Garmin Venu 2 review: is the most urban of the connected sports watches still in shape?

It took almost two years for Garmin to release a new version of its Venu-connected watch. Still dedicated to the general public, the Venu 2 erases most of the defects of its ancestor but increases its price. Is the game still worth the candle? Answer in this Garmin Venu 2 review

Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2

  • Slim and light design
  • More responsive system than before
  • Double the battery life compared to the Venu
  • Accuracy of readings
  • A lot of utility functions
  • AMOLED screen that lacks a bit of brightness in sunlight
  • No navigation or breadcrumb trail
  • Price up by 50€ (but worth it)
  • Garmin Pay not very widespread (but in progress)

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Priced at €399, Garmin’s connected sports watch is trying to shake up the market and in particular competitors like the Galaxy Watch 4 or the Apple Watch Series 7, which are lurking in the same price segment. Because it must be said: the Garmin Venu 2 is trying to be as good in health monitoring as in utility functions.

Has the American giant managed to mature its recipe sufficiently? This is what we suggest you check in the following paragraphs.

Design and finishes

Visually, it will be difficult to distinguish between the two generations of the Venu. The new model adopts a larger case, going from 43 mm to 45 mm. We also note the presence of a Venu 2S that offers a smaller format of 40 mm.

If the beauty gains in width, it remains rather thin with a thickness of only 12.2 mm. The total weight, including the bracelet, is 49 grams. A real featherweight that is quickly forgotten once on the wrist!

Garmin Venu 2 - Boutons © Johan Gautreau
©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

It must be said that the beauty uses a case made mostly of plastic, with a metal bezel. The final result is very sober. No doubt that this smartwatch is one of the most elegant of the American brand and will seduce many lovers of beautiful watches.

<span” data-href=”https://www.clubic.com/mobilite-et-telephonie/objets-connectes/montre-connectee/aHR0cHM6Ly9waWMuY2x1YmljLmNvbS92MS9pbWFnZXMvMTk0NDMxMi9yYXc=”>Garmin Venu 2 - Dos © Johan Gautreau
©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

On its back, we notice the appearance of a new heart rate sensor. It is also able to measure the level of SpO2, something now common to all connected watches. Of course, Garmin recovers its famous charging port, identical on all its smartwatches for several years.

The first impressions are therefore very good, the Venu 2 does not disappoint us.

Screen

Taking advantage of the enlargement of the case, the screen of the Venu 2 also undergoes a small gain in size. The AMOLED panel goes from 1.2” to 1.3”. A slight change that allows the American-connected watch to display data and graphics more effectively.

Garmin Venu 2 - Graphique © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

The definition of the whole goes to the superior speed. We are now on a slab of 419 x 419 px against 390 x 390 px before. The display is still as thin. Needless to say, the AMOLED technology is much more pleasing to the eye than the classic transflective screens used by Garmin on its Forerunner and Fenix!

The only flaw of this screen is its power. In daylight, the screen lacks a bit of luminosity. The rounded edges also tend to attract reflections, which can quickly become annoying on sunny days. Rest assured, the Venu 2 is still usable in the vast majority of situations.

This year, we also benefit from an Always On mode that was cruelly missing from the first generation. Very power-hungry, it will allow you to have the time always visible by leaving part of the screen on.

If it does not reach the display quality of a Galaxy Watch 4, the Garmin Venu 2 remains among the best watches on the market for the quality of its screen.

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Operating system

If you’ve used a Garmin watch before, you shouldn’t be too disoriented by the Venu 2. It follows the same operating scheme as its predecessor, focusing on touchscreen navigation rather than buttons.

Garmin Venu 2 - Widgets © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

However, we notice from the first seconds of use that the system is much more responsive on the Venu 2. The look has also been worked on to offer something more modern, in a little “cyberpunk and neon” style that is not unpleasant at all.

In addition to the many pre-installed dials, you can download a multitude of widgets, apps and watch faces from Garmin’s ConnectIQ store. You can even customize your watch faces with the FaceIt module. As always with the American manufacturer, customization is very advanced!

You may feel a little lost in the system if you have never put your hands on a Garmin watch. The options are numerous, very numerous… Just to activate the Always On mode, you have to go through five different sub-menus. Patience will be required to tame the Garmin Venu 2. However, it’s worth the effort if you like to have a maximum amount of information on your wrist and manage everything in depth. The improved responsiveness of this new smartwatch brings an additional comfort that places it well above its ancestor in terms of ergonomics.

Garmin Venu 2 review: Garmin Connect Application

Do you like lots of data? With Garmin Connect for Android and iOS, you’re in for a treat!

Garmin Connect - Menu 1 © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

There are few applications on the market that are so dense. The smallest metric measured by the Venu 2 is dissected in length, width and breadth on the American application.

Garmin Connect - Menu muscu 1 © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

More than complete for years, Garmin Connect has however recently added a display dedicated to weight training. It gives an overview of the muscle areas used during a session via a graph of the body and a very simple color code. Without being essential, this body mapping allows you to keep an eye on the areas of the body that you want to improve and to know if you have worked enough or not.

For the rest, there are no major changes. Garmin Connect is just like the brand’s watches: it takes time to get to grips with this application because it is so full of possibilities. It’s just a shame that Garmin still doesn’t allow you to manage the data fields of each activity from its application. You have to go through the watch to set up each dial, which is quite daunting because nothing is saved online. You change your watch? You’ll have to set all the data fields to your liking again…

Apart from this flaw, which will only put off the most relentless of users, it’s hard to see anything to complain about with Garmin Connect.

