Garmin Forerunner 245 vs 235 – Differences Compared

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With over 4 years separating the release date of these running watches, there’s a sizeable list of updates worth calling out. What are the differences between the Garmin Forerunner 245 and 235 models?

More built in sports apps

While both releases place a firm focus on running and cycling activities, the Forerunner 245 diversifies the activities which can be tracked. A well structured endurance program should include more than miles, so its good to see the translation into more sports apps.

Indoor pool swimming is a big inclusion here. The 245 will measure basic metrics like lengths, distance, pace, calories and stroke count. It can detect which stroke you’re carrying out too and efficiency across the pool through a SWOLF score.

The one that impressed me, is underwater heart rate. Many of Garmin’s lineup with Elevate on wrist heart rate tracking, just struggle to count your pulse underwater. At least with the 245 you can gauge a better idea of how intense those swimming workouts are.

New to the list are cardio training, elliptical, stair-stepping, indoor rowing, yoga and a strength app which counts reps. Many of these profiles are already available in multi-sport releases like the Venu and Vivoactive series.

Music!

If you opt for the Forerunner 245 Music edition, you can listen to your favourite tracks on your runs without needing to carry your phone around with you. The music edition costs about £50 more than the standard FR245 and doesn’t come with Bluetooth headphones which are essential for listening.

You can either upload songs directly to the watch via Garmin Express, or if you’re a Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music subscriber, you can push your favourite playlists to your watch. Ready for offline mode and some serious mileage.

Read: Best running watches with music features

If you decide against the Music edition, the standard FR245 and FR235 aren’t silent on music features. With their standard smartphone connectivity, both watches can control the music being played on your iPhone or Android device; play, pause, adjust volume or skip songs from your wrist. You just need to have your phone by your side.

Heart rate features

Packing heart rate tracking on the wrist using Elevate technology, these Forerunners continuously track your pulse during exercise and throughout the day. A new addition to the FR245, is the Pulse Ox sensor which estimates blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2 %). Though it won’t revolutionise running PBs, it may give indications of how your body is acclimatising to different environments such as altitude or heat.

Battery life

In its standard smartwatch mode without activity, Garmin advise the FR245 can stay powered for a whole week. This gives you up to 6 hours of simultaneous GPS and music usage, which should cover a sizeable chunk of your weekly mileage.

With less demanding features on the FR235, you’ll get a little extra charge; up to 9 days in smartwatch mode and up to 11 hours using GPS and heart rate.

Though the 245 may be fractionally reduced on battery, it has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Ultratrac mode. This reduces the frequency of data collection but preserves power to give you a mammoth 24 hours worth of GPS on a single charge. Ideal if you crave more battery juice for an ultra-endurance event.

Improved mechanism for changing watch straps

Ideal whether you want to replace a watch strap that’s become a little grubby, or you just fancy a refresh. The silicone bands on the 245 feature a slide pin, known as a quick release band. Use your nail, and the band will detach from the watch body in seconds.

quick release watch straps - Garmin Forerunner 645

For the Forerunner 235, bands are changed in a less convenient way, involving a mini screwdriver. It’s the same mechanism as I did on this Vivoactive video. Only takes minutes, but a bit of a hassle. The Forerunner 245 quick release bands are like a Formula 1 tyre change in comparison.

Guidance with training plans and Garmin Coach

If you’re looking for guidance on how to train towards a goal, there’s a couple of options through the Garmin Connect app. Both Forerunner 235 and 245 users have access to the standard Garmin training plans, that you can pick and choose the most relevant for you. These are static programs indifferent of whether your body is cruising or struggling through the weekly sessions.

Enter Garmin Coach on the FR245 which dynamically adjusts training based on how you’re performing towards your goal. Plans are designed by renown experts in running including Olympian Jeff Galloway, Amy Pakerson-Mitchell and Greg McMillan.

Garmin Coach is available to Forerunner 245 users.

More colour choices on the FR245

The standard Forerunner 245 is available in Grey and Merlot, with further choice on the Music edition in White, Black and Aqua. This is 2 more than the FR235 which all arrives in 3 variants all featuring black in their design; Frost Blue, Marsala Red or Grey.

Forerunner 245 Music – Aqua, White, Black
Forerunner 245 in Grey and Merlot
Garmin Forerunner 235 watch designs
Forerunner 235 colours in Grey, Frost Blue and Marsala Red

That’s not all… Even more differences!

This post was already getting quite lengthy, so I’ve summarised some of the smaller differences in these bullets.

  • Compatible with the Varia road safety accessories, including the smart bike lights and rear radar sensors.
  • Pacepro pacing strategies
  • Find my watch feature. You can use the Garmin Connect app to locate your misplaced watch. Does need to be in Bluetooth range though.
  • MOVE IQ – automatic detection of exercise. e.g walking for more than 10 minutes.
  • GALILEO. This is a European led satellite system to track your distance. In addition to GPS (US) and GLONASS (Russian) that exists on both watches.
  • Countdown timer. Can be a one-off or on a loop e.g – alarm every 10 minutes.
  • Point-to-point navigation
  • Breadcrumb trail in real time
  • Tracback
  • GPS co-ordinates
  • Incident detection

Price

Celebrating its 5th birthday in 2020, the Forerunner 235 is already deep in the clearance section. I regularly see deals for this below £200, though given its age, finding stock can be an issue.

Tip: Buying an older model is just one way to save money when buying a Forerunner. Take a look at my other tips for 2020.

 The Forerunner 245 Music has an RRP of £300, with the standard version at £250. Given the recency and extra features you’ll have access to, paying an £50-100 isn’t a bad deal if they’re features you’re going to use.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235Links to Amazon

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Garmin Forerunner 245 / 245 Music

FR 245 MusicLinks to Amazon

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Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 235 verdict

The Forerunner 245 is a worthy upgrade, packing a surplus of features. If you love to go for a swim, or listen to music whilst you run, then it’s a clear winner versus the older FR235.

It’s great to see that the FR245 actually offers so much more compared to its previous model and that Garmin haven’t just thrown in minor updates. The 235 may be cheaper in price, but with it still around the £200 mark, I don’t feel the it’s yet reduced ENOUGH to justify losing out on all those 245 features.

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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.

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