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Garmin Venu 2 Plus In-Depth Review

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus aims to be an incremental update over the 7-month-old Venu 2/2S, with the core new features being voice assistants and a speaker for making and receiving calls. This is the first Garmin watch to offer any sort of voice assistant integration, and out of the gate it supports Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby. However, most interesting in my opinion is the ability to take calls on your wrist, and even trigger emergency assistance and safety alerts using voice (which is new to Garmin as well). Plus you can now listen to music using the speaker on the watch if that’s your thing, and it’s surprisingly not horrible.

Beyond that, the changes are almost entirely industrial design related. Meaning, they’re things like adding in a third button (in the middle), and splitting the difference in sizes between the previous Venu 2 and 2S. Further, a slate of minor things like switching out materials for nicer ones – such as going with a stainless steel rear case, and going with 20mm industry standard quick release bands.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are lots of details to cover, and I’ve been using this watch for more than a month now – putting it through its paces in all assortment of conditions. From snowy winter glove weather to bright sunny islands. Flatlands to high-altitude forests. You name it, I’ve been trying it.

As usual, this watch is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Garmin shortly. After which, I’ll go out and get my own for any future testing needs.  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:

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As noted in the intro. the vast majority of the differences here are related to the voice assistant and speaker aspects, plus some external finishing bits (as well as that third button). So, let’s dive into this briefly before we start into the review pieces:

– Added a 3rd button to side, which is customizable
– Added a speaker and microphone
– Added Voice Assistants: Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby
– Added ability to playback music on watch speaker (without headphones)
– Added ability to receive calls from watch (without headphones)
– Added ability to make calls from watch (without headphones)
– Added new option for Assistance and Incident Detection to *call* an emergency contact (previously just text)
– Added/changed a pile of tones throughout the system to sound prettier (since now speaker versus just beeper on other Garmin watches)
– Added some new Venu 2 Plus-only watch faces
– Added ability to hold down watch face complications and get directly to deeper widget data
– Changed size to 43.6mm, a middle-ground between the Venu 2 (45.4mm) & smaller 2S (40.4mm)
– Slightly increased weight to 51g (Venu 2 was 49g, 2S was 38.2g)
– Same 1.3” display as Venu 2
– Same Garmin Gen 4 ELEVATE Optical HR sensor
– Slightly decreased daily battery life (9 days for Venu 2 Plus, vs 11 days for Venu 2 and 10 days for Venu 2S)
– Slightly increased GPS battery life (24 hours for Venu 2 Plus, versus 22 hours for Venu 2 previously)
– Maintained 50m waterproofing
– Switched to a stainless steel rear case
– Added new bezel detailing, plus all metal surfaces now have PVD (better protection)
– Price increases to $449 (from $399)

So yes, if you expand every last detail out it looks like a lot, but in practice, virtually everything feature-wise is basically either making/receiving calls, voice assistant related, or playing music on the speaker. Now, for those Venu 2 users wondering what, if any, of the features from the Venu 2 Plus they’ll be getting, you’re in luck – you’ll get the newness that’s not dependent on hardware. So obviously, all the speaker/mic stuff is dependent on hardware. But this item isn’t dependent on hardware, and thus will get rolled out to everyone:

– Ability to hold down watch face complications and get directly to deeper widget data [Coming to Venu 2/2S in Feb 2022]

While I often talk about the concern with buying out-of-cycle technology demonstrator watches (such as the FR945 LTE), I’m less concerned about this watch. The reasons are two-fold. First, it’s released in a tighter timeframe than the same-numbered FR945 LTE was to the FR945 two years prior. So by that aspect alone, the lifecycle is going to be far more similar to the original Venu 2 units. Second, it’s a less expensive watch with a relatively frequent annualish release cycle. The Venu series is merely the pretty-display extension of the Vivoactive series, and that series has roughly seen annual releases. Sure, slightly marred by COVID, but by and large Garmin has historically released a new edition each September (like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and others have done in that same target market/category).

In other words, you already know that those units have a pre-determined fate that’s not as long of a lifecycle as the Forerunner or Fenix series which refreshes every 2-3 years.

Still, my hope is that Garmin and others continue to shift more towards packing as many new software features over time into these watches, rather than being purely hardware dependent. We’ve seen that be the case in the last 1-2 years on Garmin’s Edge, Forerunner & Fenix series. Though the Venu series to date hasn’t quite been as expansive there. Still, here’s to hoping.

In the Box:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Unboxing

The Venu 2 Plus box isn’t really much different than the Venu 2 box, or any other Garmin product for that matter. Small square grey box with a watch, foam, charging cable, and a small booklet inside.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-InsideBox

Here’s everything removed, including the standard Garmin charging cable with the four-prongs. Also compatible with the myriad of (awesome) third-party chargers, and even the keychain, USB-C, and desk chargers.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-UnboxedParts

You’ll notice the added button, comprising the three-button side on the right side:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-ThreeButtons

Plus you’ve got the new stainless steel backing:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Unboxed-Backplate

But don’t worry, we’ll dive into all the details throughout it.

Here’s a quick look at how it compares to the Venu 2S and Venu 2, whereby it slots into the middle of those two watches size-wise. Here’s the front:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Venu2-Venu2S-SizeComparison-Front

Followed by the thickness:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Venu2-Venu2S-SizeComparison-Top

And lastly, the back of the watch. It retains the same optical HR sensor as before (Gen 4), however, you’ll notice they’ve moved the position of the charging port from the side to the bottom.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Venu2-Venu2S-SizeComparison-Back

With that, let’s get into basic usage.

The Basics:

So, for this section, I’m going to run through all the basics of using the Venu 2 Plus. So things like the interface, daily activity tracking, buttons/touchscreen, etc… If you have an existing Garmin device, then much of this will be the same as you’ve seen in the past – save the handful of new features/tweaks. If you want a deep-dive tutorial of this, then you can hit the ‘Play’ button above, which walks you through the entire watch step by step.

First up, we’ve got the hardware itself. The unit now includes three buttons (by adding a new middle button). This is short of the 5-button design most non-touchscreen Garmin watches have, but helps make usability a bit easier. That middle button is both the voice assistant button (if long-pressed), and customizable (if short-pressed).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Buttons

Meanwhile, the touchscreen itself is the same as the non-Plus Venu 2, which is an AMOLED display. The screen has two basic power options. The first is gesture-mode, which means it’ll turn on when you raise your wrist, saving battery. In this configuration it gets 9 days of battery life. However, in reality with daily GPS and non-GPS workouts, I’m getting about 5-6 days of battery life. Still, plenty for most people.

The second option is the always-on mode. In this case, the screen is always on and in turn burns more battery life. My testing puts this about 2-3 days, depending on exact GPS usage. Both modes though have a sleep-option to turn off the screen at night, which is useful because the Venu 2 Plus screen is insanely bright even in its dimmest of settings at night.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Screen-Settings

On the back of the unit is the Garmin Elevate V4 optical HR sensor. This is what measures your heart rate 24×7, as well blood oxygen levels, respiration rates, and other heart rate driven metrics. There is no ECG feature on any Garmin watch, nor any skin temperature type features on any Garmin watches. This is the same sensor that’s found on the existing Venu 2, as well as the Forerunner 45 LTE. We’ll get into the accuracy a bit later on.

Garmin-Elevate-Gen4-Venu2-Plus

Back on the home screen, you’ve got the watch face. These are customizable, either by tweaking the pile of built-in ones, or by downloading your own from thousands of watch faces on Garmin’s Connect IQ app store. Or, you can put your cat’s face on one and make it your watch face (or, you’re own picture of the Eiffel Tower). Whatever floats your boat. You can customize the data shown on them as well.

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And this is where we get to one of the few new features that don’t involve the speaker/mics – the ability to long-hold on a data complication (that’s what they call the data bits on the watch face) to access deeper data. So by long-holding the steps on the watch face, it’ll take you directly to the steps widget/details. This new feature is coming to the existing Venu 2 units in a February firmware update.

These widgets are also accessible by just simply swiping downwards, where you can see and customize numerous data points. Steps, stairs, intensity minutes, sleep, etc… You can then tap any of these and get more detail about it. For example, tapping the Body Battery metric will take you to the graph of Body Battery for the day. Here’s a giant gallery of these from today:

All of these details are then synced to Garmin Connect, using either Bluetooth to your phone or WiFi (or USB). They’re then accessible both on the Garmin Connect Mobile app, as well as on their Garmin Connect website. You can see some of these stats here:

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There’s no platform that offers deeper phone-based access to all these stats than Garmin. You can sift through countless metrics and reports on everything from breathing rate to sleep patterns. Though, that’s also often cited as the downside: Many metrics feel like they’re buried deep in the app. That said, you can easily tweak what’s shown on the main daily dashboard, which is really your best bet:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Dashboard-Watch

In addition to steps, stairs, stress, and more, it’ll also track sleep. There’s nothing you need to do here, except simply fall asleep. In the morning when you wake up it’ll show your sleep details and a sleep score. It’ll also give you its best guesstimates at sleep phases, by the colored sections, which you can tap to get more details on.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Sleep-Phase-Details

In general I find the sleep timing pretty accurate, however with some caveats. First, no Garmin device supports naps. So if you fall asleep at some other point in the day, nothing is recorded there. Secondly, it doesn’t tend to handle early morning going back to sleep well. For example, looking at this morning, it shows me waking up at 7:01AM. Which is true…briefly. I woke up then to get the kids downstairs to let them play – and then I went back to sleep for another 75-80 minutes. Except, it didn’t catch that secondary sleep. Whereas other companies like Whoop and Oura do a far better job of catching the secondary sleeps. Most of the time Garmin will miss this type of sleep addition. Note that it has no issues if I wake up at 3AM or something, but it’s the ones that are closer to a normal wake-up time that confuses it.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Sleep-Summary Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Sleep-Suggestions

Now, while not a new feature to the Venu 2 Plus, something that was introduced with the Venu 2 is the Health Snapshot. This feature takes five core metrics and distills them down into a single 2-minute measurement period. All you need to do is sit down and relax.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Healthsnapshot-start-Test

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). You can then export it into a single PDF if you’d like as well.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Health-Snapshot-Middle-Test-Readigs

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

Garmin-Venu2Plus-Health-Snapshot-End-Test

This is also then tracked in Garmin Connect Mobile (this screenshot from a different test):

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And then you can select the menu dots at the top right to export it into a PDF:

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Lastly, you’ve got smartphone notifications. Garmin improved these significantly when they launched the original Venu 2 units, specifically around emojis and including more of them. And indeed, it’s gotten pretty good. With the Venu 2 Plus, you’ve also got the new speaker-driven tones (as opposed to beeper-driven tones). While new users to Garmin watches probably won’t think anything different, the reality is that for existing Garmin users it’ll sound much cleaner, and will generally just feel more polished when notifications come in. This is the first Garmin watch to have an actual speaker.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Notifications-Panel Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Smartphone-notifications

Of course, as noted, all of this comes at some battery cost compared to the original Venu 2/2S for daily watch use, but a slight increase for GPS mode. Those watches previously had an 11 day (Venu 2) and 10 day (Venu 2S) battery life claim in smartwatch mode, whereas the Venu 2 Plus has 9 days. Also, the Venu 2 Plus has gained 2 hours of battery life during GPS usage. Here’s a chart of all the battery claims for the Venu 2 Plus:

Venu2Plus-Batterychart

You’ve also got the newish (to the original Venu 2 anyway) 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-Plus-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 eke out more battery life. Something like 20% battery life turns into basically 3 days of standby watch time, with the following settings toggled in battery saver mode:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-battery-Saver-mode

In addition, tied in with that, there’s the faster Venu 2 series charging, 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.

