Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Forerunner 30. So many differences!

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On the outside these two watches look identical, there’s only a digit difference in their names, but are the Forerunner 30 and 35 the same product? Don’t be fooled by appearances, we’ll explain how they compare.

Having launched in 2016, the Forerunner 35 has been around for a couple of years, the arrival of the Forerunner 30 in 2017 offers the same design with a lighter set of features. Why simplify? It makes more sense when adding context of the other watch models Garmin are promoting.

2019 Garmin Forerunner range
Forerunner 30 is present, but no mention of the Forerunner 35.

On the Garmin website, we get an idea of their range for 2019. Whilst there’s no mention of the FR35, there’s a clear focus on the FR30 being one of “the teammate” products, which sounds like a polite way of saying, “entry-level” or “lower end”. Sure, it has less features and the only product out of the six to still use the old-fashioned black and white display. I guess the benefit being this is a product that’s going to be far cheaper so you can spend more money to replace those worn out mileage trainers (or a much needed sports massage!)

My point is, across the whole range, the FR35 and FR30 had a similar positioning as entry-level. Perhaps to make room for 2019’s FR45, they’ve rereleased the FR35 with reduced features and called it the FR30.

Control music on the FR35

Do you love to motor through those miles fuelled with a playlist of your favourite tracks? Here’s a feature on the Forerunner 35, that isn’t available on the Forerunner 30.

Though neither watch stores music on the device, if you have an Android smartphone (you know, the ones with all the Google features), then connecting the Forerunner 35 over Bluetooth will allow you to control the music from your wrist. Sure you still have to take your smartphone along for the ride, but with that tucked away in a pocket or arm pouch, it’s much easier to control from your wrist if say:

  • You want to pause the music when crossing a busy road
  • Turning up the volume on a track that gets you pumped
  • Skipping a song that you’re not in the mood for

It’s not for all smartphones; the feature doesn’t connect to an iPhone for instance. For those on Android, if music whilst exercising helps you, the FR35 may be favourable over the FR30.

See how the Forerunner 35 compares to the new Forerunner 45

Different colours

Some slight differences in the choice of colours available. Both wearables can be purchased in black or a shade of blue. The blue on the Forerunner 35 is a lighter coloured “Frost Blue”, whereas the Forerunner 30 is available in “Turquoise”.

Forerunner 35 colour range
Forerunner 35 in Black, Limelight, Frost Blue, and White

Exclusive the FR30 is an Amethyst model; a dark shade of purple. Those who prefer the FR35 can choose white or Limelight.

Forerunner 30 in Black, Turquoise, and Amethyst colours

Differences in heart rate features

With both watches offering heart rate tracking on the wrist, runners can check up on the intensity of their workout. Garmin devices with this feature split the data into 5 customisable Heart Rate Zones, making it easier to work out in a range that best matches your fitness goals.

Forerunner 35 heart rate tracking
Both watches measure heart rate from the wrist using Garmin’s Elevate technology.

Whilst both watches will display your heart rate on the watch, the Forerunner 35 makes it easier to stay within a target zone through setting up a Heart Rate Alert. For instance, if your heart rate goes above 180 beats per minute, the watch will let you know. It’s a useful feature as you can rely less on having to manually check the watch every couple of minutes, and can instead focus on the workout.

One niche feature the FR35 has over the FR30 is the ability to broadcast your heart rate onto another Garmin device. This is useful if you’re wearing the watch but are using another device for your main activity. For instance:

  • Using a Garmin Virb camera, you can video the action, with heart rate data layered over the top; great context if you’re pushing your body to the limit at an endurance event, or scaring yourself with a zip-line or skydive.
  • If you’re cycling, a tracker mounted to the handlebars, such as Garmin Edge, makes it easier to keep an eye on performance. Wearing the FR35, you can show heart rate data on the Edge as you exercise.

Broadcasting uses ANT+ technology to pair between devices. It’s been around in many older Garmin devices, example from another pairing below

Connecting to a Foot Pod

Foot Pods are an accessory device used by some runners to estimate cadence. Also popular if you’re running on an indoor track or treadmill where GPS won’t be able to measure distance and pace. The Forerunner 30 can’t connect to Foot Pods because it doesn’t have ANT+ connectivity, meaning another feature the Forerunner 35 can do that the FR30 can’t.

Garmin Foot Pod
Pop a Foot Pod between your laces and the FR35 can use this to estimate distance when you’re indoors

Interval training on the Forerunner 35

Breaking your workouts into smaller chunks, is a great way to raise your fitness. It could be a mixture of running efforts with a walk recovery, to help you achieve more distance in your workout. Perhaps you need to do an intense track workout of ten 400m reps with 30 seconds recovery. However you want to plan your interval workout, it’s yet another feature available on the Forerunner 35 but not on the Forerunner 30. Fancy a little more tech in your running watch? There’s a colour screen in the FR45 and (another feature. Read how the FR45 differs to the FR35.

Weather on FR35

Using a paired smartphone, the Forerunner 35 can display the current temperature and weather forecast on your wrist. Handy to know if you’re planning to go out on a long mileage slog. Feature not available on the FR30.

Both low in price.

Despite all the differences highlighted, there isn’t a huge difference in price. Both watches are available around the $130 mark meaning they are two of the cheapest priced running watches in Garmin’s extensive range.

Forerunner 35

Compare prices on Garmin Forerunner 35Links to Amazon Buy Now

Forerunner 30

Compare prices on Garmin Forerunner 30Links to Amazon Buy Now

Summary: FR30 vs FR35

Despite the very similar design and appearance, there are a wealth of differences between the FR30 and FR35 wearables. The consistent theme seems to be that the newer FR30 is simplified, and contains a reduced spec sheet, in particular the advanced connectivity features such as music playback, or ANT+ connectivity. With the prices being so similar it’s worth the little extra to get the features on FR35.

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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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