Garmin Venu 2 Plus – Some Early Thoughts

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Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Image|Garmin

Garmin Venu 2 Plus – Opinion

Garmin’s Venu line of watches is their direct competitor to the Apple Watch 7 / SE, Fitbits of old and the Samsung Galaxy Watch4. The sting in Garmin’s tail is a mighty sting, the Venu is a really good sports watch. Not a great sports watch, not an excellent sports watch; just a better sports watch than what Apple, Fitbit/Google and Samsung have so far produced. However whilst it has a sting in its tail it also has an Achilles in its heel.

Its Achilles heel is the ‘smart’ side of things. By that, we mean a deep, deep integration with your smartphone be it an Android or Apple. And ‘deep’ means replicating, effectively everything that possibly can & should be replicated from your phone onto a small-screen wrist device. Thus a smartwatch needs to have music, a payments system, full notifications from apps/texts as well as the ability to reply to them. Of course, there needs to be some form of wrist-based app ecosystem and lots of wellness goodness but there also needs to be deep speech integration and audio playback to truly compete with the leaders in this segment. Then the final step is to leave that smartphone at home and be able to work standalone using your mobile data plan over ‘LTE’.

And did I say it needs to look pretty? Yep, that as well. Oh, and the battery has to last forever. Or at least more than a few days.

Garmin Epix Gen 2 – What We Know So Far (1/3)

The Big Ask

To have all of those features is a big ask. Perhaps too big to quite do it all with today’s technology, although Apple comes pretty close.

That said…

Apple’s Siri is a bit rubbish, its LTE capability requires a significantly more expensive Sapphire & Stainless watch and, when you get it (me!! grr) you find that you might need to buy a second data plan for it. Then you will find that Apple really, really wants you to link with all their subscription services rather than, say, Spotify or YouTube music although those are both now possible on the Apple Watch. Then there’s the rotating crown which works awesomely but looks a bit stupid.

So What Has Garmin Done Here?

The Venu 2 Plus is nearly identical to the Venu 2 except the price is slightly higher and the size and battery life is slightly less. The sports features are as good as they always were but not of a ‘pro’ standard. The sweet screen and battery are checkboxes that are nicely ticked.

The only truly new features for Garmin are connected audio services enabled by a new microphone and speaker. If your phone is nearby you can make and receive voice calls just like with the base Apple Watch models. Even better, again if your smartphone is close by, you can interact with your smartphone’s voice assistants, namely  Siri (Apple), Google Assistant or Bixby (Samsung). Amazon doesn’t have a phone system so I guess that’s maybe why Alexa won’t work for now.

That’s it. Press the new middle button and say “Hey Siri, who is Garmin?” and you’ll get the reply from Apple that Samuel Garman was an American Zoologist who died in 1927. Fun fact.

 

Garmin Fenix 7 – What We Know So Far – Latest Update

My First Thought

Wow! They’ve done what? Support for Siri, Google Assistant and the other one that no one has really heard of?

I really was surprised about this.

But then the realisation is that they are merely accessing the service provided by the phone rather than making it native to the watch. Which is nice but…

My Second Thought

So, I can play music from the watch’s speaker? Hmm, I’ll never do that

My Third Thought

I can really send a voice message rather than a text message when I’ve triggered the emergency response system? I’ll never use that either.

Actually, my third thought was really along the lines of the details of these smart features. Apple just does it better. Look at adding a credit card into your smartphone wallet and then later copying it to your watch, Apple couldn’t improve that process whereas Garmin could. Indeed Apple has thought so far ahead that their wallet will also be a repository in the future for digital IDs of many sorts ranging from Covid vaccine certificates to passports, driving licences and concert tickets. Garmin just won’t ever do that.

Then the Apple Watch always listens for you to say ‘Hey Siri’. Whereas, with Garmin, there is that extra middle button press. Apple also has an optional button press to initiate Siri.

It’s those tiny little failings that are many in number and that which add up to quite a lot. Garmin will never win the smartwatch game.

