JUMP TO:

Everything you ever wanted to know: Garmin’s new Forerunner 230, 235, and 630 watches

Garmin-FR630-NewFeatures

Ahh yes, that time of year when there’s pumpkin spiced lattes (or cupcakes), pumpkin pies, and new Garmin Forerunner watches.  Like clockwork Garmin released an update to their Forerunner lineup, which includes new versions of their running watches.

The three watches released cover the mid-range to upper-end of the market.  They already refreshed a new budget-GPS watch, the FR25, back in August.  The new watches for today are:

Garmin FR230: This mid-range watch replaces the existing FR220
Garmin FR235: This mid-range watch is a FR230 with optical HR embedded in the back of it, replaces the FR225
Garmin FR630: This high-end watch replaces the existing FR620

For those that may not be familiar with the existing lineup, you’ll remember that the FR220/620 watches lacked many of the common features found in modern GPS watches today – such as activity and sleep tracking.  They also lacked Garmin’s Connect IQ platform that was rolled out a year ago.  These features were missing due to hardware limitations.

With the FR230/235 and FR630, that’s been rectified.  But it’s more than just that – it’s really a surprising set of small tweaks through both watches that makes the FR230/235 more like a FR630 than I expected – and that the FR630 continues to add new metrics not seen on any other Garmin watch.  Plus it plays catch-up for everything else released in the last 2 years to other high-end Garmin watches that the previous FR620 couldn’t handle.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.  To be clear, my time with all of these devices is fairly limited.  I have gone on runs with all three of them, and have also spent considerable time poking at them in front of my camera.  I was not however able to do both of those in the same sitting (two separate time-frames).  Nor was I able to download any of my runs afterwards.  Nor run more than once with any given unit.  Thus, this is as much of a ‘first impressions’ post as anything else.  Don’t misconstrue it as a review; it’s not.  These watches may be great, or may totally suck, time will help clarify.

What’s New: The Garmin FR630:

Garmin-FR630-RunMode-1

First up, the more expensive Garmin FR630 GPS watch.  As noted, while this replaces the FR620, it’s really taking in everything previously seen on that watch and combining it with most of the new running-specific functionality seen on the multi-sport Fenix3 & FR920XT watches.

Since bulleted lists are one of the best ways to convey craptons of information, I’m going bulleted style for a list of new features.  How do I define ‘new’?  Well in this case I’m going with anything not found on the FR620:.

– Connect IQ support
– Bluetooth Smart notifications (i.e. texts, phone calls, e-mails, etc…)
– Addition of daily activity tracking (steps, sleep, calories, etc…)
– Addition of audio prompts (using phone, or phone + headphones)
– Music Control
– Metronome functionality
– Finish Estimator functionality
– More customizable watch time alarms
– Basic navigation functions (back to start, waypoints)
– Increased battery life (claimed 16 hours with GPS-on)
– Larger screen size (44%)
– New Running Dynamics (Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, Vertical Ratio)
– Stress Score app
– Separate sport apps (Cycling, Running, Indoor Cycling, Indoor Running, Other)
– Performance Condition app
– Heart Rate Gauge data page
– Lactate Threshold testing/reports
– Addition of GLONASS
– Ability to enable UltraTrac mode
– Addition of ANT+ sensor pool concept (multiple HR/bike sensors)
– Backlight turns on when you turn your wrist (optional)
– Race an activity (previous or downloaded)
– Do not disturb mode
– Ability to charge while using
– Tempe Sensor connectivity

Phew, lots of stuff in there!  Ok, I’m going to run through all of it just after the video.  But for those who are less inclined to read through a bunch of stuff, here’s a walk-through of the watch’s features and menu systems.  Think of this more as exploring the different pieces than some sort of highly produced video.  Said differently: I recorded this in one single shot in 4 minutes – boom and done!

Ok – now, let’s go step by step through the major functions.  The FR630, like the FR230/235 includes Connect IQ support, which allows you to install any of the 1,000+ Connect IQ apps that are available today through the Connect IQ App Store.  These include watch faces, data fields, widgets, and apps.  The watch will also be compatible with the various previously announced Connect IQ updates for early next year.

Garmin-FR630-ConnectIQ-Front

In fact, you’ll notice that the Stress Score function is actually a Connect IQ app.  Speaking of which, the Stress Score app basically has you stand still for 3 minutes and then leverages an ANT+ heart rate strap to determine your stress levels.

Garmin-FR630-Stress-Score1

This is likely using heart rate variability to come up with your metered score.  When I tried it, the unit said I had low-stress.  Which, seemed like a fairly optimistic assumption of my stress level that day.  Would hate to see what it would say on an even busier day.  Here’s a quick gallery of doing the test on me (it gives you a count-down timer and your current HR).

You’re seeing more focus on unique data metrics within the higher-end Garmin watches.  To that end, they’ve extended the Running Dynamics metrics with three new data points: Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, and Vertical Ratio.  All three of these metrics require usage of the Garmin HRM-RUN heart rate strap.  It will not consume data from competitive solutions that offer similar metrics such as RunScribe or Wahoo Fitness.

Garmin-FR630-RunningDynamics1

The stride length metric is pretty straightforward, simply the actual length of your stride.  While the GCT Balance shows the left/right foot balance for your ground contact time.  And the Vertical Ratio attempts to normalize the previous HRM-RUN metric of Vertical Oscillation by applying stride length to it.

Garmin-FR630-RunningDynamics2

Next, they’ve added in a Lactate Threshold test.  This can be achieved in two different ways.  First, you can just run as usual and if your run meets the requirements (unclear) then it’ll calculate it on the fly.  Or, you can have the unit guide you through a specific lactate threshold test for about 20 minutes.  I’m still a bit unclear on what exactly this gives you at the end.  I’ve asked a number of Garmin people, but nobody seems to be able to give me a precise answer.  Is it a number?  A score?  A set of zones?  A good/better/best?  A Dairy Queen Blizzard?  In my case, my run didn’t trigger it (nor did I get a Blizzard)– perhaps I didn’t meet the criteria.  Either way, something to focus on in the in-depth review with more running time.

Update: I’ve now got new clarification on how and what you get.  Here’s the details, straight from the ‘right folks’:

“How the LT test works:  the watch gathers sets of data at different paces for heart rate and heart rate variability. LT is detected mainly based on the HRV slope with respect to pace.  The data is reported in the FIT file as both a speed and a HR value at the point at which the LT is detected.  Under the hood the speed is in units of km/hour.  LTHR is in bpm.  These values are then reported with the activity FIT file to Garmin Connect where they will then be displayed on a new type of Report widget, the current (most recent) measurement as well as historical measurements.”

This explanation makes sense, and better aligns with what other competitive products do (i.e. BSX Insight).

Garmin-FR630-LactateThreshold-2

Garmin-FR630-LactateThreshold

Next, we’ve got a nifty little feature that helps you estimate your finish time.  By inputting your race (or training) distance the unit will spit out an estimated finish time based on your current progress (and show remaining distance).  This is available on both the FR230/235 and FR630.  Here’s a photo I took on the FR230:

image

In the event your watch says you’ve got a long time till the finish-line, you might need some navigational assistance.  This feature was cut within the FR620, but has come back by popular demand (or probably more like angry mob-like demand) to the FR630.  With the FR630 you can do simple back to start navigation, as well as the ability to navigate to a given saved waypoint.

Garmin-FR630-BackToStart

You can save various locations for future reference/access, as well as display exactly where you are at any point in time.

Garmin-FR630-Navigate-Locations-Saved Garmin-FR630-Navigate-Locations

Garmin-FR630-Navigate-BackToStart

Next, we see a significant stepping up of the phone integration.  First up is the ability to get audio prompts during a run.  Audio prompts are defined ahead of time using the Garmin Connect app, which must remain on and within range of the GPS watch for the audio prompts to work.  Once enabled the watch will have the phone speak lap information each time the lap button is pressed.  This can be both using the phone’s native speaker, or via headphones (Bluetooth or wired).

Today it basically just tells you the lap time and pace.  But it sounds like down the road that’ll be more customizable through the Connect IQ app.  See the ‘Audio Alert’ option below.

Garmin-FR630-Audio-Alerts

These audio prompts do require that you carry your phone.  The watch itself doesn’t make any spoken words nor play music directly.  Again, this requires you carry your phone during the run.

Speaking of music, you can now control music from your watch.  This includes basic start/stop and skip functionality.  And yes, it also requires your phone be with you.  The unit does NOT have any music storage capability.

Garmin-FR630-MusicControls

To see both of these in action, here’s a quick video I shot showing the audio alerts and music playing in the background being controlled by the FR630 (the FR230/235 carries this functionality too).

Next, like every other Garmin watch released in the last year or so, the FR630 includes Bluetooth Smart notifications.  This means you can configure the watch using the notification center on your Android or iOS phone and get things like text and call notifications.  Note that this does NOT mean you can connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors.  That wall still exists, only ANT+ sensors allowed through these gates.

They’ve also added in a new do no disturb mode for notifications, allowing you to turn these off both during workouts, as well as for a specified period of time.  Here’s a shot of that on the FR230:

Garmin-FR230-DoNotDisturb

(Tip of the day: Want to quickly tell the difference between the FR230/235 and the FR630?  The FR630 has a three-lined dash at the bottom of the display, which you can tap as part of the touch functionality.  Above, on the FR230/235 that’s absent.)

One hardware-specific feature noted is the larger display screen, allowing for bigger numbers.  Here’s a quick look at 1-4 data fields per page:

Finally, the FR630 also gets activity and sleep tracking functionality.  This means it’ll capture steps throughout your day, and also shout at you via the inactivity alerts.  At night, it’ll stalk you in your sleep, tracking your sleep metrics.  Note, it does not give you a stride length for bed-focused workouts.

Garmin-FR630-ActivityTrackingStats

Garmin-FR630-ActivityTracking

All of this data is then uploaded to Garmin Connect via the Garmin Connect Mobile app, or also now via WiFi.  You can still connect the unit via USB too, to any Mac/PC computer.  It’ll mount as a USB device like any other Garmin unit.

Garmin-FR630-BackSide

On the list of totally random things that didn’t really fit anywhere else, I’ll point out the following pile of small but kinda neat things I figured I’d mention:

– You can now set different types of watch alarms (i.e. week-days only, vibrate-only, etc…)
– You can configure four custom data pages (with up to four metrics each), plus preset data pages: HR Zone Gauge, Running Dynamics Gauge Pages (2), Virtual Partner, Clock, Music Controls,
– You can lock the screen by holding the bottom left button, at any time.

Lastly, there’s one little quirk with the FR630 touch screen that I think might cause some confusion in reviews/shows/tests – but probably not in real-life (except if mounted to a bike).  It’s that the back of the FR630 must be ‘grounded’ to your body in order for the touch screen to respond.  This does not apply to to the physical buttons, only the touch screen.  To demonstrate this, I give you the following short video:

Now, since initial publishing many of you have asked about the jacket/long-sleeve scenario (wearing the watch on top of that). Here’s a quick video I put together showing how well that works (and how non-finger contact works on the screen:

With that I’ve covered all the major features, but haven’t touched on things like GPS accuracy. As noted I wasn’t able to download any of my runs, though I can say that the runs did match the distances I had on the TomTom Spark GPS watch I was wearing at the same time (within 1%).  These runs occurred in tree-filled mountain terrain.  But obviously it’ll be something I focus on and publish all the results of within my in-depth review once I have final production units.

Preemptive Questions Note: For aspects like the new Running Dynamics metrics, Lactate Threshold and Stress Scores, Audio Alerts, etc… I don’t have clarity on whether those features will be coming to existing watches (such as the Fenix3/Epix/FR920XT).  For the most part, everything else new is already on the Fenix3, Epix, and FR920XT.

What’s New: The Garmin FR230 & FR235:

Garmin-FR230-RunModeWith-Peeps

Okey doke.  With the FR630 behind us, let’s move onto the FR230 and FR235.  I’m going to try and minimize duplication of new features here, and instead talk to some of the more unique features.  Or at least, new unique items on this platform.

First, it’s important to understand that the FR235 has everything the FR230 has.  However, the FR235 also has an optical sensor built into it.  As a result, there is one software feature that’s not in the FR230 – which is the ability to track heart rate 24×7 using said sensor.  I’ve noted that below accordingly.

Here’s the list of what’s new on the FR230 & FR235, as compared to the FR220/FR225:

– Connect IQ support
– Bluetooth Smart notifications (i.e. texts, phone calls, e-mails, etc…)
– Addition of daily activity tracking (steps, sleep, calories, etc…)
– Addition of audio prompts (using phone, or phone + headphones)
– Music Control
– Finish Estimator functionality
– More customizable watch time alarms
– Larger display (44%)
– Up to four data fields per customized data page (was 3 in FR220/FR225)
– FR235: Optical HR sensor (was in FR225, but not FR220)
– FR235: Broadcasting of optical HR as ANT+ to other devices, i.e. an Edge device (Update: the FR225 will NOT get an update on this, Garmin has changed their mind)
– VO2 max Estimation
– Training Effect
– Recovery Advisor
– Race Predictor
– 1-second recording option (previously only Smart Recording)
– Heart Rate Zone Gauge (was on FR225, but not FR220)
– FR230: Increased battery life (claimed 16 hours with GPS-on, vs 8-10 before)
– FR235: Increased battery life (claimed 11 hours with GPS-on and optical HR on, vs 7-10 before)
– Back to start navigation
– New cycling-specific apps (previously no separate function)
– Addition of GLONASS
– Support for cycling sensors (speed/cadence)
– Addition of ANT+ sensor pool concept (multiple ANT+ sensors)
– Do not disturb mode
– Ability to charge while using
– Tempe Sensor connectivity

 

What’s that?  You’re looking for another video walk-through in this post?  Sure, no problem – up first is the video walk-through of the FR230.  Again, focused on features and functionality:

Ok, with that out of the way, it’s important to take a slight diversion to the FR235 and talk about items specific to it first.  Most notably that it has a optical heart rate sensor built into the back of it.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise; the FR225 that was released earlier this year has one as well.  But what is notable is that this sensor is not licensed from Mio like the FR225 was.  Rather, this sensor is all-Garmin:

Garmin-FR235-OpticalSensor

The optical sensor package is fully done in-house, and not part of an acquisition of someone else’s technology, nor licensed from anyone else.  That’s…well…interesting.  But, probably not surprising.  We’re seeing many companies mix things up, likely because it’s cheaper to do so.  And also because Mio’s technology is further licensed from Philips, who themselves are looking to get into the fitness realm.  Hence why we’ve seen both TomTom and Garmin split ways from Mio NOW, though interestingly both companies maintained numerous times in conversations that the accuracy of the Mio sensors is really top-notch (something we already knew).

Garmin-FR230-HR-Gauge

The real question will be how accurate Garmin’s new optical sensor is.  I’m putting that one solidly in the camp of ‘TBD’.  My single run with the unit proved inconclusive, due to a beta firmware update the night before that hosed things up on the sensor side.  So it’s hard to tell.  It appears promising, but it’ll take a pass on any judgment either way.  But I will say that as I’ve noted numerous times lately with new optical sensors: Companies must prove their worth.  I don’t care if you’re Apple, Fitbit, Polar, TomTom, or Garmin: I’m going to assume your optical sensor sucks until proven otherwise.

Now, the good news here is that Garmin is doing some cool stuff with the optical sensor.  With the older FR225 (crazy to say that since it’s only 4 months ‘old’), the unit didn’t do 24×7 optical HR measurements.  Whereas the new FR235 does that now.  It’ll track your optical heart rate 24×7 for about 9 to 11 days between charges, and then upload that data behind the scenes to Garmin Connect.  I don’t yet have a screenshot of what that looks like there.

From this point on out – it’s all stuff applicable to both the FR230 and FR235 alike!

First up is that both units get Connect IQ app functionality, just like the new FR630 does:

Garmin-FR230-Connect-IQ

This is probably more interesting on the FR230/235 than on the FR630, because it’s kinda like how it was on the Vivoactive: It enables folks to get creative and get more extensive/advanced functionality by leveraging Connect IQ apps.  This is especially true early next year once they enable Connect IQ apps to write/save data.

Next, while the FR225 did gain activity tracking the FR220 didn’t have it.  Now both the FR230/235 have activity tracking that covers steps/sleep:

Garmin-FR230-ActivityTracking (2)

Garmin-FR230-ActivityTracking

As we dive into the phone integration piece, you see the same features on the FR630 as the FR230/235.  That means you’ll get the audio prompts seen above with the FR630.  The same conditions apply here too: You’ll need to have your cell phone on you, plus an audio playback device (i.e. headphones, or just using the speaker on the phone).

Garmin-FR230-Music-Controls

You’ll also get smartphone notifications, just like the FR630.  These are all handled after pairing a compatible iOS or Android device:

Garmin-FR230-Smart-Notifications

We see some of the advanced features previously only seen on the FR620, moving their way down to the FR230/235.  For example, VO2Max values are now found on the FR230/235. Note that for the VO2Max tests though you do need to have a traditional heart rate strap paired to the FR235, since that’s not capable of leveraging the optical sensor for that test (common due to lack of accurate heart rate variability on optical sensors). Update: It looks like they are enabling this with native optical sensor.

Garmin-FR230-Recovery-Advisor

Similarly, we see Training Effect and Recovery Advisor functionality moved to the FR230/FR235 as well.  Note that the Training Effect also requires a HR strap with the FR235, but the Recovery Advisor can leverage the optical sensor.  And we get Race Predictor, which spits out best guesses on how hot of a race you’ll have based on the VO2Max figures (i.e. shows you running at 36min 10K).

Garmin-FR230-Race-Predictor

Along the same lines of extended functions is the finish estimator, which as seen on the FR630 estimates how long until you get to quit running.  You’ll need to enter in either a standard distance, or a custom distance.

Garmin-FR230-Finish-Time

Garmin-FR230-Finish-Time3

The FR230/235 got new sport modes.  This was a chief complaint of folks with the FR220/225, which specifically didn’t have a cycling mode (whereas the Polar M400 did, for far less money).  Garmin has slightly leapfrogged there now in that the FR230/235 also supports cycling speed/cadence sensors – whereas the Polar M400 doesn’t.

Garmin-FR230-BikeModeOthers

Garmin-FR230-BikeMode

Now one last item that’s probably of interest to FR220 users – the FR230/235 now allows you to edit custom data pages to show up to four data fields per custom page.  Previously it was three data fields per page.  The FR230/235 gives you two custom pages, plus the following optional pages: Heart Rate Zone/BPM, Heart Rate Zone Gauge, Clock, and Music Controls.

Garmin-FR230-DataFields-Four

And as noted up earlier, you now get the option to set the recording rate as 1-second, versus the previous smart recording.  Why on earth it took this many years for Garmin to enable that, I’ve got no idea.  I suspect it may be somewhat self-serving in that it’ll probably reduce support calls from folks who see odd GPS tracks where the smart recording algorithm would appear to cut corners on buildings.  Still, I’ll take it!

Next – the FR230/F235 does get a basic back to start navigation functionality.  In this case it gives you a simple arrow towards your start location (as the crow flies).  To understand how this works (and how the FR630 navigation features work and differ), I’ve put together this quick video:

Overall the FR230 and FR235 are solid little watches in the mid-range GPS watch market.  I think they do a good job at making it a much harder job when comparing the Polar M400 to FR230 as well as to the TomTom Spark (actually, especially the TomTom Spark).

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Size

Before we move on, a quick run-down of weights and sizes.  First up, you’ll notice that there’s virtually no differences in the thickness of any of these watches.  It’s all a wash, and to be fair – I’ve yet to hear anyone complain about them needing to be thinner.

Above, left to right: FR230, FR220, FR620, FR630.  Same order on below.

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Thickness

Garmin-FR220-FR230-FR620-FR630-Side

Note that on the FR235, the rubber edging is gone, so that slightly reduces thickness compared to the FR225.

As for weights, here’s a lineup of the units compared to older watches:

Garmin-FR620-Weight

Garmin-FR630-Weight

Garmin-FR230-Weight2

Garmin-FR220-Weight

Note, I didn’t have the FR235 at the time of the weigh-in.

Of note: New Garmin Connect Mobile:

It should be briefly mentioned that in addition to a slew of new devices, the company is also introducing a refreshed Garmin Connect Mobile application.  The new app’s look is most visible in its blackened color scheme, but more importantly is that the charting and graphing is much more cleanly implemented than in the past.

I have spent some time poking at multiple people’s phones with the new UI, but haven’t had it rolled out to my phone yet (Update: Now I have!).  So my impressions are more snapshot in time than weeks of usage.  Still, it seems an improvement in terms of functionality (even if I’m not a huge fan of the dark color scheme, but it’s growing on me).

IMG_2094 IMG_2095 IMG_2096

IMG_2098 IMG_2100 IMG_2102

IMG_2103 IMG_2105 IMG_2104

IMG_2106 IMG_2107 IMG_2108

IMG_2112 IMG_2110 IMG_2111

This new version should be available today for download.

(Note: This section updated with screenshots from my device this morning after updating)

Product Comparison Tables:

In order to help you compare products, I’ve added the FR230, FR235, and FR630 into the product comparison tool.  This database has all watches I’ve reviewed in it – so you can easily mix and match to compare your own product charts here.

In the meantime, below I’ve split them up into two sets – the first is the FR220 & FR225, vs the FR230 & FR235:

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 6th, 2016 @ 3:58 amNew Window
Price$249$299$249$329
Product Announcement DateSEPT 16, 2013May 12th, 2015Oct 21st, 2015Oct 21st, 2015
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 31, 2013July 2015November 2015November 2015
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 Meters50 Meters50 Meters50 Meters
Battery Life (GPS)10 hours7-10 hours16 hoursUp to 16 hours
Recording IntervalSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)SMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1-second & Smart1-second & Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYes, 7 daysYes, 7 daysYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatYesYEs
AlertsVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUAL
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGoodGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesYesYes
Can control phone musicYesYes
Has music storage and playbackNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)Barely (Speed mode only)YesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoWITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)WITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)Yes (also has internal accelerometer)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoNoYesYes
Race PredictorNoNoYesYes
Recovery AdvisorNoNoYesYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYesYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for swimmingNo (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterNoN/AN/AN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYesYesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NonONoNo
GeocachingNonONoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYesYEs
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startNoNoYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSGPSGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoYesNoYEs
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYES (ALSO INTERNAL OPTICAL HR SENSOR)YesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNO
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNO
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNO
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNO
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYES FOR GARMIN VIRBYES FOR GARMIN VIRB
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNO
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNonONoNO
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNO
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNO
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoYES (TEMPE)YES (TEMPE)
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoTBDTBD
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 225Garmin Forerunner 230Garmin Forerunner 235
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Next, we’ve got the FR620 vs FR630:

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 5th, 2016 @ 5:12 pmNew Window
Price$399$399
Product Announcement DateSEPT 16, 2013Oct 21st, 2015
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 31, 2013November 2015
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYes
Data TransferUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth SmartUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 meters50 Meters
Battery Life (GPS)10 hours16 hours
Recording Interval1-second & Smart1-second & Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYes, 7 daysYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatYes
AlertsAudio/Visual/VibrateAudio/Visual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessGreatGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYes
Can control phone musicYes
Has music storage and playbackNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)Noyes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)Yes
Power Meter CapableNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for runningYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (internal accelerometer)Yes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)YesYes
VO2Max EstimationYesYEs
Race PredictorYesYEs
Recovery AdvisorYesYEs
Run/Walk ModeYesYEs
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for swimmingNo (protected though just fine)No (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterNoN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Designed for triathlonNoNo
Multisport modeNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Auto Start/StopYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYEs
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNO
GeocachingNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoYes
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoWaypoints
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNo
Back to startNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Altimeter TypeGPSGPS
Compass TypeN/AGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYEs
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNO
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNonO
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesTBD
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsYesNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Amazon LinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 620Garmin Forerunner 630
Review LinkLinkLink

Note that there are some minor features that haven’t quite been instantiated into the database rows – so stuff like Stress Score; in large part because I’m focusing on some of the bigger features, otherwise I think it gets more unwieldy.

In any case, remember you can mix and match any products in the product comparison tool here.

Product Availability & Pricing:

Garmin-FR230-Models

Just to recap on pricing, here’s the plan for the different units:

Garmin FR230: $249 w/o a HR strap, $299 with a chest HR strap
Garmin FR235: $329 inclusive of the optical HR sensor
Garmin FR630: $399 w/o a HR strap, or $449 with the HRM-RUN

Note that there are a few different color schemes available, which are:

Garmin FR230: Black/White, Purple/White, and Yellow/Black
Garmin FR235: Black/Grey, Black/Dark Red, Teal
Garmin FR630: Black/White, Midnight Blue

As for product availability, Garmin states all of these as ‘Q4’ (so between now and December 31st, 2015).  As is usually the case, expect large wait times if you wait until December to order a unit.  Just the way Garmin works – they don’t really take into account pre-orders in terms of fulfillment like you’d get with a new XBox game or something.

