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Garmin Forerunner 15 GPS Watch & Daily Activity Monitor In-Depth Review

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In keeping with the popular trend of adding activity monitoring to devices, back in April Garmin announced their latest running watch – the Forerunner 15 (FR15).  This would take their popular FR10 budget-focused GPS running watch and then combine it with the Vivofit activity monitor.  Effectively the FR10 and the Vivofit had a baby, and that baby was called the FR15.

I’ve been testing it for the past month on all assortment of runs, rides, and just a lot of walking around – getting to understand how it all works.  And now, I’m ready to give you the low-down.

To be clear, Garmin sent me over a FR15 to start testing with until retail availability.  Like always, I’ll be shipping that back to them in Olathe, KS, in the next few days and going out and getting my own via regular retail channels.  That’s just the way I roll.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed. So – with that intro, let’s get into things.

Unboxing:

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The FR15 comes in a bunch of colorful flavors and then two sizes and once further, two packaging contents.  But essentially everything boils down to one thing: With or without the heart rate strap.

So, for the purposes of this unboxing the unit has the heart rate strap.  If you buy it without the strap, then you’ll simply lack the strap in your box. The unit itself is identical, so if you add a heart rate strap later (or, if you already have an ANT+ strap), then it’s all still good.

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After removing the plastic you’ll basically find four things: The Garmin FR15 watch, the USB charging cable, a pile of paper stuffs, and then the heart rate strap.

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The heart rate strap (if you bought that package) is Garmin’s classic plastic strap, officially the HRM1.  It’s been around the block for some time, but generally works just fine.

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Next you’ve got the USB charger.  This is how you’ll download your workouts as well as charge the unit.  You can plug it into any USB port you’ll find on the planet (USB ports ‘request’ the power they need, so there’s no problems as long as it fits in the hole).

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Then you’ve got the paper manuals.  After you finish this post you won’t need them.

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And last but not least there’s the watch itself.

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And here’s the back of things along with the strap.

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Now that it’s unboxed, let’s talk about size.

Size & Weight Comparisons:

When it comes to size, the FR15 is actually offered in two sizes: Small and Large. Unofficially it’s Men’s and Women’s, whereby the colors roughly align to what either gender might be most comfortable wearing.

In my case, I was sent a blue ‘large’ FR15 to try out.  The good news is that the FR10 and FR15 share the same outer shell (both sizes), so while I didn’t have the smaller sized FR15 with me, I am able to show you exactly how big it is, since the FR10 is exactly the same as the FR15 (small FR10 = Small FR15, and large FR10 = large FR15).  Make sense?  Good.

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Above you’ll see how it compares to other budget and mid-range running watches.  From left to right: TomTom Runner/Multisport, Suunto Ambit2 R, Timex Run Trainer 2.0, Garmin FR220, Garmin FR15/10 (Large), Garmin FR15/10 (Small), Garmin FR70.

And here’s the thickness:

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Looking at just the small and large variants of the watch, you’ll see the screen is shrunk slightly, as well as the outer shell:

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The depth however does not change at all:

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Looking at weights, I was curious if the FR15 added any more weight than the FR10.  Turns out, it’s exactly the same:

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The smaller size is a fair bit lighter however:

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Overall the FR15 in the small size is pretty much the smallest (dimension-wise) GPS running watch on the market.

Color Selection/Options

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(Updated/New Section)

As noted earlier, the FR15 comes in a variety of flavors.  These are basically two camps – large and small.  Ostensibly the smaller colors are more womanly, and the larger colors more manly.  But there are no hard rules and even the most manly of men can rock the purple.

To understand the size differences, here’s the two FR15 sizes right next to each other.  Again, functionality wise both are identical.

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First, here’s the two larger colors, red and blue:

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Next, we’ve got the three smaller colors: Purple, teal, and olive (green).

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And again, all five colors here:

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Ok, fashion show over.  Onto using the little thing.

Running Outdoors:

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Before we dive into the running side, a brief note on battery life.  The FR15 got a bit of a battery upgrade from the FR10.  The older watch used to only get 4-5 hours in active GPS mode, which often wasn’t enough to finish a marathon for many in the target audience of the watch.  The FR15 now however gets 8 hours of active GPS time.  In non-GPS mode it’ll get up to 5 weeks for activity tracker/standby/watch mode.  Obviously, if you use it 4 hours a week in exercise, then you’ll cut down the overall battery life to about two weeks.  The battery icon is displayed at all times on the left side of the watch as seen above.

Now that we’re outside and ready to run things are pretty simple.  You’ll go ahead and tap the blue button (upper right corner) to start GPS search.  This will also initiate the unit looking for the previously paired heart rate strap and footpod.  In the event it can’t find its past friend, it’ll get all promiscuous and find a new partner to hookup with.

While it’s doing that it’ll be looking for GPS signal.  Now the FR15 isn’t quite as smart with caching as some of the newer GPS devices – likely because it’s built on the same GPS chipset as the FR10.  So you won’t usually get 1-2 second load times.  Instead, it’ll generally be in the 10-30 second range.

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Here’s a short video showing this from my run last night:

Just for random comparison – I also shot two other videos right before/after this one with two other watches, the FR620 and the Polar V800, simply for comparison.

Once you’ve got GPS signal you’re ready to roll.  Simply press the blue button again to start the recording/activity.  From here it’ll switch into one of your two display pages.  For example, in this photo I’ve configured it to show me current lap time (up top) and distance (down below).

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The FR15 mirrors the FR10 when it comes to display pages.  A display page is simply a screen that shows you some run metrics, such as pace, speed, distance, time, calories, etc…

The FR15 follows a bit of the Panera Bread “Pick Two” model.  Meaning, you can pick two paired metrics for a screen, and you’ve got two screens to work with.

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Here’s the available ‘Pick two’ options:

Pace/Distance
Pace/Calories
Distance/Calories
Time/Distance
Time/Pace
Time/Calories

Note, for the pace/speed metric you can choose whether to display “Average Pace/Speed”, “Current-Instant Pace/Speed” or “Lap Pace/Speed”.  It’s a bit of a global setting though, so you can’t mix and match and have one page be average pace and the other page be instant pace.

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In addition, you also get one further page (for a total of three) that’s dedicated to showing your heart rate (top) and heart rate zone (bottom):

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And lastly, you get the usual time/date page shown during the run (time of day).

Those pages will all update continuously during the run.  As is common in most watches you can also create laps.  Laps are often used to mark chunks of a workout (such as warm-up and cool-down), as well as used to split-up mile/kilometer markers.

The FR15 allows you to enable autolap for every 1-mile or every 1-kilometer (no alternative configuration).  Alternatively, you can simply enable the manual lap-key which turns the lower left key into the lap button:

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These laps will then appear in your Garmin Connect activity file afterwards:

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The FR15 has a few options to help you pace during a race or training (aside from just looking at the pace).  The first is the ability to configure walk/run alerts.  This is very popular in certain marathon training programs where you run a set period of time (i.e. 10 minutes), and then you walk a preset period of time (i.e. 1 minute).

These alerts on the FR15 are time-based only and allow you to first specify a run-time (minutes & seconds):

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Then, you’ll specify a walk-time (minutes & seconds):

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During the activity, the unit will simply alert you automatically every time you hit the threshold for walking or running.

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Next you’ve got Virtual Pacer.  Virtual Pacer simply tells the unit that you want to set/keep a known pace – such as 7:30/mile.

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As part of this it’ll actually add a new data page for you.

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It’ll then alert you when you stray too far from that:

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Note that this is different than Virtual Partner found on some of the higher end Garmin units.  In Virtual Partner it’ll also tell you how far ahead/behind a given pace goal you are.  Whereas Virtual Pacer doesn’t really have any memory – it’s simply a moment in time thing.

In my testing I’ve found that the Virtual Pacer piece gives you about 10-20 seconds of being off-pace before it alarms, assuming you stray more than about 5-10 sec/mile off pace.

Next we’ve got heart rate alerts.  These alerts are tied to either a specific heart rate zone (i.e. Zone 2), or tied to a specific range (i.e. 139-149bpm).  You can select what it is that you want to tie them to:

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You can also configure only a high-alert, or only a low-alert.  It’s actually more flexible than I would have expected.

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Then, while running (with a heart rate strap), the unit will automatically chirp at you if you stray above/below that zone.  Remember that you generally want to set a reasonable range for a heart rate zone, because your HR will usually fluctuate a little bit with terrain.  For example, most people have no less than 3-5BPM per HR zone, with most zone’s ranges being about 5-10BPM.

Last but not least the unit supports Auto Pause. This means that if you do a lot of city running you can configure it to automatically pause the unit when you slow down for a stoplight.

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Next when I look at GPS accuracy I’ve seen no issues with the unit after the last 3-4 weeks.  It’s consistently in the same ballpark as every other GPS device I’m using.  Here’s a few random end of run photos:

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When we look at instant-pace, it’s also very solid.  In fact, it follows the same fairly smoothed instant-pace that we saw with the FR10 that so many people have come to like (as it reduces GPS jumpiness).  To demonstrate that I’ve included two videos below.

The first is what it looks like starting from a standstill at the beginning of an interval set I was doing.  It shows me picking up speed and leveling off pretty quickly after I make a turn off the slightly downhill bridge:

And the second video shows me coming to a stop from steady-state running and how quickly it reacts:

Finally, if you’d like to look at the GPS tracks, here’s some from last night comparing the three units I had with me.  All ended up with a final distance within .03 miles.  For those unfamiliar with GPS accuracy – that’s pretty darn good actually, especially for a city route with numerous underpasses/bridges and tall buildings.

Garmin FR15 GPS Track File
Garmin FR620 GPS Track File
Polar V800 GPS Track File

When it comes time to pause or stop the workout you’ll use the same blue button again to do so.  If you need to pause for a bathroom break/etc, you can simply scroll down to resume to start right back up again and keep the same activity.

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Or, you can press ‘Save’ to go ahead and save the activity so that it’ll upload later to Garmin connect.  It’s here that it’ll show you a small history of the run:

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The unit tracks a handful of common PR’s (Personal Records) for common running distances from 1-mile up to a full marathon.  If you break one of these records during a run you’ll get notified:

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Now, one thing I really like is that you can revert back to a previous record in the event that the record you just set isn’t valid.  For example, when I was driving one day the watch accidentally got bumped on.  In doing so, it recorded new PR’s for all my categories.  As much as I’d like to throw down some of these times, it skews things quite a bit.

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But the unit includes the option to both clear a PR, as well as to revert to the previous PR.  Very nicely done:

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Speaking of which, the unit stores about 5-7 of your most recent runs (full history), which you can view in the History menu.  It’ll automatically delete/overwrite older runs.

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Once you plug your unit in via USB to your computer, that data will be sent up to Garmin Connect for you to look at online.  But I’ll dive into that a few sections from now – so hang tight there!

Treadmills & The Footpod:

The FR15 builds on top of the FR10 by adding in support for treadmills via a footpod.  The FR10 didn’t support any ANT+ devices, nor the footpod, thus you weren’t able to get pace or distance indoors on a treadmill.

With the addition of the footpod you can now get that on your watch, as well as get cadence information recorded too.

To pair the footpod to the FR15 you’ll simply put the footpod near the unit when you turn it on to search for GPS:

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After that, it’s paired.  The FR15 will automatically calibrate the footpod via GPS.  In talking with Garmin, they recommend you run no less than about 300m to ensure proper calibration – but it’s better to run a bit more (all outdoors with good GPS coverage).  It’s usually best for GPS based calibration to try and choose a relatively straight route, simply so you aren’t making a ton of turns and impacting the accuracy.

Note that footpod accuracy is impacted by placement.  So if you happen to move it around on your shoe (or change shoes) you’ll want to go out for another run to ensure it’s calibrated.  The FR15 is “continuously calibrating” the footpod while running outside, according to my discussions with Garmin.

