Best daily deals
Best daily deals

Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

An image of the Garmin Venu 2 Plus on a chair showing the display and watch face
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
aa2020 editors choice

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: The first real Garmin smartwatch

Garmin is trudging into true smartwatch territory with the Venu 2 Plus.
By
June 13, 2022
aa2020 editors choice

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus makes a good fitness watch even better, thanks to its on-device calling and voice assistant features. It's not perfect, and it certainly isn't cheap, but the Venu 2 Plus is one of the most well-rounded wearables we've ever used.

What we like

Excellent design and build quality
Rapid charging helps make up for battery woes
Clear call quality on the wrist
Slow, but useful voice assistant support
Accurate fitness and health tracking

What we don't like

High price tag
Battery life shorter than Garmin's claims
Heart rate sensor still has issues
aa2020 editors choice

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus makes a good fitness watch even better, thanks to its on-device calling and voice assistant features. It's not perfect, and it certainly isn't cheap, but the Venu 2 Plus is one of the most well-rounded wearables we've ever used.

The Garmin Venu 2 was nearly crowned our favorite wearable of 2021. Its accurate fitness- and health-tracking features, as well as the company’s revamped software, made for an overall compelling package. But Garmin watches tend to fall far behind the competition when it comes to “smart” features. You can install third-party apps and watch faces, but there’s traditionally been no support for voice assistants, phone calls, or other smartwatch staples. That is, until now.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes what we loved about the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to make and receive phone calls from the wrist and even access your phone’s voice assistant. Garmin didn’t iron out all the issues we found with the original, but it made one hell of a wearable regardless. Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review to find out more.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus
$449.99 at Amazon

What you need to know about the Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review watch face display on table 2
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
  • Garmin Venu 2 Plus: $449.99 / £399.99 / €449.99

Garmin didn’t change much about the original Venu 2 when it made the Venu 2 Plus. The two watches are quite similar, and you likely wouldn’t notice the differences unless they were pointed out to you. So, we’re going to point them out to you.

While connected to a nearby Android or iOS phone, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus can make and receive phone calls directly on the watch, thanks to the new speaker and microphone. It can also access your connected phone’s voice assistant, be it Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, or Apple’s Siri.

It comes in a slightly different case size, and the battery life is a little different — more on those later. Aside from that, you’re looking at the same Venu 2 that launched in 2021.

Our verdict: Garmin Venu 2 review

That’s not a bad thing. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus carries over the Venu 2’s activity-tracking metrics, Body Battery, sleep score, hiking and climbing workout modes, and Health Snapshot. Other legacy smartwatch features include Garmin Pay support and music storage for roughly 650 songs.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is available now in the United States from Garmin.com. It’s available in three colorways — Silver, Slate, and Cream Gold — and costs $449.99.


What’s good?

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review dial pad
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Let’s start with the two biggest changes to the Venu 2 Plus: phone calls on the wrist and voice assistant support.

You can now make and receive phone calls directly on the Garmin Venu 2 Plus when connected to a nearby smartphone. The Venu 2 Plus has a microphone and a speaker, whereas the original Venu 2 does not. The speaker gets just loud enough to hear voice calls on your wrist. I’ve kept the volume up all the way throughout the testing period because anything lower than the maximum is a bit too quiet for my hearing.

I called my wife various times over the Venu 2 Plus, and she said it sounded just as clear as a normal phone call on her end. Kudos on the good mic quality.

Also read: The best smartwatches you can buy

You can answer phone calls from your wrist, and also place them. Long-press the bottom physical button, and you’ll see a new option called Phone Calling. From there, you can access a dial pad or call one of your emergency contacts. I would have liked to see Garmin somehow add access to your phone’s full contact list.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review connecting to voice assistant
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the first Garmin watch to offer voice assistant support. Since Garmin doesn’t have its own voice assistant, the feature is implemented differently than what you’d find on an Apple Watch or Wear OS device. Instead of the assistant being baked into the smartwatch itself, the watch instead activates your phone’s default assistant.

There are pros and cons to the way this is implemented. The main positive is that the Venu 2 Plus is assistant agnostic, so it’s able to tap into Google Assistant, Siri, or Bixby as long as your phone is nearby. And this comes at a time when the latest Wear OS devices are even missing Google Assistant support.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus can access Google Assistant at a time when even Wear OS 3 watches can't.

A quick point of clarification: When I say your phone needs to be “nearby,” I just mean it needs to be connected via Bluetooth. When you access your phone’s voice assistant, you speak into the watch’s mic, not your phone’s. So, you can still use your assistant on your wrist even if your phone is in another room.

Google Assistant works well with the Venu 2 Plus. I couldn’t test Siri or Bixby during the testing period, though I would assume those would work about the same. I’ve used Assistant on the Venu 2 Plus to turn on and off my smart lights, provide weather info, navigate via Google Maps, set reminders, and more throughout the last few weeks. It’s fine for basic commands.

