurizio

    What’s app did you use for the workout ? (i mean the screen of barbell deadlift, chin up, dumbbell and so on)

  59. Tina

    So would you think the Venu 2s is a step forward from the Vivoactive 4s? I could potentially still return my VA and upgrade. I’m just not sure whether it’s worth it. I’m certainly glad that there’s a small version, in a neutral colour and not only in white and Garmin rosegold/gold/silver.

    The battery seems to be a bit better overall. Which is really what annoys me with the VA 4s as I get barely 5 days out of it with the occasional gps activity, and with pulsOX off. Getting a GPS fix also takes ages. Have to say though that signal coverage around my home is rather poor for some reason (lots of free sky)

  60. Suman Parua

    Is there a chance that these UI and feature updates might be enabled in the original Venu?

  61. Nathan B

    Odd… the OG Venu was a VA4 with a nice OLED screen.

    The Venu 2 is now it’s own device category? So has the Vivoactive series been discontinued?

  62. Ben

    Ray,

    With the new sensor and algorithm, do you still have sleep movement rendering in a graphic ?

    Last question, do you see an improvement in body battery tracking ?
    I have a Vivosmart 4 and most of my sport activity is mark as “unmeasurable” by the body battery.

    Thanks

  63. John

    Is it known yet if the new features come to the Fenix 6? Like the Steps Challenge widget, “Pain map”, “Health Snapshot”, etc.

  64. Eli

    Wish they would improve the connect iq infrastructure. By that I mean:
    – Garmin devices have all these advanced metrics (breathing rate, body battery, sleep tracking, etc) but they don’t expose that information to allow connect iq apps to access it. Day you want a watch face to show that information instead of Garmin supplied widgets
    -is Garmin going to try and standardize on screen resolutions? I.e. make it easier to write once for one resolution and be able to run everywhere
    -will Garmin attempt to have a minimum amount of memory supported in all connect iq 4 devices? Garmin has a history of releasing new devices that have significantly less memory available then older devices.

    • Eli

      Support for more sensors. For example, Garmin still doesn’t do running power or native support for muscle oxygen.

      Pairing is a pain as the UI for a data field doesn’t really support add a sensor. Made worse when there is support for the sensor (smo2) but you don’t get access to it in connect iq so you have to make sure the sensor isn’t paired so you can manually pair.

      Sure, there are connect iq fields to get the data, but thats all they do. Say you want to write something in connect iq that uses the information? You can’t. Sure you can manually pair to the sensor but then only one field can do that so there are conflicts. That isn’t a limitation for native sensors

  65. Randal Zahora

    My wife has fenix 5S. While she is running it speaks through her Bluetooth headset and lets here know some importatnt stats on her HR Zone and speed. I know the Venu lacks this feature. Have they added it to the Venu 2?

  66. Michael

    Been hoping for a newer mid-level watch and running is my main focus. I have toyed with the idea of the venu series because I’m getting up there in years and find it harder and harder to see data while running. This is an area underserved in reviews since most focus on how many data points you can cram onto a screen. Maybe some articles for those of us slowly losing our reading sight ability who often have to REDUCE our data screens to two in order to keep track lol I thought the Venu series might be good since it’s much clearer, but the flip side may be that the one second display delay thing would annoy me even more. So is the 245 still the standard for mid-level running specific watches? Anything in the pipeline from Garmin in that area? 255?

  67. Luca

    Hi Ray, I had so many problems with the old Garmin Venu because the bluetooth was constantly losing the connection with my iphone. it was replaced several times thanks to amazon but in the end I sent it back for good. this venu 2 what kind of bluetooth does it use (4.2 or 5.0)? has it had any improvements from this point of view?

    • Scott Lewis

      Luca, I don’t know what variety of Bluetooth the Venu 2 uses, but I can say I had the Venu 1 for about 1 1/2 weeks, then returned it to Amazon because the 2 became available. With the original, I probably had half a dozen phone disconnects a day. I’ve had the Venu 2 for about the same 1 1/2 week period now, and have not had a single disconnect. So whether it’s a newer chipset, or an improved antenna, it’s way improved.

    • Venu 2 uses BT5.0 (I confirmed with Garmin).

  68. Tong

    Hello, still no audible alerts support ?
    As seen here : link to support.garmin.com

  69. William Joensen

    Why no pic of the 2S on your wrist?

  70. Wayne

    Any of the Forerunner/Fenix watches getting the new weightlifting features and the new body battery algo?

    This watch looks great but I’d want cycling power metre and workout recommendation features too.

