Our Garmin Venu review is in full swing. The device has been put to the test and the strengths and weaknesses of the first Garmin sports watch with AMOLED display are already apparent. Many Android smartwatches have AMOLED displays and even the very affordable Xiaomi MI Band 4 fitness tracker. They are high-resolution and have rich colors. However, this also leads to weak battery life of about 1 to 3 days in Smartwatches, if you want to use all functions regularly, but Garmin promises 5 days without compromise. That is, all Smartwatch functions, regular training and Garmin’s well-known sports functions included without restrictions.
We show in this test report:
- How good is the display?
- What are the display differences to other Garmin watches like the Garmin Vivoactive 4?
- Garmin Venu Watchfaces Examples
- Operation in everyday life and sports, data fields, GPS accuracy, many pictures and more
So far, Garmin has relied on transflective MIP (Memory in Pixel) displays that are permanently turned on and have excellent readability in almost any environment, especially brighter environments. The next few days will show whether Garmin’s new display is also easy to read, especially during sports, or whether it can be always-on. We still need a few days to record all our Venu experiences in the report. If you can’t wait, take a look at our Garmin Vivoactive 4 review, which tests a lot of (sporty) features, is very advanced and very extensive. Venu and Vivoactive 4 actually differ only in the displays and the resulting relevant properties such as battery life. First pictures and comparisons are already available below.
The battery life doesn’t quite come close to comparable current Garmin models with transreflective displays, but it clearly trumps most Android and Apple smartwatches by a few days. It can be assumed that if unused functions are deactivated, the battery life can be noticeably increased.
The sporting and other highlights include:
- GPS, GLONASS, Galileo
- Garmin Elevate technology for wrist heart rate measurement
- barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate oximeter acclimatization
- 2 buttons on the right side of the housing
- Waterproof up to 5 ATM (suitable for swimming)
- Heart rate measurement during swimming (tips and more detailed information on the accuracy of HR measurement during swimming with Garmin watches)
- Fitness and health tracking (Heart rate Ox, Body Battery, breathing rate, Relax Alarm, water consumption, menstrual cycle tracking)
- More than 40 animated workouts directly on the watch for easy imitation
- Over 20 pre-installed sports apps such as running, swimming including the new Yoga 2.0 and Pilates
- Workouts and training plans as well as individual running plans downloadable to the watch
- Integrated music memory (approx. 500 tracks) for playback via directly connectable Bluetooth headphones (smartphone can stay at home)
- Music Streaming: Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadio and Spotify
- Automatic accident/emergency notification during certain activities
- display characteristics
- 1,2″ AMOLED display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels
- Option to keep the display permanently on (always-on display)
- Watch glass from Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Battery life Examples
- Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days with fitness tracker functions and wrist heart rate measurement around the clock
- GPS mode: up to 20 hours
- GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
- Garmin Pay function for cashless payments (with partners Boon, VIMpay & Mastercard)
- Colours: Black with gold, sand with rose gold, granite blue with silver and black with slate.
- 20mm Standard Quick Release Bands. So any standard bands can be attached.
Compared to Vivoactive 3 and its music version Vivoactive 3 Music, some new features have been added. With the Venu there is no more music version, music memory and all important functions are now under one hood.
The Garmin Venu hardly brings new innovative fitness features. It is above all the display that stands out in comparison to other all-round Garmin sports watches such as the Vivoactive 3 or Vivoactive 4 and brings them closer to Android/Apple or Fitbit smartwatches. Like the TicWatch C2, Apple Watch 3/4 or Fitbit Versa or Fitbit Versa 2, Garmin himself classifies the Venu as GPS Smartwatch.
The fitness features are state-of-the-art and virtually identical to those of the new Garmin Vivoactive 4, so you don’t have to worry about compromising with the Venu from a sporting point of view. Ultimately, it is like a Vivoactive with a different display and the resulting additional features. These include high-resolution and high-performance animation displays or animated watchfaces.
On the other hand, the AMOLED display may be less readable in certain outdoor/very bright conditions because it is more reflective. It was this aspect that we took a closer look at in the Garmin Venu review, because we often had to experience with Smartwatches with (AM)OLED/LCD displays that data displayed on the display was harder to read during outdoor sports.
