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Garmin Forerunner 220 In-Depth Review

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The Garmin FR220 is the company’s latest mid-range (price-wise) running watch, which succeeds the older FR210 unit.  The FR210 carved out the mid-range niche, ahead of a slew of competitors that have followed in its footsteps.  But can Garmin jump ahead of all of these units with the Bluetooth connected FR220?  Over the past month+, I set out to find out – one run after another.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Garmin provided both beta and final production FR220’s, with this review being written on the basis of the final production hardware + software (some photos were taken during the software beta period of course).  As always, in the next little bit I’ll be sending them back to Garmin and then going out and getting my own (to be able to support y’all in the comments section down the road). Simple as that. Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints. If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon or Clever Training links from this page to help support future reviews.

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

So – with that intro, let’s get into things.

Unboxing:

The FR220 comes in a variety of flavors – including grape (aka purple), which is the review unit flavor I ended up with.  Sometimes I think the Garmin folks just like to send me the girly colors merely so they can laugh at me.

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Here’s the back of the box, in case you’re into that sorta thing:

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After you’ve removed the outer shell, you’ll have three basic piles of stuff: Watch stuff, charger stuff, paper stuff.

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Here we are, after having removed the plastic stuff:

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Here’s the front of the watch itself.  As I’ll cover in a little bit, the unit is notably lighter than other units (and visibly so on the scale).  It’s also thinner a well as having a brighter screen.  All things you’ll see over the course of the next few hundred photos.

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And here’s the back of the unit.  You’ll notice a new charging port, different from past Garmin products.  Also, you’ll see the ANT+ logo as well as Bluetooth Smart logo on there.

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Looking at other boxed content, we’ve got the ever-exciting Quick Start Manual.  I suspect however by time you finish reading this post, you’ll ace the Quick Start Manual test.

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Finally, we have the charging cable.  While this may look like the Garmin Fenix charging cable, it’s actually slightly different.  The pin-outs (little copper things) are arranged different such that you can’t interchange the two cables.

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Here’s a closer look at how things line up:

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And then snapped in:

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The good news is that unlike some of the previous Garmin Forerunner charging cables – this one stays locked on very nicely.  You can see it hanging here.  I could easily hold onto one end of the USB cable and swing it around my head like a lasso and it won’t fly off.

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I do want to briefly note that the FR220 comes in two color variations.  The purple which you’ll see throughout this review, as well as a Red/Black variant, that I had at the beginning and end of my review cycle:

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With our unboxing complete, let’s see how things size up to other units on the market.

Size Comparisons & Weights:

First we’ve got the standard rolling pin side view.  You’ll notice that for the most part the GPS units these days are all roughly in the same size arena.  It’s only the ones to the far left that are a bit bigger – the Adidas Smart Run GPS and the Suunto Ambit 2s.  And, at the far right side you’ve got the lightest and smallest of the bunch, the Magellan Echo.  Except that doesn’t have GPS in it but rather depends on your phone’s GPS.  The FR220 feature-wise best compares to the TomTom, Timex Run Trainer 2.0, and Polar RC3 (the three units directly to the left of it).

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(From left to right: Adidas Smart Run GPS, Suunto Ambit 2s, Garmin FR610, Garmin FR620, Polar RC3, TomTom Runner/Multisport, Timex Run Trainer 2.0, Garmin FR220, Magellan Echo)

Next, we can turn them up a bit and see the height of each one.  The pattern is pretty similar here.  The TomTom is a bit of an optical illusion because while the height looks thin on the display side, the button wraps down around the front and pops up a bit.  The thickest units overall are the Adidas, Suunto and then the Timex Run Trainer 2.0 (3rd from right).

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If I look at the three other units the Garmin FR220 tends to be compared to the most, you can see this a bit more clearly (Polar RC3, TomTom Runner, Timex Run Trainer 2.0, FR220).

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The FR220 is of course the successor to the FR210.  The most noticeable aspect (aside from weight) though is really thickness.  In particular though towards the base of the unit.  You can see how the first bit of the FR210 watch band as it leaves the display is still a portion of the unit and added bulk, whereas the FR220 doesn’t have any of that extra bulk.

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In the below photo you’ll note that the bezel of the FR220 is actually slightly larger (diameter) than that of the FR210, though you’d likely never notice it outside of this picture.

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If we look at how it compares to the $129 Garmin FR10, you’ll see that it’s a fair bit thinner.  The 14-month old FR10 always was a bit chubby when it came to height, even though it had a fairly small width footprint:

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Looking at wearing it, here’s what it looks like on my wrist, my wrist size is 17cm (or about 6.5 inches):

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And, for all the smaller ladies in the house, here’s what it looks like on The Girl’s wrist, her wrist size is 14cm (or 5.5 inches) – and she’s tiny – 5’2” tall:

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The Girl was quite happy with the watch – at least until I gave her the FR620, at which point she went for that.  She much prefers the FR220 colors though over the FR620 colors.

Last but not least, here’s the weight situation.  The FR220 weighed in at 41g:

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Whereas the older FR210 came in at 52g:

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Running Functionality and Features:

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Now that you’re done looking at the thing, it’s time to actually run with it.

We’ll head outside and search for satellites.  This process should be much quicker on the FR220 (as well as the FR620) as both these units introduced the ability to pre-cache satellite locations for the next week.  These satellite caches are updated via Bluetooth Smart via your phone.

This tends to reduce the time to pickup satellite reception down to about 10-15 seconds – really scary quick.  I’ve seen some reception times in as little as 4-5 seconds.  The green bar along the top indicates satellite reception.  Once it’s fully green, a second later it’ll be ready to go.

Here’s a short video of this. This particular unit hadn’t been turned on for GPS reception in about 14 hours:

Here we are, ready to go:

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One really cool new feature on the FR220 (and the FR620) is the ability to set the auto-sleep setting to ‘Extended’.  In the past, if you were at the start line of a race the unit would try to go to sleep every 5 minutes if recording hadn’t been started.  Now, you can configure the ‘Extended’ option which gives you 25 minutes to do something (either start, or to tap a button).

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Once that’s all done, it’s time to start running.  To do so you’ll press the upper right button (colored button), which starts and pauses the run.  It’s also used for resuming if you pause.  Below that on the lower right you’ve got a lap button.

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On the left side you’ve got an up/down set of buttons for navigating the menu and changing your display pages while running.  And finally in the upper left you have the backlight button.

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Once you’ve started running the FR220 will display the metrics which you’ve configured it to display.  By default this will cover things like pace, distance, time, and heart rate.  You can customize different pages with different metrics.

For example, I typically like to configure a page with all my lap stats – such as lap pace, lap time, and lap distance:

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And then on another page I’ve got more general run stats (heart rate, overall run time, but still lap pace):

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The FR220 also allows you to have a two-metric page with HR stats on it, so that’s displayed below:

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In total the FR220 lets you configure two data screens (+ one HR screen and one screen for the clock).  Each screen (page) can contain up to three pieces of data, either in a 1-metric, 2-metric, or three-metric configuration.  You’ll change which metrics are shown within the Activity Settings area, and then Data Screens:

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You can choose to enable the clock view, which will add a page just for the clock.

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Here’s the full listing of data fields you can configure on the FR220 (Update: In the latest firmware version 2.80 and above, you can now add the ‘Elevation’ data field):

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(EDIT: Note that for the %Max HR/%HRR, that’s to setup the zones, but the display itself doesn’t show %Max HR/%HRR while running).

Many people ask about pace stability while using GPS.  Below is a short video I took while running with the unit.  I’m not wearing any footpod, this is pure GPS pace. Sorry for the bumpiness.  The bottom number is the pace number, shown in minutes/mile

Before you run you’ll want to pair the ANT+ heart rate strap if you purchased one.  This will transmit your heart rate to the watch for display and later retrieval in the recording.  It also greatly improves the calorie burn accuracy of the unit.  In fact, you can use the HR strap indoors with the GPS off to get calorie burn metrics.

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While running you’ll just press the up/down button to iterate forward or backwards through the data pages.  You can also however use Auto Scroll to do it for you.  This will simply scroll through the data pages automatically:

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The unit can be configured for both metric and statute displays (i.e. miles or kilometers), and in fact, there’s actually settings to change any of the different fields (such as pace or distance) individually and independently of each other.  So you could have pace in kilometer-related and distance in miles (as confusing as that would be).

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While running you can configure the unit to automatically create laps, called Auto Laps. These can be setup based on a preset distance, such as 1 Mile.  I tend to use this for longer runs, rather than shorter ones.

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Also of note is that the unit supports Auto Pause, which will automatically pause the unit when you go slower than a certain threshold – such as stopping at a light for a crosswalk.  You can customize the thresholds if they’re too high/low for you.

When it comes to alerting you’ve got a couple options.  You can create alerts on a number of metrics such as pace or heart rate.  These are both defined as high/low alerts, where you set a high value and/or a low value (both or individual) and then the unit alerts based upon crossing that threshold:

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I’ve found the pace alerts though to be a bit finicky (on both the FR220 and the FR620), at least a bit hyper-sensitive.  In trying to do a workout with them set on the FR220 for 5:50-6:20/mile, it never stopped beeping, despite having three other GPS watches tell me I was holding 6:05-6:10/mile quite nicely.

