Garmin Venu is Garmin’s first smartwatch that uses a full AMOLED touchscreen display, which is a great breath of fresh air from the usual LCD displays they use on the previous smartwatches. There isn’t Google’s Wear OS on board, but it still manages to provide a great user experience, at a price that’s slightly more affordable than the Apple Watch Series 5. We had a chance to test one out for ourselves, so here’s our review of the Garmin Venu smartwatch.
|LENS MATERIAL||Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|BEZEL MATERIAL||Stainless steel|
|CASE MATERIAL||Fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover|
|QUICK RELEASE BANDS||(20 mm, Industry standard)|
|PHYSICAL SIZE||43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mmFits wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm|
|DISPLAY SIZE||1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter|
|DISPLAY RESOLUTION||390 x 390 pixels|
|BATTERY LIFE||Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 daysGPS mode with music: Up to 6 hoursGPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours|
|WATER RATING||Swim, 5 ATM|
|MEMORY/HISTORY||200 hours of activity data|
Unlike the company’s Forerunner and Vivoactive lineup, the Garmin Venu took on an entirely new design cue to give it its own unique look. It doesn’t look as premium as the Apple Watch series, but it still looks amazing and has its own je ne sais quoi to it.
It has a thin bezel, and the case is a unisex sized 43mm case. It’s made out of fibre polymer (plastic), so that’s definitely one of the reasons why it’s lightweight, weighing only 46.5g. The one we had is the all-black version, which has a hot-swap 20mm strap so you can easily change the strap with the industry-standard quick release catch. If you want to go for a leather strap, you’re more than free to do so yourself.
I appreciate that despite offering a touchscreen, Garmin also included two buttons on the right-hand side, which gives you more navigation options.
The Garmin Venu feels absolutely comfortable when wearing it. From putting it on, and just leaving it there for the entire day, it feels natural to me and it’s like I’ve never had it on at all. The strap is easy to put on and take off, and it doesn’t leave those marks on your skin after a long day, as long as you don’t wear it too tight on your wrist.
Even the loop on the watch had a small bump so that it stays in place and doesn’t flick around unnecessarily.And because the side buttons are so thin, it doesn’t leave a dent in your flesh when you bend your wrists.
The use of the AMOLED panel on the Garmin Venu is a huge deal, and is a lifesaver when it comes to battery life. The 1.2-inch touchscreen puts out a 390 x 390 pixel resolution, it offers a tiny (because of its size), but great visual experience. Colours are really vibrant, and the blacks are really deep. Everything’s legible, from texts to numbers and images.
The Always-On mode has a minimalist watch face to limit what’s shown on screen, but everything comes back full-force when you lift your wrist. There are some delays on and off, but nothing that would get in the way of using the watch.
Another thing about the display is that it is very easy to attract scratches. A gentle accidental bump on my table made a scratch on the lower half of the display. The glass should’ve been tougher, but at least the display is still intact.
The display is great, but the touchscreen navigation isn’t as user friendly as I’d hoped it’d be. I’ve used smartwatches before, and once I picked one up, I immediately knew what swipe would do what, but it wasn’t the same with the Garmin Venu. It definitely took me some time to get used to them. Sometimes, I would get a few false presses here and there too.
To keep you up to speed, swiping down will cycle you through your daily stats, tapping on them will expand menus, and you can use the physical back button to return. On some screens, you can also swipe right to go back too. When you’re in a workout, you can swipe up and down to see more real-time data.
If you’ve already been using Garmin smartwatches, then you might already be familiar with this. If not, then there’s a small learning curve you’d need to go through. Also, you can change the touch sensitivity, but it’s best to leave it at default as “low” can seem like the smartwatch is lagging when it isn’t. If you want things to go a little faster, you could set it to “high”.
Hot tip: You might want to rearrange the most important features you need to be close to the main screen, otherwise, you’re going to be swiping more than you are working out.
This is a Garmin smartwatch, and it’s all about sports tracking. Just press the top side button and you’re shown the entire list of sports you could track. Customisable too, of course.
