Garmin Forerunner smartwatches have changed the way we use on-wrist tech when exercising. Though the Forerunner range is intended primarily for runners, the features on this watch can be used by anyone who wants to track their activity or get fit and healthy.
Alongside a range of activity-based features, these watches also offer smart services. Whether you want to beat a personal best on a run or just receive a text, Garmin covers all bases.
If you’re considering a Forerunner, keep on reading. In this article, you’ll find all you need to know about the best features of a Garmin Forerunner smartwatch.
There’s a Garmin Forerunner model out there for every runner, no matter what their style. Garmin is well-known for making some of the top fitness smartwatches on the market today. Even if you’re just starting out on a couch-to-5K journey, you can find a Garmin device to suit your needs at every pricing point. With this list of the top Garmin Forerunner models, you can find the one that best suits your running requirements and budget.
A Quick Recap of the Forerunner
We’ll quickly recap why Forerunners are great watches before we jump into the best features of a Garmin Forerunner.
This watch family offers many different models, so don’t worry if you’re confused. Key Forerunner watches to note include:
- The Forerunner 35
- The Forerunner 45
- The Forerunner 55
- The Forerunner 245 Music
- The Forerunner 645 Music
- The Forerunner 735XT and 745
- The Forerunner 945
Different watches will be suited to different users, mainly depending on your fitness level and running ability. For example, we’d recommend a Forerunner 35 to a beginner as this is an easy-to-use basic running watch that helps you develop your fitness and general running performance.
On the other hand, intermediate and expert runners might consider the Forerunner 945 model. This is the most advanced watch in the family. When you run with a 945 watch, you can access features like built-in VO2 max, GPS, as well as smart features like Garmin Pay. The 945 also boasts a large storage capacity that can store up to 1000 songs at one time.
If you’re unsure whether you need an advanced Forerunner model, you might benefit from the mid-level Forerunner 55. This is a great budget option that offers a sleek design and helpful features, but without the hefty price tag of watches like the 945.
Best Features of a Garmin Forerunner
Garmin Forerunners are built for runners, so there’s no surprise that all models feature sports-optimized features.
Here are some key features to look for when choosing your Forerunner watch:
- GPS maps
- Heart rate monitors
- Pace, distance, and step counters
- Advanced SpO2 monitoring
- Sports modes and training advice
- Music (not available on all watches)
- Additional smartwatch features like messages and notifications
- LTE capability (not available on all watches)
When deciding on the Forerunner for you, make sure you sit down and consider which features you need. If you don’t require advanced tracking and music storage, you can save money and opt for a more basic watch. However, if you know you want the best features and lots of storage, you might want to look at more serious Forerunners.
Best Garmin Forerunner Uses
It’s easy to call the Garmin Forerunner a “running watch” and leave it at that. But this watch can be used for a range of different purposes.
Did you know you can also use some Forerunners for swim-tracking? In fact, we included the Forerunner 55 in our list of best swimming watches. If you’re a keen swimmer, you might want to consider a Forerunner to help during your next training session.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is also a great companion for avid swimmers. This watch offers a swim tracking sports mode alongside waterproofing to make sure you can record your progress in the pool.
As well as swim tracking, the 245 also offers SpO2 monitoring, heart rate monitoring, and other general health services. If you want to record workouts and get a complete picture of your health, these features will help you do that.
Also, for an extra $50, you can access the music version of the 245, which allows you to enjoy up to 500 songs on your wrist.
Forerunners are excellent devices when you want to get active, but did you know they’re also great for relaxing too?
Like many smartwatches on the market now, Garmin Forerunners also come with wellness and stress monitoring features. The popular Forerunner 45 offers daily wellness statistics to help users balance their stress levels throughout the day.
Sophisticated on-wrist heart rate monitors calculate these wellness levels. When the watch detects an elevation of your heart rate, it notifies you that it’s time to be mindful or take a moment to cool down. This is helpful for anyone that wants to keep their stress to a low throughout the day.