Note that the FR220 does not have a Virtual Partner feature.  Rather, the pace alerts are your best option here.

You can also setup alerts such as the Run/Walk alert, which is common in a number of marathon training plans these days.  In this case you setup a Run Time (i.e. 10 minutes), and then a Walk Time (i.e. 1 minute) and then the unit will simply repeat this duo forever until you tell it otherwise.

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Once your run is done you’ll go ahead and tap the pause button to pause it, which then brings you to this screen where you can save the run (or discard it I suppose):

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After which it’ll list off any PR’s that you’ve hit for that run.  PR’s (Personal Records) are listed for distances from 1KM upwards to Marathon, as well as for records such as longest run.  Here’s a few of them:

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The only problem is that while it’s supposed to pull your previous PR’s from Garmin Connect, it doesn’t appear to be doing so.  So in reality my PR’s are kinda skewed.

All of this information then ends up in the history section if you’d like to review it later from the watch itself.

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And of course it’ll get uploaded online as I’ll cover in a bit.

Looking at GPS accuracy, I’m very happy with what I’m seeing with the FR220.  It’s in line with a bunch of other GPS units I’ve paired it up against, always relatively close to each other.  Given the accuracy of GPS technology in the consumer space, you’ll almost never get the same measurement from two units (even two like units), but in these cases you see very similar numbers across the board:

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I’ll likely be doing accuracy tests again with the large batch of new running watches on the block, since it now makes sense to do so.

Treadmill Running & Internal Accelerometer:

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The Garmin FR220 includes an internal accelerometer (in the watch) which enables the unit to measure both pace and cadence without the need for an external footpod (as most watches previously required).

This internal accelerometer is automatically configured while running outdoors with the GPS enabled (there’s no additional manual configuration).  My ability to test this particular feature has been somewhat limited, as only the final firmware enabled my unit the ability to record this data (as opposed to just viewing it).  That said, one of the easiest ways to test this is by simply running it through a straight forward pyramid test on a treadmill after a run outdoors (to get the unit calibrated via GPS).

For this test I did a very straight forward treadmill test after completing a short warm-up.  The recorded test includes the following:

1 Minute @ 12KPH (it took about 15-20s for the treadmill to get to full speed)
4 Minutes @ 13KPH (7:26/mi, 4:37/km)
1 Minute @ 14KPH (6:45/mi, 4:17/km)
1 Minute @ 15KPH (6:26/mi, 4:03/km)
1 Minute @ 16KPH (6:02/mi, 3:45/km)
1 Minute @ 17KPH (5:41/mi, 3:32/km)
1 Minute @ 18KPH (5:22/mi, 3:20/km)
1 Minute @ 10KPH (9:30/mi, 6:00/km) with letting treadmill stop last 10 seconds.

After that first minute, the following 4-minutes at 13KPH provided a bit more variability than I expected actually.  On previous tests where I couldn’t record the data (beta stuff), I did see much more consistency at these paces.  So I’m not quite as concerned here because I know from other testing as well as what I saw on the FR620 that it tends to do well in most cases at my ‘normal’ paces.

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Nonetheless, if you look at the FR610 using a standard calibrated footpod, the paces are spot-on what you’d expect for each ‘step’ (increase) in my workout.  Or rather, more importantly – there are ‘steps’ at all!

In the case of the above FR220 data, it tops out at about 7:18/mile.  Whereas in reality, the below FR610 tops out at 5:23/mile, which is within :01/mile of the specified treadmill speed (point scored for footpod!).

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In short, what you see here is that the paces are a bit all over the map when it comes to paces outside my normal range.  Which is pretty much exactly what I saw on my FR620 tests.

Next, we look at cadence provided by the internal cadence within the FR220 unit itself.  In this case, it’s actually not too bad.  What’s funny is that you can clearly see where I must have brushed sweat off my face around the 1:40 marker, as the cadence throws a dropout.  Remember that since this is measuring cadence based on my wrist (and not a footpod), it’s going to be impacted by things like that.

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Next is a graph from a FR220 on the same arm (another one) that was set to use a standard ANT+ footpod.  In this case you can see how perfect the cadence is across each of the various steps.  As you can see, both pace and cadence from the internal unit is overwritten by the external ANT+ footpod.

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Nonetheless, the pattern I’ve seen both inside and outside is that the cadence information provided by the FR220 internally is actually quite accurate.  I’ve put it up against really long 2hr runs and it’s within 1SPM for the entire run, which is pretty good considering I’m often grabbing gels, taking photos or the like.

Which, brings me to the last point that you’ve probably observed at this point in this section: The FR220 does indeed pair to a ANT+ footpod for pace and cadence.

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While outdoors the unit will use the cadence from the footpod and GPS for the pace/distance.  While indoors with GPS off it’ll use data from the footpod for both.  The FR220 will not leverage the cadence information passed by the Garmin HRM-Run HR strap.  Only the FR620 can utilize that.

To pair your footpod you’ll go ahead and dive into the sensors area, and then add a footpod sensor:

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From there you can search for the footpod:

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You can manually configure the calibration factor there, or just let it do it via GPS after your run.

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At that point you’re pretty much good to go. Likely when in indoors mode you’ll want to switch off GPS, which you can access by pressing the ‘Up’ button from the home screen (the one that says “Run”).  Then, select GPS to off.  At this point it’ll provide pace, distance and cadence while indoors (either with footpod or internal unit accelerometer).

Workout Creation & Training Plans:

The FR220 supports the ability to create manual workouts that you’ll follow on your device and be prompted for each step of the workout.  These workouts can have a variety of targets (such as pace, cadence, heart rate and speed), and can have preset durations such as time, distance or just simply pressing the lap button.  This is new to this price point, as previously the FR210 did not have this capability (it had basic interval support)

The workouts are created on Garmin Connect and then transferred to the device via Bluetooth or USB.

Below, you can see my creating one of my workouts.  You can create a multiple of steps, and include embedded repeating steps (such as Work + Rest intervals).  The Garmin Connect workout builder is pretty much the easiest and most complete interval builder out there.  Incredibly simple to use.

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After you complete creating all your individual steps, you’ll be ready to save the workout (and name it).  You can always come back to it and edit it later though:

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Once you’ve saved it you’ll go ahead and send it to your device via Bluetooth Smart (phone) or USB).  In my case, we’ll just go with USB:

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At this point you can also add it to your Training Calendar.  By adding it to your Training Calendar you can sync the calendar to your device which will in turn automatically make certain workouts show up on the device based on the day you’re planning to execute them:

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To find the workouts you’ll scroll down on your device to ‘Training’, you can then select ‘My Workouts’, where you’ll see any workouts you’ve transferred listed:

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Within this you can also preview the steps for a given workout:

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In addition to creating your own workouts, Garmin Connect includes (free) training plans for a variety of goal races from 5K’s to Marathons to Triathlons.  Each of these plans has various experience levels.

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You can poke around at the different plans and decide which works best for you.  Each plan includes specific workouts for certain days of the week.  These workouts are based on the assumption of a known Start or End Date.  Typically the Finish Date is your race day.  You’ll just press ‘Schedule’ to add them to your Training Calendar.

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Here you can see them in the Calendar View:

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Back on the watch, these will show up within the Training > Training Calendar view.

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Structured workouts will automatically walk you through each step of the workout, showing you how many minutes are left and the target for each step of the workout.

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During the workout it’ll display a new page with each step (target) and the time remaining for each step:

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If you exceed a threshold, it’ll alert you immediately.  You can see this below:

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In the case above, I completely stopped, which triggered the pace to show null (zero), and give me a pace alert for being too slow.

Though strangely, it doesn’t actually tell you whether you were high or low – just simply that you were out of bounds for that portion of the workout. (To clarify: It always shows you the view two photos above, but when the pop-up alert happens, it doesn’t say “High/Low” there).  Update: It’s been explained to me that the border color of the alert will actually tell you if it’s high or low.  For high, it’ll show orange.  For low, it’ll show blue (as seen above).

Cycling Functionality:

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The Garmin FR220 does not contain a cycling function, nor any way to connect to speed/cadence sensors while cycling.  It does however contain the ability to switch the display metric from pace (usually displayed as minutes/mile or minutes/kilometer) to speed (i.e. MPH/KPH).  You can do this via the the Settings > Activity Settings > Data Screens menu, and then within one of your data pages you can select the data field you want to change and change it to Speed.

At this point the unit will display speed (MPH or KPH depending on your preferences) as one of the data fields.

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The only challenge with this particular workaround though is that by default the workout will still be uploaded to Garmin Connect as a ‘Run’, rather than a ‘Bike’ workout, which means that it’ll incorrectly trigger both PR’s on the unit (i.e. fastest 5KM) as well as incorrectly triggering those on Garmin Connect.

On the Garmin Connect side however you can go ahead and modify the workout type to be ‘Cycling’ which will then address the issue there.  On a subsequent synchronization it’ll pull that PR information back down to the watch.

Like it’s older sibling the FR210, the FR220 doesn’t contain any form of navigational and/or course routing.  Meaning that if you’re looking to use the GPS to get directions to somewhere, you’re better off taking a paper map for that.  I call this out in a section specifically, merely to minimize the number of questions on it.

