Garmin’s getting the hang of what casual users like in a fitness watch. Now if it would only declutter its app.
When I think of a Garmin, I usually picture a behemoth of a watch worn by a sweaty marathoner — and I see plenty of both at my run club every week. What I don’t think of is lifestyle smartwatches, even though I know Garmin makes several. (Many of whichI’vereviewed!) It just wasn’t a category that played to the company’s strengths. Or at least that’s what I used to think. After testing the $249.99 Venu Sq 2, my stance is beginning to change.
As the name implies, the Venu Sq 2 is the sequel to the Venu Sq (officially pronounced S Q) and serves as the entry-level watch in Garmin’s Venu line. The Venu watches are the closest thing the company has to more traditional smartwatches, characterized by color OLED displays, sleeker designs, streamlined fitness tracking, and a slightly bigger focus on smart features. The only problem was they were kind of expensive compared to the competition. But with the Venu Sq 2, it feels like Garmin’s struck a better balance. Not only is it better than Fitbit’s Versa 4 and Sense 2, but it’s one of the best fitness watches you can buy for under $300.
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I didn’t expect much when I unboxed the Venu Sq 2. What can I say? It looks like an Apple Watch knockoff, and there’s no shortage of those. Throw a stone on Amazon, and you’ll hit a couple dozen of them. My review unit also happens to be the same color as my Apple Watch Series 8. I’ve even reached for the wrong watch once or twice. Visually, the only unique things about the Venu Sq 2 are the teeny dots surrounding its 1.4-inch OLED display and the two buttons on the side of the watch.
The design did grow on me after a few days. Although the case itself is plastic, the aluminum bezel gives it a chic vibe. I wouldn’t feel underdressed with the default silicone strap, but if it’s not to your taste, you can always swap it with any standard 20mm band. Size-wise, the 40mm watch case is just right for my wrist, and it was comfortable enough to wear 24/7. At 38g, it’s lightweight, and I’m pleased to report I didn’t rip it off at night as I sometimes do with bulkier watches, and it didn’t drag down my wrist while running. That’s great if, like me, you have more petite wrists. The watch is also a slim 11mm and never caught on my winter coat sleeves.