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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:


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

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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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