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Garmin launched its 2019 lineup of GPS smartwatches at IFA this yr for budgets huge and small. The Garmin Vivoactive Four sits in the course of the pack because the follow-up to 2017’s Vivoactive 3. Take the brand new Vivoactive 4, add an OLED show and some design tweaks, and you’ve got the Garmin Venu.

The Venu is an enormous deal for Garmin — it’s the corporate’s first smartwatch with an OLED display. This may little question make it enchantment to extra folks (learn: not simply athletes), however is it adequate to tug folks away from extra established product strains just like the Apple Watch? Discover out in our Garmin Venu evaluation.

Garmin Venu evaluation notes: I used the Garmin Venu for eight days, operating software program model 3.40. The Garmin Venu evaluation unit was paired with my Google Pixel Three during this evaluation.

Present Extra

Garmin Venu evaluation: The large image

Garmin has been making fitness smartwatches for years, however they’ve at all times put a deal with practicality over design. Now, the corporate is trying to make a extra approachable fitness watch with the Garmin Venu, its very first OLED smartwatch. You possibly can type of consider it as a “better of each worlds” machine: it appears to be like fairly a bit nicer than earlier Garmin smartwatches, nevertheless it doesn’t skimp on fitness options, both.

The smartwatch market is hard to crack, although. The Apple Watch Sequence 5 is actually good, and so is the Fossil Gen 5. Can Garmin’s high-priced fitness watch steal among the competitors? Or is it nonetheless just for fitness-focused folks?

Design and {hardware}

garmin venu review watch face case on table 5

  • 1.2-inch AMOLED show
    • 390 x 390 decision
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Case: 43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4mm
  • 20mm fast launch straps
  • 46.3g
  • Fiber-reinforced polymer case
  • Stainless-steel bezel
  • 5ATM water and mud resistance

Garmin’s mid-range GPS watches have at all times had a sure look to them, someplace between stylish and sporty. I believe the Garmin Venu appears to be like like a step up whereas not going too far in both course. It doesn’t look as low-cost because the Vivoactive Three Music, nor does it look as good as one thing from the Fenix line.

The watch is made primarily of plastic and silicone, with Corning Gorilla Glass Three protecting the show. The bezel across the show is manufactured from stainless-steel and has a pleasant etched sample. Garmin goes with a two-button design with its fitness watches this yr. The highest bodily button brings you to the exercise display with a single faucet and pulls up the shortcut menu with a long-press. The underside button acts as a again button when pressed and brings up your settings menu with a long-press.

garmin venu review case side buttons 2

I can’t assist however suppose the button format is somewhat underutilized. The controls are straightforward sufficient to know — when you get these two buttons down, every part else is managed by way of the touchscreen. Nevertheless, it’s somewhat odd that the highest bodily button doesn’t do something whenever you’re in menus, other than pulling up the shortcut menu with a long-press. While you’re not on the watch’s clock face, a single-tap doesn’t do something. It’s not an enormous deal, it’s just a bit odd. I hold pondering it ought to act as a “choose” button.

Elsewhere, the case is small and light-weight at simply 46.Three grams. It’s straightforward to put on all day and evening with out it getting in the best way, which is a significant plus within the wearable world. The silicone strap is ok, however nothing to put in writing residence about. It’s an ordinary rubber strap that’s good for carrying when exercising, nevertheless it’s not the prettiest factor.

garmin venu review watch face case on table 9

However I do know why you’re all right here: you’re questioning in regards to the new show. The 1.2-inch touchscreen AMOLED is certainly the large promoting level for the Venu. Garmin historically makes use of transflective MIP panels in its fitness watches, which prioritize out of doors visibility and battery life over saturated colours and better resolutions.

The standard of the AMOLED panel is nice. Blacks are deep and whites are vibrant, and the crisp 390 x 390 decision makes animations on the watch actually visually interesting. Whites on the show do flip crimson, however solely with excessive viewing angles. There’s an ambient gentle sensor onboard too, so the show will mechanically modify to the lighting circumstances. 

I am undecided Garmin made sufficient use of the AMOLED show, although it’s a notable step up from different Garmin shows.

I want Garmin did somewhat extra to indicate off the AMOLED panel. There are a number of animated watch faces and on-device exercises that showcase the brand new show, however not so much that makes me really feel just like the AMOLED panel is totally crucial. The exercise screens, notifications, and most of the settings menus are all fairly boring. Nonetheless, the show is fairly, and I do know lots of people have been asking for this for a very long time.

garmin venu review watch face on wrist

The show can rise up to 1,00zero nits, and out of doors visibility is sweet — not so good as earlier Garmin watches with transflective screens, nevertheless it’s completely acceptable.

