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Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 (2022): How Are They Different?

If you’re in the market for a sports and fitness smartwatch, then Garmin is arguably one of the top brands to consider. The Garmin Venu 2 and vivoactive 4, for instance, are popular choices for fitness tracking. On the other hand, runners and sports enthusiasts vouch for the top-of-the-line Garmin Forerunner 945. While all three devices bring core Garmin features to the table, there are enough differences to make them appeal to certain demographics. Below, we highlight these differences to help you buy the right watch.

Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin Venu 2Garmin vivoactive 4Garmin Forerunner 945
 
Price
Dimensions45.4 x 45.4 x 12.2 mm45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm47 x 47 x 13.7 mm
Weight49 g50.5 g50 g
DisplayAMOLEDTransflective memory-in-pixelTransflective memory-in-pixel
Display Size1.3 in.1.3 in.1.2 in.
Resolution416 x 416 p260 x 260 p240 x 240 p
CaseFiber-reinforced polymerFiber-reinforced polymerFiber-reinforced polymer
BezelStainless steelStainless steelFiber-reinforced polymer
GPSBuilt-inBuilt-inBuilt-in
ConnectivityBluetooth, ANT+, WiFiBluetooth, ANT+, WiFiBluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
Water Rating5 ATM5 ATM5 ATM
Key SensorsHRM, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2HRM, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2HRM, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, SpO2
All-Day Heart Rate TrackingYesYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYesYes
Sleep Score and InsightsYesNoYes
Women’s HeathYesYesYes
Pulse OxYesYesYes
Health SnapshotYesNoNo
Fitness AgeYesYes, in-appYes, in-app
Music StorageUp to 650 songsUp to 500 songsUp to 1,000 songs
Battery Life12 days on battery saver
11 days on smartwatch mode
22 hours on GPS mode
8 days on smartwatch mode
18 hours on GPS mode
2 weeks on smartwatch mode
36 hours on GPS mode
Release DateJanuary 2022September 2019April 2019

Design

Garmin’s watches are well-crafted, with the Venu 2 and vivoactive 4 sporting touchscreen displays while the Forerunner 945 relies on the standard five-button design.

Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 Design
The Garmin Venu 2 (left), vivoactive 4 (center), and Forerunner 945 (right).

Garmin has always emphasized durability in their wearables, and the Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 are no exceptions. All three watches are crafted from fiber-reinforced polymer that’s strong and light. With the Venu 2 and vivoactive 4, however, you’re getting a stainless steel bezel while the Forerunner 945 still uses the polymer.

In terms of form, the Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 all sport a traditional round watch face. Few Garmin devices veer from this template anyway, but if you prefer a more smartwatch-esque square, there is the Venu Sq. The three wearables also hardly offer a design overhaul over their predecessors but opt for refinements instead.

Among the wearables, the Forerunner 945 has the smallest display at 1.2-inches. It’s not touchscreen either β€” like most Garmin watches β€” and relies on the standard five-button array for navigation. While it may deter those who want touch-gesture support, it makes the Forerunner 945 more usable in harsher environments. In contrast, the Venu 2 and vivoactive 4 sport 1.3-inch touchscreen displays with only two physical buttons.

Users can get the standard Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 in two color finishes. The watches are also waterproof up to 50 meters.

Activity and Sports Tracking

Garmin’s Forerunner 945 tracks more metrics and boasts more sports profiles than the Garmin Venu 2 and vivoactive 4.

Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 Fitness and Sports Tracking
Sports profiles on the Venu 2 (left), animated workouts on the vivoactive 4 (center), and training load on the Forerunner 945 (right).

The Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 have the same activity tracking features. You can measure calories burned, daily steps, distance traveled, and floors climbed. To keep users engaged, all three devices support the Garmin Connect Challenges platform as well. You can also set up Auto Goal, a feature where the watch learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal.

All three devices support several gym profiles, including strength training, pilates, and yoga. However, the Garmin Venu 2 adds two more to the list β€” HIIT and breathwork. When it comes to training, planning, and analysis features, the Garmin Forerunner 945 has the edge. The running watch goes beyond heart rate zones and respiration rate, metrics available on the Venu 2 and vivoactive 4.

With the Forerunner 945, you can also measure training load, status, and effect. There’s also support for HRV stress tests if you have a compatible accessory, plus compatibility with Strava Live Segments. As expected, the Forerunner 945 also has a few more running profiles than the Garmin vivoactive 4 and Venu 2.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Venu 2 and Forerunner 945 offer additional activities. Hiking and XC skiing, for instance, are not available on the vivoactive 4. The Forerunner 945 also adds mountain trail biking to its supported Cycling activities and includes open water swimming and swimrun for Swimming, profiles missing on the Venu 2 and vivoactive 4.

