Garmin’s line of Forerunner running watches do an excellent job of attending to the details. The devices are designed for runners, so each feature adds value to the device as a whole for runners. Its main focus is running, so there are included features like heart rate measurement, GPS, and water resistance. However, it also functions as an activity tracker, so it logs all your sports and movement – not just running.
There is a lot to like about the Forerunner 235. While it’s more expensive than many of the activity trackers and smart fitness watches on the market, it’s well worth the extra investment. For serious runners, the Forerunner 235 will give you everything you want out of a running watch.
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Garmin’s devices all have excellent GPS and the Forerunner 235 is no exception. It boasts GPS and satellite GLONASS, which gives GPS features a boost in remote/limited GPS areas. This feature helps you track your paths and find new ones. It also helps measure things like pace and distance much more accurately.
It locates your position and connects quickly, which is a nice improvement over many of the GPS running watches out there that take a while to locate. The excellent GPS helps you get some pretty comprehensive metrics (more on that in a bit!).
Wrist-Based Heart Rate
The Forerunner 235 includes 24/7 optical heart rate tracking (this is one of the key differences between the 235 and the 230 – the Forerunner 230 doesn’t include HR and is less expensive). The 235’s heart rate (HR) monitor helps the watch figure out your VO2 Max score.
Some of the earlier reviews of the 235 have questioned the accuracy of its HR monitor. It’s worth keep an eye on if you pick up this watch, and perhaps keeping the chest strap if having super accurate data is critical.
However, even if it’s not completely accurate for you, the data that comes from the 24/7 tracking is very helpful. It adds even more data to your metrics, and it enables some of the other included features such as the Recovery Advisor. The Recovery Advisor suggests how long you should wait before your next big workout. These kind of features are what makes this a great device for runners – especially those who are training for marathons.
Metrics & Tracking
In many ways it’s the data and metrics from the 235 that really make it stand out. It tracks more than just running (acting as an activity tracker when you’re not running) but the running stats are awesome, so let’s look at those first. Running data includes:
- Heart rate and max heart rate
- Training Effect for overall effectiveness
You can look at this data even mid-run if you want, but it also keeps track of all of this info in the app so that you can look at your training and progression over time.
Within the app itself, you get a whole lot more than your running data. There is also a look at everything from the number of steps you took to how your sleep habits are, plus additional info like intensity minutes and number of floors climbed. You can connect to MyFitnessPal for even more data and tracking.
Your stats are tracked even if you run inside or bike, so there is plenty of data to contribute to the overall snapshots and long-term tracking from the 235. There is very little that we can find that’s missing, so anything you want to know is likely to be available. You can see your metrics in graphs, charts, maps, and more, so there are multiple methods of seeing your data.
As with the features and options, the Forerunner 235’s design is definitely catering to runners. It has a great sporty design that is a bit lighter and sleeker than some of the other fitness watches out there. It also looks less like an activity tracker and more like a sports watch, so that’s another perk for those who don’t like to announce to the world that they’re wearing a running watch. It’s also light – just 42g – which is a nice change from many of the other running watches on the market. It’s easy to wear the 235 all the time without it feeling heavy.
The display design is pretty fantastic, too. You can customize the look of it so that it’s exactly what you want. The screen lights up in the dark – perfect for night runs – when you lift your arm. It’s easy to read even in bright sunlight. The interface is smart and easy to use. It has buttons on the sides (rather than a touchscreen) and it’s intuitive to navigate.
The Forerunner 235 is water resistant to 5 ATM, so you can safely run in the rain, shower, or even do some surface level swimming.
The 235 includes smart notifications, so you’ll know when you get a call or text, or if something is on your calendar. These notifications can be turned off if you don’t want them, too.
App & Connectivity
The Garmin app isn’t the best out there, though there are some great things about it. When paired with the 235, you get a comprehensive look at your metrics and plenty of ways to view all your data. You can go through the app for widgets and apps for your 235. You can connect with friends to compete or encourage each other.
The web tool for Garmin Connect is much better than the app, so there is a good option for you if you struggle with the mobile app. Hopefully, more improvements will come with future versions of the app.
There are lots of wonderful things about the Garmin Forerunner 235. It’s a fantastic option for serious runners who want an all-around wearable to keep track of running stats along with everything else.
- Great battery life
- Incredibly comprehensive stats and metrics
- Water resistant
- Sporty look and comfortable to wear
- All the runner-specific features we can imagine
- App still needs work
- Heart rate tracking is sometimes inaccurate
- A bit spendy