I’ve additionally run into a number of touchscreen optimization points when scrolling by menus and choosing sure choices. Scrolling up and down by the settings is somewhat laggy, and I discovered myself unintentionally tapping on the improper choice very often. I’m undecided if this can be a software program optimization challenge or a show challenge, nevertheless it’s a small challenge nonetheless.

garmin venu review always on display

Garmin Venu always-on show

The swap to AMOLED additionally means the Venu received’t final so long as different Garmin fitness watches. In my expertise, it actually hasn’t affected battery life too a lot. The Garmin Venu lasts round 5 days on a single cost with the always-on show turned off. That’s approach higher than the day or two that you just get with the Apple Watch, Put on OS watches, and Galaxy Watch Lively 2. With the always-on show turned on, I’ve been in a position to make the Venu final somewhat greater than two days on a cost. Your mileage will differ relying on how usually you’re enjoying music and utilizing the GPS, however simply know you seemingly received’t must cost the Venu on the finish of on daily basis.

Additionally, a observe on the always-on show. Garmin lets builders make their very own (in contrast to Fitbit), so your always-on show will most likely at all times match the watch face you’re utilizing. It’s the little issues.

Health and well being monitoring

garmin venu review my day widget

The Garmin Venu and Vivoactive Four are mid-range gadgets, so severe runners or hikers will nonetheless seemingly need to go for a devoted Forerunner or Fenix machine. Nonetheless, the Venu is a wonderfully succesful multisport watch and has all of the options you’d come to count on from a tool within the Vivoactive sequence.

The Venu can observe a wide range of exercises, together with operating, swimming (due to its 5ATM ranking), energy coaching, snowboarding, and lots extra. New to the smartwatch this yr are on-device, animated exercises. These are what actually benefit from that new show. For cardio, energy, yoga, and Pilates exercises, you’ll see an animated individual in your watch display doing the exercise together with you. It’s also possible to obtain extra exercises from Garmin Join. Total, exercises are straightforward to comply with. The Venu vibrates after each exercise and shows your subsequent transfer and the way lengthy it is going to take to finish. 

Within the fitness watch world, this isn’t something new — Fitbit has been doing on-device exercises for a number of years — nevertheless it’s nonetheless a welcome addition to Garmin’s watches. On-device exercises are helpful in a pinch should you want somewhat extra steering on the fitness center.

The Garmin Venu’s new breathwork actions are extra helpful than you’d suppose.

There’s a brand new exercise mode referred to as breathwork, and these aren’t your normal stress-relief respiration workout routines, both. It’s tucked away within the exercise part of the Venu. As soon as you choose breathwork, you’ll be requested to decide on which sort of breathwork you’d wish to deal with: coherence, loosen up and focus (lengthy and quick variations), or tranquility.

All of those respiration actions are much more detailed than I anticipated. As an illustration, the loosen up and focus breathwork train consists of 11 steps, together with heat ups, recoveries, and repeating sure steps as much as 25 instances. That’s why there’s additionally a brief model of this exercise that solely has you repeat every step 19 instances. By comparability, the coherence train has you repeat sure steps 23, 30, and 35 instances, whereas the tranquility train has you repeat steps 4, eight, and 23 instances.

garmin venu review respiration on garmin connect pixel 3

The Garmin Venu may also now hold observe of your respiration fee (or respiration fee) all through the day. Respiration fee is out there on the watch in a devoted widget or as its personal card within the Garmin Join app. From there, you’ll be able to take a look at your each day, weekly, and month-to-month respiration stats. To be frank, it’s onerous to inform simply how correct these respiration stats truly are, as I’ve actually no different approach of measuring them. Nevertheless, the truth that the information is now obtainable to customers, coupled with the brand new breathwork workout routines, is nice information for individuals who discover themselves needing to work on their respiration sometimes.

garmin venu review nutrition and hydration tracking fluids

After you full an train, the Garmin Venu will now show an estimation for the quantity of sweat you’ve misplaced. That is obtainable in your exercise abstract in Garmin Join. In reality, the Energy part within the exercise abstract web page is now “Diet & Hydration,” full with a number of extra stats like energy consumed for the day, estimated sweat loss, fluids consumed, and fluid web. Tapping on the little Assist button will show ideas and methods on fluid and calorie monitoring. Sweat loss is estimated based mostly on a wide range of elements, together with your weight, your effort through the exercise, distance traveled, pace, elevation acquire, temperature, and coronary heart fee.