- Indoor/Outdoor Walking
- Indoor/Outdoor Running
- Stand-up Paddle Boarding
Some of these activities are impossible to do in Malaysia, so we’ve skipped some of them.
Tracking wise, the Garmin Venu shares the same algorithms like the ones found on the Fenix series. The small screen may only show limited data, but you can customise it to add or arrange the more essential data you wish to see through pages. Otherwise, you can always fire up the Garmin Connect app to see detailed data, derived from GPS, heart rate, and motion sensors.
When you’re not doing sports, the Garmin Venu does a great job at continuously tracking your steps taken, calories burned, body battery (how ready your body is for an exercise), stress levels, sleep, respiration, pulse ox, and VO2 max. There’s even a water intake counter to easily log down how much water you’ve consumed throughout the day, you just need to remember to log it in to the watch everytime you do.
While the Garmin Venu works great sports and fitness tracking, it still isn’t much of a health watch. There is no ECG, sleep apnea, or heart arrhythmia detection, fall detection, which are features found on the Apple Watch Series 5. So if you’re looking for a smartwatch for your parents when they’re in a bit of a trouble, this isn’t the watch to do that.
The Garmin Venu has a great addition to it, which are animated workouts. Instead of just setting the sport and start exercising, the Venu adds on to the step-by-step workouts by showing a human figure carrying out the specified action. Doesn’t matter if it’s a yoga pose or a lifting position, the watch shows it all. However, these animations are basic as it shows you how the position looks like, and doesn’t go into detail which body part should be positioned properly. To complete the guide, these animations also come with heptic feedback, a small text description of the next step or time/reps required, along with real-time heart rate monitoring. Swiping on the screen would also show you HR zones, respiratory rate, and more.
I also tried the Garmin Venu’s sleep tracking feature, and it turned out pretty accurate. I can’t really tell the accuracy of the time I dozed off, but the wake-up time is accurate. The Garmin Connect app can show you total sleep time, deep sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and more.
The Garmin Venu also had a breathwork app, which I find quite interesting. It’s considered an actual activity, and the watch would actually remind and ask if you have time to take breather, literally, to do a breathing exercise. There are different breathing exercises from “Relax and Focus” to “Tranquility”, each with a different duration and breathing patterns. This is all tracked into the 24/7 respiration rate tracker. What impressed me the most was that my normal respiration can be 13 to 15 breaths per minute, but when I did the breathing exercises, it can go down to as low as 4 breaths per minute. Best part is, once I’m done with the exercise, I actually felt a lot calmer and my breathing was a lot more smooth and natural.
The smartwatch features on the Garmin Venu are pretty standard. You get your connected smartphone’s notifications pushed through right to your wrist. You can also select which apps to send those notifications too. Android users can even reply to text messages, but the same can’t be said for iOS users.
However, when it comes to images or videos, you’d still need to watch them from your smartphone. When it comes to music, the Garmin Venu supports a plethora of music streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, and more. You can just sync your Spotify account through the app, get your playlist for offline playback, pair up your favourite pair of headphones/earbuds, and leave your phone at home. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
There is also Garmin Pay onboard, but we haven’t tested that due to the limited availability of Apple and Google Pay in Malaysia. Garmin Pay supports Samsung Pay as well, but we didn’t have a Samsung smartphone to test it with.
With the AMOLED display on board, Garmin claims that the Venu can offer up to 5 days of battery life. In my use, on a pretty relaxed week with a few non-GPS workouts here and there, I got about 5 days of battery life. But when I was using it with 3 hours of Bluetooth music playback, no GPS, full smartphone connection, and the always-on display mode on, the battery lasted just about 3 days and a half.
Do take note that the charging port is Garmin proprietary and it will need a specific charging cable from Garmin. So, if you lose it, it’s not as easy as finding a spare USB cable around the house.
Priced at RM1,599, the Garmin Venu is a great smartwatch that is equally great to look at with the inclusion of an AMOLED display. It’s great at multi-sport tracking and is connected 24/7 to help you manage your overall wellness and fitness goals. Battery life is pretty good, considering you only need to charge it once a week. Heart rate monitoring is pretty accurate and the breathwork exercise is pretty fun too.