Also, as far as my feeling – I think we’ll see the FR230 and FR630 available pretty darn quickly (weeks), versus the FR235, which I get the feeling might be lagging slightly behind the other two.  But I could be wrong there (and happy to be).  Just my gut instinct based on a variety of factors.

As for my in-depth reviews, those will be published a few weeks after I get final product units to test.  I realize folks are trying to make decisions on watches for the holiday period, so I’ll be balancing having a thorough review with your desire to get it sooner.  Similarly, I’m also making a significant push for other recent products that have been announced.  It’ll be a very busy next few weeks!

Initial Thoughts:

Garmin-FR630-FinishRun

Ultimately, all three units offer fairly solid updates to their predecessors – and will likely soon become the de facto standard for pure running-only watches.  There are a handful of truly new features (i.e. lactate threshold tests), but many of the features can be found on other Garmin multi-sport and related watches that have rolled out over the past 12 months.  So this is really a case of catch-up and getting all the units onto the same platform and playing field.

As for whether you should upgrade?  Well, that probably depends on where you’re coming from.  For example, if you’re using a FR920XT/Fenix3/Epix, there’s few reasons to make the switch.  Plus, that’s kinda like going from a Land Rover to a Ford Focus, you may be losing out on other features (i.e. swimming/running/maps) that doesn’t really make that practical – depending on your use case.

But if you’re coming from the FR220 or FR620, then it’s more of a logical upgrade.  I’d consider how much you want to use the device as a pure running watch, or as a full day to day smartphone integrated device.  Do features like smartphone notifications and activity tracking matter to you?  Then upgrading probably makes sense.  If not and just tracking the core running functions, then I’m not sure I’d shell out.  If you’re on older pre-FR220/620 units, I’ve gotta believe we’ll see some solid holiday deals on the FR220/620, just like we did two years ago.

Minor Addendum: A few of you have asked about whether or not about why there isn’t a FR635.  Essentially Garmin noted that the bulk of the feature differences between the FR235 and FR635 are dependent on a true heart rate strap (i.e. advanced Running Dynamics, VO2Max-based metrics like Lactate Threshold, etc…).  Said differently, if they launched a FR635 they felt that people would need a HR strap to use most of the higher end features.  Further, the FR230/235 got many non-HR dependent features found on the FR620/630.

Next, some of you asked about if/when a FR935XT or new Fenix variant with optical HR might be on the table.  I can’t foresee that happening anytime soon.  Certainly not before spring of next year, but I’d probably guess summer/fall 2016 if I were to take a stab.  They’d have to nail the HR accuracy not only in land-based activities, but also swimming.  Oh, and solve the aforementioned HR variability (strap-dependent) requirements for why they didn’t do a FR635.  You can see why it’s highly unlikely we’ll see something near-term there.  And finally, as for whether or not they’ll add some of the new functions (i.e. Lactate Threshold, Audio Alerts, etc…) from the FR630 to the Fenix3/FR920XT/Epix, as noted at the end of the FR630 section – Garmin hasn’t clarified that piece.

With that – thanks for reading!  Feel free to drop questions below and I’ll attempt to consolidate and answer them.

Shipping Status (New!):

Current as of: November 30th, 2015

In an attempt to minimize the number of questions on current shipping status, I’ll update this section roughly each day with where things (in general) stand for shipping of each of the three units.  If/when folks report shipping updates (not just ETA’s, but actual tracking numbers), I’ll update the below with general status.

FR230: These are now widely in stock/shipping at Clever Training, and many other retailers.  They’re also available at a few places outside the US.

FR235: These are generally fairly widely available now (all pre-orders with major US retailers have cleared), though retailers do seem to go into back-order briefly status for a few days before clearing again.

FR630: These are now widely in stock for most SKU’s/colors at Clever Training, and shipping pretty readily with other retailers both in the US and outside the US.

Do remember that the Garmin shipping pattern is incredibly predictable. They usually start off shipping in very small quantities for the first week or two (a few hundred units globally), and then scale out to thousands of units per week after a few weeks.  This is partly to ensure production quality in earlier shipments, and partly to ensure if they screw something up it lessens the recall (like what happened with the FR920XT last year).  Further, expect that the FR235 backorders will take quite some time to get through.  In other words, don’t expect to place an order Dec 5th and expect it in time for the holidays.  Last year for the FR920XT (announced first week of Oct), some backorders didn’t clear out till January/February in some countries.

Next, there actually isn’t a specific country-by-country order, they tend to ship bunches to countries and it’s up to the given Garmin country manager to handle distribution to retailers in their region.

Next, when it comes to allocation of retailers, Garmin generally tries to get units in the hands of companies/retailers that have actual pre-orders from customers (versus having units sit on a shelf).  However, a LARGE part of that is whether or not the retailer placed initial order requests with Garmin ahead of and at announcement time.  Yes, ahead of.  If a retailer (especially large ones), didn’t do that – it’s highly unlikely they’ll see units soon. For whatever reason Garmin tends to de-prioritize Garmin.com orders, which are almost never first.  Similarly, Amazon also tends to be later in the game too.

Lastly, many retailers will promise you dates that are unrealistic. They’ll do this to get your pre-order knowing you won’t cancel.  As usual in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If they’re promising you a unit to be shipped tomorrow – ask if they have it already in their warehouse.  If not, ask if they have a tracking number from Garmin showing it’ll arrive at their warehouse by tomorrow. Garmin will send retailers tracking numbers once the shipment has left Olathe, KS (or other international hub).  This tracking number includes the number of units of each model that the retailer is receiving.  If they don’t have that, they’re making stuff up.

Phew!

Note: You can now pre-order all three watches from Clever Training.  Doing so supports the site, and makes you awesome.  Also, you can use your DCR-Clever Training VIP benefits, as described here.  Here’s the links for all three:

Garmin FR230 (select drop-down for colors/bundles)
Garmin FR235 (select drop-down for colors)
Garmin FR630 (select drop-down for colors/bundles)

Pre-order estimated dates are based on the estimations that Garmin has provided to Clever Training, plus a ‘reality check’ factor that CT typically applies to all manufacturer’s claims.  This means that they typically provide a more realistic estimated delivery date than others.

Thanks for the support, it helps the blog here!

Retweet 153 Like 2337 Google +1 36

1,454 Comments

  1. Matt

    One thing I noticed on the REI page was that the 235 showed a HR graph page that showed RHR and your HR over the past 4 hours. Is it measuring your HR all the time? And if so, is that being leveraged for calorie burn/daily activity level calculations?

    Thanks!

    • Matt

      I should read better (or it was added after?) — you state that it does have 24/7 HR. I guess that leaves the second part: does it factor that into “daily activity” and calorie calculations or is it just “good to know” data?

    • Matt

      Okay, okay. One last question (for now).

      I noticed there is a new “GPS level” bar that looks similar to a cell phone signal strength. I believe this is new (and something that not even the Fenix3/Epix/920xt has). Can you find out from Garmin whether this is just for this line or whether they are looking to reintroduce the actual GPS strength field (and possibly connect IQ field)?

    • David Lusty

      The 920XT has these bars, the Fenix 3 does it with a green circle around the edge of the screen. It’s not as clever as it looks it just tells you when you’re OK to press start which is when it goes green and has full bars.

    • Andrew

      Don’t get excited – if its the lines in top left its on the 920

    • Matt

      Expectations thoroughly tempered.

  2. Josh

    Awesomeness. Trying to order from ct right now but getting internal server error message so hopefully that corrects soon.

    • Eeks, just heard from them a second ago on the error when trying to add to cart. They’re working on it and hope to have a resolution immediately. Sorry!

    • Josh

      Ahhh the simple irony in waiting for technology to work correctly so we can order the most up to date technology

    • Josh

      235 ordered thru ct thanks for everything Ray!
      PS if you know of any GOOD virtual running software to use on the iPad while running on the treadmill please let me know.

  3. Lin

    In your bulleted list for the 630, you list ‘Wifi added’, but the 620 already has WiFi.

    Did they add WiFi to the new 230 or 235 maybe?

  4. Matt

    Ray, any idea of these new features will also roll out to the fenix 3/920/epix?

  5. Scott Gall

    Why oh why cant they put four data fields per screen on the 200 series???? ….. why oh why!!

  6. Klaas

    Thank you for the good (p)review! One question: why do you think Garmin has not included the optical HR in the FR630?

    • When I asked them that, they said it was because most of the differentiating features between the FR235 and FR630 required a HR strap (i.e. Running Dyanmics, Lactate Threshold, Performance App, Stress App, etc…). Meaning that if you wanted those extra features, you’d need a HR strap anyway.

      I’d agree with the general logic there…but still wish there was a FR635.

    • Mike Lamz

      If they are crossing over to the fitbit realm with activity trackers, they really missed it w/ the 630. Why would you want to wear a heart rate monitor all day at work and while you sleep?

  7. Simen

    Great article, thanks for sharing as always!

    Will the FR 630 work for swimming? As in recording the distance. I saw there was an option for “other” activities on the watch, without knowing what that means.

    • No, no swimming in terms of distance or the like (like a FR920XT would). Other is sorta the catch-all for something like Yoga, Basketball, etc…

    • daleskie

      Is it possible that this sort of functionality could be added through a Connect IQ app, or is it more of a hardware limitation for the new 630?

      I love the 620, but there are a few extra tri related features that I wish were built in (swimming and ability to connect with a power meter as examples).

  8. Re: lactate threshold test – I guess it should give you threshold HR and threshold pace. May be calculated similarly to TP link to help.trainingpeaks.com

  9. Richard Stanford

    I realize that you probably can’t tell us, but any word on a 930XT? If I could get the current 920 with an optical HR monitor I’d be happy to move from my trusty 910. As it is I have a cheap TomTom Cardio for casual runs, but what it gains in convenience it loses in software.

  10. Oskar

    Why no power meter capability if the 630 has a proper bike app? Would be so sweet for commuting by bike!

    • It’s an odd one. But Connect IQ has semi-solved that on the Vivoactive already (power meter app for it), the only problem being that the current version of Connect IQ can’t save that data. That’s coming in Q1 2016.

    • Oskar

      Nice, let’s hope it will work on the 630 as well!

    • is it new for the compatibility of power meters on VA? When it started it was only cadence/speed/HR sensors right?

    • Roham

      I was hoping for power meter capability in order to use the Stryd power meter that I have ordered. It looks like I will have to make do with my old 500.

    • Oskar

      Maybe that also can be solved via connect iq?

    • Oskar

      Just took a look at Garmin’s info for developer. Thought it couldn’t be that hard to make a custom data field for power in running and biking but hey, Garmin don’t want you to be able to add “real” features since the ant-API is not available for data fields. Honestly, the access to APIs is so limited for data fields it nothing but a toy; link to developer.garmin.com. The only way would be to create an app. I really don’t understand why Garmin is doing this, it’s just plain stupid not to let hardware manufactures like Stryd to add there own data field to get Garmin devices to work with their hardware.

    • Oskar

      Sorry for spamming but it looks like ANT will become available for Edge devices, maybe it will come for all later on; link to developer.garmin.com. I sent an email to Garmin, let’s see what they replied.

    • Oskar

      The reply I got where more or less, “I dunno know, ask in the forum”… Really Garmin, really?

  11. stuart

    I am waiting on fenix 4 sapphire with 24/7 optical HRM

    When that comes nothing else will ever be needed…..well until 24/7 glucose monitoring is required :)

    • gingerneil

      That’s the last thing I would want – why have the requirement to have the watch next to your skin ? Whats happens when its cold and you have a long sleeved top on, or a wet suit for the swimmers out there ? I am a very happy Fenix3 owner (upgraded from a 220 in July) – and see this as very much a features and platform catchup (as Ray summarises) rather than anything new or innovative.

    • Steven Shaw

      Me too, or 930xt if it has optical hrm. I’m not too fussed about having to wear a strap if I have to (whilst running/cycling), but draw the line at pool swimming. I bought the 620 when it came out, but wished I had held on for the updated 920/Fenix 3. Hopefully the updated triathlon watches won’t be too far away.

  12. n8udd

    Hi Ray,

    My Edge 500 has just given up the ghost, and I have started running more recently, so was swaying towards a 920, but now that the 230 supports cycling, this is a simple decision!

    BTW, you may want to add WiFi uploads to your “connectivity” section in the comparison chart, as I notice that this is available in the 630, but not the 230/235.

  13. Simen

    Two questions before I order the 630:

    1. In the winter I always use the watch over my jacket. Does this mean I will not be able to use the touch screen as the watch is not in direct contact with my skin?

    2. I see the HRM for the 630 looks different than the one I got for the 620. Do I need the new one for all functionality or is it just a new design?

    • David Lusty

      To me it looks like marketing have used the HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri image and changed some colours. If Garmin are planning to make all of their HR sensors built on to straps I think there will be a bit of an outcry. People have already been moaning about the HRM-Swim being fixed and at least there Garmin had a good reason!
      Ray, it’s the image at link to static.garmincdn.com that I assume Simen is talking about – any comment?

    • ekutter

      I have to agree with Simen, requiring the unit to have skin contact for the touch screen to work could be a problem. There is a lot of functionality that just doesn’t work without the touch screen. So as he said, wear over a shirt or jacket and very limited control. Or just configuring it I often don’t have it on my wrist. Hopefully this will be made an option.

      Other than that, looks like the 630 is everything I’ve been asking for.

    • David lusty

      Looks like you do need the new strap for all functionality. And it wasn’t just photoshopping of the tri strap after all but rather Garmin milking our wallets. link to buy.garmin.com

    • Lee

      I asked that question of the retailer I use and they said that a firmware would be released to allow HRM-RUN v1 produce the new metrics.

    • I confirmed as well with Garmin that the existing HRM-RUN & HRM-TRI straps will get a firmware update.

  14. TR

    M400 or FR230 ?

    I guess that would depend wholly on if Polar plans a M400 successor soon.

    • Mr. T

      Polar has no vibration alert, it’s easy for me

    • TR

      Yeah, that’s one of the nitpicks I don’t like about M400 (and they fixed this in M350), but for 120-150€ price difference …

      If Polar made a M450 with added vibration alert, underwater HR (as on M350) and GLONASS for about 230-250€ it would be a great midrange competitor to the FR230, while lowering the M400 to 120-130€ to compete with Garmin FR15,25.
      M350 could also be put in the 100€ range against FR10 then. This way they would cover basic, (no GPS) entry, mid and higher (V800) range.

    • Mike St. Louis

      I’d almost say that the Tom Tom Cardio is one to beat because of the built in MP3 player. IIRC it doesn’t have quite have the laundry list of features as the Garmin 230/235, but it provides most of the necessary ones and could improve with software updates.

    • Christian Köhler

      In Germany you can get a new M400 for 120€ easily, sometimes even less. Its 150€ with HR strap.
      As a running watch the M400 is much more full featured than FR15. FR15 can only show two data fields at once. M400 can show four, for example pace, distance, time & heart rate and it offers a lot more customization. It can upload to a phone via BT smart, has vo2max estimation & modes for cycling etc and it has smartphone notifications.

      I don’t know what the street prices of these new Garmin watches will be. As long it is not under 200€ the M400 will still be an attractive option.

      Christian

  15. tomaek

    thanks for this post ray. glad to see they kept the touchscreen on the fr630.

    do you have any idea whether there are mediatek gps chips in the devices? from what you wrote i see very little reason to upgrade from my fr620 unless they changed back to sirfstar (which seems highly unlikely). cheers

    • No SIRFStar chips on these. But they do have GLONASS, which the FR220/620 didn’t have.

    • Tim Grose

      AFAIK there is more to GPS accuracy then the name of the manufacturer on the chip – e.g. antennae design in what are now much more compact devices than the bricks of old. True that the 620 had a few issues early on but even fellrnr now says in link to fellrnr.com “…culminating in the GPS-3.30 firmware that resolved the issues.”
      Also I have a 920 with GPS/Glonass and that’s not SirfStar either and GPS accuracy is fine for me with that.

    • David Lusty

      I agree the 920XT is pretty good for accuracy. The Fenix 2 and 3 less so when compared to their peers but they both ended up kind of good enough. That said, there does seem a correlation where SS chips tend to be better overall for pure accuracy. There are also correlations on features, fix time, battery life, urban canyon fix and others which are not all necessarily in favor of SS. Let’s face it Garmin can afford to fit either and have consistently made the same choice for a while and I’ve got to assume they have a good reason.

    • While the MediaTek chips are cheaper, they aren’t appreciably so. The core reason that Garmin has been using them over the SiRFstar is that they find a fair bit better battery performance with MediaTek. Obviously one could compensate with a larger battery (and thus larger watch), but it’s likely why we see smaller units than competitors.

      As Tim said, the chipset is far overrated in what impacts GPS accuracy. Things like chipset firmware, watch firmware, antenna location/design (huge!), are far more important.

    • Antonio

      Could be nice try the watchs/models in a well-known route, just mesured with gmap-Pedometer and than compare the accuracy. The route could be in a mix of open area, covered area, urban canyon, etc

  16. Karla

    So, If you wear the watch over a jacket, long sleeved shirt in the winter time, the touch screen won’t work? (the quirk you mentioned). Why would they do that?

    • rick_NP

      It would be nice to see that be defeatable in Settings.

    • Antonio

      Could be nice try the watchs/models in a well-known route, just mesured with gmap-Pedometer and than compare the accuracy. The route could be in a mix of open area, covered area, urban canyon, etc

    • Tim Grose

      Ray clarified that in a video further down. You can use the touch screen over a shirt no problem. It’s just over nothing that is the problem.

    • Lolo

      Hi,

      I made tests and depending of the thickness of the long sleeve the touch screen always work (swiping, taping) but the menu button on the bottom used to quite often not work (for instance with a long sleeve shirt and a jacket over the menu button doesn”t work). I can’t stand this behaviour at all !

      Regards.

  17. David Lusty

    I’d like to see Garmin standardise the software and really lean on the apps. I’d quite like a thinner watch with reduced battery if it had the same apps as the Fenix 3. There doesn’t seem to be a technical reason behind this, just Garmin making a big range to artificially introduce choice and differentiation.
    The new data points are just baffling. Garmin have yet to explain the old running dynamics and they are introducing even more! all I’ve seen to date is wild speculation from amateurs as to what use GCT and VO do; it would be nice for Garmin to join forces with some science types and do some research. Let’s face it Uni students would do this for free, they just need a box of watches to test with. Perhaps Garmin are concerned the science would show these fields to be marketing fluff?

    • Tim Grose

      What’s to really explain? I do recall Garmin saying they provide these metrics but like to leave the detailed analysis up to you.

      That said if you have a low GCT and you don’t spend long on the ground etc etc
      Cadence/stride length also very clear.

      You could argue the same about HR. I know runners who always train easy and others who always train hard. Come race day there is little in it. Who then is “right” ?

    • Adam

      To be honest, I think Garmin pursuing research to assess the applications of their features would be a bit of a dead-end.

      Firstly, research takes a long time. By the time they’ve found a suitable academic collaboration, hired staff to do the study, recruited subjects, collected and analysed the data and then gone through the whole publishing and peer-review process, you’re probably looking at 2 years absolute minimum from start-to-finish for any kind of responsible research group. Garmin aren’t going to sit twiddling their thumbs for all that time and suddenly producing data two years down the line to back up a product that’s no longer on the market is pointless.

      Secondly, research is expensive and there’s no guarantee of the results you want. Even if they do get the results they want, they’ll be subjected to all the usual criticisms of being industry-funded propaganda.

      Thirdly, there’s little appetite for it. Yes in an ideal world, concrete scientific data to back up these features would be great, but primarily due to points 1 and 2, that never happens in this industry. The public are happy to buy things based on marketing claims and assess their usefulness themselves. A certain portion of the market will be skeptical about them, but most people’s thought process when purchasing goes “more features = better”.

      Finally, at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s Garmin’s responsibility. IMO their role is to come up with the technology and say “here you go, what can you do with this?”. It’s up to sports physiologists, training coaches and indviduals to assess the application of it. This is way outside of Garmin’s area of expertise and the Sports and Fitness arm of Garmin simply isn’t big enough to go bankrolling research that likely isn’t going to produce any kind of meaningful return in increased sales.

    • David Lusty

      I disagree Tim. There has been a lot of research into heart rate and how to train using zones for different outcomes (recovery or training runs for instance). We can also use HR for interval training to great effect when running just like we use power when cycling and reps with weight training. All of these have research backing up their effectiveness as a training tool.
      Your assumption that low GCT has any bearing on running efficiency doesn’t have any basis in science as far as I’ve seen – that’s what I’d like to see. There is a whole Internet of people assuming something and very few people proving it. The one scientific book I’ve read on the subject actually outright says that gait, stride length, even cadence are all irrelevant and all assumptions have been based on statistics about successful athletes. There are very notable exceptions in the pro athlete world though, and monitoring already successful athletes for statistical similarity is not a good way to determine how to improve an unsuccessful athlete. Telling a 5 foot tall woman to increase stride length to match a 7 foot high man because he’s faster is not helpful and will not improve that womans running. VO has yet to be shown as anything but voodoo. It’s just differing styles of running, and some people are faster with more bounce others the opposite. There has yet to be any evidence that this can be trained on to improve specific performance or fitness.

      That’s allI was hoping for, right now we just have more numbers and more graphs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all like a good graph, but as a training tool nothing has changed for running since HRM, GPS and Footpods

    • Tim Grose

      I think the point is that Garmin aren’t in the business of “telling” you how to run. If you (or your coach etc etc) think your stride length (for instance) needs changing here is a tool to tell you what it actually is and how it changes when you try to run differently.
      Typically a long stride length is usually good but equally over striding can be overly tiring and makes accelerating say when kicking at the end of track races more difficult.
      That said they did produce some colour charts on what different ranges of GCT, VO might correspond on a good/average/poor type basis.
      I tend to agree that how useful is all this stuff really to the average non-elite runner (which is 99.9% of us!) but, as stated, it can take years to properly analyse this stuff and HR “science” has had a good 30 years head start.

    • David Lusty

      The only science I’ve seen around stride length concluded to use the one that’s natural to you. This kind of highlights why I think there needs to be guidance as people will try to train things that shouldn’t be trained because the “training tool” makes it possible. VO and GCT more than likely also fit this category of useless info which is best left to nature. Cadence definitely fits this category but seems to increase as stride improves so can indirectly be used to measure how fast the recovery stroke of the leg is, and therefore whether your stride has improved mechanically. What worries me is when people say that higher cadence is better – it’s not – if you run with poor mechanics making a faster stride just ends with injury and pain.
      I’ll give you the lactate threshold stuff, that would potentially be useful assuming they aren’t plucking figures out of the air like with recovery time :)

    • chrisgg

      To run faster you either have to increase stride length or increase cadence or both. They are the only primary factors that affect speed, i.e. how many times per minute you stride and how far each stride is. If you know the cadence and the stride length you can automatically calculate the speed of running and the time taken for any distance. So these factors are important to know. If you try and increase cadence(one option for the 5 foot woman) you need to know what is happening to your stride length. If the stride length goes down as a result of increasing cadence you may not increase speed at all or even decrease speed. Similarly, if you increase stride length by getting more push and spring into each stride you may sacrifice cadence. So I think an awareness of these parameters are vitally important to know when training athletes to run faster..

  18. Awesome – Really want the 630!

  19. Jorge

    Is it possible to use apps (watch faces etc.) like the Fenix 3?

    • Matt

      Yes. That’s the Connect IQ portion.

    • David Lusty

      If you can find a useful app then go for it. I have zero apps installed on my 920 and Fenix 3 as I have yet to see anything other than watch faces that do anything. Hopefully the changes to ConnectIQ will improve this. The D2 Bravo said an awful lot about how seriously Garmin are taking apps – identical hardware to the Fenix 3 but they added flying as a hard coded feature which is not available on the Fenix 3. Why no app? Because ConnectIQ is way too basic to do anything advanced with.

    • Adam

      Same here. I’ve not found many apps of use for my Fenix 3, the sunrise-sunset widget is the only “extra” that I use on a regular basis.

      I suspect that will change with CIQ 1.2 though. When apps can actually write data into a fit file then their potential will increase greatly.

    • JorgeP

      I will be next week in New York (Marathon) and stay there until 3th November . Maybe does anyone know if I can buy the FR630 at the marathon expo?

    • gingerneil

      Agreed. I use CIQ data fields (mainly the HR graph), but not watch faces (they lag too much compared the stock faces) or the apps (easy to create your own for different activities, and don’t have a need for anything else).
      Some of the changes to CIQ are interesting though – especially being able to take data over ANT+ and record it in the fit file … I’m a runscribe user, and would like to see this data on the watch and in the fit files.

  20. Cam Carroll

    Hi Ray,

    Great reviews, somebody already asked, will there likely be a firmware upgrade for the F3 that includes some of these new dynamics like lactose and stride length? I can see those becoming really handy!

    Thanks again.

    CAM

    • David Lusty

      For what? Can you post a link to info on how to use any of them in actual training scenarios? Even a link to evidence that bigger/smaller is an improvement would be nice :)

    • Tim Grose

      Google lactate threshold training and there be loads to read up on.

  21. Adam

    I just spotted this screenshot on the FR630 product page on the Garmin website.

    Does this mean there is going to be another overhaul of the Garmin Connect Mobile app? I really hope this is the case, because the current one is pretty dire if you’re just using it for actual activities, rather than the whole steps-weight-sleep-whatever thing.

    I wish I could go back to the old(er) one with the separate panes that resembled the modern Connect website, much simpler to do what you want to.

    • David Lusty

      I’m going to post this link for you, but it may be faster if you scroll up and just read the whole article?

      link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Simen

      This is actually the current version. I just upgraded this morning.

    • Adam

      Hahaha, hang on a sec, did Ray add that in afterwards?!

      Surely I can’t be that blind?!?!

      Anyway, thanks for bringing that to my attention…

    • David Lusty

      Enthusiasm blindness is quite common around here :) I just tried the new version and it definitely looks like an improvement although there’s still no obvious way to manage waypoints there or online. The graphics are definitely nicer though and it seemed to sync both my watches at the same time which is a step in the right direction.

    • I have added a few things in afterwards (i.e. charging on the go and Tempe support), but nothing changed in the Garmin Connect Mobile section…yet. Will be swapping out screenshots for my own shortly.

  22. DC Runner

    Wow, the increase on the battery life is fantastic. If true 16 vs. 10 hours is a world of difference in terms of both remembering to charge day to day and recording endurance events.

  23. vinny

    I have a hard time viewing the Fenix 3 screen due to poor illumination…are these brighter when viewing indoors?

  24. Erik

    Any word if the fr235 is capable to re-transmit the HR data to a Garmin Edge?

  25. Anders

    Thanks for a thorough post on Garmin’s new watches; I like the ‘initial thoughts’ section, especially if there’s a reason to upgrade. Too bad there’s no support for Bluetooth smart sensors though (and I don’t expect the 235, or 225 for that matter, includes a heart rate strap?).

    • Tim Grose

      If you buy a 235 presume you prefer optical HR over a strap but, if it is like the 225, you can also pair a HR strap and it will use that in precedence to the optical.

  26. Gearoid O Leary

    any idea why on the garmin uk site when comparing the specs of the 630 to the 235 are they not mentioning things like bluetooth notifications ,vo2 max estimate,glonass,race predictor etc on the 235 specs but are on the 630 specs

  27. Magnus Berggren

    The 235 doesn’t have multi-sport supported what I read by default but would be possible to create custom activities like cross-country skiing or rowing in settings of watch or is it possible with connect iq maybe? While it’s supporting 24×7, is that and separate activity then ?

    Rgs

    • Adam

      This….it would be great to be able to create a custom workout type. Currently doing a lot of CrossFit workouts, and would like to be able to label it correctly.

  28. bart

    so the different between the garmin vivoactive & the garmin 230 is becoming almost null.
    ps nice information … it’s becoming the watch ‘im waiting for

    • Rob

      Well the 230 can’t handle swimming, so that’s one glaring difference.

      To me it’s a question of whether I’d want a touch screen or physical push buttons.

    • Turn The Damn Cranks

      Well, I don’t think us VA users have one second recording, and it doesn’t seem like we will be getting it. Depending upon what you do, that can be a big issue.

    • Nico

      Another difference: the vivoactive does not allow custom workouts.
      Actually, the point that got me to love my vivoactive is its form factor, really slim :-) :-) fits under formal skirts…
      Nico

  29. Paul Schaver

    I see the FR225/230 with the optical HR are also HR strap compatible. Does the unit use both the HR sensors and do some kind of cross referencing of the HR or does it just pick one of the sensors to use? Which sensor would have the priority?

  30. Roman

    Hello,
    does FR230 show ascent and descent for the actual run, like Fenix3? When configuring own data pages, is it possible to choose from Altitude stats?
    Thanks
    Roman

    • Tim Grose

      I don’t think these devices have barometric altimeters in them and so just take elevation from GPS. As such ascent and descent figures aren’t going to mean a lot.

    • peroni

      Barometric altimeter would have been a nice addition. Are we confident Garmin left it out in these new products?

    • Roman

      As each GPS position has got exact altitude, I think it would make a sense to show ascent and descent “online” in data field during the run. As these figures are able to see in Connect when you see your run stats… I have got Fenix3 so I am perfectly happy :), I am just asking as my girlfriend wants to buy 230, but she wants to see altimeter figures as we do a lot of trail running.

  31. Jeremy

    So the Forerunner 235 looks like just what I wanted. All I have really been looking for is a vivoactive with Optical HR, since I do both HIIT and cycling. With the HR broadcasting do you think this means I can just use this with back to back workouts and no longer have to always use a strap? Also will you be doing a follow up review with HR accuracy?

    • Jeremy

      Oh one more thing, but the graph doesn’t mention max battery life, just the GPS battery life being 16 hours. I think I read somewhere that it can run 9 to 11 days, but can’t remember where I found it.

    • Frank

      From the Garmin website “5 weeks watch + AT + Notifications”

  32. Cat's Meow

    “– You can lock the screen by holding the upper left button, at any time.”

    Actually, it’s the bottom left.

  33. billy

    is there auto wifi upload like the 920?

  34. Fredrik

    Hi Ray!
    Will the 920xt get the lactate threshold through an update?

  35. Peter

    it’s good to have basic navigation back, maybe sooner or later they’ll also bring back working course navigation in the future.

    I have 2 garmin watches (305 and 310xt).

    It’s almost unbelievable that the oldest watch (my 305) has almost all the functionality I want: basic navigation, (working) course navigation, customizable screens, interval training, accurate gps measurement…. only thing I’m really missing in this watch is the optical heart rate measurement

    I bought the 310xt watch to be able to track longer distances (when I run a ultra). What I like better in the 310xt watch is the ability to track for a longer duration and the ability to use vibrations instead of beep sound? Unfortunately with the updated firmware course navigation doesn’t work well at all (line drops away, can get it back by zoom in/zoom out, but it’s still annoying, and it’s the main reason I keep my 305 around))

    So basic story is I keep waiting until they bring out an updated watch which has the features of the 305 and optical heart rate measurement. :)

    • I think the thing one has to keep in mind is that the FR305 became the FR310, which became the FR910XT, which became the FR920XT. The core commonality being triathlon watches. And most notably, size. With the FR210 then 220 then 230/235 series, as well as the FR610, then FR620, then FR630 series – they’re going after the smaller runner watch.

      That said, I do agree that course navigation would be ideal in the FR630.

    • Dom

      Courses were a mess in the later versions of 310xt – it worked better if you used planning software which set the points close together, so the course didn’t vanish when you zoomed in. (Think gpsies was the best option, as you could set the maximum space between trackpoints).

      There is a Connect IQ app which supports courses – I haven’t tried it as the native support on the F3 I currently use is better, but for devices like the Vivoactive and the watches previewed here which don’t have native support, I suspect it will be really useful.

  36. Mark

    Battery & optical HR hardware advancements (and the yet unproven running dynamics) aside, the true differentiating spec seems to be software/apps. Any thoughts towards a monthly review of Connect IQ apps?
    (ex – I can turn my Vivoactive into a multi-sport watch with a Connect IQ app – including recording transitions. Not sure this is as widely known as straight device specs.)

    • Matt

      I think beside the optical HR and screen, the most significant change is really a set of much smaller changes for the 230/235 line: 4 data fields, 1sec recording, Bike/Other activity profiles, and charging while an activity are going — these all take the “mid entry level” watch and stretch it much beyond.

      For example, this could easily the 230/235 could easily be an ultra running watch now (minus barometric altimeter) even for slower people (since with charging on the go, it essentially has unlimited* recording ability).

      *I’m sure there is some actual recording limit, obviously.

  37. Luís Ricardo Beato Pereira

    Ray sorry for asking, I have a 620 since they came out, and I simply hate wearing the HRM band (it hurts me, etc). I only use it when I really want to get more info (the Running Dynamics) out of my workout.

    But… I still would love to get the built in optic heart rate (like the 225 or the 235) even knowing that that data will not appear! The HR would… that´s all we need. And more, without that feature the daily activity tracker loses big time to the 235!

    Any news of a 635 coming out?

    I would migrate from the 620 if that happens…

    • Tim Grose

      As already stated most of the difference (other than the touchscreen) between the 630 and the 230/235 is in the stuff you get from wearing the HRM-Run strap so not sure what the real point of a 635 over a 235 would be in that respect?

    • Luís Ricardo Beato Pereira

      There is a lot more… like wi-fi connectivity, etc. But sure the 230 bump up the specs, software wise and have almost the same as the 630…

      But having a built in optical sensor in the 630 would be the right way to go, even knowing that some data (almost all) can only be achieved with the HRM-Run.

      Ray said that the 235 will track the heart rate 24/7 only by using the watch. Well the 630 will fail in that.

      What I would like is a 620/630 with a way to get HR data without the hassle of putting every day the strap on, with the problems that garmin straps have (hurting and scuffing)… and having the same activity tracking data as the 235 will have.

    • Chris

      The Scosche Rythm+ optical HR monitor is a nice option if you want to get away from the chest strap.

    • Dan Morley

      If you where a hat or visor when you run, check out the Life Beam Smart hat or visor. I have the hat and it’s been great for HR. You loose the advanced running dynamics, but functionally it has worked great for me with my 920XT

    • Jennifer Helms

      Tim, I agree with Luis. It would be great to have 24/7 HR monitoring that the 235 offers, plus the additional info you get with the 630 (VO2 Max, etc.) by adding the HR strap. I want both. I’m still hoping Garmin will release a 635. I’m patiently waiting and still using my 305 in hopes that they will. Of course, I’m also waiting for the 235 review to see how well the optical HR sensor works. That will tell me whether or not I should continue to hold out hoping for a 635 or if I should just go ahead and purchase the 630.

    • Bill L

      Jennifer, I’m in exactly the same boat as you. I’m figuring that if the optical reader in the 235 proves out, I’ll get that for a while and wait to what comes down the pike with the 630 ..actually, maybe with the Fenix because my preferred upgrade would be to the ideal tri watch and I just like the Fenix better than the 900 series. Then, I’ll keep the one I like best. The 235 would certain work for a while, even if there is a software issue. A hardware issue would be a different story.

  38. Teriemer

    Two questions pops up imideately: 1) Does FR630 support “Pace from footpod”? And about the new touchscreen touching your skin before it works; how does that work when I’m wearing the watch outside a sleeve / on a jacket during winter?

  39. Keegan

    Ray,
    You have said that the Vivoactive previously undercut the rest of the Forerunner lineup. Do you think the FR235 is a better deal than the vivoactive now?

  40. Armando Serafini

    I purchased a Vivoactive earlier this year. What implications, if any, do these product updates hold for the Vivoactive? What’s your opinion on the Vivoactive’s position or status as part of Garmin’s entire line of watches? Thanks.

  41. Lee

    Regarding the Garmin Connect mobile update, If you go to devices and click on the ‘?’ under set activity tracker, it reads
    ” Connect will sync with multiple activity trackers and allow you to use the appropriate device for your day or activity. If there is a conflict in merging data Garmin Connect will use your preferred activity tracker.”

    Does this mean Garmin finally supports the use of two activity trackers? If so, i am surprised that wasn’t mentioned in their update desc.

  42. Tony Zahn

    I recently picked up a Fenix 2 on sale as an upgrade for my FR210, but I’m not really happy with the GPS reception (it was much better on the old 210). I’m now seriously considering trying to return it an getting a 230 or maybe 630, as long as the GPS isn’t going to report a 27+ mile marathon.

  43. luca massetti

    when will we have a garmin 930xt or 935xt? I mean, when the new triathlon watch without HR belt!

    • David Lusty

      October 1st 2016 would be a reasonable bet. January 5th 2017 for Fenix 4. These are based on a 2 year cycle and the current product announcement dates. Add to these the usual 3-4 month availability problems and potential early unit quality issues and you’re left with now being pretty much the optimal time to buy either 920XT or Fenix 3. Most bugs are ironed out, price is lower than it was, and they are available.
      The FR620 was announced September 16th 2013, so pretty much 2 years ago

    • Jennifer

      Currently the fenix is running a 1 year cycle, Jan 2015 and Feb 2014. I suspect the 4 will be released in January 2016.

  44. Steven Brown

    Good to see the return of the Virtual Racer feature, after its inexplicable removal from the 620.

    Think the 620 looks very sharp. Would be tempted if I wasn’t giving Garmin a swerve for their Fenix3/GPS nonsense.

  45. Byron

    Sigh… I have Amazon gift cards from my corporate wellness program, but Amazon doesn’t have the 630 available for preorder yet. :(

  46. Martijn

    Yikes, I got a 225 less than 4 months ago. Not pleased that it’s been replaced already and even less by the fact that the new one uses a different HR sensor. Because I doubt whether Garmin will continue supporting the 225 with new firmware versions, especially since the 225 will end up being Garmin’s only unit to ever use a Mio optical HR sensor.
    Sure, it works for me, but I have to be quite mindful how to wear my 225 and especially how hard to tighten the strap, since the HR data will be all over the place if I don’t.

    • Tim Grose

      I would be surprised if you could wear the 235 “any old how” and still see good results from the optical HR.

    • JB

      Yeah, I am also not happy about this. I was expecting updates to 620, but totally blowing out of the water a 4 month old device, that is unheard of. I think that they believe 225 was such a flop that they had to do something about it. I will raise this with Garmin, seriously, the features on the new watch are at least (what you would expect) a couple of revisions ahead of what they released just 4 months ago.

    • Jun

      I contacted Garmin about this and got this statement,

      The choice to release new devices is Garmin’s decision, but they do review the emails the customer sends to Garmin. Your reason for your frustration is understandable. Garmin is a tech company and like any other tech company they release new device in 6 months or shorter. If you like please input your suggestion to the following link. It is an ideas link, but would be taken seriously because Garmin listens to the consumers.

      link to www8.garmin.com

      So essentially to pound sand

    • If enough people comment, it does tend to make a difference. I think this is a case where if enough people push back, they’ll change their mind. Heck, they went pretty far down the development and beta cycle for it.

  47. Bob B

    I am a bit tempted by the 630 (heck, even the 230, now that so many features have been added), but I love the look and feel of my Fenix 3. I was hoping Garmin would have made the exterior a little more upscale. Still, can’t wait for Ray’s review.

    • Tim Grose

      Doesn’t the Fenix 3 already do nearly all the stuff these ones do? I note Ray commented that for 920/Fenix 3/Epix users one of these isn’t an obvious “upgrade”.

    • gingerneil

      My F3 does pretty much everything here (other than some of the obscure dynamics stuff – I get way more from my runscribe anyway). As Ray states – this is a catchup to the F3 and not addition of lots of features over and above. They are more single activity cut-down versions of the F3/920 – and are waaaay uglier than the F3!

  48. Hannon

    What music player do the watches support? Is there a garmin connect player you have to install on the phone, or does it control native phone apps?

    • Tim Grose

      I presume it is like an extension to your phone and so play on the watch is the same as pressing play on your phone.

    • TR

      It probably just uses BT like on a BT headphone set, so any music player you’re in, you get the controls.

    • xmas

      Wonder why the hell they don´t have an option to playback music from the watch itself? Nobody wants to carry phone whern running.

      Via BT the watch could be the best music player with BT headphones. You can take your music and/or podcasts and go.

    • TR: To be clear, you’re pairing your headset with the phone, not the watch. The watch is totally outside the loop on this transaction.

      The watch simply has what is basically a data page connection via Bluetooth Smart to the Garmin Connect Mobile (GCM) app on your phone. In turn, the GCM app talks to the iOS/Android music platform. In other words, the watch is pretty much unaware of what device you’re using.

      As for why we haven’t seen Garmin add a music player – not entirely sure. However, one of the challenges with music in such a device is playback. If you use wired headphones, it’s a waterproofing nightmare. And if you use BT headphones, you get into a horribly messy BT compatibility issue (just ask Adidas and TomTom). Many BT audio devices suck at following standards (it’s nuts). Adding to that is the body interference, so you typically have to wear the watch on the same side as the BT transmitter in the headphones.

      Then there’s battery life. For example, on the TomTom Spark with optical HR, music, GPS, and the backlight (for winter evening running), I don’t even get 90 mins of battery time. With the backlight off, it’s a bit better.

      None are show-stoppers, but I suspect it explains why the gap.

    • TR

      Thanks for the clarification. The question now is only if the GCM app is coded (or is able) to change tracks in any player, or just hard coded ones. If it does that by emulating the BT controls (like on a headset as I said above), an API (like notification API on Android), or something else.

    • Alan

      Will the 230/235 have the “– Backlight turns on when you turn your wrist (optional)” or is this just the 630?

    • Matt

      According to the manual, yes.

      link to www8.garmin.com

  49. Ian

    Does the 230 have specific “other” sport modes, or is it all just generic “other”? Wondering specifically if there is a XC ski mode.

  50. Daniel

    Ray, your product comparison table mentions that the FR235 does not have the Virtual Racer feature, but the spec list for the FR235 on the Garmin site says it does. Can you confirm that this feature is also available on the FR235?

    • I’ve asked for clarification/validation on that one. Will update as soon as I get confirmation.

      (Many times the Garmin.com site is incorrect in the days after a product launch, for reasons that defy logic. Not saying that’s the case here, just providing some backstory.)

  51. luca massetti

    Thank you David, already bought both (920 and fenix3) will wait for the next generation…

  52. Patrick

    Ray,

    Thanks for another great writeup!

    The”Backlight turns on when you turn your wrist” feature is probably the only thing I am wishing my awesome Vivoactive had. A 10 year old Casio has it, so it’s not exactly groundbreaking for an accelerometer to say “turn on a light for 2 seconds.” Do you think there’s any chance that will show up as an option on the Vivoactive/920/Fenix3?

    p.s. – Sorry about the Blizzard. If you’re in Northern IL sometime, I’ll make sure you get one.

  53. Roman

    Do you guys think with all the recent upgrades, perhaps a Fenix 4 is coming up next? maybe even with an optical HR? or is too much to wish for since garmin only recently adopted optical HR

  54. Michal

    Is there any chance for Ultratrac in 230/235?

  55. Stefan Gutehall

    Interesting.
    I was almost set on Polar v800, but now I read about FR630 and I’m not so sure anymore. Any comments on how they stand in comparison now?

    • David Lusty

      Yes, you can buy a v800 but not a FR630. By the time you can go to a store and buy the FR630 Polar will announce the new v800 replacement which is probably due January (CES?) which I reckon with the news today about their new A360 is likely to have a colour screen at least along with all the features of the v800 and hopefully Ant+ support alongside the BTLE which has been dragging them down a bit on compatibility. If they add Strava sync by then it’ll be a bonus.
      All wild speculation of course, but comparing the 2 year old v800 to a not yet released watch is a little unfair.

    • Steven Shaw

      I can’t see polar adopting ant+. I really like my v800 and v650, but ultimately I think they are let down by polar flow not being as good as garmin connect and the lack of ant+ support. As a triathlete it is poor that a sensor cannot transmit to a watch and cycle computer at the same time, something that is easy with Garmin products. I think polar has better hardware than Garmin but is let down by it’s software.

    • I could actually see them enabling ANT+ on their cycling computers, depending on how sales go. I think they heard the message loud and clear at the media event this past summer on how important that is to cyclists. I mean, 30+ journalists from world basically shouted it at them*. And Polar had some fairly senior folks there.

      If they do that, they have a legitimate chance of making inroads in the cycling head unit realm (especially the M450), and also with a V800 successor, if/when that happens. Without that, I think we’ll continue to see them struggle with adoption rates.

      *Note: I was actually silent.

    • Steven Shaw

      That would great, and might put me back into to preferring polar. Having both polar and garmin watches/computers, I tend to go through phases of preferring one then the other. At the moment I can’t get my v650 to sync with my mac, so I’m using my edge810.

      Would the v800/v650 be upgradeable to ant+ via firmware?

    • To be clear, there’s no promise or hint from Polar on supporting ANT+. Just a guess/hope that seems commonly felt by many there.

      I don’t know the hardware stack specifics of the other two.

  56. Sam M

    Ray, I saw on the Clever Training site the pic’s of the new HRM strap. Looks like a different mounting system in the back? Have you had any time with it? Also, will the old HRM strap work from a 620 for the new dynamics? Thanks!

    • Derek Paton

      This is a good question – any comments Ray?

    • Brian Simpson

      Yes I would really like to know this as well. I really do not want to buy a new heart rate strap.

    • I’ve asked for clarification from Garmin on whether the features require the new strap, or if the new strap is simply just more of a cosmetic update (Garmin does cosmetic updates to all manner of straps about once a year).

    • Matthias

      And did you get an answer so far? I have got the HRM-Strap from the 920xt and would be happy to save some money, buying the 630 without one…

  57. Does the 230 display the heart rate as ‘% of max hr’?

    • Wayne Lyle

      This is what I’m looking at knowing, if it does I’d definitely buy one, but might be a deal breaker if not.

  58. Can these watches sync/export data to fitbit and/or runkeeper? I’m already a fitbit user but I’m looking for something geared towards running.

  59. Just using the new app on my iPhone and it is much cleaner then the last version. I really like it!!

  60. FYI: I’ve received some more explicit details on exactly how and what the Lactate Threshold test shows. Here ya go, straight from the right persons mouth:

    “How the LT test works: the watch gathers sets of data at different paces for heart rate and heart rate variability. LT is detected mainly based on the HRV slope with respect to pace. The data is reported in the FIT file as both a speed and a HR value at the point at which the LT is detected. Under the hood the speed is in units of km/hour. LTHR is in bpm. These values are then reported with the activity FIT file to Garmin Connect where they will then be displayed on a new type of Report widget, the current (most recent) measurement as well as historical measurements.”

    Also, I’ve just updated the Garmin Connect Mobile app section with a crapton of screenshots I just took on my phone, replacing the provided ones. Enjoy!

    • David Lusty

      OK even I’ll admit that sounds like one of the more useful features of recent times on any watch. Presumably though this will need quite a bit of running below and crucially above threshold so to even get a number will be quite painful. Should be very useful for distance event training.

    • Tim Grose

      Computing LTHR in a lab test is not half as “painful” as doing it for VO2 Max! Both times I did a VO2 Max one, got LTHR “on the way up” to max. LTHR pace is also usually no quicker than 10K race pace and for better runners can be more like 10 mile race pace. I saw a description of it as “Comfortably hard” which thought was a good one.

    • David Lusty

      I was thinking that for the unit to guess it you’d need to surpass it enough times to show fatigue or whatever. To a sports watch pretty much anything under threshold would presumably look the same as you’re able to keep HR and pace consistent – it’s only when you breach it that things start to change? If that’s the case then you’d need to place yourself into some pain to work out where to back off to. The V02Max guestimates on the other hand are based on HR/pace right the way through so no need to hit any barrier.

      Obviously totally different on the proper lab tests (which I’ve never done), I’m just thinking how it could work on a watch with limited inputs. Either way, it’s potentially a lot more useful than stride length and presumably we’d be able to then base alarms/intervals on it for use when running.

    • David lusty

      It looks like LT needs the new HRM Run strap ($100!) whether they add support to the older watches or not.
      link to buy.garmin.com

    • I’ve asked for specific clarification on this, as I don’t believe it requires the newest of HRM-RUN straps. Sorta like how there’s been various cosmetic changes in HRM straps over the years, many of them technically meaningless.

      Will report back as soon as I get an answer.

    • Eli

      Seems like your comment above about being similar to BSX is wrong as Garmin is based purly on HR data (HRV is still heart rate) while BSX uses muscle oxygenation data.

    • I was referring to the output, not the input. The output of BSX is your HR zones (and with Gen2, muscle oxygenation during workouts). That zone is based on measuring your lactate threshold.

      So two totally different measurement techniques, but ultimately the same output as far as a specific number to the athlete to train by.