For users that need these functions, the better choice would be the Fenix/Tactix watch form-factor lineup, rather than the running-specific watches.  The Fenix watches focus on navigation, running, and exceedingly long battery life (upwards of 55 hours).  They do lack however areas such as training plans, interval, and workout functions.  Though, they do contain a cycling mode with full support for ANT+ speed/cadence sensors.

Use as a day to day watch, backlight:

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While the FR220 has 10 hours of GPS time, it can stay in standby mode for 6 weeks with GPS off.  in this mode it acts as a day to day watch.

If you want to unlock you’ll press one of the buttons and then press the little runner man button again to unlock it:

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The FR220 allows you to create a single daily alarm.  You can’t configure said alarm for specific days of the week, nor can you create additional alarms.

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Interestingly, in time mode you can configure the background to be black (with white text), or white (with black text).

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By default the time on the unit will automatically come from the GPS, but you can manually override that if you wish.

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Speaking of Time, you can also configure it for 12hr or 24hr mode:

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Lastly, while running in the dark you can configure the unit’s backlight to remain on for a specified period of time.  By default it’s only a handful of seconds.  Thus I change it to simply ‘stay on’ until I tell it otherwise.

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You can also select to have the unit automatically illuminate if/when you press any buttons or if any watch alerts pop-up, such as lap notifications, pacing alerts, etc…

ANT+ Weight Scale Connectivity:

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While the majority of Garmin fitness devices used to support connecting to a small number of ANT+ enabled weight and body fat scales, the FR220 no longer continues that tradition.  Based on my discussions with the product team, there are no plans to enable that functionality on the FR220 (or, the FR620).

I suspect the primary reason for this is simply the number of users using those weight scales today (unfortunately barely a rounding error on a tenth of a percent at best).  Added to that the fact that most of the WiFi scales today far exceed the functionality provided by the ANT+ scales.

Of course, that doesn’t help users of past Garmin devices that have purchased those ANT+ scales solely for the purpose of connecting them to Garmin devices (the only company that truly ever lit up that scenario via ANT+ ).  Given it would be Garmin’s goal to convert those users into FR220/FR620 users, I would think that it might benefit them as a gesture of goodwill to look at an update down the road to connect to the scale (it’s just a firmware change).

As a side effect, this pretty much kills any ANT+ scales going forward. Which, shouldn’t really be a major surprise.  Even Bluetooth scales aren’t really a great solution.  Neither protocol really fits the bill for scales compared to WiFi, especially since virtually nobody would travel with their scale – meaning that it’s always going to be hanging out in a single place with easy WiFi access.

Waterproofing:

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The Garmin FR220 is waterproofed to a depth of 50 meters (150ft), which differs from many past Garmin running watches which only had IPX7 waterproofing (30 minutes at 1m/3ft deep).  This means you can easily use it on your wrist while swimming without any concerns about killing it.  It won’t capture any swim metrics (distance/stroke/etc…), but it’ll survive just fine.

During a recent work trip I spent considerable time submerging the FR220 in the open ocean water swimming around and spending a bunch of time underwater working on product shots for a different review.  My wife also spent time with it in the water while I wasn’t in the water.

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I’ve seen no ill effects as a result of that.  Nor have I seen any issues with rain and/or sweat during my other runs over the past month+ with the unit.

As with most GPS units you won’t get accurate distance outside while worn on your wrist.  This is because the FR220 isn’t designed to understand how to deal with the dropouts that occur when the watch goes under the water each time during the stroke.  To demonstrate this, here’s a short swim workout I did.  The FR610 was tracking distance in my swimcap and acting as a reference.  The Suunto Ambit2 was tracking it on my wrist – and that unit understands how to track openwater swims correctly.  You can see the FR220 is nearly double that distance.

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Looking at the GPS tracks, you can see quite a difference:

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Finally, for pure curiosity I was interested in what the cadence data looks like from the internal accelerometer.  While the unit does measure ‘something’, it’s not 100% clear to me how that number correlates while swimming.  Either way, it doesn’t appear to be strokes:

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Going forward into December I’ll be bringing both the FR220 and the FR620 down to 33m (~100ft deep) in an indoor facility designed for exactly this sort of thing, to test out the waterproofing myself.  Should be fun!

Live Tracking & Mobile Phone Upload Functionality:

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The Garmin FR220 includes the ability to connect via Bluetooth Smart to your mobile phone to upload workouts immediately upon completion, as well as to provide streaming live tracking of your run to family and friends.  You can share out the link automatically via e-mail or social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

We first saw this technology in the Garmin Edge 510 and Edge 810 last January.  In that case however, the units used older Bluetooth chips which meant compatibility with older phones.  With Bluetooth Smart being used here in the FR220, you’ll need an iPhone 4s or newer in order to take advantage of the uploads and connectivity.

[Update]: When I originally published this review, the mobile app was not yet updated for the FR220. Since then, it has become available for iOS.  I’ve added an updated section into my FR620 review showing how it works there, and I’ve used it on the FR220 (the usage/functions are 100% identical to the FR620) as well without issue, but just haven’t quite yet written it up here.  I’ll be doing that shortly.  In the meantime, check out the FR620 review to see how it works.  Note that Garmin has not yet released the Android version, and has stated that’s coming in Q1 2014, so sometime between January and March 2014.

Computer (USB) Upload Functionality:

In addition to Bluetooth Smart uploading via your phone, you can also simply plug the FR220 into your computer via USB and upload the workouts that way.  This allows you to not only send workouts to Garmin Connect, but to 3rd party sites as well.

When you plug the FR220 into your computer it enumerates as a standard USB mass storage device – just like a little USB thumb drive.  This is best because it doesn’t require any special drivers and works on pretty much any device out there, as well as any operating system.  All the workouts are found within the ‘Activity’ folder:

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Once everything is plugged in you’ll go ahead and wander over to Garmin Connect and click on the ‘Upload’ button in the upper right corner.  This brings you to the below page, where you can then select to ‘Upload All New Activities’, which is what I typically choose.

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The upload process usually only takes a few seconds (.FIT files are small, about 100KB per hour of recorded data).  Once the upload is complete you can click on ‘View Details’ to dive into the individual workout.

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With that, let’s dive into things on Garmin Connect, which is Garmin’s free training log platform.

Garmin Connect Online:

Once the data is uploaded to Garmin Connect, you’ll be able to view information about your run.  To start with, you’ve got the main overview page.  This view shows your activity summary information along the left side, with detailed pods along the right side.  At the top you’ve got the map, which you can swap between Bing, Google and OpenStreetMap as providers, and then views such as satellite or standard maps depending on the location and provider.

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As I scroll down I get pods for each one of the key running metrics.  Timing is what shows my pace, which is configurable as either minutes/mile or minutes/kilometer (or, in MPH/KPH if you switch to a speed mode).  Then below that elevation data, which is automatically corrected after the fact.  Then you have heart rate information below that.  On the left side you see my different splits. These splits were manually created by me based on me pressing the button.  But laps created by auto lap will show up here as well.

image

Finally, at the very bottom along the left side you’ve got the weather information that’s pulled from a nearby weather station (historical).  And on the right you have cadence information.  This information shows your running cadence displayed in SPM (Steps Per Minute), which is the sum total of both feet.  Some sites display this as just one foot (i.e. 90SPM), and some sites display it as two feet (180SPM).  In fact, Garmin Connect actually changed this last week to display it in sum rather than the previous one-foot.

Remember that this information comes from the internal unit within the FR220 (and the FR620), unless you have a footpod – in which case it comes from that instead (like all previous Garmin watches).

image

In addition to the activity view, there’s also a player view, which will replay back your activity with a moving dot on the map, showing the speed/cadence/HR/etc… at that given point in time.

image

Beyond this, Garmin Connect provides calendars and reporting, as well as the training plans that I discussed a bit earlier.  Ultimately I find Garmin Connect a good option for runners wanting a simplistic online site that’s easy to understand.  For more advanced users, you may want to check out some of the options in the 3rd party realm, shown next.

3rd Party Site Compatibility:

Like virtually all Garmin Fitness devices these days, the Garmin FR220 outputs files into the standard .FIT file format.  This means that it’s compatible with pretty much every 3rd party site on the planet (and, if your 3rd party site/app doesn’t consume .FIT files it’s likely not worth using).

I’ve tested the FR220 files with the 3rd party apps I use most frequently, all with success: Strava, Training Peaks, and Sport Tracks.

For those developers in the house (or, just anyone who wants to test if their app can read FR220 files), feel free to use this small collection of files.

One change I dislike however is that Garmin has changed their naming scheme on these files to names that are basically entirely garbage.  Previously the names were a combination of the date and time (which, you know, is logical).  Now, it’s as if someone threw up a bit in their mouth and then spit out these file names:

image

The FR620 shares this awesome naming scheme.  Hopefully they’ll change it in a firmware update.

Firmware Updating:

IMG_4022

The FR220 supports firmware updating as Garmin releases new firmware versions for the watch.  This is typically done to fix bugs and/or add new features (usually minor features).

To get new firmware for the FR220 you’ll connect it to Garmin Connect (via USB) or to the Garmin WebUpdater (also via USB).  Additionally, you can do firmware updates via your phone as well (via Bluetooth Smart).

