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Garmin Venu vs Apple Watch 5 (2020): Which Fitness Smartwatch Should You Buy?

When it comes to setting goals, having a way to track your results and evaluate your performance is a must. This is particularly true if you are planning to lose weight, increase your activity, and improve your overall fitness. If you are ready to get serious with your fitness goals, then it’s a good idea to invest in a smartwatch that has activity-tracking capabilities, fitness-focused features, and simple but elegant design to go with your everyday clothes.

When it comes to smartwatches in general, Apple Watch is still the most popular option. Apple is known for releasing premium products that combine intuitive design and excellent features. The latest version of its widely successful Apple Watch series is the Apple Watch 5, and it’s been getting a lot of positive reviews from fitness enthusiasts because of its excellent activity tracking features.

On the other hand, Garmin has long established its reputation among consumers who are into sports and active lifestyles. With the release of the Garmin Venu, the company diverted from the usual LCD screens and finally created a smartwatch that has a full AMOLED touchscreen display.

Choosing between these two fitness smartwatches can be a tough call, so we’ve created an in-depth review below to help you decide.

Garmin Venu vs Apple Watch 5 Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin VenuApple Watch 5
Garmin Venu, GPS Smartwatch with Bright Touchscreen Display, features Music, Body Energy Monitoring,...Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Dimensions43.2 x 43.2 x 12.4 mm40mm: 40 x 34 x 10.7mm

44mm: 44 x 38 x 10.7mm

Weight46.3 grams30.8 grams for 40mm

36.5 grams for 44mm

Display1.2 inch AMOLED always-on display, 390 x 390 pixels40mm: 1.57 inch LTPO OLED Retina display w/ Force Touch44mm: 1.78 inch LTPO OLED Retina display w/ Force Touch
ConnectivityBluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n 2.4GHz, optional LTE
SensorsGarmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, Pulse Ox, accelerometer, thermometerBarometric altimeter, optical heart sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, compass
Battery LifeSmartwatch mode: 5 days
GPS with music: 6 hours
Up to 18 hours
CompatibilityiOSiOS and Android
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters

Design

Both the Garmin Venu and the Apple Watch 5 sport simple but elegant designs that go well with your everyday clothes.  

The Garmin Venu (left) only comes in a 43 mm size option while Apple Watch 5 (right) allows you to choose between the 40 mm and 44 mm variants. 

The Garmin Venu’s screen is surrounded by a thin bezel made of stainless steel that gives it a premium feel. Its 43mm case is made of fiber-reinforced polymer and polymer rear cover which makes it lightweight. Since it weighs just 46.5g, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing it especially when you’re running or doing your usual workouts. Aside from different case colors, you can also swap its 20 mm, quick release bands, allowing you to have more design customization options. On its right side, you’ll find two buttons. Tapping the top button once will bring you to the activity screen, while a long press will display the shortcut menu. The button at the lower side functions as a back button when tapped once, and displays the settings menu when pressed longer.

If you decide to go with the Apple Watch 5, you can choose between 40 mm and 44mm sizes, and pick among the case material options of stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, or ceramic. In terms of weight, both variants of the Apple Watch 5 are lighter than the Garmin Venu, weighing only 30.8 grams for the 40mm model and 36.5 grams for the 44mm model. The Apple Watch 5 features an almost edge-to-edge display with rounded corners. On its right side, you will find the Digital Crown that serves as the home button and allows you to scroll on your display (aside from the touchscreen).

In case you are into water sports, you can safely pick any of these watches for your next water adventure since both of them are water-resistant for 50 meters.

Display

The Garmin Venu features a 1.2″ AMOLED always-on display while the Apple Watch 5 is equipped with a 1.78″ always-on retina display.

The always-on screen is the standout feature of Apple Watch 5 (pictured above). Unlike its predecessors, you don’t have to raise your wrist just to see something on its screen. 

The Garmin Venu’s 1.2-inch AMOLED screen which is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, is its biggest selling point. In the past, Garmin uses transflective MIP panels which give their fitness trackers and smartwatches longer battery life and better outdoor visibility. With the AMOLED display, the Garmin Venu is able to showcase more saturated colors and crisp images with its 390 x 390 resolution. There’s tendency though for whites to appear as red when you look at the screen in extreme viewing angles. The Garmin Venu gives you the option to switch to the ‘always on’ display mode and is also equipped with an ambient light sensor that allows the screen to automatically adjust to the environment’s lighting condition.

The Apple Watch 5’s always-on retina display is its highlight feature. A lot of users have complained about the display of the earlier generations of Apple Watch wherein you have to raise your wrist to see the screen, but with the release of the new series, this problem has finally been solved. Although it took Apple some time to finally deliver this feature, they made sure that it’s a standout. While other smartwatches with always-on display only show the time when their screen is inactive, the Apple Watch 5 can display all the information on your watch face but with a dimmer screen. Just like the Garmin Venu, the Apple Watch 5 has an ambient light sensor so the display is never too dim or too bright.

Activity Tracking and Fitness Features

Both the Garmin Venu and Apple Watch 5 are packed with fitness features and excellent activity tracking capabilities. 


The Garmin Venu (left) is pre-loaded with 12 types of animated workouts which give you the experience of having a coach on your wrist, while Apple Watch 5 (right) is equipped with an ECG app that allows you to check your heart rate and rhythm.

