I’ve always been into fitness and working out, and about two years ago, I started wearing a Fitbit to track my activity. I love trying to hit 10,000 steps each day, working on improving my pace during my runs, and reading into my health data. I’ve found it to be so addicting! When I started wearing Fitbit, I wasn’t really aware of other fitness watches out there (except for the Apple Watch, of course). Since I was loving the Versa so much, I started to do some research just to see what else was on the market. I thought about an Apple Watch, but I didn’t really want to pay that much money. Plus, Apple Watches have so many features, and the only thing I really care about is health and fitness tracking. After some research, I came across Garmin eventually decided to make the switch to the Garmin Venu.
Garmin makes SO many different models of watches. I spent hours reading about the different models and comporting Fitbit vs. Garmin. The basic Forerunner was the most similar to Versa in price point, but I was drawn to the Venu, which is more similar to an Apple Watch (but less expensive and provides more accurate fitness data!). I’ve been wearing my Garmin Venu for awhile now and am SO happy with it. It’s similar to the Versa in a lot of ways, but also has some unique features that I think make all the difference.
I’ll start with the most important factor — the appearance (haha okay maybe not MOST important, but still very important). To me, the Fitbit Versa looks a lot more sporty, which I really didn’t mind. I bought a leather band to wear with nicer outfits, and I think it looked fine. It actually looks very similar to an Apple Watch! The Venu on the other hand looks much more sleek in my opinion. I LOVE the rose gold rim and the circular face. I think this makes it look more feminine and less “athletic-y.” It looks a little bit more like a regular watch and goes well with dressier outfits.
The fitness tracking is the main reason I like to wear a smart watch, so I read a lot about Garmin’s technology and accuracy in recording activity. Garmin has been around forever (longer than Fitbit I believe), so I felt confident that the fitness tracking was top-notch. I did a ton of research and came to the conclusion that Garmin is slightly more accurate and reliable than both Fitbit and the Apple Watch. During my experience so far, it seems report very similar data. So, I think they both record the same. However, the Garmin has some additional features that the Versa doesn’t offer. For example, when you’re using the strength mode during a workout, the Garmin will count your reps and even predict the type of exercise you’re doing (tricep extensions, bicep curls, etc.) I think this is so cool!
Also, the Garmin has more workout profiles than the Versa. You can set it to record your run/walk (treadmill or outdoor), swim, Pilates, strength, cardio, bike, stair climb, ski, golf, SUP, Yoga, and more. The Versa, on the other hand, only includes run, bike, swim, weights, and a general workout profile. For me, these were completely sufficient, but I do think the variety on the Venu is a neat factor (although I won’t use most of them).
Overall, there’s only minor differences between the Garmin Venu and Fitbit Versa when it comes to fitness tracking. It just depends on your needs and preferences!
I think Fitbit wins on this one. The Fitbit app has a clean, crisp, and organized layout. It’s extremely user friendly and easy to look at with a glance. The Garmin app provides the same information (and a little more) but is a little less user friendly. It definitely takes some poking around to understand how and where to read all of the information. It didn’t take me too long to get used to, and the switch really didn’t bother me too much.
One of my favorite features of the Garmin app is that it tracks your personal records. In a summary screen, I can view my personal records for distance run, pace, steps in a day, etc. I love this! The Fitbit app awards “badges” for achieving certain goals, like climbing a certain number of flights over the course of time or hitting a certain number of steps within a day. These are predetermined, though, and I prefer the personal record standard in the Garmin App.
Although Fitbit has a cleaner layout, the app wasn’t much of a deciding factor for me. They both provide the same information, and that’s what I mostly care about!
Both watches claim to have a 5 day battery life. My Fitbit lived up to this until about eight months of using it (I wore it pretty much everyday). The battery life slowly started to diminish, and just before I switched to Garmin, it could only hold a charge for a day. I loved being able to leave it on for days without charging it, so this was really disappointing. The Venu also has a five day battery life, and it has worked great so far. Of course, I’ve only had it for a few weeks, so I don’t know how it holds up over time just yet. But according to reviews I read, the battery quality lasts for a long time.
The Venu has a higher quality screen display, but for the most, the two watches have similar displays in terms of the way data shown. On both, you are able to customize the face, choosing from a wide variety of pre-designed watch faces. On the Venu, however, you can choose your own photo as the background, which is not an option on the Versa.
Another key difference is the option to choose an “Always On” mode on the Venu. When this setting is enabled, the clock face is always on instead of just turning on when you lift your wrist or tap the screen. I don’t use this feature (mostly because it drains the battery), so I didn’t mind that the Versa didn’t have it. But, what I do love about the Venu’s display option is the bedtime setting. Through the app, you can tell the device what hours you normally sleep at night so that the Always On display will turn off during those hours or the regular display won’t turn on when you toss and turn in bed. The screen also won’t light up during this hours when you receive messages or alerts on your phone. When I wore my Versa at night, I would bother me when I rolled over in bed and the screen lit up, so I love that the Venu has this setting!
In general, Garmin provides a little bit more data than Fitbit. One feature that the Venu has that the Versa doesn’t is tracking stress level. By reading my heart rate, the Venu is able to calculate my stress level and will altert me when my stress gets high (lol!!). I have no clue how accurate this is, but I think it’s a neat feature. In addition, the Garmin will also estimate how much water I lose during a workout. Again, I don’t know how accurate this is, but I think it’s interesting. I liked using the Versa to track my water intake, so being able to see an estimate of how much water I was sweating out in a day helped encourage me to reach my water intake goal.
Another small feature on the Garmin that I love is the auto goal-setting. Like I mentioned above, I became a little bit addicted to trying to hit 10,000 every day. Since quarantine, it’s been really hard to meet this goal, so I’ve settled for a lower daily step count. The Garmin has a feature that will automatically set a goal for you based on your activity. So since I haven’t hit 10,000 steps in what feels like months, my Venu set my goal to 7,500, which has been much more attainable. This auto goal will change day to day to adjust for my activity. It’s always a challenge but doable. Of course, you can choose to manually set a goal for yourself, but I’ve been loving the auto goal feature — especially during quarantine!
Overall, I’m SO glad I made the switch (if you can’t already tell lol)! If you’re buying a smart watch for the first time and aren’t 100% sure, I would recommend starting with the Versa. It’s almost half the price of the Venu and is a great device. I had mine for a year an half and really loved it. It was a great “starter.” If you’ve been wearing a smart watch (maybe Fitbit or another brand) and are seeking a new device, then I would recommend Garmin. I can only attest to the Venu, but I definitely prefer it over my old Versa. I love the look, the features, and its reliability. Although it’s a bit pricier, I think it’s worth it. It is less than Apple Watch, however, but provides more accurate data (according to articles I’ve read — I’ve never owned an Apple Watch).
I probably sound like such a nerd writing this post! I hope I’m not the only one who’s slightly addicted to tracking my exercise and daily activity. If you wear a smart watch of any kind, comment your favorite features below!