Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: If you had your eye on the Garmin Venu when it came out last year, but it was a bit too flashy for your taste, the Venu Sq is an excellent alternative. You'll have nearly all of the original model's features, specifically when it comes to activity/health tracking. It's lightweight, affordable, and easy to use. This is by no means a tiny wrist computer that can entirely replace your smartphone, but it can cover the basics when it comes to fitness tracking.
Light, compact design
Easy-to-read LCD touchscreen
Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring
Built-in GPS, HRM, NFC
Six days of battery life
Not for those who want a premium design
Must pay more for music storage
Small display makes touchscreen tricky
Limited smartwatch features
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Over the years, we've come to expect an array of high-end GPS smartwatches from Garmin, but the new Venu Sq takes a different approach. I know what you're thinking. Another Apple Watch look-alike? Hear me out. The company is known for making premium yet rugged wearables that eat up a lot of space on your wrist. The compact, lightweight design offered by the Garmin Venu Sq will likely cater to a much wider audience.
The affordable price tag is another major draw. More often than not, you'll end up paying quite a bit for the best smartwatch with a decent health and fitness tracking suite, especially if the Garmin name is attached to it. However, the company has decided to pack some of its best features into this easy-to-use smartwatch that makes fitness tracking fun and stylish. It's not exactly overflowing with a ton of smart features, but it has what you need.
The Venu Sq has arrived just a year after the original Venu smartwatch. You won't have the luxurious look and feel of a stainless steel watch with a bright AMOLED display this time around. You also won't have two different size options. Music storage isn't a standard feature, either. Other than that, the Garmin Venu Sq and the Venu are fairly similar under the hood where it counts. Whether you prefer the more lightweight (and squarish) design or you simply want to save a few bucks, the Venu Sq has plenty to offer.
Garmin Venu Sq Design and display
If you like having options when it comes to your watch's size, you might be disappointed by the fact that the Garmin Venu Sq only comes in one case size: 40mm. The plastic case makes it feel light as a feather, which is undoubtedly great for exercising, but it does lose a few quality points.
It has an aluminum bezel around the glass display, which comes in an array of colors. If you choose to buy the Venu Sq Music, the color options include Slate, Light Gold, and Rose Gold. The standard edition is available in Slate, Light Gold, and Metallic Orchid.
The watch face selection on the Garmin Venu Sq is fairly nonexistent. There are a couple of different background options and data fields to choose from, but that's about it. Unlike the slightly more advanced Garmin Venu, you won't have live watch faces on this device. These might be fun to look at, but they don't serve a real purpose, so you won't be missing much.
We all like to have some control over how our wearables look and feel. The Garmin Venu Sq is compatible with 20mm quick release bands. Depending on which variant you choose, you'll get a silicone band that comes in Shadow Gray, Light Sand, White, Black, Navy, White, Orchid, or Moss. Whether you're partial to a different material or color, it'll be easy to swap them out whenever you need a change.
It's not uncommon for the band that comes with a smartwatch to be mediocre at best. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of these bands, though. The Garmin Venu Sq silicone bands are smooth and flexible without feeling flimsy. Even after wrapping up a workout with a semi-sweaty wrist, my skin didn't feel irritated or uncomfortable.
While the 1.3-inch LCD touchscreen sounds generous enough, swiping through the menus can feel a bit cramped at times. Don't be surprised if you select the wrong option and have to use the bottom side button to go back. A long press of the bottom side button will bring up the watch settings. The top side button launches the workout menu.
The good thing about the display is that it's clear and crisp enough that there's no trouble reading it in direct sunlight. There are three different brightness settings: low, medium, and high. A quick glance and you'll see how far along you are in your workout and what heart rate zone you're in.
You can use the always-on display feature but be prepared for the battery to drain faster. There are also three different timeout options to choose from: short, medium, or long. The vibration for alerts can be set to low, medium, or high, but they're all obnoxiously loud. Even on the lowest setting, you'll surely turn some heads in a crowded waiting room (remember those?).
