Garmin Venu 2, Venu 2S – Detailed first thoughts

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Garmin Venu 2 First Thoughts

Garmin’s new Venu 2 and smaller Venu 2S are here, the screen is awesome and Garmin has boosted the health features. As good at sport as it always was.

In the smartwatch category, the Garmin Venu 2 goes head-to-head with the Apple Watch 6 but with a superior, sporty twist. Interestingly, as well as boosting the wider health offering and making it look prettier, this 2021 version of Garmin’s flagship smartwatch appears to have lots of new tech on board, enabling lots of more insightful features that will trickle across to EVERY future Garmin sports watch including this summer’s Garmin Fenix 7.

Garmin Venu 2 – “What’s New?” Key Points

Here’s what’s new for the Venu 2 series:

  • Two sizes – for standard wrists and small wrists
  • new health metrics: Sleep score from Firstbeat, fitness age estimate, Health Snapshot log
  • new Activity profiles: for HIIT, indoor climbing, bouldering and hiking.
  • enhanced Activity Profiles: HIIT workouts with on-screen animations, strength training with muscle Heatmap
  • Enhanced battery life with rapid recharging and battery saver mode (Venu 2: Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode; Venu 2S: Up to 10 days in smartwatch mode)


Garmin Venu 2 Key Features & Take Out

the Garmin feature sets are impressive and, other than price & looks, are probably the main reason why you’d buy one. Here they are all briefly covered with my take-out on each

  • SMART NOTIFICATIONS – Receive emails, texts and alerts right on your watch when paired with your compatible smartphone. Standard stuff with the useful additional ability to respond to texts
  • MUSIC – Download songs plus playlists from your Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music accounts and connect to wireless headphones – Garmin has one of the very best music offerings in the sense of the widest support for streaming services
  • SAFETY AND TRACKING FEATURES – When your watch and phone are paired, your live location can be sent to your contacts manually or — during select outdoor activities — automatically with built-in incident detection. Potentially life-saving if you have an accident or are mugged, the earlier version suffered from false-positive alerts. Still useful though.
  • GARMIN PAY – Garmin’s contactless payment solution – requires your specific bank to have signed up and many haven’t. Check first. It works well.
  • CONNECT IQ STORE – This is Garmin’s app store – It’s not as good as Apple’s or Google unless you want sporty apps where it is market-leading.
  • BATTERY LIFE WITH RAPID RECHARGING – 11 days in smartwatch mode, up to 22 hours in GPS mode and up to 8 hours in GPS mode with music. Ten minutes of charging adds up to 1 day of smartwatch mode battery life or 1 hour of GPS with music battery life. The rapid charging feature is fantastic as is the battery life, now that we have an awesome screen to go with it this will challenge the Apple Watch for anyone interested in sport or for anyone with an Android phone where the Apple Watch just won’t work.
  • BATTERY SAVER MODE – Makes the juice last longer
  • HEALTH SNAPSHOT FEATURE – Log a 2-minute HRV session to record key stats, including (resting) heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), Pulse Ox, respiration and stress. This generates a report you can share with friends or with a medical professional. This is useful, perhaps to share with a doctor. Although Garmin will claim that this is not diagnostic. This will only be useful for spotting trends if you do the 2 minutes in the same conditions each morning before getting out of bed.
  • BODY BATTERY ENERGY MONITORING – Check energy levels throughout the day – this is not based on proven HRV/TL science AFAIK!
  • PULSE OX SENSOR – Spot Checks blood oxygen saturation at any point during the day, or for part of the night as you sleep, to show how well your body is absorbing oxygen. Useful if  you have some specific medical conditions
  • STRESS TRACKING – Find out if you’re having a calm, balanced or stressful day. – again, like body battery, somewhat gimmicky as the kind of stress Garmin is talking about cannot be isolated by HRV tracking
  • WOMEN’S HEALTH TRACKING –  Track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Log symptoms, get exercise and nutrition education and with the Women’s Health Tracking app. Great and useful features in line with what competitors offer
  • HYDRATION TRACKING – Log your daily fluid intake as a reminder to stay hydrated. You can even have an auto goal for hydration that adjusts based on how much you sweat during activities. Useful if you are organised enough to correctly track your hydration intake.
  • RESPIRATION TRACKING – See how you’re breathing throughout the day, during sleep and during breathwork and yoga activities. #Shrug
  • SLEEP SCORE AND ADVANCED SLEEP MONITORING – Get a score for your sleep’s quality and insights on how you can do better. Even keep track of the different sleep stages as well as heart rate, stress, Pulse Ox and respiration. On the surface, many people will be super-interested in this. Just like every other competitor product, It’s based on flakey interpretations of science
  • WRIST-BASED HEART RATE – The watch constantly samples your heart rate and will alert you if it stays too high or too low while you’re at rest. It also helps gauge how hard you work during activities — even while swimming. A very useful metric to track; wrist-based heart rate doesn’t work for everyone in every environment, if you are lucky to get correct data this is awesome.
  • FITNESS AGE – This feature uses chronological age, your weekly vigorous activity, resting heart rate and BMI or body fat percentage to estimate if your body is younger or older than you are. And you can get tips to lower your fitness age. A useful and easy-to-understand metric the advice, as always, is to eat healthily, sleep properly and exercise more.
  • WATER RATING – This watch is water-rated to 5 ATM – So long as you’re not diving, any other water use should be fine. Though be mindful of water sports involving high impacts.