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Sport functions

Don’t be fooled by the sleek curves of the Venu 2: although it aims to appeal to the general public, this connected watch is a real sports watch. It has more than 25 sport profiles. Although it does not include a triathlon, it still offers something for the masses. From simple walking to skiing and swimming in the pool, the Garmin Venu 2 is very complete. Of course, the smartwatch also tracks your health with numerous metrics such as heart rate, breathing rate, SpO2 level, VO2Max or even recovery time and training load.

Garmin Connect - Menu activité 1 © Johan Gautreau

©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

But highlighting simple profiles is not enough for the American manufacturer. The beauty goes further than most of its competitors with the implementation of several automated programs Garmin Coach. Simply choose your training among the 5 km, 10 km, half marathon or marathon, select a duration and the software will provide you with a schedule. If you miss a session, the program can adapt to make up for a lost time. It’s great for beginners or people who want a helping hand to prepare a big event.

But once again, that’s not enough for Garmin. In addition to its profiles and its adaptive coaching program, the manufacturer provides dozens of training sessions, with video. There is something for everyone, from light yoga to the most intensive HIIT fitness. The watch is even able to display animations on its screen to guide you through each part of your session. Currently, no other connected watch goes this far in coaching.

Garmin Connect - Trace GPS © Johan Gautreau
©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

The Venu 2 is all the more attractive because it has very precise sensors. Whether it’s for heart rate or blood oxygenation monitoring, it’s hard to find any fault with it. Even the GPS accuracy outperforms the direct competition, with very few deviations from the track in quite difficult conditions.

Is everything perfect on this Venu 2? Unfortunately not. The biggest drawback is the lack of a proper navigation system. There is an option named Navigation but it is more than spartan. It only indicates the direction of the coordinates you are aiming at with a big arrow. It is impossible to have a point-to-point route like on the Suunto 9 Peak
or the Polar Grit X Pro.

Garmin Venu 2 - Liste sport © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

Still, in disappointment, there is no breadcrumb function for walking, running or hiking activities. This is however something very common now, even on more entry-level watches like the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro. You can console yourself by using third-party applications like Maps4Garmin or WormNav that can compensate for this lack of functions dedicated to navigation.

Utility functions

In general, watches dedicated to sports are very spartan when it comes to offering us utility functions. You only have to look at Suunto and Polar products to be convinced: a simple music controller, the weather… and that’s about it.

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Garmin Venu 2 - Musique © Johan Gautreau

©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

The Venu 2 takes the opposite of its competitors. Like the Forerunner 745
and the Fenix 6X, the American watch does very well to go beyond simple health tracking. It starts with the music management, which is very complete. Not only can you transfer your favorite songs to the Garmin Venu 2’s memory, but you can also manage your podcast subscriptions or download music from Amazon Music, Deezer, Spotify, etc. Connect your favorite Bluetooth headphones to the watch and enjoy sports music!

In terms of notifications, the beauty is also at the top of the range. It is capable of displaying the content of messages that arrive on your smartphone and allows you to respond with pre-recorded answers.

The icing on the cake, the contactless payment via NFC is also part of the game. Unfortunately, the Garmin Pay system is not widely used in France, which limits its use. However, we have noted an increase in the number of banks taking over the system
since our previous tests. If Garmin Pay was previously compatible with only a dozen banks, the service now manages almost twenty, most of them being neo-banks.

In addition to this, there are more traditional features such as weather, calendar, alarm clock and other timers. The ConnectIQ store adds the possibility to download hundreds of third-party applications, widgets and dials.

In the end, the only thing missing from the Garmin Venu 2 is a voice assistant, but is it really necessary?

Autonomy

During our test, the first generation of the Venu watch left us a little hungry in terms of autonomy. It must be said that the American manufacturer had accustomed us to very enduring watches, holding the charge at least two weeks in a row. With its 5 days of autonomy, the Venu was a bit of an ugly duckling. But with the Venu 2, the swan finally spreads its wings for our greatest pleasure!

Not content to offer us a much faster system than the first generation, the Venu 2 doubles the autonomy. Garmin promises us up to 11 days of use, making its connected watch with AMOLED screen one of the most enduring of the moment. However, it will be necessary to make some concessions to achieve this result. The most demanding element is the SpO2 sensor. By activating it only at night, you can get up to 7 days of use. With 24/7 readings, the autonomy drops to about 4 days. If you don’t care about your SpO2 level, we recommend that you stick to manual readings, which are much less energy consuming.

Garmin Venu 2 - Recharge © Johan Gautreau©Johan Gautreau for Clubic

Also avoid activating the Always On mode of the AMOLED screen. This will melt the battery like snow in the sun, with autonomy falling to only 48 hours. Ouch!

And in sport mode? There too, we enjoy a nice gain in endurance. The Garmin Venu 2 is able to hold the charge for about 22 hours with the GPS permanently activated. A time that falls to 8 hours if you want to enjoy your music with Bluetooth headphones. We understand why the triathlon profile is not integrated into this smartwatch. The Venu 2 remains however more enduring than the famous Forerunner 745.

Garmin Venu 2 review: the verdict of TechMarkup

The first Venu had largely seduced us. The new generation also does it by erasing all the small defects of its elder. More responsive system, doubled autonomy, refined design: Garmin hits very hard with its Venu 2.

As effective for sports as for utility functions, the beauty has little to reproach itself for. Only the lack of a real navigation system will put off the most demanding users. Unless you’re a hardcore hiker, you can go for the Garmin Venu 2 without hesitation. It is clearly one of the best productions of the American brand in the “city sports watch” style. A real favorite!

What do you think about Garmin Venu 2 review ? Let us know in the comments.

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