Garmin Venu Sq Performance and battery life
One of the most impressive aspects of the Garmin Venu Sq will be the battery life for some users. This is especially true if you've had your share of experience with smartwatches that need to be charged at the end of each day. Not only does the Venu Sq reach a full charge after being plugged in for an hour or so, but the battery will last for almost a week on a single charge.
I recorded at least one exercise per day, had 24/7 heart-rate monitoring enabled, tracked my sleep each night, and kept the watch at medium brightness with a short timeout. At the end of day 5, I had just under 20% battery remaining. The moral of the story? The 6-day battery life lives up to the hype.
The overall performance of the Garmin Venu Sq is up to par with what you'd expect from a mid-range fitness watch. Unlike other major players in the industry, we don't get a ton of specs regarding processors and the like. The user interface is simple enough to navigate. Once you learn where to find what you need to access, it's a breeze from that point on.
With this simplicity, there are a few cons. While you can easily store songs and playlists (on the Garmin Venu Sq Music), access smartphone notifications, and make mobile payments with Garmin Pay, that's where the extra features end. You won't find a jam-packed app store or any hidden bonus perks on this watch.
Garmin Venu Sq Health and fitness tracking
For a watch that revolves around health and fitness tracking, the Garmin Venu Sq delivers a core set of features that get the job done nicely. Like most of the other watches from the company, this device can track multiple metrics that come together to give you a detailed overview of your health. These include:
- All-day activity tracking
- 24/7 heart-rate monitoring
- Sleep tracking
- Stress monitoring
- Menstrual health tracking
- Body Battery Energy monitoring
- Blood oxygen (Spo2) monitoring
- Respiration tracking
One press of the top side button, and you'll be looking at the various sport mode options, which allows you to start a workout quickly. If you'd like, you can select your favorite workouts, and those will appear after pressing the top side button. The GPS kicks in almost immediately, and you're ready to begin your session. Some of the sport modes include walking, running, biking, yoga, pool swimming, golfing, Pilates, and rowing.
This is more than a basic activity tracker. This watch will monitor your energy levels, stress, respiration rate, and blood oxygen levels. There's also an option for tracking your hydration throughout the day, which you'll need to enter manually. The menstrual health tracking feature allows you to monitor your cycle each month.
As for sleep tracking, the Garmin Venu Sq will provide detailed information on your sleep stages. It will specify whether you were awake, in light sleep, deep sleep, or REM sleep. Your respiration rate will also be tracked while you're sleeping. When you combine this with Pulse Ox data, you'll have a pretty clear idea of how well you rested the previous night.
If you're not familiar with Garmin's Pulse Ox sensor, it monitors your blood oxygen saturation levels. This feature lets you know how well you're absorbing oxygen. You can take readings throughout the day, and it will also be monitored while you sleep. While this is nice information to have, Garmin states that it's not intended to be used for medical purposes. In other words, you shouldn't rely on this data to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or condition.
One thing's for sure; it's almost impossible to feel limited in how you choose to exercise with the Garmin Venu Sq. If you're craving more than the preloaded sports apps, you can explore other options in the Garmin Connect app. You can even create your own workouts there and download them directly to your watch. There are also endless training plans available from Garmin Coach.
Garmin Venu Sq Software
You'll find that the software — both on the watch and the Garmin Connect app — is extremely intuitive and simple to use. Whether it's your first fitness smartwatch or you've tried multiple wearable companies, there's something to be said about software that doesn't take long to get comfortable with. The setup process was complete in a matter of minutes.
While you'll rely on the app for quite a bit, there's a lot you can do on the watch itself. You can review your workouts for the week, see how your heart rate has varied throughout the day, and take a look at your Body Battery score and stress levels. Of course, if you want an in-depth breakdown, the Garmin Connect app will give it to you. With that said, it's nice not to have to pull out your phone to view every little detail when you can glance at it on your watch.
