The Garmin Venu lineup is geared more towards the general consumer market, with a focus on health and fitness tracking, as well as smartwatch features such as music storage and contactless payments.
In contrast, the Forerunner lineup is geared more toward athletes and specifically runners.
Previously, there was little overlap between the watches of the Venu and Forerunner series. The basic DNA was the same, but the watches had different exteriors. The company intentionally missed some crucial features like AMOLED display, and wrist-based calling from the FR 255 even though it was released after Venu 2 Plus.
However, in 2023, Forerunner 265 release shows a shift towards more overlap between the two series. This watch is still designed for runners but shares some similarities with the Venu 2 Plus. The foremost similarity is the AMOLED display and a revamped user interface.
Let’s do a Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs Garmin Forerunner 265/265S comparison to find out their differences and similarities.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus vs Garmin FR 265/265S:
|Category||Garmin Venu 2 Plus||Garmin Forerunner 265/265S|
|Price||Around $449||Around $450|
|Predecessor||Venu 2||Forerunner 255/255S|
|Smartphone App||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect|
|Release Date||May 2021||March 2023|
The Garmin Venu 2 Plus and Forerunner 265/265S have the same price point, around $450. This makes the comparison all the more interesting. Let us cut through the noise and tell you the differences and similarities between these watches.
Design and Build:
|Category||Garmin Venu 2 Plus||Garmin Forerunner 265/265S|
|Dimensions||43.6 x 43.6 x 12.6 mm||46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9 mm (Forerunner 265)|
|41.7 x 41.7 x 12.9 mm (Forerunner 265S)|
|Screen||1.3″ AMOLED touchscreen||1.3″ AMOLED touchscreen (33mm) (Forerunner 265)|
|1.1″ AMOLED touchscreen (28mm) (Forerunner 265S)|
|Resolution||416 x 416 pixels||Garmin FR 265: 416 x 416 pixelsGarmin FR 265S: 360 x 360 pixels|
|Weight||51g||FR 265: 47gFR 265S: 39g|
|Glass Material||Corning Gorilla Glass 3||Corning Gorilla Glass 3|
|Bezel Material||stainless steel||fiber-reinforced polymer|
|Straps||Interchangeable with quick-release pins (22mm)||Quick-release silicone straps (22mm, and 20mm)|
|Water Resistance||5 ATM (50m)||5 ATM (50m)|
|Button Input||Touchscreen and three customizable buttons||Five buttons for navigation and a touchscreen|
|Colors||Slate, Silver, Light Gold||FR 265:|
Whitestone Case and Whitestone/Tidal Blue Silicone Band
Black Case with Black/Powder Gray Silicone BandAqua Case and Aqua/Black Silicone Band
Black Case with Black/Amp Yellow Silicone Band
Whitestone Case and Whitestone/Neo Tropic Silicone Band
Light Pink Case and Light Pink/Whitestone Silicone Band
When you look at the above comparison, it becomes evident that finally mid-range Forerunner watches reached a level of parity with the Venu Series.
There are more similarities in the design and build departments than differences. With the exception of the stainless steel bezel, and some cosmetic differences in the appearance of the watch (3-button vs 5-button navigation), both these watches have the same thing to offer.
Winner: Venu 2 Plus (a slight advantage in style and durability)
|Garmin Venu 2 Plus||Forerunner 265/265S|
|Music Storage||Up to 650 songs||Up to 650 songs|
|Music Platforms||Works with Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music||Works with Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music|
|NFC Payments||Garmin Pay||Garmin Pay|
|Phone Calls, Customized Texts||Yes||No|
|Voice Assistants||Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri||None|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi||Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi|
Two major smart features are missing in the new Forerunner 265 series: Voice assistant integration, and on-wrist calls. This would be less concern for runners. Why? There is no cellular support to take calls.
Plus, the powerful GPS capability and NFC payment option on the Forerunner FR 265 allow them to leave their phone and wallet at home.
