Update: November 27, 2019: The Garmin Venu is on sale for Black Friday 2019 for only $ 299.99 ($ ??100 off). This is a fantastic deal considering the high price of the $ 400 watch at launch. Click on the following link for the deal!
Garmin Venu The best multisport watch you can buy now
The Garmin Venu is our favorite multisport GPS watch available right now. It is an even better purchase now that it is for sale! If you are already a fan of Garmin watches but want something with an OLED display, the Venu is the one for you.
Garmin launched its 2019 line of GPS smart watches at IFA this year for large and small budgets. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is in the middle of the package as the Vivoactive 3 tracking of 2017. Take the new Vivoactive 4, add an OLED screen and some design settings, and have the Garmin Venu.
The Venu is a big problem for Garmin: it is the company's first smartwatch with an OLED display. Undoubtedly, this will attract more people (lase: not just athletes), but is it good enough to take people away from more established product lines like Apple Watch? Find out in our review of Garmin Venu.
Garmin Venu Review Notes: I used the Garmin Venu for eight days, running software version 3.40. The Garmin Venu review unit was paired with my Google Pixel 3 for the duration of this review.
Garmin Venu Review: The Overview
Garmin has been manufacturing smart fitness watches for years, but they have always focused on practicality about design. Now, the company is trying to make a sports watch more accessible with the Garmin Venu, its first OLED smart watch. You can consider it as a device "the best of both worlds": it looks much better than previous Garmin smartwatches, but also spares no physical conditioning functions.
However, the smart watch market is difficult to decipher. The Apple Watch Series 5 is For real well, and so is the Fossil Gen 5. Can Garmin's high-priced sports watch steal some of the competition? Or is it still only for people focused on fitness?
Design and hardware
I can't help thinking that the button design is a bit underused. The controls are quite easy to understand: once you press those two buttons, everything else is controlled through the touch screen. However, it is a bit strange that the upper physical button does not work anything when you are in the mens, in addition to opening the context menu with a long press. When you are not in the watch face, a single touch does nothing. It's not a big deal, it's a bit strange. I still think it should act as a "selection" button.
In other places, the case is small and light with only 46.3 grams. It is easy to use all day and night without getting in the way, which is a great advantage in the world of portable devices. The silicone strap is fine, but there is nothing to highlight. It is a standard rubber strap that is perfect for use when exercising, but it is not the prettiest.
But I know why they are all here: they are wondering about the new screen. The 1.2-inch AMOLED touch screen is in fact the great selling point for the Venu. Garmin traditionally uses transflective MIP panels in its sports watches, which prioritize outdoor visibility and battery life over saturated colors and higher resolutions.
The quality of the AMOLED panel is excellent. Blacks are deep and whites are bright, and the clear 390 x 390 resolution makes the animations on the watch visually appealing. The targets on the screen turn red, but only with extreme viewing angles. There is also an on-board ambient light sensor, so the screen will automatically adjust to the lighting conditions.
I'm not sure that Garmin has made enough use of the AMOLED screen, although it is a remarkable step forward from other Garmin screens.
I wanted Garmin to do a little more to show the AMOLED panel. There are some animated watch cards and workouts on the device that show the new screen, but there aren't many that make me feel that the AMOLED panel is completely necessary. The training screens, notifications and many of the configuration menus are quite boring. Still, the screen is pretty, and I know that many people have been asking for this for a long time.
The screen can get up to 1,000 nits and outside visibility is good, not as good as previous Garmin watches with transflective screens, but it is perfectly acceptable.
I have also encountered some problems with optimization of the touch screen when scrolling through the mens and selecting certain options. Scrolling up and down through the settings is a bit slow, and I found myself accidentally touching the wrong option quite frequently. I'm not sure if it's a software optimization or visualization problem, but it's a small problem anyway.
The change to AMOLED also means that the Venu will not last as long as other Garmin fitness watches. In my experience, it has not really affected the battery life also a lot. The Garmin Venu lasts about five days on a single charge with the screen always on off. That's much better than the day or two you get with the Apple Watch, Wear OS and Galaxy Watch Active 2 watches. With the screen always on, I have been able to make the Venu last a little over two days at a charge. Your mileage will vary depending on how often you are playing music and using GPS, but know that you probably won't have to charge the Venu at the end of each day.
In addition, a note on the screen always on. Garmin allows developers to make their own (as opposed to Fitbit), so your screen always on probably always matches the watch face you are using. They are small things.
Fitness and health tracking
The Garmin Venu and the Vivoactive 4 are mid-range devices, so serious runners or hikers will still want to opt for a dedicated Forerunner or Fenix ??device. Even so, the Venu is a perfectly capable multisport watch and has all the features you expect from a Vivoactive series device.