Anyways, in my testing of the Venu 2 Plus I’ve been getting pretty consistently 5-6 days in gesture mode (inclusive of an hour or so workout each day, sometimes GPS, sometimes not – sometimes longer). In always-on mode, it’s about 2-3 days. In both cases, I have it set for evening do-not-disturb screen-off from 10PM till 7AM. So this saves the battery a bit more. You can access the screen by tapping a button.

With that, let’s dive into the voice & audio features, or you can skip down to the sports section.

Voice & Audio Features:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Voice-Calling-Features

Without question, the most interesting new parts of the Venu 2 Plus are those tied to the speaker and microphone. While things like the voice assistants get all the attention here, in reality there’s a slate of features that leverage this:

– Added Voice Assistants: Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby
– Added ability to playback music on watch speaker (without headphones)
– Added ability to receive calls from watch (without headphones)
– Added ability to make calls from watch (without headphones)
– Added new option for Assistance and Incident Detection to *call* an emergency contact (previously just text)

So we’re gonna walk through them one by one here. The first thing to know though is that you can adjust the volume of the speaker through the settings, or via the controls menu (long-hold upper right button). In fact, you actually adjust the speaker level for different audio situations – from notifications to alerts to music:

Garmin-Venu2-Volume-Panels

However, the voice assistant volume level is actually set within the voice assistant itself, which is kinda weird that it’s not exposed in the general volume list. Garmin says that this is because they actually try and keep the voice assistance volume matched to your phone’s volume – and thus found that in their testing that the experience was better if it wasn’t exposed in this menu here.

In any event, with the voice assistants, Garmin supports Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby. For Apple devices, you’ll use Siri, for Samsung devices you can choose Bixby or Google Assistant, and for all other Android devices you’ll get Google Assistant. Note that no matter the device, your phone must be connected via Bluetooth and in-range.

To access the voice assistant, simply long-hold the new middle-button, and it’ll connect to the assistant. This takes about 2 seconds, and then it’s ready for you to talk to it:

Garmin-Venu2-Connecting-To-Voice-Assistant

You’ll speak your request like normal, and then it’ll return both an audible answer via the watch’s speaker, as well as a visual/written answer on your phone (I show this in a demo in the main videos). Here’s what happens when I asked it “Who is DC Rainmaker”, which, surprisingly it pulls an answer from. I’ve never had occasion to ask my phone that, but hey…I gave it a whirl, and Siri figured it out.

Garmin-Venu2-Answer-Back

All of this works fine, to the usual degree of voice assistants. Meaning, some voice assistants are smarter than others. Personally, I’ve never been a big user of voice assistants, aside from setting timers in the kitchen. So for my own uses, this is mostly just a shrug. Obviously – to each their own!

Next up is the ability to make and receive calls on the watch without any Bluetooth headphones. Note again that this requires your phone be nearby, as the Venu 2 Plus doesn’t have cellular built into it. Now there’s a few different ways to get into the calling menu, but in my case I just use the control options (long-hold upper control, then tap the phone icon). But you can also add a shortcut for the phone dialer to the middle-button if you want. Either way, it brings you here:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Phone-Calling-Menu

This menu lets you either type out a phone number manually, or choose from a contact. You can also swipe up to see past calls, which is a handy way to get to what are probably your favorite people.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Past-calls

If you choose to manually call, here’s that simple numberiffic menu:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Phone-Dialer

Otherwise, you’ve got your contact list. Note that this is actually a subset of your contact list, and one managed within the Garmin Connect mobile app, that allows you to select from your main contacts. The (logical) reason for this is that if your main contacts list is anything like mine, it’s got hundreds of contacts in it, which would be cumbersome on a watch. So you can pick the ones you’ll most likely dial here:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-ContactsList Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Contact-Card

Once you tap on a name, it’ll call that person and you can have a chat with them. From an audio quality standpoint, it’s acceptable. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not horrible either. It’s just “fine”. In placing calls to a few friends, everyone found it perfectly fine to hear what I said, and I was able to hear what they said. Again, there’s some samples of this in the video.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-calling-myself

For an incoming call, you’ll simply tap to receive it on your wrist, which will leverage that speaker/mic instead of your phone.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-CallingMenu

Next there’s the ability to play music from the wrist. You can take any music you’ve stored offline on your Venu 2 Plus (such as Spotify, Amazon Music, etc…), and play it. When you tap play, it’ll ask if you want to play it on the speaker, or headphones (if headphones are connected, it’ll just play there automatically). No phone is required here.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Use-Speaker

The speaker quality here is perfectly fine, and I found the music actually ends up sounding a bit better than a voice call – probably because all the instrumental bits kinda cover up things slightly. Overall, this was more than OK for listening to music by myself when I didn’t have my phone with me and didn’t want to wear headphones such as perhaps running in the woods by myself, or such. I grant you the use cases are somewhat limited here, but it’s no different than the use cases for people listening to music on their Apple Watch today (which plenty do).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Emergency-Assistance

Finally we’ve got arguably the most interesting update which is the ability for you to trigger safety assistance features and use the speaker/mic. When you configure this you’ve got two basic options:

A) Call 911 (or whatever the emergency number is in your country)
B) Call a specified emergency contact

So these features build atop Garmin’s existing safety features that previously would send your emergency contacts a text message with your current location as a new LiveTrack session. And in fact, it still does that. They’ll still get that message, but now you can choose to call someone too. This can be triggered via the following ways:

A) Manually from controls menu
B) Silently with an extra-long hold from the upper right button
C) Automatically after a detected crash (you choose which sport profiles)

In all scenarios, it’ll give you the option to call or text, however, if you don’t choose within 5 seconds, it’ll default to sending a message to your list of contacts. Remember, both still require your phone be within Bluetooth range, since it leverages the cellular connectivity. But this is handy if you’re phone is in a bag or pocket that you can’t reach (due to a crash or such).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Call-Message-Emergency-Assistance

When it makes the phone call for you, it’s simply connecting the line. It doesn’t speak anything for you, nor does it give some sort of automated voice messages to 911. It’s just opening a phone call that then you talk on. Meanwhile, it’ll text a new LiveTrack session with your exact current position (as well as historical position). That LiveTrack will stay alive until you end it. So if you get a ride in an ambulance, it’ll show your friends which hospital you’re going to. Or, if you were being kidnapped, it’d continue showing your moving location until you ended it.

Note that *none* of this leverages Garmin’s International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) though, as it does with the Forerunner 945 LTE (that has LTE in the watch itself). Just wanted to be clear about that. Also, as before, you can still toggle which sports will trigger fall detection within the greater incident detection categories. I haven’t had any false-positives to date on the Venu 2 Plus.

Garmin-Venu2Plus-Incident-Detection-Types

Ultimately, I see the voice/speaker/mic integration bits as Garmin’s first step towards using these features as a standard baseline moving forward into the next few years. Still, for a first go at things, they’re pretty darn solid and seem to cover the major scenarios pretty well – with a speaker that seems fine enough.

Sport Usage:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Sport-Section

For most people, the reason you’d choose a Garmin watch over one of their competitors is the sport features (albeit, sometimes also the battery life). Thus for this section we’re going to dive into the sport and fitness features in more detail.

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 they added it to other watches this past fall). 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.

Note, however, that there are zero new sport/fitness features in the Venu 2 Plus compared to the Venu 2. It’s identical in every aspect that way. This is somewhat disappointing, though by the same token, Garmin has added features to the Venu 2 series since launch last spring. For example, this past fall they added Bluetooth broadcasting, as well as a smattering of new watch faces. Though it’s been relatively minor compared to most other watches and bike computers that Garmin releases.

To begin, you’ll simply tap the upper right button, which shows the full sport listing. You’ve got favorites that appear first (you define your favorites, and can edit them whenever you like).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Choose-Sport-Mode

Here’s the full sport list, which generally have both features specific to them, as well as calorie burn calculation unique to them. For example, in downhill skiing you’ll see data fields like total descent and runs (ski runs), whereas in pool swimming you’d have stroke rate and pool-size details to configure:

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.

The Venu 2 series supports a variety of both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors. This hasn’t changed with the Venu 2 Plus.  The unit supports Headphones (Bluetooth audio devices), 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-Venu2-Plus-Choose-Sensors

You can save sensors and rename them, as well as save multiple of the same sensor type. For example, if you had multiple bikes, or perhaps different heart rate straps.

The Venu 2 Plus supports re-broadcasting your heart rate as both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, which Garmin added to the Venu 2 series this past summer/fall. This is handy if you want to use the heart rate sensor in the watch with other apps, for example Zwift or Peloton. Here you can see this below in both, showing up in the pairing menu as a Bluetooth sensor:

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For the Peloton Bike/Bike+/Tread/Tread+ hardware, it actually supports ANT+ heart rate sensors too, so you’ll see it there listed by both. Whereas if on an Apple/etc device that only supports Bluetooth smart (such as my Zwift Apple TV session above), you’ll just see the Bluetooth connection.

Anyways, back on our workout front, we’ll choose to do a run. From there the GPS will go off and acquire signal, which generally just takes a few seconds. You’ll also see the little heart rate icon, which will stop blinking once it’s got HR lock. Any sensors you might have had paired will automatically connect too.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Waiting-For-GPS

You could press start to begin recording your workout, or you can swipe up to access structured workouts. Garmin pre-loads a couple of run interval workouts, or you can easily create your own on Garmin Connect, or download various training plans too. Here’s some of those pre-loaded ones:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Choose-Workouts Garmin-Venu2-Plus-See-Interval-workouts

But realistically, those three pre-loaded ones are just the tip of the iceberg of ones you can pull from the Garmin Connect app. However, all of the running ones are part of larger training plans (which are free). Whereas there are 81 different strength, yoga, Pilates, and HIIT workouts.

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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-Venu2-Plus-Data-Screens Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Data-Field-Foursome

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).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-AutoLaps

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 series 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:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Mid-Run

From a pace stability standpoint, it was perfectly fine for me across a wide variety of runs and runs.

Similarly, screen visibility was good. This was true of both night workouts using the backlight, as well as true in the sun – even out at high altitude or beach-front on an island with summer-like weather in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The only caveat was the slight delay for moderate brightness to full brightness as you raise your wrist with always-on mode. Though, being more winter now it’s less of an issue than mid-summer runs (in general, displays do better in darker weather than sunnier weather – but neither was an issue here).

