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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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