Garmin Forerunner 220 Review. 5 reasons it rocks!


I’ve used Garmin GPS watches to log my runs for a number of years now. Now in the possession of a Forerunner 220, here’s my review on why this Garmin rocks!

Faster GPS loading times

On my first run using the Garmin 220, I was amazed at how quickly the wearable tech establishes a GPS connection. Two presses of the “Red Runner” button will unlock the watch and start scanning for signal. The longest I’ve waited is no more than 10 seconds.

Let’s be honest here, if you’re outside in your skimpy running shorts, the last thing you want to be doing is stood around waiting for GPS signal. After my Garmin 405 drowned on a morning run, I was confined to wearing a Forerunner 301; this prehistoric device from circa 2005, is testament to how much GPS running watches have evolved in the last decade. With the 301, I couldn’t move to calf stretch in fear of losing progress on the signal bar. At least with the brand new Garmin Forerunner 220 release the wait for signal is painless.

More Robust Watch Strap

Another comparison to one of my older Garmin running devices. The Forerunner 405, had a common fault of coming apart on the strap, it seemed to be a common fault with curved design and the position of the pins. I remember plenty of my running friends, contacting Garmin for replacement straps for the Forerunner 405.

With the Forerunner 220, it feels Garmin have improved the design considerably, allowing each strap to freely move without placing stress on the watch.

Back of Watch - Garmin Forerunner 220 review

Bluetooth Connectivity

As a runner who struggles to maintain a hand-written training diary these days, I love the convenience of uploading my Garmin runs straight to the web. As a self-confessed geek, I can easily procrastinate looking at the maps I’ve ran and analysing pace, calories; the whole shebang.

If you’re lucky enough to own an iPad (3rd generation) or iPhone 4s (or later) your runs will automatically upload to Garmin Connect when you bring the Garmin Forerunner 220 within 10 metres of your Apple device. No need to boot up your PC and waste time with connection wires, as your run uploads in seconds.

Though Garmin state Bluetooth compatibility will work on Android devices, the Garmin Connect in Google Play is yet to be updated with this functionality. It sucks a little bit as once this is updated, I can use my LG Nexus 4 to upload runs. Garmin have stated they will release an Android update in Q1 of 2014, so I’m patiently sitting tight to enjoy this feature.

Update – Good news, the Android update has arrived. How to sync your Android smartphone with a Garmin FR 220/620

Cadence measure

I thought this feature was only present in the more pricey Forerunner 620. It wasn’t until I uploaded my running effort onto Garmin Connect, that I saw a measure of cadence in strides per minute. Using the built in accelerometer, the Garmin 220 can give a pretty accurate measure of your stride rate.

Measuring cadence on your run can provide signals on how efficient you are for the pace you’re travelling. Likewise, a sudden drop in cadence mid run could imply you’re tiring or just adjusting your stride. If you’re a bit of a numbers geek like me, upload, I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing your stats unfold on cadence measure.

Personal records on the move

When you reach the end of your run, the Garmin 220 will let you know if you beat any of your personal records. From sprints such as the fastest mile logged, or slogs like the furthest distance ran, Garmin gives you a reason to smile with achievement when your run reaches the finish line.

Best of the rest on the Garmin FR 220

Other notable features I quite like in the Garmin Forerunner 220 are the colour screen and vibration alert setting. The colour screen makes it much easier to read while on the move, whilst the vibration alert is handy when racing in a noisy environment. Not bad for a smart watch.

Garmin FR 220 verdict

In my opinion, the Forerunner 220 offers more than enough features to help me record and upload my training runs with ease. The Forerunner 620 which debuted at the same time, arrives with additional stats such as a VO2 Max calculator, Vertical Oscillation and Ground Contact Time however I didn’t feel I would use these features enough to warrant an extra £100 cost price.

You may like: Best Garmin Running Watches under £100.

Overall, I’m very happy with my Garmin 220 and the extra features it brings over the Forerunner 405. If you need a reliable GPS watch with plenty of battery life, the Forerunner 220 is one of the leaders in the market.

Buy Garmin Forerunner 220 on Amazon

Garmin FR 220

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Garmin FR 230

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About Author

I'm a super keen injured runner with over 20 years experience in races and endurance training. Get in touch with me over Twitter, G+ on in the comments below.