Image source: Garmin

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: feature comparison

Apple and Garmin are amongst the most popular smartwatch makers in the world. The first has just upgraded its flagship wearable to Series 7. This comes with a slightly larger display and a few other improvements.

Garmin, on the other hand, has been slow with new releases this year. Having said that, we are expecting a device or two to drop in the next few months. For now its main contender in the all-purpose smartwatch arena remains the popular Vivoactive and Venu range.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The battle for your wrist space is heating up and the Apple Watch Series 7, Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 are many people’s favourites right now. In this article we provide you with a feature comparison which will hopefully help you decide which is right for you.


Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Technical specs

Design

Vivoactive 4/4s and its more fancy counterpart called Venu 2/2s have pretty much the same hardware under the hood. The main difference is in size options and design.

The latest generation Vivoactive and Venu has retained the circular look of its predecessor. This type of display is popular with some due to its resemblance to traditional watches.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Both come in two case sizes, one with a 45mm diameter (Vivoactive 4/Venu 2) the other with a 40mm diameter (Vivoactive 4S/Venu 4S). While this has previously been a unisex device, fans of the range finally have multiple sizes to choose from.

The main improvement that Garmin Venu 2 brings over Vivoactive 4 is the AMOLED high res display. As you’d expect, this makes Venu 2/2s a bit pricier than Vivoactive 4/4s. The later comes with a transflective memory-in-pixel display, the same as you’d find on the Garmin Forerunner range.

Garmin-Venu-2
Garmin Venu 2

All of these display have always-on functionality, something you will also find on the Apple Watch. The Cupertino outfit has introduced this a couple of years ago which means earlier Apple devices don’t have a screen that won’t go dark. But one thing that has not changed since the first Apple Watch is the square-ish design.

Another improvement of Series 7 is the 20% larger screen area as compared to Series 6. The size increase of the LTPO OLED Retina display comes courtesy of smaller bezels (down to 1.7mm), along with slightly bigger case size options. 

Apart from the most obvious difference, the shape of the device, the quality of the display is a major distinguishing factor between the Vivoactive and Series 7. Venu, on the other hand, is right up there with the Apple watch in terms of screen quality.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin
Apple Watch Series 7| Image source: Apple

Another difference between the Garmin and Apple are the number of physical buttons. Series 7 only has one which you’ll need to use in combination with the touch-screen and physical crown to navigate the menus. The Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 have two physical buttons for navigation (in addition to the touch-screen).

Other design features such as weight and physical dimensions are largely similar. And all of these also come with decent water-resistance, in case you were wondering.

The differences in look between the Garmin and Apple are pretty big. There is no clear leader although we would give Series 7 an edge due to more premium build materials (Aluminium, stainless steel, titanium) and screen quality. However, if you’re looking for something that resembles a traditional watch, you’ll be better off with the Garmin. If you’re after an excellent display, clearly your choice will be between the Apple Watch and Garmin Venu 2.


Under the hood

Lets move on to battery life.

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4s have a less power-hungry display so can keep going for more than a week between charges. A great option for those that don’t want to be hassled with charging too often. Venu 2, on the other hand, can keep going even longer – about 3-4 days longer. But switch on the always-on screen option, and you’ll see this shrink quite a bit.

Unfortunately, Apple is still struggling with battery life. Just like its predecessors, Series 7 will only keep going around 18 hours between charges. Definitely not something to write home about.

Powering everything on the Series 7 is a fifth generation SIP called S7 – this is only a slightly upgraded version of S6. No info on the processor in the Garmin devices so it is difficult to make a direct comparison. But Apple is very likely ahead on this count.

As you’d expect, all of these devices come full to the brim with sensors. They share an optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, compass and altimeter and SpO2. There’s also GPS for more detailed tracking of your outdoor exercise. Apple’s party trick is the electrical heart sensor. This lets you take an ECG on-demand.

Finally there is also cellular connectivity of the Apple Watch. The Series 7 features a small electronic SIM card. As you’d expect, this comes with on-going monthly fees.

Here’s a run-down of the differences in design and hardware.

 
Garmin Venu 2/2S
Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S
Apple Watch Series 7
Case material
fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
Aluminium, stainless steel, titanium
Physical size
45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2 mm
40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1 mm.
45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm 
40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Display size
1.3″ (33.0mm) diameter
1.1″ (27.9 mm) diameter
1.3″ (33.0 mm) diameter
1.1″ (27.9 mm) diameter
45mm: 1143 sq mm display area
41mm: 904 sq mm display area
Display resolution
416 x 416 pixels
360 x 360 pixels
260 x 260 pixels
218 x 218 pixels
396 x 484 pixels (45mm)
352 x 430 pixels (41mm)
Display type
AMOLED
sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display with Force Touch
1000 nits brightness
Weight
49.0 g
38.2 g
50.5 g
40.0 g
Case weight: 32g (for 41mm aluminum version); 38.8g (for 45mm aluminium version)
Water resistance
5 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM, Dustproof (IP6X)
Sensors
GPS (GLONASS, Galileo), optical heart rate sensor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer
GPS (GLONASS, Galileo), optical heart rate sensor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer 
Optical heart rate sensor, Electrical heart sensor (ECG), improved accelerometer up to 32 g‑forces, improved gyroscope, GPS (GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS), barometric altimeter, compass
Storage
4GB
4GB
32GB
NFC
 Yes
 Yes
 Yes
Battery life
Smartwatch mode: Up to 11 days.GPS mode with music: Up to 8 hours.

