If you’re in the market for a smartwatch, Garmin is most likely on your radar. They’re one of the most popular brands you can find and offer a huge variety of watches.
Today we are comparing the Garmin Venu 2 vs Garmin vivoactive 4. Both come in the regular model and an S version, which is the smaller-sized version.
The smaller versions are essentially the same as the original but may have some minor differences since the battery and chip are smaller to fit inside the housing.
There is also the Venu 2 Plus, which is basically the same as the Venu 2 but allows you to make calls and respond to texts using the watch itself (if it’s paired with your phone).
Overall, these watches are very similar. If you’re wondering which one might be the right choice for you, read on as we compare them in detail…
Size and Display
Both watches—the Garmin Venu 2 and vivoactive 4—are very similar in size. All of their models have a color display and touch screen capabilities.
The standard model Venu 2 is 45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2 mm, which is designed to fit wrists of 135 to 200 mm. The vivoactive 4 is almost exactly the same, just a touch smaller and slightly thicker at 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm. It fits the same size wrists.
Both of the standard watches have a screen size of 1.3 inches—33mm. The screen resolutions are where they differ.
The Venu 2 sports a 416 x 416 pixels AMOLED screen, and the vivoactive 4 has a transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) screen of 260 x 260 pixels.
What that means? The Venu 2 has a sharper, crisper screen.
The Venu 2S is 40.4 x 40.4 x 12.1 mm, and the vivoactive 4S is 40.0 x 40.0 x 12.7 mm. These watches fit wrists of 110 to 175 mm.
Their screens are both 1.1 inches—29.7mm—in size. The Venu 2S has an AMOLED screen with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, while the vivoactive 4S has a MIP screen of 218 x 218 pixels.
In terms of weight, the Venu 2 weighs 1.72 ounces—49 grams—while the S version weighs 1.34 ounces—38.2 grams.
The vivoactive 4 standard is 1.78 ounces—50.5 grams—with the S version weighing 1.41 ounces—40 grams.
So the vivoactive 4 is a bit heavier.
The battery life of these two watches are also fairly similar.
The Venu 2 has a battery life of 11 days in smartwatch mode. When the battery saver feature is engaged, you can gain a day. In GPS mode, the battery can last up to 22 hours. If you’re listening to music in GPS mode, you can expect 8 hours of battery life.
The smaller Venu 2S has a slightly smaller battery (remember, it’s a smaller watch). It can last up to 10 days in smartwatch mode and 11 days with the battery saver on. In GPS mode without music, the battery can last up to 19 hours. With GPS and music, the battery should last 7 hours.
Battery life on the vivoactive 4 is slightly less. The standard model can last up to 8 days in regular smartwatch mode, up to 18 hours with just GPS, and 6 hours with GPS and music.
The vivoactive 4S should last 7 days in normal smartwatch mode, up to 15 hours in GPS mode without music, and around 5 hours when listening to music and using GPS mode.
There is no battery saver mode on the vivoactive 4.
Both the Venu 2 and the vivoactive 4—the original as well as the S models—have a stainless steel bezel and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screens.
Each of the watches has a fiber-reinforced polymer case, and the vivoactive watches also have a polymer rear cover.
They all come with quick-release silicone straps. All the watches have a water rating of 5ATM.
Heart Rate Monitor
All four of these watches have a wrist-based heart rate monitor that runs constantly.
It shows your daily resting heart rate and gives abnormal heart rate alerts for both high and low heart rates.
The four watches all have the same sensors.
They include a pulse oximeter which does spot checks, an altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, and GPS/GLONASS/Galileo.
Maps and Navigation
All four watches have GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo navigation systems. They all have features that make them a good choice for getting outdoors.
The Venu 2 and 2S include built-in sports profiles for hiking, indoor climbing and bouldering, snowboarding, skiing, XC skiing, rowing and stand-up paddleboarding.
The vivoactive 4 and 4S don’t have hiking or climbing profiles but do have snowboarding, skiing, XC skiing, rowing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
For navigation purposes, all of these watches also measure ascent and descent and a back-to-start feature, as well as area calculation, sun and moon information, and a hunting and fishing calendar, which can be accessed in the Garmin ConnectIQ app.
