Garmin Forerunner 220 Review

Garmin Forerunner 220 review

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

The Garmin 220 is the company’s latest shot at mid range running watches, and is an upgraded version to the already successful 210 unit. With the Forerunner 210 running watching, Garmin carved out the mid range niche, ahead of a foray of competitors that have simply followed suit. If you’re a runner with penchant for precise timekeeping and a keen eye for detail, the Garmin Forerunner 220 is a running watch to explore.

The Forerunner 220 is a wristwatch style GPS running watch that is similar to having a personal fitness coach strapped to your wrist. It allows for precise tracking run time, run distance, calorie consumption and heart rate among others. Furthermore, the Garmin Forerunner 220 can be used outdoors or indoors on a treadmill owing to the onsite accelerometer, and can be paired via Bluetooth/ANT+ with your heart rate monitor or mobile device.


Unlike other versatile fitness products, the Garmin Forerunner 220 is specifically designed for running enthusiasts so if you don’t run, then this is not the right product for you. Although the Forerunner 220 is a fairly new contestant in the running watch market, it is all a running watch should be – easy to read, user friendly and of course good looking. The 220 running watch addresses the above aspects extremely well, without compromising on other features such as tracking your rhythm, and deep integration with training regimes.

Unboxing the Garmin 220 Forerunner

The Forerunner 220 is can be had in a choice of two color schemes – white and purple (violet) or black and red. The package consists of the watch itself, user manual and charging cable. This cable is relatively similar to the Fenix hiking watch by Garmin, except that the pin outs are arranged slightly differently to allow you to interchange the two cables. Another design element that sets the Forerunner 220 apart from other Garmin products is that the rear of the watch is bolstered with new charging port and is engraved with a Bluetooth as well as an ANT logo.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

Most GPS running watches are generally set in the same size arena, but the Garmin Forerunner 220 is probably the lightest and smallest of them all. The 220 is even lighter (less bulky) and thinner than its predecessor – the Garmin 210 running watch, but the bezel is slightly larger to give you more screen real estate. The wrist unit of the Forerunner is crafted from superior quality ABS plastic complete with a rubberized band, giving it the ability to resist daily wear and tear.

Design of the Forerunner 220
The Garmin Forerunner 220 is the first GPS watch to be appointed with a color screen, which in itself gives it an added edge over other devices in its segment. This one inch Chroma display uses very little power, and can also be read in broad sunlight and in dark areas with the backlight turned on. Owing to this screen technology, the battery of the Forerunner will last for weeks in standby mode without the GPS turned on, and looks good enough to wear as your everyday watch.

The left side of the Garmin 220 is fitted with 3 buttons – the upper one is for turning the backlight off and on, and the lower two are for scrolling up and down through the menus. The top right hand side of the phone houses the Run button, which basically allows you to select from the menus, launch your runs and even unlock your phone. This simplistic arrangement of the buttons makes the 220 watch easy to use and navigate even in inclement weather.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

Moving to the back of the watch, you can’t help but notice the weird string of four small metal dots, which is where you would connect Garmin’s proprietary charging cable. Apart from those design elements, the rear of the watch is flat and smooth, and is complete with a band that is thick enough to keep the Forerunner 220 steady and uniformly vented. The watch is comfortable to wear and feels just like a regular wristwatch, and perfectly suited for both men and women with small wrists.

Putting the 220 to the Test
As mentioned before, the Forerunner 220 is extremely intuitive and easy to use. To initiate a regular run, simply hit the Run button, and the watch will track your performance. Satellite acquisition for GPS is lighting fast compared to other running watches thanks to the innovative pre-cache satellite location technology. These satellite cashes are updated via your phone with Bluetooth Smart technology, and generally picks up satellite reception within 10 seconds.

Once you begin running, you can pause, resume and scroll through two distinct screens of data. If you can?t find the stats you’re looking for, hover to the settings menu to configure the screens. For example, if you’d like to view your cadence as most runners prefer, simply adjust your second data screen accordingly. In fact, you may be overwhelmed with the ton of options in the settings menu such as activating the auto-pause feature to pause the timer when you stop at an intersection or even take a quick breather and resume automatically when you start running again.

Unlike the Garmin 210 running watch, the Forerunner 220 allows you to program the auto-sleep function to extended, which means that instead of going to sleep when recording hasn’t started within 5 minutes, it gives you a buffer time of 25 minutes to do something such as start or tap a button. The Garmin Forerunner 220 can be linked with several heart rate monitors, and you can even change the theme color if you wish.

Although the Garmin Forerunner 220 is appointed with all the features a runner could ask for, where it truly excels is when it comes to training. The watch is compatible with interval training, where each interval can be configured to track the time, distance and even rest periods in between. If you’d like to move your training level up a few notches, you can go to Garmin’s official website and create a detailed running plan and exercise routines, and use the calendar feature to prepare for a big race ahead.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

All this data can then be downloaded to the Forerunner 220, making it easy to select the specific running routine for a particular day. The watch not only alerts you with different beep tones to tell you what to do, but also has an onboard vibration motor that buzzes you in case you have headphones on and miss the audible alerts. Using the Garmin App is just as simple as using the Forerunner 220, and allows you to upload your data to your account instantly, without having to plug it into a computer.

That’s not all, if your mobile device is turned on when you run, you can even let selected friends track your movements. Previously, the Garmin Forerunner was only compatible with IOS, but with the recently released updated Android app, mobile users of both platforms will be able to use the watch to its full potential provided your phone supports BLE (Bluetooth 4.0’s low power protocol). After a few days of use, the Garmin 220 also acquaints itself with your personal best times, and commends you with updates when you’ve surpassed one of your own records (fastest 2K, fastest mile, etc.).

All the synced data can be either viewed in great detail either on the Garmin website or right on your mobile device with the app. The information is easy to understand, and depicted by handy graphs and lists of stats. You can also view some of your stats on the Garmin Forerunner 220 in case you don’t have your cell phone handy.

Forerunner 220 Features at a Glance

  • Color display
  • Water resistant up to 50 meters
  • GPS unit
  • Backlight
  • Advanced workout modes
  • Auto pause feature
  • extended auto sleep feature
  • Pre-cache satellite location technology
  • Auto lap
  • Calorie computation

What’s missing in the Forerunner 220 (cons)?

  • Bike sensor
  • GPS map mode

Final Thoughts
Garmin has designed the Forerunner 220 with novice as well as seasoned running enthusiasts in mind, and is a great choice for those looking for great priced watch with a ton of useful features. The Forerunner 220 is simply a younger, smarter, better-looking sibling that its predecessor (210), and is well worth some wrist space.

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