Garmin Venu 2 Plus Review - Great for fitness enthusiasts, not for casual buyers
GarminVenu 2 Plus comes at a price of ₹46,990.
- It features GPS, heart rate sensor, sleep tracker, and blood oxygen monitor.
- The smartwatch claims to offer a seven days battery life.
Garmin has established itself as a prominent player when it comes to smart wearables and fitness. Known for their accurate fitness tracking features and a premium price tag, the products are high-end in every sense of the word. Garmin is to fitness what Dyson is to home appliances, we know the products are great, but the prices keep the majority of the buyers away and look at alternatives. However, it’s been a go to brand for athletes and professionals globally, and with the competition in marketing increasing by the second, Garmin has taken the road less traveled. Introducing products at a comparatively lesser price bracket. Yes, comparatively because they are still expensive, but not too far to achieve.
Garmin Venu 2 plus attempts to tap into customers who want to try out the Garmin experience. Customers like me who hit the gym every day and keep a tap on their routine. I, in particular, have been religiously using their Apple watch for the same till now. Hence, my review will compare my Apple watch SE 44mm with the Venu 2. So let’s jump into my comprehensive review after three weeks of usage.
Price and Availability
The Garmin Venu 2 plus is available only in one size - 43mm. Priced at ₹46,990, you can buy it from Garmin’s official website or Amazon India.
Design & Display
Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the first wearable from the brand I have used. Looking at it for the first time was an underwhelming experience, strictly in aesthetics. The watch features a round dial, with no possible distinction from similar devices available in the market. Buyers spending the top dollar for a Garmin, do expect something more to differentiate. Moving past that, Venu 2 Plus redeems itself with the build quality and fit. Available only in a 43mm dial size, the smartwatch is the perfect size and should fit well for both men and women. The variant with me is in the graphite black color, which goes well with both casual and formal outfits. Female buyers can look into the cream gold color.
The fit and finish of the watch is top-notch. With a decent dial size of 43mm, Garmin has managed to deliver this package in a slim profile. The result is a lighter device sitting on your wrist, which can stay around the clock. The stock nylon straps on offer are also of good quality with Garmin branding on them. I have sensitive skin, and usually, by the end of the day, my wrist starts itching because of the quality of the strap, however, that was not the case here.
The lightweight of the watch and the familiarity of a round dial helped me get past my obsession with my Apple watch. The build quality of the Venu 2 Plus’s frame is made of toughened plastic which encompasses a steel back and a Gorilla Glass 3-protected display. There is also a PVD coating around the bezel for better protection. For most proper users, these are some solid specifications; however, looking at Garmin's track record, they have held themselves back.
For example - The new Garmin Fenix 7 features Corning Gorilla Glass DX; the brand skipping it on this one seems like a move to cut costs.
Moving on, it is also waterproof upto 5 ATM, and the brand claims you can also wear it during swimming. While I did not take it for swimming, the watch tread past rainy days outdoors and intense gym sessions without a hiccup.
A heads up here, though, like any other smartwatch, the back of the Venu 2 Plus begins to take scratches with prolonged use. Primarily because of sweat, water, and fine dust. The scratches are in-line with what I observe with my Apple watch; unfortunately, the color of the back makes them more prominent here.
Other design characteristics include three hard press buttons on the watch's right side—each with dedicated use. In my case, a single tap on the top button is a shortcut to your favorite activities like cycling or the treadmill. A long press on the same button opens a shortcut menu to various features like settings, powers, and watch audio profile.
The middle button can start or stop an activity, and a long press gives you access to the voice assistant.
The bottom button is set to be an exit switch by default. It lets you get out of a menu.
These shortcuts can be tricky to learn, especially if you are spoiled by the convenience of the crown with an Apple watch. It took me two days to learn these; however, muscle memory does its job once accustomed to them.
