Image source: Google

Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: comparison feature

Pixel Watch is the new kid on the block – an all purpose smartwatch that packs decent health smarts. In this article we compare the Google timepiece vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus.

The search giant has only one smartwatch under its belt whereas Garmin has been churning out multiple devices per year for over a decade. Having said that, Google has snapped up Fitbit last year. So it is borrowing heavily on its expertise and fitness sensor technology.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

And while Fitbit is positioning its watches as fitness devices, the new entry from Google fills the all purpose smartwatch slot. Garmin, on the other hand, mostly focuses on sports watches. Its closest entry in the all purpose watch space is the Garmin Venu range. Particularly as we suspect the Vivoactive line will not see any new devices.

Can Garmin compete with Google in this market segment? Read on for a detailed look at the differences between Google Pixel Watch and Garmin Venu 2 Plus.

Jump to

Design & hardware
Technical specs round-up
Activity & health tracking
Smartwatch features
The bottom line


Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Design and hardware

In terms of looks, Google Pixel Watch and Garmin Venu 2 Plus share a few similarities. The most obvious is that they are both circular in shape and sport a high-res AMOLED display. Another similarity is that they both only come in one size option.

In the case of the Pixel Watch, it measures 41mm in diameter and 12.3mm in depth. Garmin Venu 2 Plus is only slightly bigger at 43.6mm in diameter and 12.6mm thickness.

And while they both adopt the same general design, Google Pixel Watch appears more streamlined due to its domed top glass that curves all the way to the recycled stainless steel sides. The Garmin has a more flat appearance and less premium fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover build.

Mind you, whichever device you choose, you will get something that is lightweight, has water resistance down to 50 meters and replaceable straps. Despite being the newer device, Google Pixel Watch has a wider choice of straps. This includes a sporty silicone band, Fabric band, Stretch band, a couple of leather strap options, Link bracelet and a Milanese-style mesh band. The selection will become even wider once third-party options fully start to come in.

Google Pixel Watch
Google Pixel Watch

Both of these devices have an always-on screen option and come with a plethora of watch-faces. The display measurements of the Garmin comes in at 1.3 inches. Pixel Watch has a 1.2 inch display and some rather thick bezels around the edges. However, despite being smaller in size, its screen is a bit more high-res than the one on Garmin.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Garmin Venu 2 Plus

As mentioned, both of these watches also come with physical buttons. Garmin Venu 2 Plus has three on the right which you can use in combination with the touch-display. Google Pixel watch comes with a more traditional looking crown that rotates and can be pressed to perform actions. Another, button which is flat in shape is located just above it. So a bit more flexibility there to navigate the menu system and launch exercises.

Under the hood – lots going on

Under the hood the differences are even bigger. Both of these are fitness and health powerhouses.

Starting with the processor, Google Pixel Watch is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 9110 chipset. It works in conjunction with a co-processor to offload certain tasks. Coupled with this is a massive 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage space. Garmin doesn’t disclose information on its processors. All that we know is that there is 4GB of storage space on-board. Despite this lack of information on the Garmin, it is fair to assume that Pixel Watch has more processing power.

As far as health and fitness tracking tech, the two devices share an optical heart rate sensor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer. The Garmin also has a thermometer but this is only for measuring outside temperature. The other addition is the SpO2 sensor. Pixel Watch has this but it is inactive at launch. Most likely, this will be enabled at some stage via a firmware update.

A sensor that can be found on the Google device but not on the Garmin is ECG. Having said this, it has come to light earlier this year that the Garmin also has this but the functionality has not been switched on yet. Presumably this is still work in progress, or perhaps the company doesn’t have the necessary regulatory clearances.

Storage space for music, NFC for contactless payments and a microphone/speaker come on both these watches. The important (optional) addition on Google Pixel Watch is cellular connectivity. We are yet to see a fully enabled LTE Garmin that allows you to take untethered phone calls. Perhaps in 2023.

Battery life – Garmin wins, hands down

At 24 hours, battery life on Google Pixel Watch is pretty awful. Not surprising considering this is a WearOS watch. And while this sort of battery life is not very different from other devices running this operating system and the Apple Watch, it falls quite a bit short of the Garmin.

With Venu 2 Plus you can expect up to 9 days in smartwatch mode. In GPS mode with music you should be able to squeeze 8 work hours between charges. Garmin watches run a proprietary operating system which is lightweight. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of WearOS, but it does offer longer battery life.


Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Technical specs roundup

Google Pixel Watch
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Case material
Stainless steel
Fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
Sizes
41mm diameter
43.6 mm diameter
Depth
12.3mm
12.6mm
Display type
Always-on AMOLED
Always-on AMOLED
Display protection
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Display size
1.2 inch
1.3 inch
Display resolution 
450 x 450 pixels
416 x 416 pixels
Battery life
24 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 9 days.GPS mode with music: Up to 8 hours.
Water resistance
5 ATM
5 ATM
Weight
36 grams (without strap)
51 grams
Sensors
Optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, always-on altimeter, multipurpose electrical sensor, compass, ambient light sensor
Optical heart rate sensor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometer
Built-in GPS
Yes (GPS, GLONAS, BeiDou, Galileo)
Yes (GPS, GLONAS, Galileo)
NFC
Yes
Yes
LTE
Optional
No
Microphone & speaker
Yes
Yes
Built-in music storage
Yes
Yes
Operating system
WearOS 3.5
Proprietary
Memory
32GB storage, 2GB RAM
4GB storage
Processor
Chipset: Exynos 9110 (10nm), Cortex-M33 co-processor
n/a
Connectivity
Bluetooth, WiFi
Bluetooth, WiFi, Ant+
Smartphone compatibility
Android
iPhone, Android
RRP
$349 (WiFi), $399 (cellular)
$499 (Venu 2 sells for $399, but it lacks the microphone & speaker)

Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Features

Activity and health tracking

Google Pixel Watch and Garmin Venu 2 plus are perfectly decent options for someone looking for a health and fitness device. They track most of the usual metrics including steps, calories, distance, sleep, stress and more.

