- Exhaustive fitness tracking
- Blood oxygen monitoring
- Very light on the wrist
- Decent battery Life
- Quick-release band
Could have been better
- GPS lock-in time
- Effective display size
- Vibration motor
When was the last time you heard of Garmin packing 20+ activities in a sub 20K fitness wearable (available for ₹17,990 at Amazon while writing this)? Quite sure, never until they launched Garmin Venu Sq. Right out of the box, you have the watch, a proprietary charger, and some manuals. Keeping aside the charger and the manuals, let’s keep our focus on the watch.
Garmin Venu Sq packs a lot of features that were previously not seen in this price range. First, let’s talk about hardware. We are seeing a 41mm x 37mm watch dial with 11mm thickness. It’s a touch screen, the first one offered from Garmin in this price range and yet this is the first downgrade one would notice when compared against the original Venu. We see an LCD square display here (perhaps that’s the reason it’s called Venu Sq?) unlike the round AMOLED screen in the original Venu. The display is well lit even when directly exposed to the sun and was responsive even with sweat on the display. The edge-to-edge display is missing, and thick bezels are a drawback. The effective display size in contrast to the dial size is 33mm diagonally.
Apart from touch screen, Venu Sq has two buttons on the right side. You can use the buttons to navigate through the watch and to control your activity. The other part of the hardware would be the strap. Thankfully, Venu Sq offers an industry-standard 20 mm quick release band, which means you can get rid of the sturdy silicon strap which comes in the box. The final aspect would be the weight, at 37.6 grams, it is definitely on the lighter side when compared against the original Venu which weighs 46.3 grams.
Let’s speak about general features before we move to GPS-associated workouts. Garmin Venu Sq offers 24 workouts ranging from outdoor GPS-based running to stair stepper to yoga. You can configure your favorite 4 workouts as quick access while a menu lands you to the other set of workouts. Venu Sq also comes in music edition, with inbuilt storage for music however costs approximately ₹5,000 more(priced at ₹22,990). Certainly one of the watches in the range which lets you use Connect IQ app for customising watch face and data fields.
Venu Sq takes a big leap on the health monitoring front in the budget range, especially comparing it against the likes of Forerunner 45. Apart from the general wrist-based heart rate, Venu Sq offers SPo2 sensor to identify blood oxygen levels, either as a spot check or automatically throughout the day and night. Measuring it is possible only in still setup and takes close to 15 seconds to get you the results in percentage. Breathing Rate, Menstrual Tracking, and Stress Tracking are additionally new in the range apart from prominent Sleep Tracking. Limiting to basic use including general heath tracking, Venu Sq offers up to 6 days of battery life.
It’s wrong to assume Venu Sq as a lifestyle-only watch, considering the features loaded in the running perspective. Before jumping to the activities it has to offer, ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors in the device lets you connect to the compatible sensors including chest heart rate strap. Venu Sq features the following outdoor run modes:
- Standard Run
- Mixed Intervals
- Quarter Mile Repeats, and
You can configure the interval running plans to base your training plan using Connect App.
Non-GPS running features include Indoor Track Runs and Treadmill Run, where the speed, distance, and cadence are calculated using the accelerometer in the device. Venu Sq lets you calibrate and save the distance recorded in the treadmill after each run.
Venu Sq additionally offers Garmin Connect Training Plans and Garmin LiveTrack. Training plans are synced and accessible on the watch through the widget loop. Garmin LiveTrack lets you share your live run with your loved ones, but requires carrying a connected mobile phone.
Coming to the outdoor activity tracking, Venu Sq is equipped with all three navigational sensors, namely GPS, Glonass, and Galileo, assuring more accuracy. Locking of GPS was not always quite comfortable with it taking more than 15 seconds on average with few high rises (up to 10 floors) coupled with dense trees. On a heavy rain day, both Venu Sq and Forerunner 35 failed to lock in GPS. Once locked, nothing serious to worry about. Recommend to initiate GPS as you warm up. To test on the accuracy front, I have used both the watches for 3 runs, two shorter runs of 5 KM each, and one long run of 15KM. Venu Sq was pretty much accurate in all runs and the long run confirmed it (compared with Forerunner 235 additionally) where my Forerunner 35 was in excess of 100 meters right from 1st KM. Comparing the tracking using maps pretty much convinced me of the accuracy that Venu Sq has to offer.
Heart rate, cadence, and the stride data from both the watches were pretty much the same. While we couldn’t compare it against a chest strap heart rate monitor, Garmin’s Elevate wrist rate heart rate is pretty much decent in comparison. Venu Sq offers 14 hours GPS workout mode battery life, which is barely an hour more than 3 years old Forerunner 35.
Finally, being smart, notifications work pretty well in Venu Sq. For me, it was a leap to see a complete message pop up on Venu Sq rather than having to scroll through them in Forerunner 35. You can swipe up or down through the main page to access a lot of features, from your activities to notifications to weather data, and finally music control. You can customise the features you can access through this shortcut from the watch. One thing I really did not appreciate is the notification alert. The vibration motor in the watch is pretty pretty weak. This applies to both notifications and workout alerts. The beep alert combined with the heavy vibration I’m used to in Forerunner 35 is something huge that Venu Sq lacks.
To conclude, Venu Sq is definitely a worthy fitness tracker and a running watch. The watch is promising enough to take you through a marathon and still have juice left for the recovery run. While it lacks premium features like AMOLED display, voice assistant, etc which is now a core feature for wearables developed by mobile manufacturers, or even altimeter for accurate elevation details, Venu Sq additionally offers a lot of depth to the fitness tracking features which will make you ignore the missings. Health tracking features like SPo2 sensor, Breathing Rate, Menstrual Tracking, and Stress Tracking are a big addition to this price range.
We give a thumbs up on Garmin Venu Sq. However, if you are a runner looking for more running-specific features, you can perhaps go for the recently announced Garmin Forerunner 55 (priced at ₹20,990). While Forerunner 55 misses out on features like SPo2 sensor, in-watch functions like ‘PacePro’ which can predict your finish time in real-time, and an improved GPS battery time of 20 hours, makes it super comfortable for ultra runs. If Garmin eco-system is not your concern, Coros Pace 2 can be an alternate option (priced at ₹21,990), which features additional sensors like altimeter, compass, and thermometer sensors and not even speaking about battery life, maxed at whopping 30 hours in full GPS mode or 20 days of regular use.
A big thank you to Srinidhi Shetty for lending her watch for this review.
GPS lock-in time:
8.5 of 10
Karthik is a business analyst by profession and a long-time volunteer contributor to Wikipedia. Apart from his enthusiasm for running and photography, advancements in mobile & wearables technology are of utmost interest to him. He is co-founder of Mumbai-based Tilaknagar Running Club.
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