“The Garmin Venu 2 / 2S is near the height of fitness trackers and smartwatches.”
Up to 11 days of battery life
Detailed tracking of important health data
Health alerts keep users informed about stress
Dozens of workout routines
iPhone users cannot reply to messages
The Garmin Venu 2 / 2S is proof that Garmin has successfully changed the direction from in-car GPS devices to incredibly powerful and useful wearables. This smartwatch can do more than just display messages – it monitors a whole range of health information. It will also yell at you when 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 subdued look, but the minimalist design goes with any outfit. It can easily take the place of a “fancier” bracelet without spoiling the overall look.
The Venu 2S is optionally available with a white band with a gold bezel. It also has a slightly smaller screen at 1.1 “compared to the 1.3” screen on the Venu 2. There are two buttons on the right side of the band that, along with the touchscreen, control most of the Garmin’s functions. The band has approximately 20 micro-adjustment slots so you can get the perfect fit regardless of the size of your wrist.
The best part is that the smartwatch is convenient. I wore it to bed every night for two weeks and it didn’t feel uncomfortable once, unlike many other wearables I’ve tried. The Garmin Venu 2 is lightweight and will quickly become a standard part of your everyday life. I don’t know when I’m wearing it, but I definitely know 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 features of fitness trackers and smartwatches and combines them into a single tool that has been used at almost every point in my day.
The first thing to note is that this iteration of the Venu includes several new features that will bring it far more usefulness than before. The most important among these is the battery life. The first time I buckled up the Venu 2 was around noon on a Friday. I didn’t take it off to recharge until the next Thursday evening – almost seven full days.
It has the range to provide charge for more than a week.
According to its specifications, the Venu 2 can last up to 11 days on a single charge as long as it is in smartphone mode (meaning the built-in GPS beacon is not used). I received a lot of notifications throughout the day that probably drained the battery faster than usual, but with minimal use I can easily believe it will last that long on one charge. It also charges quickly – just 10 minutes is enough to restore a day’s charge while four hours fully restore the battery.
Like the previous Venu, the Venu 2 can store songs in its on-board memory (although this version can store up to 650 songs instead of 500). Playing music and using your GPS will reduce battery life to just eight hours on a single charge. Still, it’s impressive that the range is more than a week or less than a day, depending on the activity.
Another useful feature is all-day health monitoring. This allows the Venu 2 to collect various health metrics throughout the day, including your heart rate, stress level, breathing, and even your pulse ox – your blood oxygen levels. Checking these stats can give you a good idea of your fitness level, but you don’t have to find out for yourself.
Another new feature is called Fitness Age. It gives you a rough estimate of the age of your body compared to your chronological age. You can check your fitness age on the Garmin app for suggestions on how to improve. For example, this could indicate that you are lowering your BMI or increasing your activity level during the day.
The new built-in workouts can help with this. The HIIT workouts help you keep track of your time and set up custom timers and intervals, while the Advanced Strength Training tool keeps your personal best records at a glance and shows which muscle groups were trained during the workout.
Sleep score and health snapshot
The last two functions go hand in hand. The Sleep Score gives you an estimate of how well you slept on a scale from 1 to 100, as well as suggestions on how to improve your sleep. It also shows you how long you’ve been through each phase of sleep – a useful feature when you’re trying to get the most out of your lack of sleep.
If you want a complete overview of your health, you can use the Health Snapshot to do a 2-minute workout while the Garmin Venu 2 records your heart rate, breathing, stress and other measurements. At the end of the workout, you will receive a report of your score and a rough estimate of your health.
The body battery is a really interesting feature that is frighteningly accurate. It measures your overall energy level from 1 to 100 based on how well you slept the night before, how much activity you have during the day, how much stress you are, and more. At the beginning of the day you can see how much you “charged” during the night, and during the day you can see how much energy is “used”.
In my time with the Venu 2, the value of the body battery is about what I feel. Every time I feel tired or have trouble concentrating, the body battery value is below 40. At least it has given me greater awareness of the ups and downs of my energy throughout the day, especially the slump after lunch.
Aside from its numerous health features, the Garmin Venu 2 also functions as a smartwatch. You will receive notifications from your phone right on your wrist. One of the few downsides to the Venu 2 is the inability to respond to messages like the Apple Watch can.
The Venu 2 works with Garmin Pay so you can do your shopping without ever having to withdraw cash or a debit card. At a time when everyone is still trying to avoid touching objects, this feature is a fantastic option.
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to exercise, the Garmin Connect app can help. I know competition is the best way to get me going, and the ability to earn badges through badge challenges makes me want to fill my profile with whatever I can. You can also view a news feed to see how your friends fared compared to yourself this week.
And if you decide to customize your watch face to suit your personality, there are several watch faces to choose from in the Connect IQ Store. You can even create your own watch faces with pictures from your phone.
In the Connect IQ Store you can also install various music apps like Spotify or Amazon Music, navigation apps like Find My Car and even other training apps like a tracker for elliptical trainers or inline skating.
Price and availability
The Garmin Venu 2 and 2S are available now at Garmin.com for $ 400. It has not yet been announced whether it will be available from other retailers.
The Garmin Venu 2 / 2S is incredible technology that brings many features into one small package – and has enough customizations that you can change 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 reply to messages or post a social media post right from the watch, it would be perfect.
The depth of health monitoring features make it a valuable tool for anyone looking to get fit. However, it’s especially useful for people who want to shed a few unwanted pounds before a big event. For example, if you have a wedding in a few months and want to make sure you look good in your suit, the Venu 2 / 2S will help you keep track of which exercises are best for you.
However, the $ 400 price tag is steep. As much as I enjoyed using the Venu 2 / 2S (and will continue to do so), $ 300 seems like a better price – that is, all of the advanced sensors explain the cost. It’s worth noting that the screen is a little too easy to scratch for a $ 400 device. There is a small blemish on the face after banging the clock against the wall.
Ultimately, however, it’s a great watch – and the health warnings are the icing on the cake. You can set your Venu 2 / 2S to notify you when your heart rate or stress level exceeds a certain level. This can remind you to stop, stand back, and take a breath.
Is there a better alternative?
The Fitbit Charge 4 offers 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 fitness-only tracker it’s hard to justify spending an extra $ 250.
The Apple Watch SE is another cheaper option for $ 325, especially if you’re an iPhone user. At the moment, the Garmin Venu 2 / 2S is still aimed more at Android users than iPhone users (although I had no difficulty connecting or operating mine via iOS).
How long it will take?
With proper care, the Venu 2 / S should last quite a long time. Even so, the screen is a bit fragile and easily scratches. Be careful, but don’t worry about water – the Garmin Venu 2 / S is rated at 5 ATM, which means it should withstand a pressure of around 50 meters. You should be able to shower with the water without worry. It comes 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’ve ever used, and it will continue to be used for the months to come as I get in shape for my upcoming wedding.