If you're shopping for a new GPS watch, the Garmin Venu 3 and Venu 2 are both great choices worthy of a place on your shortlist, but what's the difference between the two, and which one should you choose? It's not as straightforward as it might seem, so we've put together this handy guide to explain.
The Venu 2 launched in April 2021, and was followed by the Venu 2 Plus in January 2022. These two watches were very similar, but the Plus edition had an added microphone for accessing your phone's voice assistant and taking calls, and an ECG app for detecting abnormal heart rhythms.
The Venu 3 launched in September 2023, with a higher price tag than either of the older watches, a higher resolution screen, and new sleep tracking features including the ability to track naps. It has a microphone like the Venu 2 Plus, but at release it doesn't have the ECG app. This may be unlocked later if the watch has the necessary hardware, but we don't know yet.
If you've already made up your mind, we've rounded up all today's best deals on the Garmin Venu 3 and Venu 2 for you right here. If not, read on for the full lowdown on both watches to help you make the right choice.
- Venu 3 significantly more expensive
- Venu 2 often on sale
The Garmin Venu 2 went on sale in April 2021 with a list price of $399.99 / £349.99, but is now available for a steep discount. At the time of writing, you can pick it up for $349.99 / £299, but it's been as cheap as $250 / £220 during sales events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.
The Garmin Venu 3 launched in August 2023 with a list price of $449.99 / £449.99, and it's likely to be some time before we see any significant discounts.
- Very similar dimensions
- Venu 3 has higher screen resolution
- Venu 3 has microphone like Venu 2 Plus
The Venu 2 and Venu 3 look very similar at first glance. Both have a distinctive round case in a choice of two sizes with a smattering of buttons on the right side, and a bright OLED display. Look a little closer, however, and you'll spot a few key differences.
First of all, the sizes aren't quite the same. The Venu 2 is available in 40mm and 45mm versions, while the Venu 3 comes in 41mm and 45mm. The Venu 3 is fractionally slimmer, but the difference (0.1mm for the smaller version and 0.2mm for the larger model) is so slight that you won't notice. The Venu 3 is 3g lighter, but again, that's not enough to make a tangible difference.
The Venu 3 has a higher screen resolution than the Venu 2, making graphics, text and charts look extra crisp. The Venu 2's screen is still excellent, but the newer watch just looks that little bit sharper.
Turn the two watches sideways and you'll see that the Venu 3 has an extra button on the right, and a small grille on the left. These are for the microphone, which you can use to take calls and use your phone's voice assistant provided it's within Bluetooth range. This is a feature carried over from the Venu 2 Plus, which launched in January 2022, but isn't present on the original Venu 2.
- Garmin Venu 3 has upgraded heart rate monitor
- Venu 3 has sleep coaching and nap tracking
- Venu 2 Plus has ECG app
The Garmin Venu series are essentially serious sports watches in smart, minimalist cases, and they offer most of the same workout tracking tools as any of the company's mid-range wearables. There are some key differences, though.
Turn the two watches over and you'll notice that the Venu 3 has an upgraded heart rate monitor, with more LEDs and light receivers spread over a larger area, which Garmin claims should deliver more accurate results. This is the same sensor used on the Fenix 7 Pro and Epix (Gen 2) Pro, which launched a few months earlier.
Whichever watch you choose, it will track your sleep stages, restlessness, and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) overnight, but the Venu 3 also includes a new feature called Sleep Coaching, which is intended to help you develop healthier sleep habits with personalized guidance. The Venu 3 is also the first Garmin watch that can track naps, and taking naps during the day will reduce your 'sleep need' at night.
Sleep Coaching may roll out to some other Garmin watches via a future firmware update, but I suspect that this will only include watches with the new heart rate monitor.
At the time of writing the Venu 2 Plus has something that the Venu 3 doesn't: a functioning ECG app. This allows you to check for abnormalities in your heart rhythm, which you might want to discuss with your doctor (it's not meant for diagnosing or treating medical conditions). It's believed that some other Garmin watches may have the necessary hardware for the app, but at the time of writing, the Venu 2 is the only watch with it unlocked, and only in certain countries.
We don't know whether the Garmin Venu 3 has an ECG sensor, but if it does, it's not yet functional and will need to be made available through a software update.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).