Buy Now:

Elevate Gen 4

We have the next generation of Elevate optical heart rate sensor, Gen 4. Garmin had seemed to take the previous version as far as they could with SpO2 and general accuracy. It often had fairly good accuracy results but still lagged slightly behind the Apple Watch 6 in my experience. So what is this new sensor likely to bring?

  1. Accuracy? – Probably increased. The new LED layout is more optimal than the previous (current) generation, although still not truly optimal (I’ll explain this one day).
  2. Power Efficiency? – Probably increased
  3. SpO2? – Yes, included as before and improved
  4. Abnormal beat detection? – Yes, previously included but improved slightly

CIQ Level 4 & CIQ 4 – Support for Garmin’s fourth generation of apps and super apps

The Venu 2 clearly has a high-quality AMOLED/LCD type screen. Last year Garmin announced new abilities for third-party app developers to access some screen-related features relating to these screens via CIQ Level 4.

The Flagship Venu 2 supports the CIQ Level 4 goodness at every level

So what will the new screen bring?

  1. Touchscreen? – Yes
  2. Power Efficiency? – Yes
  3. Access for CIQ4? – Yes, to follow, CIQ3, level 4 at launch.
  4. Increased screen pixel density? – No, it will remain at 325ppi
  5. New screen sizes & resolutions? – Yes. There will be a 41mm/1.2″ (360x360px) version and a new, larger 45mm/1.3″ (416x416px) version, which are the Venu 2S and Venu 2 respectively

Venu 2 LTE

There is no intel on a Venu 2 LTE version. The intel instead points to an impending Forerunner 945LTE

My guess would be that the Venu 2 LTE will still come as a different variant…but later.

Garmin Venu 2 – Multi GNSS

The new Venu 2 will be marketed as ‘multi GNSS‘.

This is confusing marketing terminology that much of the target market will not understand. It also adds some confusion to me as this could mean one of two technologies being used.

GNSS is just the correct acronym for GPS. We all say ‘GPS’ but we mean ‘GNSS’. So that’s not exciting. GNSS incorporates America’s GPS system, Russia’s GLONASS system and Europe’s Galileo system of satellites, plus a few more as well. There’s nothing new here if multi GNSS means supporting more than one of these simultaneously.

If Garmin is including 2020’s latest Sony GNSS chip in a sports/fitness watch then multi GNSS may well mean the use of two frequencies or two flavours of each of those GNSS systems if you like. So there is L1 GPS and L5 GPS, L1 Galileo and L5 Galileo. These are just extra frequencies from the exact same satellites BUT these new frequencies mean that GNSS watches can start to eliminate errors by correcting one frequency for the other frequency. More info.