When it comes to cadence, the FR15 will record cadence from the footpod (both indoors and outside).  It will not however display that cadence as a data field on the watch itself.  Instead, that’s only visible on Garmin Connect (or any other compatible 3rd party site) afterwards, like below:

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Note that I think the addition of the footpod support is pretty cool.  But I’m also a little bit suspect here.  That’s because I’d expect that the accelerometer within the FR15 could likely record pace/distance on a treadmill with reasonable accuracy (like the FR220/FR620 does) without needing a separate footpod.  I suspect this is likely simply an upsell maneuver, but it’s a little bit odd given that Garmin has discussed adding calibration support to the Vivofit for running.  Thus meaning that a cheaper product would actually work better indoors than the more expensive product.  Albeit, the Vivofit lacks any of the pace displays.

Gym Activities:

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When it comes to indoor activities with the GPS off, the Garmin FR15 will still give you calorie burn data as long as you have a heart rate strap connected.

This means that if you’re doing a weight machine workout, or on a spin bike, or just doing the sideways shuffle with your BFF (and your HR strap is still on), it’ll still capture calorie data.

The below was from a super-easy spin on a bike, the high end Garmin Edge 810 with a power meter measured just slightly higher calories, but still in range of being the difference of a gummy bear or two.

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When it comes to which of the many different calorie burn methods that Garmin uses on their different devices, the FR15 will basically match that of the Vivofit.  Which means they use their own internal algorithm rather than the FirstBeat algorithm that’s licensed for some of the higher-end devices.

In my testing, I’m finding that the two algorithms are generally in the same ballpark – within about 10-15% of one another.  However, there will likely be cases on an individual basis where sometimes it’s closer and sometimes it’s further.

Ultimately, when it comes to calories no device on the market is ‘perfect’.  Not Garmin, not Polar, not Suunto, nor Nike.  It’s really an estimate.  And there are a slew of companies that all claim to have the best engineers or the best physiologists on staff and that their respective algorithms are the best in the world.

And you know what?  For the most part, the different algorithms from different companies usually end up being roughly the same.  One company might weight one specific condition differently than another, but ultimately I find time and time again that it’s all a wash.  Focus on the big picture things, and not trying to have the calories within exactly single-digit (or even the tens).

Cycling:

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The FR15 does not have a cycling mode, however, you can change the display to show your current activity in speed terms of either MPH or KPH.  To do this you’ll go into the data fields option and change to ‘Speed’ instead of ‘Pace’:

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Once in this mode you’ll see speed in values such as 15MPH or 20KPH.

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When using a bike, you can wear it on your  wrist, or you can go ahead and put it on a bike mount.  Garmin makes a simple one for about $9 that works fairly well (for any watch really, Garmin or otherwise):

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When you complete the activity do note that it’ll show up in Garmin Connect as a ‘Run’, and not a ‘Bike’ ride.  It’s an easy change though; just select the drop-down box for activity type and change it to ‘Cycling’ (or, any other sport you want).

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With that, you’re good to go.  Note that if you use it for cycling you may want to clear the PR’s that you might have set while cycling, since the unit doesn’t track them separately (see the end of the running section above for how to do that).

Note that the FR15 does NOT connect to the ANT+ Speed & Cadence sensor, nor to any ANT+ power meter.  I definitely don’t expect Garmin to add support there, since even on their $250 FR220 it’s not supported.  It also won’t connect to any Bluetooth sensors, since it doesn’t have a Bluetooth chipset within it.

Activity Monitoring & Step Tracking:

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The FR15 includes a built-in activity monitor, which counts steps throughout the course of the day.  This makes it just like a FitBit or Nike FuelBand, keeping track of activity outside your runs.  The unit and logic is based on the Vivofit, and as a general rule you can use many of the same assumptions that the Vivofit does within the FR15.

When it comes to display, the unit will always display the steps on the front of the watch-face (again, this is GPS-off 24×7 mode).  Below the steps is a progress bar towards your daily goal:

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In addition, you can press the little feet icon button (lower left) to change the display to show other activity metrics.  For example, the next screen will be your daily goal and remaining steps towards it.  The daily goal is automatically generated by Garmin Connect based on trending over the past few days.  If you miss a target it’ll slowly lower you down, and if you exceed a target it’ll slowly increase the daily goal:

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In addition the unit will show you the estimated step-distance for the day (in either miles or kilometers).  This will be inclusive of any runs you may have completed that day as well:

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Finally, pressing the button one last time will take you to calories burned – which is inclusive of your baseline calories.  So, you’ll see this number rise over the course of the day even if you’re sitting watching the World Cup:

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The unit will stay on whatever screen you’ve left it on.  If you press it once further it just brings you back to a simple date screen, showing the current date:

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Like the Vivofit, the FR15 aims to keep you moving.  Thus, if you haven’t moved at least 200 steps in the last 1 hour, it’ll go ahead and chirp (lightly) at you and display ‘Move!’ on the screen:

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To clear this, you’ll go ahead and walk about 200 steps.  After walking the required distance you’ll hear a faint chirp and it’ll go back to the steps field.

Note that you can turn off any of the beeps/alarms/etc through the system settings if you’d like:

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From a step counter perspective, here’s some numbers showing how accuracy looked like over a bunch of random dates where I wore multiple units at once:

Garmin FR15 Activity Tracker Data

DateGarmin FR15FitBit ZipWithings Pulse
June 11th 14,570 15,610 14,847
June 10th 14,067 15,752 12,099
June 9th 3,511 4,065 3,720
June 7th 27,766 29,194 26,751
June 6th 5,195 6,058 5,250
June 4th 3,039 3,236 2,900
June 3rd 4,614 5,664 4,747
June 2nd 3,173 3,312 2,880

Now, there’s an important thing that I need to point out, which relates to activities that track well and don’t track well.  As noted the FR15 is a wrist based tracker, and thus like every other activity tracker on the planet it depends on accelerometer movement to determine steps.  Internally it’s constantly trying to decide whether every single movement you make is a step, or just you doing something odd with your hands.

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To that end, I think people need to realize that no two companies will be alike in their algorithms there – and that honestly most are pretty similar.  And further, it’s more complex for wrist based trackers than clip (waist) ones.  For example, wrist-based trackers won’t work well if you’re pushing a shopping cart or mowing the lawn.  And it’s plausible depending on how you wash the dishes, it might incorrectly pickup that.

But the thing is – I don’t tend to find that makes that grand of impact at the end of the day.  If you’ve got a goal like 8,000 steps or 10,000 steps – having an extra 100 steps washing the dishes isn’t make or break (no matter the manufacturer).  Sure, you could log an extra 1,000 steps in Costco on a Saturday and perhaps not get it accounted for (tip: push the cart with your other arm).  Thus, you’ll have to decide if that tradeoff is worth it.

My overall point is: No activity tracker is absolute to the exact step perfect – not FitBit, not Garmin, not Nike.  You should be looking at the bigger picture, and not focusing on a slew of smaller edge scenarios (like holding a shopping basket in a gas station convenience store).

Garmin Express (Desktop):

In order to synchronize data (both fitness activities as well as daily steps), you’ll need to install Garmin Express on your computer.  The application supports both Mac and PC, and is quick and easy to get installed.

Once installed go ahead and open Garmin Express, and then connect your FR15 to your computer:

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This will open up a window asking you if you’d like to setup the FR15 within Garmin Express:

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Assuming you press ‘Continue’, then it’ll go ahead and ask you to link up with a Garmin Connect account.  This is definitely required if you want to view any of the data that you’re capturing (especially the daily steps).  In my case I already had an account, so I just linked it to that.  If this is your first Garmin device, you’ll need to create an account (it’s free, and only takes a second).

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Interestingly, for those that happen to have both a Vivofit and a FR15, it’ll ask you which one to take the step data from:

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At this point, you’re ready to go!

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By default anytime you’ve connected your FR15 to your computer and Garmin Express is open it’ll automatically sync to Garmin Express.  You can also just manually press that ‘Sync Now’ button too.  Though, honestly, it’ll already have done that for you.

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And in the event there’s a new firmware update, you’d see it show up within Garmin Express.  For example, later this summer Garmin is planning to release a firmware update for the FR15 that will enable it to complete sleep tracking.  So you’ll be able to simply connect it to Garmin Express and have it update to gain that functionality.

Now that it’s plugged in and sync’ing to Garmin Connect online, let’s dive into that.

Garmin Connect Online:

Garmin Connect is Garmin’s free online training log and activity/steps log site.  It started in the GPS activity world, so much of the focus is there, but with the introduction of Vivofit back in February it expanded to include steps and sleep tracking, as well as some of the social aspects.

It received a user interface overhaul in February as part of that update, and as such looks a bit different these days.  Some users are still on the older version of Garmin Connect, but Vivofit and FR15 users automatically get the new version (simply because all the step-related activity isn’t there in the old version).

Once you’ve logged in you’ll be brought to this main dashboard.

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The dashboard has a bunch of pods that you can drag around and customize.  For example you can see some of the reports at the bottom, as well as a pod showing one of my recent runs that I can click on to expand out.  You’ll see the leaderboard standing for my Garmin ‘Connections’ (which are kinda like Friends on a social media platform like Facebook/Twitter/etc…).

If I click on the ‘Steps’ pod I’ll be brought to more detail about my steps that day.  For example, here’s today…err..yesterday.

You’ll see that I far exceeded my goal steps of 6,493 (damn straight I did!), and then you’ll see the actual distance.  In this case, The Girl and I happened to go out for a long evening walk around the city, which bumped the numbers.  Further, along the way I earned a badge – the 500,000 Step Badge.  Meaning I’ve walked 500,000 steps with the unit (or rather, Vivofit + the FR15 in my case).

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Down below you’ll see a breakout of my steps.  I walked a bit around 9-10AM to a meeting, and then was mostly working from 10-7PM, with a few brief spurts of steps around lunch time.

If I look at step trends over time (a link just below my screenshot above), I can pull up reports based on different timeframes.  And, I can change those to be calories or other activity-driven reports.

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Within the social aspects I can follow certain people and then as a result I’ll see their activities and steps, or can mix and match what I want to see:

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Changing the focus to activities all of my GPS and non-GPS runs will show up in the activities window.  From there I can select one to open fully and check out the details on.  I’ve gone ahead and shared this activity if you’d like to poke around.

In this case, a bit of a brick interval/tempo run from last night.  Starting with the top portion you’ll see the summary information along the left, and a map on the right. I can change the map provider to Bing or Google, and then also change whether it’s map view or a satellite view.

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As I slide down the page I get to pace and timing details on the left, and then the post-calculated elevation data.  This is done after the fact online.

On the right side it’ll flag any Garmin Segments I’ve crossed.  These are not Strava segments, but rather Garmin’s variant instead.  Essentially you can compete against people on what are usually short route segments (often less than a mile, but sometimes up to a few miles).

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Further down the left side is my lap data.  In this case I left auto-lap on, so it’s just showing my lap splits.  While on the right side you can see a graph of my paces.

Last but not least we’ll get weather pulled automatically from a nearby source and then you’ll see an elevation graph along with a heart rate graph.  You can go ahead and zoom in on both of these if you’d like within the site and examine them more closely.

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Going back up quickly to Segments, I figured I’d briefly cover it since it’s Garmin’s newest ‘thing’.  Like almost all the Segments you’ll find in the city of Paris, they were created by me.  In this case I created this one 3 weeks ago, and, as of now it’s still populating the leaderboards.  I assume it might complete in the future, or, it might not.  It seems to be a common complaint right now on Segment leaderboards neither updating nor completing.  As I kinda like to harp on – the Segments feature will never catch on if this sort of stuff isn’t fixed.

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Finally, note that Garmin Connect does include Training Plans for most running race distances, as well as triathlons and some cycling plans.  The plans are at various skill levels and different intensities.  These plans can be added to your online Garmin Connect calendar.

