Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Most fitness smartwatches offer a compromised experience, giving you tons of health and fitness metrics but a limited, obscure UI that makes them annoying to use. But the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Garmin Venu 2 Plus are two watches that buck that trend.

Samsung's watch gives you an easy-to-use Wear OS 3 UI with third-party apps plus tons of health sensors and useful fitness data. Garmin's OS is more limited but extremely easy to navigate, and its sports modes and metrics put all other brands to shame. Which one you pick will depend on what you want to use your watch for: everyday use or just workouts.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Specs, battery life, and compatibility

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The Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (right) on a computer desk next to a Funko figurine

(Image credit: Tshaka Armstrong / Android Central)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 tops our best Android smartwatches list for a host of reasons, from its bevy of health sensors to its fast performance and Wear OS app support. Its all-in-one sensor tracks heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, SpO2, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) all at once, which very few smartwatches can match. Still, it's fundamentally a lifestyle watch, which means you'll only get 1-2 days of use depending on how actively you use it.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus battery life blows Samsung's out of the water, and it's fully compatible with more phones.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is more of a traditional fitness smartwatch, meaning you get a ridiculous nine days of battery life along with the ultra-bright display. It has fewer non-fitness software applications, but does offer voice assistant shortcuts, a mic and speaker for answering calls on the watch, stored music or music playback controls, and phone notifications — all the same essentials as the Galaxy Watch 4.

As two fitness-focused lifestyle watches, they have plenty of similarities. Both have large, pixel-rich displays that can handle direct sunlight well. However, while the Galaxy Watch 4 has two variants with a large or small display, both are much lighter than the Venu 2 Plus, using a lightweight aluminum build that makes it more comfortable for all-day use or sleep tracking. The plasticky Venu 2 Plus weighs much more, but its battery can handle much more GPS tracking or music playback before it'll die on you.

The Galaxy Watch 4 is more affordable, lighter, and has more health sensors and apps.

Of the two, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus works more seamlessly with any smartphone you own. All you need is the Garmin Connect app, and it supports the three major voice assistants. The Galaxy Watch 4 still only summons Bixby (though Samsung did promise Google Assistant support eventually), but many of its health sensor features only work with Samsung Health, and you can't use it with an iPhone at all.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Size44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm43.6 x 43.6 x 12.6 mm
Weight30.3g (44mm)25.9g (40mm)51g
DisplaySuper AMOLED 1.4-inch (420x420)Super AMOLED 1.2-inch (396x396)AMOLED 1.3-inch (416x416)
MaterialAluminum caseFiber-reinforced polymer (plastic) with steel bezel
Operating SystemWear OS Powered by SamsungGarmin OS
NavigationTouchscreen, capacitive bezel, two side buttonsTouchscreen, three side buttons
ProcessorExynos W920 (5nm)Unknown
Memory1.5GB RAM16GB storageUnknown
Music storage✔️✔️
Battery361mAh / 247mAhUp to 40 hoursUnknown mAhUp to 9 days
Wireless charging✔️🚫
SensorsAccelerometerBarometerBIAECGGyroGeomagneticHRMAccelerometerBarometric altimeterCompassGyroHRMSpO2Thermometer
Voice assistantsBixby (Google Assistant expected in 2022)Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri
Durability5ATMMIL-STD-810GGorilla Glass DX+5ATMGorilla Glass 3
ColorsGreenBlackSilverPink GoldSlateSilverLight Gold
Band size20mm20mm

Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Apps, watch faces, and navigation

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

If you've used a Garmin watch before, you know what to expect. The Venu 2 Plus supports a couple dozen sports modes that you can favorite and start with a couple button presses, while you can scroll up and down to check your daily fitness data, heart rate or SpO2, weather, or any other data. The Garmin Connect IQ app lets you download some limited third-party apps like Spotify, AccuWeather, or map apps, but for the most part, Garmin runs a closed system.

What's different from other Garmins? Most only use button navigation, while the Venu 2 Plus's AMOLED display enables touch navigation and scrolling. This bright display enables a wide range of custom watch faces you can't get on cheaper Garmins, which you can buy from devs or customize yourself. You can even add your own photos as a background to your clock and health data, as shown above.

On-screen exercise (sit-up) on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Best of all, if you're preparing for a HIIT workout and don't know how to do a specific move, you can tap on it to see an animated figure complete the exercise, so you can visualize and emulate it. Garmin claims it has 1,600 supported exercises complete with animated instructions, so anybody looking to start kicking butt in the gym or at home will benefit from these.

Buying the Galaxy Watch 4 gives you access to a wider range of third-party apps. You'll find fitness apps like Strava, more music apps like YouTube Music, an internet browser, smart home controls, Google Maps, and more. Whatever you can fit inside 16GB of storage, the watch will likely support. With Wear OS 3, you get Tile widgets for quick access to whatever information you need, though most tiles are Samsung-only.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Samsung also lets you customize its watch faces with personal photos and "Complications" or third-party apps. Some of our Galaxy Watch 4 owners on staff have argued that its watch faces "suck" for various reasons, but their functionality arguably goes well beyond what Garmin offers.

Galaxy Watch 4 navigation gives you several options. While only the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic offers a physically rotating bezel for navigating through apps, the base watch has a touch bezel that digitally approximates the rotation quite well. Aside from the touchscreen, the two side buttons offer shortcuts for short and long presses, such as summoning Bixby or activating Samsung Pay.

For comparison, Garmin's three buttons give you workout shortcuts, a customizable middle button that can summon Garmin Pay or your assistant with short/long presses, and a dedicated back/settings button.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Which should you buy?

Exercise rings on Google Fit app on Galaxy Watch 4

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Both of these smartwatches are great, full stop, but each also have their own dealbreakers. If you're on a limited budget or exercise casually, the expensive Garmin Venu 2 Plus won't justify the high cost. If you like working out without your phone, the lack of LTE is a deal-breaker. And if you're looking for a smaller smartwatch that won't weigh down your wrist, plenty of fitness trackers will halve the weight.

As for the Galaxy Watch 4, most of its advanced health tracking, from SpO2 to VO2 Max, only work on a Galaxy phone, limiting its appeal on other Android phones. Also, the LTE version did have some overheating issues initially, but thankfully this appears to have been patched. The bigger issue is that you're much more likely to run out of battery life at the wrong time, so you'll need a recharge every day or two.

Still, the Galaxy Watch 4 offers a more affordable price point, wider app support, and a more comfortable and stylish fit for most people if you can accept using Samsung Health. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus fits better as a device you throw on for a HIIT workout or long run, then slip off once you're done, but can be worn as long as you want thanks to its neverending battery. And while Garmin also defaults to its own software, it gives you superb metrics for most major sports, and its data can be exported to other health apps.

You can also consider upgrading to the newer Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 or Watch 5 Pro, which cost a bit closer to the Venu 2 Plus while adding new features. But the Galaxy Watch 4 remains as viable as ever while often selling at a discount, making it even more tempting. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.