Android Central Verdict
Not only did Garmin improve the internals of the Venu Sq 2, but it also added an AMOLED display and improved battery life more than we expected. These upgrades come with a bit of a price increase over its predecessor, but it's still a great alternative to the likes of the Galaxy Watch, Apple Watch, and even Fitbit.
Bright and vibrant AMOLED display
Lightweight and comfortable design
Long-lasting battery life
Works with iOS and Android
Button navigation takes some getting used to
More expensive than its predecessor
You have to pay more for on-device music storage
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If you've been in the market for a new smartwatch, there arguably hasn't been a better time than now. Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit have all announced or released new options, with more expected in the near future.
Garmin is the latest company to jump on the train, with the release of the Venu Sq 2 and Sq 2 - Music Edition. This pair of new wearables are practically identical, with the only differences coming down to color options and the ability to store music directly on your wrist. After spending some time with the Venu Sq 2, there are a few reasons why this will end up on the list of best smartwatches.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: Price and availability
Garmin announced the Venu Sq 2 and Venu Sq 2 - Music Edition on September 1 alongside a limited edition version of the Garmin vivofit 3 jr. Both the Venu Sq 2 and Music Edition are available in one case sizing, 40mm, however, there are different colors available for each version.
The Venu Sq 2 is priced at $249.99, while the Venu Sq 2 - Music Edition comes in at $299. Both of these smartwatches are available now from Garmin directly, along with many online and physical retailers.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: What you'll like
Even before you pick up the Venu Sq 2 for yourself, you'll notice that this is more affordable than much of the competition. The only real exception is the standard Galaxy Watch 5, which is $20 cheaper than the Music Edition, and $30 more expensive than the regular Sq 2. It's not likely to make or break your decision overall, but the $250 retail price is much more palatable if you were considering the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
The most recent wearable that I reviewed was Fitbit's Inspire 3, which provided a bit of a shock after using the Watch 5 Pro. And going from the Inspire 3's tiny screen to the Venu Sq 2 felt like I had found a "goldilocks" device.
Those upgrading from the original Garmin Venu Sq will immediately notice a difference, as Garmin switched to using an AMOLED display with the Sq 2. This provides a more vibrant and enjoyable look to your smartwatch, even when switching between different watch faces.
|Category||Garmin Venu Sq 2 specs|
|Materials||Fiber-reinforced polymer, Anodized aluminum|
|Display||1.41", AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|Resolution||320 x 360|
|Bands||20mm, quick release|
|Dimensions & weight (255)||40.6 x 37.0 x 11.1 mm, 38 grams|
|Sensors||GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO, HRM, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light, pulse ox|
|Connectivity||NFC (Garmin Pay), Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi|
|Music Storage||Music Edition only, up to 500 songs ($50 extra)|
|Colors (Venu Sq 2)||Slate / Shadow Gray, Cream Gold / White, Metallic Mint / Cool Mint|
|Colors (Venu Sq 2 - Music Edition)||Slate / Black, Peach Gold / Ivory, Cream Gold / French Gray|
|Mic and speaker||🚫|
Perhaps even more surprising is that Garmin was able to increase the amount of battery life, despite going from LCD to AMOLED. And it's honestly a testament to how well Garmin has optimized its "Smartwatch mode" to provide as much battery as possible. The company claims the Venu Sq 2 can last up to 11 days on a single charge, and I was able to get a little over 10 days before needing to try and find the charger.
Of course, you likely will notice your battery draining a bit quicker if you're using it for workout tracking or with the AOD enabled. But it will still last longer than some of the other recently-released wearables, still giving Garmin a leg up.
I have a tendency of "beating" various "drums" around here at Android Central, and Garmin's Body Battery is one of my new favorites. Ever since reviewing the Vivosmart 5, Garmin wearables have provided the most accurate depiction of how I'm feeling throughout the day.
