Garmin Venu SQ Review: Excels As Fitness Tracker, Mediocre As Smartwatch

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Garmin is known for its premium fitness smartwatches that focus on delivering effective health tracking with useful daily style features. Garmin Venu is still one of our most favorite wearables that successfully combine both fitness utility features and smartwatch functions without compromising on daily performance. However, its steep pricing was a dealbreaker, forcing many potential buyers to settle down with rival wearables from Apple, Samsung, and the new kids on the block- OnePlus and Xiaomi.

 

Rating:
3.5/5

Garmin Venu SQ Review

The brand's latest products- the Venu SQ and the Venu SQ Music edition aim to deliver the same level of fitness functions and style features at a relatively low price point. The new smartwatches flaunt square displays, come with built-in GPS, and bring tons of health-centric features to get you started with your fitness journey. We spent some time with the Venu SQ to test its performance as a daily fitness smart wearable. Here's how the Garmin Venu SQ performed.

Design- Looks Good & Feels Very Comfortable On The Wrist

Design- Looks Good & Feels Very Comfortable On The Wrist

The Venu SQ gets the design basics right. It looks nice and is comfortable enough to wear all day long. We are testing the black color variant, and it perfectly blends with both casual and formal outfits. You have the option to buy the Venu SQ in a range of color options including- Orchid/Metallic Orchid, Shade Gray, White/Light Gold, Navy, Moss, Black, and White.

The fiber-reinforced polymer-made square dial is about the right size to accommodate a fairly large screen (33.1mm) and is light (37.6g) enough to not create any discomfort on the wrist. I could wear the Venu SQ during the night to track my sleep cycle without any discomfort. The soft silicone bands do not feel harsh on the skin.

How Durable Is Venu SQ?
 

How Durable Is Venu SQ?

As far as the durability is concerned, the build quality is decent but some cost-cutting has been done to keep the price in check. The reinforced polymer case does not feel as premium as a metal case. The display is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and the watch is certified for 5ATM water resistance.

Display- Decent LCD But An OLED Panel Would Have Been Better

Display- Decent LCD But An OLED Panel Would Have Been Better

The square-shaped 1.3-inch color LCD panel is surrounded by anodized aluminum. The display is bright and the resolution is adequate to make the content appear crisp. I couldn't spot any jarring pixilation on the panel; however, the LCD felt dull under sunlight and the touch response is also not the best in this price segment.

A better LCD or an OLED panel with higher peak brightness and vivid colors would have justified the price point. For instance, the OnePlus Watch's circular AMOLED display is far better in terms of color vibrancy, brightness, touch response, and clarity.

Dial’s Small Size Can Be Problematic

Dial’s Small Size Can Be Problematic

While the smaller dial size contributes to the comfort, it makes the on-screen content feel relatively smaller. The cramped screen is also a bit difficult to operate with touch controls as you can easily mis-tap on icons and functions in the menu lists. If you prefer big wrist smartwatches for their ease of use, the Venu SQ's small dial size will be a slight issue.

Software Experience- Feature-Packed Garmin OS Isn’t Very Intuitive

Software Experience- Feature-Packed Garmin OS Isn’t Very Intuitive

The Venu SQ runs on Garmin's in-house wearable OS (SW 2.70), which isn't quite intuitive and fun to use but is easily the most feature-packed wearable software. There are plenty of features and settings tucked inside menus and lists that can be overwhelming for first-time Garmin users; however, once you get the hang of it, you will truly enjoy the rich ecosystem of apps and functions.

You can customize watch faces, create new ones, tweak widgets, create activities, and play around with a myriad of fitness-centric features (set goals, join challenges, etc.) to make the most out of the feature-packed wearable operating system.

Garmin Connect IQ App STore Offers Plenty To Explore

Garmin Connect IQ App STore Offers Plenty To Explore

Garmin has its in-house app store- Connect IQ to let you install widgets, watch faces, and services to personalize the user experience on its wearables. There's a huge catalog of apps and services to let you make the most out of your Garmin smartwatch. And to check insights about your health activities, profile, and to personalize smartwatch features, you need to download the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone.

Touch Controls And Navigation

Touch Controls And Navigation

As far as the on-screen navigation is concerned, you can swipe up/down on the tiny screen to check widgets (Weather, heart-rate activity, SpO2 monitor, check your daily activity, stress levels, etc. A swipe right on the home screen opens up the shortcut, which can be customized as per your requirement. Moreover, swiping right also serves as a back action.

