Skip to main content

Listen up, your Garmin watch really needs a microphone

Garmin Venu 2 Plus
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin makes some of the best GPS watches around, but so far only one has a microphone – and that means you're missing out.

In January this year, Garmin launched the Venu 2 Plus – a new version of the excellent Venu 2 smartwatch with a microphone that allows you to take calls from your wrist and use your phone's voice assistant (provided your handset is within Bluetooth range, of course). I reviewed it for Advnture's sister site TechRadar, and loved it. The Venu 2 was already a superb watch, and the addition of a mic was the cherry on top of an extremely tasty cake.

When the watch vibrates to indicate an incoming call, all your have to do is press a single button to accept and speak directly into your wrist. There's no need to dig your phone from the pocket of your best hiking pants if you're in the middle of a hike, or stop and wrestle it from your best running backpack during a training session.

While testing the watch, I also found myself using Google Assistant far more than usual. Having it right on my arm made life so much easier; if I needed to quickly convert a distance, find out whether it was likely to rain, it was only a double button-press away.

Sadly, this isn't a feature we've seen on any other Garmin watches since - including the top-tier Garmin Epix (Gen 2), Fenix 7, and Enduro 2. To me, that was pretty surprising.

The sound of silence

Taking calls and interrogating Siri is great, but there's so much more a microphone-equipped Garmin could do.

For example, I've lamented Garmin watches' inability to track naps and lack of smart wake-up alarms before, and the absence of microphones means there's no snore detection either.

While its workout and recovery metrics aren't as advanced as Garmin's, Fitbit has the edge when it comes to sleep tracking, and the company introduced snore and noise detection to several of its fitness trackers back in November 2021. Rather than recording audio and sending it off for processing (a privacy nightmare), your Fitbit tracks sound intensity overnight and looks for snore-specific noises that might be disturbing you overnight. The culprit might be you or your partner, but knowing will help you tackle the problem so you can both get a better night's rest.

Now, as reported by Gadgets & Wearables (opens in new tab), snore detection is also coming to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch Active 2. Garmin is in danger of being left behind.

A woman sleeping in her sleeping bag

A watch with a microphone can detect whether you or your partner snores, and whether your bedroom (or tent) is too noisy at night (Image credit: Getty Images)

That's not all, either. For LTE-equipped Garmin watches, a microphone would also allow you to make calls with no phone connection at all. So far the only watch that matches that description is the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, but rumors have suggested that an LTE edition of the Forerunner 955 will make an appearance at some point in the future. It would be a natural fit.

Garmin could even borrow the Apple Watch's noise app (opens in new tab), which uses the watch's microphone to measure ambient sound and warns you if it's loud enough to damage your hearing.

The only thing I'd ask is that Garmin leaves an option to keep the microphone turned off for those who are concerned about privacy, and that it never tries anything like the extremely weird Amazon Halo Band, which monitored your tone of voice (opens in new tab) to determine whether you were happy or grumpy.

It's a tool that was met with confusion and alarm when it appeared, and is conspicuously absent from Amazon's second-generation fitness tracker. Seems people didn't like the sound of that.

Cat Ellis
Editor

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).