Women’s Health Tracking
Smartwatch health features are constantly improving, and women’s health tracking is one feature being added to more and more watches.
The Garmin Forerunner 55 provides women with additional health features to monitor their menstrual cycle via their smartwatch. The menstrual cycle affects your body more than you may realize, so keeping track of this data alongside your other health metrics is a great way to get a clear picture of your full health.
This feature makes the Forerunner range ideal for any woman that frequently works out or runs.
We can’t write an article on the Forerunner line without stressing how optimized these watches are for running. Though Garmin Forerunners can offer swim data, wellness features, and general health trackers, their speciality will always be running, and they offer almost every running-related feature you can think of. They even offer additional, advanced running metrics as well (these require a compatible accessory), such as ground contact time, cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation, and running power.
Simply put, a Forerunner will record your progress and help you achieve a new personal best. We always recommend a Garmin Forerunner with added music capabilities, too, as it makes it easier to leave behind your smartphone or other device and run unencumbered.
Comparing the Garmin 35 and Garmin 45
The design and display of the Garmin 35 vs. Garmin 45 are the most significant distinctions. The redesigned design of the Garmin 45 sets it apart from the older Garmin 35. Rectangular in shape, the 35 sports a square display that is monochrome. The 45 has a more contemporary design with a round face, a colour sunlight-readable display, greater resolution, and five buttons for navigating the system. A 39mm and 42mm version of the Forerunner 45 is also available (the 45). Sleek and light in design, the 45S and 45 are ideal for those with tiny wrists.
The battery life of the Forerunner 35 and the Forerunner 45 is nearly the same, however, there is a little distinction. The 35 lasts roughly 9 days because of its minimal display. 45 has a 7-day battery life because of its high-tech display and connection.
A broader range of sporting activities may be recorded and stored with the Forerunner 45. Garmin Coach, Firstbeat features, fitness age, battery energy, and all-day stress tracking are all included in the 45.
Just push the Light button for 5 seconds until the watch vibrates three times to send an alarm and request help. Additionally, the watch contains an incident detection capability that will immediately notify your emergency contacts in the event of an accident.
When it comes to tracking speed, distance, and altitude, the Garmin 35 and the Garmin 45 are nearly identical.
In comparison to the Forerunner 45, the Forerunner 35 has profiles for outdoor running, indoor running, cycling, and aerobics.
Smartphone notifications, vibration/audio alerts, and 24/7 activity tracking, including step counters, calorie tracking and sleep monitoring are all available on both watches.
You can use the wrist-based heart rate monitor on the Forerunner 35 and Forerunner 45 to transmit your HR data through ANT+.
Live tracking is available on both watches. When you connect your watch to the Garmin Connect Mobile App on your phone, your friends and family can see where you are.
Waterproof and 5ATM certified, the Garmin 35 & 45 are both appropriate for rain, snow and showers but neither watch can monitor swimming sessions.
The Garmin Connect website allows you to transmit data, such as training programmes, to your smartphone or PC, as well as to effortlessly upload your activity data to your Garmin Connect account.
There are a number of third-party services that can be synchronised to the Garmin Forerunner 35 and Forerunner 45 such as Strava and many more.
Garmin 235 and 245 head-to-head comparison
There are several advantages to the Garmin 245 in terms of size, weight, sleekness, and wearability. Watch bands may be simply replaced without the need for tools. Grey and Merlot (the regular 245), White, Black, and Aqua are all options for the 245 (the music edition of the 245).
The screens of the Garmin 235 and the Garmin 245 are similar. Transflective display technology provides excellent visibility on both watches’ circular displays.
With a water resistance rating of 5ATM (up to 50 metres), the Forerunner 235 and Forerunner 245 are suitable for use in the pool.
Sport modes on the 235 include cycling. For swimming, the 245 is the superior choice. You can track metrics like distance, duration, and stroke rate with the Pool Swim app on 235, but with 245 you can also enjoy helpful swim charts and metrics like SWOLF and stroke detection.
