Garmin Venu 3 vs Garmin Venu 2: which one should you buy?

The Venu 3 adds several new features, but the Venu 2 is still a very good watch

The Garmin Venu 3 launch introduced the latest in the Venu series of smartwatches. And the Venu 3 offers some significant upgrades over its predecessor, the Venu 2. But while those new features may be of use to some, there is still a case to be made for the Venu 2.  

Perhaps you already own a Venu 2 and are wondering whether the Venu 3 is worth the upgrade. Or maybe you’re considering your first smartwatch purchase and want to know what one is right for you. Either way, there are some good arguments to be made for both devices. 

The Garmin Venu 2 and the Garmin Venu 3 side by sideCredit: Garmin

Price

Big savings can be had on the Venu 2

The Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S (the ‘S’ denotes a slightly smaller device) have an RRP of £349.99, although we have seen these available for as little as £229.95. This is a huge discount and represents excellent value for this watch.

The slightly newer Venu 2 Plus, which adds voice functionality to the watch, has an RRP of £399.99. But again, we have seen this available for under £300. We’d expect to see these devices discounted more frequently now that a newer model is available. 

The Venu 3 and Venu 3S both cost £449.99. At face value, an extra £100 for the Venu 3 over the Venu 2 (and potentially over £200 more depending on the discount you can find) feels quite expensive. So, what are the key differences between these devices that might help to justify this?

Featured product

Garmin Venu 3

RRP: £449.99

Garmin Venu 3

Featured product

Garmin Venu 3S

RRP: £449.99

Garmin Venu 3S

Featured product

Garmin Venu 2

RRP: £349.99

Garmin Venu 2

Featured product

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

RRP: £399.99

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Design

The big difference is in the display

The Venu 2 and Venu 3 are similar in design terms – which isn’t a surprise. While the Venu 3 is a fraction smaller than the Venu 2, it offers a larger screen with a higher resolution display. The Venu 3 is also slightly lighter than the Venu 2.

  Venu 2  Venu 3 
Dimensions  45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2mm  45 x 45 x 12mm 
Screen size  1.3-inch 1.4-inch
Resolution  416 x 416 pixels  454 x 454 
Weight  49g (1.73oz)  46g (1.62oz) 

The 3S is slightly larger than the 2S and has a larger screen. It’s also slightly heavier.

  Venu 2S  Venu 3S 
Dimensions  40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1mm 41 x 41 x 12mm 
Screen size  1.1-inch 1.2inch
Resolution  360 x 360 pixels  390 x 390 pixels 
Weight  38.2g (1.35oz)  40g (1.41oz) 

The main difference here is in the size of the display, with both the 3 and 3S offering larger displays than their predecessors. The differences in overall size and weight are negligible. One bonus of the larger screen on the Venu 3 is the option to increase the font size, if you need to make things a little easier to read.  

In terms of materials, both the Venu 2 and Venu 3 have a stainless-steel bezel, with a fibre-reinforced plastic case. They both use Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the screen. Finally, both the Venu 2 and Venu 3 (and 2S and 3S) use an AMOLED display.

Features

Several interesting new additions on the Venu 3

The Garmin Venu 3 takes the key features found in the Venu 2 and adds a few extras. Everything you’d expect to find is there. This includes features such as stress, blood oxygen and heart rate monitoring, and sleep, activity and workout tracking.

You also have access to the outstanding Garmin Connect app, which provides extra insights such as a VO2 max estimate (to give you an idea of your cardiovascular fitness), your fitness age, and Garmin’s Body Battery tool, which lets you track your energy levels through the day. 

For many people interested in monitoring their health and fitness, the Venu 2 covers all the essentials. But the Venu 3 offers a few extra tricks that may make it worthy of attention.

Sleep tracking

While the Venu 2 offers night-time sleep tracking, the Venu 3 claims to kick things up a notch by offering nap tracking and sleep coaching. The main difference here is that rather than simply telling you how much sleep you had the night before, the sleep coach feature will track things like your activity levels, heart-rate variability and any naps you’ve taken, and will guide you on how much sleep you need for the next night.

The idea is that this will help with proper recovery from exercise and managing your energy. We haven’t tested this yet, but if it works, it could be a significant upgrade over previous sleep tracking measurements 

Wheelchair mode

Garmin has also introduced a new wheelchair mode, which provides stats and suggestionsincluding a push tracker, which counts pushes rather than steps, and a weightshift alert to remind users to shift their sitting position regularly.