Looking at the sportwatch game it’s the same position but in reverse. Garmin has all those features that you’ll probably never ever use…but someone will. Garmin will never, ever lose the sports watch game but rather will eventually be brought to heel by their failure to win the smartwatch game.

Summary

There’s not much to see here.

A minor, new hardware feature has been introduced and that does justify the ‘Plus’ monicker for the Venu 2.

We note that there are no new features other than those associated with the new hardware. However, Garmin has a good track record of introducing new features steadily and continuously through the product’s life cycle, so I take no issue there. More goodness will come in 2022 for the Venu 2 Plus.

It’s just that I can’t see anything added today that will be useful to a broad number of people.

But it looks like a perfectly nice watch and if the new audio/voice features sound interesting to you then go for it. You’ll have a good sports watch with a longer battery life than your friends’ Apple Watches.

Want one?

Try Amazon for $449 (link here)

More Detail

I won’t produce a review of the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. Check out Desfit’s Youtube review or DCR’s written review, below

Link: dc rainmaker

 

 

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48 thoughts on “Garmin Venu 2 Plus – Some Early Thoughts

  1. Good that they are announcing some things in the CES timeframe I think. The pandemic weary want to see some kind of progress and/or newness. There probably is still some gifted holiday cash that will exchange hands for these.

    Pushing F7 anticipation momentarily, it seems like a “plus” sized upgrade if not a bit more.

  2. Your comment on deep integration bothers me. Replicating functionality from the phone to the watch is backwards thinking and is everything that was wrong with smartphones before the iPhone. This is why Apple watch won’t win in the long term, they didn’t start with a watch, they started with a phone. Sure, they have enormous short term success as any monopoly would, but there is a growing number of people abandoning their watches for better alternatives. Garmin watches are head and shoulders above Apple for the simple reason that they do the things that watches can do well very well. My partner just ditched Apple for a Venu 2 and she was baffled that after a full week of use the battery still didn’t need to be charged. She was amazed that it could give sleep stats, something Apple simply can’t do given their battery life.
    Sure, some phone stuff will copy over, but the watch use-cases must come first and in my opinion Garmin are winning here while Apple either copy and hope their fitness apps will take off, or they produce sad phone imitations which effectively boil down to a little remote control for your phone. Let’s not praise them for that.

    1. what sleep stats?
      the ones your partner has are almost certainly wrong or mostly useless!
      Apple allows a couple of automated hrv readings during the night. they just have to increase that to, say, 8 readings and then voila there is a whole new set of much more meaningful and useful data to have.
      yes it needs to be a wellness device as well

      1. Apple may allow it but nobody can use it because the battery doesn’t last the day so the watch is inevitably charged overnight. She finds the sleep stats very useful, not sure why as I agree with you and gave up a long time ago.
        Let’s not forget that Garmin were also first with on watch music, something genuinely useful on a watch. They were also first with real Spotify on the watch, and they are certainly working successfully towards a meaningful emergency help feature. My point being that Garmin have focused their smaller budget on things that make a great watch smarter. The iPhone didn’t beat other phones because it was the first with apps, it did it because it added useful untethered web browsing for the first time, useful mapping in the pocket, a good camera.

        Apple are doing the exact things that Nokia and Blackberry did on phones, they just don’t realise it yet despite their almost unlimited budget.

        1. Just a quick reply to this comment: The camera on the first iPhone was abysmal when compared to Nokia phones.

          1. Some Nokia phones, but it was essentially random what level camera you’d get accross the range, and most of them had plastic lenses which scratched easily rather than the sapphire Apple added. I agree they certainly didn’t invent or innovate, but what they did do was make it ubiquitous and easy. Browsing your photos on a Nokia was a distinctly unpleasant experience and the design was such that you should have been using a PC to copy the photos to for viewing. iPhone went a long way towards making the phone your camera and viewer of choice. This is similar to how Nokia had a plethora of browsers available, but all were extensions of the PC browsing experience, not something you’d choose to do. iPhone was the first device I’d seen where people would look something up on their phone even when near a PC because it was convenient and easy.
            The Apple watch right now is at a similar point, something happens on the watch and then most user stories end on the phone. We need more use-cases where the whole journey is on the watch from start to finish. I don’t think anyone has this thought through yet, but I certainly think Apple are the Nokia of the watch world and will be displaced easily if someone does something good enough. That said, their progress with headphones and speakers suggests their fans really don’t care all that much