  71. Torben

    On my Venu, i am using an analog watch face with 4 complications. Do you know if such a watch face is available on the Venu 2 as well (as not “always on” face)? Are “advanced” complications like body battery or stress available to CIQ watch faces meanwhile?

  72. JJS

    Most interesting thing to me is Health Snapshot! Seems this can make a Garmin Watch the one and only device (no longer need EliteHRV or HRV4Training). So I would be very happy to see this coming to devices with the oHR-Sensor V3…

  73. Steffen Bruns

    Thanks for the great review!
    Have you measured HR accuracy when it comes to very short explosive bursts, i.e. very sharp HR peaks? I play beach volleyball and do a lot of jumping and high-intensity interval workouts. However, my vivoactive3 struggles to track HR during these activities (average HR is usually around 20 beats lower over a whole workout compared with a chest strap). I assume that’s because the HR peaks are too short to be measured with a wrist-based sensor. When I look at your graphs where the Venu2 struggles, it seems like it often needs some time to adjust. I guess I shouldn’t be too hopeful for a wrist-based sensor to meet my requirements soon…

    • I’ve done 330-second long sprint intervals on a track (typically 200’s), and it’s a bit laggy, about the same as most optical. Accuracy varies from nailed it to not-nailed it, sorta like other optical HR sensors.

  74. Josh

    Thanks for another great review! Just a quick question, how different is the V4 Elevate sensor as compared to the V3? Thinking to take the plunge on a Fenix 6 pro, but thinking if its better to wait for newer versions of the Fenix or FR945 with the updated sensor.

    • I’ve found it’s substantial in PulseOx accuracy, though it doesn’t seem vastly different in regular HR accuracy (slightly better in some cases, so-so in others).

      Now, if you don’t plan on using PulseOx – then it doesn’t seem like I’d consider that a major differentiator. Of course, whether or not there’s other features in V4 Elevate that we don’t know of yet that’ll be lit up later is probably a bigger question.

    • Eli

      For heart rate differences it seems like an important change would be is hrv measurements improve. Dcrainmaker doesn’t seem to check if that data is more accurate or not but can impact lots of the metrics Garmin has (breathing rate, body battery, etc)

      A possible test would be to enable recording hrv data into a fit file for an activity and compare two devices

    • The challenge is that virtually all HRV measurements that matter for these metrics at rest, not workouts. And comparing workout HRV vs not is substantially different (historically, most optical HR sensors struggle to do HRV in a workout, which is why most companies don’t take optical HRV values in a workout). Whereas inversely, HRV values at rest is a whole lot easier, but Garmin doesn’t log individual HRV values.

      I could however try and compare the average over the Health Snapshot sample, but that does assume Garmin’s “average” term there is for the full two mins, and not just a portion thereof.

    • anthony

      I’d be interested in that. I like the idea of tracking HRV each day, and have done it on/off with a chest strap and eliteHRV app… but it is too much faff to become a habit. Having the ability to just do it all from the watch is interesting.
      However, I’d understood that optical HRV readings are a bit meaningless given accuracy issues?

    • Josh

      Thanks for this. Decided to go ahead and purchase the Fenix 6 Pro Solar and looking into the fancy puck chargers you have listed 🙂

  75. Smallville

    Is it possible to use the same straps as the Fenix 6 or are they a different kind of 22mm?

    • JJS

      They differ in thickness of the spring bars. So the wholes inside of the lugs are not matching. No compatibility here.

  76. Jordan

    Great review, Ray.

    Is the Venu 2, in your opinion, a better overall watch than the Fitbit Sense?

    • I think so, namely because it’s more accurate than that was for me.

      Though, if you’ve got a huge network of friends on Fitbit, then that’s a worthy consideration.

  77. King Bradley

    Hello Ray, Nice review!

    Is that true:
    Venu Battery: Smartwatch Mode up to 5 Days
    and now -> Venu 2: ….up to 11 Days ????

    Even longer than a Vivoactive 4 and FR 745 without Amoled Display!?
    I find that hard to believe.

    It’s kind of hard to find a watch that fits:
    – contactless payment
    – good battery life
    – create and transfer routes (breadcrumb navigation)
    – sleep tracking

    Something is always missing.
    The Apple Watch has a short battery life.

    Garmin is always missing features somewhere:
    With the Venu2, for example, you can’t transfer routes that were created in the Garmin app, can you?
    Venu2 -> new sensor, Forerunner 745 -> old one.

    And Garmin prices are rising because of corona and the closed gyms (more people are buying Sportwatches?),
    Venu2 -> say hello to Apple Watch SE.

    I currently own an Apple Watch SE and a Polar grit x. But I would like to have just one to replace both in the future.

    What is your recommendation:
    FR 745 or Venu 2?
    And HIIT is not on the FR 745?

    • “Even longer than a Vivoactive 4 and FR 745 without Amoled Display!?
      I find that hard to believe.”

      Welcome to Garmin’s newer battery tech, likely also within the Enduro.

      Also – keep one thing in mind though, the 11 day figure here is with gesture-mode on, not always on mode. Always-on mode is 2-3 days.

      As for FR745 or Venu 2, that’s honestly a bigger question of how much endurance sports features from the FR745 you want, or if you need something more akin to a fitness watch than an endurance sports watch.

    • King Bradley

      „ Welcome to Garmin’s newer battery tech, …„

      That is really impressive then.
      But I don’t understand why Apple can’t do that with their watches?

      „ As for FR745 or Venu 2, that’s honestly a bigger question…“

      The problem is, I would like to have the FR 745 with the new hardware of the Venu 2 (processor, elevate sensor, battery life) because I don’t really care about the Amoled display. I like my polar Grit x, but i want contactless payment and i prefer a smaller size.
      I doubt that there will be a Vivoactive 5 (which would then probably have 13-14 days battery life), as there is now also an S version of the Venu.

      I think That i just have to wait 2 years for the FR 845 🙂

    • Scott Lewis

      Apple’s watch has a lot more going on which limits battery life. Siri listening. The speaker. Ability to make calls. Heavy duty apps running. Email client. Sending texts not just seeing notifications.

      Same way my Venu 2 doesn’t last as long as it does for others. I ride connected to sensors, which costs battery life for example.

    • Exactly, the Apple Watch has a far higher overhead in terms of things it’s handling, and also has a more brilliant display. Thus, battery life is worse.

  78. Tristan

    How does the sleep tracking compare to Fitbit now? That is the only thing holding me back.

    • Tina

      Uh… I used to have a fitbit and am now owner of a VA4s, and recently won a Fenix pro solar small(ish). It’s different than fitbit in that Fitbit would give me some 20 or so very short wakeup periods every night, and Garmin doesn’t. Garmin only seems to recognize slightly longer periods. I know I wake up very briefly a few times to rotate, but think the truth is somewhere inbetween both. Both never notice when I wake up and if I want kind of good numbers I have to either get out of bed immediately or adjust the time manually. When the Garmin told me I had a long but restless night then I indeed feel not rested. Fitbit felt less spot on in that respect for me, giving me a shitty rating while I felt great. But I guess it’s very individual. Also needs a few days to weeks to adjust to you of course.

  79. Markos

    Is there perhaps a change in terms of tracking sleep during the day? Fitbit has this for some years now, but if I get some 30-60’ of sleep during the day, Garmin doesn’t figure out a thing about it (I’ve had all the Vivoactive watches and now the Venu)

  80. Wouter Schep

    Hi Ray, In the Netherlands ABN AMRO bank does support Garmin pay with their debit card. Works as a charm and you can pay virtually everywhere.

    • TheFlyingmanCZ

      I’ve started using Curve a few years ago.

      Curve works as a proxy-card and one can start using Garmin Pay even if his/hers bank does not support it.

      If one doesn’t work to jump between banks, this seems like a fine solution.

  81. Sebastian

    Hi.
    Could you please say something more on the custom workout creation in Venu2? In my Samsung watch I have to use a 3rd party app to create a fully customized workout (including exercies added manually). I’m into calisthenics and I find it somewhat disappointing that I cannot find a watch with support for body-weigth exercises. Does venu2 support that in any way, either in those 1400+ exercises predefined by Garmin or is it possiible to add a custom exercise and compose a workout routine of such exercises?
    Thanks a lot in advance!

    • You can do it all within the Garmin Connect Mobile (or website) app.

      So you can mix and match any particular movement into a custom workout structure, and then save it for future use or tweak it.

  82. wrist size

    Hi Ray
    can you please write what is the circumference of your wrist where you wear your watch? So that we can get a picture of the suitability in the size of the watch venu 2 and venu 2s. Thank you

  83. Tomasz

    Hi, what kind of Bluetooth is in the new Venu 2? Version 4.2 or 5.0?

  84. fl33tStA

    You think this watch is something for peoples who are using Varifocal glasses?

    i am thinking to buy this watch, to use it as 24hours watch, so i can use my Forerunner 945 with
    disabled Wrist Heart Rate only for my Multisport (Duathlon).

    You think this daily snapshot can replace a HRV 4 Training App Measurement?
    You think the daily snaphot will come on older devices like FR945?

    The Strength workout looks nice, but creating a Training is as bad as today, you can only use the Garmin ones, mean, their naming convention, or?

    • Eeks, not sure on Varifocal glasses.

      I suspect the daily snapshot could replace HRV 4 Training App measurement, but things are a bit confined to that one app section, so one’s ability to chart all that stuff uniquely is a bit limited right now (namely, the HRV bits).

  85. Brittany

    I currently have a 735XT and it’s a monster on my wrist. I’ve been looking for a smaller daily-wear watch, but I’m nervous about going to a touchscreen and the sensitivity of them based on your review of the Lily. Because of your comments on the Lily touchscreen being over-sensitive to your coat and pausing workouts, I decided not to get the Lily.

    Is the Venu 2S touchscreen that much better than the Lily, is it because of the buttons for confirmation, or did your review period for the Venu 2S just not include coats? 😉

    How do any of these touchscreen watches work properly during wintertime – especially if you’re using it for daily wear? It seems like you’d constantly be engaging the screen if you’re wearing long sleeves/coat.

    • Scott Lewis

      I wouldn’t worry about touch screen sensitivity cancelling a workout. I just started an indoor bike event just to make sure. There is no way to end or pause a workout from the touch screen on the Venu 2. To pause, one has to hit the top right button. That same button would allow resume.

      To actually throw away an entire workout:

      1) Top right button
      2) Touchscreen on trash icon
      3) Top right button to confirm

      When working out, scrolling up or down on the touch screen only moves across data screens. Scrolling right does nothing. Scrolling left brings you back to the watch face, but the activity is still recording.

      There’s also a very healthy vibration when that top right button is pushed to start or stop an activity, so odds of it happening accidentally are very small.

    • Indeed, near impossible on the Venu/Vivoactive 4 to accidentally throw away a workout. It hasn’t happened to me yet.

    • Brittany

      Thanks for the responses, both of you!

      So, does wearing a jacket, etc. ever seem to engage the touchscreen on the Venu (e.g. getting into other menus and draining battery etc.)? Or does everything require button confirmation?

    • Scott Lewis

      Sorry. I live in South Florida. What is this jacket you speak of?

    • Brittany

      LOL @Scott, come up to Utah sometime, we’ll show you what it is. We have all kinds 😀

    • TF

      I have the Venu 2s for 2 days, it doesn’t do ghost swiping etc. for now. Never had been in a menu or widget glance and watch was worn almost all the time under a shirt and jacket. I wouldn’t worry about this at all.

  86. Radek Pokorný

    With Heart Rate Broadcasting, only the current heart rate is still displayed, or another screen, such as a clock, can be displayed.

    • You can always toggle the option to simply “Always Broadcast” when in a sport mode, which lights up the broadcasting in the background when you enter a sport. This is true of all Garmin watches.

  87. Jordan

    Hey Ray,

    Did you find that the Venu 2 was too big for your wrist? I saw earlier in the comments you posted your height and wrist size. I’m similar in that I’m about 6’3″ with a wrist circumference of 7 inches and I’m a bit worried that the Venu 2 will look massive.

    I know you posted pictures, but just wondering if you could discuss the look/feel of each on your wrist a bit.

  88. John

    Tnx for awesome review!
    Questions:
    Under running session can I get voice update with statistics from venu2 in my BT headphones? ( HR, distance, pace like my Samsung active 2 does)..

    And can I see updated VO2max estimate in app after finished running session ?

    BR

  89. Igor

    Hi,

    I have wrist 17 cm (6.7 inch). I see in comments that your wrist is also 17 cm.

    What is your opinion about the size of the watch on your wrist – do you think the watch is too big? Do you have feeling like it is too clunky? Or do you think it just fits well?

    Thanks

  90. Dan_EE

    A 20% discount on both the Venu 2 and 2S can be had for those in the US that have Blue Cross health insurance with the Blue365 discount plan.

  91. mpulsiv

    @Ray

    Is there a way to manually start a sleep session? For example, I want to take a nap throughout the day?
    To this day, I still use Vivofit 2 for sleep because I have full control to start sleep session when I turn off the light. Not when I read a book for hours and/or surf the web at resting heart rate. Clearly, there’s a workaround to let Garmin devices initiate auto sleep, then manually adjust the time when you precisely fall asleep and wake up.