Winner: Venu 2 Plus
|Health Tracking Features||Garmin Forerunner 265/265S||Garmin Venu 2 Plus|
|Wrist-based Heart Rate||Yes||Yes|
|Daily Resting Heart Rate||Yes||Yes|
|Abnormal Heart Rate Alerts||Yes (high and low)||Yes (high and low)|
|Garmin ECG app||No||Yes|
|Respiration Rate||Yes (24×7)||Yes (24×7)|
|Pulse Ox Blood Oxygen Saturation||Yes (spot-check, and optionally all-day and in sleep)||Yes (spot-check, and optionally all-day and in sleep)|
|Body Battery Energy Monitor||Yes||Yes|
|Relaxation Breathing Timer||Yes||Yes|
|Sleep||Yes (advanced)||Yes (advanced)|
|Sleep Score and Insights||Yes||Yes|
|Hydration||Yes (in Garmin Connect™ and optional Connect IQ™ widget)||Yes (in Garmin Connect™ and optional Connect IQ™ widget)|
|Women’s Health||Yes (in Garmin Connect™ and optional Connect IQ™ widget)||Yes (in Garmin Connect™ and optional Connect IQ™ widget)|
There is a 95% overlap of health tracking features between these watches. The major missing here is the ECG app, exclusive to Venu 2 Plus and a couple of other Garmin elite watches.
Winner: Venu 2 Plus
As expected, Garmin Forerunner 265 has an upper hand in this department. First, take a look at the sports profiles on both watches.
|Category||Garmin Venu 2 Plus||Garmin Forerunner 265|
|Gym workouts||Strength, Cardio, HIIT and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing, Yoga, Pilates, and Breathwork||Strength, HIIT, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing, Pilates, Yoga, Breathwork|
|Running workouts||Running, Indoor Track Running, Treadmill Running||Running, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, Virtual Running, Ultra Running|
|Outdoor recreation workouts||Hiking, Indoor Climbing, Bouldering, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing||Hiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Classic Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing|
|Cycling workouts||Biking, Indoor Biking||Biking, Indoor Biking, Mountain Biking, eBiking, eMountain Biking|
|Swimming workouts||Pool swimming||Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming|
There is almost an 85% overlap of sports profiles, but overall, FR 265 offers more options.
The training and planning metrics set them apart a great deal. Here, FR 265 is a much superior watch. Here are a couple of metrics that are present on the Forerunner watch.
- Recovery time
- HRV status
- Training readiness
- Training Load
- Training Effect
- Unified training status
Unified Training Status is Physio TrueUp 2.0. Only the latest Garmin Watches are awarded this status. It basically allows compatible watches to sync physiological data more easily.
Not only that Forerunner offers more sports profile, but it also covers more data for key sports profiles: running, swimming, and cycling.
Last but not least, the multi-band GPS on FR 265 is a definite advantage as we have witnessed its working in elite Garmins, and can vouch for its superiority in position tracking. The same tech is featured on Apple Watch Ultra, Fenix 7, and FR 255 watches.
Winner: Garmin Forerunner 265/265S
|Category||Garmin Venu 2 Plus||Garmin Forerunner 265||Garmin Forerunner 265S|
|Smartwatch mode||Up to 9 days||Up to 13 days||Up to 15 days|
|GPS mode with music||Up to 8 hours||Up to 7 hours||Up to 7.5 hours|
|GPS mode without music||Up to 24 hours||Up to 20 hours||Up to 24 hours|
|SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode||–||Up to 16 hours||Up to 18 hours|
|All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band||–||Up to 14 hours||Up to 15 hours|
|GPS-Only GNSS mode with music||–||Up to 7 hours||Up to 7.5 hours|
|SatIQ (AutoSelect) GNSS mode with music||–||Up to 6.5 hours||Up to 7 hours|
|All-Systems GNSS mode + Multi-Band with music||–||Up to 6 hours||Up to 6 hours|
There is no significant difference in battery performance to declare one watch a winner. However, in the charging department, the replacement of the USB-A cable with the USB-C cable does give Forerunner 265 some extra points.
A couple of months ago, we compared FR 255 vs Garmin Venu 2 Plus, and the differences between these two watches were quite simple to delineate. As FR 265 series closed the gap with the Venu series. The choice between these watches is easy if you answer these basic questions:
- Do you need ECG
- Voice assistant, On wrist calls, and auto-replies, do these smarts matter to you?
- Can you compromise on advanced sports tracking and training features?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, only then we would recommend you to go with the Venu 2 Plus. Otherwise, FR 265 offers almost 80-90% of the same smart and health features and is far superior both as a multisports GPS tracker and training tool.