See a demo of the voice assistant in action in the video below:

I’ve found two issues with using voice assistants on the Venu 2 Plus, however. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the watch and the phone in that you summon your voice assistant and speak into the watch’s mic, though all the processing is taking place on the phone. This means you can’t perform every task that Google Assistant would normally be able to do. For instance, Assistant’s Continued Conversation doesn’t work on the Venu 2 Plus. In another instance, Google Assistant didn’t understand one of my queries, and the Venu 2 Plus ended up closing out of voice assistant mode entirely.

Also, since the voice assistant isn’t baked into Garmin’s operating system, there’s a 1–2-second delay after you tap the assistant button where you’ll see a “Connecting to Voice Assistant” prompt. I’ve never had the device fail to connect to my phone, which is a good thing, but it’s not as seamless as using Siri on the Apple Watch or — dare I say — even Bixby on the Galaxy Watch 4.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review on wrist watch face display close up
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

I’m still a big fan of the overall size and shape of the Venu 2 series. Things are slightly different with the Plus model, though. The Venu 2 and 2S come in 45mm and 40mm case sizes, respectively, while the Venu 2 Plus comes in just one 43mm variant. It has the same 1.3-inch display as the larger Venu 2, so the bezels are slightly smaller. It also takes 20mm straps compared to the Venu 2’s 22mm and Venu 2S’ 18mm straps.

I think the 43mm size of the Venu 2 Plus is the sweet spot. It looks good on both large and small wrists, so don’t worry too much about there only being one size option.

One final note on the design. The Venu 2 Plus’ case is made mostly of polycarbonate — like the Venu 2 — though it now has a stainless steel backplate. This makes the device feel higher-end and helps make that high price tag sting a little (and just a little) bit less.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review vs Garmin Venu 2 heart rate sensors
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Left to right: Garmin Venu 2 Plus, Garmin Venu 2

On the fitness- and health-tracking side, the Venu 2 Plus and Venu 2 are pretty much identical. They have the same heart rate sensor hardware, GPS features, and blood oxygen sensors. While testing the Venu 2 Plus over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed little to no variation in data between the two devices. And that’s mostly a good thing.

GPS data has been spot-on compared to the Apple Watch Series 6. In some instances, it can even hold its own against the Coros Vertix 2, which is really saying something considering the tech on board that particular wearable.

On the fitness- and health-tracking side, the Venu 2 Plus and Venu 2 are pretty much identical.

I still find Health Snapshot one of the most useful features the watch offers. The Venu 2 Plus records your heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate, and stress for two minutes. You’ll then get a snapshot of all this data, which you can share via PDF with your doctor or health professional.

An ECG monitor is about the only sensor the Venu 2 Plus lacks compared to its main competitors. I actually find it quite surprising there’s no ECG here. Apple, Fitbit, Withings, and many other watchmakers have jumped on the ECG bandwagon, and I think this data would make Health Snapshot even more useful. Maybe next year.

To learn about the ins and outs of the Venu 2 Plus’ health-tracking suite, check out our original, in-depth review of the Garmin Venu 2.

Another feather in Garmin’s cap is its fairly regular update rollout. The latest pack issued in May 2022 brought four additional sport profiles, including Tennis and Pickleball, with additional voice assistant and Bluetooth calling improvements, too.


What’s not so good?

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review heart rate sensor
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Battery life has never been the Garmin Venu 2 line’s strong suit, and unfortunately, it’s not really any different on the Venu 2 Plus. The new watch is sort of the “middle” option in terms of sizing, and that’s reflected in its battery stats. Where the Venu 2 can last up to 11 days in “smartwatch” mode and up to eight hours with GPS and music, the Venu 2 Plus cuts that down to nine days in smartwatch mode and eight hours with GPS and music.

Garmin's battery life estimates are a bit too generous.

I’ve found Garmin’s battery life estimates to be a little too generous, as I did with the Venu 2. It’s probably possible to get nine full days of use out of this watch, but not if you want to use the always-on display or blood oxygen sensor. With my “normal” usage, I’ve been getting about five days on a single charge. Your mileage will most definitely vary.

When you need to charge up, it doesn’t take long to get from 0–100%. Ten minutes on the charger will get you a full day of use in smartwatch mode or one hour of use with GPS and music.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review on wrist running activity heart rate
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Heart rate monitoring is about the same as the Venu 2, for better or worse. In my testing, I’ve found Garmin’s data to be 90% of the way there compared to competitors. See below for a ~30-minute outdoor run between the Venu 2 Plus, Apple Watch Series 6, and Polar H10 chest strap.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review heart rate data vs Polar H10 Apple Watch Series 6
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

After the initial climb at the beginning of the workout, the Venu 2 Plus struggled to find its footing for the first five minutes or so. The data between 5:40–10:30 minutes looks good overall. Then, the Venu 2 Plus freaked out (that’s the technical term) for about a minute. During my run, I could see the Venu 2 Plus climb and climb, so I deliberately slowed down to see if the Garmin could catch up to the Apple Watch and H10. It did eventually, following the other devices well until the 21-minute mark. All three devices split off in the end.

