1668728116 Garminvenu2plus

Garmin Venu 2 Plus Review: The All-Around Fitness and Smart Watch

Editor’s note, Nov. 17: Garmin has always made excellent fitness-focused watches, but with the addition of a speaker and microphone, it can finally compete with the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, and Pixel Watch. It earns a CNET Editors’ Choice award for being compatible with Android and iOS, with excellent battery life that surpasses the competition. My original impressions, published in January, follow.


You might think that Garmin watches are only for fitness enthusiasts, but the Venu 2 Plus is the first true hybrid smartwatch that I can wholeheartedly recommend to people who is not necessarily athletes. Although it shares most of the same features as the previous one Venu 2, it adds a speaker and microphone so you can take calls and use your phone’s voice assistant on your wrist. I’ve been using the Venu 2 Plus since it was released in January 2022, and I’ve been impressed with how much a speaker and microphone add to the experience.

As

  • Speaker and microphone support
  • Same great fitness tracking as Venu 2
  • Battery lasts 8 days

Don’t like

  • Only one 43mm size option
  • No LTE version

The earlier Venu 2 was already an excellent wearable with comprehensive fitness tracking features, and also won a 2021 CNET Editors’ Choice award. Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch and Fitbit Sense was the lack of a speaker and microphone. Because this watch shares most of its features with the Venu 2 that I already reviewed in full, rather than cover the same ground here, I’ll highlight the key differences. Please read the original Venu 2 review for complete insight into performance, fitness tracking and health features.

garminvenu2plus

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Venu 2 Plus is a round watch that is easy to use

Echoing the look of the Venu 2, the Venu 2 Plus has a bright, circular AMOLED display that’s easy to see in broad daylight. But it now has an extra button that lets you interact with your voice assistant through a long press. You can also assign a shortcut or favorite to a single press.

One other external difference between last year’s Venu 2 series and the Venu 2 Plus is that the newer watch only comes in a single 43mm size, whereas the Venu 2 and 2S were 45mm and 40mm respectively. Like Fitbit’s watches, the Venu 2 Plus is compatible with both iOS and Android, unlike the iPhone-only Apple Watch and the now Android-only Galaxy Watch.

A speaker and microphone on the Venu 2 Plus is more useful than I thought

I can quickly summon Siri on iOS, or the Google Assistant or Bixby on Android to send a quick text message just by pressing the button. I really don’t like pulling out my phone during an outdoor workout, so being able to reliably text or make a quick call on the watch is very useful. The speaker quality is clear, and so far I’ve found it easy to hear callers when outside. I also like the audible cues every time I stop and start a workout, or hit a goal like stairs or elevation for the day. You can even use the speaker to play music from third-party apps like Spotify if you have a premium subscription.

garminvenu2plus button

There is now one extra button on the Venu 2 Plus (middle) that lets you call up the voice assistant or a shortcut of your choice.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Unlike some wearables like the Apple Watch, you won’t be able to start a workout with your voice on the Venu 2 Plus. It really just acts as an intermediary to get to your voice assistant and hear answers on your wrist. But Garmin’s navigation system is easy enough to learn, and starting a workout only takes two presses anyway, so I don’t mind at all.

The battery life lasts up to nine days, much longer than the Apple Watch Series 8 and Galaxy Watch 5 which can barely manage two full days. In my testing, the watch lasted eight full days before needing a charge. This includes including notifications from a phone, a GPS workout every day and sleep tracking. Most other features are the same as the Venu 2 and 2S, so that means built-in GPS, sleep tracking, blood-oxygen monitoring and an expanded range of fitness and workout tracking modes.

The biggest downside of the Venu 2 Plus is price. At $450, it’s more expensive than all of its main competitors, such as the $399 Apple Watch Series 8$280 Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and $350 Google Pixel Watch. But its cross-compatibility with Android and iOS may be worth the extra cost, as well as its extended battery life. If you don’t need a speaker and microphone on your wrist, the Venu 2 and 2S remain in the Garmin lineup and can be found for as little as $300.

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