Health Monitoring

If your priority is health monitoring, the Venu 2 has the edge over the vivoactive 4 and Forerunner 945.

Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 Health Features
HR tracking on the Venu 2 (left), mindful breathing on the vivoactive 4 (center), and sleep scores on the Forerunner 945 (right).

All three Garmin wristwear are equipped with health monitoring tools staple in many fitness trackers and smartwatches. The wrist-based heart rate monitoring, for instance, is constant and takes measurements every second. Aside from daily HR, the Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 also detect abnormal heart rates and alert users of it.

Pulse ox is available on these wearables. Users can set them up for all-day tracking, spot checks, or in-sleep measurements. If you want to know if you’re fatigued, there is all-day stress monitoring as well. The Venu 2 and vivoactive 4 include relaxation reminders to combat stress, which you miss out on the Forerunner 945. All three are equipped with a relaxation breathing timer.

Garmin exclusive metrics like Fitness Age and Body Battery Energy Monitor are also present. There are also hydration reminders and menstrual cycle tracking. While all three devices have sleep tracking, the Venu 2 and Forerunner 945 provide sleep scores and insights as well. Finally, only the Venu 2 supports the Health Snapshot feature of Garmin.

Smart Features and Battery Life

All three Garmin watches enjoy several smart features. Battery life, however, is the key advantage of the Garmin Forerunner 945.

Garmin Venu 2 vs vivoactive 4 vs Forerunner 945 Smart Features and Battery Life
Spotify on the Venu 2 (left), Garmin Pay on the vivoactive 4 (center), and smart notifications on the Forerunner 945 (right).

While Garmin emphasizes fitness and health, its wearables still enjoy several smart features. The Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 all have smart notifications β€” from texts to calls to app alerts. If paired with an Android phone, these watches can also send a text response or reject a phone call using text. In addition, you can customize the wearables further through downloadable watch faces, apps, and widgets.

Contactless payment is available across all three devices. A calendar and weather app makes the Venu 2, vivoactive 4, and Forerunner 945 practical and convenient wristwear, too. If you like listening to music while working out, you can use the watches to control the playlist on your phone. They also support onboard music storage for offline listening.

Battery life is the throne of the Garmin Forerunner 945. The running watch enjoys a battery life of 36 hours on GPS mode and two weeks on smartwatch mode. The Venu 2 closely follows, lasting 11 days on smartwatch mode and 22 hours in GPS mode. It also comes with a battery saver mode that extends runtime to 12 days. Meanwhile, the vivoactive 4 has a battery life of 18 hours with GPS turned on and 8 days if used only as a smartwatch.

Verdict

Get the Venu 2 if you want a mid-range fitness and health watch. Opt for the Forerunner 945 for its dedicated training features. Buy the vivoactive 4 if you’re on a budget.

Choosing a Garmin watch can be a challenge. After all, most share distinct Garmin features across its design, hardware, and software. However, key differences among them can help you in your decision. For instance, the Garmin Venu 2 offers the most health features, along with ample fitness and sports tracking. If your priority is health, this is the watch for you.

Meanwhile, the Garmin Forerunner 945 offers the most expansive toolkit for training and sports tracking. Runners and sports enthusiasts stand to benefit most from this premium wearable.

Lastly, the Garmin vivoactive 4 is suitable for those who want a mid-range fitness and sports watch β€” but are on a budget. It’s the most affordable out of the three since it misses out on a handful of features available on the Venu 2 and Forerunner 945.

FAQs

πŸ“Œ What’s the difference between the Garmin Venu 2 and Forerunner 945?

The Garmin Venu 2 is an all-in-one midrange smartwatch with additional health features. In contrast, the Forerunner 945 is a running watch with extensive training metrics and additional running profiles.

πŸ“Œ Is the Garmin vivoactive 4 worth it?

Garmin’s vivoactive 4 is a solid fitness and sports watch to get. It combines an attractive design with crowd-favorite features like a touchscreen display and multiple health monitoring tools.

πŸ“Œ How long is the warranty of the Garmin Forerunner 945?

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has a one-year warranty.

πŸ“Œ How many straps do you get with the Garmin vivoactive 4?

Garmin’s vivoactive 4 includes only one strap out of the box. The strap can fit wrists with a circumference of 135-200 mm.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.