The Garmin Venu Sq 2 is a very worthy rival to devices like the Fitbit Versa 4, giving you a whole lot of health and fitness tracking tools for a very reasonable price. GPS tracking is particularly impressive, and comparable with much more expensive sports watches, making the Sq 2 a solid choice for recreational runners. It's just a shame Garmin hasn't done more with the watch's lovely AMOLED display, which would be ideal for animated yoga and pilates workouts. Perhaps with a future software update...
Slim, lightweight design
Excellent GPS tracking
Striking AMOLED display
Very reasonable price
No animated workouts
No map support
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Garmin Venu Sq 2 first impressions
At first glance, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 looks very much like its predecessor: a slim, lightweight sports watch with a square face and smart brushed metal bezel. However, power it on and you'll immediately see the biggest difference - a striking new AMOLED display that's immediately more attractive than the LED screen of its predecessor, and makes this new watch feel like a truly premium device.
• List price: $249.99 / £229.99 (standard), $299.99 / £259.99 (music edition)
• Case size: 40.6 x 37 x 11.1mm
• Weight: 38g
• Display type: AMOLED
• Water rating: 50 meters
• Best use: Road running, gym work, recreational cycling
This screen has a resolution of 320 x 360 pixels, compared to just 240 x 240 pixels for the original Venu Sq, which makes text and graphics much clearer, sharper, and more legible.
Like most of the best Garmin watches, the Venu Sq 2 has a case made from fiber-reinforced resin. This is topped with an anodized aluminum bezel, and finished with a silicone strap and a conventional resin buckle. It might have been nice to see an aluminum buckle to complement the bezel, but that's a very minor quibble, and the choice of materials helps keep the watch's weight down.
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 measures 40.6 x 37 x 11.1mm, and weighs 38g whether you opt for the Music Edition or the standard version. That's almost exactly the same as the original Venu Sq, which was 0.4mm thicker and weighed 0.24g less.
The whole thing is rounded off with a lens made from toughened Corning Gorilla Glass, which does a good job resisting scuffs and scratches.
On the back of the case you'll find the same power socket featured on all Garmin watches released in recent years, and the cable plugs in securely for charging. You'll also see the watch's optical heart rate monitor and SpO2 sensor, which measures blood oxygen saturation. This is disabled by default to conserve power, but can be enabled through the Garmin Connect mobile app.
Most Garmin watches are operated using a system of five physical buttons, but the Venu Sq 2 has just two on the right-hand edge: one for selecting menu options, and one for navigating back to the previous screen. All other functions are performed using the watch's touchscreen.
It's a simple system, but works well, and the buttons are large enough to be operated easily while wearing gloves. You can also choose to deactivate the touchscreen during workouts, which is a welcome option.
The shape of the Venu Sq 2 leads to comparisons with the Apple Watch Series 8 and SE, but other than the screen technology and rounded square faces, they have little in common. This is more of a rival to the Fitbit Versa 4, aimed at people who want to make healthier decisions. The Venu Sq 2 is about activity and health first and foremost, tracking your daily exercise, stress, sleep, and heart rate, and putting that data into a format that's easy to understand.
Despite its small size and fashion-forward design, the Venu Sq 2 has impressive fitness tracking chops. Sure, it's not as advanced as watches in the Fenix or Forerunner series, but it boasts multi-band GPS, incident detection, and support for downloadable training plans.
It has a water resistance rating of 5atm, making it suitable for swimming, but not diving or high-speed water sports. If you enjoy adventuring in the open water, you might be better off with the Garmin Instinct 2 Surf Edition, which also features useful tools like tide charts.
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 launched in September 2022 at $249.99 / £229.99 for the standard version, and $299.99 / £259.99 for the music edition, making it one of the most affordable Garmin watches around. The Fitbit Versa 4 is slightly cheaper at £199.99 / $229.95, but works best with a Fitbit Premium subscription, which is an additional $9.99 / £7.99 per month, or $79.99 / £79.99 per year.
Garmin Venu Sq 2 on the road
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 gives you a lot for your money in terms of features, and is a pleasure to wear. It's slim and light, and so well balanced that you'll easily forget you're wearing it, even during runs and using gym equipment. It's also easy to wear at night, and never feels awkward like some larger sports watches.
The touchscreen is bright and responsive. Enabling always-on mode will drain the battery faster, but in our experience wasn't necessary as the watch reliably wakes when you raise your wrist.
Despite the different button arrangement, the overall interface is almost identical to other Garmin watches, so you'll soon feel at home if you're making the switch from one of the company's other devices. Pressing the upper button from the main watch face takes you to a list of stats, which you can scroll through with a fingertip and select to drill down for more details and charts of changes over time.
The Venu Sq 2 gives you most of Garmin's everyday smartwatch tools, including Garmin Pay (which is supported by a wide range of US banks), weather reports, smartphone notifications. and the ability to control music on your phone. The slightly pricier Music Edition also allows you to connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones and listen to music stored on the watch itself, which is quite simple to do through the Garmin Connect app.
You don't get a huge range of workout tracking modes, but those that are available are well implemented. For example, weightlifting gives you automatic rep tracking, outdoor run tracking gives you stats like cadence and total ascent, and swim tracking includes stroke detection. This isn't a triathlon watch, so you can't switch between activities instantly, but this isn't a device aimed at athletes aiming to crush their personal records; it's for users who want to improve their overall health and push themselves a little bit harder to make healthier choices.
In our tests, the Garmin Venu Sq 2's GPS tracking was very impressive, recording our pre-measured 5km course to within 20m (a distance easily accounted for by the fact that it was mapped out on roads rather than a track). It didn't lock onto a GPS signal quite as quickly as the Apple Watch Ultra, but wasn't far behind. Heart rate monitoring was impressive too, tallying almost exactly with results from the premium Apple Watch during interval training sessions on an indoor bike at the gym.
Garmin estimates battery life of up to 11 days in smartwatch mode, or up to 26 hours in GPS-only GNSS mode. That's a big upgrade from the original Venu Sq, which maxed out at six days in smartwatch mode, and during our tests it proved a very conservative estimate. We got well over a week out of the watch with a GPS-tracked activity every other day, plus a spot of music playback.
It's just a shame that Garmin didn't do more with that fantastic screen. Achieving your step and intensity minute targets will produce a slick little animation that gives a tiny insight into what could have been. Most disappointingly for us, there's no support for maps at all. That's not entirely unexpected (the Venu Sq's compact size means it's not flush with storage space), but the high-resolution display would be excellent for navigation.
The lack of animated workouts is more surprising. The round-faced Garmin Venu 2 uses animations on its OLED screen to lead you through simple yoga and pilates workouts, which seem like a natural fit for the Venu Sq 2.
As with all Garmin watches, data from the Venu Sq 2 syncs with Garmin Connect, where you can drill down through historic stats to look for patterns and trends. Workouts sync automatically, and everything is clearly presented with sufficient explanation to help you understand what it all means without becoming overwhelmed.
Best of all, there's no Fitbit-style subscription plan necessary to see all your historic data, and Garmin says it has no plans to introduce one, making the Venu Sq 2 impressive value for money.
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).
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