In a nutshell: Garmin’s GNSS/GPS accuracy may see a step change. This will make your post-workout map even prettier, but it could also make your instant running pace more accurate and could also make your navigation more precise and timely.

Garmin is already using multi-frequency tech in another product so it is likely but NOT CERTAIN that multi GNSS means the Venu 2 has the newest Sony chip that supports dual-frequency reception and, possibly, delivers greater accuracy.

We might get the most accurate Garmin yet but that increased accuracy would definitely require a bit more power for the new Sony chip and so the battery life will take a slight hit although, as we will see, that slight hit will be compensated for by improvements elsewhere.

Garmin has made no comments on which Sony chip is used.

New Motherboard

That’s the wrong phrase but it will help some readers understand that the recent Garmin Enduro had new architecture which other components plug into ie analogous to the motherboard on your PC or MAC. For example, my understanding is that there is a new and separate graphics pool/processor to improve rendering in parallel with whatever else Venu 2 is doing at the time.

Music & More Music Storage

All those ‘streamed’ songs need space to be stored. For example, even though you link to Spotify, Garmin really keeps a copy of your songs on the watch rather than truly streaming them.

It’s highly likely that the Venu 2 will be able to store more songs than the existing Venu (500 songs) perhaps even approaching what the FR945 or F6 can store (1000-2000 songs) – 750 is the figure bandied about for the Venu 2/2S.

It seems that MUSIC is now a standard feature. I suspect that we shall not generally see music vs non-music versions in the future, albeit with some exceptions. I further suspect that we will see non-LTE and  LTE version to different models.

Watch out for Bluetooth 5.1, if the Venu 2 has that it can save some juice with the appropriate headphones.

Battery Life

The claimed GPS battery life of Venu 2 with music is now 7-8 hours, without music it is an impressive enough 22 hours. The quick-charging battery indicates the probability of two battery types contained within one physical battery unit (not especially unusual).

Because there are a LOT of new components then, like on the Enduro, we could see some big gains in real-world battery life compared to the previous version. But temper those hopes with the fact that playing music, recording more accurate multi-GNSS and powering an always-on OLED display will EAT battery. That said we are still looking at up to 22-hours of recording time with GPS+oHR… which is fine but far from amazing.

After the confusion with the FR945/745 battery life, Garmin will be more realistic about what you can expect in reasonable-case scenarios. Although the new headline ‘best scenario’ figure for the Venu 2 of over 10 days as a smartwatch WILL almost certainly have been improved by many of the new pieces of tech.

New Features

There are a few bits and pieces namely: interface tweaks; health sharing with 3rd party medical professionals; fitness age; bouldering profile; HIIT profile; hiking profile;


We are looking at Eur/USD400 – which is an expensive but sensible price level and comparable to the Apple Watch 6. Why buy the Garmin?… Four main answers 1) sports (debatable) 2) You have an android phone 3) battery life (debatable to some degree) & 4) it’s round…that’s it.

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40 thoughts on “Garmin Venu 2, Venu 2S – Detailed first thoughts

    1. oops, looks like some more text was coming, or my browser hadn’t loaded it ? Anyway, off to reading that paragraph !

      1. ok so maybe L1/L5 ? Can’t hurt although the benefit is not realtime elimination of “errors by correcting one frequency for the other frequency.” (if you had ionospheric corrections in mind) it’s more like L5 has better accuracy by design, 10x the chip rate and is less prone to multipath. Unfortunately there are still very few satellites broadcasting L5 signal.

        1. yes, I’d say “probably” l1/l5 rather than maybe.
          it COULD hurt in the short term as, no doubt, the old algorithms won’t be quite right
          I thought the signal could be cross-referenced to correct reflected and refracted signals plus for redundancy. (I originally only thought it helped refracted but i was corrected by someone)
          yes, fewer satellites broadcast l5. I thought often enough to be useful tho.

  1. This watch is a far cry from an AW competitor. Not even close. But for someone who likes Garmin and and wants a more mainstream watch, it’s nice.