Upon opening the Garmin Connect app on your phone, you'll be met with a friendly and organized view of all your key metrics. You can click on any of the fields to access more details, whether it be that walk or run you took earlier in the day or want to get an idea of where your Body Battery is after taking some time to rest.
In the morning, I'll usually open the app and give it a minute or two to sync the data from my watch. My current data for the day will appear as well as the previous night's sleep data. There's also a section at the bottom that shows a compressed version of the day before, which is good for a quick at-a-glance comparison. Scroll down a bit further, and you can view your averages for the last 7 days.
You'll also get notifications (if you want them) about badges you've earned. Whether you've been "on fire" and working out for several days in a row, you beat the previous day's step count, or you finally got 8 hours of sleep, these badges are nice little motivational tools that encourage you to keep tracking your progress and improving where it counts.
Some people might not take the Body Battery energy monitoring and stress tracking too seriously. However, I found these to be some of the most useful features on the Garmin Venu Sq. The Body Battery determines your energy reserves throughout the day by analyzing data from your sleep, stress, activity, and heart rate variability (HRV). On the days I felt I was lacking energy, it was always reflected in my Body Battery number.
Your energy level is given to you on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher your number is, the more energy you have for activities. A lower number may indicate that you should take a rest. If you got a good night of sleep, you'll probably start your day with a note that your Body Battery increased by a certain number of points while you slept. When the day ends, you can see how much your battery drained as you completed various tasks and activities.
The stress tracking was also on point in my experience. The Garmin Venu Sq can determine your stress levels based on your heart rate variability. If you want to get technical about it, the variable length of time between each heartbeat is regulated by the body's autonomic nervous system. When there's less variability between beats, your stress levels are higher. Conversely, when there's an increase in variability, your stress levels are lower.
During the week I wore the Garmin Venu Sq, I received two alerts to notify me that my stress levels were unusually high, and I should take a moment to relax. Were they accurate? The first alert occurred after my dog became violently ill in the middle of the night. The second alert occurred the following morning as I was rushing him to the emergency vet clinic. Yeah, it's safe to say that the stress tracking on this watch is pretty accurate.
Garmin Venu Sq Missing features
When comparing to the original Garmin Venu, there are a few missing features to take note of. As I mentioned, you won't have the barometric altimeter or gyroscope. This means you won't have access to any elevation-related tracking data. While this might not be vital information for the casual tracker, those who go on challenging hikes or bike rides will likely be more affected by these missing features.
The live watch faces aren't present on this smartwatch. Again, this is not all that important. One exercise option on the Garmin Venu that did not make it to the Venu Sq is on-screen workouts. This feature provides users with easy-to-follow, animations for various workouts, including cardio, strength, yoga, and Pilates workouts.
Those are the only difference between the Garmin Venu Sq and the original Venu. However, some other key features are missing from the Venu Sq that you'll find on the competitors. Remember, this is a fitness smartwatch above all else. It doesn't take the smart part too seriously. For example, you won't have optional LTE connectivity, a robust app selection, a voice assistant such as Siri or Bixby, or a mic/speaker for taking calls on your watch.
Garmin Venu Sq The competition
Speaking of competitors, the Garmin Venu Sq has quite a few, including the new Fitbit Sense. These watches have more in common than design and battery life. These watches offer GPS, 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, activity/sleep tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, and menstrual health tracking. If you want to save some money, you'll probably stick with the Venu Sq. If you want a few extra health sensors, you might prefer the Fitbit Sense. It has an electrocardiogram (ECG) and electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, as well as a skin temperature sensor if you want to track irregular heartbeats, changes in your skin's electrical levels, and your body temperature.
While the Apple Watch SE and the Garmin Venu Sq are similarly shaped, these are two very different watches. Still, there's a competition to be had. If you're an iOS user who wants solid health/activity tracking in a fully connected wearable, the Apple Watch SE is the superior choice. If you can live without the smart features and optional LTE connectivity, the Garmin Venu Sq can do everything that the Apple Watch SE does and then some. It also offers blood oxygen monitoring, which isn't available on the Apple Watch SE. Not to mention that the 6-day battery life on the Venu Sq blows this competitor's 18-hour battery life out of the water.