  92. Bevan Duffy

    Hi

    Am I right in saying that the HRM Pro Chest Belt doesn’t work with the Venu 2? I asked Garminon the online chat and they said it isn’t compatible.

    Apologies if you covered this in the article, I had a quick look through and couldn’t find anything.

    • It’s fully compatible for heart rate metris (basically, beats per minute), but it won’t make the Venu 2 understanding Garmin’s Running Dynamics. As the Venu 2 doesn’t support that.

      In other words, you can use the HRM-PRO just fine with the Venu 2, but it doesn’t provide much more than the HRM-DUAL to the watch itself. However, the HRM-PRO will backfill Intensity Minutes and HR to your phone and GCM, if you’re not wearing your watch.

    • Rui Pereira

      The table says it’s compatible with Ant+ HR sensors so there should be no problem.

    • Bevan Duffy

      Thanks for the replies guys.

      I found it a bit odd when the Garmin rep said it wasn’t compatible with HRM Pro.

      Thanks for clearing that up

  93. Julia L

    Wish it would work for triathlon and still be this slim. Do you prefer the 945 or the Fenix for tri ?

    • The Venu series doesn’t have a multisport mode, thus, it’s not great for triathlon as you’d have to stop the watch timer after each sport, and then start it again. Further, it doesn’t have an openwater swim mode (just indoor swimming).

      A much better bet would be the FR745 (currently $50 off at $449), or the FR945.

  94. Benny

    Hi Ray,

    I currently have an Edge 830, if I was to buy this watch (or any new Garmin smart watch for that matter)… Can they now speak to each other via Garmin Connect?

    That sounds a bit weird. But basically, if I was to do a ride on the Edge 830 (because using a watch is less than ideal for a ride if you already own an edge device & power meter etc)… After the ride is uploaded to Garmin Connect. Does the watch then know you’ve done a ride and update your training status, body battery or any other metrics on the watch etc?

    I used to own a Vivoactive HR with an Edge 810…. They never communicated with each other. So I’m just wondering if the situation has now changed and the Garmin ecosystem has finally gotten it’s act together? 🤞

    Would love to buy a new watch for the odd walk or other non cycling activities, but if the metrics don’t mean anything because you recorded it on the Edge… It’s like what’s the point?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for all your hard work…. Cheers 👍

    • Yup, it’ll automatically pull it in, bidirectionally, to update your Venu 2 (from the Edge). Though, at present I’d have to see whether or not the Venu 2 can correctly contribute to Training Status on the Edge 830. I believe it should since that’s the higher class of device, but will have to see there.

      Yeah, the Vivoactive HR and Edge 810 were from a different generation, largely pre-Physio True-Up.

  95. TF

    Hi,

    I have the Venu 2s with FW 3.22 now for two days, so of course I will compare it more with the days, but in comparison to my Fenix 6 and 6s, I owned some months before, sleep tracking seems more inaccurate.

    I had to sleep in a hotel yesterday because of work and I mostly sleep average in hotels, like I did yesterday. Bed too hard. I had a not so deep sleep but feel ok. With nights like this Fenix 6/6s always gave me more time awake and less sleep score, f.e. 60-70. Yesterday I had 14min awake and 88 sleep score. And Body battery went to 100 during sleep. This never happend with my Fenix. Never. Quite inaccurate and I am disappointed. I felt good but not perfect, and sleep wasn’t perfect at all. And I had to do an afternoon nap because I was so tired yesterday.

    Today similar. I had a good sleep at home but not perfect either. Yawning when waking up is a sign of not perfect sleep. Still, I got a score of 99 (!!!!!) which never happened with my Fenix 6 series and BB again went to 100.

    The review states that sleep was (much) improved and more in line with body battery and it is harder to get to 100% BB. Sorry, but it never has been easier than yesterday… Really disappointed as this was a main reason to upgrade from my VA 4s, which has terrible sleep data. I know it is not a medical device but why is there so much difference between Fenix 6 line (at least some months ago when owning it last) and Venu 2 line?
    Could it be that there are sensors missing on Venu2 from the fenix line which would have an impact on recognition of movement or something else? Or that Venu2s sits way tighter because it is way smaller and lighter? but whatever the reason, to me Fenix 6 sleep data some MONTHS AGO was or seemed way more accurate. Way more accurate… Never got that high on sleep score and BB back then and my sleep hasn’t improved, nor is it worth now. Average quality is and seems the same.

    Thx.