          2. “The Apple watch right now is at a similar point, something happens on the watch and then most user stories end on the phone. We need more use-cases where the whole journey is on the watch from start to finish”
            I don’t know if i agree with ‘most’ stories end on the phone. i could give numerous examples from making/taking calls, to using Find My, to stats from Training Today and simple workout reviews on Apple Workout, and more. obviously, you can give me numerous counter examples which clearly exist especially when a larger screen is required. I agree in one sense in that I wold also like more journeys to end on the watch and i think one way that will happen is with a (much) better siri…the touch interface is too small and the watch keypad is “$%£”$%…voice seems to be the only other way to improve interaction with current gen tech.

            Apple has got massive scope to plausibly improve the watch and its capabilities & integrations over the next 5 years.

            I don’t see Apple ending up like Nokia, they are too diversified and understand subscriptions and services. They have the advantage of the wellness and fitness tech booms.

            (I have friends who still work for Nokia! and some who used to)

    2. Serious athletes simply do not use Apple Watches so I’m not sure why Garmin feels the need to try to compete there. Just run a half marathon then check the Strava data for the event – its 85-90% Garmin users.

      I do not understand the use case for the Venu 2 Plus at all – as you need a phone to be in range, why not just use the phone in the first place?

      Very odd device from Garmin!

      1. first up if you watched the Olympics then serious athletes absolutely do have Apple Watches.
        But I totally get the point you’re making.

        the thing with the phone in range is if you can put the phone in your backpack or back seat of the car or in your handbag etc etc. so there ARE lots of use cases it’s just that they are fairly niche ones. I admit to using my apple watch for that purpose and it’s mostly laziness or maybe the phone is ‘lost’ somewhere in the house but i can take a call on the watch. it’s a good thing but not THAT good

        1. To my my mine, none of the use-cases you suggest are at all compelling – all could be avoided by keeping the phone in your pocket – not a very compelling argument to buy a new watch 😉

      2. Why does Garmin need to compete? “That’s how they earn money.” (sorry for the silly bluntness)

        The market segment for a “style over athleticism” watch from the athleticism/outdoor brand exists so it will be served. They don’t have to win over the Apple watch as long as they earn money per unit sold. Garmin seems to be one of the companies that understands this (not all do).

        Why does the market segment exist? Because watches are fashion. Not in the sense of “a new style every six months” but in the sense of worn identity statements. More like shoes than tops. The Venu is the “urban sneaker but from a brand that tries to retain athletic authenticity”. Not everyone who might like the undeniable engineering of the Apple watch likes to identify with them. And this is of course all paralleled in ecosystem lock-in, there are people who’d rather avoid entering the Applesphere or already are tied to Garmin (e.g. from an Edge they certainly wouldn’t wear to the office) but want something shiny anyways.

        1. “as long as they earn money per unit sold. ” yep…but not quite.
          Garmin’s share price and R&D model is built on large margins, something like 50% IIRC.
          That’s why they keep pushing up the prices on their unique watches like the fenix, just adding a feature here or there that’s hard for someone else to do or to do well.
          no-one is likely going to compete with them there for watches, for Edge devices it’s easier…eg Karoo 2 based on Android.
          HOWEVER it’s once the competition, like Apple, get their act together in sports and start stealing more serious sports sales, then all the mid market business that garmin starts to develop a problem (eg fr245m).
          once growth stops and volumes fall then, inevitably, overall profit drops, production lines have over capacity and the share price starts to head round. some unfortunate product releases or a tech problem or legal problem have a financial hit and the $1bn starts to fall. A fairly long demise that’s not yet really started

          1. Except that they have not put up the prices. The plastic Fenix 2 was £399 in 2014 and as of today the base model Fenix 6 is…£399 (with discount, admittedly). Adjusted for inflation that’s around what the FR945 is today at RRP and that’s the equivalent watch in the range. They certainly added nicer materials, but I have to tell you my Fenix 3 Sapphire with metal band was £800 in 2015 which is £1000 in today’s money and you can pick up the Ti Fenix 6 with metal band for £900 so in real terms they’ve dropped prices, not raised them. The issue is that a lot of people aren’t comparing like for like, and even more people don’t understand that inflation makes numbers bigger over time but cost remains the same.