garmin venu review pulse oximeter sensor spo2

Lastly, the opposite main change to this yr’s {hardware} is the addition of all-day pulse ox recordings. Garmin gadgets have had pulse ox sensors ever because the Vivosmart 4, however they haven’t been in a position to observe your blood-oxygen saturation ranges all day till now. You possibly can set the heartbeat ox sensor to be on all day, solely at evening, or off always. All-day pulse ox use will lower your Venu’s battery life by a day or so, so hold that in thoughts earlier than turning it on always. I haven’t come throughout any erratic pulse oximeter readings since I began utilizing the Venu. Additionally, whenever you hold it turned on always, it truly data always (not sporadically just like the Vivosmart 4).

garmin venu review heart rate sensor 2

The entire different legacy fitness and well being options have made their option to the Venu from the Vivoactive line. Garmin’s Physique Battery function is again once more and is simply as helpful as ever, stress monitoring will regulate how careworn you might be all through the day, and menstrual cycle monitoring is right here for feminine customers.

The Garmin Venu makes use of upgraded GPS and coronary heart fee sensors from earlier Vivoactive gadgets. To check them, I went on a number of out of doors runs and in contrast the outcomes to my Wahoo Tickr X coronary heart fee chest strap and Fitbit Versa 2. The outcomes might be discovered beneath.

garmin venu review gps accuracy

GPS accuracy is sweet. I did discover a number of inconsistencies the place the Venu thought I used to be operating into folks’s homes or in the course of the highway, however these are small gripes. For probably the most half although, the GPS was proper on observe.

 

Coronary heart fee sensor accuracy in comparison with the Tickr X was somewhat combined. This was an interval run, so I threw in a combination of regular operating at a single tempo, quick sprints, and strolling. On the ~13-minute mark, the Tickr X reported a max coronary heart fee at 170bpm, whereas the Venu was nonetheless sitting at round ~164bpm and continued to climb for one more 45 seconds or so. The Versa 2 was additionally struggling to climb on the identical fee because the Tickr X.

Nevertheless, the Venu was in a position to report extra outlined dips in my coronary heart fee through the two intervals of strolling, whereas the Versa 2 struggled right here as properly. The one huge outlier right here is on the ~18:12-minute mark the place the Venu reported a max coronary heart fee of 178bpm. The Tickr X didn’t present any indicators of a rising coronary heart fee at this level, so I’m undecided the place that got here from.

Total, the Venu’s upgraded coronary heart fee sensor appears to be an enchancment over the Vivoactive 3, although for some motive not fairly on par with the Forerunner 245 Music, regardless that they’ve the identical sensor modules. This run might have been an outlier for some motive although, so I’ll proceed my testing to see if I can provide you with any totally different outcomes.

Like different Garmin watches, the Venu is a really helpful sleep tracker.

Sleep monitoring continues to be one in every of Garmin’s sturdy well being monitoring metrics with the Venu. It helps superior sleep monitoring metrics, so you’ll be able to break down every evening’s sleep with deep, gentle, and REM phases, in addition to your time awake. The timeline of your sleep may be very straightforward to learn, and it’s even higher now {that a} respiration tab has been added to the sleep part of Join.

Smartwatch options

garmin venu review spotify app music

  • Music storage as much as 500 songs / ~3.5GB
  • Garmin Pay
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi

When you’ve used a Vivoactive watch prior to now, you’ll really feel proper at residence with the Garmin Venu. Other than a light-weight facelift, the working system has remained unchanged for probably the most half. It’s a fairly fundamental OS. There’s nonetheless no voice assistant baked into the Venu, regardless that most different smartwatches — for higher or worse — have some type of digital assistant.

Garmin is lastly altering its methods and never making an attempt to upcharge everybody for music assist this yr. Sure! The Garmin Venu comes with assist for onboard music storage — about 3.5GB or ~500 songs’ price. You possibly can load up your personal native music recordsdata or obtain offline playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, or iHeartRadio.

