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Today's launch of the new Garmin Venu Sq expands the Venu family and is added together with the original Garmin Venu, in a move by the American brand to have a specific segment to compete with other smart watches like Fitbit or Apple Watch.
The name of the new model - Venu Sq - comes logically from a very striking feature for the current Garmin range: its squared display. After the Forerunner 920XT we had no Garmin watch with this format.
I don't think the square format feels bad or makes it an ugly watch, but the truth is that when I see it the first thing that comes to mind is not exactly a Garmin, but rather a Fitbit Versa or some Amazfit model.
The new Garmin Venu Sq is available in two versions, the normal one and the second one with music (called Venu Sq Music, of course). The watch is controlled by the two buttons on the right side (just like the Vivoactive 4 and Venu), with a touch screen. Something that could not be left out if we consider it to be the segment that Garmin points to.
This member added to the Venu family today is cheaper than the original model, which it does not replace but complements. We will see in more detail what are the differences between the two models in greater detail, but we can summarize it as type of screen used and sensors, especially the barometric altimeter.
Garmin Venu Sq, specifications
As I always do, let me detail all the specs first.
- It allows to play music on the Garmin Venu Sq Music Edition, including Spotify and Amazon Music. 4GB internal memory.
- Wireless NFC payments with Garmin Pay.
- Smart phone notifications.
- Possibility of downloading Connect IQ applications.
- WiFi for syncing and downloading (only on Venu Sq Music).
- 1.3″ diagonal LCD touch screen with the ability to stay on as an option.
- 240x240 pixels resolution.
- With touchscreen (as it is a smart watch), but there are also two buttons to control the watch.
- Ambient light sensor
- Aluminium bezel, Gorilla Glass 3 protection for the glass.
- 40.6 mm wide.
- Weight: 37,6 grams.
- Battery life: Up to 14 hours with GPS, 6 hours when listening to music (in Music Edition) and up to 6 days in smartwatch mode.
- 20mm wide silicone strap, with Quick Release system
- Optical heart rate sensor Garmin Elevate v3 with Pulse Ox (pulse oximetry to identify the different phases of sleep)
- SpO2 estimation throughout the day, manual or only at night.
- Respiratory rate tracking.
- Body Battery showing the remaining energy and recharge with rest.
- Stress monitoring
- Sleep tracking.
- Hydration monitoring to keep track of the fluid you've been taking throughout the day
- Estimated sweat loss after workouts.
- Menstrual Cycle Tracking
- Breath tracking.
- Breathwork for respiratory workouts
- Garmin Coach and advance workouts compatible.
- Incident detectionThe watch will send a message asking for help to the contacts you have programmed in advance. The watch does not have a LTE connection, so you need to carry the phone with you as it will be in charge of the communication. It can be activated automatically (if it detects a fall or similar), or manually if you find yourself in a difficult situation
I think it's clear that Garmin has focused on Venu Sq to compete directly against new Fitbit models, especially the Fitbit Versa 3. But also with Apple Watch Series 3. All these models move in the same price range around €200, where the range of access to watches geared to monitoring health and physical activity is.
It is not simply a cheaper Garmin Venu, by size it can be considered a watch very similar to the Garmin Vivoactive 4s. The truth is that right now Garmin's range of smart watches for activity tracking is quite complete, with small differences between them both in performance and logically in aesthetics.
Ordering them by MSRP, this could be a quick summary
- Garmin Venu Sq (199€): Square LCD display, all health tracking functions and small size with 40mm width. With Garmin Pay.
- Garmin Venu Sq Music Edition (249€): Above Venu Sq adds the ability to play music and WiFi sync.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4s (from €279): Transflective round screen, 40mm diameter, music, Garmin Pay, WiFi. It has barometric altimeter as the main differentiator as well as the animated workouts.
- Garmin Vivoactive 4 (from 299€): Same as 4s, but with a 45mm diameter screen.
- Garmin Venu (from 349€): Same as the Vivoactive 4s, but with 43mm diameter AMOLED screen and higher quality materials.
In a fairly progressive scale, Garmin adds different options and possibilities, beyond a change in aesthetics.