However, it’s important to note that the FR15 won’t actually walk you through those plans on the device itself.  So it’d be more of a paper thing.  Still, given they’re free and most of them are actually pretty good – it’s something to consider.

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Last but not least, note that you can download and use Garmin Connect Mobile on your iOS or Andoid device.  This is Garmin’s mobile version of the site.  From the app it’ll pull data from the online site, but not directly from the phone to your FR15.  That’s because your FR15 doesn’t have any Bluetooth capability in it to talk to the phone.  So you first have to plug it in to your computer per above to see the data on the mobile device.  Nonetheless, still an option to check up on things.

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Overall, I suspect most FR15 users will find Garmin Connect perfectly suitable.  As most advanced users will point out, it’s not the most detailed training analysis platform on the planet, but, for I’m guessing 95% of the population it works just fine.

For everyone else (like me), I can simply take the .FIT file from the unit and upload it to any fitness log site of my choosing (i.e. Strava, MapMyFitness, TrainingPeaks, Sport Tracks, etc…).  They’re all fully compliant with the fitness activity data.

Note however that at this time there still isn’t compatibility with the daily step activity data with any other sites.  The oft-requested and once rumored MyFitnessPal still hasn’t shown up.  Perhaps though with the first two of the direct sync partnerships finally being unveiled this past week, we’ll see MyFitnessPal and others pop-up soon.

Bugs:

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As I’ve been doing on all reviews over the past year or so, I’ve been including a section on bugs and/or issues that I’ve seen within my timeframe using the unit.  Do remember that  a ‘bug’ is different than ‘by design’.  For example, the lack of a feature is something I highlight within a given section is considered ‘by design’, whereas something not really working right is considered a bug. In the case of the FR15, such bugs fall into one of two categories: The device, and the platform (app/site).

In the case of the device, things are really solid – I haven’t actually seen anything in a lot of runs, a few rides, and four weeks of step data.  So from a device standpoint, I’ve got no complaints at all – the device itself works spot-on for me.

In the case of the platform, Garmin Connect v2 (Modern) has come a fair ways since the initial Vivofit launch in February.  There are still some oddities (like the Segments feature I noted earlier), but from a pure FR15-specific bug perspective I’m not running into much.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean I like the new Garmin Connect.  It just means that I put up with it and that from a technical standpoint it does what it says – even if I don’t necessarily like how it does it.

Product Comparison Tables:

The FR15 makes things a bit tricky in that I actually have two separate categories in the product comparison tool – one for GPS units, and one for activity trackers.  While the GPS unit category already had line-items for 24×7 activity tracking, I did need to expand activity monitor product type slightly to accommodate it.  That said, it’s still two distinct product types for the meantime, thus there are two charts at play.

The first from the GPS product category is the FR10, FR15 and FR220.  I went with just showing Garmin-only units on this chart to show the progression of features more easily.  Of course, you can always make your own charts with any products in the product comparison tool here.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated July 1st, 2014 @ 6:38 pmNew Window
Price$129$169$249
Product Announcement DateAUG 28, 2012May 5, 2014SEPT 16, 2013
Actual Availability/Shipping DateSEP 2012May/June 2014OCT 31, 2013
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBUSBUSB, Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 meters50 meters50 Meters
Battery Life5 Hours8 hours10 hours
Recording IntervalSmartSmartSmart Recording
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoNoYes, 7 days
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGoodGreat
AlertsSound/VisualSound/VisualAudio/Visual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessOKOKGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoNoYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Designed for cyclingBarelyBarelyBarely (Speed mode only)
Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)NoYesYes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoNoNo
Race PredictorNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Designed for swimmingNO (PROTECTED THOUGH JUST FINE)NO (PROTECTED THOUGH JUST FINE)No (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterN/AN/ANo
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Designed for triathlonNoNoNo
Multisport modeN/AN/ANo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoNoYes
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeaturePace AlertsPace AlertsNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startNoNoNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Altimeter TypeNoneNoneGPS
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleNoYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNoYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
Di2 Shifting IntegrationNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
PC ApplicationGTCGTCGTC
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppGarmin Connect MobileGarmin Connect MobileGarmin Connect Mobile
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoYes
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 10Garmin Forerunner 15Garmin Forerunner 220
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Next, looking at the activity tracker category I went with the Vivofit, FR15, and Polar Loop.  All three of which support heart rate tracking during an activity.  Again, you can always mix and match your own products via the comparison table tool.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 12th, 2014 @ 8:15 amNew Window
Price$169$129$109
Body PlacementWristWristWrist
Data Transfer TypeUSBBluetooth Smart/ANT+Bluetooth Smart & USB
Bluetooth to PhoneNoYesYes
Waterproofing50m50 Meters20 meters
Battery Life5 Weeks1 Year5-7 days
Battery TypeRechargeableCR1632USB Rechargeable
WatchGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Displays timeYesYesYes
Has time alarmsYesNoNo
DataGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Step CounterYesYesYes
Stairs ClimbedNoNoNo
Distance WalkedYesYesApp Only (Added in update)
Calories BurnedYesYesYes
Sleep MetricsSummer 2014YesYes
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Skin TemperatureNoNoNo
Heart RateYes (with HR Strap)Yes (with HR Strap)Yes (with HR Strap)
Skin PerspirationNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Web ApplicationYesYesYes
PC ApplicationYesYesYes
Mac ApplicationYesYesYes
Phone AppsiOS/AndroidAndroid/iOSAndroid/iOS
Ability to export/sync settings from computer/phoneNoYesYes
PlatformGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
3rd parties can access data via APISortaSortaPlanned Spring 2014
Ability to export your data out of platformFitness: Yes, Steps/Sleep: NoFitness: Yes, Steps/Sleep: NoPlanned Spring 2014
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 15Garmin VivofitPolar Loop
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

And remember, you can always mix and match your own products via the comparison table tool.

Summary:

IMG_4875

It’s funny, I find that in general (no matter the brand) the products with the fewest features tend to do the best in my reviews.  Likely because those product teams can really nail those features and ensure they ‘just work’.  The more complex the product the more features and the more ways to screw up.

With the original FR10, it was the simplest product Garmin has really released in the fitness space – and it was enormously popular.  With the FR15, they simply took the FR10 and plunked a Vivofit into it.  Essentially taking another simple product and merging the two together.  With that, I’ve found it’s incredibly simple and has a really high ‘just works’ factor.

The only significant mistake I believe Garmin has made here is that they didn’t put Bluetooth into the unit.  Given that virtually all activity trackers these days sync via Bluetooth to your phone, the Garmin FR15 sorta stands apart as the lonely one without it.  It’s also a bit suspect that they aren’t including wrist-based pace while on a treadmill given the unit should be quite capable of it (instead of forcing you to buy a footpod).  And while I initially had complaints about skipping the sleep tracking functionality, Garmin has committed that will be added in a FR15 firmware update later this summer.

So while there are things I wish the FR15 had – like Bluetooth sync to my phone, if one understands those limitations up front there’s few things for me to poke apart.  And, if you understand that this isn’t a $400-$500 GPS watch, then your expectations will likely be met.  Which, in some ways goes back to the opening paragraph in this section: The more features that Garmin adds the higher the likelihood that there could be bugs.  With such a simple product I’ve run into virtually no bugs – and it’s great.

Thus, if you’re looking for an entry level GPS running watch that can also be used as an activity monitor this is the best one on the market today (albeit, it’s the only one on the market today).  And if you’re looking for an entry level running watch (and don’t care about the activity tracker piece), then this is still a very solid choice and would be among my top recommendations, especially given how few (virtually none) complaints I see from people on the running side of the FR10 (precursor to the FR15).

With that – thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP program you get a bunch of money-saving benefits, which you can read about here.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day US shipping as well.

Garmin FR15 (without HR strap)
Garmin FR15 (with HR strap)

(Note: There are a slew of colors available, simply select them from the dropdown on the site)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the FR15 or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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223 Comments

  1. Egon

    Nice replacement for my Garmin 10. Thanks for the solid review.

    Reply
  2. Joneil

    Quite happy with the Fenix 2 I picked up a month ago (thanks to your awesome in-depth review of course) and I've been hooked at everything you publish. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Jay replied

      I have a Fenix 2 as well and I'm thinking this Forerunner 15 would do everything I need in probably a smaller package. I don't see the Fenix 2 on the comparison roller, though. :(

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry! Yeah, didn't think to put the Fenix2 on there since it's 2-3 times the price of the FR15, so most folks aren't usually comparing the two together.

      Reply
  3. Leo

    Am I wrong, or is this now the cheapest Garmin that has both GPS and HR?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The FR110 did/does HR, but, it doesn't do footpod. I would always recommend the FR15 over the FR110 these days.

      Reply
  4. Jerzy Trzebiatowski

    I wonder if the activity monitor functions will be added in fr220/620 and fenix2. All of them have hardware needed to make it work. Have you heard about such possibilty from garmin?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In talking with Garmin, it sounds like to implement activity monitoring in those watches would be very difficult as the underlying low-power hardware mode isn't really there to do 24x7 activity monitoring.

      Reply
    • Dominik J. replied

      argh... that's a pity! i would really like to see the activity function at the fenix 2.

      otherwise i find the FR15 quite cool - apart from the design. sure, it is designed as a entry sports watch, though it would be nice to see something like this in the more "premium" range. would really like to have a small, stylish sports watch, which also does activity tracking (as a secondary device).

      Reply
  5. Michael

    Garmin FR15: To recharge the watch, I use the black USB cable with an ac adapter. I plug into the wall, bypassing need to charge via a pc or laptop.

    Reply
  6. chris

    thanks for the review.. If interested in an activity tracker.. would you recommend this over the vivofit or polor?
    ??The biggest difference is the BT?

    thanks for all your reviews..

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It really depends. It's a full-watch (+ a GPS watch), so if you're just looking for an activity tracker I'd probably stick with just an activity tracker (purely due to size and the BT sync).

      So if you don't need run tracking, I'd go with the Vivofit or Polar Loop.

      Reply
  7. John

    Thanks this solid review - as always !

    Though I still hesitate between FR15 and Tomtom runner cardio, considering that with the foodpod it's about the same price.

    How (in)confortable is the garmin HR strap ?
    Which website between tomtom and garmin do you prefer ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The strap is so-so comfortable. It was the original classic strap and most people find the new premium more comfortable (though, up till last summer, people would say that the new strap was less reliable).

      From a website standpoint there's no comparison. As I note in my TomTom review, it's pretty much horrible (TomTom website). However, both watches save to .FIT format, so you can use anything you'd like (free or otherwise).

      Reply
    • Dominik J. replied

      i have no experience with garmins old HR strap, though have had several from other companies (which basically were all the same in my opinion). and the new HR strap version is much (!) more comfortable. i really would not switch back to the old hard plastic strap.

      Reply
    • giorgitd replied

      Maybe I should try a soft strap, but I've never noticed discomfort from the 'classic' strap at all. Maybe any strap discomfort is overwhelmed by the discomfort in my quads/glutes/etc while I'm training!

      Reply
    • Alfie replied

      I've utilized both straps and didn't find the hard strap uncomfortable although the soft strap has a little nicer feel against the body but once you are running it doesn't really matter much.

      Reply
  8. rd

    Do you think there is any chance for Garmin to add the option to select a HR+Pace display page?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, I'd agree it'd be nice and I'd prefer it as well over the current config. I'll poke around.

      Reply
    • Haitz replied

      Very good review as usual...
      It would be nice to have the avility to modify the info of the display, combining the available info as user wants. Can you check with garmin if they are going to implement it in future updates?

      Reply
  9. Lars

    Thanks as always for the review!
    How long does the battery last if the FR15 is used everyday? If one uses the given time ratio (840 h activity monitoring : 8 h GPS usage) and predicts three 1-hr-workouts per week one gets about 3 weeks before charging?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Battery life is always a bit hard once you pull in daily activity monitoring. For me I've been using it a bit more in sport more (60-90min per day on weekdays, 2-3hrs per day on weekends), plus daily activity mode. So I've been charging it slightly more than the average bear.