But because the brightness of the display is very good, we never had any problems reading the display during the practical test. The Venu also automatically increases the brightness when necessary. Here are two examples of what it can look like when it’s very seldom running stupidly and how it normally looks on the display outdoors:
In environments such as fitness studios, on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about good readability. This is where AMOLED displays can clearly show their strengths compared to other displays. In the following, we also show a direct comparison to a watch with a transreflective MIP display, which clearly shows that the Venu has much stronger and higher-contrast colors:
If you want to know more about the Venu Always-On options: the Venu offers an Always-On display, but only in sports mode with full functionality. In normal everyday mode, Always-On is limited to the time. Everything else is then no longer visible, i.e. the background is deactivated. Of course, the Always-On option shortens the possible battery life. By the way, the display brightness can be configured very well in the system settings of the watch, so that you can possibly counteract something with this option regarding the battery life.
One general thing is still important about OLED displays: you should avoid displaying static images with a high brightness level over a longer period of time. This could lead to the images being burned into the display. Therefore it is recommended to activate the timeout option of the watch instead of the always-on in everyday life. Always-on doesn’t seem to be available on all watch faces, probably for the reason mentioned above. Third party providers also have to program the option explicitly, otherwise Always-On is not available in their watch faces.
A transflective MIP display (memory in pixels) is not as high-resolution and the colours are not as rich as with an AMOLED display, but it is permanently switched on in normal as well as sports mode (Always-On Display) and very reliable and easy to read outdoors and even in direct sunlight. This has no effect on the battery life of watches with MIP displays. Here is an example of a Vivoactive 4 and Fenix 6, which are easy to read even in direct sunlight:
So if you want such good readability for bright environments, take a look at other Garmin sports watches. The Garmin Venu is more likely to be more difficult to read outdoors than other Garmin watches.
Case and wristband
The Venu is Garmin-typically well processed. This applies to the polymer case and display as well as to the replaceable silicone wristband. But the Venu is hardly comparable with a Garmin Fenix (Fenix 6 Review). While the Fenix is much more massive, the Venu with its 46.3 grams conveys a feeling of lightness. Its high-contrast display rounds off the great overall picture. Both the bezel and the buckle are made of stainless steel.
Operation and Watch faces
Menu navigation and control of the Venu is via two buttons on the right-hand side of the housing and the touch display. The upper right button is the action button and is pressed when, for example, you want to switch the device on/off, start and stop activities, display the control menu (hold for 2 seconds), activate the emergency help (hold for 5 seconds) or confirm actions. The lower left button is the back button. It returns you to the previous page or marks new laps/new sets in Activities.
And then there’s the touch display, which is especially helpful in everyday life, where you can wipe, tap and hold to control widgets, various functions and menus or confirm actions. Some actions, such as selecting a sports profile, can only be selected via the touch display. All in all, we find the operation very successful, intuitive and reliable.
With the preconfigured watch face, the look of the Venu can be very well adapted to your own ideas. Further watch faces can be downloaded from the Connect Store. Here are a few watch face examples:
Garmin Venu Review: Practice
In this Venu test report we go to the sporting scenarios. The Venu is a GPS Multi-sport Smartwatch, which means an all-rounder. However, like most sports watches, it does not have an automatic multi-sports mode, which allows several sports to be recorded seamlessly as a unit and is especially interesting for triathletes. This function is reserved for high-end sports watches such as the Fenix 5 or Fenix 6. The Venu offers added value for most athletes, as it is versatile and expandable with additional apps from the Garmin Connect Store as well as ANT+ or Bluetooth sports sensors. These include heart rate chest straps, running sensors, speed and cadence sensors, Varia smart bicycle lights and radar, ANT+ temperature sensors and Approach CT10 golf sensors (Shopping Link*).
The Venu does not come close to a data and analysis depth (such as training load, training effect, recovery time) of a Forerunner or Fenix model, but it is still far superior to the majority of currently available sports watches. Because the sporting instruments and the available and individually adaptable data pages and fields are not available from the competition. If you need versatile navigation options or an automatic multisports mode, you’d probably rather take a closer look at the Fenix models such as Fenix 6, for example, which covers these areas better.
As our Venu review will show, the watch doesn’t exactly save on setting and recording options for each sports profile (also for swimmers, golfers and snowboarders, for example), because there are lots of data fields available for configuration. This feature is a Garmin unique selling point that no Apple Watch, Polar or Suntoo sports watch or Fitbit fitness watch offers. Therefore a Venu can be interesting also for professionals. Anyone can configure the watch and what it displays during the sport where on the available data pages to suit him.
Adjustments – Data fields
Before a training you have the possibility to make specific profile settings. For example, the available pages and their data fields can be individualized very well and in detail. Various data fields, alarms as well as lap (Auto Lap) and Auto Pause functions are available for the sports profiles. The data fields are displayed on a maximum of 3 training pages. A separate 4th non-editable training page is available for displaying the current heart rate as well as the current HR zone. This can only be switched on or off.
