Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Venu: Which should you buy?

Garmin Venu
Garmin Venu (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

The Garmin Venu only comes in one size and it doesn't have optional LTE connectivity, but it can closely monitor important aspects of your health and fitness. You'll have everything you need, including built-in GPS, activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, more than 20 sports apps, blood oxygen monitoring, and much more.

Garmin Venu

Full-featured fitness watch

GPS and heart-rate monitoring
Always-on AMOLED display
Garmin Coach
Blood oxygen monitoring
Body Battery feature
Only one size option
Lacks optional LTE

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

If you're an iOS user who has been longing for an Apple Watch that won't break the bank, your time has come. The all-new Apple Watch SE is a slimmed-down version of the real thing, but it offers unmatched value that is a rare find within the world of Apple devices. You'll have GPS, heart-rate monitoring, Apple Fitness+, and optional LTE connectivity.

Apple Watch SE

Slimmed-down smartwatch

GPS and heart-rate monitoring
Optional LTE connectivity
Apple Fitness+
Always-on altimeter
Two size options
Lacks always-on display
No blood oxygen sensor

Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Venu More similarities than differences

The smartwatch world never stops growing and choosing between two similar models can be tough, especially if you're deciding between the Apple Watch SE and Garmin Venu. On the surface, these two devices couldn't look more different. However, if you're a fan of wearables, you know the physical design isn't the only factor to consider.

Start by asking yourself what type of smartwatch experience you desire. Are you an iOS user who wants an affordable device with key smartwatch features? You'll likely find yourself favoring the new Apple Watch SE. If your main focus is fitness but you'd still like to enjoy a premium smartwatch experience, you might be better off choosing the Garmin Venu.

You can have it all with the Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

After spending a bit of time with the Venu, it's not hard to see why it's one of the best Garmin smartwatches on the market right now. While having an always-on AMOLED display isn't a show-stopping feature, it's a big improvement for a company that typically offers a standard transflective display on most of its devices. It's also quite impressive that you can still squeeze up to five days of battery life out of this watch.

The display isn't the only feature that the Garmin Venu offers over the Apple Watch SE. It also has a Pulse Ox sensor, which can measure your blood oxygen saturation levels. However, it's worth reiterating that these two smartwatches have more in common than differences. You'll find built-in GPS, 5 ATM water resistance, activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, smartphone notifications, and mobile payments on both devices.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Apple Watch SEGarmin Venu
Display1.6-inch or 1.8-inch Retina LTPO OLED display1.2-inch AMOLED
Dimensions40 x 34 x 10.4mm44 x 38 x 10.4mm43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4mm
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, LTE (select models)Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
SensorsHRM, compass, always-on altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensorHRM, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, ambient light sensor
ColorsAluminum: Silver, Space Gray, GoldSlate, Rose Gold, Silver, Gold
Water resistance5ATM5ATM
Battery life18 hours5 days
Optional LTE✔️
Built-in GPS✔️✔️
NFC Payments✔️✔️
Always-on display✔️
Blood oxygen✔️

It's safe to say that the Venu gives users more options for how they want to exercise with their watch. It comes with over 20 preloaded sports apps that you can choose from. You can also access preset workouts from Garmin Connect, various training plans from Garmin Coach, or you can create your own personalized workouts if that's more your speed.

One feature that's unique to the Garmin Venu is Body Battery energy monitoring.

One feature that's unique to the Garmin Venu is Body Battery energy monitoring. The watch will closely monitor your energy levels during the day by gathering important data from sleep, stress, activity, and heart rate variability (HRV). This gives you a much better idea of when is the ideal time to rest and when you should schedule workouts.

While there is certainly an intense focus on health and fitness, the Garmin Venu is still a smartwatch. You won't have optional LTE connectivity, but it excels in other key areas. You'll have smartphone notifications on your wrist, plenty of music storage to enjoy tunes without your phone connected, and mobile payments with Garmin Pay.

The Apple Watch SE is a decent halfway point

Apple Watch Series 6 Apple Watch Se

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

One of the most interesting releases to hit the market recently is the Apple Watch SE. Usually, you'd have to settle for a device that has aged a few years to get it at this price point. However, the company is making its wearables more accessible by offering this slimmed-down model.

It may cut a few corners, but the Apple Watch SE is still a solid smartwatch at a reasonable price. You'll get the always-on altimeter that is also present on the Series 6. There's also support for low/high heart rate alerts and irregular heartbeat alerts. These might not be major selling points for some people, but if you're investing in a smartwatch for a seamless on-wrist experience with activity/sleep tracking, notifications, and mobile payments, then you'll appreciate how the Apple Watch SE does things. Other improvements include fall detection, a louder speaker, and support for the new Family Setup feature.

Apple is making its wearables more accessible by offering this slimmed-down model.

The Apple Watch SE runs on watchOS 7 and it has the S5 processor. It's not the newest and fastest processor on the block, but if you're upgrading from an older model, you'll surely notice a difference in performance. The little things you do every day will be smooth and quick, from launching your go-to apps to scrolling through menus.

The new Apple Fitness+ subscription service is another perk you'll have on the Apple Watch SE. This feature makes it easy for you to access workouts from your preferred Apple device. You'll have the option of viewing your real-time metrics on the device of your choice while you exercise, so you don't have to keep glancing at your watch. The company is currently offering a free 3-month trial of the service when you buy an Apple Watch Series 3 or later.

What will you be missing? Despite the larger display, it doesn't have the always-on feature. It also lacks the electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor as well as blood oxygen monitoring. If you can get by without these, then this is a smartwatch worth considering.

Apple Watch SE vs. Garmin Venu Which should you buy?

Garmin Venu

Source: Garmin (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

While a major factor in your decision will come down to whether you're an Android or iOS user, there are some other points to consider as well. If you've avoided the Apple Watch until now due to the steep price tag, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the Apple Watch SE.

There's no denying that this release is a slimmed-down version of the more robust models the company offers, but it's an Apple Watch nonetheless. You'll have to be okay without the ECG sensor, always-on display, and blood oxygen monitoring. That being said, you still get the always-on altimeter, GPS, heart-rate monitoring, Apple Fitness+, smartphone notifications, Apple Pay, and more.

On the other hand, some users might be better off going with the Garmin Venu. Whether you use an Android phone or you're simply more attracted to what this robust smartwatch has to offer, you won't be disappointed. With the exception of LTE connectivity, it does everything that the Apple Watch SE does. You'll have on-screen workouts, more than 20 sports apps, Garmin Coach, Garmin Pay, GPS, heart-rate tracking, blood oxygen, and a bright always-on display. This is the better option for fitness-focused users who want to get the most out of their device.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.