Two buttons are placed on the right side of the dial which further helps you operate the watch. One press on the top button opens up the sports activities list and a second press starts the selected sports activity. A long press opens up the quick settings panel with the nine most used features such as music, stopwatch, phone connection, display brightness, find my phone, etc. One press on the bottom button works as a back action and a long press opens up the settings menu list.

Sport Modes & Health-Centric Features

Sport Modes & Health-Centric Features

The Venu SQ offers plenty of features for fitness enthusiasts. The data insights are shown both on the wrist and the smartphone. The watch has over 20 built-in sport modes for indoor and outdoor exercises including running, cycling, strength, cardio, yoga, pilates, etc. There are multiple sensors on the wearable that keep a thorough check on your body's vitals. These include heart-rate activity, stress, steps covered, calories burnt, respiration rate, sleeping pattern, body energy measurements, hydration levels, etc. The watch notifies you of long idle activity, tracks the menstruation cycle, and also sends reminders for breathing and relaxation breaks.

Built-In Coach, Third-Party App Support, Live Tracking & More

Built-In Coach, Third-Party App Support, Live Tracking & More

The Garmin OS also offers a built-in coach facility to help you reach your fitness goals. You can set your workout regime and analyze your body response by checking Vo2 Max, HR Zones, HR Alerts, respiration rate, etc. The tracked information is automatically synced to your smartphone for a better analysis of the important data. The Venu SQ also supports a range of third-party health and fitness apps including MyFitnessPal, Strava, Apple Health, etc.

Importantly, the Venu SQ also supports live tracking, Incident detection, and assistance which can come in extremely handy during outdoor walks, runs, or rides. The wearable can be set to send real-time location to emergency contacts in case of any mishaps.

How Accurate Are Sensors?

How Accurate Are Sensors?

All sensors on the Venu SQ perform well except the step counter. The step counter kept counting steps while I was driving or just sitting in the vehicle, which is very common with smart wearables. However, the step counter's readings were in sync with other wearables and the treadmill machines.

The watch reported accurate bpm readings while intense workout sessions. Other sensors including the SPo2 monitor and sleep tracker also did a good job of offering insightful data about the body's vitals. The blood oxygen readings matched a dedicated oximeter, which has become a necessity in today's time. The companion app shows your lowest, highest, and average SpO2 readings.

Built-in GPS But No Gyroscope & Altimeter

Built-in GPS But No Gyroscope & Altimeter

The built-in GPS shows a path of your fitness activity that comes in handy if you are an avid runner or do a lot of cycling. Sadly, the Venu SQ lacks a gyroscope and an altimeter but the wearable can be configured to use with external sensors.

Moving on, the companion app shows the synced data in an easy-to-understand format. You are presented with rich insights such as average pace, total time, moving time, average heart rate, max heart rate, cadence data, etc. which can be put to good use to improve your running activities.

Useful Body Metrics

Useful Body Metrics

The smart wearable also shows stress and a rather useful health metric- Body Battery, which is essentially a measurement of your body's energy reserves your body has throughout the day. Higher the number, the more energetic you should feel, and surprisingly, it works quite well.

Overall, there's no other smartwatch in this price bracket that can match the Garmin Venu SQ's effective data readings and useful insights about your body's vitals.

Battery Life & Connectivity

Battery Life & Connectivity

I am not very impressed with the overall lasting capacity of the Venu SQ. The smart wearable did not last more than five days on moderate to heavy usage. In the connected state with the smartphone with GPS enabled, AOD on and various sensors working throughout the day, the wearable only lasts for two to three days, which is pretty disappointing.

I did not face any connectivity issues on the Garmin Venu SQ. The watch stays connected to the handset without any issues. You can pick calls from the wrist but since the wearable lacks a microphone and a speaker, you would need your handset or wireless earphones to answer calls. Besides, you can reject calls with preset text messages which come in handy while working out in the gym or during morning runs.

Verdict

Verdict

The Venu SQ is not the perfect smartwatch but it is the best fitness tracker out there in its respective price bracket. The wearable aces health/fitness data tracking and offers a comprehensive view of the body's insights which can motivate you to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The focus here is on providing every possible health statistic of the body's vitals that can help you improve your fitness regime. Garmin could have provided a slightly better display and battery life to make the Venu SQ an equally good smartwatch. Nevertheless, if your priority is a good fitness tracker with the most required smartwatch features, the Venu SQ is worth considering.

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