Garmin Venu 2 vs. Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

The Garmin Venu 2 and Vivoactive 4 are very similar watches. Both come in two sizes, offer the core Garmin suite of watches and apps, and give you a touchscreen (though only the Venu 2 has an AMOLED). Their prices are also quite close, though the older Vivoactive 4 has a much bigger discount for Black Friday: the Venu 2 is $100 off (opens in new tab), but the cheaper Vivoactive 4 is $150 off (opens in new tab).

If you want the newest model with all the latest features, the Garmin Venu 2 will likely deliver the experience you're looking for. Those who would rather save some money and don't mind a few missing features might be content with the Vivoactive 4 instead. 

Both are great watches that offer an excellent wearable with solid fitness tracking. These watches may share many similarities when it comes to basic health and activity tracking, but it's the differences that will determine your ultimate decision.

The Garmin Venu 2 has new health and fitness perks

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The original Garmin Venu was packed with useful features, so the Venu 2 had some big shoes to fill. Fortunately, it did an incredible job of introducing some new features and improvements that make for a better wearable experience in more ways than one. Following the Vivoactive 4's footsteps, the Venu is now available in two sizes. Size is the only difference when choosing between the Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S. The Venu 2 comes in a 45mm case, and the smaller 2S comes in a 40mm case.

Besides offering two size options, the design is relatively similar to the previous model. With that said, most users will agree that the Garmin Venu 2 is a bit more stylish than the Vivoactive 4. It has a rich AMOLED display and comes in a sturdy polymer case with a stainless steel bezel. The Venu 2 and 2S bands are compatible with 22mm and 18mm quick-release straps, respectively.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Garmin Venu 2Garmin Vivoactive 4
Dimensions45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2mm, 49g40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1mm, 38.2g45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8mm, 50.5g
40x40x12.7 mm, 40g
Display1.3-inch AMOLED, 416x416 pixels
1.1-inch AMOLED, 360x360 pixels
1.3-inch transflective display, 260x2601.1-inch transflective display, 218x218
SensorsGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer, ambient light sensorGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer
BatterySmartwatch mode: 11 days (45mm)
Smartwatch mode: 10 days (40mm)
Smartwatch mode: 8 days (45mm)
Smartwatch mode: 7 days(40mm)
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT+, Wi-FiBluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Water-resistant5 ATM5 ATM
Battery saver mode✔️
Sleep score✔️
Health Snapshot✔️
Garmin Pay✔️✔️
Music storage✔️✔️

There are a few different color options, depending on the variant you choose. The larger Venu 2 comes in a Granite Blue case with a silver bezel and a Black case with a Slate bezel. If you opt for the smaller Venu 2S, you'll have more choices, including a Graphite case with a Slate bezel, a Mist Gray case with a silver bezel, a Light Sand case with a Light Gold bezel, and a white case with a rose gold bezel. All of these variants come with a silicone band.

The Venu 2 offers a new battery saver mode that allows you to adjust settings that impact battery life.

The original Venu only offered up to five days of battery life in smartwatch mode. The Venu 2 significantly improves on this by offering a full 11 days of battery life in smartwatch mode. That figure goes down to 10 days if you opt for the smaller Venu 2S. When you combine that with the new rapid charging feature, you'll hardly be worrying about your battery dying. In 10 minutes, the rapid charging feature will add a full day of battery life to your smartwatch.

To further sweeten the deal, the Venu 2 offers a new battery-saver mode that allows you to adjust settings that impact battery life. Your battery life can last for an extra day with this new perk. It's safe to say that the Venu 2 is one of the best Garmin smartwatches out there as far as battery life is concerned.

You'll also appreciate that sleep tracking has been improved with the addition of a sleep score, which Firstbeat Analytics powers. This feature will give users a sleep score based on the quality and quantity of the previous night's sleep. Before, you had to view sleep stats in the Garmin Connect app. Now, you can review your last night's sleep right on the watch.

