Garmin Venu Sq 2 Review
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 smartwatch makes some welcome upgrades on the Venu Sq, offering a good all-round experience. However, for the bump up in price you get a design that isn’t all that memorable.
- Better display tech than the first Venu Sq
- Solid sports and fitness tracking
- Generous battery life
- No altimeter
- Lack of deeper training analysis
- Lacks new voice features of Venu 2S
- UKRRP: £229.99
- USARRP: $249.99
- CompatibilityWorks with Android and iOS
- Good endurance11-day battery life
- Health skillsHeart rate and blood oxygen tracking
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 is the successor to the Venu Sq, a smartwatch that offers a square alternative to Garmin’s round Venu 2-series watches.
Here, Garmin has upgraded the display technology to match the screens offered by other Venu watches and the pricier Epix 2.
And it isn’t only the display that sees a boost; Garmin has doubled battery life while also making software changes so that the Venu Sq 2 is easier to use.
This remains a fitness-focused watch, but one that also offers smarts such as payments and music controls. So do those changes make the Venu Sq 2 one of the best Garmin watches or even one of the best smartwatches you can buy?
Design and Screen
- New AMOLED screen
- Aluminium case
- 20mm removable straps
- Waterproof up to 50 metres
The Venu Sq wasn’t the most exciting looking device and Garmin hasn’t really changed design tact for the Venu Sq 2. It is available in six different looks, though, offering various colour cases and strap combos. However, I’ve worn many square smartwatches that look just like the Venu Sq; it doesn’t exactly sport a memorable design.
You’re still getting a 40mm polymer case with an aluminium bezel that measures 11.1mm thick, so it’s slightly slimmer than the first Venu Sq at 11.5mm. That case size means it will take up around the same amount of wrist space as an Apple Watch SE.
Like the first Venu Sq, it does offer the option of a built-in music player, which bumps the price by £30.
Unlike a lot of Garmin watches, there are just two physical buttons – but the big story here is that Garmin has now added an AMOLED touchscreen display, with the option of an always-on mode. The Venu Sq came with an LCD panel, lacking the vibrancy and sharpness offered by Garmin’s AMOLED-packing watches. As such, this is definitely a welcome upgrade.
The experience of interacting with that screen is good on the whole, although there’s definitely a slight lag when scrolling through Garmin’s Glances (widgets) screen. Typically, Garmin doesn’t reveal much info on the processing power of its watches, but my experience is that the Venu Sq isn’t quite as buttery smooth in operation as the pricier Venu watches.
Garmin pairs the polymer case with a pretty standard 20mm silicone strap, whose pin mechanism releases for switching it out for another strap. Topping up the device’s battery is via the now standard charging cable that most new Garmin watches come with, plus the device itself is waterproof up to 50 metres, which makes it suitable for wear in the shower or whilst swimming.
Features and Performance
- Works with Android and iOS
- New user interface
- No new voice assistant features
Garmin’s focus with its Venu devices has clearly been on adding a proper smartwatch to its collection. While it added such smart functionality to watches in its Forerunner and Fenix ranges, those watch lines lack the colour screen you’ll find on the Venu series.
Scaling back the physical buttons and placing a greater emphasis on touchscreen control in the Venu Sq meant that Garmin had to rethink the way folk interact with the device. Things changed with the Venu 2, with the move to a UI that was much closer to the one found on most Garmins.
The Venu Sq 2 benefits from those software changes, with a swipe up of the watch face for viewing your Glances (widgets), or a swipe right to access shortcut features, which could include music controls, Garmin Pay access and setting up timers, for example. However, you can also press the bottom physical button to access to the main menu screen.
As a result, the learning curve for getting to grips with the Sq 2 is much quicker than it was for the Venu Sq.
In the Venu Sq 2, you get most but not all of the smartwatch features that Garmin has made available across the Venu range. Most notably, it doesn’t offer the latest voice features found accompanying the Venu 2 Plus, which enables tapping into your phone’s smart assistant or taking calls.
You can view notifications, but you’ll need to head into the Glances screen to pull them up. You can also respond to some notifications; you can reply to messages with short preset responses, for example.
If you have the version of the watch that comes with the built-in music player, then you’ll have room for up to 500 songs, which can be synced from your own collection or third-party services such as Spotify.
Garmin Pay features, but in the UK, it supports the likes of Santander, Starling Bank and Revolut; it doesn’t cover all of the big-name banks and it’s been like that for a while.
There’s access to the Connect IQ Store for downloading and syncing apps, data fields, widgets and watch faces, but the setup for getting things onto the watch still isn’t the slickest – and clearly not a patch on Apple; or, in fact, Google in terms of the catalogue of apps from which you can choose.
Garmin does offer up its Assistance and Incident Detection safety features, but this requires you to have your phone nearby and paired with the watch for use.
So while the Venu Sq 2 doesn’t offer the most complete smartwatch experience, you get the bulk of what Garmin has to offer and it all largely works well.