    • Sleep tracking shouldn’t in theory matter with time-duration (meaning, the longer you have it), but, Body Battery most definitely does. Meaning, the first few days of Body Battery can be non-ideal as it figures you out, and then it stabilizes.

      So in your case, if sleep tracking crapped out, then sleep-derivived body battery would also be impacted.

      I don’t know if the sleep score is tied to learning you or not.

  96. Chris Schneider

    Hey Guys,
    thanks for this really great in depth review and videos!
    Coming from bavaria near the alps, the altimeter is an important thing for me. No matter if on the mountainbike or when hiking.
    Am i able to set the height/elevation as a data field in the data screens of a bike or hike workout?
    I notices, that there is a barometric altimeter in the Venu 2 and saw some graphs in the analyzer for the elevation but was not able to find something on how this can be shown on the watch itself.

    Thanks!
    Chris

  97. Karen

    I am looking for an upgrade to my Vivoactive 3. Just read your review on the Venu 2S which sounds like a good fit for me who primarily runs, cycles and lifts and is looking for a watch that has the pay option, music storage, and custom workouts. Do you have any other recommendations in the price range $250-400 price range.

  98. JR

    Are you able to share the name of the analog watch face used on the 2S in this video? I’d like to grab it but can’t seem to find it on Connect IQ.

  99. RD

    Does the Venu2 give a cycling V02 max reading? My VA4 does not for cycling, only walking or running.

    Like a lot of the new Venu2 features, but might be too hard to give up battery life for AOD, especially if the wake delay becomes an issue. Old eyes mean I almost need the light on my VA4 unless I am outside in the sun. Can you just tap to wake the venue screen?

  100. Simone

    Hey Ray, thanks for another thorough review! Your blog and YouTube channel have been a great help while looking for my next fitness watch, I really appreciate it!! I have a question: which color of the 2S are you reviewing here and in your YouTube video..? It looks like yours has a white case/silver bezel, however, I can’t seem to find it on Garmin.com. I can only find a grey case/silver bezel 2S. Thanks, and many greetings from Utrecht!

  101. Rui Pereira

    Any idea if this Health Snapshot will be ported to other watches?

  102. JottKa

    Thanks for this cool and detailed report. I am very interested in this watch and realized that open water is not supported. But I have a question that someone may be able to answer.
    I still have a FR 735XT that I would simply wear in addition to open water to record the GPS data. Pulse can record by the Venu 2. Is it now possible to merge the data using TrueUp? And do I have to bring the watches before the swim in a certain mode?

    Translated with link to DeepL.com (free version)

    • Paul S.

      TrueUp is not nearly at that level of detail. (TrueUp is more like “I know you did an activity with this other device, here’s a summary”.) However, you might be able to do what you want with fitfiletools.com. You’d need to get the FIT files off of both devices, and the easiest way to do that would probably be to download them from Garmin Connect. All in all, sounds like a lot of trouble to go to rather than just getting a watch that already has open water mode.

    • JottKa

      Thanks Paul for the reply and the link. You are right.

      I want the Venu as an everyday watch (AMOLED). Then I take my FR for open water swimming without pulse. Swallowed water would still be an important parameter. 😉

  103. Gianpiero

    Dear all, with a budget of 500€, Would you recommend the fenix pro or venu/venu 2?
    I am 52 years old I do since 15 years running, biking, at an amateur level, I like watches in general, and would like to have a model that lasts at least 4 or 5 years. I currently have a Forerunner 230 on my wrist and the previous model was a 305 garmin.
    Thanks for your suggestions.
    Gianpiero

    • Robert F

      Ciao Gianpiero, I would go definitely for a Fenix 6 pro as now you can find both normal or S versions (non solar. non sapphire) at the mentioned budget. I did the same coming from a Venu Sq that I owned for few months, concerning functionality the Venu Sq was having almost all I needed, but if same as me you also like watches as a piece of fashion accessory the fenix is much better in my opinion. I’m very happy with my Fenix 6s pro, I went with the small size due my 16.5 cm wrist, the fenix was unexpectedly light and with the right dimension to me for being comfortable also during sleep. Sure the Venu 2 is brand new, anyway Fenix 6 will be still kept updated for some time as even Fenix 5 is still sold after many years.

  104. Mike G

    Did you observe the accuracy of “floors climbed”?
    I currently have a FR935 and it is horribly inconsistent and inaccurate for daily tracking or even in the “floor climb” activity. The watch records the elevation change so I know the altimeter is working but it does not consistently recognize floors.