The 245 lasts 24 hours in GPS mode but the 235 only lasts 11 hours. Ultratrac mode is also available for use during extended ultra-endurance events. As a result, your watch will be able to run for up to 10 to 24 hours on a single charge.
The 245 is primarily concerned with protecting you. In the event of an emergency, your emergency contacts will be notified and your current location will be shared. You must be connected to the phone in order for this function to work.
Stress monitoring and Body Battery
By monitoring your energy levels, Body Battery helps you avoid overtraining and knows when it’s time to take a break. You can keep track of your stress levels with this handy widget, which plots times of tension, rest, and overactivity on a graph. As a result, you’ll receive a reminder to slow down and take a breather when you’re feeling overwhelmed. But the 235 does not have the same set of capabilities.
The Forerunner 245 Music option is a wonderful choice if you can’t fathom jogging without an energising soundtrack. With Spotify Premium and Deezer, you can listen to your favourite tunes while you’re on the go with Bluetooth headphones and up to 500 tracks downloaded.
Status, Effect, and Load of Training Using these tools, you may assess your training history and see if you’re on track, training productively, and increasing your endurance.
However, the 245 has been upgraded to offer more precise heart-rate data and can identify your heart rate zone and track your beats per minute in real-time. It can also track your heart rate while you’re swimming, so you’ll be alerted if it dips too low or too high.
The 245 has a Pulse Oximeter that monitors blood oxygen saturation. If you want to hike or work out at high altitudes, this will come in handy. The 245 can also be used to gauge your body’s oxygen consumption when you’re fast asleep. SpO2 is a measure of oxygen saturation, and if it’s lower than normal, you’re probably not getting enough rest and may be suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea.
For measuring your VO2 Max (the maximum quantity of oxygen your body can use during exercise), both watches include this feature.
Women’s Health Tracking is an added benefit for runners who identify as female. However, older Forerunner models, such as the 235 and 220, do not have this capability. It is possible to keep tabs on your menstrual cycle or pregnancy with the Garmin Connect app. With the Connect IQTM app, you’ll be able to keep track of everything on your wrist.
Standard Garmin training regimens are available on both the 235 and 245 models. If you have a Forerunner 245, you have the option of using Garmin Coach adaptive training plans and three coaches, Jeff Galloway, Greg McMillan, and Amy Parkerson-Mitchell, to help you stay to your running objectives.
You may link both the Forerunner 235 and Forerunner 245 to Garmin Connect Mobile app and set up motivating status announcements that will include, heart rate data, lap number, lap time, pace, or speed alerts.
The 245 has basic navigation functions that the 235 lacks. If you wander off track, you may use the “return to start” function on these breadcrumb trail maps. Pressing and holding the Power button also gives you quick access to features like contacting emergency services.
Smart Connectivity and Alerts. In addition to live tracking, Garmin ConnectTM uploads, social media sharing, and smart notifications, both watches have similar features. You may get text messages, calls, reminders for appointments, and other notifications from your mobile device..
Garmin Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 is a budget-friendly running watch that was thoughtfully designed for people who are beginning to work out with more dedication, or who are upgrading from a basic fitness tracker.
Although I would have preferred to see an improved screen, it shares a lot of similarities with its predecessor, the Forerunner 45, and is best suited to novice users. For beginners, the new training options and suggested rest intervals at the end of a session are also welcome additions.
Although it has some drawbacks (most notably the insufficient screen space for displaying extensive statistics), the Forerunner 45 is still a fantastic place to start exploring the fascinating world of running watches.
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
As a running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is meant to address Garmin’s biggest issue: the lack of entertainment.
Anyone who has been active for any length of time knows that Garmin makes some of the greatest running watches available, but until recently, they’ve mostly served as a utilitarian tool for tracking your progress.
Apple Watch 3 and Samsung Gear Sport, which offer GPS tracking as well as music streaming via Bluetooth headphones, forced Garmin to step up its game.
