A few weeks ago, I splurged on a Garmin Forerunner 235, a GPS watch that tracks your heart rate (and is waterproof! Yes!) I was tired of using my phone to map my distance and pace, mostly because the app I used (MapMyFitness) would quit or freeze on me half the time. I was originally considering a Garmin Forerunner 230, which is pretty much the Forerunner 235 sans heart rate, but I knew from past experiences that I needed to have a rough idea of what my heart rate is while exercising (particularly running) because bad things happen to me when my heart rate is too high, even if I feel fine.
Overall, I really like this watch. There are a few things that I think could be improved, but this is a great watch for those who are into running but perhaps aren’t looking to collect a ton of accurate data on HR or things of that nature.
Without further ado, here’s the review!
- Design: The design itself is pretty nice. It’s a very lightweight watch, although the face is kind of large. I have pretty big…arms? Hands? Wrists? Not sure what the correct term is here, haha – so it looks fine on me, but I can see this sort of overwhelming someone with a smaller structure. I have the Forerunner 235 in “Marsala”, so it’s black and sort of a burgundy color. The only gripe I have is that the little identations in the strap sort of collect stuff. Mine now has a white-ish tint to it, and I suspect that it’s probably from my soap in the shower. I’ll have to give it a good scrub and report back. Also, the button that you push to start your activity often gets bumped when I flex my wrist and starts the GPS, which is annoying at times.
- GPS: Overall, appears to be pretty accurate. I don’t think any GPS watch is 100% accurate, but this watch is much more accurate than the app I was using on my phone. At the gym the other day, I think I was about 3/10 of a mile off on the watch as compared to the treadmill, so not too bad. One feature I like with the GPS is that it’s tracking my pace (aka I’m as slow as a snail) as well as giving me a map once I sync via Bluetooth.
- Battery Life: There could definitely be some improvement in battery life. I probably charge every 2-3 days, depending on how often I use the GPS. The less you use the GPS, the longer the battery life is. I also assume that if you’re constantly synced with your phone via Bluetooth, that the battery life decreases too. I don’t usually have mine synced simply because I usually just have my phone out where I can see it. The watch can give you text, email, calendar, and app notifications as well, if that’s something you’re into. I find that it overall charges pretty quickly however. Tip – don’t lose the charging cable! It’s pretty unique and you’ll have to get a replacement.
- Heart Rate: Again, this is where I would also like some improvement, but considering that it’s optical wrist-based rather than a chest-strap, I think it does a pretty good job. It uses Elevate HR technology, which appears to be Garmin’s own. Sometimes it takes a while to pick up my actual HR – there is no way that when I’m running for a few minutes straight that my HR is 65 – but it does pick it up eventually. There’s also a screen you can view on the watch itself that lets you know what your HR has been for the past 4 hours, too. It also provides you with your resting heart rate and your highest heart rate. One thing that I like about this too is that I personally use it when I am “dumping” after I eat something with too much sugar or fat – sometimes I feel a little funny and I know when my HR shoots up and I get a little sweaty that I need to either lay down or take it easy for a few.
- Sleep Tracking: Probably not as accurate as it could be, but I really just want an overall picture of how long I’m sleeping. The Forerunner 235 does break down deep vs. light vs. awake for those of you who were wondering, though!
- Activity Tracking: One of the things that I like the most about Garmin wearables is the Move! Bar. After a period of inactivity, the watch vibrates and beeps, telling me to go walk around for a bit. Steps seem to be pretty accurate (at least comparable to Fitbit, Jawbone, etc), and the other activities I have used this for (swimming and hiking) were tracked as well, even though I had to go in and change the activity type manually in the app.
- App: Garmin Connect is your standard fitness app, I’d say. It’s not as bright and cheerful as say, the Jawbone UP app or the Fitbit app, but it displays what it needs to for you to be able to gather the information you need. You can also connect with other users with Garmins. You can go into the Connect IQ store and download additional apps and widgets, like weather forecasts and different watch faces.
Overall, I’d give this watch a solid A. It’s stylish, functional, and packed with a lot of features – some I am pretty sure I haven’t even discovered yet!
Share with me: what’s your wearable of choice?