    • Living in a Dutch house with steep floors and lots of them, and chasing toddlers up and down the floors, I don’t tend to count each one each day – as the stats seem roughly about right. Might be a fun project though. 🙂

    • Mike G

      I do competitive stair racing and the building I train in each week there will be laps where it will record one lap perfectly and the next will not register but 4 or 5 floors out of 30 even though the altimeter is showing my elevation gain.
      I am trying to hold off until the FR955 comes out in hopes that it’s improved but finding anyone that actually tests that function has been proving difficult lol

  105. Ralf Mimoun

    Hi, my wife got a Venu 2 for birthday. Her first question: “What happens if Body Battery drops to zero?” Will the Venu 2 send messages to the emergency contacts via Garmin Connect? Or will it order Oreos?

    • The proper procedure for such a situation is first a quick shock with a pile of Haribo, and then if that fails you step it up to Oreos. You can’t just dive straight into Oreos without a proper warm-up.

    • Rui Pereira

      Know a guy that does ultra trails with Oreos. In the rest stops he eats other things, but the only food he packs for himself are Oreos…

  106. Sebastien

    Considering that I would use always-on mode, do you think the VA4 would be a better upgrade to my VA3, to keep similar battery life? I can get one week of battery life on my VA3. The VA4 seems near identical to the Venu 2 in term of specs (sensors + fonctionnalistes). But I really like the display and widget page of the Venu 2 😉

    I’m mostly looking to get better and more sensors, and more on-screen workouts.

    Do you expect a VA5 before this summer?

    Using the always-on display of Venu 2, can we define a time frame to disable the always-on mode, like during the night?

    Thanks

    • Sebastien

      Update:
      I decided to buy the Venu 2s last week. The geek in me went with beautiful AMOLED display rather than better always-on battery life of VA series.

      So far, after 5 days, I’m more than happy. Metrics seem more accurate than my VA3 and HR seems to react faster. After using always-on for one day, I concluded that the gesture mode was more than enough; so I’m impressed with battery life. I’m over 40% left with one hike and one run, and obviously lot of screen usage. I’m using the Clear and Powerful watch face from IQ store.

  107. Larry

    I’m super annoyed at being a slave to the Apple Watch charger and am trying to decide if the Venu 2’s annoying brightness delay is less or more annoying, plus giving up certain functionality, like replying to iMessages (rare), controlling an iPhone camera (almost as rare, but I do use), and wrist based timers (used every time I order take-out). I think I’ll take the plunge when it goes on sale.

    • Scott Lewis

      I’ll speak to the last bit. There are timers, under the “clock” option. They can also be assigned to the shortcut, so timers would always be available by swiping left. I will say not being able to send a text message was a bummer … but not having to charge more than twice a week even with heavy use far outweighs it. Highly recommended.

      I find the smartest smartwatch feature I relied on was Apple Pay, and thankfully, with the annoying exception of not supporting AmEx, the Venu supports every other card I own. Especially great when grabbing a drink or a bar while riding to not have to fish out a card from the saddle bag.

  108. Dan_EE

    The screen protectors for the Vivoactive 4s work fine for the Venu 2s. I used the IQ Shield brand from Amazon. Does anyone know of a hard glass shield that is curved to fit the face?
    link to amazon.com

  109. Jamie

    Ray, does the Venu 2 have the Load/Training Status features that the newer Forerunner watches do? “Physio TrueUp” ?

    • No, Garmin hasn’t to date brought Training Load/Status to the Venu/Vivoactive series. It does however have Physio True-Up though, so it will sync all your stuff into the Garmin cloud for other devices that do have those capabilities.

  110. Brandon

    This may be similar to the bike handlebar question – I currently do a lot of running/walking pushing a stroller, and with a MIP always on display its easy to look down and see all data without taking my hands off the bar. Same with mountain biking, with +/- a quick hand off the bar. I assume the Venu display goes to a lower brightness always-on mode if it doesn’t detect a typical rise-to-wake motion? And is likely quite hard to see in the sun? Also how is readability in general with sunglasses?

  111. Damon Vance

    Man, super-detailed review, thanks!! An item I just can’ seem to find an answer too anywhere…I use the Nike + run club app on my iPhone and track steps in the Health app. Does the data from runs (pace, splits, route, etc.) sync with the Nike+ app and feed the step counter if I run with just the watch and not the phone? I see that Garmin is a NIke+ partner app, but not sure what that means in terms of syncing data specifics.

