Image source: Garmin

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: which is right for you?

Garmin’s answer to the likes of Fitbit and the Apple Watch is the all-purpose Vivoactive range. Another is the Garmin Venu, a device with a more premium design and a higher price tag but largely the same specs.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

You might be wondering what exactly is the difference between the Vivoactive 4 and Venu. The first has been around for nearly two years now, the second has just seen an updated version that comes in the form of Venu 2. Here’s our overview on similarities and differences to help you decide which is right for you.


Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: General and design

Latest generations bring a choice of sizes

The fourth iteration of Vivoactive has been a popular seller since its launch at IFA 2019 in Berlin. The device has some handy upgrades over its predecessor – the most important of which is that it comes in two sizes.

The large version sports a 45mm stainless steel case while the small a 40mm case. The predecessor is only available in a 43mm version. Largely considered a unisex device, the Vivoactive 4 is better as it allows those will smaller wrists to opt for something that won’t look too bulky on their wrist.

The other design tweak is that there are two physical buttons on the right, whereas before there was only one. The touchscreen is a great feature but it’s almost impossible to navigate in wet or sweaty conditions. The second physical button should help with this problem.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu vs Vivoactive 3: what are the differences?
Venu 2, Venu, Vivoactive 4, Vivoactive 3 | Image source: Garmin

Garmin has opted for a similar strategy with the Venu range. The latest device comes in the same choice of two sizes, its predecessor was only available in a 43mm version.

Venu range has a much better display

While the size choices are the same, Venu watches have something that differentiate them from the others. They are the only Garmin wearable to come with an AMOLED screen.

Garmin Venu 2 vs Venu: key differences

Garmin Venu
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

This allows for great clarity both indoors and out. The resolution is 416 x 416 pixels on the large Venu 2, much higher than you would find on the Vivoactive 4 or Vivoactive 3. The exact specs can be seen in the table below.

What is the same is the actual display size. This comes in at 1.3 inches for the large versions of Venue 2 and Vivoactive 4, and 1.1 inches for the S versions.

Sensors

There is little difference between the Venu and Vivoactive range when it comes to sensors. The Vivoactive 4 and original Venu are identical on that count.

Having said that, the latest Venu 2 is a generation ahead. Which means it brings additions that comes in the form of the latest heart rate tech (4th generation Elevate sensor). The other improvement is increased storage space for music. Perhaps this is a hint as to what we can expect with Vivoactive 5 when it sees the light of day.

Battery life

What’s really impressive about Venu 2 is its battery life. Even though it has a more power-hungry AMOLED display it can keep going for 11 days in smartwatch mode and 8 hours with GPS switched on. Vivoactive 4 is good for 8 days in smartwatch mode and 6 hours with GPS on.

There is an important difference, though. The transflective memory-in-pixel display on Vivoactive is always-on. The disadvantage is that the colors are very dull. The battery life for Venu 2 that you can see above is not with the always-on option. Toggle this setting and battery comes down by more than a half.

Here’s a table listing the main specs of Garmin Venu 2 and Vivoactive 4. For completeness sake, we also include the previous generations – Venu and Vivoactive 3.

Venu 2
Venu
Vivoactive 4
Vivoactive 3
 
Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu vs Vivoactive 3: what are the differences?
  Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu vs Vivoactive 3: what are the differences?
Bezel material
stainless steel
stainless steel
stainless steel
stainless steel
Case material
fiber-reinforced polymer
fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
polymer
Quick release bands
yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
yes (22 mm, Industry standard)
yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
Physical size
45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2 mm. Fits wrists with a circumference of 135-200mm
43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm. Fits wrists with a circumference of 125-190 mm
45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm. Fits wrists with a circumference of 135-200 mm
43.1 x 43.1 x 13.6 mm. Fits wrists with a circumference of 127-204 mm
Display size
1.3″ (33.0 mm) diameter
1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter
1.3″ (33.0 mm) diameter
1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter
Display resolution
416 x 416 pixels
390 x 390 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
240 x 240 pixels
Display type
AMOLED
AMOLED
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
Weight
49.0 g
46.3 g
50.5 g
39.0 g
Battery life (base model)
Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days
Battery saver smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 8 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 22 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 5 days.

GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours.

Smartwatch mode: Up to 8 days.

GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours.

Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days.

GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours.

Sensors
Barometric altimeter, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate (4th generation), SpO2, Ambient light sensor
Barometric altimeter, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, SpO2, Ambient light sensor
Barometric altimeter, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, SpO2, Ambient light sensor
Barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate, Ambient light sensor
Built-in GPS
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Music storage
up to 650 songs
up to 500 songs
up to 500 songs
up to 500 songs (Vivoactive 3 Music)
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
RRP
$400
$350
$350
$250

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Functionality

Activity tracking features

Any of these are great for someone looking for a smartwatch with lots of health and fitness features. They’ll all have you covered around the clock and can track a wide variety of sports. So let’s jump right to the differences.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu vs Vivoactive 3: what are the differences?

Garmin Vivoactive 4
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This section is going to be fairly short, the reason being there simply aren’t too many features that are not common to all of these watches.

Vivoactive 4 and Venu are exactly the same. Don’t look for any differences in functionality, as you won’t find them. But the duo comes with some extras over the predecessor Vivoactive 3 iteration.

These smartwatches provide pulse oxygen readings and estimated respiration. The first is primarily done during the night, although you can take manual readings throughout the day as well. The second is done around the clock.

Vivoactive 4/4s and Venu also come with the Body Battery function. This tells you when to push hard when to take it easy based on your activity level and how much rest you’ve had.

The other differences are the inclusion of Yoga workouts, Pilates workouts and on-screen workout animations. Also, the heart rate sensor has been improved and can now track heart rate under water.

Venu 2 comes with more

The Venu 2 comes with some more goodies. The next generation of the heart rate sensor should ensure better accuracy. It also helps to improve sleep tracking which now uses Firstbeat algorithms.

Other additions come in the form of Fitness Age (which lets you know how old your body is), along with Health Snapshot (a 2 minute test that captures info on heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen, respiration and stress). There are also more sports modes and some features to target the gym crowd.

Here’s a run-down of the differences when it comes to activity tracking.

Venu 2
Venu
Vivoactive 4
Vivoactive 3
 
Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu vs Vivoactive 3: what are the differences?
Blood oxygen
Yes
Yes
Yes
Body Battery
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yoga workouts, Pilates workouts
Yes
Yes
Yes 
On-screen workout animations
Yes
Yes
Yes
Respiration rate
Yes
Yes
Yes
Underwater wrist based heart rate
Yes
Yes
Yes
Fitness Age
Yes
 
 
Health Snapshot
Yes
 
 
HIIT, hiking and bouldering workouts
Yes
 
 
On-screen workout muscle maps
Yes
 
 

Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Verdict

The Vivoactive range is a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of activity trackers. It’s a device that in terms of design appeals to both men and women equally. The introduction of different sizes with the fourth iteration provides more customization options. Now you get the same size choices with the Venu range.

The difference between the two watches comes mainly down to the quality of design. The Vivoactives have a transflective MIP display, the Venus a much higher quality AMOLED.

The sacrifice used to be battery life. However, Garmin has managed to much improve on that with Venu 2. Other additions that this generation brings are an upgraded heart rate sensor, more storage space for music and some new software-based health insights.

Garmin Venu 2 vs Venu: key differences

Garmin Venu 2
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

Price difference is an important consideration. Vivoactive 4 sells for $350, but you can often find discounts of $80-$90. Venu 2 is much pricier at $400. The other option is to opt for the first Venu which now matches Vivoactive 4 in price.

If you don’t mind the lower quality screen, Vivoactive 4 is the one to go for. It’s particularly useful for outdoor activities as the screen gets brighter and more readable the sunnier it is. Venu 2 is for those that want the latest tech on offer coupled with a beautiful AMOLED – something more Apple Watch-like.

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2 thoughts on “Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: which is right for you?

  • Nice review, just what I was looking for. So, I just bought a refurb VA3 with music and it seems great though the display is a little blah. Paid $175. Would it be worth it to return it and buy a refurb Venu for $250? What would you suggest given those prices?

    Reply
    • Its always risky returning/buying refurb devices. Having said that, Venu is clearly the better option. Check out the specs in the article. The price difference? It depends whether PulseOx, better display and the other differences are worth the extra $75 for you.

      Reply

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