    • Eli

      Also all Garmin’s data is from Firstbeat: link to firstbeat.com

      BTW is does seem like Firstbeat has gotten their algorithms which need HRV to work with optical sensors: link to firstbeat.com

  61. Rudolph Wolfenstein

    I still use an old edge 800 for my biking activity, so I have cadence, speed and a heart strap. Is it possible to receive the signals from these BOTH with the edge 800 as well as one of these watches, at the same time?
    Too bad that there isn’t a 630 with the optical heart sensor built in. I’d like to have continouus monitoring, when not on the bike (where i am used to wear a strap, but not when wearing a suit..).

  62. natalia

    Does the 230 have a run/walk setting?

  63. Dan Majgaard

    Any explanation to why the rubber thing from 225 was skipped for 235 for optical HR? – That one made a lot of sense to me.

  64. Michael

    Do you think they will be revamping the Fenix 3 anytime soon?

  65. 6co

    Quick question,…
    what about old people with very poor reading eye sight? Can we get only ONE data field per screen and get a font that looks larger?
    Am asking because many times in Garmin watches, even though we can get one data field only, the font does not get any bigger than when there are two, three or four fields…

    Along the same line, the auto lap message, or any other messages during a run, like “accelerate” or “slow down” or “ahead of virtual partner” … are those getting any larger fonts? They are just unreadable to me …

    thanks for the great sneak peek!

    Cheers
    6co

  66. Paul Adams

    I have had my 225 for two months now, and it is already obsolete. *sigh* Maybe I can sell it to a friend.

    Adding the Bluetooth Smart notifications and 1-second recording option is great. What I would really like is the addition of an alarm that vibrates, so I could wear it to bed and it would silently wake me up in the morning. It sounds like that may be available on the 630. It should be doable on the 225 with an update. After all, it already has an alarm, and a vibrate for alerts.

  67. Jan

    now Garmin can safely add cycling mode to the Forerunner 220, since 230 got it and the predecessor 210 had it, too

    (apparently market segmentation wasn’t the cause for lack of cycling mode for the 220 model then)

    • TR

      I wonder how hard would it be to update the lower FR models with the cycling mode. I mean it’s just a difference in the workout type and setting the “speed” as default instead of “pace”, it could be coded in an afternoon.

    • Jan

      it got added to the 620 with a firmware update later, too (incl. ANT+ Speed & Cadence)

    • Jan

      … guess they are busy bloating newer product with *features* instead of hitting send to push the firmware update with cycling mode for the 220

    • Tim Grose

      Doubt if it is “hard” but commercially makes zero sense. I am sure Ray regularly says buy a device for what it does today not what it might do tomorrow.

    • TR

      Sure, but as a customer it can leave a sour taste. Garmin behaves almost like Samsung in mobile with shipping new hardware instead of focusing and updating the existing ones.

    • Byron

      The 210 has a cycling mode? I have a 210 and I didn’t know that.

    • Dom

      I have a 210 and know that it doesn’t 😉

  68. Josh

    Does the 235 allow you to view your HR when not in an activity mode?

  69. ekutter

    How exactly does the navigation work? I assume it doesn’t have the bread crumb map, which is what I’d really like. You show a picture of an arrow back to start. What about other way points? Can you tell it to do a “route” where it just keeps giving you an arrow to the next route point? Also, is the arrow to the location only valid while you’re moving since it doesn’t have a magnetic compass?

    • Tim Grose

      Looks like the same screen as on the 920. That is just an as the crow flies arrow. It seems they stopped trying to be clever with “BTS” after the 910 and now just give you an arrow and distance but have to admit is nearly always good enough for me. Again on the 920 navigating to a “Location” is similar and you can’t do Routes. In fact can’t remember being able to do Routes on a Forerunner since about the 301 so seems unlikely that is coming back.

  70. Ray, do you know what chipset is used in 630? Is it the same as in 620 or the one from fenix 3?

  71. Mr. T

    Is there anything to the “running dynamics” other than a gimmick? It seems Garmin is married to that technology at the expense of giving people what they would like. I’ve never heard it being used in training

  72. Josh Howard

    Any Chance you can add the TomTom Spark Cardio to the product comparison table? With so many new watch options, it would be a huge help.

    Thanks!

  73. Donnie Barnes

    Ugh. My problem with this is we have a clear answer now on “advanced running metrics” versus optical heartrate. Or so it seems. Basically, you can’t have both in the same hardware. By that I mean Garmin seems unwilling to put an optical HRM on a watch *and* let you optionally pair it with a strap for advanced dynamics when you want it.

    I’m a Fenix3 lover. But I don’t care about advanced running metrics. So I wear a Scosche optical HRM. But I’d SO much rather have everything in ONE device. That said, I’m not willing to drop back on other features to a 235 class watch.

    Please, Garmin, please create a Fenix4 that’s really just a Fenix3 with optical HRM built in. Pretty please with sugar on top?

    –Donnie

    • Matt

      I am trail/ultra runner and currently have the Fenix 3. I, too, wear a Scosche. I plan to replace my Fenix 3 with the 235 until the Fenix 4/whatever comes out. While I love the design of the Fenix 3, it currently just isn’t accurate enough for me — combine that with having to wear two different things (HRM and watch) and the 235 fits the bill (assuming it’s as or more accurate than the F3). I was sold with 11hr battery life, 4 data fields, bike/other options, HR rebroadcast, use while charging, and 24/7 HR monitoring. Just makes more sense, personally.

    • Gingerneil

      I don’t see why the new watches should be any more accurate that the f3…. Sounds like they are the same chipset. Maybe the antenna design will be better. I have an F3, and run mostly trails. The maps may not be perfect, but accuracy had never caused any problems in real world use.
      As for all in one device – what about when you’re wearing long sleeves and want the watch on top? You could always thread the strap through the rhythm so it sits on the inside of the wrist. That’s what I did with my 220 and it worked great!

    • Gingerneil

      Here you go.. Threaded through a 24mm nato strap from Amazon.

  74. David

    Ray, what is your initial take on the improved resolution on the screen, and do you feel the color is brighter than on the 220/225/620 series? Thanks…

  75. Gabe

    IMO Still too many products…

    • Jan

      +1 … with too many “features”

    • Gabe

      a lot of these watches can be consolidated – Ray – maybe youre a bit restiveness saying it but garmin is just looking at a $ grab by taking away features when it’s simply just software between these watches (aside from the HRM built in) .

      It just seems like a better opportunity to limit the watches to ONE run watch – ONE tri watch – ONE multisport watch etc

      it’s just garmin being garmin.

    • I agree on too many products (if for no other reason than it’s too many reviews to write).

      Personally I’ve hinted a few times to them that I believe they should simply adopt a model whereby consumers can pay for the features they want – just like in-app purchases. You start off with a base hardware (i.e. the Forerunner X) which would be essentially the FR630 body, and then folks can enable/disable new features by paying for them. This also gives Garmin significant potential to upsell new features without alienating existing customers requiring them to make huge hardware investments. i.e. the idea that someone could go and buy the Lactate Threshold function for say, $30. Or whatever the price is (certainly cheaper than the BSX at $400).

      Unfortunately, their platform simply isn’t setup for that today – and it sounds like it’d probably take years to get to that point.

    • Marcel

      While that sounds great, I think it would create a huge risk: hacking. Once there is only one watch to think about, it would become interesting to hack the cheapest watch, unlock all features, and sell it as the most expensive watch.

      I’d be more interested in seeing just 2 or 3 watches, from low to high end, with hardware differences to justify pricing differences, and then give customers every single feature that hardware set can support. So on the low end, no optical sensors, phone features, internal accelerometer, or adjustments for swimming, but all the other metrics, including Connect IQ.

      The midrange could then add a few hardware features, like optical sensors and/or bluetooth, and the high end would obviously have everything. Whether or not e.g. navigation would be on the low or mid-end watches would then depend on hardware limitations, nothing else.

    • Anh

      I am pretty sure that the Sport/Fitness Smartwatch will allow in-app purchases and Garmin will be in trouble. They are trying too many things. Their Connect IQ has very few useful apps.

  76. Brian

    Any information on if the FR235 will include resting heart rate as part of it’s 24/7 monitoring? That is one of the main reasons why I use the FitBit Charge HR. With resting HR and some decent apps to improve the SmartWatch capabilities, I could replace my Charge HR, Pebble watch and old FR610 with one nice all in one FR235. No more taking the Pebble off, putting on the FR610, strapping up the HR strap, waiting for the 610 to acquire satellites. This is assuming that the optical HR proves to be accurate.

    • David

      Yes it does Resting Heart rate, automatic sleep tracking etc. everything the Fitbit Charge HR does. There is a screen shot on REI.com that clearly shows a screen on the 235 with a graph of the days HR and specifically breaks out Resting HR. Battery life with 24×7 HR is 9-11 days (with no GPS) vs 5 weeks with no HR (with no GPS).

  77. Fredric Luthman

    Is the display on the 230 brighter than the one on the Vivoactive?

    Does custom workouts from Garmin Connect and training calendar really work (on the 230/235)?

    How is the lap/split button?

  78. AndyW

    My 310XT is finally about to bite the dust, the battery life has been not so good..or I just leave it on and forget to turn it off haha.

    I’ve stepped away from multisport and now just do running. In your opinion if I was looking between the VivoActive and FR230/235 what do you think would be a good fit? I like the smart phone capability of the VA but it sounds like the FR230/235 have all that now. Is the FR230/235 going to be the best bang for the buck as well as the most durable? Additionally, in short what has been the most frequent problems with the optical HR? Has it been picking up a HR continuously or just accuracy compared to the strap. Wanted to get your thoughts.

  79. LAURENT

    bonjour est-ce que le lactate va arriver sur la fenix 3 et la 920xt?

  80. Dr. Matt

    Hey Ray,
    if the in depth review is going to take a while, can you give a quick update if you have some interim results on the 235 HR optical sensor accuracy? That’s my (and I would think others) main question/deal breaker on spending the extra money for that.
    THANKS!!

    • Lenard Lesser

      Have you gotten any response on this? It’s holiday present time and I’m trying to choose between the old model (on sale) and the new one. I’d like the new one if the optical sensor is just as good.

    • There’s some data that folks (including myself) have published throughout the comments, check out the later comments.

      As for my in-depth review of the FR230/235, it’ll be published on Wednesday.

    • Lenny

      Thanks. I scrolled though 235 comments and didn’t find the answer, so I stopped scrolling. I”ll keep scrolling. If you can point to it, let me know. Or if there is a search term to find it.
      Looking forward to your review!

  81. Wayne Lyle

    Thanks for an excellent review/s as usual, I think it was asked somewhere above, but couldn’t see an answer, but does the 230 show hr as % of max ‘on the run’ ?

  82. JimG

    What?! No stride length for bed-focused workouts!! How could they leave that out??!!

  83. raven

    Any chance we’ll see the Apple Watch review that has been forthcoming for months now, or has all the new hotness killed that?

  84. stefanos

    I imagine how the people that bought the 225 feel at this moment.

    • Nathan Williams

      Gobsmacked. I literally just received my FR225 (replacement for a dead Polar M400) today. I’d rather not have to train without a GPS watch this fall, but the 235 sounds like it might be worth waiting for.

  85. Adam

    Does it make sense buying FR630 without strap and using FR620 strap?

  86. Raymond_B

    Man I was hoping to see an update for my Fenix3, I really like the audio alerts.

    • Devon

      Updates have been coming pretty fast and furious (for better or worse), so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some updates coming to the Fenix shortly.

  87. Karla

    Do you plan to test the 230 & 235 at the same time to compare HRM similarities? Heck, put the 630 and 620 on at the same time for a more complete comparison on the other arm. :) Feel free to add a few other watches to your arms (yes, plural) as well to get the full sense of how they differ and how well they perform with other watches you’ve already tested.

    • David

      Karla have you ever seen a DC Rainmaker review? 😉

      That’s EXACTLY what he does… I doubt he ever runs with less than 4 watches on LOL.

    • Karla

      Yes I have. It was meant to be sarcastic as I know he does that.

  88. Tim-S

    Hey Ray, when I pulled the trigger on the 620 immediately after it was released it wasn’t until months later and several firmware upgrades did it actually track properly. Any indication on accuracy issues with the 630 (or other models for that matter)? Frankly, I just about swore off Garmin because of the myriad of GPS issues last time and won’t go through it again.

    Thanks!

  89. I’m gonna go total lady here: They look good!! Good enough that I would wear them in public (unlike my 920XT).

  90. Ryan

    Placed a pre-order this morning!

  91. deorum

    what about tracking accuracy?

    some older models (305xt) actually had a better accuracy than newer models. I am a bit spliting hairs now, but still, any noticeable improvement against 220-620 ?

    • Tim Grose

      Ray said he did one run with it and could not even download the track. As such think we will need to wait on this point. The fact though that the distance came up as expected is at least promising.

  92. So the 630 touchscreen doesn’t work when it’s winter and you have the watch strapped on outside your jacket sleeve?

    • Tim Grose

      I do wonder whether it has to be “grounded” to something rather than nothing. In Ray’s video he was showing it having problems when touching nothing but I don’t see any test say with it resting up against his shirt with obviously his arm underneath that.

    • torben

      working without any problem outside of a jacket

  93. Cailia

    Great overview, Ray.

    From what I read on Garmin’s website for the new HRM-Run strap that is available with the FR630, it measures three new metrics: vertical ratio, stride length and left/right ground contact time balance. I am guessing from this that the current HRM-Run are not be capable of providing these additional metrics. Can you confirm this?

    Also, you didn’t mention in your review, unless I managed to missed, if you used an existing HRM-Run strap or tried out the new one on your run with the watch. Have you tried the new strap? Can you confirm if it’s still a separate transmitter and strap or if it’s now a one-piece design as the small image I’ve seen, and in-box description, indicate. I found the current HRM-Run strap miserably uncomfortable on my small frame and ended up getting the Polar soft strap in a xs-s size that is far more comfortable. I’m a bit concerned if the new strap is one piece and proves uncomfortable, that won’t to be an option.

    Thanks for the helpful info! I really appreciate your detailed reviews.

    • Bart

      It seems that Garmin now has 2 HRM-Run straps.
      “Classic” with 3 running dynamics measurements — cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time
      “New/Red” with 6 running dynamics measurements — cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, vertical ratio, stride length and left/right ground contact time balance

      And finally the recent HRM-Tri (new/Blue)
      I know the HRM-Tri has memory but how many dynamics does it measure the 3 classic ones?
      (According to the dutch garmin site the HRM-Tri measures 3 running dynamics measurements — cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time )

      If so will there be yet another HRM the HRM-Tri2 (Yellow?) which supports 6 measurements and has memory for swimming?

    • It’s probably best to put a bit of a pause button on the assumptions of whether or not the different HRM-RUN straps offer different metrics until we get final clarification (which I’ve already requested).

      I wouldn’t want folks getting the wrong bundle, or getting riled up for no reason either. Hang tight! Should have clarity today.

  94. Paul

    Great preview but I’m a bit confused how the running cadence is measured. I own a 620 and have been running without my HRM strap the past couple of months. The watch still tracks my cadence just the same, so there seems no connection to the strap for this metric.

    • Gingerneil

      The 620/220 have an internal cadence sensor inside the watch itself.

    • ekutter

      The strap is slightly more accurate so will use that if you have it. Otherwise it uses the internal accelerometer for cadence.

  95. Mark Melton

    Really frustrated that I bought a 225 and it’s being replaced 6 months after it came out and essentially the same price for more features. I had hoped the 225 might get upgraded to 24×7 monitoring. Any chance that will happen now? I doubt it.

  96. Marius

    Do you think the do not disturb notifications function will come to Fenix 3?

  97. Ed

    Ray, for these watches or any others by Garmin with notifications, could you post a video of the notifications in action and the user options, and your tips? I’m hoping the 230 could be a good daily smartwatch.

    • Nighthawk700

      Yes, I’m planning to replace my Pebble with one of these (leaning on the 235 at the moment) but would really like to see this feature in action! Thanks for all the information!

    • Ed

      I have a Pebble as well, the first-generation Steel. It works well and it was a great deal at $100 a few weeks ago.

      I bought it instead of the Vivoactive (I have a 910XT for running and cycling), hoping Garmin would come out with something like the 630 with long battery life, but not as costly and as big the Fenix3 /920XT.

    • Nighthawk700

      BTW: I saw one example of the Smart Notification on Garmin’s video: link to youtube.com Pops up at about 28 seconds in.

  98. Jennifer

    So, there is no optical HRM sensor on the 630? A little disappointed thinking they would add it in this upgrade, especially with the 225 having an optical sensor.

  99. Yogi

    The 630 will probably be a good buy in 12-18 months when all the usual bugs have been ironed out.

  100. steve mayo

    On the touch-screen for the 630.. Did they change it from resistive (which let you use mittens or any old pair of gloves to change screens) to capacitive (which allows a wet shirt to change screens -OR- requires a finger or touch-capable gloves)? Any reason why they added the “back must be grounded for the touch screen to work”? Worries me that they tried to fix something that wasn’t broken… (For those of us that live in the north, not having to use touch sensitive gloves which are usually thin and crappy during winter runs 0-15 degrees was kind of nice.)

    Steve

  101. ampestijn

    I bet there will be a 635 within 6 months.

    I don’t really get Garmin, why do they release products like the Fenix 2 and the Forerunner 225 if they know they’ll be obsolete within 6 months and the people that bought them will feel ripped off.

  102. Michael Fiola

    Can you summarized the benefits of the 630 over the 230?

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the great info. I admittedly skimmed some of the comments, but I did not see a good description of the advantages of the 630 over the 230. I even did a direct comparison and saw very little. The 230 looks to have nearly all the key functions of the 630.

    Thanks

    • ekutter

      touch screen, basic navigation, and 4 vs 2 customizable data screens seem to be the big ones for me. New advanced running metrics are also there but won’t impact most users. Absolutely love the touch screen on my 620.

      Ray, given the 630 has a touch screen, does it have any negative impact and the clarity of the screen over the 230?

    • No impact on clarity that I see.

    • Adam

      wi-fi, virtual racer (this is to be confirmed as Garmin website says both have it)

    • Michael Fiola

      Thanks

  103. MikeDozer

    Do you think that New Running Dynamics ,Stress Score app and Finish estimate will be added to other connect iq watches like Epix? Or i have to wait for Epix 2? :)

  104. Oscar

    No rolling pin comparison?

    (jk I know it will probably be in the in-depth review for the watches)

  105. Nick

    With Connect iQ, I wonder if someone will develop an app that would allow the FR235 to connect to bike computers (510/520) as an external heart rate monitor. Not sure if this is a hardware or software issue. Thoughts, Ray?

    • The FR235 will rebroadcast its heart rate signal over ANT+, to any other devices (such as an Edge device) that wants to pick it up.

      Additionally, Garmin will shortly be releasing a firmware update for the FR225 to do the same (it’s already under testing).

    • Nick

      Awesome! Thanks for the reply!

    • The Garmin 225 just got an update ” Version 2.50 ” the rebroadcast was not included within the change log – are you saying there will be another update?

    • Geoff

      Hi Ray,

      as Martin said, Garmin just released firmware 2.50 for the 225, but no sign of ANT+ HR broadcast. Are they definitely going to add it with another update?

      I hope so. It will somewhat ameliorate my displeasure at finding out the 225 I bought as a present for my wife has already been superseded. Shortest product life ever?!

    • I’ll get clarity on the exact timeframe. I’d typically suspect that we’d see it roll out to the FR235’s first (where the sample-size is semi-controlled since there are simply few units) and then enabled on the 225’s. That said, they did imply they’ve been cooking on the software for a while.

      I’ll circle back with that once I get answers on some of the other things I sent over yesterday (I somewhat try to batch unknown questions to minimize them hating me too much).

    • Geoff

      Did you ever get to find out about this, Ray?

      I assume whatever the date was, the v2.50 firmware debacle will have delayed it somewhat, but other than this article, I haven’t found any further mention of this feature being implemented on the FR225.

      Thanks,
      Geoff.

  106. Lajos Toth

    Hi Ray,

    Great review.
    Would the Garmin HRM-R strap that came with my Epix pick up the same features/metrics available on the FR 630 now ? The new strap looks a little different and I am not sure whether it also functions differently.
    Thanks and best,

    Lajos

  107. Kelly Harper

    And I JUST bought the 620 earlier this month, shame on you Garmin! :)

  108. Darren

    It would be great to know the dimension of the 235 – can you measure them Ray? Garmin’s website lists 45×11.7mm for both the 230 and 235. I’m assuming the 235 is thicker than the 230!

    I find the 225 considerably thicker than the 220 (understandably so with the HRM), perhaps a little too bulky for my liking to be worn as a day-to-day activity tracker (which is one of it’s big features). The vivoactive, on the other hand, is nice and thin (but no HRM).

  109. MacroPhotoFly

    Absolutely delighted there is finally an optical HRM device, with a watch face and transmits the HRM data to edge products. FINALLY! It will be so nice to go riding with a watch on my wrist rather than a chest strap
    I really hope your testing of the HRM shows it to be reliable.

    It would obviously be perfect if it was able to accept Power Meter data too – that would be the creme de la creme for the odd days my 800 battery dies before the end of the ride (knowing I then have a back-up of the ride on the wrist). Please let us know if they update the watch to accept Ant+ Power devices

  110. Nighthawk700

    According to Garmin’s website (comparing the 630/235/230, it says only the 630 has music control, not the other two. (the other two do have the audio prompts though). Next time you play with the 235 or 230, can you double check on that? Not sure that it’s a deal breaker for me, but figured you’d want to have as much accuracy as you can.

  111. JF

    I know it’s been asked before but with everything going on, I figured I’d ask:

    In order to get the running dynamics with either that 620 or 630 such as stride length, ground contact time, etc, do I need a traditional HR strap or can they do it without?

    I don’t wear a HR strap anyway but love the optical HR that the 225/235 series has and would love a deal on the older versions but always need 4 data points per page so that leads me to the 235 and not the 225

    But if it’s b/w optical HR or running dynamics, which is more useful.

    Just trying to figure which one to buy now.

    Thoughts?

    • For Running Dynamics on the FR620/FR630 you need an HRM-RUN. The only exception being for cadence, which got lumped under Running Dynamics but isn’t really (no strap needed for that).

      For me, it’s 100% more useful to have optical HR than running dynamics. I’m still unclear on what to do with Running Dynamics beyond the initial geek-factor wears off (a few runs).

    • Reinier

      Do the 230/235 show cadence or do you need a footpod for that?

    • Reinier

      Does the 230/235 show cadence or only the 630

    • They both record cadence, no footpod needed.

  112. Kartik

    Ray: You have spoken about 220=>230, 620=>630 and that 920/Fenix users need to stay put. What about the Vivoactive user? Where does the 230/630 fit in here in the desirability equation / upgrade path? How is the product positioning like? Just curious…

    • Yeah, I’ll be honest – I have no idea how Vivoactive users should take things. It’s sorta in a weird (but good) parallel and uncharted universe from a stand Garmin product roadmap perspective.

    • Kartik

      Ok – thanks.

    • liftbigdata

      I have the Vivoactive and ended up selling it. Just not enough serious (even simple) running functionality. Considering jumping to the MS Band 2 or one these new Garmins..

  113. Ben_I

    I’m a reasonably serious runner and I’m really glad I didn’t wait around for the FR630 and went and got a Vivoactive early in the year. From the comparison tool, the only real difference is the running dynamics, which from all reviews is worth a look at once or twice and then forget about. The VA is smaller, lighter better for my day to day and for my swims and bike rides. The extra 6hrs battery would be nice but I’m sure it comes at a price of size/weight.

    I was expecting the FR630 to have an altimeter, temp sensor and optical HR. Then it would be a serious watch but now I can get almost everything from my cheaper VA.

    Thanks for the review Ray!

  114. Michele

    Like a lot of people asked I’m also wondering about using the watch in winter. Does it have the ability to cycle thru screens automatically? Also curious as someone else mentioned about using gloves with it. I’m still using a 610 so other than these issues looking forward to upgrading

  115. Mark O'Sullivan

    Is there any optic heart rate device (in a watch or otherwise) for swimmers?
    I used a Mio link for a while but battery life was crap and it carked it shortly after warranty expired.

    Would consider buying garmin (as the swim is reliable and my favourite) but don’t see the point if H.R. is non functional in the water

    trying to avoid buying the finis heart rate device that connects to your ear but it looks like my only option.

    could you do a feature on devices just for swimmers please

    • Unfortunately nothing. As you noted, some use the Mio Link, but it really isn’t designed for it.

      I think we’ll see some folks hitting that segment next year.