If I find myself feeling a bit more tired earlier than normal, I usually open the Garmin app to see what my "battery" looks like. It's truly something that I wish we would see come to some of the other wearables out there, but at the same time, I'm happy to see Garmin offer something unique and different compared to the competition.
With the Venu Sq 2, something else you won't have to worry about is it being uncomfortable. Both the standard and Music Edition variants ship with a silicone rubber band that is much more comfortable than even the ones provided by Samsung and Apple. And if you want to swap it out for a different band, the quick-release design makes the process as easy as you would hope.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: What you won't
While the primary way of interacting with the Venu Sq 2 is through the touchscreen, this isn't very practical if your palms are sweaty, knees weak, and arms are heavy. And while Garmin does include a couple of hardware buttons on the side, it's not obvious what they do.
The button at the top can be set to provide shortcuts to some of your most frequently-used activities or workouts. And continuing to press the button will start and stop the tracking. Meanwhile, the bottom button pulls double-duty as serving as a "back" button along with providing access to the list of settings and other apps. It's not that it's very confusing to figure out but just feels a bit clunky and not extremely intuitive.
Something else that you might find a bit frustrating is the increased pricing over the original Venu Sq. Part of this can be attributed to the improved internals, including the switch from an LCD display to an AMOLED one.
But the price bump is compounded when you realize that the Music Edition is even more expensive than the standard Venu Sq 2. Needing to pay an extra $50 just for the "luxury" of offline music storage really doesn't look that great. Especially when you consider that there aren't any other differences between the two versions, outside of the music storage.
It feels like deciding whether to pay Apple's extortion for upgrading storage space on any of its devices. I would've much rather seen Garmin split the difference and release the Venu Sq 2, complete with offline music storage for around $275. It's a bit of an odd price, but it would make more sense.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: The competition
As I alluded to previously, the most obvious competition to the Garmin Venu Sq 2 is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro. Even with the Watch 5 Pro's vastly-improved battery life, neither of these can hold a candle to what the Venu Sq 2 offers. Even on a good battery cycle, you'll still only get three days of juice, compared to the 11 days that Garmin provides. But on the other side, you'll also have access to Google's services, the Play Store, and onboard storage, without needing to pay more.
While we haven't been able to get our hands on either of them yet, Fitbit's upcoming Versa 4 and Sense 2 are two formidable opponents. Both of these are said to offer more than six days of battery life, along with quick charging capabilities that will provide a day of battery with just a "12-minute" charge.
Fitbit is also beginning to implement some of Google's services, such as offering the ability to replace Fitbit Pay with Google Wallet, along with on-wrist Google Maps. We'll have to wait until we can actually put Fitbit's latest wearables to the test to see how they stack up. But it's clear that the Venu Sq 2 might have a bit of a hill to climb as the competition grows.
Garmin Venu Sq 2: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You are upgrading from the original Venu Sq.
- You want or need excellent battery life in a smartwatch.
- You don't want a mainstream smartwatch (i.e. Samsung or Fitbit).
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You need a smartwatch with a built-in altimeter or ECG readings.
- You don't want to pay extra for music storage.
- You want to see how the Versa 4, Sense 2, and Pixel Watch perform.
In a vacuum, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 is a fantastic wearable with a few quirks that you'll be able to get used to. It offers long-lasting battery life, the AMOLED display is a welcome upgrade, and the Venu Sq 2 remains a lightweight and comfortable wearable companion.
And while practically every other smartwatch in the sub-$300 price bracket offers some type of compromise, the Venu Sq 2 might still stand above the pack. Garmin's health and fitness tracking are top-notch, even for those (like myself) that live a sedentary lifestyle.
If you're in the market for a new smartwatch and aren't intrigued by the other offerings, the Venu Sq 2 is a great mid-range option. Just be prepared to pay a bit more if you care about having music on your wrist during your workouts.
Mainstream, but not
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 has a lot to offer with its new AMOLED display and 11-day battery life. And while it's pricier than the original Venu Sq, Garmin has placed this in direct competition with Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.