          2. “Garmin’s share price and R6D model is built on large margins”

            That just means that they need to be careful for lower market offerings to not cannibalize upmarket offerings. Dabbling in “bad Apple Watch clones” is quite unproblematic in that sense.

            Just take look at the Edge range: 530 and 830 are the same device but sold a very different price points. Cost can’t be much of a factor in touch screen vs more buttons (we see sub-200 Vivomove with more touch than a Marq), it’s just that they are trying to get high margin from some customers (in the case of 530/830 those who happen to prefer touchscreen over buttons) without leaving lower-margin buyers to the competition.

            PS: side obeservation while posting this: hey, there’s a new Vivomove! Unfortunately without Garmin pay, which I’d consider the most meaningful feature in the “casual smartwatch” field. On the Vivomove it’s understandable that they skip pay because PIN entry would be awkward without a full surface display, but why is it absent in the Lily? Using that weird little thing for payment would add enormously to its provocative nature!

          3. yep at the true low end and budget end of the market I’m not sure that the margins can be made. Maybe they can be theoretically made on cheap components but the risk factor of lots of competition could hit the revenues and hence margins fall in different ways if prices then have to be lowered.
            as you point out garmin is king of the Edge 530 price point and above.
            in reality that’s probably also true in sports watches above the FR245 although more nuanced by a more complicated bunch of competitors

  3. For me personally, the Venu series is already the best smartwatch money can buy. The reason I didn’t upgrade to Venu 2 was the available sizes. The Venu 2 plus is the same size as the original Venu, so now I am tempted. I don’t use assistants that much, but Garmin’s idea to use whatever I have on my phone seems genius to me. Also, Garmin Pay works great in my country, but Samsung never released their payment system here, and Apple and Google are pretty new as well.

  4. Thank 5k, love the site. I think hi performance athletes often don’t see the perspective of the average “dad athlete”, which I consider myself somewhat in that category, although I probably lean more towards athlete then dad, but not that much.

    The average dad athlete does need a fenix 7. They would love to be able to answer a call from the wife while out mountain biking with their phone tucked in their pack. The average dad athlete doesn’t want to charge a device every day. I think the venu 2 plus really hits that market. I think it is a going to sell like gang busters.

    For me, I am an engineer and love data. So the lack of recovery, running pod connection and power meter connection kills it for me. But I would consider this device to pair along side my edge 1030 plus if it added a few features. I rocking a 935 right now merely because of battery life and power meter connection (its my backup device for biking and my primary other than biking fitness device).

    The average dad wants smart phone connectivity (texts, receives calls, etc), doesn’t want to pay another phone bill for another device(no LTE), wants awesome battery life (no LTE), wants it to look good at work, and wants all the health metrics.

    Anyways, that is my take.
    Bob

      1. Hmm, what “even more athletic features”? I thought the Epix was basically a Fenix with AMOLED?

        Thanks for all your intel!
        Kevin

      2. I should have said doesn’t need a fenix 7, not does. But yea, that epix 2 amoled looks awesome! I acutally like the instinct solar, but its lacks too much in the software side (connect iq etc).

        But yes, Bob is average, maybe below average. But I do love that data!

        1. well if you love the data…get the fenix/epix, get hrv4training/hrv4biofeedback, get a muscle oxygen sensor, get stryd and a bike PM…almost forgot supersapiens.
          data=entertainment, I suspect Mrs average Dad might disagree 😉
          enjoy whatever choice you go for!

