Garmin Forerunner 45 vs Forerunner 35. What’s the difference?

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Garmin is a leading name when it comes to GPS running watches, but with an arsenal of great products on offer, which option is best for you? Garmin’s entry-level watches are designed to provide a host of features and perks that are ideally suited to those who like to keep an eye on running, heart rate, and progress stats. With two contenders in the offering, this guide will provide a detailed overview of the Garmin Forerunner 45 and its predecessor the Forerunner 35 and some tips to help you choose the best companion for your next workout. 

Garmin FR 45 vs FR 35

Garmin’s Forerunner 35 was one of the best-selling entry-level GPS watches, but since the FR45 was launched, buyers face a quandary. Do they stick with the old favorite or opt for a newer, younger model? If you find yourself in this scenario, or you have an FR35, and you’re thinking of upgrading, here’s a guide to the main differences. 

Appearance

One of the first things you’ll notice when you compare the Garmin Forerunner watches is the difference in appearance. The rectangular faced FR35 has been updated to a smaller, circular, more streamlined design for the FR45. While the FR35 operates with a black and white display, the FR45 shows your metrics off in vibrant colour, which is visible and readable even in bright sunlight. The FR45 also offers two different sizings, as follows:

  • Large: 42  x 42 x 11.4mm, to fit wrist size 129-197mm.
  • Small: 39.5 x 39.5 x 11.4mm, to fit wrist size 124-185mm

The FR35 comes in a standard size measuring 35.5 x 40.7 x13.4mm and fits wrist size range of 140-200mm.  The 16mm difference between this and the small FR45 may make the newer version a better fit on smaller wrists.

The new Forerunner 45 design is available in 4 colours. Black, Lava Red, Iris, and White
Garmin Forerunner 35 in Black, Limelight, Frost Blue and White

To add a little extra personality to your wrist, you can customise the FR45 with different watch faces from Connect IQ; essentially the Garmin App store.

Battery Life

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to view the data for your last run or attempting to put your workout playlist on and finding that you’ve got no battery left. Thankfully, the battery life is pretty impressive on both Garmin models.

For the absolute longest battery life out of the two, the FR35 is less of a power drain with its basic black and white display, giving you 9 days worth of charge in watch mode and 13 hours of activity in GPS mode.

The colour display and advanced connectivity on the FR45 likely uses the battery faster, but you’ll still get a week in watch mode and up to 13 hours when used for activities.

Activities and profiles

One of the most significant differences between the Forerunner 35 and the Forerunner 45 is the diversity in terms of activities and profiles. While the FR35 is fairly limited when it comes to running and cycling profiles and the number of activities in can store, the FR45 excels in this area. With the newer version, you can store up to 200 hours of activity data, and you can record data linked to a vast array of activities via the app, including:

  • Cardio
  • Elliptical training
  • Stair stepping
  • Yoga 
  • Interval training
  • Running
  • Treadmill running
  • Indoor track running
  • Cycling
  • Indoor biking

With the Garmin app, you can also access adaptable workouts and coaching tips. The Garmin Coach feature is an excellent perk for those who are new to running, as well as those keen to improve their technique or fitness and anyone who wants to vary their sessions. We all know that doing the same thing over and over again can contribute to a loss of motivation, and the coach may just be able to make things a little more interesting for you. While the FR35 isn’t compatible with Garmin Coach, you can still upload your activities to Garmin Connect, enabling you to become part of a free online fitness community. This feature is also available with the FR45. 

Sensors

The Garmin FR35 uses GPS to track movement and provide you with real-time data, while the FR45 boasts a wider range of sensors. In addition to GPS tracking, the FR45 also uses GLONASS and Galileo technology. 

Safety and tracking features

Another development in the modernization of the FR35 is the incorporation of innovative safety features on the Forerunner 45.