I was initially not sold with the idea of too many buttons on a smartwatch, but we need to understand its purpose. For example, while exercising, it is more convenient just to press a button to pause or look at the metrics. And the tactile feel also adds a more dramatic effect to the experience. Although this is still a subjective issue, I, for one, have become more welcoming to them for the utility, like in this case.
Before closing this section, it's also important to touch upon the display. The Venu 2 Plus features a 1.3-inch AMOLED screen with very thin bezels. The display quality is top tier, and it is well-lit, with me facing no issues looking at it under direct sunlight. It is crucial, given a watch is our go-to device for looking at notifications and, of course, time at any given location. In addition, the color reproduction is accurate, and icon notifications can be distinguished easily.
AdvertisementIt also has an always-on functionality, a must-have on any smartwatch to save battery for instances when you just want to glance at the time.
The touch response of the display is also satisfactory. The watch has not missed any gesture in my two weeks of usage. Unfortunately, like most displays, be it on a smartwatch or otherwise, it does not work if you wear gloves. Something I wish smartwatch brands work on especially. A smartwatch truly is a mobile device, which should be accessible in every situation, like riding a bike with my gloves on. Yes, you must stop to look at notifications, but removing your gloves altogether defeats the purpose.
While many activities on the watch can be accessed with the hard press buttons, the display works in sync. This delivers a hybrid experience, which I liked.
But a good display is only as good as the user interface it projects, so let's move on to that.
OS and user interface
For starters, the pairing process of the watch with your smartphone is straightforward. First, you must download the Garmin Connect App and pair the watch with your dedicated device using Bluetooth. For Apple Watch users, downloading the app is one extra step, but it's definitely not a deal breaker.
This process remains the same on Android devices as well.
Moving past that, you must create a Garmin account and feed in your data like name, age, height, body weight, and goals. So yes, the fitness side of things starts to show up early.
Overall, setting up the smartwatch from scratch should not take more than 10 minutes.
Once the watch is set up, you can make custom changes to your wrist or use the app for extensive modifications.
AdvertisementNow, coming to the actual user experience. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus uses Garmins own OS, which has some solid features and some not-so-favorable add-ons.
I am starting with what I liked. The OS is unique and breaks away from the mundane or minimal execution we usually see on top-tier smartwatches. Case in point-both apple watch and Google Wear OS devices.
The UI is colorful and pops out without looking tacky. The balance of colors and animation is surprisingly well put and grows on you over time. The UI tends to blend minimal execution with pretty packaging successfully. Vanity on the UI is quite generic; you can customize the theme of the watch with different wallpapers, icon shapes, and shortcuts. While being a little over the top, the animations add a sense of accomplishment. My favorite is the one that pops up when you achieve your step count for the day. It shows infinite amounts of boots walking on the display, with the haptic feedback kicking in.
You can also set up a customized exercise routine from the watch, which is very convenient. Sliding past your data is also easy, and the UI aids your efforts by showing the the precise information you are looking for.
Garmin also provides a voice assistant on the watch, the execution of which is a bit choppy. Having been accustomed to just saying hey Siri with my Apple Watch, the step of pressing the button to activate voice assistant demanded effort.
AdvertisementAnd when I did use the voice assistant, the experience was not very satisfying. To begin with, the voice assistant, in most cases, tends not to answer your voice prompt unless I unlock my phone. This is a major dud. I am not saying just in terms of quick web searches that I can do with every other top-tier smartwatch but also important activities like dialing up a number with voice prompts.
While driving, I wanted to dial up a number from my wrist, which I do a lot with my Apple watch. But I couldn’t do it here without unlocking my device. Fortunately, we can pick up calls from the watch and have a conversation. So, that's a 50-50.
The audio output from the watch, though, is a bit low, and I found myself switching over to my earphones more often than not.
Another crucial convenience I missed with the Garmin OS was the text reply feature. I have an Apple watch SE; while it misses out on a keyboard to reply to texts, the audio dictation is mostly precise. Wear OS also provides a keyboard and audio dictation.