What’s interesting is the slight shift in how firmware updates work.  Now, the update is downloaded to your unit but hangs out until you’re ready for the update to be applied.  You can see this above where it shows a firmware update ready to be installed (along with the version).

Within that screen I have three options.  The first being to simply install it right then, with the second being to ‘Remind Me’ – which simply reminds you the next time you turn the watch back into Run mode.  And finally, the third being to dismiss the update entirely.

IMG_4025

Assuming you press to install, it takes just 1-2 minutes (which was true to what it said it would take), and then shows you this small status bar along the edge as it updates.

IMG_4031

In the updates that I’ve applied thus far to the unit, no settings were lost – it simply retained those (including workout history and customizations).

Traditionally speaking we tend to see Garmin release more updates shortly after a product is released as they address any issues found, and then those taper off the longer from release date.  Further, you tend to see the more expensive products get feature enhancements (such as the FR910XT, Fenix, Edge 810, etc..) – rather than the less expensive products (i.e. FR10/FR210/etc…) – which may only see one or two tiny changes to the functionality.

Bugs and Miscellaneous:

IMG_4327

In recent reviews I’ve been adding a bugs section to cover things that I stumbled upon.  Because I’ve had the watch for a bit now, I’m really only focusing on bugs that I’ve seen on the final firmware.  Remember a ‘bug’ is different than ‘by design’. For example, the lack of a feature is something I highlight within a given section is considered ‘by design’, whereas something not really working right is below.

In the case of the Garmin FR220, the issues I’ve seen are largely in the ‘annoyance’ category, rather than the show-stopper category.

– The internal accelerometer pace data while on a treadmill seems suspect at faster than your norm paces, and slower than your norm paces.

– The pace alerts (high/low alerts) seem overly sensitive to trigger, though I need to re-validate this after the Saturday firmware update (no release notes)

– Added: Calibration of footpod: In my testing, I had calibration values shown when I used the footpod.  However, in recent builds, it doesn’t seem to be updating the calibration value from outdoor GPS runs.  Thus you have to manually calibrate (a pain, involves math, kinda stupid).  If you use the footpod in the current firmware with GPS, you’ll get inaccurate data because the footpod will be set for 1000 (likely incorrect for you), and will override GPS.

– The PR’s don’t appear to take into account existing Garmin Connect PR’s, rather, are only device specific.

– [New] In software version 2.20, if using a footpod (optional), the footpod will OVERRIDE the GPS for distance/pace outdoors, which will likely result in incorrect pace. I’d highly suggest disabling the footpod while outdoors if you have one. [Update: This has been fixed, but instead, you can’t use the footpod for instant-pace outdoors with the GPS on.]

Now, this doesn’t mean this is all the bugs out there.  This is just the ones I saw during my running and/or use.  As a single person I can’t possible test every possible feature in every possible combination to reproduce every possible scenario.  Sure, I’d love to – but companies have entire teams of testers and they still miss things.  So I do the best I can to note what I’ve seen above.

Pros and Cons:

IMG_6049

While there’s a lot of text here that covers a lot of fairly important details, here’s the super-duper slimmed down version of that:

Pros:

– GPS accuracy seems to be quite good, unit finds satellites very quickly with pre-caching
– Customized workout function a nice add over the FR210 that didn’t have it previously
– Incredibly lightweight for a GPS watch (or any unit)
– Waterproof to 50m (finally!)
– Bluetooth Smart Live Tracking (once app is updated/released)

Cons:

– Not convinced the treadmill (internal accelerometer) paces are accurate at all pace ranges
– No cycling, navigation, weight scale functionality
– Some people dislike the color choices offered
– About $50 more than other mid-range running watches (though those don’t have any phone connectivity/Live Tracking)

Comparison Tables:

Before we wrap things up I’ve put together the comparison charts of all the features of the FR220, compared to the older FR210 and FR610 – as well as the new FR620.  You can of course create your own comparison tables using this link with any of the products I’ve previously reviewed.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated October 21st, 2015 @ 1:43 amNew Window
Price$179.00$249$349.00$399
Product Announcement DateOCT 4, 2010SEPT 16, 2013APR 12, 2011SEPT 16, 2013
Actual Availability/Shipping DateOCT 2010OCT 31, 2013APR 15, 2011OCT 31, 2013
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBUSB, Bluetooth SmartANT+ WirelessUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingIPX750 MetersIPX750 meters
Battery Life (GPS)10 hours10 hours8 Hours10 hours
Recording IntervalSmartSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1-second & smart1-second & Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYes, 7 daysNoYes, 7 days
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGreat
AlertsAudio/VisualVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALAUDIO/VISUAL/VIBRATEAudio/Visual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoVia Wahoo Fitness AdapterNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoYesVia Wahoo Fitness AdapterYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNoNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesNoYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Designed for cyclingBarely (Speed mode only)Barely (Speed mode only)YesBarely (Speed mode only)
Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYes (also has internal accelerometer)YesYes (internal accelerometer)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoYes
VO2Max EstimationNoNoNoYes
Race PredictorNoNoNoYes
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoYes
Run/Walk ModeNoYesYesYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Designed for swimmingNoNo (protected though just fine)NoNo (protected though just fine)
Record HR underwaterNoNoNoNo
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoYesNoYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Auto Start/StopNoYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoYesNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoYesNoYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startNoNoYesNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Altimeter TypeGPSGPSGPSGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableYesNoYesNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoYesNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)No
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNo
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)NoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesNoYesYes
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
PC ApplicationGTCGarmin ExpressGTC/ANT AgentGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppGarmin FitiOS/AndroidGarmin FitiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoYes
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 210Garmin Forerunner 220Garmin Forerunner 610Garmin Forerunner 620
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

The tables are updated dynamically and thus if/when things change that’s represented automatically in this section.

Final Thoughts:

IMG_5260

Over the past 30-40 days I’ve used the FR220 a lot.  In fact, I’ve used it more than any other watch (even the FR620).  And quite simply – I really like it.  If it weren’t for the FR620’s ability to show four data fields concurrently over the FR220’s three data fields, I’d easily use the FR220 as my standard running watch (yes, even the purple color they sent).

The user interface is incredibly quick and simple to navigate, and the waterproofing is what I’d expect of an expensive GPS watch (read: it’s actually waterproofed unlike past watches).  I love the fact that Garmin decided to throw in the custom workout functionality (creating workouts online and downloading them), which the predecessor to this unit didn’t have.

Now, I do have concerns about the treadmill pace functionality.  Like the FR620 I’m seeing that it’s not quite as accurate at significantly faster or slower paces than my calibrated norm.  That might be a problem for some, though, you can always add an ANT+ footpod to get spot-on pace (albeit at extra cost).

Like the previous Garmin FR210, I think that for 95% of runners out there, the FR220 covers everything you’d need in a GPS watch – from data tracking to easy uploading.  It’s really only if you want a bit more data on the screen at once, or a bit more detail on things like Running Dynamics, that I’d recommend looking at the FR620 instead.

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

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

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

Garmin FR220 Purple/White & Red/Black (Click drop-down to change color or bundle)

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

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP programClever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 16th, 2016 @ 5:50 am
2013 Recommendations: Running GPS Watches
2014 Summer Recommendations: Running Watches
Garmin 220 Replacement Band (Purple/White, Black/Red) - Compatible with FR220/FR620$25N/ALink
Garmin 620 Replacement Bands (White/Orange, Black/Blue) - Compatible with FR220/FR620$25N/ALink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1$37.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2$69.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3$50LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-Run$99.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)$28.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45LinkLink
Garmin Approach S6 Watch Band (Orange, Black, White) - Compatible with FR220/FR620$25N/ALink
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)$10.00LinkLink
Garmin FR220 Charging/Data Sync Cable (Extra)$25LinkLink

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices. These guides are all listed on this page here.

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1,940 Comments

  1. Martin Janssen

    Hello Ray,

    Thanks for your great reviews!
    I have a question about the footpod. Is the FR220 using the footpod for instantaneous pace with the latest firmware (3.10)?
    I hope that it does, because I don’t understand people complaining about the “bug” of overwriting GPS speed with footpod speed. This is not a bug, but a most wanted feature: GPS is great for measuring (long) distances, but not for measuring speed. Simply because there is a Dilution Of Precision that is typically 3 meters at best for the US operated GPS system. In my runs, trackpoints are typically about 20 meters apart. If one of the two points is off by 3 meter, I get a speed error of 15%. That is why my good old FR305 show me graphs where the speed is all over the place, even when I am running at a fairly steady pace.
    I have seen speed graphs from other users of an FR220 where the speed lines are very smooth. This was the reason for me to buy the FR220.

    Another thing that surprised me is that Garmin has improved automatic calibration for the footpod in the 220. Why improving this, if relying on de GPS signal for speed? I can imagine that, if you keep the footpod well calibrated, you don’t need an option for selecting the source for speed measurements, because the footpod would give you the most accurate values.

    When I look at the calibration factor it still say 100. Is this number not updated by the calibration proces? Would this mean that the device keeps on calibrating during every run, or is it simply not telling me the number computed? Any ideas?

