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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Which fitness smartwatch is best?

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro targets athletes who want an Android watch that reliably lasts across workouts but has plenty of uses outside of them. The Venu 2 Plus targets serious athletes who want a more stylish and smartphone-connected watch than Garmin typically offers. In other words, both are compromise picks trying to reach the best of both worlds, and they both have the same hefty price tag. 

Having reviewed both watches myself — and given them the same review score of 4 out of 5 — I'm here to pit the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro versus the Garmin Venu 2 Plus and help you decide which watch is the better fit. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Design and display

Garmin Venu 2 Plus (left) and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro (right)

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a controversial design, to say the least. Abandoning the blueprint of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with its physical bezel — which made it easy to navigate Wear OS menus accurately during a workout — Samsung gave the Pro the same digital bezel as most Galaxy Watch models, so you rotate your finger around the display edge to scroll. It works perfectly well in daily life...but not so much once my fingertips get sweaty. 

Unsurprisingly, Samsung abandoned the old design, instead packing the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro with a massive battery instead. It weighs 46.5g without the band and closer to 70g with the default strap. And it measures about 15mm thick. Samsung redesigned the watch from the 4 series to sit more flush against your wrist, giving you more accurate sensor results. But it's still wide enough that it'll catch on doorways if you're not careful. Adding a raised physical bezel on top of this would only make these issues worse.

With the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, you also have a touchscreen with thick black bezels but no rotating bezel trick, making that portion of the display functionally useless. It has three buttons, one more than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Most Garmin watches have five buttons, two of which are up/down buttons for manual scrolling without touch. The Venu 2 Plus relies on touch instead and therefore has similar issues with sweat interfering with swipes during runs, but much better convenience outside of them. 

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

While it isn't lightweight at 51g (strap included), the Venu 2 Plus is not nearly as bad as the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It also had to pack a larger battery to power its AMOLED display and mic/speaker while hitting Garmin's typical battery numbers. It did so with just 12.6mm thickness, making it less inconvenient to wear.

Both watches have dedicated "select" and "back" buttons, along with other shortcuts when you long-press them. Garmin gives you a third button specifically for customizable shortcuts to your favorite features, and its main button will take you directly to a workout menu. Samsung reserves its shortcuts for Google Assistant/Bixby and Google Pay/Samsung Pay on its two buttons. You need to scroll to find and select Samsung Health workouts because the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has too many functions to reserve a button specifically for fitness. 

Both watches have very similar visual quality. The Venu 2 Plus is 0.1 inches smaller than the 1.4-inch Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, but both have very similar pixels per inch (452 vs. 454), so it's not a significant visual downgrade. It's important for Samsung's watch to have more space because Wear OS 3 gives it more utility; you can type on a QWERTY keyboard or use graphically demanding Wear OS apps that the lightweight Garmin OS couldn't handle. 

Where Samsung steps ahead is in its watch's materials. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a Sapphire Glass screen and titanium case. In contrast, the Venu 2 Plus has a stainless steel bezel but is otherwise plastic-based and uses older Gorilla Glass 3 protection. 

The Pro also has a neat elevated bezel that protects its display, while the Venu 2 Plus is flush, leaving the display more vulnerable to falls and scratches. And it is rated for both 5ATM and MIL-STD-810H protection, while the Venu 2 Plus can certainly handle swimming but lacks a military-grade rating. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Specs, battery life, and compatibility

Daily activity ring goals on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Even if the Galaxy Watch 5 series didn't make many significant updates over the last generation in specs, it and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro are still the two best Android smartwatches by far because they have no peers for performance and software quality. 

We also include the Venu 2 Plus further down that list — even though it also works with iPhones — on the strength of its fitness tools and battery life. But there's a reason Garmin doesn't publicly post what processor or RAM it uses. It has all the essentials of a lifestyle watch but doesn't have the power to run demanding software, reserving its resources for longer battery life. 

CategoryGarmin Venu 2 PlusSamsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro
Operating SystemGarmin OS (Android, iOS)Wear OS 3.5 (Android)
Display1.3-inch 416x416 AMOLED1.4-inch 450x450 AMOLED
Dimensions43.6 x 43.6 x 12.6 mm45.4 x 45.4 x 15mm
Weight51g (with band)46g (without band)
MaterialStainless steel bezel; fiber-reinforced polymer caseTitanium bezel/case
Protection5ATM5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810H
ProcessorUnknownExynos W920 Dual-Core 1.18GHz with 1.5GB memory
StorageUp to 650 songs, limited watch faces16GB
NFCGarmin PaySamsung Pay/ Google Pay
Mic/speaker✔️✔️
Voice assistantsBixby, Google Assistant, SiriBixby, Google Assistant
Battery9 days / 24 GPS hours3 days / 12 GPS hours
LTE🚫✔️
SensorsGPS/GLONASS/GALILEO, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, ambient light sensor, SpO2Samsung BioActive Sensor (Optical Heart Rate + Electrical Heart Signal + Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis), Temperature Sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Light Sensor
ColorsSlate, Silver, Light GoldBlack Titanium, Gray Titanium

Both devices have plenty of smartwatch features in common: a mic & speaker, the ability to answer Bluetooth calls or speak to voice assistants, built-in GPS and music storage if you leave your phone behind, NFC tap-to-pay, an optical heart rate monitor, and blood oxygen monitoring. Only the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has a 4G/LTE upgrade option for $50 extra, but we haven't tested that model ourselves. 