      But, you indirectly bring up a good point in that the battery life was increased with the FR15 from the FR10, where it was much smaller (4-5hrs at best) for GPS mode.

      Reply
  10. I have used a Nike+ Sportwatch (that I think is about dead), and I liked the way the USB plug was part of the wrist strap. What can you tell me about connecting the FR15 to my laptop. Seems like a cord/plug/adapter is needed. Do you have any photos showing this connection? I suppose it's not much of a bother, but I'm just unfamiliar with the set up.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Paul-

      You can see a photo at the start of the "Garmin Express" section: link to dcrainmaker.com

      The FR15 simply snaps into the USB charger (seen in the unboxing section) and then it's a standard USB plug into the computer.

      While Nike and a few other companies played around with the integrated charging port a few years ago (like a teenage phase), I think most have found it doesn't really pan out well (in scale) long term. It was very prone to corrosion, as well as simply breaking off.

      Reply
  11. Jim

    Two minor things to note.

    1) with battery life in the comparison table, the 8hrs for the Fr15 is with GPS on. It's actually weeks using the basic activity tracking. It's not like it needs to be charged every day.
    2) the goal display. On the vivofit you get the number of steps above or below your goal. On the fr15, it's always just your goal for that day (i.e always 10,000 steps) (I've heard this from other fr15 users, so I don't think it just me)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct. On #2, I thought it was kinda weird as well that on the FR15 it doesn't simply just count down your goal. I don't much care what my goal number is, rather, I simply want to know how many steps are left to it.

      Reply
  12. Chris

    Looks like a solid entry product from Garmin. I'm wondering about the data/connectivity though (particularly in line with the other recents posts about autosync (and 3rd party software). I've been using a Forerunner 405 for years with Sport Tracks - the data doesn't go to Garmin Connect, it just gets saved on my hard drive and imported into Sport Tracks (IIRC Garmin Connect wasn't great when I looked). This, though, looks as if the data goes automatically (and ?solely) to Garmin Connect and would then have to be extracted from there, rather than from your own computer - is this correct ? (and if so, is this worrying about having to buy into the system and not just the watch). I've probably missed a bit over the last 4-5 years, but prefer to "own" my own data if possible. Thanks for the blog, Chris

    Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      It's basically a USB device so when you plug it in to charge/upload to a computer you can see all your runs (in FIT files) and so decide so save/upload those elsewhere.

      So in that sense it is a lot more "open" than the ANT devices like your 405 (and also 310/410/910). All Garmin's latest running watches (so also 620/220) are also USB. I very much doubt we will see ANT ones again.

      Reply
    • Chris replied

      Thanks - always difficult to follow the ins and outs of connections without using the device, but that sounds reassuring,

      Chris

      Reply
  13. Chris

    Thanks !

    One thing : it seems a little heavy / bulky compared to fitness trackers in the market. Would you wear it all day long ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've worn it all day long for the past month, like any watch, you get used to it for the most part. But no doubt it's bigger than most activity trackers - so it's a bit of a tradeoff.

      Reply
    • Knut replied

      Chris, at 35 grams the FR15 comes in 11 grams heavier than my Vivofit - not a biggie. Feels pretty slim sitting on the wrist too. For everyday use in an office environment (shirt, jacket sort of thing) the Vivofit looks less out of place.

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      I've worn a vivofit, with and without an FR10, and then switched to an FR15 the day I could get it, and IMHO, the FR10/FR15 is more comfortable to me than the vivofit. (when it comes to size/weight/etc)

      But I'm also a long time "watch" guy and wore something like a Timex "ironman" watch for many years. The only thing I'd change with the FR15 when it comes to wearability, is for garmin to offer a nylon/velcro band as they do for other GPS watches, as the band is plastic like about every wrist based tracker on the market, and the inside does get sweaty!

      Reply
  14. MikeDozer

    I hope they will let us have screen with Time/HR and Time/Cadence combination. Than, this watch will be perfect.

    Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      Actually you can't see cadence at all on the device at the moment. Only later in Garmin Connect etc etc

      Reply
  15. Gabriele lo faro

    Dear Dc rainmaker
    I'm close to buy the fr15 as my first gps device and heart monitor too. Could be possible and usefull a wtek sensor instead of the strap?thank s a lot.
    Gabriele from italy

    Reply
  16. Bill-B

    Garmin FR220 vs FR15 for the casual runner? Is the 220 really adding features that one would miss that is not a hard core tracking nut?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It depends a bit. For example, for me the data screen configuration isn't quite enough on the FR15 to use as my day to day watch. For my wife, she says she could almost get away with the fields provided if she could just customize which two items are paired together (as opposed to having preset pairings).

      Beyond that, it's going to come down to things like custom workouts and training plans, live tracking, and Bluetooth smart uploading.

      Reply
  17. Jeff K

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the great review! Awesome sauce as usual. My wife is a perceived effort runner and I'm trying to get her a little more into metrics. I bought her the Tomtom Runner yesterday because of the great deal, but I'm tempted to get her the FR15 too and then return the one she doesn't want. For someone like my "girl", the tradeoffs I see are:
    - Can it upload to phone? Here the Tomtom is the clear winner. (she has an iphone 5)
    - Are you interested in an activity tracker? She's never tried one, but I think she would be interested. Then the FR15 is the winner.
    - Using the treadmill? I can only hope Tomtom will get better here (given your observations in the review) because I can't see my wife using the footpod for the FR15
    - Comfort? I'm worried that your girl had issues with comfort of the Tomtom. My wife has VERY skinny arms. Was that just with the cardio version?

    Am I missing anything for the seasoned runner who desperately needs a just-works factor to get interested in metrics?

    Many thanks!
    Jeff

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Jeff-

      Yeah, it's tough, the TomTom Runner is such a good deal through the end of the week it's crazy. But, some of the tradeoffs are complex. I'm still surprised that TomTom hasn't simply enabled an activity tracker mode. It'd be relatively easily, and I've confirmed with them that their chipset/unit can do a lower-power mode.

      For comfort, The Girl (mine) found she much preferred the FR10/FR15 to the TomTom from a comfort standpoint. There's actually no difference between the Cardio and non-cardio from a physical site/fit standpoint. Identical watch structure/pod, simply one has a blank back and one has a little sensor in it.

      Reply
  18. I love your in-depth reviews. It was your review of the FR220 that answered all my questions and convinced me to buy one, which by the way I (and my boyfriend who steals it for his runs) am loving! I’ve been waiting to hear about the FR15 ever since you gave us that sneak preview. Thank you for taking the time to give us such a good look at what this watch can do. I love the added activity tracker, it kinda makes me want one to add to my collection, but I think I’ll be able to hold off…

    Thanks once again for the review!

    Reply
  19. Honestly, I can't see the appeal of going for the FR10 at this point for casual use, since doubling battery life without increasing size or weight means that there's a far higher chance that the watch will be ready for a run if you forget to plug it in. For only $35 more, all the extra stuff you get (that doesn't make it harder to use as a running watch) seems more than worth it.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I completely agree. I also think that Garmin would be wise to slightly lower the price of the FR10.

      When the FR10 first came out it was basically at a premium of $30 on top of the glut of cheap sub-$99 GPS watches (Soleus, Timex Marathon GPS, New Balance, etc...). Some of those watches have shifted down into the $70-$90 range as a common price, thus the gap is now $50-60. If I were Garmin, I'd simply lower the FR10 price to $99 to better compete there that attract more people into the standalone GPS market (vs losing them to the cell phone or $70 GPS units). Just my two cents...

      Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      Somebody on the Garmin forums was reporting that in his country (somewhere in continental Europe I think) that they were offering the FR10 for under half the price of the FR15.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, I remember this. I thought it was in the UK though, but may be wrong. Either way I remember it was a pretty sweet deal.

      Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      This post link to forums.garmin.com
      So maybe not Europe!
      I see in the UK, the FR10 is down to under £70 with the FR15 around £120 so getting close to half price.

      Reply
  20. Sarah C.

    Do you know if the HR straps are waterproof enough to wear while lap swimming? So could you, say, put on the HR strap, leave the watch on the side of the pool, and have your lap swimming recorded as part of the day's activity/calorie count? Thanks for this (as usual) awesome review.

    Reply
    • Jim replied

      When you're in water, the range of Ant+ is inches, IIRC, and even if you have the watch on your arm, it probably won't work.

      Reply
    • Sarah C. replied

      Thanks, Jim. Bummer on that.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Jim's correct. The Strap itself is definitely waterproof (most triathletes wear them below during the swim).

      One thing I have tested recently is the Scosche and Mio Link optical HR while swimming, which if you wear directly next to your Garmin watch will record the HR data.

      Reply
  21. ENG KHAI GUAN

    how about the f15 strap design as compared to f10 strap issues?

    Reply
    • Jim replied

      What were the issues with the FR10 strap? I think the FR15 has the exact same band as the FR10.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As far as I can tell, it's the exact same band. But, I don't remember any widespread issues.

      I know I've seen a handful of people, but I suspect that the FR10 has outsold just about every Garmin GPS watch (at least up til the 220/620, but I'm guessing then too). So based on a pure numbers game you'd see more people breaking straps (pretty much every watch ever I've heard of someone breaking a strap).

      Reply
  22. Turn The Damn Cranks

    Can you turn activity tracking off to increase battery life? I've already got a Fitbit and have no interest in swapping my daily watch for a digital version. So turning off the activity tracking would be a big plus from where I sit. Can't imagine I'm alone in this view either.

    Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      Yes you can turn off activity tracking but not going to make a great deal of difference to battery life as GPS usage in normal runs is the "killer"....

      Personally I quite like this device has 2 modes. I would not be interested in just an activity tracker but since I have in this, it is kind of fun to see how many miles I cover just walking about in the day. More than I thought in fact.

      Reply
  23. Markus Korsholm Kristensen

    this is perfect for my needs, but I'm not buying it cause its incredibly ugly

    Reply
  24. alex

    Hey Ray

    thanks for the review. Its always good suff to read.

    A question about the training plans offered from garmin: on my account, i cannot see any cycling plans - shure there are for running and triathlon. Do you know if there are any restrictions? I do have shurely enough devices (FR910XT, FR620, Fenix2, EDGE 1000).

    A note to your edge review: they calculate older times for the segments. But I think, they do it as a low priority job. In my recently created segment, 2014s times show up after a few minutes. Olders after a few days.

    But back to the FR15: Do you know, if there is a way to syncronize the watch during ANT (like the 910xt)? In my opinion, I dont want to clip on the watch to the computer every day (can lower battery life) but I certainly want to see the activity stats on GC.

    Thanks, guy!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No sync via ANT+ like the FR910XT. Garmin has moved away from that model for the most part because it led to increased support costs. While they sync with ANT+ with the Vivofit, it's largely a secondary solution since most folks will simply sync with the phone.

      Reply
  25. Tim Grose

    Unless I have missed something you can only download by plugging into a computer. Would not be too bothered about the battery life degrading. Have had nearly all the Forerunners over the years and some "died" but don't recall any due to the battery going or that the life became really low.

    Reply
  26. Ed

    I recall that there is a significant difference in the accuracy of calorie burn estimates derived from HRM and non-HRM (e.g. accelerometer) data. So in regards to the FR15:

    - does the FR15's 'activity tracking' mode make use of (and record) heart rate data outside of an activity to calculate calorie consumption, assuming a heart rate monitor is connected?

    - assuming I wanted to collect data heart rate data over an extended period of time (~12 hours) but wasn't concerned with GPS information, would this require an 'activity' to be started, or will the 'activity monitor' mode record the HRM data in a way that is accessible to the end user (e.g. through Garmin Connect as an XML download)?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No recording of heart rate data outside of a specific activity (GPS or non-GPS, but still in an activity).