  2. Rebecca Machamer

    Hello! I was wondering if you could help me. I just got the Garmin Forerunner 220 through Amazon and this morning I tried to set it up to just track my heart rate during a strength training exercise but it thought I was running and was tracking my pace, etc. I turned the GPS off but I was wondering if there was a way to only track your heart rate/calories without it thinking that you just went for a run. I’ve tried googling and the forums but no one has seemed to answer this question yet.

    Thank you so much in advance!

  3. Twain

    You are an amazing resource! Question for you-I used the 220 in a short triathlon. The heart rate stopped working in the water (as expected) but it didn’t come back on the bike and run. Is that expected behavior or should it have picked the HR back up again?
    Incredibly my old Timex with non-ant heart rate is dead reliable for HR in all three events.

    Thanks
    Twain

  4. Alison

    Hi Ray,

    I just received a 220 and am loving it so far. I have multiple HR straps – both chest straps (HRM3 and Cardiosport) and an optical sensor (Scosche Rhythm+). I noticed that the calorie count when using the chest strap is approx. 10% higher vs. when using the Scosche. Is there something with the Firstbeat calorie count algorithm that makes the Scosche (or really any optical sensor) less accurate? I already have to use the chest strap for daily HRV readings, so I wasn’t sure if Firstbeat was similar.

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Keith McDowell

    Hi,
    Simply cannot decide whether or not to pay extra for bluetooth connectivity over the FR15.
    Is this watch worth it ?
    Love the look of fr 15 and simplicity. I do not always have access to Internet so linking up to usb and downloading on garmin connect is tricky.
    Fr220 allows bluetooth to phone, does the phone require connection with data services to allow the data transfer ?

    I simply want a decent sports watch for out doors running and cycling. I have garmin 800 so not worried about cycling feature. Time speed distance is ok.

    Please advise

  6. dick

    Good morning running frieda.

    I have one Question, many somebody can tell me.

    The unit displays in 5-second increments 4:00 / 4:05 / 4:10min/km etc (gps pace)
    If I by and use the optical Garmin food pod the info will be correct on the screen from the watch? (no 5 seconds steps)

    Thanks, and sorry for my English.

    Dick ( the Netherlands)

  7. Steve

    I am primarily a trail runner – would you recommend the 220 or the Suunto Ambit2 R? I am a long time Garmin user, but was not sure if Suunto’s emphasis is more oriented to off-road?
    Thanks Ray.

    • I’d recommend the Ambit2S actually, since in most cases it’s cheaper than the Ambit2R yet has way more features. 😉

      That aside, if you’re going to be using the navigation type functions while trail running, then the Ambit series is a better bet versus the Garmin FR220.

  8. valeriy

    Hi!
    I’m looking for a watch for xc ski in wooded area. Besides HRM I’d like to have high GPS accuracy for tracking (speed/temp measures). I’ve heard that MTK GPS in FR220 is not so good as the previous versions of FR watches.
    What can you recommend: FR220 or FR210/610 refub?

  9. Ginger

    Tell me about the vibration alert, please. Is it available on the run/walk intervals? Does it vibrate enough to notice it? I can’t always hear my audible alerts on the FR10.

  10. Amanda

    Fr15 or 220 – can’t decide !

    • Really depends on whether you value activity tracking or customization/details more. Or, you can split the difference and get the Polar M400 now for about $170.

  11. Tennis Option on Forerunner 220

    Hi,
    Does 220 have any other activity option than running?
    I play tennis but and ‘running’ as activity option on during the match. I do not think that it is giving me the correct distance covered in a match. It shows way more than what my mobile Endomondo app does?
    Do you know what could be the issue?

    Regards

    • No, there’s no ability to create additional sport modes. The Polar M400 is much better in that regard.

      As for using it in a tennis match, honestly consumer GPS accuracy just won’t be that accurate (and it won’t be that accurate on Endomondo either). You could look at getting a footpod, and then turning GPS off, which would get you reasonably close. But even then, a much better measurement indicator for Tennis would really be HR (to calories), not distance traveled.

  12. Kenny

    Hi,

    I just bought a Garmin Forerunner 220. Noticed that in 12 hour time format, it didn’t show am or pm. Is there any settings to it?

    Thanks.

  13. Jorge Rocha

    Hello! So, I have a Polar RC3 GPS, but I need an upgrade, because, on this watch I cant “put” more the 4 interval settings! What do you recomend? Garmin 220 or Polar M400? Thanks!

  14. Does the display on the 220 always stay on? I know the backlight doesn’t for obvious reasons. I want to use this as a day to day watch as well and I don’t want to have to press a button in order to see the time.

  15. Alice

    Hi there. Your reviews have been extremely helpful and has guided my recent purchase of the Forerunner 220 for my husband. I’m now looking at a second one for myself. Do you know if it will work with the old Scosche myTREK? I’m looking for a cheaper alternative to the HR strap, as I do pilates and other activities where a chest strap is uncomfortable. Thanks!!

    • No, it doesn’t have ANT+. Sorry!

    • Alice

      Thanks for the quick reply, DCR! Amazon has the purple 220 on for $189.99 right now, plus the $25 rebate. Would you recommend I pair that with something like the Scosche RHYTHM+ (or another band) or is it worth paying more for the Garmin 225? I’m used to always having to wear a HRM anyway (ex. running 5-10k, pilates, cross-training), so not sure if the freedom of the 225 is really worth the extra money. Thanks again!

    • Nah, the Rhythm+ is my fav, so you’d be in good hands there. You wouldn’t however get activity tracking.

  16. Alice

    By activity tracking, do you mean steps, sleep, etc (like Fitbit stuff)? I’m not in to any of that and my understanding is that the 225, like the 220, only has the running mode and doesn’t offer different activities to choose from. Oh, and if you don’t mind, I have one last question about the RHYTHM+. I’m a tiny person. Do you see this fitting okay on someone with smaller arms? I didn’t see in your review for that product where “The Girl” may have tried it on.

    • Correct. Only has the running mode.

      As for the Scosche, it works great on smaller arms. Both The Girl’s sister and mother actually use it (no particular reason why The Girl doesn’t – I don’t think she’s ever tried it).

  17. Alice

    Woohoo, that’s good news. Thanks for the advice. As always, your reviews are objective and you have a well-rounded opinion on each product. I appreciate your insights when deciding on my next gadget(s). Keep up the great work!

  18. Stanislav Grabchev

    I am really wondering if i should buy the F220 or polar rc3 gps. The polar is coming with the hrm strap and it’s 30$ cheaper

  19. Bridget

    thanks for the review! is there a special discount code for the $199 FR220? the link above takes me to a page that has it for $249

    • Alice

      I don’t think there was a code. The purple version was actually on for $189.99 over the weekend, but I was too slow with my purchase. $249 is kinda out of my price range. 🙁 Let me know if you have any luck with the pricing, Bridget! Thx

    • Unfortunately the sale ended Monday. Sorry!

  20. Dave

    Hey Mr Rainmaker – love the reviews – thanks a lot for taking the time to produce something as thorough as this! I recently bought an FR220 here in Hong Kong on the strength of your write-up. Really pleased with it.

    One question – more of a “how to” – I’ve used it lots for outdoor runs, but when using the internal accelerometer feature on a treadmill, how do I get it to actually do what you recorded for cadence and presumably distance? I tried earlier this week to do it, by doing what I normally do at the start of a run, but upon pressing start, the distance recording stayed close to zero for the whole of the 12km I ran on the treadmill!

    Do I need to go through some configuration exercise, or do I record from a different starting point on the watch?

    Thanks for your help!

    Dave

  21. stephanie escobar

    thank you for the REALLY thourough review! I have had the FR220 for 6 months now and this article helped answer a lot of questions. I did wonder if I should stop using my footpad after reading your comments about it overriding the GPS data. is this still the case? I have kept the software up to date and i’m not sure if i should remove my footpad for inside runs or not. can you give me some guidance?

  22. Tze Ling

    I’ve just started using my Forerunner 220. Just came across your blog when I was searching for reviews about FR225. Great and detailed reviews you have written! It was really informative! I’ve also read your “About Me” section, very interesting story you have got! God bless!

  23. Jackson

    About 50% of my runs are in moderate to dense tree cover, on logging roads and trails around the Snoqualmie pass. Distance and pace accuracy are pretty important, would you recommend this or the (less comfortable) Ambit 2 R?
    I’ve been told that the Suunto is more accurate in trees than the Garmin, will the Garmin still be within 3% accuracy in dense trees? will the Suunto be within 3%?

    • 3% is pretty easy to achieve on any GPS device these days.

      The downside however to the FR220 is the smart recording, whereas the Ambit series offers a 1-second recording level.

  24. Horatiu

    A little question about FR220: could I swim with it in saltwater (high concentration of salt) ?

    • Yup, no issues at all there. As with any salt-water use, it’s best afterwards to simply give it a quick rinse in fresh water if you can. Not a big deal if you forget here and there, but long term if you did so every day it’ll help.

  25. rich

    Does the battery icon always display on the unit?

  26. Pat

    Thank so you much for your in depth reviews. They are really helpful in navigating all the different running watched out there.

    Quick question. I’m very interested in the FR220 but I see that it was release in the fall of 2013. Since this is a big investment, I’m wondering whether I should buy it now or wait for a new release of a mid-range running watch by Garmin. When do you think they would come out with a new model of this watch? The FR210 was released in the fall of 2010 and the FR220 in the fall of 2013. Should I assume that a new model would not likely be released before the fall of 2016?

    Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

  27. Dean

    Which do you find easier to use: the Forerunner 220 or the Forerunner 620? I am debating returning my 620 because the touchscreen is not easy to use but am curious if the 220 is any better.
    Also, I know you have written that the website/apps for Garmin are better than for TomTom, but how does the user interface on the TomTom Cardios compare to the 220 and 620?

  28. Johan

    Hi,I have just recently bought a FR220. When synchronizing to Garmin Connect the activitiy seems to get removed from the FR220. Is this the way it is supposed to be? I’d like to keep the history in the device. Can it be a settings problem? I don’t experince the same with a Edge 510 unit.

  29. James

    Hy man. I have need some help from a watch pro like u, if u don’t mind:D
    I’m interested in starting interval training, so i want to buy a watch to help me do that. But since i’m also a passionate skier (downhill skiing) i want a watch to track that also. So to be short, the watch should have all these functions:

    Running :
    custom interval settings (maybe with vibrations as a way to let me know when to change pace)
    mapping
    top/medium speed
    heart rate

    Downhill skiing:
    mapping
    top/medium speed
    heart rate
    altitude (maybe i can give this up)

    What watch to you think would fit me best? My highest budget would be around 400$, but i would like to know also the least expesive watch that could do all those things.

  30. Koen

    Since a few weeks my Heart rate monitor reacts odd (see for instance: link to sporttracks.mobi or link to sporttracks.mobi after 2KM I disconnected the chip from the strap). Most of the times while it’s connected to my strap (a Polar soft strap I”ve been using since my original garmin strap broke down, I’ve been using the Polar strap since november last year). Last week I’ve replaced the battery of the chipset, but without luck. The problem still seems to occur, sometimes it gives a very low HR-value, but most of the times it doesn’t give any value at all. What could be the problem? Is the Polar-strap defect? Or the chip from Garmin?

    Anyway, I’m getting quite tired of all these problems with straps. Whose has a solution for this? Do these problems occur with the Sosche Rhythm+ (Ray?) ?

    • Koen

      Thanks for the link. Though, according to their Dutch website (due to all problems I’ve had over the years with running watches and straps I prefer buying in the Netherlands, I should have mentioned this before (sorry for that!)) it should cost 80 euros.

  31. Hunter

    Hi, I’m a big follower of your reviews and really support them, they’re the best ones on the web! But I’ve ran into an issue. I am an very frequent runner and are in need of a replacement GPS watch with HRM. I understand the Garmin Forerunner 220 and 225 and pretty similar but was wondering if you had one pick over the other.
    1. Is the chest strap uncomfortable if I’m doing fast speed work or on a grueling 15+ mile long run?
    2. The 225 is a tad bit thicker then the 220 because of the sensor, I tend to prefer thin watches over thick ones but is that much of a difference to the point of it is better to have a chest-bound HRM? Or is the just personal preference?
    3.The 220 is a good bit older then the 225 but if it runs the same software and has the same platform as it, should age be a factor in my purchase decision?
    Thanks so much! Keep up the good work!

  32. Andrew

    Hi DC, is there the possibility to set up a daily alarm that vibrates and not sounds? This is very important to wake up in the early morning for training, but without waking up the girlfriend…

    • I don’t believe so, it was discussed a while back and unfortunately you can’t separate them without turning off all sounds.

    • Andrew

      So that means of I turn all sounds off it will do what I need? Do you confirm this? Should be no problem for me to turn them on again when I need them, as long as it’s possible to make the alarm vibrate only…
      I haven’t found anything on the Web about it, and thank you for the fast reply!

  33. runLB

    I finally gave in and traded in my old 305 for the 220. I like it, but just have two questions:

    1) This one I think is actually a bug. I have the backlight set to stay on. At some point during my long run, it gets light enough that I don’t need the backlight on so I turn it off. The next time there is a lap alert, the light comes back on but then stays on. On the 305, with the backlight set to the always on mode, if you turned it off during a run, it would not come back on after alerts. Thoughts?

    2) How do you remove the screws for the wrist band? I want to put a velcro strap on and have one that I think will work, but I need to get those screws out and I feel like an idiot, but I can’t figure out what type of screwdriver will work with them.

    Thanks!

  34. conrad

    Hi brilliant reviews, a quick question can you lock the buttons on the forerunner 220 so you don’t pause your workout by mistake by knocking the button?
    thanks

    • Nate

      I’m with Conrad, I purchased a 220 off your great review but am looking for a bottom lock function. I consistently pause my work our running or biking. Almost a deal breaker.

      Any advice?

  35. Walter McDonough

    Hi, I set up a high BP alert for some training, and now want to turn it off but cannot figure out how to do so. I’m sure it’s simple, but just can’t figure it out.

  36. Rob

    Have a new Forerunner 220 partially thanks to this excellent review. Thank You! My question is this: When you are interval training how do you see you pace while you are actually training? Thanks!

  37. Colin

    I’m having a real tough time deciding between the FR220 and the Vivoactive. I am training for my first marathon and I got rid of my nike gps watch in disgust with the gps accuracy. What running features would I be sacrificing by choosing the vivoactive over the 220 and vise versa? Are the GPS’s equally accurate?

  38. srvfan73

    I have both watches. Wearing the Vivoactive every day now for about 2 months. Personally I find them both to be ‘accurate’ but I am not scientifically testing these things. The only drawback with Vivoactive for me so far has been the lack of being able to load a training calendar/program like I could with Forerunner 220. However, since I am using the ‘Maffetone method’ I find I don’t really need it anyway since most of my training is at about the same heart rate zone and I can set a custom alert for that. I’m training quite a bit for my 1st marathon too but I’m no ‘elite’ athlete. I like the Vivoactive for its smart watch functions too though I had some connectivity issues at first which Garmin helped me correct. Overall I’m pretty happy with the Vivoactive for the price but only time will tell if it will have good durability.

  39. BCal

    Just found your site and the reviews are very good – thanks! I’m trying to decide between the FR15 and 220, and the only reason I’m holding back from the 15 is that it doesn’t seem to have the option to display speed and heartrate on the same page. From your review above, it seems that the 220 can do this, but could you please confirm that?
    Thanks again for all the effort and info.

  40. praveen

    has anyone noticed, the premium HRM strap that came along with FR220 or any premium HRM, the elastic is kind of wearing off too quickly. I notice exposed rubber strings. All i do is rinse it off in cold water and air dry it. I got it in April 2015.

  41. Martin

    Just found your website when surfing the ‘net for an in-depth test of mid-range multisport watches. Couldn’t decide for a long time between the comfort of a wristbound heartratetracker like the TomTom Multisport and the traditional ones with a strap. Eventually stayed oldfashioned ;). Then the problem whether to stay with Garmin (I’m also into geocaching since 2004) or try out Suunto, which impressed me as a more high-class watch. But as they seem to lack the amount of gadgets and connection possibilities while sligthly exceeding my price range, I stuck to Garmin. The last decision was wether to get the older cheaper FR 210 or the more weightless FR 220, which the latter won.

    Do I really have to mention that I ordered the gadget at Amazon through the links on your Website 🙂 ?

    Great work on your side, thanks a lot,
    Martin (Vienna/Austria/Europe/Earth)

  42. Bea

    I tested my new Garmin 220 on a hike this past Sunday. On the way to the top it recorded 5.2 miles as opposed to my friend’s 4.7 miles (Polar on iPhone) and another person we encountered who was at about 4.55 miles (Nike app on iPhone).

    When we completed roundtrip my Garmin was showing 10.56 miles even though I stopped it about 100 feet from where we 1st started.

    The posts on the hiking trail agreed with the mileage recorded by my friend’s Polar and not with my Garmin 220 readings.

  43. Thanks for another great review Ray!

    When running along with a workout I created, it seems the pace shown is average and not instant.

    Is there a way to change the fields used in the My Workout section?

  44. David L

    I’m running a marathon in a few weeks. Will this watch give me both my current pace and average/overall mile pace?

  45. John

    A fairly serious downside I’m seeing with the 220 is that there is no way to start a new lap when the watch is stopped. (The lap button switches function when the watch is stopped.)

    When I do interval workouts on the track, I often prefer to stop the watch for my rests between intervals. But with the 220, you have to remember to hit the lap button before stopping the watch. And then the next interval will have the wrong time. Pretty annoying. I wish reviews would point out details like this instead of just listing features.

    • It’s because most people actually want to record the rest portion of the interval, as it shows you how well your recovery (i.e. if paired with a HR). Additionally, it offers a more complete picture of a workout, since it’s recording the rest – rather than pretending like you just ran hard the entire time. You’d simply press the lap button, thus making that portion it’s own little section – easily viewable on the watch or afterwards.

      Though, I could understand how you might hate it when you stumble upon a reviewer that actually used the product and understands how 99% of the world does interval training. I too wish commenters would think about details…

  46. Amanda Carlton

    I have a bit of a strange question. I prefer to do the walk/ran strategy when running. As my runs get longer (over an hour) I really want to see HH:MM:SS (I could care less about the hours – trust me I know how many hours I’ve been running!). My current watch Garmin 910XT when I cross the hour threshold it switches to HH:MM. Does the Garmin 220/225 have a display where I can see HH:MM:SS? If so how many other data fields can I have on the screen (I would still like to see distance and avg pace at minimum)?