Garmin doesn't say exactly how much storage space you get in GB, but you'll store about 650 songs based on the size and quality of files, as well as custom watch faces from the Garmin Connect IQ app. With the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, you could theoretically fit thousands of songs across 16GB, but you'll likely use up a lot of that storage space on other apps, too. 

The most obvious difference between the two watches is their battery life. With the Garmin Venu 2 Plus, you can make it last 9 days per charge before needing a couple of hours to jump back to 100%, or run it continuously for 24 straight GPS-tracked hours. Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which lasts an impressive 72-80 hours per charge and can refill its capacity more quickly thanks to its new 10W charging speed. Both watches lived up to these estimates in my review testing, even with features like continuous HRM and SpO2 monitoring active. 

I say "impressive" because most Wear OS watches and Apple Watches need daily recharges thanks to the battery-guzzling RAM required for apps and better phone synchronization. Samsung's stocky design pays off to make the Pro less of a lightweight for fitness tracking, even if it still falls well short of the Venu 2 Plus. So your question becomes how much battery life you actually need. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Software and sensors

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro BIA sensor in-progress

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

There really isn't much point in laying out all the features and tools you can access with Wear OS 3. Suffice it to say, it gives you a reliable connection with your Android phone so you can check and respond to notifications, and it has tons of Wear apps that pair with the apps on your phone. Garmin watches will show notifications but don't let you do anything with them, and their only 3rd-party integration is to export running data to other running apps

Focusing on Samsung Health versus Garmin Connect data, both watches can continuously track your heart rate and blood oxygen in order to measure your effort during workouts, check for heart rate variability (HRV) to detect stress levels or AFib, and rate your sleep quality. They'll also track Garmin intensity minutes or Samsung Active Time showing how often your heart rate hits activity levels. And you'll receive summaries of your body's current health and fitness levels based on the tracked data.

Garmin takes this data to give you a Body Battery score, letting you know how much stamina you have based on your sleep, workouts, stress, and diet, so you know how hard to push yourself that day. It'll also track your hydration levels, menstrual cycles, respiration per minute, and other useful data that informs your score. And thanks to Garmin Coach, you can add workout calendars to your watch based on specific criteria like marathon training, so a daily recommended workout appears when you start a sports mode like Running. 

Samsung Health lacks the ability to convert its data into actionable recommendations, simply encouraging you to clear your daily step count, active time, and calories burned goals with no context of the previous day's efforts. 

On-screen exercise (sit-up) on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Garmin also takes advantage of the Venu 2 Plus's AMOLED display to show up to 1,600 animated exercises on your wrist; you can create custom workouts with specific routines like burpees or planks, then see on your wrist exactly how to do it before beginning your reps. Samsung's watch certainly has the capacity for this kind of tool, but aside from the cute animations before starting a Samsung Health workout, I don't think the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has this kind of feature. 

Basically, Samsung wins for non-fitness software and has a variety of sports app options, while Garmin only relies on itself. But considering how good Garmin's fitness tools are, you might still prefer the Venu 2 Plus if that's your priority. 

Of course, buyers who want even more health data may choose the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. It has a BIA sensor that measures your body composition so you can check your fat and muscle percentages, among other data. And it technically has a temperature sensor that'll make sleep data more accurate, though Samsung has yet to activate the sensor. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro vs. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro sitting on tree leaves, showing app tiles.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

For some buyers, the choice is easy. If you own or ever plan to own an iPhone, buy the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. Or, if you're a serious athlete that needs reminders on when you're overtraining or what workout is next on your calendar, the Venu 2 Plus is the easy choice. Samsung will encourage you to work out every day, and third-party apps might have workout regimens, but the Venu series has more fitness smarts (especially for gym-goers) and a battery life that never quits. 

The biggest caveat to the Garmin Venu 2 Plus (or any Garmin) is that it has very limited use once you've finished your workout. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has plenty of to-do and calendar apps to keep you on task, more music apps, messaging apps, and other lifestyle tools like rideshare or food delivery apps. You'll want to keep wearing it all day — although its heavy weight makes it a bit uncomfortable to wear for too long. 

I can't choose which is the "better" option because both are solid products that fulfill slightly different niches. Samsung's superior software makes its watch more appealing, but the Venu 2 Plus is more comfortable and has a laser focus on fitness that many will appreciate. So you'll have to make the choice for yourself. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.