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Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: The first real Garmin smartwatch
Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: The first real Garmin smartwatch
Jul 13, 2024 7:09 PM

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus makes a good fitness watch even better, thanks to its on-device calling and voice assistant features. Its not perfect, and it certainly isnt cheap, but the Venu 2 Plus is one of the most well-rounded wearables weve ever used.The Garmin Venu 2 was nearly crowned our favorite wearable of 2021. Its accurate fitness- and health-tracking features and the company’s revamped software made for an overall compelling package. However, Garmin watches tend to fall far behind the competition regarding “smart” features. You can install third-party apps and watch faces, but older models lack support for voice assistants, phone calls, or other smartwatch staples. That all changed with the Garmin Venu 2 Plus.

The 2022 Garmin flagship takes what we loved about the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to make and receive phone calls from the wrist and even access your phone’s voice assistant. Garmin didn’t iron out all the issues we found with the original, but it made one hell of a wearable regardless. Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review to find out more.

A newer version of this device is now available. Although its not really a Garmin Venu 2 Plus successor and lacks plenty of its features, the Venu 3 is now Garmins latest smartwatch. Available in two distinct sizes and packing new sleep tracking metrics, the Venu 3 comes in at the same launch price as the Venu 2 Plus. Read more about the Garmin Venu 3 here. Update, March 2024: We’ve updated this Garmin Venu 2 Plus review with new competition details.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 PlusExcellent display • Fast charging battery • Phone callsMSRP: $449.99Phone calls and a voice assistant on your wrist.The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes all of the fitness- and health-tracking features of the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to receive phone calls and access your phones voice assistant.See price at AmazonSave $0.99See price at Garmin

What you need to know about the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority Garmin Venu 2 Plus: $449.99 / £399.99 / €449.99 Garmin didn’t change much about the original Venu 2 when it made the Venu 2 Plus. The two watches are quite similar, and you likely wouldn’t notice the differences unless they were pointed out to you. So, we’re going to point them out to you.

While connected to a nearby Android or iOS phone, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus can make and receive phone calls directly on the watch, thanks to the new speaker and microphone. It can also access your connected phone’s voice assistant, be it Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, or Apple’s Siri.

It comes in a slightly different case size, and the battery life is a little different — more on those later. Aside from that, you’re looking at the same Venu 2 that launched in 2021.

That’s not a bad thing. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus carries over the Venu 2’s activity-tracking metrics, Body Battery, sleep score, hiking and climbing workout modes, and Health Snapshot. Other legacy smartwatch features include Garmin Pay support and music storage for roughly 650 songs.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is available in the United States from Garmin.com. It’s available in three colorways — Silver, Slate, and Cream Gold — and was launched at $449.99, although you might find it for much less in 2024.

What we like about the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Let’s start with the two biggest changes to the Venu 2 Plus: phone calls on the wrist and voice assistant support.

When connected to a nearby smartphone, you can now make and receive phone calls directly on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. The newer watch has a microphone and a speaker, whereas the original Venu 2 does not. The speaker gets just loud enough to hear voice calls on your wrist. I’ve kept the volume up all the way throughout the testing period because anything lower than the maximum is a bit too quiet for my hearing.

I called my wife various times over the Venu 2 Plus, and she said it sounded just as clear as a normal phone call on her end. Kudos on the good mic quality.

You can answer phone calls from your wrist, and also place them. Long-press the bottom physical button, and you’ll see a new option called Phone Calling. From there, you can access a dial pad or call one of your emergency contacts. I would have liked to see Garmin somehow add access to your phone’s full contact list.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityThe Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the first Garmin watch to offer voice assistant support. Since Garmin doesn’t have its own voice assistant, the feature is implemented differently than what you’d find on an Apple Watch or Wear OS device. Instead of the assistant being baked into the smartwatch itself, the watch instead activates your phone’s default assistant. There are pros and cons to the way this is implemented. The main positive is that the Venu 2 Plus is assistant agnostic, so it’s able to tap into Google Assistant, Siri, or Bixby as long as your phone is nearby.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus can access Google Assistant at a time when even Wear OS 3 watches cant. A quick point of clarification: When I say your phone needs to be “nearby,” I just mean it needs to be connected via Bluetooth. When you access your phone’s voice assistant, you speak into the watch’s mic, not your phone’s. So, you can still use your assistant on your wrist even if your phone is in another room.