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Once at the end of a workout, you’ll get a small summary of your workout. This includes both an outline map of your route (if outdoors), as well as a heart rate graph (for all workouts):

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Completed-Workout-Outline Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Workout-HR-Graph DSC_7442

In addition, you can look at lap and summary information. Though, the bulk of the information is instead on Garmin Connect, either the smartphone app or desktop apps. Here’s a look at an interval workout I did a few weeks ago, showing both the GPS-related data as well as the heart rate throughout the intervals.

Switching up sports a bit, one of the things that Garmin expanded significantly with the Venu 2 series was the Strength and HIIT training activities. You’ll see these are both individual sports listed like any other, but in reality they have a pile of additional features behind the scenes once selected.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Choose-Strength

For example, if I choose the HIIT workout type, I’m then able to select the type of HIIT training I want to do – Free, HIIT Timers, or Workouts:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-HIIT-Type-Selection

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.

If I select the HIIIT Workout type, then I’m able to choose from a small pile of pre-loaded workouts. But again, remember earlier there are boatloads of additional workouts you can grab from Garmin Connect (for free), or, you can also cobble together your own workout using Garmin Connect’s workout builder.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-HIIT-Workouts

After selecting one of the options, you can see the exact steps in that workout:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-HIIT-Workout-Steps

The same is true of strength training too. For example, another small pile of workouts to choose from, with yet more online:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Strength-Trianing

For each step in the workout, you can see which muscles of the body are being worked:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Workout-Focus-Body-Area Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Workout-Body-Worked

Once you’re ready, go ahead and ensure heart rate lock (in other words, don’t leave your watch sitting on a wooden block getting an Instagram photoshoot). And then press start. It’ll give you a heads up on which step is first:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Start-Workout

Each step will show the number of reps to be completed, as well as total sets, plus again – what step is next. In addition, for every step you can see what exactly in the body will hurt later, as well as how exactly to do the step with a small animation. While undoubtedly most people know how to do a pushup, the reality is there are probably 100 other different moves that the majority of folks (including myself) won’t execute correctly each time.

DSC_7437 Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Body-Step-Focus Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Guided-Steps

This same animation concept was used previously on the original Venu watch for Yoga, Strength, and Pilates.

On a workout involving weights, once done with the entire workout, it’ll save the full rep details and you can specify exactly how much weight you used.

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-Plus-Music-andPayments

The Venu 2 Plus carries with it the same music and contactless payment features of the Venu 2/2S. The only difference though now being that you can play music out of the speaker directly, as opposed to requiring Bluetooth headphones. Music options remain the same with offline Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, as well as any of your own MP3’s. Meanwhile, on the contactless payments side, that continues with Garmin Pay, where you can load your bank cards – assuming they’re supported. These days, the biggest banks in the US and many other countries are supported though.

Starting on the music front, you’ve got a couple of different ways you can access music. In my case, I primarily use Spotify, so it only took a few seconds to link up my Spotify account. A Spotify Premium account is required though for doing offline music to your watch (thus, no phone required). Once connected though, you can choose which playlists you want to sync.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Music-Playlists

You can also use Spotify to download podcasts, which is a handy way of doing it versus the regular Garmin podcast feature that requires a computer to sync the podcasts. With all music streaming services it’ll leverage WiFi for the music sync. In general, the simple math is about 5-10 seconds per song to download (so about 10 songs per minute (speed varies based on the length of the song and other factors. You’ll just choose which playlists you want, and then it’ll go off and download them. As long as the Spotify app checks in once per 30 days, your music stays valid.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Playing-Music

Behind the scenes, the Spotify app will also update the music list over WiFi when you connect your Venu 2 Plus to a charging cable, so that it’s always in sync for dynamic playlists that get regularly updated.  You can download multiple playlists from multiple services (plus manually load music on the watch using a USB cable, such as MP3 files. Like the existing Venu 2, the Venu 2 Plus has 7GB of storage space, with slightly less than that usable once you consider operating system bits.

Now for most people, you won’t use the speaker to play music. Sure, you can, but the quality is so-so. Thus, you’ll probably want to pair up some Bluetooth headphones, or any other Bluetooth 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).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Music-Headphone-Pairing

Once you’re ready to play music, you can go to the music controls from numerous ways, such as a shortcut button, the controls menu, or the music widget. Once inside of that, you can choose the playlist you want, and skip songs. You can also play/pause and change volume, and change the play order (e.g. shuffle, repeat, etc…). This is accessible both within a workout and outside of it in regular smartwatch mode (such as just sitting at your desk).

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Music-Controls

Finally on the music front, as noted in the speaker section, you can play music directly from the watch itself. All you need do is choose ‘Speaker’ when you tap play from the music menu. As long as you don’t have your Bluetooth headphones turned on at that time, it’ll play from the speaker as the default option.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Use-Speaker

Like I said earlier, the speaker quality is fine. Nothing great, but not horrific for a wearable. I could see folks perhaps using it when they go out for a run or something and either don’t want to wear headphones, or simply forgot to charge their headphones. This would work in a pinch.

Now, switching gears a bit you’ve got contactless payments. These use NFC, and in Garmin’s case their payment platform is called Garmin Pay. It’s essentially no different than Apple Pay or other payment platforms, and is generally supported anywhere you go as long as the card itself is supported by that merchant. And in fact, that’ll likely be your main limiter in terms of usage: Whether or not your credit card is supported.

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 going 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, so I added my US Chase card instead. As part of the setup process you’ll create a pin code to use when making a payment. This pin is only used when you actually go to tap and make a payment, so it’s not something used throughout the rest of the day. And as long as the watch stays on your wrist, it won’t ask you for the pin for another 24 hours.

Garmin-Venu2Plus-PasscodeEntry

You can access the wallet either from the controls menu, or by assigning a shortcut key to it.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Garmin-Pay

After which you’ve got 60 seconds to complete your transaction by tapping the NFC reader:

Garmin-Venu2Plus-NFC-Payment-Start

After which it’ll give a successful green ring of win, indicating the payment completed.

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-Payment-Complete

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

For most people, they tend to use this type of functionality on their watches for well-known establishments that support contactless payments. For example, at a certain café or coffee shop they might stop at after a run (skipping bringing a wallet or smartphone). As always with contactless payments, I wouldn’t depend on an unknown shop/merchant supporting NFC payments – since ya never know what will actually be available. Inversely, this is also handy simply as a backup in case your phone dies and you don’t have a credit card on you.

GPS & Heart Rate Accuracy:

Garmin-Venu2-Plus-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 so 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 an interval workout. Outside in the winter. Which is essentially the quickest way to cause pain for an optical HR sensor. In this test, I had an Apple Watch Series 7 on the other wrist, as well as a Polar H10 chest strap being recorded by the Forerunner 745. For GPS I had an additional COROS Vertix 2, and my phone too recording using the Polar Flow app. Note that the Apple Watch had Bluetooth disabled, so that it only used the internal GPS inside the watch. Here’s that data set.

Looking at the heart rate, you can see I did intervals (800m) for the workout, which is always a good test of things. Looking at the beginning of the workout, the Apple Watch struggles a fair bit, which is not surprising given it does not begin to acquire heart rate until after you press start.

Garmin-Venu2-HR-Dec19th-Accuracy

However, once it sorts itself out, about 3 minutes into the workout, it’s onboard the interval train. You’ll notice that for Interval #3 above (though, zoomed in as interval #2 below), that the Venu 2 Plus misses the start of one interval. For some of the later intervals, the Venu 2 Plus was a bit more latent than the Polar H10/Apple Watch as I entered the cool-down. The Apple Watch also however overshot many of the intervals, which appears to be doing some minor cadence lock (where an optical HR sensor incorrectly latches onto your running cadence instead of your heart rate).

AppleVenu2

I suppose you’re effectively deciding which bit of incorrect data is preferred. In the case of the Venu 2 Plus, it correctly gets the ‘main’/work portion of each interval actually (arguably, the part you care about). Though, it undercuts/overcuts most of the ramp portions of each one.

Looking at the GPS side of that track, at a high level, things look pretty good:

Venu2-Plus-GPS-HighLevel

However, the devil’s in the details as we zoom in. For example, on the straightaways the Venu 2 Plus/Apple Watch Series 7/FR745 all did solidly. However, the COROS Vertix 2 was off in the canal (despite being in dual-frequency mode). We’re not talking major amounts here, but certainly a bit wet.

Venu2Plus-Straightaways

Meanwhile, a bit later on some giant underpasses under the main highway into Amsterdam as well as train tracks, all the units do great here.

Venu2PlusTurn

A short bit later near some tall buildings, there’s a bit of struggle between the units. And frankly, they were all hit or miss in this section. None were off hugely, at most perhaps 5-7 meters. But you can see they took turns plowing through structures or trees, or being run over by cars.

image

And then to switch things up, while the COROS was off in the canal earlier in the run on the straightaways, for this section it was the Venu 2 Plus that was offset by about the same distance. Albeit, this was under the trees rather than being wet.

COROS-Vertix2-Venu2-Trees

Looking at the distances at the end of the run, they ended up pretty close – save the iPhone using the Polar Flow app, which was some 600m off. Albeit, that was in my pocket, so we can’t blame it entirely. The total spread on 10KM was 50m between the watches, so that’s respectable. No massive errors here.

DistanceSpread

Moving on to another outdoor workout, we’ve got a coastal run. This is notable as it’s up against various cliff sides, plus a tunnel for good measure. This one only had one other competitor, but that’s OK. It was the COROS Vertix 2, using dual-frequency GPS. So it’s a good test to see how that might handle the tougher cliffs. Here’s the GPS data set at a high level:

GPS-CanaryOverview

The beginning and ending of the run is interesting, in that it goes through a tunnel to reach the seaside. In this case, the Venu 2 Plus almost nailed it both ways, whereas the COROS Vertix 2 meandered upon the exits both times off-course. Not a gigantic amount, but a building’s worth or two.

Venu-Canary-GPS-Tunnel

As we rounded the corner, against the seaside cliffs the height of 8 story buildings (which, is hard to see on a satellite image), both were actually really close to the actual path and each other. All good there. Albeit, heading across an empty parking lot the Vertix was slightly more accurate (the Venu 2 Plus was only off a couple of meters at most).

Seasidecliffs

As we ran down onto a beach, the Venu 2 missed my turns a bit compared to the Vertix. In this case, perhaps by 10-20 meters or so. Whereas the Vertix 2 track was closer to life. After that point, for the remainder of the run, the two tracks were virtually identical on this out and back section along the waterfront.

Run

Meanwhile, if we look at the heart rate plot, the COROS Vertix 2 was connected to a Polar H10 chest strap. This is a good rare example of where lack of moisture can cause chest straps to struggle. This was a run at sunset in cooler weather with a slight bit of breeze. Thus, very dry. The Venu 2 was correct in all scenarios here except the latency around the 3-minute marker when we stopped to take a photo (the big dip there). But all the other ‘drops’ from the H10 are incorrect, and especially missing the 180bpm section at the end, which was a sprint uphill. The Venu 2 Plus nailed all those.

