Garmin Venu 2 Review: Sleek and intuitive fitness smartwatch

The Garmin Venu 2 series is the successor to the 2019’s Venu, the wearable company’s first smartwatch to feature an Amoled display.

Unlike its predecessor’s 43mm watch case, the Venu 2 series comes in two sizes of 40mm (Venu 2S) and 45mm (Venu 2). The Venu 2S has a 1.1-inch display while the Venu 2 has a 1.3-inch display.

SPECS
PRICE: $599, available in Lazada and Shopee
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
WATER RESISTANCE: 50m
WEIGHT: 49g (with silicone strap)

The Venu 2S is available in four colours of slate bezel with graphite case, light gold bezel with light sand case, silver bezel with mist grey case and rose gold bezel with white Case, while the Venu 2 comes in silver bezel with blue case and slate bezel with black straps. We test the black Venu 2.

The Garmin Venu 2. (Photo: Garmin)

The Venu 2 features several improvements over the original. They include a new Garmin Elevate V4 optical heart rate sensor, two infra-red sensors for increased PulseOx accuracy, sleep score for every night and major revamp of its user interface.

Like its predecessor, it also tracks stress levels and body battery, which is Garmin’s own measurement of a person’s energy level. And it doubles up as a smartwatch that works with both Android and iOS.

DESIGN
As looks go, the Venu has a rather minimalistic design. It has a sleek black stainless steel bezel surrounding the display. I like the silicone strap has a texture that looks like those braided straps of military watches.

The Garmin Venu 2 looks sleek in this all-black model. (Photo: Garmin)

There are only two buttons at the right side. The bottom-right button is the back button and takes you to the main menu when you press and hold it.

The top right button gives you quick access to the workout menu, so you can start runs or walks easily. Press and hold this button for a quick menu of the most-used functions, such as screen bright- ness and stopwatch.

I like that the smartwatch is so lightweight, you might not even be aware that you are wearing it.

FOR
+ Minimalistic design
+ Nice display
+ Accurate fitness monitoring performance
+ Supports both Android and iOS
+ Long battery life

AGAINST
– No microphone and speakers
– Garmin Pay supports only two banks
– Dubious stress monitoring and body battery score

The Venu 2’s 1.3-inch round Amoled touchscreen display has a resolution of 414 x 414 pixels. It looks sharp and vivid. Even under bright sunlight, it is still easy to read.

It also supports the always-on display (AOD) mode. While the AOD mode might eat up more battery, it is better than the default display turn-on timing. After raising the wrist to read the time, the watch face quickly dims within 3 seconds. A tad irritating.

But I like Venu’s touchscreen display compared to Garmin’s five-button layout found in many of Garmin’s smartwatches. Thus, instead of having to fumble with five buttons to navigate the menu interface, you just swipe up and down to do so. It is more user-friendly.

Venu 2’s user interface is much improved compared to the original. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The Venu 2’s in-watch user interface is also much intuitive compared to the original and its cousins. For instance, by simply swiping up, you get to see a line-by-line widgets of vital stats like steps taken, heart rate, stress and etc.

Want to know more? Just tap on a widget, say sleep, to go into another window to learn more about your sleep details.

PERFORMANCE
In terms of tracking physical activities, the Venu is quite accurate. For distance tracking using its built-in GPS, its readings on a jogging route along a park connector were only 30m off at most.

Venu 2’s GPS distance tracking is pretty spot on. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

For step-tracking, its readings were only 3 per cent off from those of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4.

Sleep tracking has been vastly improved from the original Venu, which was was unable to accurately pinpoint the time I slept and woke up. The Venu 2 is able to do so and even gives a sleep score to tell you how well you are sleeping. It also offers tips on how to sleep better.

The Venu 2 will give you a sleep score for each night. (Photo: Trevor)

But the body battery score seems a bit dubious. I was still feeling energetic at night (as I am a night owl), but my body battery was at 14 per cent. Not to mention, the Venu 2 always seem to indicate that I am stressed when I am really not.

Plus, as a smartwatch, the Venu 2 does not offer much other than notifications. You cannot reply a WhatsApp message or activate voice assistant, as it does not have microphones or speakers.

The Venu has Garmin Pay, Garmin’s cashless payment scheme that works like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. It can be used to pay for public transport here, so you can tap the Venu on gantries and card readers instead of using an EZ-link card.

Unfortunately, Garmin Pay does not support a lot of banks in Singapore. (Photo: Garmin)

But Garmin Pay works only with OCBC Visa and MasterCard cards or Revolut Visa cards. So, if you do not own either cards like myself, you cannot use Garmin Pay.

BATTERY LIFE
The Venu 2 is rated at up to 11 days in smartwatch mode and 8 hours in GPS mode. Mileage of course varies depending on your usage.

During this review, this smartwatch managed to last 10 days in smartwatch with AOD turned off in which I did a 4.5km GPS-tracked run and a 4.5km GPS-tracked walk. With AOD turned on, though, it went flat by the end of two days without any GPS-tracked exercises.

That said, its battery life is better than my Apple Watch Series 4, which usually lasts at most two days in the smartwatch mode.

VERDICT
If you are not too bothered with smartwatch features and prefer long battery life, the Garmin Venu 2 is the fitness smartwatch to have.

RATINGS
FEATURES: 8/10
DESIGN: 8/10
PERFORMANCE: 8/10
BATTERY LIFE: 9/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10
OVERALL: 8/10

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