Two years after an already convincing first version, Garmin's Venu 2 has been perfected to better distinguish itself from classic sports watches and compete with more lifestyle connected watches. An even tastier mix.
At the end of 2019, the Venu arrived with an original proposal, that of a sports watch with a touch-sensitive Amoled screen enhanced with health functions and similar in its design to more lifestyle connected models, such as the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch and other Huawei Watch. This is a way to appeal to sports enthusiasts looking for a watch that is adapted to their activities, yet elegant and practical for everyday use.
Ergonomics and design
The Venu 2 is largely based on the design of its predecessor and we will not complain about it. Both sober and elegant, it contrasts with the more massive and sometimes convoluted designs of many sports watches. The finishing is still of a very good level with a stainless steel bezel glued on a reinforced polymer case and encircling a Corning Gorilla 3 glass dial.
Although the plastic appearance of the case seems less prestigious than the metal of some watches, it does not detract from the comfort and durability of the Venu 2.
Its 18 holes allow a precise adjustment to the wrist and a metal buckle ensures its locking. A small clip comes to block the end of the bracelet. We appreciate that the 22 mm bracelets are in the standard format of the watch industry, which allows an easy change and a very large choice.
While the first Venu decided for a 43 mm format supposed to suit all wrist sizes, the Venu 2 opts for 45 mm and is therefore more suitable for large wrists (from 135 to 200 mm). However, Garmin offers the 2S version of its Venue in 40 mm format (from 110 to 175 mm). This second version takes advantage to integrate a larger Amoled panel, reaching this time 1.3 inch (3.3 cm) against 1.2 inch for the Venu. The screen occupancy rate in relation to the total surface of the facade rises by three points, to 52%. Too bad there is still a 3.5 mm wide black ring around it, in addition to the 2 mm of the bezel. A next version without edges would not be refused. Nothing really shocking, however, thanks to the perfect blacks of the Amoled technology, which thus merge with those of the edge.
We still appreciate the quality of the Amoled screen which offers an excellent contrast, a nice display sharpness and a satisfactory maximum brightness. However, the latter would benefit from being increased to ensure sufficient readability in bright sunlight. A sensor is responsible for adapting the brightness automatically. The various digital dials are thus with the honor and those posting hands are shouting of realism.
As for connectivity, no change: we find a proprietary connector for charging the watch. Too bad Garmin did not opt for a magnetic connector or wireless charging.
Always tactile, the Amoled screen of the Venu 2 remains its centerpiece. The interface takes advantage of it, displaying a lot of information using bright colors on a perfectly black background that highlights them well. In addition to the date and time (digital or analog with hands), of course, the dial can also display other information such as the number of steps taken during the day, heart rate, remaining battery life ... The wide choice of dials meets the expectations of the vast majority of users, who will also find others to download via the Garmin Connect app.
To get more information on our activities and our health, check the weather of the day or access the latest notifications sent by the smartphone, we access a menu of floors with a simple slide of the finger on the screen: from top to bottom to access the beginning of the list and vice versa for the bottom of the list. This is a bit disturbing if you are used to the way systems like Google Wear OS and Apple Watch OS work, which display their notifications and settings respectively with these same gestures on the screen. But let's not forget that the Venu 2 is above all a sports watch and therefore logically puts sports data in the spotlight.
The interface of the Venu 2 also uses the two physical buttons on the right side of the watch. Pressing the top one gives access to the activities that you can then select via the touch screen. Pressing the bottom one corresponds to the cancel and return to the previous screen function. A long press on these buttons activates their second function. The top button displays a crown of shortcuts to start a stopwatch, activate the Do Not Disturb mode, lock the watch, control music playback, etc. Note that the Venu 2 has an internal memory to store and play music without using the smartphone. A long press on the bottom button gives access to the choice of dial, clocks, history and general settings.
In general, the logic of operation is acquired quite easily and the interface is pleasant to use despite a fluidity sometimes put at fault.
The Venu 2 is always synchronized with the Garmin Connect application, which also centralizes many other sports devices of the brand. Very complete, it is organized by tabs, the first grouping all the information that we think is important under the heading My day.
The second tab is for the challenges you want to take up to motivate you and to confront you with your contacts. Then comes the Calendar tab, which gives an overview of our activities over the past few days. The last tab displays the latest sports activities of our contacts, which we can comment on and appreciate with a little "like" which is always a pleasure.
The different health and activity records provide a lot of information to analyze and compare. Garmin Connect is one of the richest apps in this respect.
Uses and accuracy
Despite its lifestyle connected watch look, the Venu 2 is no less rich in sensors than other Garmin sports watches: heart rate monitor, GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, barometric altimeter and pulse oximeter (SpO2) are in charge of collecting a maximum of information to increase the relevance of activity analysis.
Less focused on health monitoring than some of the more specialized connected wearables, the Venu 2 still provides stress and sleep monitoring that we found relevant. However, the analyses have a sporting vocation, in particular calculating a level of "body battery", the theoretical energy that can be spent during the day.
A bad night's sleep and not enough recovery from the previous day, and the watch will advise you against engaging in demanding training.
We can also organize a whole training program with the Garmin Connect application, the watch then compiles the data to help us monitor our performance and our state of form. Sleep tracking, with a little admonition about the late bedtime.
Sleep tracking, with a small admonition about the late bedtime. We note a good GPS reception with a stable signal and a location that rarely deviates from the actual route. The barometric altimeter is also a plus in terms of the accuracy of the measurement of the altitude difference, complementing well the altimetry by GPS. On the other hand, you have to do without navigation, as the Garmin Venu 2 still does not have a background map and is not able to rely on the smartphone for this.
Regarding the heart rate monitor, same observation, the measurements obtained with the Venu 2 are accurate. During a simple run at a steady pace, we measure only 0.6% difference from the data obtained with our reference Polar H10 chest belt. The difference rises to about 1% during a split race, the curve obtained via Garmin Connect following very well that of the Polar.
Announced as being much more autonomous than the first Venu, the Venu 2 would be able to run for up to 11 days in classic connected use and 12 days with the energy saving activated. The use of GPS during an activity results in a maximum autonomy of 22 hours, dropping to 8 hours if you listen to music at the same time, again according to Garmin.
Our tests agree with these data since we exceeded one week of use after each full charge, with the default settings, automatic brightness, three to four sports activities per week and a wrist wear H24 (with sleep tracking). Unless you go for a long run while listening to music every day, it's reasonable to only worry about charging the watch once a week. This is a fairly common performance in the world of sports watches, but it is remarkable compared to the autonomies observed with more lifestyle connected models that often struggle to exceed two days of operation. In any case, endurance enthusiasts will turn to sports watches offering two to three times more autonomy than this Venu 2, which is aimed at a wider and less extreme audience.
As for the Venu 2, it takes only 1 hour to charge with the supplied proprietary cable and a standard smartphone charger.
More accomplished and with an Oled screen as appreciable as ever, the Venu 2 is logically even more recommendable than the first version for sports users who want to wear a stylish watch. It is still designed for sports despite a design and some health measures that make it comparable to more versatile connected watches (Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch). Its good autonomy and the richness of its sports functions make it a very good choice for those for whom sport comes before everything else.