Venu2HR

Next, we’ll head indoors for an interval workout on the treadmill for an hour. We’ll keep this one to a single image, cause frankly it’s pretty self-explanatory and obvious. At the beginning, the Venu 2 Plus seems to fumble the first few minutes, which was a very low-speed jog/walk warm-up. That said, I’m also surprised, as 120bpm (what the others all say), would be exceptionally low for me, even in a jog. So I’m suspicious there that the Venu 2 Plus might have actually gotten it right. But it’d be exceptionally rare for the Apple Watch Series 7, Polar H10, and Whoop 4.0 all to be that close to each other and be wrong. It’s just hard to know with a difference of ‘only’ 10bpm this early in the workout. Here’s that data:

TreadmillWorkoutPeloton

Next, here’s another interval-laden workout, this time on an indoor trainer with TrainerRoad. You can see it nails this without issue:

TrainerRoad4Venu2PlusHR

Lastly, we’ve got a 3hr+ outdoor ride. Well, it was supposed to be a ride. But it ended up being more like 3hrs+ of cyclocross, with some hiking involved. For this data set, I’m going to focus on the riding portions of the adventure, rather than the portions where I hiked for an hour holding a bike over my shoulder. Anyway, here’s the first half of that ride:

CanaryRidePart1

As you can see, the going uphill portion (which is the entire chart above) looks really clean. Actually, incredibly clean for an optical HR sensor on the wrist while cycling. Only the slightest and briefest of blips the entire time. Really solid.

But what goes up, must come down. And after we finished our hike across barren landscapes very much not meant to see road bicycle tires with carbon rims, we went back downhill. And that’s when, predictably, the optical HR sensor fell apart. Given my wrists were tight holding on the handlebars, while descending steep turns holding the brakes, the optical HR performance went down the crapper:

CanaryRidepartdown

This is pretty much the norm for most watches when descending without effort.

On the bright side, the barometric altimeter performance was spot-on. This is compared to a Hammerhead Karoo 2, Wahoo BOLT V2, and Garmin Edge 830. The max spread is a mere 6 meters! That’s across an altitude range from sea level (0 feet/meters) all the way up to 970m/3,181ft. Damn!

Venu2PlusElevation

Also, if you’d like to look at the GPS track for that epic mountain ride, you can do so here, though from a data standpoint it’s boringly perfect. The Venu 2 Plus only made a single blip the entire ride in a mountain cliff area, as I did a random road-u-turn.

So ultimately, where do we stand? Well, I think looking at things, the optical HR performance is largely pretty good, except in known very tough wrist optical HR situations, like downhill descending. But largely almost all of my interval workouts on both ride and run were very close to the known good chest and other optical HR sensors on the arm.

Like both optical and chest-based sensors, you can occasionally see some warm-up struggles, though those were rare here. From a GPS standpoint, there was nothing of concern across either of these data sets, or other runs/rides I’ve done. Nor any issues with just random day-to-day bike commuting.

(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 Plus 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 7, and original Venu 2/2S  –  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 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 24th, 2022 @ 9:17 am New Window
Price$449$399$329$399/$499 (cellular)
Product Announcement DateJan 4th, 2022Apr 22nd, 2021Sept 2020Sept 14th, 2021
Actual Availability/Shipping DateJan 4th, 2022Apr 22nd, 2021Sept 23rd, 2020Oct 15th, 2021
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART, WiFiUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART, WiFiBluetooth Smart/WiFi for musicBluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 meters50 meters50m50m
Battery Life (GPS)24 hrs (just GPS), up to 8hrs GPS+Music22 hrs (just GPS), up to 8hrs GPS+Music (2S: 19hrs GPS/7hrs with music)12 hours7hrs GPS on time (18hrs standby)
Recording Interval1s or Smart Recording1s or Smart Recording1-secondVaries
Dual-Frequency GNSSNoNoNo
AlertsVibrate/Visual/SpeakerVibrate/VisualVisual/VibrateVibration/Audio/Visual
Display TypeAMOLED
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYesYes
Voice IntegrationGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Has Mic/SpeakerYesNoYesYes
Can make/receive callsWith phone's cellularNoWith phone's cellularNon-cellular editions with phone/Cellular Editions without phone
Voice AssistantApple Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung BixbyNoAmazon AlexaApple Siri
MusicGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Can control phone musicYesYesYesYes
Has music storage and playbackYesYesYesYes
Streaming ServicesSpotify, Amazon Music, DeezerSpotify, Amazon Music, DeezerPandora, DeezerApple Music
PaymentsGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesYesYesYes
ConnectivityGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesNoWith 3rd party apps
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)YesYesNoYes
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoYes (with cellular version)
CyclingGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesNoNo
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoNo
Crash detectionYesYesNoYes via 'Fall Detection'
RunningGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesNo (but has treadmill functionality)With 3rd party apps
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNo
Running PowerWITH 3RD PARTY APPSWITH 3RD PARTY APPSNoWith 3rd party apps
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYes, via appYes
Race PredictorNoNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesYesNoWith 3rd party apps
Track Recognition ModeNoNoNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Designed for swimmingYesYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeNoNoNoYEs
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterYesYesNoYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)NoNoNoBasic stroke type only
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYesBasic stroke type only
Indoor Drill ModeNoNoNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoNoNoYes
Change pool sizeYesYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths13M/15Y TO 150Y/M13M/15Y TO 150Y/M10m/y-100m/y1y/m to 1,500y/m+
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesYesVery limited
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesYesYes (distance)Yes (goals)
TriathlonGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNot really
Multisport modeNoNoNoYes
WorkoutsGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesNo (Premium Coached only)With 3rd party apps
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoNoWith 3rd party apps
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesNoWith 3rd party apps
FunctionsGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoNoSorta (Pacing feature)
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNonoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYesYes
NavigateGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)No (but some 3rd party apps can)No (but some 3rd party apps can)NoWith 3rd party apps
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoWith 3rd party apps
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoWith 3rd party apps
Back to startYesYesNoWith 3rd party apps
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoWith 3rd party apps
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoWith 3rd party apps
SensorsGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric with real-time watch face
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYes
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)YesYesYesYes
ECG FunctionalityNoNoYes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYEsYEsNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesNono
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNonONo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesYesnONo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYEsYEsNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesnoNo
SoftwareGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressNone
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectYesNone
Phone AppiOS/Android/WindowsiOS/Android/WindowsiOS/AndroidiOS only
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
AmazonLinkLinkLinkLink
Backcountry.comLink
Competitive CyclistLink
REILinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2Fitbit SenseApple Watch Series 7
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

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

Wrap-Up:

Garmin-Venu2-Review-Summary

The Venu 2 Plus is undeniably a product Garmin has made to prove technology (voice/speaker/assistants), but also to better compete with Apple & Samsung smartwatches from a mainstream market standpoint. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but unlike the transition from Venu 1 to Venu 2 where many existing Venu users would consider upgrading to the Venu 2 – I don’t see that being the case for Venu 2 to Venu 2 Plus upgrades. I mean, unless you *really* want to talk to your wrist.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad product. It’s not. It’s the best Venu/Vivo series Garmin has made, mainly because they took the already successful Venu 2 watch and added more features without seemingly compromising the existing features. Plus, they added more polish to the watch – both in minor software updates, but also equally important things like nuanced tones. Which I get it, tones may not be exciting – but as I’ve said for more years than I can count: It’s the polish that makes users love their devices, even when they don’t realize it. You instinctively know when something feels dated or unpolished. But most people don’t realize though the minor touches of polish that make a product feel warm and fuzzy.

Still, there are gaps. Going into 2022 the Venu series lacks the cellular connectivity that Garmin rolled out on the Forerunner 945 LTE last spring. And they lack ECG found on almost every other mainstream competitor (even if we can debate the usefulness of that for the vast majority of people). And if we look at Garmin competing with companies like Whoop and Oura as more holistic health devices, the lack of skin temperature sensors will likely make Garmin unable to compete in some of the female health-related menstrual cycle and fertility prediction features, despite the fact that Garmin basically owns (and has led) the depth and detail of those features otherwise compared to their competitors.

Which ultimately leads me to believe the Venu 2 Plus is a perfectly fine stopgap product till the usual September release season, when there will probably be a more typically timed new Venu series product, which I’d hope would fill in most of those gaps. And that’s OK. It doesn’t take away from this product, as when it comes to sport and fitness features specifically, they are still far ahead of any other wearable that has voice-enabled features. Thus, if you’re trying to narrow down options in the field, Garmin has removed the voice-related blockers, if those were a blocker for you.

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 Plus 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.

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.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

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 Plus 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.

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.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

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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160 Comments

  1. Hassan

    This is great and all, but I am here frantically refreshing your blog waiting for the Fenix7 then I got this post and wanted to start celebrating for a sec there 😅

  2. Sam

    I guess no f7 this year… bummer….

  3. Heather Riley

    Too bad it doesn’t have Ecg. I would sell my Galaxy Watch 4 and make the switch in a heartbeat. I am a Garmin girl at heart. Hopefully down the road.

  4. Secret Squirrel

    Thanks for the review Ray.
    I was wondering why my Venu 2 was so heavily discounted on Black Fri.

    The Bluetooth broadcast seems to work well with any static activity such as Indoor Bike and Treadmill.

    Have they fixed the broken Notification interaction with iOS 15 Focus time in this model? Short version is if you have any kind of focus time active on your phone the Garmin won’t receive any/many notifications as Garmin treat the whole feature as Do Not Disturb. Lots of grumpy people on the Garmin forums right now. FWIW Focus time is so complicated I just turned it off but others like it. I don’t mind it too much but it would have been good to know about it.

    Also worth noting Garmin still don’t support any of the major UK banks for Garmin pay.

    • Gus

      Re UK banks : if you sign-up to Curve, then you can add all your UK cards ( debit/credit/loyalty/etc ) to your Curve account, and Garmin Pay supports Curve.

    • Dave Lusty

      I hadn’t heard of Curve so took a look. Seems like a terrible idea to me. I can’t see where their money will come from so can only assume it’s through misuse of customer information in some way. Handing over my entire spending history isn’t something I would consider just to use a watch to pay for something. Privacy should be more important to you than mild convenience!

    • Rui Pereira

      Curve been around for a couple of years. They make money everytime you pay something with the card (because they’re the issuer) and that will happen a lot if you have several cards in there (it’s basically a wallet). If there’s currency conversion in the middle, they’ll also profit from that (even thought it’s similar to Revolut and you get a good exchange rate).

      They also have the usual premium mermbership where you pay a monthly fee to have access to additional benefits, hight currency conversion, etc . And since there’s cashback with specific merchants, I guess they also profit from that in the background.

      Regarding privacy I think that’s a moot point, as long you use a card, someone somewhere will always have your spending history. Anyway don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea using Curve, just telling my experience from what a remember about 2 years ago (stopped using it when cashback period was over).

  5. Bikeman

    The Venu 2 is currently selling (USD) for $350. The $100. upcharge for the Plus seems excessive. I expect we’ll see discounts rather quickly.

  6. Grebart

    Hi Ray – thanks for great review as always. Is there any settings to control size of text (in general UI or in notifications) – to help visually impaired?

  7. David

    Too bad Garmin didn’t announce the Fenix 7 today. I guess they care more about the casual user (bigger market) than us fitness enthusiasts. I guess I’ll keep waiting to replace my aging Fenix 3 lol.