Among the selectable and partly configurable data fields are for example (small excerpt):
- Various timer fields (like lap time, average time per lap, time last lap)
- Distance fields (like distance, lap distance, distance last lap)
- Pace (like average pace, lap pace, last lap pace, maximum pace)
- Heart rate fields (heart rate, average HR, heart rate range, HR lap, HR %max, time in HR zone, …)
- Various step frequency fields
- Various cadence fields, temperature fields, altitude fields
- Other fields like calories, direction, temperature, altitude and many more
Each training page can display 1 to a maximum of 4 data fields. Thus, a maximum of 12 different data fields can be read simultaneously on the 3 pages. Additionally on the fourth data page the HR data mentioned above can be read.
Adjustments – Alarms
The configurable alarms are also very diverse (small excerpt):
- Heart rate (individual zone areas with lower/upper alarm can be selected, manual input for max. HF also possible)
- Speed, time, distance, step/step frequency alarms
- User-defined alarms such as drinking, eating, reversing, going home
If one of the alarms is triggered, the Vivoactive 4 reports via vibration alarm and visually on the display.
Adjustments – Other
We’ll show you a few more setting options and then leave it at them, otherwise the scope of this review will be blown:
Simple interval trainings are also preconfigured on the Venu. However, these are not editable directly on the watch – as is possible on a Fenix 6, for example – but must be carried out as pre-defined. Garmin Connect, however, can be used to load far more complex, own trainings and entire training plans, including a training calendar, onto the Venu. Each individual interval step can also be viewed beforehand for better preparation:
GPS – Accuracy
For our Garmin Venu review we were already active in sports and in the first run we first had an eye on the GPS accuracy. In the options GPS/GLONASS was activated. GPS/Galileo is also possible.
Tip: If you want to achieve more accurate recordings, you should first set the recording interval to 1 second in the system settings. There, the Smart Recording option is preset, which records distances with less battery consumption but less accuracy. One should know that the 1-second recording interval only affects the data to be recorded and has no influence on the metrics actually measured. This ultimately means that the file containing the route becomes larger and has more measurement points. The memory of the watch is therefore used to a greater extent.
All in all, the Venu gets the recording done quite well in good weather and doesn’t make any rough mistakes:
The distance covered is very good overall. If you zoom into the picture a little, you will see a few inaccurate recordings. For example when walking under a bridge (yellow mark). The red mark was actually run. But other difficult passages (narrow curves, over a bridge, under trees,…) she masters very well. Overall, we are satisfied with the GPS recording so far:
Garmin Venu or Vivoactive 4
Most features are shared by the new Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin Venu models, as the hardware in the case is identical. But what are the main differences? This is illustrated by the following comparison between Vivoactive 4, Vivoactive 4 S and Garmin Venu.
|FEATURES||VIVOACTIVE 4 S||VIVOACTIVE 4||VENU|
|Dimen. (mm)||40 x 40 x 12,7||45,1 x 45,1 x 12,8||43 x 43 x 12|
|Lunette mat..||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Stainless steel|
|Band type (web width)||Quick Change (18 mm)||Quick Change (22 mm)||Quick Change (20 mm)|
|Displaymat.||Gorilla Glass||Gorilla Glass||Gorilla Glass|
|Displaytyp||MIP colour touch display||MIP colour touch display||AMOLED colour touch display|
|Display size||27,9 mm (1,1″)||33 mm (1,3″)||30,4 mm (1,2″)|
|GPS | GLONASS | Galileo | Connected GPS||● | ● | ● | ○||● | ● | ● | ○||● | ● | ● | ○|
|Bluetooth | ANT+ | WLAN||● | ● | ●||● | ● | ●||● | ● | ●|
|Barometer | Compass | Gyroscope||● | ● | ●||● | ● | ●||● | ● | ●|
|Acceleromet. | Thermometer. | Brightness sensor||● | ● | ○||● | ● | ○||● | ● | ○|
|Integrated memory||4 GB||4 GB||4 GB|
|Battery life | with GPS (up to)||7d | bis zu 13h||8d | bis zu 15h||5d | bis zu 20h|
|Waterproof to||50 m (5 ATM)||50 m (5 ATM)||50 m (5 ATM)|
Garmin Venu Review
These were our first test results and experiences with the Garmin Venu. In the next days and weeks practical measurement results will be added. We will gradually extend this article to a Garmin Venu practice test as soon as the weather allows for more sports…