        1. I’ve been using a 245M for almost 2 years and never had any issues with stability. Watch has never crashed on me, never froze, always records and saves activities, and never dies midway through an activity or sleep thanks to having amazing battery life

          Yes, they need to add a little polish and consistency to their menus.

          Yes, sleep tracking is poor and needs to be improved. They are switching to a better Firstbeat sleep algorithm for some watches (F6, FRx45).

          Yes, there was that ransomware hack last year, but activities still got saved to the watch and synced to the cloud once they regained control of their servers.

          Yes, there was that GPS bug that affected all brands that used Sony chips earlier this year that slightly shifted GPS tracks, but they promptly issued a fix for that.

      1. Garmins os is absolute crap. Missing a full App Store with fully featured programs. You cannot interact with any iPhone feature except through connect iq. Garmin has a terrible reputation for reliable data since outsourcing their os programming team.

        there are so many differences between an Apple Watch and this that it would take ab article to point them out. No comparison.

        1. I forgot to add that the AW is basically a fully feature iPhone or damn close to it. I never carry my phone anymore. No need. The AW is probably the only true “smart” watch there is. And probably one of the best short battery fitness watch you can buy. Not a fanboy, but after trying just about every other brand, I always return to my AW

          1. The only reason I do not carry AW is their bad battery life. Other than that they have hardly any competitors. And I do not even have iphone….

          2. How do you use an Apple Watch without an iPhone? Is there an Android app for the watch?

          3. The AW looks good on every wrist, from 450lbs to 150lbs, but a fitness watch it is not. Poor battery, will prevent that, after a long day at work, you hop on your bike, connect with all sensors, and go for a 2hrs ride. It will die after 40 minutes.
            Don’t get me wrong…AW is great for the fitness leaning masses, but if you want a real fitness watch…AW would be a poor choice.

          1. This is true! Had a friend who was all ready to get a Garmin Venu because he “liked the round look”. I gave him my old AW and that ended his desire for anything else. From an outside window view, an average customer just doesn’t understand under the hood, only what the bullet points show and appearance.

            I miss the days when Garmin meant accuracy and quality. I was die hard up through the Fenix 3hr. Then Garmin fired their team and outsourced. Things went south from there.

          2. Apple lock there ecosystem out to everyone who is not Apple.

            The Apple Watch is a lifestyle watch that people can develop against, where as Garmin is a fitness watch trying to be a lifestyles poorly. Until Garmin overhaul their OS and ecosystems to be more like Apple or Samsung in these watches it will alway be second fiddle.

            Garmin would be better if developing a proper fitness app for Apple/android to plug into their ecosystem to entice people to buy their hardware instead of developing this type of hardware/software offer

        2. You seem to hate Garmin with a passion , some of your points above are hilarious if not just plain stupid . Terrible reputation for reliable data? Your reputation just went down the drain with that and I have trouble taking your post in other way than childish . That is why many pro cycling teams use Garmin products? That is why many pro runners use Garmin products? You seem to be living in your little world mate.

          Missing a full app store? What is connect iq then? Even so , I never had the need for an app store for something that has everything I need built in.

          Garmin has a different target for their watches unlike Apple. Of course there will be some limitations on watches with weeks of standby or 24 of hours of continuous GPS use as opposed to a worthless fancy device that dies after a day of standby and a couple of hours of GPS use. What use are features if your time for using them is so limited?

    1. Well, true, IF you want to carry also charger all time with you. AW is smart watch with crappy battery life. Compared to smart watches, Garmin cannot take calls but anything else is sufficient, but … such long battery life for 1 charge you won’t get out of anything “smart” on the market.

      1. It really doesn’t matter how good the Apple Watch is at workouts. Watches are first and foremost fashion statements, particularly if they are in a price range far beyond an F-91W (and that one’s no less a fashion statement). An Apple Watch will still say “I like well designed gadgets” even if you just finished Kona one a single charge, but a Forerunner tells the entire meeting room “I run marathons” even if you never did. And very few (read: not a single one) of the buyers of those “tactical” Garmins will ever use the artillery formulae embedded, but they like to imagine themselves as someone who might.