Google Assistant works well with the Venu 2 Plus. I couldn’t test Siri or Bixby during the testing period, though I would assume those would work about the same. I’ve used Assistant on the Venu 2 Plus to turn on and off my smart lights, provide weather info, navigate via Google Maps, set reminders, and more throughout the last few weeks. It’s fine for basic commands.

See a demo of the voice assistant in action in the video below:

I’ve found two issues with using voice assistants on the Venu 2 Plus, however. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the watch and the phone in that you summon your voice assistant and speak into the watch’s mic, though all the processing is taking place on the phone. This means you can’t perform every task that Google Assistant would normally be able to do. For instance, Assistant’s Continued Conversation doesn’t work on the Venu 2 Plus. In another instance, Google Assistant didn’t understand one of my queries, and the Venu 2 Plus ended up closing out of voice assistant mode entirely.

Also, since the voice assistant isn’t baked into Garmin’s operating system, there’s a few seconds delay after you tap the assistant button, where you’ll see a “Connecting to Voice Assistant” prompt. I’ve never had the device fail to connect to my phone, which is good, but it’s not as seamless as using Siri on the Apple Watch or — dare I say — even Bixby on the Galaxy Watch series.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Left to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Left to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Garmin Venu 2

Left to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Apple Watch Series 7 I’m still a big fan of the overall size and shape of the Venu 2 series. Things are slightly different with the Plus model, though. The Venu 2 and 2S come in 45mm and 40mm case sizes, respectively, while the Venu 2 Plus comes in just one 43mm variant. It has the same 1.3-inch display as the larger Venu 2, so the bezels are slightly smaller. It also takes 20mm straps compared to the Venu 2’s 22mm and Venu 2S’ 18mm straps.

I think the 43mm size of the Venu 2 Plus is the sweet spot. It looks good on both large and small wrists, so don’t worry too much about there only being one size option.

One final note on the design. The Venu 2 Plus’ case is made mostly of polycarbonate — like the Venu 2 — though it now has a stainless steel backplate. This makes the device feel higher-end and helps make that high price tag sting a little (and just a little) bit less.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityLeft to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Garmin Venu 2On the fitness- and health-tracking side, the Venu 2 Plus and Venu 2 are pretty much identical. They have the same heart rate sensor hardware, GPS features, and blood oxygen sensors. While testing the Venu 2 Plus over a few weeks, I noticed little to no variation in data between the two devices. And that’s mostly a good thing.

GPS data has been spot-on compared to the Apple Watch Series 6. In some instances, it can even hold its own against the Coros Vertix 2, which is really saying something considering the tech on board that particular wearable.

On the fitness- and health-tracking side, the Venu 2 Plus and Venu 2 are pretty much identical. I still find Health Snapshot one of the most useful features the watch offers. The Venu 2 Plus records your heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress for two minutes. You’ll then get a snapshot of all this data, which you can share via PDF with your doctor or health professional.

Although it launched without it, Garmin rolled out clinically validated ECG capabilities in January 2023 to the Venu 2 Plus, making it Garmin’s first smartwatch to pack such heart-monitoring smarts. The feature uses the Venu 2 Plus’s existing sensors, and requires a Garmin Connect update, and the ECG app. It’s no longer the only watch in Garmin’s fleet to boast ECG smarts, though.

To learn about the ins and outs of the Venu 2 Plus’ health-tracking suite, check out our original, in-depth review of the Garmin Venu 2.

Another feather in Garmin’s cap is its fairly regular update rollout, although feature drops have slowed in recent months. The last substantial update, issued in May 2022, brought four additional sport profiles, including Tennis and Pickleball, with additional voice assistant and Bluetooth calling improvements, too.