      So yup, if you wanted to record HR for a long period, you'd just start an activity with GPS off but activity on. I'm guessing you'll go quite the distance (easily 12hrs+). From there it'd simply save the file as a .FIT file, and on Garmin Connect you can export it to TCX/CSV.

      Reply
  27. Scott Paul Roberts

    I have been looking at the FR-15 since your opening post. I almost have my wife talked into getting me this watch for Fathers Day.

    Your post should seal the deal!

    I enjoy all your posts. My wife tolerates some of my incessant reading of your blog.
    But ever once in while she can't help but enjoy reading together with me about your picnics in Paris and your travels abroad.
    Thank you for all your work, I'm getting a GPS watch! Whoopty whoop as Ray would say.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks Scott!

      And...just published another Paris Picnic type post this morning for ya to enjoy!

      Reply
  28. Luz

    Really bummed this only has the option to view either overall avg pace, instant, or lap. Wish the data fields were more like FR410 were you could switch between Overall Distance, pace , time and then switch to Lap distance pace time. Debating whether to return the product since I find it useful to have those options, the colors and appearance is the only plus for me. Will they ever update this?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Lots of people asked for it with the FR10, and never quite got it (though, lap pace was added to the FR10 post-initial release)

      On one hand I understand their business logic of the upsell to the higher end watches (i.e. FR220). On the flip side, with watches like the TomTom Runner priced at or below the FR15, I think the competition is increasing in this segment.

      Reply
  29. Stephen

    Hi Ray,

    Really appreciate all your detailed reviews. You are without a doubt the best information source for endurance training technology products. Regarding the FR15, do you think the small green/black watch will fit a male wrist? It appears that Garmin may have created that color scheme for males with smaller wrists that might prefer the smaller profile watch. Thanks for your input.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      For me, the smaller model actually does (just barely) fit my wrists. But then again, my wrists are pretty small.

      Reply
    • Jeff replied

      I am literally wearing the men's small version right now and am glad I chose this over the large. I have wrists on the smaller side and have confirmed through various sources (Ray being one of them, and the other Garmin) you only lost text size not any lines.

      Go with the small if you are on the fence, I love mine so far!

      Reply
  30. Jay M

    I'm starting to hate "additional features coming later". How do you feel most companies deliver on this promise?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I think in general within the sports tech world most companies actually do deliver on that promise. Where I think people tend to get confused/mislead is when a company talks about 'potentially' adding something, and people automatically translate that to "will absolutely do it, and will do it immediately'.

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Ray, this could be a reference to "call notification" on the Fitbit Force

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      True, though, I think in the FitBit Force's case that was a very rare circumstance where the entire product was recalled (and, would be the largest sports tech device recall ever).

      I have no doubt once they release an updated Force, it'll likely be there at launch, and probably be there for older gen users. Fwiw, call notification there was actually rolled out to some beta users.

      Reply
    • Jay M replied

      Actually, I'm waiting on buying a couple things from Wahoo and Magellon. They have promised some Android functionality. I can't stand Apple, but it seems 3rd parties are delivering more content to them, even though they supply apps to both platforms.

      Reply
  31. Alfie

    Great review Ray! It lacks some of the features that I want in my running watch (will be getting the 220 for Father's Day). But, I love it for the fact that it has the activity tracking in conjunction with the fully functional running watch so for me, it would make a great secondary watch, using it daily for tracking activities and using it for my business trips when I don't need a custom workout plan. I will definitely look at adding this later on!

    Reply
  32. Kim

    Can you shed some 'light' on the backlight of the Forerunner 15? I currently wear a timex HealthTracker and I LOVE the indiglo. This isn't a make or break feature for me, but rather the only question I have that you didn't hit on.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, like Jim says it's totally readable at night (did a number of night runs). You can tap the upper left button and it'll turn on for about 10 seconds before automatically turning back off again.

      The entire screen is backlight, so it's not just a little light in the corner like some cheap stopwatches. It's not quite as bright as something like a 910XT, but again, completely viewable.

      Reply
  33. Jim

    I'll say the back light isn't as bright as an indigo watch, but very readable in the dark....

    Reply
  34. Nathan

    Does anyone know if the FR220 now auto calibrates a foot pod in the same way as the FR15?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      My understanding is that it does at a high level (GPS based) - but I'll get some clarification for the exact GPS calibration methods across the different watches.

      Reply
    • Nathan replied

      Great - thanks Ray. Normally I'd always use GPS on my FR220 but it would be great to know that for the occasional indoor run my pace as reported from the foot pod is correct without me having to worry about calibrating it manually.

      Reply
  35. Ray, I understand that you can keep in the watch up to 7 workouts and then you need to download your data. How many days of "activity tracking" can you store?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't remember offhand, but I'm pretty sure it's 30 days.

      Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      Actually this seems to be 7 days as well. I have had the device for more than 7 days but can only see the last 7 days on it.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I assumed the poster meant stored for upload (not via device UI). I know the Vivofit is definitely 30 days of storage for that data (+ no historical UI). Interesting question...

      Reply
  36. Elina

    Thank you for the great review! I love the idea of combining activity tracker with sports watch and I'm seriously considering buying FR 15 as my first GPS sports watch. It is not ideal for me, as I very rarely go out for a run and am more of a cycling person, and I attend the gym 5 days a week on average (alternating between indoor cycling and functional training). I don't feel that I would end up using the custom routes for cycling much either, but I do want to track the cycling speed and HR and at the same time I would like to have something relatively small to wear during my workouts at the gym.
    So after reading reviews for other Garmin devices (e.g. Edge 500), I have concluded that FR 15 is probably the the best option for me at the moment, although it is possible that I'm missing something important here? I'm not really experienced with sports watches, so if you have some advice on the subject, I would greatly appreciate it!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's tough. It sounds like you probably wouldn't use it for much more than calories though while indoors (which is somewhat normal). While outdoors it'll work for what you're looking for.

      Reply
  37. NR

    Thanks for your hard-worked review.

    I do not need an activity tracker. My primary goal is road running to keep my-self fit and improve health parameters. It seems to me that Forerunner 310XT has similar capability as far as measuring running parameters goes but packs more battery life and better navigational features within same price range. Only thing it lacks, is an internal accelerometer but again cadence is not necessary for me. So would you think 310XT will be better option than Forerunner 15 in terms of of ruggedness, reliability and accuracy ?
    Which foot-pod do you suggest for using in treadmill with 310XT / 15 for measuring distance ?
    From my past experience with Suunto, Casio watches, I have found that plastic / silicon strap breaks after 1-1.5 yrs of use. It would be impossible to find strap for Garmin in India, where I stay. Is it possible to store an extra strap each for Garmin & Scosche Rhythm Smart+ , or do these deteriorate with time even if not used ?

    Thanks again for your unputdownable reviews and travelogues.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Absolutely. The FR310XT is a far more capable watch than the FR15 is.

      As for a footpod, just go with the Garmin footpod (small one). On the FR310XT, I haven't heard of anyone breaking the actual watch silicon strap portion yet. But if you do, you can buy an extra FR310XT strap for reasonably cheap. They hold up fine though.

      Reply
  38. John

    Does the Garmin FR 15 work with the Mio Link? Thanks.

    Reply
  39. Emma

    Thank you for all your brilliant reviews, very very helpful. I am currently in the market for my first (budget) GPS watch with the goal of running the Comrades Ultra Marathon (89km) next year. I have never run further than 21km, so I feel it will probably take me 11-12h to run this beast. I have narrowed it down to either the Garmin FR15 or the Nike+ watch. For the actual marathon I like the idea of the included foot pod with the Nike+ as the battery life in GPS mode is only 9h, whereas the FR15 is 8h. I have no interest in the activity monitor (FR15) but prefer the smaller design of the watch (I am put off by the ill-fitting strap of the Nike+ (as on your fiance)). What do you recommend?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      HI Emma-

      Honestly...neither. Here's why.

      For running that event you're going to want a record of it (as you noted), but neither of those watches will deliver in that category. I'd look at something that's able to go a bit farther. If budget is of primary concern, you can pickup the trusty little orange Garmin FR310XT - which while it might seem bulky I promise after about 1 run you'll forget it's there. Plus, the battery will go about 18 or so hours.

      Reply
  40. Ray

    I just purchased the FR 15 and wish I had read the review first. You have provided a great deal of information here and I thank you for that. I tried it out today for the first time on a 6 mile walk and it was quite interesting to see the results on Garmin Connect. I have a Mac and it took me awhile to figure out why I could not view anything in the Garmin Connect Modern view... Thankfully I resolved that. I just ordered the bike mount as I wanted to get a unit that would record both bike and walking, sadly my running days are over, and thought this might suffice. I use my iPhone to record walks and rides, but that does kill the battery so I was looking for an alternative. Your comments on the way to set it up for biking were helpful. I do have a fitbit and will be interesting to see how they compare recording the steps taken. Again, thanks for a great review and I look forward to reading some of your other posts.

    Reply
  41. Tyrell

    Hey Ray,
    The FR15 was almost a winner for me. It's just UGLY OMG lol, but here is my question. Does the FR15 use the footpod for cadence or distance/pace? The reason I asked is because I am trying to use it as a reference point to calabrate my Adidas SpeedCell on Android. I did a test with the FR15 with Footpod, Adidas Speedcell with GPS and MiCoach GPS only (another phone). My results were FR15 1.17, SpeedCell 1.22 and Micoach 1.17. Every time I repeat the test with different millage the Micoach app with GPS only and FR15 match but the Speedcell is always off. Should I worry about the difference? I keep calibrating the footpod but it stills seems off.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It uses it for cadence both inside and outside, and for distance inside and when no GPS outside.

      That's a little bit more than I'd normally like to see after calibration (I aim for about .02 per mile or less), but not horrible (not sure if you're miles or KM).

      Reply
  42. Brooke

    Thanks for the review. Has anyone used the FR15 for tracking distance in pool?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it won't track anything there unfortunately since it's focused on steps and doesn't do laps.

      Reply
  43. I take it there are or will not be any sleep-based alarms(post-firmware update)? Or possibility of having that?

    i.e. my Jawbone will awaken me within a certain range from the time I set based on my sleep patterns/movements.

    Reply
  44. Brooke

    The product description mentions it can handle water up to 5 meters though...False advertising

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sure, it can handle the water depth just fine (it's actually 50-meters, or 5ATM). It just doesn't mean it'll track swim metrics (for that, look at the Garmin Swim watch).

      Reply
  45. Brooke

    Thanks. So if I swim for 30 minutes it will tell me I did x number of miles. right? or are you saying it's just waterproof up to 5m.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, if you swim for 30 minutes, it won't really tell you much. It may think you walked .10 miles, or it may think you walked 1 mile. It's really hard to say, since it was designed to capture walking - and so when used on your wrist in the pool it's not really going to know what to do with that.

      I'm saying that it's simply waterproofed to 50 meters (aka 5ATM). Which means you can submerge the device up to that depth without killing it.

      If you're looking for a watch that tells you how far you've swam in the pool, the Garmin Swim is what you want: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
  46. Brooke

    Awesome! Thanks for clarifying, seriously. Have a good one

    Reply
  47. Mr Nofish

    "especially given how few (virtually none) complaints I see from people on the running side of the FR10 (precursor to the FR15)."

    It's like the Edge 200, have you ever heard anyone complain about it? Not me.

    And to me it's basically wasted money: it does not do anything that I want from a GPS bike computer, and yet anytime I hear someone talking about it they're super happy. Expectations, I guess.

    Reply
  48. Ann Walker

    Does anyone know if the alarms can be used to remind you when you've been sedentary too long. I have a vivofit and I like it but it's easy to not notice the visual "you've been sitting too long indicator". I can remind myself with a phone app but I as wondering if this device already that idea built in? Ideally I'd like to be nagged while sitting for >= 20 minutes.