- Over 100 workout modes
- Dual-band GPS
- Heart rate and SpO2 monitoring
Tracking exercise is what Garmin does best and, like its predecessor, the Venu Sq 2 aims to deliver an experience that’s similar to that of strapping on a Garmin Forerunner.
Running, swimming (pool only), cycling and golf remain the core tracking modes, but you get profiles for activities such as skiing, snowboarding and rowing as well.
Don’t expect the big training analysis features that have been reserved for Garmin’s pricier sports watches, or new features such as GNSS Multi-band mode for improved outdoor tracking accuracy; but the overall tracking experience here is decent. Features such as Garmin Coach and the ability to create workouts are present, plus there’s Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor, too, which offers advice on whether or not you should engage in physically demanding activity on any given day.
Tracking data for runs, swims and indoor workouts such as rowing appeared decent on the whole. The time it takes to pick up a GPS signal appears to have improved slightly on the Venu Sq, and up against the more capable Garmin Epix 2 in its Multi-band mode, the Venu Sq 2 did over-report for distance tracking. Nevertheless, it wasn’t wildly off, with metrics such as average pace proving very similar.
Heart rate monitoring was okay, but the device did have a tendency to post maximum heart rate readings that were 10bpm higher than those captured by Garmin’s HRM-Pro Plus chest strap monitor. As such, you could pair up an external sensor for better HR accuracy during exercise.
Garmin does also include its dedicated HIIT modes – although, as mentioned, an external heart rate sensor would probably be better for getting the best data for those high intensity sessions. The Venu Sq 2 lacks the animated workout features of pricier Venu watches, but what is here and at your disposal does still make this a good watch for tracking exercise.
You get some health tracking features, too, although these aren’t designed to offer serious insights on your health. You can continually track heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and respiration rate. You can take a health snapshot, which means taking measurements of stress, HRV, respiration rate and heart rate at the same time, and women’s health features enable the tracking of menstrual cycles and pregnancy.
Continuous and resting heart rate readings were in line with those figures recorded by the Oura Ring 3 and another Garmin watch, while respiration rate averages were similar but never identical to data served up by Oura.
Daily step counts and distance covered with those steps were also in the same ballpark, and while sleep tracking accuracy is certainly improving on Garmin’s watches, it does still have a tendency to slightly over-report duration of sleep and suggest I’d fallen asleep earlier than I actually had.
The fitness tracking elements are definitely overshadowed by the Venu Sq 2’s sports tracking skills, and while the Venu Sq 2 doesn’t offer every feature you’d find on a Garmin Forerunner model, it offers more than enough to keep most happy.
- Up to 11 days
- New battery saver mode
- Up to 26 hours’ GPS battery life
The original Venu Sq was capable of going for up to six days in Smartwatch mode. It also offered up to 14 hours of GPS battery life. The Venu Sq 2 promises significant improvements on both those fronts – and it really does deliver a much better overall battery performance.
With the screen in its standard setting, with notifications enabled, continuous heart rate monitoring, tracking sleep and regular use of GPS, the Venu Sq 2 was more than capable of lasting the stated 11 days. Daily drop-off was around 10% on most days. Using GPS-based tracking in the All Systems mode for just over an hour saw battery drop by 7%, which is below the promised 20 hours battery for that particular mode.
Switching to the Always-On display mode saw the number of days the Venu Sq 2 would last reduce dramatically to around 2-3 days, which demonstrates the impact of an AMOLED screen on power consumption.
Note that Garmin has introduced a new Battery Manager mode, which you’ll find tucked away in the watch’s settings. Alongside allowing you to display battery percentages and battery estimates, you can also turn on a Battery Saver mode, which offers options to put the watch face in a dimmer display mode, disable music features and turns off the PulseOx monitoring to eke out more battery life.
In Battery Saver mode, you should see those 11 days increase to 12 days in normal use, which offers some scope to track your workout time, too.
Should you buy it?
If you want a square smartwatch with solid sports tracking features: Venu Sq 2 delivers that great Garmin core tracking experience without the added analysis you’ll find on pricier watches in its collection.
You want the best Garmin smartwatch: The Venu Sq 2 doesn’t include all that Garmin currently has to offer in terms of smartwatch features, missing voice support and more generous storage for saving music.
The Garmin Venu Sq 2 comes with the AMOLED screen that was so sorely missing in the Venu Sq, while also seeing welcome upgrades to the UI to go with its already pretty solid sports and fitness tracking skills. The new features come at an extra cost; it’s a shame Garmin couldn’t bring this watch to market at the price of the original, since that would have made the Venu Sq 2 a fantastic buy.
Nevertheless, it remains a strong option if you’re a fan of Garmin’s tracking support and are a fan of square-faced watches.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main smartwatch during the testing period
Heart rate data compared against dedicated heart rate devices
Side-by-side GPS comparison with our best scoring smartwatches
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The Garmin Venu Sq 2 is suitable for swimming, carrying a 5ATM water rating along with a dedicated pool swimming tracking mode.
No, you cannot answer calls on the Venu Sq 2 since it lacks a microphone and speaker, which features on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus.