Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: Which should you buy?

Garmin Venu 2
Garmin Venu 2 (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 Smartwatch

The Garmin Venu 2 is a solid, premium smartwatch that will appeal to both serious athletes and those just looking to get fit with some exercise. Along with plenty of workouts, sports, and fitness tracking, it's also an elegantly designed smartwatch that can easily disguise as a wristwatch for nights out on the town.

Garmin Venu 2

Solid GPS watch

Fashionable design
Good battery life
Lots of music storage

Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin Forerunner 745 Smartwatch

As the name implies, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is ideal for runners and athletes who partake mainly in outdoor sports and activities. With GPS, detailed training stats, on-device workouts, and useful stats like recovery time, race predictor performance, and training effects, it's a runner's dream with a rugged, sporty design to match.

Garmin Forerunner 745

Rugged for runners

Lots of added features for runners
Decent battery life
Small and light
More rugged design

Garmin is a leader in the smartwatch category with a robust and diverse line-up of options for all kinds of users, from serious athletes to those who go for brisk walks and do at-home workouts to live a healthier lifestyle and get their recommended 10,000 steps per day. Two of Garmin's great lines include the Venu and the Forerunner. But how do you choose between the two?

Looking at the Garmin Venu 2 vs. Forerunner 745, both are great smartwatches that sell for similar price points. Which one you choose will depend largely on your design preference and which features are most valuable to how you exercise.

What are those features? Here's a breakdown of the key things to know.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Venu 2Garmin Forerunner 745
Operating SystemGarminOSGarminOS
Battery Life11 days in smartwatch mode, 12 days in battery saver mode, 8 hours with GPS and music, 22 hours with GPS, no musicUp to 7 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode
Mobile PaymentsGarmin PayGarmin Pay
Display1.3-inch AMOLED (416x416 pixels)1.2-inch transflective display
Music StorageUp to 650 songs, Spotify playlistsUp to 500 songs
Built-in Sleep TrackingYesYes
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Dimensions45.4x45.4x 2.2 mm43.8x43.8x13.3 mm
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS

These two smartwatches are pretty similar in specs. What really sets them apart is that they physically look very different from one another. The specific sports and training features are slightly different between the Venu 2 and the Forerunner 745.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: How they compare with regards to fitness

Garmin Venu 2 6

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

From a fitness perspective, both of these smartwatches can track a variety of workouts, sports, and other activities, giving you a good look into your fitness, performance, and training. The Venu 2 focuses on more basic fitness and sports activities, with 25+ built-in indoor and GPS sports apps, including new ones like HIIT. It will also provide detailed stats, including body battery energy monitoring, to let you know when you're at your best during the day to do another workout, along with fitness age and intensity minutes. You can enjoy coaching, including on-screen animated workouts, and even build your own exercises from the app to download to the watch for customized and personalized training.

The Forerunner 745, meanwhile, has all your basic workouts as well but focuses specifically on running and triathlons with features like recording heat and altitude acclimation so you can see how hard you work in difficult conditions. In addition to daily workout suggestions, you'll also see training effect, which tells you how your workouts influence your endurance, speed, and power over time, recovery time, VO2 max, race predictor to help you work towards race goals, performance condition to assess your abilities based on pace, heart rate, and heart rate variability, training load, training status, cycling power, and more. There are other features specifically for runners, like Trendline popularity routing, which will use data uploaded by runners to find the best route for you.

Garmin Forerunner 745 4

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

When it comes to sensors that help track your health, fitness, and performance stats, both watches have all of the top ones. They both have built-in GPS so you can leave your phone at home and still log workouts and running routes. They both also track continuous heart rate and have an altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse PX, accelerometer, thermometer, and ambient light sensor. The Forerunner 745 adds abnormal heart rate alerts, while the Venu 2 has a neat feature that will track weight scaling and show you which muscle groups you worked. A Health Snapshot also logs a two-minute session to record your key health stats with the Venu 2, great for those just starting and looking to track progress over time.

If you're a runner or cyclist, the Forerunner 745 is the obvious better choice. But if you're just into working out, playing sports, or doing other activities, the Venu 2 will suit you just fine.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: More than fitness

Garmin Venu 2 Hero

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Both watches also provide detailed sleep tracking and can store music, though the Venu 2 can hold up to 150 more songs along with Spotify playlists. If you like music to accompany your workouts and want to leave your phone at home, this could be important. With that said, 500 songs are already quite generous.

Both are water-resistant, up to 5ATM, which means you can safely swim and shower with them. And they both include Garmin Pay, so you can use them to pay for items at compatible stores by simply tapping the watch to a compatible contactless payment terminal.

The Garmin Venu 2, however, has more robust sleep tracking features, thanks to FirstBeat Analytics, which powers sleep tracking and sleep score. While the Garmin Forerunner 745 does track sleep, you'll only get the basics, including total hours of sleep, sleep levels, and sleep movement.

Garmin Forerunner 745 Lifestyle 14

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Of course, you can also see smartphone notifications right on the screen, including incoming calls, messages, social media notifications, and more. There are also other useful features like hydration and women's health tracking. Both also have a neat feature that will share your locations with your contacts when connected to your smartphone via incident detection.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: How long can they last?

Battery life can be a deciding factor when it comes to a smartwatch. Anyone who owns one and works out knows how irritating it can be when you have to recharge your smartwatch too often or risk missing logging steps or a workout because it's dead.

The Garmin Venu 2 wins in this respect with up to 11 days of battery life, but keep in mind that this is only when it's in basic smartwatch mode. You can even increase this to 12 days by shutting off all non-essential tracking, ideal for when you're away on vacation, for example. If you use GPS and music, however, the battery life significantly drops to just eight hours. Forget music, and you'll get up to 22 hours per charge when using GPS. This means if you workout and go for a run every day using GPS, you'll effectively have to charge the watch daily. With that said, most smartwatches recharge in just about an hour, so you can easily give it a battery boost while sitting down to dinner. The Venu 2 also has a neat rapid charging feature that will give you a full day of operation after just 10 minutes of charging, perfect if you notice your battery is running low right before getting ready to do a workout.

The Garmin Forerunner 745, however, still offers a respectable up to seven days of battery life per charge, which means you only need to charge it once a week. However, if you use GPS, this drops to just 16 hours per charge, which means you'll be charging it daily.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: How do they look?

Garmin Venu 2 5

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

The look of these two watches is where they really differ. The Garmin Venu 2 is a stylish and elegant smartwatch designed almost not to look like a smartwatch. If you didn't really notice the screen, you'd think it was just a fashionable and stylish wristwatch. As with any smartwatch, you can always change the look and feel with an optional band.

Both come in various finish options, the Venu 2 in six colors, from a light gold bezel with a tan case to silver with a granite blue case. The Forerunner 745, meanwhile, comes in neo tropic (green), black, magma red, or whitestone.

Garmin Forerunner 745 Lifestyle 15

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Centra (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Centra)

The Venu 2 has a slightly larger face at 45.5 mm versus the Forerunner 745's 43.8 mm, but the difference is negligible. The Venu 2 comes in two size options. However, at either 40 mm or 45 mm, the former signified with an "S" designation in the model name. The Venu 2 also has a nicer, brighter AMOLED display that is viewable under bright sunlight, while the Forerunner 745's is a sportier transflective display. Garmin says the Forerunner 745 is the smallest and lightest full-featured running and triathlon watch in its line-up.

With access to the Connect IQ store with both, you can download custom watch faces, add different data fields, and download apps and widgets to personalize how the watch looks and what you can do with it.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 745: Which do you choose?

Garmin Venu 2 010

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Both the Garmin Venu 2 and the Garmin Forerunner 745 are solid smartwatches that won't disappoint. When it comes to the Garmin Venu 2 vs. Forerunner 745, the Forerunner 745 is slightly more expensive. Still, if you're into running, training for a marathon or triathlon, cycling, or do other outdoor activities, it will be worth the extra money.

However, if you're just looking for a great premium smartwatch that can keep track of your fitness and activities along with other aspects of your health and wellness, the Garmin Venu 2 will meet your needs. It offers slightly longer battery life, plenty of on-screen and built-in workouts for both indoors and out, novices and athletes, along with built-in GPS, and more. You can follow workouts right on the watch's screen and even build your own customized exercise plans.

Bottom line: if running is your thing, go with the Forerunner 745, as you'll appreciate and be able to make use of the added features and functions for runners, like training effect, recovery time, and race predictor. If not, you'll be paying extra for these features you won't use. For basic workouts, sports, and activities, the Venu 2 will do just fine.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.