    Reply
    • Tyrell replied

      Ann,

      It will give you a single beep and display move on the watch as well. The beep is very subtle, so it may go unnoticed; however the Move! will give you a better heads up but of course you have to look at it. Basically it does, but don't really count on it. Vibrating would have been so much better but also make it so much more expensive in terms of money and battery life.

      Reply
  49. Jim

    As of today, Garmin Connect (the web version at least), allows you to link to MFP for calorie in/out info for the FR15 and Vivofit. The link to MyFitnessPal has been request since the vivofit first came out.

    Reply
  50. Konami

    I have a Garmin heart rate belt that I used previously with a Forerunner 305. Should I be able to use this with the Forerunner 15? (I don't know whether belts / transmitters are dedicated to a unique receiver, whether they have a limited life and I would be better of to buy a new one, etc.)

    Reply
  51. Ray

    Tried my Garmin Forerunner 15 with the Heart Rate Monitor that came with it. Started out ok and got to a heartbeat of 94 BPS. Just hung there and then dropped. Tried to reestablish the connection but no luck. Finished that ride. Waited a bit and tried again. This time I made sure it was paired, the heart was showing .... Started off ok but as before as soon as it hit 94 it hung there no matter how fast or hard I peddled. It was connected as the pulse rate dropped down as I slowed down considerably and finally went back to 60 when I sat down. Have contacted Garmin and waiting to see what they say.

    Reply
  52. William Tate

    Great review. I am really torn on what watch to get. I am going to run my first 5K soon. I've been training for a bit with the C25K app. I have really been wanting a watch for running though. I'd also like to be able to track off road mud runs too. I have been trying to decide between Forerunner 15, or the 220. It seems like all the features I really need are in the 15, but I do like some of the added things the 220 does. I like being able to sync the data without having to connect to a usb cord.
    I do have larger wrists, I wonder if one is more comfortable then the other. I do like the price of the 12 vs the 220 for sure haha. I just don't know if I can justify spending the extra money for the 220.
    Do you think the 15 is more what I should start off with? I mean at some point I suppose I could always upgrade to the 220 or something else eventually. Being just a beginner runner, the 15 just might suit me best.

    Reply
    • Tyrell replied

      The major difference I believe, and I am sure Ray will correct me on this is the ability to sync data and workouts via Bluetooth smart and live tracking. Besides that they both do the same as far as running. The 220 has more features like interval training you can program on the watch itself. If you only care about how far and how long you run then the 220 maybe a bit overkill. They both can use a footpod and HRM. The FR15 has the plus of activity tracking whereas the 220 doesn't. I think the FR15 is perfect for your situation because it also helps with motivation (opinion) of course lol.

      Reply
    • William Tate replied

      Looks like my wife went ahead and bought the 220 for me :) I guess that solves that! Thanks for the reply.

      Reply
  53. Alyse

    Thanks for such an informative and thorough review. I'll be using this post when I set my new FR15 up tonight!

    As someone that used to be primarily a treadmill runner and is now working on running outside more now that I've got the Marine Corp 10K on my calendar, I'm curious if there's anyway to use the FR15 for a treadmill run without the footpod? I know it has the accelerometer but if I try to start a run and don't have a footpod to pair it to, will it capture any data or am I better off just leaving it in activity tracker mode and using the HRM to at least try and get calorie data? I'd love to not buy a footpod but given that DC summers are ungodly muggy, I still want the option to wimp out and use a treadmill every now and then.

    I'm so surprised they didn't set it up for the accelerometer to track treadmill/track runs. My husband uses a FR220 and his has is really pretty accurate. That seems like it would have been such a simple add to this device.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Unfortunately you're in a bit of a pickle there without a footpod, since it won't record your distance on the treadmill as an activity file, but rather just as generic steps.

      I suspect the reason they didn't include accelerometer support is probably 'business reasons' (read: force people to higher end units). :/

      Reply
  54. Alain

    Hello,

    First and above all, thank you for the incredible job you are doing here.

    51 yo, leaving near Marseilles. Just sharing here my experience in health monitoring.

    After a very serious problem, doctors told me to walk as much as possible to recover.
    First i get me a fitbit One.I make a rapid walk everyday, using a Zephyr HXM bluetooth HR paired to Endomondo on my smartphone, and another walk in the evening to top my 10000 steps fitbit goal when not too tired.

    I will get me a Forerunner 15 very soon thanks to your review.

    P.S : great job on the TV . We need to have a Rainmaker show more often :)

    Reply
  55. Josh

    Just had my first run with this watch and it performed beautifully. Why is there no auto scroll and do you think they will add it?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I suspect they see Auto Scroll is a more premium feature. I wouldn't expect them to add it unfortunately.

      Reply
    • Josh replied

      Boo. It's literally the only quirk in this watch.

      Reply
  56. George

    Really really nice job on the review!!

    Reply
  57. George S

    Great review!! Thanks! Has anyone run into an issue where the FR 15 will detect the heart rate monitor but not display or read your heart rate? I have a heart rate monitor that came with my old FR 305, and it works with the 305, but seems to be having issues with my brand new FR 15. Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance!

    Reply
    • Ray replied

      I purchased the HR Monitor with the FR 15 and have had nothing but problems with the connection. Wearing it in front on a bike resulted in dropped HR after a minute of so. Called support and they suggested wearing the monitor on side or back when biking. Tried it again and it was better but there were several instances when it dropped real low for about 6 minutes and then returned to approximate range prior to drop. The last time I tried it on the bike, the rate dropped to 70s and was intermittent. Tried walking with it and I had similar results with lows going into the 40s and 30s and back up to the 90s. Way to inconsistent so I am calling support again on Monday and will probably return it.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Any chance you can swap out the heart rate strap battery? It sounds like a bad battery (which, I know, should be new, but sometimes wonky things can happen in storage of the straps).

      Reply
    • George S. replied

      I tried swapping the battery, but no change. found a forum where others were having similar issues , but no resolution as of yet there. am going to try a newer soft strap on tuesday. Will update afterwards. Thanks!

      Reply
    • George S. replied

      Received a new soft strap HR monitor (Garmin) today, and it worked great! Recorded HR , no lapses. Issue must have been with my original HR monitor that came with my forerunner 305, 8 years ago! That strap worked with the 305, but not with my FR 15.

      Reply
  58. Kev. S

    I have a HRM that came with my FR 410 - is this likely to work with the FR 15, not a deal breaker but would be nice to reuse?

    Reply
  59. Felix

    Amazingly detailed review. Thank you so much.

    Can you please explain to me what happens if I continue to use my Vivofit for step and sleep tracking and use the FR 15 for activity tracking only (I mean to change devices before starting the activity)?
    Will the steps counted during the activity be added seemlessly to the Vivofit data or not? Will Garmin Connect add the steps from both devices?

    As soon as the FR 15 starts sleep tracking I guess I will switch devices altogether.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, the steps in that case will be Vivofit only. The FR15 will (or should anyway) just act like any other Garmin Forerunner watch.

      Reply
    • Felix replied

      Do I understand you correctly that the moment I switch the FR15 from step counting mode to activity monitoring it will NOT count my steps? I would have suspected to monitor my activity and still counting steps. 10000 steps each day would be hard to achieve if that were the case.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As far as Garmin Connect is concerned, correct. Unless something has changed in the last little bit - GC requires you to 'pick one' master activity tracker. This is the same as FitBit and others.

      Reply
  60. Mark

    I just received the FR15, thanks for the review :)

    However, I have some troubles with Garmin Connect installation, crashes before the end. Anyone experiencing this issue ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      If you're on Windows, ensure that you're running the software installation as an Administrator.

      Reply
  61. Mike Frost

    Re. the footpod - is it possible to force the unit to use the footpod to deliver the live pace data when running outside (i.e. GPS just records route info, with the real-time pace info from the footpod)? Personally, I find a calibrated footpod as accurate as GPS (if not more so) and deriving pace from the footpod is more responsive than GPS…I note that Garmin say the footpod is 'continually calibrated' by the GPS, although it seems odd to calibrate the footpod using something that has its own errors - what's wrong with calibrating using a known distance as per the FR50 / 60 / 70? Far more reliable to use a known distance, surely? Also, allowing the user to manually calibrate the footpod allows for slightly different calibration values to be used depending on intended pace / footwear / etc. At least if you calibrate it yourself you know where any errors are likely to lie - 'continuous calibration' sounds a bit too black box…you'd end up not knowing if the pace shown was over- or under-estimated, whereas with manual calibration you can control this….

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The pace for outside comes from GPS, unless the GPS speed is 0. There isn't a way to tell it to use the footpod for the speed source.

      I suspect the reason they do the continual calibration is that the vast majority of people (especially folks buying the FR15), won't want to go to a track to manually calibrate it. Thus, with GPS it's constantly calibrating - thus ensuring that if you wear different shoes/paces/etc, you'll be more accurate.

      In this case, I suspect that 'continually calibrating', is actually what the other Garmin watches do, which is basically just filling up 'pace buckets' for calibration values at different pace ranges.

      Reply
  62. Sam

    Does the FR15 continue to record your daily steps while also recording a GPS run outdoors? If not, it seems pretty useless as an activity/step tracker since it will miss counting a huge chunk of your daily steps.

    Reply
  63. Arthur

    I have a 4-year-old FR210, and it usually takes more than 15 minutes to find the satellites. It never took less than a minute, but it is worse now. The firmware is up to date, and the watch is fully charged and at rest for five minutes before I start my run. Is the GPS chipset any better in the FR15? (I was sorry to see your comment that the chipset is probably the same as in the FR10, as I should think GPS should have improved in two years.) I have a fried with both a FR910 and a FR305, and she says the FR910 finds satellites much faster. That suggests the GPS is not the same from Garmin watch to watch. Is the 910 simply a better watch? Or diid GPS evolve between the models? On the FR210, the pace when I set it for instantaneous really bounces around. I guess it is using "smart" sampling. Is the FR15 going to any different from the FR210? Thanks for the review, and for giving me a chance to ask my questions.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd be willing to bet if you do a full reset on your FR210 that it'll fix the satellite issues. That often solves it by telling the watch to reset the satellite cache, as it sounds like it has a bad unit cached in there.

      Reply
    • Arthur replied

      You are right. Thank you. Now the search time is less than two minutes.

      I had to search to find the procedure to do the full reset, as the manual simply says to turn the watch off an on. Google to the rescue. Is there a better manual for the FR210?

      I am still interested in knowing if the GPS chipset has changed in four years. My first GPS was a Timex Bodylink System Speed-Distance GPS that I got in 2007.was separate from the watch, so I know things changed begtween 2007 and 2010.My guess is the GPS in the FR15 is not significantly different from my FR 210. Correct?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's unfortunately the full/only manual.

      As for GPS chipsets, they've changed a ton since then. Most newer watches on the market get satellite coverage between 3 and 20 seconds.

      The FR15 is a bit of an exception because it's based on the same GPS chipset as the FR10, which is about 2 years old, but I think that was actually an older chipset.

      Reply
    • Arthur replied

      By accident, I found your October 2010 review of trhe FR210. It was very helpful -- partly because it talked about the different Garmin watches, including the FR10, which it appears was already out. It sounds like if I just want a "runner's watch" the GPS capability of the FR15 is probably no better than my FR210.

      A limitation with both watches is having only one screen with three things displayed. I wear my Timex 30-lap watch on my other arm, which means I can have the time and pulse rate at the same time. I was given a heart-rate monitor strap that works on my FR210, but I cannot figure out how to get the pulse rate to be displayed during a run. Please share the button sequence (the manual is again useless, and all I see in your 2010 reort is a picture showing it is possible).

      Having a second watch with a running time might be useful when you are showing how long it takes a watch the flock in to the satelite.

      Reply
    • Arthur replied

      Problem solved.

      A friend pointed me to a Garmin support page that told me there was a more recent version of the FR210 manual than the one I had (by a couple of years). It told me I can switch "pages" during a run to go between time of day, elapsed time during a run (plus distance and pace), and heart rate (plus distance and pace). This morning I tested it, and it worked fine. I had the Garmin set to the heart-rate page and my Timex on the other arm had the elapsed time.