    • Dave Lusty

      I’ve had every Fenix since the 2 and I promise you, you’re only hurting yourself. Every single iteration has added enormous benefits, and Garmin can take as long as they like building excitement or waiting for stock to arrive or whatever it is they think they’re doing before announcing. I’ll be ordering one as soon as I can! They removed the premium SKUs of the F6 series today so it must be imminent.

    • David

      Given the strong rumors I’ll just wait a bit longer. Do you sell the older devices? Do they have good resale value? It seems a bit excessive to drop $500-800+ each year to have the latest and greatest…

  8. Torbjørn

    Is it possible to dictate messages for iPhone with Siri?

    • Lee

      It seems so! This is from Garmins site.
      “Hands full? No problem. Use your paired smartphone’s voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant or Bixby) via Venu 2 Plus to compose and respond to text messages, ask questions and even control your compatible smart home devices.”

      It also mentions you can still reply with a prewritten reply with a android phone.

    • Teddy

      Thanks for sharing this! To be honest I was a little disappointed with this review, given that voice assistants seem to be the marquee feature. I’d be curious to know more about how it compares to, say, Apple Watch’s Siri integration. Obviously AW is more in-depth and leads to activity on the watch itself, but I wonder how close this gets to a seamless experience for communication, checking the weather, getting directions etc.

    • Yeah, I guess as noted I’m not really a wrist-based voice assistant kinda person. The overwhelming vast majority of the time I have a phone near me, and I find that using voice assistants on the watch (any watch) are generally slow and cumbersome – with no net-add.

      So while Garmin says it’s hands-free in the quote comment, that’s assuming you hold the button first for roughly 2 seconds (with you’re hand), then wait 2-3 seconds, and then talk, and then wait for an answer.

      For me, if I’m hands-free, it’s because I want to be truly hands-free – for example cooking to set a timer, in which case this doesn’t work. And since it relies upon my phone for the voice assistant, it means it’s within Bluetooth range, which almost certainly means it’s within talking range (there are rare exceptions when in a nearby room of course, but still).

      I get why Garmin had to add it to check the box, and I’m cool with that. But I still find it roughly 98% useless.

    • Teddy

      Thanks a lot for the reply Ray! That makes sense and is something I wasn’t clear about reading the Garmin info. I guess this is sort of a workaround for the lack of quick replies to message notifications.

    • usr

      Can you set a swipe gesture to trigger voice assist listening? This could be just the right use case for the old nose swipe: too close to read the screen, not enough precision for any followup touch interaction, but you happen to get the microphone conveniently positioned for recording. Seems like nose screen pecking was born for this. (and not for those endless futile battles with odd settings appearing in the phone camera app while cycling that my nose actually spends all of its screen pecking time in)

    • inSyt

      Totally on the same fence as Ray on this one. This will be much more useful on a LTE watch with something like Alexa built into the watch (don’t think Google/Apple will give permission to use their assistants on a Garmin OS).

      But I do want that built in speaker to make it onto the Fenix 7 and Forerunner x55 watches. Audio prompts, cool OS tones and possibly some creative things like waking up to an alarm that also gives you info from a widget (sleep score, weather, resting hr, etc) will be super cool.

    • Sipke Bijlsma

      The remaining 2% could save your life. As it did to a sailor last year on the Grevelingen lake. He was alone, fell overboard in the dark, called 911 on his Apple watch. Hé was rescued half an hour later.

  9. Rick

    So seing as the price will end up pretty close in Australia and being an Android user…what would be the key reasons for choosing a Samsung Galaxy watch 4 over the Garmin Venu 2 Plus? I am really struggling to think of any…

  10. Daniel Howard

    It’s a shame garmin haven’t implemented native power also, it’s one thing I would like to see on there watches alongside good integration with stryd / pods.

    • Carlton

      I’m glad Gramin is finally offering the voice/phone features that my Jabra had back in 2913. Better late than never I guess.

  11. Éric

    After scroll down half way . We can see sport usage
    Means more they released gadgets more people don’t care about the function of the watch or just name it smart watch

    • Since the beginning of time on the site for every device in every category I review, I’ve ordered the reviews the same way:

      A) What’s new
      B) Unboxing
      C) Explaining the basics
      D) Anything super new/unique non-sporty
      E) Sports stuff
      F) Deeper sports stuff when applicable
      G) Analysis of sports stuff
      H) Comparisons
      I) Wrap-Up

      You can use the quick-access menu on the left side (if desktop), or top (if mobile) to skip right to that section.

    • jason

      Well, we’re nearly to sports feature saturation so the smart features are really what a lot of people are looking for next. I don’t know what else they can really add except for two things sports feature-wise, built in accurate running power and a cheststrap-class accuracy HR sensor that works from the watch. GPS is already very good and with the new multi frequency stuff it’s even better on the newest models.

  12. Keith

    Ray: at a very high level would you say the biggest differences between a venu and vivo are the workout( strength, etc), displays, and buttons? Most features match on the analyzer ( that I care about at least) so just trying to figure out which one is best for now non triathlete/ runner trying to get back in the game. Have a vivo3 music and was ok, if was you which way would you go?

  13. When are we going to see an OLED watch that supports power meters? I would like to ride without my Edge sometimes but still record the ride for post ride analysis/history. I have an Apple Watch but no native power meter support there either and I would prefer a watch from Garmin to stay in one eco system.

  14. J D

    Can the Venu 2 pause and park an activity? I find the workouts auto-saving when you stop for a bit frustrating. I like to take my girls for rides in the bakfiets where we have stops (lunch, ice cream, city park, etc). I hate ending up with 2-3 workout files so I end up stuffing my bike computer in my bag.

    • Stephanie

      Hi, yes it can. It took me a while to find it. You stop your activity – with the stop / start button, then if you want to resume the activity again, you swipe right , and then press the start button again

    • John

      Hi, does this mean you can park the activity for a couple of hours (like lunch break on a hike) and then resume it? This feature is not on the Venu 2 (or other venu watches).
      If Garmin introduced it on the Venu 2 plus, awesome, otherwise for me a dealbreaker. If yes, will it be introduced to Venu 2 and 2S?

      Thanks for responding!

  15. gingerneil

    Just one question – why?!
    If you have your phone with you, I see no reason why you’d want to look like an idiot and talk into your wrist, with worse quality than into your phone. Its bad enough that people walk down the street shouting into a speaker phone – please dont encourage them by making it possible on the watch!
    If it had a SIM built in, then I could see the benefit – being able to keep in touch on your run without the phone. Perfect for those runs out between meetings, or if you need to be contactable for family etc. By having to carry the phone makes it utterly pointless.
    Hopefully the 955 LTE will merge these features, add a nice screen too and keep the 20hr battery… but I’ll keep dreaming!

    • Neil Rosser

      Lots of reasons why – as one guy mentions below, your phone can be ‘near’ you, but not readily accessible (in a bag, somewhere in your car, across the room, any number of places where it’s not convenient to grab). My wife uses this ALL the time w her Apple Watch – she’s one of those people who sets things down and doesn’t recall where she put it. She gets calls, her wrist buzzes or whatever it does, and she’ll answer there. She’ll talk there until she walks around the house and finds her phone. Yes it’s a bit maddening, but everyone is different. I always know where I put my phone down and can go right to it. She…does not. I know other people like that as well – they’re constantly answering calls on their AW because it’s right there, on their wrist, whereas the phone isn’t so accessible at the moment for whatever reason. Truly you can just never know how people will use technology…..

    • Ray S.

      agree with Neil… I happen to kayak on rivers and want my ground crew to be able to track me with my phone, but I also want my phone protected in a safe place. The ability to access my phone for communication thru my waterproof watch is super handy.

    • Tams

      The simplest answer is if you have your hand*s* full.

      That may not be often for you, but it is for me.

      Now is it a luxury/extravagance/unnecessary? Well, yes, but so is anything but a very basic watch. Hell, you don’t even need one of those, nor your phone if we’re going to get picky.

      Honestly, it’s getting tiring trying dealing with people like you who not only refuse to bother seeing how others could use something, but then publicly voice that laziness.

    • Scott Lewis

      I can think of several reasons. Here’s a big one. Riding your bike. Wanting to change the tune playing on your Aeropex (I always mention the brand so I don’t get people yelling at me for wearing in ear headphones while I ride – which I don’t).

      I’m totally using a voice assistant for that, rather than reaching into my cycling jersey’s pocket, grabbing my phone wallet, unzipping it, pulling out the phone, and then using that same voice assistant anyway, then reversing all those steps to put it back.

      I’d use the Aeropex, but the mic is bad in the first place, add in a light breeze and it’s unusable.

      Second use case: hit a red light or stop sign, respond to that text message from the spouse without grabbing the phone.

  16. Tyler

    Quick question on that stainless back plate – this reminds me a lot of the appearance of the Forerunner 405 – which was by far the worst watch Garmin ever produced.
    Among other problems, the Stainless back on the 405 corroded like crazy, leaving your skin green after wearing.
    The larger problem was the defective band attachment, that let the watch go flying off your wrist, mid-run.

    I’ve mostly had plastic-backed Garmins since the 405, and I’ve had other all stainless watches that didn’t have this issue, so hopefully Garmin figured out the problem; but the image of that somewhat dark/oxidized stainless plate screwed onto a plastic watch conjured up that nightmare memory of the 405.

    • Dave Lusty

      Oxidised stainless is bright shiny silver in appearance, the silver is the protective oxidation which makes it stainless. Anything else you experienced is something else.

    • Garos

      AFAIK all the Fenix have a stainless steel back, the Vivoactive 3 too, and surely other Garmin watches. And they don’t have any problem.

    • Yeah, the FR405 had a very unique backing that caused the issue, and hasn’t been repeated since.

      As others noted, numerous watches (more than I can count on all my fingers and toes since) have had variants of stainless steel backings – both across their fitness-specific products, and then their marine/aviation/etc offerings that re-use the same bodies.

      Unrelated, I’m still thankful every day that Garmin ditched that horrific touch-bezel on the FR405. Arguably one of the worst creations of mankind. For fun, here’s what I wrote in an *ENTIRE SECTION* dedicated to the bezel in a review back: link to dcrainmaker.com

      “Because this review is written by…me…you’re going to get the pleasure of my opinion on it. Obviously some people differ with me. I personally think the bezel is the dumbest thing ever. It tries to be hip and fashionable with its whole touch concept. If I wanted an iPod I would have bought an iPod. Instead – I bought a sports watch that has an identity crisis with an iPod.”

      (That’s just one of the 7 paragraphs in that bezel section.)

    • Mr. T

      Booo! I like the bezel and it made total sense to me. When i was training for marathons, it worked exactly as I expected.
      You rant never made sense to me.

    • Tyler

      Thanks for the response, Ray.
      I felt the same about the 405 – a failure in every way.

      Glad to hear the stainless problem has been resolved.
      I’ve had many Garmins since the 405, but just haven’t had a stainless backed one since.

