Garmin Forerunner 235: The Best Running Watch Yet

May 18, 2016 - running watch

The Garmin Forerunner 235 ($329) takes all that was good about a predecessor, a Forerunner 225, and packs it into a smaller and lighter package. It also adds new features, such as a ability to supplement third-party watch faces and apps. we spent a week regulating a Forerunner 235 as both a regulating watch and an all-day activity tracker, and can quietly contend this is a best GPS watch I’ve used. The Forerunner 235 isn’t cheap, yet if you’re critical about regulating and wish a good wrist-worn partner, this is a one to get.


Credit: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideWhile it really has a sporty design, a Forerunner 235 looks reduction like a GPS watch and some-more like a normal timepiece, generally when we change a face. we tested an all-black version, yet if we wish yours to mount out, we can get it with a frost-blue or red band.

At 1.77 inches in diameter, 0.46 inches thick and 1.5 ounces, a Forerunner 235 is thinner and lighter than a predecessor, a Forerunner 225 (1.9 x 1.3 x 0.6 inches and 1.9 ounces). Plus, Garmin has increasing a distance of a arrangement to 1.23 inches on a 235 (up from 1 in. on a 225) and increasing a fortitude slightly, to 215 x 180 pixels. The shade is no longer a ideal turn — a tip and bottom are sliced off — yet overall, it’s larger.

Credit: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideThe thinness and levity of a Forerunner 235 were immediately apparent. As shortly as we strapped it onto my wrist, it felt like it was hardly there. As on a prior watches, Garmin placed dual buttons on a right side of a watch (start and back), and 3 on a left (backlight, adult and down). Using those buttons along with an discerning on-screen interface, we simply navigated by a 235’s menus. There’s no need for a hold screen; I’ve found that hold screens don’t work good when my hands get sweaty.

Although it doesn’t lane swimming, a Forerunner 235 is waterproof to inlet of adult to 165 feet.

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The Forerunner 235’s arrangement was not a many colorful I’ve seen, yet it was easy to review in all yet a dimmest light, and in those circumstances, a accessible backlight supposing all a enlightenment we needed. It was really easy to review outdoors, generally in splendid sunlight, interjection to a transflective display.

Colors aren’t as clear as you’d get with bona fide smartwatches, such as a Moto 360 Sport, yet I’ll gladly trade a tiny tedium for a increasing functionality of Garmin’s watch.


The Forerunner 235 boasts some good modernized regulating features. These embody some formerly found customarily on Garmin’s higher-end GPS watches, such as your VO2 max, a sign of how many oxygen your physique can process. The aloft a number, a some-more fit we are.

The Forerunner 235 also has a liberation advisor, that lets we know how prolonged we should rest before your subsequent eager activity.

Credit: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideSimilar to a Garmin vivoactive HR, a Garmin Forerunner 235 is about as tighten as a aptness tool gets to being a loyal smartwatch. You can accept content and call notifications from your smartphone yet can’t respond unless you’re regulating an Android device. From a watch, we can also control song from your phone, regardless of either it’s Android or iOS.

The thinness and levity of a Forerunner 235 were apparent as shortly as we strapped it on. It felt like it was hardly there.

Garmin has a proto app store called Connect IQ, where we can find a hundred or so watch faces, apps and widgets to download to a Forerunner 235. Most merely take a information collected by a watch and benefaction it in opposite ways, yet there are a few fun ones, such as a watch face that looks like a motion capacitor’s digital readout from Back to a Future.


When we initial started contrast GPS watches, we could customarily get many of my stretching finished by a time a device finally acquired a satellite signal. No longer. The Forerunner 235 picked adult a GPS vigilance faster than any device I’ve ever tested. The watch chirped, indicating it was connected, in reduction than 20 seconds. It looks for both GPS and GLONASS (Russia’s chronicle of GPS) satellites, that requires a tiny some-more energy from a watch, yet we can change this option.