When it comes to the fitness features and activity tracking, the Garmin Venu easily takes the lead — its Garmin’s forte after all! Aside from the 12 animated workouts that come preloaded with this watch, the Garmin Connect App allows you to access 33 types of animated training including yoga, pilates, and strength training.

The Garmin Venu allows you to monitor your vital signs including your heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation all day. Since it can measure your breathing pressure index and stress levels, it will suggest to you that you need  perform breathing exercises once your respiratory pressure index becomes too high. This smartwatch also monitors your hydration levels.  Once you complete an activity or workout, the watch will display the estimated amount of sweat that you’ve lost. When you check your workout summary in Garmin Connect, you’ll also find more stats like calories and fluid consumed, fluid loss, and fluid net.

For female users, the Garmin Venu also features a menstrual cycle tracking option that allows you to get notified about the start and end of your menstrual cycle, along with the ability to log mood notes and psychological symptoms during your period.

Just like other Garmin watches, the Venu has advanced sleep tracking capabilities. It provides a timeline of your sleep and breaks it down into light, deep, and REM sleep stages.

The Activity app in Apple Watch 5 does not simply record your activities, it also allows you to see time-based trends in your workouts to better monitor your performance across different periods. Since the Health app can track a lot of fitness metrics, its Summary feature allows you to customize your view so that you are only shown the stats that are most relevant to your goals.

Apple Watch 5 also has a lot of noteworthy health-focused features. Like the Apple Watch 4, it has the FDA-cleared ECG app that can detect irregular heart rhythms. It also comes with a noise-detection safety feature that alerts you if it detects more than 90 decibels of noise. Another potentially life-saving feature of this watch is its fall detection capability. If it detects that you had a rough tumble, it will ask if you are okay via notification and will call emergency services if you don’t respond. Apple also considered its female users by adding the menstrual cycle and fertility tracking capability to the Apple Watch 5.

Connectivity and Smart Features

The Apple Watch 5 offers more connectivity options and application support than the Garmin Venu.

With Apple Watch 5, you can choose to store your music locally or stream your favorite playlists through your favorite music streaming apps like Spotify. 

Garmin Venu supports Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, unlike the Apple Watch 5, it does not have an option for LTE connection.

This smartwatch allows you to locally store up to 500 songs or download your playlist from popular streaming apps like Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon Music, so you can get more pumped up with music while doing your work out. Unlike the Apple Watch 5 that’s only compatible with its own kind, Garmin Venu supports notifications from both Android and iOS devices. Lastly, you can use this smartwatch for doing contactless payment using the Garmin Pay.

In terms of connectivity, the Apple Watch 5 supports Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi. It also provides an option for cellular capabilities via LTE. Going for this option will allow you to send text messages and make calls without having to connect with your iPhone.

Aside from the basic smartwatch capabilities like sending notifications from your phones, and viewing messages, you can also use the Apple Watch 5 for shopping since it supports Apple Pay. This watch comes with WatchOS 6.1 which performs like a simplified iOS. Some of its neat features include a torch and “find my phone” function. You can also choose among a number of watch face designs by swiping left and right along the bottom of the screen.

Raising your arm will allow you to talk to Siri, and a click of the Digital Crown will show you the cluster of applications that are available in your device. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sheer number and variety of applications supported by the Apple Watch 5, but you might need to spend some time to look for them since there is no dedicated Apple Watch Store on iOS.

Battery

The Garmin Venu offers longer battery life compared to the Apple Watch 5.

Given the switch to AMOLED display, the Garmin Venu (pictured above) will not have the same battery life as other Garmin smartwatches.

Garmin watches are known for long battery life. However, since the Garmin Venu sports a beautiful AMOLED display, it’s quite expected that it will have a shorter battery life compared to other Garmin watches and activity trackers. However, it can still last up to 5 days on a single charge when the always-on display mode is turned off. When you enable the always-on display, a single charge can last you up to two days. If you turn on the GPS while playing music, the battery life is reduced to 6 hours.

Given the number of smart features packed in this small device, the Apple Watch 5’s battery life remains its biggest weakness. It’s supposed to give you up to 18 hours of battery life, so you’ll have to charge it every night. If you turn the GPS on, it can only work for 4 hours, making it not ideal for long trips and hiking. It also takes a while to get this device fully-charged with 1.5 hours of charging time.

Verdict

The Garmin Venu offers more health and fitness-focused features and longer battery life. While the Apple Watch 5 also provides a wide array of activity tracking and fitness apps, it doesn’t have enough power for whole day activities. 

If your main goal for buying a smartwatch is to help you track your activities and monitor your progress towards your fitness goals, then the Garmin Venu is the better option between the two. It provides a wide array of features that guides you with your workout and monitor your body’s responses to the activities that you perform. It’s also more budget-friendly and is compatible with both Android and iOS. If you are into hiking or outdoor sports and would want a watch that can go for days without recharging, the Garmin Venu can provide the power that you need.

If you’re an iOS user and you’re looking for a feature-packed and elegant smartwatch, then you should go for the Apple Watch 5. It may not provide the best battery life, but it contains a lot of health apps that will suffice the needs of regular gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts. It’s a great smartwatch overall and supports a lot of other applications.

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Corina Obrero
Corina Obrero

Senior Editor and researcher passionate about technology, gadget reviews and software development.