Garmin Venu 2
“The Garmin Venu 2/2S stands near the pinnacle of fitness trackers and smartwatches.”
- Up to 11-day battery life
- In-depth tracking of important health metrics
- Health alerts let users stay on top of stress
- Dozens of workout routines
- Numerous watch faces
- High price point
- iPhone users cannot reply to messages
The Garmin Venu 2/2S is proof that Garmin has successfully shifted directions away from car-mounted GPS units to incredibly powerful, useful wearables. This smartwatch does more than display messages — it monitors a whole host of health information. It will also yell at you if your vitals get too out of whack. Think of the Garmin Venu 2/2S as your personal health-focused Jiminy Cricket.
The Venu 2 has a simple yet elegant design. The all-black band, face, and bezel give the Venu 2 a muted look, but the minimalist design allows it to go with any outfit. It can easily take the place of a “fancier” watchband without detracting from the overall look.
Meanwhile, the Venu 2S comes with an option for a white band with a gold bezel. It also has a slightly smaller screen at 1.1 inches versus the Venu 2’s 1.3-inch screen. There are two buttons on the right side of the band that, along with the touchscreen, control the majority of the features within the Garmin. The band is notched with around 20 slots for micro-adjustments so that you can get the perfect fit, regardless of wrist size.
Best of all, the smartwatch is comfortable. I’ve worn it to bed every night for two weeks and not once did it feel uncomfortable, unlike many other wearables I’ve tried. The Garmin Venu 2 is lightweight and quickly becomes a standard part of your day-to-day wear. I don’t notice when I wear it, but I definitely notice when it’s not on my wrist.
The health features are where the Garmin Venu 2 really shines. This smartwatch takes almost all of the best qualities of fitness trackers and smartwatches and combines them into a single tool that has been used at almost every point throughout my day.
The first thing to note is that there are several new features in this iteration of the Venu that give it far more utility than it had before. Chief among these is its battery life. The first time I strapped on the Venu 2 was around noon on a Friday. I did not take it off to charge it until the next Thursday night — almost seven full days of charge.
It has the range to provide more than a week of charge.
According to its specs, the Venu 2 can achieve up to 11 days on a single charge as long as it’s in smartphone mode (which means the built-in GPS beacon isn’t in use.) I received a lot of notifications throughout the day that likely drained the battery faster than it would have otherwise, but with minimal use, I can easily believe it would last that long on one charge. It also charges quickly — just 10 minutes is enough to restore a single day’s worth of charge, while four hours will fully restore the battery.
Like the previous Venu, the Venu 2 can store songs in its onboard memory (although this version can store up to 650 songs instead of 500.) If you’re playing music and using your GPS, the battery life is reduced to just eight hours on a single charge. Still, it’s impressive that it has the range to provide more than a week of charge or less than a day depending on activity.
Another useful feature is the all-day health monitoring. This allows the Venu 2 to track various health metrics throughout the day, including your heart rate, stress levels, respiration, and even your pulse ox — your blood oxygen level. Reviewing these stats can give you a good idea of your level of fitness, but you don’t have to figure it out yourself.
Another new feature is called Fitness Age, which gives you a rough estimate of the age of your body versus your chronological age. You can pull up your Fitness Age within the Garmin app to get suggestions on how to improve. For example, it might suggest you cut down your BMI or increasing your activity throughout the day.
The new built-in workouts can help with that. The HIIT workouts help you keep track of your time and allows you to set up custom timers and intervals, while the Advanced Strength Training tool keeps your personal best records at a glance, as well as showing what muscle groups were worked during the training.
Sleep score and health snapshot
The final two features go hand-in-hand. Sleep Score gives you an estimate on a scale of 1 to 100 of how well you slept, as well as suggestions on what you can do to improve your sleep. It shows you how long you spent in each stage of sleep, too — a useful feature when you’re trying to make the most out of too little sleep.
If you want an overall look at your health, the Health Snapshot will have you performing a 2-minute workout while the Garmin Venu 2 tracks your heart rate, respiration, stress, and other metrics. At the end of the workout, it provides a report on your score and a rough estimate of your health.
