Garmin has added an array of smart features to its watches in the past couple of years, with several devices now offering music storage and Garmin Pay, and has also beefed up the apps available in the (still underwhelming) Connect IQ app store. However, the Venu is the first Garmin device that might really be able to go toe-to-toe with rivals like the Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa smartwatches, purely because it now has a design to match them.
That’s all down to the AMOLED touchscreen on the device, which is far brighter and more colourful than screens that have been available on Garmins in the past, with the company instead opting for dimmer screens that don’t drain the battery as quickly. That was always a reasonable thing to do, but the Venu offers that option to people who are happy to charge their devices more frequently in return for a brighter screen.
The Venu will still last up to five days between charges, although you can expect that to drop considerably if you use the GPS to track outdoor activities, listen to music, and/or set the screen to be always on during activities.
Alongside the new screen, the Venu packs in all the features available on Garmin’s other new launch, the Vivoactive 4. There’s a PulseOx sensor for measuring your blood oxygen saturation, animated workouts you can follow on your wrist, music storage, and a great range of sports and everyday activity tracking features.
The Venu doesn’t match the sports tracking and training analysis features available on Garmin’s Forerunner and Fenix ranges, but it is waterproof, has built-in GPS and tracks 20 different sports. The quality of Garmin’s native sports tracking is certainly an advantage compared with what’s available on Fitbit, Apple and Samsung’s smartwatches, and the Venu offers excellent all-day activity tracking too. It has Garmin’s Body Battery feature, which rates your energy levels throughout the day, giving them a score out of 100, as well as stress, hydration and even breath tracking.
There are four designs of the Venu, which costs either £299.99 or £329.99 depending on the model. It’s expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.