Garmin Venu 2 review: A great sports smartwatch with great battery life

As the name suggests, the Garmin Venu 2 is the successor to Garmin’s Venu smartwatch – the brand’s first wearable to use an OLED display. The new model is more of an exercise in evolution than revolution, with improved battery life and always-on display among its main new features.

Considering that the shorter-than-usual battery life was our main criticism of the first-gen Venu, there are very few faults I can find with this new model. If you’re looking for a lightweight and comfortable sports-focused smartwatch, the Venu 2 should be at the top of your shopping list.

Garmin Venu 2: What do you get for your money?

Unlike the original Place, the Venu 2 is available in two different sizes: 40 mm and 45 mm. The smaller version has a 1.1-inch 360 x 360 AMOLED display, while the larger variant has a 1.3-inch 416 x 416 display. Both have a waterproof rating of 5ATM (50m), which means that you can wear them in the shower and while swimming without any problem.

Like its predecessor, the Venu 2 supports Galileo and Glonass satellite systems in addition to GPS to provide accurate tracking of outdoor activities. On the back of the watch there is a Garmin Elevate 4 optical heart rate sensor which offers continuous heart rate monitoring (including while swimming) and can also take SpO2, blood oxygen on the spot or 24 hour readings. out of 24, depending on your preference.

There’s a barometric altimeter so the watch can track your elevation change throughout the day as well as during activities. And, in addition to working with external heart rate monitors, the Venu 2 supports cycling speed and cadence sensors. However, there’s no option to pair it with a bike power meter, as you can with some of Garmin’s high-end wearables. Finally, contactless payments are present, although this is not the advantage that it might seem, as I will explain below. As for other smart features, music storage has been expanded, with Garmin now claiming you can store up to 650 songs on the device, up from 500 on the original Venu.

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Garmin Venu 2 review: What did we like?

Along with the aforementioned improvements, the Venu 2 also has a new interface that brings it more in line with Garmin’s high-end Fenix ​​watch line. Instead of having to wade through a multitude of screens to find what you’re looking for, the Venu 2 now lets you access all your key metrics with just a few swipes.

Steps, floors climbed and heart rate, as well as stress and sleep information, are all there to view on a single list that feels much faster to navigate than the older firmware. Tap on any of these entries and you can explore a range of additional information, providing more detail than you get at first glance. Elsewhere, it’s all pretty standard fare for one of Garmin’s lifestyle watches. There’s a huge range of activities you can track with the watch, from walking, running and cycling to golf, yoga and even bouldering. As with the Venu Sq and the Venu before it, Spotify is also supported (Spotify Premium subscription required), which is ideal if you want to leave your phone behind and continue to listen to music when you’re out and about. exercise.

While it’s nothing new, one of my favorite things about Garmin’s lifestyle watches is that you get access to the brand’s excellent Garmin Coach running feature. If you’re training for a 5k distance event at a half marathon, this allows you to set up a personalized training plan based on the future of the event and offers tips to help you achieve your goals. That’s not the only way Venu 2 tries to replace your personal trainer. For strength, yoga and pilates workouts, the watch displays on-screen animations to help you perform the exercises correctly and, if the workouts preloaded on the watch aren’t working for you, you can create your own custom workouts from over 1,400 exercises via the Garmin Connect app. As I’ve touched on before, however, the most impressive thing about the Venu 2 is its battery life. Where the Venu promised just five days in smartwatch mode, the new model can last up to 11 days between charges. It’s a significant improvement and means that if you rarely use GPS, you might be able to go on vacation without packing the charging cable.

Enabling the watch’s always-on display will drastically reduce battery life, but I was pleased to see that Garmin lets you choose whether this feature is on only during workouts or all the time. This means you can have your vital stats always visible at a glance during workouts without having to move your wrist, which is a significant improvement over the first Comer.

And while it doesn’t deviate much from its predecessor in terms of design, the Venu 2 looks great and is comfortable. At 49g, the 45mm model sent to us weighs a bit more than the original Venu (46.3g), while the Venu 2s weighs just 38.2g. Whichever you choose, however, I’ve found this to be a smartwatch that you can easily forget you’re wearing, unlike some bulkier devices.

Garmin Venu 2 review: What could it do better?

None of the gripes I have with the Venu 2 will come as a major surprise to anyone who has read any of my Garmin wearable device reviews. The first is that the Garmin IQ App Store is quite limited in its scope.

With the full range of built-in sports features, that shouldn’t be a big deal, but just know that you don’t have the choice of apps you’d get on a Wear OS device or Apple Watch.

Next up is Garmin Pay. Apart from Santander, no major UK bank supports Garmin’s contactless payment system. If you’re desperate to make payments from your wrist, there are other options to choose from, including Revolut, Starling Bank, and Curve, but they tend to be smaller, less popular organizations. You can find a full list of supported banks on the Garmin website. Another issue you might have with the Garmin Venu 2 is that, despite being able to check notifications, there’s no option to take or make phone calls from your wrist. This is something Garmin has fixed with the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, which we’ll be testing shortly, so it might be worth waiting for this review.

Finally, I had a similar problem with the Venu 2 as I had with the Venu Sq – that sleep tracking data was not syncing with Garmin Connect. All the information is available on my wrist after waking up, but for some reason it never gets to the mobile app. It’s probably a software bug (and hopefully it doesn’t affect everyone) that will be fixed via a software update, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it.

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Garmin Venu 2 review: Should you buy it?

The only other major consideration is the thorny issue of price. At £300 there’s plenty of competition. If you are an iPhone user, the Apple WatchSE (£250) is a very tempting prospect. It offers pretty much every smart feature and app you could want, but it won’t come close to matching the battery life of the Venu 2. Alternatively, if you’re a Samsung phone user, the Galaxy Watch 4 is the most sophisticated watch you can buy, and it’s £10 cheaper than the Garmin at just £290. Despite all that, the Garmin Venu 2 still comes very highly recommended. It offers everything we’ve loved from the Vivoactive and Venu series over the years in an attractive, feature-rich and comfortable package.

If you can’t justify spending £300, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is still a great option that can be found for £200, while the original Venu, which offers most of the same features but has poorer battery life, will set you back around £220. Finally, if you’re happy to do without an OLED screen, the Venu Sq is even cheaper at just £130.