Garmin Venu 2 Hero

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

The predecessor already offered a wide selection of sports apps, but the Venu 2 builds on that. You now have 25 built-in sports apps, with the new ones being HIIT, indoor climbing, bouldering, and hiking. On the subject of activities, you'll also enjoy the fitness age feature. It can estimate whether your body is younger or older than you are. This perk uses your chronological age, resting heart rate, vigorous weekly activity, and BMI or body fat percentage to estimate your fitness age. You can also check out tips for how to lower fitness age.

One significant change to health tracking is Garmin's new Health Snapshot feature. Whether you have an existing medical condition or you simply want to stay on top of your health and wellness, this feature will prove helpful. You'll be able to record a quick two-minute session that will log your key health stats. You can even generate a detailed report to share with your doctor.

Some of the smartwatch features you had on the Venu are also available on the Venu 2. Some examples include excellent notification support, NFC for contactless payments with Garmin Pay, and onboard music storage for up to 650 songs. You can also send quick replies from the watch if you're an Android user, or you can reject a call with a text reply.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 lets you stick to the basics

Garmin Vivoactive 4 yoga mode

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

The Venu 2 isn't the first time Garmin offered two size options. The Vivoactive 4 and 4S are also available in 45mm and 40mm variants, respectively. The design is not drastically different than the Venu 2 models.

You also get a polymer case and a stainless steel bezel. Both models are also compatible with interchangeable bands — 22mm for the Vivoactive 4 and 18mm for the Vivoactive 4S. Fortunately, there are tons of Garmin Vivoactive 4 bands to choose from.

You won't have the crisp AMOLED display on either Vivoactive 4 model.

You won't have the crisp AMOLED display on either Vivoactive 4 model. Instead, you'll have a sunlight-visible, transflective display. You might expect battery life to be better with less drain from the display, but it's not as good as the Venu 2. The larger Vivoactive 4 promises eight days of battery life in smartwatch mode, while the 4S offers seven days.

The color options vary from one model to the next. For example, the 45mm variant is available in a Shadow Gray case with a silver bezel and a black case with a slate bezel. The smaller 40mm variant offers more options, including a Powder Gray case with a silver bezel, a white case with a rose gold bezel, a Dust Rose case and a Light Gold bezel, and a black case with a slate bezel.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

(Image credit: Courtney Lynch / Android Central)

It's not nearly as loaded as the Venu 2, but the Vivoactive 4 does offer a solid health and fitness tracking suite. So it's no wonder that it's often considered one of the best fitness smartwatches you can buy.

You'll have onboard GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, stress monitoring, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, and more. It's still pretty packed in terms of built-in sports apps with 20 options to choose from. It also offers animated on-screen workouts when you can't hit the gym or get outside for a session.

You get a lot of the same smartwatch features on the Vivoactive 4 as you do on the Venu 2. This includes NFC for contactless payments through Garmin Pay, smartphone notifications, and onboard music storage for up to 500 songs. It might offer shorter battery life and not have as many health and fitness perks, but it's still an amazing smartwatch that has the essentials at a lower price.

Garmin Venu 2 vs. Vivoactive 4: Which should you buy?

Using the Garmin Venu 2

(Image credit: Garmin)

When all is said and done, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a fantastic option for those content with the essentials and who don't need much more. Of course, Garmin's core features are present, including GPS, heart-rate monitoring, Pulse Ox, Body Battery, sleep tracking, and on-screen workouts. But, for example, you also get some nice extras, like Garmin Pay and music storage. It's hard to beat this set of features for the price.

If it's in your budget, the Garmin Venu 2 offers next-level health and fitness tracking. Some successors fall flat, but this smartwatch is destined for success in many ways. The company states that the Venu 2 aims to provide users with deeper and more meaningful insights into their overall wellness. The new features will undoubtedly add to the effort. You'll have fitness age, sleep score, Health Snapshot, new activity profiles, and enhanced battery life that allows you to charge less often.

It would be nice to see Garmin eventually bring some of the Venu 2 perks over to the Vivoactive 4 models. But, for now, the Venu 2 is the superior option with more health and fitness features, a nicer display, and better battery life.

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.