Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition review: a capable smartwatch, but not without kinks | 91mobiles.com


The Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition was literally glued to my skin for more than a week. I only took it off when I felt slight discomfort, which happened rarely, or found the watch affecting what I was doing. Otherwise, the wearable remained strapped to my wrist and tracked my vitals continuously while I was at work, gym, attending a party, or resting at home in my bed. I even took the watch to shower once or twice. Read on to know what works and doesn’t work for the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition in this review.

What works

  • Anyone looking for a nice and compact fitness tracker will find the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition right up their alley. The watch comes in a 40mm case, which is squarish in form factor and looks just about right even on a small wrist. The wearable is paired with 20mm silicon straps, which don’t itch or bite and also feature quick-release pins for easy swapping with other straps of similar size. You will also find the Garmin watch lightweight and comfortable to wear for long hours. Thanks to the polyester frame, the Venu Sq 2 Music Edition tips the scale at just 37 grams, give and take. The wearable also has an aluminium bezel, which makes the watch look premium, and a couple of buttons on the right. The device is water resistant up to 5ATM or pressure equivalent to about 50 metres as well. This means you can take the watch on a brief swim, into the shower, or rain.
  • The Venu Sq 2 Music Edition gets its name from the offline music playback feature. The latter allows users to listen to music on the go without having to carry their smartphone around. The Garmin watch can be paired with Bluetooth earphones and offers storage for up to 500 songs, which you can download from your favourite music streaming apps, Spotify, Prime Music, and others. After the initial setup – which could be quite daunting for first-time users, I found the feature working as advertised. The watch seamlessly pairs with earphones and offers music playback without any latency.

  • The Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition’s display is also something to write home about. The wearable features a 1.41-inch AMOLED touchscreen display that bears 320 x 360 resolution, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and supports always-on. The display was responsive to my touch, got plenty bright under direct sunlight, and offered vibrant colours with deep blacks. The latter does a good job of hiding the chunky bezels, which blend in nicely with the screen and are only visible when you look closely. The display also comes with a raise-to-wake gesture, which worked extremely well. Even a gentle raise would light up the screen for a quick glance at the time and other details. I didn’t feel the need to enable the Always-on screen, which is a good feature to have but is a battery hogger. The only thing I didn’t like about the screen is the refresh rate. It felt on the lower side, and as a result, the animations on the Garmin Venu Sq 2 screen looked a bit jittery, at least to me.

  • Moving on, fitness enthusiasts will have plenty to like about the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition. The wearable can track all sorts of vitals, including heart rate, SpO2, respiration, stress, sleep, hydration, pulse, body battery, menstrual cycles, and fitness age. In addition to that, the watch has more than 25 built-in and GPS sports modes including running, strength training, cycling, yoga, pilates, cardio, pool swimming, and others. The Venu Sq 2 Music Edition also features Intensity Minutes 2.0 for daily intensity minutes and HIIT workouts. I wish the watch also had an altimeter to track elevation while climbing the stairs or a mountain, but it is what it is. The Garmin watch offers a decent tracking experience. I mostly used the device to track my workout sessions, treadmill runs, and steps covered, and the results were mostly accurate. That said, I did find the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition adding a few ghost steps while sleeping or driving. However, it doesn’t significantly affect the actual tally of the number of steps walked. During my time with the watch, it only added a couple of 100s of ghost steps, which were far fewer than most other smartwatches. 
  • Coming to sleep tracking, it was the most reliable I have seen in a smartwatch so far. In addition to the REM, deep and light sleep, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition also showed me awake time during my sleep, which was spot on. It would also give me a score based on the quality of sleep I had that was more often than not poor/ fair. This could be due to my sleep, which always remained less than 8 hours. Furthermore, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition uses a fourth-gen heart rate sensor to constantly track the wearer’s heartbeat, even during workouts. The company claims the sensor significantly increases heart rate accuracy. The watch will send alerts if it reports any abnormalcy in the wearer’s heartbeat.

  • The wearable also features a new health snapshot and Fitness Age 2.0. The former takes a couple of minutes to record key stats, including heart rate, heart rate variability, Pulse Ox2, respiration, and stress, at the same time and sends the report to your smartphone for further analyses. The Fitness Age 2.0 tells you whether your body is younger or older than you are based on body fat percentage or BMI, resting heart rate, and activities, along with tips to improve it. The watch can track women’s menstrual cycles as well. The Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition also has a built-in GPS, which tracks your run or walk without relying on your smartphone. The GPS gets activated as soon as you start your workout. It takes a few seconds to lock in your location, but works just fine after that, barring the few instances where the watch would pinpoint me slightly off the road. Other than that, the Garmin wearable tracked my route, total distance covered, and metrics such as pace largely accurately.
  • Using the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition UI involves a learning curve, but after that, it is smooth sailing. A swipe left from the home screen gives you access to a shortcut, which you set while setting up the device (mine was set to music player), while swiping right takes you back to the previous screen. A swipe up or down offers ‘Glances’ (widgets) for steps walked, intensity minutes, calories burnt, heart rate, body, stress level, and notifications, among other things. The watch allows you to interact with these Glances to get more information. The two physical toggles on the right spine work as a shortcut key for workout modes and the back button. The watch offers three workout modes: run, treadmill, and strength, with top physical toggles, but you can add more using the Garmin Connect app.

  • On the battery front, the watch is rated to last up to 11 days on a single charge with normal usage. Garmin didn’t specify whether these numbers are for the regular variant or Music Edition as I was getting only 7-8 days of battery life, with 10 percent juice still left in the tank. This still is very impressive considering I was using the watch almost 24/7 to track my vitals, including steps covered, heartbeat, sleep, stress, and pulse, and an hour-long workout with music. Without music, the watch might be able to deliver the claimed 11 days battery life, which can be increased by a day with the new Battery Saver Mode. The latter puts the face in a dimmed display mode and disables music playback, Wi-Fi, PulseOx monitoring, and a bunch of other non-essential features. The Garmin watch can be juiced up from nothing to 100 percent in about one and a half hours using the proprietary charging cable.

  • The Venu Sq 2 Music Edition pairs with a smartphone using the Garmin Connect app, which is available for download via Google Play Store and App Store. The app neatly presents all the data up front, with graphs and charts, which are easy to consume and manage. You can also interact with the graphs and charts for more details. If you are not a fan of detailed stats, the Garmin Connect app has the option to collapse them and view them in a sort of table format. The app can also be used to set challenges, create manual activities, set up training plans, and much more. You can also set up Sq 2 Music Edition’s Incident Detection and LiveTrack safety features via the app that sends messages with your location to emergency contacts as long as your phone is nearby and connected to the smartwatch.
  • As for watch faces, the wearable has tons to offer. You can download them from Garmin’s Connect IQ store, which is a separate app that works on both Android mobile phones and iPhones. The app also allows you to customise watch faces, add widgets, and install third-party applications, such as Spotify, Maze Game, Minesweeper, and more, on the watch.

What doesn’t work

  • The Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition doesn’t have voice-calling support. It can only alert you when you are getting a call on your smartphone, with options to answer or reject, but can’t take calls. I was at least hoping the Music Edition watch would have the feature to answer calls since it can pair with earphones, but that’s not the case either, and this could be a letdown for some. The watch also doesn’t have the option to respond to messages, unless pair it with an Android phone. Even then, you can only send preset messages.
  • Apart from this, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition companion apps, Connect and Connect IQ, need improvement. The apps are currently slow to sync data. Additionally, using the Connect IQ app could be a hassle for first-time Garmin smartwatch users. I, for one, had trouble setting up the offline music feature on the wearable. 

  • The watch’s music player could have been better too. There is no option to browse the library saved on the watch. You can listen to songs from the start or where you left off. And, unless your earphones have volume controls, it will require at least three steps to adjust the volume on the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition. That said, you do get the option to play, skip, or go back to the previous track. It would have been better had the watch allowed me to check out the music library before playing the songs. It also didn’t help that the watch’s Wi-Fi connection kept dropping, despite being connected to the smartphone. I also found the Garmin watch third-party apps library on the weaker side and Garmin Pay doesn’t have support for banks in India.

Verdict

At Rs 33,490, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition is a premium smartwatch. The wearable is Rs 5,500 more expensive than the regular Garmin Venu Sq 2, which doesn’t have the offline music playback feature. The music feature does add value to the watch, but it needs improvement, especially on the UI front. Apart from this, the watch misses out on some key features, such as Bluetooth calling support and an altimeter, which are quite common on smartwatches in the price range. The Garmin Venu Sq 2 competes against the Apple Watch SE 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch5, and Fitbit Sense 2. These watches look more feature-packed than the Garmin smartwatch, at least on paper.

However, where the Venu Sq 2 Music Edition shines are its fitness features, tracking accuracy, and offline music support. If those are the things you are after, you will find plenty to like about the new Garmin Venu Sq-series smartwatches.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Lovely screen
  • Reliable tracking
  • Impressive battery life

Cons

  • No altimeter for stair tracking
  • Lacks voice calling feature
  • Music player UI needs improvement



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