Garmin's newest feature-packed smartwatch undercuts the Apple Watch SE

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Garmin's newest feature-packed smartwatch undercuts the Apple Watch SE
Ranked fifth among the world's largest wrist-worn wearable device vendors for Q2 2020 and a surprising second in the smartwatch market as far as the year's first six months are concerned, Garmin is trying to close the gap to Apple and fend off the likes of Samsung, Huawei, and Fitbit with the all-new Venu Sq.

This is basically the company's answer to the budget-friendly Apple Watch SE, revising the design and downgrading the specs of last year's premium Venu, which went straight for the Apple Watch Series 5's jugular. 

Curiously enough, there's no word on an impending high-end Venu 2 smartwatch, so either Garmin has abandoned that particular market segment or the original Venu is still considered a worthy adversary for the recently released Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

New form factor, same old health monitoring tools

Although we wouldn't go so far as to deem the Garmin Venu Sq an obvious and shameless Apple Watch clone like, say, the Wear OS-based Oppo Watch, its design is certainly not as sleek and stylish as that of the round-faced OG Venu either.


On the bright side, the square-shaped new device is both lighter and more compact than its circular forerunner, tipping the scales at a measly 37.6 grams and measuring 11.5mm in thickness while incredibly enough offering a little extra screen real estate compared to the 1.2-inch panel of 2019's Garmin Venu.

Then again, the 1.3-inch display on the Venu Sq is downgraded from AMOLED to liquid crystal technology and from a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels to 240 x 240. The bezel is also made from aluminum rather than stainless steel, but at least the Gorilla Glass 3 screen protection is kept in place.

The Garmin Venu Sq impressively promises to keep the LCD lights on for up to six days between charges, even though that stellar battery life drops to a maximum of 14 hours when using the timepiece in its energy-draining "GPS mode." In addition to standalone GPS connectivity, this thing also has all-day health monitoring capabilities going for it, as well as sleep, menstrual cycle, and stress tracking.

You even get a Pulse Ox sensor capable of keeping an eye on your blood oxygen saturation levels, so for the most part, the Venu Sq comes with the same health monitoring and activity tracking components as its pricier brother. The only things that seem to be missing under the hood are a barometric altimeter and compass.

Pricing and availability

There are actually two different Garmin Venu Sq variants you can already buy directly from the manufacturer or over on Amazon, the cheapest of which costs $199.99 in orchid/metallic orchid, white/light gold, and shadow gray/slate combos.

As the name suggests, the $249.99 Venu Sq Music Edition comes with phone-free listening support thanks to on-device music storage and the ability to download songs and playlists from a number of different services, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer included, for easy access on your wrist. This pricier version can be had in light sand/rose gold, navy/light gold, moss/slate, and black/slate flavors, exceeding the MSRP of the Fitbit Versa 3 while undercutting both the Sense and Apple Watch SE.

Of course, the $330 Fitbit Sense has a built-in ECG monitoring feature, a skin temperature sensor, and a one-of-a-kind electrodermal tracking technology going for it on top of pretty much all of the same capabilities as the Garmin Venu Sq Music, while the Apple Watch SE is undoubtedly sharp, blazing fast, fluid, and easy to use for both lifestyle and activity tracking purposes.

Still, the Fitbit Versa 3 is most likely the direct competitor of Garmin's newbie, and at $230, that thing does not include a blood oxygen sensor. 
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