The Venu can track a variety of workouts, such as running, swimming (thanks to its 5ATM rating), strength training, skiing and much more. New to the smart watch this year are the lively workouts on the device. These are the ones that really take advantage of that new screen. For cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts, see an animated person on the screen of your watch doing the training with you. You can also download more workouts from Garmin Connect. In general, workouts are easy to follow. The Venu vibrates after each activity and shows your next movement and how long it takes to complete it.
In the world of sports watches, this is nothing new: Fitbit has been exercising on the device for some years, but it is still a welcome addition to Garmin watches. Workouts on the device are useful if necessary if you need a little more guidance in the gym.
Garmin Venu's new breathing activities are more useful than you think.
There is a new training mode called breathing work, and these are also not your standard breathing exercises to relieve stress. It is hidden in the training section of the Venu. Once you select the breathing job, you will be asked to choose what type of breathing job you want to focus on: consistency, relaxation and focus (long and short versions) or tranquility.
All these breathing activities are much more detailed than I expected. For example, breathing and relaxation exercise consists of 11 steps, which include warm-ups, recoveries and repeat certain steps up to 25 times. That's why there is also a short version of this training that you only have to repeat every step 19 times. In comparison, the consistency exercise causes you to repeat certain steps 23, 30 and 35 times, while the tranquility exercise makes you repeat steps four, eight and 23 times.
The Garmin Venu now also tracks your respiratory rate (or respiratory rate) throughout the day. The breathing rate is available on the watch in a dedicated widget or as your own card in the Garmin Connect application. From there, you can check your daily, weekly and monthly breathing statistics. To be honest, it's hard to say how accurate these breathing statistics really are, since I really have no other way of measuring them. However, the fact that the data is now available to users, along with the new breathing exercises, is great news for people who need to work on their breathing from time to time.
After completing an exercise, the Garmin Venu will now show an estimate of the amount of sweat he has lost. It is available in the summary of your Garmin Connect training. In fact, the section of calories on the training summary page is now "Nutrition and hydration", complete with some statistics such as the calories consumed during the day, the estimated sweat loss, the liquids consumed and the liquid network. By touching the small Help button, tips and tricks on the monitoring of liquids and hot flashes will be displayed. Sweat loss is calculated based on a variety of factors, including weight, effort during activity, distance traveled, speed, elevation gain, temperature and heart rate.
Finally, the other major change in hardware this year is the incorporation of pulse ox recordings throughout the day. Garmin devices have had pulse sensors since the Vivosmart 4, but they have not been able to track their blood oxygen saturation levels throughout the day so far. You can configure the pulse oxygen sensor to be on all day, only at night, or off all the time. Using pulse ox throughout the day will decrease the duration of your Venu's battery by approximately one day, so keep this in mind before turning it on at all times. I haven't found any erratic pulse oximeter reading since I started using the Venu. Also, when you keep it on at all times, it actually records at all times (not especially like the Vivosmart 4).
All other characteristics inherited from physical state and health have reached the Venu from the Vivoactive line. The battery function of Garmin's body is back and is as useful as ever, the stress monitoring will monitor how stressed you are throughout the day, and the monitoring of the menstrual cycle is here for the users.
The Garmin Venu uses enhanced GPS and heart rate sensors from previous Vivoactive devices. To try them out, I did some outdoor races and compared the results with my chest strap with frequently Wahoo Tickr X and Fitbit Versa 2 card. The results can be found below.
GPS accuracy is good. Not some inconsistencies in which Venu thought he was running towards people's homes or in the middle of the road, but those are small complaints. However, for the most part, GPS was on the right track.
The accuracy of the heart rate sensor compared to the Tickr X was a bit confusing. This was an interval race, so I added a constant race mix at a single pace, short runs and walking. At the ~ 13 minute mark, the Tickr X reported a maximum heart rate at 170 bpm, while the Venu was still sitting at around ~ 164 bpm and continued to rise for another 45 seconds or so. Versa 2 was also struggling to climb at the same pace as Tickr X.
However, Venu was able to report more definite falls in my cardiac rhythm during the two periods of walking, while Versa 2 also had problems here. The only atypical value here is at the mark of ~ 18: 12 minutes, where Venu reported a maximum heart rate of 178bpm. The Tickr X showed no signs of increased heart rate at this point, so I'm not sure where it came from.
The best headphones with heart rate monitor
The headphones with heart rate monitor reduce the need to buy physical activity tracking devices. What is as important as the headphones themselves is the functionality of their accompanying applications. These allow you to analyze the collected heart rate …
In general, Venu's improved heart rate sensor seems to be an improvement over Vivoactive 3, although for some reason it is not on par with the Forerunner 245 Music, even though they have the same sensor modules. However, this execution could have been an atypical case for some reason, so continue my tests to see if I can get different results.
Like other Garmin watches, the Venu is a very useful dream tracker.
Sleep tracking remains one of Garmin's health monitoring metrics with Venu. It supports advanced sleep tracking metrics, so you can divide each night's sleep with deep, light and REM stages, as well as your awake time. The timeline of your dream is very easy to read, and it is even better now that a breathing tab has been added to the Connect dream section.