      Reply
  64. Mike Besser

    Great reviews. I am considering the Garmin FR15 for my 12-yr daughter who is taking a keen interest in cross-country and tracking her training stats. The basic features are perfect. My only hesitation is that she really does not use a computer/laptop ... but only her iPhone. Have you found a good GPS watch that can be uploaded easily to in iPhone app? She loves using the Nike app ... but she does not want to have to carry her phone on every run.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The best bet there would be the TomTom Runner (price drops to $150 on Tuesday, plus DCR 10% discount), or the more expensive FR220, which does sync with your phone.

      Reply
  65. Jeremy

    Thanks for your very detailed review of the Forerunner 15. After the XT 910, I wanted a slightly less complex and bulky watch with more battery life when not in GPS mode and so far the Forerunner 15 has been a good purchase. The only 2 comments (and questions !) I have are that I cannot seem to be able to display:

    a) the current lap time (shows overall exercise time and the lap time when I hit the lap button but not the current lap time). I noticed in our review that you had the watch displaying the lap time (3rd picture under the Running Outdoors section). How did you achieve this ?

    b) once I have completed my race or workout and I have hit "Save", nothing appears under History. I can only see the Fitness data (steps and calories, in my case showing nil results as I have disabled the Activity Tracker). Of course I can see the data online on Garmin Connect but nothing on the watch itself. Again, is this normal ? A bit of a bummer considering it's nice to be able to review / compare data with your mates straight after crossing the finish line or completing a solid workout.

    I have studied the manual, watch settings and forums at length and didn't quite find any clarification, hope you can point me in the right direction. Thanks again for your amazing reviews and keep up the training. Jeremy

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      A) Have you changed it to show your Lap Pace instead?

      B) Hmm, that's strange. Should definitely show under history and then under 'Today' (or whatever day you're looking for. :-/

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      I'm having the same issue. One poster on the garmin forums indicates it is a bug and a futre software update will fix it.

      link to forums.garmin.com

      Reply
    • Hayden replied

      I have the same issue. If you turn on Activity tracker then the Runs option in the History menu will show your saved runs. When Activity tracker is turned off the Runs option acts like the Daily Steps option. I emailed Garmin and the reply I received said that it would be fixed in a future software update. Basically, until they update the software you can see your saved runs on your watch if you leave Activity tracker on.

      Reply
  66. Sariann

    Thanks for your awesome reviews!
    I thought the FR15 was going to be the one for me- I'm headed off on a trans-american cycle trip this autumn and this seemed like a great way to track our route, as well as replace my fitness tracker I'm currently using to train for the ride. Then I saw that there's no BT connectivity, which will be an issue when I only have access to my iPhone for 2 months! Is there a watch that you think can perform the same functions with BT connectivity and an app? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Unfortunately not without spending a whole lot more. From a watch with BT standpoint you've got the TomTom series starting at about $150, and then you've got the Garmin FR220 starting at $250. But neither provide activity monitoring.

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Will there be someone in the support car that has a PC? That way you can still sync every day. And you can see your data on an iPhone once your sync...

      Reply
    • Sariann replied

      We're going solo, so no support car. I think I've settled on a huge upgrade from the FR15, and am going with the FR620. With the new software update, it'll support a cadence and speed sensor, and the new HR sensor system will be awesome for training. Thanks again for all the awesome reviews, they've been a great help!

      Reply
  67. Nip

    Does one have to hook up the FR15 to a computer every day for syncing daily runs? Or does it have an internal memory which would remember your last few runs thus allowing you to sync every few days?

    Thanks for the in-depth review!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It can remember 5-7 runs, and 30 days of activity data (daily activity tracking).

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Yes, RM that is true. And you can also review the last 6 days (plus today) in the activity tracker history. I do wish they added Step records to the "records" displayed on the Fr15 though.... (best day, at least!)

      Reply
  68. Dean Dillman

    I am confused. Under Swimming, you have "No" for the 15 and "No(protected though just fine)"
    Under Waterproofing you have 50 Meters for the 15 and 50M for the 220.

    So here are my questions. Isn't 50M the same as 50 meters? (I tried to Google it but wasn't finding the answer) If so, then why different in the safe for swimming categories. I am asking because I just ordered the 15 for my wife and the 220 for me. We like to go to the pool and want to know if it is safe to use them.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I went ahead and made the wording match (50 Meters vs 50M). 50M is simply an abbreviation for 50 meters.

      Same goes for the wording on being protected. Simply a case of me entering in the products manually slightly differently over time (years). I try and normalize it every once in a while.

      In short, any of those three products are perfectly fine to use in a pool while swimming.

      Reply
    • Dean replied

      Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

      Reply
  69. Tomas

    I live in Argentina, does this watch tracks satellites as well as FR220 while running????
    The blog is great, and reviews really useful !!!!

    Reply
  70. Philip

    I used the FR10 for almost a year and apart from no HR facility and short battery life (5hr max) quite enjoyed the watch. Until the wrist strap simply fell off one day whilst running. I googled and found that there was quite a lot of similar complaints from other runners. It seems as if the mechanism Garmin uses to fix the wrist strap to the watch (FR10) was not so great. I am now very keen on buying the FR15 as it solves the short comings I experienced with the FR10, however, it seems as if the FR15 uses the same technology in fixing the wrist strap to the watch. Can you please confirm if this is true and also if anyone has had similar problems with the FR15 wirst strap that were picked up on the FR10.Great reviews - thanx!!!

    Reply
  71. Jennifer Clodfelter

    I'm a recent Garmin 15 user and noticed the following: I synced the device in the middle of the day and later in the same day. After the second syncing that day, on one of the graphs it showed the steps as of the first syncing that day, but another chart showed the total steps/mileage for the entire day. I would have expected that all charts would have been updated after the second syncing. Is this the way it is supposed to work or am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, that's not normal. Is it still doing it? I know they were having some problems late last week on GC.

      Reply
  72. Henry Collet

    Is there a way to reduce the footpod promiscuity? I have one, and ran with my friend and his FR15. It picked up my footpod and now has unrequited love for it. He doesn't have a footpod and hence it's throwing things out. Try as we can, there doesn't seem to be a well to tell the FR15 to just let go and move on; there's plenty of more pods in the sea.

    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it's actually something I brought up with Garmin a month or so ago. :(

      You could probably reset his watch, but that's sorta sad.

      Reply
  73. Madeleine

    DCRainmaker, thank you for your detailed reviews. So helpful. I have been using a Polar FT7 for a 1.5 years & have absolutely loved it. It helped me track workouts and estimate calories and I lost 35 pounds and got back into shape. This year I got into cycling,running and fitness walking and got tired of draining my phone battery with MapMyRun, Endomodo, etc. I started investigating GPS watches. I had also been considering an activity monitor as well. The Forerunner 15 seemed like the perfect watch. NOT SO FAR. I know you said that calorie burn is typically within 10-20% difference range...I'm not having that experience. At low intensities (I use a treadmill desk and walk 4-5 hours a day at 1-1.3mph) the Garmin (with HR strap) is about 50% off (65 cal v about 110 cal for Polar for an hour's walk). At high intensities it is 50% too high - example: cycling yesterday with HR strap for 42 minutes: Polar 458 cal, Garmin 1002!) I've done that ride dozens of times, and there's NO WAY it burns 1000 cal. So, I've searched Garmin FAQ...no help. Double checked user profile - it was fine. DCRainmaker or others, any insight? I may have to return the watch if I can't get it resolved. I really was hoping this would give me the benefits of the Polar, activity monitoring, and tracking/mapping outdoor workouts. Thoughts? The mapping function, distance, etc works beautifully. If its a matter of upgrading the watch to a higher end model to get better workout calorie estimates, I'd rather have that and eschew activity tracking. I'm not a triathlete and not a "serious" runner, but given how I track my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal and so forth, I need a reasonable approximation of calories to ensure I maintain my weight, etc. Thanks for any insight y'all can provide.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Calorie burn is always a tricky thing. The FR15 went with a slightly 'cheaper' algorithm than many of Garmin's higher end watches (likely to save on licensing costs). I'd agree the Polar number for the desk sounds more likely, as does the cycling number (though, Polar perhaps a bit low there depending on your weight/effort). Unfortunately there's little you can do if you've already changed the weight/age/gender pieces on the FR15. :-/

      Reply
    • Ray replied

      I find this interesting as I did get the 15 with the HR monitor so I could get a good approximation of the calories I burn either walking or riding. I have used cyclemeter / walkmeter on my iPhone for years and used the app to calculate the calories burned. I tried other apps and most always come up with a different result, hence the purchase of the HR monitor with the 15. I figured this would give a truer reading. Unfortunately, as I posted above, the HR monitor did not function. Garmin was good enough to replace the HR monitor with the latest version, but I have just received it and have not tried it yet.

      I did do a 38 mile 3 hour 5 minute ride the other day and the 15, without the HR monitor calculated that I burned at 3,987 which I know is impossible given my age and the speed I ride. For the fun of it, I went to several sites that offer calculators to estimate the calories burned whilst cycling. The figures ranged from a high of 1,890 to a low of 1,648 with a few in the middle of the range. Even my limited test shows the watch over calculating by more than 50%.

      As you mentioned, the algorithm used by Garmin, which I have no idea how they calculate calories burned, obviously is inaccurate and cannot be trusted. I do realize there are two components to determining calories burned. There is the base rate which the body normally burns just by being alive. Then there is the rate burned by the increased activity of the exercise. One would assume that the calculations we see from the watch and on the calculators take this into consideration. There is a good site, Fitness Partner, that will calculate how many calories you burn per minute for 222 different activities from sleep to any of the other 221 categories. That shows me burning 1648 calories for the ride or 8.9 calories per minute.

      I guess all we can do is write Garmin support and register our concerns about the accuracy of the measurements provided by the FR 15.

      Reply
    • Ray replied

      Just received a reply from Garmin, which clarifies the seemingly incorrect calorie calculation. As noted the 15 is designed as a running / walking watch and thus all calculations are done as if the activity is one of those. I did try today with the HR Monitor on and the calorie calculation again(1,943) was way off despite what the support person says. I checked the miles, time, etc. on several sites and for biking and most showed a figure around 840. I then went to a running calculator and entered the same data and the calculations were almost identical to the 1,943 figure. I can only assume that the watch will always calculate calories as if you are running or walking and not any other activity. I have written back to them for a clarification.

      Reply
    • Carla replied

      Hi all - great review Rainmaker - thanks heaps!

      After reading your review - I just got this watch and the Scosche ANT+ HR monitor and I'm really enjoying them! But just a few questions about 2 niggles I've had

      1) When exercising - HR is registeringwell and reflects what my previous HR monitor used to do on the same track etc except that the calorie count is way out (under)- it seems to be based on either steps/distance and not related at all to my heart rate and so completely inaccurate. Eg today I took 20mins to go up a steep, rocky 1.13km hill at av 170bmp - and calorie count showed was only 75Cal whereas coming on a 2.05km track down the hill, also taking 20mins but with av 150bpm - it calculated 132 - essentially double the distance, double the calories - so clearly calorie count is based on distances or steps and not on intensity - which hugely defeats the point...!

      (my daily activity tracking is on - is this maybe why? Should this be deactivated during a HR monitored workout?. Is there any way to change this/software update planned so that calorie count when the watch is paired with a HRmonitor is based on HR as I'd be a lot more reflective of what's going on?)

      2) Also - I'd like to be able to view time and HR(bmp) in the same display - this does not seem to be available as an option - is this the case or is there any way to do this otherwise?

      Thanks

      Carla

      Reply
    • Carla replied

      Just wondering if anybody had a similar experience to mine above/knows anything about this as it seems a pretty major inaccuracy for those looking to use it to calculate daily energy expenditure...and hopefully it's either something simple I'm doing wrong or something they can fix with a software update

      thanks

      Reply
  74. MIke

    Thanks for the review!