Related: The best running watches | The best Garmin running watches

This is the same problem I ran into with the original Venu 2. It can provide accurate data at some points but not others. Now, this was a cold outdoor run, so it’s not taking place in the easiest conditions for a fitness watch, but there’s something to be said for the Apple Watch’s accuracy and the Venu 2 Plus’ inaccuracies.

During another run, this time an indoor track run, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus kept up well against the Series 6 after being unable to find its footing in the first 10 minutes or so. See below.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review vs Apple Watch Series 6 heart rate data indoor track running
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

It’s my hope that Garmin will continue to tweak its heart rate algorithms over time. Luckily, Garmin watches receive frequent sensor updates, so it’s possible the Venu 2 Plus’ heart rate sensor will improve. There’s certainly potential with this version of the Elevate sensor. For now, though, you may need to accept that Garmin’s new smartwatch struggles to keep up with its well-performing competition.


Garmin Venu 2 Plus specs

Garmin Venu 2 PlusGarmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Display
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
1.3-inch AMOLED
416 x 416 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Venu 2:
1.3-inch AMOLED
416 x 416 resolution

Venu 2S:
1.1-inch AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution

Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Dimensions and weight
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
43.6 x 43.6 x 12.6mm
20mm band
51g
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Venu 2:
45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2mm
22mm band
49g

Venu 2S:
40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1mm
18mm band
38.2g
Build materials
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Stainless steel bezel and hardware
Silicone band
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Stainless steel bezel and hardware
Silicone band
Battery
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Rapid charging
Up to 9 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 8 hours in GPS mode + music
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Venu 2:
Rapid charging
Up to 11 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 8 hours in GPS mode + music

Venu 2S:
Rapid charging
Up to 10 days in smartwatch mode
Up to 7 hours in GPS mode + music
IP rating
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
5ATM
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
5ATM
Sensors
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Barometric altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor
GPS
GLONASS
Galileo
Barometric altimeter
Compass
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Thermometer
Ambient light sensor
Pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor
Connectivity
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Bluetooth
ANT+
Wi-Fi
Storage
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Music: Up to 650 songs
Activity data: 200 hours
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Music: Up to 650 songs
Activity data: 200 hours
Compatibility
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Android, iOS
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Android, iOS
Garmin Pay
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Yes
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Yes
Smartwatch features
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Make and receive phone calls
Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Siri support
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Connect IQ-compatible
Smartphone notifications
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only)
Controls smartphone music
Plays and controls smartwatch music
Find my phone/find my watch
Incident Detection
LiveTrack
Colors
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Silver bezel with Powder Gray case, Slate bezel with Black case, Cream Gold bezel with Ivory case
Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S
Venu 2:
Silver bezel with Granite Blue case, Slate bezel with Black case

Venu 2S:
Slate bezel with Graphite case, Light Gold bezel with Light Sand case, Silver bezel with Mist Grey case, Rose Gold bezel with White case

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: Should I buy it?

Garmin Venu 2 Plus review watch face display on chair
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the best smartwatch the company has ever created and is absolutely worth a look if you’re after a fitness watch that offers a little more. Voice assistant support is pretty well implemented, and so is phone calling from the wrist. We were already fans overall of the Venu 2, and the Venu 2 Plus makes things that much better.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a fantastic all-around fitness and smartwatch. Just be ready to pay for the experience.

Except for one major facet: the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is expensive. It costs $450 in the US, or $50 more than the original Venu 2, which already costs too much, in our opinion. That’s a lot of money to spend on a wearable. Garmin devices frequently go on sale, so you’ll likely be able to find it on offer in a few months, but it’s still a large pill to swallow.

If you want the best all-around fitness smartwatch Garmin has ever made, the Venu 2 Plus is it. Just be willing to pay up.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus family shot
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Phone calls and a voice assistant on your wrist
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus takes all of the fitness- and health-tracking features of the original Venu 2 and adds the ability to receive phone calls and access your phone's voice assistant.

Top Garmin Venu 2 Plus questions and answers

Garmin told Android Authority that it’s a possibility, but an LTE-connected Venu 2 Plus is not available at the moment.

Yes, the Garmin Venu 2 is still available for purchase from Garmin, Amazon, and other retailers. Now that the Venu 2 Plus is available, we hope to see more discounts on the original watch.

No, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus does not have onboard maps. A few third-party mapping applications are available in the Connect IQ store, but nothing official from Garmin.

Yes, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus works with both iPhones and Android phones.