  116. Ray

    Great first look man!

    May I know the 235’s lens surface is using plastic or glass material? How about 630?

    • acousticbiker

      Whoa, that is a serious bummer – was ready to jump ship from the F3 until seeing this. We’re the 220 & 225 also plastic? How have Garmin plastic faces fared over time in terms of durability / visible marks?

    • I honestly haven’t heard any complaints on the FR6220/620 on this. I treat mine like crap. Literally it’s either in the big bin of devices (which have metal sides), or it’s in my backpack pocket (full of sharp objects like keys, pens, etc…). No scratches.

  117. David M

    How thick is the 235 vs the 230/630? The Garmin website lists all 3 as having a thickness of 11.7mm but I have a hard time believing they are all the same given the 225 was much thicker than the 220/620. Is the Garmin specs sheet correct or is that an error?

    • Darren

      I too would like to know this.

      As a running watch the thickness isn’t such a issue. But as an all-day watch/activity tracker much more so.

    • David

      It IS the same thickness across the board. The Mio solution on the 225 was obviously a quick tack on the 220 to get a optical product into the sales chain as quickly as possible and that added thickness to the product. The Garmin 230/235/630 design and in house optical was designed from day 1 to be in that housing… NONE of this means it will work as well as Mio’s product so we shall see.

    • Darren

      Are you guessing this or actually know?

      It’s extra hardware they have to fit into the body of the watch. Why would they make the 230 & 630 unnecessarily thicker, just to keep the same dimensions as the 235?!?

    • David

      assembly line Darren, it saves money. the dimensions are totally identical between all 3 watches. I agree it means garmin “could” have made the 230/630 smaller I guess but bottom line is they are identical AND the thinnest dedicated running watches Garmin has ever made.

    • Darren

      I hope you’re right!

  118. xTHENKx

    It doesn’t matter… take my money. Here’s my credit card…

    Pre-ordered with REI! *BOOM*

  119. Jorge

    Is it possible to change the language (german) on the FR630 if I buy a FR630 in the USA? Thanks

    • Yes, you can change it to German from the USA version (note: They’re all actually the same version, just the default language is set differently). I believe only some of the Asian units have different language sets, but you can still download other language sets.

    • Jorge

      So is this exactly the same FR630 with accessories, which is also sold later in Germany? It just needs to be changed the language? Thank you Ray.

  120. Jorge

    I’ll be in New York (Marathon) next week and found out that Garmin will offer the FR630 at the marathon expo … my question is if I can then change the language on the FR630 and if there are any differences to the German version?

  121. Shahar

    Just wondering – Does the touch screen actually work when your fingers are wet or sweaty?

  122. Tom Shane

    Hi,

    does anyone know, will VO2Max, Training Effect and Recovery Advisor work on FR230 when using old premium strap (that was shipped with Edge800 in 2010) and not using current version of the strap?

    Thanks.

  123. Donna

    Ray, great first reviews. How is the clarity of the screens, both indoors & outside in bright sun. I’ve got the Vivoactive and my main complaint is a common one…the screen is extremely dull indoors & very hard to read. All the pictures on the box & Garmin website are very misleading.

    • I find it quite clear (but I also have pretty good eyesight).

      The Vivoactive is no doubt the least clear watch they’ve made, but I don’t find too much of an issue outdoors. Indoors in really dim lights can be a bit…well…dim.

      That said, if you think your Vivoactive is overly dim, you might want to contact Garmin. I have heard of a few folks here and there who had super-dim units and got them swapped out for much brighter ones.

  124. Paul

    Is the HRM-RUN with the 630 the same model that came with the 620? Can I just buy a 630 and use my existing strap but get the new running dynamics features?

  125. Teriemer

    Thanks for posting Ray, always a pleasure to read through your stuff. Do you min posting links to your activities in GC? I’m most interested in FR 630 but FR 230 will do too. In advance, thanks :-)

    • As noted I wasn’t able to download my activities afterwards – otherwise I’d be happy to. That said, once I get final units I’ll start sharing links.

      All of my activities go to Strava, though you’ll want to check the description field to see which device is used (since only one activity file per workout is allowed).

      Strava profile: link to strava.com

      Finally, within the in-depth review you’ll get downloads of everything.

    • Mike K

      Hey, do you know if the 235 syncs to Strava easily just like the 225 did?

      Many thanks

  126. Volker

    On the fr630 display, is this a sat strength signal icon on the upper left side?

    • Adam

      Question to the photo of FR230, where You present the marathon finish time predition:

      this bar-like scale on the right side of the display, what does it represent?
      Is it battery, GPS signal stranght? Or maybe HR zone?

      Would be pretty cool if it’s HR zone, because with 4 data on the screen + this bar, it could actually display 5 metrics!!!

  127. Thijs

    Hi Ray, thanks for this nice preview of what will potentially be on my birthday wishlist :)

    I see Garmin added Cycling activity support to the 230. Did they add the option to choose any activity type the watch is suitable for, like Walking/Hiking? Or just an option for Cycling next to the Running option?

    I’m still waiting for a basic running watch (like the 220) which allows me to record walks as well, without having to change the activity type afterwards.

  128. Daniel Varinsky

    Hello,

    so what exactly is planned in the firmware updates of FR225? Any plans of enabling phone notifications on 225 or adding of mentioned music control :-) ? It’s a pity Garmin (and me too) did not wait and instead of 225 released the 235 in the first place :-(

    dv

  129. Jean-François Lamy

    I don’t get the “must be grounded to skin” idea . Five months a year I have to wear my watch OVER my sleeve because of this winter thing.

  130. Marcel

    Thanks for this preview, Ray, always a pleasure to read.
    I’m looking to upgrade my 610 for my 1st marathon, next April, so I’ll eagerly await the reviews (and pricing of the 620). That said, I don’t see much point in going for the 630 if the only difference is the navigation and some running dynamics I might only use once or twice, everything else is on the 230. Aren’t they over-pricing the 630 like that?

    Also, to be functional, you need a strap with the 230 – is that included at the $249 price level? If not, the price difference with the 235 would become minimal, and the 230 would be expensive for a midrange watch, wouldn’t it? Interested to hear your thoughts on what market segment these watches belong in.

  131. Frank

    Foot Pod support?

  132. Maryro Mendez

    2 days ago I was ready to upgrade from my FR620 to the phenix3 saphire (white and metal rose edition, it is a beautiful thing :P) then I saw this yesterday and now I am debating about getting the FR630 instead. Recommendations welcome. I wish they had the optical HRM on the 630, though.

  133. JW

    Thank you again for your good work Ray!
    I did ask it before and ask it again right now: It would help me very much when you show a photo of the (auto) lap screen in your reviews. Like more (older) runners it’s getting hard to see the digits. And there’s a lot of difference in how large the lap screen is. For example : in FR620 it appears in a small box. In the FR920 it’s full screen. In the Epix the digits are huge (the best one for me).

    I’m really curious how the lap screen in the 230 & 630 looks like.

  134. Eli

    THE F630, will be the version F635 ?

  135. Jeremy

    Thank you for taking the time to do these reviews!

    I agree with the other comments about Garmin having way too many forerunners. I love your idea of having a base model with purchased upgrades, though.

    I’ve always said “if Garmin puts out a 220-esque watch with a built in heart rate monitor, connect IQ, and looks decent enough to wear casually, I’m all over it”. Looks like I finally have to man up and snag the 235. I’m just hoping the bluetooth sync with android is a littler better this time around, because my 620 sucks at it.

  136. Krak

    Strictly for running … what’s the difference between the 630, 235 and the Fenix3, if I’m okay with continuing to use the Scosche Rythym+ HR monitor (which is fantastic)? My 610 is dying, and it’s time to upgrade, and I’d like to have something that will double as an everyday watch. So the Fenix3 is attractive, but I don’t want to lose out on the latest features.

    From what I can tell, there’s really nothing different between the Fenix3 and the 630 if you’re not wearing the advanced HRM strap. Is that accurate if I’m only running or using as an everyday watch?

    Without the HR strap, it also seems that there are minimal differences between the 630 and the 235 (WiFi, touchscreen and some navigation features).

    Too many choices!

    • Tim Grose

      Suggest ask yourself what are the “latest features” (on the 630) you don’t want to miss out on? If you don’t like wearing HR straps you will miss out on a lot of them anyway. Also the Fenix 3 is a multisport watch and so another factor is how much are you into biking and swimming. OK these new watches have a bike mode but it’s “basic” and so does not have power meter support for instance.

  137. Ingo

    While charging on the go, will the optical HR keep working? I’d think the charger covers the optics, no? Cheers!

  138. Jacob Kernell

    I’m not sure if I missed it but I never saw anything on GPS accuracy. I was wondering how accurate it was including possible maps or comparing to other reliable watches.

    • “With that I’ve covered all the major features, but haven’t touched on things like GPS accuracy. As noted I wasn’t able to download any of my runs, though I can say that the runs did match the distances I had on the TomTom Spark GPS watch I was wearing at the same time (within 1%). These runs occurred in tree-filled mountain terrain. But obviously it’ll be something I focus on and publish all the results of within my in-depth review once I have final production units.”

    • perkask

      Do you happen to know GPS chipset manufacturer and model? Is it Mediatek or SIRFstar? Thank you.

    • MediaTek. Though, in short, don’t overthink GPS chipsets – there are far more important things to accuracy than the manufacturer of the chipset.

    • Nick

      Thanks for everything you do Ray. I find myself being overly techy about things to and really find all your information very useful. I plan on getting a watch for Christmas and also plan to buy the SO a vivoactive or something like that. I Will make sure to click your link to Amazon or go through clever training.

      My question is that I will be doing biking on some mountain biking trails as well as city routes. I’m very interested in the fr235 and I was wondering based on your opinion would the watch be 90-95% accurate while in the woods. I understand that it will probably not be 100% and I’m ok with that. I just don’t want it to be way off. I have been trying to use my cell phone along with apps and am getting double the distances that I should because my map goes crazy.

      My only other comment is that I hope the optical sensor is accurate but it seems everyone is hoping that.

      Thanks again. Nick

    • I think there’s no problems with getting 90-95%. These days, my line is roughly 99% accuracy. It used to be about 98 to 98.5%, but 99% is pretty much the line in the sand in most situations. There are some rare cases, like if you’re in heavy trees on switchbacks and with massive rock walls on sides – that it’s going to be tough for any GPS chipset.

      That said, I’ll be doing some tree testing once units arrive. The exact terrain will honestly depend on when the final production units arrive. For example, I’ve got a trip to northern Finland coming up – so if it’s before then, then it’ll be there for that type of terrain (since it’s likely to be harder than the Paris parks).

      In any case…hopefully the 1-second recording rate should help there too.

    • Nick

      Awesome thanks for the quick response. Also. Do we know what gps chipset is used in the newer garmins? Is it going to be the same mediatek or the original sirfstar?

      While I’m on that topic do you think the ambit 3 peak will be more accurate in the trees than the Garmin is?

      Thanks again Nick

    • The use MediaTek. But I wouldn’t overthink that. GPS accuracy is derived from many factors, including: GPS Chipset, Antenna Design (hugely important), GPS Chipset Firmware, Watch Firmware, and environmental factors (where it’s worn, weather, terrain, etc…).

      As for whether or not the Ambit3 is more accurate in trees than the FR230/235/630, I’m not sure. When I did a mountain tree run with the 235/630, I found accuracy quite good and on par with the TomTom Spark. But that was just one run, and I couldn’t download the map afterwards. The Ambit3 generally has very good GPS accuracy. So we’ll have to see once I get more hands-on time with production units how it handles.

    • Nick

      Sorry I missed that about the chipset in the previous post.

      I would however like your opinion if you think the Ambit3 will be more accurate around a lot of tall woody areas than the new garmin. Like I said though I’m fine with 95% accuracy. I’m leaning more and more to the garmin based on all the features it has. I hope they all work well together.

  139. Hey Ray, I ordered the 235 on CT to evaluate against the Fenix3+Viiiiva combo. Will let you know what results I get. BTW, I never did publish the data on the Apple watch (all 60+ tests over 100 miles and 200,000 heart beats) because I was so sick of how ridiculously inaccurate it was I ditched it entirely.

  140. JohnO

    Hey Ray, Thanks for all the great reviews! Couple of questions on the 235:

    1. Can the 235 record optical heart rate during a swim? I understand it would not have swim metrics, but could it be put in a Yoga mode where it is only recording heart rate and show calorie burn?

    2. Can ConnectIQ developers access internal sensors in the 235? If so, would Garmin allow a developer to create a lap counter app for swimming?

    Thanks,

    • 1) Technically you could just put it in other mode. I haven’t had the chance to see what accuracy would look like with their sensor in the water.

      2) My understand is this should be possible and permitted.

  141. Grazza

    Hi Ray, very tempted by the 235. Just wondering if I would be able to use this to control my Garmin Virb Elite action cam? (either natively or through a connect IQ app)

    Also, just to confirm, as there is no Barometric Altimeter does this mean there is unlikely to be any type of ‘ski mode’ like in the Fenix 3. Or might this still be possible through a connect IQ app using the GPS altitude data?

  142. Bob Lukes

    I am primary a cyclist who runs occasionally and likes tracking steps and sleep, and likes connect features. The vivoactive was almost perfect, the weight and size were perfect. Its major flaws were short battery life and a very easily scratched screen, plus the square screen looked ugly to me. Additionally, I like the idea of having a back up gps on my wrist for when my cyclo 505 dies. I think there are a lot of people out there who have those same requirements

    The 230 seems to scratch most of those itches with 5 weeks of battery life and other features.

    The one complaint I have is why can’t garmin make one version of the watch that is more “work appropriate”. The black and white is ok, but I would have liked them to offer an all black version, maybe without the giant garmin logo.

  143. Bob Lukes

    Sorry Ray, tried to order and support your site. But, the DCrainmaker 10% off code doesn’t work on the 230 unless you join the VIP program. I guess that is the 0.01% that you mention!

    I guess I will wait and see if I can find it for cheaper from another site.

    Fyi, your site is easily in my top 10 sites along with google, espn, foxsports, etc.

    • Thanks Bob. Indeed, the FR230/235/635 do require the VIP program (a Garmin requirement, not a CT one). The VIP program costs $5, of which the proceeds go to Girls On The Run – a great running related charity.

      And of course, the purchase of the device through Clever Training supports the site here. Thanks!

    • David M

      The VIP membership is worth it even if you don’t buy anything else for the rest of the year. I paid $5 for the membership and then saved $33 on my 235 preorder.

    • Matthew G

      I just did the same- was happy for the discount and the opportunity to support this site but helping a running related charity makes it that much better!

      Thanks Ray!

  144. Chad

    If I am strictly a runner and not into multi sports, but do some cycling for training purposes, would you recommend the 630 or the 920?

    • Tim Grose

      Probably the 630 as it is more compact/lighter.
      However 920 is better if you want to do some navigation with courses as you get a breadcrumb map screen or like to have a barometric altitmeter for the best elevation readings.
      Also remains to be be seen whether the 920 will get support for the new running dynamics stuf.

  145. Gareth

    I am interested in upgrading from my smartphone.
    Would you reccomend the fr630 or the fenix 3?
    I have read some pretty negative reviews regarding the f3 and GPS so not entirely sure but I can get it for a good price at the moment.

    Thanks

  146. Dpom

    I am on the fence over ordering the Microsoft Band 2 versus the Garmin Forerunner 235. I am primarily a cyclist with a Garmin Edge 510, but when I run I want something like the 235 or Band 2. I also want something for everyday watch use. I have an iPhone 6. Is the Garmin worth it for a $100 more?

  147. John B

    Excellent reviews, always. Thank you. Q – I currently use the 620. And it’s nice to see the 44% larger display with the 630 – thou, are the numbers on the screen larger too? And are the numbers more visible…even if not larger. I’m a bit far-sighted (problems seeing relatively close to the eyes), so the bigger numbers help! In my case now with the 620, I mostly have two fields shown (Lap Distance and Lap Pace, for example) on the data screens => as you know, that way much bigger numbers and easier to read.

    • 6co

      am also interested in this question. See my earlier comm/Question on the 1 data field page and visual alarms

      thanks!
      6co

    • I sifted through my photos and didn’t take a photo of the 1-data page format. I’ve added it to my list for Monday when I’ll get another round of photos/videos with the unit.

    • 6co

      Looking forward to it! Thanks a lot!
      If you can check as well whether the alerts are largish sort of font or smallish type…
      thanks a lot!

      6co

    • 6co

      Hello Ray
      could you finally get around take a photo of the 1-data screen format? Could you post that if you did?
      thanks!
      6co

    • Sorry – took them weeks ago and totally forgot to upload.

      Just plopped four (one for each data field size) into the mid-later sections of the FR630 chunk: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Note, running a bit behind on stuff at the moment, so didn’t have time to clean up lighting to match others, etc…

      Cheers!

    • 6co

      Thanks a lot Ray! This are perfect shots to evaluate the font size. Thx for your time

      6co

  148. Patrick

    Been running with the 620 since it was released (including 6 months of crashes before getting stable firmware) but am seriously tempted to “downgrade” the 235. I rarely wear the HRM strap with the 620, so the optical HRM would be ideal.

    Is anyone else considering a similar switch? Are there drawbacks I may not be seeing (again, assuming I don’t wear the HRM strap)?

    • Adam

      Yes, I’m also thinking about “downgrading”. We would gain optical HR and Virtual Racer (to be confirmed), but lose wifi. The wifi uploads have been seamless for me, so it’s definitely something I’m hesitant to give up.

    • Patrick

      Thanks for pointing out the wifi loss – I missed that. I’ve been uploading my runs via bluetooth to my iPhone since getting a new router a few months ago, so I think I could live with that downgrade. Optical HR – depedning on how good it is – probably wins for me.

    • David

      I love the Wi-Fi uploading on the 620, mainly because Bluetooth to my iPhone is so painfully slow on the 620… and buggy. The Edge 510 released around the same time as the 620 was also very slow and buggy via Bluetooth upload…

      THE GOOD NEWS is that the new Edge 520 with Bluetooth is quick and fast with newer, more modern Bluetooth 4.x chipsets and works great. I *assume* the Garmin 23x line will have similar modern chipsets that will perform far better than the 620 did and hopefully make the loss of Wi-Fi less painful.

      Hopefully. :-)

    • Patrick

      David, are you planning to pre-order, or wait for reviews? I’d like to make the transition sooner rather than later, if for no other reason so that I can get my 620 sold before used ones flood the market.

    • Luís Ricardo Beato Pereira

      Thinking the same, but the lack of Wi-Fi is putting me down.

      Ray didn´t clarify this but the screen of the 620 is much better than the one in the 220/225, I would like to know if this is so in the 630 vrs 230/235 or if they are the same.

      There is also the back to start, the smart phone notifications, the touchscreen… well I don´t know what to do.

    • David

      I preordered via Clever Training immediately, but I always do. Then I whine bitterly on DCRainmaker.com comment sections about the bugs for the first 6 months (sorry Ray…)

    • Thanks for the support David!

      (And no worries about the bitter whining…better than bitter wine.)

  149. marklemcd

    Any chance of the vivoactive getting the audio alerts. I’d love for my split times to come through my headphones, though I won’t be paying 400 bucks to get it.

  150. Paweł Jońca

    Hi,
    The only problem with these watches is the lack of maps (routes).
    I’m stuck with my old friend, forerunner 305. I don’t need a triathlon device and maps are my favorite feature. I often trace a route in Garmin Connect to have the exact distance (to end at home, not in the middle of nowhere after a 35 km run).

  151. Mr. T

    I would love to pre-order the 230 from CT. However, I think CT’s policy of charging the card at order instead of shipping is BS. It’s just giving them your money to use for a while free of charge. I could understand putting down a deposit, but I know darn sure they aren’t paying full retail. I really wish I would have known of this policy before signing up under the “discount” program.

  152. TA

    I had heard a rumor from a Garmin rep months ago that the next versions would have a smaller women’s watch face and variety of colors. I see the colors, but the sizes are the same, correct? Was hoping for a smaller watch face to fit smaller wrists for everyday wear.

  153. Ingo

    Btw, anybody else noticed battery life deterioration in the 620s? I could get up to 8.5h in 1s mode with HR out of it 6 months ago, now it dies after less than 7h. The ability to charge while using is a welcoming option – I just hope it’s not too flimsy and keeps charging during trail running.

    • Anne (Brighton, UK)

      Yes – my 620 battery life is down to just over 6 hours. This is usually okay for me but it died after a super-hilly marathon before I could press the ‘save’ button. Luckily the watch saved the workout before dying.

    • Mathieu Tourangeau

      I tested my 620 this summer during an ultra beast and the battery last 9.5h which is what I expect from a 2.5 years old watch. Also, after leaving the watch off for 20 min, I was able to restart the watch in standby mode (time only) and could manage my nutrition for the rest of my race (almost 12h). Other Suunto and TomTom watch from my friends simply die 25-30 min after mine and could not restart at all.

    • Ingo

      In 1-second recording mode including heart rate? Or was that in smart recording mode? Hard to believe you get more battery out of a watch that’s older than mine – or maybe it is a function of how often you have used it in total, i.e. how many recharging cycles the watch went through in its lifetime. Your number would be plausible for a fairly new or hardly used 620 I’d say.

    • All data in 1-second mode.

      Do keep in mind that while some older watches have more battery – they are bigger. Thus, more battery size.

  154. Dan Wells

    Any thought on Garmin releasing an optical HRM strap of their own? I use an Epix (for a mix of general fitness tracking and outdoor navigation – map actually very useful), and I’ve wanted to add an optical strap. Of course, I could go with a Mio or a Scosche (nobody around here carries either one, so it would be sight unseen, which is a bit tricky due to a physical disability), but a Garmin would be extra-appealing, both for guaranteed compatibility, and because we have about five Garmin dealers around here, so a couple of them WILL carry it.

  155. Ewan

    Does the 235 record the resting heart rate and graph it? I would love this feature to know more accurately when I over train or am sick.
    As always, I love your previews and reviews. Thanks

  156. Nancy

    Thanks for all your great reviews!

    Will you do a more in-depth review with each of the watches after you’ve had more time with the units? I’m interested in the 630 and I have a friend who’s really interested in the 235. We’d both like your opinions on these units after more extensive use!

    • Yup, I’ll be doing a combo FR230/235 In-Depth Review, and then a separate FR630 In-Depth Review.

      The timing will solely depend on when I get final production units. Meaning, if Garmin doesn’t get me final units until mid-November, then it’s at least 2-3 weeks until review posts come up. I don’t have clarity on where within ‘Q4’ things will fall. They’re telling retailers one thing, PR another, and the inside rumor-mill a different thing. So…

  157. Ryan Finco

    very interested in the 235 vs the TomTom Spark Cardio – Right now, I’ve got the Mio Alpha, but I would like to step up, especially based on some of the things I read in your post on the Spark Cardio — thoughts at this point? I need interval training and the Mio has no problems with this, so that’s my main concern.

    Thoughts?

    • I’ll cover that a bit in my winter recommendations guide in 2 weeks. Though, I suspect it’ll have to come with some caveats this year due to timing. Meaning that I won’t have as much hands-on time as I’d like with all the units, but at the same time, it’d be weird to recommend older units when new ones have just dropped.

      Ultimately, I think the core things to look at between the TomTom Spark and 235 is really the audio piece. If you don’t want music, then go FR235. If you want music, go Spark. That’s a super over-simplification, but ultimately it’s the key pivot point between those two. The FR235 is a much more capable running watch (in terms of features), but at the same time, there’s nothing wrong about the core of the Spark as a running watch. On the flip side, the FR235 simply doesn’t have built-in music, so if that’s what you want…Spark it is.

  158. Ivan De Paepe

    A 235 with Navigation support would be so sweet :-)
    Especially as I understand we can use the optical HR sensor with the edge series on the bike. Any chances Garmin can be convinced to enable navigation on the 235 as they clearly don’t have the intention of offering a 635?

    • Rafal

      Probably only hope for navigation on 235 will be connect iq apps. Even now there is an app called dwMap which allows you to load a gpx file and display it on you watch, should be good enough for biking.

    • I’d agree with Rafal – chances for native mapping support on the FR230-235 is between zero and none.

      However, as he also noted, the Connect IQ mapping app is probably a great option: link to apps.garmin.com

    • Tim Grose

      The 230/235 has Back to Start which is probably the most useful navigation function when out running. Has saved me getting completely lost on more than one occasion!

  159. Foti

    Thanks for ther review. I have a 230, and I have been trying to find a way to track my spin class sessions. I currently use a Wahoo bluetooth sensor in my sock and the app. I have not found anything that would work with the 230, and was wondering if any of these new version will have this ability. I see that indoor cycling can be tracked with the appropriate sensor, but I do not see anything on the Garmin site for this type of sensor. Hoping someone can help – thanks!

