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Hands-On With The New Garmin Venu 2 Plus Smartwatch

This upgrade to Garmin’s most expensive smartwatch adds a microphone so you can make voice calls and access your smartphone’s assistant

Jonathan Shannon
4 Jan 2022

I’ve spent five days wearing the Garmin Venu 2 Plus smartwatch, ahead of its public unveiling on 4th January 2022 alongside the Garmin Vivomove Sport. The Venu 2 Plus adds a microphone and a speaker that you can use to access your smartphone’s voice assistant, and start and conduct voice calls. Those two extra features are what distinguishes the Venu 2 Plus from the Venu 2 smartwatch, which was announced in April 2021.

The idea of being able to use my watch to make phone calls didn’t initially grab me as a concept – I may be old, but not so old that I prefer a call to a message. However, to my surprise, on a couple of occasions over the past few days answering a quick call on my watch turned out to be a pleasant convenience. On each occasion I was inside a private environment, but I could hear the person on the other end clearly and they couldn’t tell I was using a watch rather than my phone by the sound quality.

It’s also been nice to have marginally easier access to Siri – just raising my wrist rather than getting my phone out of my pocket – and the integration works well, with Siri recognising what I’m saying and responding as quickly as usual.

It’s a set of developments worthy of the moniker “Plus” and, if it works as well with Android phones as it does with iPhone, it adds a desirable smart feature that may well make the Venu 2 Plus the best platform-agnostic fitness smartwatch.

The Venu 2 already had the fitness part stitched up, taking cues from Garmin’s well-established expertise with multisport GPS watches and adding enhanced features for gym-goers.

It had also given a strong showing of its smart features, of which the stand-out is the integration with the major music streaming services – something that sets it apart from smartwatches from Fitbit and Huawei. Garmin has also managed to pull off the trick of giving the Venu 2 Plus both a vibrant AMOLED touchscreen and a battery life of up to nine days. After five days of light use of Twixtmas the battery on my device is on 38%.

Less impressively, but also less importantly, the Venu 2 Plus’s health tracking has fallen behind. Apple, Samsung, Withings and Fitbit (through a third-party app) offer ECG readings and other features like skin temperature. The Venu 2 Plus does have SpO2 and respiration readings but I currently see little benefit in them.

Sadly, the Venu 2 Plus continues to overestimate my time asleep, just like every other Garmin device I’ve worn – it believes I’m asleep when I’m awake watching TV before bed.

Before giving a definitive rating I’ll need to spend longer with the device, investigating the state of Garmin’s app store and other app features which weren’t available until the device was officially launched. However, one elephant in the room has revealed itself already – the cost. At £399, it’s expensive even for a smartwatch. While it’s a strong option for most owners of Android smartphones, it’s hard to see why either iPhone or Samsung Galaxy owners wouldn’t pay less for the Apple Watch Series 7 (from £369) or Samsung Galaxy Watch4 (from £249) when sticking to the same brand would offer a slicker integration of smart features.

If you want a superior fitness tracking experience, you may well prefer the more advanced features found on the Garmin Forerunner 745 (£399) instead.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is shaping up to be a useful and stylish device, but I’ll need more convincing it’s worth paying top dollar for it over another option.

Buy from Garmin | £399

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