    Thanks.

  47. Jorie

    Great review. I used your site for my last purchase, when I was upgrading from the 205 to the 210. Lately my 210 has been giving me very incorrect elevation results, and has always been a pain to sync/charge with the awful clip so I’m considering upgrading.

    My biggest concern is the ability to discard your run at the end. I’m literally a huge idiot after a run, and I’d be afraid of accidentally paging down and discarding. I’m wondering if there’s some sort of verification/idiot proofing for this feature that asks you if you’re sure you want to discard, or does it just discard without a prompt?

  48. Maria

    Hi,

    Thanks for all your reviews, interesting reading as well as informative.

    I have a fr15 and find its battery insufficient for my marathon pace: 5 hours plus. I’m a slow plodder and happy with it.

    I want to “upgrade” at lowing cost… Is the 220 the way to go for me? I’ve found it on sale (20% discount).

    Thanks,

    Maria

  49. Malita

    I’ve been looking at the fr220 and fr620. I trail and street run. I also like, e running halfs. While h would you recommend. I’ve read both of your in depth reviews and am even more undecided. Please help.

  50. Dogpound

    Thanks for your great review, I think you’ve nudged me towards the 220 over the 620.

  51. Wayne

    Does the 220 have the ability (from the watch) to set a distance and go (get alerted when you are half way) or do you have to create a training plan for this?

    Thanks!

  52. Jason

    I have a quick question for owners. Do you think it would be reasonably safe to wear the watch while playing Ultimate Frisbee or Flag Football? I would like to see how much distance it says I cover during a game and also my heart rate. However, I’m worried that contact with other players or the ground might break the watch.

    Thanks!

  53. lorraine

    Hi I have a Garmin 220 and I have downloaded a training program to it from Garmin, 1. when I follow the program and I go over the set time will the watch continue to record my run? 2. When doing an interval session on the treadmill is it best to turn off GPS?

    • Ben

      Lorraine,
      1) yes, but you will have to push the “run” button when prompted. It will say “workout completed” and play a series of beeps, then ask if you want to continue the workout. I did that last night actually.
      2) not sure, I haven’t used it on the treadmill yet

  54. Ron

    I used the 220 for the first time a few days ago and I can’t believe that only “conrad” above ( link to dcrainmaker.com ) has noticed the *blatant* design fault that I found within the first few minutes of using it. They’ve spent millions on super complicated electronics but not bothered to think of the obvious packaging issues of ensuring the buttons are shielded against accidental use!

    If you have an expensive normal watch that you don’t want to leave in the changing room (or like me, a $10 Casio Alarm Chronograph that you want to have as a plain stopwatch alongside it showing the simple elapsed time while the Running Watch shows the special numbers) and wear both on the same wrist, the protruding and unprotected RUN button keeps getting bumped with every move of your wrist. It ought to be at the “one-o-clock” position and slightly tilted with a little raised plastic surround.

    The other issue is that the Garmin website doesn’t work properly with the new Microsoft Edge browser that comes with Windows 10, you can’t log in without conflicting password errors, so you have to use Google Chrome (or similar) instead.

    But, thanks for a great review – I’ll have to read it through carefully a second time.

  55. Paul Searant

    Does the 220 track daily steps? If so where do I find them?

  56. Jean Lepage

    Thank you for the review.
    I bought the Forerunner 220; unfortunately, when I am connected with Garmin Connect, I am unable to edit an “”Activity type” from “Running” to “Cross Country skiing”.

    Previously,when I used the Forerunner 210,it was easy to edit an activity.
    Do you know the reason why it is not possible to do the same edit with the 220?

    Cheers,
    Jean

  57. Cameron

    The best review! Thanks for all the info.

    If one is to do weight lifting and gym cardio classes, how does one measure the calories burnt.
    Would you just use the heart monitor and turn off the GPS?

  58. Carl

    Does the FR220 still support firmware updates via Bluetooth? I can’t seem to find any reference to that in the users manual.

  59. Beth

    I’m hoping you can help me with my FR220. I’m training for a time goal for the first time and am setting my workouts to have my intervals and tempo runs but am having issues in my pace screens. For example: I set a tempo run for a 10 min warm up, 6 mile run at an 8:30 pace and then 10 min cool down. The workout screen showing me distance and pace will show me one pace where my “regular” workout mode screen will show me a pace of maybe 30 seconds faster, 10 seconds slower or anything in between. The training screen doesn’t adjust very quickly whereas the regular screen does. For example if I start walking, my training screen VERY slowly slows down whereas my regular screen immediately shows my walking pace. Since running at predetermined paces is new to me it’s hard for me to say what my pace is just by feel alone because anything faster than comfortable is uncomfortable but whether it’s much faster than I’m supposed to moving or on target, I’m not sure.

    Do you know why the workout screen is so slow to adjust? Do you know why there may be a pace difference between the 2?

    Thanks!

    • David

      the pace on your “workout screen” is your average pace for that segment of the workout. So in your example, it would be the average for the entire 6 miles (by the end). When I personally do workouts like that, I set up the “work” part to be repeats of 1 mile so the average is not too old. If you need practice also looking at your current pace, I’d set up a screen with current pace and lap pace as data fields and change to that screen while in the work portion.

  60. Rui Gonçalo

    Good afternoon, I’ve a FR220 for about 15 months and no issues at all. my question for you ray is about accuracy. Is the FR220 more accurate than Fenix 3?? i’m about to give a step forward (at leats i thing is forward)

    Is is a good change, or shoud i go to suunto 3 peak, i just want to stay with garmin because i’ve already have HR strap (standard) and speed cadence sensor both ant+

    sorry bad english
    thanks

  61. Beth

    I ran 12 miles with this on Saturday. It was fully charged when I started and was paired with the Scosche HR monitor during the run. When I plugged it in after my run I was down to 9% battery life. Is the Scosche draining the battery that quickly or am I doing something wrong? I’m about to start training for my first marathon and need this thing to last longer than a couple hours. Advice? Thanks!

  62. Mister Christopher (in Atlanta!)

    Wow. I didn’t realize the Garmin 220 is now over two (2) years old.

    I just returned the Garmin Vivoactive, opting for the Forerunner 220 instead.

    Great review by the by (definitely NOT by the way). In a word: comprehensive.

    And much more enjoyable than RTFM.

    Thanks for writing it.

  63. Alex

    So debating on 220 or the 15. I just need a basic unit to track pace and distance and I need to get rid of using my phone. Extra features are nice but my budget caps at around 150. ( refurbished 220 is 150 atm)

    Thoughts on best bang for your buck for the basic street running? I am training for half marathons atm.

  64. Aaron Coady

    Every time I sync my forerunner 220 now to my android phone via bluetooth I get a notification that there is an update for my watch. When I check on garmin connect there are no updates. Anyone else having this problem?

  65. TIJU CHERIAN JOHN

    I got a little confused at the section “Garmin connect online”. Could you please clarify the following? Suppose I do a customised interval training workout(created by me), will I be able to see my splits once it is connected to Garmin connect?

  66. Zan

    Hi Ray,

    I really like the watch design and indeed would use it for running, mostly…
    Since I also bike a little, and the watch only has RUN mode, what will happen if I bike in the run mode and it later gets uploaded to garmin app?

    Is there a possibilty to change the activity to cycling instead? Its really difficult to find opinions on this matter, because everyone covers the running aspects (well its a runners watch d`oh). Will I set all new records cycling after running the same track or not?

    Im in search for a watch which is about ~100€ new or used and quite a lot of watches fit this criteria.
    I do not need daily tracking but getting data out of the watch would be nice, thats why a lot of old devices dont meet my list.

    Of course I have cheap 10€ bike computer as well, which will record time,distance, average speed, max speed.
    Just wondering it the watch adds any benefits.

    ALSO, is there a possibilty to track heart rate throughout workout without GPS enabled? That way I could get one part of the data from bicycle computer and HR from watch…

    Thanks

  67. Wonda

    Hi,
    I was wondering if anyone has issues with heart rate reading on the FR220? I have had one for 6 months now, and all of a sudden it gives me an elevated heart rate! My HR is 59 and it reads 123. It also drops heart rate every now and then. This is extremely frustrating. I swopped Heart rate monitor on the strap with another one, same problem. I updated software, same problem. What do I do? Any advice?

    • Ron

      I too have had unexpected heart rate readings with my 220.

      I did the Vitality London 10k (flat urban streets) a week or two ago, and had the expected rates of 70 rising to 170bpm over the first km, followed by a slow and even reduction to 150bpm by the 5km point. But then there was a sudden 40bpm fall to 109bpm which lasted with small variations for the next 2km, followed by a steady rise over the next km back to 150, which lasted until the finish. My pace and footfall cadence were very steady throughout.

      The other unexpected readings have been at my local parkrun, which is two cut-down laps of one of the 3-lap Surrey XC champs courses, which has a circuit of a soccer-pitch-sized upper field 60ft (20m) above the rest of the course. Opposite to what I expect, my heart rate drops heavily when I am running up the steep slope to the upper field but goes crazy-high when I am running down the hill a minute or two later with no load.