Smart watch functions
- Music storage of up to 500 songs / ~ 3.5GB
- Garmin pay
- Smart Phone Notifications
- Bluetooth, ANT +, Wi-Fi
If you have used a Vivoactive watch in the past, you will feel at home with the Garmin Venu. In addition to a slight facelift, the operating system has remained largely unchanged. It is a fairly basic operating system. There is still no voice assistant integrated in the Venu, although most other smartwatches, for better or worse, have some kind of virtual assistant.
Garmin is finally changing his ways and is not trying to charge everyone for music support this year. S! The Garmin Venu comes with support for music storage on board, with an approximate value of 3.5GB or ~ 500 songs. You can upload your own local music files or download offline playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer or iHeartRadio.
Read also: The best training headphones you can buy
Garmin Venu also supports smart phone notifications for both Android and iOS, but Android users are the only ones who can respond to messages through canned responses from their watch. Venu also gives you the opportunity to archive and delete emails from your face, but discover that this only works part of the time.
Garmin Coach training plans are also available in Venu if you want additional help to complete a 5K, 10K or half marathon marathon. I recently ran my first half marathon thanks to one of Garmin's training plans, so I can tell you from experience: It works!
I am also glad to see that Garmin's incident detection function returns to Venu. If your watch detects that you may be in trouble (as if it falls), the Venu automatically sends your location in real time and a message to your predefined emergency contact. You can also manually activate the mode, called Garmin Assistance, by navigating to the application or by pressing and holding the upper button for a few seconds.
Finally, the Garmin Venu comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, but there is no LTE variant. I would have liked to see a Venu model compatible with LTE, as it is positioned as a follow-up to Garmin's first (and only) LTE watch, the Vivoactive 3 Music on Verizon.
Garmin Venu specifications
|Display||1.2-inch AMOLED Resolution 390 x 390 Gorilla Glass Glass 3 Optional mode always on|
|Dimensions and weight||Case: 43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm Strap: quick release of 20 mm Fits grimaces with a circumference of 125-190 mm.
Weight: 46.3 g
|Building materials||Case: fiber reinforced polymer Bezel: stainless steel Strap: silicone|
|Battery||Smart watch mode: up to five days GPS mode with music: up to 6 hours|
|Sensors||GPSGLONASSGalileo Cardiac frequency sensor Garmin Elevate Barometric altimeter Compass Gyroscope Accelerometer Thermometer Pulse pulse|
|Connectivity||BluetoothANT + Wifi|
|Storage||Music: up to 500 songs Activities: seven timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data|
|Smart watch functions||Smart phone notifications Text response / reject phone call with text (Android only) Control smart phone music Play and control smart watch music Find my phone / find my watch Incident Detection LiveTrack|
The value and the competition.
Garmin Venu is available on Garmin.com, Amazon and other retailers for $ 399.99 in four color options: slate bezel with black box (our Garmin Venu review unit), rose gold bezel with clear sandbox, silver bezel with blue granite box, and gold bezel with black box.
The Venu costs $ 50 more than the Vivoactive 4, which is essentially the same device minus the OLED screen. Is it worth a $ 50 premium? For me it is not, but I have also got used to Garmin transflective screens. If you have been looking for a Garmin watch with an OLED, this device is obviously your best option. At least it is good that we can choose between this and the Vivoactive 4 line for a similar (somewhat) price; You can easily choose the device that best suits your needs.
Still, $ 400 is a lot to pay for a smart fitness watch, even if it's as good as this. I don't think Garmin has made the best smart watch here, especially compared to the Apple Watch Series 5 ($ 399) or the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch ($ 295). However, the Venu is not really for people who want a smart watch first and a second fitness watch. This is a fitness watch from start to finish, with some nice features of smart watch on the side.
If you're just looking for a sports watch with an OLED display and you're happy to live without a GPS on board, the Fitbit Versa 2 might be a better option. It's half the price at just $ 200, it has Amazon Alexa built in and it's a good fitness tracker. However, Garmin Venu is a more advanced physical conditioning product, so it is almost not a 1: 1 comparison.
If you already have a Vivoactive 3 or 3 Music, I think the only reason you should update is by the OLED screen. There are simply not enough functional changes to guarantee the update, other than that.
Garmin Venu Review: The Verdict
The purpose of this Garmin Venu review is to find out what this device is for. The people who get the most out of the Venu are fantastic Garmin fans who wanted an OLED display on their beloved fitness watches. Garmin certainly delivered in that regard.
The Venu is not the best smartwatch you can buy, but that is not really what it is trying to be. It is a damn clock of good physical condition, and the addition of OLED is a step in the right direction (leaving aside the problems of the touch screen).
If you know exactly what you are buying, be very happy with Garmin Venu. Just don't think of it as a true competitor of Wear OS or Apple Watch.
That's it for our review of Garmin Venu. Have you already bought a Venu for you? Let us know in the comments.