  17. Grebart

    Use cases I see:
    On the hike – with phone in your backpack.
    On the bike – with phone on your backpack.
    On the kayak – with phone in your dry bag in storage.
    To bad that – based on rumors – Fenix 7 will not have this capability.

    • another good use is when your phone is ‘somewhere in the house’ and ringing. it’s just handy to have the watch able to take calls.
      Apple Watch (non LTE) can offload such calls to Wifi (if the phone/data plan also has voice over wifi), I don’t know if Garmin support that ie for the watch to directly do a voice call over wifi and not via the phone. I suspect not.

      iPhone>settings>phone>wifi calling on and calls on other devices>on

  18. Xi

    Are you able to test and see if Chinese characters still come through as boxes via text? Maybe a quick copy/paste through Google Translate?

    A quick Google Search seems to suggest that Garmin devices still can’t display chinese characters. Which is a huge hassle when texting between families.

  19. Victor Reid

    Another great review, Thanks Ray. I am definitely interested in this watch as I use both an iphone and a Pixel and I want a watch that can work with both OS.

  20. Volker

    Thanks for the great review!

    Voice/speaker/assistants sound very interesting. Something the upcoming F7 series will have, too (if there will be a F7 series)? 🙂
    Or is that something, that should not be on an outdoor wearable, because of water ratinng etc. ?

    • C.Sco

      The leaked pictures definitely don’t show any sort of mic/speaker holes, so I’m guessing this will be a feature reserved just for the mid-tier fitness tracker smartwatches; probably not coming to the outdoor adventure watches any time soon.

      And ya, I suspect water ratings play a part in it, as well. Also there’s simply less real estate available for that on the already-crowded 5-button watch bodies.

    • Thijs Oost

      Maybe costs also are an important factor? If they want to improve the Fenix 7 over the Fenix 6 AND include calling, the watch might become very expensive.

  21. Andrew Z

    For the “just works” crowd. Its hard to see the venu eclipsing the VA4 in sales, because the screen just works and leads to battery lasting way longer. Where I can see this device gaining traction is in it having the third button. So those between the 245 and venu2+ may go with the venu because it can work as a running watch, plus you add in the altimeter + golf. It surprises me the number of people with vivoactives because of the golf mode.

    • usr

      Do you have numbers for VA4 sales vs Vu2? My *entirely* uninformed impression is that the market segment shared between VA and Vu leans so heavily towards the Venu that I wouldn’t be surprised if we never saw a VA5. As a VA4 owner who doesn’t miss OLED at all I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

    • Garos

      “the venu […] can work as a running watch”
      But it doesn’t have any metric for running: training load (not to mention the “focus” one), training status, training effect, recovery time, suggested workouts, predicted race times…

    • USR-

      So, my guesstimate would have been the same as your hunch, which is that Venu would heavily outsell Vivoactive 4 these days. And also, I agree that I don’t see a long-term future for a Vivoactive down the road. I could perhaps see a VA5, but I’d struggle to see a VA6.

      In any case, I just pulled the data for Amazon sales using the links here, and best I can tell, based on a back of napkin consolidation of the different SKU’s, is it’s pretty close to 1:1.

      However, I didn’t spend the time to see how that’d look if I did from June to Dec only (so, after the Venu 2 released). I just pulled the whole year.

      As always, we could see differences in my data vs real-world actual Garmin sales data. I rank reasonably high in Google for both watches that much of the traffic I see is general consumer.

  22. C.Sco

    Another excellent review, Ray! I don’t have any plans to buy this watch, but I still read the whole review anyways, just for fun 🙂

    It seems like a fantastic watch to buy if you’re a first-time Venu shopper – at only $50 more than the base Venu 2, I’d say the additions are worth it. But it’s definitely difficult for a current Venu 1 or 2 owner to justify spending another $450 just for marginally more convenient phone calls and voice assistant access, both of which can already be used by your BT earphones or by pulling your phone out of your pocket.

    So, I think the target audience in this case is definitely new Venu buyers, and not particularly the existing owners – aside from perhaps a few with very deep pockets.

  23. matt

    Nothing new, next please.

  24. Daniel Wisniak

    Hi,
    Can texts/emails/messages be viewed in full on the Watch? On my Venu only a few lines can be seen.
    Also, is there an option to enlarge font size?
    Thanks

  25. Matt

    The ANT+ broadcasting is huge! Could we be a step closer toward Garmin actually pairing with fitness equipment like Peloton?? (so that I’m not deleting the duplicate workout in Strava each and every time??)

  26. Joe C

    As a lap swimmer, I was surprised to read that there is no indoor drill mode for the Venu 2 Plus. Is that certain? As a user of the Garmin 645 Music, and formerly the 735xt and Fenix 2, all of them had that necessary function when swimming. Any idea how one would do kick sets and drills in the middle of a normal workout?

  27. ChadB

    I have been using the Garmin FR245 for about two years. I am primarily a runner, but have wanted a watch with a better screen. Should I jump on this watch, or wait for a FR245 series update? The recovery advisor and race predictor I have found to be pretty inaccurate, so I don’t think those are any particular reasons to stay on a forerunner.

    • Cluster

      245 has better features for running. I should not change. Anyway I am using 2 watches. Vivoactive 4 for daily usage forerunner 245 for cycling /running.

    • Garos

      The Venu 2 also lacks training load, training status, training effect and the suggested workouts.

  28. JoeE

    So still no cycling power meter support and no native running power meter support, but Siri and calls from your watch? Come on Garmin – awesome job adding features that no one asked for while ignoring features people have asked for, for years…

    • usr

      It’s neither marketed as a triathlon device nor is it in those upper price ranges where they simply compile with all feature flags set to true because why not.

  29. Justin White

    Did you notice any menu settings to flip the watch over?

    I’m left-handed and wear my watch (Fenix 6 Sapphire currently) on my right wrist. That puts the buttons on the “opposite side” of the watch relative to my off-hand. IE: normally your right index finger rests right on the Go button, but my left index rests on Light so hitting Go requires a wrap around with my thumb.

    Of course, with the 5 button models, the labels kind of dictate the orientation, but with this model it should be easy enough in software to enable flipping the whole device over so the buttons are easily reachable with my left fingers when on my right wrist.

  30. nrseife

    Great review. I own a Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire and a Samsung GW4. The former I mainly use for sports, in particular hiking (anywhere where I need maps) and the latter because it has less weight and when I need some of the smartphone features (like riding a bike and want to take a phone call; or have a great idea and feel the need to store it via voice on my watch). It would be great if I could replace my GW4 with another Garmin. I feel like the new Venue 2+ is ~95% there. Key question, will I be able to leave a brief voice message (think reminders, notes, etc; while jogging w/o a phone nearby) on the watch itself – or is all voice capability via phone (meaning the watch is “dumb” and only directs/transfers voice inputs to or from the phone)?

  31. Karl

    Any summary of what you miss out using this watch with IOS instead of Android? I can see you still don’t have pre-configured message replies.

    Anything else?

    Can you only reply to SMS? Other messaging systems such as WhatsApp and Signal?

  32. Ramana

    Great, in depth review! As a recent Venu2 owner, I’m glad to see there’s not much benefit to upgrading to the Plus.

    One disappointment about the Venu 2 is that it can’t be used as an additional sensor for my Garmin Edge bike computer.

    I had assumed it would be able to transmit HR data to the Edge, but realized it can’t after digging into Garmin’s literature about which devices have that capability.

    Do you have an idea if the Venu2 will have that functionality added in a future software update?

    • It’s already there today. It broadcasts heart rate on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart. The Venu 2/2S got the Bluetooth broadcasting added last fall.

      I show how both of those work in this review (just search for the word “Zwift” or “Peloton”). There’s a slew of different ways you can enable it, depending on the outcome you want.

      The fastest way without also starting a workout is:

      1) Settings (long-hold lower right)
      2) Tap Settings again (gear icon)
      3) Tap Wrist Heart Rate
      4) Tap ‘Broadcast’
      5) Hit the start button

      You can also go back to Step 3 above, and instead:

      4) Tap to enable ‘Broadcast in Activity’
      5) Then start a workout like normal, in which case you’re HR will also be broadcasted.

      At this point, on your Edge (or any other app), go into the pairing menu and search for ANT+/Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensors.

    • Ramana

      Fantastic info! Thanks, I’ll give it a shot!

  33. Matt

    Garmin is in a tough spot with LTE functionality. While I like what they did with it for the 945 LTE because I just wanted it for emergencies, it would be nice if they added some sort of reply functionality to it, whether that be via spectator mode or otherwise. This can be done with Android, but not iOS.

    That said, I want to ditch the phone completely, which is why I got the 945 LTE. The V2 Plus doesn’t move the needle for me. Maybe if Garmin could get some kind of modified WhatsApp functionality that could be worthwhile. Then people could WhatsApp your normal phone number and you could reply or do voice, akin to using the web browser based WhatsApp linked account.

  34. HJ

    This was a great review! I have never had a smartwatch before so I am still lost about which one to get. I like the aesthetic of the Venu 2 Plus and the features seem to be aligned with what I want (basic fitness/movement tracking, sleep, text, music, etc.). I am getting back into running so I don’t think I need something like the Fenix at this time. I have an Iphone but I don’t like the look of the apple watch. Would this watch (or maybe the Venu 2S) be a good place to start?

  35. Rob C

    Will the venu 2 plus act as an external HRM only for cycling. I find it more convenient on long rides to use my bar mounted Edge cycling computer rather than a wrist mounted computer, but this would be more convenient than my current strap HRM

  36. Andrea

    Hi,
    First of all let me thank you for incredible high value review. Structured and well done!

    I would like to buy Venu 2 plus, but I have a question on a specific feature that I wasn’t able to answer with user manual, feature comparison tool and your review as well.

    I find Alerts feature very useful to inform me, for example, at every km about total time and last km pace link to www8.garmin.com

    but especially during winter, as i run with long sleeves, would be impossible for me to keep an eye on watch.

    Googling a bit, I found that SELECTED Garmin models are able to generate spoken output from mobile phone through Garmin Connect app.
    link to support.garmin.com

    Now the questions
    A) is Venu 2 plus capable of transmitting alerts to Garmin connect and then generate spoken notifications?

    B) in case yes, will be possible to transform to spoken alerts whatever in this list? link to www8.garmin.com

    I have these doubts as in the product comparison, see section “Training, Planning and Analysis Features”, feature called “Audio prompts” it’s not available for venue 2 plus
    link to buy.garmin.com

    Thanks
    Andrea

    • Zsolt

      Unfortunately ‘Audio prompt’ feature can’t be found on any watches of Venu series.
      Despite Venu(2)(P) watches aren’t cheap.

      However it would be very useful for runners/bikers over 40 years old,
      since their eyes get older after this age and they must use reading eyeglasses during workouts too
      even in summer evenings.
      ‘Audio prompt’ could eliminate the usage of reading eyeglasses.

      As a workaround you can start on your mobile
      – ‘adidas Running’ app paired with HRM (on Android/iOS phones) or
      – ‘iSmoothRun’ app paired with HRM/Stryd etc. (on IOS phones)
      then you can listen to their ‘Voice Coach’ / ‘Audio Cues’ functions.

