Garmin Forerunner 235 review

Garmin GPS Watch for Running Forerunner 235 Review

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is the latest iteration of its much successful predecessor the Forerunner 225 and this time comes in with a rich new set of features. For starters, this latest wrist running watch is appointed with an optical heart rate sensor, which is not the Mio sensor but own engineered by Garmin. Upon first glance, the FR235 isn’t much of a departure from Garmin’s other fitness watches yet there are some significant aesthetical updates that make it stand out from the pack.

Weighing in at just 42 grams, the Forerunner 25 looks good on a suit and at the gym, and even comes with a swappable strap so you can mix and match on the fly. With regards to battery life, the FR 235 is good for an astounding 11 hours in training mode and up to 9 days in activity mode with smart notifications turned on.

Apart from heart rate monitoring, this Garmin running watch is designed to calculate a plethora of running metrics most notably ground contact symmetry, stress score, vertical score, stride length and vertical ratio. In addition, all run data is automatically uploaded to the Garmin Connect mobile app, and can be linked with a MyFitnessPal account to sync nutrition and calories information.

What’s in the Box?

  • Garmin Forerunner 235 fitness watch
  • Data/charging cable
  • User guides

Highlights of the Garmin FR235

  • Tracks pace, distance, time, heart rate and more
  • Activity tracking counts daily distance, steps, calories and sleep
  • Data automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect
  • Superb battery life
  • Onsite Garmin’s proprietary heart rate sensor

Garmin FR235 Unboxing and Design

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Forerunner 235 comes with everything you need to get started with your run and activity tracking. Take note that the charging cable included with the FR235 package is not compatible with other Gamin fitness watches perhaps due to the addition o f the heart rate sensor. The first thing you can’t help but notice is the amazing 1.23 inch color non-touch LCD screen that displays data in 215 x 180 pixel resolution.

Adding to this, the screen is always on and displays the time, making it a go to watch for day to day use as well. The strap is crafted of rubber and is pinned with plenty of holes for adjustment, making it a great fit for any wrist size. The back of the FR235 is appointed with the optical heart rate sensor and charging port, while the front of this fitness watch is outfitted with 5 buttons.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is 50 meters water resistant so you can take with you in the shower or swim. Additionally and one of the key features of the Garmin Forerunner 235 is smartphone notifications such as app notifications and text. You can also customize how you’d like to be notified whether audio beep, vibrate or a combination of both. Connect IQ allows you to download various watch faces, widgets, apps and data fields to your Garmin FR235, providing with access to a vast number of third party apps.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

The Forerunner 235 even streams weather data from your connected iOS or Android smartphone and displays it on the screen so you can decide whether you’d like to exercise indoors or outdoors. In case you missed displayed notifications, you can access them without reaching for your phone through the widgets menu. Adding to this, the Forerunner 235 also provides you with your heart rate trend for the last 4 hours, and there’s even an auto-pause feature that comes into play automatically when the device senses the runner has stopped during a training session.

Running and Cycling with the Garmin FR235

The FR235 features four sport modes – Running Indoor (GPS turned off), Running, Bike Outdoors and a catch-all-free tracking setting. Each of these modes can be easily accessed by pressing the main button on the top right of the device and wait for the GPS to lock. The run tracking feature of the FR235 captures several different metrics including time, distance, pace and calories as well as max heart rate, average heart rate, Training Effect (TE) and cadence.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

Most of these metrics can be accessed while you’re running, where you simply tap the up or down button to control the metrics displayed on the screen. Moving through you arrive at a rather large heart rate screen complete with arrows that display your current zone. Another feature worth mentioning is the FR235’s ability to load workout data synced from the Garmin Connect app, and configuring your desired warn up time, workout time, intensity, distance and warm down period can be configured in the tool and sent to the watch.

New to the FR235 is the Run Time Estimator, which just like the name suggests will estimate the time you have remaining until you achieve a goal distance. You can either set a custom distance or use standard ones in miles and kilometers. The FR235 also renders several post running metrics such as a VO2Max value after each run.

The cycling mode of the FR235 supports ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensors, meaning that you can pair it easily with cadence only, ANT + speed only or a speed/cadence combo sensor. The Forerunner 235 is designed for running for the most part and its Cycling mode simply allows you to categorize your rides correctly to upload to the app.

Garmin FR235 Activity Tracking & Notifications

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

Apart from its comprehensive list of running and cycling features, the Garmin Forerunner doesn’t fall short when it comes to activity tracking. For starters, the design of the FR235 gives you motivation to wear the device all day long including to bed so activity tracking can be done round the clock.

The HR sensor also works 27/7 and provides you with an audible readout of your heart rate over the last four hours simply by pressing the Down button. Tab down again and you’ll get a breakdown of your progress against any step goal, steps, distance travelled, and calories burned during the day.

There’s even a Snapshots screen in the Garmin Connect app that provides you with a clear view of s summary of the last seven days of sleep activity, active calories, and weekly intensity minutes among other metrics. As mentioned earlier, the Garmin FR235 also displays smartphone notifications and calendar updates when paired with a iOS or Android smartphone, meaning that you will see texts, calls and other messages right on your wrist.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235

The FR235 is no alternative to a smartwatch so customization options in the notifications area are limited yet effective enough to prevent you from constantly for your smartphone. Simply press the Down button and cycle through the fitness tracking screens and you’ll see the weather forecast and a breakdown of your daily calendar appointments. If you keep moving forward, you will be greeted with a list of notifications, and you can recall the missed ones right on the Forerunner 235 by pressing the Run button.

Pros of the Garmin Forerunner 235

  • 24/7 fitness tracker
  • Expand and read full messages on display
  • Highly customizable
  • Recovery advisor, race time predictor and VO2 Max score
  • Auto-pause feature during tracked runs
  • Smartphone notifications including the weather

Cons of the FR235

  • No virtual racer feature
  • User interface could use some improvement, but nothing much to really complain about

Final Thoughts

The Forerunner 235 is yet another solid running fitness watch to leave the Garmin hangar. It arrives with several improvement when compared to its predecessor and other fitness watches in its segment included a highly accurate onsite heart rate sensor. It even lets you know when you’ve been inactive for too long with a vibration or audible beep and the word “Move” indicated on the display.

Battery life is excellent and the FR25 can also be connected with a ANT+ chest heart rate monitor (not that you need one), VIRB camera and foot pod. All in all, if you’re a running enthusiast are looking to optimize your performance by tracking your metrics, you need the Garmin Forerunner 235.

Forerunner price in Thailand (at the time of writing this review): 12,990 THB

Prices (at the time of writing):

on Garmin international website: USD 329.99

on Amazon: USD 328.98


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