Worth a mention is the health and fitness software ecosystem. Google uses Fitbit’s platform which is nicely laid out and very easy to use. The Garmin platform has more depth but it is not as intuitive.

Advantages of Google Pixel Watch

As far as sensors, the differences include the inclusion of ECG on the Pixel Watch. You can use this on-demand to get an electrocardiogram reading which can be helpful to identify signs of Afib.

The Google device also tracks heart rate variability around the clock. On the Garmin, you can only take on-demand readings via the Health Snapshot. So that’s not nearly as useful. HRV data is important to gauge your recovery and Google taps into Fitbit metrics for this. So it has the edge on this count.

Then there is Emergency SOS and emergency international calling on Pixel Watch. Similar to the Apple Watch this works via the cellular connection (either from the watch or a connected phone.

Advantages of Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin has a few tricks up its sleeve, as well. The first fitness and health addition that you get on Venu 2 Plus is the blood oxygen sensor. This is inactive currently on Pixel Watch, although Google will probably enable it at some stage. There is no reason for it not to.

Other advantages of picking up the Garmin include ANT+ connectivity. Which means you can pair the watch to external devices such as heart rate monitors. Google has bragged at the launch event about the accuracy of the heart rate monitor that can be found on Pixel Watch. And while that may be true, measuring heart rate from the wrist will never be on par with the good old chest strap. Particularly with high intensity exercise.

The other advantages of Venu 2 Plus come from its slightly bigger display. This makes reading your stats on the go a bit easier.

More important that that is the battery life. If you’re after something that tracks your health and fitness around the clock, you certainly do not want to be charging it every day. With the Google device, you will.

Google Pixel Watch
Image source: Google

Then we have incident detection. This comes built into the Garmin. At the moment there is no fall detection on Pixel Watch. But it will be enabled in a few months time. So this is just a temporary advantage.

Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2 Plus
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But an advantage that is here to stay is to do with paying money for a monthly subscription. The Google device taps into the $10 per month Fitbit premium platform. Yes, you can get away with using it without this, but without access to long term trends for some metrics and certain detailed insights. There is no such nonsense with the Garmin. You get what you pay for – so no monthly subscriptions. Let’s hope it stays this way.

Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Recap of differences in health & fitness smarts

Google Pixel Watch
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
ECG with Afib detection
Yes
No
SpO2 monitoring
No (sensor inactive)
Yes
HRV
Yes (continous)
Yes (on-demand via Health Snapshot)
Auto-start, stop and pause of exercises
No
Yes
High and low heart rate alerts
No
Yes
Emergency SOS & emergency international calling
Yes
No
Incident detection
Fall detection is coming this winter
Yes

Smartwatch features – Pixel Watch is light years ahead

When it comes to smartwatch features, it’s a no brainer. Google Pixel Watch runs on a fully featured WearOS 3.5 platform with all the advantages that this brings. A rich app store is available for downloading all kids of third-party watch faces and software. Some of this is also available on the Garmin, but not nearly to the same extent.

Mind you, the Garmin does have some smart features. This includes notification support, a digital voice assistant (Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri), along with the ability to take bluetooth smartphone calls from the wrist. There’s also support for downloading music to the watch, along with contactless payments. These features might suffice for some, but not for others.

If you want a proper smartwatch experience, Pixel Watch is clearly the one to go for. Plus there’s the optional cellular connectivity. For an extra $50 you can pick up an LTE enabled device that will allow you to make unteathered calls.

The one important thing to know is that Google Pixel Watch only works with Android phones. So it is not an option for those with an iPhone.

Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Recap of differences in smartwatch features

Google Pixel Watch
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
LTE calls
Yes (optional)
No
Operating system
WearOS 3.5 and all the advantages that comes along with this
Proprietary
Google maps
Yes
No
Gmail notifications
Yes
No
Youtube music
Yes
No
Google Play
Yes
No

Google Pixel Watch vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus: Verdict

The much anticipated Google Pixel Watch is looking to attract a following in the smartwatch space. It offers a decent set of features in a fairly attractive form factor. So in many respects, it fulfills expectations.

Garmin has been around for a while and while it mostly focuses on sports watches, Venu 2 Plus is there as an option for those looking beyond pure fitness and health features. Having said that, we would still consider it more of a fitness or sports watch than a fully fledged smartwatch.This is because it doesn’t have a cellular option and its proprietary operating system does not offer as much flexibility or third party software options as the Google WearOS watch.

As far as health and fitness sensors, there is little difference. So the advantages of the Garmin are to do with much better battery life than what can be found on Google Pixel Watch, a slightly larger display and the ability to connect to exernal heart rate monitors. All of this is important for someone looking for a 24/7 fitness tracking device. And lets not forget that Garmin watches have no annoying monthly membership subscription options.

FitbitSense

Google Pixel Watch
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To sum up, those after something akin to a fitness watch experience (or those with an iPhone) should look towards the Garmin Venu 2 Plus (Amazon link). If you do not need the ability to take smartphone calls and digital assistant voice control from the wrist, selling for around $100 less is the Garmin Venu 2. So that’s a much more cost effective option (check current price on Amazon). If, on the other hand, you have an Android phone and are looking for a fully fledged smartwatch experience – go for the Google Pixel Watch (Amazon link).

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