What we don’t like about the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityBattery life has never been the Garmin Venu 2 line’s strong suit, and unfortunately, it’s not really any different on the Venu 2 Plus. The new watch is sort of the “middle” option in terms of sizing, and that’s reflected in its battery stats. Where the Venu 2 can last up to 11 days in “smartwatch” mode and up to eight hours with GPS and music, the Venu 2 Plus cuts that down to nine days in smartwatch mode and eight hours with GPS and music.

Garmins battery life estimates are a bit too generous. I’ve found Garmin’s battery life estimates to be a little too generous, as I did with the Venu 2. It’s probably possible to get nine full days of use out of this watch, but not if you want to use the always-on display or blood oxygen sensor. With my “normal” usage, I’ve been getting about five days on a single charge. Your mileage will most definitely vary.

When you need to charge up, it doesn’t take long to get from 0-100%. Ten minutes on the charger will get you a full day of use in smartwatch mode or one hour of use with GPS and music.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityHeart rate monitoring is about the same as the Venu 2, for better or worse. In my testing, I’ve found Garmin’s data to be 90% of the way there compared to competitors. See below for a ~30-minute outdoor run between the Venu 2 Plus, Apple Watch Series 6, and Polar H10 chest strap.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityAfter the initial climb at the beginning of the workout, the Venu 2 Plus struggled to find its footing for the first five minutes or so. The data between 5:40-10:30 minutes looks good overall. Then, the Venu 2 Plus freaked out (that’s the technical term) for about a minute. During my run, I could see the Venu 2 Plus climb and climb, so I deliberately slowed down to see if the Garmin could catch up to the Apple Watch and H10. It did eventually, following the other devices well until the 21-minute mark. All three devices split off in the end.

This is the same problem I ran into with the original Venu 2. It can provide accurate data at some points but not others. Now, this was a cold outdoor run, so it’s not taking place in the easiest conditions for a fitness watch, but there’s something to be said for the Apple Watch’s accuracy and the Venu 2 Plus’ inaccuracies.

During another run, this time an indoor track run, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus kept up well against the Series 6 after being unable to find its footing in the first 10 minutes or so. See below.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityIt’s my hope that Garmin will continue to tweak its heart rate algorithms over time. Luckily, Garmin watches receive frequent sensor updates, and the Venu 2 Plus has in its lifetime already, so it’s possible the Venu 2 Plus’ heart rate sensor will improve. There’s certainly potential with this version of the Elevate sensor. For now, though, you may need to accept that Garmin’s smartwatch struggles to keep up with its well-performing competition especially purpose-built running watches.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus specs

Garmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Display

Garmin Venu 2 Plus1.3-inch AMOLED

416 x 416 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SVenu 2:

1.3-inch AMOLED

416 x 416 resolution

Venu 2S:

1.1-inch AMOLED

360 x 360 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Dimensions and weight

Garmin Venu 2 Plus43.6 x 43.6 x 12.6mm

20mm band

51g

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SVenu 2:

45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2mm

22mm band

49g

Venu 2S:

40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1mm

18mm band

38.2g

Build materials

Garmin Venu 2 PlusStainless steel bezel and hardware

Silicone band

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SStainless steel bezel and hardware

Silicone band

Battery

Garmin Venu 2 PlusRapid charging

Up to 9 days in smartwatch mode

Up to 8 hours in GPS mode + music

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SVenu 2:

Rapid charging

Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode

Up to 8 hours in GPS mode + music

Venu 2S:

Rapid charging

Up to 10 days in smartwatch mode

Up to 7 hours in GPS mode + music

IP rating

Garmin Venu 2 Plus5ATM

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S5ATM

Sensors

Garmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Elevate heart rate sensor

GPS

GLONASS

Galileo

Barometric altimeter

Compass

Gyroscope

Accelerometer

Thermometer

Ambient light sensor

Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SGarmin Elevate heart rate sensor

