Display: Touchscreen AMOLED
Battery life: 9 days (8 hours GPS)
Durability: 5 ATM
Compatibility: iOS, Android
The Garmin Venu 2 was already a stellar fitness-tracking smartwatch. I consider it one of the best Garmin watches that’s both a capable workout companion and stylish lifestyle device — a balance mastered by the likes of the Apple Watch 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
To better challenge its big-name competitors, the $449 Garmin Venu 2 Plus introduces on-wrist calls and voice assistants. While it maintains Garmin’s reputation for thorough fitness tracking and accurate GPS, the Venu 2 Plus is now a stronger sell for those who want their smartwatch to act as an extension of their smartphone.
Though Garmin still lacks a large third-party app store and continues to steer clear of LTE support, embracing more communication tools is a major step towards mastering the complete smartwatch experience. As you’ll read about more in this Garmin Venu 2 Plus review, this wearable has the hallmarks to keep up with all the best smartwatches around.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Price and availability
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is available now for $449. The standard Venu 2 costs $399, which marks the Venu 2 Plus as a clear step up from last year’s Venu launch. It appears the Venu 2 will remain on sale, though.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Design
All in all, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus looks very much like the Garmin Venu 2, and the original Garmin Venu before that. The lineup stands as Garmin’s middleman of limited lifestyle watches and the brand’s best GPS watches. With its round face, side buttons and sleek hardware details, it reminds me most of the non-classic Galaxy Watch 4.
One key design difference between the Venu 2 and Venu 2 Plus is size options. The Venu 2 comes in 40mm and 44mm cases, while the Venu 2 Plus comes only in 43mm. I like larger smartwatches so I don’t mind 43mm as the sole option, though I could see shoppers wanting a more discreet size.
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus also adds a third control button. Two of the buttons act as assigned apps or shortcuts (I set mine to the workout menu and my music player) while the lower one is a back button. All three buttons open different controls with a long press, like a tool menu or settings. This smartwatch also has a touchscreen, but the buttons are essential for navigation, so I hardly tapped on the screen. At least this meant fewer fingerprint smudges — and less chance of errant taps from sweaty fingers.
Speaking of the display, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus’s color AMOLED screen has multiple brightness levels and an ambient light sensor that can auto-adjust the brightness based on your environment. More importantly, the Venu 2 Plus display also holds up against direct sunlight while outside — a major shortfall of Garmin’s more fashion-forward offerings, but a celebrated feature of Garmin’s more fitness-focused models, like the Garmin fenix 6 or Garmin Instinct. Better yet, the Venu 2 Plus has an always-on display option, but I kept it off for the sake of battery life.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Fitness and health tracking features
The Venu 2 Plus has essentially the same fitness tracking as the Garmin Venu 2, supporting daily step counts, move goals and stairs climbed like all the best fitness trackers. It similarly gets more than 25 built-in workout types and collection of more than 1,400 additional presets available for download. For over 75 total workout types the watch will show proper form through helpful animations. A few of the best Fitbit watches offer a version of this feature, so visual guidance is not a Garmin exclusive, but well-executed feature nonetheless.
Garmin is known for many of the best running watches, and while the Venu 2 Plus might not be the most rugged, it’s suited for most training regimens with pace and routing features. Whether you’re looking into how to run a 5K or how to train for a marathon, you can use the Garmin Coach’s free adaptive training plans. Like the Venu 2, the Venu 2 Plus has as accurate a GPS as it gets, loading up in seconds. The readings aligned with my distance readings on my gym’s treadmill, as well as my bike’s odometer.
One health-tracking feature I particularly like about the Venu 2 Plus is Health Snapshot. Health Snapshot logs a two-minute window of key health stats, showing you multiple important metrics on a single screen. It reminds me of the all-in-one health readings on the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro, and it’s a tool I wish more smartwatches would copy.
Among the metrics collected in Health Snapshot is Body Battery, Garmin’s energy monitoring score that keeps tabs on how sleep, stress and exercise impact your readiness. It’s similar to Fitbit’s new Daily Readiness Score and the Oura Ring Generation 3’s readiness score, though Garmin doesn’t offer nearly as much actionable information based on your scores.
As for sleep tracking, the Venu 2 Plus can track your sleep stages, SpO2 and respiration levels overnight. It’s accurate enough. But I wish the watch had some kind of wind down or recommended bedtime based on Body Battery and sleep scores, like my Apple Watch 7 or Oura Ring.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Smartwatch features and calling
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus promises a more connected smartwatch experience than most other Garmin watches. With Android and iOS phone call support, making and answering calls from my wrist was a breeze. Many call-supporting smartwatches only work with iOS phones or Android phones — not both — though that seems to changing. I recently tested the Amazfit GTR Pro 3, which like the Venu 2 Plus works the same with either smartphone software.
In addition to being able to make a call without digging for a phone, the Venu 2 Plus pairs with smartphone assistants. A long press of the watch’s middle button summoned Siri, letting me send texts or control the best HomeKit devices using my voice. Those with Google Assistant- and Bixby-enabled smartphones should benefit from the same convenience.
The Venu 2 Plus can hold up to 650 songs, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music and more. Garmin Pay, mirrored notifications and tools like timers are also integrated into the user experience. More programs can be installed with the Garmin Connect IQ store, though the third-party app selection remains limited compared to the watchOS and Google Play wearable app stores. Garmin Connect is perhaps better for finding fun (and free) watch faces for the Venu 2 Plus, if that’s your thing.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Battery life
Garmin’s smartwatches are battery life beasts, and the Venu 2 Plus is no exception. The watch is rated for 10 days of normal use, and 8 hours of consecutive GPS use. Compared to my other favorite long-lasting smartwatches, the Venu 2 Plus falls between the Fitbit Sense (7 days) and the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro (12 days).
I opted to charge mine after 8 days, just to ensure it’d last overnight for sleep tracking and be ready for working tracking the next morning.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Verdict
As someone who’s been following the Venu line since the beginning, it’s exciting to see the Garmin Venu 2 Plus emerge with connectivity features once reserved for a limited shelf of smartwatches. It’s also one of the rare smartwatches that’s both good for iOS users and one of the best smartwatches for Android.
If you’re someone who likes taking calls from your wrist, but you also need a smartwatch with a thorough suite of fitness- and health-tracking features, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus lands in a sweet spot of simply sporty and practical for everyday use. That said, at $449 it’s more expensive than the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch — and has far fewer apps than both — so I’ll encourage you to check out our smartwatch buying guide before you invest.