The Body Battery is a really interesting feature that is scarily accurate. It measures your overall energy levels from 1 to 100 based on how well you slept the night before, your amount of activity during the day, your stress levels, and much more. At the start of the day, you can see how much you “charged” during the night, and throughout the day you’ll see the amount of energy “drained.”
In my time using the Venu 2, the body battery score is close to how I feel. Any time I feel tired or struggle to focus, I find the Body Battery score below 40. At the very least, it has given me a better awareness of the ebb and flow of my energy throughout the day, especially that after-lunch slump.
Outside of its slew of health features, the Garmin Venu 2 also functions as a smartwatch. You receive notifications from your phone straight to your wrist. One of the few downsides of the Venu 2 is the inability to respond to messages as the Apple Watch can.
The Venu 2 works with Garmin Pay, so you can handle shopping without ever pulling out cash or a debit card. At a time when everyone is still trying to avoid actually touching anything, this feature is a fantastic option to have.
If you have difficulty motivating yourself to work out, the Garmin Connect app can help. I know that competition is the best way to get me fired up, and the ability to accumulate badges through Badge Challenges makes me want to fill up my profile with everything I can. You can also view a News Feed to see how your friends have done that week compared to yourself.
And if you decide that you want to customize your watch face to better suit your personality, the Connect IQ store is full of different watch faces to choose from. You can even create your own watch faces using images from your phone.
The Connect IQ store also lets you install different music apps like Spotify or Amazon Music, navigation apps like Find My Car, and even other workout apps like a tracker for the elliptical machine or for inline skating.
Price and availability
The Garmin Venu 2 and 2S are available for purchase now from Garmin.com for $400. No word has been given yet on whether it will be available for purchase at other retailers.
The Garmin Venu 2/2S is an incredible piece of technology that packs a lot of features into a small package — and includes enough customization that you can modify yours to be unique to your lifestyle. It’s a full-fledged fitness tracker, with most of the features you’d expect from a smartwatch. If iPhone users could respond to messages or maybe make a social media post straight from the watch, it would be perfect.
The depth of health tracking features makes it a valuable tool for anyone that wants to get fit, but it’s particularly useful for people that want to shed a few unwanted pounds before a big event. For example, if you have a wedding coming up in a few months and you want to make sure you look good in your suit, the Venu 2/2S helps you keep track of what exercises work the best for you.
However, the $400 price point is steep. As much as I have enjoyed using the Venu 2/2S (and will continue to do so), $300 feels like it would be a better price — that said, all of the advanced sensors do explain the cost. It’s worth noting that the screen is a bit too easy to scratch for a $400 device. There is a small blemish on the face after I bumped into the wall with the watch.
Ultimately, though, it’s a great watch — and the health alerts are the icing on top. You can set your Venu 2/2S to alert you if your heart rate or stress levels exceed a certain level, which can remind you to stop, step back, and take a breath.
Is there a better alternative?
The Fitbit Charge 4 has many of the same fitness tracking features (as well as GPS) for just $150. While it doesn’t have all of the smartwatch features, if you’re looking for a pure fitness tracker it’s hard to justify spending an extra $250.
The Apple Watch SE is another more affordable option at $325, especially if you’re an iPhone user. For now, the Garmin Venu 2/2S still feels aimed more at Android users than iPhone users (although I had no difficulty connecting or operating mine through iOS.)
How long will it last?
With proper care, the Venu 2/S should last quite a long time. That said, the screen is a bit fragile and scratches easily. Be wary of that, but don’t worry about water–the Garmin Venu 2/S has a rating of 5 ATM, which means it should withstand pressures equivalent to around 50 meters. You should be able to shower with the water without worry. It does come with a 1-year limited warranty that covers defects.
Should you buy it?
Yes, without a doubt. The Garmin Venu 2/2S is the best fitness tracker I have ever used, and it will continue to see use in the months to come as I whip myself into shape for my upcoming nuptials.
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