GPS

GLONASS

Galileo

Barometric altimeter

Compass

Gyroscope

Accelerometer

Thermometer

Ambient light sensor

Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor

Connectivity

Garmin Venu 2 PlusBluetooth

ANT+

Wi-Fi

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SBluetooth

ANT+

Wi-Fi

Storage

Garmin Venu 2 PlusMusic: Up to 650 songs

Activity data: 200 hours

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SMusic: Up to 650 songs

Activity data: 200 hours

Compatibility

Garmin Venu 2 PlusAndroid, iOS

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SAndroid, iOS

Garmin Pay

Garmin Venu 2 PlusYes

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SYes

Smartwatch features

Garmin Venu 2 PlusMake and receive phone calls

Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Siri support

Connect IQ-compatible

Smartphone notifications

Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)

Controls smartphone music

Plays and controls smartwatch music

Find my phone/find my watch

Incident Detection

LiveTrack

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SConnect IQ-compatible

Smartphone notifications

Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)

Controls smartphone music

Plays and controls smartwatch music

Find my phone/find my watch

Incident Detection

LiveTrack

Colors

Garmin Venu 2 PlusSilver bezel with Powder Gray case, Slate bezel with Black case, Cream Gold bezel with Ivory case

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2SVenu 2:

Silver bezel with Granite Blue case, Slate bezel with Black case

Venu 2S:

Slate bezel with Graphite case, Light Gold bezel with Light Sand case, Silver bezel with Mist Grey case, Rose Gold bezel with White case

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Should I buy it?

Jimmy Westenberg / Android AuthorityAs of 2021, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus was the best smartwatch the company has ever created, but it’s no longer the best. The Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon) brings even more polish, two case options, and even more software additions. However, it’s even pricier than the already expensive Venu 2 Plus. Nevertheless, the Venu 2 Plus may still be a valid option if you can find it at the right price, and this is made easier thanks to its age. Garmin devices frequently go on sale, so you’ll likely be able to find it on offer.

While the Venu 3 is the obvious choice for Garmin enthusiasts, the Venu 2 Plus is absolutely still worth a look if you’re after a fitness watch that offers a little more. Voice assistant support is pretty well implemented, and so is phone calling from the wrist. We were already fans overall of the Venu 2, and the Venu 2 Plus makes things that much better.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a fantastic all-around fitness and smartwatch. Just be ready to pay for the experience. How does it compare to the alternatives? The Galaxy Watch 6 series (from $299.99 at Samsung) has a much cheaper base price, packs the latest version of Wear OS, and has a much larger, brighter display. It also includes health features the Venu 2 Plus doesn’t possess, from the body composition sensor to the built-in temperature monitor. For iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 9 ($392.67 at Amazon) presents another exciting alternative. It also features a temperature sensor, but packs additional perks for new iPhone users.

If you can settle for spending a few hundred dollars less while sacrificing most of the smart features, the Venu Sq 2 ($249.99 at Amazon) is well worth considering. But, if you want one of the best all-around fitness smartwatch Garmin has ever made, the Venu 2 Plus is it. Just be willing to pay up.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 PlusExcellent display • Fast charging battery • Phone callsMSRP: $449.99Phone calls and a voice assistant on your wrist.The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes all of the fitness- and health-tracking features of the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to receive phone calls and access your phones voice assistant.See price at AmazonSave $0.99See price at Garmin

Top Garmin Venu 2 Plus questions and answers

Will there be an LTE-connected Garmin Venu 2 Plus?Garmin told Android Authority that it’s a possibility, but an LTE-connected Venu 2 Plus is not available at the moment.

Can I still buy the original Garmin Venu 2?Yes, the Garmin Venu 2 is still available for purchase from Garmin, Amazon, and other retailers. Now that the Venu 2 Plus is available, we hope to see more discounts on the original watch.

Does the Garmin Venu 2 Plus have maps?No, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus does not have onboard maps. A few third-party mapping applications are available in the Connect IQ store, but nothing official from Garmin.

Does the Garmin Venu 2 Plus work with iPhones?Yes, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus works with both iPhones and Android phones.

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