As a result, it has now begun that trip, by putting in the ability to listen to songs, audiobooks, or podcasts on the go, as well as the option to make contactless payments from your wrist with Garmin Pay (although that function is not supported by a large number of banks yet).
Garmin Forerunner 735XT and 745
Design and display
The Forerunner 735XT is much thicker than the Forerunner 745 but has a somewhat smaller diameter. For the 735XT and 745XT, it weights 44g and 47g, respectively.
Both watches use memory-in-pixel displays and a circular face, but the Forerunner 745’s image is clearer because of its higher resolution.
These two devices are water-resistant up to 5ATM and can go in the pool or ocean.
The Forerunner 735XT iteration of Garmin’s smartwatch lacks capabilities like Garmin Pay for contactless payments, a music player with up to 500 songs of storage space, and the capacity to reject phone calls and send texts (on Android only).
Whereas, the Forerunner 745 has a timer, which is important if you’re trying to hit a target when performing planks, for example. The Forerunner 735 does not have any of these capabilities.
The Galileo navigation system comes with the Forerunner 745 in addition to GPS and GLONASS. The 745’s features are completed by a barometric altimeter, a thermometer, and a gyroscope. Both watches also have an accelerometer and a compass.
All fitness trackers come with a step counter, “move” prompts when you haven’t moved in too long, records of your journey distance and calories burned, and other functions that are considered standard. Both watches also keep track of “intensity minutes,” a quick way to gauge how much time you’ve spent in various heart rate zones.
The Forerunner 745 furthermore informs you if it detects an abnormal resting heart rate, which might be dangerous. Both the Forerunner 735XT and the Forerunner 745 offer continuous heart rate monitoring.
The pulse-ox sensor in the Forerunner 745 is one of the most significant distinctions between the two watches. You can check this at any time, and both day and night the watch will keep an eye on it (though doing so will drain the battery more quickly).
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT and Forerunner 745 are multi-sport watches that can track a variety of sports, including swimming, cycling, and running. The features of the 745 might be very helpful to you as you train with this model. The 745 is unquestionably more potent, though.
For instance, by including an altimeter and thermometer, the upgraded watch can now provide heat and altitude acclimation, enabling you to more accurately assess how hard you’re working in challenging conditions and improve your fitness as a result.
Thanks to the Forerunner 745’s ability to calculate your current training load, you’ll be able to see how well you’re exercising based on your present fitness level and trend.
For runners and cyclists who want to monitor their performance immediately on their wrist, the Forerunner 745 is an excellent choice because it supports Strava Live Segments and comparable Garmin Live Segments.
The wrist-based underwater heart rate tracking, auto-rest, and time and distance warnings are now standard on the 735XT, which previously required an attached chest-strap heart rate monitor to take your pulse in the water.
The 735XT’s battery life is shorter than that of the Forerunner 745, which offers more sophisticated feature sets.
The Forerunner 735XT should last up to 11 days in smartwatch mode and up to 14 hours in GPS mode. It can operate in UltraTrac mode for up to 24 hours before requiring a recharge.
Up to seven days in smartwatch mode; 16 hours in GPS mode; six hours in GPS mode with music; and up to seven days in GPS mode alone. You may expect it to last up to 21 hours in UltraTrac mode.
Finally, there’s a lot packed inside the Garmin Forerunner 945 for dedicated runners looking for a smartwatch. Even if you won’t utilise all of the features, this is an excellent choice for those who are serious about their running and are training at a high level.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been on the fence about getting a Garmin Forerunner, we hope this article has persuaded you to take the plunge. This smartwatch is widespread and trusted by many for a reason. Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, or like to work out in general, a Garmin Forerunner can improve your progress.
Find out more about the Garmin Forerunner range here.
Isobel is a freelance copy and content writer who regularly contributes to Superwatches. Well-versed in all the ins and outs of the smartwatch industry. Isobel specializes in Fashion and design and is a First Class fashion design graduate.
Currently lives in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.