Garmin Venu vs. Forerunner 645: Which should you buy?

Garmin Forerunner 645
Garmin Forerunner 645 (Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin Venu

Garmin Venu

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if you consider yourself a smartwatch enthusiast, there are certain features you look for when shopping for a new wearable. Some examples might include a crisp display, mobile payments, music storage, and attractive design. The Garmin Venu has it all and then some.

Garmin Venu

Modern lifestyle watch

Attractive AMOLED display
Pulse Ox sensor
Body Battery energy monitor
Music storage
Garmin Pay
Shorter battery life
More expensive
No advanced running features

Garmin Forerunner 645

Garmin Forerunner 645

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As a runner, there are just some things you can't live without, like a proper running watch. The Forerunner 645 is overflowing with essential features, like multiple sport modes, advanced running dynamics, and much more.

Garmin Forerunner 645

Runner's paradise

Lightweight, workout-friendly design
Compatible with Garmin Running Power
Advanced running dynamics
Week-long battery life
Garmin Pay
Music version costs more
Lacks Pulse Ox sensor
No AMOLED screen

As you set out to find the perfect smartwatch, you probably have a list of essential features in mind. You want to make sure you're getting your money's worth, after all. The Garmin Venu and the Forerunner 645 are notable contenders with plenty to offer. If you're looking for an all-around lifestyle smartwatch that comes with some remarkable tracking features, you'll be in good hands with the Venu. If you're a dedicated runner who needs all of the details all of the time, look no further than the Forerunner 645.

Smarter than ever

Garmin Venu Press Hero

Source: GarminPictured: Garmin Venu (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

If fashionable and eye-catching happen to be on your checklist, you'll love the Garmin Venu. Released at the end of 2019, this smartwatch has a vivid AMOLED touchscreen. A fancy display like this is a first for Garmin. Besides being great to look at, it also makes animated on-screen workouts possible, which many people will find useful. It comes in a high-quality stainless steel case and you can choose from silver, slate, gold, and rose gold. It has a 20mm quick release band that can be easily swapped out when you feel like changing things up.

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Header Cell - Column 0 VenuForerunner 645
Display1.2" AMOLED
390 x 390 pixels
1.2" transflective
240 x 240 pixels
Dimesnsions43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm
Battery lifeSmartwatch mode: 5 days
GPS with music: 6 hours
Smartwatch Mode: 7 days
GPS mode: 14 hours
SensorsGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate, accelerometer, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, thermometerGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate, accelerometer, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, thermometer
Water resistance5 ATM5 ATM
Toushscreen✔️
Music storage✔️✔️ (Music version only)
Garmin Pay✔️✔️

Being that this is one of the company's most recent wearables to hit the market, it has some exciting new features. You'll have a Pulse Ox sensor, which monitors blood oxygen saturation levels. It also comes with a Body Battery energy monitoring feature, which tracks your energy levels so you can find ideal times for activity and rest as you go about your day.

Being that the Garmin Venu is one of the company's most recent wearables, it has some exciting new features.

The Venu gives you music storage for up to 500 songs. While this watch is an entirely new product, Garmin is known for releasing two models for each of its products, so you'd pay more for a music version, for example. Fortunately, music storage is standard on the Venu so your phone won't be weighing you down during workouts any longer.

You'll have mobile payments via Garmin Pay, so your wallet can also be left behind during your activities. Other features you'll enjoy include activity/sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, 20 preloaded sports apps, built-in GPS, and 5 ATM water resistance. Oddly enough, one sport mode the Venu has over the Forerunner 645 is golfing. If that is on your list of favorite activities, you'll be happy to know that you can track it with the Venu.

Made for runners

Forerunner 645

Source: GarminPictured: Garmin Forerunner 645 (Image credit: Source: Garmin)

While having a little bit of everything is nice, sometimes you want your watch to be good at one specific thing. If that thing is running, you can't go wrong with the Forerunner 645. Don't expect a fancy AMOLED touchscreen on this watch, though. It's got your basic transflective display that most Garmin wearables have. You'll do all of your navigating via the right and left side buttons. It does have a stainless steel case, which is a nice touch considering most running watches have a more rugged appearance. It's also compatible with 20 mm quick release bands.

Considering this wearable came out in 2018, it's not exactly the new kid on the block. It's another example of having to pay more for a music version. If you opt for the standard model, you'll only be able to control music from your watch with your phone nearby. The good news is that this smartwatch does come with Garmin Pay, which isn't available on most of the previous Forerunner models.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 has many of the same features as the Venu.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 has many of the same features as the Venu. You'll have standard health/activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, built-in GPS, sleep tracking, and nearly the same sports apps. You'll miss out on having a golf sport mode and on-screen workouts but assuming you're buying this watch for running, this won't be too much of a loss.

The features that are unique to the Forerunner 645 include advanced running dynamics and Garmin Running Power. Keep in mind that you'll need to use some additional accessories to unlock these metrics. The most common options are a chest strap or the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod. This will give you six in-depth metrics: ground contact time, ground contact balance, vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, cadence, and stride length. As for Garmin Running Power, this feature helps you improve your pacing and running technique, determine your ideal power-to-weight ratio, and assess how well your training is working.

Bottom line

For most users, this one is a no-brainer. If you want one of the newest watches from Garmin that has a colorful touchscreen, music storage, mobile payments, and a whole lot of health/activity tracking features, you'll want to go for the Venu. It's also got the Pulse Ox sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation levels and the Body Battery energy monitor for tracking your energy levels.

Runners will most likely be wanting more detailed tracking for training purposes. Not to worry because the Forerunner 645 was made just for you. You still get all of the basics, like GPS, heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and even mobile payments. Where this watch performs is with features like advanced running dynamics and Garmin Running Power. Rest assured, you'll be a star runner in no time.