          1. I have a Lumen and a Skulpt, plus all of my garmin crap. That is enough…… for now……

            Again, great site. Thanks

          2. Never heard of Skulpt, what’s your experience with it Bob?

            Do you have any reference/discount code? 🙂

          3. it’s quite an old product, maybe 5 years old. i think there were two versions.
            i never used one tho

          4. Rui, my take is that its pretty neat, but if you buy it you will stop using it in 2 months. The data is interesting, and it seems to be accurate (based on how I think I am built vs the numbers it gives me, and that I used to wrestle so I am infinitely familiar with my body fat and what the percentages are). But, I am not sure its data that is all that useful. Maybe if I were really into weightlifting, like, developing certain muscles, etc, the data could be used. But I don’t use it much and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But I don’t have any complaints about the hardware or what it claims to do. I think it is solid, just not useful in the real world.

          5. Thank you Bob, I understand what you’re saying, data just for the sake of data gets old pretty soon even if it’s accurate. Anyway I might have someone interested in this, do you know if there’s a way of getting this shipped inside the EU (to avoid import taxes) or some european distributor?

          6. I bought the skulpt device on Amazon Spain. The data seems to be pretty accurate but as The Real Bob has said I use it no more than 3 or 4 times a year.

  5. Any sign Garmin would add the mic/speaker to the F7? the current feature list is looking a little light for a whole number upgrade IMO.. Cheers!

  6. Actually, seeing that 3rd middle button just ruined any thought of me ever owning a Venu 2 Plus.

    Whenever I used smartwatches with middle button I couldn’t use them for my weight training (the only training I do) because there would be countless accidental presses from the glove edges and from the hand straps.

    Even with button lock it would still get countless screen on events during training to the point of becoming annoying.

    I mean, really…if Garmin does this to the Vivoactive 5 I will have to either buy a Fenix 7 or just give up recording my weight training activities and just do it “old style” without any information to waste my time on afterwards.

  7. Garmin is in a tough spot with LTE functionality. While I like what they did with it for the 945 LTE because I just wanted it for emergencies, it would be nice if they added some sort of reply functionality to it, whether that be via spectator mode or otherwise. This can be done with Android, but not iOS. Maybe if Garmin could get some kind of modified WhatsApp functionality that could be worthwhile. Then people could WhatsApp your normal phone number and you could reply, akin to using the web browser based WhatsApp linked account.

  8. I’ve own AW3, FB Sence, Sam Galaxy Watch and the Venu 2 (large) among other older units.

    And there is really only two areas the Apple Watches are genuinely superior to the competitors. First is the heart sensor offering defib irregularities detection (newer models) FitBit and Samsung do offer it, but not considered as reliable. The second is messaging. The others just aren’t in the same league here.

    Looks are subjective, but if you asked me the Samsung’s are the best with the rotating outer ring.

    Regardless of platform 95% of the apps are useless, so as long as you get the ones you need, who cares about the rest. Example Apple Pay is good on the watch for payments. But tickets, flights, reservations suck and should remain relegated to just the phone only. Same with anything else that expects to share QR codes.

    That said Battery life is a killer feature, this in my mind makes the Venu 2 the winner. I routinely get over 10 days, when used just for tracking and notifications. 2 days if GPS tripping.

    Ultimately there currently is no perfect smart watch out there. Garmin would be close if they could figure out the messaging, and improve the notifications. The V2 Plus adding voice over closes this gap, but not likely enough.

    If Apple wanted to really shake things up they would make a sports special watch with a transflexive display and weeks Battery life. Issue preventing this is the media fan boys would say it was an ugly step backwards and say it was the worse thing Apple ever did because it was not pretty.

    1. Apple is supposedly releasing a ‘rugged’ watch later this year.
      I’m not even sure the current apple watch is THAT pretty but it does grow on you.

  9. Just wanted to say, kudos to you 5k. You provide some of the best content out there, and I genuinely enjoy your take on products.

    As a dadthelete myself, what would you say you reach for most often? I gather it seems to be an Apple Watch on your wrist most of the time, but was curious. Thanks!