Aside from the outdoor activities profiles these watches have, they also include specific activity tracking for golf, cycling, swimming, running, and weight training.
They also include daily activities like a step counter, floors climbed, and distance traveled during the day.
The running metrics are the same across the range of watches, and include profiles for normal running, indoor track running, and running on the treadmill.
The watches will measure your distance, time, and pace using the GPS. It also measures your cadence in real-time, which is a useful metric for serious runners. They also include built-in run workouts and are compatible with external foot pods.
All 4 of these watches have settings for biking and indoor biking. You can set goals for time, distance, heart rate, and calories and an alarm will trigger when you reach these goals.
They are also all compatible with external cadence and speed sensors, as well as Varia lights and radar.
The watches all have a profile for pool swimming. None of them have the capability to track open water swimming. A stroke detection feature allows you to track your swim comprehensively.
You’ll be able to track information such as pace, stroke count, swim efficiency, distance, pool lengths, and calories). You will also get time and distance alerts and a basic rest timer.
All of these watches also feature underwater wrist-based heart rate so your heart rate monitor can keep tracking even when you’re in the pool.
These watches all have comprehensive golf tracking features.
Features like Garmin AutoShot, digital scorecard, stat tracking (strokes, putts per round, greens and fairways hit), and a yardage function are some of the helpful golfing features these devices contain.
They also all track a variety of cross-training including strength training, cardio—steady-state and HIIT—elliptical, floors climbed, stair-stepping, indoor rowing, yoga, Pilates, and even breathwork.
They all offer automatic rep counting and on-screen exercise animations. The two Venu watches also offer an on-screen heat map, which allows one to see which muscles have been worked in the session.
All of the watches have an array of training, planning, and analysis features. You’ll be able to use your heart rate zones and max heart rate to set the intensity of your exercises.
You can customize your activity profiles to suit you and your training goals. There are also downloadable training plans for those who don’t want to create their own or aren’t sure how to begin.
Auto Lap and VO2 max settings allow you to keep track of critical metrics whether cycling or running. Respiration rate is also available for yoga and breathwork activities.
Garmin’s Physio TrueUp is also available on these devices.
Your watch will constantly monitor your heart rate, respiration rate, and blood oxygen saturation. It will also alert you to abnormal heart rates.
All four include Garmin’s Body Battery Energy Monitor, which is a recovery tracking tool. Advanced sleep tracking is also available, with the Venu watches including sleep score and sleep insights.
They also all track women’s health metrics, your daily hydration levels, all-day stress levels and give you relaxation reminders when necessary.
The Venu 2 and Venu 2S also include Health Snapshot.
All of these watches are compatible with a variety of external power meters, running foot pods, heart rate monitors and chest straps, and even golf club tracking accessories.
You would need to check if their existing external accessories would be compatible with the specific watch they’re interested in before buying.
Both the Venu and the vivoactive come with LiveTrack, a tracking feature that can help your loved ones keep track of where you are.
They also have Incident Detection, which works with the accelerometer and gyroscope in the watch to detect when an impact or fall has occurred. Garmin Assistance is also available on all four devices.
The Venu 2 and 2S can store up to 650 songs on the watch, while the vivoactive 4 and 4S can hold up to 500.
You can play music directly from their watch and control their smartphone’s music from their wrist as well.
Download new watch faces, apps and widgets via the Garmin Connect IQ app. The watches are all compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile, and feature Garmin Pay, which lets you pay via watch and eliminates the need to carry cash.
They also all have a “Find My Phone” feature, as well as a “Find My Watch” feature which can be activated from your smartphone.
In the Venu 2 Plus, you can do things like answer calls, respond to text messages, and use the watch like your smart assistant with voice commands. This is dependent on pairing it with your phone and keeping your phone near you. But it is pretty cool to do this stuff right from your phone instead of searching your pockets to fumble with your phone.
In the end, these watch models are actually quite similar. The Venu 2 is slightly better with a nicer screen and stronger battery. But it does cost more.
So go with the vivoactive 4 if you are looking for a more value-driven option.