Garmin Venu 2 has been released this year and there is a lot of buzz around this watch, why it shouldn’t be? This is the company’s 2nd or precisely 3rd maneuver (considering both Garmin Venu and Venu SQ) on the lifestyle smartwatch market, a territory previously reserved for big titles like Apple and Samsung.
Venu 2 has proved many points. Through it, the company demonstrated that it is fully capable of building a flashy smartwatch with almost all the bells and whistles. And yet, Garmin didn’t turn its back on features that made it popular in the first place.
The battery performance hasn’t been affected but rather enhanced compared to the original Venu, the GPS tracking is solid like always, and health and fitness monitoring, the staple of Garmin watches, has been made more accurate. What more do you need?
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (damn the name, it takes an eternity to write it down) was released almost two years ago and became an instant success for the company. Both the Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 are the flagship products by the Korean manufacturer. The company has unveiled Galaxy Watch 4 & 4 Classic and we have done a similar comparison for it: Garmin Venu 2 vs Galaxy Watch 4
Active 2 was meant for right what its name suggests: an active lifestyle, and yet Samsung couldn’t resist integrating cellular connectivity into the watch. Apart from that, the smartwatch is one of the few that could track blood oxygen, ECG, and sleep with high accuracy. It’s not easy to turn your eyes away, especially if you are an android user.
Now as you have a brief intro of the watches, let’s get into the meat of the comparison. I recommend you should go through the features and specs comparison to get the right perspective, most of the things would be clear once you are done with it.
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Garmin Venu 2: Health and Fitness oriented
With Garmin Venu 2, the company has made full use of the AMOLED display of its predecessor. The User Interface is refined along with the physical design, and now there are two sizes available to fill almost all size wrists. Plus, you get an outstanding battery life, powerful health and fitness features, and acceptable smartwatch features. There is one problem, you would have to pay top dollars for it.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Lifestyle and Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an old smartwatch (at least 2 years) and yet is better than most smartwatches today. It comes in two sizes (44mm & 40mm), two models (LTE and Bluetooth), and a variety of different colors. Of many perks this watch has to offer, our favorites are the standalone experience, accurate tracking, and music streaming. It also offers military-grade durability and a stunning design.
Features & Specs:
Price & Value Difference:
- Garmin Venu 2 and 2S comes with a hefty price tag (about $399)
- Active 2 is priced between 250-400 dollars depending on size and model (Bluetooth vs LTE)
- The latter is an old watch and is often on sale. (You can get the LTE version for about $200 provided you buy the watch on a deal)
This is by far Venu’s biggest shortcoming. The company is demanding the top dollar for the watch and unlike the Galaxy watch, there is no difference between the prices of two different sizes. Active 2, in sharp comparison, has about a $100 price difference between the LTE and Bluetooth variants and also has different price tags for the two sizes.
In case you don’t know the difference between Bluetooth and LTE variants, I have covered this in a detailed post here: Galaxy Watch LTE vs Bluetooth.
Anyways, in terms of affordability and value addition, Active 2 is far superior. However, if you care more about practical features like battery life, fitness, and sports tracking, my vote goes to Garmin Venu 2.
Design & Display:
- Same casing sizes(40/44mm), but different screen real estate (Samsung offer more)
- Shares the same water protecting level (5 ATM), Suitable for swimming)
- Both come with Interchangeable silicone straps
- Venu 2 offers better screen resolution, but a thick bezel
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers a digital rotating bezel
- Both have AMOLED, Always-on display
- Venu 2 has reinforced plastic construction, Active 2 has metallic
Active 2 and Garmin Venu 2 have many specs in common, one of these is the watch size and variants. Both offer the same sizing options to cater to customers with small to large wrists. Garmin named its 40mm variant, Venu 2S, Samsung just goes raw with Active Watch 2 (40mm).
However, there is a slight difference in screen real estate. For each sizing, Samsung offers .1mm more real estate which means a thin bezel and a classy look. To illustrate this, the 44mm variant of both smartwatches offers 1.4-inch (Active 2) and 1.3-inch (Venu 2) screen real estate respectively.
There are plenty of colors available for both watches, but Garmin seems to offer a better variety. Each watch comes with a synthetic rubber strap. Interestingly, Samsung keeps the strap size the same 20mm for both variants. Garmin matches the strap width with the watch sizes: 18mm for 40mm Venu 2S and 22mm for 44mm Venu 2.
Garmin Venu 2 has a reinforced plastic construction much like its predecessor with an aluminum /stainless steel bezel around the screen. Active 2, in this case, is far better with its Stainless steel and Aluminum variant. The watch feels premium on the wrist and you can take it to parties. Also, you get the premium leather strap for the stainless steel variant which is slightly heavy (11g) and gives you a touch of traditional watches.
The two buttons on the right side are another feature these watches share, however, Samsung has an upper hand with its digital rotating bezel (a physical rotating bezel was first introduced in the original Galaxy Watch and discontinued in the Galaxy Watch Active). It makes navigation through the menus super easy.