  160. PhilBoogie

    1) I open the updated app, and even though my Fenix 3 and iPhone are paired, it’s asking me to pair them. No idea why the app says there is no Garmin device connected, while the Garmin device itself says so. So does iOS say. Notifications come in on the watch, yet GCM app keeps looking for a new Garmin device. It looks like I cannot use the app, yet it displays all my workouts just fine, obviously pulling it all from the Internet or its local DB as this version is an upgrade.

    2) Anyway, app tells me I’m using my F3 as an activity tracker, even though the switch is set to OFF.

    3) LiveTrack only uses email, no option to iMessage someone a link. (Twitter & FB are there, but I don’t have an account on either)

    4) Charts of workouts only display last 30 days. No week or year overview, no single view of several workout types within a given period.

    Enough b!tching from me. There’s fortunately also a vast amount of improvements:

    1) Tapping a map gives us a better UI; easy choosing between Standard/Satellite/Hybrid. Toggle lap markers.

    2) Landscape view of charts. (No zooming in unfortunately)

    3) /More/Gear/ has been much improved

    4) The calendar adds group calendars

    5) Leaderboard is improved; you can now compare your own time with others in a single view


    I’d love to see one article solely on the Garmin Connect Mobile app. I’d really like to hear wishes from others, my list is a long one.

    • Nath

      RE #3:
      I generally select share with Twitter, copy the URL it gives, then paste that into WhatsApp (or iMessage in your case)

      A bit convoluted, but it works.

  161. Rui Sebastiao

    Hello Ray,

    Quick question, does the FR 230/235 have a silent alarm feature to wake you up at an optimal sleep phase? This is like the one thing I’d love for a running watch to have.

  162. Arie

    Hey Ray,

    Thanks for your well outlined reviews as always.

    I’m contemplating on getting either the TOMTOM Spark (I don’t care too much on the Music edition, but maybe someone can convince me otherwise) or the FR 235.
    Or maybe there is a new watch that is in the same range that I’m forgetting??

    I’m currently tracking my progress with a FR610 which I use for cycling and running.
    The waist-HRM is annoying me to some degree, hence the optical HRM option would be the main factor to have in my new watch.

    Love to see the pro’s and con’s on them if you can!

    Thanks,

    Arie

    • Ignoring the music aspect, the TomTom Spark is $79 more than the FR235. But you’ve also got the TomTom Cardio (older sibling to Spark), which is routintely at the sub-$200 point.

      If:

      You don’t care about activity tracking or music, go TomTom Cardio, it’s basically the same as the Spark
      You don’t care about the advanced workout options and such on the FR235, go with the Spark or Cardio
      You don’t want to spend another $250-$329, just pickup the Scosche Optical HR band for your FR610 and be done with it. :) Especially if you don’t care about activity tracking, music, or anything else super-new.

      As for your treadmill question – all of these watches (albeit not your FR610) support distance on a treadmill without a footpod. Though pace is pretty wishy-washy sometimes. It tends to be good at average paces that you often run (i.e. long run pace), but less so on intervals.

  163. Arie

    Oh and one addition…. I do take turns on the treadmill as well, so it would be ideal if it had an indoor mode with (approx) distance traveled…

    Thanks

  164. SF

    It seems like the 230/235 and the 630 are really the same watch for the most part. Little things like the optical HR in the 235 and touch screen in the 630, but can you essentially break down the key differences between the 2 lines. Ive been trying to do it on the spreadsheets but keep getting confused.

    Just the high level stuff that might be the most important would be awesome

  165. Nighthawk700

    With the 235, can the Optical HRM be turned off for “all day” use, and only be used when running, cycling, or other activities? (for me, “other” would be kayaking :-) ) If this is done, how big of an impact do you think it would have on the battery life? Also, what advantages are there to having HRM on all the time? I’m still relatively new to running and all, so I’m catching up on what’s good, what’s not really needed, etc. Thanks for *ALL* the information you’ve been handing out!

    • Dave

      5 weeks no HR no GPS.
      9-11 days with 24×7 HR.
      GPS use during workouts obviously will suck it down fairly fast with 11 hrs quoted total on 235.

  166. Mark Melton

    Ray, will you please express the frustration many of us 225 owners are feeling with Garmin. They never should have released the 225 if they were going to replace it in just a few months. I can’t see any reason why they needed to push out the 225 in the summer and replace it in the fall/winter.

    • Yeah, it’s a tough one. It’s one of the core reasons I cautioned in my post at the time that it felt like a bit of a stop-gap product since it didn’t match the feature-sets of every other products they released.

    • Mark Melton

      Will they consider putting any of the non Connect IQ features on the 225, for example, 24 x 7 HR, similar to how they are pushing the HR re-broadcasting to the 225?

    • I can’t foresee them doing 24×7 though on the FR225 since the Mio sensor isn’t designed to do that from a battery consumption standpoint. It’d last about 24-30hrs tops.

      The bigger challenge with the FR225 is that it’s basically just a FR220 with activity tracking tossed in. So the platform from a dev standpoint doesn’t share much in common with the newer devices.

    • Andrew W

      Definitely add me to the list of frustrated FR225 owners. I understand the fact that in the technology space continuous innovation means things get improved pretty quickly and a new product is just around the corner, but 4 months is ridiculous. I would think Garmin would have already committed some parts of the 235 to manufacture in July and still released the 225. Very shady corporate behavior I think.

      I totally understand the push to move to a Connect IQ product line, and the 235 looks great, I wish they had just released that and not the 225.

  167. Brian Simpson

    So I contacted Garmin support to ask if my HRM-Run heart rate strap would work with the new Forerunner 230 and 630. The answer I received was yes it would work, and again with only the advanced running metrics provided by the 630 and not on the 230 (similar to the 620). What Garmin did not answer, however, was whether or not the HRM-Run strap would provide the 630 new running dynamics (Stride Length, Ground Contact Time Balance, Vertical Ratio) and Lactate Threshold testing or will I need the new heart rate strap with the red sensor that can be purchased in a bundle with the Forerunner 630. I asked this second question again and will post the answer as soon as I receive it. Ray will probably have the answer sooner.

  168. Luis del Solar

    Hi, I noticed some people mentioned they’ve ordered the 235 in CT. Which website is this? Can’t seem to find a website that would allow me to order the watch. thanks

  169. Luis del Solar

    Great. Thanks so much!

  170. Matt

    Are the new FR watches compatible with other Bluetooth 4.0 devices, besides just cell phones. Specifically, I’m wondering if the music control functionality will work with a bluetooth mp3 player (I run with a iPod nano in my pocket and bluetooth headphones so I don’t have to carry my phone with me)?

  171. Heath

    Would be waiting on full review for the FR630 and FR235 from you. The core difference here would probably be the running dynamics on the FR630. If it is plenty accurate as a foot pod, it’s gonna be a good investment down the road. The FR235 lacks the running dynamic but has all the key features that a runner need and not to mention the convenience of the optical sensor which leaves out the worry of having leaving the strap at home when travelling.

  172. Dr Fager

    Ray,

    Can you explain why Garmin would release a “premium” watch like the 630 without an optical heart rate sensor? Releasing a non optical watch makes no sense these days, it basically dates the phone before its released. Its basically DOA for a vast majority of people who simply will not buy a “next gen” watch that requires an external strap. Especially for a watch that is $499. Who will pay that to have to wear and external strap for the life of the watch? Ridiculous.

    I cant for the life of me think of a compelling reason to look beyond the Forerunner 235. Sure Garmin has held back some software features from the 235 to the 630 (Which is infuriating in its own right) but is rudimentary music control or a virtual racer worth having to wear a heart rate strap for the next 2-3 years?

    We can all see the future, and its simple: optical heart rate sensors and local storage. Needing a strap or a phone is not where anyone needs to be positioning themselves with a run-specific watch.

    • Heath

      In-depth heart rate detail like HRV-RR is still a problem for optical sensor, thus a HRM strap is still a requirement. For those that does not need this details, optical sensor is a no-brainer. The reason why it was explained that if you want all this analysis on the FR235 with the optical sensor, you will still need a HRM strap for it.

    • Dr Fager

      Still doesn’t make sense. There are other feature-set’s, not pertaining to HRM, that are not available on the 235 or 620. (The full navigation feature set, virtual racer etc.)

      Is it beyond imagination that someone would want those features on a watch that has an optical sensor?

      They could easily make a 635 with an optical sensor, which can still be used with a HRM strap. So, if you wanted to track heart rate variability you could use the strap, and if you wanted to use EVERYTHING ELSE, you could use the optical sensor.

      Garmin should not offer a premium watch that doesn’t have an optical sensor option. Otherwise you have to buy a 235, which has been software locked by Garmin. You cant have software be such an important part of your upsale strategy, when you can offer comparable hardware! Its ridiculous. if you want optical you have to buy a mid tier watch that is software crippled. If you want the full software suite, you have to buy a premium watch that is hardware crippled!

    • I’m getting confirmation, but Virtual Racer may indeed be on the FR235.

      Garmin is somewhat in a no-win situation temporarily. If they build a FR635 and then tell people to spend another $50 for a HR strap for 80% of the additional features – people will revolt. And, by the looks of the 400+ comments here, the number of people revolting is significantly less in their current strategy of adding more features to the FR235. It really sounded like avoiding pissing off consumers with having to buy (or rather use) a HR strap for many of the features was the core reason they didn’t launch the FR635. Now I think long term as HRV gets sorted out on optical HR during an activity, it’ll work itself out.

      Personally, for what I do – I suspect I’ll go from historically using a FR620 to using the FR235, since it has the four data fields and 1-second recording that I care most about (though lack of WiFi will make me sad)

    • Josh

      Ray, I think many of us who consider ourselves serious runners are doing exactly what you have mentioned, going from the 620 to the 235. It truly is a very logical solution; 4 data fields, the one second recording, the optical heart rate monitor, Garmin did a great job in including these for us. Now I only hope the accuracy is as amazing as my Suunto Ambit 3sport.

    • Heath

      An added strap will just add additional cost to the already high price tag and it would add redundancy with an optical sensor that can do less. Those who want the heart HRV-RR will wear the strap and will not need the optical sensor. As mention earlier, the FR235 is a competent watch with all the running features. Compare to FR630 with the added running dynamicc, that price tag is an option for those who does not want to fork out additional money for stuff that they dun need. I believe that the existing foot pod will still work with the FR235(not confirm yet) and that should also provide running dynamics for existing garmin user.

    • Ken

      Hi Ray – some of us will always need the HR strap … running through a Canadian winter, watch goes on the outside of my jacket!

    • Dr Fager

      Well i guess i look at it from a different angle; who is in the market for a “premium” $400 run-specific watch that doesn’t already have a HR strap? If HRV is your thing, (Or heart rate training at all) then there is a 99% chance you already have a strap. (IMO) Its not an additional cost for the overwhelming amount of people in the market for the device.

      And what i really dont get is, if they really were trying to do everyone a solid by NOT including optical, to serve a device who’s existence is basically for HRV, then why have exclusive software features not related to HRV on the device at all? Thats a petty tactic.

      IMO nobody wins. 235 owners are losing software features to the 630 that dont involve HRV, and 630 owners get the full software suite, but no optical. There is literally no option by Garmin that leaves users entirely satisfied.

    • Dr Fager

      Heath, its not HRV vs Non-HRV, or Optical vs Strap. Garmin made sure of that by excluding some of the non HRV features from the 235. (Thus making them 630 exclusive) Its ultimately Strap plus features vs Optical minus features. There is no winner. Each product makes a sacrifice.

      But, again, do you know a single person that cares about HRV that doesn’t already have a HR strap? Garmin didnt sell an optical watch until 2 months ago, so anyone in the Garmin universe who cares about HR training, already has a HR strap.

      This is a premium watch, it should have EVERYTHING covered in the running spectrum. It never occurred to Garmin that even the HRV crowd might like a watch where they could go on a run without a HR strap, but still have basic HR stats? (Using optical) That’s why having it optical by default would make sense. Everyone is covered, for every situation. that sounds like a premium product to me.

      /end rant

      :-)

    • Chooch300

      I wonder if one could use the 235 and pair it with a tickr run and get the whole kit n kaboodle. I don’t know enough about the differences between Garmin and Wahoo run metrics to know. And then you’d have two sets of logs to check, if the run metrics mattered that much.

    • Garmin’s Running Dynamics are transmitted over a private channel, rather than a public one – so Wahoo (or anyone else) can’t transmit it to the Garmin devices. Sorta sucks.

    • Robert

      At the end of the day Garmins will never please anybody, I’d probably buy a 635 and a strap too. Optical it great I have two scosche units. But running in sub zero temperatures with the watch outside your coat so you can see it at a glance makes the inbuilt unit worthless. From your posts I’m guessing that’s not a scenario you’ve considered?

    • ekutter

      I actually wonder if part of the motivation not to release a 635 initially is that their optical HR technology is brand new and not yet proven. Work out the kinks with the slightly lower end, less demanding crowd, and then release a 635 once they see how the tech is performing and being received.

      Might be similar to the 920 release where just after the masses started receiving their devices, they announced the Fenix 3 and Epix which were both basically 920’s on steroids.

    • Tim Grose

      There are a few key “issues” I’ve found with an optical HRM that may or not be a concern for everybody. Firstly it adds bulk to the watch. Don’t think Ray has been able to weigh a 235 yet but it will surely be more than the 230/630. Secondly I find the latest Garmin HR straps almost flawness in recording my HR but the optical in the 225 was less so and that’s after you have worn it as recommended – up the arm and fairly tight. Thirdly there is the HRV issue which is needed for some “premium” software features. When these three issues are addressed, I would be up for optical but don’t think we are quite there yet. Hopefully Garmin making their own optical HR sensor will advance the technology and our confidence in using it.

    • Darren

      According to Garmin’s website the FR230 and FR235 have exactly the same dimensions with the 235 only 1g heavier. I find this hard to believe. Especially given the difference between the 220 and 225, i.e. the latter is significantly thicker and heavier. I guess we’ll know soon enough.

    • Tim Grose

      Could be that the optical on the 225 was sort of “glued” onto a 220 but if really only 1g difference with a 235 would reduce my issues by one to two!

    • Josh

      Now I’m curious what are your two issues with the 235?

    • Tim Grose

      See above – HRV support and the general accuracy.

    • Tim Grose

      PS will be looking forward to Ray’s review to see what HR accuracy is like. Hopefully it will be good.

    • Chooch300

      But Wahoo ticker run/x provide running dynamics as well. I’m familiar with those (cadence, smoothness, left-right, ground contact, oscillation, etc.), but not with Garmin’s, so I wonder how those dynamics differ – does Garmin offer running dynamics that Wahoo doesn’t? Essentially, can you use the 235 for optical and use the Wahoo for running dynamics, and have it all, with the understanding that one would probably have two separate data streams to monitor in order to capture all that info.

    • Bob Lukes

      I completely disagree. I don’t want HR on my gps watch. I like to wear my watch loose and I prefer battery life above all else. From all accounts, you have to have the band pretty tight to get optical HR to work which is a no go for me.

      Look at the battery between the 230 and 235, 235 is much worse.

    • Yeah, if you try and use a TICKR X with any Garmin watch, it’s basically like having two separate recordings (minus the HR piece, which is compatible). Honestly, it’s just a mess trying to use the two of them together.

    • Heather Riley

      I, for one, would use both optical and chest strap. Optical for 24/7 HR, Resting HR and supplementary workouts AND HRM Run chest strap for actual running so I can capture running dynamics, vo2max etc . . . seems to me this would make everyone happy : ) FR 635 FTW! Come on Garmin!!!!

  173. Ken

    How does the 630 compare to the 620 on elevation accuracy? I find the 620 a bit weak here. The update looks great – but looks like they might not have improved this element.

  174. Sophitia

    I know those aren’t meant for swimming, but are they accurate enough GP-wise when on your wrist ?
    If not (or you didn’t have the chance to test it), are they small enough and/or easily detachable from the band, to be put into the swimming cap ?

    I’ve been doing that with my current TomTom Cardio, and even if I need to update the activity type afterward, it does the trick.

    Thanks.

    • Tim Grose

      They won’t work for swimming but I’ve used a 620 in a swim cap with OK results and as the size of these new units are similar, they ought to work fine there too.

    • Sophitia

      Thanks for your reply Tim.

      I was thinking you’d need to remove the strap in order for the watch to fit in the cap, but if not, good news :)
      A friend of mine has an M400, and he just can’t put it inside because of how bulky it is.

      Too bad there’s no Quick Release Kit for those…

    • Tim Grose

      I didn’t but maybe I have big head :) I am 1.95m tall after all.

    • Gunnar

      Here’s a track from my Vivoactive on my wrist for an Olympic distance tri I did in August. Not a bad track in my opinion for a watch that’s not supposed to work on the wrist for swimming. Here’s hoping the 235 works as well since I just pre ordered through CT. Having owned all sorts of Garmins and Polars I’ve been very happy with my Vivoactive, but looking forward to a built in optical sensor on the 235.

    • Mike Richie

      That’s a pretty amazing track (except for the one spot where you got out and ran backwards along the beach ?). What activity mode did you use to record that?

  175. Kristy James

    Thank you for your review of the new Garmins. I currently have a FR 220 and a Vivosmart. Given t the latest updates what do you think Garmin’s plans are for incorporating a heart rate monitor in the VivoActive? I have a Vivosmart and FR 220 but hate the heart monitor stap. I love having my steps and sleep tracked. Now that the newer watch can do this maybe I should upgrade to one of them and skip the Active. I also run but don’t swim or bike yet. I do use my watch to track other forms of exercise. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks

    • Darren

      I think the vivoactive with a HRM in 2016 is a given (vivoactive 2?).

      Clearly the FR225 was a test for the 235, and the 235 will probably have the more usual 1-2 year lifetime (unlike the 225 which has only been out 4-5 months). The new features in the 235 you can expect will migrate into the activity tracker line, i.e. the vivo series. Fitbit and other are already defining this space and Garmin has shown it wants in.

  176. hollyoak

    “Similarly, we see Training Effect and Recovery Advisor functionality moved to the FR230/FR235 as well. Note that the Training Effect also requires a HR strap with the FR235, but the Recovery Advisor can leverage the optical sensor.”

    I’m a bit confused by that, isn’t recovery based on HRV too? Or is it maybe what Firstbeat have been doing with Sony, i.e. managing to squeeze out *some* precise data from optical sensors?

    Frankly I still can’t see many compelling reasons to upgrade my trusty FR610 that remains (with the FR310 and FR910 but they are bulky and can’t double up as a “normal” watch if need be) the only watch on the market to be able to display instant pace based on a calibrated footpod (apparently the Fenix3 can do that too now but without any calibration option?) a rather useful feature if you’re a serious runner. On the other hand I have zero use for all the “connected” features of the FR630 and I won’t even mention the new metrics…anyone made any sense of those introduced two years ago? At least Garmin have reintroduced the “Backtrack” feature of the FR610…

    The only feature I really need for my FR610 is an optical sensor to replace my HR strap that loses the plot sometimes (too hot, too cold, too humid, too dry, etc…). The Scosche (or Mio Pulse) could fit the bill but then I’d lose TE, not a huge deal but it’s always annoying to lose a feature.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure why either – I’ll try and get better clarity on why it is (but I do know it is that way and did confirm it).

    • Tim Grose

      I assume it is because the algorithm for recovery advisor is not as complex as training effect. In fact I think you still get some of sort of recovery advisor adjustment without even wearing an HRM in an activity in the same way you can get calorie consumption estimates with or without HR. There is also the continuity angle, recovery advisor not adjusting after all activities would not make much sense. Anyway never found it the most useful of features. If I go hard one day, am never surprised that trying to do so again the next day is a challenge.

    • Marcel

      I’ve had way too many issues with my 610 to trust it to carry me through my first marathon. I’ve had many battery issues, spontaneous resets, lost data, crappy wristbands, rust, etc. But that said – I have the earlier edition of the 610, which at that time was still €320,- and I am very aware of the fact that the newer 610 is now available for something like €150, probably, hopefully, with all the earlier problems fixed. And if that is the case, the 610 really is a great watch, it has loads of functionality, even more than I need or use, so while the 230 and 235 are really tempting, I feel I should consider which features I would use in the long run.
      – optical sensor? For sure. But I run as much in winter as I do in summer, so how much use will that be? Well, actually, while a lot of people say you can’t use an optical watch in winter, I wonder how often I actually used the watch over my clothes. I wear gloves, I wear long sleeved shirts, but it is still not a problem to check the watch, the extra effort is minimal. Perhaps I don’t check my stats as often, but that is not really a bad thing. I can when I want to, and I check all details after the run.

      – connected features? I don’t care about having to upload manually. I do like the option of receiving messages, but when I think about how cool that is, I actually only focus on receiving support messages during a long race. At other times, I’d probably be more likely to put it on ‘busy’, since my running time is private time, life will have to wait till I get back. Plus I dislike the idea of actually having to bring my phone on runs, which also makes the music features less desirable. I use a tiny ipod shuffle that I clip to my heartrate strap under my shirt. Works perfectly, I don’t need a bulky phone.

      – extra running dynamics stuff? Ray has mentioned how little use some of these features really are, I seem to remember. Vertical oscillation? Who cares, I’m not a pro. Besides, to improve my technique I’d rather get a coach for a short while, or join a running group.
      – extras like training calendar, recovery advisor & such are nice, that’s true – but do we need a watch for that? My body tells me when I’ve recovered, not some algorithm.
      – activity monitor? Nice. But I already know I don’t move enough in regular life…

      All in all.. I still don’t know!

  177. Michael

    Great – I have been looking for a replacement for my Fitbit Surge. I love it but want something more accurate and more running data. Now to toss up between the 630 and the 235… How annoying is the heartrate strap?

  178. Matt

    Thanks for initial review Ray!

    Holding on any pre-order of 235 till you can confirm or deny the functionality of this new optical system…

    As stated by you: “I don’t care if you’re Apple, Fitbit, Polar, TomTom, or Garmin: I’m going to assume your optical sensor sucks until proven otherwise.”

    Is there any preliminary findings if it reads well during exercise?

  179. Ingo

    If Garmin still want us to use HR belts, how about updating theirs at least so they don’t chafe us to bits? Garmin’s straps have been the worst for me. I ended up with a 620/Scosche combo because of that. Show me a better strap and I might consider the 630. If not I don’t think I feel like “downgrading” to the 235 but will probably just keep the status quo and wait what Sunnto comes up with. They should be next in line with an Ambit 4 I’d think/hope. I can’t really wait for the day to exit the Garmin world! Garmins have always been about big compromises imho and many people often only bought them because they weren’t too bad for that price. But they were never top of the line. I think they are just happy to settle in the mass mid market spot. Fair enough. Fenix nice try but nope.

    • Teriemer

      You should try the new ones, like HRM tri or the one, which is the same, that comes with FR230/630. I got HRM tri and it’s the best HR belt among all I’ve tried throughout the last 10 years.

    • Tim Grose

      Agreed – getting great results from my HRM-Tri and comfortable too and easier to adjust than the first HRM-Run straps. Looks like the “red” HRM-Run strap is like the HRM-Tri.

    • Ingo

      Oh wow! Didn’t know about the HRM-Tri and just read up on it. Could work for me! Many thanks!

  180. Brian McMillan

    I am curious about the speed of acquiring gps signal with the addition of glonass. I currently have the FR220 and I find it frustrating how long it takes to acquire gps sometimes. Does the addition of glonass speed up this process on the FR230? If so, I may upgrade. Thanks!

    • It’s pretty quick – a few seconds if in the same spot, 15-30s if in a new spot.

      That said, your FR220 should be on-par with that. Two things to try:

      A) If it takes more than a few minutes, then something is corrupt on the satellite side. Just do a reset of the unit and that’ll take care of that.
      B) If it’s more like 30-90 seconds, then ensure that your satellite pre-cache database is up to date. This can be done via Bluetooth Smart or USB (Garmin Express). You can then validate the EPO file date on the unit itself. This should give you 7 days (I think offhand it’s 7 days) of pre-cache time.

      Hope this helps!

  181. Steve L

    Has it always been the case that you can’t define pace zones within Garmin Connect. When adding workouts the 5 standard heart zones are there, but the pace has to be entered manually each time. Is this something that will likely remain the same in the near future. Adding a training plan will take a long time if using the pace zone method.

  182. Gio

    I just replaced my 210 with a 220 and now I am wondering should I trade up to the 235. I dont mind using HR Straps (TICRX and Viiia) and not sure optical is just as accurate. I have the Apple watch and find optical not as accurate.