When it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, this fitness smartwatch competes with the Garmin Venu Sq in many key areas. It comes in two sizes and offers a higher-quality design. You can also choose to buy a mode with LTE connectivity if you want a more seamless experience. Both models offer in-depth health and fitness tracking, along with GPS, heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and blood oxygen monitoring. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 also comes with an ECG sensor and can take blood pressure readings.
Garmin Venu Sq Should you buy it?
You should buy it if ...
You want access to a solid health/fitness tracking suite
As you probably gathered by now, the main reason to buy the Garmin Venu Sq is its stellar tracking abilities. Whether you want to understand better how you're managing your stress and energy levels, track all of your workouts, or monitor your sleep patterns, this watch can do it all. There are plenty of preloaded sports apps to choose from. While that will be enough for some users, you can also use preset workouts via Garmin Connect or check out the training plans from Garmin Coach.
You a battery that lasts for almost a week
Personally, recharging my devices is one of my least favorite activities. It's even more irritating when you have a device that's constantly giving you low battery warnings. Fortunately, that's not going to be the case with the Venu Sq. Even if you track one or two activities a day, use 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, and receive several notifications per hour, you can still expect this battery sipper to last for nearly a week. Given that some of the competitors require daily or every-other-day charging, this is a big win for Garmin.
You prefer a small, lightweight smartwatch
One of the first things you'll notice upon unboxing the Garmin Venu Sq — I certainly did — is just how light and compact it is. This is essential when buying a fitness watch that needs to be comfortable enough for all-day wear. You also don't want to feel like you're lugging around a giant piece of tech on your wrist when exercising. The no-frills design of the Garmin Venu Sq does a great job of blending comfort and functionality.
You should not buy it if ...
You want a watch that's packed with "smart" features
Let's face it, smartwatches are becoming more and more sophisticated with each passing year. Some of us want a wearable that we can rely on for just about everything. If that's what you're expecting from the Garmin Venu Sq, you'll be disappointed. This is a fitness smartwatch to the core, but it's not designed to function at the same intelligence level as some of its competitors.
You want more detailed data offered by other Garmin wearables
If you've dabbled with Garmin smartwatches, you know there is no limit to the amount of data you can get your hands on. This is precisely why the company has been so successful at gearing its wearables toward specific crowds. From multisport smartwatches to running and triathlon smartwatches, the options are endless. If your intention in buying a smartwatch is to access hyper-specific metrics that go beyond standard fitness tracking, the Garmin Venu Sq is probably going to fall short of your expectations.
You want a luxurious design
In terms of design, the Garmin Venu Sq is made to get the job done. The display is easy to read in direct sunlight, and the combination of a touchscreen and two side buttons is enough for most people to navigate their way around the interface without too many issues. You're not going to find a crisp AMOLED display or a premium stainless steel bezel on the Garmin Venu Sq. If fitness tracking is your sole purpose, this may not be a deal-breaker.
3.5 out of 5
There are many reasons to consider the Garmin Venu Sq as your next smartwatch. Spoiler alert: the best reason to buy this device is if you're focused on tracking your health and fitness. It's the perfect path to better grasp what parts of your routine are working and what parts need improvement.
As you might've guessed, this isn't one of the more advanced Garmin smartwatches. It's more than a standard fitness band, but it's not an advanced running watch, either. If you're looking for something falls right in the middle of that spectrum, you'll love everything about the Garmin Venu Sq.
While it's unfortunate to pay more for onboard music and miss out on simple things like a barometric altimeter and gyroscope, this fitness smartwatch still delivers on some very important levels. You'll have detailed fitness tracking, multiple workout options, advanced sleep monitoring, a Pulse Ox sensor, 24/7 heart-rate tracking, and Body Battery energy monitoring. When you pair that with 6-day battery life, smartphone notifications, and Garmin Pay, you'll have the essentials covered at a reasonable price point.
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.
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