  112. Ronny

    Should there be a widget for fitness age? I can’t find

  113. scott jay

    Throwing in my comments as an early venu 1 customer. Purchased it 16 months ago with a Fenix. Wanted a smart watch that I could just wear 24/7 but also track workouts. Liked that it has some music. Got rid of Fenix as the display compared to Venu just couldn’t cut it side by side. Am an android person.

    quick takes:
    Downloaded a new watch face that shows time all the time. Found that the hand gesture doesn’t always bring up the time, PITA as you keep twisting your wrist and look like a spaz (no disrespect to people with disabilities) , btw, it doesn’t show up if you keep doing this, you need to put you hand down, wait a sec, then do it again. So if your watch is blacked out, it is like 10 seconds to know the time! And with the always on face, if i am typing, i can see the time by just looking and not taking my hands off keyboard. (though i can also just look at the tasktray bottom right;-) . Was surprised that Garmin didn’t have a watch face standard that could really do this. Also, watch face I chose has more info and customizable than Garmin’s few default ones. That might have changed in past year. Haven’t checked, using most downloaded face (crystal) from 3d party.

    I either swim, bike ride about 20-30 mi or walk/run 4mi on a particular day. For swimming I use the watch. For bike riding I use my edge computer as it has real info i can see without having to take my eyes from the road to try to see my watch. For walking I time it. It uses gps, but I don’t really want that, but you can’t turn it off when picking the activity.

    I have this connected to my android phone, i see all messages on the phone, not emails. You can have a few canned responses, I wish you can setup more, but they are adequate if you want to respond. If you are wearing earbuds you can answer the phone on your watch rather than pushing the earbud into your ear canal;-). But you don’t need to take your phone out of your pocket to answer it. you can also message call replies if you don’t talk with a few canned messages.

    I thought i would use music on the watch, but since i always have phone with me, this feature is useless. Further, I never listen to music when riding, too dangerous IMO, and clearly not in the pool. Walking/running I usually listen to podcasts, not through spotify, so again, turns out I don’t need this feature.

    I get 3 days per charge, about what Ray said he got in initial review. I now get about 2 to 2.5 days. Didn’t expect battery to degrade this fast.

    Other issues: HR sensor has never been accurate to start with. Seems to take about 10 minutes into activity until it hones in. Tried all sorts of different tightness’s to no avail. When biking i wear HRM on chest so no biggie. But in gym, walking, or pool, I was counting on the watch to be accurate. Hopefully Venu 2 fixes that.

    Don’t use sP02. Kills the battery. Sleep not accurate. If you get up and go back to sleep, doesn’t seem to always get that. For an old male, well if you are an old male you understand this. But then again, I kind of know how much I sleep. Again, hopefully venu2 fixes this.

    Wish they had cardiac tracking for health features, very surprised this new model does not.

    Hate that while walking/ running etc, it changes screen to show icons that you hit your goals. stupid stuff like showing a bunch of feet across your screen for 10 seconds. Always seems to do this when i want to see my metrics. Waste of battery IMO.

    Settings are so confusing as what you can do in Garmin connect and what you have to do on the phone. I designed computers for a living, so I have the tech background, can’t imagine if you aren’t a techie how you can set things up. Maybe new menus and iq connect updates fix this.

    If I could get a week of charge with just always seeing the time on a black face like i have set it up now and using like I do, it would be worth the upgrade and I would do it. At under $250 it is a worthwhile buy. At $400, not so much.

    Just my 2c.

    • Rob

      Thanks Scott. Appreciate the comments. I have a VA3, trying a VA4, but just not enough difference. 1 hour GPS walking daily, plus 2 hours workouts every other day, and still only get 3.5 days out of it brand new. All message notifications are on, but no music or pulse ox, switched to non IQ face in case that was the issue. Music is irrelevant, as I have my phone, same as you. Was hoping to get extended battery life (esp. for golf), but just not there.
      To get 8 days as advertised, would need about 0.5% per hour battery use, I am well over 1%. So by 8 days standby, I guess they mean not using it for any of the available features???
      In any case, trying to decide between Fenix 6 Pro and Venu2. Will occasionally hike, so leaning to Fenix. Why did you not like it? Just display? My progressive vision contacts have challenges with the VA screen, but didn’t know if/how much better the Venu2 would be.

    • Lee

      “ keep twisting your wrist and look like a spaz (no disrespect to people with disabilities)”
      I’m sure you meant no harm with this, but if you have to follow a comment with “no disrespect to X”, it probably means it’s disrespectful. In this case, it is. Best just to reword the sentence in you’ve acknowledged it might cause offence.

  114. Libor Janošec

    Can Venu calculate and show the aerobic and anaerobic effect after the activity?