      It seems that my heartrate is much more linked to my mental state and excitement than physical strain on my body.

    • David

      I have always associated those two symptoms (double HR (sometimes half), and drops) with a nearly dead battery in the HRM.
      Try replacing the battery.

  68. Wonda

    Hi.
    I have tried replacing the battery. Still the same symptoms. And I also read somewhere that the battery in the HR clip has a 4 year lifespan. Ive only had it for 6 months

  69. Bob C

    Has anyone had their 220 charge part-way and then stop? For example, I might plug mine in and the charge screen comes on at 35%. It gets to 52%, and then stays there. The charge symbol is still on, the screen is still on showing 52%, but it never moves from there. It doesn’t drop, but doesn’t increase. If I take it out of the cradle, it will return to the Run screen within a few seconds, and go back to the charge screen if I put it back in the cradle. Sometimes it will resume charging, and sometimes it will do so if I power it off/on, but often it only makes a few more % before it stops charging again. I’m still under warranty so I’ll contact Garmin but I was wondering if anyone else has seen this and has any tips. I’ve tried different chargers, and rarely charge through the computer so I don’t think it’s an underpowered USB port.

    • Bob C

      I wanted to follow up on my charging issue. The problem of partial charging persisted, so I got a refurb from Garmin. They will send you the refurb, charge you for it, but refund the charge when you return your old one, so you don’t have to be without if the watch is at all usable.

      The new one recharges just find (so far, anyway), so I compared them while I had both. The 4 charging contacts sit flush on the good watch. On the bad one, the two outer ones stick up just a bit. I think this is just enough that the watch detects when it is in the cradle, but cannot fully charge because all the contacts are not making good a good connection. So if you’re having this same issue, look at those contacts and see if any are raised at all. This is the only explanation I can come with if it’s not something internal. I suppose it could be possible to use needle nose pliers or something to push the contacts down, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the watch and nulling my warranty.

    • Bob C

      Just noticed I can add a pic. The bad watch is on the right.

  70. Matt

    Hey, thanks so much for your great review. I own a FR220 and picked up cycling. Never figured out how to display speed in km/h, but now I finally managed.
    Matt

  71. Erin

    So are you saying that the forerunner 220 is less or more accurate as far as pace/cadence/mileage when paired with the foot pod?

  72. Issa

    Hey Guys,

    I live in the UAE and I want to buy a GPS running watch. I want this watch solely for training (don’t care about smart features, activity tracking/hrm might be nice to have) as I am an avid runner. I am very familiar with all the GPS watches in the market right now in 2016.

    However, the prices are very expensive here, for e.g. the 235 is for 430$! I found a great deal on the 220 (white violet) for 180$, off course from an authorized seller. Do you think the 220/225 are still relevant in 2016 as compared to the 230/235 ? Will they continue to work in the near future? Should I get the 220 given the above situation?

    Thanks in advance,

  73. B Mac

    Thanks for your review. It is very helpful. I have the Garmin FR 220 and have 2 issues:

    In 2 years my heart rate monitor has only worked for the duration of a run about twice. I have done everything I can think of to fix it – re-synced (many times), smeared water all over the monitors against my chest (in which case it works momentarily and then loses the connection until I do it again) … On occasion. It has told me my heart rate was 46 for the duration of my run. Perhaps it didn’t recognise that I had actually got out of bed and was jogging – or did it think I was dead. I am completely frustrated, having reviewed watches and made a considered choice of the Garmin FR 220.

    Second – I want to time a minute (or some interval I pre-determine) from a number of points during my run – and not sequentially. I can’t figure out how to do that, although they assumed me in the shop that it was possible.

    Any thoughts?

  74. Phil

    Hi
    Great review thanks!
    I have a (probably stupid question) that I can’t seem to find an answer for anywhere. I have my FR220 set to display pace per mile but I have no idea over what distance the measurement is for?? E.g. is is tracking the last mile, last 10 mins, half a km??

    I can’t see any way to chnage the setting (other than between M and KM) and the variation in pace can easily be between 6-9 mins while running. At the end of a run the ave pace per mile is fine but I would like to be able to see an overall pace while running…

    Cheers!

    • Bob C

      Found this link to dcrainmaker.com but had already typed in a longer reply so I’ll keep that too.

      There are 3 pace fields:

      Average pace is the average pace for the entire run so far.

      Lap pace is average pace for just this lap. So if you have lap distance set to one mile, it’s the average for anywhere between the last inch and the last mile minus an inch, depending on when you hit the last lap.

      Current pace is probably what you are talking about, and I can’t be sure of exactly how they do it. I am guessing it is some kind of weighted average. If you notice if you go from a hard run to a walk, the pace doesn’t immediately drop to 15 min/mile, instead it more gradually gets to that pace. The Garmin gets a reading every 1 second (I think), so the distance/time for the last second has highest weight, 1 second before still a high weight, and each second before gets less and less weight for calculating the pace. If you fluctuate pace, expect some lag in it being truly accurate. It works well if you keep a pretty steady pace, on a straight line with little tree, mountain or building obstructions to the satellite. This also helps if you make a sharp turn and the garmin doesn’t pick up all the distance. Rather than suddenly tell you that you slowed down because it thinks you covered less ground since the last reading than you really did, the weighted average will smooth it.

      I don’t think Garmin has published the actual formula is uses for current pace. It may not even be a weighted average, just an average over the last 5 seconds. In fact that’s probably more correct since I don’t think I’ve ever had a Garmin where the displayed pace changes every second. That would be hard to read on the run.

    • Phil

      Thanks very much Bob! Knew it would be a simple(ish) answer. Now found the setting I was looking for.

      Cheers!

  75. Sarah

    Does this watch track steps throughout the day?

  76. Matt

    Hi all — don’t know if Ray or anyone still checks in here, but I need some help with a 220 problem: I can’t charge the darn thing!

    I usually charge via laptop, but recently it stopped showing up as a drive. So I cleaned the pins, made sure the usb connection was clear, also bought and tested a new clip …no luck with any of those. For a bit, the wall plug worked as a power source, but now that doesn’t even connect.

    I also found a method which only worked a few times: power down by holding the light button, then connect to the clip, connect that to the usb and wait for the problem to fix. As I say, that worked a few times, but not anymore. What the HECK!!??

    The watch works perfectly on the run and in all other respects. This is solely a connection/charging issue.

    By the way, I’ve been uploading runs info via phone, but that’s no help with charging.

    Thanks for any help!

    • Bob C

      Make sure the charging pins are all flush. If some stick up it could keep it from making good contact. See my post on July 24 and follow up Sept 8 with pictures.

      I was still under warranty so I was able to return it. Otherwise I probably would’ve tried some kind of small pliers or vise to push the two protruding pins down. And I probably would’ve broke it. You could ask Garmin for advice, or mercy if you’re warranty is expired.

      The other advice is to make sure the software is current, but I don’t think they’ve updated it in quite a while.

    • Matt

      Hey Bob, thanks for the quick reply…

      So I contacted Garmin and it seems to be an issue with the “contacts” on the back of the watch. In fact, while I was on the phone with a Garmin rep and had the unit connected to my laptop, I pressed with my thumb and, sure enough, the watch showed up as a drive and began to charge.

      Long story short, I’m upgrading to the 230 (20% off if I send back the 220). Not a bad deal, I guess, but still frustrating because the 220 works perfectly otherwise.

      Thanks again!

  77. JH

    Is there any way to show an analog watch face like on the Garmin 230? That is the only feature lacking. Garmin website will not let me, but maybe someone has cleverly sorted this out?

  78. Lisa

    Hi Ray-
    I want something accurate, good, and comfortable. This looks more comfy than the 235, but is it a bad investment since it is almost 4 years old? Will they be coming out with something similar for 2017? I can’t do the huge laser sensor. Will this connect to GC with firmware updates?

    Thanks!

  79. Nick C.

    Does anyone got into issue with this watch after using it for swimming? I used it for pool swimming twice and realized that the screen kept on flashing after swimming. Then a day later the screen is all blurry and hard to see. Did anyone have this kind of issues or some remedy for this?

    Cheers,
    Nick

  80. Dave

    Garmin FR220 (3.10) – Any way to ENLARGE completed intervals/set display?

    After each work interval and during recoveries, FR220 briefly shows how many work intervals have been completed per set, such as 3/8, 5/12, etc. Is there any way to ENLARGE and/or lengthen this display? It is so small and fleeting that I can barely read it (without glasses).

    Thanks.

  81. Petra Bijsterveld

    Hi, I have had a Garmin FR 220 for a number of years now. The battery life is deteriorating. I have just come home from an 18 mile run and the battery indicator was virtually empty, though when I plugged it into the charger there was still 20% left. Still, not enough to get me round a marathon.
    I have already done a hard reset, I don’t use the HRM, minimised the backlight.
    Is there anything I can do or will I have to buy a new watch?
    Thanks for any advice!

  82. Bob P

    Can anyone tell me the best way to switch to the “time of day” after I have completed my run.

    1)When I finish my run, I hit the upper right button.
    2)Then I go through the steps to save the results
    What are the next steps to quickly switch to the “time of day”?

    Thanks,
    Bob P