    Am just wondering if everything in terms of data is compatible with the strava.com logging system. A few colleagues of mine use it and im wondering if this works with it?

    And by the sounds of things you can't connect it with ANT+ cycling receptors or anything outside of shoe pod and heart rate monitor, is that correct? And is there any chance of further updates to allow it?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, no problems with Strava - fully compatible.

      And correct, no cycling sensor support unfortunately. I definitely wouldn't expect Garmin to add it, since they haven't added it to their FR220 watch that's $100 more. And they just recently added it to their $399 FR620 watch after a lot of pulling teeth and waiting 9 months...

      Reply
  75. Kathy Townsend

    Deciding between the Forerunner 15 and 220. Does the 220 also track gym activities with the gps turned off with a hrm on? The forerunner 15 would be perfect for my needs but I really wish it would sync to my phone. That may be a deal breaker.

    Reply
    • Michelle Adams replied

      I've been debating the same thing, Kathy. I like the idea of the activity tracker, but really wish it would sync!!!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, the FR220 also tracks gym activities. It just doesn't track day to day steps as an activity tracker.

      Reply
  76. ultan

    hi,

    i'm pretty sure i'm going to order this watch. i was just wondering about taking it swimming in openwater and the article you have about placing a garmin watch in your swimming hat. will that work with this model? have you used it? can the strap be removed?

    thanks and great review.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, it works. The strap can't be easily removed - but I didn't have any issues there. I actually used it for a swim a little while back, worked just fine.

      Reply
  77. Artem

    Thank you for the review. Is there an option to switch between miles/km?

    Reply
  78. Tom

    Fantastic review that has caused me to take the plunge after years of debating. This is forced on me also by the unreliability of smart phones to track.
    It was a tough choice between this or a Garmin 200 as I use mainly for biking however I do 3-4 runs a week so it will serve a purpose.

    Many thanks again for the review.

    Any idea when the sleep update is being released?

    Tom

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I thought they were saying late-July, but don't quote me on that.

      Reply
  79. Chris Furner

    Any idea if this device will support data transfer via ANT+ USB sticks?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it doesn't support ANT+ transfer - and I wouldn't expect Garmin to add it either as they've moved away from it for all newer devices.

      Reply
  80. James Elling

    Hi DC, love your site definitely a go to everyday!

    I bought an FR15 the other week for run commuting through London. I've been finding that the GPS satellite selection can take as long as 8mins! Any ideas why this might be the case?

    I'm outside when I press start and keep totally still as I find any movement slows it down further!

    Has this problem been reported elsewhere?

    Thanks

    James

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's definitely far too long. If you haven't updated your firmware, definitely do that. Failing that, try a soft-reset of the FR15, which should clear the satellite database and refresh it.

      Reply
    • James Elling replied

      Thanks DC.

      I tried the reset (holding top left button for 15 secs?). Still no better this morning for my run. Would a built up area be the cause? All firmware is up to date.

      Considering sending back at this rate.

      Thanks again for your help!

      James

      Reply
  81. Txerra

    Hi !

    Can I configure the device for running 10 minutes in a heart rate zone 3, and walk 1 in a heart rate zone 1?

    This run/walk feature is in a loop (10 run - 1 walk - 10 run - 1 walk.... till I finish the workout)?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Txerra replied

      dcrainmaker, do you think Garmin will develop intervals for next updates for fr15?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, because then people won't buy the FR220.

      Reply
    • Txerra replied

      thank you for your reviews and your hard work, always wellcome !!

      Reply
    • Txerra replied

      I think it would be a good feature for the people who has already the watch

      Reply
  82. Melissa

    Love your reviews - thank you for taking the time to write them!

    I sit at a desk all day and am interested in the FR15 more so from an activity tracker (to force me to get up and move during the day) rather than a running watch (my FR610 keeps me happy for running!). I'm a loyal Garmin girl, so if the small price difference doesn't really matter to me, which would you recommend for activity tracking - FR15 or the Vivofit? Does the Vivofit have any advantages over the FR15 other than being smaller and cheaper?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  83. Melissa

    I sit at a desk all day and am interested in the FR15 more so from an activity tracker (to force me to get up and move during the day) rather than a running watch (my FR610 keeps me happy for running!). I'm a loyal Garmin girl, so if the small price difference doesn't really matter to me, which would you recommend for activity tracking - FR15 or the Vivofit? Does the Vivofit have any advantages over the FR15 other than being smaller and cheaper?

    Thanks for all of your awesome reviews!

    Reply
  84. Edorta

    Really nice review.
    Do you know if it is possible to replace the battery once it has fully discharged.?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You'd have to have the watch sent back to Garmin support to have them service it.

      Reply
    • Txerra replied

      Hi Edorta

      Are you having problems with your fr15 battery?

      When did you buy it?

      Reply
    • Edorta replied

      Not exactly. I have not buy it yet. I had this problem with my old 110. Garmin service said to me I had to change all the unit...It happened 6 months after the warranty had expired...so

      Reply
  85. Hofmeyr

    Hi DC.

    Mailing you all the way from South Africa..Great reviews!

    I've recently taking up mountain biking as a sport to get my cardio levels up as I don't enjoy running that much..I do Work out in the gym and hit the spinning bike daily..Do you think the Garmin FR15 would be suitable for my lifestyle as it can be worn as a day to day watch as well.It's sort of the only reason why I don't want a bike specific computer like the edge 500/510.. The FR15 has HR and GPS.. Just scared that because it's not a bike specific watch id run into some issues with it later on and would regret not waiting buying a Tom Tom Multi-Sports Cardio (Not released in SA yet) or save up more cash for 910XT which at the end of the day has a lot of features which i don't think I'll ever use + It's not really a day to day watch..

    Thanks for all the great reviews!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The FR15 is overall a pretty good fit, but I wonder if you're also doing a fair bit of cycling if you'll find more value in something like the FR310XT, which can be more easily mounted onto a handlebar using the quick release kit.

      Reply
  86. rajo

    I am looking for a replacement for my broken 210 and still have a working foot pod and heart rate strap. I can buy the FR15 for about the same price as the FR 210. The ability to use the 15 for swimming and some of the other features makes the FR15 appear to be the better choice. My question is for runners how is the 210 better than 15?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The singular reason someone would order the FR220 over the FR15 is for the little interval feature. But honestly, I'd just memorize your intervals instead as the FR15 is a far better watch otherwise.

      Reply
  87. Heath

    Since this device is USB, is it possible to use a USB to micro-USB cable and connect it to a smartphone for data download?

    Also, is it acceptable or recommended to charge via a USB wall adapter or does it have to be PC?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It depends on the device/phone. This post is most applicable: link to dcrainmaker.com

      The FR15 falls in the same camp as the Garmin Edge devices in those examples, with the notable exception that activity (steps) data will require a PC/Mac and/or Surface Pro device to upload (not Android/iOS based).

      Reply
  88. Txerra

    Hi again

    One question, why intervals ( run / walk ) are of 10 minutes and 30 seconds as max? this is not useful ....

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I suspect it's because that's the most common building blocks for run/walk intervals.

      Reply
    • Txerra replied

      But better if it were more flexible, with more values, 20 - 30- 40- 50
      . .. Are you agree?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No doubt. Though, I can understand why they made that decision since almost all walk/run programs are based on 30s intervals.

      Reply
  89. Chris

    So, unless I need all of the additional sensors I would think the FR10 is still a good option for an entry level GPS unit? It appears to have better GPS acquisition and it's also $40 cheaper than the FR15. Am I reading that correctly?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd agree - though no note that the FR10 doesn't have daily (step/etc) activity tracking.

      Reply
  90. Jim

    While many here are coming from a different GPS watch and are looking at one that also happens to track daily steps, I come from a different perspective. I started with the vivofit, and see the FR15 as the vivofit plus the other functions (GPS, etc).

    I've had an issue with the Fr15, almost since day one, and reported it to Garmin support, but in a number of exchanges with them, I don't think I've even found anyone that even understand the problem.

    In the activity tracker/daily steps mode, there is a concept of a "daily step goal". (How many steps you try to get each day, with the progress bar shown on the Fr15). And there are two ways to set this goal:

    1), make it a fixed number (say 10k steps/day)

    2) set it as an "auto step goal). When first set up, it sets your daily step goal at 7500 steps, and based on how well you been hitting your goal, your goal increases or decreases (if you meet your "auto goal", the following day your goal is increased by a few hundred steps)

    #1 and #2 both work fine on the vivofit, and with my testing of a vivofit (on a second GC account, it appears that this "auto step goal" is actually calculated on the vivofit (the vivofit will show the new goal prior or a sync).

    #1 works on the FR15, but "auto step goal" doesn't change with the Fr15. When I first reported this to garmin, my goal was "stuck" at about 7700 steps/day for a couple weeks. I tried doing a hard reset on the FR15, and my "auto step goal" has been stuck at 7500 ever since (and I've consistently been beating that goal by 2000 or 5000 steps. As an interesting note, if I look at my daily step history on the FR15, it does show my goal changing, but it's like it figures that out at the end of the day, as "today" is always 7500 steps, and when scrolling through the display on the fr15, "Goal" is always 7500, and the progress bar is always based on 7500 steps.

    I know a few other people that are having the same problem, and have contracted garmin support by phone, but again, nothing.

    Anyone here having this issue? Even if you haven't noticed it, you might see it happens to you too. Is your GC dashboard set for auto-step goal, and is your daily goal changing?

    Thanks in adavnce

    Reply
    • Michael replied

      Hi Jim
      From day one on the FR15 I went on Garmin express and changed the goal to 10,000 steps. The only place it can be changed is in Garmin express( connect) When I often exceed 10,0000 steps it prompts "a new record" ( any record being set.... Is of course "new").

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      But there is the other option of "auto step goal" (not setting a specific goal). That's what's not working for me. I'd changed to a fixed goal (9500 steps/day) after getting nothing back from Garmin support on the "stuck auto goal", and the Garmin folks emailed me to say that the reason Auto step goal didn't work was because "auto step goal" was off! (it had been on up till that day.. :( )

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      In fact, if you go to the same place your set your goal to 10,000, you'll see a "switch" for auto step goal. If you turn that on, you'll be started at 7500 steps/day, and for me, never changes as it should (and as it does with the vivofit)

      Reply
  91. Felix

    I bought a FR15 after reading this splendid review and now the watch is driving me mad.

    Every time a sync via PC the watch crashes and freezes 5 to 10 minutes after severing the USB-connection.

    It just keeps showing the time at the moment of the crash.

    I got a replacement watch, but this one has the same problem. Somehow I think it has something to do with the USB-driver on my Win 8.1 64bit.

    Does anybody had similar problems? The Garmin support is singularily bad taking ages to even send a prefrabricated answer ...

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      If you can ring via phone, it's far better than e-mail support. For two reasons: First, it costs Garmin more - and thus tends to cause resolution quicker because it drives home the point that something is broken. And second it gets a human on the hook immediately to solve your problem.

      Reply
    • Felix replied

      My thoughts exactly. Already called them twice. They had no idea though and only exchanged the watch for a new one, which now lies frozen on my desk as well. :/ I was hoping, I wasn't the only one. Being alone usally is not a good sign in terms of probability of solving something fast.

      Reply
  92. Chris Furner

    Does anyone know how to change the HRM that is paired to this watch? My wife's somehow picked up my HRM and now I cannot get it to forget mine so I can pair her watch to her HRM. I would like to find a way to do it without totally resetting the watch.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Simply go into another room/place and put yours on next to it and then turn it back on. It'll give up trying to find the other one after a few seconds and instead find yours.

      Consider sticking hers in the Microwave (don't turn it on), which blocks the signal very well.

      Reply
  93. Txerra

    If it's ant+ it must detect it. I Think it has not memoroy where ant+ devices are stored.

    Reply

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