There are also dedicated workouts for wheelchair users, with activities such as hand cycling included for the first time.  

Fitness-tracking enhancements

In general fitness-tracking terms, the Venu 3 offers a suite of additional features. These include a recovery time tracker, to guide you on how much rest you might need after a workout.

Heart-rate variability status can help identify stress and the impact of your training and recovery schedules. There’s also interval training, and audio prompts are available if you’re following a workout on your watch.  

Interestingly, while the Venu 3 doesn’t offer ECG (electrocardiogram) readings (which can be used to identify an irregular heartbeat), it does have the necessary sensor to record an ECG. Given the Venu 2 Plus can provide an ECG reading, this may be something that comes to the Venu 3 in the future, pending the required regulatory approvals.  

Both watches have built-in GPS, which is useful for accurately tracking any outdoor activities you may do, such as walking, running or cycling. The Venu 2 supports GPS Glonass and Galileo GNSS systems, as does the Venu 3.

But, crucially, the Venu 3 supports ‘All-Systems GNSS’, rather than connecting to one satellite system at a time. In theory, this should equate to more accurate location tracking.  

Speaker and microphone

One final feature worth highlighting is the addition of voice controls, and the ability to take and receive calls. Once again, this is available on the Venu 2 Plus, but not on the Venu 2 or 2S. 

If you are paired with a compatible smartphone (the Venu 2 and Venu 3 are both compatible with Android and iPhone devices), you can make calls via your wrist, without having to take your phone out of your bag or pocket. You’ll also be able to respond to text messages via the Venu 3. 

And if you want, you’ll be able to utilise your phone’s voice-controlled smart assistant – whether that’s Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby or Apple’s Siri.  

Battery

Battery life on the Venu 3 hasn’t been compromised by all these new features. The Venu 2 doesn’t have terrible battery life – around 11 days in smartwatch mode (compared to an Apple Watch, for example, which needs charging every day or two). But the Venu 3 has extended this to an impressive 14 days.  

If you prefer to have the watch display set to ‘always on’ (which does drain the battery faster), Garmin says you will still get around five days between charges on the Venu 3, compared to just two days on the Venu 2. 

GPS can drain your watch battery rapidly. The Venu 2 offers around 22 hours in GPS-only mode, while the Venu 3 manages to eke out 26 hours. And even if you have All-Systems GNSS active, you’ll still get up to 20 hours from the Venu 3. 

So, which one should you buy?

Will you use the new features?

The Garmin Venu 3 and Venu 2 have a lot in common, especially in terms of their looks. Both have similar design, size and weight, although the Venu 3 does benefit from a larger screen, and the option of increasing the size of on-screen text.  

The big differences come in terms of the features on offer, and the superior battery life of the new model. All those new features – such as nap detection, sleep coaching, All-Systems GNSS, recovery guidance, and the built-in speaker and microphone – represent quite a significant upgrade over the Venu 2.

There’s also the possibility of ECG functionality (and potentially even skin-temperature readings, which can be used to monitor your health) being introduced further down the line. 

The fact that all of this comes with better battery performance is impressive. If you’ve never had a smartwatch before, there are plenty of reasons to consider getting the more comprehensive feature set that’s available on the Venu 3, over the Venu 2. 

Features vs price

On the other hand, the Venu 2 is much cheaper than the Venu 3, especially if you can find it on offer. Do the new features make the Venu 3 worth spending £100-£200 more on? That’s down to personal choice, and whether those new features will be of use.

If you’re only after basic health and fitness tracking, the Venu 2 may do everything you need. But the Venu 3 offers more, and potentially more accurate readings than its predecessor. 

 The Venu 2 Plus muddies the waters further. This device offers some of the new features of the Venu 3, including the speaker and microphone. It also offers ECG readings. If you already own one of these, then the decision to upgrade to the Venu 3 may be harder to justify. 

The Venu series is Garmin’s best effort at providing a more mainstream smartwatch than many of its more heavily sports-focused devices. For many, it’s the ideal balance of smartwatch features and health and fitness tracking, and the Venu 3 is potentially the best in the series so far. For some it will be the right option, while for others, the older, cheaper models may suffice. 

Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him

Updated:

Steven Shaw has been a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar. His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.