Garmin Venu 2 Review 2023


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Garmin’s wide range of wearables are capable of tracking everything, which is why they’re often considered among the best fitness trackers, the best running watches, and the best Android smartwatch. But sometimes, you don’t need every single bell and whistle; and this is exactly where the Venu 2 slots into the brand’s lineup. 

The Venu 2 is a solid all-around activity tracker with built-in GPS, music-storing capabilities, and comprehensive health, wellness, and fitness features. While it does have some amount of basic smartwatch capability, it’s obvious this is first and foremost a watch intended for active folks.

And while it can be seen as an upgrade over the less-capable Vivofit series, and a more casual alternative to something like the Forerunner 745, the Venu 2 still has its limits compared to the wider fitness tracker space. For instance, app support is thin and its interface isn’t that intuitive. 

But with powerful battery life and a suite of advanced health-tracking options, I still feel as though the Venu 2 is a solid contender as a worthy all-in-one fitness device. 

It’s a huge watch, especially for folks with smaller wrists

A person wearing a Garmin Venu 2 fitness tracker with its screen lit up.

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Let’s start with the bad news: the Venu 2 is the most uncomfortable fitness tracker I’ve ever worn. This is due mainly to its incredibly large watch face, which measures a whopping 1.2 inches in diameter. 

Wearing it normally throughout the day was more annoying than painful, but workouts — especially when they involved things like pushups, planks, or a down-dog — were a constant battle of the watch digging into my wrist. Folks with larger wrists may not find the size of the display too much of an issue, but for me, it was a serious distraction.

There is an easy solution for this, however, and that’s the Venu 2S, a smaller version of the Venu 2 that would be far better for folks with smaller wrists. It comes in a 40mm case size and the screen is slightly smaller at 1.1 inches. It’s not drastic but it would make a difference. 

Thankfully, the band that comes with the Venu 2 is a different story. With tons of sizing slots and a soft silicone material, it’s a far cry in terms of comfort compared to the watch face. Plus, there are over 40 band options you can purchase via Garmin if you want to customize your look.

A shot of a person holding the Garmin Venu 2 fitness tracker to showcase the side buttons and watch strap.

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The display itself is a bit of a mixed bag. It does have an impressive resolution — it’s Garmin’s first AMOLED display, after all — but it’s a little difficult to navigate, especially for first-time users. There are just two side buttons (the Venu 2 Plus offers three), and it takes some practice to understand how to operate each one. I accidentally started a strength-training workout more times than I can count.

If health tracking is your main priority, you’ll like how accessible your stats are. Simply swiping up gives you a full picture of your daily activity, sleep patterns, and heart rate. However, I did still find myself checking the Garmin Connect App for data more than the actual watch itself.

The workout builder is great for DIY athletes and gym newbies

A shot of a Garmin Venu 2’s watch face showing a heart rate reading.

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The Venu 2 excels as a fitness tracker, particularly regarding the workout builder that allows you to create a routine in the Garmin Connect app and then download it to the watch for easy access. There are also tons of pre-existing workouts within the app you can pull from, and the watch even displays animated images of each move for you to follow along.

While I enjoyed the tracking and workout creation features on my lift days, I didn’t find much use for the other exercise options. I thought the HITT activity would be perfect for my HITT workout class but the constant starting and stopping of the timer made it more of a hassle than an aid. Over time, I just used the cardio option, which at least kept my heart rate levels and how many calories I burned in check.

One feature that makes the Venu 2 especially worth wearing is its built-in GPS. I’m not a runner, but did use it while on long walks with my pup. I found it to be highly accurate, which is a major plus for anyone intending to meticulously track their workouts. 

Additionally, the built-in personal running coach (which is free when you buy the watch) also makes it a decent option for aspiring marathoners. Just know that if you plan on regularly using the GPS and the music, it does whittle the battery life down from five days to just six hours.

While I didn’t have access to test the watch’s supposed 5 ATM water rating (an abbreviation of atmosphere, meaning it’s waterproof up to 50-meter depths), it did hold up fine in the shower. That alone makes it a quality contender for anyone looking to track their swimming workouts.

Features advanced health tracking with useful insights for hardcore or casual athletes alike

A person's hand holding the Garmin Venu 2 fitness tracker with its underside facing up, showing off its sensors.

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There’s no shortage of information the Venu 2 provides about your health as it can track your steps, calories burned, hydration, stress, sleep, blood oxygen, menstrual cycle, and respiration, among others. Some of it does require manual entry (like hydration tracking), but most of the analysis and tracking is automatic.

Like most similar wearables, the more you wear it, the more insights you’ll receive. For instance, it offers new, holistic health tracking for stress levels and sleep patterns. 

While these sounded great in theory, I did find it hard to wear the Venu 2 for prolonged periods of time due to the uncomfortable watch face, and the insights weren’t compelling enough for me to stick it out. It was nice to have my cycle monitored but the tracking wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as some of the other apps I use on my phone.

After wearing the Venu 2 for a few days, it compiles all your amassed data and creates what Garmin calls your Body Battery. The Body Battery is a combination of your resting heart rate, stress levels, and other factors that give you an overall measurement of your body’s energy reserves between 1 and 100. 

In other words, the higher your battery, the more energy you have. I found this to be an especially helpful feature when deciding what kind of workout I should do on any given day, and whether I should push myself or take it easy.

It offers basic smartwatch capability plus the ability to store and play music

A Garmin Venu 2 fitness tracker on a person's wrist showing a screen with various smartwatch features.

Shannon Ullman/Insider

One of the best features of the Venu 2 is that it offers music storage capabilities, allowing you to download playlists and songs from either Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music. While you can’t access your entire library via the watch, you can at least put your favorite workout tunes in one place for easy listening. Plus, this means you don’t have to tote your phone along on a run.

As a smartwatch, the Venu 2 is quite basic. It gets app notifications, as well as alerts for calls and texts, but only Android users have the ability to respond to messages (iPhone users still get the notifications but that’s it). If you opt for the Venu 2 Plus, you’d then have access to a built-in microphone that allows you to make calls and receive “voice assistant support” via Bluetooth.

Multi-day battery life is one of the Venu 2’s highlights

Battery life among wearables is an incredibly polarizing feature as some barely make it through a day before needing a recharge while others can last upwards of five, six, or seven days. The Venu 2 falls in the latter category, with a maximum battery life of roughly five days (so long as the GPS and music capability aren’t always on). 

Even when you do use the tracking features and the music playback normally, you can still expect to get several days of battery life out of the watch. Plus, once it does finally die, it never took more than an hour or so to fully recharge.

Should you buy it?

If you’re in the market for a wearable that offers advanced health metrics and accurate fitness tracking, the Venu 2 is highly worth considering. Though its bulky design may not be for everyone, it is available in smaller sizes via Garmin, so folks with smaller wrists shouldn’t be entirely dissuaded.

It doesn’t offer the latest smartwatch capabilities, but it’s a watch that’s made entirely for the active crowd and is even a solid choice for first-time wearers or those just beginning their fitness journey (though the learning curve for navigating the watch is quite steep). Overall, its comprehensive approach to health, wellness, and fitness makes it a valuable asset for anyone looking to stay in shape.

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