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Hands on: Garmin Venu review

Garmin's first AMOLED watch

What is a hands on review?
Garmin Venu
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Garmin Venu doesn't feature any brand new features we've yet to see on a smartwatch, but its combination of an AMOLED display with top-end features may make it perfect for some.

For

  • Strong display
  • Top-end fitness features

Against

  • Limited functionality
  • Just silicone straps

The Garmin Venu is a little different to previous Garmin watches you may have seen or used.

This is the first device from the company to come with an AMOLED display, making for a full touchscreen experience that is more akin to smartwatches like the Apple Watch 4 than other Garmin devices.

It's still not a fully fledged smartwatch experience like you'd get with watchOS or Wear OS, but it doesn't make the Venu a less appropriate device for various uses.

Garmin Venu release date and price

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin hasn't unveiled an actual release date for this watch, but we know it'll be with us by the end of 2019. It also won't be released before the start of October 2019, so there's a window of a few months in which it could land.

The price is set for the most basic model at $399.99/£299.99 (around AU$540).

Design and display

The display is the standout feature on the Garmin Venu, and it looks dramatically different to the rest of the Garmin range. The screen is bold and vibrant, plus it's touchscreen so you can cycle through all of the features you need using the display.

It's not particularly large either 1.2-inches, but we found it to be large enough to travel through all of the menus we needed too. The resolution is also quite high at 390 x 390.

The body of the watch is made with what Garmin refers to as fiber-reinforced polymer that feels premium yet light at the same time. The bezel of the watch is then made of metal, which gives it its high-end look.

(Image credit: Future)

You'll get a silicone strap in the box with the watch itself, which felt comfortable to the touch although we were unable to wear the watch during our testing time.

Color-wise you can buy the Venu in black with gold hardware, light sand with rose gold hardware, granite blue with silver hardware, or black with slate hardware. The rear of the watch features the heart rate sensor, which takes us onto the fitness features of this watch.

Fitness features

That's a 24/7 heart rate monitor on the rear of the watch, and that's Garmin's speciality, so although we've been unable to test it we expect it to be a strong feature.

There's also GPS on the device to track your location when you're out exercising.

Other features included on the watch range from stress tracking to menstrual cycle monitoring. It'll also be able to watch your sleep, hydration and much more, and we'll dive into these features further during our full review.

(Image credit: Future)

Body battery makes a return from other Garmin devices here too. This is a way to monitor your energy levels so you can understand when it's best to work out, and when you should be resting.

The watch notably can track over 40 workouts. When we were cycling through the menus on the device we spotted everything from skiing to yoga, so whatever your favorite exercise it's likely to be included in this list.

Battery life and specs

Garmin says the watch will be able to last for six days in its normal smartwatch mode. That's knocked down to six hours if you've got GPS running on the device, which is a little below what you can expect out of Garmin's other running watches.

We'll be sure to put both of those claims to the test during our full review of the Venu.

(Image credit: Future)

We don't know what's inside, powering the Venu, but it seemed to work smoothly in our testing time and it shouldn't leave you waiting when you're cycling through the menus to find features you need.

It comes with storage onboard that will allow you to upload around 500 songs to listen to over Bluetooth headphones, and it comes with Garmin Pay onboard too.

Early verdict

It's difficult to get an extensive reading on the Garmin Venu when you've got a limited time with the device, like we did, but it looks like one of the more unique experiences that Garmin offers right now.

If you want top-end fitness features but you're also desperate for vibrant and useful color screen then you may find the Venu a good option for you wrist.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.