    I am running 2 5ks, 2 10Ks, a half Marathon and RAGNAR all within a 2 month period. So I need accurate HRM.
    Stick with 220 or go to 235?

  183. Jamie Jenkins

    Own the FR225 so a little disappointed it is out of date already.

    That said it has a tried and tested optical heart rate monitor and you still need a strap for most of the new features on the 235.

    If they push the firmware update so I can use the monitor on the 225 to send to the Edge1000 when cycling I will then be happy again.

  184. Alex Gonzalez

    These are awesome reviews, and I think you’ve gone far to compare the 220s to the 230s and the 620 to the 630. However, with all the information, I guess I’m a little lost in the difference then between a 235 and a 630. The 235 has an optical heart monitor which seems to be all the rage, and is $70 cheaper, while all the 630 is offering is a touch screen. I say all, because it seems that the software and features are the same in both watches. Can you please explain? Thanks.

    • Tim Grose

      Main difference with 630 is running dynamics, some navigation features (although 235 has Back to Start), more training features like lactate threshold, WiFi, touchscreen, 4 data screens not 2.

    • Mike Richie

      230/235 has 4 data screens. See Ray’s video above. Also now has training effect and recovery advisor.

    • Tim Grose

      Don’t think so afraid. Ray says “the FR230/235 now allows you to edit custom data pages to show up to four data fields per custom page. Previously it was three data fields per page. The FR230/235 gives you two custom pages…”

    • Mike Richie

      Ah yes, confused fields with pages. Still, 8 custom fields plus separate screens for HR and clock. Without navigation or the running dynamics that should be enough. Although when Connect IQ allows greater flexibility with data fields that could be a limitation – maybe they will add pages at that point. The VivoActive has 3 pages of 3 fields, so not much better.

  185. Rob

    My FR225 was offered relatively cheaply after my more expensive 310XT broke down three months ago. Despite missing out on some features from the 310XT (return to start, GPS directions, cycling mode), the overall feeling is that of owning a better functioning watch. Now the newly released 230 already includes features that were previously only available on their more expensive watches. I cannot help but think that it makes sense to stick to low range and replace a watch more often, rather than buy an expensive watch an not expect competitors and Garmin themselves to offer something better within months. (I think the screens will need an update, polar M300 is still better.., same for the buttons, and between watch-communication will make all watches currently available look ancient).

  186. Peter

    Wow. I am in love with the forerunner 235 already :-). Running with a Tomtom Multisport Cardio at the moment, which is quite ok, but:

    * Finally, finally, four data fieds on a larger screen (instead of Tomtoms two small numbers and one huge one). So all the info I want on one screen: time, distance, pace and HR. No more scrolling.
    * Finally a finish estimator function for use during races
    * Back to start. Always good to have…
    * A virtual partner feature. Hopefully a decent one. Tomtom has sorta something, but I can only run against previous runs. I’d rather have the possibility to tell the machine I want to do 5k in 30 mins for instance.

    This is very promising. It is close to the watch I would have designed for myself. Hopefully Santa Claus will bring me one…

  187. DJ

    It sounds like someone mentioned the Garmin booth at the NYC marathon will have the 630. Since I am going there anyways, is this known they will have them? Save me from having to pre-order. Thanks!

  188. 6co

    A quick one the HR broadcasting….
    Suppose I am on a 24/7 HR monitoring with the FR235. Does that mean, I am permanently broadcasting my HR over ANT+?
    Potentially, this could mean that I just need to unlock the bike, fire up the Edge and ride. My Edge would automatically pick up the HR from the 235. Nothing special to do, no special menu to mess about, and no fidding on the watch for the Edge to pick it up.

    Is this correct?
    Honnestly, that alone would make push murch harder on the pedals! I’ll be getting TRIMPS for it!

    • Tim Grose

      Not clear on that front, HR broadcasting suggests more power needed and hence impacts battery life. 24×7 HR monitoring kind of suggests some low power mode, perhaps with lower sampling than in an normal timed activity, especially if it lasts as long as mentioned.

    • 6co

      So in other words, 24×7 HR monitoring does not mean 24×7 Hr broadcasting.
      Which would explain the difference between the Schosche getting 6-7 hours worth of juice vs the 235 getting days.
      Sounds logical indeed.
      But is that correct?

    • Correct, two different things. But I’m getting some clarity on how the 24×7 works in terms of frequency.

      But more importantly, it really comes down to the design of different sensors. Battery consumption being the biggest thing (which gets into how powerful the LED’s are and the light sensor attached to them).

  189. 6co

    A quick one the HR broadcasting….
    Suppose I am on a 24/7 HR monitoring with the FR235. Does this mean I am permanently broadcasting my HR over ANT+?
    Potentially, this could mean that I just need to unlock the bike, fire up the Edge and ride. My Edge would automatically pick up the HR from the 235. Nothing special to do, no maze menu to mess about, and no fidding on the watch for the Edge to pick it up.

    Is this correct?
    Honestly, knowing that any ride is HR recorded, that alone would make push much harder on the pedals! I’ll be getting TRIMPS for it!

  190. 6co

    sorry for posting twice the same thing…. I was trying to correct spelling after hitting send… anyway, my bad, you can delete one of the two!
    thx
    6co

  191. Michael

    Thanks for all your cool reviews!

    This one says data transfer can be done “as usual” via USB – I would like do use the FR630 to get GPX (or TCX :) data easily to the Garmin Training Center. Could that be done? The Training Center holds all my sport activities of more than 10 years (collected with different Forerunner modells) – without the need of internet.

    • Tim Grose

      You can certainly use GTC with current USB devices like the 620 and 920 (I do!) so seems very likely these new ones would be OK as well.

    • Michael

      Thanks,
      I ‘ll tend to buy it (instead of the fenix 3)…

  192. Brian Simpson

    So to follow up on my previous post; I had previously asked Garmin if we needed to purchase the new HRM strap (with red sensor) to benefit from the new Forerunner 630 running metrics and lactate threshold info. Or could we just use our current HRM-RUN straps (mine was purchased December 2014). Here is their response:

    Yes, the current HRM-Run will measure and calculate the 3 running metrics; cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact, and stride length. So you wont need to purchase the new heart rate monitor that we have released.

    As you can see they did not mention the lactate threshold part of the question so who knows. I’m not going to bother them a third time for that info. :(

    • Tim Grose

      Lactate threshold looks like a calculation on similar lines to VO2 Max which does not require the special HRM-Run strap so think should be OK there.

  193. Antonio

    235 looks great BUT, for a cyclist, can you answer the prior concern regarding Data Field : Ascent & Descent? Does it displays this?

  194. Kelly Liang

    whats the difference between the vivoactive and the forerunner 230? theyre both the same price but the vivoactive seems to have more sports features?

  195. Brody

    Thanks for great “brief” overview!

    2 quick questions.

    1) Is the music control the same as the Vivoactive? By that I mean, only controls the native music player, not any 3 party streaming service.

    2) Any plans to offer fabric straps for this series of watches this go around?

  196. Jorge

    I currently have the Polar V800, but I’m “just” a runner (no triathlete). I think that the new features of the FR630 for runners are very interesting. What is your opinion? Would you recommend to buy the FR630 and sell the V800?

  197. Kevin Dwyer

    Hi Ray,
    Any news on a possible tie up with a UK / European retailer similar to the relationship that there is with CT in the USA ?

    • scott buchanan

      There’s been something thats permanently ‘in the works’ Re: a UK retailer tie-up but nothing concrete has ever actually been launched. Shame really as I know that there are lots of people that would happily use it if available. I think what might be hampering things is that its petty easy to get 10% off most things here unlike the weirdness that goes on in the States retail price maintenance is illegal.

      I show my appreciation for the site by popping into the Cupcakery fairly regularly for my post run sweet treats. Better stock up as I’m in Paris next week!

  198. Grazza

    How do notifications work? Do they just tell you that you have a message or call, or do they show the actual message / caller ID?

  199. Nath

    Hi Ray,

    Does the step counter still count “steps” whilst the watch is in bike mode?

    It really annoys me that on both my VivoFit and Garmin Forerunner 25 count bumps in the road whilst I’m out riding.

  200. Bob B

    Ray, does the 230/235 have the ability to Save Location? You mention that the 630 has this feature. I use this it often (fenix3) and find it useful. Also, maybe this should be a Navigation entry in your comparison chart?

    • Tim Grose

      It’s “MARKERS/WAYPOINT DIRECTION” in the features tables.
      As such, it looks like the 630 has this but the 230/235 does not. Think the only navigation feature on the 230/235 is Back to Start.

    • Kermit262

      Thanks Tim. Ray also confirmed that in the video.

  201. Morten

    You mention that the watch must be grounded to your skin in order to use the touch-screen. Surely, this must also work when wearing the watch over a jacket/sweater, or has really Garmin forgot about us poor guys living on the Northern hemisphere?

  202. Chris

    For the record – I don’t understand this lineup – I’ll be moving from the Fenix line to the 235 – the HR sensor is more important than some goofy metrics that don’t take into account that I’m 6’1.

  203. Gery

    Has anyone seen a longer watch band, or band extension, for the 220? I put it on just over a shirt sleeve and I barely get in the last hole. Any help would be appreciated.

  204. Sal

    Hi Ray
    Great review as always!
    I got the fr225 four months ago and I love the watch.
    Actually an even improved version of it would be great. I surely will never run carrying a smartwatch with me but Smartwatch-notifications can be great during the day (office). And I like the 44% bigger screen.
    I’m a runner (no swimming, no bike).
    Difficult choice!! 230, 235 or 630? The 630 has some really interesting additional features; but they need a conventional hr-strap. And I hate wearing it on my chest.
    That’s why I love optical hr-measurement. But in a couple of weeks I hope to finally get my “The Dash”. So I could stream the HR-values from them to the watch and eventually (once per week) wear a chest-strap for the supplementary features on the 630.
    What do you think: is the 150 euro price-difference between 230 and 630 worth it?

    And do you already know if Polar and Suunto will announce new running-watches this year?

  205. Gad Rohrlich

    Hello,

    I have a 620 today and love it. Had before a 405, 410 and 610. I am now hesitating between the 630 and the 235. I would love to have the HR with optical sensor but will I lose some features if I buy the 235 versus the 620 ?

    • ekutter

      From all the comments on this, I’m guessing most that have the 620 (like myself) will “downgrade” to the 235 if the optical HR works reliably. Most of the features you are losing from the 630 would be classified as nice to have, but certainly not must have, when compared against the convenience of the built in HR. I won’t miss the run dynamics but will miss the touch screen and 4 data pages. Added bonus you save $70.

      I’m guessing a 635 won’t be far behind if this really happens.

  206. Ryan

    Any comparison in screen size between the Fenix3 and 630? The 630 screen area looks bigger. I can’t stand the massive bezel around the Fenix3. It’s like half an inch all around.

  207. Teriemer

    The FR 920 XT just got Pace from footpod back (it’s in beta state, but working). So now you can have tracking and distance from GPS while having super responsive instant pace. I wonder if the new FR series will have that as well. I think so?

  208. FYI/FWIW: I’ve managed to borrow/steal/etc the FR630 & FR230 for a few hours for tomorrow. So if there are specific photos, videos, questions, or anything else not covered above in the 498 other comments/answers or the post itself, feel free to reply to this specific comment with requests. I’ll try and get as much in as possible.

    I already have on my list:

    1) Demonstration of touch screen when over a long-sleeve shirt/coat
    2) Showing 1-4 data fields on both watches
    3) The navigation capabilities of the FR230/235
    4) Exact weight/depth of the FR230/235’s

    Cheers.

    • Brent

      I assume this does the non-GPS, non-footpod distance/pace measurement thing that the 220/620 did? Can you do a quick check to see if the accuracy improved on that at all? Thanks!

    • runnershigh

      – is it possible to turn off “activity tracking”-feature ?
      – is it possible to lock a HF-Zone or specific HF-Range (and signaled by vibration)?
      Thanks.

    • DJ

      Can you use the footpod for pace?

    • ekutter

      May not be something you can test here, but with the 235, can you turn off the optical HR sensor to get the same 16 hour battery life of the 230?

    • torben

      Yes you can switch it off.
      And Yes there is an own display for Zone and HF-Range, vibration if you say you want to have

    • simon

      Can you try to reject a incoming call from the watch?
      Can you try to answer a call from the watch (wearing headset)?

    • torben

      yes you can

    • Dan Majgaard

      Can you give some information about the charge connection (and an image)? – Specifically, can you wear it while running and it still logs, like the 310xt and Fenix3?

    • Mark

      photos (and comments as necessary) comparing screens between new devices and existing devices.

    • Luís Ricardo Beato Pereira

      Would love to know if the HRM-Run strap from the 620 works 100% with the new 630 Running Dynamics.

    • Tim Grose

      A lot of comments on here that the existing running dynamics aren’t so useful (and anyway you get cadence on all these devices anyway) and so the optical HR on the FR235 is a good trade off. However we don’t really know much about the “new” running dynamics yet. A “dynamic” read out of stride length sounds interesting as I can see some tests you could do in comparing speed/effort levels with shorter faster strides as against longer slower ones etc – bit like cyclists do power meter tests in different scenarios. Then again there is a CIQ stride length field already so not sure how this is any different/better. Similarly cyclists have left/right power balance options. Will similar for runners in ground contact balance (?) help to detect injury problems due to temporary variances in style etc etc. So any actual visibility of the new dynamics would be nice.

    • RJ

      One data field I found the 220 did not have, at least when I checked a while back, was “last lap pace”. Could you confirm if that is included in the 235 as one of the options to add to one of the 4 data fields for running? I know this is oddly specific, but I constantly look at that while training with my 610. It looks like the 235 has all my 610 has and more, but that one data field might be a deal breaker for me.

      Excellent reviews by the way. You always seem to show the particular details I am looking for.
      Thanks

    • Gavin

      Hi Ray – a pic of an IQ ‘analogue’ watch face would be good, please.

      Thanks.

    • Mike Richie

      Could you check how much memory (storage) there is on the watch(es). That would impact Connect IQ and the usefulness of apps like dwMap. I assume these watches can be just accessed through the USB port.

    • Abby Steele

      I second this comment! Please let us know if “last lap” is now a data field on the 230/235. “Last lap” is one of the top three things I was hoping for in the update. I can’t stand it when I miss the lap notification on my watch and then there’s no way to check back at what that last mile was. Thanks so much for your great reviews!

    • Here’s the data fields for the FR230/235:

      Timer: Timer (total), Lap Time, Last Lap Time, Average Lap Time, Elapsed Time
      Distance: Distance (total), Lap Distance, Last Lap Distane
      Pace: Pace (current), Average Pace, Lap Pace, Last Lap Pace
      Speed: Speed (current), Average Speed, Lap Speed, Last Lap Speed, Maximum Speed
      Heart Rate: Heart Rate (Current), Average HR, HR Zone, Training Effect, HR %Max, %HRR, Average HR %Max, Average %HRR, Lap HR, Lap %HRR, Lap HR %Max, Time in Zone
      Cadence: Cadence, Average Cadence, Lap Cadence, Last Lap Cadence
      Temperature (with Tempe paired): Temperature, 24-hour Max, 24-hour Min
      Elevation: Elevation (current)
      Other Fields: Calories, Laps, Sunrise, Sunset, Time of Day

      Note: As usual, subject to change on beta blah blah blah. :)

    • Wayne Lyle

      Yes!!!
      Thank you very much, this is excellent news, as I really was hoping to get confirmed whether Garmin would allow % of max hr as a data field on the 230, this is definitely going to be my next watch, as i don’t warrant paying quite a lot more money for the 630 for what seems to be mainly wifi.

      All the best and thank you for your excellent reviews as usual.

  209. Susanne

    Thank you very much for this very helpful review. I have a question. Has the forrunner 235 the back to start feature really? I read that only the 630 has this feature and the other haven’t. I think this feature is very important, can you help me?

  210. Long Run Nick

    Hi Ray, I continue to enjoy and appreciate your previews and reviews. With the FR235, is it possible to disable/ turn off the move alert like you can with the FR920? Thanks.

  211. Richard

    Ray, another great article. You are really THE online reference for me. Thank You.

    I have a 620, and I think running dynamics are just a gimmick – after a few weeks I didn´t even bother to check, so I am really exited about the 235 – NO STRAPS. My only concern is about the new (“in house”) HRM sensor… How accurate do you think they are? Compared to Mio and to traditional chest belts?

    • Tim

      Let’s say the 235 proves to be less accurate; you could still use it for 24/7 HR monitoring and when running use a HRM-strap…

  212. Louis

    Garmin states FR230 and FR235 *without* VO2 max. Whilst I’m not hugely bothered by this, I do use it to guage my general fitness. Can someone (Ray!), confirm if the 230/235 do indeed calculate VO2 max?

    Otherwise it’s frustrating that the 630 does “return to start”, and 230/235 doesn’t. All in all, I’m looking to be forced to get both the new Vivosmart HR *AND* the 630 in order to get what I want, but that duplicates features, that an otherwise software update would negate.

    Damn you Garmin Devs for being told not to include a few more lines of code in the 230 due to your sales & marketing dept.

    • Chris

      Not sure what you mean – Garmin shows on their website that the 235 has VO2 max?

      link to buy.garmin.com

    • The FR230/235 can do V02Max, but require the HR strap to do so.

      The FR230/235 have back to start. I’ve got a video I shot this afternoon that I’ll upload shortly showing side by side navigation on both. Just sifting through the few hundred comments/e-mails since..well…2 hours ago. 😉

    • Louis

      Thanks so much dude! I subscribe to your channel so I’ll see it when it gets there.

      @Chris – the Garmin page says no GLONASS and no VO2 Max, or at least it did this morning when I checked.

      Having just watched Garmin’s youtube channel on the 230, they show both these features. Nothing like the Engineering dept, not talking to the Marketing dept, not talking to the Web Devs, hey…

    • Louis

      Btw I checked UK site, there may be differences.

    • You know those drug commercials where they say “4 out of 5 doctors agree”? That’s sorta like how it works with Garmin.com specs upon release. 4 out of 5 times the specs are incorrect. But even the blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.

  213. Summit Mahdeek

    First you’re the best!! Regarding charging while in an activity: What is the max activity recording time/memory? and what is the display/metrics functionality while charging?

    I ask because with the fr310xt for example you can charge while in use, though it defaults to a charging screen and doesn’t display any metrics, also at 1 sec sat acquisition/logging the 310xt will only record for 24 hours. We had a problem with this during a 100mile run taking 31 hours to complete. While charging we missed our pace metrics to keep us moving through the late night hours, and though the summery screen at the end of the 31 hours showed the entire distance and duration, after uploading to connect it only recorded 81miles over the 24 hour capacity(set to 1 sec instead of smart or ultratrac or whatever) Thanks for the info.

  214. Noelle

    I wonder if we’ll see a price drop in the Vivoactive once the 230 starts to ship. I bought a 610 on super sale in January this year to replace my aging Nike+ sportwatch, and later picked up a Vivofit. I was seriously considering switching to a Vivoactive (so I don’t have to wear two devices at once), but now with the 230 going for the same price with way more features (from a running perspective, at least – it rivals the 610 now, which the 220 didn’t quite do before), it’s hard to pass up.

  215. Matt

    Not sure if I’ve missed this bit of info.
    Is it possible to turn off the HR monitor when not wanted on the 235 to extend the battery life?
    I’m upgrading from the 410 and would like as long as battery as possible.
    Thanks.

  216. Ivan

    Do I get all the new data from the 630 using the HR belt for the 920t?

  217. George

    Oh cool, it’s not completely fugly!

  218. JM

    I often like to explore new routes or go on runs in unfamiliar cities when I’m in such a place. I understand that none of the new watches do anything like displaying a breadcrumb-style map. However, the FR630 can save locations as waypoints. That’s worth something, but the usefulness seems limited. If I’m understanding this correctly, this would require you to physically be at the place you want to save as a waypoint, which is less than ideal if you’re in an unfamiliar place. What would be very useful is if there were some way to plan out a route using waypoints in Garmin Connect and upload those waypoints to the FR630, which you could then follow sequentially. Can that be done currently? Could it be enabled in a future update, or should we not expect anything?

    • Kermit262

      I’m pretty sure that’s not possible with the 630. That functionality does exists on the fenix 3 however.

    • That’s correct, you have to be at the spot to save the waypoint.

      Like Kermit noted, I see this more as a ‘get me back to home, Starbucks, etc…’ type function where you go there often than really one aimed at navigation.

    • Tim Grose

      In theory (well I did try it once on a 920) you can edit the locations FIT in say FIT File Repair Tool and upload the changed one to your watch. I found had to delete the one on the watch and put the new one in “NEWFILES”. As such it ought to be possible to write a “tool” to do this or, more usefully, hope for a new feature in Garmin Connect. Not too sure but don’t think the Garmin BaseCamp software can help here. Or, if you have a Fenix 3 (as stated), do it there and shunt it over. Bit of a “PITA” but needs must sometimes.

    • JM

      Thanks so much for the feedback, all. And thanks to Ray for a great preview.

      I just became aware of a Connect IQ app called dwMap that displays a breadcrumb map – hopefully that would come to the 230, 235, and 630.

      With the exception of the lack of navigation, these do look like pretty attractive watches. Let’s hope for good GPS accuracy!

    • hollyoak

      When I run (walk) in an unfamiliar place I just take my Android with the most excellent Locus app that lets you download many different types of maps for offline use (Google, OSM, etc…) and activate a track recording feature. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost and you can preplan stops with little icons. Give it a try!

  219. FYI:

    I’m in the process of consolidating photos and answers to questions from earlier today. However, in the meantime, here’s two videos I’ve uploaded (I’ll add these to the post soon):

    Comparison of Navigation Features on FR230/FR235/FR630: link to youtube.com

    Usage of FR630 touch screen while worn over clothing: link to youtube.com

    Enjoy!

    • Tim Grose

      Useful videos thanks. On the gloves bit, might be worth noting that I find it quicker to tap the screen (well on a 620) to change data screens rather than swiping.

    • Yeah. I also often found that also to be the easiest way going all the way back to the FR610 as well.

    • K0liber

      Is it possible to change data screens with physical buttons?

      And thanks for great article!

    • Yup, no problems there.

    • Tim Grose

      I could see you could (and indeed would have to) change data screens with physical buttons on the 230/235 but not sure how you would do that on a 630 if it is like the 620 (as it seems to be)?

    • K0liber

      So if I understand you correctly, you can’take do that on 620?
      And just to make it clear, my initial question was about 630, not 230/235.

    • Francis

      You cannot do that no the 610 or 620. You must use the touchscreen , swipe or tap, to change screen. Or else have it set up to be automatically going through the screens during your activity.

    • Håkon Foss Liverud

      Thanks for posting the videos. How is the touchscreen compared to the 620? Have you considered making a video using gloves like you did with the 620 (link to youtube.com)? Would be useful to know as I’m planning to buy a watch that I can use for cross country skiing and running in the winter.

  220. Kermit262

    Thanks for the additional videos Ray. Answered a lot of questions. Bummer that navigation on the 230/235 is reduced even further than the already limited feature set of the 630. Still though this refreshing across the forerunner line is impressive.

    • Tim Grose

      Miles better than the 620/225/220 though which has nothing well bar the heading data field on the 620.

  221. Gui

    Is possible to measure bike cadence with some bike cadence sensor and hr swiming with Fr 630?

  222. Bob B

    I wish Garmin would offer a HRM bundle with the 235, like it does with the 230/630. That might sound crazy, until you consider that even with the 235’s optical capabilities, you still need a heart rate strap when wearing the watch on a jacket sleeve (5 or 6 months out of the year in Ohio) or when you want to see your VO2 Max or Training Effect. I think the 235 is a decent value, but adding a full retail-priced strap (opposed to the discounted bundle price) makes it a bit pricy.

  223. Kevin Butler

    DC, any updates on how accurate the Garmin-made optical HR sensor is? compared to FR225?
    Apologies in advance if you’ve posted this and I missed it.

    -K

  224. PierreP

    Ray,
    Thanks for the awesome overview.
    Can I use the Polar H7 strap with the Forerunner 230?
    Also, if yes, what functionality will I be missing?

  225. Oliver

    Thank you for the review. I am really excited about the FR235. I have the FR225 and I am really missing the connected features. My only fear is that the new optical HR sensor might not be as accurate as the Mio one in the FR225. The new watch doesnt have the rubber shades which keeps light out and give it a good fit on the wrist for the OHR sensor. How are you finding the FR235 regarding the sensor?

    • It’s still too early to know on the optical sensor piece. Hopefully within the next few weeks I’ll get a production unit and be able to start testing.