        The Venu of course is a bit of an outlier here. “I like pretty gadgets, but maybe not from Apple, and I insist that my sports never reach beyond casual” isn’t much of a sales driver. But the watches section of Garmin seems to be quite happy serving niches, they surely don’t expect huge sales from Lily or the various incarnations of Vivomove. Much of that market is probably people who explicitly don’t want to carry their sports gadget into the office, but still want the health data recorded during recovery in the same system as their workouts.

        1. interesting thoughts on the personality of watches…and plenty of truth in what you say.
          Also worth considering is that MANY people are simply not making fully-informed and logical decisions. analysing your smart and sports needs is a bit of a boring thing for many people to contemplate so they will be swayed by a trusted source or a compelling ad with a few buzzwords from a brand they’ve vaguely heard of.

          Perhaps that’s one reason that the apple watch is the best selling smart fitness watch: you got an iPhone?…yep. what’s your budget?…$x. what colours do you want? sorted…now do some app research.

    2. Apple Watch is a toy, a shining gadget, or jewelry for undervalued guys who pretend to be “rich”.

  2. Multi GNSS is not anything new. That is the exact terminology they use with current gen GPS chipsets on Garmin. If they are marketing as *multi band* GNSS, then yes, it is new. 95% sure it’s just standard “multi GNSS” per the leaks.

    And, this is more of an Apple Watch competitor than other Garmins, but, as others have noted, isn’t nearly as good of a smartwatch. It does get closer with CIQ 4, but still much behind Apple Watch. However, it spanks the pants off AW for sports… so, to each their own.

  3. I just started following this site. For years i have followed Ray Maker and will continue to follow him, but I was missing the speculative and well educated “what’s next” discussion. This is IT. Thank you. I’m a Fenix 3 owner and in my middle age, my reading vision is starting to suffer. I’m looking for a sports watch that I can wear everyday and that I can easily read. I’m an android owner, so AW is out. Venu2 may be it.

    1. thank you for your kind words Jeff.
      I can confirm that I have definitely had an education but, well, I’m not always sure what I did with it! I read DCR’s stuff too…I try to put a different slant on things when it is sensible to so do, perhaps writing more frequently with shorter posts but sometimes with longer ones when the gadget merits it. I think all readers here are the A team and highly intelligent, as such they want more than one opinion to help them come to an informed decision

      Heads up: I have ZERO links to Garmin and buy them all with my own money. So I can write what I genuinely think about their products which is often highly complimentary but sometimes, err, less so.

      1. Your honest words helped me to wait on my next watch purchase rather than pull the trigger on the 745. My jaw dropped when I read you sold your 945 and picked up a used 935. Everyone is different and everyone has different needs, but you are clear about your perspective, so thanks again for being another strong voice in the industry.

  4. the pics of the Venu2 have been up on the website for a day or so..

    I though the battery life nearly doubled, but we will see in the real world.

    the bright screen is what keeps me running with this and AW has no good running apps.

      1. Let’s get this clear. AW is first a smartwatch and then a fitness watch. But Garmin is fitness first and smart watch next. Look at the battery on AW vs Garmin. Look at the Apple Health app vs Garmin app (in addition to the Garmin Connect portal). Garmin has lot of stuff done the right way.

        1. kinda
          I just did an >8 hour ride . the apple watch SE started on 100% battery and ended on 33% using Apple Workout. that’s not bad and might just about last an Ironman for some people. (battery was at something like 97% of original health, so nearly as good as a new one)
          the apple health app is not meant to be all-singing and all-dancing. apple (often) assumes that a 3rd party app will be better (which they usually are!! eg ismoothrun)
          the apple platform (health/healthkit) is not as bad for sports as non-apple users often assume. it will only get better. that said garmin, obviously wins for people who would consider themselves as athletes though not always…

  5. Hi, I was reading Ray’s review of the Venu 2 when an image caught my eye in the sleep tracking selection. He posted an image of a graph showing the sleep score over 7 days (see attached). I can’t find it anywhere in the Android app or web version of Garmin Connect. Does anyone here know how to find this in the app? I have a fenix 6 Pro so it supports sleep score.


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