Garmin Venu SQ | Music | First Thoughts
We’ve known for some time that next week’s Garmin releases, probably on September 16th, are going to be the Garmin Forerunner 745, the Garmin HRM-Pro Chest Strap and the Garmin Venu smartwatch. Today we get some corroborated news that the Garmin Venu is being released as the Garmin Venu SQ and Garmin Venu SQ Music – you can see from the pictures the imaginative suffix is probably short for SQuare. Yep folks, Garmin has gone all-Fitbit on us and copied the looks of the Fitbit Versa Sense.
I’ve had details of the new Venu for a long time but these images from Winfuture are the first that I’d seen and I have to say I’m in two minds as to whether or not I like the Garmin Venu SQ.
On the one hand, I’ve said I like the looks of the Fitbit Versa several times, so it seems childish to change my opinion just to annoy Garmin-lovers. I’ve also made my anti-Crown feeling plain about the Apple Watch and here Garmin has clearly followed the recent leads of Oppo and others to ditch the crown, so I have to applaud that as well. Still on the subject of form, along with many other commentators, I’ve also said that the ideal format of a sports watch is rectangular (with buttons).
So there’s a lot of positives on show here from the new-look Venu SQ
But I also said that there seems to be a mainstream desire for more traditional round faces and there’s something about the looks of the Venu SQ that I’m just not sure about. It seems, so, un-Garmin.
Yet, could this be Garmin’s masterstroke to propel them into the higher echelons of the mainstream? Let’s be honest about the Venu…it’s always been a SMART FITNESS/smartwatch rather than an ATHLETIC SPORTS watch that’s also smart and the best-selling smartwatch EVER, the Apple Watch, is a similar shape to this. Perhaps Garmin has to adopt the Fitbit-cum-Apple looks to get the volume business in the smartwatch market?
Here are some more images and a few bullet points about some of the specs that have now also been corroborated
- 1.3″ LCD display with 240x240px resolution – note, it’s NOT OLED – I suspect but don’t know, that these renders make the screen look a tad prettier than it really is, especially on the dial watch face in the main image at the top.
- The watch face is actually a more vertically stretched out than the Fitbit Versa, which is more square, but perhaps not quite as rectangularly thin as the Apple Watch.
- Decent Gorilla Glass 4
- 2-button plus touchscreen
- Eu pricing is said to be Eu200 and Eu250 for the music version (probably the same number for US$, and GBP is about £190, £230). Note, the EXISTING Garmin Venu is GBp329/$349 – a differently priced beast entirely.
- Garmin Pay – for contactless payments
- Music via Garmin’s CIQ apps which includes Spotify and Amazon Music support
- Storage – 4GB/500 songs
- WR50 – 50m water resistance for swimming
- Lots of sports profile and triathlon is not one of them.
- Sony GNSS chipset supporting multiple GNSS constellations including Galileo
- Standard Garmin charger
- 20mm, cheap-looking but interchangeable straps
- Latest Garmin Elevate sensor (the good one) delivering SpO2 and the supporting info for Firstbeat’s body battery, respiration, PulseOx, Stress level, 24×7 HR and more
- Guided workouts (I’m guessing with animation for strength workouts)
And here we have a nice screen showing a guided workout and, I believe, some new interface logic – swipe up and the rotated carat for ‘go’…this looks GOOD and intuitive. Garmin has been listening to people (me) banging on that they need to improve their UI/UX.
Take Out & First Thoughts
Despite the name, this is effectively a new product for Garmin at a new price point. Garmin is planning to take on the mightly Apple, the once-mighty Fitbit and the declining Samsung.
The previous iterations were Garmin Vivoactive 3/4 & Venu (OLED), along with the Fenix series these have been Garmin’s money-spinners. Garmin has not simply changed the Venu on a whim, so the following are each plausible scenarios
- Despite the beautiful OLED screen the older, highly-priced Venu just may not have sold enough. It simply didn’t compete with the AW5.
- Garmin has cheapened the Venu with the Venu SQ to enable it to compete below the mid-market $250ish level with the AW3 / AW6se.
- Garmin is cunning. The Venu SQ is just the first. Yes, it competes with AW3/AW6se but there will be another, higher spec OLED-cum-LTE wunderkind that’s priced and feature-matched to compete with the new AW6 but Garmin are waiting to see first exactly what the AW6 is made of.
Garmin will have built decent innards into the Venu SQ. The sports modes and the health & activity features will almost certainly have been nailed, although there will be a minor glitch here and there, and there will always be some unhappy soul somewhere who wants a few more features than will those included.
The key success points here appear to be PRICE, LOOKS, USABILITY and, possibly HEALTH. Taking each of those:
- Price: Garmin has hit the Apple Watch 3/6 SE price point(ish), although a separate music version is silly.
- Looks: Garmin has gone all-in for the Fitbit-cum-Apple looks. Looks proven to work.
- Usability: Garmin appears to have a partially revamped screen interface augmented with buttons and touch. Maybe that’s cool but I’m guessing the look and feel of the device will be inconsistent and disjointed as you pass through all the various menus and features.
- Health: Can the Venu sub-brand be repositioned as a HEALTH offering that people instinctively think of rather than the smart activity Vivoactive watch of previous versions? Health is where “it’s” at, Fitbit Sense is rapidly heading there, Apple is perceived to be there already…has Garmin got the right set of directions?
Venu SQ is a gamble but Garmin might pull it off. It’s a gamble with massive financial upside and a limited financial downside for a company of Garmin’s size. So what is it to be? Game Changer?…or damp SQuib? (See what I did there…;-) )
Partial Source: winfuture
Images | ALL winfuture
Screen Size Comparison
Early release partners will likely include REI (USA) and Wiggle (Eu). Amazon won’t likely get stock for several weeks, although Amazon USA can sometimes get stock relatively early.