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I took a Forerunner 235 out for several runs over a march of a week, and found a GPS and heart-rate guard were both spot-on. On occasion, a watch would strike adult opposite a boundary of a processor. When we would switch away, or behind to, a tradition watch face, a Forerunner 235 would stumble for about half a second.

VO2 Max and Recovery Advisor

Credit: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideJust how fit are you? There are so many opposite metrics, yet one that’s quite useful for runners is their VO2 max score, that reflects a body’s ability to routine oxygen. To calculate it, we order a volume of oxygen we catch per notation by your physique weight. The Forerunner 235 determines a oxygen upsurge by regulating a visual heart-rate monitor. The aloft a number, a better. A standard particular will have a VO2 max measure in a 40s; cave was 43.

Previously customarily found on a higher-end GPS watches, a Forerunner 235 calculates your VO2 max, a sign of how many oxygen your physique can process.

I used a Forerunner’s Recovery Advisor as usually that — advice. After 3 days of regulating 4 miles a day, a Recovery Advisor pronounced that my liberation time would be 3 days. we took one day off and afterwards cranked out 5 some-more miles.


Garmin might be perplexing to squeeze a bit too many into a Connect app.

Credit: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuideCredit: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideAlong a bottom of a black interface are 5 icons: Snapshot, Leaderboard, Calendar, News Feed, and More. Snapshot provides a demeanour during your day, arrangement your stairs and nap during a top, active calories, power mins and floors climbed. There’s even a vast area where we can see if MyFitnessPal is connected, yet it’s a rubbish of shade space. Swiping right or left shows we some-more fact about steps, sleep, regulating activities, weight, power minutes, village and even your final golf round. (Fortunately, we can customize that screens uncover up.)

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In a Leaderboard section, we can contest with friends to see who’s taken a many steps, while Calendar lets we perspective your aptness activities in a calendar view. News Feed shows your activities organised in a list, yet this was a slightest engaging perspective and felt redundant.

Clicking on a More idol brings adult a outrageous menu where we can, again, puncture deeper into stats for several activities, workouts and your connected devices. Here, we can bond to Garmin’s Connect IQ store to download apps, widgets and golf courses to a Forerunner 235.

I like that Garmin presented all of my aptness information in many opposite ways, yet it’s too much. It’s really easy to get mislaid in a several submenus. we also found that a app wouldn’t always sync automatically. Even yet it was connected to a watch around Bluetooth, we infrequently had to “wake” a tie by dire a symbol on a Forerunner 235.

Battery Life

Garmin says a Forerunner 235 will final 11 hours on a assign in Training Mode (using GPS and a heart-rate monitor) and adult to 9 days when it’s being used as a watch with activity tracking, notifications and a heart rate monitor.

The Forerunner 235 picked adult a GPS vigilance faster than any device I’ve ever tested.

I strapped a entirely charged watch onto my wrist on a Monday. we wore a watch invariably for an whole week, used a GPS for about 2 and a half hours during a week and took it off customarily when we went to sleep. By a following Monday, it still had 20 percent battery life remaining.

I generally like that Garmin continues to cringe a distance of a charging connectors. Although it’s still proprietary, a tiny shave hooks firmly onto a side of a Forerunner 235, and charges it fast around USB.

Bottom Line

Moderate to active runners will adore what a Forerunner 235 has to offer. It’s thin, light and easy to use; accurately marks your plcae and heart rate while you’re running; and lets we customize a display. The customarily underline it lacks that we wish it had is a ability to bucket and play song from a watch itself, as we can do on a TomTom Spark Cardio + Music.

If we wish to save $50, cruise a Garmin Forerunner 230, that has all of a same facilities as a 235 yet lacks a built-in heart-rate monitor. Consequently, it will final adult to 16 hours in Training Mode, compared with a Forerunner 235’s 11 hours.

People looking for an all-purpose GPS watch would be improved off removing a Garmin vivoactive HR, that marks a wider operation of activities, from golf to paddleboarding. But runners looking for a best all-around GPS watch will be entirely confident with a Forerunner 235. we know we am.

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