Additionally learn: The perfect exercise earbuds you should buy

The Garmin Venu additionally helps smartphone notifications for each Android and iOS, however Android customers are the one ones who can reply to messages by way of canned responses from their watch. The Venu additionally offers you the chance to archive and delete emails out of your wrist, however I’ve discovered this solely works a part of the time.

garmin venu review weather

Garmin Coach coaching plans are additionally obtainable on the Venu should you’d like some further assist finishing a 5K, 10Ok, or half marathon. I just lately ran my first half marathon due to one in every of Garmin’s coaching plans, so I can let you know from expertise: It really works!

I’m additionally comfortable to see Garmin’s incident detection function make its return to the Venu. In case your watch senses you could be in hassle (like should you fall), the Venu will mechanically ship your real-time location and a message to your predefined emergency contact. It’s also possible to manually set off the mode — referred to as Garmin Help — by navigating to the app or by holding down the highest button for a number of seconds.

Lastly, the Garmin Venu comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi assist, however there’s no LTE variant. I’d’ve appreciated to see an LTE-compatible mannequin of the Venu because it’s positioned as a follow-up to Garmin’s first (and solely) LTE watch, the Vivoactive Three Music on Verizon.

Garmin Venu specs

  Garmin Venu
Show 1.2-inch AMOLED
390 x 390 decision
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Non-compulsory always-on mode
Dimensions and weight Case: 43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4mm
Strap: 20mm Fast Launch
Matches wrists with a circumference of 125-190mm

Weight: 46.3g

Construct supplies Case: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Bezel: Stainless-steel
Strap: Silicone
Battery Smartwatch mode: As much as 5 days
GPS mode with music: As much as 6 hours
IP ranking 5ATM
Sensors GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Garmin Elevate coronary heart fee sensor
Barometric altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Pulse ox
Connectivity Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Storage Music: As much as 500 songs
Actions: Seven timed actions, 14 days of exercise monitoring information
Compatibility Android, iOS
Garmin Pay Sure
Smartwatch options Smartphone notifications
Textual content response/reject cellphone name with textual content (Android solely)
Controls smartphone music
Performs and controls smartwatch music
Discover my cellphone/discover my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack

Worth and the competitors

The Garmin Venu is out there on Garmin.com, Amazon, and different retailers for $399.99 in 4 coloration choices: Slate bezel with Black case (our Garmin Venu evaluation unit), Rose Gold bezel with Mild Sand case, Silver bezel with Granite Blue case, and Gold bezel with Black case.

The Venu prices $50 greater than the Vivoactive 4, which is actually the identical machine minus the OLED show. Is that price a $50 premium? To me it’s not, however I’ve additionally grown accustomed to Garmin’s transflective shows. When you’ve been wanting a Garmin watch with an OLED, this machine is clearly proper up your alley. Not less than it’s good that now we have a selection between this and the Vivoactive Four line for a (considerably) related worth; You possibly can simply select the machine that most accurately fits your wants.

Nonetheless, $400 is so much to pay for a fitness smartwatch, even when it’s pretty much as good as this. I don’t suppose Garmin made one of the best smartwatch right here, particularly in comparison with the Apple Watch Sequence 5 ($399) or the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch ($295). Nevertheless, the Venu isn’t actually for the individuals who desire a smartwatch first and a fitness watch second. It is a fitness watch by and thru, with some good smartwatch options on the aspect.

When you’re simply on the lookout for a fitness watch with an OLED show and are comfortable to dwell with out an onboard GPS, the Fitbit Versa 2 is likely to be a greater wager. It’s half the value at simply $200, has Amazon Alexa in-built, and it’s an all-around good fitness tracker. The Garmin Venu is a extra superior fitness product although, so it’s not practically a 1:1 comparability.

When you already personal a Vivoactive Three or Three Music, I believe the one motive it’s best to improve is for the OLED show. There simply aren’t sufficient practical adjustments to warrant the improve other than that.

Garmin Venu evaluation: The decision

garmin venu review watch face case on table 8

The entire level of this Garmin Venu evaluation is to determine who this machine is for. The individuals who will get probably the most out of the Venu are present Garmin followers who’ve been wanting an OLED show on their beloved fitness watches. Garmin actually delivered in that sense.

The Venu isn’t one of the best smartwatch you should buy, however that’s not likely what it’s making an attempt to be. It’s a damned good fitness watch, and the addition of the OLED is a step in the proper course (touchscreen points apart).

If you recognize precisely what you’re shopping for, you’ll be very pleased with the Garmin Venu. Simply don’t consider it as a real competitor to Put on OS or the Apple Watch.

That’s it for our Garmin Venu evaluation. Have you ever already bought a Venu for your self? Tell us within the feedback.