    • Andrea

      Thanks Zsolt!
      Fenix or Forerunner would solve my issue?

      I will have native audio prompts with these watches?

      Thanks again

    • Zsolt

      Both categories (FR, FX) will provide ‘Audio prompts’.

      I would suggest to use the ‘Compare’ function on Garmin website, it helps a lot.
      E.g. a comaprison of FR55, FR245, FR745, V2P:
      link to buy.garmin.com

      As you can see though FR55 has a good price/value ratio, and HAS the ‘Audio prompts’ feature, but you won’t get some other useful features:
      – Custom alerts,
      – Training Effect(s),
      – Training status,
      – Garmint tempe thermosensor can’t be connected
      etc.

    • Andrea

      Thanks again Zsolt!
      Very useful and clear.

      Only problem is that you destroyed my willingness to buy venu 2 plus and reopened my decision between FX and FR.

      🙂

  37. Ethan

    Ray,

    Do you think/know if they’ll release a smaller version, like a Venu 2s Plus?

  38. Sean K.

    As the 5kRunner noted last summer[0], Garmin was doing clinical trials for an ECG device last summer[1]. Not clear which device is the target. Primary goal in these trials are sensor, firmware, and algorithms. In this case Garmin would certainly have been using at a minimum their Elevate 4 Sensor. So if that trial went well we would expect to see an FDA device pre-market approval record. At this point hard to say, but they are clearly working towards it.

    [0] link to the5krunner.com
    [1] link to clinicaltrials.gov

    • Yup indeed. I would imagine such a function/feature would be most likely to roll-out to a Venu-series device first, given Garmin’s long history of using the Venu/VA/Vivo watches to initiate mass-market features.

      (Also, sorry for the slight delay in your comment appearing, by default any comment with two or more links gets put into a holding bin. Though I should get that whitelisted for DCR Supporters like yourself, since obviously, you’re pretty unlikely to post spam comments.)

  39. Catalin

    Thanks for the review !

    The 3rd button is very poorly placed. I’m disappointed that Garmin added this button in a place where gloves and hand straps would cause countless false presses when training. I think it’s their first smartwatch with this flaw. I tried 3-4 smartwatches with buttons/crowns in that area and I just couldn’t use them for weight training because of that annoyance.

    Also, the Fenix 7 looks worse than the Fenix 6. And looks do matter for a watch. The Fenix 6 looks so good that I wanted to buy it just for the design (ended up with Vivoactive 4 due to the touch screen though). But I’m really sad that I don’t like the Fenix 7 design now that it has a touchscreen in addition to buttons.

    This might not shape up to be a good year for Garmin, to be honest.

  40. runslowmostdays

    Great review as always!

    Regarding the calling feature – is this only for “regular” phone calls? Or can it be used with apps that make voice calls over your phone’s *data* connection (e.g. Signal)?

  41. Mike

    So close. But without the auto pause feature for swimming the watch fell flat.

  42. Adam

    For those of us who get a rash from the stock Garmin bands — have you found something else you like? I’m currently using a cheapo Milanese style band off Amazon. It seems to have better airflow and I can wear it a bit longer. Any other suggestions?

    I’m not really sure whether its the silicon or the lack of airflow/sweat.

  43. Is it possible to combine Venu 2 plus with an Iphone using Google Assistent? (if you putGoogle assistent as default on your Iphone)
    Someone using it that way?

  44. Ginger Lange

    Is the 2 Plus too bulky for a woman’s 6” wrist? Wondering if I’d be better off with the 2S…

  45. Eric

    Hi

    on venue 2 , when you run with the Stryd you have to put gps off outside to have the Stryd pace
    Same for the venue 2 plus ?
    Thanks

  46. Tony

    Garmin Pay is surprisingly useless. @ray, I believe you should, whenever mentioning it, include not just the limited support-list of banks but that even those often don’t really support it.

    I’ve had a ticket open with Garmin for several MONTHS because Pay won’t allow registering the same VISA that was on it with my Android phone, on my replacement iPhone. Garmin and US Bank just point fingers at each-other, with no way to connect the two.

  47. Since I no longer run and use an Edge when cycling, I would like to replace my FR645 with something. This has all the features, but I bought and returned a Venu 2 because I’d prefer an always-on display AND decent battery life like my 645 has. The VivoActive fits that description, but has the Venu series now replaced the VivoActive in Garmin’s line? I’d jump at a VivoActive Plus — is there any hope for that?

    • Bikeman

      Garmin hasn’t said if the Vivoactive 4 is the last in the series. If Ray knows the answer, he can’t say. The 4 lacks many of the features of the Venu 2. I still have a Vivoactive 3 but it’s useless for sleep tracking, stair climbing and a few other things that have been improved with the Venu 2. I’ll hold out a bit longer for the Vivoactive 5 then if that doesn’t surface, I’ll get a Venu 2 when it goes back on sale.

  48. ML

    Do you know if it is possible to use the heart rate monitor on the Garmin Venu 2 plus with Trainerroad apps

  49. Eduardo Luis Pintabona

    Hi! Does Garmin Venu 2 Plus pair with Apple AirPods & AirPods Pro?

  50. Ray,

    Here’s a question that Garmin support can’t seem to answer. Say I have a Garmin Enduro and I pick up the Venu 2 Plus. I love the idea of having access to the assistant and taking calls via the watch, but I also want the better metrics and features provided by the Enduro. Seems that I can change Garmin devices all day long and things like steps, sleep, etc. all come along for the ride, but no one can seem to answer whether or not the Body Battery syncs correctly across watches? Say I’m at 70% while wearing the Enduro and switch to the Venu, am I back to 100% or will it pick up from 70?

  51. Ken O'R

    Thanks for your wonderful work.
    Is the back sensor of the venu 2 plus covered with glass, like on the Epix2 and Fenix 7 models? I have had issues with the epoxy covered sensors on the older Fenix models and skin allergies. Huawei and Apple are the only other companies doing “hypoallergenic” metal and glass backs on smartwatches.

    • mato

      Agreed, that would be great. This really is a nice and interesting device, just a shame Garmin cut a few corners as well as left out some basic features due to their questionable product segmentation (audio prompts, activity pausing, open water swimming, etc).

  52. Stefan

    The Venu dosent support training load, but would it be possible to use physio trueup function on my Edge to calculate training load on the data recorded on the Venu?

  53. David Bates

    Ray – Did you try turning off the Auto Brightness while setting the display brightness to High? I tried doing this with my Venu 2 Plus because I found the Auto Brightness too dim for easy viewing when I’m indoor on my treadmill. However, the watch always acts as if Auto Brightness is still on even when it shows I’ve turned it off. This seems to be a common problem on Venu 2 watches and I’m wondering if it might even be the case with all of them but some users simply don’t notice because they’re happy with the Auto Brightness.

  54. Giles E

    Incredibly frustrating that the Venu 2 only supports one data page on Pool Swims. Just seems a really frustrating thing, without a real benefit, as you only realise after you’ve bought it etc. It’s not an advertisable gain on a more expensive watch, so why not let me have my session stats and intervals stats on two separate pages, as per runs, bike rides and all other activities on the venu 2……

  55. Mark R

    Looking for some insight, advice, help with the Venu 2 Plus. I’ve been using it for about a week. Overall it seems to track HR well enough, particularly during my daily routine. Where I’m struggling is in the following two situations:

    1. Pairing a Wahoo HRM . . . the HRM always pairs and heart rate shows up on the watch and tracks closely to what I’m seeing displayed from the HRM on the Zwift screen. The HRM than drops the connection within about 10 seconds every time. This happens using both the BLE and Ant+ protocol. In other words, I can not maintain a connection between the HRM and the Venu. I’m on the bike with the Venu on my left wrist and the HRM on w/ a chest strap so they are close enough.

    2. This issue is more or less the driver for #1. When I get on the bike to start a session, the Venu 2 Plus reads pretty low for a moderate cycling session. Initially my HR starts to increase but then more or less fluctuates around the 75-85bpm area. This happens while my Wahoo quite clearly is showing 120+ on the Zwift screen . . . which lines up with my perceived effort. Here’s the issues, the minute a start an “indoor cycling” session on the Venu, my HR relate climbs rapidly from the ~85bpm area up to match (within a BPM or so) of what my Wahoo shows on the Zwift screen. It will continue to track nearly identical as long as I’m in an “active session”. In other words, if I’m doing a Zwift session and don’t start an activity, the Venu seems to be wildly off as if it’s using a different setting/parameter to track HR as I go about my day versus when actually doing some sort of exercise.

    Anyone else see anything remotely similar to this? The only reason I’m trying to pair my Wahoo to the Venu is because the Venu seems insanely inaccurate UNLESS I start an activity session . . . which ultimately ends up duplicating my activity on Connect and Strava.

    Any ideas or help? Thanks, all.

    • Mark R

      One thing I should probably ask. What determines if the green HR lights on the back of the Venu stay illuminated or flicker green?

    • Doug

      I think it’s working as designed. If you’re not in an activity, the HRM operates in a low sampling rate, low power mode to save battery. That changes when you start an activity. It’s one reason why activities drain the battery so quickly.

    • Mark R

      I agree. I found where someone on the Vivoactive, or whatever it is called, forum mentioned the same thing as what you are saying. I guess I should also note, that I was told today that an external sensor will not stay connected to the Venu if you are NOT in an activity. That lines up with what I was seeing this morning as it would drop each time after a few seconds in “normal” everyday mode. I guess tomorrow I’ll run an activity and connect the Wahoo to see what it does.

      I’m still not sure what to do about duplicate entries in Connect at this point. Strava I guess I can just delete them. But as I’m not sure how deleted and entry in Connect affects your totals I’m not sure if that’s a viable solution. I’m not sure if anyone can confirm, but once you’ve completed an activity and got “credit” for it (say in Intensity Minutes or calories burned) and you go and delete that activity, does Connect or the Venu itself “back out” those achievements? From what I can tell it does not . . . at least from the few Intensity Minutes I got this morning from my test activity.

    • Maybe I’m mis-understanding, but yes, just to confirm/clarify/etc – when not in an active sport mode, watch companies (all of them) reduce the power to the optical HR sensor. It’s still doing 24×7 at every second recording/sampling, but it’s doing so with less intensity.

      That’s fine for day to day movements, since you’re not typically shaking/moving frantically a ton on the couch. Whereas, once you start a workout, the movement/etc is better handled by increasing the brightness. You can actually see this if you play a bit with the sensor in different modes.

      Similarly, no watch that I’m aware of on the market will maintain a connection to a paired Bluetooth HR sensor when not in a workout. It’ll default back to the 24×7 mode.

    • Mark R

      Ray et. al.

      Thanks for the feedback. You are not misunderstanding. You clarified my two questions one being the lights and the second being the pairing of an external HRM. I do appreciate it.

