Garmin has quite a few smartwatches to choose from. If you’re after a general fitness device that does a bit of everything, two great options are the Venu SQ and Vivoactive 4.
The first was launched earlier this month. The most interesting thing about it is that it moves away from the round form-factor we’ve seen on most Garmin watches. It is also quite inexpensive while not skimming on features.
A more pricier option is the Vivoactive 4. That one was launched about a year ago and has been a very popular seller since then. Garmin usually has a two year product cycle so the watch should be current for at least another year.
Which of the two devices is right for you? Read on to find out exactly what is different about them.
Garmin Venu SQ vs Vivoactive 4: Design and hardware
The Venu SQ and Vivoactive 4 are very distinct in looks. What jumps right out is that one is circular, the other similar to the likes of Fitbit Versa or Apple Watch – so round.
But that’s not where the differences in design end. Measuring 40.6 x 37.0 x 11.5 mm, Venu SQ is a one-size-fits-all affair. With Vivoactive 4 you get to choose from two different size options. The regular variant measures 45.1mm in diameter and 12.8mm in thickness, while the 4s iteration comes in at 40mm in diameter and 12.7mm in depth.
Not only are the Vivoactive 4 variants thicker, they are also slightly heavier than Venu SQ. This is due their stainless steel bezel and more premium case build. In order to keep the price down, Garmin has opted for a polymer case and anodized bezel on the Venu SQ.
Other cost savings on Garmin’s latest watch were achieved by including a 1.3 inch touch-screen LCD panel instead of an OLED one. This results in a not-too-impressive 240 x 240 pixel resolution.
Vivoactive 4 also comes with a 1.3 inch display, but this a more high-res, sunlight-visible, transflective, memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. The sunner the conditions, the better visibility. It’s similar to what you’d find on Garmin’s Forerunner and Fenix range. The 4s version comes with a 1.1 inch version of the same.
Both watches can be navigated via the touch-display. This is combined with physical buttons on the side.
The fancier build and better display is the main reason for the premium price you have to pay for the Vivoactive 4 over Venu SQ. Particularly as the sensor and smart technology is practically the same.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The watches share an accelerometer, optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 and compass. The extras that can be found on Vivoactive 4 include a gyroscope and barometric altimeter. The extras on Venu SQ end with an ambient light sensor.
While the Vivoactive 4 comes in two size options, Venu SQ also comes in two iterations. But here you get to choose between a Music and non-Music version. Built-in storage for up to 500 songs comes as default on the Vivoactive 4.
Battery life is not all that different. All of these watches will go for about a week on a single charge. Switch GPS on with music and this falls to around 5 or 6 hours. The variations are small. If you’re interested in the details they can be seen in the table below.
|Garmin Venu SQ Music||Garmin Vivoactive 4||Garmin Vivoactive 4s|
|Case material||fiber-reinforced polymer||fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover||fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover|
|Bezel material||anodized aluminum||stainless steel||stainless steel|
|Quick release bands||20mm silicone||22mm silicone||18mm silicone|
|Physical size||40.6 x 37.0 x 11.5 mm||45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm||40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm|
|Display size||1.3″ (33.1 mm) diagonal||1.3″ (33.0 mm) diameter||1.1″ (27.9 mm) diameter|
|Display resolution||240 x 240 pixels||260 x 260 pixels||218 x 218 pixels|
|Display type||Liquid crystal touchscreen||Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)||Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)|
|Weight||37.6 g||50.5 g||40.0 g|
|Water resistance||5 ATM||5 ATM||5 ATM|
|Sensors||Compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, SpO2, Ambient light sensor||Compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, SpO2, gyroscope, barometric altimeter||Compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, SpO2, gyroscope, barometric altimeter|
|Built-in GPS||GPS + GLONASS + GALILEO||GPS + GLONASS + GALILEO||GPS + GLONASS + GALILEO|
|Other||Microphones, speaker, vibration motor||Microphones, speaker, vibration motor||Microphones, speaker, vibration motor|
|Music storage||up to 500 songs (4GB)||up to 500 songs (4GB)||up to 500 songs (4GB)|
|Battery life (base model)||Smartwatch mode: Up to 6 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 14 hours
|Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 18 hours
|Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 15 hours
|RRP||$199 (Music $249)||$350||$350|
Garmin Venu SQ vs Vivoactive 4: Activity tracking and smart features
As mentioned, most of the differences between these two watches are in design and build. The smart features are the same and they both come with music (in the case of Venu SQ Music) and NFC for contactless payments.
As far as fitness and activity tracking, the Venu SQ and Vivoactive 4 will suffice for most. Unless, of course, you’re a hard-core exercise addict in which case you’d be better off with a sports watch from the Garmin Forerunner or Fenix line.
In terms of fitness tracking, the main extra that you get on Vivoactive 4 versus Venu SQ is the barometric altimeter. This means you’ll get a floor count and a few other features that depend on the sensor. Not a huge deal but it may make a difference to some.
The other feature you don’t get on Venu SQ are the on-screen workout animations. Again, not a deal braker. What this does is it spits out step-by-step instructions for a number of exercises. This can be viewed on the watch itself and comes in the form of very pretty animations.
Garmin Venu SQ vs Vivoactive 4: Verdict
The price difference between Venu SQ and Vivoactive 4 is pretty sizeable. The main reason for this is the more premium build of the latter and better display.
The other extras on the Vivoactive 4 comes in the form of the barometric altimeter for floor count, and on-screen workout animations. Battery life is largely similar to what you’ll find on Venu SQ, as are other functions..
So it really comes down to how much you’re looking to spend, and whether you prefer the circular or square look. The functionality is pretty much the same, so you won’t go wrong with either of these two watches. Both are great options for 24/7 fitness tracking.
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