  226. Jason

    Thanks Ray for the initial pre-view. Just ordered the 230 from CT. Love my 220 but the bigger screen, activity tracking, more fields on the screen, and additional metrics pretty much sold me. Also don’t mind using my existing Rhythm+ for heart rate tracking since it is so comfortable and the battery lasts a long time on one charge.

  227. Dean

    I am looking at the Forerunner 235, the 220 without the HRM shows cadence, max cadence, and stride length for running dynamics on Garmin Connect. Does the 235 also show this?

  228. Ted

    Wondering if the 630 and 620 share charging cables. Sure looks like it from the pictures, but do you recall if they do?

  229. Karl

    Wondering what all the different sports apps are on the 630.

  230. Mikey

    This is what REI’s site is telling me… if it’s true I can’t wait!!!

    • Byron

      Ugh… and still nothing from Amazon, which is where I have my corporate wellness vouchers stashed.

    • Yeah, I noticed Amazon currently lists the 230, but not yet the 235. Not sure if that’s just a random listing thing, or on purpose.

      Historically speaking, for newly announced Garmin products Amazon is both the last to list and usually pretty close to the last to fulfill. My understanding is this is largely fairly purposeful on Garmin’s part.

  231. ekutter

    Do you have info on what processors are in each watch? Do the 230, 235, and 630 all share the same one? How does this compare to the 920 or Fenix in terms of processing power for custom apps?

  232. Rob Montgomery

    I see there is an “Other” activity profile. Are you able to rename/create custom activity profiles on either the 230 or 630? I understand it might not map correctly to GC, but can you create new activity types and rename them like you can on 920xt/Fenix 3?

  233. Tina O'Connor

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for the review. I am a Garmin junkie and am really excited about the update to my much loved 620.
    Better colors would have been nice, but anyway…..
    I was wondering if “text” includes WhatsApp messages.
    Thanks!

  234. Chris

    Maybe I’m missing it somewhere (or it’s all over the place in the comments) – but on the 235 without a HR Strap… I agree wholeheartedly that not wearing the failure prone HRM-RUN is worth losing data

    Running Dynamics (won’t work – but who cares)
    Cadence (works without strap)
    Lactate Threshold???
    VO2 Max???
    Recovery Time???

    Thanks!

    • The FR235 doesn’t do Running Dynamics, only the higher end units like the FR630.

      So to summarize:

      Running Dynamics: No
      Cadence: Yes, no strap required
      Lactate Threshold: Only on FR630
      VO2Max: FR235, or FR230/630 with HR strap
      Recovery Advisor: FR235, or FR230/630 with HR strap

    • Chris

      Much appreciated!

    • Nighthawk700

      I just saw your update about the FR235 and VO2Max “Update: It looks like they are enabling this with native optical sensor.” Wow, they are really putting a lot of confidence in their sensor! I just got a HRM strap that I was going to use once in a while with the 235 for VO2Max, but now it might not even be needed. Thanks for keeping us updated!

    • hollyoak

      Good catch, excellent news indeed! Can’t see why it wouldn’t work for TE too then and more generally HRV?

      With its HR broadcasting ability I can see the scenario where I’d be getting the FR235 to “supplement” the FR610 as I still think it’s the BoB watch for serious runners at this point, but if the FR235 can get “Pace from Footpod” like the Fenix3/FR920 it might be getting close.

      I’m not too bothered by the lack of navigation features as a watch will never be as good as what an Android with Locus can do and I have no problem running with my Moto G/4G in my right hand if I think I might need to find my way 😉

    • The variances is something I don’t have a clear answer on, but will work to get a bit more detail/clarity there.

  235. a_circelli

    New prices (in euro) for fenix3 and 920xt: 479 and 469 (w/o hr). 20 euro more. Maybe is for new running dinamics? I can’t understand a growth of price in a 1 year old device…(920xt)

  236. Jay M

    Good to see the 630 works over a sleeve. Any idea if the touchscreen will also work on a bike mount?

  237. Nick

    Ray, thanks again for all your help. I have one more question. Sorry I’m pretty new to these devices.

    What if there is no road where you are? If it is just a trail through the woods, will the 235 still be able to give you an accurate distance? How would that work? Thanks again sir.

    • No prob.

      Not sure if you’re talking navigation or just general GPS reception. For navigation it’s simply back to start. So it’s a straight shot like the crow flies. Rivers, buildings, trees be damned.

      For tracking, it’ll track where you are. Woods are tough for any GPS unit, and it remains to be seen how well the 230/235/630 do in those environments – it’s part of what I hope to test soon on final production units.

  238. Andy

    Thanks for the info! I contacted Garmin before seeing your post and asked them if the 235 will be capable of charging while in an activity. They said no. Your review has it listed… Honestly I trust you more. Any thoughts?

  239. Tomasz K

    What surprises me is the price difference on the Garmin website. FR235 costs $330 in US which is around 215gbp and on the Garmin UK website rrp is 270gbp so 55 quid more. Same with other european prices on the Garmin website (France – 350 euros).
    When you check the Suunto (as you know they ship from Europe) website you will see that they don’t have almost any difference between US and Europe prices.
    Complete rip off from Garmin – isn’t it?

    • One portion: Import duties. Polar & Suunto build their products locally in the EU, so they aren’t subject to that. Garmin builds theirs in Taiwan.

    • Tomasz K

      Thanks for your reply. It’s a fair point however note that customs duty on such products for imports to EU from Taiwan is 4.5%. On the other hand, same product imported from Taiwan to US is subject to 6% duty. Obviously I might have chosen the wrong commodity code but whether you import from Taiwan to US or EU you still need to pay duty so don’t think this will justify 25% higher price for Europe.
      Maybe I wasn’t clear in my previous post.
      Ambit3 Peak on the Suunto official website costs almost the same in UK as it does in US.
      FR235 costs nearly 55 pounds more on the Garmin UK website than it does on the Garmin US website.

    • Mike Richie

      I think the prices you are quoting include the VAT. I can’t find any info on the Garmin UK site but there prices are the same as Amazon Uk site and their prices do include the VAT. US prices do not include any taxes.

  240. JorgeP

    Hi, I bought the FR630 today on the marathon Expo in New York. Why is it not possible to download new apps from the Connect IQ-website?? The FR is not listed there… I cannot find the live tracking on the FR630…Where is it? Thanks

    • Tim Grose

      You setup LiveTrack from the Garmin Connect mobile app once you have paired your device with it. Perhaps no apps have been written for the 630 yet.

  241. DJ

    If anyone is going to the NYC Mary Expo they do in fact have the new FR. I bought the 630 and they seemed to have a good supply.So far happy with it. I recently sold my 920 which I was very happy with and would not have went with the 630 except that I have been running only minus swim/bike due to time constraints. 920 is too big to use only as a dedicated running watch. The 630 is so small compared to the 920 (Wore as a daily watch).

  242. Spenser

    Thanks for the great first review. Do you know if they will add Golf features to the F630?

    • Tim Grose

      Only if a Golf Connect IQ app was written. Must be possible as the Vivoactive has an inbuilt one.

    • Mike Richie

      Well, not everything Garmin can write for the watch can be done as a Connect IQ app. Currently the api is fairly limited.

  243. JorgeP

    Smart notifications doesn’t work on my FR630…I’ve setup the app but no notification :-( ??

  244. Stijn Vranken

    Looking forward to the FR235. My old nike+ sportswatch seems to be succoming to the rigors of time.
    Lets hope they’ll be out soon :)

    Thank you for this wonderfull pre-review!

  245. Mike

    The 235 showed up yesterday on amazon. The site says it will let you know a shipping date when available. I preordered there (gift cards) and when you look at the “my account” section, on the top it gives a summary. There is says expected delivery between 12/3 and 12/17. Just some more info in trying to figure out release dates.

    • Chris

      Today Amazon shows dates of

      630 – This item will be released on November 25, 2015.
      235 – This item will be released on December 2, 2015.

  246. Andy

    FYI, I just called REI regarding the fr235 and after a 5 min wait the rep came back with Nov. 13th as a date when their purchase order is scheduled to go through. This may be optic-mistic… (see what I did there?), but at least it’s something.

  247. Matt

    Hey Ray,

    Having used the 230/235/630, do they feel more like the speed of the Fenix3/920xt or more like the Epix (which I found to be MUCH faster — even just in menus, saving activities, etc)? I think my question is trying to understand whether these devices are using faster chipsets — and perhaps whether they will be included for “next generation” Connect IQ.

    Also, have you had a chance to see how much storage the 230/235/630 has?

    Thanks again!

    • I’m not sure if they’ll be ‘significantly’ faster than existing units. To me it feels just as responsive as a Fenix3/920XT. It’s actually funny you mention the Epix, as to me both of my units feel slower. :-/

      I unfortunately didn’t take a look at the storage on the new units. Sorry!

  248. rob jones

    Hi
    thinking of upgrading from a 10 to a 225, then I saw the 235! I like the virtual pacer of my 10, how does that compare to using the pace alerts of the 225? Seems like the 225 was replaced, basically, really quickly, is the 235 worth it? I actually don’t care much about the phone connectivity stuff, but the optical heart rate I like! Thanks

  249. Stian

    Stress score app on fenix3, plus the lactate test?

  250. Mike

    Just pre-ordered 235 from Clever Training. Thanks for the info Ray and congrats on the big life decision. We’ll enjoy seeing more posts!

  251. Tom

    Great intro, I am really looking forward to the new HR sensor testing. I am an older runner and seem to get slower every year, so accurate HR feedback is important. The 225 review shines, so I wonder about comparisons to the newer Garmin sensor … cheers to all

  252. Eduard

    Love the 630, just bought it at the NYC marathon expo. We’ll see how it works in the marathon, first a quick trial run tomorrow.

    Feels lighter and can be worn with an office outfit.

    The Garmin chap said they will start to ship in the next few weeks

  253. Laurent

    Bonjour la ceinture hrm tri aura-t-elle les mêmes caractéristiques que la ceinture hrm run? (seuil lactique)

    Good morning will the belt hrm tri sorting have the same characteristics as the belt hrm run? (lactic threshold)

  254. hollyoak

    The Garmin France site says that the FR235 doesn’t have the “Virtual Pacer” feature (link to explore.garmin.com) unlike the FR15/FR25/FR630/FR920…a bit confusing as I know from my FR610 what the “Virtual Partner” (useful and listed here as being available on the FR235) and the “Virtual Racer” (not so useful) are. Anyone know ? Thanks !

    • Tim Grose

      Think you mean “Virtual Partner”. Only the 630 has this of these 3 new ones.
      “Virtual Racer” again only the 630 has this. The Partner is a simple guide against a fixed pace. The Racer can you take your performance on a course previously and give you “real time” pacing against that – very useful if the course was not flat and so running even pace was not possible. The 230/235 does have the new “Finish Time” feature so you can largely pace yourself off that given it will tell you predicted finish time for the distance you specify as you run along.

    • hollyoak

      No the table I linked to on the Garmin FR site does mention “Virtual Pacer” but that may be a mistake indeed.

      In the 630 manual you linked in another post, “Virtual Racer” has become “Race an Activity” and in the 230/235 manual I found link to static.garmin.com it’s not there as expected and unfortunately the “Training Target” (what you call “Finish Time”) isn’t there either unfortunately so it doesn’t seem the 230/235 offer any kind of “pacing” other than showing your average pace on a lap/overall.

    • Tim Grose

      Sorry – Race an Activity=Virtual Racer.
      You can see Finish Time on Ray’s videos.
      The manuals may not necessarily be up to date with firmware releases or indeed even 100% accurate.

    • hollyoak

      Possibly, however Garmin will be held to their manual, not to Ray’s review of a non-finalized version. Besides I suspect Garmin are going to be working on “segmenting” the 235 and the 630, especially after the initial reactions going more or less like “the 235 has all I need, why would I bother with the more expensive 630 that doesn’t even have an optical sensor”…

      Another feature I’m not seeing is the broadcasting of the HR from the Optical sensor, anyone spotted it ?

  255. JorgeP

    I’m trying to change the FR630 to metric but they still going back to imperial… I’ve changed them in garminconnect and on FR630 itself, but after any synch between phone and FR630 the units are again imperial on both… This makes my new Garmin useless as a pace control as I don’t know how fast is the pace in min/mile and how far is distance in miles…

    • Long Run Nick

      Sorry you are having issues. Hopefully you get them resolved prior to the start tomorrow. Believe it or not, before all the tech gear, thousands of us ran marathons with a hand held stop watch or an old fashion wrist watch. Amazingly, the average finish times were possibly quicker than today. 5-6 hour plus marathon finishing times were quite rare. Finishing under 4 hours was the goal for a lot of us.

    • Kevin Dwyer

      Sub 3 when I were a lad Nick 😉
      Agree completely, you knew the time that you had to go through the half marathon and 20 miles, and just hoped that the mile markers ( if there were any ) were reasonably accurate.
      It’s good to chuck the watch in the drawer from time to time and just race as your body dictates.
      Hope you get it resolved Jorge, have a great race tomorrow :-)

    • You mentioned setting it on Garmin Connect. Have you tried setting it through the Garmin Connect Mobile (phone) app?

    • Earl The Patriot

      This is true. Also, all marathons were uphill both out and back in the good old days.

    • JorgeP

      Hi Ray, I have set it through the Garmin mobile app.

    • Long Run Nick

      Kevin, how right you are. The best I could do was a 3:16 many years ago. But finally got a BQ in 2008 with a 3:57 at age 65!

  256. Rob

    Congrats on the big change!

    Curious about your thoughts on an internal struggle I’m having. Casual triathlete that would like an all-in-one solution but fear the 920xt is “too much” for me. Now that the 230/235 has cycling support, would this be a viable option for a multisport athlete or is something like the VivoActive a better fit? Obviously the 230/235 can’t support swimming, but the distances I swim can easily be tracked via stop watch/wall clock.

  257. Teriemer

    What about PACE FROM FOOTPOD? The F3, Epix and now the 920XT too. have got that implemented with the latest beta firmwares. It really works splendid. The question is; does the FR630 support that yet? Can somebody please check that. Go into > Settings > Sensors > paired Footpod > check for pace source.

    • Tim Grose

      No,mention of this in the manual link to static.garmin.com However given the devices you mention recently got it, would be odd not to also include in the premier running watch. Maybe it come later too.

    • Bob B

      The 230/235/630 owners manual list “Foot pod status” under the Status Icons section. Strongly implies that pace from foot pod is supported.

  258. Dan

    Alert: on Amazon Vivoactive is $199.00. I’m seriously conflicted. Looking for something with GPS that’s good for running & cycling with activity tracking & smartwatch functions. Vivoactive seems to do everything the 230 does with a smaller footprint (wristprint?), with the exception of some running functions that are probably of marginal utility. But the comments about dim screen and propensity of scratching same on the VA kind of scare me.

    I have a vivosmart now. screen is showing some degradation (a fairly common problem apparently per Garmin forums). It’s under warranty. I wonder if they would give me credit towards a different device instead of replacing it. Anyone ever try this?

  259. Bill L

    Garmin isn’t getting my money yet. I agree with those who think Garmin missed the boat when it didn’t include Optical HR on the 630. I want a 24/7 scan of my HR, and if I need to wear a strap to get more advanced functions during my run, I would be willing to do that. I gather they don’t make a watch for me yet so either I’ll wait or shop a different brand.

    However, many of my clients wear Garmin and that leaves with a problem to solve; I hope you have some insight that can help me – I want them to train in specific zones and want to know how much time they spend in each zone. None of the uploads they send me provide that information, nor have I such a display in any screens in your reviews. Does any watch? It strikes me my old Polar watches did, but that’s going back over a decade. Maybe it was Fitsense (remember those?) instead of Polar. Someone did. Who does now? If in fact Garmin does, what don’t my clients know about how to set their watches up so I can see that data? Thanks in advance for your help.

    • In fact Polar Flow shows you how much time you spent in each zone. There’s even a free coach mode where you can look up data of people you’re coaching. There are lots of things Polar does not have (or does not have working) but this one seems to be just right.

    • Tim Grose

      On the 630, there is a Time in Zone graph in History for each activity. The 920 has this as well.

    • Nathan Budd

      Assuming you mean HR zones rather than pace zones?

      I can’t speak for Garmin Connect, as I avoid it like the plague, but if your clients upload their data to Strava and are premium members, it will show you that data.

  260. Guy

    Hey there thank you for your review just a few quastions for you if you can please help
    In the add for the garmin 630 they show a screen that shows the weather is that a functionality of the whatch (is it built in) or a connect iq widget (if it is built in does it also work with the 630? (probebly the watch i am going to buy)
    Also does the smart notifications work in other langughes like Hebrew etc
    And does the watch shows temp like the fenix 3 does?
    Thank you for your help

    • Tim Grose

      Weather is a “built in” widget so appears on all 3 of these devices as standard. You will get temperature if you pair to a Tempe sensor but not from the watch on its own. I image Smart Notifications are shown “as is” and so depends how your phone shows them.

  261. hollyoak

    The manuals are now available :
    230/235 : link to static.garmin.com
    630 : link to static.garmin.com

    It answers some outstanding questions :
    – 235 : VO2 requires a “compatible HRM”, no mention of the 235’s optical sensor
    – 230/235 : no “back to start” navigation
    – 230/235 : no virtual partner/finish time (it has the race predictor hence the confusion maybe ?)

    • Heath

      Went through both manual and saw some interesting things. I wouldn’t be surprised that the FR235 would be a platform for something bigger in the future.

    • Chris

      interesting – because his screenshots above are with a 230 and show finish estimator..

  262. Bob B

    The 230/235 definitely has Back to Start – Ray demonstrates that in his navigation capabilities video.

  263. Antonio

    can anyone confirm on a real model if the alarm is now really has a “vibrate only” setting? my 220 says it vibrates only but does both audio and vibrate and my wife would gladly let me upgrade if i don’t wake her at 5am :)

  264. JorgeP

    When I bought the FR630 on the marathon Expo in NY they told me that the new straps are not available at the moment… They gave me the 620-strap and told me that is the same, but it isn’t the same! I cannot see the new metrics…how it is possible to make an update? Garmin lie to me.
    P. S. : Today I ran the NY Marathon with the FR630. It shows 42,34km. Perfect!

    • Teriemer

      Hi Jorge – Congrats on the Marathon :-) Would you mind posting a link to your GC activity so I can check how instant pace and tracking was? In advance, thanks :-)

    • Teriemer

      Thanks a lot – much appreciated :-)

    • Teriemer

      Tracking looks quite good for a brandnew watch with only a few glitches here and there. Taken the surroundings was also not the easiest, so definitely good as I see it. Also the accuracy seems very promissing. Once again, thanks for posting and congrats on completing the NYC Marathon :-)

    • JorgeP

      You’re welcome! ?

    • Congrats as well!

      On the strap update, they do plan to release a firmware update for all HRM-RUN/TRI straps to get the new metrics. My guess is we’ll see that probably any day now. A bit odd that wasn’t ready yet for NYC, but I suppose that’s a case of damned if you do (release at NYC) and damned if you don’t (hold back and not let folks purchase).

      If I was there and able to pick one up, I suppose I’d figure it a fair compromise.

    • JorgeP

      Thanks Ray! ???
      I hope the update comes soon…

  265. Matt

    Great review.

    Has anyone found a way to make the mobile app show total miles by week in a chart or table? Something similar to Runkeeper’s view so I can see that I ran 25 miles this week, 30 miles last week, 31 miles the week before that, etc. this seems so fundamental that I am sure I’m missing it.

    • Peter P

      Hi Matt,

      Not exactly the solution you’re looking for, but if you sign up for a Strava account and link it to Garmin Connect, your workouts show up seamlessly in Strava, and it has a great page for tracking your workouts by week. Even if you don’t want to share your workouts with other people social media-style, Strava is a great training aid. I never look at Connect anymore – I just go straight to Strava.

  266. Jose

    Hi ray, is there any app to install to FR 230 through Connect IQ support that could give me swim data?

  267. Paul Allen

    Wondering if the FR235 is crippled on iOS the same way as the VivoActive is: Music Controls being for default music player only, useless if you want to control podcasts and Spotify.

    Even my old Pebble and current Misfit allow better control.

  268. Brian Simpson

    Some silly information but important none the less – it appears that the bands for the 230/235/630 are all the same size. Garmin has posted the replacements bands here:

    link to buy.garmin.com

    And I found another web site where all the bands for the 3 watches were available to pre-order under the same heading.

    So I’m off to order either a forge yellow or the purple band for my new 235. :)

    • ScoGold

      Terrific news. I was super bummed that the Force Yellow only came in the 230 and not the 235.

      I have the old 610 and the band broke all the time (pin slipped out). One of my friends even duct taped his, to ensure it didn’t fall off. Wondering if the band on the newer models is more robust.

  269. El

    Looking for new 235 HR sensor test … Is it same accurate like MIO sensor?

  270. loshko

    Preordered via CT. A bit of a bummer that they shifted expected availability dates from Nov to Dec.

    • Thanks for the support!

      As a general reminder, the dates on the site are for new orders. So for folks with existing orders, the date given at time of ordering is the prevailing date. At least until Garmin delays… 😉

    • Josh

      Ray, the folks at REI said as of yesterday that the 235 is available in their warehouse nov 16 with an eta of nov 19 at my door. I also ordered day 1 very early from CT, do you happen to have any more detailed update from their end on expectations for delivery dates?

    • I chatted with them (CT) this evening. They’re hearing they’ll get stuff in the same shipment as them.

      Typically CT does very well on pre-orders when it comes to shipments from the Fitness division (versus some past history on the Outdoor division). The Forerunners are part of Fitness.

      That said, it’s (the FR235) an incredibly high-demand product. I suspect long waits around will be the case, since we don’t have clarity on shipment levels yet as Garmin hasn’t gotten to that point yet. Typical pattern is only a handful of units in first few shipments (like a few hundred globally), and then they scale out into the thousands per shipment after a few weeks of testing the waters. Obviously the holidays mean there’s a huge rush on trying to meet demand, but I think like the FR920XT last year, that’ll be impossible for Garmin at this late in the game.

    • loshko

      Ok great (oh well, for early orders at least)… thx for confirming!

  271. runnershigh

    since approx. one year I am using the polar m400. After the first months of improving device-firmware and features of plattform flow as well, now it seems to be a good item to use.

    The new garmin series seems to be very attractive; although a bit more expansive.

    Meanwhile I really like ploar flow, so I don’t really want to change back to garmin connect.
    As far as I know polar plans/works on to realize an import possibility (TCX etc.) to flow.
    Did anyone has any further details about their plans?

  272. I just got a notification from REI that my order for the Marsala 235 will be delivered November 19, 2015 (order placed October 21).

    Stoked this will arrive in time for my marathon that weekend.

    • Belinda

      Congrats and good luck for the marathon!

      Did REI send you an e-mail or did you call customer service? I have also placed an order for the 235 but did not receive any notification from them about shipping dates.

  273. Michael H

    Does it display your total elevation during the run? For example, midway through a run I’d like to see how much vertical climb I’ve accumulated to that point.

    • Tim Grose

      No, afraid not.

    • Tim Grose

      But maybe there will be a Connect IQ data field for this. Not going to be very accurate though as these devices don’t have barometric altimeters.

    • Michael H

      I don’t think ANY watch is accurate, whether it’s GPS elevation, Barometric, or the blend of both. I remember seeing a review on here by a Toure De France elevation marker and several watches weren’t really close. In fact, the barometric was really off. They should be able to track elevation by GPS data. Hell, there are iPhone apps I’ve tested using GPS and they’re pretty good.

    • I wouldn’t go that far. It can be (and usually is) rather accurate for barometric altimeters if properly calibrated.

      I did some tests back in June showing that as part of my Polar V450 post, and they all fared very well (I think I had 8 units).

      GPS is more variable, but also less prone to initial calibration errors since it calibrates from GPS (usually quite good). On the flip side, it can be tricked in some environments – this older post explains why: link to dcrainmaker.com

  274. I was looking for estimated delivery dates and found out Garmin 630 & 230 are being shipped 11/25. The 235 is being shipped 12/2. Not sure how reliable it is, but now I can stop checking my emails for a delivery notice every few minutes.

    • ryanovelo

      From what retailer? For those who pre-ordered day 1 or today? Need more info that this.

    • Jenn

      I’m ordering from Road Runner Sports (sorry Ray!) where I already have VIP membership. Calling them today, it sounds like they’ll receive their shipment this Friday, November 6 and will send out on Monday November 9. I just wished I still lived in San Diego and could do in store pick up. Amazon said November 25th. I would call around and see who has the best expected delivery time.