      What I’ve seen on the data side this morning has been interesting but seems to be a sustainable practice. I did a Zwift session this morning using my PC while also starting an indoor session on the Venu. After completing the session and saving it both through Zwift and on the Venu, I ended up with two activities on Strava, two activities on Connect, and one activity on the Venu. My concern was what happens to the data (calories burned, intensity minutes, etc.) both on my Venu and on Connect if I delete the duplicate activity on Connect that came from my Venu . . . keeping only the file generated from Zwift as the remaining record. Deleting it from Strava also had to be done but that didn’t affect anything adversely as it left only the session from Zwift on Strava. Looking at the data in Connect it did not duplicate calories or intensity minutes for the two activities. It only gave me “credit” for one. That’s great news. Seeing this, I then deleted the activity on Connect generated by the Venu leaving only the Zwift generated activity. No change in any data on Connect or the Venu itself. I simply ended up with the data generated by Zwift on Connect and the data generated by the Venu on the Venu . . . if that make sense. There was discrepancy in calories burned, the Venu giving me 600+ and Zwift giving 435. I can live with that.

      So you do have to go in and delete the duplicate activity in Connect but that does not seem to affect the data collected since you are only given credit for one activity anyone. This also requires starting you sessions on the Ven and your given training platform a the same time plus or minus.

    • Chuck Hazzard

      The Apple Watch will maintain a connection to a paired Bluetooth HR sensor outside of a workout. I have run high-resolution HR on my AW6 using a Polar Sense over 24 hours while not in a workout.

  56. nadiva

    Great review, nr.1 authority on smart watches, no doubt.
    This watch will set the tone for future. We’ve got Epix this year, AMOLED and touchscreen, should be exciting, but it made me realize I don’t want a dumb sporttester anymore. I want calls and assistant. It’s 2022. I keep my Fenix5 as Epix is way too expensive and doesn’t have mic. I will consider NEXT models. I am sure more will have AMOLED and mic. There’s no way back. This particular model Venu is a girlie model, doesn’t look good (a sterile unisex nonopinionated look), and has fragile screen. So I hope there will be more watch series with mic and proper build. Garmin could consider Ticwatch-like double screen. Or touchscreen with their ink display? I hate blank screen of watches, so I only search for those that can last for a week with AOD. And only Garmin can make it. They already steal some customers from Samsung/Apple who don’t want to charge daily, and they should continue to do so.

  57. Rune

    Can this watch announce lap times and/or other metrics over the speaker during an activity?

    • Rune

      Nobody knows ?

    • No, it doesn’t do so-called voice/audio prompts for laps and such like the Forerunner and Fenix series can. It’s a quirky omission.

      There’s a bit more discussion up in the comments thread about it here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Rune

      Thank you sir. My search for a perfect watch continues 🙂 I was hoping the watch could announce actual lap times on the speaker itself. Its the only feature I still miss from back when running with my phone more than a decade ago. Was hoping for a return of the feature since watches are gaining speaker tech to be able to do so now. I tend to not look at my watch during long runs and often miss the lap alerts from it. Headphones when running is a not for me. (Except for on treadmills)

  58. Barry F Atlas

    Why doesn’t it display an indoor bike ride which does appear in Garmin Connect (after auto synch Rouvy to Strava to Garmin)?
    It does in my Instinct
    Thanks,

  59. Barry F Atlas

    “Bot error” message when use Voice Assistant to find weather. Samsung Galaxy S20 phone, Google Voice Assistant, Venu 2 weather source AccuWeather, location Always On. Any idea how to troubleshoot this? Thanks much

  60. Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a health and fitness smartwatch that features advanced health-monitoring and fitness-tracking functionalities, as well as built-in GPS, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connectivity, Voice Assistant Support, and up to 9~10 hours of battery life.

  61. DocDan

    I’m not sure if this is a software bug, but external sensors paired to the Venu 2 Plus won’t maintain their connection unless a timed activity is started. I discovered this today when I tried to pair a Polar Verity Sense HRM to my new Venu 2 Plus before doing a cardio workout. The Polar Verity Sense can be paired via either ANT+ or BT, but regardless of which connection method is being used, it automatically disconnects from the Venu 2 Plus after 5-10 seconds or so. There’s no mention in the manual that you have to start a timed activity to keep the external HRM connected to the Venu 2 Plus, and quite honestly this behavior is both counterintuitive and a bit idiotic.

    Perhaps more fundamentally, the reason I want to use the Polar Verity Sense external HRM in the first place is that I’ve found the HRM sensor built into the Venu 2 Plus has very poor heart rate tracking when there’s any significant arm movement, e.g. using an elliptical, jogging, upper body strength training or HIIT. In contrast, the Polar tracks virtually identically to a chest strap HRM.

    • Correct, this is by design and how all Garmin products work. However, since your second paragraph notes all workouts (elliptical/etc…), I’m not sure why you wouldn’t start a workout to do a workout.

      The thing to keep in mind is that all companies will lower the LED power to the optical HR sensor if not in a workout, meaning, it’ll be less accurate. This is to save power. Once you start a workout, it increases power to the sensor to increase sensitivity to HR fluctuations. So by not starting an activity, it’ll be less accurate like you noted (and, this is the same across every company in the space).

    • DocDan

      Interesting, it makes sense that the power (brightness) of the LEDs in the HR sensor would be adjusted depending on whether the watch was in “activity mode” or not. To be honest, the reason I wanted to use the Polar Verity Sense is that I experienced HR inaccuracies with the built-in sensor in the Venu 2 Plus when I had started an elliptical activity on the watch, specifically the reported HR was way too high compared with actual. So I figured that if I paired the Polar sensor, which seems to have excellent HR tracking during the movement from exercise, it would be used by the Venu 2 Plus as the default HR sensor so long as it was connected. I guess I don’t understand that design decision by Garmin. While it’s true that maintaining an ANT+ or BT connection would consume slightly more power, that would be more than compensated by the internal HR sensor powering down when an external HR sensor was paired.

      As an aside, I’m also surprised that HRMs in higher-end smartwatches do not incorporate motion-tolerant sensors. This technology has existed for many years in medical-grade equipment, e.g. Maximo’s SET, which is virtually immune to motion artifact and can extract a usable continuous SpO2 and HR signal even in poor perfusion situations. I have no idea whether adapting this to a consumer-grade product at an affordable price is possible, but it’s far from leading-edge; I first saw a demonstration of SET over 20 years ago and its use today in medical monitoring equipment is commonplace.

    • Yeah, I can certainly see the logic of why maintaining a connection would make sense outside of a workout, but one thing to keep in mind is that most Bluetooth HR sensors will go to sleep when the connection is closed (which, in 99.999999% of cases, is when the workout ends). So they’re probably trying to avoid a case where Bluetooth HR straps get their batteries run down because a consumer doesn’t disconnect the HR connection as well.

      As for Masimo’s SET, I’d be moderately surprised if it’s actually accurate in workout scenarios. And then again, what it’s power requirements look like. If you look at the origins of optical HR sensors in the workout realm, it was Mio licensing Philip’s optical HR technology (which, had roots in the medical side). That was roughly a decade ago, and by today’s optical HR standards, that wouldn’t hold a candle to Garmin/Apple/Polar’s optical HR tech for workouts.

      It’s extraordinarily difficult to cancel out ‘noise’ in workouts from an optical HR standpoint, requiring years upon years of development with realistically millions of datasets to even make progress in eliminating just 1% of errors. Each year, we see tiny shifts to try and eliminate errors in hyper-specific conditions.

      Whereas if we look at the medical side, these devices are almost universally certified against people/pateints in a still situation (e.g. at rest). Take SpO2 for example, the actual FDA test for that is a patient sitting at rest, on a chair, with a hand on a table. A far cry from how most people these days try and use SpO2 sensors in watches (which, is why most companies have stared rejecting SpO2 results unless you’re hyper-still).

    • DocDan

      I’ve actually done indoor cardio workouts (elliptical, treadmill, stairstepper) using a handheld Masimo SpO2 monitor with a wired adhesive finger sensor, and the HR tracking in those scenarios matched a (electrical) chest strap HR sensor. This tracking performance doesn’t surprise me, because I’ve seen patients with significant hand tremor, and SET filters that out and reports a heart rate which matches their ECG. Of course a wired sensor is a cumbersome setup for the gym, or outdoors for that matter.

      In any event, I just finished an elliptical workout using the Polar Verity Sense HRM during an activity on the Venu 2 Plus, and the external HR sensor remained connected. In fact, the activity is currently paused (I ended the “lap”) and it’s still working. Curiously, I did notice that the even though the Polar HRM is connected, the HR sensor in the Venu 2 Plus is still flickering.

  62. vasu c

    Will the recently announced ‘Health Report’ feature that provides the Health snapshots during sleep be available on the Venu 2 plus with the next firmware update ?

  63. Buggs1a

    I tried the Garmin Avenue 2 Plus on a track. The GPS is not accurate. Each lap gets worse then the one before. I selected walk. The first lap was good. It said I did .25 which is one lap when I did one lap. The second lap the watch was short. The third lap the watch was even more short. Each lap got worse and worse. At 1 mile the watch said I went .94. And on my last lap I was already about a quarter in the lap and it finally said I went 1 mile. GPS on the watch was set for GPS and Glonass.

    All watches I’ve tried are this way. They’re short or long. So if I do one lap they either say I’ve done less or more then one lap. And each lap gets worse. I’ve tried Apple Watch series 3, 5 or 6, Fitbit Sense and now the Garmin Venue 2 Plus. I totally don’t get why on a track the GPS is so wrong. Phones are more accurate. My iPhone is more accurate.

  64. Maciej

    Hello,
    Could you please let me know if Venu 2 plus works faster when you compare it to Venu 2? I noticed on some videos that widget menu has some lags in Venu 2. Was it improved in Venu 2 plus?

    Regards
    Maciej

  65. Allan

    I don’t need the audio features of the plus but I wonder if the plus will get more features in the future than the v2. Any thoughts.

  66. Gareth Griffiths

    Any update on a likely date for a release of Venu 3? I’ve been holding off from buying the Venu2 plus for the last two months expecting a September release.

    • David B.

      If Ray knows anything about release dates, he can’t tell us. Garmin is going to provide Ray (and others) product with the express understanding that no information is released until a certain date. With Garmin, that date is the day the product is made available to the general public.
      But we can still figure out an approximate date by looking at the dates that previous similar product were released. We can do this by looking at the date that Ray’s reviews were posted or looking at Amazon and checking the release date of the previous product.

  67. Gareth Griffiths

    Thanks David, much appreciated.

  68. Racer Gent

    I’ve currently got the 735 which has served me well for about 4 years and fancied treating myself potentially to the Venu 2 Plus – would I be gaining much and is it really a step up or in your opinion would it be much alike and only very minor improvements?

    I use it for daily use and for running only which consists of 5 runs per week and race in a variety of races from 5k to Marathon.

    Regards

  69. David Yonts

    Does it have fall detection normally? Or only when doing a workout? My wife has POTS so she faints sometimes. Also, what about high and low HR notifications?

  70. Nicole Luman

    I’d really like to find a protective watch face cover for my Venu 2 Plus. Can only seem to find the overlay clings though. Do you know of any and can provide an affiliate link for purchase?

  71. Rafa Torres

    How it works with dual sim mobile? Does it recognize two sims or only takes call from one of them?