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Garmin Venu vs Venu SQ – What’s the difference between these fitness-focused smartwatches?


Garmin Venu vs Venu SQ – What’s the difference between these fitness-focused smartwatches?

The Garmin Venu and Venu SQ are fitness-focused smartwatches that have nice, vibrant displays, which take a departure from the transflective displays Garmin has used for years. Those older-generation displays do have good things going for them like great readability in direct sunlight as well as long battery life but they aren’t necessarily the prettiest to look at.

The new displays are more in line with other smartwatches like an Apple Watch or Samsung watch, but the great thing about what Garmin has done with the Venus is that they’ve been able to retain decent battery life with both the Venu and the Venu SQ.

These watches share a lot in common but there are a few differences that may make you want one over the other and this article aims to detail all the similarities and differences. If you prefer to watch a video rather than read an article, you’re in luck – just check out the video below.


The Venu SQ starts at $200 for the non-music version and then $250 for the music version. The regular Venu only has one version that has music capabilities, and the Venu ranges from around $300-$350 depending on what sort of deals are going on. You can check prices here: & (Amazon affiliate links)


The Venu has a stainless steel bezel where the SQ has an aluminum bezel. Both look great but the Venu does look just slightly more premium and that may have to do with that slight knurled texture on the bezel on the Venu.

The SQ is just slightly narrower than the regular Venu due to it’s square shape and the SQ also weighs just slightly less than the regular Venu. (Venu SQ:  37.6 grams / Venu: 46.3 grams)

Both use touhcscreens along with two physical buttons to interact with the device, both are water resistant down to 50 meters, both use industry standard 20mm watch straps, and both are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Another hardware difference is the display where the original Venu has a 1.2″ AMOLED screen (390 x 390 pixels) where the SQ has a 1.3″ LCD screen (240 x 240 pixels).

Both have an always-on display mode but just note that this will have an impact on battery life. You can however disable the always-on display and just rely on a raise to wake gesture like what you’d find on an Apple Watch SE, Series 4, or Series 3.

The Venu also has Live Watch Faces which have an animation when you raise your wrist.

Battery life

Battery life will be slightly better on the Venu SQ for day to day use where you should be able to get about 5-6 days out of it and about 4-5 days out the Venu, if you aren’t using the always-on display. If you enable the always on display, the Venu SQ should last about 4-5 days and the regular Venu should last about 3-4 days. With both, still very decent battery life.

For GPS battery life, the regular Venu has a bit more in this department being able to last up to 20 hours and the SQ can last up to 14 hours, and that’s without playing music where music playback can drain your battery quite a bit. Strangely, battery life is about the same between the two while playing music using GPS  at around 6 hours with both.

Smartwatch Features

The smartwatch features on both of these are identical: They have contactless payments using Garmin Pay, weather and calendar information when paired with your phone, they can receive notifications when paired with either an iPhone or an Android phone and when paired to an Android phone, both can reply to text messages using predefined responses.

With the Venu and Venu SQ Music, these have offline music storage and playback with music services like Pandora, Spotify, and Deezer, but the SQ has a non-music version that can save you $50 if you don’t need that feature.

Wi-fi is available on the Venu SQ Music and the Venu but not the SQ that doesn’t have music.

Internal Sensors

Both have the latest generation Garmin Elevate Heart Rate sensor that also has an SPO2 sensor for measuring blood oxygen sensors so the heart rate performance will be similar with these devices.

The Venu also has a gyroscope where the Venu SQ does not. The gyroscope is intended to improve the rep counting ability for the strength training profile as well as improved swim feature performance like stroke detection. However, the rep counting is kind of hit and miss overall with either device so I wouldn’t gloss over this difference that much.

But one of the biggest differences between the Venu and Venu SQ is that the the Venu SQ does not have a barometric altimeter.This results in 2 big differences:
First, the Venu SQ won’t track your floors climbed as a daily activity metric since that requires an altimeter.

Second, you won’t be able to view your altitude information like your accumulated elevation gain during your outdoor activity. However, once you save your activity, you’ll be able to see the elevation data in Garmin Connect with the SQ and this is based off of altitude information from GPS data once it’s uploaded.

External Sensors

For external sensors, they are identical where you can pair them with a host of sensors including heart rate sensors, speed and cadence sensors, Varia lights and Radar, and Tempe temperature sensors.

Safety and Tracking

Both have LiveTrack which allows you to send a text or email to contacts letting them follow along your outdoor activity, both have incident detection that can be enabled for certain activities, and both have Get Assistance which allows you to send an alert to emergency contacts letting them know of your location.

Widgets and Daily Activity Tracking

Both have nearly the exact same set of widgets to choose from with widgets for 24/7 heart rate tracking, body battery, stress tracking, calories burned, intensity minutes, and women’s health tracking. The difference with the Venu since it has an altimeter is that it can also track your floors climbed.

Both also have sleep tracking that also can utilize the SPO2 sensor for measuring blood oxygen levels.

Workout Profiles

Both Venu and Venu SQ: Run, Treadmill, Indoor Track, Bike, Bike Indoor, Walk, Walk Indoor, Pool Swim, Golf, Ski*, Snowboard*, XC Ski (SQ has it named XC Classic Ski), SUP, Strength, Cardio, Elliptical, Yoga, Row, Row Indoor, Pilates, Row indoor, Breathwork, Pilates, Navigate.

* Ski and Snowboard profiles on regular Venu can determine when you are riding on the chairlift and going down the ski run with the altimeter to automatically track runs without having to press a lap key which is required on the Venu SQ.

Venu: Floor Climb – uses altimeter to track actual floors climbed if climbing actual stairs (not on a stairstepper/stairmill).

Venu SQ: Stair Stepper – a basic cardio workout profile that tracks heart rate and time. Does not track floors climbed since there is no elevation change on a stairmill.Also, on-screen animated workouts are only available on the Venu and not the SQ.

Data Pages and Data Fields

With both, you can have a maximum of 3 data pages but an advantage with the Venu is that it can display up to 4 data fields per page where the SQ can only display 3. The other difference with data fields is related to the altimeter in the Venu vs the SQ which doesn’t have it. With the Venu, you’ll be able to add elevation related data fields so you can see that data in real time.

Again, even though the SQ doesn’t track elevation data with an altimeter, you’ll still be able to see elevation data after you save your outdoor activity. And this data is based on GPS data rather than an altimeter.

Wrap Up

The Venu and Venu SQ share a lot in common and both make capable fitness devices. It comes down to the round vs square design, the AMOLED vs LCD display, and the altimeter which translates into some subtle differences in what data the watch can collect.

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About DesFit

I'm Des.
I like fitness. I like tech. And I like gadgets.

I produce in-depth reviews of fitness and sports technology including smartwatches, sportswatches, bike computers, bike trainers, and much more!

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