The control of the watch is done just like the rest of the Venu range (and Vivoactive 4) through a touch screen that is complemented by two buttons on the right side.
There are slight changes to the interface, something I claimed for the original Garmin Venu as the user experience is not overly adapted to what we can expect from a smartwatch. But these are very light changes that Garmin must definitely continue to pay full attention to.
Aesthetically you can see that the design is not at all risky. Not only because of the square format (clearly intended to compete with the Fitbit and Apple Watch as mentioned above), but especially because of the large screen frame.
In the pictures you can see it doesn't feel like it, but you need to see where the frame is limited and what is the real screen. In this photo you can perfectly see how from all the front, the space reserved for the screen is quite limited. It would be the box marked in green.
Differences between Garmin Venu and Garmin Venu Sq
Naturally, the most visible difference between Garmin Venu and Garmin Venu Sq is the screen format. The Garmin Venu has a round bezel, while the Garmin Venu Sq is square. I didn't need to explain this to you, but there are other things to keep in mind.
- The Garmin Venu uses an AMOLED display, while the Venu Sq display is LCD. It is not only the technology used in the panel, but also the resolution (390×390 pixels on the Venu by 240×240 pixels on the Venu Sq).
- The bezel of the new Garmin Venu Sq is made of aluminum, while the bezel of the Garmin Venu is made of stainless steel.
- The Garmin Venu has barometric altimeter that is used to track climbed floors as well as altitude accumulated during workouts. The Garmin Venu Sq doesn't have it.
- From the square display model, only the Garmin Venu Sq Music offers music playback. The original Garmin Venu offers it as standard. The same goes for WiFi connectivity.
- There are no animated workouts in the Venu Sq (yoga/cardio/pilates/strength). They're in the Venu.
- There is no gyroscope on the Garmin Venu Sq, it is present on the Garmin Venu.
In other words, the Garmin Venu offers a "premium" experience in terms of presence (display and materials) and by offering the barometric altimeter, but in terms of software there are no differences beyond the fact that the Venu Sq does not count the number of floors climbed.
Garmin Venu Sq, price and availability
As I said at the beginning, the Garmin Venu Sq starts from €199 in the version sans music playback. The Music Edition is 50€ more: 249€.
The watch will be available in the coming days, and the color offer varies depending on whether it is the version with or without music.
For the Venu Sq, Garmin offers it in grey, lavender and white with gold bezel.
As for the Garmin Venu Sq Music, it is available in black, rose gold and white, blue with gold bezel and green with black bezel.
Garmin Venu Sq opinion
That Garmin's intention with Venu Sq is to attack Fitbit directly (and less intentionally Apple's cheaper offer) is quite clear. In fact, the design they have used is totally reminiscent of the Versa. And it's not because Garmin just wanted to copy that design, but because it really is a very simple aesthetic and without any risk.
The price of Venu Sq is quite competitive, as is its performance. The absence of the barometric altimeter is the most important thing to remember, something that is standard in the Fitbit Versa 3 and that in an activity tracking watch it is quite useful when it comes to encouraging us to use the stairs.
As a smartwatch we have the same functions: access to basic apps and support for wireless payments. However, Garmin can place a watch at a lower price than Fitbit for those who aren't interested in music playback, which may be interesting to save $50 depending on the user profile. The cheapest option is interesting, but the 30€ difference from the Fitbit on equal terms may weigh too much.
Apart from all that, there is nothing new to highlight in the Venu Sq. Something normal considering that it is not about updating the original Garmin Venu, but to offer a cheaper option within the Venu range. It wouldn't make sense for Garmin to launch a cheaper watch with more features than the watch that is theoretically superior.
I have to see what are the changes that Garmin has been making in the Venu software to adapt the user experience to what we can consider a smartwatch, taking advantage of the colors of the AMOLED and LCD screens of these watches. It was my main objection to the original model, and it is something I will see at the time of carrying out the full review. Soon there will be a unit for the test, at which time I will detail everything about this as well as the operation of the rest of the functions.
Until then... thanks for reading!