    1. ty for your support! even if readers don’t buy stuff from the links here then signing up as supporters or just visiting (ads and awareness) help keep things going. I like positive feedback as much as the next person 😉

      apple: not for sport, defintiely not first choice there

      I would like to use vantage v2 and wahoo rival more. there are just some niche features that i ‘need’ to make my life easier
      normally it would be a garmin 935/945 . tho currently it is f6pro, reason for garmin i suppose is that it has CIQ and doing this blog means i need to test ciq data fields and the like that support specific sensors, so this blog requires me to use garmin effectively.

      if i stopped this blog tomorrow i would probably use Polar V2 if i just ran. but i don’t i do tri. so i would probably use rival.
      i can’t see how most parentthlete level sports people NEED all that garmin offers.

      1. Hi,
        Currently I’m in the market for replacing my old TomTom Runner.
        My main purpose is to collect a useful metrics for runner and if it is comfortable enough I would wear 24/7 for further getting health data as well.
        So I’m very curious why you choose Polar V2 over Garmin watches.
        It seems FR 945 LTE would be the best, especially counting size/weight, but it is expensive.
        I don’t mind using a 3rd party web app like Runalyze or Coros for the running focus analysis.
        Maybe Venu 2 (or +) would suffice if many useful CIQ apps like Peter’s (Race) Pacer works well with it.

        Many thanks

        1. the watches you are looking at there are all a significant step forward from the tomTom Runner.

          to answer your question: From a personal perspective (not this blog) I know what metrics I need and I know what connectivity I need. you are most probably different. My needs and wants are actually fairly meagre and many wacthes can do the job when it comes to meeting them so, for me, the choice might boil down to silly things like aesthetics or weight or how a metal case might damage a wetsuit or things like this.

          of the options you list, the coros venu would be the least of a sports watch (IMO) but still a good choice

          1. Many thanks for your answer & comments.
            I forgot to mention, I’m a NURVV user and only watch available on Apple & Garmin platforms. So I want to stick with Garmin’s watch unless there is a special reason to choose other watches like a Vantage V2. That’s the reason I asked the question for you.

            Again, many thanks.

        2. hi there
          I’m not sure what the exact question is then!

          For a Garmin watch to ‘suffice’ I would get a second hand forerunner 935. that is my fallback watch (not 945)

          Apple watch is fine. probably AW3 is fine. I use AW6/7/SE

          1. Sorry for my poor explanation.
            Here again is my priority list below.

            1: replace the current old TomTom Runner 2 for running
            (training & race day for 10k, half, and my 1st full marathon)
            1b: Use the Connect IQ app for NURVV
            (originally for checking/improving my pronation & foot-strike (heel to midfoot).
            for the purpose I can use a NURVV stand alone, so not the requirement)
            2: 24/7 as health tracking (sleep, recovery etc.)
            3: Map function (breadcrumb navigation would be enough, but full map capability is a bonus for hiking & light trail running)
            #: prefer a small & light watch (my wrist size is ~15 cm)

            And the shortlist from Gamin is FR945(LTE)/745/245. Not sure if I can count a very old models like a 935 and how it is risky to get it on eBay without Garmin’s warranty.

            Many thanks.

  10. If you’re looking to buy a new best smartwatch, there’s a lot to take into account. No matter your choice watch, there are certain specs that are must-haves for the best smartwatches for men: seamless cell compatibility, tech-forward solutions under the hood, design aesthetic, and long-lasting battery life.

    1. Yes, there is a lot to take into account.
      when considering the Venu 2 Plus what is your take on the current generation of optical heart rate vs previous generation?
      What do you mean by “seamless cell compatibility” and “tech-forward” solutions? Can you elaborate in the context of the Venu 2Plus

  11. My son (16) loves his Venu 2 plus, but even he would prefer 5-button design. Now my wife wants to upgrade from 2s to 2 plus because of the screen size and yet reasonable bezel. I will stick to FR series for obvious reasons (trial runnin being the main) but I appreciate what Garmin did with the Venu series.

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