Smartwatch mode: Up to 10 days.GPS mode with music: Up to 7 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.
18+ hours
Price (typical RRP)
starting at $399
starting at $349
starting at $399

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Activity tracking

As mentioned, the Garmin Vivoactive 4, Venu 2 and Apple Watch Series 7 are battling in the all-purpose smartwatch space. But with a slight difference. The Garmin device is more oriented towards fitness and sports tracking, Apple’s strong point is smart functionality.

The difference is clear if you run through the specs. The Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 has pretty much everything an average person would need to track their fitness and exercise around the clock. Plus you get decent battery life so don’t need to worry about charging the device every night. Garmin is a clear leader in the sports watch space, and it has transitioned much of this technology to its Vivoactive and Venu range.

Fitness tracking features that you’ll get on the Garmins but not on the Series 7 include Body Battery, along with stress and recovery data. Plus the watches have a bunch of Firstbeat performance metrics that you won’t find on the Apple device.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

Venu 2 offers some advantages over Vivoactive 4. This is because it was released more recently. It comes with the 4th generation Elevate heart rate sensor for better accuracy, Fitness Age, which lets you know how old your body is, is also part of the feature set. And there’s something called a Health Snapshot. This is a 2 minute test that you can perform that captures data on heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen, respiration and stress.

Apple is better in terms of general health features and its software eco-system. The much written about feature, of course, is the FDA-cleared ECG sensor. We are yet to see a Garmin wearable with such functionality. The Series 7 also looks for irregular heart rhythm and can alert you if your heart rate goes above or below a certain value. Finally, there’s also the fall detection feature, but Garmin has closed the gap on this one with it’s own Incident Detection.

Garmin Venu 2

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

To summarise, in terms of fitness and sports tracking we would put Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 slightly above the Apple Watch Series 7. While all of these have built-in GPS and lots of features which would suffice for most people, the Garmin device goes further. More importantly, until Apple manages to improve on battery life it will struggle to compete for the title of the best fitness tracking device. As a general health device, Apple probably has the edge due to the ECG sensor, irregular heart rate alerts and fall detection.


Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Smart functionality

The other advantage of the Apple Watch is to do with smart functionality. In fact there is no comparison as the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch in the world on this count. You’ll find native and third-party apps for everything imaginable and watchOS 8 comes with lots of new functionality.

And lets not forget cellular connectivity. When you are away from your phone, the watch automatically switches to the cellular signal. Third party apps can tap into this signal as well.

Although it can’t really compete with the Apple Watch on this measure, Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 come with a few non-fitness features, too. This includes local storage for music, an NFC chip for contactless payments, text and calendar alerts, and more. But Apple has all this and (much) more.

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

 
Garmin Venu 2
Garmin Vivoactive 4
Apple Watch Series 7
Body Battery
Yes
Yes
 
Stress and recovery
Yes
Yes 
 
Underwater wrist based heart rate
Yes
Yes
 
ECG Monitor
 
 
Yes
Irregular heart rate detection
 
 
Yes
Low/high heart rate alerts
 
 
Yes
Compatible with iOS and Android
Yes
Yes 
 
Cellular connectivity
 
 
Yes 

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: Verdict

If you’re interested both in activity monitoring and lots of smart functionality, the Apple Watch is clearly the better choice. It’s the best selling smartwatch in the world for a reason.

Much of the functionality of Series 7 is the same as the previous generation, including the fitness and health tracking smarts. Unfortunately the battery life is also on par with the previous generations. The main improvement this year is the larger display.

While the Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 can’t compare with the Apple Watch in terms of smart functionality, we would put them ahead for those interested in monitoring activity around the clock. Some of the fitness features you will find on the Garmin device but not on the Apple Watch include stress tracking, body battery, under-water wrist-based heart rate, and a range of Firstbeat performance metrics. Plus you get decent battery life.

You don’t get the ECG monitor but most people are not going to be bothered about this. It’s more a “nice-to-have” than a “must-have” feature.

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple Watch Series 7
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

So while at first glance it might seem the Apple Watch, Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Venu 2 are competing for the same demographic, there is a difference. It is to do with whether you are interested in an all-purpose smartwatch or something that is leaning more towards being a fitness watch. Personal preferences to do with design will also play a role.

The price shouldn’t make too much of a difference, though. On Garmin’s website (check price on Amazon) Vivoactive 4/4S retails for $350 while Venu 2 sells for $399. The Apple watch is priced similarly, starting at $399.

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5 thoughts on “Apple Watch Series 7 vs Garmin Vivoactive 4 vs Venu 2: feature comparison

  • Where do you get 5 days battery for AW5??? Man is that a lie. 1 day is lucky.

    Reply
    • Sorry, oversight. Yup – Apple advertises 18+ hours. 5 days would be brilliant though! 🙂 Maybe one day…

      Reply
  • Incorrect on the swimming heart rate tracking! Apple Watch does that!

    Reply
    • Also Garmin even vivoactive 3 ..vivoactive Venu , Venu 2 ..all these models have high and low heart rate alarm. It can be fully set with heart rate bpm and durations as minutes. Please change this feature for Garmin. And they have a very advanced sleep tracking to improve body battery. Also a fitness age with advices how to reduce and more in Garmin..

      Reply
  • Apple Watch (4,5, 6 and 7) track heart rate when swimming – from experience it does it better than Vivoactive 4 (have friend who have that watch and we made tests with my AW6 and AW5 and his V4) plus there is more options like Open Water which Vivoactive lacking. Also when we cycle together his watch (V4) have less accurate GPS readout – we compared maps with real life roads. Apple Watch can track many sports which Vivoactive cannot do – i prefer to track my squash match as squash and not as run like my friend have to then have “body battery” whatever this is

    Reply

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