A running companion can make a noticeable difference for fitness lovers. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is the wearable that holds pretty much all the features to be called a good GPS watch for this purpose.
Finding a value for money fitness wearable can be very confusing. The most popular features are activity tracking, a heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, and smartphone connectivity. But finding one that does these things well can be a tough proposition.
Today, we introduce the Garmin Forerunner 235, a watch that does these jobs very well and is supported by excellent battery life too. We’ll reveal all about this watch in the following paragraphs as we discuss whether it’s worth your money or not.
Hint: I own one of these watches and I love it!
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The Garmin Forerunner 235 hasn’t seen any significant changes from its predecessor. The shape of the watch is round and looks more like a traditional timepiece over a GPS smartwatch.
It is 4.5cm in width and height with a depth of 1.17cm. The weight of the device is only 42g which is due to the plastic construction. It’s very lightweight which makes it a great fit for running. The strap is replaceable which is good news because it’s not the strongest (or best looking). There is a huge range of official and 3rd party straps available which are much better looking than the one provided.
It’s not actually a touchscreen (despite looking like it) The menus are navigated using the buttons on the edges. The 1.23-inch and 215 x 180-pixel screen displays basic color and is clear and easily readable while running. The transflective display technology makes it possible to read the screen in bright daylight conditions.
The Forerunner 235 is available in 3 different colors in total. They are Black/Gray, Frost Blue, and Marsala. The frost blue is certainly my favorite but it’s the one that’s always sold out!
[Click on images below will take you to the official variant on Amazon]
1. Built-in GPS: The Garmin Forerunner 235 utilizes GPS and GLONASS satellites for location positioning. Some metrics like distance and speed are also measured using these satellites so the results can are pretty accurate.
2. Wrist-based Heart Rate Monitor: Garmin has used Elevate Technology to measure heart rate for 24/7 without any extra strap. The LED based sensor is situated on the underside of the watch and calculates current heart rate and also resting heart rate. It uses this gauge to tell you how hard you’re working and whether you’re overdoing it (and risking injury).
3. Activity & Sleep Tracking: This watch covers the typical activity tracking metrics like counting steps, burned calories, and distance. Additionally, it has sleep monitoring to track total sleep and movement. There is one important feature, the Move Bar, which will fill up if you are inactive for long periods. You will need to walk for a couple of minutes to reset it. I turn this option off as it can be a bit annoying at times.
4. Audio Prompts: To save you from looking at your watch every few minutes and breaking concentration. The Forerunner 235 features audio prompts to inform you of statistics like your current pace and time. There are various statistics that can be given and these can be tailored in the menu. My favorite prompt is to set a desirable race pace. If you happen to dip below the set pace then the watch will let you know what needs to be done.
5. Advanced Workouts: Many useful and advanced workouts are included in this watch. Some of these are Auto Pause, Auto Lap, Manual Lap, LiveTrack and more. Since this product is labeled as a running watch, there are some hardcore running features like Run Profiles, Real-Time Steps, Psychological Measurements, Race Predictor and more.
6. VO2 Max: Rarely found in fitness trackers, VO2 Max Metrics in this watch lets you estimate how much oxygen your body can use. The optical heart rate sensor is used to calculate this metric and a normal person will have a score in the 40s. The higher the score, the better you are. This value is estimated but Garmin say it is a pretty accurate indicator of fitness levels. It’s very encouraging to see your score move up over the weeks and months. A great incentive to get fitter!
7. Smart Notifications: Smartphone connectivity means that you can divert information from your phone via a Bluetooth signal. This running watch will keep you notified of emails, text messages, calls, reminders, social media and more to be read on your wrist.
8. Connect IQ: Connect IQ is the official store of Garmin that features many different downloadable watch faces, apps, widgets, and data fields to enhance your smartwatch experience. Apps like Strava are popular for running and can be downloaded onto your wrist.
Recommended Reading: Is the Motorola Moto 360 Sport a Garmin beater? Find out in our review.
Battery & Synchronization
The Garmin Forerunner 235 has got a very decent lithium-ion battery. It can last up to 11 hours on GPS Mode meaning that you can monitor GPS connected activities for 11 consecutive hours on one full charge. The longer the battery life, the more tracking time it could provide.
In lower power use modes it can last as long as 9-days. GPS mode is definitely the most energy-intensive and battery draining mode available. I only use it while running (typically 2 or 3 times a week) and my watch lasts 6 or 7 days without a charge.
This watch wirelessly syncs with a smartphone and it can locally store up to 200 hours of activity data before they are synced. It is compatible with Android, iOS and Windows Phone with a minimum of Bluetooth 4.0.
The Garmin app displays all your exercise data in colorful graphs and it’s a great way to digest your recent runs and monitor fitness progress.
Is Forerunner 235 Better than Forerunner 230 and Forerunner 35?
Definitely! It’s a really impressive little watch that is actually very reasonably priced (in my opinion). You get a lot of bang for your buck
You can compare the watches for yourself in the following table.
Is the Garmin Forerunner 235 right for me?
I love this watch! But, it’s probably not right for everyone.
If you are an active person, particularly a casual or even intermediate runner, then this watch is definitely worth your close consideration.
It’s a great companion on runs really helps to make you run better and get fitter. Before this watch, I used to strap my smartphone to my arm and it makes a huge difference in comfort to be running with just a watch on (and clothes obviously!).
The heart rate monitor is a great indicator of fitness and has really helped to encourage me to do more. It’s a great feeling to see your statistics improve and the Garmin app does a great job of rewarding you with badges and messages when you break records and hit fitness targets.
I would also argue that it’s really good value for money. You don’t get many heart rate monitor watches for this price. It’s a great little watch that’s the perfect companion for the regular runner. It definitely get’s the SmartGeekWrist seal of approval.