We have none on Venu 2 Plus, so you can only look at the notifications and not reply. I understand not everyone uses their watch to respond, but it comes in handy more often than not. I hope Garmin works on it, given the hardware is already available on the watch.
AdvertisementAnother aspect I am not a big fan of is the notifications management on the watch. When you receive a notification and do not clear it right then, they tend to be held back in the bar. That means that even if you have read them and even replied to them from your phone, they will stick there.
Not only this, unlike a Wear OS device or Apple Watch, you can’t clear them all with just one tap. Instead, you have to select and clear them out individually. It gets tiring after a point, and I had to turn off most notifications, except for messages and email, to avoid this situation.
Another feature I didn’t use that users might find helpful is tap to pay with Garmin Pay.
A covid specific OS feature that iPhone users might miss is that the Apple Watch can unlock your iPhones. It is crucial, given we all wear masks now.
Overall, the Garmin OS as a package holds up pretty well and can solve the issue I mentioned with an over-the-air update.
This is where the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is in its element. Although a budget offering, the Venu 2 Plus delivers standard Garmin performance, for which the brand is known for.
Like a standard Garmin smartwatch, you get a preset of activities loaded on the watch. It includes bike rides, bouldering, hiking, pilates, elliptical, and HIIT training.
Once you set up the watch with your goals, you don’t necessarily have to check in on an activity every time you use it. So, for example, if treadmills/walks are in your schedule, it will automatically feed the data when you do it—not need you to click on an icon to begin the data entry.
Similarly, the HIIT training is truly well-detailed, even showing which part of your body will most likely be sore after the routine.
I have been training with the watch strapped on for more than two weeks now, and the details are fairly accurate so far. The step counter and the distance covered work perfectly fine. Calorie tracking usually shows the same data I got on my Apple watch, based on which I follow my diet chart. So that’s also good news.
Touching upon the tracking and movement, the Venu 2 Plus never seems to miss the count. I have done full-body workouts, single-body parts, freestyle weight lifting, and the rep in the mentioned situations, and the count was accurate.
The smartwatch also features GPS tracking, which is helpful for cycling if you navigate using the smartwatch. The data here is also precise, reflecting accurate distance and time.
The watch also features a SpO2 or blood oxygen sensor in layman's terms. While they are usually not very accurate, the results were closer to my oximeter.
You also get a sleep tracker on the watch, which is mostly correct but tends to confuse idle sitting around sleeping time as sleeping hours. However, it is generally accurate when the data is recorded in favorable conditions. Linked with the sleep tracker is the body battery indicator, signifying the body's capacity to move at any given time.
AdvertisementHardware choices on Venu 2 Plus also check the boxes. Like the internal storage of 7GB, that can be used to store music on the watch. I am not a big fan of this since I use Spotify, but I understand it's a go-to spec for folks doing hardcore training or camping without network coverage.
The battery life is the strongest USP for the Venu 2 Plus. In my day-to-day usage, with 24x7 heart rate tracking and always on display, I was getting mileage of five days on the smartwatch. The number can be increased to seven days if you turn on the battery saver. It is a significant number, mainly because the device was at its peak performance throughout the week.
As for the charging time took me about 1.5 hours to charge from 0 to 100%, with the proprietary charging dock we get with the smartwatch.
I might be nitpicking here, but unlike the Apple Watch, which has a plethora of 3rd party charging solutions available like charging pads, Garmin Venu 2 Plus has none. While most people should not have a problem with this, the convenience of charging pads is something I would like to see on more devices.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus has a clear consumer circle for which it fits well. If you are into fitness and have concrete goals that are in tandem with your lifestyle, there is no better device available at the price point. This part of my verdict implies to both Apple and Android users.
AdvertisementBut, if you are casually looking for a smartwatch and consider it a luxury expense, there are pocket-friendly alternatives in respective ecosystems. Especially for iPhone users, the convenience of the Apple ecosystem is a trump card over every smartwatch in the market today.
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