Incident detection - Garmin Forerunner 45

If you’re used to running out in the sticks, or you frequently go cycling on your own, the addition of safety features is likely to give you and your family peace of mind. Incident detection picks up red flag signs like a sudden drop of heart rate or a high risk of an accident, providing urgent assistance through making calls to your emergency contacts (needs to be in range of your phone to do this!)

With the Forerunner 45, you can also enjoy live event sharing if you have an Android smartphone. 

New activity tracking features

Building on the specs of the Forerunner 35, the Garmin Forerunner 45 offers additional activity tracking features, including:

  • Fitness age
  • Body battery energy
  • All-day stress tracking

If you’re working out, and you’ve got an FR45 watch on your wrist, you’ll have access to more data, and you can utilize the added features to optimize performance and boost health and wellness. If your stress levels are high throughout the day, for example, you can use your watch to take part in a guided breathing session, which is designed to lower the heart rate and help you relax. The body battery feature is great for seeing how much energy you’ve got in the tank, and it can be useful in helping you plan when to train and when to rest. 

Variety is the spice of life

While the FR35 is an excellent investment for those who enjoy running, if you like to vary your workouts, you may be pleased to see extra activities incorporated into the activity profiles on the FR45. You can choose from a range of different running activities, in addition to cycling modes, and popular gym-based activities, such as elliptical training. You can even add yoga through the app on the FR45.

Many people like to alternate exercises and introduce new activities to break up routines and prevent boredom, so this is bound to attract those with a more eclectic program. With Garmin Coach, you can also access adaptive training sessions and guidelines. 

Controls and connectivity on the go

Both watches enable you to stay connected with the world as you run, cycle, or walk. You can control a compatible smartphone, enabling you to share your location with contacts, change music playlists on your phone (for FR35 this is on Android only) and access call and text notifications. Check the weather before you brave the great outdoors, and keep an eye on your heart rate, the calories you’ve burned and the distance you’ve covered. 

Differences in price

Prices vary according to the retailer, but currently, you can buy the Garmin Forerunner 45 for approximately $199-$210 and the Forerunner 35 for $100-$160. Expect the FR35 to further reduce in price around Black Friday and into the 2020 season.

Summary

In summary, the Forerunner 45 represents a new and improved version of the hugely popular Forerunner 35. There are differences you can spot immediately, most notably the look of the watch, as well as features you might not discover until you’re in the swing of a training regime. The rectangular design of the FR35 has been replaced by a round watch face, which has a color display, and the FR45 is smaller and more streamlined than the previous model. There are also two size options, which means that the watch is accessible to a wider range of exercise enthusiasts, and the option to download customized faces. 

In addition to changes in the look of the watch, the FR45 boasts extra features. There’s a greater number of activity profiles and settings, which means that it’s easy to track your progress when trying different types of exercise, and you can access new data. Examples include the body battery and all-day stress features. With the FR45, you can also benefit from the Garmin Coach app, which gives you access to adaptive, free training programs and expert tips.

The safety feature is also a fantastic addition for those who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors alone. If the watch detects that you might be in trouble, it uses innovative technology to seek assistance and get help. 

Conclusion: which Garmin entry-level GPS watch wins the battle?

There’s a difference in price between the FR35 and the FR45, but it is possible to see where your money is going. The Forerunner 45 offers a raft of extra features and benefits, and it represents a fantastic investment for those who like to vary their workouts, those looking to benefit from coaching programs and advice, and those who like to exercise alone and enjoy peace of mind at the same time. Although the FR35 offers a lot at an affordable price, it’s worth considering spending the extra to enjoy the many perks and features the FR45 provides.

Unless you’re only looking for a basic watch for jogging and running, the FR45 seems to be the best option. With a broader spectrum of activity profiles, extra sensors, safety features, and additional health-related data available, this watch is an attractive option for those looking for an impressive GPS watch that won’t break the bank. 

Compare Garmin Forerunner Deals

Forerunner 35

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Forerunner 45

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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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