In terms of the overall design, you can easily distinguish the watches by their built and bezel. Venu 2 appears fitness-ready, Galaxy Watch Active 2 exudes elegance and class. Surprisingly, these watches are supremely tough and can take beatings without failing you. Both are 5 ATM rated another way of saying that they are waterproof for up to 50m in water. Galaxy Watch Active 2 has, in addition, military-grade standard protection against abuse.
You get better resolution in the Garmin Venu 2 at 416 x 416 resolution which means that blacks are deep, whites are bright, and viewing angles are great. Active 2 doesn’t disappoint at 360 x 360 px resolution, and the difference is almost unnoticeable. But the higher resolution gives Garmin an edge by allowing to show more widgets on the screen.
I have touched upon nearly all the important design and display features, and in this face-off, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 wins by a slight margin. It’s better in almost all aspects. And my opinion isn’t subjective, just go through the specs, Active 2 aced it.
Health & Fitness Features:
Garmin Venu 2 has focused on the cores, Samsung Galaxy Active 2 at its best a jack-of-all-trade. You would know the difference in a while. Both these watches are marketed as ‘Active lifestyle’ watches and not as dedicated-sports ones.
- Active 2 has an FDA approved ECG sensor, and can track Blood Pressure (Still to be approved by FDA)
- Both watches can track heart rate, stress, sleep, and blood oxygen saturation level, but Garmin Venu 2 experience was comparatively better.
- Garmin Companion App lays out data in an intuitive format, and the data itself is more detailed
Let’s start with Active 2 capabilities. Samsung seems to offer a complete experience by throwing everything into the mix. It can track sleep, stress, and respiratory circulations. Essentials like Heart rate and menstrual cycle tracking are also there. What distinguish it from other watches, and put it in the same league as Apple and Fitbit, is its ECG tracking sensor. On top of that, the watch also has Blood Pressure tracking in the beta stage. Impressive isn’t it?
Interestingly, Active 2 with all its bells and whistles fails to put Venu 2 in the corner. The Garmin Watch offers almost identical features except for the ECG sensor, but it is focused on the core. Its new heart rate sensor and the algorithm by Firstbeat (now owned by Garmin), gives it’s a fair bit of advantage. For instance, the resting heart rate of both watches is highly accurate, but Samsung has its data all over the place when you are right in the middle of an intense exercise.
What I particularly liked is how Venu 2 has given context to the raw data. There are pretty useful features like Health snapshot, Body battery, and Fitness age. A few of them were introduced in the original Venu, but have since been immensely improved.
In case you don’t know, the ‘Health Snapshot’ allows you to create a detailed report of all your health and fitness metrics, and share it with a medical specialist in PDF format. Whereas, Body battery takes into account different data points like sleep, stress, and heart rate variability to tell you when you need to rest or when you can go for a run.
If ECG tracking isn’t a dealbreaker for you, I would certainly recommend you to go for the Venu 2.
- When it comes to GPS accuracy, Venu 2 nails it
- Both cover the basics, but Venu 2 offers some advanced tracking ( HIIT, pilates, climbing, bouldering)
- Active 2 is focused on running more than anything else
- Both watches have exercise animation prefabricated
How can you beat a watch in the GPS accuracy game that’s been manufactured by the pioneer of the technology? In terms of locking signals and accurate tracking, Garmin Venu 2 not only is better than Galaxy Watch Active 2 but is also superior to the likes of Apple Watch 6 and Fitbit Sense.
The same goes for sports tracking. Garmin’s core business is centered on GPS Sports watches, so Venu 2 might fall a little short than its big, mighty brothers like Enduro and Fenix 6, but it could never be humiliated by Active 2.
Active 2 is offering 39 workouts as a whole, while there is a particular emphasis on sports like running and swimming. Venu 2 can track 75 and offers advanced sports tracking like golf, yoga, HIIT, pilates, climbing, and bouldering along with the regulars like swimming, cycling, and running. Garmin offers detailed data, and the widgets are quite useful. Plus, you get more data in one glance (remember the high-resolution screen it has?)
While Active 2 has a special golf edition, Garmin Venu 2 has it all in one watch. It supports 42,000 courses worldwide, but these need to be manually searched and sent to the watch from within Garmin Connect.
Simply put, Samsung needs a lot of homework to be done to beat the Garmin Venu 2 at its core game. For now and years to come, Garmin is the indisputable champion in sports tracking.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 offer LTE connectivity
- Garmin Venu 2 has music storage capability, and so does the Active 2
- Active 2 can stream music, Venu 2 allows you to download playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer.
- Both offer contactless payment (Garmin Pay/Samsung Pay)
- Venu 2 can be connected to a computer
- You can text and make calls on Active 2, Garmin watch offers only notification alert, plus if you are an android user, you can reject incoming calls
As a smartwatch, Venu 2 like all its brethren by Garmin has little to offer. The company has built a name for itself on the back of a solid satellite navigation system, remarkable battery life, and other battery features. However, Garmin has successfully tried its hands on this model to make it a more complete smartwatch.
You get a refined user interface with more animations, the freedom to pay your bills right from your wrist via Garmin Pay, and the capability to store and listen to music as it has the capacity of up to 650 songs. However, the best part is, you can download playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is way better than the competitor. It has yet a more refined user interface, a voice assistant (though a slow one), and LTE connectivity. You can send texts or emails, pick calls, and can even stream music directly as you go. Its app store is limited but compared to Garmin you would find plenty of useful apps.
Active 2 does have some useful big names, including Spotify, Strava, and Under Armour’s suite of health and fitness apps (MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo).
Keep in mind that to get the best out of both watches, you would have to pair them with an Android Phone. You can’t reject calls when Garmin Venu 2 is connected to iPhone, and there are similar limitations for the Active 2.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers a superior experience as far as smartwatch features are concerned. Garmin improved a lot of things in the Venu 2, but any fair comparison would declare Active 2 the winner as a Lifestyle smartwatch.
Battery Life & Charging
- Garmin Venu 2 is hands down the winner in this battle.
- Active 2 battery life varies from 2-3 days depending on size, variant (Bluetooth/LTE)
- Venu 2S offers 10 days of battery performance, Venu 2 goes as far as 11.
- It takes 90 minutes to charge Venu 2 from 0-100, Galaxy Watch Active 2 takes 120.
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 is magnetic charging enabled and therefore more convenient to charge
Garmin Venu 2’s battery stamina is 3-4 times more than the Active 2. Both Venu 2 and 2S last for at least more than 10 days if you dare not use the ‘Always-on’ feature plus the GPS. Active 2 however can take you in the north of 4 days if you are using the Bluetooth variant and keeping all other things the same.
Here the important thing is, despite the two models of the watches by Garmin and Samsung have the same size, the difference in battery performance is significant when you prefer the 40mm Active 2.
Another important gain for Garmin Venu 2 is that the company didn’t make a tradeoff for battery performance for AMOLED display. Garmin delivers on its promise of practicality over pretense.
Another big difference is the charging time, Active 2 will take almost 120 minutes, and Garmin Venu 2 on the other hand would only 90 to fully charge. However the former is more convenient to charge with the WPC magnetic charger that comes in the box. You can charge the device by power-sharing in case you own a supported Samsung Phone.
Unfortunately, Garmin Venu 2 doesn’t support magnetic charging. However, you get 1 day of battery juice by charging for about 10 minutes. The proprietary charging cable and adapter are included in the box.
Key Similarities: Garmin Venu 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Both Watches has same sized variants (40, 44mm)
- They share the circular design, AMOLED display, Always-on feature
- The standard strap that comes with both watches is a silicone band
- Both have a metallic build (Aluminum & Stainless steel)
- The number of songs both watches can store is almost the same (Large variants)
- You can make contactless payments on both smartwatch
- Both these smartwatches have a robust build, and the same waterproofing (5 ATM)
- The original Galaxy Watch active and Garmin venu had many shortcomings, so in a sense, both smartwatches are worthy successor with significant improvements.
Key Difference: Garmin Venu 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Active 2 offers LTE connectivity (texting and calling right from your smartwatch)
- Although Tizen-supported third-party apps are limited, GarminOS support even fewer apps.
- Garmin has the same price tag for Venu 2/Venu 2S. Samsung offers a discount on the smaller size and Bluetooth variants.
- Venu 2 has different sized straps for its two variants (18,22mm), Samsung has only one (20mm)
- Garmin has advanced fitness and health tracking features (Body battery, Health snapshot, Fitness age), Active 2 has ECG tracking.
- Samsung Watch has a Voice assistant, speaker, and mic to pick calls
- Samsung pay to support more banks than the Garmin pay
- Garmin Venu 2 has superior resolution at 416 x 416 px, Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers slightly larger screen real estate at 1.4-inch (compared to 1.3-inch)
- Garmin has a plastic construction that feels a little cheaper (compared to Active 2)
What should you buy: Garmin Venu 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Active 2 offers built-in voice assistants, better calling and texting capabilities, and greater third-party app support, whereas Venu 2 offers better GPS accuracy and spot-on sports and fitness tracking. And Garmin’s signature battery performance crushes the competitor.
Truth be told, I am more into lifestyle watches and therefore there is a natural bias towards the Galaxy Watch Active 2. It offers satisfactory health and fitness tracking which is a bonus for me. And lastly, I would favor the Galaxy Watch for its attractive price point.
However, if you have active sports and an overall lifestyle as your top priority, Garmin Venu 2 is the right gadget for you. My fare is better than not only Active 2 but also the Galaxy Watch 3, Apple Watch Series 6, and Fitbit Sense. Garmin’s comparison with its brethren (Garmin Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945) is another story, and such comparison is warranted.
In short, both these watches cater to the same crowd, each having its strength. They are also available in different colors and sizes, so you won’t have a hard time finding the one that fits your wrist size.
By the way, if you are looking for a smartwatch for a big wrist, there are many better alternatives.